Flowback of fracturing proppant during production is a common problem. The consequences of this can be extremely serious. Loss of fracture conductivity can occur due to reduced width, which can be further compounded by partial plugging of the pack by proppant fines. The latter are produced by non-uniform loading on the proppant with resultant failure and crushing. The produced solids can wreak havoc with both downhole and surface equipment, eroding chokes and nipples, plugging flow lines and filling separators. In the case of subsea wells, the problems are even greater and can compromise well security. Since the 1980's, the standard solution applied for prevention of proppant flow back has been the use of curable resin coated proppant. While this approach has met with some success, it is far from perfect. The use of RCP's can cause fluid compatibility problems and can interfere with well clean up. Such problems have prompted resin manufacturers to modify their products and have also opened the door for the introduction of new technologies. Newer developments have included the use of small fibres to try to bind the proppant pack together or heat-sensitive plastic film to partially encapsulate clusters of proppant. These materials have reportedly been used with some success but concerns have been raised with regard to their effect on fracture conductivity, amongst other things.

This paper describes the current methods in use and presents a new system that actually enhances fracture conductivity and minimises embedment and width-loss, while simultaneously helping prevent proppant back-production.

You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.