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Fluid Selection and

Damage Identification
Introduction
Damage is anything that obstructs the normal flow of fluids to the surface; it may appear in the
formation, perforations, lift system and tubulars or as restrictions along the flow path. Formation
damage specifically refers to obstructions in the near-wellbore region of the rock matrix.
Correctly identifying an obstruction to the flow is critical to its successful removal.
The type of fluid used in a treatment often depends on the damage being addressed. Acids can
be used when plugging is a problem, but solvents are used for organic deposits. In sandstone
reservoirs, knowing the damage mechanism is especially important, because the damage must
be removed to regain matrix permeability. In carbonate rocks, damage identification is less crit-
ical, because new flow channels are created to bypass the damage.
Not all types of damage require a removal treatment. Some types will clean up during pro-
duction. Some production impairments are misconstrued as damage when they are actually the
result of poor well design and can be remedied with operational changes. Although a matrix
treatment focuses on treating the rock matrix, the chemicals can also treat damage in the well-
bore tubulars or in the gravel pack.

Hurdles to accurate damage identification


The basics of formation damage are well documented. Both Krueger (1986) and Porter (1989)
emphasize the need for understanding the total chemical and physical picture of the reservoir
and its fluids. In particular, knowledge of the clay mineralogy and the ion exchange reactions
that affect the clays physical structure is significant for understanding how damage occurs in
sandstone formations.
However, correctly classifying damage requires more than understanding the chemistry and
the physics of downhole reactions. A thorough knowledge of the wells history and the field oper-
ating conditions is essential. The engineer must not only know what occurred during drilling,
completion and any workover operations but also must be familiar with the production and reser-
voir pressure history, including any pressure maintenance operations. Understanding when the
damage occurred can often lead to correctly determining the type of damage.
In reality, however, there are many hurdles to formation damage identification. Many wells
are poorly documented with little data about past procedures and even less information on fluids.
While mud type is usually listed, there may be no record of the mud additives. Although high-pH
cement filtrates can be damaging, the well history may not show if, or how much of, this fluid was
lost to the formation during casing operations. The source of the water used in well or waterflood
operations is often unavailable, and it is unusual to have production or injection profiles or
accurate downhole pressure data.
Typically, reservoir characterization is done on a fieldwide basis, and core or fluid analyses for
a specific well may not be available. To make good decisions about well treatment, field study
reports or offset well files must be examined to find the necessary information about mineralogy,
clay characterization, formation fluid analyses and permeability heterogeneities. This is impor-
tant in both damage identification and fluid selection.

Fluid Selection Guide for Matrix Treatments Fluid Selection and Damage Identification 5
Damage identification
Damage is described by two important parameters: composition and location. Composition is
important because, to some extent, it determines the fluid used for dissolution. Location is impor-
tant because the treating fluid contacts several other substrates, e.g., rust from tubular goods or
carbonate cementing material from the formation, before it reaches the damage. Unspent fluids
must reach the damaged rock for the treatment to be effective. Proper diversion techniques may
be necessary to ensure that the fluid contacts the entire treatment interval. Figure 3-1 shows typ-
ical damage examples and their locations.
A sharper than expected decline in production or injection is often the first sign of a problem
with a well. Diagnostic tests, like pressure buildups or drawdowns, can quantify the extent of the
damage as a pressure drop resulting from skin. A production system analysis can then determine
if the skin is due to mechanical damage or true formation damage. Production logging can deter-
mine the physical extent of the problem by showing if, and at what rate, all expected intervals
are producing. Such tests provide valuable information for optimizing the treatment and evalu-
ating its results.

Tubing Gravel pack Perforations Formation


Scales

Organic deposits

Silicates, aluminosilicates

Emulsions

Water blocks

Wettability changes

Figure 3-1. Locations of various types of damage.

Types of damage
Formation damage is typically categorized as either natural or induced. Natural damages occur
primarily as a result of producing the reservoir fluid. Induced damages result from an external
operation on the well, such as drilling, well completion, repair, stimulation treatment or injection
operation. In addition, some, induced damages, completion operations or design problems can
also trigger natural damage mechanisms.
Natural damages include fines migration, swelling clays, water-formed scales, organic
deposits, like paraffins or asphaltenes, and mixed organic and inorganic deposits. Induced dam-
ages include plugging, caused by entrained particles such as solids or polymers in injected fluids;
wettability changes, caused by injected fluids or oil-base drilling fluids; emulsions, precipitates
or sludges, caused by acid reactions, bacteria and water blocks.

6 Fluid Selection Guide for Matrix Treatments


Fines migration
Particles suspended in the produced fluid can bridge across the pore throats in the near-wellbore
region and reduce the well productivity. When these damaging particles come from the reservoir
rock, they are referred to as fines. Migrating fines can be a variety of different materials, includ-
ing clays (phyllosilicates with a typical size less than 4 mm) and silts (silicates or aluminosili-
cates with sizes ranging from 4 to 64 mm). Kaolinite and illite are the more common migratory
clays. Table 3-1 lists the major components of various clays and fines particles. The table also lists
the surface area of the clays, one of the indicators of how quickly the clay can react (Davies,
1978). Damage from fines is located within a 3- to 5-ft radius of the near-wellbore area and can
also occur in a gravel pack.

Table 3-1. Major components of various clay and fines particles


Particle Mineralogy Major Components Specific Area (m2/g)
Quartz Si, O <0.1 cm2/g

Feldspar Si, Al, O, K, Na, Ca Few

Kaolinite Al, Si, O, H 1530

Chlorite Mg, Fe, Al, Si, O, H 60

Illite K, Al, Si, O, H 113

Smectite (montmorillonite) Na, Mg, Ca, Al, Si, O, H 82

Clay swelling
Changes in formation permeability resulting from the alteration of clay can be due to dispersion
or swelling triggered by ion exchange or salinity dropping below the critical salt concentration.
The most common swelling clays are smectite and smectite mixtures. Smectite can increase its
volume up to 600% by taking water into its structure. This swelling can significantly reduce per-
meability. If smectite clay occupies only the smaller pore throats and passages, it will not be a
serious problem. However, if it occupies the larger pores, especially the pore throats, then it is
capable of creating an almost impermeable barrier to flow.
The total quantity of clay inside the formation does not indicate the potential for formation
damage. The structure of the clay, its chemical state at the moment of contact and the location
of the clay with respect to the flowing fluids are the factors responsible for changes that can
cause damage. This means that predicting the response of in-situ clay to fluid moving in the rock
is almost impossible without testing.
Clay swelling sandstones have been well documented in papers by Azari and Leimkuhler,
1988; Jones, 1964; Khilar and Fogler, 1983; Mungan, 1968; Sharma et al., 1985; and Priisolm et al.,
1987. Clay chemistry and reactions not only affect damage mechanisms, but also have a large
influence on fluid selection. The chapter on sandstone acidizing provides a more detailed dis-
cussion of clays.

Scales
Scale deposits are among the most common and most troublesome damage problems. Scales are
water-soluble chemicals that precipitate out of solution from either a temperature or pressure
change or from mixing incompatible waters. The most common oilfield scales are calcium car-
bonate (CaCO3) calcium sulfate (CaSO4) and barium sulfate (BaSO4). They can be present in the
tubing, the perforations or the formation and can occur in both production and injection wells,
as long as water is present.

Fluid Selection and Damage Identification 7


Scale forms when the solution equilibrium of the water is upset. Scale deposition is influenced
by anything that upsets the solution equilibrium: pressure drop, temperature, dissolved gases,
flow viscosity, nucleation sites and metal type. As the fluids move from the reservoir to the sur-
face, temperature changes can upset the equilibrium. In-situ water, which is stable under reser-
voir conditions, may become supersaturated with an ion when the pressure decreases, which
allows carbon dioxide (CO2) outgassing. The supersaturated solutions react by precipitating a
compound from solution.
Scales can also form by mixing incompatible waters. The water used in an injection operation
will mix with the reservoir water. The waters are incompatible if precipitation occurs when they
are mixed. All water used in well operations can be potential scale sources, not just water
injected in secondary waterflood operations. Filtrate from completion or workover fluids, as
well as treating fluids, must also be compatible with the formation waters. Seawater, which is
sometimes used for injection into offshore wells, typically contains traces of barium that could
react with the reservoir water to form detrimental precipitates. The risks associated with water
incompatibility should always be considered and accepted before injecting seawater in a well
operation.
The Scale Prediction module in the StimCADE design program is one of the computer pro-
grams available that model water mixing to show potential precipitates. To prevent scale dam-
age, the program should be used before the fluid is mixed and injected into the well. It can also
be used after water injection to help identify scale sources.
When designing a scale removal treatment, contact time is a very important factor because
sufficient time must be allowed for the treating fluid to reach and effectively dissolve the bulk of
the scale material. When treating some types of slow dissolving scales, shutting in the well to
allow the treatment to soak may be required.
Common scales encountered in wells include to following:
Calcium carbonate, or calcite (CaCO3), is usually formed when the pressure is reduced on
waters that are rich in calcium and bicarbonate ion. The deposition can be affected by CO2
outgassing, which raises the pH value and makes high concentrations of calcium unstable.
Gypsum, or gyp, may be the most common sulfate scale in the oil industry (Cowen and
Weintritt, 1976). With a chemical structure of CaSO4 2H2O, it shares a similar composition to
the hemihydrate CaSO4 12 H2O, commonly called plaster of Paris or bassonite, its mineral
name. It also has the same chemical formula as the evaporite mineral anhydrite (CaSO4).
Barium sulfate (BaSO4) is a less common form of sulfate deposit, but it causes extensive prob-
lems. Almost any combination of barium and sulfate ions causes a precipitate that is difficult
to remove. Normal solvents do not affect it unless it is finely ground, or the structure is inter-
rupted with impurities such as carbonate scale.
Like calcium sulfate, barium sulfate is usually thought to be a product of mixing incompat-
ible waters with precipitation accelerated by pressure drop, outgassing or turbulence. Some
barium sulfate is radioactive. It is one of the naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM)
scales. The radioactivity results from a concentration of uranium in the lattice of the scale.
The buildup of radioactive scale can be monitored using a gamma ray logging tool. When ana-
lyzing well debris, care must be exercised to avoid mislabeling barite (BaSO4) from drilling
mud residue as barium sulfate scale.
Strontium sulfate or celestite (SrSO4) is a common substitute in the barium sulfate crystal
lattice. Strontium scale can also be associated with radioactive scale (NORM). It may be more
soluble than barium sulfate in chemical remover systems.
Iron scales, such as iron carbonate and iron sulfide, are more difficult to remove than calcite
scales. They are usually seen in wells that have both a high background iron count and a ten-
dency to precipitate calcium carbonate. Iron sulfide scales react according to their structure.
Seven different forms of iron sulfide scale have been identified, and only two of these forms
are readily soluble in hydrochloric acid (HCl). The remaining iron sulfide scales are either
slowly soluble or not significantly soluble.

8 Fluid Selection Guide for Matrix Treatments


Chloride scales, such as sodium chloride (NaCl) precipitation that is caused by temperature
decrease or evaporation of the water, are common. There is no effective prevention for salt
precipitation. Salt has a limited solubility in acid (14 lbm/gal in 28% HCl), so acid is not gen-
erally considered as a treating fluid. Cleanup is typically accomplished using only water.
Redesigning the mechanical system to avoid temperature loss and water evaporation can help
prevent chloride scales.
Silica scales generally occur as finely crystallized deposits of chalcedony or as amorphous opal.
They are associated with alkaline or steamflood projects and stem from the dissolution of
siliceous formation minerals by high-pH fluids (Lieu et al., 1983) or high-temperature steam
condensates (Reed, 1980; Amaefule et al., 1984). This dissolution can cause poorly consoli-
dated sandstones to collapse or silica to reprecipitate at a distance from the wellbore where
either the floods alkalinity or temperature or both has decreased.

Organic deposits
Organic deposits are heavy hydrocarbons (paraffins or asphaltenes) that precipitate as the pres-
sure or temperature is reduced. This is a form of distillation. The deposits are typically located in
the tubing, perforations or formation. Although the formation mechanisms of organic deposits
are both numerous and complex (Houchin and Hudson, 1986), the main mechanism is a change
in either temperature or pressure in the flowing system. Cooling of the wellbore or the injection
of cold treating fluids has a pronounced effect on the formation of these deposits.

Paraffins
Paraffins are straight-chain hydrocarbons composed of only carbon and hydrogen. Solid paraffin
deposits consist of molecules with 16 to more than 60 carbon atoms. Paraffin deposition is a crys-
tallization reaction that is triggered by a loss of pressure, temperature or light ends (the short-
chain hydrocarbon compounds in the crude).
Although paraffins can form anywhere in the well (Cole and Jessen, 1960; Burger et al., 1981;
Newberry, et al., 1986; Thomas, 1988; Sutton and Roberts, 1974), they are usually found in the tub-
ing near the surface, where the temperature and pressure drops are the highest. They can form
at the perforations or in the reservoir matrix in cases where the reservoir pressure is nearly
depleted, or the formation has experienced dry gas cycling. Paraffins can also be precipitated by
the injection of a cool fluid. In many wells, this may contribute to slow cleanup after stimulation.

Asphaltenes
Asphaltenes are organic materials consisting of aromatic and naphthenic ring compounds con-
taining nitrogen, sulfur and oxygen molecules (Leontaritus, 1989; Leontaritus and Mansoori,
1987; Tuttle, 1983; Newberry and Barker, 1985; Addison, 1989; Thawer, et al., 1990). The asphal-
tene fraction of crude is defined as the organic part of the oil that is not soluble in a straight-
chain solvent, such as pentane or heptane. They exist as a colloidal suspension stabilized by
maltene resin molecules in the oil. Maltenes are condensed polynuclear-aromatic ring systems
(pyrrole and indoles) with alkyl or naphthenic side chains.
The stability of asphaltic dispersions depends on the ratio of resin to asphaltene molecules.
Resin ratios larger than 1:1 (resins to asphaltenes) are more stable, whereas ratios less than 1:1
are unstable and may precipitate during production. Resin ratios of more than 10:1 are known,
and they are much less likely to cause significant problems. The actual quantity of asphaltenes
in the oil is less important than the resin ratio in determining if asphaltene damage will be a
problem. Although asphaltene contents up to 60% have been found, major problems can occur in
oils with asphaltene contents as low as 1% to 3%.

Fluid Selection and Damage Identification 9


Asphaltene precipitation can be influenced by pressure drop, shear (turbulence), acids, solu-
tion CO2, which lowers the pH value, injected condensate, gas, commingling with other incom-
patible oils and charged metal surfaces. Anything that takes away the resins or breaks the
stability of the asphaltene micelle can lead to precipitation. During an acid job, iron ions in solu-
tion compound and favor the formation of asphaltene deposition.
Organic deposits must not be confused with another type of deposits called sludge. Sludges are
viscous emulsions formed by the reaction between certain crude oils and strong inorganic acids,
and they cannot be easily dissolved.

Mixed deposits
Mixed organic and inorganic deposits are a blend of organic compounds and either scales or fines
and clays. When migrating, fines, associated with an increase in water production in a sandstone
reservoir, become oil wet, and they act as a nucleation site for organic deposits (Houchin and
Hudson, 1985). Figure 3-2 shows such a mixed deposit in which crystals of sodium chloride
(white) are interspersed with darker organic matter.

Figure 3-2. Thin section of a layered mixed deposit.

Induced particle plugging


In addition to the naturally occurring, migrating particles such as clays and fines, many foreign
particles are introduced into the formation during normal well operations. Drilling, completion,
workover, stimulation and secondary or tertiary production operations can inject extraneous par-
ticles into the formation.
Particle damage from injected fluids is caused when injected solids block the near-wellbore
formation. Problems include bridging of the pore throats, packing of perforations and losing large
amounts of high-solids fluid into natural fractures or propped fracture systems. Potentially dam-
aging particulate materials in drilling fluids include clays, cuttings, weighting agents and fluid-
loss control materials (Barna and Patton, 1972; Fischer et al., 1973; Sloan et al., 1975). These
components can be a problem independent of mud type (oil, water or polymer base). Workover
and stimulation fluids can also contain suspended solids (Rike, 1980; Rike and Pledger, 1981)
including bacteria and polymer residues (Tuttle and Barkman, 1974). Kill fluids, in particular, use
various polymers either as weighting agents or for fluid loss control. Typical kill-fluid and lost-cir-
culation pill solids include salt pills with polymer, crosslinked polymers, hydroxyethylcellulose
(HEC) polymers and CaCO3 with polymer. Using a properly controlled range of particle sizes for
these materials will help avoid induced particle damage.

10 Fluid Selection Guide for Matrix Treatments


Particles can also be introduced in injected fluids as a result of poor water handling practices.
Debris from dirty tanks, piping and tubing (e.g., dried mud, scale and pipe dope) can easily plug
perforations or matrix pore throats when injected into the rock under pressure. Matrix stimula-
tion fluids, which contain effective cleaners and acids, will disperse and partially dissolve the
debris inside of the tanks and piping, exacerbating this problem. Water used in mixing stimula-
tion or circulating fluids of any type should be clean or filtered. The fluids should be stored in
clean tanks and pumped through clean piping and tubing.
Particle damage after matrix stimulation may also occur when either partially dissolved parts
of the formation or the damage-causing materials are produced back through either the pores or
the natural or propped fracture system. The cleaners and mutual solvents in stimulation treat-
ments can also cause the release of fines from the formation. Partially dehydrated or unbroken
polymer gels from fracture or gravel-pack treatments can also leave particles that could cause
plugging.

Wettability change
Wettability and the related relative permeability of a formation are determined by the flowing-
phase in the well and by the surfactants and oils in that fluid. Surfactants or other additives in
drilling or other injected fluids can cause changes to the wettability of a formation, which can
then change the relative permeability of the formation rock. Shifts in relative permeability can
reduce the effective permeability of a formation to a particular fluid by as much as 80% to 90%.
In their natural state, formations may be water-wet, oil-wet or neutral. The wetting fluid will
coat the surface of the matrix pores, and the nonwetting fluid will flow through these coated
pores. In water-wet rock, the bound water, which has a thinner monomolecular layer than oil,
occupies less of the pore throat volume leaving more space open to flow than in an oil-wet pore.
The relative permeability to oil will also be greater in water-wet rock. Therefore, it is advanta-
geous for oil production to have a water-wet formation.
Preflushing the formation with a wetting surfactant or a solvent that either establishes a new
coating on the face of the formation or cleans the current coating from the formation can mod-
ify wettability. Regardless of the altered condition of a surface, the wettability is eventually
decided by the surfactants in the produced fluid. Thus, the water-wet condition of a formation fol-
lowing an acid job can revert to an oil-wet condition after a sufficient volume of strongly oil-wet-
ting crude is produced. The opposite is also true, and an oil-wet surface caused by surfactants in
fluids, such as oil-based mud (OBM), will also revert to a native water-wet state. The question
becomes one of economics. If the operator can live with the low productivity while waiting for the
wettability to change naturally, then the damage doesnt need treatment. If the low productivity
is a problem, then the damage should be treated.
Wettability alteration is one of the damages associated with OBMs due to the powerful wetting
surfactants necessary to create a stable drilling fluid. When these materials coat or adsorb onto
the formation, the wettability of the formation is altered, and permeabilities may be only 10% to
20% of what they were initially. The most severe problems usually occur with muds weighing more
than 14 lbm/gal.

Emulsions
Emulsions are combinations of two or more immiscible fluids (including gas) that will not mole-
cularly disperse into each other. Typically fluids injected into the well or filtrates from fluids used
in well operations will mix with the reservoir fluids to form emulsions.
Almost all emulsions found in the field are produced by the addition of some form of energy
that produces mixing. In many cases, this is the energy associated with fluid injection or produc-
tion. Most emulsions break rapidly when the source of energy is removed. If separation of the
emulsion does not occur, then there is a stabilizing force acting to keep the fluids emulsified. The
most common stabilizing forces modify the surface film strength at the fluid interface. These
forces may act singly or in combination.

Fluid Selection and Damage Identification 11


Surfactants, either naturally occurring or in the injected fluid, help stabilize emulsions by stiff-
ening the film around the droplet or by partially wetting small, solid particles. Natural surfactants
are present in many waters and most crude oils. They can be a by-product of bacteria or originate
as part of the oil generation process. Surfactants are also commonly used as additives in drilling,
completion or stimulation fluids.
Micron-size solids in the liquid may stabilize an emulsion by increasing the toughness of the
surface film around the droplets, or by acting as an emulsifier and binding droplets of the dis-
persed liquid with an electrical charge. The more common solid materials that stabilize oilfield
emulsions are iron sulfide, paraffin, sand, silt, clay, asphalt, scale, metal flakes (from pipe dope),
cuttings and corrosion products.
Changes in the pH value can also affect emulsion stability. The in-situ pH of a produced fluid
will be fairly neutral (67). Following an acid treatment, the pH value may drop below 4, and
emulsions may be created. Emulsions created in this manner are stable until the pH value rises
above 6 or 7. If there is any possibility of fluid loss or mixing with in-situ fluids, the emulsion ten-
dency of the crude oil should always be tested with any fluid to be used in the well.
Most OBMs, and particularly those with densities greater than 14 lbm/gal, contain sufficient
solids to create silt-stabilized emulsions when mixed with high-salinity brines or acids. These
emulsions are viscous and resist breaking. Some of these emulsions have been shown to be sta-
ble for several months, both in the laboratory and in the wellbore. The level of damage caused by
these emulsions can be so severe that an entire pay zone can be missed.

Acid reactions, precipitates and sludges


Under certain circumstances, acid treatments may also cause formation damage. Injected acids
and their additives can contribute to induced particle plugging, emulsions, wettability changes
and water blocks. There are also certain damage mechanisms unique to acidizing: the precipita-
tion of acid reaction products in sandstone formations and the formation of sludges due to the
incompatibility of the native crude and the injected acid system.
In sandstone acidizing, reaction products from HF acids can further react with formation min-
erals. Hydrated silica may precipitate on clay surfaces and is not necessarily damaging.
Compounds, such as borosilicates and fluoborates, can even be beneficial. Some of these reac-
tions, however, produce damaging precipitates. Gelatinous precipitates, such as ferric oxide, can
completely plug pores and be particularly difficult to remove. Another class of by-products con-
sists of species like alkali-fluosilicates, which precipitate in the form of individual crystals that
can migrate toward and then bridge in the pore throats. Iron sulfide that precipitates, even at
very low-pH values, during the acidization of sour wells also belongs in this category.
As mentioned previously, sludges are viscous emulsions produced by the reactions between
certain crude oils and strong inorganic acids (Moore et al., 1965; Houchin et al., 1990). Sludges
occur due to reaction between the treating fluid and asphaltene components of the crude.
Certain acid additives, such as surfactants or the presence of dissolved iron in the well, can con-
tribute to sludge formation. It is important to test the complete acid formulation with live well
crude before injecting the treatment. Sludge testing should always include dissolved iron.
The additives commonly used in acids can also contribute to formation damage. Certain
sequestering agents used to prevent iron problems may form precipitates after the acid is spent,
if no iron is present. Corrosion inhibitors or the degradation of polymers used for friction reduc-
tion can also have residues that could plug formation pore throats.

12 Fluid Selection Guide for Matrix Treatments


Bacteria
Bacteria can be a serious problem in production operations because of what they consume and
their by-products. Bacteria can grow in many different environments and conditions: tempera-
tures ranging from 12F to greater than 250F [11C to greater than 120C], pH values ranging
from 1 to 11, salinities to 30% and pressures to 25,000 psi. The most troublesome oilfield bacteria
are sulfate-reducing bacteria, slime formers, iron-oxidizing bacteria and bacteria that attack
polymers in fracture and secondary recovery fluids.
Sulfate-reducing bacteria cause the most problems in a reservoir. Sulfate-reducing bacteria
reduce the sulfate or sulfite in the water to sulfide and produce hydrogen sulfide (H2S) as a
by-product. The reduction process provides the energy for bacterial growth. Sulfate-reducing
bacteria are anaerobic (not requiring oxygen) with slow growth rates when oxygen is present.
Sulfate-reducing bacteria occur naturally in surface waters, including seawater. Bacteria accu-
mulation can lead to pitting of the steel under large colonies. The buildup of H2S under the
colonies increases the corrosivity of the water and creates the possibility of blistering of carbon
steels and sulfide cracking.
Iron-oxidizing bacteria are aerobic (requiring oxygen) and convert iron from the ferrous
(Fe2+) to the ferric (Fe3+) state. They produce gelatinous ferric hydroxide, which is highly insol-
uble and precipitates out of water. The bacteria metabolize dissolved iron in the water. Ferrous
iron is soluble only at low-pH values, i.e., when the water is acidic. Therefore, FeOH3 is typically
considered an acid-reaction product. The iron bacteria produce some corrosion, but more impor-
tantly, they cover sulfate-reducing bacteria colonies and protect them from attack.
Slime-forming bacteria are facultative (can live with or without oxygen) and produce mats of
high-density slime that cover surfaces. Their primary detrimental effects are the protection of
colonies of sulfate-reducing bacteria and pore plugging.
The bacteria that attack polymers are various aerobic types and a few of the anaerobic
bacteria. Most polymers are excellent carbon sources that are readily consumed to support rapid
bacterial growth rates. The resulting large quantities of biomass contribute to formation plugging.
All these bacteria can be controlled by application of various biocides.

Water block
Water blocks are caused by an increase in the water saturation near the wellbore. They can form
during drilling and completion operations through invasion of water-base filtrate or during pro-
duction through fingering or coning of formation water.
Water blocks are considered to be a special case of relative permeability problem. In a water
block, water usually occupies the flowing spaces (either pores or natural fractures) that are
typically used by hydrocarbons to flow to the wellbore. Because of the mobility and viscosity
differences, the hydrocarbon fluid may not be capable of displacing the water. The most severe
cases of water blocks are usually observed in low-pressure, low-permeability, gas-producing
formations after treatment with water that has a high surface tension.

Fluid Selection and Damage Identification 13