Advances in Horizontal Openhole Gravel Packing
- Syed A. Ali (Chevron Energy Technology Co.) | Tommy F. Grigsby (Halliburton Co.) | Sanjay Vitthal (Shell Intl. E&P Co.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Drilling & Completion
- Publication Date
- March 2006
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 23 - 31
- 2006. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 1.6 Drilling Operations, 5.4.10 Microbial Methods, 2.1.7 Deepwater Completions Design, 3 Production and Well Operations, 5.3.4 Integration of geomechanics in models, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 2 Well Completion, 2.2.2 Perforating, 2.3 Completion Monitoring Systems/Intelligent Wells, 1.6.1 Drilling Operation Management, 1.10 Drilling Equipment, 2.4.6 Frac and Pack, 1.6.2 Technical Limit Drilling, 4.2.3 Materials and Corrosion, 2.4.5 Gravel pack design & evaluation, 1.10.1 Drill string components and drilling tools (tubulars, jars, subs, stabilisers, reamers, etc), 5.1.2 Faults and Fracture Characterisation, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 3.2.4 Acidising, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 1.8 Formation Damage, 1.6.6 Directional Drilling, 5.4.2 Gas Injection Methods, 5.2 Reservoir Fluid Dynamics, 2.7.1 Completion Fluids, 4.5 Offshore Facilities and Subsea Systems, 1.14.3 Cement Formulation (Chemistry, Properties), 1.11 Drilling Fluids and Materials, 2.2.3 Fluid Loss Control
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Technological advancement in horizontal drilling and openhole completing techniques for soft-rock formations finally has bridged the gap between the drilling and completion disciplines. The success achieved with openhole gravel packing has created a mainstay completion technique that has been used in deepwater developments in Brazil and West Africa to deliver reliable, high-rate well completions. The technology also has been an enabler for heavy-oil developments [American Petroleum Inst. (API) gravity < 20°, y > 0.934] in Brazil and the North Sea that otherwise would have been uneconomical.
This article discusses where the industry started, how technology has evolved, and the lessons learned that are being applied to increase the application envelope and reliability of this completion method. The review covers advances in openhole-drilling techniques that eliminate hole tortuosity, gravel-pack fluids that can reduce rig time and enhance well productivity, and improvements in downhole tools that have, or potentially will, reduce risk while reducing completion cycle time. This review also will briefly examine a possible replacement technology.
Completion reliability and the potential to achieve significantly higher sustainable production rates are two major drivers that have led to openhole horizontal gravel packing (OHHGP) acceptance as a mainstay deepwater-completion method. Interval lengths in excess of 2,500 ft are now fairly common. In January 2003, the latest world-record horizontal gravel pack was completed with a length of 8,305 ft (2531 m) in the Captain field in the North Sea (Wehunt et al. 2003).
During the early 1990s, the development of enhanced drilling and fluids technology led to advances in extended-reach and horizontal drilling (Restarich 1992, 1993; Jones et al. 1997). Screen-only completions became a favored completion mode for completing in long, openhole soft-rock formations, with wells providing the capability to deliver high production rates (Ghiselin 1996; Harrison et al. 1990; Marestad et al. 1996). This technique is still being used successfully in West Africa, the North Sea, and lower-pressured gas sands in the Gulf of Mexico shelf. But partly because of the huge variance in formation types and lack of shale isolation, this completion method experienced high failure rates as dirtier, more laminated reservoir sands were completed (Ali and Dearing 1996). The move from the shelf to deep water was another primary driver in efforts to increase reliability while maintaining the high flow-rate capability required for project sanction. Also, the capability to expose increased reservoir rock in low-productivity reservoirs has led to higher productivity than what has been possible with a conventional vertical or moderately deviated wellbore. In the mid to late 1990s, the horizontal openhole gravel-packing technique was refined with the basic downhole-tool systems being used today (Foster et al. 1999; Duhon et al. 1988; Chambers et al. 2000).
The ongoing improvements in drilling equipment, drilling and drill-in fluids, filter cake, downhole tools, and screens continue to further expand the application envelope for openhole horizontal gravel packing. However, as with any other evolving technology, there are still limitations that must be addressed. One of these has been that the reservoir completed must have a sufficient pressure difference between pore pressure and fracture gradient to allow gravel-pack placement. Devices to lower equivalent circulating density to allow the successful packing of longer intervals with tighter pressure spreads are now available. Invert gravel-pack fluids that eliminate the need to switch from an oil-based mud (OBM) or synthetic oil-based mud (SOBM) system to a brine-based, solids-free, gravel-pack fluid are now being marketed. Further improvement in brine-based, gravel-pack fluids has led to the development of an in-situ acid-generating fluid that has been designed to eliminate the need for a post-acid treatment in injection wells and producers.
Drilling equipment also has been advancing. Bottomhole assemblies (BHAs) that drill straighter holes and eliminate the spiraled tortuosity normally associated with conventional drilling assemblies are now available. These aid in placing the screen assembly on depth and in achieving successful sand placement by enhancing hole cleaning and reducing torque and drag.
|File Size||1011 KB||Number of Pages||9|
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