American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc.

This paper was prepared for the Society of Petroleum Engineers of AIME Symposium on Formation Damage Control, to be held in Houston, Tx., Jan 29–30, 1976. Permission to copy is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300 words. Illustrations may not be copied. The abstract should contain conspicuous acknowledgment of where and by whom the paper is presented. Publication elsewhere after publication in the JOURNAL paper is presented. Publication elsewhere after publication in the JOURNAL OF PETROLEUM TECHNOLOGY or the SOCIETY OF PETROLEUM ENGINEERS JOURNAL is usually granted upon request to the Editor of the appropriate Journal, provided agreement to give proper credit is made. provided agreement to give proper credit is made. Discussion of this paper is invited. Three copies of any discussion should be sent to the Society of Petroleum Engineers office. Such discussion may be presented at the above meeting and, with this paper, may be considered for publication in one of the two SPE magazines.


Hydroxy-aluminum chemical (OH-Al) has been used in hundreds of wells to sustain production by stabilizing clays that cause permeability damage and well sanding. Commonly used in conjunction with other well stimulation processes OH-AL has prolonged the stimulated production response and extended the life of producing equipment.

Among the many successful treatments have been some failures, however, the number of failures have been small relative to the number of successful OH-AL treatments that have been done. Mechanically damaged wells, downhole placement problems, poor job design, and failure to consider the limitations of the OH-AL chemical have been the primary causes of failure among most of the unsuccessful treatments that have been reported.

Correct well diagnosis and good job design can significantly reduce the risk of job failure regardless of the type of well treatment involved. Understanding how OH-AL interacts with the formation clay minerals helps determine when and where the chemical might be used most effectively. Recognizing the effect of chemical incompatibility, temperature, and OH-Al concentration on treatment results is essential for optimum job design.


Several hundred wells in the industry have been treated with clay stabilizing hydroxy-aluminum (OH-Al) chemical since the technology was introduced in 1971. Figure 1 shows the number of wells treated with OH-Al chemical through 1974. The majority of treatments have been done in oil wells, but gas wells and water injection and source wells have also been successfully treated. Most OH-AL treatments have been done for (1) sand stabilization, (2) sustaining production following acid stimulation, and (3) stabilizing clays ahead of steam stimulation and water injection.

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