January 28, 2022
Conference Paper

Effect of Initial Water Saturation on The Performance of Fracturing Fluids With and Without Polyallylamine under Simulated EGS Conditions


Objectives/Scope: StimuFrac (US Patents 9,873,828 B2 and 9,447,315 B2), a CO2-reactive polymer aqueous solution [polyallylamine (PAA) 1wt% in water] combined with CO2, can be used as a less water-intensive fracturing fluid for enhanced geothermal systems (EGS). Our previous results show that in hot dry rock (HDR), PAA/CO2 fracturing fluids outperformed other fluids such as water, CO2, and CO2/water in generating large fractures with less fluid consumed. The objective of this work is to study the effect of initial water saturation of rock on the performance of StimuFrac fluid in ½ foot cubic rock samples and under representative EGS pressure/temperature conditions using cyclic and constant flow rate injection strategies. The fracturing results are compared with results using different fracturing fluids in terms of controlling fracture propagation rates, fracture hydraulic conductivity, breakdown pressures and volumes of fluids required. Methods/Procedures/Process: In all tests, water was initially injected into the rock to increase the water saturation before the fracturing processes to simulate actual geothermal reservoir conditions. For the cyclic injection, one complete cycle consisted of (1) a PAA slug (or water slug) injection followed by (2) CO2 injection to initiate the fracture. In the second step of the first cycle, the pressure of CO2 is increased until a maximum pressure is reached (fracture is initiated at this moment), and then the injection of CO2 is allowed for another 30 seconds to propagate the fracture. Then, the two-step cycle of PAA followed by CO2 injection (up to 2-4 mL/min) was continued. For the constant flow rate injection strategies, the initial water saturation was increased by injecting water at 1000 psi and 200°C for three days. After that, an initial slug of water, CO2, or PAA was injected and then fracturing was initiated and propagated by injecting CO2 at a constant flow rate. Applications/Significance/Novelty: The results of this study suggest that water saturation, especially near the wellbore region, will significantly affect the fracturing fluid transmission into the rock porous media by changing the relative permeability of CO2 or water, thus affecting the fracture initiation and propagation. In this study, fracturing with cyclic injection or constant flow rate injection methods were performed using three different kinds of fluids systems. These fluids are water, CO2, or CO2 with PAA. Splitting the rock samples in half after fracturing reveals that the fracture propagation is significantly limited under these high water saturated conditions compared to dry initial conditions: The fractures propagate less than 1/3 length of the distance from the wellbore to rock surface, and in some cases no fracture is generated. This may be caused by the fact that leak-off is dominating the fracturing process and the injected fluid flow rate is not high enough to overcome the leak-off even under high flow rate injection conditions. Additionally, CO2 could be leaking off into the wellbore annulus and this may be making it more difficult to generate pressure gradients away from the near-wellbore region.

Published: January 28, 2022


Jian G., R.S. Sarathi, C.A. Fernandez, J.A. Burghardt, and A. Bonneville. 2022. Effect of Initial Water Saturation on The Performance of Fracturing Fluids With and Without Polyallylamine under Simulated EGS Conditions. In Proceedings of the 47th Workshop on Geothermal Reservoir Engineering, Stanford Geothermal Workshop, February 7-9, 2022, Stanford, CA, Paper No. SGP-TR-223. Stanford, California:Stanford University. PNNL-SA-169717.

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