Experimental investigation and performance evaluation of modified viscoelastic surfactant (VES) as a new thickening fracturing fluid

Z. H. Chieng, Mysara Eissa Mohyaldinn*, Anas M. Hassan, Hans Bruining

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
39 Downloads (Pure)


In hydraulic fracturing, fracturing fluids are used to create fractures in a hydrocarbon reservoir throughout transported proppant into the fractures. The application of many fields proves that conventional fracturing fluid has the disadvantages of residue(s), which causes serious clogging of the reservoir's formations and, thus, leads to reduce the permeability in these hydrocarbon reservoirs. The development of clean (and cost-effective) fracturing fluid is a main driver of the hydraulic fracturing process. Presently, viscoelastic surfactant (VES)-fluid is one of the most widely used fracturing fluids in the hydraulic fracturing development of unconventional reservoirs, due to its non-residue(s) characteristics. However, conventional single-chain VES-fluid has a low temperature and shear resistance. In this study, two modified VES-fluid are developed as new thickening fracturing fluids, which consist of more single-chain coupled by hydrotropes (i.e., ionic organic salts) through non-covalent interaction. This new development is achieved by the formulation of mixing long chain cationic surfactant cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTAB) with organic acids, which are citric acid (CA) and maleic acid (MA) at a molar ratio of (3:1) and (2:1), respectively. As an innovative approach CTAB and CA are combined to obtain a solution (i.e., CTAB-based VES-fluid) with optimal properties for fracturing and this behaviour of the CTAB-based VES-fluid is experimentally corroborated. A rheometer was used to evaluate the visco-elasticity and shear rate & temperature resistance, while sand-carrying suspension capability was investigated by measuring the settling velocity of the transported proppant in the fluid. Moreover, the gel breaking capability was investigated by determining the viscosity of broken VES-fluid after mixing with ethanol, and the degree of core damage (i.e., permeability performance) caused by VES-fluid was evaluated while using core-flooding test. The experimental results show that, at pH-value (6.17), 30 (mM) VES-fluid (i.e., CTAB-CA) possesses the highest visco-elasticity as the apparent viscosity at zero shear-rate reached nearly to 106 (mPa·s). Moreover, the apparent viscosity of the 30 (mM) CTAB-CA VES-fluid remains 60 (mPa·s) at (90 °C) and 170 (s-1) after shearing for 2-h, indicating that CTAB-CA fluid has excellent temperature and shear resistance. Furthermore, excellent sand suspension and gel breaking ability of 30 (mM) CTAB-CA VES-fluid at 90 (°C) was shown; as the sand suspension velocity is 1.67 (mm/s) and complete gel breaking was achieved within 2 h after mixing with the ethanol at the ratio of 10:1. The core flooding experiments indicate that the core damage rate caused by the CTAB-CA VES-fluid is (7.99%), which indicate that it does not cause much damage. Based on the experimental results, it is expected that CTAB-CA VES-fluid under high-temperature will make the proposed new VES-fluid an attractive thickening fracturing fluid.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1470
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Core-damage
  • Gel-breaking
  • Sand suspension
  • Temperature resistance
  • Viscoelastic surfactant (VES)


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