Advanced Analysis of Hydraulic Fracture Propagation and Efficiency Using Natural Gas as an Alternative to Water

Period of Performance: 02/21/2017 - 11/20/2017


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

GeoMechanics Technologies
103 E. Lemon Ave. Suite 200
Monrovia, CA 91016
Firm POC, Principal Investigator


With current hydraulic fracturing processes, large volumes of water are required to stimulate natural gas and oil production from tight shale formations. Moreover, unconventional reservoirs are water-sensitive due to their high clay content, which may lead to formation damage and potential reduction to hydrocarbon production. Over the past years, new technologies have been presented as an alternative to minimize or eliminate the use of water in hydraulic fracturing for unconventional reservoirs, improve resource recovery, cost management and reduce environmental impact. As part of these technologies, energized fluids have been developed to mitigate the environmental impact caused by applying water. When a fracture is energized, the amount of water pumped during hydraulic fracturing is reduced or eliminated by adding a gas component to the fracturing fluid. The less water that is pumped, the less damage it will create. The technical objectives of this project are to further develop and demonstrate the use of natural gas as an optimum fracturing fluid for tight shale gas formations. GeoMechanics Technologies plans to perform and document a comprehensive review on the transport properties of gas and water mixtures. We will investigate the rheology differences of conventionally-used fresh water and the natural gas mixture to determine how this affects hydraulic fracturing. Numerical modeling techniques will be applied, simulating hydraulic fracturing using various mixtures of natural gas and water to determine an effective combination. Gas production will also be simulated to further test the effectiveness of the induced fracture. The technical and economic feasibility of this novel technology will be considered and documented in our final report. This proposed research effort will provide quantitative assessment of the practical and economic limits and potential benefits of using combined natural gas and water mixtures as a fracture treatment fluid to significantly reduce fresh water usage in large volume, multiple stage hydraulic fracturing treatments representative of those being applied in shale gas and shale oil plays.