There have been many oil and gas field discoveries in the Cambrian Ara Group intra-salt carbonate rocks in the South Oman Salt Basin. These carbonates represent self-charging petroleum system with over-pressured hydrocarbon accumulation in dolomitized rock encased in the salt. Drilling and completion wells going through salt is challenging. Salt creeping behavior results in issues of stuck pipe during drilling operations, casings deformation and collapse that have led to well suspension and abandonment.

The full set of the available historical data analyzed to identify magnitude and history of the problem. The study conducted to estimate of salt creep magnitude, to assess the effect of the salt creep on cement quality, drilling and completion risks. The risk of salt creep on the drilling, completion and long-term well integrity was evaluated with multi-disciplinary integration of geological, geomechanical, petrophysical and well engineering aspects to minimize and mitigate the salt creeping risks. In addition to identify root cause for completion failure and providing recommendations to drilling practices, cementation and completion design that can improve well delivery process.

Salt creep behavior presents drilling challenges associated with excessive torque, stuck pipe, casing deformation, and poor cementing job. Salt creep associated risks to drilling and well integrity should be managed and mitigated. Key study findings captured for wells designs were:

  • Salt creep rate increases with depth, salt thickness and differential stress (function of MW)

  • Non uniform loading decreases the collapse rating of the casing and results in casing deformation

  • Non-uniform loading likely due to poor cementing, interface between rigid carbonate intervals and salt, and irregular open hole quality.

Studied casing collapse cases could likely be attributed to several factors or combinations of factors such as salt mobility behavior, drilling with low MW, poor cement jobs and loss of internal hydrostatic support for the casing after cement job between liners lap. The improved multi-disciplinary understanding of salt creep is vital to reduce drilling and completion costs, unnecessary well abandonment and achieve good life cycle well integrity i.e. avoid extra side-track and workover cost due to integrity issues. The best practices and conclusions summarized in the study for drilling and completion design expected to benefit the exploration and development projects for the salt encased carbonate reservoirs around the globe.

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