An Effective Model of Pipe Friction Prediction from Laboratory Characterization to Field Applications for Friction Reducers


Slickwater fracturing technology has been widely used for well stimulation because it is inexpensive and causes relatively little formation damage. Friction reducers are always employed in the slickwater fracturing fluid system due to the high friction pressures resulting from the high rates of fluid injection. Polyacrylamide-based polymer is the most common friction reducer in the industry. Many papers have reported the results of tests on friction reducers in water-based fluids in laboratory-scale straight and coiled tubes, but few have attempted to address the gap between laboratory and field operation data. For example, laboratory tests using conventional fluid rheological parameters do not accurately predict friction reduction when applied to the large pipes used in field operations. Friction reducers' evaluation using full-scale flow loop testing with tube sizes comparable to those used in field operations are typically expensive and require large volumes of fluids, making them impractical. This paper describes an attempt to address the gap between laboratory characterizations and field operations, so called "diameter effect". It reports a study of two common friction reducers tested in a laboratory setup. It introduces a new effective model based on fluid velocity profile to reliably predict field friction reduction from laboratory results. The correlation between laboratory and field data is validated by comparing predictions with actual field data from a large number of slickwater fracturing treatments over a wide range of pumping rates and well tube sizes. The study demonstrates that correct lab testing parameters are essential for reliably using laboratory results to predict the effectiveness and performance of friction reducers under field conditions.

Meeting Name

SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition (2011: Oct. 30-Nov. 2, Denver, CO)


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Coiled Tubes; Diameter Effect; Field Application; Field Conditions; Field Data; Fluid Systems; Fluid Velocities; Formation Damage; Friction Pressure; Friction Reduction; High Rate; In-Field; Laboratory Scale; Laboratory Set-Up; Laboratory Test; Model-Based OPC; Pumping Rate; Rheological Parameter; Slickwater Fracturing Treatments; Tube Size; Water-Based Fluids

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


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© 2011 Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Oct 2011