Shale gas fracturing using foam-based fracturing fluid: a review

W. A. M. Wanniarachchi, P. G. Ranjith, M. S. A. Perera

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


World energy resources are depleting at an alarming rate, and natural gas has been identified as an environmentally friendly energy resource, with shale gas being one option. However, the extremely low permeability of shale plays has caused them to fail to produce a commercially viable amount of gas. Therefore, appropriate production enhancement techniques, including hydro-fracturing, are required. This paper reviews the research on shale gas production enhancement using foam-based hydro-fracturing and focuses on research on shale deposit distribution around the world, the importance of shale gas recovery, major shale gas recovery enhancement techniques, the effectiveness of foam-based fracturing depending on the foam type used and the formation properties, advantages and limitations of foam-based fracturing compared to other fluids, and existing experimental and numerical studies and field studies. According to the available experimental and modelling studies on foam fracturing, N2-based foams are stronger than CO2-based foams. The effective viscosity that controls the foam rheology decreases with increasing temperature and decreasing pressure and foam quality, and fracture length reduces and fracture width increases with increasing foam quality. Although this technique has been tested in few shale plays worldwide, most studies have been performed in the USA and Canada. Therefore, the foam fracturing technique is still comparatively novel for other countries around the world.

Original languageEnglish
Article number91
Number of pages15
JournalEnvironmental Earth Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Experimental studies
  • Field applications
  • Foam-based fracturing
  • Numerical studies
  • Shale gas
  • Shales

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