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ARMA 10-332

The Impact of Local Stress Field Orientation on Pressures Encountered during Waste Injection Operations in the Ivan River Field, Alaska
Zaki, K., Marinello, S., Al-Garhy, A., El-Fayoumi, A., Zhai, Z., Abou-Sayed, A.
Advantek International, Houston, Texas, USA

Simon, G.
Chevron ETC, Houston, TX, USA

Walsh, C., Lynch, M., Greenstein, L., Hillegeist, T.

Chevron MCABU, Anchorage, Alaska, USA
Copyright 2010 ARMA, American Rock Mechanics Association This paper was prepared for presentation at the 44 US Rock Mechanics Symposium and 5 U.S.-Canada Rock Mechanics Symposium, held in Salt Lake City, UT June 2730, 2010. This paper was selected for presentation at the symposium by an ARMA Technical Program Committee based on a technical and critical review of the paper by a minimum of two technical reviewers. The material, as presented, does not necessarily reflect any position of ARMA, its officers, or members. Electronic reproduction, distribution, or storage of any part of this paper for commercial purposes without the written consent of ARMA
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ABSTRACT: The Ivan River Unit is a remote onshore gas field located in the northwest side of the Cook Inlet basin, in southcentral Alaska. Class II drilling and production waste is disposed of onsite. Lack of service roads and accessibility during the winter limit other waste-handling options. Many of the disposal injection wells in the region are recompleted abandoned production wells. Wells that were directionally drilled to production targets may be oriented sub-optimally for injection purposes. Regionally, injection pressures have been low initially, with an increasing trend consistent with the volume of waste injected. It was, therefore, unexpected when unusually high injection pressures were encountered in the Ivan River Unit. The pressures recorded were in excess of the overburden stress and 1400 psi above those predicted in the feasibility study. A geomechanical assessment included a survey of published stress orientation data for the area, which indicated that the principle horizontal stress is oriented sub-perpendicular to the azimuth of the deviated injector wellbore. This orientation would require higher injection pressures due to multiple factors. Primary among these is the higher breakdown pressure required to initiate and propagate a fracture. Limited perforation connectivity can contribute to high frictional pressure losses. The model was benchmarked against the injection history, leakoff and step rate test data provided. An assessment of breakouts in a nearby field confirmed the principle stress orientation and its potential effect on fracture orientation and the resultant injection rates and pressures.

Drilling and production wastes such as oily contaminated drill cuttings and produced water must be handled in an economically sound and environmentally benign manner. Waste disposal into suitable geological formations has been adopted by companies as a routine disposal method and is operated worldwide. Analogous experience exist close by the Ivan River Gas Field, with Class II wastes having been injected beneath the permafrost across Cook Inlet in the Kenai Gas Field, as well as on the North Slope, where the project has been ongoing for over 20 years. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) generally favors the underground injection of those fluid wastes which cannot be feasibly recycled. It has been noted in EPA publications that, Underground injection, below all fresh water aquifers through properly constructed and operated wells, is an environmentally sound and efficient disposal practice which serves to prevent waste discharges to the land surface or surface water bodies.

1.1 Field Location

Chevrons Ivan River gas field is located six miles or so northeast of Beluga, just onshore on the west side of Cook Inlet approximately 30 miles due west of Anchorage in portion of section 1 & 12, T 13N, R 9W, and Section 6 & 7, T 13N, R 8W, SM, as shown in Figure 1. The structure of the field is a slightly asymmetrical anticline, with primary gas production from the Tyonek Formation below 7800 ft TVD, and secondary production from the Lower Sterling and Beluga formations.

a leak-off test established an 18.6 ppg EMW above the targeted formation. The first step undertaken was to re-evaluate the logs and determine if there was something that might cause the high pressure observed. A missing density trace just above the targeted injection zones, introduced some additional uncertainty in the analysis (Fig.2), but did not indicate any justification for the observed responses in the initial target zone. In light of the high stresses, the possibility of an over pressured gas zone below the injection targets was briefly considered, and then discounted, as it was determined that the strata in question was coal and that there had been no history of overpressure.
Fig. 1. The Location of Chevrons Ivan River Gas Field
Gamma Ray - IR 0 50 Perforations Gamma Ray 100 150 200 250 300 Bulk Density - IR

Gamma Ray - IR

Perforations Gamma Ray

Bulk Density - IR

0 4200 4300







1.2 Problem Definition

Recompletion of the injection well, initial testing and initial DCI operations commenced as this study was ongoing. Initial breakdown pressure observed was much higher than anticipated, as was the pressure required for cuttings slurry injection. This immediately and significantly altered the focus of the study, as a logical physical explanation of the observed performance was required in order to determine the course of action and the ultimate performance capability of the injection well and the formations targeted. As such, evaluation of the log and regional data, as well as the well tests and initial performance became even more critical to understanding the dynamics in place.

2500 3000 3500 4000 True Vertical Depth (ft) 4500 5000 5500 6000 6500 7000 7500 8000 8500 0

Missing data complicates analysis

True Vertical Depth (ft)

4400 4500 4600 4700 4800

2nd Backup P erforations

1st Backup Perforations

Initial P erforations

Zone below the injection horizon appears to be gas bearing zone, very low density. Could zone be overpressured leading to a
0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 Bulk Density (g/cc)

4900 5000 0

Gas Bearing Zone; Overpressured?




Bulk Density (g/cc)

Fig. 2 Gamma Ray and Density Log Traces with Potential Perforation sets

2. TECHNICAL STUDIES 2.1 Analysis of Unexpectedly High Breakdown and Injection Pressures
The injection pressure during formation breakdown testing was far greater than anticipated. The initial design injection pressures were expected to be in the 1800 to 2800 psi range through the life of the project. As stated in an earlier study and included in the application for the Disposal Injection Order: Injection pressure is estimated to average between 1800 to 2800 psi while injecting either mud or slurried cuttings because the densities and other properties will be similar. This should also be a reasonable pressure to expect when injecting produced water and other clear fluids because the decrease in hydrostatic gradient relative to the mud is offset by the more mobile liquid. Application for Disposal Injection Order, Ivan River Unit Development Project, Cook Inlet Basin, 20 AAC 25.252, Well IRU 13-31, September 2008. Instead, injection pressures ranged from 2900 psi to 3500 psi during the initial injection batches. In addition,

Evaluation of the minimum horizontal stress, shown in Figure 3, in the targeted zone was considered critical in determining both the initial injection pressure and the performance of the well through time. When the predicted stress was compared to the value determined from test data analysis, however, it was apparent that the stress value was well off the minimum horizontal stress trend, prompting another re-evaluation of possible reasons for the observed discrepancy. As there are clear discrepancies between the predicted horizontal stresses, data from another source was pursued. Based on previous experience, a closer look at the potential stress field in the area was taken.

Minimum Horizontal Stress (psi) 0 2500 3000

Leakoff Test


Minimum Horizontal Stress (psi) 0 4200

Leakoff Test


Minimum Horizontal Stress (psi) 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 7000 8000

Minimum Horizontal Stress (psi) 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 7000 8000

3500 4000

4400 True Vertical Depth (ft)

2nd Backup Perfor atio ns

True Vertical Depth (ft)

4500 5000 5500 6000 6500 7000 7500 8000 8500


1st Backu p Perfor atio ns

fracture initiation. Data determined from both the SRT and LOT supported the assumption that the maximum stress orientation might be more parallel to the shoreline, thereby creating limited communication between the wellbore and formation and possibly incurring the higher breakdown pressure observed. However, the regional data clearly indicates stress orientation with a NNW/SSE direction; not parallel to the shoreline. Further investigation revealed, however, indications that the stress orientation at Ivan River is not fully consistent with the regional data. The tectonic stress map of the Aleutians and Alaska, shown in Figure 5, shows deviations in stress trajectory near the Ivan River field location. The orientation at the point highlighted in the figure still has a NW/SE orientation, but is much closer to that of the shoreline than other regional stress indications, much less the orientation of the well.



Initial P erforatio ns


Minimum horizontal stress predicted in missing data section using regional information and correlations



Fig. 3 Estimated Minimum Horizontal Stresses and Potential Perforation Sets

2.2 Effects Orientation






The orientation of the wellbore relative to the downhole stress regime can have significant impact on the stresses and pressures impacting injection performance. Well IRU 13-31 was directionally drilled with a trajectory running just west of due north at the depth of the injection perforations, as shown in Figure 4. The shoreline, which is often an indicator of near-well stress orientation, runs WNW to ESE, almost perpendicular to the well trajectory.

Stress rotation at the northern section of the Cook Inlet

Ivan River Location

Fig.5. Cook Inlet Regional Stress Data

Additionally, borehole breakout data from FMI data acquired from wells in the Beluga River Unit in 2008 also indicate a deviation in the local stress orientation. The Beluga River Unit is located some 6 miles SW of the Ivan River Unit, with both fields on the same SWNE trending foldbelt characteristic of reservoirs in the region.

Fig.4. Ivan River Well Trajectories Relative to Shoreline

In considering the possibility of maximum stresses running parallel to shoreline, it became apparent that, when coupled with the trajectory of the well, a high stress situation might be created. This is because a vertical fracture created will run vertically normal to the well trajectory due to the stress orientation and will, therefore, not contact the wellbore along its length, contacting it only along the intersection at the depth of

Breakout data from two wells, however, indicate a maximum stress orientation of N100E, which is consistent with the atypical variation. The minimum horizontal stress was found to be oriented at N20E. If the maximum horizontal stress is similarly-oriented at the Ivan River Unit, this would result in fractures oriented sub-perpendicular to the IRU 13-31 wellbore. The impact of this is more easily understood as visualized in Figure 6, showing the direction of the fracture relative to the well under the two varying conditions. With the maximum and minimum horizontal stress oriented in the atypical manner, the difference in

Injection Pressure (psi)

Injection Pressure (psi)

Injection Rate (BPD)

orientation between the two is 80 degrees, and the fracture will orient nearly perpendicular to the well trajectory. This would lead to the aforementioned limited contact between the fracture and the wellbore. Higher breakdown pressure will result due to the wellbore orientation and the need to overcome the less direct, high tortuosity connection path. Higher injection pressures will result due to tortuosity and because of higher perforation friction pressure resulting from the limited number of perforations in contact with the fracture. If the maximum and minimum horizontal stresses were reversed, and therefore near perpendicular to shoreline, the fracture would orient nearly parallel with the well trajectory. This would lead to more contact between the wellbore and fracture along the well and more extensive and direct connection paths with the wellbore, having more active perforations and resulting in less perforation friction pressure, lower breakdown pressure and lower injection pressures.

2.3 Analysis of Test Data

Step Rate Test data was also analyzed in the evaluation. The injection rates and pressures for the Step Rate Test are shown in Figure 7. Analysis of the rates and pressures recorded indicate a fracture propagation pressure of 5200 psi as shown at the intersection of the straight-line segments on the analysis plot.
-7000 -6000 -5000 -4000 -3000 -2000 -1000 0 0 10 20 30 Time 40 50 60 70 Injection Rate (BPD) Bottom Hole Pressure (psi) End points injection rate end point injection pressure

6500 6000 5500 5000 4500 4000 3500 3000

6000 5500 5000 4500 4000 3500 3000 0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 7000 Injection Rate (BPD)

Fig.7. Step-Rate Test Data and Analysis Plots

Breakdown pressures were calculated based on the assumption that the maximum stress was either parallel or perpendicular to the shoreline. The pressures were also calculated assuming a 57 degree difference in orientation between the well and the maximum stress orientation, as per the regional stress data, confirmed by the Beluga River data. Results of this are shown in Figure 8. The unexpectedly high breakdown pressure from the LOT and the step rate test analysis are in agreement with the data calculated for this high stress scenario.
Near Perpendicular to Wellbore 57 from SMax Step Rate Test Near Parallel to Wellbore Leakoff test data Perforations

Break Down Pressure (psi) 0 3100 3300 3500 3700 True Vertical Depth (psi) 3900 4100 4300 4500 4700 4900 5100 5300 5500 5700 2000 4000 6000 8000 10000 12000

2nd Backup Perforations

1st Backup Perforatio ns Initial Perforatio ns

Fig.8. Breakdown Pressure Estimations Dependent on Orientation of Maximum Horizontal Stress

2.4 Effects of Compartmentalization and Burial

Fig.6. Orientation of Fractures Relative to Well Trajectory Maximum Horizontal Stresses Near-Parallel to Shoreline (T) and Near-Perpendicular to Shoreline (B)

The high pressures encountered at Ivan River may also be influenced by the effects of compartmentalization within some of the lithofacies. The targeted Injection

Interval (5544-6183 MD) is comprised of four different facies, which may compartmentalize the storage volume into 3 different containers: Facies 1: Sand (55445745 MD) o Moderately to poorly sorted, medium grain to granule, mod-to-well rounded greywacke; very little clay matrix; completely disaggregated in samples o Proposed Perforation Set 3 is in this facies Facies 2: Shaley Sand (57455860 MD) o Compositionally as above, but with more abundant clay matrix Facies 3: Sand & Conglomerate (58605973 MD, and 60006182 MD) o Fine to coarse grain, predominantly sub angular, pervasive tuffaceous matrix. o Noticeably higher resistivity than Facies 1, suggesting either fresher water or tighter rock (or both) o This facies has a higher matrix content than Facies 1, and may have more matrix cementation o The Initial injection perforations and Proposed Perforation Set 2 are in this facies Facies 4: Mudstone @ 5973-6000 MD Internal baffle or seal and possible impediment to vertical fracture growth
Shale @ 5512-5544 MD provides upper containment

Other geologic factors may, however, also contribute to the high LOT pressure. The first set of injection perforations is at 6160-6180 ft MD, in the basal lag conglomerate of channel sand with abundant tuffaceous matrix, which may be more cemented than in the cleaner sand targeted as a tertiary injection option higher in the section. As the IRU field has been uplifted approximately 3100 feet from its original depth of burial, the rocks may be more compacted than would be inferred from their current depth of burial. Some limited LOT data from other wells in and near the Ivan River Unit also indicate very high equivalent mud weights, indicating that the higher pressures encountered are not peculiar to IRU 13-31, but are the result of multiple factors within a localized region. Some IRU wells with unusually high LOT/FIT results include: IRU 41-1: LOT 20.2 ppg @3498 MD/3336 TVD IRU 13-31: LOT 18.6 ppg @3460 MD/2938 TVD IRU 11-06: FIT 13.6 ppg @6015 MD/4920 TVD An additional test from the Pretty Creek Unit #4 well, located 3.5 mi W-NW of IRU, yielded: PCU #4: LOT 18.4 ppg @2398 MD/1977 TVD The Pretty Creek Unit is uplifted approximately 1550 ft higher than the IRU due to faulting, which again supports the argument that higher breakdown pressures may be due to a number of factors affecting stresses, compartmentalization and pressurization of some strata.

Fig.9. Ivan River Unit Injection Interval Lithological Facies

However, the 18.6 ppg LOT measured in IRU 13-31 is still higher than expected for its depth of burial, an occurrence again supporting the finding that the preferred fracture direction is likely to be oriented subperpendicular to the wellbore.

Container 3 Container 2 Container 1

Sand (5544 5745 MD) moderately to poorly sorted, medium grain to granule, mod-to-well rounded greywacke; very little clay matrix; completely disaggregated in samples
Proposed Perf Set 3: 5680-710 MD

Approved Injection Interval

Sterling Unconformity (5745 MD): shift in GR/RES suggests different mineralogy and/or Rw in sands above and below; change in Rw indicates an effective seal Shaley Sand & Coal (5745 5860 MD) Sand compositionally as above, but with more abundant clay matrix; may act as a seal; interbedded claystones and coals may inhibit upward frac growth
Proposed Perf Set 2: 5860-591 MD

3. CONCLUSIONS The following observations can be made after evaluation, analysis and simulations of DCI at Ivan River. The higher than anticipated breakdown and injection pressures can be explained primarily from the orientation of the stress regime in the Ivan River Field, with other compartmentalization and relative burial pressures possibly contributing to the overpressured responses observed. The limited connectivity between the wellbore and fracture is due to the orientation of the wellbore within the stress field, near-perpendicular to the maximum stress alignment. The hypothesized orientation of the stress field is supported by stress trajectory data compiled for the region, indicating an atypical maximum stress orientation near

Sand & Conglomerate (5860 5973 MD) fine to coarse grain, predom. Subangular, pervasive tuffaceous matrix Mudstone @ 5973-6000 MD Internal baffle or seal and possible impediment to vertical frac growth

Sand & Conglomerate (6000 6182 MD) VF to Med grain, becoming increasingly conglomeratic toward the base; pervasive tuffaceous matrix

Initial Perfs (6160 6180 MD)

Coal (6182 6192 MD) effective lower limit of injection interval

Shaley Sand and Mudstone (6350 6448 MD)

Coal (6448-6520 MD)

Lithologic descriptions summarized from Mud Log

Ivan River, as well as from breakout data observed in certain Beluga River Unit wells, located close by the IRU.
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9. Willson, S.M., R.P. Steiger, Z.A. Moschovidis, A.S. Abou-Sayed, Ph. de Bree and G. Sirevag. Laboratory investigation of drill cuttings disposal by downhole injection. The 37th U.S. Rock Mechanics Symposium, Vail, Colorado, June 6-9, 1999. 10. Moschovidis, Z. (Chairman), A. Abou-Sayed, O. Akhmedov, R. Beecher, J. Dudley, C. Fleming, T. Herbert, B. McDaniel, S. Ottesen, A. Sinor, R. Mounds Drill Cuttings Experiment Executive Committee. 11. Abou-Sayed, A.S., Q. Guo, and H. Engel. Feeling the Pulse of Drill Cuttings Injection Wells A Case Study of Simulation, Monitoring and Verification in Alaska. Paper SPE 84156, 58 October 2003, Denver, Colorado. 12. Moschovidis, Z.A., et al., 1999. The Mounds Drill Cuttings Injection Field Experiment. Proc. of the 37th U.S. Rock Mechanics Symposium, Rock Mechanics for Industry, ed. Bernard Amadei et al., 1999. 13. Moschovidis, Z. A., R.P. Steiger, X. Weng, and A.S. Abou-Sayed. The Mounds Drill Cuttings Experiment: Determining Placement of Drill Cuttings by Hydraulic Fracturing Injection. SPE Paper SPE 48987, presented at the 1998 SPE Annual Technology Conference, New Orleans, LA, Sept. 27-30. 14. Advantek International. Advanced Assessment of GNI Operations Evaluation/Forecasting Created Fracture. Project Report Submitted to BPXA Drilling and Wells, Anchorage, Alaska, March 2002.