Achieving complete and efficient gravel packing is the primary objective when tasked to install an effective sand control completion. This paper describes the challenges faced during the selection, design, planning and execution phases of the open-hole horizontal gravel pack completions in the "L" field, offshore Republic of Congo. The open hole gravel packs (OHGPs) targeted the most prolific sand to ensure production objectives were achieved with the benefit of a gravel-pack completion.

The operator completed two OHGPs with alpha/beta technique for the sand face completion utilizing concentric annular pack screen (CAPS), wire-wrap screens, and a service tool permitting post-gravel pack filter cake clean-up treatments. The accurate selection, modeling, and evaluation of sand control techniques were crucial for completion and production optimization, as well as risk minimization. The service approach had traditionally leveraged upon industry rules of thumb and previous experience, but as the reservoir section length increased and completion configuration became more complex, the error margins tightened and the cost of failure increased such that a more robust design approach was needed.

This paper addresses several key factors that must be considered carefully when installing a successful gravel pack completion. The dynamic pressure management becomes critical to maintain the bottom hole pressures within a required range for the successful implementation of the gravel pack. Other factors include designing an optimal screen-wash pipe annulus ratio during alpha-beta wave packing, an optimal alpha wave height, and the use of multiple beta wave packing rates.

Results from the preliminary modelling of the gravel pack pumping provided an accurate estimation of the maximum and minimum anticipated pumping rates and pressures. These parameter estimates were generated for the workstring design scenarios and provided guidance for the planned pumping rate adjustment during the gravel packing execution phases. The gravel packed wells achieved pack efficiency greater than 100% based on an estimated 8.5-in. diameter OH. Post completion multi-rate tests concluded potential productivity exceeding the operator's expectations.

This paper describes the lessons learned and best practices developed for offshore Congo open-hole gravels packs, which have a very challenging well completion and reservoir scenario. Several proven completion practices are reviewed, with a critical examination of the application of these scenarios for future completion operations in this difficult operating environment. This applied methodology has made significant impact on future field development and increased the production expectations for the asset.

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