Stimulating sandstone formations typically requires a mixture of hydrochloric acid (HCl) and hydrofluoric acid (HF) to dissolve formation damaging minerals. The HF reacts with and dissolves all HCl soluble minerals and, dissolves or partially dissolves siliceous materials such as bentonite and naturally occurring formation clays. Because these acid treatments are corrosive, it is common practice in low-pressure wells to pull out the electrical submersible pumps (ESPs) prior to performing a stimulation treatment to prevent damage to them. Doing so results in additional costs and deferred production.
In Ecuador, oil is produced from low- pressure sandstone reservoirs by using ESPs. In many of these reservoirs production is limited by scaling or fines migration. The low reservoir pressure often results in additional formation damage when during workovers because of the loss of completion fluid, emulsions, and clay instability. Many operators prefer to produce well with formation damage rather than expose the ESPs to corrosive fluids to remove the damage or generate additionally damage during a workover.
Using a non-acid chelating system (NACS) as the stimulation fluid combined with a placement technique made it possible to stimulate wells completed with ESPs or with corrosion sensitive completions, without needing to pull out the ESP for the stimulation treatment.
A laboratory study to assess the corrosion of each component of an ESP exposed to different treating fluids (live and spent) for extended periods was undertaken. The NACS fluid was capable of both removing calcium scales and fines, and preventing fines migration while minimizng corrsoion.
The NACS stimulation fluid successfully treated more than 10 wells competed with ESPs. In many cases, production in these wells increased by 35%. In addition, the treatment cost was 70% less than treatments for which a workover rig was used. Moreover, deferred production was reduced from days to hours.
Because of the time and cost savings, this technique should be particularly beneficial in marginal fields, where rig availability and economics are often an issue.