Use of horizontal well completion to enhance hydrocarbon recovery has increased considerably in the past several years. Projections for future horizontal wells hold considerable promise as long as well productivity enhancement outweighs the incremental cost. The success of horizontal wells to date appears to be related to the development and application of specific technology. Optimized completion techniques are on top of the list of such required technology. Recent publications clearly demonstrate that without proper formation evaluation, adequate completion is typically unachievable and often results in premature well abandonment.

This paper targets the three most common horizontal well formations subject to completion: naturally fractured, matrix permeability dominated systems and formations bounded by a gas cap or an aquifer or both. The formation parameters that best define matrix permeability dominated systems are quite different than those associated with naturally fractured formations. The paper first identifies the parameters that best define individual formations. Possible completion options for these formations are then discussed.

Optimized completion recommendations are presented for each of the formations through use of case studies. Recommended completion procedures for naturally fractured formations require use of external casing packers and alternating perforated or slotted and blank pipes. Zonal isolation is of prime importance in matrix permeability dominated systems, especially when the pay interval is bounded by a gas cap or an aquifer or both. The recommended completion procedure for these types of formations uses cemented casing and selective perforating.

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