Unlocking Egypt’s Unconventional-Resource Potential
- Chris Carpenter (JPT Technology Editor)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- July 2018
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 65 - 66
- 2017. Society of Petroleum Engineers
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- 90 since 2007
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This article, written by JPT Technology Editor Chris Carpenter, contains highlights of paper SPE 188587, “Unlocking Egypt’s Unconventional Potential,” by Amr Zaher, Etienne Loubens, Mohamed Zayed, SPE, Nicholas Gill, SPE, Oneil Sadhu, SPE, and Layla El Hares, SPE, Shell, prepared for the 2017 Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference, Abu Dhabi, 13–16 November. The paper has not been peer reviewed.
The Apollonia tight-gas chalk play is located in the Abu Gharadig Basin in the Western Desert of Egypt. This has long been ignored as a gas play in the overburden, while the Jurassic and Cretaceous oil fields deeper in the basin have been explored and developed. However, several structures in the Apollonia are known to contain potentially significant hydrocarbon volumes, although a potential Apollonia full-field development is challenging because of regulated gas prices in the Western Desert and low-productivity formations. This paper discusses the process of developing the first unconventional-gas opportunity in Egypt.
Vertical appraisal wells show that low production rates and low estimated ultimate recoveries (EURs) present a challenge for cost-effective development of tight gas in Apollonia. With the play’s decreasing levels of permeability, long-reach horizontal wells are needed with induced stimulation. The optimized technique of deploying multistage hydraulic-fracture stimulation efficiently has been documented and applied successfully in North America and has potential for success in Apollonia. Shell and Apache created a joint-development proposal to unlock the significant stranded gas in Apollonia. The proposal consisted of a staged development, starting with a three-horizontal-well pilot followed by an optional full-field development.
Apollonia is a homogeneous reservoir; however, it is very tight, and induced stimulation by hydraulic fracturing is required to produce a commercial and sustainable production rate. Smectite and illite contribute to reservoir quality and can be predicated by conventional logs. Fracture densities in Apollonia are low. The fractures are either closed or only partially open, and their contribution to production is perceived to be low. In addition to these factors, development may require drilling many wells (low spacing) with induced stimulation in order to deliver cost-effective production rates. This requires lower well costs than currently exist. While production from the three existing vertical wells continues, EURs from these wells are suboptimal.
Apollonia comprises tight, microporous chalky carbonates that are proved to contain movable hydrocarbons. The formation is subdivided into four members, Apollonia A (top layer) through D (bottom layer). Apollonia A and C are composed of thick massive limestones (chalk) with minor marly and shaley intervals, while Apollonia B and D are dominated by shale. Most of the porous intervals occur within Apollonia A and C. Regional correlations have shown that most of the thickness variations are confined to Apollonia C and, to a lesser extent, D. However, recent seismic interpretation has shown that there are also thickness variations in Apollonia A and B associated with Eocene inversion. The individual porous zones within Apollonia A and, to a lesser extent, C are laterally correlatable over large distances.
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