Fracturing is a well stimulation process performed to improve production
from geological formations where natural flow is restricted. Fluid is pumped into
a well at sufficiently high pressure to fracture the formation. A proppant (sand
or ceramic material) is then added to the fluid and injected into the fracture to
prop it open, thereby permitting the hydrocarbons to flow more freely into the wellbore.
Once the sand has been placed into the fracture, the fluid flows out of the well
leaving the sand in place. This creates a very conductive pipeline into the formation.
Normal fracturing operations require that the fluid be viscosified to help create
the fracture in the reservoir and to carry the proppant into this fracture. After
placing the proppant, the viscous fluid is then required to “break”
back to its native state with very little viscosity so it can flow back out of the
well, leaving the proppant in place.
Increasingly, non-viscous slick water fracturing treatments are being pumped into
Shale and Tight (low permeability) reservoirs, which are called Unconventional Reservoirs.
These slick water treatments carry proppant without the need of viscosifiers, resulting
in reduced cost and less potential damage to the formation.