Real-time azimuthal acoustic measurements were introduced recently in the logging-while-drilling (LWD) industry. For the first time, this technology was used as part of the bottomhole assembly (BHA) to acquire information related to principal stress orientations in the deltaic to marine Zubair clastic sequence of onshore Kuwait.

A deviated 8.5-in. hole section of the well was planned through sand-shale sublayers with a borehole inclination ranging from 46 to 88°. This section is characterized by time sensitive borehole deterioration and significant variations in pore pressure. These factors result in severe hole instability and ultimately stuck pipe events and require relatively high mud weights to maintain wellbore stability. LWD azimuthal acoustic technology, free from chemical sources, was used for the first time both in drilling and wipe modes to facilitate time-lapse field stress and wellbore stability analysis.

Principal stress orientations were identified from three different sources, including borehole breakouts from azimuthal acoustic caliper, density image, and acoustic anisotropy evaluation. The results were then compared with the existing offset well data and an existing geomechanical 3D model. Variations in observed stress orientation, seismic reflection pattern, and pressure history in offset wells were used to map a fault that is responsible for bypassed oil and for the occurrence of tar and gas. The interpretation was extended to other low throw strike-slip faults; additional fault compartments were identified that could affect the pressure maintenance scheme of the field.

This paper discusses the planning, design, and use of LWD azimuthal acoustic technology in this case history well. It also describes the viability, integrity, and reliability of the interpreted results and their use in a detailed geological interpretation in terms of stress orientation, fault trapping, and areal fluid variation. The optimization of real-time drilling operations and petrophysical data acquisition requirements are also investigated to improve future field development and overall reservoir management strategies.

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