Ceramic Proppant Transport and Placement in Heterogeneous Fracture Systems


Proppant transport modeling through fractures with slick water fluid systems assumes uniform and homogeneous fracture widths by implying constant fluid behavior at wall boundaries. Hydraulic fracturing mineback operations have demonstrated that induced fractures are heterogeneous and varying in width. This work investigates the impact of fracture width heterogeneity, roughness, and leak-off on ceramic proppant transport and settling, using proppant distribution concepts of Equilibrium Dune Level (EDL) and Equivalent Dune Distance (EDX). Experimental work was conducted to investigate the impact of fracture width heterogeneity by varying fracture width along two plexiglass sheets. To mimic actual hydraulic fractures, the injection side was designed as the largest width, and the width of the opposite end was reduced. The ratio between the injection and tip side widths was varied to study the effect of changing fracture width. One ratio was used as a base to study the effect of varying wall roughness and leak-off on the proppant placement. Results of this work demonstrate the impacts of reservoir heterogeneity, wall roughness, and leak off on proppant conveyance and distribution. Fracture width and wall roughness have a significant effect on proppant distribution along a fracture. Increasing width heterogeneity and roughness provide a better proppant distribution and thus better fracture propped conductivity. The effect of leak-off on proppant distribution was monitored, and it showed that proppant followed water movement. Consequently, average water volume that left the slot was affected by proppant distribution.

Meeting Name

SPE/AAPG/SEG Unconventional Resources Technology Conference 2017 (2017: Jul. 24-26, Austin, TX)


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Ceramic materials; Proppants; Reservoirs (water); Resource valuation; Transport properties, Fluid behavior; Fracture systems; Fracture width; Proppant transports; Reservoir heterogeneity; Wall boundaries; Wall roughness; Water movements, Fracture

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


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© 2017 Unconventional Resources Technology Conference (URTEC), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jul 2017