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Advances in Well Completion

And Stimulation During JPTs
First Quarter Century
R, F. Krueger, SPE-AIME, Union Oil Co. of California

It is with pleasure, but some trepidation, that I re- and later work that extended the analysis to include
vie-w industry progress in well completion and well :onditions closer to actual well conditions. When
stimulation for this Silver Anniversary celebration the original work was the basic study that opened
of the lournaf of Petroleum Technology (J PT). I a new area for study, it was used as the primary
am pleased because I would like to emphasize the reference,
valuable role that JPT has played in engineering Since this issue of JPT commemorates a quarter
communication. In my opinion, the sharing of re- century of service, my objective will be to give a
search advances and field developments in JPT has broad overview of each main topic, with emphasis
provided a synergism that has had an important bear- on the role that JPT played in communicating new
ing on the great technical achievements of the petro- technology. The discussion will not attempt to refer
leum industry. Each sharing has triggered a chain to all the technology in well completion and stimula-
reaction of new ideas and new work that has re- tion, but only to highlight a few of the important
sulted in an explosion of technology, developments and concepts. The importance of
On the other hand, I have some misgivings about JPTs role will become obvious from the number of
my task, because the areas of well completion and references cited in JPT relative to major technical
stimulation are so broad in scope and the important advances. However, in some areas for example,
technical advances so numerous that it is impossible formation damage by drilling fluids and sand con-
to give proper recognition to all in a review article. trol some of the early basic work was published
There are many hundreds of papers about these in other journals and will be used. Nevertheless, as
operations, and anyone attempting to summarize ad- one searches the literature, it soon becomes obvious
vances in them certainly assumes the strong risk of that the stature of JPT rapidly grew after its incep-
offending many important contributors by omission. tion in 1949, and by the middle 1950s virtually all
Undoubtedly, a different author with a different of the major technical advances were appearing in
background might emphasize different papers; how- JPT,
ever, I have attempted to minimize the risk by draw- Under the broad heading of Well Completion we
ing liberally on the. opinions of others to help me in shall discuss completion mechanics, completion fluids,
my task, Because of space limitations, in some in- cementing, perforating, and sand control. The empha-
stances a choice of references had to be made be- sis in the discussion of drilling and completion fluids
tween the original, idealized work on a given subject will be ori their effect on the formation; it is assumed

Jhe sharing oj research advances and field developments in JPT has provided a
synergism that has had an important bearing on the great technical achievements of the
petroleum industry, Each sharing has triggered a chain reactipn of new ideas and new
work that has resulted in an explosion of technology.

DECEMBER, 1973 1447 9

that the formulation and function of drilling fluids permits cementing and well-treating operations with.
wilt be covered elsewhere. out an auxiliary rig.
Under Well Stimulation, we shall discuss only
acidizing and fracturing because they are the two Multiple Completions
main processes used. Space limitations preclude dis- The second paper included in this review of well
cussion of solvent stimulation, high-rate backflush- completion mechanics illustrates another important
ing, wellbore heating, explosive shooting and the service JPT provides the practicing engineerstate-
like, which are used to a lesser extent. of-the-art awareness, In 1958 Althouse and Fisher,s
in a state-of-the-art paper, managed to put the tech-
Completion Mechanics nology of multiple completions in perspective.
In response to increasing demand and declining re- During Worid War 11, the use of multiple com-
serves, the oil industry has sought and successfully pletions expanded rapidly as a means of maximizing
found oil at greater depths and in more hostile en- production with a minimum consumption of steel.
vironments, and simultaneously it has developed new Through misapplication, multiple completion tech-
methods for stimulating wells and improving re- nology almost died; but with the advent of offshore
covery from existing fields. The rapidly advancing operations, the huge costs of field development and
technology has placed more rigorous and specialized well completion made multiple completions an eco-
demands on well completion mechanics. To meet the nomic necessity. During the 1950s, the development
technical and economic challenges, a steady stream of multiple completion technology mushroomed so
of new completion equipment and new procedures rapidly that it bccamc almost impossible to keep up
has been developed and offered to the industry. At to date on ncw techniques and equipment. Operating
times, advances have been so rapid that it has been engineers were faced with selecting multiple well
difficult for the practicing engineer to keep up with completion hookups that not only were practical but
them. Fortunately, JPT has provided a forum for also satisfied the economic limitations of their par-
the discussion and technical evaluation of these new ticular area. Probably in most cases multiple com-
developments. pletions were not economically feasible, but it was
During JPTs 25-year lifetime, the industry has difficult to ferret out the facts.
seen the development of many completion inno- Althouse and Fishers comprehensive review of
vations, such as permanent-type, concentric, and multiple completion technology provided operating
tubingless completions, the rapid g,owth of multiple engineers with a rational basis for evaluating the
completions, pioneering work in subsea completions, applicability of this technology to Lhcir own needs.
new rigless workover technology, specialized tiesign Their paper discussed the equipment available, the
of pipe strings for hot wells at extreme depths or in general principles of various types of multiple com-
thermal stimulation projects, and special wellhead pletion. and the over-all economics to be cxpectcd.
and completion designs for floating drilling opera- A breakdown of costs for some typical offshore com-
tions. The papers discussed below highlight a fcw of pletions was shown. For such high-cost operations,
the many important developments that JPT has nearly 90 percent of the completion costs arc in-
brought to the attention of the industry, dependent of the special costs associated with mul-
tip]e completions; therefore, the dream of obtaining
Permanent Completions two, three, or four completions for the price of one
One of the most important of the new developments is almost reality.
was the permanent-type well completion reported in
1953 bv Huber and Tausch.: In this type, the tubing Subsea Completion System
and wellhead are set in place when the WCI1is first As industry operations moved increasingly oflshorc,
completed, and all subsequent completion and the technical and economic aspects of well con~ple-
remedial work is done through the tubing with wire- tions were magnified. In response to the new trend,
line tools. As a result of this simplification, the cost JPT published numerous papers dealing with these
of well completion and workover operations is con- problems. We shall discuss two developments that
siderably less than that of conventional completions. should lUWCa strong economic impact.
Because of the economic advantages and well con- One of tiie more difficult problenls is finding a
trol afforded, the permanent-type completion has way to make subsea completions economically viable.
been widely accepted. The authors reported rig time An important step toward this goal was the develop-
savings of 1 to 3 days during completion and a 75 ment of technology for remote completion, produc-
percent reduction in the costs of certain types of tion, and workover of an underwater satellite well
workovers, The use of solids-free, compatible fluid. without rig assistance. The first successful denlon-
instead of drilling mud, during completion and work- stration of this development was described by Rig.g
over results in better well productivity; and the high in 1966. A suite of special completion and
et (Il.
degree of well control permits selective evaluation of workover tools that could be hydraulically pumped
the reservoir without killing the well, down hole was developed to perform virtually all
Some other advantages of permanent completions operations in a remote satellite well; and the feasi-
are that (1) more reliable and accurate reservoir in- bility of through-flowline operations was denlon-
formation is obtained; (2) actual oil and water con- stratcd successfully, first in simulated operations on-
tacts may be determined economically with the well shore and then in an actual underwater completion.
on production; and (3) the use of tubing extensions This pioneering work significantly extended the prac-


tical and economic potential of underwater comple-
tions and provided the basis for new subsea technol- Drilling-In and Completion Fluids
ogy that may make previously unrecoverable reserves Forty years ago when new fields and gushers made
profitable. oil a glut on the market, there was !ittle concern for
damage to well productivity. Today, however, it is
Offshore Concentric Tubing Workover Procedure widely acknowledged that drilling and completion
Franks introduction in 1968 of an improved concen- fluids can, indeed, significantly affect well produc-
tric tubing workover technique was an important con- tivity and that serious damage can occur if proper
tribution toward reducing offshore workover costs. 3 care is not given these fluids during the operating
The technique makes use of small-diameter tubing procedure. As usual, the present highly developed
run inside the production tubing to perform the work- technology M the result of a succession of field obser-
over operations, and is applicable in directional holes vations and painstaking experiments, each building
as well as straight holes. Time savings and reduced upon previous ones. As a result we know today that
rig cost result from the elimination of the need to damage from drilling fluids results primarily from
retrieve and rerun tubing and packers. Frank de- (1) the effect of the filtrate from the fluid upon the
scribed special workover techniques for sand wash- formation components, and (2) the invasion of the
ing, sand consolidation, perforating, cementing, and pore space by solid particles from the fluid.
pipe repair, and the methods are now widely used.
The offshore concentric rig designed for this work Formation Damage From Water and Mud Filtrates
is completely self-contained and readily transport- In the early 30s, observers and far-sighted engineers
able. At first, the work strings used with concentric noted that the performance of some wells did not
tubing rigs were 1-in. N-80 pipe with tool joint con- come up (o expectations, and their findings led to
nections. In recent years, further rig savings have speculation and differences of opinion as to the cause
been achieved through the use of continuous-string of the noted eflccts. During the following decade,
workover rigs, described by Slater and Hansonr in many laboratory studies demonstrated that the com-
1965. This unit runs continuous, small-diameter tub- position of a fluid flowing through a sandstone core
ing inside production tubing at speeds far greater has a radical effect on the specific permeability to
than those for conventional workover pipe strings. water; for example, when a brine-saturated core is
flooded with fresh water, the specific permeability to
Prediction of Tubing Tension and Movement fresh water is often much Icss than the original per-
Completions in deeper, hotter wells and the rapid meability to brine. Field studies confirmed that a well
growth of thermal stimulation operations have made exposed to fresh water for only a short time could be
it increasingly important to take into account the significantly and permanently damaged. The observed
effects of temperature and pressure when perforating permeability damage was ascribed to swelling of clays
and treating wells through a tubing and packer. If the and blockage of pore spaces in the rock. A natural
tubing is free to move inside the packer, changes in outgrowth of this work was the development of saline
temperature and pressure in the well will increase or and oil-base completion ffuids.
decrease the Icngth of the tubing; if the tubing is Recognizing the growing concern about formation
constrained in the packer, forces are induced in the damage, Nowak and Krueger{ reported in 1951 on
tubing and packer. Pipe collapse has been observed the effects of various drilling ffuids on formation rock
when steam is injected into wells; tensile failure has under both static and dynamic conditions, Using
been reported when constrained tubing in a deep, hot restored-state cores saturated with oil and interstitial
well is cooled down by injecting large volumes of brine, they observed that permeability to oil was also
cool treating fluid, such as acid. If tubing pulls out adversely affcctcd by invasion of fresh water and
of a packer, well failure may occur; packer fluid fresh water mud filtrates. Permeability damage was
dumped onto the producing formation may damage minimized with saline and oil filtrates; multivalcnt-
well productivity, and upper casing may be exposed ion salts were found to be more effective than sodium
to excessive pressure. chforide for controlling permeability damage. An im-
In 1962, Lubinski et al. published a mathemat- portant observation was that, even in extreme cases
ical method for px:dicting the forces and pipe move- of water sensitivity involving almost complete loss of
ment caused by these condmons, taking into account the specific permeability to water. flow of oil follow-
the effect of helical buckling. They showed that buck- ing water invasion restored permeability to oil to
ling may occur even when the tubing is initially under practical Icvels that were usually many times greater
tension and that in deep wells tubing may take a than the specific permeability to water. Nevertheless,
permanent helical set, particularly inside large casing. experience through the years has shown that essen-
Their paper provided a practical basis for solving the tially all sandstones are water sensitive to some
many tubing problems associated with temperature degree, and permeability to on after lre~n water ;nva-
and pressure changes, and several common problems sion may range from 10 to 90 percent of the specific
mentioned above were examined. This basic study air permeability, Fortunately, tke damage to well pro-
has been extended and computerized by subsequent ductivity in a radial system can be minimized by
workers, and the practicing field engineer now has restricting the depth of invasion through good fl~lid-
access to rapid solutions of particular and complex 10SScontrol. This work was the first to associate per-
problems in his own operations, meability damage with particle movement, as well as
with clay swelling, when water-sensitive sandstone

DECEMBER, 1973 1449

cores were observed to discharge colloidal clays. early investigators assumed that permeability dam-
age was caused by swollen clay particles obstructing
Influence of Chemical Composition on the pore spaces, Were this the only effect, one would
Water Sensitivity expect that injection of salt solu[ions to shrink the
As a result of the early work on water sensitivity of clays would reverse permeability damage, However,
sandstones, fluids containing salts of sodium, calcium, both laboratory and fie!d results show that per-
magnesium, zirconium, potassium. and other cations meability damage. once formed. cannot usually be
have been used to control or restrict permeability reversed by injection of dcswelling solutions. This
damage in aqueous systems. At first, it was not apparent anomaly is explained by the work of Gray
thought possible to take advantage of the inhibiting and Rex and Krueger cl al. who postulated that
properties of these salts when large volumes of water micron- and submicron-size fragments of clays and
are used for waterflooding. }Iowever, in 1969 Joncsge other minerals are dislodged by shearing forces on
reported a means of using small quantities of divalent weakly bonded mineral or clay crystals when salinity
cations to control clay blockage in water-sensitive changes occur. These fragments then are entrained
formations. He showed that potentially sensitive for- with the flowing fluids.
mations can be exposed to fresh water if at least 1/1 O Monaghan CI al. and Krueger et td. attributed
of the dissolved salts in both the formation water and the irreversibility of permeability damage to brush
the invading water are calcium and magnesium salts. heap arrangements of dislodged clay particles,
Abrupt reductions in salinity can cause permeability which cannot be reordered by chemical treatments.
damage, whereas gradual changes may have little Monaghan etal.showed that clay deswelling by base
effect. Jones practical approach to alleviating the exchange, or changes in clay properties with chem-
effects of water sensitivity is to select an effective ion ical flushes, do not restore the original permeability
composition and concentration, and then gradually to clay-damaged sand packs, However, Krueger et
reduce the concentration to an economic level, Many al. showed that the effects of water sensitivity can
applications of Jones work are apparent in drilling, be drastically reduced by low-velocity formation
completion, workover, well stimulation, and water- cleanup, and damaged well productivity can some-
ffooding, times be improved substantially by a backflush fol-
lowed by restricted drawdown.
Formdion Damage From Particle Invasion
Before 1949, several studies investigated pore plug- Nonplugging Completion and Workover Fluids
ging from drilling fluid invasion in water-saturated One aspect of completion fluids that has not been
cores exposed to fluid under static conditions. covered in the previous discussion is the problem of
Although invasion by mud solids was inferred, the perforating wells. As wc shall see in a later section,
effect of the solids on permeability damage was ob- research has demonstrated that perforations may be
scured by filt1ate effects in the single-phase water severc]y plugged when shots are made With driW?
system and by an inability to relate the results to mud in the wellbore. Perforation plugging results
down-hole dynamic conditions. To avoid these linli- in low well productivity, fai!urc of squeeze cementing
tations, several later studies simulated down-hole and sand control treatments, and many other operat-
conditions. using inert cores in the restored state and ing problems. To prevent these problems, a clean,
dynamic mud flow. Underneath-the-bit conditions solids-free fluid with low filtration rate and con-
were first simulated in tests reported~:~in 1951; above- trollable density is required.
the-bit conditions were simulated in tests by Krueger Priest and Allen developed an emulsion fluid
and Vogel in 1954. Glenn and SIussery ) further with the necessary properties and reported the re-
extended this work and reported their results in JPT sults of field usage to JPT readers in 1958, In line
in 1957. with previous permeability-damage studies, calcium
These studies showed that submicron particles chloride solution was used as the external phase.
from drilling fluids penetrated at least 2 to 5 cm into Density variations were achieved by changing the
the pore spaces; however, for certain particle-size/ hydrocarbon content in the internal phase; and
pore-size relationships, particles were observed to filtrate loss was reduced with lignosulfonates. Re.
flow apparently unimpeded through the rock. An im- ported field results show that the productivity in-
portant conclusion from this work was that inter- dices of wells completed with the new fiuid were
stitial invasion forms an internal mud cake inside substantially higher than those for offset wells per-
pore spaces. This cake is not entirely removed during forated in mud or water. Fewer difficulties were
backflow and some permanent permeability damage experienced in servicing wells and bringing them
remains. The most severe invasion and damage back on production when the emulsion fluid was
occurred during jetting and mechanical scraping used to protect the formation,
operations that simulated drilling conditions. The
degree of damage was observed to be a function of Formation Damage ControI in
time of exposure and total volume of filtrate flowing Present-Day Operations
through the rock. These results confirmed field obser- As a result of the work summarized above, engineers
vations in certain formations. now have the basic information to minimize fotma-
tion damage during completion and workover. Inas-
Check Valve Pore Blocking much as nearly all sedimentary sandstones apparently
Because of ~he observed swelling of clays in water, contain clay minerals and therefore exhibit water
sensitivity in varying degrees, drilling-in and com- nizing the chairmen who guided their course: Carl
pletion fluids should be selected to minimize both Dawson, Walter Rogers, George Howard, Francis
the interaction of filtrate with the formation and Anderson, William Bearden, and Robert Scott.
the depth of particle invasion, The work discussed These committees brought quality control into ce-
has provided the fundamental background that has menting operations, and established an orderly
ed to the development and wide use of oil-base basis for introducing the new types of cements re-
and saline drilling and workover fluids. For many quired as well depths increased,
years, calcium-base fluids were popular; in recent During the decade of the forties, several im-
years, however, owing to their special advantages, portant studies were published on mud displace-
potassium fluids are increasingly used. Because of ment and mud-cake removal during cementing and
the radial-system geometry that applies, the proper on the minimum waiting-on-cement time before
choice of fluid properties can keep formation dam- drilling out the cement. These studies provided the
age to moderate levels. Well productivities of 85 to basic engineering information necessary to place
90 percent t f undamaged values are attainable; and sound cement with a good bond between casing
under ideal conditions, nearly undamaged produc- and formation. The basis for turbulent placement of
tivities can be achieved. cement, use of scratchers or jets, and cement filtration
The technological advances derived from the above control was established during this time.
formation damage studies have significant economic Special Cements
impact because they not only bring about a material
increase in recovery of oil in place, but make it avail- Through the years, many different types of cements
able in the shortest reasonable time. and cement additives have been developed to provide
special properties and to take care of particular down-
Cementing hole conditions. Retarders, accelerators, density mod-
Probably no other operation in the producing life ifiers, fluid-loss controllers, mud decontaminants
of a well has a more critical effect than cementing. all have provided the engineer with important con-
Sealing of water zones, isolation of producing in- trols over down-hole conditions, And at one time
tervals, control of injected fluids during secondary or another all have been discussed in JPT publica-
recovery, control of well stimulation treatments, and tions, In the next few paragraphs, 1 should like to
many other operations all depend upon obtaining highlight two papers dealing with special cements.
a good-quality cement job. It is not surprising then
that considerable study has been devoted to cement- Cementing at High Temperatures. First, let us look
ing materials and techniques, Yet one of the most at the problem of cementing deep wells. Recently,
commonly heard comments is, We cannot treat a depth exceeding 30,000 ft was reached, and many
this well because fluid channels through the cement engineers are projecting depths of 50,000 ft in a
behind the pipe. few years, Temperatures approaching 500F have
Cementing was first introduced to the industry been encountered, and 700F is anticipated, Con-
in 1903 when it was used to shut off water above ventional retarded cement compositions face many
an oil sand in the Lompoc field, Calif. In the early problems at extreme temperatures: thickening time
1900s construction cement and high-early-strength will often be too short; although initial compressive
cement were used for cementing wells, and many strength may be adequate, many compositions ex-
down-hole problems were thought to be associated hibit strength retrogression, even to the point of
with variations in their properties. Thus the first failure; permeability of the set cement may incrcasc.
laboratory studies of cementing were aimed pri- In 1960, Ostroot and Walker undertook a com-
marily at determining properties such as compres- prehensive investigation of cementing materials and
sive strength and pumpability at down-hole tempera- techniques for use at temperatures of 500*F or
tures. As new and special cements were developed, higher, They observed that most of the common
these tests became even more important. cementing compositions retrogress in strength after
One of the most significant steps forwaid was prolonged exposure at these high temperatures, but
Farris development*: in 1939 of a laboratory device that the addition of high percentages of silica flour
for measuring thickening time under both down- inhibits this retrogression and results in compressive
hole temperature and down-hole pressure. His re- strengths that are much higher than those of the
sults quantized previous opinions that both high neat cement composition. Basic analytical studies
pressure and high temperature would accelerate the showed that the hydration products, calcium hy-
stiffening and setting of cement. With these data droxide and dicalcium silicate alpha hydrate, are
it became possible to establish limits on the maxi- formed in cements in which strength retrogression
mum recommended pumping time, Farris device has occurred, and that the formation of the tober-
and the testing procedures developd with it provided morite phase inhibits retrogression. The reported
the basis for establishing quality standards and eval- data also showed that cements containing silica flour
uating flow properties of cements. had lower permeability than neat cement and that
A report on cementing technology would be in- they could be relarded effectively at extreme tem-
complete without mentioning the important role of peratures with a modified lignin compound.
the API committees on standardization of cements This paper was important to the industry because
and cement testing procedures, and without recog- it showed the nature of high-temperature cementing
DECEMBER, 1973 1451
problems, and offered a means of combatting them cement goes during a squeeze job and how to make
with readily available materials. By showing the the squeeze effective. In 1950, Howard and Fasta4
chemical changes associated with those problems, published in JPT the first basic study of the high-
the authors opened the way for basic improvements -pressure squeeze cementing process, and their work
in the composition of cements to be used at ex- provided a more rational basis for improving field
treme temperatures. procedures. They investigated squeeze cementing
theoretically and then field-tested their ideas, first in
Cementing in Shales and Dirty Sands. The second shallow laboratory wells and then in commercial
paper deals with cementing in shale and bentonitic oil wells. Their paper remains a basic reference
sands. Cement jobs in such zones are often trouble- for all engineers wishing to become knowledgeable
some and expensive. Because of water sensitivity, in squeeze-cementing technology. Howard and Fasts
shale or bentonitic sand may deteriorate during ce- work provided graphic experimental evidence that
menting with common fresh-water cements, and during squeeze operations formations break down in
isolation of zones may not be achieved. Remedial an existing zone of weakness, and the cement slurry
squeeze cementing is often required. Although then flows as a sheet through the fracture plane.
brines and formation waters were used for many Although the cement squeeze produced horizontal
years to combat the effects of water sensitivity for pancakes in their shallow-well tests, their general con-
well repair and well stimulation, the addition of clusions appear to be valid for deep-well vertical frac-
salt to cement to stabilize the formation or shales tures as well. In studies of squeeze procedures, water
during cementing had rarely been considered, or acid was a more effective breakdown agent than
h 1962, Slagle and Smith- brought to the indus- drilling mud, and slow pumping of cement resulted in
trys attention the fact that salt cement could improve higher final squeeze pressure with smaller volumes of
both primary and squeeze cementing operations in cement pumped.
shales and dirty sands as well as in the salt formations Although the high-pressure squeeze method is
where they had been most widely used. Although most commonly used, a low-pressure technique in-
untreated cement slurry does contain calcium ions, troduced by Huber and Tausch2 in 1953 is used for
the low ionic content and high pH apparently permit special applications in completion or workover op-
structural changes in clay-containing minerals. Addi- erations conducted through production tubing. The
tion of salt to cement slurry improves slurry proper- method involves placing a small volume of cement
ties, formation integrity, and bonding in shales and against open perforations at low pressure, Fractur-
clayey formations, Recognition of the value of salt ing is deliberately avoided, and excess cement is
cements for cementing water-sensitive shales and circulated out of the well, leaving only small cement
sands has broughi about wide usage, filter-cake nodes inside the casing. A major advantage
is the ability to conduct the operation with small
Mechanics of Slurry Placeme~t pumps, which are often available at the well location.
Much information has been published on the me-
chanics of mud displacement by cement, and on Perforating
techniques for maximizing displacement efficiency. Before 1932 mechanical perforation devices were
Despite this body of information, the reliability of the only means of establishing communication
primary cementing is generally considered low. Re- through cemented pipe from the wellbore into the
cently, two complementary investigations have re- formation. However, in December of that year, the
examined the displacement process. first down-hole gun perforator was used in a Union
The publications by McLean et al. and by Clark Oil Co. of California well in the Montebello field,
and Carter are well worth careful study by anyone Los Angeles County, Calif. Since that time gun per-
interested in optimizing primary cementing opera- foration has become the most widely used comple-
tions in the field. McLean et al. investigated the dis- tion method because of the advantages of wireline
placement process with both analytical and experi- operation and the selective perforation and produc-
mental models, consisting of a single string of casing tion of a given zone. Plug-shaped bullets, ogival
eccentrically positioned in a round, smooth-walled bullets, burrless bullets, bear shots, and a wide
permeable borehole, Clark and Carter simulated variety of shaped charge have been developed to
borehole conditions at 8,000 ft, including mud circu- improve the process, but wireline shaped-charge
lation and filtration before cementing. devices are now used in more than 90 percent of all
These studies illustrate pictorially the importance perforating jobs done in the world today,
of centralizing pipe and the critical effect of drag and Despite the advantages of wireline perforating,
buoyancy forces on mud displacement, Mud on the engineers questioned the down-hole efficiency of the
narrow side of an eccentric annulus is readily by- perforating process because well productivities were
passed, but moving the pipe, pumping in turbulent often lower than predicted. In 1947 Oliphant and
flow, and minimizing density differences between Farris44 reported penetration depths of only O to
cement and mud promote etllcient mud removal. 2!/2 in, into concrete targets perforated with con-
ventional bullet guns, At about the same time,
Squeeze Cementing
shaped-charge devices were being introduced to the
For many years, the mechanism of squeeze cement- oil industry as a means of obtaining deeper pene-
ing remained somewhat of a mystery, and every tration in perforated completions. In the ensuing 25
engineer had his own hypothesis as to where the years a steady flow of publications, primarily in JPT,
advanced our understanding of the perforating proc- ated rock was strongly affected by factors associated
ess and resulted in application of improved perforat- with the perforating process.
ing technology in field operations. In 1953 Allen and Atterbury reported the results
of studies of the perforating process under simulated
Analog Studies of Productivities of wellbore conditions, Severe plugging and perforation
Perforated Weiis damage occurred when perforating was done in drill-
In 1950 two almost identical analog studies of the ing mud and with wellbore pressure higher than
theoretical productivity of an ideal perforated well formation pressure. The dense, dehydrated mud
were reported in JPT by McDowell and Muskatsg plugs that were created were almost impossible to
and Howard and Watson, fi These studies provided remove even at very high pressure drops.
a new understanding of the relative importance oi This~work was extended by Allen and Worzel
perforation depth and shot density, and stimulated and by Kruegers to include other fluids besides
the design of improved perforators and down-hole drilling mud and also other wellbore conditions.
completions. The depth of penetration of the earlier Substantially higher core flow capacities were ob-
perforators was shown to be insufficient, even at tained when perforating in a clean, solids-free fluid
high shot densities, to provide well productivity and with the pressure in the wellbore lower than in
equal to open-hole productivity. With nominal shot the core. However, even under the best conditions
densities of four per foot, a perforation depth of the flow capacity of the perforation was restricted
about 6 in. or more is needed to provide productiv- by a damaged zone of pulverized rock surrounding
ities equal to or exceeding open-hole productivity. the hole. Little difference in core flow capacity was
The published curves also indicated that shot den- found between jet- and bullet-perforated cores, but
sity is more important than perforation depth; four in many cases severe perforation plugging resulted
holes per foot 2 in. deep are more effective than one from jet charge debris.
hole 12 in, deep, These important studies stimulated further ad-
Because analytical methods for predicting how vancements in perforating technology. Industry stan-
much fluid should flow through a perforation in a dards for evaluating gun perforators were adopted
mdial system are complex, these early investigators under the auspices of the API, and it became pos-
used an analog model and assumed ideal, undam- sible for the engineer to select perforators on the
aged perforations and no formation damage from basis of penetrating power and a standardized flow
drilling or completion fluids. Now, through compu- index. The standards provided a quantitative basis
ter technology, the effects of both perforation dam- for developing improved perforators, and an atten-
age and drilling damage can be taken into account. dant development was the elimination of debris
The first exploratory step in this direction, by Bell from the jet carrier and the slug in the perforation
et al. showed that for a single perforation in a semi- through a redesign of the shaped charge. In addi-
infinite medium, the flow efficiency of a typical dam- tion, field results were improved by the adoption of
aged perforation is only about 20 to 40 percent of recommended perforating conditions. Development
the flow efficiency of an undamaged perforation. A of nonplugging emulsions, field filtering equipment
further study by Klotz er ai., as yet unpublished for oil and salt water, and permanent completions
but submitted to JPT, confirms the previous work have contributed to the effective optimization of
and, in addition, shows that in a system with both perforating conditions.
drilling and perforation damage, a small number of
deeply penetrating perforations is more effective Factors Affecting Perforator Performance
than a large number of shallow perforations. To Many factors influence perforator performance
overcome the effects of permeability damage from down hole, and most of them have been discussed in
drilling or workover, the perforations must be of JPT publications. The effects of gun clearance and
high quality and must extend substantially beyond positioning, compressive strength of tile formation,
the depth of the formation damage, and casing grade have been shown to critically affect
This continuing work provides additional insight penetration. A good bond of cement to casing is
into the best ways of designing perforated comple- critical for selective control of producing and well-
tions, and also makes it possible to correlate core treating operations. Experimental studies have shown
flow efficiencies for commercial perforators as that the transient forces generated during perforating
determined by API test procedure RP 43 with can damage casing and disrupt the bond of the
down-hole well productivities. cement to the casing; however, casing damage can
be prevented by providing good cement backup and
Productivity Method of Evaluating by using retrievable, hollow carrier guns. Godfrey
Perforation Effectiveness demonstrated that damage to the hydraulic cement
The experimental and analog results of the early bond can be prevented if the casing is cemented in
investigators stimulated the development of new, place with a cement that has a compressive strength
improved gun designs that provided the penetrations greater than 2,500 psi.
indicated to be necessary to achieve theoretical well The creation of a damaged zone around the per-
productivities. However, the expected results were foration is well documented. Cleanup of this dam-
still not obtained. Exploratory tests with shots made aged zone is critically affected by the type of for-
into large steel-encased cores under surface condi- mation, the type and quality of the charge, the dif-
tions indicated that the flow capacity of the perfor- ferential pressure across the perforation, and the

DECEMBER, 1973 1453

direction of flow. Bell et al. showed that high dif- been developed.
ferential pressures promote better cleanup of perfor- All methods attempt to provide mechanical sup-
ation debris and higher flow efficiencies, The rate port for the formation, tmd all are potentially capable
of injection of fluid into a perforation that has not of doing so. However, the proper design and execu-
been previously cleaned up by backflow is only a tion of any of these methods are often not fully imple-
fraction of the backflow rate. White et al. showed mented, and as a result, field treatments have been
that still higher differential pressures are required unpredictable, Initial success ratios are reported to be
to clean up perforations in a gals-saturated core, very high, but long-term results based both on control
Drastically faster cleanup and higher well productiv- of sand and maintenance of good well productivity,
ities are achieved in gas-saturated rocks when per- are generally low.
forating is done under gas and at very high differen- Good sand control treatment cannot offset the
tial pressures into the wellbore. effects of formation damage caused by drilling,
cementing, or perforating. On the other hand, care
Perforating in High-Temperature Wells in preventing damage during drilling may be com-
The trend to deeper wells with very high bottom- pletely offset by careless handling of the sand-control
hole temperatures and pressures has extended per- treatment, Unless clean and compatible treating fluids
forating materials and equipment to their limits. Bell are used in sand-control operations, formation dam-
and Auberlinder described the difficult problems age may be locked into place along with the loose
encountered in hot-well perforating and showed that sand, thus resulting in loss of production and early
it is unrealistic to rely on temperature lags during treatment failure. Many companies have demon-
running in the hole as a means of extending the strated the value of close quality control during
depth range of conventional perforating charges. As gravel packing and plastic consolidation treatments.
a workable alternative, they introduced a new explo- It is not the purpose of this paper to cover sand
sive charge and special cquipmerlt that were tested control operations in detail, and the reader should
successfully in wells above 340F. refer to the many excellent papers on this subject.
However, we shall review briefly some of the
Special Perforating Devices background in sand-control technology and a few
Many special perforating devices have been intro- of the important contributions made through JPT
duced to the industry through technical publications publications.
in JPT. A few examples are high-temperature per-
forators, oriented perforators for multiple tubingless Mechanical Screens
completions, radial firing guns for limited-entv frac- Slotted liners and wire-wrapped screens arc used suc-
turing. and through-flowline perforators. cessfully when formation stability is not a severe
problem. In 1937, Coberly dctcrmincd that stable
Hydraulic Jet Perforating bridges are formed on slots if the slot width is no
Hydraulic jet perforating was introduced to the in- more than two times the diameter of the 10 per-
dustry in 1960 by Pittman er a/. Penetration is centile fraction of the formation sand taken from a
achieved by pumping abrasive-laden fluid through sieve analysis, and most engineers use this criterion
tubing and then jetting it horizontally through a with variations for formations in particular areas. In
nozzle. Although good penetration and hole size are many areas, 0.050 in. is specified as the minimum
obtained with this method, time and cost have rele- slot size needed to avoid slot plugging. However, in
gated it to minor specialized usage. Recent field tests recent years special wire-wrapped screens with open-
by McCauley{ indicate that although well produc- ings as small as 0.008 in. have been used successfully.
tivities obtained with this method are about the same Prepacked liners filled with gravel have been used
as for optimized gun perforating, the rate of decline extensively but have lost favor because of rapid plug-
is more rapid. ging with asphaltenes and silt. Recently, liners packed
with resin-bonded sand have been used in clean for-
Sand Control mations containing medium- to high-gravity oil. Suc-
In wells completed in shallow, recent sediments, cessful usc depends critically on the nature of the
sand production is a major cause of wellbore pllg- formation sand and fluids, and on the proper selec-
ging, reduced production, and erosion of mechanical tion of sand size in the prepack.
production equipment. Sand control methods to pre-
vent these problems have been known for a long Gravel Packing
time, and the basic technology is well developed. Open-hole gravel packing usually involves under-
Nevertheless, up to now its application in oil and reaming the productive interval, setting a slotted liner
gas wells has been only partially successful, and or screen, and flow packing the annulus with gravel,
therefore it deserves further study. A similar effect can be achieved in a perforated com-
In early attempts at control, screen liners were pletion by washing out the formation behind the pipe
adapted from water-well use. Later, gravel packing and then pressure packing the void space to sand-out.
between screen and formation was used, and in 1947 The gravel pack itself, if properly designed and
consolidation with plastics was begun. These three placed, will not impair well productivity because the
methods continue to be the principal means of con- permeability of the graded sand is much higher than
trol, although some useful combination methods, that of formation sand. However, laboratory studies
such as the use of plastic-coated gravel slurries, have and field experience indicate that the removal of
solids from all fluids used in the gravel-packing
process is essential to maintaining a good pack with Modified Gravel-Packiig Procedures
high flow capacity. Invasion of the gravel by forma- Several variations in the basic gravel packing proc-
tion fines, drilling-mud solids, or solids from the ess have been introduced to the industry in JPT
packing fluid can drastically reduce pack permea- publications, and have provided important ways of
bility. Samples of pack sand recovered from wells taking care of special problems.
packed with dirty fluids have exhibited permeabil-
ities that are but small fractions of the formation Layered Gravel Pack
sand permeability, Plugged packs will restrict well One of the disadvantages of open-hole gravel pack-
productivity, and the attendant high pressure drop ing is the lack of control over separate interbedded
may lead to early pack and liner failures. To prevent intervals. In 1951, West described a method of
these problems, effective quality-control procedures isolating individual zones and controlling he
must be enforced throughout the entire drilling and producing depth in a gravel pack. His technique
completion process. involved depositing layers of permeable gravel alter-
The effectiveness of gravel packing for sand con- nately with layers of low-permeability mixtures of
trol depends critically upon the relationship of gravel and fine sand or mud. Fluid injection above
formation-sand size to gravel size. The gravel used or below a packer assembly on the production tubing
to retain most formations is actually in the size range permits control of water or gas coning between imp-
of coarse sands. The classic work of Coberly and ermeable layers. Field trials demonstrated effeclivc
Wagner, I I repo~ed in 1937, established a Wantita- control of producing depth and elimination of coning
tive basis for pack sizing, and gravel-pack perform- problems.
ance substantially improved following this work.
Their gravel sizing rules specified a gravel diameter Pressure Packing
of 10 times the 10 percentile fraction obtained from One variation of gravel-packing procedure that has
formation-sand sieve analysis. Later experience indi- found rat?er wide application is the pressure-packing
cated long-term pack plugging and liner failure from method described by Rawlingsj in 1958. Sand is
gradual invasion of the pack by formation sand, so pumped through perforations at pressures close to
more conservative gravel/sand ratios of 4 to 6 are or slightly above formation parting pressure, and
now advocated by most investigators. then is allowed to screen out. The size of the sand is
Until 1949, gravel-packing procedures changed selected so that the sand will pass through the pipe
very little. Since that time, improved packing pro- openings in low-concentration slurries, but bridge on
cedures have evolved, and applicatio]l of all the the formation side of the holes at screen-out. This
known technology makes possible more effective method has the advantage of providing well com-
control of sand and a relatively ]ong-lived, productive pacted packs in loose formations or in formations
pack, Unfortunately, the optimum procedures are that have already produced considerable sand. An
not generally followed in their entirety, and conse- additional advantage is the possibility of sand fin-
quently the completions are usually not as effective gering through zones of formation darnagc at the
as they could be. wellbore face.
In 1968, Schwartz assembled the basic design Williams cr ~11.recently studied pressure packing
information on gravel packing and established a through perforations from a theoretical viewpoint,
comprehensive plan for designing gravel-packed and also analyzed field results. Their study showed
liner completions. His paper, along with the paper that this type of gravel pack reduces well productiv-
by Rodgers related to pressure packing through ity because of resistance to flow through the sand-
perforated casimz, provided the industry with a sound filled perforations. Productivity damage is often even
basis for optimizing gravel-packed completions. The more severe because formation fines invade the
essential steps involve (1) analyzing the producing gravel pack outside the casing. To minimize produc-
formation; (2) determining the proper gravel charac- tivity damage, gravel should be carefully selected to
teristics: (3) exercising quality control on the fluids, retain the finest formation grain sizes, and it should
gravel, and procedures used during completion and be of high quality that is, it should be strong
pack placement; and (4) stabilizing the pack. enough to minimize attrition, should be clean, and
should be free of fines, flats, and conglomerates. The
Effect of Sampling Procedure on Gravel Selection preferred material is well rounded quartz. During
As pointed out earlier, the design of an effective placement, the packing fluids must also be compat-
gravel screen will depend upon a knowledge of the ible with formation fluids and free of particulate
size distribution of the sand that will be encountered matter.
in the producing interval, Maly and KruegerS7 have
demonstrated the critical effect of sample spacing Low=Rate Placement of Gravel Pressure Packs
in the interval to be controlled. In heterogeneous In high-rate pressure packing, a l~w-permeability
formations, the use of widely spaced samples for pack may be formed by hydraulic erosion and mix-
determining gravel size is likely to lead to inade- ing of loose formation sand and injected gravel,
quate sand control, to gravel-pack plugging, and to In 1969, Sparlin described a new gravel placement
the attendant loss in well productivity. Composite technique that attacked the problem of gravel-pack
samples, flowline samples, and bailings can all lead plugging during high-rate injection. By pumping a
to serious errors in gravel-pack sizing. viscous slurry containing a high concentration of
DECEMBER, 1973 1455
sand at ~ery low rates, erosion of the formation sand reaching the formation, However, Hewer and Brown
and mixing into the gravel slurry is minimized. were the first to show that formation composition ?s
well as treating con~!itions critically affect the success
PJastic Consolidation of plastic consolidation. Tne treated sand must be
Plastic consolidation has become a widely used relatively clean; the presence of more than about
method of sand control for thin producing intervals. 4 percent of reactive clays adversely affects consolida-
The difficult conditions under which the plastic must tion with common plastic agents.
be applied down hole placed some critical restric- Recently, Brooks demonstrated improved per-
tions on resin properties, The resin must (1) have meability retention in dirty sands consolidated
sufficient strength to prevent grain-t~grain attrition, with phenol formaldehyde resin when preflushes of
spalling, or plastic flow under high overburden n-hexanol and monobutyl ether of ethylene glycol
stresses; (2) retain suficient permeability to provide were used. This work was carried out with sand
adequate well productivity; (3) have sufficiently low samples containing less than 4 percent clay minerals.
viscosity to pump down hole in reasonable time But no one has reported a co,mistently effective solu-
intervals and to achieve good and uniform penetra- tion to the problem of conscllidating dirty sands hav-
tion into the formation; (4) be compatible and bond ing clay contents greater than about 7 percent, either
with a wide range of formation minerals; and (5) be with chemical preflushes or modified consolidation
resistant to formation fluids and treating chemicals resins, However, experim~nts along this line continue
at formation temperatures and pressures. with other materials, and there is some promise that
The first plastic material used commercially was a they may relieve this difficuh problem.
phenol formaldehyde resin. No overflush fluid was
used in placement, and formation permeability was Improvement of Plastic Distribution
gained by shrinkage of the resin during setting, Per- The need for uniform and effective treatment of the
meabilities of formations consolidated with this resin entire producing interval cannot be overemphasized.
were reduced by 50 to 80 percent, and therefore the In recognition of this need, !$trohm et al.) developed
applications were restricted to high-permeability a new, multiple injection too] that permits simul-
sands. Several other consolidation resins have been taneous packoff of several short intervals arid con-
developed and commercialized since 1947, and the trolled injection of plastic. The new tool increases
principal consolidation processes today use phenol consolidation success through better fluid control,
formaldehyde, epoxy, and furan resins. Several of reduces chemical costs a,ld pumping time, and per-
these processes and field results have been described mits one-trip coverage of several different zones,
in JPT, but space prevents elaboration on their prop-
erties, Permeability retention no longer depends only Stabil~ty of Sand Arches
upon resin shrinkage; it also results from the use of One final publication should be mentioned. Most
overflush fluid or from phase separation of the resin, papers on sand control have described materials or
As a result, in most cases the permeability of the processes directly associated with a particular engi-
formation does not place a severe restriction on neering problem, Hall and Harrisberger20 have pre-
applicability of the process. However, the presence sented a fundamental study of the mechanical
of bentonitic clays adversely affects resin properties, process of failure of the sand structure around the
and treatments in dirty sands have not been very wellbore and the factors that affect the stability of
successful, Recently, special chemical prcflushes and the formation, They concluded that the two condi-
modified epoxy resins have been used in attempts to tions required for stability of an arch of sand are
alleviate the problem, dilatancy and cohesiveness. Their paper contributes
to our understanding of the sand control mechanism
Factors Affecting Sand Consolidation and should lead to the improvement of sand control
Field experience and laboratory testing have shown processes.
that the success or failure of a consolidation treat-
ment depends critically on application procedures Acidizing
and quality control, In 1961, Hewer and Brownzo Although acid treatment of oil wells was tried as
conducted a large-scale laboratory study of sand- early as 1895, the process was only infrequently
consolidation techniques that provided engineers used during the ensuing 30 years. In 1932 the Pure
with a better understanding of critical factors in Oil Co. and Dow Chemical Co, wccessfully stimu-
consolidation treatments and outlined some of the lated several oil wells in Michigan in limestone for-
important requirements for good treatment results. mations with hydrochloric acid treatments. As word
The basic consideration that runs through their of these tests spread, interest in acidizing to improve
studies of job success is the need to avoid formation well productivhy mushroomed, and several com-
damage and to treat through all perforations uni- panies were organized to provide the service com-
formly. If preventive care is not taken during all mercially.
phases of well operations drilling, completion, and The success of acid stimulation of limestorles
consolidation the sand control treatment is likely raised interest as to the effectiveness of similar
to fail. For example, productivity may be perma- treatments in sandstones, and early in 1933 the Hal-
nently damaged if permeability damage is sealed in liburton Co. pumped a mixture of hydrochloric and
place with plastic; or sand control may break down hydrofluoric acids into a well in Texas. The results
if a single plugged perforation prevents plastic from discouraged for many years further work with hydro-


fluoric acid for well stimulation. The sandstone ~ion of tm:se results to the dynamic conditions exist-
formation disintegrated, causing a sand problem in ing in a fracture during field acidizing leads to
the wellbore, and well productivity declined, leading considerable error in designing practical well treat-
to the conclusion that the formation permeability ments. A JPT paper in 1962 by 13arron et al.~ was
was plugged by acid reaction products. Although the first to take into account the effects of dynamic
mixtures of hydrochloric and hydrofluoric acids were conditions in a fracture. Their study of acid reaction
introduced commercially in 1939 by Dowell as rates during flow between limestone plates showed
Mud Acid for removing mud filter cake from the that an increase in injection rate provides deeper
wellbore, their use for formation stimulation was penetration before the acid is spent, but the effect
largely neglected for more than 20 years. diminishes with penetration depth. Although this
Since its first commercial use in 1932, hydro- pioneering study involved simplifying assumptions
chloric acid has remained the primary acid treating as to tcrnpcrature, fracture roughness, and fracture
agent for oil wells because of its effectiveness and orientation, the correlation of acid penetration in a
relatively low cost. During the past 25 years, several fracture with treatment variables resulted in inl-
other acids formic, acetic, and hydrofluoric provcd acidizing proccdurcs, In 1972, Williams and
have been used to a limited extent for special appli- Nierode; developed a more sophisticated dynamic
cations involving deep, hot wells, for wellbore treat- model without the above simplifications. The model
ments, for stimulation in the presence of certain accurately predicts acid penetration distance and
metals such as aluminum and chromium, and for can be used to maximize stimulation ratios.
other unusual conditions. Although the basic chenl-
istry of acid treating has been established for many !Wrnula!ion of Sandstone Reservoirs With
years, the economics find effectiveness of the treat- Hydrofluoric Acid
ments arc strongly dependent upon local conditions Although hydrotluoric acid has been used for well-
in the wellbore and formation. A number of inlpor- bore cleanup since 1939, the application of large-
tant considerations have been brought to the indus- volurne treatments for formation stimulation in
trys attention througfl various publications in JPT. sandstones was minor, Some unsuccessful field tests
The importance of these publications is discussed and insufficient understanding of the chemistry of
below. hydrofluoric acid reactions in sandstones appear to
have hindered wider application. However, in 1965,
Applications of Organic Acid Smith and Hendrickson; discussed the reactivity
In 1961 Harris brought to the industrys attcn[ion and kinc[ics of HF acid, and the effects of common
a number of special problems in well treating that variables cmcountcrcd in the field. HF reactions
could be more effectively handled with an organic with rock minerals and secondary depositions were
acid (acetic) then with hydrochloric acid. The inher- studied theoretically, and core plugging tests were
ently slower reaction rate of acetic acid, its uniform conducted with Bereri sandstone cores. This study
corrosive action, as opposed to pitting, and ihe abil- removed much of the mystery in HF acidizing for
ity to inhibit it against all types of steel at elevated petroleum engineers, and pointed the way to im-
temperatures, makes this acid adaptable to many proved practical applications. An important out-
special problems, Harris discussed the properties of growth of this work was the use of tapered acid
acetic acid and dcscribcd special applications in treatment designs, involving hydrochloric acid spear-
completion, stimulation, and workover. Engineers heads and tail-ins, to inhibit deposition of plugging
were thus made aware of a new chemical tool for reaction products.
solving many of their problems.
Improved Treatments With
Effect of Flow on Acid Reactivity High-Concentration Acid
During the early years of acidizing it was assumed Wells commonly were stimulated with 15 percent
that acid uniformly entered and enlarged formation hydrochloric acid; use of high-strength acid was lim-
pores, and thereby increased the flow capacity. How- ited to occasional isolated cases, primarily because
ever, in more recent years it has been shown that there was a lack of technical information and knowl-
the acid spends very rapidly in such matrix acid- edge of how best to use it in the field. However,
izing and penetrates very little beyond the wellbore. during the past 10 years, since some successful jobs
Thus the prima~ effect is to remove wellbore were performed in Utah, applications have increased
damage. rapidly, and 28 percent acid has been used to solve
In tight carbonate rock it is dificult to avoid pres- stimulation problems in many reservoirs and to
sure parting and, therefore, acidizing usually occurs improve results in others.
in natural, or hydraulically created fractures. In fact, In 1966, Harris et al.: presented the technology
in most cases deep penetration of acif i through frac- of acid concentration effects and the practical aspects
tures is desirable to achieve large productivity in- of using high concentrations, Extensive laboratory
creases. Inasmuch as penetration of spent acid into studies and field investigation brought out new facts
the formation provides little benefit, it is important concerning concentration and sho ;~ed that some of
in designing an effective treatment to know the the previous assumptions were not valid. Laboratory
spending time of the acid in a fracture. studies indicate that at HC1 concentrations greater
Many studies have been made of acid reaction than 15 percent, acid properties change significantly
characteristics under static conditions, but applica- with increasing concentration. With a better knowl-

DECEMBER, 1973 1457

edge of what these changes are and how they occur, field operations. Field results with the new material
it has been possible 10 engineer high-strength acid were significantly better than with the commercially
treatments to obtain greater fracture conductivity and available products. Following the introduction of
deeper fracture penetration. this new material in JPT, it has been widely accepted
by the industry for acidizing treatments and is un-
Deposition of Iron After Acidizing doubtedly responsible for the recovery of much
Formation plugging from secondary deposition of additional oil.
iron after acidizing is a problem that was not recog-
Preiiushes and Afterfiushes
nized for many years, During the trip down hole,
acid dissolves metallic iron and iron scale and, after To insure effective acid treatments requires proper
leaving the pipe, attacks iron compounds present in conditioning of the rock before and after the treat-
the formation. The dissolved iron remains in solu- ment. Many field treatments have been converted
tion until the acid is spent, but :hen precipitates as from failures or questionable successes to excellent
the pH of the spent acid rises. Precipitation of iron economic successes by sandwiching the acid between
hydroxide or other iron-containing compounds can chemical rock-conditioning agents. Asphaltic and
seriously damage the flow channels opened by acid resinous deposits often interfere with acid reactions
reaction. under formation conditions, but they can be elim-
Smith et al, discussed this problem in detail in inated by proper pretreatment with solvents: forma-
a 1968 publication, providing petroleum engineers tion of acid sludges, which plug flow channels, can
with a basis for evaluating potential formation-plug- be avoided or reduced with chemical preflushes. As
ging problems in their operations and with methods mentioned earlier, precipitation reactions with hy-
of avoiding or minimizing them. They showed, for drofluoric acid treatment may be minimized by a
example, that iron-sequestering agents are required preflush with hydrochloric acid.
for successful acid treatment of formations contain- However, even with a well designed acid stimula-
ing !42to 31/2 percent iron, Of the sequestering agents tion system employing a preflush, the success ratio
tested, only citric acid, EDTA, and NTA were may be unexpectedly low, And in many cases sub-
capable of holding 3,000 ppm Iron 111 in spent acid stantial stimulated production increases are followed
solutions for more than 4 hours at temperatures by rapid declines, Gidley concluded that adjusting
above 175 F. the nettability of the fines and rock surfaces after
the acid contact could help control the post-treat-
Diverting Agents for Improving Treatment Results ment problems. His tests, reported in JPT in 1971,
To this point, our discussion has related to applica- revealed that certain surface-active materials dra-
tions of the chemistry of acid treating. However, the matically improved stimulation results. One material,
final effectiveness of the treatment is often strongly mutual solvent ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, dem-
affected by physical conditions, such as injection onstrated a broad range of effectiveness, and since
rates, the presence of organic coatings on the for- the process was released to the industry it has
mation to be treated, and the distribution of acid become widely used in field treatments.
over the productive interval.
The problems of treating long intervals, multip!e Hydraulic Fracturing
pay zones, or fractured zones have long plagued the The hydraulic fracturing technique for stimulating
industry. A common experience is dissipation of the production of oil and gas wells is one of the
most of the treating fluid in a single, short, thief major developments in petroleum engineering, Before
interval. High fluid injection rates, straddle packers, 1950, acidizing was the primary method used to
ball sealers, and liquid or granular diverting agents stimulate well productivity. However, stimulation of
are being used to cope with this difficult and costly nonreactive formations such as sandstones was gen-
problem. The use of ball sealers and straddle packers erally ineffective until the hydraulic fracturing
is limited to cemented and perforated casings or process was introduced to the industry by Clark in
liners, but channels behind the pipe often negate the first issue of JPT. Since then, several hundred
their etiectiveness. Use of high injection rates is thousand fracturing treatments have been carried
costly because of the excessive horsepower require- out successfully in both acid-reactive and acid-
ments and large volumes of fluid needed. insoIuble formations,
Granular and liquid diverting agents have been The occurrence of pressure parting of formations
used for many years with varying degrees of success, in acidizing, waterflooding, squeeze cementing, and
Most have deficiencies of one sort of another: some drilling operations had been long recognized, A
are excessively soluble in the treating fluid, some common observation in all these operations was that
are insoluble in the produced fluid and therefore below a certain injection pressure the formation
damaging to the permeability of the producing zone, would accept only nominal amounts of fluid; but
and some have poor diverting characteristics. In with only a small increase in pressure, increasing
1969, Gallus and Pye]~ compared the effectiveness amounts of fluid could be injected with little change
of some common diverting agents on the basis of in pressure. Farris, in the Stanolind Research Lab-
diverting ability and volubility. Because of deficien- oratory, imaginatively grasped the implications of
cies of commonly used products, they developed to controlling the creation and location of fractures in
rigid specifications a new material that yielded im- the producing formation, and in 1948 disclosed his
proved results, both in the laboratory tests and in ideas in a patent applicatiorl (issued in 1950). In
1949, Clarks landmark paper introduced to the aIong a bedding pIane and lifted the overburden,
industry the concept of pumping a viscous liquid thus resulting in a horizontal pancake fracture.
down hole at a high rate to build up pressure to This interpretation of field observations was ques-
rupture the rock. Sand was added to the fluid to tioned, however, by a number of engineers and
prop the created fracture, thus in effect widening the scientists who pointed to a large body of data
wellbore, The viscous fracturing fluid was designed showing breakdown pressures that were significantly
to break back to a thin liquid to facilitate effective less than would be predicted on the basis of over-
cleanout of the fracture and wellbore. In the initial burden weight. It was inferred that when breakdown
tests, significant production increases were obtained pressure is less than that due to the overburden the
in 11 of 23 wells, fracture should be vertical. On the other hand, some
Clarks paper and reports of some spectacular laboratory experimentation indicated that horizontal
production increases fired the imagination of the fractures were formed preferentially when the frac-
industry, and fracturing technology developed explo- turing fluid penetrated the rock porosity, and vertical
sively. From injection rates of 2 to 5 bbI/min first fractures were created when the fluid did not
used by Clark, improvements in pumping equipment penetrate.
and the introduction of friction-reducing additives Hubbert and Willis studied the fracturing of rocks
led within a few years to treatments at rates as high theoretically and concluded that when pressure is
as 400 bbl/min, Treatments at 20 to 30 bbl/min applied in a borehole the fractures created should
became commonplace. be approximately perpendicular to the axis of least
The evolution of fracturing fluids contributed stress, regardless of the type of fluid used. It follows
importantly to the rapid development of hydraulic from their analysis that in tectonically relaxed areas
fracturing and to improvement of stimulation results characterized by normal faulting the fracture should
in a variety of formations. Because of space limi- be vertical and should be formed with injection pres-
tations, we shall not be able to give recognition to sures less than the total overburden pressure; in
the many contributors to these advancements; how- tectonically compressed areas, the fractures should
ever we should briefly mention the changing trends be horizontal and formed at pressures equal to or
irr fracturing fluid technology. greater than total overburden pressure. These con-
The first treating fluids were Napalm gels, but clusions were supported by experimental results with
recognition of their limitations soon led to the use a laboratory model and by field observations.
of lease oil or water pumped at high rates. An In the following years, a growing body of evidence
important influence on the trend toward high rates supported the analysis by Hubbert and Willis, and
was the introduction of friction-loss reducers and most engineers now concede that the majority of frac-
!,~iti-ioss control agents. Fundamental studies on tures in deep wells are vertical, and that horizontal
the importance of fluid properties on fracture width fractures most commonly occur in shallow wells.
and extent, and on proppant placement resulted in Exceptions to this generalization may be expected in
a reversal of this trend. In recent years, new devel- areas like California, where tectonic compression is
opments have emphasized very viscous fluids, either taking place. As predicted, in deep wells in Califor-
oil base or water base, pumped at low rates. The nia, injection pressures greater than total overburden
viscous fluids create wide fractures, effectively carry pressures are common.
high sand concentrations, improve fluid loss control,
and increase proppant transport. Some of the com- Fracturing Treatment Design
mon fluids now used are guar gels, cross-linked guar Treatment cost and effectiveness are affected by
gums, ~scous oil-external emulsions, cellulose poly- many treating parameters type of fluid, fluid-loss
mers, and gelled oils. One approach to pumping rate, injection rate, type of proppant, formation
oil-base systems of very high viscosity has been to characteristics, and others. Many authors have in-
surround the viscous plug with a slickened water vestigated the effect of these variables, and today
ring. Fluid blocking of fractured gas wells led to most service companies and many operating com-
the development of unique gelled fluids that vaporize panies have computer programs that use the results
at formation temperature. of these studies to optimize hydraulic fracturing
Over ail, the development of fracturing technol- treatments. Treating parameters can be selected to
ogy has been rapid and prolific, and hundreds of achieve a desired fracture penetration in a given
interesting papers have been written to describe the formation; then, from the expected fracture penetra-
results. The following sections discuss only a few tion and a predetermined fracture conductivity, the
of the many studies that have led to important productivity increase is predicted.
advances in practical field applications. The first attempt to analyze the factors affecting
fracture extension was published by Howard and
Mechanics of Hydraulic Fracturing Fast* in 1957. They investigated the effect of reser-
One of the basic publications that has strongly voir and fracturing-fluid properties on fluid loss to
affected the design and interpretation of hydraulic the formation, and related the results to fracture
fracturing treatments was a study of the mechanics penetration. They showed that the effective design of
of hydraulic fracturing by Hubbert and Willis.z For a fracturing treatment depends on an accurate knowl-
several years after the commercialization of hydraulic edge of the fluid-loss properties of the fracturing fluid;
fracturing, the most prevalent opinion of fracture reducing the fluid lost out of the fracture has the same
orientation was that pressure parted a formation effect on fracture area as increasing the pump rate.
DECEMBER, 1973 1459
To provide a numerical measure of the effectiveness into the fracture. Therefore, when large sand is used,
of different fluids, they defined fracturing fluid coeffi- it should not be tailed in, but should be injected
cients, which are now used in many predictive models. during the first part of the treatment or during the
The concepts developed in this work provided impe- entire treatment time. Radioactive treatments should
tus for the development of more effective fracturing be injected throughout the entire treatment if the log
fluids. is expeced to show the vertical extent of the fracture.
The fracturing fluid coefficients defined by Howard
and Fast are determined from static tests. Hall and Improving Injection Efficiency
Dollarhide and Williams showed that static test A general trend in hydraulic fracturing technology
conditions did not adequately represent actual fiuid- during the past 25 years has been toward higher
10SSconditions in a fracture, and that dynamic fluid- injection rates, However, friction pressure loss in
10SStests provided a better simulation of the fluid pipe has often limited the high rates necessary for
lost to the walls of the fracture during hydraulic maximum effectiveness, The power for pumping in-
fracturing operations. Dynamic fluid-loss rates were creases in cost without contributing to the creation of
determined for commonly used additives, and it was significant additional fracture area. Often, the strength
concluded that the values provided a basis for more of pipe limits the surface pressure and thereby
accurate prediction of fracture extension, determines the maximum practical injection rate.
As mentioned earlier, most service companies In 1961, Ousterhout and Hall reported on the
offer predictive calculations of the effectiveness of use of natural and synthetic polymers to reduce fric-
fracture treatments, The information, usually in the tion loss in pipe and improve the efficiency of frac-
form of Frac Guides, is based on a study pub- turing treatments. Laboratory friction loss measure-
lished by McGuire and Sikora( in 1960. Their ments were given for use in planning well treatments.
publication describes an experimental analog com- Application of these data provided engineers with
puter study that relates well productivity increases means of saving directly in pumping costs, or of
to fracture length and conductivity. When other pub- increasing fracture area for the same pumping cost.
lished information on the effects of various param- In other cases, application of this technology resulted
eters on fracture conductivity is related to these in lowering the injection pressures sufllcicntly to
curves, it becomes possible to explain the results of allow successful fracturing of wells that otherwise
actual field treatments and to build on this informa- could not be treated because of the pressure linlita-
tion to improve future jobs. For example, the data tions of down-hole pipe.
show that if sufficient attention is not paid to pro-
viding adequate conductivity in the fracture, the cost Treatment Mechanics
of creating a deeply penetrating fracture is not justi- Many different and specialized fracturing techniques
fied, because the well productivity will be little have been devised to place the entry point of frac-
better than that obtained with a shallow fracture of tures precisely and to increase the probability of
the same conductivity. Thus, we see again that pub- treating more than one zone. Space limitations permit
lished information of this nature can be of con- only a brief mention of these techniques, but the con-
siderable value to the engineer who takes time to sistent reader of JPT will find them well documented.
study JPT. Several different methods have been used with
This basic study was refined and extended by varying degrees of success to treat multiple zones.
Tinsley et al. in 1969 to take into account the situ- Zone isolation with bridge plug and packer is effec-
ation when the fracture height and the formation tive but relatively expensive, Further, the method is
may not be equal, sometimes mechanically hazardous, and the available
injection rates arc limited. Single-point entry through
Mechanics of Sand Movement a preformed notch facilitates the use of higher injec-
For many years, engineers designing fracturing tion rates and sand concentrations, and reported field
treatments assumed that the proppant travels at results indicate improved stimulation. Continuous
nearly the same velocity as tne fracturing fluid, and multistage fracturing has hecn achieved .by perforat-
therefore that the last sand into the hole ended up ing the same small number of holes into each zone
closest to the wellbore. As a consequence, in many and then injecting ball sealers between fracture
cases it became rather common practice to use larger stages. However, ball sealers are ineffective when
diameter sand as a tail-in to provide high fracture there is fluid communication between holes behind
conductivity near the wellbore and also to improve the casing and when the balls cannot seat propwlj.
bridging on the perforations. An important labora- Diversion of fluid can be achieved without staging
tory study by Kern et al.: in 1959 showed that the with ball sealers by pumping at high rates through
assumed sand transport mechanism was incorrect, a limited number of holes.
and their work laid the basis for improvements Temporary plugging agents, such as naphthalene,
in proppant placement. Using a visual model, the rock salt, benzoic acid, and certain gels and wax-
authors showed that sand settles rapidly to the polymer blends, are probably the most versatile of
bottom of a vertical fracture unless the injection rate all diverting methods. They are particularly effective
per foot of formation is very high. The settled bed for diverting in open hole or through slotted liners,
of sand reaches an equilibrium height depending where other methods cannot be used; however, they
upon fluid velocity and leakoff, and sand arriving are used successfully in perforated completions also.
late in the treatment is washed over this bed out Their effectiveness depends upon volubility, size dis-



tribution, and quantity used. When diverting treat- Temperature Wells: J. Pet. Tech. (March 1961) 211-
ments are effectively engineered, they can seal off 216.
6. Bell, W. T., Brieger, E. F.. and Harrigan, Y. W.? Jr.:
channels behind casing that may render ball sealers Laboratory Flow Characterlshcs of Gun Perforatlon$
ineffective. These materials were discussed in the sec- J. Pef. Tech. (Sept. 1972) 1095-1103.
tion on acidizing. 7. Brooks, F. A.: Consolidation of Dirty Sands by Phenol-
All of the above diverting methods, and combina- Formaldehyde Plastic: J. Per. Tech, (Aug. 1971) 934-
tions of them, have been used successfully, Selection 8. Clark, C. R. and Carter, L. G.: Mud Displacement With
of the most suitable method depends primarily on Cement Slurries, J, Pef. Tech, (July 1973) 775-783,
the particular down-hole conditions, 9. Clark, J. B.: A Hydraulic Process for Increasing the
Of the various diverting techniques, the limited Productivity of Wells: Trans., AIME ( 1949) 186, 1-8.
10. Coberly, C. J.: Selection of Screen Openings for Un-
entry technique merits special mention because of its &9soiidated Sands, Drill. and Prod. PIac., API (1937)
fundamental simplicity and economy, although it has
not been necessarily more effective than that for other 11. Coberly, C. J. and Wagner, E. M.: Some Considera-
methods properly used, Lagrone and Rasmussen:)G tions in the Selection and Installation of Gravel Pack
for OiI Wells, Per. Tedz. (Aug. 1938) 1.
reported in 1963 on the development and testing of 12. Farris, R. F.: Effects of Temperature and Pressure on
this diverting technique. The procedure involves Theological Properties of Cement Slurries, Trans.,
limiting the number of perforations in the selected AIME (1941) 142, 117-130.
intervals so that at the design pump rate the restricted !3. Frank, W. J.: *Improved Concentric Workover Tech-
niques, J. Per. Tech. (April 1969) 401-408.
flow capacity of the perforations automatically causes 14. Gallus, J. P. and Pye, D. S.: Deformable Diverting
the fluid to divert through all perforations through- Agent for Improved Well Stimulatlom J. Pet. Tech.
out the interval. (April 1969) 497-504; Trans., AIME, 246.
The method is limited to rather thin zones, and 15. Gidley, J. L.: Stimulation of Sandstone Formations
with Acid-Mutual Solvent Method, J. Pet. Tech. (May
to wells completed with low perforation density. It 1971) 551-558.
eliminates some of the mechanical problems inherent 16. Glenn, E. E. and Slusser, M. L.: Factors Affecting Well
in diverting with ball sealers but does not remedy Productivity 11. Drilling Fluid Particle Invasion into
Porous Media. J. Per. Tech. (May 1957) 132-139;
the problem of channeling behind the casing. 7%s., AIME, 21O.
17. Godfrey, W. K.: Effect of Jet Perforating on Bond
Conclusion Strength of Cement, 1, Pet. Tech. (Nov. 1968) 1301-
In reviewing the JPT literature of the past 25 years, 1314; Trans., AIME, 243.
18. Gray, D. H. and Rex, R. W.: Formation Damage
we must conclude that the industry should be justly
Caused by Clay Dispersion and Migration, Proc:, 14th
proud of its technical achievements and of the role North American Clay Minerals Conf., Clay Minerals
that JPT has played in communicating and stimu- SOC. ( 1965).

lating advancements. 19. Hall, C. D., Jr., and Dollarhide, F. E,: *EtTectsof Frac-
turing Fhmd Velocity on Fluid-Loss Agent Performance,
I sincerely congratulate the management and staff J, Pet. Tech. (May 1964) 555-560; Trans., AIME, 23L
of JPT for its continuing vigor and vitality, despite 20. Hall, C. D., Jr., and Harrisberger, W. H.: Stability of
changes in personnel over its first 25-year life span, Sand Arches: A Key to Sand Control, J. Pet. Tech.
(Juiy 1970) 821-829.
From the past record, we can look forward with con-
21. Harris, F. N.: Applications of Acetic Acid to Well
fidence to outstanding progress and innovation in ~omnletion.
__..., -.. Stimulation. and Reconditioning, J. Pef.
JPT during its next 25 years. Tech. (July 1961 ) 637-639.
22. Harris, 0. E., Hendrickson, A. R. and Coulter, A. W.:
Acknowledgment High-Concentration Hydrochloric Acid Aids Stimula-
tion Results in Carbonate Formations J. Jer. Tech.
I wish to express my appreciation to the Union Oil (Oct. 1966) 1291-1296.
Co. of California for permission to prepare and pub- 23. Howard, G. C. and Fast, C. R.: Optimum Fluid Char-
lish this paper. I am indebted particularly to J. E. acteristics for Fracture Extension, Drill. and Prod. Prac.,
API (1957) 261.
Sherborne, Claude Hocott, and Tom Sullivan for 24. Howard, G. C. and Fast, C. R.: Squeeze Cementing
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25. Howard? R. A. and Watson, Marsh S., Jr.: Relative
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comments of a great many other engineers and 189.179-182
>- and 323-324.
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DECEMBER, 1973 1461

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