Unconventional Resources
A HPC-based Flowback and Cleanup Simulator Tool for Horizontal Well Completion and Optimization Last Reviewed 12/7/2015


The project will create a simulation tool that couples geomechanical, reservoir, and fracture flow physics to allow the design of a flowback schedule to optimize fluid recovery and reduce water usage per unit of gas produced.

Reaction Engineering International (REI), Murray UT 84107

The evolution of hydraulic fracturing has enabled development of unconventional oil and natural gas resources that previously would not have been economical. The volume of water required for these operations is a major concern. Industry is actively seeking methods to reduce water usage and increase the amount of gas recovered per unit of water used to stimulate the formation. There is substantial evidence that the rate and method of flowback of the fracturing fluid has a significant impact on the amount of water recovered and well productivity.

The objective of this project was to develop a multiphase computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model and an accompanying reduced order model (ROM) tool to predict flowback of the fracturing fluid from a well over time. The ROM tool is designed to use a database of CFD solutions to provide quick estimates of the flowback rate and the potential impact on future gas production.

The completed ROM tool will allow field operators and fracturing service companies to (a) optimize the flowback rate and recovery of the fracturing fluid (primarily water) before stimulating a well and (b) history match real flowback data with the model to better understand the geometry properties of the produced fractures. This will result in less water usage per fracturing job, higher recovery rates of water from the well, higher initial production rates and higher ultimate recovery of the resource. This will allow the United States to continue to lead in natural gas production while lowering the amount of water used.

Accomplishments (most recent listed first)

  • HPC-based multiphase flow solver developed, tested and CPU time for a simulation using the HPC-based multiphase flow solver versus ANSYS.
  • ROM tool completed and benchmarked to the original CFD flowback simulation.
  • REI has held several discussions with the Business Acceleration Manager (BAM) at Dawnbreaker. Drafts of all required sections for the Phase II commercialization plan have been completed on time. A presentation was made at the Coal Bed and Shale Gas session at the International Pittsburgh Coal Conference 2015, held in Pittsburgh, PA from October 5-8, 2015 [Pummill et al., 2015]. The response at the conference was very positive, with two members of the audience later offering to provide additional flowback data.
  • Completed the benchmark flowback simulator to data for 5 scenarios. A comparison was completed.
  • Completed the single phase (water) flowback simulator with 5 simulations successfully performed.
  • Identified data to use for benchmarking flowback simulator.

Current Status (November 2015)
Project has been completed and a final technical report was submitted for review. REI will conduct their final presentation in early December 2015.

Project Start: February 17, 2015
Project End: November 16, 2015

DOE Contribution: $149,932.00
Performer Contribution: $0

Contact Information:
NETL – William Fincham (william.fincham@netl.doe.gov or 304-285-4268)
Oceanit – Rand Pummill (pummill@reaction-eng.com or 801-364-6925, ext.34)