Due to a resource optimization and efficiency improvements, wells that are hydraulically fractured in the tight gas Barik Formation of the Khazzan Field in the Sultanate of Oman are often temporarily left shut-in directly following a large scale massive hydraulic fracturing stimulation treatment. Extensive industry literature has often suggested (and reported), that this may result in a significant direct loss of productivity due to the delayed flowback and the resulting fracture conductivity and formation damage. This paper will review the available data from the Khazzan Field address these concerns; indicating where the concerns should and should not necessarily apply.

The Barik Formation in the Khazzan Field is an over-pressured gas-condensate reservoir at 4,500 m with gas permeability ranging from 0.1 to 20 mD. The average well after hydraulic fracturing produces 25 MMscfd and 500 bcpd against a wellhead pressure of 4,000 psi. A typical hydraulic fracturing stimulation treatment consists of 14,000 bbl of a borate-crosslinked guar fluid, placing upwards of 1MM Lbs of high conductivity bauxite proppant within a single fracture. In order to assess the potential production loss due to delayed flowback operations, BP Oman performed a suite of formation damage tests including core samples from the Barik reservoir, fracture conductivity considerations and dynamic behaviors. Additionally, normalized production was compared between offset wells that were cleaned-up and put onto production at different times after the hydraulic fracturing operations.

Core tests showed a range of fracture conductivities over time with delayed flowback after using the breaker concentrations from actual treatments. As expected, enhanced conductivity was achieved with additional breaker. The magnitude of the conductivity being created in these massive treatments was also demonstrated to be dominant with respect to damage effects. Finally, a normalized comparison of an extensive suite of wells clearly showed no discernible loss of production resulted from any delay in the flowback operations.

This paper describes in details the workflow and resulting analysis of the impact of extensive shut-in versus immediate flowback post massive hydraulic fracturing. It indicates that the impact of such events will be limited if the appropriate steps have been taken to minimize the opportunity for damage to occur. Whereas the existing fracturing literature takes the safe stance of indicating that damage will always result from such shut-ins, this paper will demonstrate the limitations of such assumptions and the flexibility that can be demonstrated with real data.

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