Definition - What does Flowback mean?

Flowback is a water-based solution that flows back to the earth's surface after completing the hydraulic fracturing of a shale gas reserve. This water-based solution consists of chemical additives, mud, clay, dissolved metal ions and TDS (total dissolved solids). The water becomes murky because of the abundance of suspended particles.

Flowback is prepared in the first ten days and the remaining solution can be prepared over a period of four weeks. The recovery volume from flowback is approximately 20-40 percent after injecting into the well for hydraulic fracturing.

Petropedia explains Flowback

When horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing were in their infancy, flowback testing was performed to clean the wellbore and its nearby reservoir rock areas by attempting to produce back as much of the treatment fluid as possible.

Flowback is also used to get an indication of the amount and type of reservoir fluid (oil, gas, water) that can be produced and at what pressure, if any.

Flowback is very much associated with producing natural gas or shale gas through shale rocks using horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. It is recovered from the well at the surface when the fluid is used to hydraulically fracture the shale formations.

Flowback is considered to be an important step in drilling operations. After it is recovered from the hydraulic fracturing operation it must be properly and safely disposed into the surface along with ground water. This water-based solution is purified before disposal using equipment such as:

  • Manual choke manifolds
  • Hydraulic choke manifolds
  • Plug catchers
  • Smug catchers
  • Sand separators
  • Control trailers
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