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Clariant Oil Services Fracture Pre-flush Additive is Environmentally-Acceptable

Benefits

  • Superior environmental performance secured fracturing account for the pumping company
  • Use of SURFTREAT allowed faster return to production due to better well clean-up
  • Application of SURFTREAT gave a 40% increase in production when compared to the previous strategy
  • SURFTREAT provided superior performance for mutual solvency compared to the incumbent, decreasing chemical use

Background

A large, international fracturing and stimulaton company required an alternative chemistry to use in their fracturing operations in order to address the environmental concerns expressed by their client base. The incumbent chemistry used was 2-butoxyethanol (2-BE, BGE, EGMBE, butyl cellosolve) and was used as a pre-flush additive, acid additive and a component of visco-elastic surfactant (VES) formulations. EGMBE is a mutual solvent and it has been shown to provide a significant benefit to the success of given treatments.

The function of the pre-flush additive is to remove and prevent water blocks or emulsion formation caused by a large aqueous pill entering a zone with hydrocarbon material, as well as preferentially wetting the formation to allow for better propagation of the fracture through the production zone and post-fracture production of the load water and, ultimately, hydrocarbons. Recently, EGMBE has come under environmental scrutiny due to toxicity concerns. Precautions need to be taken with EGMBE as exposure to high levels has allegedly led to reported nose and eye irritation, headaches and vomiting.

Clariant Oil Services Solutions and Value Delivered

In order to address the concerns of the industry, Clariant Oil Services developed a technical equivalent for EGMBE that also provides superior environmental characteristics. Of the many products synthesized, the SURFTREAT 9000 range of products was chosen for its mutual solvency and wettability modification properties. The SURFTREAT 9000 range of replacement chemistries showed a far superior toxicity profile to EGMBE, whilst maintaining the same high biodegradation characteristics (Figure 1).

This product has had a profound effect on the stimulation market, providing a positive environmental impact. The product safety and material handling implications are greatly improved, as fewer workers are now exposed to EGMBE and are instead handling a far more benign chemistry.

Additionally, the new SURFTREAT 9000 range of products function more effectively and over a broader application range than EGMBE. Laboratory tests showed SURFTREAT 9000 products to have greater mutual solvency efficacy when compared to EGMBE, and core flood tests showed a greater regain to permeability when using SURFTREAT products in combination with a VES package.

When applied in the field as part of the multiple fracture jobs, the flowback performance of wells not using a mutual solvent was poor when compared to wells that did use EGMBE as part of the fracture pre-flush. The incremental benefit to production was more than 100% additional gas realized over 1,000 days of flow (Graph 1). When the environmentally-acceptable SURFTREAT 9000 range of products was used in place of EGMBE, performance was even better. Typically over the first six months of flowback, when comparing wells treated with EGMBE and wells treated with the SURFTREAT product, there was more than 40% additional production benefit (Graph 2).

Due to its higher efficacy, performance and cost structure, the new product can provide an economic benefit over that of EGMBE. Clariant Oil Services is actively contributing to the health, safety and environmental performance of the oil and gas industry and reputation of fracturing applications. These benefits are being passed on to the many operating companies who are utilizing this technology. Benefits to the operator are apparent in the superior performance, better economics and reputation-enhancing environmental profile.

Figure 1: Comparison Chart of 2-Butoxyethanol to SURFTREAT Product

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Graph 1: Production Profile When Using EGMBE vs. No Mutual Solvent

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Graph 2: Production Profile When Using SURFTREAT vs. EGMBE

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