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The Promise of Stimulation

:
Understanding + Total Approach = Optimum Value
The economic realities of energy's future make effective well
stimulation critical to optimizing the value of the asset that is an oil
or gas reservoir.
A well stimulation program that fully exploits available technology can substantially boost
revenue and profit throughout a field's life. For marginal discoveries, the right stimulation
program may mean the difference between economic viability and abandonment.
New stimulation techniques and products - hardware and fluids - make fit-for-purpose
solutions possible for a wide range of well configurations and reservoir conditions.
The key to realizing the full potential of these technologies is understanding the reservoir
and its wells, then integrating discrete products and services in a program that will
optimize reservoir performance. At the earliest possible date, that stimulation program
should be made part of the field development plan.
To succeed, this systems approach requires cooperative teamwork between producer and
technology provider.
From nitro to now
Oil and gas well stimulation is as old as the industry itself. Shooting wells to increase
production by placing nitroglycerin at the bottom of the hole was done as early as the
1860s. Acidizing, first used to treat wells producing from limestone formations more than
100 years ago, became a widely used technique in the 1930s. Mud acid soon was
developed for formations other than limestone.
Halliburton established an acid laboratory in 1934, one of the first labs devoted to learning
more about the emerging science of stimulation.
Hydraulic fracturing, introduced in 1947, is applied routinely to more than half of U.S. gas
wells and a third of oil wells. By the 1990s, more than a million hydraulic fracturing
treatments had been performed, adding billions of barrels of reserves. Halliburton led the
commercialization of this important technique.
Advances in stimulation technology accelerated as new drilling and completion techniques
made it possible to more fully exploit complex reservoirs and reduce costs. At the same
time, a better understanding of the reservoir made possible more effective stimulation
treatments. Treating the reservoir and its wells as a system and combining the most
appropriate products, techniques and delivery method greatly improved results.
This total approach mindset drives efforts to lower the cost of production and increase the
value of producing assets.


Hydraulic fracturing was introduced in 1947.
Three-pronged challenge
The technical challenge of matching a stimulation treatment to the reservoir is daunting
enough. Each reservoir's geomechanical properties are unique and complex. And
properties and reservoir conditions change constantly during what may be a decades-long
economic life. New completion configurations, horizontal wells, multilateral wells, slim
holes and deep water further complicate understanding.
Just as important as the technical challenge of designing a stimulation treatment is the
economic challenge. Dealing with complexity can be costly, but stimulation solutions must
be compatible with this fundamental economic reality: in real terms, average oil and gas
prices will increase slowly, if at all, for the foreseeable future.
Technology has dramatically cut finding costs in recent years, but lifting costs have
remained relatively flat. Combining a systems approach to production optimization with
the most advanced discrete technologies to reduce lifting costs is a significant opportunity
for companies and their operators.
Changing organizations and shifting resources have added urgency to the economic
challenge. To respond to growing cost pressures and changing workforce demographics,
oil and gas producers increasingly are focusing on managing producing assets and shifting
more responsibility to technology providers.
An ongoing need to reduce the physical footprint of energy production operations and
lower the risk of environmental damage is an important challenge.
Much progress already has been made. Advances in 3-D seismic technology and
widespread use of horizontal drilling, for example, have resulted in significantly fewer
wells and more efficient field development, lowering environmental impact. And new
drilling and completion methods have reduced the amount of waste generated.
New stimulation fluids and techniques significantly reduce environmental risk and the
need for waste disposal.
This three-pronged challenge - to make stimulation treatments more effective in
increasing production, further lower producing costs and continue to reduce
environmental risk - will remain for the foreseeable future.
Continuing education
The key to achieving these goals is an intimate understanding of the reservoir combined
with a systems approach that integrates appropriate stimulation technologies.
Understanding the reservoir and fine-tuning operating parameters as the field matures is
possible because of a powerful combination of advanced measurement techniques and
devices, sophisticated communication technology and massive computer power.
The foundation of Halliburton's total approach to stimulation treatment design is a
detailed reservoir analysis, putting into context porosity, permeability, fluid saturation,
rock stress, tectonics, lithology, pressure and more.
From initial production to abandonment, however, the geomechanical properties of the
reservoir evolve, making reservoir analysis a continuing process. In some deepwater
reservoirs, for example, compaction helps maintain reservoir pressure and increase
recovery. But it also can reduce porosity and permeability - and therefore productivity -
and affect wellbore stability.
Sigma: Learn, improve, repeat
One method used to deal with these many complexities and the ever-changing reservoir is
Halliburton's Sigma
SM
process. Sigma is designed to take full advantage of all the
knowledge available about the reservoir and integrate the disciplines necessary to
maximize its value.
"Sigma is a reservoir-focused, multi-well iterative process," said David King, Halliburton
vice president of production enhancement. "It continually sets benchmarks, develops
solutions, tests results against predictions and optimizes completion procedures. It is a
cycle of continuous improvement."
Following benchmarking, every aspect of the well completion operation - casing program,
openhole logging and formation evaluation, zonal isolation, the completion assembly and
the perforation program - are reviewed for potential impact on the stimulation program.
The proof of this approach is in its field performance. In early projects using the process,
one producer gained a U.S. $2 million benefit in the first 6 months; another reported a
20% gain in gas production compared with offset wells.
Sigma is a stand-alone service and a framework for applying Halliburton's stimulation
technologies in a way that optimizes reservoir value.


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