Deepwater Completions Offer Great Potential
- Tim Probert (Halliburton)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- May 2009
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 18 - 21
- 2009. Copyright is retained by the author. This document is distributed by SPE with the permission of the author. Contact the author for permission to use material from this document.
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Deepwater E&P is a growing part of the world’s energy supply. Estimates are that deepwater production will grow 78% by 2011, making it one of the leading growth sectors in our industry.
The explanation is simple: many of the world’s largest untapped reservoirs are in deep water. The “golden triangle” of the Gulf of Mexico, offshore Brazil, and west Africa are joined by newer areas of opportunity in India, Malaysia, Australia, the eastern Mediterranean, offshore Norway, and eastern Canada. There are even more promising possibilities in the salt and subsalt reservoirs located in the basins of the golden triangle.
The industry’s definition of deepwater exploration and its technical challenges are expanding along with knowledge of the reserves. Ten years ago, deep water was anything more than 1,500 ft water depth. Today, the deepwater frontier is more than 5,000 ft. The frontier of a decade ago is now practically routine. And along with these greater water depths, operators are facing increasing total well depths and higher temperatures and pressures.
The deepwater opportunity comes at a price—the high rig rates and capital intensity make it a high-risk and high-reward proposition. And the enormous technical challenges make deepwater wells a focal point for developing and deploying advanced technology in every aspect of well construction and production.
Completions technology brings operators more production, lower costs and lower risks, and holds the promise of enabling the future production the world demands. What follows is a snapshot of the deepwater completions picture, with emphasis on those areas that will contribute most to operators’ success. All these elements are interrelated and complementary. Developments in one area contribute to the effectiveness of the others. Ultimately, it is the integrated development of all aspects of deepwater completions that promises to make possible the production the world is counting on over the next several years.
High-Rate Fracturing Systems
Stimulating production through hydraulic fracturing is a proven way of making deepwater wells economical. Frac packs of long, thick unconsolidated producing intervals in turn depend on the ability to pump frac fluid at a high rate and place proppant in large quantities.Tools and techniques that make access to these zones profitable include using hydrostatic properties of frac fluids to increase bottomhole fracture pressure without unsafe surface treating pressures. This helps achieve the high pressure needed for the fracture without exceeding the pressure rating of surface equipment. Also, tool systems using carbide-protected crossover tool designs are now able to withstand the large volumes of proppant at high rates needed to capitalize on the high-rate fluid pumping. These technologies are valuable in their own right, and they are crucial to the development of single-trip multizone completions.
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