Impact on Scale Management of the Engineered Depressurization of Waterflooded Reservoirs: Risk Assessment Principles and Case Study
- Eric J. Mackay (Heriot-Watt University) | Mitra Chekani (National Iranian Oil Co.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Production & Operations
- Publication Date
- May 2006
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 174 - 181
- 2006. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 5.5 Reservoir Simulation, 6.5.2 Water use, produced water discharge and disposal, 5.1.2 Faults and Fracture Characterisation, 1.8 Formation Damage, 5.1 Reservoir Characterisation, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 5.5.11 Formation Testing (e.g., Wireline, LWD), 5.6.5 Tracers, 5.4.1 Waterflooding, 4.3.4 Scale, 5.2 Reservoir Fluid Dynamics, 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements, 5.5.8 History Matching, 7.2.1 Risk, Uncertainty and Risk Assessment, 5.4.2 Gas Injection Methods, 5.6.4 Drillstem/Well Testing, 4.3 Flow Assurance, 4.6 Natural Gas
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Increased oil and particularly gas production may be achieved in waterflooded reservoirs by stopping further water injection, and depressurizing the reservoir to release solution gas. Pressure depletion may be accelerated by backproducing injected brines. However, there is the possibility that these brines may cause formation damage by mobilizing fines or deposition of inorganic scales. Scale deposition in production wells may also occur as a result of pressure depletion, with calcite scales being precipitated when the system drops below the CO2 bubblepoint pressure. This paper discusses the assessment and prediction of scale-related formation damage problems that are likely to occur during depressurization of a case study field. The potential for the specific problem arises from the formation of barium sulphate scale as a result of mixing of injected and formation brines during production. Data used in this study include well brine chemistries and an existing finite-difference reservoir simulation model of the field depressurization, which was used to calculate the mixing of injected and formation brines and the movement of the mixing and temperature fronts during waterflooding and subsequent depressurization.
This study has determined that the behavior of the scaling potential for each well in this field is different. Also, the degree of scaling, both deep within the reservoir where it does the least damage and around the wellbore (for both injectors and producers) where it may adversely affect production, can be predicted by detailed modeling using both conventional and reaction-flow simulations. Former injectors converted to water production or infill wells drilled in the aquifer for pressure depletion may experience an increase in the scaling potential that significantly impacts the economics of the project because of the need for extensive prevention (inhibition) treatments. The increased scaling potential in these wells is a result of the dynamics of brine mixing in the reservoir, the lowering of reservoir temperature in the vicinity of injection wells during waterflooding, and the large volumes of water required to be produced to achieve depressurization. The magnitude of the scaling problem and the economic impact are lower for the production wells because of lower water production rates and higher temperatures.
A number of mature waterflooded fields are candidates for tertiary recovery by depressurization, as is currently occurring in the Brent field, North Sea. Pressure depletion is achieved by stopping water injection and producing from the aquifer as well as the hydrocarbon-bearing strata. Solution gas in the residual oil, previously bypassed oil rims, and attic oil is then released (Mackay et al. 2002). The decision to implement depressurization in any waterflooded field involves significant economic considerations. By evaluating the scaling tendency, the uncertainty and cost resulting from potential losses from scale-related deferred oil and gas production may be minimized.
This process should involve a thorough review of the current scale management practice, followed by a detailed study of which parameters will change as a result of depressurization.
A candidate field for post-waterflood depressurization has been studied to identify the potential impact of scale damage on production. A predictive reservoir simulation model, designed specifically to evaluate depressurization (Drummond et al. 2001), was adapted to study the changes in some of the parameters that are expected to impact scale precipitation. This paper describes the application of this model of reservoir depressurization to evaluate the scaling potential in production wells and in former injection wells when they are used for backproduction of injection seawater.
The calculations performed using the conventional finite-difference flow model do not incorporate reaction calculations, although they may be used to demonstrate the propagation of the mixing zone. To model scale precipitation, the consequent ion loss, and permeability impairment, a commercial reaction transport simulator was used.
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