In high-temperature carbonate producers, conventional hydrochloric (HCl) acid systems have been ineffective at delivering sustainable production improvement due to their kinetics. Retarded acids are deemed necessary to control the reaction and create effective wormholes. This scenario is even more critical in wells completed across long openhole horizontal intervals due to reservoir heterogeneity, changing downhole dynamics, and uniform acid placement goals.
Out of the different retarded acid options, emulsified acid is one of the preferred choices by Middle East operators because of its excellent corrosion inhibition and deep wormhole penetration properties. However, it also brings other operational complexities, such as higher friction pressures, reduced pump rates, and more elaborate mixing procedures, which in some cases restrict its applicability. The recent introduction of a single-phase retarded inorganic acid system (SPRIAS) has enabled stimulation with the same benefits as emulsified acids while eliminating its drawbacks, allowing friction pressures like that of straight HCl and wormholing performance equivalent to that of emulsified acid.
A newly drilled oil producer in one of the largest carbonate fields in onshore Middle East was selected by the operator for pilot implementation of the SPRIAS as an alternative to emulsified acid. The candidate well featured significant damage associated with drilling, severely affecting its productivity. The well was completed across 3,067 ft of 6-in. openhole horizontal section, with a bottomhole temperature of 285°F, permeability range of 0.5 to 1.0 md, and an average porosity of 15%. Coiled tubing (CT) equipped with fiber optics was selected as the fluid conveyance method due to its capacity to enable visualization of the original fluid coverage through distributed temperature sensing (DTS), thus allowing informed adjustment of the stimulation schedule as well as identification of chemical diversion and complementary fluid placement requirements. Likewise, lower CT friction pressures from SPRIAS enabled the utilization of high-pressure jetting nozzle for enhanced acid placement, which was nearly impossible with emulsified acid. Following the acidizing treatment, post-stimulation DTS showed a more uniform intake profile across the uncased section; during well testing operations, the oil production doubled, exceeding the initial expectations. The SPRIAS allowed a 40% reduction in CT friction pressures compared to emulsified acid, 20% optimization in stimulation fluids volume, and reduced mixing time by 18 hours.
The experience gained with this pilot well confirmed the SPRIAS as a reliable option to replace emulsified acids in the region. In addition to production enhancement, this novel fluid simplified logistics by eliminating diesel transportation, thus reducing equipment and environmental footprints. It also reduces friction, thus enabling high-pressure jetting via CT, leading to more efficient stimulation with lower volumes.