This paper concerns the effect of proppant embedment related to hydraulic fracturing treatment. This phenomenon occurs if the strength of a dry reservoir rock is lower than that of proppant grains. The aim of this research was the laboratory determination of the loss of width of the proppant pack built of light ceramic grains. A laboratory simulation of the embedment phenomenon was carried out for a shale rock on a hydraulic press in a heated embedment chamber specially prepared for this purpose. Tests were conducted at high temperature and axial compressive stress conditions. The surfaces of cylindrical core plugs (fracture faces) were imaged under an optical microscope equipped with 3D software. The fracture faces were examined and compared before and after the embedment phenomenon. Analysis of the obtained images of the fracture face was done, based on a research method of the embedment phenomenon developed at the Oil and Gas Institute—National Research Institute. On the basis of the laboratory tests, the parameters characterizing the embedment phenomenon were defined and discussed. In addition, the percentage reduction in the width of the proppant pack was determined.
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