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The hottest onshore gas plays in North America are shales, from the Bakken, Horn River, Windsor, Antrim and Marcellus Shales in the north to the Barnett, Woodford, Haynesville and Fayetteville Shales further south. Operators are also investigating potential plays in many other regions globally. In virtually all cases, economic production requires hydraulic fracturing, which means pumping large volumes of fluid and proppant into the formation and then waiting for the well to unload for gas production. However, in low-permeability reservoirs generally and shale gas reservoirs in particular, poor or slow fluid recovery can result from the effects of formation capillary pressure, formation wetting characteristics and unfavorable gas-water surface tension conditions. To address these interacting properties, a flowback enhancement additive, typically containing a surfactant, may be included in the fracturing fluid system. Myriad options are commercially available. Choosing the right surfactant is critical to optimizing the flowback.
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