Novel trends in the development of surfactant-based hydraulic fracturing fluids: A review

Andrey V. Shibaev, Andrei A. Osiptsov, Olga E. Philippova

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Viscoelastic surfactants (VES) are amphiphilic molecules which self-assemble into long polymer-like aggregates—wormlike micelles. Such micellar chains form an entangled network, imparting high viscosity and viscoelasticity to aqueous solutions. VES are currently attracting great attention as the main components of clean hydraulic fracturing fluids used for enhanced oil recovery (EOR). Fracturing fluids consist of proppant particles suspended in a viscoelastic medium. They are pumped into a wellbore under high pressure to create fractures, through which the oil can flow into the well. Polymer gels have been used most often for fracturing operations; however, VES solutions are advantageous as they usually require no breakers other than reservoir hydrocarbons to be cleaned from the well. Many attempts have recently been made to improve the viscoelastic properties, temperature, and salt resistance of VES fluids to make them a cost-effective alternative to polymer gels. This review aims at describing the novel concepts and advancements in the fundamental science of VES-based fracturing fluids reported in the last few years, which have not yet been widely industrially implemented, but are significant for prospective future applications. Recent achievements, reviewed in this paper, include the use of oligomeric surfactants, surfactant mixtures, hybrid nanoparticle/VES, or polymer/VES fluids. The advantages and limitations of the different VES fluids are discussed. The fundamental reasons for the different ways of improvement of VES performance for fracturing are described.

Original languageEnglish
Article number258
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Clean fracturing fluids
  • Gels
  • Hydraulic fracturing
  • Nanoparticle/VES fluids
  • Oil recovery
  • Oligomeric surfactants
  • Polymer/VES fluids
  • Responsiveness to hydrocarbons
  • Viscoelastic surfactants
  • Viscoelasticity
  • Wormlike micelles


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