Hydrochloric acid, organic acid, or a mixture of these acids is used to remove filter cake, which consists mainly of calcium carbonate. However, the use of these acids in horizontal and deep wells has some major disadvantages, including high and uncontrolled reaction rate and corrosion to well tubular. To overcome these problems, chelating agents are used in oil and gas wells.
Extensive lab studies were done to determine: 1) the compatibility of various chelates with α-amylase at different pH values, 2) the optimum pH that should be used to remove filter cake, 3) the efficiency of filter cake removal using a modified HPHT filter press, 4) the return permeability of sandstone and limestone cores, and 5) assess the potential of formation damage using a computer tomography scanner. All of these tests were conducted at temperatures up to 225°F.
The results obtained showed that chelate solutions, GLDA (pH of 3.3 - 13) and HEDTA (pH 4 and 7) were incompatible with α-amylase solutions over a wide range of temperatures. At high pH, various chelates had removal efficiency of 40% and retained permeability of 30%, which indicated formation damage. To solve this problem, 20 wt% of the chelating agents at low pH (3.3 - 4) were used to remove the filter cake without the enzyme stage. The results obtained showed that the retained permeability increased to 85% for limestone cores and 110% for sandstone cores. The removal efficiency of the filter cake was 100% for limestone and sandstone cores. CT results showed that no formation damage was observed when using chelating agents as a breaker to remove the filter cake.