Dicationic Surfactants as an Additive in Fracturing Fluids to Mitigate Clay Swelling: A Petrophysical and Rock Mechanical Assessment

Zeeshan Tariq, Muhammad Shahzad Kamal, Mohamed Mahmoud, Mobeen Murtaza, Abdulazeez Abdulraheem, Xianmin Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The interactions of clays with freshwater in unconventional tight sandstones can affect the mechanical properties of the rock. The hydraulic fracturing technique is the most successful technique to produce hydrocarbons from unconventional tight sandstone formations. Knowledge of clay minerals and their chemical interactions with fracturing fluids is extremely vital in the optimal design of fracturing fluids. In this study, quaternary ammonium-based dicationic surfactants are proposed as clay swelling inhibitors in fracturing fluids to reduce the fractured face skin. For this purpose, several coreflooding and breakdown pressure experiments were conducted on the Scioto sandstone samples, and the rock mechanical properties of the flooded samples after drying were assessed. Coreflooding experiments proceeded in a way that the samples were flooded with the investigated fluid and then postflooded with deionized water (DW). Rock mechanical parameters, such as compressive strength, tensile strength, and linear elastic properties, were evaluated using unconfined compressive strength test, scratch test, indirect Brazilian disc test, and breakdown pressure test. The performance of novel synthesized surfactants was compared with commercially used clay stabilizing additives such as sodium chloride (NaCl) and potassium chloride (KCl). For comparison, base case experiments were performed with untreated samples and samples treated with DW. Scioto sandstone samples with high illite contents were used in this study. Results showed that the samples treated with conventional electrolyte solutions lost permeability up to 65% when postflooded with DW. In contrast, fracturing fluid containing surfactant solutions retained the original permeability even after being postflooded with DW. Conventional clay stabilizing additives led to the swelling of clays caused by high compression and tensile strength of the rock when tested at dry conditions. Consequently, the rock fractures at a higher breakdown pressure. However, novel dicationic surfactants do not cause any swelling, and therefore, the rock fractures at the original breakdown pressure.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15867-15877
Number of pages11
Issue number24
StatePublished - Jun 22 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Generated from Scopus record by KAUST IRTS on 2023-09-20


Dive into the research topics of 'Dicationic Surfactants as an Additive in Fracturing Fluids to Mitigate Clay Swelling: A Petrophysical and Rock Mechanical Assessment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this