The Greater Clair area, Europe's largest oilfield, has two existing platforms, Clair Phase 1 and Clair Ridge, on production with future potential for a third platform targeting undeveloped Lower Clair Group to the South of Ph1. Clair Phase 1 was the initial development of Clair, targeting Lower Clair Group (LCG) reservoir consisting of a complex Devonian sandstone in six units. Most Phase 1 wells penetrated relatively good quality reservoir enhanced by natural fractures, while more recently Clair Ridge wells took a similar approach targeting natural fractures, however that strategy is continually being evaluated. In some areas however low matrix quality and lack of natural fractures were the dominant characteristics resulting in lower production rates. A brief comparison of the range of production outcomes will be presented, including potential downsides of reliance on natural fractures.

Given the large oil volumes in areas of known poorer rock quality, alongside variable production results, a hydraulic fracturing trial was initiated in 2017. Well 206/08-A23 (A23) targeted previously under-developed, poor-quality Unit VI within the Phase 1 Graben area where natural fractures are absent. A pre-frac production test established baseline production of 900BOPD in December 2018. The A23 objectives included subsequent hydraulically fracturing the well to test this techniques ability to unlock production from tight, matrix dominated formation.

Detailed analysis of core, log and limited vertical well fracturing data (from initial fracturing trials of 1980's vintage), yielded robust designs. Key challenges included overcoming very low KV/KH ratios with fracture heights exceeding 300ft. The resulting detailed designs provided consistent and predictable hydraulic fracturing execution in A23 in 2019, including placement of four planned 500klbs treatments combined with coil clean-outs after each stage to unload solids and fluids from the well. Initial fracture designs were conservative in terms of pad and proppant scheduling which, alongside learnings around operational logistics offshore West of Shetlands and completion design, offer significant optimisations for future hydraulic fractures.

Post frac A23 became the highest non-natural fractured producer across Clair. Initially a six-fold production increase was observed with monitoring of transient production ongoing. Tracer analysis confirmed production contribution from all zones.

Proving fracturing technology brings opportunities to unlock poorer Phase 1 and Ridge reservoir areas. Additionally, significant portions of the undeveloped Lower Clair Group to the South of Ph1 comprises lower permeability reservoir with higher viscosity oil and reduced natural fracture presence. Hydraulic fracturing is therefore a crucial completion technique for developing this lower quality reservoir and brings significant value enhancement to the project. Efficient delivery of numerous large fractures in a harsh offshore environment West of Shetlands presents significant challenges. The influence of how the A23 fracturing results and learnings are guiding future hydraulic fracturing concept are detailed, including optimising platform engineering design to facilitate efficient fracturing operations while maintaining the required productivity in this challenging scenario.

You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.