Horizontal drilling with successful multistage hydraulic fracture treatments is the most widely applied and effective method to enable economic development of hydrocarbon-bearing shale reservoirs. Once fracture networks are established, they must be propped open to maintain pathways for fluid migration through the production phase. As such, the design and application of effective and efficient proppant treatment is considered a key step to successfully develop the targeted resource. Unfortunately, the available literature and simulation tools to describe proppant transport in complex fracture networks are inadequate, and some of the fundamental mechanisms of proppant transport are poorly understood. The present study provides a critical review of relevant published literature to identify important mechanisms of particle transport and related governing equations. Based on that review, a mathematical model was developed to quantitatively predict the transport behavior of proppant particles in model fracture networks. Aspects of this mathematical model are compared against computational fluid dynamic (CFD) simulation, and implications of this work are discussed.

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