This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Page 1 of 18
Why is it important for you to learn this material? In Canada today you can expect one in ten wells to be a horizontal well. As the industry continues to mature and continues the development of non-minable bitumen reserves and heavy oil reserves you can expect this figure to increase. It is important that you understand that not all reservoirs are suited to horizontal development and why - horizontal wells are expensive and to be successful should have specific reservoir objectives in mind. The manner in which horizontal wells is drilled is an extension of directional drilling techniques and, while we do have some technical failures, most horizontal wells which fail and are uneconomic do so because of poor reasoning (why!) and planning. When you complete this module you will be able to …. Understand the common reasons for drilling a horizontal well and the planning process, which you will have to follow to ensure that the wells you drill, have the best chance of economic success.
One in ten wells drilled in Canada is a horizontal well and these wells are drilled for a wide range of reasons. Far too many of the horizontal wells drilled are failure - and in many cases the treatment is successful and the patient dies. The reasons for the well were simply not good enough. Horizontal wells are expensive and we cannot afford to drill non-economic wells. The purpose of this module is to give you reasons to drill horizontal wells and to ensure the opportunities for economic success are maximized.
Page 2 of 18
OBJECTIVE ONE: APPLICATIONS
When you complete this objective you will be able to… Understand the reasons for drilling a horizontal well. Know the questions to ask in the planning stage. Review the requirements for a successful horizontal well.
GEOLOGICAL APPLICATIONS FOR HORIZONTAL WELLS
Horizontal Drilling has been possible for many years but was, until the development of Measurement While Drilling (MWD) techniques in the late 1970s, prohibitively expensive. Development of these tools has increased the interest in horizontal wells and the oil and gas industry has seen a growing popularity for the use of horizontal technology to optimize discovered reserves production and develop reserves, which would otherwise not be commercially viable. In addition technology improvements have been seen in the related areas of mud motors, MWD tools themselves and the sensors being used, in logging while drilling, in geosteering systems, in downhole data transmission, in developing systems which will allow the placement of directional equipment immediately behind the bit and in top drive drilling rig systems. These technological developments have greatly increased the feasibility of horizontal projects by reducing rig time, improving directional control and lessening the inherent risk of stuck pipe. The number of horizontal wells drilled worldwide has increased dramatically during the past decade and can be expected to increase again as correct applications are developed. Historical numbers of horizontal wells are shown in Table1.
Table 1 Horizontal Wells Drilled Worldwide
The initial 199 200 1 199 199 199 199 199 198 199 1997 1998 1991 9 0 (Est 2 3 4 5 6 9 0 interest in ) horizontal 104 201 128 145 173 196 241 267 295 134 1865 2083 2213 wells led to the USA 0 5 0 5 0 7 2 7 0 high drilling 103 115 Canada 41 100 150 200 270 350 450 573 640 720 850 7 0 levels seen in Inter1991 and 1992: nationa 82 150 195 255 315 365 410 451 491 530 568 602 630 - everyone l 129 247 186 217 259 299 383 431 483 wanted one! Total 257 2210 3214 3463 0 0 5 0 0 1 0 6 0 and their general lack of economic success, particularly in the U.S. and caused by poor applications, led to the decline in activity in 1993. Activity levels have finally recovered with the understanding of the relationship between the reservoir, the horizontal well and the particular application. Industry has begun to define the specific situations in which this type of drilling and production will improve oil and gas recovery and play economics and the levels of horizontal drilling can be expected to continue to increase as even more applications are found. Highly deviated holes have had applications for many years, particularly offshore. Horizontal wells have both expanded and changed the scope of these applications despite the specific well, field, situation and play requirements for a successful well. These applications apply to reservoir development and typically include both oil and gas reservoirs with: • thin pay zones. • naturally fractured reservoirs where the majority of the production is fracture derived. • heavy oils particularly where steam floods etc. are in use. • gas reservoirs - for low permeability reservoirs to enhance drainage and for high permeability reservoirs to reduce turbulence.
Page 3 of 18
gas storage schemes to enhance productivity. in EOR schemes including waterfloods, miscible floods and oil "sandwiches."
Note that not all reservoirs are good candidates for horizontal development. The costs of drilling and completing horizontal wells are significantly higher than vertical wells and there are considerable inherent engineering and operational problems which increase risks dramatically, particularly those related to losing the well.
SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES OF HORIZONTAL WELLS
The majority of horizontal applications are specialized and specific to the given oil or gas reservoir. Additionally in many cases, substantial increases in productivity and reduced overall development costs have resulted from horizontal wells. Benefits attributable to horizontal wells and their associated drainage patterns include: Productivity • Increased direct contact with the productive formation which results in higher flow rates. • Linear drainage along the wellbore. • Reduced pressure gradients (for the same level of production) at the wellbore. Development • Reduced number of wells for maximum drainage. • Penetration of natural fractures. • Specialized production schemes. Development Examples Examples of these developments include: Fractured Reservoirs, Source Rocks, Coning, Coal Gas, Heavy Oil, Tight Gas Descriptions of examples where horizontal drilling can be expected to be economic and to help improve productivity follow.
Most reservoirs exhibit some degree of heterogeneity and this heterogeneity often results in barriers to flow within the reservoir. These boundaries and barriers will reduce productivity and may, where the reservoir is lenticular, considerably reduce the ultimate recovery. Horizontal wells penetrate the barriers and allow unimpeded flow to the wellbore.
Figure 1 Channel Point Bars Page 4 of 18
Many channel point bars have clay drapes between the individual sands making these sands, effectively, into individual reservoirs. A horizontal well will penetrate a much higher number of the sands especially where the angle of drape is high.
Braided Stream Deposits
Braided stream deposits usually contain areas of high permeability conglomerates or sands and areas of low permeability sandstones, which often isolate these "lenses" of high productivity. If the separation is primarily vertical, horizontal wells will allow these high productivity conglomerates to be drained effectively.
Figure 3 Variable Permeability Carbonates
The manner in which carbonates are deposited and are leached out by water flows leads almost always to wide variations in permeability. By interconnecting the better permeability areas, horizontal wells can be expected to reduce the risks associated with drilling vertical wells into carbonate zones. As shown in Figure 4 vertical wells are likely to have a large variance in productivity while the horizontal well may be expected to be more consistently high productivity.
Page 5 of 18
Figure 4 Karsted Limestones
Karsted limestones are formations where the production derives from the interconnected vugs and channels within the body of the rock. For a well to be a good well and to effectively drain the reserves, it is important that as many of these flow channels as possible be intercepted. Additionally many karsted limestone reservoirs have an active water drive and the water tends to channel very readily through the flow paths. By producing at a lower drawdown it is possible to reduce the level of water flow and to increase the level of recoverable reserves. KARSTED LIMESTONES
Figure 5 Low Permeability Reservoirs Containing Fractures Page 6 of 18
Much of the basis for the activity to date in the USA has been attempting to produce low permeability reservoirs with an extensive fracture system, particularly the Austen Chalk series in the onshore Gulf coast area. Wells drilled into this reservoir are either excellent with flows in excess of 30 mmscf/d recorded (these wells intercepted a fracture system) or very poor with non fracture production from the low permeability portions - often at sub economic rates of 30 to 40 mcf/d. In this field, horizontal wells have been extremely successful in increasing production by intercepting the fractures and have recorded the highest production rates in the trend. Furthermore, these levels of production have been maintained for extended periods - up to several years.
It is important that we understand the mechanics of the fracture creation process if we are to drill horizontal wells in a given play area. Generally fractures in flat-bedded strata remain closed (Figure 7) and do not contribute appreciably to production levels. Where the beds are flexed, the fractures open along the plane of the least stress as shown in Figure 8. The direction in which the horizontal well is drilled is extremely important: it must be perpendicular to the regional flexure fracture pattern.
Page 7 of 18
This is of even greater importance where thin-bedded strata are being developed. These thin beds tend to be brittle and to fracture readily while the interbedded layers (usually shales and/or marls) absorb the stress and remain intact. Horizontal wells will assist in the economic development of these areas. This is shown in Figure 9.
Figure 9 Page 8 of 18
Direction is demonstrated in Figure 10. Note that a well that is drilled perpendicular to the well shown in Figure 10 might still intercept some fractures but probably fewer fractures with lower levels of production.
Figure 10 Thin Oil Pay over Water
On the flanks of many oil fields the pay thickness is insufficient to warrant development and much of this oil is never developed. Wells tend to produce at low rates and to produce large volumes of water early in their lives. Exploitation of these reserves may be possible using horizontal well. A further example of this type of production problem is shown by reefs and reef banks, where the vertical permeability is very high, resulting in immediate high volume water production. These thin payzones may become economic with the use of horizontal wells and the reduced drawdown that they engender.
Figure 12 Page 9 of 18
Note that the reduction of water production is the important aspect of the horizontal well. To determine whether the water coning or production can realistically be reduced we need to consider the following questions: • What is the thickness of the hydrocarbon pay? • • • • • • What are the horizontal and vertical permeabilities of the formation? Are there any natural fractures present? Is the coning the result of bottom or edge water? Where will the horizontal well be located relative to the water? What is the projected lateral length of the horizontal well? How hetero/homogeneous is the reservoir?
Thin Oil Column between Gas and Water
Oil sandwiched between gas and water suffers from both water coning and gas migration. Horizontal technology is being used to alleviate both of these problems. Note that gas is much more mobile than water and gas fingering can be a difficult problem to overcome.
Figure 13 Heavy Oil
Horizontal wells in heavy oil rely on the increased reservoir exposure and gravity drainage to increase production. Techniques are in widespread use and are being used in conjunction with secondary recovery projects and steam assisted recovery projects.
Enhanced Recovery Projects (Figures 14, 15, 16)
Horizontal technology is being used in a wide variety of secondary recovery schemes as shown. Horizontal wells are being used as both producers and injectors for the following reasons:
Page 10 of 18
Figure 16 Page 11 of 18
Producers: Low drawdown. Lower fluid production per unit well length. Reduced sand control. High sweep efficiency. lnfill capability. Injectors: Large contact area. High injectivity. Reduced injectivity problems.
Other applications are plentiful and include subcrop traps with a thin footwall seal and thin-bedded reservoirs: generally all areas where reservoir exploitation has a reason for drilling horizontally.
Horizontal wells can be expected to produce more than vertical wells mostly because they provide more reservoir exposure. If the reservoir has equal vertical and horizontal permeability - and because of their depositional make up most do not - horizontal wells will only perform better than vertical wells when their horizontal length exceeds the bed or formation thickness. This is demonstrated in Figure 17. Obviously horizontal wells will be more attractive in thinner reservoirs because the horizontal section does not have to be very long to exceed the formation thickness and give a substantial increase in production.
In thick formations, relatively long horizontal sections are required for the same production increase. There is a considerable cost involved in drilling longer horizontal sections and on thick reservoirs; horizontal wells may not be as attractive for strictly production increases.
Page 12 of 18
The productivity of a horizontal well is significantly reduced if the vertical permeability is less than the horizontal permeability. Reservoirs with a low vertical to horizontal permeability ratio are unsuitable for horizontal well development unless very long laterals can be drilled. This is shown in Figure 18.
As a rule of thumb a horizontal well will be more productive than a vertical well when: L = h * kh/kv Where L is the length of the lateral section kh is horizontal permeability kv is vertical permeability The vertical permeability of a formation is influenced by the presence of discontinuous shales, calcite cemented bands, layering, etc and all act as barriers to vertical flow. It is often difficult to account for these in reservoir modeling with any degree of confidence and it is often necessary to run special communication tests such as vertical interference tests in vertical wells to determine whether a reservoir is a candidate for horizontal development.
HORIZONTAL WELL PLANNING
Horizontal wells represent the leading edge of existing drilling technology and there are a number of substantial problems and considerable risks involved in their drilling. To reduce the risks a significant effort must be made in the planning of the wells. It is recommended that the operator involve all parties to the drilling project at the beginning of the planning phase - including the suppliers and service companies who can be expected to participate. Before beginning to develop a horizontal well plan, the operator should consider the following questions: "What are you (the operator) trying to achieve with this well?" "What are the reservoir parameters critical in achieving this goal?" "What does the horizontal well have to accomplish to achieve this goal?" These questions should be foremost in the operator's mind throughout the planning and drilling of the well and should be reviewed frequently to determine whether plans are progressing towards achieving the desired ends.
Page 13 of 18
Overall there are a number of parameters to be considered in the definition of whether and where a horizontal well is to be drilled. Prior to beginning the actual drilling planning the operator needs to gather information on the following: • Fracture Intensity and Direction. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Reservoir Description including Size, Recovery Factor. Hydrocarbon Thickness. Recoverable Reserves and Drainage Area. Vertical Well Production Performance History. Horizontal to Vertical Drainage Ratio. Reservoir Pressure. Production Mechanism (Reservoir Drive). Primary or Secondary. Existing (and Future) Well Spacing. Vertical Permeability. Vertical Heterogeneities. Lateral Heterogeneities. Fluid Properties Corrected to Reservoir Conditions. Areal Anistropy. Mud Damage in Existing Wells and the Expectation for Damage in the new Horizontal well. • • • • Multi-well and Multi-lateral Prospectivity. Geological Control. Faults and Areal Discontinuities. Available Expertise in Required Disciplines.
As an example, consider the directional permeability. In Dimmit County, Texas, the majority of the wells (and all the successful wells) have been drilled in a WSW or ESE direction as shown in Figure 19. This direction is at 90o to the existing fracture pattern and has led to several wells which produce at relatively high rates.
Page 14 of 18
Once the basic data (above) is gathered, the operator needs to consider a series of key wellbore parameters: • Effective (Expected) Horizontal Well Length. • • • • • • • Rock Stability. Direction. Degree of Direction and Vertical Control Required. Completion Type. Potential Stimulation Requirements. Artificial Lift Requirements. Drilling Fluid Type.
Once the questions have been asked and answered, well planning can begin in detail. Directional Control is perhaps the most immediate concern. Once the target and trajectory are established, many of the engineering conditions and drilling dynamics will fall out of follow from these determinations. First specification include: Depth of the formation of interest in terms of vertical depth (TVD) and horizontal displacement must be specified. Specifications on the directional aspects of the proposal must be discussed. These include accuracies in both inclination and azimuth and the complete, three dimensional target definition. Once the formation and target are defined, the wellbore trajectory, including options, and the KickOff Point (KOP), build rates and survey points, with associated stratigraphic markers can be specified.
Page 15 of 18
Wellbore azimuth is also likely to be important, and vital in areas where fracture permeability is the main production mechanism as demonstrated by the example for Dimmit County (above) where almost all wells - and definitely all successful wells - are drilled on a line through 120o and 300o. Next is likely to be the selection of the rig. There are usually several options open to the operator and the choice is strongly dependent upon the depth of the KOP, the TVD of the well and the measured depth of the wellbore. If the well is to be a shallow completion, the operator can expect difficulties in building sufficient angle within the constraints imposed by the required casing and completion program. However in Canada the use of slant hole rigs in this situation has become relatively common. This type of rig utilizes a push down drive mechanism to deliver the necessary Weight on Bit (WOB) to achieve penetration. Extremely rapid angle build can be achieved. If the target is sufficiently deep a conventional rig is preferred: preferably one with a top drive. The use of the rotary capability allows greater flexibility in drill string handling and in Bottom Hole Assembly (BHA) manipulation. The top drive provides the capability to simultaneously rotate, reciprocate (work the pipe) and circulate while reaming into and out of the hole during tripping. The ability to rotate and circulate is very important in highly deviate wells to minimize the risks associated with differential sticking. Additionally the drilling of deep, highly deviated wells (including horizontal) requires the high torque capability at surface and may need high levels of overpull as drag increases. The choice of the drilling fluid is on of the most critical aspects of the planning process. Many highly deviated wells and almost all horizontal wells use an oil base mud at some stage in their program. This adds substantially to the mud cost and leads to environmental concerns, especially if the mud and cuttings will require disposal. Careful planning is required. Furthermore the use of a good solids control system is essential in all horizontal wells. When drilling any deviated well beyond 75o, difficulty in cleaning the hole can be expected. The need to maintain the hole cuttings free invariably leads to the need for higher annular velocities. This, combined with the higher than normal pressure drops associated with the complex downhole equipment (mud motors, MWD) used in drilling these types of well have serious implications for the mud pump requirements. It is suggested that the entire hydraulics system be carefully reviewed in the rig selection process. Borehole stability must also be addressed. Specifically formation types bedding and plasticity of the formation walls become important factors. Formation dips and well inclination have no effect on the mud density but do effect the composition especially viscosity requirements for cleaning cuttings, yield point for cuttings suspension and chemical composition to ensure well bore stability are more important than in a vertical well. The complete drilling team should jointly develop: • The wellbore trajectory and profile. • • • Wellbore length. The Drilling Fluids. The Casing requirements and program.
• The evaluation requirements. The designated drilling engineer should: • Select the appropriate rig (above).
Page 16 of 18
• • •
Design the radius to use. Pick the bit types. Research the offsets to evaluate borehole stability.
• Prepare budgets. A completion specialist also needs to be involved to: • Ensure that the drilling fluids will not irreparably damage the formation. • Minimize fluid leak off and ensure that any fluid leak off prevention. agents can be readily removed. • The casing program meets the completion and production needs.
Finally it is not too late to change our mind: all wells and locations proposed for horizontal drilling should go through a final review process to see if they can in fact achieve the goals set out. The screening process should consider outcrop and core studies, petrophysics, reservoir mapping, decline curve analysis, reserves determination and seismic.
COST AND PRODUCTIVITY RATIOS
Horizontal wells cost more than vertical wells because of the length of time required to drill the additional well measured depth and because rentals of MWD equipment and PDMs are in themselves expensive. It appears that operators and directional drilling companies need to drill in an area - almost a field to reduce the costs of development horizontal wells. You can expect the cost of the first horizontal well in the development to be over two and a half times that of a vertical well. This cost will reduce rapidly and by the third or fourth well you can expect to see costs at less than twice with the ultimate horizontal costs being approximately one and one half times a vertical well. If the horizontal well does not produce at least 50% more than the vertical well, the additional costs - not to mention the risk - will make it uneconomical. Summary Horizontal wells have historically been successfully drilled in a wide range of geological situations. They were initially drilled to intercept fractures in stressed carbonates - where the vast majority of the fractures were uni-directional - but have since been successful in areas where the reservoirs are heterogeneous, where we have variable permeability, where we have relatively thin pay zones over water or under gas, where we have heavy oi deposits that cannot readily flow into the wellbore, in many enhanced recovery projects - as modifiers of existing projects and as new project developments, and simply for increased wellbore exposure to the formation particularly in thin beds. We need to increase our odds of success by asking the right questions related to the formation and the well prior to drilling these types of wells: they are too expensive to drill them without thorough planning.
1. List the more common geological reasons for drilling horizontal wells. 2. In a well with a formation thickness of 60m, and an equal kv and kh, what would you expect the productivity improvement to be if you drilled laterals of 150 m or 350 m? 3. If the wells in (2) cost 2.75 times and 3 times a vertical well would you still drill them? 4. In the well in question 2, what would the lateral length have to be for the 150 m lateral if the ratio of the permeabilities (kv/kh) were 0.5 and 0.1? 5. List the six more important questions to ask in the planning stage of a horizontal well.
Page 17 of 18
Exercise Two Answers
1. The more common geological reasons for drilling horizontal wells include: Increased productivity through interception of directional fractures Removal of impermeable barriers to flow in heterogeneous reservoirs Penetration of multiple sands in channel point bars Exposure of good porosity in braided stream deposits Opening of vugular production in karsted limestones Development of thin pay zones over water and under gas 2. Using Figure 17, a well with a formation thickness of 60m, and an equal kv and kh, would expect to have a productivity improvement of 2.2 for a laterals of 150 m and 4.0 for 350 m? 3. If the wells in (2) cost 2.75 times and 3 times a vertical well only the 350 m lateral would be economic. You could drill vertical wells cheaper on a per barrel per day production basis if you could only drill a 150m lateral. 4. Using Figure 18, in the well in question 2, the lateral length would have to be 200 m for a productivity gain of 2.2 with the kv/kh = 0.5 and 330 m with the kv/kh = 0.1. 5. The six more important questions to ask in the planning stage of a horizontal well include: Fracture intensity and direction Hydrocarbon thickness Horizontal and vertical permeabilities Production mechanism (water and or gas presence) Vertical heterogeneities Geological
1. Horizontal drilling publications tend to deal with a portion of the technical aspects required to drill horizontal wells. Find two articles in the library, which deal with the reasons for drilling horizontal wells or which are specific as to the productivity improvements generated by the well.
Page 18 of 18
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?