Development and field application of highly conductive, proppant-free channel fracturing ///

Extensive laboratory experiments and large-scale testing were performed to evaluate the formation and stability of proppant aggregates and proppant-free channels (PFCs). Proppant-laden slurry (prepared by mixing fracturing sand coated with an agglomerating agent in a gel fluid) and cross-linkable, proppant-free spacer fluid were pulsed intermittently to form proppant-aggregated masses surrounded by proppant-free gel slugs. Highly conductive channels were formed, surrounding the proppant aggregates, after cross-linked gel slugs were broken and removed from the propped fracture, leaving behind proppant-aggregated masses that supported the closed fracture.

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