Guar Suspensionsin Hydraulic Fracturing Applications
In the well stimulation phase of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, operators pump massive amounts of a slurry of water, additives, and proppant – typically sand – thousands of feet down a wellbore. This slurry's designed purpose is to create tiny fissures in the rock that holds trapped oil and natural gas. Among the different additives in the slurry, guar gum acts as a thickening agent to build viscosity and, ultimately, helps keep the proppant in suspension long enough for it to reach its intended target: deep within the fissures in the rock.
What Is Guar Gum and Why Is It Used in Drilling?
Guar gum is a water-soluble, non-ionic polysaccharide extracted from the seed of the guar plant – a plant indigenous to India and Pakistan. Traditionally used as a thickening agent in food and as a nutritional supplement in animal feed, guar gum is also an essential additive in today's hydraulic fracturing processes.
It's All About Viscosity
When added to water, guar gum significantly boosts the water's viscosity and creates the perfect conditions for suspension. Suspensions are vital in the drilling world because they transport solids more efficiently. For instance, in a xanthan suspension, xanthan gum is added to drilling mud to help clear cuttings from the drill bit and move them to the surface. In a guar suspension, on the other hand, the operator is sending proppant deep below the surface and into the fissures created by hydraulic action. It's important that the suspension is uniform and has the viscosity to be pushed deep into the cracks without retracting when the flow is turned off at the surface.
Rounding Out the Guar Suspension Package
While it's possible to mix just water and guar gum to create a viscous slurry, most well operations enhance the guar suspension by adding crosslinkers and petroleum distillates.
Crosslinkers are salts – typically borate – that strengthen the ionic bonds in the slurry, resulting in high gel strength that's perfect for suspension. Breakers reverse the crosslinking and break down the strong, ionic bonds after the well stimulation process is complete and the well transitions into production.
The last piece needed to prepare a guar suspension for its trip down the wellbore is petroleum distillates. Petroleum distillates, like Resolute Oil's MaxPure PD, are necessary to allow pumps to quickly and efficiently move guar gum around a well site before being sent to the wellbore. Guar gum is not soluble in hydrocarbons and, therefore, doesn't turn into a gel when it comes into contact with petroleum distillates.
Guar Suspension Products
MaxPure PD petroleum distillates are used extensively in the oil & gas industry to provide consistent, reliable performance in friction reducers, guar suspensions, and xanthan suspensions. MaxPure PD products are cost-effective, 'BTEX Pass' formulations that can be custom-tailored to meet specific needs and requirements.
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