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SPE 94075

Applying New Technology to Optimize Mature Oil and Gas Fields

D.P. Stefanescu, Romgaz, and G. Serrano, K. Wegemer, and W. Stolk, Schlumberger
Copyright 2005, Society of Petroleum Engineers Inc.
This paper was prepared for presentation at the SPE Europec/EAGE Annual Conference held
in Madrid, Spain, 13-16 June 2005.
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Laslau Mare is a gas field developed by Romgaz (an
exploration and production company) 30 years ago. This field
reached its maximum production capacity during 1981, after
which production decline began. In general, innovation costs
in mature oil and gas fields seem high due to the declining
production. It is well known though, that the application of
new technology greatly improves quality, making the high
price well worth the cost. Over a year ago Romgaz and
Schlumberger (an integrated services company) have
developed a new business model where risk and rewards are
shared to overcome these obstacles.

lives, such fields contain resources that are needed worldwide

by the countries they belong to and the world economy. These
brownfields generally are more than 30 years old and account
for 6772% of worlds production1. When compared with
represent the most significant capacity to provide future
production. If the industry is to continue to meet world
demand for cost-effective energy that will fuel economic
growth, it will be essential to optimize current production
and slow the inevitable decline from existing fields.
Many mature fields are being operated using technology put in
place when the field was originally developed. Technologies
routinely applied in new field developments are being ignored
in brownfields, and many of these fields are performing below
their real capacity and require engineering and operational
attention. While increasing asset value through improved
reservoir performance in such fields has been desired for
decades, productivity and recovery results have been difficult
and even impossible to attain because critical tools and
technologies were either not made available or inadequate.

With the only objective of rejuvenating declining gas assets,

Romgaz and Schlumberger built a multidisciplinary field
optimization team. Initially the project took over Laslau Mare
field operations in order to obtain a good base to measure and
quantify success. The multidisciplinary approach started by
identifying the local current technology, equipment and
process and integrated them with new technology to make the
project as cost effective as possible. The result has been the
improvement of the complete system, from reservoir to sand
face to wellbore, to surface/transmission facilities.

Over a year ago Romgaz and Schlumberger joined forces to

improve recovery from a mature gas field. Field development
most broadly embraces multiple objectives increase
maximum production of a field while minimizing capital
expense; reduce the inevitable decline rate of a field while
minimizing operating expense. The collective approach to
meet this objective is application of practical and focused
engineering and geology tied with the introduction of new
technology. Technical studies and permanent monitoring
deliver a self-feeding work program that covers normal field
maintenance and workover operations. The results are proving
that the joined effort and the right focus lead to a success.

During the initial stage, some areas for critical development

were identified. Vital improvement was needed in surface
facilities de-bottlenecking and subsurface data compilation
and analysis. The application of new technologies to such
areas helped identifying new opportunities, which have been a
key factor in the rehabilitation of the field. After 10 months of
constant improving and monitoring, success has been
measured and the project has achieved a 40% altering the
declining slope and stretching the life of the field

In the initial approach to a brownfield redevelopment2, the

level of investment required and the risk associated with
achieving adequate returns can appear irreconsilable. In the
case where the field is quite old, and both the quality and
quantity of data are dated by many technical generations, the
level of information normally used to mitigate the risk is not
available. In the best case it is prohibitive, from both cost and
risk perspectives, to simply reevaluate the entire field and
operation. In the worst case it is impossible.

Brownfields have been defined as mature fields in a state of
declining production or reaching the end of their productive

In Laslau Mare Field, this was one initial problem. The

solution was found in leveraging the existing data by
generating an appropriate amount of new data, correlating to

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existing information, and extrapolating that correlation

throughout the existing data to generate opportunities. In this
task, the experience of the original developer and operator are
The risk associated with the opportunities and work plans
generated from the original data is still high compared to what
could be done with a completely modern information set. To
mitigate the remaining risk, a phased approach to
redevelopment is used. Work programs to exploit the
identified opportunities are ranked in terms of risk and divided
into tiers.
This acknowledges that the data is qualitative and that the
opportunities are ranked, but not quantified. Testing the work
programs by phased execution allows fixing of one end of the
scale and removes risk from future work that is properly
ranked. As work progresses, the projected results become less
qualitative and more quantified. Risk goes down.
The first tier is made up of work with low cost, and
therefore low absolute risk. No further mitigation
before implementation is possible.
The second tier is work that is higher cost, but which
does not depend on detailed technical study to
provide benefit. This would include wellwork and
facilities upgrades for improved productivity.
Projected payouts for work in this phase would be 6
The third, and last, tier is the work that will truly
revitalize the field. This is work for additional
reserves and is based on an understanding of the field
that is gained by measuring results from the first and
second phase work and by long term commitment
and investment.
Laslau Mare gas field is located in the central part of the
Transylvanian Depression 30 km south of Targu Mures (Fig.
1). The gas structure has been considered to be an intra
Carpathian basin, which was being formed between the Upper
Cretaceous and the Pliocene. The Basin has being formed
under compression conditions as an effect of the alpine
pleating and most probably by the moving of indented plates
since the Santonian.
The Laslau Mare Applied Approach
Maturing fields have shown that unlimited capital spending
cannot reverse decline. Then, carefully selected technology
has to be applied with the proper direction to slow, halt or
reverse production decline. The scope of work had been
focused in different and combined areas in order to obtain the
big picture and from there the most efficient results. Our
approach started with the work program provided for the
initial field optimization efforts with details for specific

reservoir, well, and surface data collections to identify and

apply new technologies for enhancing gas production.
Wellbore access for 53 wells were verified prior to
commencing a logging program to evaluate reservoir
properties and wellbore conditions, to increase our knowledge
of the field, and evaluate potential production increases. Also,
databases were initiated to build advanced geologic, reservoir,
well, and surface models mainly form existing logs, new
pressure build-up tests and static surface tests with fluid level
verification. This effort is still continuing and should be
completed by the middle of 2005.
Study and understanting of current conditions and
Artificial lift in place foaming agent.
The primary strength of the original well completion (Fig. 2)
design in Laslau Mare is its simplicity leading to low
maintenance requirements, especially regarding lifting water
from the wells. This design has served well throughout the
majority of the life of the field. However, as the field matures,
the limitations of this design are realized. With the tubing tail
placed below most of the perforations, the wells will be kept
clear of water as long as the gas flow rate remains above the
minimum that is required to provide velocity sufficient to lift
the water to surface. When the rate falls below this level,
water will accumulate. As the tubing tail is below the
perforations, this accumulation will necessarily be in the
tubing rather than in the casing, in a flowing well. This design
requires that the flowing pressure of the well, at the
perforations, is sufficient to depress the water level to the
tubing tail so that a flow path to the tubing tail is established.
Any accumulation in the tubing increases the backpressure on
the well and reduces the flow rate according to the
productivity curve of each individual well. As rate production
decreases, tubing velocity decreases, rate of accumulation
increases, and a cycle has begun that will defeat the well
without intervention. One immediate means to address, and
minimize this accumulation, is the introduction of a foaming
agent to the well, as in Laslau Mare. A detailed investigation
of this process and the corresponding production of the wells
identified a potential for improvement in the coordination of
this program.
It has been identified that the water in the wellbore comes
from condensation of the produced gas. Besides a few
exemptions the water is lifted by the reservoir with the help of
soap sticks. After studying the theory behind and the
composition of the soapsticks we found that the best option
was to optimize the usage of soapsticks for best water lift
results, soap sticks consumption and frequency.
The initial step was to monitor well by well the soap stick
implementation; to do that, after introducing the sticks we
measure the liquid level inside the wellbore the amount of
fluids produced and the pressures daily. Fluids levels are
measured with the help of an acustic gun that generates an

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impulse or sound wave. The wave travels without restriction

until it finds the fluid level and goes back to the surface. The
systems microphone records the the wave on its way back and
by measuring the traveling time of the sound wave inside a
specific gas gravity or composition we are able to obtain the
distance from the surface to the liquid level. The result
delivered a dinamic soapstick program that changes when the
well changes. By monitoring closely the water lifted we have
been able to identify the need for a diffent artificial lift option.
In two wells, plunger lift has already been identified as the
most economical and efficient option.
Generally, the wells in Laslau Mare field are completed with
the tubing strings hung off in the wells below the current
perforations and very close to the wells plug-back depth for
the purposes of dewatering condensed water vapor. Most of
the wells in the field are more than 20 years old therefore all
well work carried out aimed to address four main issues that
are common in old gas fields: wellbore integrity, completion
efficiency, safety, and adding production and pressure
monitoring capabilities for maximum enhanced recovery.
Firstly the well integrity aspect is addressed by verifying the
casing, tubing and cement conditions before any re-completion
work is carried out to ensure complete integrity and success of
the planned work. The work involved includes comparing past
versus actual conditions, and determining the possible causes
and effects of the changes on the new completion plans. For
this, a series of downhole sonic (CBL-VDL), ultrasonic
(USITTM), mechanical logging tools (PMITTM) and topend
analysis software (Interactive PetrophysicsTM) are used. The
most common problems found were and are bad cement, no
isolation between pay zones, plugged perforations and casing
Since the majority of the gas wells in Brownfields were drilled
and completed using old techniques and technologies that
created high formation damage in the near by wellbore area,
reduced the efficiency of the completion and limited the
production capacity and finally decreased the recoverable
reserves. To address this issue, fit for purpose perforating
techniques and new technologies have been utilized. One that
has proven effective is perforating through tubing and under
underbalanced and producing conditions with bigger, deep
penetrating and higher density shots per foot guns systems like
the Schlumberger 2 HSDTM PowerJetTM 6 shot per foot gun.
This gun system double or triples the shots per foot and
penetrates 2 to 3 times further into the formation than previous
gun systems used, reducing the pressure drop across the
perforations and maximizing the production. Some of the most
recent results show production increases on the range of two to
three fold from re-perforating old intervals.
Another technique used is the utilization of processed and
tested formation friendly completion fluids that reduce the
formation damage, like permeability reduction and water
blocking, commonly seen damages in low-pressure gas
reservoirs. So proper and up to date analysis needs to be done

to ensure the selection of the most effective damage

prevention completion fluids.
The new completion equipment installed in the wells allows
safer access, pressure and zones contribution monitoring
capabilities, allocation and performance evaluation required
for the accurate reservoir management and field redevelopment planning. Most of the monitoring is done through
the utilization of modern surface and downhole production
logging tools that accurately measure gas and water rates,
pressure and temperarture; parameters required for proper
reservoir modeling. Which in the case of the Laslau Mare field
reservoirs thin nature and complexity proved to be extremely
Facilities setup and facilities debottlenecking
The surface facilities in Laslau Mare are robust and well
maintained. These facilities feature the same primary design
advantage as the well completions. The facilities operate
reliably with a minimum of maintenance and therefore a
minimum level of interruption to well production.
Correspondingly, however, they feature the same primary
limitation as the completions, less flexibility to accommodate
changing production conditions as the field transitions to
The current facilities include 5 collection groups. At the
group, each well goes through individual underground
separators where free water is separated. Then, all the gas is
gathered into a silicon gel drying station where the remaining
water vapor is removed. A schematic of the field laydown is
shown in Fig. 3.
The first step in understanding the facilities is to introduce
new ways to utilize computer-based facility modeling
technology. While well and field information was gathered an
individual profile of the pipelines was generated, see Fig. 4,
this step not only helped finding critical waterholding points,
but delivered information to feed into a full pipeline and
facilities simulation modelWith this modeling software, the
productivity characteristics of each well and the physical
characteristics of the facilities are described in a virtual
Once this is done, simulations of an unlimited number of
different conditions can be made and compared. Comparing
these results to actual measured system responses identifies
anomalies and highlights inconsistencies. Investigation of
these issues leads to more informed engineering and to designs
that will improve the system Once the model was build the
bottlenecks were easily identified in the field and removed or
modified.. The model will be used again following the design
phase to estimate the performance improvement that a specific
design will generate. This will allow economic analysis to be
performed and constant field rates and pressures monitoring
feeds the defined model which helps predict new facilities
upgrades when required.

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Without taking a well off production, a pulsed neutron log is

acquired with the RSTTM Reservoir Saturation Tool while the
well is flowing. The depth of investigation of this tool is deep
enough to detect gas in the formation even with the tool inside
production tubing.

their stratigraphic complexities from 104 separately identified

co-relatable zones, the task becomes enormous. The multiple
log curves from 70 logs needed to be digitized, spliced, depth
shifted, scaled, standardized, transformed to western-styled
logs, and then correlated with the modern logs to develop
transforms for the propagation of reservoir properties across
the field. A multitude of software and hardware is being
utilized to accomplish this task. Our modeling efforts to
describe the complex stratigraphy, will allow the creation of a
FDP proposal by July 2005 and employ the fit-for-purpose
technologies necessary to develop by-passed, poorly
developed areas of the field.

An empirical gas index has been developed that responds to

the gas filled pore space in the formation (Fig. 5). Further
refinement has been made to decouple the gas index from
changing well bore fluids (water-gas). For producing
formations of similar pressures and permeabilities, a pseudoflow profile derived from the gas index has proven to match
actual flow profiles.

The current geoscience and petrophysics work program

addresses three issues: 1) reevaluation of original gas in
place; 2) identification of new reserves to increase longevity
of the field; and 3) better delineation of sand-body geometries
relative to reservoir property distribution to optimally target
productive intervals. All of these efforts, of course, are
related. This work program is ongoing.

Logging inside tubing and casing has several significant

impacts on reducing operations costs:

No previous geological model for depositional sand-body

geometries and detailed reservoir properties distribution exists
for the Miocene (Badenian through Sarmatian) sandstone
reservoirs of Laslau Mare field. Previous estimates of initial
gas volumes and reserves were based on assumptions of
average sand (pay) thickness and single values for properties
(porosity, saturation, etc.), distributed across the field. These
determinations typically were made on reservoir intervals that
encompassed multiple depositional reservoir units. An update
of original in-place volume and reserves estimates is key to the
long-term development of Laslau Mare field. Identification of
new reserves is crucial to extended production from Laslau
Mare field.

Efficiently targeting bypassed or undeveloped reserves

Techniques have been developed for reducing operations costs
by logging inside tubing and casing to identify zones where
gas production can be increased. The project team has
successfully applied these techniques to improve the gas
production on the mature Laslau Mare gas field.

Tubing does not have to be pulled, so no rig is

Well is not taken off production
Analysis and evaluation of the logs are made without
mobilizing a rig
Efficient target selection for perforating is made
before the rig arrives
Objectives of the workover are well defined, so the
operations are more efficient, resulting in minimum
soak time of workover fluid into the formation that
makes post-operations cleanup much easier

Reservoir and Geology Reevaluation

One the projects greatest uncertainties that could possibly
generate its largest reward is the reservoir characterization
(porosity, water saturation, permeability, net pay, depositional
environment for sand body distribution, complex stratigraphy,
etc.), both areally and vertically, to identify field opportunities
to pursue in addition to the surface facility and individual well
work opportunities.

Gross sandstone thickness determined for previous original,

in-place gas estimates certainly are within the bounds of
reasonable accuracy even through the specifics of sand-body
geometry have not been defined. However, vertical and lateral
variation of reservoir properties related to facies distributions
within these reservoir bodies is of tremendous significance,
both for original, in-place volumes and reserves determination
and for optimal field development. This aspect has not been
rigorously considered, previously. Subtle reserves, such as
those that reside in thin beds, may have been completely
overlooked in the past. New reserves, such as these, are best
recognized by a program of new technology application and
geological/engineering modeling of the field in four
dimensions (including time).

In order to fulfill the unknown and mitigate the risk, another

technical innovation has been implemented in the reservoir
modeling itself to understand the reservoir and identify new
The existing reservoir descriptions were
developed using Eastern European logs from 30 years ago. It
takes tremendous amount of dedicated time and patience to
develop a new geologic model using old data combined with
new data and to extrapolate the resulting correlations for
reservoir properties across the field. When this is combined
with the 1200 to 1800 meters of sand-shale sequences and

Compartmentalization of reservoirs is an important

consideration in evaluating the field because, if compartments
exist, they may contain near-original (or higher) pressures than
the surrounding reservoir, thus providing untapped reserves.
With the evaluation to date, structural compartmentalization of
the reservoir by sealing faults appears to be of limited
importance in Laslau Mare field.
The presence of
stratigraphic compartmentalization is still under evaluation.
Preliminary modeling of gross intervals indicates
heterogeneity and discontinuity of sand bodies (Fig. 6).

The development and application of these techniques have

been made possible by the Romgaz-Schlumberger alliance to
optimize the gas recovery from the mature Laslau Mare field
in Romania.

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New material-balance gas-in-place calculations have been

done for the project and are equivalent to volumetric originalgas-in-place presented previously by Romgaz. Materialbalance determinations generally are lower than volumetric
gas-in-place, suggesting that actual original gas in place is
higher than previously recognized.
Pressures recently
measured from new well tests are higher than previously
recognized, again suggesting gas-in-place is higher than
initially thought. Thus, a reevaluation of volumetric initial gasin-place and reserves is in order.
In order to accomplish this reevaluation of reserves and to
develop a long-term field-development plan, a program of new
technology application, petrophysical and geological
evaluation, and computer modeling was initiated. This
program is in progress, with results regarding in-place
volumes and reserves to be finalized in mid-2005.
One uncertainly relative to volumetric gas in place is the
structural configuration of Laslau Mare field. Although the
overall structure of the field is simple, the nature of the eastern
boundary of Laslau Mare field is not well constrained. There
is a gap in well control (and only one seismic line) between
the easternmost wells of Laslau Mare field and wells in the
southwestern part of a neightbor field. The previous structure
maps for Laslau Mare field indicate a narrow, north-trending
structural low between Laslau Mare and Its neightbor fields
(Fig. 7). In this structural model, the structural dip for the
eastern end of the field is drawn to match what is observed in
areas of more well control in other parts of the field. However,
this is not the only possible way to draw the structure map.
The easternmost wells in Laslau Mare field are at the same
TVDSS as the westernmost wells in its neightbor field. This
would allow continuation of the Laslau Mare structure into its
neightbor field. This scenario implies no barrier between the
two fields, and certainly would result in an increase in
volumetric original gas in place.
However, if separation of the two fields is proven, another
scenario still exists that would result in higher volumetric,
original, in-place gas. The narrow structural low between
Laslau Mare and Its neightbor fields shown on the previous
structural maps could be suggestive of the presence of a fault.
The single seismic line through this area, though of low
quality, suggests that this could be reasonable. The trend of
this feature extrapolates northward to the western boundary of
its neightbor field, which also supports the possible presence
of a fault. At present, we do not have a sufficient data set to
confirm this scenario because we are not familiar with the
details of its neightbor field. However, if this scenario is
shown to be the case, the structure map of Laslau Mare field
would have to be modified so that structure contours would
then truncate against this fault. An effect of this modification
of the structure map would be an increase in the original gasin-place volume. Of course, if this proves to be a likely
scenario, the sealing or transmissibility character of the fault
would have to be considered.

Because of issues, such as the uncertainty of the eastern

boundary of Laslau Mare field, a program of new seismic
acquisition (and possible reprocessing of existing seismic
data) is under consideration. Acquisition of these new data
also would provide an improved view of internal structures
within the field that currently are unrecognized. Importantly,
new, high-resolution seismic data would provide much
improved understanding of the deeper reservoir intervals,
which have fewer well penetrations.
Probably the best way to show the results is by observing our
projects production chart (Fig. 8). In there times are clearly
defined and includes:
Contract signing
Work start date
Wellwork began
Artificial lift and well optimization began
Facilities debottlenecking began
The last period of the chart shows the production goal for the
months to come at the time this paper was written.
Short-term production goals are often achieved at the
cost of high decline rates. Over the long term, a
sustainable production plateau is sought. The greatest
technology challenge is preparing for and enabling
management of decline in the short term while
increasing recovery factors in the longer term.
This work is still continuing and our interpretations
are being refined with time. Our data collection and
initial evaluation should be completed by the middle
of 2005. The ultimate goal is to obtain better reserve
estimates as well as increased production and
validation that the increased production is
sustainable. The test of our interpretations will occur
when new reserves and sustained incremental
production are demonstrated with enhancement
As of the end of October 2004, our initial
interpretation directionally show that remaining
reserves have increased by 60+% over previous
estimates and production by 62% of the fields
baseline production curves or equivalent to 38% of
total field production.
The sucesss of this project or similar ones is based in
the mutual collaboration between the parties. Having
them oriented with the same focus and the same goals
is what makes the difference.

SPE 94075

The authors thank the management of S.N.G.N.
Romgaz S.A. and Schlumberger for the permission to
publish this paper.
The authors also like to thank the collaboration of
Lucian Stancu and Emil Varvara from Romgaz, Rick
Baggot and Frank Thompson from Schlumberger for
their input in this paper

Fig. 1 Laslau Mare Field Location

1. M.J. Economides, A.S. Demarchos, L. Saputelli,
University of Houston, Energy Sources and Energy
Intensity for the Twenty-First Century SPE 77736

B. Wongnapapsian, S. Flew, SPE, F. Boyd, SPE,

Schlumberger, and Z. Hassan, SPE, PETRONAS
Carigali Sdn Bhd, Optimising Brown Field
Redevelopment Options Using a Decision Risk
Assessment: Case Study Bokor Field, Malaysia
SPE 87047

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Fig 2 Wellbore schematic in place

Fig. 3 Laslau Mare

Field Laydown

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Fig. 4 Pipeline Profile Sample

Fig. 5 Reservoir Saturation Tool Through Tubing

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Fig. 6 Heterogeneity and Discontinuity of Sand bodies in

Laslau Mare Field

Fig. 7 North-Trending Laslau Mare Field Structure


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Fig. 8 Laslau Mare Production Performance