This paper presents the application of a unique gelling system for perforation shut-off operations that can help reduce operational time by 50% and can also be used as an effective water- and gas-migration control agent. The system combines a conformance sealant (based on an organically crosslinked polymer) with non-cementious particulates. The particulates provide leak-off control, which leads to shallow matrix penetration of the sealant. The filtrate from the leakoff is thermally activated and, as a result, forms a three-dimensional (3-D) gel structure that effectively seals the targeted interval after exposure to the bottomhole temperature (BHT).
The traditional method for recompleting wells into newer layers, after the current producing zones have reached their economic limit, involves several steps. The first step is to squeeze off the existing unwanted perforations using cement, drill out the cement across the perforations, and then pressure test the squeezed zones to help ensure an effective perforation seal has been achieved. The new zones are then perforated and completed for production. The entire operation can require four or more days of rig time, depending on the success of the cement squeeze. In cases of cement failure, the required time can extend to over one week. Common challenges associated with cement-squeeze operations include leaky perforations, fluid migration (gas or liquid) behind the pipe, or compromises in the completion. Attempts to remediate these issues must be repeated until all objectives are met.
The new perforation plugging system can be bullheaded into the well (spotted at a desired location in the wellbore), allowing for easy placement and calculation of the treatment volume. The limited and controlled leakoff into the matrix during the squeeze results in a controlled depth of invasion, which allows for future re-perforation of hydrocarbon-producing zones. The system can be easily washed out of the wellbore, unlike cement, which must be drilled out. The temperature range of the particle-gel system is 60 to 350°F, which makes it versatile.
To date, more than 500 operations have been performed with this system globally. This paper presents the results obtained from laboratory evaluations, the methodology of the treatment designs, and four case histories from Kuwait. A salient case is the successful use of the sealant/particulate system, resulting in shutting off all perforations after six failed cement-squeeze operations.
The prospect of reducing the required time to perform remedial cement-squeeze operations by 50%, as well as the ability to repair casing leaks and seal off thief zones, make this sealant/particulate system a valuable alternative to standard cement-squeeze operations.