Produced water reinjection is gradually becoming a preferable option for water disposal because of increasing stringent environmental regulations. During long-term injection, a fracture usually initiates from the injection well and then grows deep into the formation. The growth of this fracture and the long-term injectivity are mainly influenced by formation properties, solids loading in water, in-situ stresses and well trajectory. Fracture growth and injectivity during produced water reinjection are influenced by long-term leak-off processes, thermo-poroelastic changes within the formation and the intermittent injection nature.

This paper presents an approach for systematic considerations of critical issues that greatly influence the well trajectory, completion, fracture growth and long-term injectivity. The approach was applied recently to two field cases for planning and decision-making: one field in Australia and the other field in the UK North Sea. The effects of the following issues on fracture growth and injectivity were addressed in the North Sea field case: in-situ stress magnitudes and direction; thermo-poro-elasticity; solids loading; perforations, tubing strength and pump capacity; and operational issues to maintain injectivity. Although the above issues were common to the Australia case, the special challenge came from high solids loading in water requiring a very large fracture to store solids particles.

Highlights of the study results include (1) potential fracture growth complexity and injectivity loss, (2) high pressure loss requiring high pump capacity, (3) undesirable fracture growth risking well completion and surrounding structures, and (4) fracture tip plugging by formation debris during intermittent injection. Mitigation strategies for all these complexities are also addressed in the paper.

The paper will guide engineers when addressing geomechanical, fracture growth and injectivity issues at the planning and designing stages of a produced water reinjection well.

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