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Flowback quality characterization for horizontal wells in Wattenberg field




Jiang, Xi, author
Carlson, Kenneth H., advisor
Omur-Ozbek, Pinar, committee member
Bradley, Thomas H., committee member

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The development of hydraulic fracturing has driven both the need for more fresh water, and also has increased the amount of flowback being produced. Faced with a shortage of usable water, transportation issues, strict environmental regulation and environmental concerns, flowback management is an important topic for oil and gas companies. Recycle and reuse flowback waste is a promising method, since it can simultaneously reduce the need of more fresh water for fracking and decrease the potential environmental issues. Understanding the quality characteristics of flowback is significant for implementing the required treatment of flowback water. Flowback flows back to the surface during and after hydraulic fracturing and often flows for over a period of 3-4 weeks, though most wells finish in seven to 10 days. The fluid contains high total dissolved solids (TDS) and high salinity, and also contains some of the same chemicals that are pumped into wells. The volume of flowback can range from 10%-50% of initial injected fracturing fluid. In our study, sampling time was from March to April 2013 and all the samples were taken separately from Wells Ranch State PC USX #AA16-69-1HNL and Wells Ranch State USX #AA16-68-1HNL. The results in this report used well #68 and well #69. Well #68 was injected with PermStim fracture fluid (injected pH 5.0) and well #69 was injected with SliverStim fracture fluid (injected pH 10.2). Wellhead pressure, temperature, pH, dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2), bicarbonate (HCO3) and dissolved hydrogen sulfide (H2S) were tested in the field once samples were collected. TDS, chloride, sulfate, bicarbonate, aluminum, barium, boron, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, silicon, strontium and zirconium were tested by E-Analytics Laboratory. The objective of this paper is to analyze flowback water quality from two horizontal wells, located in the same place, which were injected with two different fracturing fluids. Based on the results of the temporal quality trend, this paper also intends to analyze the impact of different pH on water quality and the possible chemical reactions that occur during drilling and fracturing phases.


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Wattenberg field
flowback water
water quality
fracturing fluid


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