Formation damage and impact on gas flow caused by biofilms growing within proppant packing used in hydraulic fracturing

S. Bottero, C. Picioreanu, M. Enzien, M. C.M. Van Loosdrecht, H. Bruining, T. Heimovaara

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

40 Scopus citations


Formation damage as a result of hydraulic fracturing of unconventional gas reservoirs is known to occur by many speculated processes such as: filter cakes on fracture faces, matrix swelling, cleat plugging, gel damage and water blocking. In low permeability matrices, capillary forces can also prevent effective dewatering and result in water blocking of gas flow. Another type of formation damage that may be qualitatively understood but not quantified is the impact of biofilms. This paper combines two micro-scale modeling techniques to evaluate and predict the effects of biofilms on proppant packed fractures in unconventional gas reservoirs. Both a two phase flow model for gas and liquid and a modern cellular automaton biofilm model were combined to simulate the impact on gas flow rates in biofouled propped fractures. Initial simulations of just two phase flow without biofilms but varied proppant surface wettabilities, indicated that hydrophobic proppant surfaces provide better dewatering than hydrophilic surfaces. Gas flow rates dropped in half when biofilms were added to the model at a pore volume of approximately 10%. In addition, further modeling indicated even the same biofilm volume but different distribution within grains and pore-throats can impact gas flow rates as much as 10%. It is hoped that this work will help hydraulic fracturing engineers improve their fracture designs and subsequent treatments to maximize gas flow rates from their assets. Copyright 2010, Society of Petroleum Engineers.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings - SPE International Symposium on Formation Damage Control
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Jul 8 2010
Externally publishedYes


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