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For this months issue of featured well-stimulation papers, the ongoing work in acidizing earns my recognition as the most enlightening and yet overdue progress. Although the papers spotlighted in this issue are strong presentations on diverse subjects, I was most surprised by the volume of engaging papers focusing on acids and fracture acidizing. There are great papers in my list with information on horizontal wells, gravel packing, and viscoelastic fluids; however, each of these technologies is young compared to acidizing reservoir rock. In one of the additional-reading selections, Fracture Acidizing: History, Present State, and Future, we learn that acidizing carbonates dates back to 1895. Therefore, the use of acids to increase production is more than a century old. With many of the modern acidizing theories developed around 1972 by Neirode and others, it is still a 35-year-old technology that needs a fresh look with modern methods. Whether we are studying etching behavior to forecast conductivity or predicting long-term reductions in performance caused by creep, we still have a lot to learn about this venerable practice. Therefore, the question becomes: How can acidizing oil wells be more than 100 years old, yet we just now are beginning to unravel these fundamental concepts? The world produces approximately 85 million BOPD, and assuming just USD 50/B, we generate more than USD 1.5 trillion/yr in world oil revenue. Whatever the historical disconnect has been between oil revenues and funding oil science, I am pleased to recommend these compelling technical papers on subjects vital to our industry, including the common practice of pumping acid JPT into a formation to increase production. Charles Hager, SPE, is a senior consultant with NSI Technologies. For the last 17 years, he has focused on applying and integrating the sciences of hydraulic-fracturing analysis and modeling, pressure-transient analysis, and reservoir simulation. Hager earned a BS degree in petroleum engineering from the University of Alabama, and he serves on the JPT Editorial Committee. Well Stimulation additional reading available at the SPE eLibrary: SPE 108075 Horizontal-Well Completion and Stimulation TechniquesA Review With Emphasis on LowPermeability Carbonates by Valdo Ferreira Rodrigues, SPE, Petroleo Brasileiro, et al. SPE 107772 The Effects of Acid Contact Time and the Resulting Weakening of the Rock Surfaces on Acid-Fracture Conductivity by M.G. Melendez, Texas A&M University, et al. SPE 107760 Acid Stimulation of Extended-Reach Wells: Lessons Learnt From NKossa Field by J.M. Mazel, Total, et al. SPE 106371 Fracture Acidizing: History, Present State, and Future by Leonard J. Kalfayan, SPE, BJ Services




A Small-Scale Fracture-Conductivity Study

A series of acid-fracture-conductivity tests was conducted that simulated flow in a hydraulic fracture, both in the main flow direction along the fracture and in the fluid-loss direction. Three commonly used acid-fracturing fluids were tested at 200 and 275F. The acid-fractureconductivity apparatus is similar to a standard American Petroleum Institute (API) fracture-conductivity cell, but with the ability to hold core samples that are 3 in. thick in the leakoff direction.

Introduction Acid fracturing, a well-stimulation process in which acid dissolves reservoir rock along the face of the hydraulically induced fracture, is expected to create lasting conductivity after fracture closure. However, conductivity after fracture closure requires that the fracture face be nonuniformly etched by the acid while the strength of the rock is maintained at high levels to withstand closure stress. At low closure stress, the etched pattern of the fracture face should have a dominant influence on the resulting fracture conductivity as long as the rock strength can withstand the load. As the closure stress is increased, surface features along the fracture faces may be crushed, which makes fracture conductivity more dependent on the rock strength than on the initial etching pattern.
This article, written by Assistant Technology Editor Karen Bybee, contains highlights of paper SPE 106272, SmallScale Fracture Conductivity Created by Modern Acid-Fracture Fluids, by M. Pournik, SPE, C. Zou, SPE, C.M. Nieto, M.G. Melendez, D. Zhu, and A.D. Hill, SPE, Texas A&M University, and X. Weng, Schlumberger, prepared for the 2007 SPE Hydraulic Fracturing Technology Conference, College Station, Texas, 2931 January.

Success of the acid-fracturing process depends on the resulting fracture conductivity, which is difficult to predict because it depends on a stochastic process and is affected by a wide range of parameters. Most predictions of conductivity are made with the empirical correlation developed by Nierode and Kruk. This correlation was based on experiments with 1-in.-diameter, 2- to 3-in.-long fractured cores with no fluid loss through the rock samples. To ensure that laboratory experiments represent field conditions, the phenomena that occur in the acid-fracturing process must be scaled properly. In this study, experimental conditions were scaled to give the same magnitude of acid transport along the fracture, acid leakoff, and acid reaction at the fracture face as occurs in field treatments. Acids Three acid systems were used in the conductivity tests: a gelled-acid system with an acid-soluble polymer as a gelling agent, an acid-in-oil emulsion, and an acid/viscoelastic-surfactant acid solution. The polymer-gelled-acid system contained 15% HCl, 2.5% gelling agent, and a corrosion inhibitor. The emulsified acid was a mixture of 28% HCl and diesel with an emulsifier and a corrosion inhibitor. The diesel forms the external phase of the emulsion. The viscoelastic-surfactant acid has unique self-diverting characteristics. The fluid viscosity increases significantly as the acid spends, which creates effective diversion of the acid in matrix acidizing. The same characteristics have been found to reduce the acid-leakoff rate and increase stimulation effectiveness in acid fracturing. The viscoelastic diverting acid system used in this study consists of 15% HCl, 7.5% viscoelastic surfactant, and a corrosion inhibitor.

Laboratory Scaling The acid-fracturing process involves several different phenomena, including acid transport along the fracture, acid transport into the rock because of leakoff, convective and diffusive mass transfer of acid to the fracture face, and acid reaction on the fracture face. The appropriate dimensionless groups that arise from conservation equations provide a guide for proper experimental scaling. For a typical field treatment with a 20-bbl/min injection rate into a fracture 100 ft high and 0.2 in. wide, the injection rate in the experiments should be approximately 2.2 L/min to create the same Reynolds number as would occur near the wellbore in the field fracture. As the acid moves down the fracture and leakoff occurs, the velocity and Reynolds number will decrease. An injection rate of 1 L/min was used in the experiments to ensure that the hydrodynamic effects that occur in the field were simulated in the laboratory. Fracture-Conductivity Experiments The experimental apparatus and procedure were designed to enable experiments to be conducted at conditions more closely and accurately representing field treatments than previous studies. The experimental apparatus also was designed to accommodate larger rock samples, higher injection rates, and higher temperatures. The core samples were placed inside a modified API conductivity cell with body dimensions of 1031/48 in. and a 71/413/4-in. opening, allowing the use of rock samples with thicknesses as great as 3 in. Cylindrical ceramic radiant heaters that can heat the fluid to 300F were wrapped around the flowline to heat the fluid before it entered the cell so experiments could be conducted at temperatures similar to field conditions. A backpressure regulator was installed on the leakoff line

For a limited time, the full-length paper is available free to SPE members at The paper has not been peer reviewed. JPT JULY 2007 47

to control pressure drop across the core. This allowed the leakoff flow rate to be controlled to represent field conditions more accurately. Another backpressure regulator was installed on the cell effluent line to maintain the cell pressure above 1,000 psi. Experimental Procedure. An acid-fracture-conductivity experiment consists of core preparation, acid etching, rockembedment-strength measurement, surface-profile characterization, and conductivity measurement. Core samples were cut into a parallelepiped shape with the ends curved to fit the API cell. The cores were approximately 7.11 in. long, 1.61 in. wide, and 3 in. thick. The cores were covered with a silicone-rubber compound to secure a tight fit of the core in the API cell and to prevent any acid bypass around the core sample. The cores then were placed in a vacuum device for several hours until all air was removed from the pore spaces, then the cores were saturated with water. Conductivity Measurement. Fracture conductivity was measured by flowing nitrogen between the two acid-etched core samples and recording the absolute pressure at the midpoint of the fracture and the pressure drop across the fracture. The conductivity cell was placed in a load frame that provided closure stresses up to 6,000 psi. A 1,000-psi closure stress was applied and increased in 1,000-psi increments to 6,000 psi, changing the load after approximately 60 minutes. Nitrogen flow was begun after placing the first load on the cell. Pressure readings were recorded at four different flow rates. Flow rates ranged from approximately 5 to 20 L/min. Forchheimers equation for flow through a porous medium was used to calculate the fracture conductivity. Results and Discussion Fifteen experiments divided into five different sets were conducted to study the effects of acid type, acid contact time, temperature, and rock type on acid-fracture conductivity. For each of the three acids, three different contact times were used that ranged from 15 to 60 minutes. Temperature was maintained at 200F for most experiments, except for one set with emulsified acid at 275F. The experiments were conducted on Indiana limestone samples except for one set that used Silurian dolomite. For all experi-

ments, the injection rate was 1 L/min with a 1,000-psi backpressure and leakoff flux of approximately 0.005 ft/min. The initial fracture gap was maintained at 0.12 in. The first three sets of experiments were conducted under the same conditions except that each set was performed with a different acid. These three sets constitute the basic data set for comparison and evaluation of acid type and contact time. Acid Type. For all contact times, the emulsified acid results in the lowest conductivity at all closure stresses. The viscoelastic-diverting-acid and polymer-gelled-acid systems compete for highest created conductivity, depending on contact time and closure stress. For a 15-minute contact time, the viscoelastic diverting acid yielded the highest conductivity at all closure stresses. This can be explained from the etching pattern, which shows a narrow-channel development with greater roughness than the other acid systems. The other acid types dissolved less rock and thus created less conductivity. However, at the 30- and 60-minute contact times the polymer-gelled-acid system created a rougher etching pattern with a narrow channel, while the viscoelastic-diverting-acid system etched the surface too much, resulting in a uniform etching pattern. The embedment strength of the core acidized with viscoelastic diverting acid is almost half the strength of the core acidized with polymer-gelled acid. As a result, for a 30-minute contact, while the initial conductivity of the viscoelastic-diverting-acid system at 1,000-psi closure stress is higher than that created by the polymer-gelled acid, at higher closure stresses, the conductivity of the viscoelastic-diverting-acid system is less than the conductivity created by the polymer-gelled-acid system. Similarly, for a 60-minute acid contact, the polymer-gelled acid creates higher conductivity than the viscoelastic-diverting-acid system until the 5,000-psi closure stress is applied. Above this closure stress, the rock surfaces acidized by either system have been crushed, and essentially all fracture conductivity is lost. Acid Contact Time. The change in fracture conductivity with acid contact time, and the interrelationship between contact time and closure stress, is perhaps the most interesting result of this study. There appears to be a trade-off

between increasing initial (low-closurestress) conductivity as more rock is dissolved with longer contact times and weakening of the rock surfaces with longer contact times. The results for the viscoelastic-diverting-acid system gave the clearest indication of this effect. At a low closure stress of 1,000 psi, the conductivity increases gradually with increased acid contact time, ranging from approximately 17,000 md-ft for the 15-minute-contact-time experiment to approximately 36,000 md-ft for the 60-minute test. This behavior, conductivity increasing with increasing amounts of dissolution, is the behavior predicted by the Nierode-Kruk correlation. In contrast, at 3,000-psi closure stress, the conductivity declines from more than 12,000 to approximately 2,000 md-ft for this same range of contact times. The longer acid exposure time weakens the rock, and surface asperities are crushed at 3,000-psi closure stress. With 5,000-psi closure stress, only the samples that were acidized 15 minutes maintained any appreciable fracture conductivity. With 30 or 60 minutes of acid contact time, the rock surfaces apparently are so weakened that the fractures closed almost completely. The general trend of decreasing rock embedment strength with increasing acid contact time supports this interpretation. These results suggest that overtreating with an acid exposure time that is too long may yield lower fracture conductivity than can be obtained with shorter acid contact times, and that this effect is more important at higher closure stresses. This could be particularly harmful if the near-wellbore part of the fracture, which has the longest acid exposure time, has relatively low conductivity. However, it is possible that these effects observed in small-scale laboratory tests could be overcome by larger-scale channel features created at field scale. Temperature. Experiments with the emulsified-acid system were conducted at 200 and 275F. Temperature had a profound effect on the conductivity created with this acid system; the conductivity at 275F was approximately an order of magnitude higher than at 200F for the entire range of closure stresses. Higher temperature resulted in much more dissolution and roughness on the fracture face compared with the 200F experiments, while rock strength was JPT only slightly reduced.




Rock-Mechanics Considerations in Fracturing a Carbonate Formation

Acid fracturing is used to improve well productivity in acid-soluble formations such as limestone, dolomite, and chalk. Proppant fracturing is an alternative option used in carbonate formations. There is no quantitative method to determine whether acid fracturing or proppant fracturing is an appropriate stimulation method for a given carbonate formation. Laboratory experiments were performed with full core samples to examine the effect of elastic, plastic, and viscoelastic rock behavior on fracture conductivity for acid- and proppant-fracturing treatments.

Introduction Hydraulic fracturing (acid or proppant) is used to create a conductive fracture in the formation to improve well productivity. The induced fracture tends to close because of the effect of the minimum horizontal stress. Fracture closure is controlled by elastic, plastic, and viscous rock properties. In acid fracturing, the etched, nonsmooth fracture surfaces leave open pathways upon closing in addition to the wormholes and channels created from the fracture into the formation. Fracture conductivity is generated by the quantity of rock removed and the rock-removal pattern. Depending on the pattern of the natural-fracture system, acid solubilThis article, written by Assistant Technology Editor Karen Bybee, contains highlights of paper SPE 102590, Acid Fracturing or Proppant Fracturing in Carbonate Formation? A Rock Mechanics View, by H.H. Abass, A.A. Al-Mulhem, M.S. Alqam, SPE, and K.R. Mirajuddin, SPE, Saudi Aramco, prepared for the 2006 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, San Antonio, Texas, 24 27 September.

ity of the formation, magnitude of the minimum horizontal stress, and reservoir temperature, acid fracturing vs. proppant fracturing should be evaluated to select the most effective stimulation treatment for a given formation. Although longer acid contact with the formation results in more etched surface and thus higher fracture conductivity, formation compressive strength is reduced. Claims have been made that at high reservoir temperatures, fast acid reactions in formations containing high concentrations of calcite result in acid-fracture lengths much shorter than propped fractures. The suggestion was made that for reservoirs with a minimum horizontal stress (fracture-closure stress) greater than 5,000 psi, proppant fracturing is the optimum stimulation method because etching caused by fracture acidizing cannot support such high stress. In chalk formations, it has been shown that proppant fracturing yielded better results than acid fracturing. Fracture length from acid fracturing and proppant fracturing will be different because of their dissimilar fracture mechanics. In proppant fracturing, the fracturing gel is not reactive with the formation and can penetrate deeper when compared with acid fracturing for a given fracturing-fluid volume, especially at high reservoir temperature. Therefore, it is expected that proppant fracturing will create longer fractures. The full-length paper presents a rockmechanics view of fracture closure of propped and acid-etched fractures that describes the following. In acid fracturing, fracture closure extent is the result of asperities embedment, asperities crushing, and viscous flow (creep).

In proppant fracturing, fracture closure extent is the result of proppant embedment, proppant crushing, and proppant flowback. Acid-Fracture Closure The increase in production from an acid-fracturing treatment is the result of fracture length and fracture conductivity. Fracture length is controlled by acid convection (injection rate), acid-reaction rate, and acid-loss rate. Fracture width is a result of the differential etching occurring as the acid reacts with the walls of the created fracture. This creates an uneven fracture surface that determines the fracture width upon fracture closure. Fracture conductivity is determined by the amount of rock dissolved, fracture-surface roughness, closure stress, and the stress/strain characteristics of the rock. If reservoir temperature is too high, injection-rate optimization becomes critical to create a long conductive fracture. If the reaction rate is low, uniform etching may result, leading to insufficient fracture conductivity. Upon completion of an acid-fracturing treatment, the following three factors contribute to a reduction in fracture conductivity. Elastic response. Compressive failure of contact points (asperities). Creep effect. Elastic Response. The elastic closure response occurs when the net effective minimum horizontal stress increases as a result of reservoir depletion. The elastic response to close the fracture follows Hookes law of elasticity and is controlled by Youngs modulus of the formation. The elastic response will decrease the fracture aperture, which reduces fracture conductivity.

For a limited time, the full-length paper is available free to SPE members at The paper has not been peer reviewed. 50 JPT JULY 2007

Fig. 1Fracture surface before acidizing (above) and after acidizing (below).

Compressive Failure. The compressive strength of the asperities will determine the severity of their failure on fracture permeability. The

reduction in conductivity is a result of the combined effect of elastic response and compressive failure of the asperities. Compressive fail-

ure also generates rock particles and fines that reduce fracture conductivity further. Creep. The creep (viscous) effect is a slow, time-dependent displacement. The total displacement obtained from applying a constant stress is the sum of two components, displacement resulting from elastic response and the creep function. The creep function characterizes the rheological properties of the rock formation and is best described experimentally for a given stress range, temperature, and lithology. Creep models include the elastic response described by Hookes law for Hookean substances (spring model) and the viscous response for Newtonian substances as described by a dashpot model. Both of these effects act when the reservoir pressure decreases: the elastic displacement (spring effect) in response to the increase in effective closure stress, and a time-dependent displacement function (dashpot effect). All viscoelastic models include both effects to simulate a creep phenomenon.

Experimental An experimental procedure was designed to simulate acid- and proppant-fracturing processes using a rock-mechanics loading frame. Two types of geometry were used that simulate radial- and linear-flow regimes, respectively. Whole core samples were selected that were 4 in. in diameter and approximately 4 in. long. A 1/4-in.-diameter hole was drilled in the center so radial flow could be established through the rock matrix or through an induced fracture. Then, the sample was cut horizontally into two pieces to simulate a fracture. The surfaces simulating a fracture were exposed statically to 15% acid by either dipping the sample in acid or placing acid on the surface until no more chemical reaction was observed. Fig. 1 shows the fracture surface before and after acidizing. The sample was bound together again with the same alignment before acidizing by matching two lines drawn on the sample before cutting. The final geometry of the experiment was a vertical wellbore with a

horizontal fracture. The same design was used for a propped fracture; however, a proppant layer was placed on one surface. The other sample geometry was created by splitting a 4-in. whole core into two halves longitudinally. Then, the confining pressure was applied around the fractured sample and linear flow was established to determine the conductivity of an etched or propped fracture. Creep Test. A creep test was designed by applying in-situ conditions of temperature and stress for a given sample. Progressive loads simulating a stress path imposed on a fracture during production were applied and maintained constant as the resulting deformation was measured. Fracture conductivity was calculated for the progressively applied stresses to determine its variation resulting from elastic, plastic, and viscous effects. Creep Acid-Fracture Sample Test. A creep test was designed to study rock defor-



mation under constant stress as a function of time. This test simulates the in-situ reservoir conditions where a fracture is exposed to the effective minimum horizontal stress. A typical test involves loading the sample to three progressive stresses: 4,000, 6,000, and 8,000 psi. At each stress level, the elastic and viscous displacements were measured until a trend was obtained. The creep profile obtained suggests that the sample exhibits primary and secondary creeping phases but has not shown any sign of tertiary creep. This is expected for such a high-Youngs-modulus sample. Creep Modeling. To model the complete creep response (primary and secondary), Burgers substance was used to describe the axial strain as a function of time for a sample subjected to constant axial stress. This model includes the instantaneous strain, transient creep, and steadystate creep. The experimental creep data for 4,000-psi axial stress were matched by Burgers substance. The model clearly illustrates the nonlinear time-dependent behavior. Fracture Width Fracture width varies significantly between acid fracturing and proppant fracturing. Fracture width in acid fracturing is created from the etching mechanism, and upon closing, channels are left open because of the nonsmooth surfaces of the created fracture. In proppant fracturing, a fracture closes on a proppant bed leaving a continuous highly permeable fracture (not channel) connecting the reservoir to a wellbore. The displacement resulting from creep compared to elastic response becomes significant with time. This displacement will not close the fracture directly, but it is manifested in stress applied on the contact points (asperities) in acid fracturing or on the proppant grains of the proppant pack in proppant fracturing. Conductivity Rock A. To evaluate the effect of elastic and creep displacements on fracture conductivity, flow testing was conducted with mineral oil. Production rate decreased from 180 cm3/min to approximately 20 cm3/min as stress increased from 1,000 to 4,000 psi. The

stress then was maintained at 4,000psi to evaluate the creep effect over time. The production rate declined from 20cm3/min to approximately 5cm3/min after 100 hours. The creep effect can be less dramatic if the fracture can transfer the creep force through contact points without failure. As closure stress increases, some contact points fail and a continuous production-rate decline is anticipated. In a propped fracture, the creep force is transferred if the proppant-grain strength is sufficient, otherwise proppant crushing occurs. The effect of creep on proppant-fracture conductivity was not significant. For this formation, a proppant fracture will sustain well productivity while acid fracturing will suffer a production decline with time. Rock B. This sample was from a different formation. The effect of stress on permeability was evaluated for the matrix, tensile fracture, 100mesh layer of 0.12-in. sand, one layer of 30mesh resin-coated proppant (RCP), and an acid fracture. The permeability of one layer of 30-mesh RCP decreased drastically and extensive fines generation occurred at a 4,000-psi effective confining pressure. This is an important criterion to consider when deciding on the proppant type to be used in a proppant-fracturing treatment. In this formation, the acid fracture exhibited only a small decrease in permeability as a function of increasing stress. Mechanical Strength of Fracture Surface Long acid-contact time may not be beneficial to fracture conductivity because it can weaken the fracture surface and make it more vulnerable to creep and contact-point compressive failure. It was shown that conductivity created by a 20-minute acid-contact time was higher than that created by 40-minute contact for both dolomite and limestone samples. The acid exposure weakened the rock structure along the fracture surface, resulting in greater sensitivity to closure stress. The fracture surface becomes more plastic, and the contact points will fail at higher closure stresses. This effect is more pronounced near the wellbore because that is where the acid-contact JPT time is the maximum.


A New Method for Acid Stimulation Without Increasing Water Production

Successful acid stimulation requires a method to distribute the acid between multiple hydrocarbon zones. Because almost all producing wells contain sections of varying permeability, this can be a problem. Because acid is an aqueous fluid, it tends to enter the zones with the highest water saturation. These water zones also are often the highest-permeability zones, so acid stimulation often will result in large increases in water production. The full-length paper describes use of a new low-viscosity system that reduces formation permeability to water with little effect on hydrocarbon permeability and also diverts acid from high-permeability zones to lower-permeability zones.

Introduction In matrix-acidizing treatments, the acid tends to enter the highest-permeability layers and bypass the mostdamaged (lower-permeability) layers. Various placement techniques have been used in attempts to achieve uniform placement of acid across all layers. The most reliable method uses mechanical isolation devices (such as straddle packers) that allow injection into individual zones until the entire interval is treated. However, this technique often is not practical, cost-effective, or feasible. Without a
This article, written by Assistant Technology Editor Karen Bybee, contains highlights of paper SPE 103771, A New Method for Acid Stimulation Without Increasing Water Production: Case Studies From Offshore Mexico, by G.H. Reza, Pemex, and E. Soriano, SPE, L. Eoff, SPE, and D. Dalrymple, SPE, Halliburton, prepared for the 2006 SPE International Oil Conference and Exhibition, Cancun, Mexico, 31 August2 September.

Fig. 1(a)Nonmodified-polymer adsorption, (b) hydrophobically modified polymer adsorption, and (c) hydrophobic interactions.

packer, some type of diverting agent must be used. Typical diverting agents include ball sealers, degradable particulates, viscous fluids, and foams. Although these agents have been used successfully, all have potential disadvantages, and none address the prob-

lem of increased water production that often follows acid treatments. One method of controlling water production uses dilute polymer solutions to decrease the effective permeability to water more than to oil. These treatments are referred

For a limited time, the full-length paper is available free to SPE members at The paper has not been peer reviewed. 54 JPT JULY 2007

to as relative permeability modifiers (RPMs), disproportionate-permeability modifiers, or bullhead treatments. RPM systems are thought to perform by adsorption onto the pore walls of the formation flow paths. Previous papers have described the development of and laboratory studies of an RPM based on a hydrophobically modified, water-soluble polymer, referred to as an associative polymer (AP). This group of polymers was selected for study because their properties can be altered in ways that render them valuable for oilfield applications. Another paper has described a laboratory study of this polymer for use as an acid diverter. AP Properties The solution properties of both ionic and nonionic, water-soluble polymers are uniquely modified when hydrophobic groups are introduced into the polymer chains. The primary factor responsible for the property modification is the associative tendency between the hydrophobic groups when placed in an aqueous medium. Previous testing has shown a unique shear-thickening phenomenon for the AP used in the current work. However, the solutions used in diversion operations show very low viscosity (less than 2 cp) at surfaceconditions. The adsorption behavior of hydrophilic water-soluble polymers also can be modified in a unique manner by the introduction of hydrophobic groups. Rather than reaching plateau adsorption, as is common for hydrophilic polymers, hydrophobic modification appears to produce a continued growth in adsorption with increased polymer concentration. This behavior is attributed to associative adsorption of polymer chains on previously adsorbed layers of polymers. Fig. 1 illustrates the adsorption of a nonmodified and a modified

polymer onto a surface. In general, hydrophobic modification of watersoluble polymers adds new properties while retaining features typical for hydrophilic polymers. Viscosified or foamed fluids commonly used for acid diversion can result in high frictional pressure loss and require special manifolding and/ or pumping equipment. The low viscosity of the AP diverting system results in ease of mixing, low-frictional pressure losses, and no special manifolding or pump requirements. The diversion of aqueous fluids occurs only after the material enters the porous media, whether it is naturally fractured carbonate/dolomitic rock or sandstone matrix. It is theorized that the increased shear encountered upon entering the rock matrix, coupled with polymer adsorption, results in an apparent viscosity increase that may be responsible for the pressure increases seen during the treatment. Job Results More than 30 wells have been acidized with the AP diversion system in the Chuc, Caan, and Pol fields. These fields are primarily dolimitic, and the acid has consisted of hydrochloric/acetic blends formulated specifically to avoid sludging problems. Results from nine of these jobs are shown in Table 1 in the full-length paper. The oil- and water-production numbers shown are the approximate values just before and after acid stimulation. Without Diverter. Two acid jobs were performed on Well Caan 53. Following the first job in August 1999, the water cut began to increase, followed by a decline in the oil rate. A second acid job was performed on a different interval in December 2003, again followed by an eventual increase in the water cut. So, while the acid jobs performed on this well

increased oil production, increases in water production also were seen. On Well Caan 51, the interval from 12,687 to 12,737 ft showed an increase in water cut in March 2001, with a concurrent decrease in oil production. An acid-stimulation job in September 2003 did not increase the oil rate, although the water rate continued to increase. This interval was isolated, and the interval from 12,255 to 12,333 ft was perforated and acid stimulated. This resulted in an increase in oil, although approximately 1 year later the water cut also began to increase rapidly. On Caan 96, an acid-stimulation treatment was performed in March 2003 and resulted in no increase in oil production. In December 2005, the water cut on this well began a sharp increase. On Well Pol 388, the interval from 13,715 to 13,796 ft was producing 2,800 BOPD at approximately 50% water cut in August 1992. The well was shut in until November 2003, at which time the interval from 13,715 to 13,796 ft was perforated and acid stimulated. Initial production was appproximately

800 BOPD with 50% water cut, and these levels were holding steady more than 2 years later. In Well Chuc 173, the original perforated interval began to show an oil production decline in mid-2002. In November 2005, the interval from 14,020 to 14,108 ft was perforated and acidized. While there was an immediate increase in oil production, there also was an onset of water production. These results are typical of acid-stimulation jobs in the Caan, Pol, and Chuc fields. Other diverters were used in this field, such as ball sealers and foam, but with no real benefit. Also, because of the close proximity of water zones in many wells, the acid volumes were reduced in an attempt to avoid the onset of water production. With Diverter. In Well Caan 73A, the interval from 13,190 to 13,222ft showed a sharp increase in water production in January of 2003, along with a sharp decrease in oil production. This interval was isolated, and the interval from 13,098 to 13,131ft was perforated and acidized with the AP diverter. Even

with the close proximity of a water-producing zone, this interval has produced water-free for more than 2 years. In the Chuc 63 well, the initial production was approximately 1,000BOPD, with a 16% water cut. After 1 month, production was approximately 1,800BOPD with the same water cut. However, less than 1 month later, oil production dropped dramatically. The well was acid stimulated in February 2005 with the AP diverter. The increase in oil production was excellent. One year later, the oil production appeared to be remaining steady at almost 3,600BOPD. In addition, rather than increasing the water production, the water cut fell from the initial level of 16% to approximately 4% and also was holding steady 1 year later. In Chuc 192, oil production began to drop rapidly with a concurrent increase in water production in February 2005. This interval was isolated and a new interval perforated and acid stimulated with the AP diverter. Oil production increased along with an approximately 2% water cut, which fell to zero within a few months. The increased oil production with no water has held steady for almost 1 year. Out of nine wells acidized with the AP diverter, the average increase in oil production was 231%. In addition, 22% showed a decrease in the water cut following the job, and 67% showed no change in the water cut following the job. For the five wells acidized without the AP diverter, four showed substantial increases in water cut following the jobs. In fact, one well went from producing no water to producing 3,273 BWPD. Also, three of the wells showed decreased oil production following the jobs. Conclusions 1.Laboratory tests have shown that the AP diverter can divert acid from predominantly water-saturated zones to predominantly oil-saturated zones in both sandstone and carbonate lithology. 2.In sandstone and carbonate, the AP diverter can provide acid diversion and permanent water-permeability reduction. 3. Results from the Chuc, Caan, and Pol fields show that use of the AP diverter results in lower water production and increased oil production compared with control wells acidized JPT without the AP diverter.



Horizontal-Openhole Gravel-Packing Operations in the Campos Basin

The full-length paper presents an overview of the evolution of openhole gravel-packing practices and experience after 200 wells have been completed successfully with this technique in the Campos basin. A comprehensive description of the main steps taken to improve horizontalopenhole gravel-packing (HOHGP) practices in unconsolidated oil-bearing turbidites is presented. Since the first HOHGP job in 1988, completions have moved progressively from shallow- to ultradeepwater scenarios. Along this path, a series of innovations has been incorporated into the sandface-completion practices.

Introduction The most prolific reservoirs in the Campos basin are the Upper Cretaceous and Tertiary turbidites. The high-permeability (approximately 1,000 to 8,000 md) stacked and amalgamated reservoirs are spread over shallow, deep, and ultradeep water within the basin. Dictated by the depositional model associated with turbidites, the sand uniformity of these poorly- or unconsolidated sand lenses varies significantly. The presence of reactive-shale streaks is recurrent in some of these turbiThis article, written by Assistant Technology Editor Karen Bybee, contains highlights of paper SPE 106364, The 200th Horizontal-Openhole Gravel-Packing Operation in Campos Basin: A Milestone in the History of Petrobras Completion Practices in Ultradeep Waters, by L.C.C. Marques, SPE, L.C.A. Paixo, V.P. Barbosa, M.O. Martins, A. Calderon, SPE, C.A. Pedroso, SPE, L.H.C. Fernandes, J.A. Melo, C.M. Chagas, and N.J. Denadai, Petrobras, prepared for the 2007 SPE European Formation Damage Conference, Scheveningen, The Netherlands, 30 May1 June.

dites. As in many other offshore basins in the world, the first oil discoveries (early in the 1980s) were in shallow waters. These good exploratory results propelled the move progressively from shallow to ultradeep water. However, since the original oil discoveries, it has been realized that a sand-management strategy was necessary to achieve desirable production levels. Sand control is an umbrella term comprising different approaches to dealing with sand-production problems. Sand-control methods include frac pack, chemical consolidation, screens, and gravel packing. The Petrobras philosophy is one of zero tolerance for sand production. Should there be the slightest chance of sand production, a sand-control method is installed in wells. This preventative approach stems from wellbore-integrity concerns, prohibitively high wellintervention costs, the need to maximize production rates, safety concerns, and the inability of topside equipment to handle sand. Gravel packing is considered the best alternative for sand control in horizontal-openhole wells with good vertical permeability, nonuniform sands, and no lamination. In addition, filling the screen/wellbore annulus of an openhole horizontal well with properly sized gravel creates a secondary barrier to the migrating sand grains, thus increasing the longevity of the gravelpack screens. Sand-Control History The ability to achieve reliable sand control and high completion-efficiency indices is the result of a philosophy of teamwork that integrates drilling and completion practices. Use of sand-control advances provided by the sand-control industry has enabled Petrobras to set the pace in sand-con-

trol and completion practices in deep and ultradeep water. These include use of premium screens and tailor-made drill-in fluids, application of absolute filtration standards for completion and gravel-pack fluids, use of improved wellbore-cleanup procedures, extensive use of core-flow studies to minimize formation damage by drill-in fluid, optimization of bridging-material size distribution, use of drillpipe with internal plastic coating to prevent rust from being carried to the formation face, achieving a better understanding of the rock mechanics necessary for horizontal-openhole-well construction, use of stainless-steel gravel-packing pumping equipment, use of low-density gravel, and use of modern geosteerable tools to reduce wellbore tortuosity and to drill in-gauge wells. In the early 1980s, only shallowwater cased wells were completed with the gravel-packing technique. The achieved completion-efficiency indices were quite low and posed a major threat to the economic feasibility of ongoing projects in deep waters. Because of this, a sensitivity analysis was run to bracket the effect of different variables on the production impairment observed. Frac Packs. The frac-pack technique was the first sand-control option used to complete vertical and low-angle deviated cased wells with no mechanical restriction and with no gas/oil or water/oil contacts nearby. As predicted by a suite of studies, use of the fracpack technique in the Marlim field has produced completion-efficiency indices as great as 100% in several situations as the result of creating a highly conductive fracture in the formation that balances flow restrictions that occur in the perforations. However, HOHGP wells have been adopted as the best-in-class well architecture for

For a limited time, the full-length paper is available free to SPE members at The paper has not been peer reviewed. JPT JULY 2007 57

the newest sand-control projects in the Campos basin. Because of this, frac packs have been limited to some very specific cased-well applications. Expandable Sand Screens (ESSs). Since the early 2000s, ESSs have been installed in horizontal-openhole injectiors and producers in the Campos basin. Unexpectedly poor results were obtained from this initial experience. Premature sand failure occurred in most of the producers completed with ESSs. ESS longevity in producers did not meet expectations. Gravel-Packing Simulators Although gravel placement in horizontal wells is a mature technology, the commercially available numerical gravel-packing simulators are empirical and not fully validated for ultradeepwater applications where low fracture gradients dictate a narrow operational window. Neither have they been validated for lightweight gravel materials nor for Newtonian solids-free synthetic fluids used as gravel-carrier fluids. Improvements are still needed in pressure-behavior analytical tools to simulate gravel-packing operations. If the appropriate simulation capabilities were available, they would enable real-time decision making and running post-job analyses to match the predicted pressure-behavior profile with actual field measurements. A faster solution could be to upgrade existing gravelpacking simulators in such a way as to accomplish this. Occasionally, downhole-pressure gauges have been run in the hole during gravel-packing operations to gather data to calibrate and tune the gravel-packing simulator. Drill-In Practice Improvements One the keys to achieve damage-free HOHGP is the correct choice of the drillin-fluids program. A comprehensive well-engineered drill-in-fluids program must consider all the steps between the moment the drill bit tags the pay zone and the moment at which the solidsladen drill-in fluid is replaced by a solids-free fluid before the gravel-packing operation. An in-house research program was created to investigate the influence of different variables on drillin-fluids performance. The stability of a horizontal-openhole well is dependent on maintaining an adequate hydrostatic head on

the formation, creating a resistant mudcake on the formation face being drilled, and inhibiting shales. In some shallow-water situations, the mudcake must be able to resist a very high differential pressure (more than 1,000 psi from wellbore to formation) and still have good leakoff control to prevent deep formation invasion by the particles. This is particularly important because of the high permeability of the Campos basin turbidites. In addition, the mudcake particles must be sized to flow through the gravel pack, across the screens, and into the wellbore when the well is put on stream. Gravel-Carrier-Fluids Filtration Improvements The importance of clean fluids to prevent in-flow formation damage is well established. Since the early 1990s, absolute filtration guidelines were established for gravel-carrier fluids. A minimum beta ratio of 5,000 (at 2 m) is the filtration-efficiency level stipulated for these fluids. Typically, some thousand barrels of filtered brine are spent in the drill-in fluids replacement, wellbore cleanup, and gravel-packing operations. The offshore logistics of preparing such a large volume of fluid poses enormous practical problems. Small rig-pit capacities for ultradeep water are common. Therefore, it is more feasible to produce these fluids [saturated sodium chloride (NaCl) brine] in an offshore facility (fluid processing plant) and ship them just in time for the operations. Once on the rig, the brine then is absolute filtered, blended with chemicals, and eventually diluted with filtered seawater. Good transportation logistics is necessary to prevent fluid contamination and delays. Drill-In-Fluid Improvement Tailored Drill-In Fluids. The use of water-based fluids has been a rule in these horizontal-openhole drill-in operations. These tailor-made fluids are composed of an NaCl brine, a shearthinning biopolymer, a lubricant, a loss-control additive, a biocide, an alkalinizer, a temperature-activated enzyme breaker, and HCl-soluble aragonite particles sized to prevent deep invasion of the formation pores. A current drilling practice in the Campos basin is to drill the 121/4-in. phase with a synthetic oil-based mud

(SOBM) to target. A pilot well is first drilled to obtain geological data on the sand layers, thus helping to define the horizontal-well trajectory. Then, the 95/8-in. casing shoe is set and cemented at the top of the uppermost layer of the turbidites. Once the 121/4-in. drilling phase is finished, all the SOBM is replaced by a water-based drill-in fluid. The major drawbacks of such a fluid-replacement practice are potential formation damage, complex logistics, and time required. SOBM for Drill-In Fluids. Using SOBM to drill the 81/2-in. phase to construct a horizontal-openhole well to be gravel packed presents the following advantages over the current field practice of replacing this fluid with a water-based drill-in fluid: superior wellbore stability, better lubricity, higher rate of penetration, better shale inhibition, and rig-time optimization. Laboratory experiments and full-scale simulations were performed to specify the SOBM formulation to drill the 81/2-in. phase. Bottomhole-Pressure Reduction Lightweight Gravel. Commercially available high-permeability synthetic proppants [16/20- and 20/40-mesh, specific gravity (SG) from 2.65 to 2.73] have a good record as a gravel material in conventional HOHGP operations. Where concerns exist in terms of conventional gravel placementthe existence of a washed-out zone, a low fracture gradient, long open hole to be completed, and fluid-returns problemsuse of lightweight proppant (1.25 SG) as a gravel material has widened the operational window of HOHGP operations. Fluid Returns. Another solution to the low-fracture-gradient problem was use of a new flow path for gravel-carrier-fluid returns that resulted in a 500-psi pumping-pressure reduction at 8 bbl/min. Fluid returns to the surface were routed into the flowline instead of into the small-diameter chokeline and kill line. Once at the surface, the return fluid is not diverted to the trip tank to measure the flow rate but through a flowmeter installed in the flowline just before the gravel-packing operation. Flowmeters that are not affected by sea heave were designed to operate on JPT these floating rigs.