Date of Award

Fall 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Petroleum Engineering (MSPE)

Committee Chair

Susan Schrader

First Advisor

Richard Schrader

Second Advisor

Burt Todd

Third Advisor

Paul Conrad

Fourth Advisor

Brandon DeShaw


Fracture conductivity testing is a measure of how proppant will perform downhole when injected. The current American Petroleum Institute (API) procedure for conductivity testing produces results that are difficult to replicate. In one case three commercial labs tested the same sample of proppant, the results varied between labs and the highest spread in data had an 80% variation (Anderson, 2013). The goal of this thesis is to investigate cell loading procedures that reduce the variation in laboratory results.

A variety of cell loading techniques were tested including Hoke cylinder injection, guar injection, and cell vibration. Hoke cylinder loading was determined not to be a feasible technique with the current lab equipment at Montana Tech’s Research Lab.

The guar injection produced a smaller spread in the data when compared to the API loading technique. However, when the results from the guar injection were analyzed it was apparent the guar had not been completely removed from the cell after injection. The remaining guar reduced the overall permeability of the proppant pack, which lead to an unfair comparison with the API Standard procedure.

The cell vibration technique produced conductivity values that were very similar to the results produced by the API procedure but with a considerable reduction in the overall variance.

From the data, it is recommended to test the effect of cell vibration on long-term fracture conductivity tests.


A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Petroleum Engineering Montana Tech 2015