Surfactant chemistry and its impact on oil and gas recovery in shale plays
In current low oil price environment, it has become critical to enhance production and add reserves, considering that only a limited number of wells are being completed via hydraulic fracturing in shale plays. Surfactant is a fracturing additive that can potentially enhance initial production and sustain long term production, without making significant changes to fracture design and pumping schedule on location. However, surfactant must be carefully selected in order to make wells flow better. A typical assumption for the use of surfactants is that traditional surfactants will work appropriately across a large gamut of fields, but our experiences show that inappropriate application leads to lower efficiency of the oil recovery and thereby a diminished return on production. Operators should strive to understand how surfactants extract the oil in the first place and then select surfactants cautiously in order to maximize recovery and minimize risk.
This presentation presents a concise overview on surfactant chemistry and its most relevant parameters to hydraulic fracturing. In particular, the key characteristics of surfactant additives was discussed in terms of conventional wisdom and newer chemistry. Insights were also provided into potential syngeries between surfactant and other additives such as friction reducer, scale inhibitor, biocides and proppant, thereby leading to a better fracturing fluids design. When properly selected, surfactant containing fracturing fluids tend to lead to better well cleanup and higher ultimate oil recovery.
Liang Xu is technical manager for frac fluid additives at Multi-Chem, a Halliburton Service. He has been working in the oil patch about ten years. He's responsible for developing fracturing additives including surfactant, friction reducer and proppant transport, etc. He was the recipient of the MVP award for surfactant technologies from Halliburton Academy and his RockOn surfactant technology was voted the best production chemical in 2013 by World Oil. He has authored or co-authored over fifteen SPE papers and several issued patents. He holds a PhD in chemical engineering from the University of Houston.