Hydrolyzed Polyacrylamide- Polyethylenimine- Dextran Sulfate Polymer Gel System as a Water Shut-Off Agent in Unconventional Gas Reservoirs



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Technologies such as horizontal wells and multi-stage hydraulic fracturing have made ultra-low permeability shale and tight gas reservoirs productive but the industry is still on the learning curve when it comes to addressing various production issues. Some of the problems encountered while hydraulically fracturing these reservoirs are the absence of frac barriers, thinner shales and the increased presence of geological hazards. Induced vertical fractures sometimes extend to an underlying aquifer and become a conduit to the well. We have developed a low-concentration, low-viscosity and delayed-crosslink polymeric gel system as a water shutoff agent for hydraulically-fractured tight gas and shale reservoirs, where some fractures might connect to water rich zones. The system also is a significant improvement over traditional flowing gels for fracture water shutoff in conventional reservoirs because of these features. The gel uses high molecular weight hydrolyzed polyacrylamide (HPAM) at low polymer concentrations with a delayed organic crosslinker. This crosslinker is more environmentally benign and provides much longer gelation time and stronger final gels than comparable polymer loadings with chromium carboxylate crosslinkers at higher temperatures. The low viscosity system allows low-pressure extrusion of gelant into the narrow-aperture fractures present in unconventional gas reservoirs. The gelant can be pumped at low pressures due to lower polymer concentrations and delayed gelation point. This allows the potential to seal problem zones that are producing excess water even when the fractures conducting water have very narrow apertures. By impeding water production, the gel system developed here can effectively delay water loading thereby avoiding abandonment or installation of expensive equipment with increased operational costs, thus extending life and reserves of unconventional gas wells.