The proposed technology is based on developments by 3M and the University of Texas. Sand surfaces are treated with a durable 3M non-ionic fluoropolymer that alters rock wettability to neutral wet. The treatment can be applied to sand grains or ceramics used as proppants but also to the near well bore area as a well intervention to increase production. The treatment is not a coating because it only attaches single molecules on sand surfaces. Therefore, the treatment is only one molecule thick and does not materially increase the size of proppant particles or reduce the size of pore throats.
The benefit of altering wettability is to reduce capillary pressure, increase the mobility of liquids and thus increase gas, condensate and liquids relative permeability and production. In certain circumstances, liquids may be retained by capillary forces on sand surfaces in the narrow confines of fractures and pore throats. Accumulations of liquids restrict flow of gas and mobile liquids, thus reducing production, sometimes dramatically so. Treating proppant particles will reduce the amount of liquids accumulation in fractures, allowing mobile fluids to be produced faster. Using the treatment as a well intervention to treat the near wellbore area may restore production levels to historical high values by removing liquids blockages.
The technology has already been used in 11 wells around the world and these operators are planning repeat applications. This technology is being introduced to western Canada at a time when light tight oil and liquids rich gas formations are increasingly targeted. It will provide producers with a new tool to increase production in applicable situation.
The purpose of this PTAC Consortium Project is to deploy the 3M technology for altering wettability in a manner that controls costs and maximizes the probability of success. Each consortium member company will commit to purchasing from 3M and applying the treatment in one of its wells. Information about methodology and results of each trial will be shared with all other consortium member. Thus, each member will benefit from the learning of all consortium trials but will only pay for its trial, thus reducing its full cycle costs for deploying a new technology. The PTAC project will pay for PTAC costs and for retaining expert consultants to acquire information from all trials and publish technical reports.
Project scope is modeled on the successful Ultra-Light Weight Proppant project, also with 3M. It will involve a number of light oil and shale gas companies. Each company will use the technology in one of their wells at their cost. A consultant selected by the Steering Committee and hired by PTAC will obtain, consolidate and report test results from all the trials. In this manner, each participating company benefits from the learnings of all the trial conducted under the consortium.