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Damage During Perforating and Cementing

When cement is bullheaded into the annulus to displace mud, the differential
pressure between the cement and the formation fluid can lead to a significant loss
of cement filtrate into the formation. If, however, large volumes of cement filtrate
invade the rock, the possibility of formation damage exists.
If the depth of invasion of the cement filtrate can be restricted to 4 in., cementfiltrate-induced damage should not be a major concern because the perforation
tunnels will bypass the damage. However, in some situations in which large
volumes of cement filtrate may be lost, this form of damage should be seriously
considered. In such cases, the use of fluid-loss-control additives and polymers in the
cement slurry needs to be evaluated carefully so that the cement is properly
designed to minimize both the leakoff rate and the amount of insoluble precipitates
formed in the formation.
The process of perforating is critical to well productivity because the perforation is
the only channel of communication between the wellbore and the formation. During
underbalanced perforating, the surge flow of fluid into the wellbore should clean the
perforation tunnel of all disaggregated rock and liner debris. Any remaining debris in
the tunnel could plug gravel packs during production. Even clean perforation
tunnels show a narrow region of reduced permeability around them.
The reduction in permeability in the compacted region is typically of the order of 20
to 50% but can be larger in some cases. Fines migration is a recognized source of
formation damage in some production wells, particularly in sandstones. Although
most other forms of formation damage have obvious indicators of the problem, the
field symptoms of fines migration are much more subtle. Indirect evidence such as
declining productivity over a period of several weeks or months is the most common
symptom. This reduction in productivity can usually be reversed by mud-acid
treatments. A large number of wells around the world follow these patterns of
reduction of productivity followed by significant improvements when subjected to a
mud-acid treatment. This behavior most often suggests a buildup of fines in the
near-wellbore region over a period of time. Field studies and laboratory experiments
have indicated that the fines causing the permeability reduction include clays,
feldspars, micas, and plagioclase. Because the mobile fines are made up of a wide
variety of minerals, the clay content of the reservoir may not always be a good
indicator of the water sensitivity of the formation.
Formation Damage Caused by Fines Migration
Fines migration is a recognized source of formation damage in some production
wells, particularly in sandstones. Indirect evidence such as declining productivity
over a period of several weeks or months is the most common symptom. This
reduction in productivity can usually be reversed by mud-acid treatments. A large
number of wells around the world follow these patterns of reduction of productivity

followed by significant improvements when subjected to a mud-acid treatment. This


behavior most often suggests a buildup of fines in the near-wellbore region over a
period of time.
Fine-grained minerals are present in most sandstones and some carbonates. They
are not held in place by the confining pressure and are free to move with the fluid
phase that wets them (usually water). They remain attached to pore surfaces by
electrostatic and van der Waals forces. At "high" (> 2%) salt concentrations, the van
der Waals forces are sufficiently large to keep the fines attached to the pore
surfaces. As the salinity is decreased, the repulsive electrostatic forces increase
because the negative charge on the surfaces of the pores and fines is no longer
shielded by the ions. When the repulsive electrostatic forces exceed the attractive
van der Waals forces, the fines are released from pore surfaces.
The extent of permeability reduction observed is also a function of the wettability of
the rock. More oil-wet rocks tend to show less water sensitivity, maybe because the
fines are partially coated with oil and are not as readily accessible to the brine.
Significantly smaller reductions in permeability are observed when the rock is made
less water-wet.
The above observations imply that fines migration can be induced by any operation
that introduces "low" (< 2%) -salinity or "high" (> 9%) -pH fluids into a watersensitive formation. Fines migration can also be induced by "high" flow rates in the
near-wellbore region, particularly in wells producing water. Examples of such
operations include loss of freshwater-mud filtrate or completion fluid to the
formation, steam injection in a huff 'n' puff operation for recovering heavy oil, water
injection from a freshwater source, high well production rates (flow velocities above
the critical velocity), and water breakthrough in production wells.
Formation Damage Resulting From Emulsion and Sludge Formation
The presence of emulsions at the surface does not imply the formation of emulsions
in the near-wellbore region. Most often, surface emulsions are a result of mixing and
shearing that occur in chokes and valves in the flow stream after the fluids have
entered the well. It is uncommon to have emulsions and sludges form in the nearwellbore region without the introduction of external chemicals.
Crude-oil/brine emulsions are stabilized by the presence of surfactants and colloidal
particles such as clays, paraffins, and asphaltenes. In general, organophilic particles
such as paraffins and asphaltenes favor the formation of oil-external emulsions and
sludges. Water-wet solids such as clays favor the formation of water-external
emulsions. It is important to minimize the loss of surface-active materials into the
near-wellbore region to ensure that emulsions do not form. For example, large
volumes of surfactants are used as corrosion inhibitors and dispersants in acid
treatments. A significant cause of failure of acid treatments is the formation of
sludges and emulsions during an acid treatment as a result of the presence of these

surfactants. The compatibility of crude oil with the acid package needs to be
evaluated before it is pumped into the well. It has also been observed that the
presence of iron enhances the formation of these sludges. It is therefore
recommended that iron be removed from the tubing by circulating a slug of acid to
the surface to ensure that the iron-rich acid is not squeezed into the formation
during an acid treatment.
Formation Damage Resulting From Condensate Banking
Gas/condensate reservoirs are defined as reservoirs that contain hydrocarbon
mixtures that on pressure depletion cross the dewpoint line. In such instances as
when the bottomhole pressure is reduced during production, the dewpoint pressure
of the gas is reached in the near-wellbore region. This results in the formation of
liquid hydrocarbons near the wellbore and in the reservoir. As the liquid
hydrocarbon saturation in the near-wellbore region increases, the gas relative
permeability is decreased, resulting in significant declines in well productivity.
The most direct method of reducing condensate buildup is to reduce the drawdown
so that the bottomhole pressure remains above the dewpoint. In cases when this is
not desirable, the impact of condensate formation can be reduced by increasing the
inflow area and achieving linear flow rather than radial flow into the wellbore. This
minimizes the impact of the reduced gas permeability in the near-wellbore region.
Both of these benefits can be achieved by hydraulic fracturing.
Recently, the use of solvents and surfactants such as methanol has been suggested
as a way to stimulate gas/condensate wells in which hydraulic fracturing is not the
preferred option. The use of methanol results in removal of the condensate and
water banks around a wellbore. This allows gas flow to be unimpeded through the
near-wellbore region, resulting in smaller drawdown and slower accumulation of
condensate. Within certain ranges of temperature and pressure, the presence of a
residual methanol phase in the near-wellbore region can also result in the inhibition
of condensate formation for a period of time.
Formation Damage Resulting From Water Blocks
If large volumes of water-based drilling or completion fluids are lost to a well, a
region of high water saturation around the wellbore forms. In this region, the
relative permeability to the hydrocarbon phases is decreased, resulting in a net loss
in well productivity. Regions of high water saturation, or water blocks around the
wellbore, are expected to dissipate with time as the hydrocarbon fluids are
produced. In general, when the viscous forces are significantly larger than the
capillary forces, the water block will clear up rather rapidly. If, however, the capillary
forces holding the water in place are larger than the viscous forces, for example, in
tight gas reservoirs, water blocks may persist for a very long period of time.

There are three primary methods used to remove water blocks: (1) surging or
swabbing the wells to increase the capillary number temporarily; (2) reducing
surface tension through the addition of surfactants or solvents, which also has the
net effect of increasing the capillary number by reducing the interfacial tension
between the hydrocarbon and water phases so that the water block may be cleaned
up during flowback, and (3) the use of solvents or mutual solvents such as alcohols
to solubilize the water and remove it through a change in phase behavior. All of
these three methods have been successfully applied in the field. The benefit of one
method over another depends on the specific conditions of reservoir permeability,
temperature, and pressure.
Formation Damage Resulting From Wettability Alteration
Converting a rock from water-wet to oil-wet results in a substantial reduction in the
relative permeability to the hydrocarbon phase and an increase in relative
permeability to the water. Wettability alteration to less water-wet conditions is
therefore clearly undesirable.

The loss of surfactants in drilling and completion fluids, corrosion inhibitors and
dispersants in stimulation fluids, and the use of resins for sand control can cause
changes in wettability in the near-wellbore region. Care must be exercised when oilwetting surfactants are used in the wellbore to ensure that these fluids are not lost
to the productive zone. Alteration of wettability in a region around the wellbore can
result in an additional pressure drop because of the reduction in oil permeability.
This additional pressure drop or skin is hard to distinguish from mechanical skin
caused by physical plugging of pore throats. In effect, wettability alteration has the
same net result as changing the effective permeability to the hydrocarbon phase in
a region around the wellbore. The use of solvents and water-wetting surfactants
may be recommended in cases in which large volumes of oil-wetting surfactants
such as oil-based muds have been lost to the formation.