A recent series of tight gas discoveries in the Amin formation of the greater Fahud area represents some of the most exciting exploration success of this decade in the Sultanate of Oman. The structures have been evaluated as containing very significant amounts of gas locked in a challenging deep and hot environment requiring hydraulic fracture stimulation. Since their discoveries, the two primary challenges have been difficult breakdown of the formation and limited proppant placement during stimulation attempts. The early experience in the exploration and appraisal campaigns from 2009 to 2014 has led to fracture designs with conservative proppant amounts that could limit the full potential of the field. Several geomechanical studies have been commissioned in the past to guide completion strategies in well placement, perforation, and fracture stimulation design.
The objectives of this study were to model hydraulic fracture initiation and breakdown in the three Amin zones (upper, middle, and lower) to provide some theoretical understanding of the impact of the different parameters on the observed field breakdown pressures. In agreement with field observations, the model showed that lowering the viscosity of the pad has a major impact in lowering the breakdown pressures. Consequently, current best practices include formation breakdown and hydraulic fracture propagation with low-viscosity fluids followed by proppant placement with high-viscosity fluids. When applied to tight gas formations in the Sultanate of Oman, the hybrid fracturing evolves from conventional designs for the purpose of successful fracture initiation, while still placing a successful job.