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Original Article | Open Access

Main controlling factors of fracturing fluid imbibition in shale fracture network

State Key Laboratory for Geomechanics and Deep Underground Engineering, China University of Mining and Technology (Beijing),  Beijing 100083, P. R. China
Institute of Geophysics and Geomatics, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan 430074, P. R. China
School of Civil Engineering, The Unversity of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
Process System Engineering, University of Regina, Regina, SK, Canada
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Abstract

After fracturing operations, a large amount of fracturing fluid is retained in shale fracture network, resulting in low flowback efficiency. This has been attributed to the imbibition of fracturing fluid into matrix pores. However, it is unclear how the imbibition mechanism is involved, what are its governing laws and controling parameters in fracture networks? Based on the three-dimensional water imbibition theory of matrix blocks, a fracture network model is established, and a number of dimensionless controling parameters are proposed and analyzed for flowback efficiency. The results show that the imbibition characteristics of fracturing fluid in fracture network are mainly determined by two dimensionless numbers; namely, dimensionless imbibition time, fracture width, and imbibition capacity. The dimensionless imbibition time characterizes the contact time between the fracturing fluid and shale formation, which negatively correlates to the flowback efficiency. The dimensionless fracture width is the ratio of the fracture width to the rock length, which is inversely proportional to the flowback efficiency. Smaller value of the dimensionless fracture width corresponds to larger contact area of fracturing fluid and shale, leading to a lower flowback efficiency. The dimensionless imbibition capacity depicts the capacity of shale reservoirs to imbibe fracturing fluid, which has a negative linear correlation with flowback efficiency. In addition, dimensionless time and fracture width are related to the fracturing operations, and are enhanced by increasing the shut-in periods and proppant concentration. Therefore, the flowback efficiency can be controlled by changing fracturing operations. The predictive method of the flowback efficiency established here is of great significance for reservoir damage analysis and flowback regime optimization.

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Capillarity
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Cite this article:
Yang L, Wang S, Cai J, et al. Main controlling factors of fracturing fluid imbibition in shale fracture network. Capillarity, 2018, 1(1): 1-10. https://doi.org/10.26804/capi.2018.01.01

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Received: 07 March 2018
Revised: 29 March 2018
Accepted: 03 April 2018
Published: 10 April 2018
© The Author(s) 2018

This article is distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC-ND) license, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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