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Enhancing the performance of emulsion-based friction reducers

PETROSTEP® FRB-5 is a surfactant formulation that enhances the performance of emulsion-based friction reducers (FRs) in brines. It enables operators to formulate their fracturing fluids in recycled and produced waters, resulting in lower cost and more sustainable operations. PETROSTEP FRB-5 enhances the performance of low-cost 

freshwater FRs to match more expensive brine-tolerant FRs. PETROSTEP FRB-5 also helps the operator optimize friction reducer dosage, which minimizes the severity of formation damage from the fracturing fluid. 

Rigorous laboratory testing has demonstrated the efficacy of these surfactant formulations with a wide range of anionic and cationic friction reducers in brines, some having total dissolved solids (TDS) of more than 250,000 mg/L.  

Figure 1: Average pump rates achieved by using a freshwater FR with and without PETROSTEP® FRB in a well in the Permian basin. PETROSTEP® FRB resulted in 25% higher pump rates at 50% lower FR loading.
Figure 1: Average pump rates achieved by using a freshwater FR with and without PETROSTEP® FRB in a well in the Permian basin. PETROSTEP® FRB resulted in 25% higher pump rates at 50% lower FR loading.

Case Study 1: A freshwater FR was used in 6 slickwater fracturing stages in a well in the Permian basin. Two stages were completed with the FR alone, while 4 stages included PETROSTEP FRB at an average concentration of approximately 5% of the FR loading. The mix water contained 90,000 mg/L TDS. The concentrations of the other components of the fracturing fluid – scale inhibitor and biocide – were held constant throughout. The surface treating pressure was held constant at ~8,000 psi to facilitate comparison between stages. In the stages that employed PETROSTEP FRB, the operator was able to increase their pump rates by 25%, while requiring nearly 50% less FR to achieve the same surface treating pressure, resulting in significant operating cost reduction and time savings due to shorter stage durations (Figure 1). 

Figure 2: Scatter plot of average pump rates and surface treating pressures from 38 stages in a well in the Permian basin. The performance of the freshwater FR with PETROSTEP® FRB was indistinguishable from that of the brine-tolerant FR.
Figure 2: Scatter plot of average pump rates and surface treating pressures from 38 stages in a well in the Permian basin. The performance of the freshwater FR with PETROSTEP® FRB was indistinguishable from that of the brine-tolerant FR.

Case Study 2: Another field trial in the Permian basin evaluated the performance of an inexpensive freshwater FR with PETROSTEP FRB compared to a more expensive brine-tolerant FR. The study included 31 fracturing stages in the same well. 6 stages were completed using the brine-tolerant FR while 25 stages employed a freshwater FR with approximately 5% PETROSTEP FRB (relative to FR volume). The mix water contained 110,000 mg/L TDS. The concentrations of the other components of the fracturing fluid were held constant between stages. The two fluid systems performed nearly identically when analyzed over the entire study (Figure 2), even though there were variations in treating pressures and pump rates between stages and wells. Additionally, the average FR loadings in the two fluid systems were nearly identical. These results enabled the operator to reduce cost by replacing their expensive brine-tolerant FR with an inexpensive freshwater FR enhanced by a small amount of PETROSTEP FRB.  

Download the PETROSTEP FRB-5 Brochure or watch the WorldOil ShaleTech™ Hydraulic Fracturing Forum webcast recording of "Boosting the Performance of Friction Reducers," presented by Aaron Sanders, Ph.D., R&D Technical Director, Stepan Oilfield Solutions, to learn more. 

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