Design and Analysis of Improved Swelling and Degradable Diverting Agent for Multistage Hydraulic Fracturing

Keito Ikebata, Tomoki Onishi, Kenji Furui*, Shusaku Mandai, Yasuhiro Hirano, Yuya Kanamori, Bessie Psihogios, Ryosuke Taniguchi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Fracturing fluid diversion plays a crucial role in maximizing the well productivity of multistage fractured wells. Proper sizing and material design of diverting agents are key elements to effectively bridge and plug perforations and fractures during treatment. In this study, we present an improved design for a water-soluble diverting agent that can cover a range of fracture widths. In addition, a wellbore flow model that predicts the swelling and dissolution behaviors of diverting agents flowing from the surface to the fractures was developed for field applications. Butenediol vinyl alcohol copolymer (BVOH), which has elastic and sticking properties in water, is used as a diverting agent. Cylindrical pellets and smaller sized powder, made from the polymer, were mixed to bridge and plug hydraulic fractures. BVOH diverting agents were evaluated for slit widths of 1–4 mm with different pellet geometries using a high-pressure and high-temperature filtration apparatus. The swelling and dissolution rates depend on many parameters such as the temperature, dissolution time, crystallinity degree, and geometry. In this study, empirical correlations that predict the swelling and dissolution rates of BVOH polymers for various formulations were developed and implemented in a wellbore flow model that simulates fluid flow and heat transfer during pumping operations. A theoretical case study of a multistage hydraulic fracturing treatment was also presented to demonstrate the applicability and effectiveness of the treatment. The filtration test results with various diverting agent designs indicate that the length and diameter of the pellets affect the performance and effectiveness of the bridging and plugging fracture-like slits. Moreover, an optimum pellet size exists for different slit sizes. With modified pellet size and diameter ratios, wider slits of 3–4 mm can be effectively plugged by diverting agents with reduced leakoff volumes. The swelling and dissolution models correlated well with the experimental data, considering the temperature, dissolution time, and crystallinity degree. The case studies presented in this study illustrate that the models can predict the time required for the diverting agents to dissolve under field conditions and determine whether the diverting agents pumped into the well provide sufficient conditions for diversion. Furthermore, the study results indicate that the pump rate and injection conditions before pumping the diverting agent are key controlling factors in determining the dynamic downhole temperatures and thus affect the time required for the degradation of the diverting agent. In addition, a field trial result is presented to demonstrate the effectiveness of the swellable, BVOH diverting agent at low downhole temperatures, and hydraulic fracturing treatment in the Permian Basin. Swelling diverting agents exhibit a more elastic behavior than existing particulate diverting agents. Swelling polymers are less abrasive and thus reduce the risk of equipment damage during preparation and pumping. The wellbore flow simulator developed in this study helps stimulation engineers optimize material types, particle-size distribution, and concentration of diverting agents for various field applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)414-430
Number of pages17
JournalSPE Production and Operations
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Aug

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


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