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Open AccessArticle

Experimental Study of Matrix Permeability of Gas Shale: An Application to CO2-Based Shale Fracturing

Deep Earth Energy Laboratory, Department of Civil Engineering, Monash University, Building 60, Melbourne, VIC 3800, Australia
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Energies 2018, 11(4), 702; https://doi.org/10.3390/en11040702
Received: 15 January 2018 / Revised: 5 March 2018 / Accepted: 16 March 2018 / Published: 21 March 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Unconventional Natural Gas (UNG) Recoveries 2018)
Because the limitations of water-based fracturing fluids restrict their fracturing efficiency and scope of application, liquid CO2 is regarded as a promising substitute, owing to its unique characteristics, including its greater environmental friendliness, shorter clean-up time, greater adsorption capacity than CH4 and less formation damage. Conversely, the disadvantage of high leak-off rate of CO2 fracturing due to its very low viscosity determines its applicability in gas shales with ultra-low permeability, accurate measurement of shale permeability to CO2 is therefore crucial to evaluate the appropriate injection rate and total consumption of CO2. The main purpose of this study is to accurately measure shale permeability to CO2 flow during hydraulic fracturing, and to compare the leak-off of CO2 and water fracturing. A series of permeability tests was conducted on cylindrical shale samples 38 mm in diameter and 19 mm long using water, CO2 in different phases and N2 considering multiple influencing factors. According to the experimental results, the apparent permeability of shale matrix to gaseous CO2 or N2 is greatly over-estimated compared with intrinsic permeability or that of liquid CO2 due to the Klinkenberg effect. This phenomenon explains that the permeability values measured under steady-state conditions are much higher than those under transient conditions. Supercritical CO2 with higher molecular kinetic energy has slightly higher permeability than liquid CO2. The leak-off rate of CO2 is an order of magnitude higher than that of water under the same injection conditions due to its lower viscosity. The significant decrease of shale permeability to gas after water flooding is due to the water block effect, and much longer clean-up time and deep water imbibition depth greatly impede the gas transport from the shale matrix to the created fractures. Therefore, it is necessary to substitute water-based fracturing fluids with liquid or super-critical CO2 in clay-abundant shale formations. View Full-Text
Keywords: CO2 permeability; leak-off rate; shale gas; hydraulic fracturing; water flooding; formation damage CO2 permeability; leak-off rate; shale gas; hydraulic fracturing; water flooding; formation damage
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Zhang, C.; Ranjith, P.G. Experimental Study of Matrix Permeability of Gas Shale: An Application to CO2-Based Shale Fracturing. Energies 2018, 11, 702.

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