This paper describes the evolution of descaling interventions via coiled tubing (CT) performed in Saudi Arabia gas wells in the Ghawar field. Throughout these operations, the introduction of new technologies and improved surface equipment has significantly enhanced the efficiency and effectiveness.
CT is the preferred choice for descaling interventions in wells whose reservoirs are underpressured/ depleted because it can accurately place fluid and deploy mechanical tools at the specific depths where scales are present. High leakoff into the formation and hydrogen sulfide (H2S) released at the surface are two main challenges that occur in this well type. Therefore, it is paramount to continuously monitor and control both downhole and surface parameters. The aforementioned challenges can be addressed by optimizing real-time fluid placement or by manipulating the choke size, among other parameters. A chemical plug can be pumped to isolate the reservoir before commencing descaling interventions, but this process may require stimulation or re-perforation of the reservoir system after the treatment. Therefore, it is preferable to use a system that is flexible enough to execute a wide range of operations, from reservoir isolation to descaling treatment, while maintaining the well in balanced or marginally overbalanced conditions.
Previously, CT descaling operations were executed relying only on surface parameters. Today, new technologies are available that can provide live downhole parameters such as pressure, temperature, load, and torque, and these technologies have advanced descaling interventions. Although downhole parameters via downhole tools have been available for years, tools providing such parameters were limited with respect to pumping rate, working pressures, temperature, and ability to sustain high torque and vibration. To address these issues, a new tool was developed that can acquire downhole parameters during milling and clean out operations. The ability to monitor downhole parameters enables field personnel to act instantly to any change in downhole conditions. At the same time, introduction of advanced surface equipment has helped in better handling of returns from the well and in maintaining a constant wellhead pressure irrespective of dynamic returns. Therfore, the treatment is executed within its defined limits and risks of service quality events are mitigated.
This paper describes the evolution of CT descaling intervention treatments and the technologies used. It details how the introduction and integration of new technologies have enhanced descaling operations in Saudi Arabia where real-time decisions were made to optimize treatment, make the operation safer, and prevent formation damage.