March 14, 2017

When Was the Last Time You Saw a Log Cabin Built Out of Concrete and Rebar?

Sid Banerjee, Applications Engineer – Propel SSP®

Product Innovation

Probably never.  A log cabin might be an optimal shape and size for wood, but the qualities of reinforced concrete allow builders to push building designs far beyond the limitations of wood. Rather than merely replicating the strategies of the past, architects found ways to capitalize on the new strengths of concrete to create structures like the Burj Al-Arab, the Sears Tower, and the Sydney Opera House. New materials meant a new perspective on what an “optimal” building might be.

In many ways, this has become analogous to the introduction of Propel SSP® to the world of hydraulic fracturing. The “materials” most operators have traditionally used, cross-linked gels and slickwater systems, have been tweaked and varied in countless ways and operators have largely converged to fairly similar programs across the globe. These programs are often centered on two related technical problems: can we generate the fracture shape we want and can we deliver proppant effectively throughout that fracture?

To address these concerns, stimulation programs have raced towards larger pumped volumes and smaller, less ideal proppant meshes to create complex fractures and deliver proppant through the branching fracture networks, respectively. If smaller proppant mesh sizes, pumping horsepower, or fluid volumes are unavailable, then operators have generally turned towards highly-viscous crosslinked gels that have the ability to move large proppant meshes easily but have tradeoffs in the form of reservoir damage and small stimulated reservoir volumes.

But what if you could trust the proppant to take care of itself, detaching transport from viscosity, pump rate, or mesh size? What would an “optimum” stimulation program look like then? This question is central to the value of Propel SSP® proppant transport technology. Propel SSP is a friction-reducing hydrogel coating that can be applied to any raw sand or ceramic proppant. The technology overcomes issues of proppant transport by increasing in volume as it hydrates in the frac fluid system, decreasing the specific gravity of the coated proppant until it is nearly neutrally buoyant and allowing for the proppant to easily “stack” upon one another within the fracture to create proppant height.


Unlike a gel, or other viscosity-creating additives, Propel SSP is a clean-breaking addition to a fracture fluid system and creates no damage to either the reservoir or proppant pack. The technology is shear stable and remains firmly affixed to the proppant throughout the fracturing operation so minimal polymer enters the reservoir along with leak off fluid. By staying with the proppant instead of affecting the transport fluid, it is a technology that maintains an exceptionally low viscosity in the fracture fluid, reducing frictional losses, the amount of pumps needed, and creating the complex secondary networks that only come from low viscosity frac fluids.

Unlike a slickwater program, proppant settling is a non-issue in a Propel SSP fluid at full proppant stack. The volumes of fluid pumped and the rates at which they are pumped can now be optimized to create the fracture geometry that is best for the reservoir rather than be constrained by what has to be done to move proppant through the fracture. Larger, more conductive mesh sizes can be used to optimize pack conductivity. As a result, wells that optimize stimulation for the Propel SSP technology have seen significant improvements in initial production (IP) and estimated ultimate recovery (EUR), coupled with slower decline curves.

The value of the Propel SSP technology family has been expanded further this year with the launch of Propel SSP 350. This new product introduces a Propel SSP coating that can tolerate water salinity up to 350,000 TDS and 40,000 PPM hardness—allowing operators incredible flexibility in their water sourcing. Rather than disposing of flowback or produced water, Propel SSP 350 allows operators to easily recycle these traditional waste streams and reduces concerns about sourcing water from multiple, varying sources. Offshore operators can even pull seawater directly for their fracturing operations. With the Propel SSP technology family, the perspective of an “optimal” fracturing program just got a whole lot bigger.

Take The Produced Water Challenge today. Send us a sample of your water and we’ll prove that Propel SSP 350 stacks. Contact us today to learn more.