Horizontal Drilling and Openhole Gravel-Packing with Oil-Based Fluids-An Industry Milestone
- Michael R. Wagner (Chevron Thailand E&P Ltd.) | Tamara Webb (Murphy Sabah Oil Co. Ltd.) | Matthew A. Maharaj (BP) | Allan J. Twynam (BP) | Taylor C. Green (M-I) | Golchehreh Salamat (Schlumberger) | Mehmet Parlar (Schlumberger)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Drilling & Completion
- Publication Date
- March 2006
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 32 - 43
- 2006. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 1.6.6 Directional Drilling, 2.2.3 Fluid Loss Control, 4.3.4 Scale, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 1.14 Casing and Cementing, 2 Well Completion, 2.7.1 Completion Fluids, 2.5.2 Fracturing Materials (Fluids, Proppant), 1.6.9 Coring, Fishing, 1.6.1 Drilling Operation Management, 5.4.2 Gas Injection Methods, 3 Production and Well Operations, 6.5.3 Waste Management, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 1.11.4 Solids Control, 5.4.10 Microbial Methods, 2.4.5 Gravel pack design & evaluation, 5.1 Reservoir Characterisation, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 7.2.1 Risk, Uncertainty and Risk Assessment, 1.11 Drilling Fluids and Materials, 1.8 Formation Damage
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An increasing number of horizontal wells requiring sand control are being gravel packed, particularly in deepwater and/or subsea environments in which completion reliability is paramount because of the prohibitively high cost of remediation. Tophole sections in many of these wells are being drilled with oil-based (OB) fluids, with the common practice of switching to water-based fluids when the reservoir drilling starts. In the last several years, some operators started using OB drilling fluids in the reservoir section as well and gravel packed them with water-based fluids. In some cases, these practices required running predrilled liners in OB fluids and subsequently displacing to water-based fluids before running in hole with the sandface screens and gravel packing. In other instances, screens could be run in hole with OB fluids in the wellbore, and gravel packing could be performed with water-based fluids. In both cases, the presence of reactive shales and/or water-sensitive productive zones can introduce serious concern, in the event that carrier-fluid losses occur into the formation during gravel packing. Although a base-oil or diesel can be used as a carrier fluid, low density of the base oil limits such applications to low-pressure/depleted wells.
In this paper, we present a case history of the first successful application of drilling and completing in an all-oil environment, using a reversible OB reservoir-drilling fluid (RDF) (the filter cake of which reverses wettability from oil to water when exposed to an acidic fluid) and an OB gravel-packing fluid. The carrier fluid used in this application included a filter-cake cleanup solution in the aqueous internal phase of the OB carrier fluid, extending the application of simultaneous gravel-packing and cake-cleanup processes that have been successfully practiced in water-based-fluid environments to OB systems. The subject application was in a high-rate gas field located offshore Trinidad, with anticipated production rates in excess of 150 MM scf/D per well. Presented in the paper is the drilling and completion selection methodology based on extensive laboratory and yard testing, along with the details of the completion and recommendations for future applications based on lessons learned. A direct comparison of the all-oil drilling and completion process to water-based drilling and completion is also presented based on a case history from the same field.
Openhole gravel packing is a proven sand-control technique from both productivity and reliability standpoints and has been the preferred method of sand control by many operators in deepwater/subsea developments (Price-Smith et al. 2003; Ali et al. 2001). Synthetic/oil-based (S/OB) fluids have traditionally been the preferred drilling fluids in these environments, although the operators have often been forced to switch from S/OB mud used to drill the tophole to a water-based fluid for reservoir drilling because of various concerns, particularly in wells that will be gravel packed.
The drivers for S/OB drilling have been well documented and include a higher rate of penetration, excellent shale-inhibition characteristics unmatched by any commercially available water-based fluid, gauge hole, lubrication while drilling as well as while installing sandface completion, low maintenance costs (dilution and solids-control costs in reactive silt/shale environments), and so on (Gilchrist et al. 1998). In addition, switching to an S/OB RDF is much less time consuming and simplifies fluid management at the surface (intermixing of water-based and OB fluids vs. two OB fluids, storage space on the rig, etc.).
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