The Issaran field, a heavy-oil reservoir with reserves of approximately 500 MM bbl of oil, was discovered in 1981. The producing horizons were carbonate formations of Miocene age occurring at an average depth of 2,200 ft. The oil being produced on artificial lift was of 9° to 12° API in a viscosity range of 3,000 to 5,000 cp.
Before mid-1999, nine wells had been drilled in the field with a cumulative production of about 450 BOPD. This field did not command high priority because of its low productivity and the low prices that heavy crude attracts. However, with the oil price increases in 1999 and 2000, the Egyptian government made a concerted effort toward developing this field. New and applied technology provided considerable returns within 1 year of new investments. The field has been producing as much as 1,800 BOPD (a four-fold increase), from five new wells drilled in the area.
Plans were made for thermal recovery in the form of steam stimulation for this heavy-oil reservoir, but first, it was necessary to produce under "cold production." Several industry publications<SUP>1-3</SUP> have addressed cold production, predominantly pertaining to sandstone reservoirs. This paper highlights the experiences, challenges, and practical solutions in optimizing production from a fractured, carbonate reservoir. Several leading-edge technologies and optimization techniques that are effective in less-challenging reservoirs have contributed tremendously to enhancing production from this heavy-oil reservoir. The path to success began with the definition of the reservoir-flow mechanism, optimized perforating schemes, ehnanced carbonate stimulation, and improved completion designs.