It is well known that only about a third of water injected for hydraulic fracturing of shales is recovered. It is important to understand the fate of this injected water. The amount of water infiltrating the matrix is determined by a number of parameters such as the pressure differential between the fracture and the matrix, the capillary pressure relationships in the fractures and in the matrix and other petrophysical properties of the formation. In this paper, we provide a breakdown for the various possible water losses depending on the reservoir, fracture and operating parameters. A set of capillary pressure relationships for the formation were first created based on the basic mineralogy and the total organic carbon (TOC) content. Fracture capillary pressure also changed depending on the concentrations and types of proppants in the fractures. Two basic end members can be defined – silicistic and dolomitic with different amounts of TOC. The capillary pressure relationships ranged from oil wet, neutral to water wet. Different porosity and permeability combinations were also examined. Amounts of water relative to the total amount injected that would infiltrate the formation were compiled as the operating conditions (pressures) and formation properties changed. This calculation shows that the infiltration due to the various phenomena are not sufficient to account for the water losses if the formations are strongly oil wet. In addition, situations where water blockages occur due to these multiphase flow effects were identified and the loss of productivity due to this phenomenon was quantified both for gas and for oil production. The study was conducted using a discrete-fracture network simulator developed at the University of Utah. A realistic (non-orthogonal) representation of a complex fracture network was employed in the study. Realistic representation of distribution and retention of these aqueous fracturing fluids is essential for optimizing hydraulic fracturing treatment volumes.
Part of the book: Effective and Sustainable Hydraulic Fracturing