A Critical Review of using High Viscosity Friction Reducers as Fracturing Fluids for Hydraulic Fracturing Applications


The primary purpose of using traditional friction reducers in stimulation treatments is to overcome the tubular drag while pumping at high flow rates. Hydraulic fracturing is the main technology used to produce hydrocarbon from extremely low permeability rock. Even though slickwater (water fracturing with few chemical additives) used to be one of the most common fracturing fluids, several concerns are still associated with its use, including usage of freshwater, high-cost operation, and environmental issues. Therefore, current practice in hydraulic fracturing is to use alternative fluid systems that are cost effective and have less environmental impact, such as fluids which utilize high viscosity friction reducers (HVFRs), which typically are high molecular weight polyacrylamides. This paper carefully reviews and summarizes over 40 published papers, including experimental work, field case studies, and simulation work. This work summarizes the most recent improvements of using HVFR's, including capability of carrying proppant, reducing water and chemical requirements, its compatibility with produced water, and environmental benefits in hydraulic fracturing treatments. A further goal is to gain insight into the effective design of HVFR based fluid systems. The findings of this study are analyzed from over 26 field case studies of many unconventional reservoirs. In comparing to the traditional hydraulic fracture fluids system, the paper summaries many potential advantages offered by HVFR fluids, including: superior proppant transport capability, almost 100% retained conductivity, cost reduction, minimizing chemicals usage by 50%, less operating equipment on location, reducing water consumption by 30%, and fewer environmental concerns. The study also reported that the common HVFR concentration used was 4gpt. HVFRs were used in the field at temperature ranges from 120°F to 340°F. Finally, this work addresses up-to-date challenges and emphasizes necessities for using high viscosity friction reducers as alternative fracture fluids.

Meeting Name

SPE Oklahoma City Oil and Gas Symposium 2019, OKOG 2019 (2019: Apr. 9-10, Oklahoma City, OK)


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Additives; Cost effectiveness; Cost reduction; Environmental impact; Friction; Hydraulic machinery; Proppants; Viscosity, Environmental benefits; Environmental concerns; Environmental issues; High molecular weight; Hydraulic fracturing treatments; Low permeability rock; Stimulation treatments; Unconventional reservoirs, Fracturing fluids

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Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


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© 2019 Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Apr 2019

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