Redefining Shale Fracturing Fluids

July 13, 2018

Author: Dan Fu, VP – Engineering & Technology

It’s important in our industry that technology research and development translates into successful downhole applications. At BJ, our team of scientists are actively developing technologies focused on meeting clients’ needs.  When developing new fluids, we look for white spaces in the current offering, potential step-change innovations and consider operational requirements related to reliability, efficiency, and cost.   

Fracturing fluid development has mirrored the history of the oil and gas industry’s expansion from conventional to unconventional hydrocarbon sources, and the changes in requirements. Technological developments in the last two decades and the growth of multistage fracturing have enabled a shift towards unconventional reservoirs.

An example of fluids developed for unconventional reservoirs are friction reducers. With a greater focus on economic recovery, friction reducers have gained popularity in the last decade. 

Friction reducers offer significant advantages over all other fracturing fluids in an increasingly cost-conscious industry. They can come in various forms and can deliver high viscosity, rapid dissolvability in water, high levels of friction reduction and overall enhanced process efficiency.

To ensure we could offer a complete product portfolio to our clients, we screened 70 select products from 17 different suppliers including the leading manufacturers. We tested the products in varying water qualities from fresh water up to 275,000 ppm total dissolved solids (TDS). We then conducted over 600 hours of testing to determine the performance characteristics of each product based on hydration rate, maximum friction reduction, proppant settling, rheology, viscosity, and more. Based on this rigorous testing, we selected only the highest performing, cost-effective products.

In addition, we identified gaps within the current offering, and developed and patented our ThinFrac™ MP friction reducer that enhances proppant transport. To ensure improved fracture conductivity, we incorporated oxidizable linkages along its backbone, which allows for precise breakability.  

Looking ahead, I believe the uptake of our friction reducer technology across North America will continue at a fast pace.  Our team is continually developing fracturing fluids and other technologies to further enhance current operations and anticipate future requirements.