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3D Geomechanical Modeling Optimizes Drilling

in the Llanos Orientales Basin, Colombia

Drilling in tectonically active areas Suria fields in that every well has shown with a mud weight lower than the
involves nonproductive time (NPT) clear evidence of wellbore instability, fracture gradient was a clear indication
related to wellbore-stability problems as modest-to-severe hole enlargement that the stress regime in the field has
that are very difficult to predict with- and related problems such as tight hole a maximum horizontal stress that is
out a clear understanding of the local- and stuck pipe. In extreme situations, higher than the vertical (overburden)
and regional-stress magnitude and some wells with high inclinations had stress. Also, significant horizontal-stress
orientation and their effect on well- to be sidetracked to reach target depth, anisotropy must be present.
bore trajectory. To optimize drilling not allowing wireline-logging tools to A comprehensive analysis of all image
by eliminating the wellbore-instability be run. data available for the project resulted in
NPT, a 3D geomechanical model was To understand such a challenging very good information to constrain the
built that integrates the geological drilling scenario and to make appropri- direction and magnitude of horizontal
structural model with relevant well ate changes in drilling practice to reduce stresses. The first step in building the
information such as wireline-logging the NPT, a 3D geomechanical model geomechanical model was to compute
data and drilling reports. A new drill- was built by use of structural geologi- the vertical stress SV. The main sources
ing campaign used the 3D model for cal description and information from of data used were density and sonic
wellbore-stability analysis, and the more than 40 wells drilled in the area. logs. Because the wells have an over-
results showed that the associated Wireline-logging and borehole-image gauged condition, the best combination
geomechanical risks to drill the wells data and daily drilling reports were of density and pseudodensity was used
have been addressed properly, with a sources of information to constrain the to calculate the overburden. One of the
much better drilling experience. orientation and magnitude of local in- most critical, and most important, steps
situ stresses and pore pressure. The rock was to constrain the pore-pressure pro-
Introduction mechanical properties were calculated file. It is not uncommon to determine
The Llanos Orientales basin, in the by use of logging-based equations cali- pore-pressure profiles in uplifted areas,
northern Andes of Colombia, is affect- brated with laboratory-test results. such as the Andes foothills, by use of
ed by light but complex deformation. trend-line methods. The main mistake
Wellbore stability is a concern in the 1D Geomechanical Models with these methods is misunderstand-
area, and it is part of well planning. Individual 1D models for wells in the ing applicability (reliable results are
Ecopetrol S.A. has dealt with this prob- project were very useful in understand- generated only when the overpressure-
lem for the last 20 years in the Apiay- ing lateral variation across the area of generating mechanism is subcompac-
interest and in confirming features that tion). Manipulating the fitting expo-
This article, written by Senior Technology might exist in one formation but not in nents only forces a value for overpres-
Editor Dennis Denney, contains high- another. Because the area has many geo- sure that seems to be the main cause of
lights of paper SPE 138752, Drilling logical faults, an important aspect was instability problems; however, it can be
Optimization Using 3D Geomechanical selecting and analyzing wells close to extremely dangerous if the rock is not
Modeling in the Llanos Orientales Basin, and far away from the main geological overpressured, as is the case with the
Colombia, by Ewerton Araujo, SPE, faults. This work verified whether the Leon formation in the area studied in
and Rene Alcalde, GeoMechanics current stress state contributed to reac- this project.
International; Darwin Mateus, SPE, tivation of the faults, which can affect Throughout the Leon formation, the
Instituto Colombiano del Petroleo; Fermn wellbore stability when drilling nearby sonic and resistivity logs deviate from
Fernandez-Ibaez, Judith Sheridan, or when crossing them. An extensive the normal-compaction trend, but the
Chris Ward, SPE, Martin Brudy, and analysis of available image data was density log does not. The reason is that
Jose Alvarellos, SPE, GeoMechanics performed to identify drilling-induced the sonic and resistivity logs measure
International; and Luz Yamile Ordonez failures (i.e., breakouts and fractures) at conductivity properties and these logs
and Felipe Cardona, Ecopetrol S.A., the borehole wall, which was very useful are affected by natural fractures that
prepared for the 2010 SPE Latin American information to constrain the orientation exist in the rock before drilling or even
& Caribbean Petroleum Engineering Con- and magnitude of in-situ stresses. A by microfractures generated by shearing
ference, Lima, Peru, 13 December. The drilling-induced fracture that was gen- (borehole collapse). Density, however,
paper has not been peer reviewed. erated in a near-vertical well drilled is an index property of the rock and is

For a limited time, the full-length paper is available free to SPE members at


Density Overburden Sv


Pore pressure

Stress model
Water tight SHmax azimuth SHmax azimuth
Image data SHmax
Stratigraphic ESR
model SHmin


Grid Populating

Well data Seismic Fault seal stability

Fig. 13D-Geomechanical-model workflow. QC=quality control, ESR=effective-stress ratio.

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beginning 30 October 2011.


not affected much by the presence of Fig. 1 was followed to build the 3D the wellbore stability can be addressed
fractures. To constrain the minimum- geomechanical model. A combination by loading the well survey into the 3D
horizontal-stress SHmin magnitude, all of the geological-structural model and cubes and then extracting the input
fracturing tests were analyzed including well data was the basic source used to data along the well path that are needed
leakoff tests, formation-integrity tests, build the model. For wellbore-stability for the analysis. The analysis enables
minifracs, and hydraulic-fracturing tests. analysis, the most-troubling forma- determining safe mud-weight windows
This method provided a lower bound, tions (e.g., Leon formation) received a to drill the well, and it pinpoints criti-
given by the closure-pressure values in higher level of discretization (number cal depths that are prone to instabil-
the hydraulic-fracturing tests, that was of elements) in the grid to capture criti- ity. One of the main outcomes of the
used as a safety margin when preventing cal variations in the unconfined com- wellbore-stability analysis was that the
lost circulation. The rock mechanical pressive strength (UCS), for example. mud weight that was recommended by
properties were calculated by calibrating Thereafter, the wireline-log data from the model was in very good agreement
published log-based strength-parameter each offset well were imported honor- with the actual mud weight used to drill
correlations with laboratory-test values. ing individual geological formations, a new well in the area. The mud weight
The last step of building the 1D geo- which ensure that well data are popu- was selected with no advice from the
mechanical model was estimating of lated properly into the 3D model, tak- 3D geomechanical model because the
maximum-horizontal-stress SHmax mag- ing into account formation-depth and project was just beginning. However,
nitude. The Brazilian tests carried out by -thickness variation across the field. the well was drilled in less than half the
the Instituto Colombiano del Petroleo After log data from all the wells were average time required to drill previous
were available and used to constrain the imported, a geostatistical approach was wells in the area. Comparing the results
tensile strength of the rocks. By combin- used to populate the grid and obtain a of the project with the drilling experi-
ing those data with the stress-polygon 3D description of data, such as sonic ence of that well verified that the mud
theory and tensile fractures observed in and density. It was possible to use weight used was in very good agree-
the image data, it was possible to obtain seismic data as cokriging data to help ment with that recommended by the
a range for SHmax magnitude. populate the grid and capture lateral 3D geomechanical model and wellbore-
variations, mainly in regions where well stability analysis, confirming that most
3D Geomechanical Model information was not abundant. To qual- of the NPT experienced in the past was
After individual 1D geomechanical ity control the 3D-grid population with related mostly to geomechanics.
models were ready for each of the cor- log data, a comparison was made of
relation wells, the workflow shown in synthetic density and sonic information Conclusions
with real data from two wells that were The 3D geomechanical model applied
not used to populate the grid. Results to wellbore-stability analysis in the
showed that the geostatistical approach Apiay-Suria area showed the following.
used to populate the 3D grid achieved The stress regime is strike-slip with
a very high reliability to reproduce real the maximum horizontal stress much
data expected at any new well location higher than the overburden.
across the studied area. Following the The main wellbore instability
same geostatistical approach, the rock mechanism in the area is the high stress
mechanical and elastic properties were contrast rather than pore pressure,
populated into the 3D volume along which showed signs of overpressure at
with properties such as maximum-stress some depths.
orientation from the image analysis. Because of the complex geological
Then, the vertical stress (overburden) history of the basin, pore-pressure esti-
was calculated by integrating the 3D mation by use of normal compaction-
density cube with depth. Because sub- trend lines was not straightforward.
compaction was not the driving mecha- The mud weight used in past wells
nism of overpressure generation in the was too low, leading to severe hole
area, the 3D pore pressure also was cal- instability, mainly when drilling the
culated by use of geostatistical methods weak shales in the lithological column.
for the individual pore-pressure pro- Wells drilled in the direction of the
files from the correlation wells, always minimum horizontal stress required
honoring the different formations in the highest mud weights to maintain
Now Available the lithological column. Eventually, the
horizontal stresses were calculated by
borehole stability.
The mud weight recommended by
use of effective-stress ratios. In this man- the 3D geomechanical model and the
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ner, a 3D distribution of every prop- wellbore-stability analysis was in very
current and past print issues. erty of the geomechanical model was good agreement with the actual mud
obtained (e.g., the rock UCS). weight used to drill a recent well in
Search Journal of Petroleum half of the time required for other wells
Technology in the Apple AppStore. Wellbore-Stability Analysis drilled in the area, which is the best indi-
The 3D geomechanical model will be cation that most of NPT was associated
used to plan future well trajectories, and with borehole-instability problems. JPT