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Offshore Oil & Gas Technology

Well Completion
• Once the well is drilled to the desired depth, the
formation must be tested and evaluated to determine
whether the well will be completed for production, or
plugged and abandoned.
• If the decision is made to go ahead to complete the well,
the production casing is run by the drilling crew, using
the drilling rig for the purpose.
• A well is always cased (set pipe) to complete the well.
Casing is relatively thin-walled, steel pipe. Numerous
joints of the same size casing are screwed together to
form a long length of casing, called a casing string. The
casing has an outer diameter of at least 2” less then the
wellbore diameter. The casing string is run into the well
and cemented to the sides of the well in a cement job.
• Casing stabilizes the well and prevents the sides from
caving into the well. It protects fresh water reservoir from
the oil, gas and salt water brought up the well during
production. Casing also prevents the production from
being diluted by waters from other formations in the well.
• Many wells requires four concentric strings of large pipe:
– Conductor pipe
– Surface casing,
– Intermediate casing(s)
– Production casing (often call the oil string or long string in the
oil patch)
• The production casing is the last and deepest string of casing run in
the well. Size of the production casing, which provides a conduit from
the surface to the producing formation, is determined principally by
subsurface considerations, such as:
– Subsurface artificial lift equipment required
– Multiple-zone completions requiring several different strings of
rubing isolated from each other by packers.
– Types of completion method to be used: open hole, perforated
casing, screened open hole, or screened perforated casing.
– Prospects of deepening the well at a later date.
Well Completion
Conductor, surface, intermediate & production casing cemented in the well
Source: Gerding, Fundamentals of Petroleum, 3
Relationship of
strings of casing
Source: Berger, Anderson, Modern Petroleum - A Basic Primer of the industry, 3
• Another type of string/pipe that is not common in wells over 10,000 ft is
called a liner. Liners are sometimes set in a hole as a protective string,
serving the same function as an intermediate string. A liner is usually
run only from the bottom of the previous string to the bottom of the open
hole. Liners are suspended from a previous string with a hanger. They
may suspend in the well either with our without cementing.
• The final string of pipe usually run in a producing well is the
tubing. Tubing is nearly freely suspended in the well from
the tubing head. In a flowing well, its small diameter
production more efficient results than casing. Also, tubing is
considerably easier to remove than casing when it
becomes plugged or damaged. Tubing, when used in
conjunction with a packer, keeps well fluids away from the
casing because the packer seals the space between the
tubing and the casing. Well fluids corrode the casing and
thus cause costly repair job later.
Well Completion
• The packer consists of a pipe-like device through which
well fluids can flow, a rubber sealing element that forms
a fluid-tight seal, and gripping elements (called slips)
that hold the packer in the tubing-casing annulus just
above the producing zone. Since the packer seals off the
space between the tubing and the casing, formation
fluids flowing into the well are forced into and up the
• Another device frequently installed in the tubing string
near the surface is a subsurface safety valve. The
valve remains open as long as fluid flow is normal. When
the valve senses something amiss with the surface
equipment of the well, it closes, preventing the flow of
Well Completion
Source: Dawe, Modern Petroleum Technology, Vol 1, Upstream
Well ready to produce
Source: Berger, Anderson, Modern Petroleum - A Basic Primer of the industry, 3
Tubing and packer
in completed well
Source: Gerding, Fundamentals of Petroleum, 3
• Primary cementing pertains to the initial cementing jobs
performed in conjunction with setting the various casing
strings. It also afford additional support for the casing, and
help retard corrosion.
• Secondary cementing is done after primary cementing,
most often because of some functional failure of the
primary cement job. It may be used to squeeze cement
through perforations, to plug a dry hole, or it may be used
to plug an open zone. Secondary cementing normally
involves the injection under pressure of a slurry into the
porous formation. Secondary cementing is used for:
– Supplement of repair a primary job
– Repair defective casing or improperly place perforations
– Abandon a permanent nonproductive or depleted zone
– Reduce the danger of lost circulation in open hole while drilling deeper
– Isolate a zone before perforating
– Fracture the formation
Casing cementing job
Source: Gerding, Fundamentals of Petroleum, 3
Completion Methods
• Open-hole completion – An open-hole, or barefoot,
completion has no production casing or liner set opposite
the production formation. Instead, reservoir fluids flow
unrestricted into the open wellbore. This type of
completion, which is rarely used and is generally
restricted to limestone reservoirs, is useful where only
one production zone and low-pressure formations exist.
In an open-hole completion, casing is set just above the
pay zone, and drilling proceeds into the production zone
as far as necessary to complete the well. Open-hole
completed wells are usually stimulated by Hydraulic or
acid fracturing.
Open-hole completion
Source: Gerding, Fundamentals of Petroleum, 3
• Perforated completion – The perforated completion, by
the most popular method of completing a well, required a
good cementing job and proper perforating method.
Perforation is the process of piercing the casing wall and
the cement to provide openings through which formation
fluids may enter the wellbore. Perforating is accomplished
by lowering a perforating gun down the production casing
of the tubing until it is opposite the zone to be produced.
The gun is fired to shoot bullets or, more often, to set off
special explosive charges known as shaped charges. A
shaped charge is designed so that an intense, directional
explosion is formed. Because the explosion is actually a
jet of high-energy gases or particles, it is called jet
perforating. If a production liner is used rather than
production casing, the liner is perforated to complete the
Completion Methods
A perforating gun creates holes or perforation in the casing cement
and producing formation and allows fluids to enter the well.
Source: Gerding, Fundamentals of Petroleum, 3
• Another type of completion involves a wire-wrapped
screen, which is a short length of pipe that has openings
in its sides and is wrapped with a specially shaped wire.
One method involves attaching the screen to the bottom
of the tubing string and lowering it into a well that has
been perforated. Usually wire-wrapped screens are run
in conjunction with a gravel pack, i.e. gravel is placed in
the hole outside the screen. Well fluids flow through the
gravel pack, through the wire-wrapped screen, and into
the tubing. Wire-wrapped screen completion are most
often utilised in cases where the producing zone or
zones are likely to produce sand as well as oil and gas.
The screen and gravel pack minimise the entry of sand
into the wellbore, thus preventing problems caused by
Completion Methods
Wire-wrapped screen completion run with a gravel pack
inside the perforated casing
Source: Gerding, Fundamentals of Petroleum, 3
• Tubeless completion – Although most wells are
completed with a tubing, a small-diameter well that uses
small-diameter casing may be completed without the
tubing. The small casing is cemented and perforated
opposite the producing zones. Tubeless completions are
used mostly in small gas reservoirs that produce few, if
any, liquid and are low in pressure.
• Multiple completions – Multiple completions are be
used when one wellbore penetrates two or more
producing zones. Usually, a separate tubing string in
with packers is run inside the production casing for each
producing zone. For example, in a triple completion,
three tubing strings and three packers can be utilized in
a single production string.
Completion Methods
Tubingless completion with no inner tubing string
Source: Gerding, Fundamentals of Petroleum, 3
Multiple completion
Source: Gerding, Fundamentals of Petroleum, 3
• The wellhead is the equipment used to confine and
control the flow of fluids from the well. It forms a seal to
prevent well fluids from blowing out or leaking at the
surface. The conditions expected to be encountered in
the individual well determine the type of wellhead that is
needed. Sometimes, all that is required is a simple
assembly to support the weight of the tubing in the well.
In other cases, the control formation pressure is
necessary, and a high-pressure wellhead is required.
Pressures greater than 20,000 psi have been found in
some fields.
• Basically the wellhead is made up of combination of
parts called casinghead(s), tubing head, and
Christmas tree.
Source: Gerding, Fundamentals of Petroleum, 3
A Christmas tree with valves to control the flow of fluids from the well
Source: Gerding, Fundamentals of Petroleum, 3
• Casinghead – The casinghead is a heavy steel fitting at
the surface to which the casing is attached. During
drilling and workover operations, the casinghead is used
as an anchor for the pressure control equipment that may
be necessary. If several strings of casing are used in the
well, more than one casinghead may be used on a
wellhead assemble.
• Tubing head – Similar in design and use to the
casinghead, the tubing head supports the tubing string,
seals off pressure between the casing and the inside of
tubing, and provides connections at the surface with
which the flowing liquid or gas can be controlled. The
tubing head is supported by the casinghead if a
casinghead is used on the well.
• Christmas Tree – The assembly of control valves,
pressure gauges and chokes located at the top of a well
is known as the Christmas tree, so named because of its
treelike shape, with a large number of fitting branching
out above the wellhead. The valves are opened and
closed to control the flow of oil and gas from the well
after it has been completed. The master valve can shut
off the flow entirely. Also in the Christmas tree is a
choke, or restriction in the line, that control the amount
of fluids flowing from the well. The pressure gauges
reveal casing and tubing pressure. By knowing these
pressures under various operating condition better well
control is possible.
• Swabbing is an operation that temporarily lowers the
fluid level in the well so that it can begin to produce. It is
sometimes necessary if the well does not flow after
• The purpose of swabbing is to swab, or lift, enough fluids
out of the tubing so that the hydrostatic pressure is
reduced to a value below that of the formation pressure.
If it is successful, formation fluid will start to flow
immediately. Swabbing is done with a swab cup, which
picks up fluid in the tubing and raises it to the surface by
means of continuous pull on a cable attached to a
hoisting winch.
• If the well does not begin to produce, it may need to be
stimulated, or a pump may have to be installed as a
permanent lifting device to bring the oil to the surface.
Offshore Completions
• A well completed offshore is much like one on land,
except that a different technique is used to control the
fluids as they grow from the top of the well. The wellhead
valves and fittings may be placed above the surface of
the water (surface completion), or they may be
installed on the seafloor (subsea completion).
• A well drilled from a platform is usually completed with a
Christmas tree on the deck of the platform, while a
subsea completion, the wellhead is located on the
• A wet subsea installation is one installed on the
wellhead, exposed to the surrounding water.
• A dry subsea installation is one housed in a protective
Subsea completion
Source: Gerding, Fundamentals of Petroleum, 3
Well Testing
• A variety of well test are conducted to determine
production rates for oil and gas wells. Each test reveals
certain information about a particular well and the
reservoir in which it is completed. Accuracy is, of course,
very important, and these test data form the case history
of a well.
• Potential test – It is a measurement of the largest
amount of oil and gas that a well will produce in a 24-
hour period under certain fixed conditions. This test is
made on each newly completed well and at other times
during the well’s producing life. Potential test information
is generally required by the state regulatory group, which
uses it to establish the producing allowable for the well.
• Bottomhole pressure test – It measures the reservoir
pressure of the well at a point opposite the producing
formation. The test is usually conducted after the well has
been shut for 24 to 48 hours. When this test is conducted at
scheduled intervals, valuable information about the decline
or depletion of the zone in which the well is producing will be
• Productivity test – It is conducted to determine the effects
of different flow rates on the pressure within the producing
zone of the well. This reveals certain physical characteristics
of the reservoir, and the maximum potential rate of flow can
be calculated without risking the damage that might occur if
the well were produced at its maximum possible flow rate.
The closed-in bottomhole pressure of the well is first
measured. Next the flowing bottomhole pressure at several
stabilised flowrates were measured. This type of testing is
done on both oil and gas wells, and is the most widely
accepted method of determining the capacity of gas wells.

Well Testing