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Fall 2016

Saudi Aramco
THE SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY

Journal of Technology
A quarterly publication of the Saudi Arabian Oil Company

Contents

Deployment of the World’s Longest Sandstone,


Production Nozzle-based ICD, Partially Cemented
System in an Offshore Horizontal Well 2
Qadir D. Looni, Mohammad J. Aljubran, Ahmed A. Al-Ramadhan,
Marius V. Neacsu, Aly A. Emam and Christian T. Mora

Development and Field Test of ESP Reliable Power


Delivery System 13
Dr. Jinjiang Xiao, Randall A. Shepler, Yhossie S. Windiarto,
Rob Fox and Stuart Parkinson

Drilling for the Next Generation of Multilateral


Completion Systems 21
Yousif M. Abu Ahmad, Rami F. Saleh, Brett W. Bouldin,
Robert J. Turner and Ali Bin Al-Sheikh

Innovative Step Change in Drilling Efficiency for Medium


Radius Reentry Deep Gas Wells with a High Build Rate
Rotary Steerable System 29
Abdul Halim Ab Hamid, Verdy L. Siregar, Ali N. Al-BinAli,
Mohamed E. Khalil, Ayman Ghazzawi, Omar T.A. Ashraf
and Muhammad S. Balka

A New Insight on the Impact of Individual Ions on


Fluid-Fluid Interactions and SmartWater Recovery 38
Mohammed A. Geer, Dr. Ahmed Gmira, Dr. Ali A. Yousef and
Dr. Sultan M. Al-Enezi

Reservoir Stress Path from 4D Coupled High Resolution


Geomechanics Model: A Case Study for Jauf Formation,
North Ghawar, Saudi Arabia 45
Otto E. Meza Camargo, Dr. Tariq Mahmood and
Dr. Ivan Deshenenkov

Implementing the Pressurized Mud Cap Technique


for Drilling through Total Loss Zones: A Way to
Improve Well Control while Drilling the Reservoir
in Oil Well Reentries 61
Khalifah M. Al-Amri, Julio C. Guzman Munoz, Abdulrhman M.
Al-Hashim, Ali M. Hassanen and Ayoub Hadj-Moussa

Automatic Well Completion and Reservoir Grid Data


Quality Assurance for Reservoir Simulation Models 70
Tariq M. Al-Zahrani, Muath A. Al-Mulla and
Mohammed S. Al-Nuaim

Case Study of Intelligent Completion with New


Generation Electro-Hydraulic Downhole Control System 79
Suresh Jacob, Nibras A. Abdulbaqi, Chandresh Verma
and Rabih Younes
Deployment of the World’s Longest
Sandstone Production, Nozzle-based
ICD, Partially Cemented System in
an Offshore Horizontal Well
Authors: Qadir D. Looni, Mohammad J. Aljubran, Ahmed A. Al-Ramadhan, Marius V. Neacsu, Aly A. Emam and Christian T. Mora

ABSTRACT planning and execution. As a result, the deployment of best


practices and state-of-the-art technology was mandatory for
Given the current downturn in the oil and gas industry, the overcoming the various drilling challenges. Extensive work
smart design and implementation of state-of-the-art drilling was conducted to anticipate and understand these challenges,
and completion technologies are key factors toward an opti- including studying and analyzing the historical and offset well
mum return on investment. The goal is cost savings, a maxi- data. The major drilling challenges in this project can be sum-
mum productivity index, and an effective operational strategy marized as:
with minimum risks involved. As part of these efforts, Saudi
Aramco successfully deployed the world’s longest 4½” par- • Kicking off from vertical and drilling a curved section to
tially off-bottom cemented liner with a sandstone production the target entry in a single run.
equalizer system in an offshore field in Saudi Arabia. • Managing hole cleaning and stuck pipe concerns
This record was achieved through close monitoring of the through proper drilling and tripping practices.
wellbore condition and the creation of an accurate torque and
• Optimizing bottom-hole assembly (BHA) and drillstring
drag simulation prior to the job. The 7,389 ft open hole was
design to manage torque and drag.
horizontally drilled in 6⅛” sections and carefully geosteered
through the reservoir to yield a 90% net gross ratio. Borehole • Delivering optimum drilling performance through
tortuosity and dogleg severity were kept to a minimum. Drilling fit-for-purpose drilling systems selection.
and borehole cleaning performance was monitored and en- • Enhancing the downhole equipment reliability to
hanced through a real-time cutting recovery analysis. As soon minimize nonproductive time and trips.
as the target depth was reached, a reservoir model was built,
• Maintaining optimum mud conditions to avoid wellbore
using the acquired petrophysical and reservoir data, and em-
stability issues and to control shales.
ployed toward design optimization. The completion liner was
designed to provide the appropriate centralization and stiffness, • Managing drilling dynamics while ensuring proper
and to ensure reaching the bottom of the borehole. directional drilling and geosteering.
The main challenge in this project was that the well tra-
jectory was just below a gas cap. Reservoir mapping led to WELL DELIVERY
better understanding of the well placement relative to the
gas cap. A sandstone production equalizer system and open Overcoming these challenges was critical to achieve good
hole packers were used to divide the wellbore into sections well delivery. This required the implementation of constant
and balance influx from high and low permeability zones. communication and teamwork, the use of well-defined best
Restricting flow in the desired sections by introducing higher practices and the deployment of top-notch drilling technolo-
pressure drops prevents early gas breakthrough from the gies. As a result of these efforts, the following solutions and
overlaying gas cap. technologies were adopted:
This successful deployment was a result of extensive engi-
neering planning as well as operational alertness during side- • Optimizing well design by managing the doglegs and
tracking and deployment. This article will provide further BHA compatibility.
details on the design and operation phases of this project.
• Conducting a local geomechanical study to identify
wellbore issues and associated risks.
PLANNING
• Implementing state-of-the-art technology to ensure
It was clear that this well was different from the conventional reliability and directional control, even in deeper
drilling operations and required significantly greater care in intervals.

2 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY


Fig. 1. Target zone sand, mapped using Periscope HD to monitor the lower boundary (clearly shown) to maintain the maximum TVD and stay inside the target zone as planned.

Fig. 1. Target zone sand, mapped using Periscope HD to monitor the lower boundary (clearly shown
• Deploying PeriScope HD, a multilayer bed boundary GEOMECHANICS
maintain the maximum TVD and stay inside the target zone as planned.
detection service, to facilitate proactive geosteering and
provide more information about the reservoir geometry Workover sidetrack operations in this offshore field typically
and substructure. cut across several shale formation layers to target a shaly
• Utilizing cuttings flow meters to monitor hole cleaning reservoir sand. This sandstone reservoir could be at a low
effectiveness and wellbore stability. pressure due to depletion, meaning the virgin pressure in the
shale layers could be higher than the reservoir pressure.
All these solutions and technologies ensured safe and op- This difference makes it a challenge to design a mud weight
timum (MW) that can both minimize shear failure in the shales, which
Fig. 1.delivery
Target of zone
the wellsand,
and helped
mappedto achieve
usingthePeriscope
well’s HD to monitor the lower boundary (clearly shown) to
objectives. are at a higher pressure, and at the same time minimize differ-
maintain the maximum TVD and stay inside the target zone as planned.
ential sticking risk across sandstone reservoirs. Furthermore,
since the shale layers are drilled at a high angle before landing
the well, they are also prone to bedding plane failure.

Fig. 2. Graph showing that the cuttings recovery (red line) was maintained at around 90% throughou
drilling operation.

Fig. 2. Graph showing that the cuttings recovery (red line) was maintained at around 90% throughout the drilling operation.
Fig. 2. Graph showing that the cuttings recovery (red line) was maintained at around 90% throughout the
drilling operation.
SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 3
The drilling history of the surrounding wells was reviewed sectioned to the planned sidetrack trajectory to construct a
to understand the shale failure mechanisms and to mitigate pre-drill MEM. Using the information gleaned from the drill-
the drilling risk. A robust mechanical earth model (MEM) was ing history of surrounding wells, a MW of 84 pounds per
constructed using logs from one well of interest, which were cubic foot (pcf) was found optimum to minimize shear and
calibrated by correlating the predictions to the drilling history bedding plane failure in the shale as well as differential stick-
of surrounding wells. The rock properties were then curtain ing risk in the sandstone. During drilling, the cuttings at the

Fig.
Fig. 3.3.
Fig. 3.Plots
Plots
Plots showing
showingshowing the
thedelicate
the delicate control delicate
of control
control
drilling operation of
ofdrilling
maintaineddrilling operation
throughoutoperation
the job. maintained
maintainedthroughout
throughoutthe
the job.
job.
Fig. 3. Plots showing the delicate control of drilling operation maintained throughout the job.
4 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY
This zone was
isolated as the
standoff from
GOC was low

Fig. 4. Permeability graph showing the completion setup and design based on the lateral’s standoff distance from the gas cap.
Fig. 4. Permeability graph showing the completion setup and design based on the lateral’s standoff
distance from
shale shaker werethe gas cap.
monitored and correlated to the downhole circulating and tripping. These meters were installed in front
logs. The well was drilled successfully with a MW of 84 pcf of each shale shaker and connected to software programmed
without any drilling issue. to process the raw data coming from the meter and compare
This zone was them to the theoretically calculated data so as to draw con-
WELL PLACEMENT
isolated as the clusions regarding the borehole condition.
standoff from This automated analysis ensures a clean hole while drill-
GOC was low
The well was landed smoothly in the target sand, and the ing and lowers the chances of cuttings accumulations in the
bottom boundary was continuously mapped, Fig. 1, to en- annulus. It also provides the foreman and engineers with
sure successful geosteering in the target zone, while main- valuable information when they have to decide if a sweep
taining the maximum planned true vertical depth (TVD) pill or short wiper trips are needed. Furthermore, it directly
until total depth (TD), and keeping to a maximum dogleg of contributes to increasing the overall rate of pick penetration
8.5°/100 ft. It is quite important toThe watch
ICD
out for the The ICD and
sand minimizes
encourages the shale
influx exposure,
for these whichwhich
intervals, is a critical
is parame-
layer’s changing dip and thickness, as losing
restricts influxtrack of the ter for wellbore stability maintenance.
farthest away from the GOC. These meters assist in
for this
Fig.
sand4. Permeability
would impact the graph showing
reservoir the completion
contact length
interval.
as well as setupdrilling
and design
the hole based on the the
and lowering lateral’s
liner tostandoff
the bottom safely
distance
raise hole from the gas
instability cap. Standoff from
concerns. as the acquisition unit allows the user to set up alarms to
GOC is low. alert the field engineers if any anomalies occur.
Zone
HOLE CLEANING has been Shale
As seen in Fig. 2, the cuttings recovery was maintained
isolated as the
standoff from at around 90%, which helped in controlling the equivalent
Cuttings analysis is a tedious
GOC is < 10 ft. and time-consuming task, but circulating density, optimizing pill frequency, monitoring
automated approaches can significantly facilitate this pro- wellbore instability and undesired shale cuttings, maintain-
cess and yield high quality results1. Cuttings flow meters ing good mud properties, and checking the average hole
were deployed to monitor the rock cuttings returning to the size with each pill pumped to ensure no hole enlargement.
surface during the different rig operations, such as drilling, This excellent hole cleaning and constant wellbore control

The ICD The ICD encourages influx for these intervals, which is
restricts influx farthest away from the GOC.
for this
interval.
Standoff from
GOC is low.
Fig. 5. The
Zoneoilhas
influx
beenfrom the lateral for the different completion scenarios: ICD cases (red, green) and
Shale
base case (blue).
isolated as the
standoff from
GOC is < 10 ft.

Fig. 5. The oil influx from the lateral for the different completion scenarios: ICD cases (red, green) and base case (blue).
Fig. 5. The oil influx from the lateral for the different completion scenarios: ICD cases (red, green) and
base case (blue).
SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 5
throughout the job are clearly reflected in plots of the drill-
ing operation, Fig. 3.
Zone has been isolated
as standoff from the
GOC is > 10 ft.
INFLOW CONTROL DEVICE (ICD) COMPLETION DESIGN
The ICD restricts influx

This offshore field, a dome-like anticlinal structure, is part


for this interval as
standoff from the GOC
is low.

of a larger field complex, which has an active gas drive. This The ICD encourages
influx for this
interval, which is

gas cap introduced another geosteering challenge, given that away from the GOC.

the lateral standoff from the gas-oil contact (GOC) at the


target entry was < 10 ft TVD. Fig.
Fig.6.6.The tubing
The flow profile
tubing flow for the different
profile for thecompletion
differentscenarios: ICD cases
completion (red, green) and base
scenarios:
case (blue).
When designing an inflow control device (ICD) comple- ICD cases (red, green) and base case (blue).
tion in a horizontal well with varying reservoir permeability,
the objective is to maximize influx from the lower permea- section, the lateral was divided into five compartments using
Zone has been isolated
bility zonesasand restrict
standoff influx from the higher permeability
from the
five open hole packers. In the first compartment, 10 ICDs
GOC is > 10 ft.
zones. The reservoir permeability in this well was found to of 1 × 1.6 mm were used to restrict the oil influx coming
be in the range of 200 millidarcies (mD) to 800 mD. The from this interval. In the second compartment, 11 ICDs of 4
main challenge in this well was the fact that the GOC was × 2.5 mm were used in the interval, encouraging oil influx.
very close to target entry, with < 10 ft TVD difference be- The third compartment was isolated with blank pipes as the
The ICD restricts influx
tween the two. Designing the for well
thisto produce
interval as with uniform gamma ray indicated shale in this zone. The fourth compart-
standoff from the GOC ment comprised 12 ICDs of 3 × 2.5 mm, and the last com-
influx would have led to gas breakthrough is low. from the heel of
the well and eventually gas coning, given the high mobil- partment consisted of 15 ICDs of 2 × 2.5 mm nozzle setting,
The ICD encourages in both cases encouraging oil influx.
ity of gas. This production of gas from the gas cap would
influx for this
drastically reduce the oil production rate from the well and interval, which is Figure 5 shows the oil influx from the lateral, comparing
Fig. 7. The tubing flow profile showing pressure drop for the two ICD scenarios.
away from the GOC.
would eventually lead to a decline in reservoir pressure as the ICD cases (green, red) with the base case using a cased
the cap lost gas. As a result, the completion strategy was (1) and perforated liner (blue).
to isolate the first section of the lateral, where the standoff Similarly, Fig. 6 shows the cumulative tubing flow profile
from the GOC was < 10 ft TVD; (2) restrict the oil influx in for the ICD cases (green, red) vs. the base case using a cased
Fig. 6. Theoftubing
the portion the well flow
whereprofile for thewas
the standoff different completion
~10 ft TVD; and perforated liner
scenarios: ICD (blue).
cases (red, green) and base
case
and (3)(blue).
encourage oil influx where the standoff was > 10 ft Figure 7 shows the additional pressure drop due to com-
TVD, Fig. 4. pletion, which was determined for the two ICD cases and
Using this design strategy, the completion was designed compared against the drawdown across the sand face.
with 48 nozzle-based ICDs. After isolation of the initial The case selected for adoption in drilling was ICD Case-
2, as this case better achieved the influx objectives of the

Fig. 7. The tubing flow profile showing pressure drop for the two ICD scenarios.
Fig. 7. The tubing flow profile showing pressure drop for the two ICD scenarios.
6 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY
7” Casing

Baker HMC 4½” Hyd Liner Hanger


ZXP Liner Top Packer
7” Casing

Baker HMC 4½” Hyd Liner Hanger


ZXP Liner Top Packer
4½” 11.6# Casing

Baker PAC 4½” MPas 4½” MPas 4½” MPas 4½” MPas GPV
TOW at
Valve Packer Packer Packer Packer Shoe
5,190 ft TD at
4½” 11.6# Casing
12,400 ft

Baker PAC 4½” MPas 4½” MPas 4½” MPas 4½” MPas GPV
TOW at
Valve Packer Packer Packer Packer Shoe6⅛” Open Hole
5,190 ft 4½” 350 Micron Resflow ICD Screen 4½” 350 Micron Resflow ICD Screen TD at
Baker ECPs Motherbore
12,400 ft

Fig. 8. The final well lower completion schematic showing the ICD screens along with the open hole isolation packers as run in the well.

Fig. 8. The final well lower completion schematic showing the ICD screens along with the open 6⅛” holeOpen Hole
completion.
isolation Figure 8as
packers is the
runfinal lower
in the completion
well.
Baker ECPs design,
4½” andICD
350 Micron Resflow drillstring
Screen 2
. In4½”
addition,
350 Micronthere
ResflowisICD
a need
Screento maintain
Motherborethe
showing the ICD screens and packer placements. integrity of the open hole swell packers and the liner’s exter-
nal casing packers, which means rotation of the completion
Fig. 8. The final well lower completion schematic showing the ICD screens along with the open hole
TORQUE AND DRAG string is not an option. Therefore, torque and drag problems
isolation packers as run in the well.
can occur. To reduce friction in any well, a good mud pro-
Drag is measured as the difference between the static weight gram design is important. In this well, the friction factor was
of the completion string and the tripping weight. In extended as low as 0.3, and the torque and drag simulation results,
reach holes, horizontal displacement usually is limited be- Fig. 9, ensured that the BHA design was suitable for this
cause of frictional forces between the drilling and comple- type of well.
tion string and the hole wall. Torque and drag modeling
therefore is critical when estimating the capability of the rig

Fig. 9. Torque and drag simulation results.

Fig. 9. Torque and drag simulation results.


Fig. 9. Torque and drag simulation results.
SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 7
Fig. 10. Buckling simulation results.
Fig. 10. Buckling simulation results.
RUN IN HOLE SIMULATION packers, ICD sand screens and the 4½” off-bottom cemented
liner hanger system, and cemented successfully on depth.
Several simulations were performed to determine the drill- This record was achieved with extensive engineering
string was adequate to convey the ICD completion and liner planning, including understanding of the well directional
hanger system to TD. Previous experience has shown that and stress orientation, of pre-drilling control points (dogleg,
long open holes generate more friction during the tripping well placement, TVD control, etc.) and of the well trajec-
run, so there is a greater risk the drillstring will get stuck. tory, which was optimized to avoid the 3D — build and
Fortunately in this well, the excellent hole cleaning effort turn — well. Operation alertness during sidetracking was
and good simulation guaranteed a successful run to TD very effective: Use of the right MW, optimization of wiper
without any issues. The run in hole simulation results were trips to minimize shale exposure time and assessment of hole
practically observed during the real run in hole trip with the cleaning using cuttings flow meters were keys to a successful
drillstring. operation. The off-bottom cemented liner and ICD screen
production equalizer assembly was designed to have flexibil-
BUCKLING RISK ity while running in hole so it could reach TD without hang-
ing up across any ledges.
As previously described, the well trajectory was severe in the
section from the window to the end of the heel. As a result, ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
the wellbore was likely to generate more buckling on the
completion string. This was compensated for by placing a The authors would like to thank the management of Saudi
heavyweight drillpipe along this section to prevent helical Aramco and Schlumberger for their support and permission
buckling and lockup. Figure 10 shows the simulation gener- to publish this article.
ated for worst-case conditions during the run in hole, which This article was prepared for presentation at the 2016
allowed us to predict this scenario. Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and
Conference (ADIPEC), Abu Dhabi, UAE, November 7-10,
CONCLUSIONS 2016.

Saudi Aramco’s Workover Department deployed the world’s REFERENCES


longest 4½” off-bottom cemented liner and ICD screen
production equalizer system in an offshore well. A total of 1. Marana, A.N., Papa, J.P., Ferreira, M.V.D., Miura, K. and
7,389 ft of lower completion string was run, including MPas Torres, F.A.C.: “An Intelligent System to Detect Drilling

8 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY


Problems through Drilled-Cuttings-Return Analysis,” BIOGRAPHIES
SPE paper 128916, presented at the IADC/SPE Drilling
Qadir D. Looni is a Senior Drilling
Conference and Exhibition, New Orleans, Louisiana,
Engineer with Saudi Aramco’s
February 2-4, 2010. Workover Engineering Department. He
2. Denney, D.: “Continuous Improvement Led to the Longest has more than 16 years of experience
Horizontal Well,” Journal of Petroleum Technology, Vol. in offshore and onshore drilling,
61, No. 11, November 2009, pp. 55-56. completion, well testing and workover
operations, including well planning,
engineering and operations monitoring. Qadir’s areas of
expertise include sidetracking workover wells to drill long,
medium and short radius wells, running complex open
completion strings and/or equalizer screens, off-bottom
liners, expandable liners and smart completions, in addition
to mechanical workovers for repairing casing leaks, wellhead
work, changing completions and well testing.
During his career, he has been involved in setting
several world records in workovers and drilling. This
includes the first time worldwide use of “Archer with
underreamer,” successful application of an extra-long
expandable cased hole liner and deployment of the world’s
longest off-bottom liner with an internal control device
screen assembly in an offshore environment.
In addition to Qadir’s current role, he has worked as a
Drilling Superintendent (A) with OMV in Romania, and
as a Drilling Foreman and Engineering Supervisor (A) with
Saudi Aramco.
Qadir has been instrumental in training several young
Saudi Drilling Engineers. As a member of the Society of
Petroleum Engineers (SPE), he has published and presented
several papers to international forums.
Qadir received his B.S. degree in Petroleum Engineering
from the University of Engineering & Technology, Lahore,
Pakistan.

Mohammad J. Aljubran joined Saudi


Aramco in mid-2015 as a Petroleum
Engineer with the Drilling Technology
Team of Saudi Aramco’s Exploration
and Petroleum Engineering Center –
Advanced Research Center (EXPEC
ARC). He published and presented
two Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) technical papers,
was granted publication approval for three more papers,
and filed two patent applications in the area of drilling and
completion within the first year of his professional career.
Mohammad is currently assigned to the Workover
Engineering Department as a Workover Engineer. He is
designing and planning workover operations in major
Saudi Arabia offshore fields, such as Safaniya, Marjan and
Zuluf.
Mohammad was a lead member of the University of
Oklahoma team that won first place at the 2015 SPE
Drillbotics competition in automated rig design and
construction.
In 2015, he received his B.S. degree in Petroleum
Engineering from the University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK.

SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 9


Ahmed A. Al-Ramadhan joined Saudi Aly A. Emam is a Completions
Aramco in 2005 as an Offshore Engineer in the Design and Evaluation
Drilling Engineer working in the Services for Clients (DESC)
Northern Area Drilling Engineering department with Schlumberger. His
Department. Later, he joined the extensive experience includes core
Drilling & Workover (D&WO) completions, liner hangers, sand
Department as a Workover Engineer control, inflow control devices and
and was appointed to be a Workover Engineering Unit smart completions. Aly began his career with Baker Oil
Supervisor for offshore workover operations. During his Tools in 2002 as a Field Engineer for cased hole
career, Ahmed introduced several innovative procedures completions. Assigned to Egypt, he performed all jobs
that helped in salvaging wells under critical conditions, as related to well completions for offshore and onshore fields,
well as optimization workover procedures that led to becoming a Completions Technical Engineer in 2005.
significant cost reductions. In 2006, Aly joined Schlumberger as a Completions
Besides his role as a Supervisor, Ahmed represented his Field Engineer and was assigned to Saudi Arabia. He de-
department in several asset team meetings for different signed well completions for offshore and onshore fields
offshore fields, and he has also assumed the responsibility and participated in starting the company’s upper and lower
of serving as the Operational Excellence Coordinator for completions business in Saudi Arabia. In 2009, he was
D&WO. assigned to Egypt, working as a Technical Sales Engineer.
Ahmed received his B.S. degree in Applied Mechanical During this time, he was responsible for the sales and mar-
Engineering from King Fahd University of Petroleum and keting of completions in the EEG Geomarket (Egypt, Syria,
Minerals (KFUPM), Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Jordan and Iraq).
In 2010, Aly moved to Basra, Iraq, working as a
Marius V. Neacsu is a Supervisor with Business Development Manager, engaged in starting
Saudi Aramco’s Workover business relations and establishing a completions base in
Engineering Department. He began Iraq. In 2011, he was assigned to the UAE, working as a
his career in 1986 as a Tool Pusher Technical Sales Engineer, responsible for completions sales
and Field Supervisor in the Moreni and marketing for Schlumberger throughout the UAE.
Drilling Company in Romania. In 2012, Aly moved into his current position, assigned
Marius also worked for the same to Saudi Arabia, where he works with Saudi Aramco’s
company as a Drilling Engineer Specialist for 10 years. In Workover Engineering Department in a technical support
1998, he began work in Kuwait for Kuwait Oil Company role for completions operations.
as a Rig Manager for drilling and workover operations on In 2002, he received his B.S. degree in Mechanical
contractor rigs. In 2003, Marius started working for the Engineering from Alexandria University, Alexandria,
Waha Oil Company in Libya as a Drilling Foreman. The Egypt.
following year, he joined Repsol in Libya as a Drilling and
Workover Consultant. After one year, Marius moved on
and started working for Saudi Aramco as a Workover
Engineer. Since joining Saudi Aramco, he has been heavily
involved in major upstream onshore and offshore projects,
making substantial contributions to those efforts.
In 1986, he received his M.S. degree in Petroleum
Engineering from the Oil & Gas Institute, Ploieşti,
Romania.

10 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY


Christian T. Mora is a Completions
Engineer for the Design and
Evaluation Services for Clients (DESC)
department with Schlumberger. His
extensive experience includes drill
stem testing, tubing conveyed
perforating, core completions, slick
line, sand control and smart completions.
Christian began his career with Schlumberger in
2004 as a Testing Field Engineer for well completions
and productivity. His first assignment was in Poza Rica,
Mexico, where he performed jobs related to drill stem
testing, tubing conveyed perforating and well completions
for offshore and onshore fields.
In 2007, Christian was assigned to Ecuador as a
Completions Field Engineer. He performed all jobs related
to well completions and sand control. In 2010, Christian
was promoted to Field Service Manager for Completions
in Ecuador, where he managed field operations from Coca
Base to several different client fields in the Amazon jungle.
In 2012, Christian moved to his current position in Saudi
Arabia, where he works with Saudi Aramco’s Workover
Engineering Department in a technical support role for
completions operations.
In 2003, Christian received his B.S. degree in
Mechanical Engineering from Army Polytechnic School,
Quito, Ecuador.

SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 11


the wheel
is done,
the engine
needs work
Reinventing
transportation.
We established our newest research center in
Detroit, the heart of the U.S. automotive industry,
to explore next-generation liquid fuels and
innovative engine technologies to reduce emissions.
The work being done has the potential to set a new
course for the transportation industry and create
greener, more efficient cars.
There is a lot of talk about climate change and
greenhouse gas emissions. At Saudi Aramco,
we’re not just part of the conversation; we’re
delivering real solutions.

12 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY


Development and Field Test of ESP
Reliable Power Delivery System

Authors: Dr. Jinjiang Xiao, Randall A. Shepler, Yhossie S. Windiarto, Rob Fox and Stuart Parkinson

ABSTRACT 50% of the electrical failures in one key offshore field were
related to the electrical connection below the ESP packer
In high hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and high-pressure/high tem- penetrator and to the motor lead extension (MLE), Fig. 1.
perature fields, the average run life of electrical submersible Moreover, severe service environments for ESP systems are
pumps (ESPs) is still limited to three years. The dismantle generally defined as those applications where the wells have
inspection failure analysis results show that around 50% downhole hydrogen sulfide (H2S) concentrations above 5%
of ESP failures are directly or indirectly related to electrical and carbon dioxide concentrations of more than 5%. In
delivery problems concentrated at a distance of about 200 ft such applications, corrosion will also affect the run life of
between the packer and the motor. This article presents the any equipment. The rate and extension of corrosion, how-
results of a collaborative R&D effort to develop and field ever, can differ based on fluid partial pressures, bottom-hole
test a reliable power delivery system (RPDS) with the goal temperature and well history — according to the evidence of
of extending the average ESP run life from the current three previous premature corrosion.
years to 10 years. To alleviate this issue, a joint research project was initi-
The development focused on improving the reliability of ated to develop a reliable power delivery system (RPDS) as a
key power delivery components, including the packer pene- solution to prolonging ESP run life in a harsh environment.
trator, the motor lead extension (MLE) cable and the cable
connection with the motor. The design not only integrates SYSTEM DESCRIPTION
learnings from advanced completions and subsea technol-
ogy, but also includes new concepts, features and materials. The RPDS configuration provides increased reliability over
Connections that could be pressure tested in the field were im- the conventional MLE configuration. The key aspect of the
plemented to ensure the proper makeup of field connections. RPDS is the fact that all primary interfaces are field testable
Factory testing brought together a robust, highly accelerated and metal to metal, vastly reducing the potential failure
life test methodology to simulate a 10-year service life. modes caused by high H2S and rapid gas decompression. The
Prototype components were designed, fabricated and scope of development included modification of the motor
tested. These components were then integrated and subjected head to accept new feedthrough connectors, metal encased
to a rigorous system integration test. After the comprehen- cable, a splice connector below the packer, a packer adapter
sive factory tests, a field prototype system was built and and penetrator, and modification of the ESP cable connector.
installed in an offshore well. The system was put into oper- Figure 2 shows the RPDS components that were addressed in
ation and exceeded the field test’s success criteria of a mini- this R&D project.
mum run life of 180 days.
Damaged/Burned
For years, engineers and companies have battled with ESP Motor (15%) Intake and Pump Plugging (16%)

reliability — specifically with the electrical problems that Round Power


lie at the center of many failure causes. This article will dis- Cable (13%)

cuss the development and field test of a new generation ESP


power delivery technology with the potential of providing an
extended run life.
MLE (20%) Wellhead
INTRODUCTION Connector (8%)

The reliability of the electrical connections in electric sub- ESP Packer Penetrator (28%)

mersible pump (ESP) subsurface equipment is extremely


Fig. 1. ESP failure modes.
important1. Records show, for instance, that approximately Fig. 1. ESP failure modes.

SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 13


Fig.
The1.new
ESP failureconnectors
feedthrough modes.(“feedthrough” is a single-phase connections that feature primary metal-to-metal
term used to refer to the components connecting the MLE sealing for the connectors to both the motor head interface
with the motor) are based on field proven subsea technology and the new metal encased MLE. The termination to the
modified to suit the RPDS’s power rating and architectural motor head was modified with a special insulator and a
constraints. The motor head was configured with three motor winding crimp arrangement to accept the individual
feedthrough connectors, Fig. 3. The modified motor head
ESP Cable Connector also incorporates test ports to verify proper engagement of
the metal-to-metal seal during field installation by means of
a simple pressure test tool.
The electrical feedthrough connectors are constructed in
Packer Penetrator
such a way to include an electron beam welded (EBW) in-
sulating contact pin assembly, which eliminates the need for
Packer Adapter primary elastomeric seals to the main housing. The contact
pin is manufactured as an integrally molded polyether ether
Packer ketone (PEEK) assembly, which incorporates a metallic col-
lar that optimizes the electrical field and minimizes stress.
Encapsulated Cable This collar also facilitates the final EBW process. The con-
Splice Connector nector body includes a metallic differential cone seal to seal
into the motor head machining profile, Fig. 4. O-rings are
incorporated in the sealing interface to facilitate a pressure
test during installation.
On the other end of the feedthrough connector, a metal-
to-metal seal is established with the metal encapsulated MLE
cable by using a combination of a dual conic swage ferrule
Motor Feedthrough Connector and a compression olive, Fig. 5. A retaining ring, torqued to
Motor Head apply compression to the ferrule, enables the setting of the
swage using a pre-specified torque value. The compression
Fig. 2. RPDS stack up diagram showing components addressed in its development.
olive has internal and external O-rings, allowing the metal-
Fig. 2. RPDS stack up diagram showing components addressed
to-metal seal to be tested. in its development.
The new MLE has a configuration compatible with each
of the three phase connectors, which are metal encased and
Fig. 3. Motor head designed for the RPDS.
connected individually to the motor head. Power is trans-
mitted via AWG #4 solid conductors, insulated with PEEK
Fig. 3. Motor head designed for the RPDS. material and protected with a unique fluoropolymer spline
Fig.
Fig.3.3.Motor
Motorhead designed
head for thefor
designed RPDS.
the RPDS. jacket. The traditional jacket lead was replaced with an
Metal cone interface with
motor head

Metal cone interface with


motor head
Metal cone interface with
motor head

Fig. 4. Feedthrough connector.


Fig.4.4.Feedthrough
Fig. Feedthrough connector.
connector.
Fig. 4. Feedthrough connector.

Fig. 6. Metal encapsulated MLE cable with three connector configuration, covered with the replacement
Pressure test port Fig.or6.
625 825Metal encapsulated
alloy (orange color). MLE cable with three connector configuration, covered
Pressure test port
Pressure test port
Fig. 6. Metal
with the encapsulated
replacement MLE
625 or 825 alloy cable
(orange with three connector configuration, c
color).
625 or 825 alloy (orange color).
Individual pressure test port

Dual Dual
metal
Dual
metal
conecone
metal tocone
sealseal to
seal to Individual pressure test port
metal metal encapsulated
encapsulated
metal MLEMLE
encapsulated MLE Primary metal-to-metal seal to encased MLE cable
(3 individual terminations)

Fig.
Fig.5.
Fig. 5.Connector’s
5.5. Connector’s
Connector’s metal-to-metal seal
metal-to-metal
metal-to-metal with
seal thewith
seal
with MLE,
with
the including
the
MLE, a including
test port.port.
MLE,including
including a test a test port. Fig.
Fig.7. 7.
Splice connection
Splice added below
connection addedthebelow
packer.the packer.
Fig. Connector’s metal-to-metal seal the MLE, a test port.

14 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY


Fig. 9. ESP power cable connector.
Fig. 9. ESP power cable connector.
only element to be terminated in the field. The splice connec-
tor incorporates the same features and technology with re-
Fig. 8. Packer penetrator.
spect to metal-to-metal primary sealing to the cable in a way
Fig. 8. Packer penetrator.
INCONEL® tube — 625 or 825 alloy, Fig. 6 — to make identical to the motor feedthrough connectors. No potting or
epoxy filling is required; metal-to-metal sealing is established
10-Year Run
the cable immune to rapid decompression effects and highly
between the connectors and the metal encapsulated cable LifeatGoal
resistant to corrosion effects due to a H2S attack. Every in-
both ends and is pressure testable during assembly.
dividual insulated conductor is metal encapsulated, and the
Figure 8 shows the packer penetrator, which was designed
conductors are maintained together to facilitate handling and to mate with the packers of different vendors. It includes an
Fig. 9. ESP power cable connector.
installation in the field with low profile Monel armor. offset adaptor assembly to avoid interference with the first

Breakdown Voltage (kV)


To facilitate assembly of the system in the field, a “splice” pup joint/tubing installed above the packer. The bottom
connection, Fig. 7, was added below the packer. This is the side of the penetrator connects with the metal encapsulated

10-Year Run
Life Goal
Breakdown Voltage (kV)

Number of Days (Aging)

Fig. 10. Data from accelerated aging test plotted to produce a degradatio

Number of Days (Aging)

Fig. 10. Data from accelerated aging test plotted to produce a degradation curve.

Fig. 10. Data from accelerated aging test plotted to produce a degradation curve.
SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 15
connectors and is preassembled in the shop, which makes it Probability of 200 ft MLE
possible to ship the penetrator to the field with the packer Operating Voltage (kV)
Exceeding 10-Year Run Life
and splice connector already terminated, connected and 26 6.26E-4%
tested. It incorporates the same key features and sealing phi-
22 31.90%
losophy as the motor feedthrough connectors.
The upper section of the penetrator mates with the ESP 20 74.10%
power cable. Despite this, this side of the connector will be 16 98.70%
submerged in completion fluid and won’t see well fluids; it 8 99.99%
also incorporates a metal-to-metal seal at the connector in- 4 99.99%
terface to the packer penetrator.
Table 1. A 10-year run life probability vs. operating voltage
Figure 9 shows the ESP power cable connector, which is
based on subsea dry mate technology. It interfaces with the
a logarithmic scale, which best fits the expected degradation
packer penetrator and allows the ESP cable to be connected
curve, Fig. 10. This degradation curve was then extrapo-
to the penetrator. It was modified to suit the AWG #2 main
lated to 10 years, and a run life probability was established
cable by adding a new cable seal and termination sleeve.
based on the operating voltage. The result is the percent
Some specific installation tools were developed as well, in-
probability that the unit will operate for 10 years at various
cluding a detailed installation and handling procedure for
operating voltages. Table 1 shows that at operating voltages
termination and testing both at the operational base and in
equal to or less than 8 kV, there is a 99.99% probability of
the field.
exceeding a run life of 10 years.
COMPONENT LEVEL TESTING — METAL
ENCASED MLE FACTORY SYSTEM INTEGRATION TEST

Encapsulated Cable Cold Bending Test A qualification test of the RPDS was conducted in the
factory.
This test simulates the bending of the finished MLE over
the sheave — the sheave is the wheel used in the installation Endurance Testing
of the ESP. The MLE goes from the spool and through the
Operating Voltage (kV) Probability of 200 ft MLE Exceeding
sheave before it is connected to the motor during installation This test proved the connector string’s
10-Year Run Lifefunctionality as a sys-
26 6.26E-4%
at the well site. Because in some parts of the world installa- tem
22
under simulated maximum operating
31.90%
conditions. Figure
tion temperatures can be as low as -40 °C, test samples were 11 is a picture of the endurance test setup. The test ran for
20 74.10%
16 98.70%
bent after being stored at -40 °C for a minimum of 24 hours. 40
8 cycles. The number of cycles was determined per the life-
99.99%
4 99.99%
This test was performed five times around a 16” mandrel, time testing of the encapsulated cable, which was relevant to
Table 1. A 10-year run life probability vs. operating voltage
which is less than half of the 42” sheave diameter. This the connector system. Electrical verification tests were taken
small reel was used as it was able to fit inside a freezer. Even prior, during — at the start of each cycle — and after the
though this MLE was tested using a 16” mandrel, the mini- test to ensure the connector string’s performance was within
mum bending diameter recommended for this product is still the acceptance criteria. The test parameters were:
42”. Results show no damage or loss of electrical properties
because of the cold bending, so this test was considered
successful. ESP Cable Connector

Vessel (covered in
Encapsulated Accelerated High Temperature insulation) containing
connector string
Aging Test
Motor interface simulation
(hose contains oil, so
termination components
This test simulates material aging, which will occur during are immersed)
the product’s expected 10-year life at a maximum tempera-
Fig. 11.
Fig. 11.Endurance
Endurancetest
test setup.
setup.
ture of 176 °C. For this test we chose to simulate acceler-
ated aging by testing the samples at 216 °C for 5 days, 10
Cycle Voltage (Phase) Current (Phase)
days, 20 days, 40 days and 80 days. The Arrhenius model2
1 1-2 3
indicates that for every 10 °C increase in temperature, the
product life is reduced by half. Therefore, if the expected 2
Cycle Voltage (Phase) Current1-3
(Phase) 2
1 1-2 3
life is 10 years at 176 °C, the expected life is reduced to 23 1-3 2-3
2 1
0.625 years (228 days) at 216 °C. By doubling the aging 3 2-3 1
Table 2. The wiring arrangement for the thermal cycles
duration between each dataset, we could plot the results on Table 2. The wiring arrangement for the thermal cycles

16 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY


Cycles 1-13 Cycles 14-26 Cycles 27-40
Voltage on Phase 1 and 2 Voltage on Phase 1 and 3 Voltage on Phase 2 and 3
Insulation Resistance (MΩ) Current on Phase 3 Current on Phase 2 Current on Phase 1

Date Measurement Taken

Fig. 12. IR profile during endurance test.


Fig. 12. IR profile during endurance test.
• Maximum working temperature: 150 °C remains well above the acceptance criteria of 10 GΩ. The
• Maximum working pressure: 3,000 psi spikes in the profile indicate where the pressure test was un-
dertaken before the holding period had stabilized, leading to
• Maximum working voltage/current (phase to ground): temperature differences; heat has a direct impact on the IR
2.3 kV at 80 A (4 kV/√3) and so produced the spikes as shown. All test results before,
during and after the endurance test were above acceptance
The test wiring diagram was changed every 13 thermal cy- criteria. The connector string successfully passed this test.
cles to ensure an even distribution of current/voltage across
all phases. Table 2 lists the wiring arrangement for these Swage Ferrule Qualification
thermal cycles.
The temperature range of 66 °C to 150 °C was again set This test was specific to the swage and ferrule metal-to-metal
per the encapsulated cable lifetime testing; however, it was sealing arrangement in use on the phase one connectors. This
limited at 150 °C by the test vessel’s maximum temperature test was completed on test samples and not on the connector
rating. Heating and cooling took approximately 8 hours each, string for practicality reasons. The objective of the test was
with a 3-hour hold at each test temperature, which means to determine the swaging capabilities of the dual ferrule so
that a heating and cooling cycle took two working days. as to find the average tensile load at which the ferrules slip
Pressure cycles were included in the temperature hold period: on the cable. The ferrules were set at 50 lb/ft and put into
for each cycle, pressure was decreased to 300 psi and held for the tensometer. Failure mode was cable extrusion through
1 minute, then pressure was increased to 3,000 psi and held the ferrule, with a mean load of 1,403 lb/ft and extension of
for 1 minute. For the rest of the endurance test, during the 0.302” determined as being in excess of acceptance criteria.
3-hour hold period at each temperature, five of these pressure The sealing arrangement successfully passed this test.
cycles were undertaken, resulting in five low-pressure and five
Fig. 13. Shock and vibration test bench.
high-pressure cycles. Following these cycles, the pressure re- Power Frequency Testing
mained at 3,000 psi. Approximately 155 pressure cycles were
conducted over the duration of the test. The power frequency test is a one-off test designed to confirm
Figure 12 charts the insulation resistance (IR) profile the connector string’s capability to withstand a prolonged ap-
Vibration 1.65
across the 80 days of the endurance test’s duration. The
g, 250 Hz max, 20 hours — in radial direction.
plied HV (4 Uo) potential at 60 Hz. Electrical verification was
Shock
IR profile is constant 69while
across all three phases, and g, 1ittime, per axis by taking IR and continuity readings prior to and
checked
Resonance Sweep 2-200
degrades across the 40 cycles — which was expected — it Hz, 3 octaves per
after the minute
test, to ensure the connector’s performance remained

Table 3. Shock and vibration test parameters SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 17
Fig. 12. IR profile during endurance test.

shock exposure, such as might be experienced either during


transportation or in service. Figure 13 is a photo of the
shock and vibration test bench. Proof that the system stayed
within specifications electrically and that the swage and
ferrule arrangement maintained its metal-to-metal sealing
capability successfully was provided with results from the
verification tests conducted before and after the shock and
vibration test.
Table 3 provides the parameters used in the test. The
combined shock and vibration test was conducted along
the “X” and “Y” axis. Between these tests, there was an
opportunity to make further electrical verification tests.
The IR profile and continuity were checked to confirm no
degradation.

AC Breakdown Testing

Fig. 13. Shock and vibration test bench.


Fig. 13. Shock and vibration test bench.
This test was to determine the maximum AC voltage the
within the acceptance criteria. Current leakage was monitored connector string can withstand prior to breakdown. Because
throughout the 4 hours. Even as the IR exceeded the 10 GΩ it is a destructive test, it was conducted on a single-phase
acceptance criteria, continuity was maintained;1.65
Vibration current
g, leak- only.20
250 Hz max, Thehours
voltage
—was increased,
in radial in 2 kV steps, from 10 kV
direction.
age was steady atShock
2 mA throughout the test and within ac- to
69 g, 1 time, per axis18 kV, at which point the steps were reduced to single kV
ceptable limits. This test was passed
Resonance Sweepsuccessfully. increments.
2-200 Hz, 3 octaves per minute Each step was held for a minimum of 1 minute.
The system broke down at 22 kV, above the acceptance cri-
Table 3. Shock
DC Hipot Test and vibration test parameters teria of 18.4 kV. Breakdown was attributed to the ESP cable
connector. The connector string passed this test successfully.
The DC voltage test is a one-off test designed to confirm the
connector string’s capability to withstand DC HV (4 Uo) Rated Current Temperature Rise Test
for 15 minutes. Electrical verification was checked by tak-
ing pre-test and post-test IR and continuity readings. This The rated current temperature rise test is designed to confirm
confirmed that the connector’s performance was within the that under maximum ambient operating temperature and
acceptance criteria. This test was passed successfully. rated current conditions, the connector’s internal tempera-
tures do not exceed the design limits of the insulation mate-
Proof Pressure Testing rials used. This test is conducted in two stages, with 4 hours
at 80 A followed by a 10-second current surge test at 140
This test was designed to confirm the connector string can A. Contact resistance checks were taken pre-test and post-
withstand 1.5x working pressure while maintaining electrical test, to ensure the connector’s performance was within the
function. Electrical verification tests — continuity, IR and
proof voltage — were conducted before and after this pres-
sure test. The test pressure of 4,500 psi was maintained for
15 minutes, with no issues found in either set of electrical
checks. This test was successfully passed.

Shock and Vibration Test

This test was to verify that the termination of the cable to


the connectors was not affected by random vibration and/or

1.65 g, 250 Hz max, 20 hours —


Vibration
in radial direction.
Shock 69 g, 1 time, per axis
Resonance Sweep 2-200 Hz, 3 octaves per minute

Table 3. Shock and vibration test parameters Fig. 14. Motor feedthrough connectors.
Fig. 14. Motor feedthrough connectors.
18 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY
Fig. 15. Field installation of the RPDS.

Fig. 15.criteria.
acceptance Field installation
The glass transition of theof the
PEEK RPDS.
insula- CONCLUSIONS
tion material used on the connector’s contact pins is 170 °C,
whereas the highest recorded temperature during the test was The RPDS maintained electrical integrity, ensuring proper
36 °C. Contact resistance values taken after both the 4-hour ESP performance for more than 250 days. This outcome pro-
test and surge test were within acceptance criteria. This test vides enough confidence to install the system not only in this
was successfully passed. offshore field, but also in other fields with high H2S concen-
trations. The project demonstrated the successful collabora-
FIELD RESULTS tion of bringing subsea and advanced completion connector
and penetrator technologies to ESP applications.
The field test objective was to assess the performance of
the RPDS for a period of at least 180 days to determine the ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
robustness of the feedthrough connection and the usability
of the system. The idea was also to determine the challenges The authors would like to thank management of Saudi
that the field personnel might encounter during the handling, Aramco and Schlumberger/OneSubsea for their permission to
installation and operation of this MLE and motor head sys- publish this article.
tem, and to assess their effect on the short-term operational This article was presented at the SPE Saudi Arabia Section
performance of the product. Moreover, the RPDS had to Annual Technical Symposium and Exhibition, al-Khobar,
maintain good electrical readings during the test period. In Saudi Arabia, April 25-28, 2016.
case an ESP failure arose, it was important that it not be as-
sociated with the RPDS. REFERENCES
The system was installed in an offshore well in February
2015 and has successfully operated for more than 250 days, 1. Al-Sadah, H.: “ESP Data Analysis to Enhance Electrical
which exceeds the field test’s success criteria of a minimum Submersible Pump Run Life at Saudi Arabian Fields,” SPE
180-day run life. Figure 14 is a photo of the actual motor paper 173703, presented at the SPE Middle East Artificial
feedthrough connectors. Figure 15 shows the field installa- Lift Conference and Exhibition, Manama, Bahrain,
tion of the RPDS. The downhole equipment configuration November 26-27, 2014.
includes a pump with 57 stages, a LSBSB-BSBSB severe ser- 2. Spahi, S. and Parsley, P.: “Reliable High Power ESP
vice protector and a 300 HP motor. The ESP with the RPDS Tubing Hanger Connector Systems for Deepwater
was function tested in March 2015 at various speeds and an Downhole Applications,” OTC paper 24138, presented
estimated rate of 5,000 bbl of fluid per day (BFPD). at the Offshore Technology Conference, Houston, Texas,
Upon rig movement, the ESP was commissioned and is May 6-9, 2013.
running at an average of 55 Hz. During the life of the ESP,
several trips were made to the subsea well for various reasons;
however, the ESP, electrical connection system and RPDS still
indicated a healthy system. The ESP is still running and con-
tinuously producing between 5,000 BFPD to 8,000 BFPD.

SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 19


BIOGRAPHIES Rob Fox joined Diamould Ltd. in
2006 and began working as the
Dr. Jinjiang X. Xiao is a Petroleum
OneSubsea Diamould Lead Engineer
Engineering Consultant working in
on the Reliable Power Delivery
Saudi Aramco’s Exploration and
System project, where he was
Petroleum Engineering Center –
responsible for the concept, design
Advanced Research Center (EXPEC
and qualification through to
ARC). He is currently the focus area
installation of the connector system. His previous work
champion for artificial lift.
experience includes working in the nuclear power
Prior to joining Saudi Aramco in 2003, Jinjiang spent
industry. During the last 10 years, Rob has progressed
10 years with Amoco and later BP-Amoco, working
from being a Designer to serving as a Lead Engineer,
on multiphase flow, flow assurance and deepwater
working predominantly on power supply systems, both
production engineering.
on application engineering projects and new technology
He received both his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in
development projects. Some of the recent projects he has
Petroleum Engineering from the University of Tulsa,
been involved in are located in the North Sea, South
Tulsa, OK.
China Sea and offshore Brazil.
Rob is currently working toward gaining chartered
Randall “Randy” A. Shepler is a
engineer status.
Petroleum Engineering Specialist
In 2004, he received his B.S. degree in Mechanical
working in the Artificial Lift Unit
Engineering from Manchester Metropolitan University,
within Saudi Aramco’s Northern
Manchester, U.K.
Area Production Engineering & Well
Services Department. In addition to
Stuart Parkinson is an Oil and Gas
his 35 years of upstream experience,
Connector Specialist currently
Randy has authored and coauthored numerous technical
working at OneSubsea, a
papers with a primary emphasis on electric submersible
Schlumberger company. Over the last
pump (ESP) systems and associated completions and
24 years, he has worked on several
production.
technology world firsts related to
Additionally, he has served as a chairman, committee
electrical and optical connector
member and master class training instructor for numerous
systems for subsea, wellhead and downhole applications.
Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) and PRAXIS
During his career, Stuart has held several engineering and
workshops and symposiums.
management positions within Tronic (Expro), Diamould,
Randy also has three patents and numerous
Schlumberger and OneSubsea, in each position
patent-pending inventions pertaining to his upstream
introducing a number of unique and patented
areas of expertise.
technologies developed and implemented for field use.
He received his B.S. degree in Petroleum Engineering
He holds several patents for high voltage subsea wet
and a B.S. degree in Business Administration from West
mate connector technology.
Virginia University, Morgantown, WV.
Stuart received a Higher National Diploma from the
University of Lancashire, Lancashire, U.K., and also holds
Yhossie S. Windiarto is a Petroleum
qualifications in offshore corrosion and metallurgy from
Engineer working in the Artificial Lift
Cranfield University, Cranfield, U.K.
Unit within Saudi Aramco’s
Production & Facility Development
Department. Prior to joining Saudi
Aramco in 2012, he worked for
Schlumberger’s Artificial Lift Unit in
several locations, including Oman, Indonesia and Saudi
Arabia.
In 1999, Yhossie received his B.S. degree in Petroleum
Engineering from the University of National Development
“Veteran” Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

20 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY


Drilling for the Next Generation of
Multilateral Completion Systems

Authors: Yousif M. Abu Ahmad, Rami F. Saleh, Brett W. Bouldin, Robert J. Turner and Ali Bin Al-Sheikh

ABSTRACT interdependent and require continuous coordination, this


article summarizes the modifications made to the drilling
The objective of drilling a well is to accommodate the com- procedures to achieve the well’s objective. The emphasis is
pletion string, which has been designed to optimize reservoir mainly on three operations: (1) Underreaming while drilling
production. Streamlining a completion design for a mature the 8½” × 9” hole section, (2) Hole preparation prior to
field maximizes the chances of achieving the well objective running the open hole completion, and (3) Implementation
with minimal drilling challenges. When introducing a new of a unique cable avoidance procedure during conventional
completion technology, that streamlining effort requires window milling operations.
reevaluating the drilling procedures and practices to accom-
modate the modified completion. This is especially true when BACKGROUND
running new completion designs into an open hole, as op- Lateral 1

posed to a cased hole completion. The Saudi Aramco drilling Saudi Aramco has many Lateral 0
team was faced with the challenge of executing a multilateral oil Lateral
producing
1 tight car- Lateral 2
well plan that involved running three open hole lateral com- bonate
Lateral 0formations that

pletions. The intent was to segment the open hole laterals respond
Lateral 2 well to horizon-

and then provide active control and monitoring capabilities tally drilled, open hole
for each segment. Such a completion requires a complex completions. Experience
power and telemetry system that can deliver electric power has shown that increased
to all the segmented lateral completions, including the ones reservoir contact with a
that are deployed through the milled windows. The open lower unit drawdown is
hole laterals also had to be conditioned properly to success- an effective way to in-
fully run the modified completion components in the open crease recovery and mini-
hole without restriction and land the completions at the pre- mize water and gas coning
7” Liner
7” Liner

planned target depths. in these wells. Maximum


In this modification, the main power supply and telem- reservoir contact (MRC)
etry conduit between the upper completion and the open wells were introduced in
hole completions is a cable cemented behind the 7” liner. 2002 as commingled tri-
This presented several challenges, such as how to run and lateral wells with over 5
9⅝” Casing

cement the liner and mill the windows without intersecting km of reservoir contact, 9⅝” Casing

the cable, which would jeopardize the success of the entire Figs. 1 and 2. By 2004, in-
Fig. 1. A plan view of a typical MRC well.
completion. The team developed new procedures to properly telligent completions were
Fig.
Fig. 1.1.AAplan
planview
view of
of a
a typical
typicalMRC
MRCwell.
well.
execute these operations and succeeded in maintaining the added with the placement
integrity of the power system and landing the completions
at depth. This was confirmed by conducting tests at various
stages throughout the implementation process.
An integrated project, such as this one, requires focused
collaboration between the drilling and completion teams.
Whereas the traditional practice is to drill to total depth and
then complete the well, this unique completion design requires
a repeated drill-and-complete sequence as the well progresses.
In addition to highlighting the key factors in managing
Fig.
Fig. 2.
2. Plan of aa standard
standard trilateral
trilateralwell.
well.
and implementing such a well, where various disciplines are Plan of

SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 21


Fig. 2. Plan of a standard trilateral well.
of hydraulic internal control valves (H-ICVs) in the mother- development of the ManaraTM completion system, it determined
bore to control each lateral1. Over time, MRC wells further that to supply power to, and communicate with, this many
increased their length to over 10 km, but the number of ICVs tools downhole, a digital electrical ICV and umbilical telemetry
was limited to four or five because each ICV required con- system was needed. The solution was to “branch” the umbil-
nection to one or more hydraulic umbilical cables, extending ical cables into the laterals and utilize an inductive coupler. To
from downhole to the surface. Also, packers and wellheads work, the solution required a downhole A/C power source and
had a limited number of feedthrough penetrations to accom- communications telemetry. To ensure the reliability of the in-
modate these umbilical cables. ductive coupler and the electric umbilical “backbone,” the sys-
Early studies involving the production logs of over 60 tem was made completely analog; no digital circuitry was used
single horizontal wells of 1 km in length showed an average between the surface box and the downhole ICVs.
flow contribution from 85% of the horizontal section with Almost immediately afterward, Schlumberger began de-
a generally uniform flow profile2. Additional contribution velopment of a next-generation ICV completion, called the
was recorded from sections beyond the 1 km length, though Manara Station. The design called for an all-electric flow
with decreasing returns1, 3. This was further confirmed on a control ICV and a flow monitoring mandrel to be integrated
field basis by a trend showing diminished productivity as a into a single downhole module. Additional capabilities later
function of increased reservoir contact; as reservoir contact included a venturi flow meter, a capacitive water cut sen-
increased, compartment length also increased, with decreased sor and a variable choking flow orifice. While the Manara
returns. Clearly this problem needed to be solved; if compart- Station itself was a very challenging module to design, build
ments were limited to a 1 km length and reservoir contacts and qualify, it was a relatively straightforward module to
began to exceed 10 km, over 10 ICVs per well would be deploy in the field. The inductive coupler was another matter
required, not just four or five. Since it was more efficient to completely. The inductive coupler connector system required
drill fewer, longer laterals than many short laterals, it would the co-location of male and female coils within +/- 2”.
be necessary to compartmentalize the laterals as well as the Multilateral selective casing nipples and locks normally used
motherbore. And even further increases in reservoir contact for whipstock location and orientation were used to accu-
were desired — to 20 km and beyond. As the number of rately position the inductive couplers. The use of these tools
drainage points in the well increased, flow measurement and was the main factor driving design of the completion needed
control had to meet new high definition requirements if they to successfully implement an ERC Manara well, Fig. 3.
were to achieve well production optimization. All these new To identify operational uncertainties prior to running the
requirements made it overwhelmingly clear that a fundamen- full-scale system in a multilateral well, several sub-trials were
tally new type of intelligent completion was needed. conducted to evaluate the well construction process, identify
In 2007, Saudi Aramco initiated a project, called extreme risks and function test the system. Table 1 is a summary of
reservoir contact (ERC), designed to expand the capabilities the trials.
of intelligent completions to 50 or more control valves, with The Manara completion design offers independent mon-
many valves per lateral4. As Schlumberger, in response, began itoring and control within the lateral segments, which are

Fig. 3. Completion schematic.

22 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY


Trial Objective Results
1 • Construction of wired junction. Established the procedure for window milling.
• Run open hole completion in 10,000 ft lateral. Established the FF requirements for running the open
2 • Run two prototype Manara Stations in open hole. hole completion. Successfully function tested the system
• Test connectivity of the well to the facility. connectivity.

Tracked the liner and intercepted the electric umbilical


3 • Full system deployment.
during window construction.
Successfully implemented the cable avoidance technique
4 • Test cable avoidance technique.
on three laterals.
• Deploy full ManaraTM completion system in
5 Successfully deployed and function tested the system.
motherbore.
• Full ManaraTM completion system deployment in Successfully deployed the system in a trilateral well and
6
trilateral well. effectively function tested all the components.

Table 1. Summary of all field trials conducted

isolated with swell packers. The innovative design requires location has been identified, each lateral is drilled and one
the deployment of what has been coined a “wired liner.” Manara completion, containing several stations, is installed
The liner itself is used as a power and telemetry conduit per lateral. Figure 5 shows the general makeup of the lateral
between the upper completion and Cable wrapped
the lateral around
segments, pro-the liner to
completion, with the two Manara stations compartmental-
viding a permanent path for ACallowpowerforandwindow milling without
communication. ized by a swell packer.
The liner was “wired” by adding intercepting
the followingthe cable.to
elements
the string: WIRED LINER

• Inductive couplers, which allow communication with


The wired liner is equipped with an electric umbilical cable
the lateral completions through induction.
wrapped around the exterior of the liner string. The cable is
• An electric umbilical, which interconnects the inductive secured to the liner with clamps that prevent radial and axial
couplers, providing a means for power transmission and movement by the cable. To accommodate the increase in the
ICC with
communication
Inductive between the segments and the upper effective diameter of the liner, the 8½” hole was underreamed
Coupler ICC with ICC with
completion. Inductive
ICC with
Inductive Inductive
Coupler Coupler Coupler
• An index casing coupling (ICC), which gives a
rotational and depth reference for use in locating the
umbilical.
Fig. 4. Liner configuration wired with inductive couplers and a wrapped umbilical (figure provided by
Schlumberger).
The wired liner is considered the backbone of the com- Cable wrapped around the liner to
allow for window milling without
intercepting the cable.
pletion as it permits lateral branching while maintaining
connectivity with the upper completion, Fig. 4. This new
concept of a connected liner, however, presents several chal-
lenges when it comes to running and cementing the liner, ICC with
Inductive

window milling and bottom-hole assembly (BHA) separation


Coupler ICC with ICC with ICC with
Inductive Inductive Inductive
Coupler Coupler Coupler

from the liner as it drills the lateral without intercepting the


electric umbilical. Fig.4.4.
Fig. Liner
Liner configuration
configuration wired
wired with with
inductive inductive
couplers and a couplers and a (figure
wrapped umbilical wrapped umbilical
provided by
Schlumberger).
(figure provided by Schlumberger).
Once the liner is deployed and the umbilical cable

Male Swell Electric Manara Swell Manara


Packer Male Swell Electric Manara
Station Swell Manara
Locator
Locator Coupler Packer Umbilical Packer Station
Packer Coupler Packer Umbilical Station Packer Station

Male Swell Electric Manara Swell Manara


Packer Male Swell Electric Manara
Station Swell Manara
Locator
Locator Coupler Packer Umbilical Packer Station
Packer Coupler Packer Umbilical Station Packer Station

Fig. 5. Lateral completion showing the ICC locator, a coupler, the umbilical, and Manara Stations
separated by swell packers (figure provided by Schlumberger).
Fig. 5. Lateral completion showing the ICC locator, a coupler, the umbilical, and Manara Stations separated by swell packers (figure provided by Schlumberger).
Fig. 5. Lateral completion showing the ICC locator, a coupler, the umbilical, and Manara Stations
separated by swell packers (figure provided by Schlumberger). SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 23
to 9”. Enlarging the hole was necessary for several reasons During the first run, an anchor packer is run in hole, and
related to the integrity and successful deployment of the wired then oriented and spaced out in reference to the cable loca-
liner. First of all, when pumping the cement for the new liner tion. Ideally, the window should be cut 180° from the cable,
in the smaller hole, the annular restrictions created by the on the opposite side of the liner, minimizing the chances of
clamps and cable will result in high equivalent circulating den- contact with the umbilical. The whipstock is set in the sec-
sities acting on the borehole, which may result in fracturing ond run and the window milling operation is initiated.
the formation and lead to severe losses. Another reason for Once the window depth and orientation are selected, the
hole enlargement is the presence of reactive shales; enlarging window can be milled with minimal chances of intercepting
the hole will help to overcome the time dependent swelling of the cable. The challenge arises when trying to separate from
the shales during liner deployment and keep them from creat- the liner with no reliable directional readings due to the
ing an obstruction. Finally, the additional clearance between magnetic interference created by the BHA’s proximity to the
the open hole and the liner will accommodate the increase in metallic body of the liner. This essentially creates a blind
the effective diameter of the liner and its accessories. spot for the first ± 200 ft of drilling beyond the window.
In Trial 3, a two-run operation was conducted to enlarge The risk materialized in Trial 3, where the window was suc-
the 8½” hole. First, the hole was drilled, then a separate cessfully milled but separation was not achieved. The BHA
underreaming run was performed to enlarge the hole. This instead tracked the liner and intercepted the umbilical, lead-
was found to be time-consuming and provided no additional ing to aborting the project and running a conventional intel-
benefits with regards to hole quality. For the subject well, ligent completion. To address the lack of directional readings
the drilling and underreaming were performed in a single during separation, a method for monitoring the separation in
run, resulting in a more than 50% reduction in time when real time needed to be established.
compared to the two-run method.
Based on the lessons learned from previous wells, a fit-for-
The specific 9” gauge of the enlarged hole was selected
purpose procedure was implemented to ensure proper separa-
based on previous trials. When one well was enlarged to
tion from the liner without damaging the umbilical cable. At
10”, it created an excessive gap between the liner and open
the core of the procedure is the ability to qualitatively monitor
hole, resulting in poor cement distribution. The excessive ce-
the separation of the drilling BHA from the liner in real time,
ment thickness on one side of the liner may contribute to the
enabling any immediate adjustments in the directional drilling
BHA tracking the liner during window milling and subse-
BHA steering ratio as needed. This was achieved by deploying
quent lateral drilling operations. This scenario was observed
a near bit, real-time resistivity tool in the directional drilling
during Trial 3, when the BHA drilled the cement around the
BHA to monitor the resistivity trends. The tool registers the
liner, rather than the harder compressive strength rock, and
difference between the liner resistivity and formation resistiv-
so tracked the liner, which resulted in intercepting the elec-
ity as the drilling BHA progresses in depth, Fig. 6. The mon-
tric umbilical. This led to aborting the completion plan and
itoring employed a matrix to accelerate the decision making
running the contingency conventional intelligent completion.
process while drilling past the window.
Based on the lessons learned from the trials, the under-
The first point, Pt 1, shows no resistivity reading, indi-
reamed hole size was reduced to 9”, which provides enough
cating that the tool is in the liner. Once the tool exits the
clearance to run the liner with all its accessories without
window, a signature spike in resistivity is observed, Pt 2.
jeopardizing the cement quality.
This spike is the first positive indication of separation from
WINDOW MILLING AND CABLE AVOIDANCE the liner. The resistivity should then move closer to the
formation resistivity as drilling progresses. Successful sep-
The fact that an umbilical cable is wrapped around the liner aration is signaled when the resistivity reading matches the
makes it challenging to mill the window while keeping the formation readings. If a trend is observed of declining or sta-
cable intact. One of the functions of the ICCs is to permit bilizing resistivity prior to reaching the target value, several
the identification of the cable location. Dedicated cable lo-
Casing Resistivity at Formation
cating runs were conducted for each of the ICCs. Based on Resistivity Window Exit Resistivity
the information, the whipstock orientation was selected with
a contingency for each window. Because the depth restriction
of the windows limited the options of window orientation,
a proper window milling procedure needed to be developed
and followed to ensure successful drilling exit and separation
from the liner and its umbilical cable in the first milling at-
tempt. This procedure is described as follows.
Once the cable’s location behind the liner is confirmed,
Fig. 6. Real-time resistivity readings as a lateral is drilled.
window milling is carried out using a two-trip process. Fig. 6. Real-time resistivity readings as a lateral is drilled.

24 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY


contingencies can be applied, such as increasing the steering • Reaming trip.
ratio on the directional assembly, or changing the directional • Increased fluids viscosity.
BHA from a rotary steerable system to a steerable motor for
a more aggressive build. • Use of high performance lubricant.
This cable avoidance method when milling the window
and separating from the liner was implemented successfully The team’s objective was to understand the effect of each
for the two windows on the subject well, and had proved of these elements on the FF. The results clearly showed that
successful three times on the previous trial well, giving suffi- wiper trips, combined with circulation at specific critical
cient evidence that the technique is reliable. Once separation points, and reaming both had the most impact in reducing the
is achieved, the lateral is drilled to target depth by imple- FFs, Figs. 7 and 8, respectively. This can be mainly attributed
menting field specific drilling practices. to the agitation and removal of the accumulated cuttings.
The increase in fluids viscosity also reduced the FF, but
HOLE PREPARATION to a lesser extent when compared to the wiper trips and
reaming, Fig. 9. The viscosity increase reduces the drag ex-
Routine operations in the field do not require running open perienced by the drillstring by enhancing the fluid’s cuttings
hole completions. Therefore, hole geometry and friction suspension capabilities and preventing the accumulation of
factors (FFs) are not a concern once the lateral is drilled and cuttings on the low side of the wellbore.
The use of a high performance lubricant was also evalu-
the drilling assembly isCasing Resistivity
pulled out of the hole. This is not at
the Formation
ated and found to consistently reduce the FF by 0.05. The
Window
case for the subject well. Based on the simulations,
Resistivity Exit
a low FF Resistivity
was targeted as required to successfully land the completion addition of the lubricant was used as a contingency when all
at the required depth. To keep the FF low entails drilling other techniques fell short of achieving the low FFs needed
a smooth wellbore with minimal doglegs and few varia- to accommodate running the completion in the open hole.
tions in diameter while maximizing hole cleaning efficiency.
The drilling drive mechanism and drilling practices play a SUCCESSFUL COLLABORATION
big role when it comes to hole quality and hole cleaning.
The deployment of the new system necessitated a revision of
Though drilling practices in the subject field are well estab-
the entire drilling and completion dynamic. Principally, the
lished, the objective had to shift from maximizing the rate of
penetration to minimizing the FF5. conventional drilling operations for completing the process
of well construction was changed to a drill-and-complete
The targeted low FF was accomplished by applying sev-
cycle for each lateral. This meant drilling and completing the
eral techniques. To understand the effectiveness of each of
lateral, testing the completion system prior to moving on to
the techniques, FF readings were taken and compared after
each one was implemented. This was time-consuming but the next lateral, and then repeating the process. The nature
of the project required a unique collaboration, as the line
necessary to identify best practices for future wells. The
between drilling and completion was blurred, making the
study focused on the following hole preparation techniques:
Fig. 6. Real-time resistivity readings as a lateral is drilled.and targets interdependent for the sake of the
responsibilities
• Wiper trips — tripping pipe without rotating — and project’s success.
circulating at critical locations. One example would be window milling. In common

Fig. 7. Tripping the pipe with circulation allowed the cuttings to be carried to the surface improving the FF by about 0.025.

Fig. 7. Tripping the pipe with circulation allowed the cuttings to beJOURNAL
SAUDI ARAMCO carried to the surface
OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 25
improvi
by about 0.025.
by about 0.025.

Fig. 8. Reaming trips smoothened the borehole and enabled more cuttings to be lifted to the surface, improving the FF by about 0.05.

Fig. 8. Reaming trips smoothened the borehole and enabled more cuttings to be lifted to the surfac
improving the FF by about 0.05.

Fig. 9. Increasing the fluid viscosity gave better cutting suspension, which slightly improved the FF.

Fig. 9. Increasing the fluid viscosity gave better cutting suspension, which slightly improved the FF.
practice the whipstock engineer monitors the milling oper- CONCLUSIONS
ation to ensure success. In the case of the subject well, both
the multilateral engineer and the completion engineer were One of the primary goals of the team was to establish spe-
involved in the window milling operation to ensure that cific procedures and practices that can be implemented on
the completion passed through the window. In many cases, future wells. Through the lessons learned from the subject
the completion requirements directed the drilling practices, well and the preceding trials, the team was able to produce
necessitating a new level of compromise between different an effective step-by-step methodology for drilling similar
segments within the team. This was crucial, for example, wells and set the standards that will open the door for fur-
to achieving the desired low FF in the 6⅛” open hole. The ther efficiency and optimization.
drilling practices, clean out operations and BHA design
where optimized to reduce the FF while sacrificing the rate ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
of penetration.
The stated examples represent a common theme seen The authors would like to thank the management of Saudi
throughout the project. Collaboration and alignment of Aramco and Schlumberger for their support and permission
goals and objectives among the parties was achieved with to publish this article.
effective communication involving extensive meetings and This article was presented at the Offshore Technology
correspondence. Conference, Houston, Texas, May 2-5, 2016.

26 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY


REFERENCES BIOGRAPHIES
Yousif M. Abu Ahmad joined Saudi
1. Salamy, S.P., Al-Mubarak, H.K., Hembling, D.E. and
Aramco in 2005 as a Tool Pusher
Al-Ghamdi, M.S.: “Deployed Smart Technologies Enablers and Foreman working in the South-
for Improving Performance in Tight Reservoirs — Case: ern Area Drilling Operations Depart-
Shaybah Field, Saudi Arabia,” SPE paper 99281, presented ment. His field experience includes
at the Intelligent Energy Conference and Exhibition, onshore, offshore and workover op-
Amsterdam, The Netherlands, April 11-13, 2006. erations. In 2010, Yousif was selected
for a one year out-of-Kingdom developmental assignment
2. Saleri, N.G.: “Maximum Reservoir Contact Wells:
with Baker Hughes, gaining practical experience from
Rewriting the Rules of the Subsurface,” paper presented
working in U.S. drilling operations.
at the SPE Gulf Coast Section, Houston, Texas, September
He has 11 years of experience, including work as a
26, 2002. Rig Foreman, Drilling Optimization Engineer, Workover
3. Saleri, N.G., Salamy, S.P., Mubarak, H.K., Sadler, R.K., Engineer and Senior Drilling Engineer in Saudi Aramco’s
Dossary, A.S. and Muraikhi, A.J.: “SHAYBAH-220: Exploration and Oil Drilling Engineering Department.
A Maximum Reservoir Contact (MRC) Well and Its Yousif is currently on a developmental assignment with the
Implications for Developing Tight Facies Reservoirs,” Contract Administration Division as a Contract Advisor.
SPE paper 81487, presented at the Middle East Oil Show, He was a key member in the Manara team and was
a major contributor to the planning, execution and
Bahrain, June 9-12, 2003.
successful delivery of the first extreme reservoir contact
4. Saggaf, M.M.: “A Vision for Future Upstream (ERC Manara) well in the world.
Technologies,” Journal of Petroleum Technology, Vol. 60, Yousif has published several technical papers on
No. 3, March 2008, pp. 54-98. drilling optimization, technologies and field studies. He is
5. Bouldin, B.W., Verma, C., Dyer, S., Singh, P. and Oliveira, an active member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers
T.: “Powering Through a Lateral Junction for ERC (SPE) and is a certified SPE Petroleum Engineer.
In 2004, he received his B.S. degree in Science in Mining
Wells — Is It Really a Step Too Far?” SPE paper 160856,
Engineering from the University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ.
presented at the SPE Saudi Arabia Section Technical
Symposium and Exhibition, al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia, April
Rami F. Saleh is a Drilling Engineer-
8-11, 2012. ing Division Head in the Exploration
and Oil Drilling Engineering Depart-
ment of Saudi Aramco. He has over
15 years of experience in drilling en-
gineering and operations. This experi-
ence ranges from onshore and
offshore rigs to deep gas drilling, exploration and shale
gas drilling, and oil increment development, including the
giant Khurais field, and most recently, the Shaybah field
expansion increment.
Rami has published several technical papers related
to drilling optimization, and he participated in several
international technical panels on the subject of drilling
automation. He is an active member of the Society of
Petroleum Engineers (SPE) and the Saudi Association
of Energy Economics, and is a certified SPE Petroleum
Engineer.
Rami received his B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering
from Tufts University, Medford, MA, and his M.S. degree
in Petroleum Engineering from Institut Francais du Petrole
(IFP), Rueil-Malmaison, France.

SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 27


Brett W. Bouldin is a Petroleum Engi-
neer Consultant with Saudi Aramco
and has been with the company for 6
years. He has over 33 total years of
product development experience in
the completions industry, first with
Baker Hughes, then as a founding
member of WellDynamics/Halliburton. Brett currently ini-
tiates and manages completions development projects for
the Exploration and Petroleum Engineering Center – Ad-
vanced Research Center (EXPEC ARC), focusing on new
tools that improve production recovery, mainly dealing
with next-generation intelligent completion systems.
He has authored or coauthored 7 technical papers and
35 U.S. patents.
Brett received his B.S. degree in Industrial Engineering
from Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, and is a
Registered Professional Engineer in Texas.

Robert “Rob” J. Turner is a Petroleum


Engineering Specialist in the Advanced
Completions focus area of the Produc-
tion Technology Team of Saudi Aram-
co’s Exploration and Petroleum
Engineering Center – Advanced Research
Center (EXPEC ARC). During his 30
years in the oil industry, he has worked in the U.K., Australia
and Southeast Asia for operators Shell, BHP Billiton and Chev-
ron. This has enabled Rob to gain experience in land, platform
and subsea operations for a variety of oil and gas, brownfield
and greenfield projects. He has held positions in all life cycle
stages of hydrocarbon development, including project devel-
opment, completion operations and reservoir management.
For the last 10 years, Rob has specialized in
smart fields, from smart well justification, functional
specification, project engineering and installation to
commissioning and reservoir management. Prior to joining
Saudi Aramco, he was the smart fields technical expert for
Brunei Shell Petroleum, the leading operator in the Asian
region for smart well installations.
Rob received his B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering
from Leeds University, Leeds, U.K., and a M.Eng. degree
in Petroleum Engineering from Heriot-Watt University,
Edinburgh, U.K.

Ali Bin Al-Sheikh is a Completion


Project Engineer working for Schlum-
berger in Houston, TX. His 9 years
of oil field experience include running
intelligent completions, permanent
downhole monitoring systems and
new completions technology. For the
past 5 years, Ali has been working as a Manara Project
Manager, supporting the engineering team and the execu-
tion team as they carry out all Manara installation-related
operations.
He received his B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering
from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals
(KFUPM), Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

28 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY


Innovative Step Change in Drilling
Efficiency for Medium Radius Reentry
Deep Gas Wells with a High Build
Rate Rotary Steerable System
Authors: Abdul Halim Ab Hamid, Verdy L. Siregar, Ali N. Al-BinAli, Mohamed E. Khalil, Ayman Ghazzawi, Omar T.A. Ashraf and
Muhammad S. Balka

ABSTRACT of these tools can only be used outside the zone of magnetic
interference once sufficient separation from the motherbore
Generally, deep gas workover and reentry wells in Saudi has been achieved. Moreover, consistent doglegs of more than
Arabia are kicked off in the Sudair formation through a 14°/100 ft were recorded using the HRSS; the maximum dog-
whipstock because the overlying base Jilh dolomite (BJD) leg was 17.44°/100 ft.
formation can flow with high pressure, which jeopardizes Since then, this concept has been applied successfully to
well control. Whipstocks are set deep in the 9⅝” casing, other vertical reentry wells and at existing inclinations in the
after which the 8⅜” and 5⅞” holes are drilled to access the 8⅜” and 5⅞” sections in Saudi Arabia and worldwide. The
targeted lower carbonate and sand reservoirs. Deeper kick- scope of the article is limited to Saudi Arabian deep gas wells
offs also avoid contact across the water-bearing Carbonate only. The average ROP across the build section showed a
A reservoir and instead aim for displacement across the 137% improvement over the ROP for conventional motor
Carbonate B or C reservoirs. Isolation from the Carbonate A bottom-hole assemblies (BHAs) across similar build sections.
reservoir is important for multistage fracturing completions Eliminating the 8⅜” section, avoiding the hazards of drilling
as they are still not proven for maintaining the long-term in the Jilh and Sudair formations, saving the motor trip to
isolation of water-bearing zones. kickoff from the whipstock and improving the ROP resulted
Regardless of the deeper whipstock setting, the high dogleg in significant savings. This step change in drilling performance
requirements of such wells exceed the capabilities of conven- was realized by acquiring a thorough understanding of local
tional rotary steerable systems (RSSs). Conventional steerable drilling conditions and conducting the in-depth analysis that
motors with a high bend housing and the capacity to achieve enabled efficient execution.
70% to 80% of the sliding mode of drilling have been the only
option to drill wells with such high dogleg severity (DLS) — INTRODUCTION
100 ft. Drilling medium radius wells with a conventional motor
assembly, however, requires multiple runs, several wiper trips Most of the deep gas wells in Saudi Arabia are drilled in the
to clean the hole and multiple reaming trips before running gigantic South Ghawar field. The main gas producing zones
are the Late Permian Carbonate B and C stacked carbonate
the liner. These operations show poor drilling efficiency due to
reservoirs1. Wells drilled here incorporate three types of cas-
their slow rates of penetration (ROP) and numerous bit trips.
ing designs, namely MK1, K1 and K2. Figure 1 shows the
A high build rate rotary steerable system (HRSS) was in-
troduced as a solution to such challenges in these workover
wells’ 8⅜” and 5⅞” sections. While the HRSS technology
has been used before, this was the first time the HRSS kicked
off vertically from a whipstock in a well in Saudi Arabia,
setting a worldwide milestone. The new technology allowed
the kickoff point to be pushed further into the Sudair for-
mation near the Sudair dolomite, reducing the costly risk
from Jilh pressure. The step change also provided the option
to slim the hole by eliminating the 8⅜” hole size, so kickoff
was done in the 7” liner.
Deployment of the HRSS, which allowed direct kickoff
from a whipstock set vertically, eliminated the need for a ded-
icated steerable motor assembly run. Direct kickoff also meant
eliminating the need for a gyro tool, used to enhance the
Fig.1.1.The
The differences between theK1
K2, K1 andcasing
MK-1designs.
casing designs.
steerability of conventional RSS tools; the steering capacity Fig. differences between the K2, and MK-1

SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 29


300
difference among the three casing designs. In a typical K2 well found in the Jilh formation isn’t present. It can be drilled with
profile, the 13⅜” casing is set from the surface downhole 30 a relatively low dogleg severity (DLS) of 3°/100 ft to 5°/100
ft into the base Jilh dolomite (BJD) formation, followed by ft. The 8⅜” hole section can be 2,000 ft to 4,000 ft in length
the drilling of a 12” section into the Sudair formation to the with the true vertical depth (TVD) at around 10,000 ft to
top of the carbonates, and then the drilling of an 8⅜” section 13,000 ft. The 5⅞” section can be drilled horizontally, pene-
across the carbonates and sand reservoirs. trating the potential reservoir for a length of about 2,000 ft to
The MK1 design, which is the “slim design,” sets a 9⅝” 3,000 ft. Some of the challenges presented by this design are
casing from the surface into the BJD formation. From there, an the cutting of a window through the 9⅝” and 13⅜” casings,
8⅜” section is drilled to the top of the carbonates, after which and the hazards of further drilling through the unstable BJD
a 5⅞” section is drilled into the target carbonates and sand res- formation pressures, which can be avoided if the kickoff is ini-
ervoirs. The MK1 design is cost-effective, which is characteristic tiated deeper in the Sudair or Sudair dolomite formations.
of slim designs, since there is one less hole size to drill and one The second option, the deeper kickoff design, is more
less casing size. On average, it takes approximately 100 days to challenging because the intended target has to be achieved
drill a K2 design compared to 80 days for a MK1 design2. in a relatively short TVD margin. The required DLS is more
The MK1 design obviously makes better financial sense com- demanding: in excess of 10°/100 ft. Furthermore, the kickoff
pared to the K2 design, but occasionally higher pressures are is usually done in the Sudair formation, which is plastic shale
encountered in the BJD formation, which then limit drilling of having the ability to ball up the bit, reducing DLS capabilities
the 8⅜” section to the deeper target Carbonate B or C forma- up to 30% and reducing the rate of penetration (ROP) more
tions. The K2 design is particularly advantageous in these situ- than 50%. The second option becomes even more challenging
ations because it provides the opportunity to set an additional in the case of an MK1 design where Jilh pressure has been en-
casing string. That means, later on when these wells are deemed countered, which exacerbates the difficulty of drilling multiple
no longer productive, though they are in a known good reser- formations with a high mud weight (MW). In such compli-
voir, reentry to drill for different targets or install other comple- cated scenarios, two options are available:
tion types becomes a viable objective to pursue.
By drilling reentry wells, almost 60% of a new well’s cost 1. Milling the 7” liner below the 9⅝” casing shoe to create
can be saved. To design a conventional reentry sidetrack well room for re-drilling the 8⅜” section. This option risks
and avoid underbalanced drilling options, it is important to opening up the borehole to the high-pressure Jilh forma-
understand the initial well design — either MK1 or K2 — that tion. Should Jilh pressure be encountered, drilling has to be
was used to drill the pilot hole. The following design options are preceded with high MW and often can lead to losses in the
possible: deeper Sudair or Sudair dolomite formations. The added
risks of drilling with extreme overbalance in carbonates
1. Reentry well design with two hole sizes, meaning the cased make this option infeasible.
hole is sidetracked from inside the 9⅝” casing by setting a 2. The other option is to kickoff deeper in the Carbonate B
whipstock. The sidetracking usually takes place in the BJD or C formations and land in the target reservoir. This op-
formation, and the 8⅜” hole size is drilled to land inside tion, with its limited TVD availability, effectively requires
the gas-bearing Carbonate B or C formation, where the 7” drilling a short radius well with a DLS above 30°/100
liner will be set and cemented. The drilling is then contin- ft. Alternatively, kicking off at a shallower depth in the
ued in a 5⅞” open hole to the well’s total depth (TD) in Sudair or Sudair dolomite allows a single hole size of 5⅞”
the zone of interest. to be drilled.
2. Reentry design in one or two hole sizes with a deeper side-
track, meaning that the sidetracking from inside the 7” or Traditionally, these high doglegs were handled using a di-
9⅝” liner using a whipstock occurs at a greater depth, cor- rectional steerable motor assembly with high bend settings.
responding to deeper formations, i.e., the Sudair and Sudair Design option 1, with the cased hole sidetracked from inside
dolomite. The well can be drilled either as a 8⅜” then 5⅞” the 9⅝” casing in the BJD formation, even with its reduced
hole or as a single 5⅞” hole size to TD. This option is usually DLS requirement, needed a minimum of two runs to drill with
selected to avoid the potential Jilh high pressure that was a conventional steerable motor assembly or a combination
encountered in the 12” section of the original wellbore — of steerable motor and conventional rotary steerable system
or in the offset wells — by sidetracking at a greater depth. (RSS) assembly. At the sidetrack/kickoff point, however, with
less than 20 ft of the rathole, the conventional RSS tools
CHALLENGES were still under magnetic interference near the casing and
whipstock. For this reason, at least 300 ft to 400 ft had to
Each design has a particular set of challenges. The first design be drilled with a steerable motor assembly to gain separation
is easier to pursue in cases where the high pressure sometimes from the pilot hole and reach a depth free from magnetic

30 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY


interference where the RSS could be used properly. Design op- from the Sudair or Sudair dolomite formations, saves up to 4
tion 2, with the deeper kickoff, was only possible using con- days by avoiding the well control issues of the BJD formation;
ventional steerable motor assemblies and had multiple risks of because the formation is already covered by a casing, the in-
heavy sliding and a high number of trips. flow is avoided. On the other hand, if the kickoff is performed
In addition to these challenges, sidetracking from the right below the BJD formation and at the top of the Sudair
whipstock set at near vertical inclinations (less than 3°) had formation, the well is still vulnerable to flow. A minimum of
issues when gyro tools — single shot or gyro steering — were 2 days can be lost in a well control situation if the well flows
required for motor steerability because of magnetic interfer- after the window has been opened in the casing with the
ence from the casing and whipstock. Tri-cone insert (TCI) placement of a whipstock or after drilling has commenced.
bits were used with single shot gyro tools to provide better In some instances, 3 or 4 days were lost trying to control the
tool face control, compared to that achieved with a polycrys- influx while at the same time cure the losses. In the five wells
talline diamond cutter fixed bit, while steering in the correct presented as a case study in this article, the potential lost time
direction was assured by marking a scribe line on the drill- fighting Jilh influx was avoided by opening the window deep
pipe. This results in a slower ROP as well as limiting the total into the Sudair or Sudair dolomite.
number of revolutions on the bit. In addition, it requires an Following is a summary of the well design strategy, which
extra trip while exiting the whipstock. Issues with gyro tool has been followed successfully to drill five wells with a deep
availability and reliability, with tracking the casing because of kickoff directly from a whipstock using the HRSS.
poor cement quality around the liner or casing, and with the Due to the inherently complex nature of these workover
additional time taken to kickoff in the Sudair formation were reentry wells, a detailed technical analysis first has to be
some of the further challenges that underscored the need for conducted to determine the point of sidetrack initiation, well
an alternate and more efficient solution. directional plan, type of whipstock, length of the rathole, MW
and mud properties, and design of the HRSS bottom-hole as-
METHODOLOGY sembly (BHA) configuration, including hydraulics; also to be
completed are a torque and drag analysis, tripping road maps,
Given the challenge of trying to avoid reentering the BJD for- the design of drilling and tripping procedures to prevent me-
mation, the reduced ROP due to plastic shale in the Sudair chanical and differential sticking mechanisms, and a strategy
formation, and issues with vertical whipstock kickoffs, Saudi to execute the operations.
Aramco embarked on a technology driven strategy to reduce The Saudi Aramco Engineering team and a directional drill-
the number of days to complete a conventional reentry work- ing company worked together to define the deepest point for
over by minimizing both the visible and the hidden nonproduc- each sidetrack. They determined this by working on different
tive time. This article presents the successful deployment and trajectory scenarios, ensuring that it was deep enough to avoid
field application of a high build rate rotary steerable system Jilh influx, while at the same time able to achieve the target
(HRSS) tool that is able to directly exit from the whipstock. It entry, landing and reservoir objectives.
draws a comparative analysis between the traditional modes of A detailed offset well analysis study is next undertaken by
whipstock exit using steerable motors and the HRSS option. An closely studying the events of the pilot hole to determine the
analysis of the HRSS’s dogleg capabilities, ROPs, steerability feasibility of drilling the reentry workover well as a single 5⅞”
and stability was done to compare these capabilities with those hole size or as a dual size — 8⅜” for drilling the curve and
of traditional drive systems. Lessons learned from the first deep landing in the target Carbonate B or C reservoir, and 5⅞” for
gas vertical whipstock exit for a medium radius well are de- horizontally drilling the lateral in the target reservoir. Based
scribed. Also, the case histories of the five wells using the tech- on the final choice of the completion design, the casing design
nology are discussed as a measure to demonstrate the number is evaluated (not covered under the scope of this article). Once
of days saved and the reduced nonproductive time. the basic framework of the well design is set, an estimate of
This strategy has made it possible to eliminate the addi- the maximum DLS requirement in each formation is weighed
tional runs required to gain separation from the casing and to against the capabilities of different tool configurations. The
exit the zone of magnetic interference, while at the same time bit design and selection process is conducted by running sim-
achieving deeper kickoffs with high doglegs in deep gas wells. ulation scenarios of BHA configurations vs. bit design in the
integrated drill design software. The selection of the bit is
DESIGN based on simulation results showing consistency in ROP and
DLS capability.
The HRSS has the potential to increase the efficiency of well Once the bit and configuration of the HRSS is decided
delivery, saving a minimum of 5 days by drilling more effi- based on the tool capability and DLS requirements, it is im-
ciently with a faster ROP and also by eliminating the time portant to run the cement bond and/or variable density logs
needed to kickoff with a conventional steerable motor assem- to get an estimate of the cement quality around the casing
bly. This requires changes to the well plan. Kicking off deeper, before opening the window. This information helps prepare

SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 31


Time between Pull Out
Well Hole Size Time Required to Kickoff Comments
of Hole and Pick Up RSS
Gyro tool failure led to tracking 7” liner
Well F 8⅜” 216 65.5
below window, TCI bit had slow ROP
Well G 8⅜” 30 27.5 Smooth kickoff
Well H 8⅜” 19 21 Smooth kickoff
Well J 8⅜” 43 No RSS used Difficulties kicking off
Well K 5⅞” 43 No RSS used Difficulties kicking off
Fig. 1. The differences between the K2, K1 and MK-1 casing designs.
Table 1. Average time taken to sidetrack from the motherbore using a whipstock with the help of a conventional steerable motor assembly and gyro tool when kicking off
from a vertical inclination.

300
weight on bit is pushed from the beginning to steer away from
250
the motherbore. The advantage of having near bit inclination
is that it provides real-time assurance of separation away
200
from the pilot hole, even though the azimuth readings are still
Time (hrs)

150
affected by magnetic interference. A proper fatigue manage-
100
ment process has to be followed prior to drilling to ensure the
50
tubulars are in good condition to resist the bending stresses
0
Well F Well G Well H Well J associated
Well K with use in a high DLS environment.
Time to kick off (hrs) Time between POOH and P/U RSS (hrs)

RESULTS
Fig.2.2.Time
Fig. Time taken
taken to drill
to drill sidetracks
sidetracks in reentry
in typical typicalwells
reentry wells
using using a conventional
a conventional motor, RSS BHAs, and
gyro tools. Time Time between Pull
motor, RSS BHAs, and gyro tools. Well Hole Size Required to Out of Hole and Comments
Kickoff Pick Up RSS
Table 1 describes the average time taken to sidetrack from
contingency plans for high mud, in case flow is encountered Well F 8⅜” 216 65.5
Gyro tool failure led to tracking 7” liner

the motherbore in five wells using a whipstock with the help


below window, TCI bit had slow ROP

due to channeling in the cement. A dedicated run for gamma Well G 8⅜” 30 27.5 Smooth kickoff
of Ha conventional
Well 8⅜” 19steerable motor 21 assembly Smooth and kickoff
a gyro tool;
ray and/or casing collar location is carried out before the Well J 8⅜” 43 No RSS used Difficulties kicking off
it also depicts the time taken for a round trip — pulling
whipstock setting to correlate the depth and avoid setting the Well K 5⅞” 43 No RSS used Difficulties kicking off
out of hole and picking up the RSS — to change the BHA
whipstock in front of a casing collar. A gyro tool is used to Table 1. Average time taken to sidetrack from the motherbore using a whipstock with the help of a

from a steerable motor to the RSS option. Figure 2 plots the


conventional steerable motor assembly and gyro tool when kicking off from a vertical inclination
orient the whipstock in the desired direction of kickoff in sit-
uations where the well is vertical, while a measurement while time data for the five wells in Table 1. Table 2 shows the
drilling tool can be used for orientation if the well inclination ROP Footage

10.0 2000
is more than 5°. 9.0 1800

At this time, the window is cut and a rathole is drilled,


Rate of Penetration (ROP ft/hr)

8.0 1600

with its length determined by the distance of the top stabilizer 7.0 1400

on the HRSS tool and the bit. The rathole length has to be
6.0 1200

Footage (ft)
5.0 1000
kept short enough to prevent losing TVD room, needed to 4.0
9.0
800
7.3 7.4
ease the dogleg requirement, while at the same time it has to 3.0 6.0
6.6
600

be long enough to ensure that once drilling has started, the 2.0
3.1
400

metal-to-metal contact between the stabilizer and the window


1.0 200

0.0 0
and casing does not cause damage to the HRSS tool. The road Well MR1 Well MR2 Well MR3 Well MR4 Well MR5 Average

map is set up for the initial settings to be deployed to kick- Fig.3. 3.


Fig. Average
Average ROP
ROP and andachieved
footage footage achieved
in five medium in fivewells
radius medium radius
drilled with motor wells
BHA. drilled
off the sidetrack in the required direction and make sure the with motor BHA.
Medium Radius Wells Drilled with Motor BHA

Medium Radius Wells Drilled


MR1 with
Well
8⅜” Motor
Hole Size
1,595BHA218.5
Footage Hours ROP (ft/hr)
7.30
Kickoff Formation
Sudair
MR2 8⅜” 1,000 135 7.41 Carbonate C
Well Hole Size Footage Hours MR3 ROP (ft/hr)
8⅜” 518 165.5 3.13 KickOff Formation
Carbonate B
MR4 8⅜” 1,429 159 8.99 BJD
MR5 8⅜” 1,797 299.5 6.00 Carbonate D
MR1 8⅜” 1,595 218.5 7.30 Average ROP = 6.56 ft/hr Sudair
MR2 8⅜” 1,000 135 7.41 Carbonate C
Table 2. Average ROP of medium radius wells drilled using a conventional steerable motor assembly and
cutting across formations from BJD to Khuff

MR3 8⅜” 518 165.5 3.13 Carbonate B


MR4 8⅜” 1,429 159 8.99 BJD
MR5 8⅜” 1,797 299.5 6.00 Carbonate D
Average ROP = 6.56 ft/hr

Table 2. Average ROP of medium radius wells drilled using a conventional steerable motor assembly and cutting across formations from BJD to Khuff.

32 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY


Reentry Wells with Direct Whipstock Kickoff and High DLS
Well Hole Size Start Incl End Inl Footage ROP (ft/hr) Max DLS Runs
A 5⅞” 2° 48° 579 15.8 17.4 1
B 5⅞” 19° 84° 1,187 16.7 10.7 1
C 8⅜” 32° 74.85° 1,424 14.2 6 1
D 8⅜” 3° 41° 576 15.8 10.3 1
E 8⅜” 2.2° 81.5° 1,359 15.3 9.3 1
Average ROP = 15.6 ft/hr

Table 3. Average ROP and DLS on the five reentry wells drilled using the HRSS tool across formations varying from Sudair to the Carbonate B reservoir.

assembly, while Fig. 3 provides a graph of the data. Table 3


ROP Footage

17.0 1600
shows the average ROP and maximum DLS of drilling the
16.5 1400 five reentry wells using the HRSS, while Fig. 4 illustrates the
Rate of Penetration (ROP ft/hr)

ROP and footage data. The HRSS shows an average ROP


16.0
1200
15.5
1000
15.0 of 15.6 ft/hr compared to 6.56 ft/hr with a conventional

Footage (ft)
800
steerable motor assembly. This represents a 137% increase
16.7
14.5
600
14.0 15.6
in ROP over the conventional steerable motor option. It
15.3
15.8 15.8 400
13.5
14.2
13.0 200
also means that an estimated 3.7 days of drilling time can
12.5 0
Well A Well B Well C Well D Well E Average be saved if the curve of the medium radius well of 1,000 ft
Fig.4.4.
Fig. ROP
ROP and footage
and footage achieved achieved in with
in wells drilled wellsthe drilled with
HRSS tool, theoffHRSS
kicking tool,a whipstock.
directly from kicking has to be drilled. In addition, direct savings of at least 40
Wells A and B were kicked off in the 5⅞” section, while Wells C, D and E were kicked off in the 8⅜”
off directly from a whipstock. Wells A and B were kicked off in the 5⅞” section,
section. hours or 1.6 days were achieved due to the quick exit di-
while Wells C, D and E were kicked off in the 8⅜” section.
rectly from the whipstock since a dedicated motor run was
time spent and average ROP of drilling five medium radius no longer needed to achieve separation from the motherbore
wells in the same set of formations using the steerable motor
Reentry Wells with Direct Whipstock Kickoff and High DLS
and move away from the zones of magnetic interference to
Well Hole Start Incl End Incl Footage ROP (ft/hr) Max DLS Runs
Size
A 5⅞” 2° 48° 579 15.8 17.4 1
B 5⅞” 19° 84° 1,187 16.7 10.7 1
C 8⅜” 32° 74.85° 1,424 14.2 6 1
D 8⅜” 3° 41° 576 15.8 10.3 1
E 8⅜” 2.2° 81.5° 1,359 15.3 9.3 1
Average ROP = 15.6 ft/hr

Table 3. Average ROP and DLS on the five reentry wells drilled using the HRSS tool across formations
varying from Sudair to the Carbonate B reservoir

Fig. 5.
Fig. 5. Results
Results achieved
achievedininWell-A.
Well-A. Fig. 6. Results achieved in Well-B.
Fig. 6. Results achieved in Well-B.

SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 33


Fig. 7.
Fig. 7. Results
Resultsachieved
achievedin Well-C.
in Well-C. Fig. 8.
Fig. 8. Results
Resultsachieved in Well-D.
achieved in Well-D.

obtain reliable azimuth readings. Furthermore, the use of a


gyro tool for a purely steering purpose was eliminated since
orienting of the tool face is taken care of by the HRSS tool
directly. The summary in Table 3 of the maximum doglegs
achieved on the five wells drilled with the deep kickoff and
direct exit from the whipstock using the HRSS tool is ac-
companied by summary graphs of the doglegs vs. gamma ray
data and ROP, Figs. 5 through 9.
Figure 5 depicts the results achieved in Well-A. The objec-
tive of this well was to sidetrack as a 5⅞” section by kicking
off deep and to achieve a high build rate in a formation not
friendly toward the planned dogleg. A conventional approach
would have required aggressive motor bend settings to achieve
the planned build rates; however, this well was drilled with
the HRSS tool, which consistently delivered on average
15°/100 ft DLS. Optimum drilling parameters were applied to
achieve maximum ROP. Where a conventional motor BHA
would yield an ROP of 6 ft/hr in a plastic shale formation
characterized by high gamma ray count (green), the HRSS
tool showed a consistent ROP of approximately 20 ft/hr.
Figure 6 shows the results of Well-B. This was a 3D profile
well, turning the well toward the northwest direction while
building inclination at the same time. The HRSS tool handled
the required DLS, and the 7” liner was run smoothly without
any issues of tortuosity. The HRSS tool was configured with
Fig. 9. Results achieved in Well-E.
Fig. 9. Results achieved in Well-E.
low output capability and delivered on average 8°/100 ft DLS

34 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY


using 70% to 100% of the tool’s actual DLS capability for these savings are potentially more if the ROP using a TCI bit
the first target formation. It later delivered the same results on a conventional steerable motor to drill a medium radius
with reduced settings equivalent to only 50% of the tool’s well is compared to the ROP of the HRSS tool.
actual DLS capability. The well was kicked off and landed There are also hidden savings that come from not having
in the same run, cutting across multiple formations as shown to pick up the motor off-bottom to orient the toolface or not
through the change in gamma ray (green). The well was having to wait for a gyro survey, which increases the chances
drilled as a single hole size, eliminating the 8⅜” section and of getting the drillstring stuck differentially in high overbal-
avoiding the high-pressure formation. anced carbonates by remaining stationary in one position.
Figure 7 shows the results of Well-C. The low inclination That wait is eliminated as the HRSS can be used to kickoff
kickoff concept was applied here for the first time in the 8⅜” with the normal drilling parameters from the very beginning.
section. This was planned as a 3D well, diverging away from These advantages of technological innovation coupled with
the original hole. The well was delivered as planned by diverg- the proper engineering of well design make it possible to
ing from the motherbore, then turning and aligning toward drill complex reentry wells more efficiently in tough drilling
the target. Based on previous experience, the tool was con- environments.
figured with a low gain DLS output. Throughout the section
length, consistently 4°/100 ft to 5°/100 ft DLS was achieved, ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
and the section was drilled to the planned target depth along
the required inclination and azimuth. The authors would like to thank the management of Saudi
Figure 8 shows the results of Well-D. The objective was to Aramco and Schlumberger for their support and permission to
achieve a planned build rate in the 8⅜” section to mitigate the publish this article.
drilling risks associated with the sliding BHA. The tool was This article was presented at the SPE Saudi Arabia Section
programmed to handle the planned DLS by steering at max- Annual Technical Symposium and Exhibition, al-Khobar,
imum capability, followed by a low dogleg interval with the Saudi Arabia, April 25-28, 2016.
HRSS on 40% to 50% steering capability settings. While the
tool was drilling the transition zone, high torsional vibrations REFERENCES
were recorded. These were mitigated by increasing the surface
RPM without affecting the tool’s performance. 1. Al-Khamees, S.A., Okwa, H.D., Verma, J.K. and Ganda,
Figure 9 shows the performance of Well-E. This well was S.: “The First Successful Short-Radius Reentry Well in
kicked off deep in the 8⅜” section. Usually the high gamma Deep Gas Drilling in Saudi Arabia,” SPE paper 139855,
ray formation has a lower response to drilling wells with DLS. presented at the SPE/IADC Drilling Conference and
Subsequently, as observed, a change of formation to high or Exhibition, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, March 1-3,
low gamma ray did not affect the good DLS response from 2011.
the HRSS. The original pilot hole was drilled vertically and 2. Thomas, S.P., Mukherjee, T.S., Ezi, P.C., Alfonzo Briceno,
had encountered high-pressure zones. These were avoided by L.A., Verma, J.K., Ganda, S., et al.: “A Novel Approach
the deeper sidetrack. to Drilling 8⅜” Medium-Radius Curve Section in Deep
Gas Drilling in Saudi Arabia: Successful Introduction of
CONCLUSIONS High Build Rate Rotary Steerable System,” SPE paper
168072, presented at the SPE Saudi Arabia Section Annual
With the ability to kickoff directly from a vertically set whip- Technical Symposium and Exhibition, al-Khobar, Saudi
stock, as well as whipstocks at a higher inclination, the HRSS Arabia, May 19-22, 2013.
technology opens up multiple opportunities for sidetracking
medium radius wells. This includes the ability to kickoff the
well at deeper points to avoid the high-pressure Jilh forma-
tion, thereby making previously uneconomical reentry side-
tracks viable. The risky option of milling the existing 7” liners
to avoid the high-pressure zone and then kicking off deeper
can also be avoided, because the higher DLS capability of the
HRRS allows deeper kickoffs and landing.
Efficient drilling with the HRRS at its higher ROP enables
a minimum savings of 5 days of rig time compared to simi-
lar wells drilled with a conventional motor assembly. Wells
drilled with HRSS have also been observed to provide a better
borehole quality as there have been no issues when running
wireline logging or a liner after reaching those wells’ TD. All

SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 35


BIOGRAPHIES Verdy L. Siregar joined Saudi Aramco
in 2011 as a Drilling Engineer for the
Abdul Halim Ab Hamid joined Saudi Gas Workover Engineering Unit in the
Aramco in 2005 and is currently a Gas Drilling Engineering Department.
Supervisor for the Gas Workover He is working extensively on
Engineering Unit in the Gas Drilling numerous gas workover projects for
Engineering Department. During his reentry sidetracks, and on safety
career with Saudi Aramco, he and his related workovers and mechanical repairs, which include
team of engineers have worked on some casing-casing annulus communication repair. Verdy is
numerous gas workover projects for reentry sidetracks, also involved in trials of some new technology tools within
safety-related workovers and mechanical repairs. The the Gas Drilling Engineering Department, the high DLS
primary mission for Abdul Halim and his team is to RSS tool, mechanical tubing puncher, and off-bottom
expedite the recovery of potential gas wells while cementing multistage fracturing combo tool, to name a few.
continuously striving for effective solutions to minimize He started his career in the oil and gas industry as a
costs and still ensure safe operations. Part of his work Completion Engineer with Total Indonésie in 1997. Verdy
includes special projects for casing-casing annulus repair, held several different positions afterwards within the same
multistage fracture (MSF) completions and deployment of organization, including Drilling Foreman, Stimulation
the off-bottom cementing tool: MSF combo technology. Engineer, and Coiled Tubing Drilling Engineer until his
Abdul Halim started his career in the oil and gas international assignments as a Drilling Engineer with
industry as a Logging Engineer with Western Atlas in Total Gabon and as a Drilling Engineer and Operational
1997 and later worked for ExxonMobil Malaysia as a Safety Leader with Total Cameroun. He spent the last
Workover/Well Service engineer for 10 years. 10 months prior to joining Saudi Aramco working as the
He has written and coauthored several Society Head Drilling Engineering for Delta Operation with Total
of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) articles relating to the Indonésie in Balikpapan, Indonesia.
application of new technologies in drilling and completion. Verdy received his B.S. degree in Petroleum Engineering
Abdul Halim received his B.S. degree in Electrical from Trisakti University, Jakarta, Indonesia, his M.S.
Engineering from the University of Missouri, Columbia, degree in Mineral Economics from Colorado School of
MO. Mines, Golden, CO and a Diplom-Ingenieur degree in
Petroleum Economics from École Nationale Supérieure du
Pétrole et des Moteurs (Institut Français du Pétrole), Rueil
Malmaison, France.

Ali N. Al-BinAli is a Gas Drilling


Engineering General Supervisor in
Saudi Aramco’s Gas Drilling
Engineering Department. He has 18
years of experience in drilling and
workovers, in both gas and oil. Ali
was appointed a Workover
Engineering Supervisor in 2008 and then went on to be the
Workover Engineering General Supervisor from 2011 to
2014. Afterwards, he moved to deep high-pressure/high
temperature gas drilling and workovers, which has been
his focus from January 2015 to date. Ali has worked as an
Engineering Division Head for all kinds of wells, including
onshore, offshore, water, oil and deep high-pressure/high
temperature gas wells, as well as underbalanced drilling.
He received his B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering
from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals
(KFUPM), Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

36 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY


Mohamed E. Khalil joined Saudi Omar T.A. Ashraf is currently
Aramco in 2002. He is a Drilling and working as a Customer Services
Workover Engineering Supervisor for Leader for Pakistan at GE Power
Saudi Aramco’s Gas Drilling Services. Prior to this, he worked with
Department in ‘Udhailiyah. From this the Schlumberger Drilling and
position, Mohamed has been leading Measurements segment from 2006 to
engineering efforts toward deep gas 2016 in Saudi Arabia. Omar has held
drilling and reentry optimization, such as short and various field and office-based engineering and operational
medium radius reentries, snubbing operations, and dealing roles involving the entire suite of drilling and workover
with advanced completion and workover types. projects in Manifa, Shaybah, and ‘Udhailiyah.
Prior to joining Saudi Aramco, he was with the In the past, Omar has served with Alstom at their
Khalda Petroleum Company in Egypt for more than 15 corporate headquarters in Paris, where he gained
years, working in the Drilling and Workover Engineering experience in global sustainability initiatives, corporate
Department. responsibility, and renewable energy startups.
In 2006, Mohamed received the Top Achievers in He has published several Society of Petroleum Engineers
Drilling Supervision award from the Murchison Drilling (SPE) papers on the subjects of: drilling and workover
School. He is a member of the Society of Petroleum operations optimization, innovative solutions for drilling
Engineers (SPE). efficiency, introduction and deployment of new technology,
In 1985, Mohamed received his B.S. degree in and cost reduction through differentiated value addition
Petroleum Engineering from Cairo University, Giza, Egypt. services.
Omar received his B.S. degree in Mechanical
Ayman Al-Ghazzawi is a Lead Senior Engineering from National University of Sciences and
Drilling Engineer in Schlumberger. Technology, Islamabad, Pakistan. He also has three M.S.
Having more than 10 years of degrees in Management and Engineering of Energy and
experience with Schlumberger, he has Environment from Ecole des Mines (EMN), France; Royal
held a variety of positions in different Institute of Technology (KTH), Sweden; and Universidad
locations: Measurements and Logging Politecnica de Madrid, Spain.
While Drilling Field Engineer in
Malaysia; Directional Drilling Field Engineer and Muhammad S. Balka joined
Real-Time Operations Support Center Engineer in Qatar; Schlumberger in 2001, working as a
in-house Drilling Engineer for Al-Khafji Joint Operations Directional Driller in the Middle East
and Wellbore Surveying Specialist in Saudi Arabia. and North Africa. From August 2006
For the past 3 years, Ayman has worked as the Lead to July 2010, he was based in
Drilling Engineer with Saudi Aramco, primarily in Shenzhen, China as the Lead Senior
exploration projects for gas and unconventional gas in the Drilling Engineer for China and
Northern Area. He is also one of the specialists in wellbore Japan. During this period, Muhammad worked on
surveying and anti-collision within the Middle East deepwater and technically demanding projects for different
geographic location. clients in the South China Sea. In his next assignment,
Ayman received his B.S. degree with honors in Chemical from August 2010 to May 2014, Muhammad was assigned
Engineering from King Fahd University of Petroleum and as the Drilling Engineering Manager for Schlumberger
Minerals (KFUPM), Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Drilling and Measurement (D&M), providing drilling
He is a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers engineering and technical support to clients in Thailand,
(SPE). Myanmar and Vietnam, while based in Bangkok.
He is now with the working as a Senior Drilling
Engineer for Drilling Optimization in Saudi Arabia, where
he has been since June 2014. Muhammad supports Saudi
Aramco in exploration projects for gas and unconventional
gas in the Northern Area.
He started his career working as a Geophysicist from
1995 to 1996, and from 1997 to 2001 as a Data Engineer
in Pakistan and the Middle East.
In 1994, Muhammad received his M.S. degree in
Geophysics from Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad,
Pakistan.
He is a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers
(SPE).

SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 37


A New Insight on the Impact of Individual
Ions on Fluid-Fluid Interactions and
SmartWater Recovery

Authors: Mohammed A. Geer, Dr. Ahmed Gmira, Dr. Ali A. Yousef and Dr. Sultan M. Al-Enezi

ABSTRACT lately and has proven the efficiency of this recovery method.
Extensive research on oil-brine-rock systems has shown the
SmartWater flooding has proven to be an effective and suc- impact of ionic makeup and salinity on wettability alteration
cessful recovery method for carbonates. With SmartWater and oil recovery.
flooding, the injected water alters the carbonate rock wettabil- The consensus in the industry is that salinity affects oil-
ity to produce incremental oil. Core-scale displacement exper- brine-rock systems by rock wettability alteration. A series of
iments have demonstrated significant incremental recoveries in spontaneous imbibition tests were conducted1, 2 on carbonate
both secondary and tertiary modes. Single well chemical tracer rocks, and the results attributed the observed oil recovery
tests have demonstrated this potential in the field at a scale increase to the interplay of determining ions — magnesium
larger than that available in the laboratory. Still, the underly- (Mg2+), sulfate (SO42-) and calcium (Ca2+). SmartWater injec-
ing mechanisms responsible for the SmartWater alteration of tion in carbonates has been widely investigated in several pre-
carbonate wettability are not well understood. The objective vious studies, which showed the positive impact of seawater
of this work is to understand the effects of individual mon- dilution on oil recoveries by employing numerous techniques:
ovalent and divalent ions on brine-oil interactions, and their from measuring interfacial tension (IFT), contact angle and
role in the observed alteration of carbonate wettability. zeta potential, to coreflooding3-7 and nuclear magnetic reso-
In previous studies, we investigated liquid-rock interactions
nance techniques8. The latest fundamental research findings
and their role in wettability alteration. At fixed salinities,
concern the detrimental effects of monovalent ions, such as
monovalent and divalent ions were found to have different
sodium (Na+) and chlorine (Cl-), and the key role played by
effects on the calcite surface potential. In this study, we have
multivalent ions, such as Ca2+, Mg2+ and SO42-, in addition to
investigated the liquid-liquid interactions. We performed in-
the connectivity enhancement between micropores and mac-
terfacial tension (IFT) measurements between oil and brines
ropores due to anhydrite dissolution. It has been shown that
of fixed salinities but varying ionic compositions, and we col-
dissolved ions are temperature dependent thermodynamically
lected IFT data at different temperature conditions.
and that sulfate ions gain in efficiency at a higher temperature
That the different SmartWater recipes have exhibited differ-
ent IFT values at fixed salinities indicates the varying effects of Component Amount
ions on fluid-fluid interactions. For instance, SmartWater reci- Saturates 39.2%
pes composed exclusively of magnesium (Mg) cations exhibited Aromatics 48.3%
a remarkably low level of IFT values. Other SmartWater recipes
Resins 7%
with sodium (Na) or calcium (Ca) cations exhibited comparable
Asphaltenes 5.5%
IFT stabilization levels, while SmartWater recipes that are solely
composed of sulfate anions have resulted in higher IFT values. Total Acid Number 0.25 mg KOH/g oil
Those results will be integrated at further stages with mea- Properties Amount
surements of the zeta potentials and contact angles acquired Saturation Pressure
1,804
across brines of variant ionic compositions. This systematic (psia at 212 °F)
integration will eventually allow for a clearer distinction Stock Tank Oil Gravity
0.3
(°API at 60 °F)
of the ions’ effects, which will help to better optimize the
SmartWater recipe. Dead Oil Density at
0.545
Room Temperature (lb/cf)

INTRODUCTION Dead Oil Viscosity at


0.1459
Room Temperature (cP)

Enhancing oil recovery by adjusting the ionic composition Table 1. The components and properties of the crude oil used in conducting this
experiment
and salinity of the injected water has been widely investigated

38 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY


— 70 °C9. Recent zeta potential measurements on carbon- calcium chloride (CaCl2), sodium chloride (NaCl) and sodium
ates10 have identified the contribution of individual ions and sulfate (Na2SO4), Table 2. All brine compositions had a simi-
SmartWater recipes in altering the rock surface charges, which lar total dissolved solids content of 5,000 ppm.
is considered a key mechanism in rock wettability alteration.
The present work is a first step in a series of studies IFT Apparatus
striving to decouple the fluid-fluid interaction caused by
SmartWater injection through an evaluation of oil-brine IFT A pendant drop tensiometer — model IFT-10 — manufactured
characteristics. IFT between oil and brine has been studied by Temco Inc. (USA) was used for the IFT measurements.
since the 1960s11. In addition, the impact of variant operating The pendant drop cell is a cylindrical stainless steel chamber
pressure and temperature on IFT between oil and brines is by with a 40 cm3 volume. A stainless steel needle is placed at the
now well understood12, 13. In this work, we introduce a new bottom of the cell to generate pendant drops. The chamber is
perspective by measuring the IFT between Arab-D oil and equipped with appropriately sealed borosilicate glass windows,
multiple brine compositions, solely composed of key individ- which allow a view of the inner space during the tensiometer’s
ual monovalent and divalent ions, at various temperatures to operation. The light beam source, located at one side of the
investigate the role of these SmartWater flooding constituents visualization axis, is a halogen bulb covered by a white diffuser.
on the fluid-fluid interaction at a macro level. The camera, located at the opposite side of the visualization
axis, is a Ramé-Hart F1 series connected to a desktop computer
EXPERIMENTAL PROCEDURE through a frame grabber card.
The overall setup sits on top of a vibration-free table to en-
Fluids and Material sure accurate measurements, Fig. 113. The temperature control
system is mainly composed of a water bath that circulates a
An Arab-D stock tank crude oil was used in conducting this cooling fluid in two internal loops and a temperature con-
study. Table 1 lists the properties of the crude oil used. This troller to set the measurement temperature conditions. A Dell
crude oil was filtered to remove any contaminants, and then computer desktop was used to acquire the digital image of the
it was vented at room temperature to prevent any gas evo- oil pendent drop and to perform the subsequent drop image
lution during the measurements at elevated temperatures. analysis, digitization and computation. DropImage Software
Four different synthetic brine compositions were used in the from Ramé-Hart was used and the IFT was calculated by us-
experiment. Each type of brine was composed solely of one of ing the Young-Laplace equation.
the following key components: magnesium chloride (MgCl2),
IFT MEASUREMENT PROCEDURE
Brine Brine Composition Salt Mass (g/l)
MgCl2 MgCl2.6H2O 12.30 The experimental procedure for determining IFT is as follows:
CaCl2 CaCl2.2H2O 7.63 The cell is heated to the desired experimental temperature
NaCl NaCl 5.76 until stabilization at that temperature. The brine is pumped
through a stainless steel tube to the needle tip, then a 17 µl to
Na2SO4 Na2SO4 5.76
20 µl crude oil droplet is generated inside the cell. IFT values
Table 2. Composition of the four brines used in the experiment, with each brine and drop volumes are monitored immediately and monitoring
is composed of one of the following salts: MgCl2, 6H2O, CaCl2.2H2O, NaCl
continues for 1 hour to allow the two fluids to reach equilib-
and Na2SO4
rium, with the software capturing and processing an image
every 30 seconds. The IFT cell body and its various parts
afterward are cleaned thoroughly with toluene, acetone and
Lamp
deionized water, followed by air drying.
Camera

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION


IFT Cell
Temperature
Controller The IFT phenomena in a freshly formed interface is a dynamic
process, and time is required to reach equilibrium between
Water Bath two immiscible fluids. Crude oil contains thousands of com-
ponents, including polar fractions that interact closely with
Vibration Free Table the brine solution. Diffusion and adsorption and/or desorption
are the main processes acting at the interface, and therefore
enough time is allowed for the fluids to reach equilibrium14.
Fig. 1. The IFT-10 pendant drop tensiometer apparatus used to measure the IFT The recurrent phenomenon observed was a rapid drop in
between oil and multiple brine compositions for this set of experiments13.
IFT within the first seconds of forming an oil-brine interface,

SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 39


followed by a slow decay until equilibrium was reached. The These measurements reveal a distinctive variation in initial
quick decay is related to the quick adsorption, occurring at and equilibrium IFT values as a function of both the brine
the interface, of the active components of the crude oil — composition and temperature. The brine composed of MgCl2
mainly polar components. This was followed by a diffusion only showed the lowest initial and equilibrium IFT values,
Fig. 4. IFT vs. time plot for the fluid-fluid interface between oil and the four brines composed o
process acting within the bulk of the two phases, a much measured flooding
SmartWater at 25 °C keyations
34conducted
mN/m and at 9029.4
¡ C. mN/m, respectively,
slower process15. Fig. 7. The CaCl2 brine followed, measured at 25 °C with ini-
Figures 2 to 4 show the dynamic behavior of IFT as a func- tial and equilibrium IFT values at 38 mN/m and 32.6 mN/m,
tion of time (1 hour) for crude oil and the single ion brines at respectively, Fig. 8. The NaCl brine had a stabilization level at
25 °C, 50 °C and 90 °C, respectively, all at atmospheric pres-
sure. Initial and equilibrated IFT values depend strongly on the
brine’s ionic content. Of note is the sensitivity of the IFT values
to temperature, in accordance with previous reported studies12,
13
, and how the IFT decreases as the temperature increases for
both initial and equilibrated values, Figs. 5 and 6, respectively.


Fig. 2. IFT vs. time plot for the fluid-fluid interface between oil and the four brines composed of individual
Fig. 5.
Fig. 5. Initial
Initial values
values of
of IFT
IFT for
for the
thefour
four brine
brinecompositions.
compositions.Note
Notethat MgCl
that MgCl has
2 2 has the lowest IFT
SmartWater flooding key ions conducted at 25 ¡ C.
the lowest
across IFT values across
all temperatures, CaClall 2temperatures,
and NaCl haveCaCl and NaCl
comparable
2
have comparable
values, while Na2SO4 has the high
all constituents.
values, while Na2SO4 has the highest among all constituents.

Fig. 2. IFT vs. time plot for the fluid-fluid interface between oil and the four
brines composed of individual SmartWater flooding key ions conducted at 25 °C.
Fig. 2. IFT vs. time plot for the fluid-fluid interface between oil and the four brines composed of individual
SmartWater flooding key ions conducted at 25 ¡ C.

Fig. 6. Equilibrium values of IFT for the four brine compositions. Note that MgC
temperatures, CaCl2 and NaCl have comparable values, while Na2SO4 has the
constituents.

Fig. 6. Equilibrium values of IFT for the four brine compositions. Note that
Fig. 6. Equilibrium values of IFT for the four brine compositions. Note that MgCl2 has the lowest
MgCl2 has the lowest
temperatures, across
CaCl2 and all temperatures,
NaCl CaCl2values,
have comparable and NaCl have
while Nacomparable
2SO4 has the highest among a
values, while Na2SO4 has the highest among all constituents.
constituents.
Fig. 3. IFT vs. time plot for the fluid-fluid interface between oil and the four brines
Fig. 3. IFT vs.
composed time plot SmartWater
of individual for the fluid-fluid interface
flooding key ionsbetween
conductedoilatand the four brines composed of individual
50 °C.
SmartWater flooding key ions conducted at 50 ¡ C.

Fig. 3. IFT vs. time plot for the fluid-fluid interface between oil and the four brines composed of individual
SmartWater flooding key ions conducted at 50 ¡ C.

Fig. 4. IFT vs. time plot for the fluid-fluid interface between oil and the four Fig. 7. The brine composed of MgCl2 only showed the lowest initial and equilibrium
Fig. 4. IFT vs. time plot for the fluid-fluid interface between oil and the four brines composed of individual
brines composed of individual SmartWater flooding key ions conducted at 90 °C. Fig.
IFT7. Themeasured
value, brine composed
at 25 °C at 34ofmN/m
MgCl andonly showed
29.4 mN/m, the lowest initial and equilib
respectively.
SmartWater flooding key ions conducted at 90 ¡ C. 2
atFig.
257.¡ CThe
atbrine composed
34 mN/m andof29.4 only showed
MgCl2mN/m, the lowest initial and equilibrium IFT value, m
respectively.
at 25 ¡ C at 34 mN/m and 29.4 mN/m, respectively.
40 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY
the lowest IFT, followed by CaCl2 and NaCl with comparable
IFT stabilization levels, and then Na2SO4 with the highest IFT
values at all temperatures. Having the same sequence of stabi-
lization across all operating temperature conditions (25 °C, 50
°C and 90 °C) confirms the sensitivity of IFT to the ionic com-
position. Also, the measurement repeatability defies any sus-
picion of measurement anomalies. The results also showed a
linear trend of decreasing IFT values in the case of MgCl2 and
CaCl2, while this behavior was not seen in NaCl and Na2SO4.
In those brines, the IFT values tended to flatten at higher tem-
Fig. 8. The brine composed of CaCl2 only showed the next lowest peratures, and
initial andtheequilibrium
difference between
IFT value, these values measured at
measured at 25 ¡ C at 38 mN/m and 32.6 mN/m, respectively.50 °C and 90 °C becomes less pronounced.
Fig. 8. The brine composed of CaCl2 only showed the next lowest initial and equilibrium IFT value,
This sequence of IFT values seen across all temperature
measured atcomposed
Fig. 8. The brine 25 ¡ composed
C ofatCaCl
382 only
mN/m showed and 32.6
the next mN/m,
lowest
only respectively.
initial and
Fig. 8. The
equilibrium IFTbrine
value, measured at 25 °C of
at 38CaCl
mN/m2 and 32.6showed the next lowest
mN/m, respectively. initial and
runs highlights theequilibrium IFT of
important role value,ions when it comes to
measured at 25 ¡ C at 38 mN/m and 32.6 mN/m, respectively.designing the composition of brines used for SmartWater
flooding applications. Lower IFT values will eventually lead
to lower capillary pressure at the interface of the wetting (oil)
and non-wetting (brine) phases, leading to further interaction.
Since rock wettability alteration is the main recovery mecha-
nism in SmartWater flooding processes, this enhanced inter-
action between the wetting and the non-wetting phases will
intensify the exchange of the ions between the SmartWater
flooding and the oil at the rock surface. This in turn will lead
to further release of the carboxylic molecules adsorbed at the
rock surface and eventually result in an incremental oil recov-
ery. In all test runs, Mg2+ ions have shown the lowest level of
Fig. 9. The NaCl brine had a stabilization level at 25 ¡ C similar IFTtovalues,
that ofandthethis
CaClfact suggests
2 brine, that optimized
although its formulations
starting
Fig. 9. Thepoint washad
NaCl brine higher at 42.8
a stabilization levelmN/m.
at 25 °C similar to that of the of the SmartWater ionic content to contain more Mg ions
Fig.
CaCl29. Thealthough
brine, NaClitsbrinestartinghad
pointa stabilization
was level at 25 ¡ C similar to that of the CaCl2 brine, although its
higher at 42.8 mN/m.
starting point was higher at 42.8 mN/m. may lead to further incremental oil recovery, compared to
Fig. 9. The NaCl brine had a stabilization level at 25 ¡ C similar thetorecovery
that of achieved
the CaClwith2 brine, although
the current itscomposition of
ionic
starting point was higher at 42.8 mN/m.
SmartWater.
Reducing sulfate ions in the SmartWater ionic constituents
may also lead to optimized SmartWater flooding performance.
The obstructive role of the sulfate ions seen in these sets of
IFT measurements is in agreement with results of the zeta
potential10 and streaming potential16 measurements already
published.
The low IFT values exhibited by Mg2+ can be attributed to
its relatively low molecular weight, in addition to the weak
ionic bond in MgCl2 compared to bonds in the other tested
salts. Although Mg comes second after sodium in atomic
weight, the MgCl2 bond-dissociating energy — an indication
Fig. 10. The brine that is composed mainly of Na2SO4 had the highest
Fig. 10. The brine that is composed mainly of Na2SO 4 had theofhighest
the ionicstabilization
bond strength — when
level at 25dissolved
¡ C, withinan water is 318
stabilization level at 25 °C, with an IFT value of 44.5 mN/m, and it had a very
IFT value of 44.5 mN/m, and it had a very high starting point at 55.6
kJ/mol 17
mN/m.
measured at 298 K, which is a much weaker bond
Fig. 10. The
high starting pointbrine
at 55.6that
mN/m. is composed mainly of Na2SO4 had the highest stabilization level at 25 ¡ C, with an
IFT value of 44.5 mN/m, and it had a very high starting point at 55.6 mN/m. when compared to CaCl 2
and NaCl, with energies of 398 kJ/
Fig.
25 °C 10.similar
The brineto that that is composed
of the CaCl2 brine,mainly although of Na 2SO4 had the
its starting highest stabilization level at 25 ¡ C, with
mol and 410 kJ/mol, respectively. This weak bond will breakan
IFT
pointvalue
was of 44.5atmN/m,
higher 42.8 mN/m,and itFig. had9.aFinally,
very high the starting
brine thatpoint at 55.6 mN/m.
first, allowing Mg2+ to easily get to the oil interface, interact
is composed mainly of Na2SO4 had the highest stabilization and reach equilibrium with the oil phase, all faster than the
level at 25 °C, with an IFT value of 44.5 mN/m, and it had a other ions. This can be seen clearly — previously shown in
very high starting point at 55.6 mN/m, Fig. 10. Figs. 2 to 4 — across all operating temperature conditions.
This IFT sensitivity to the ionic composition of the brines MgCl2 establishes a flat stabilization level of IFT values vs.
was seen in the other set of measurements conducted at 50 time — a clear sign of equilibrium — much earlier than all the
°C and 90 °C. The same sequence of stabilization levels was other salts. Na2SO4, with the highest bond-dissociating energy
recorded at both temperatures, where MgCl2 came first with compared to the other brines at 1,384 kJ/mol, has the highest

SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 41


initial and equilibrium IFT values across all temperatures. necessary to detect and quantify the incremental oil recovery
In general, as the temperature increases, the equilibrium due to different ionic compositions of brine.
between the oil phase and the brine is reached faster, and as
a result the IFT vs. time plot exhibits the stabilization level is ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
achieved much earlier. While both NaCl and CaCl2 showed
very similar IFT values at the stabilization level, the plots also The authors wish to thank the management of Saudi Aramco
show that CaCl2 reached equilibrium first at 25 °C, while for their support and permission to publish this article.
NaCl equilibrated with the oil phase faster at 50 °C and 90
°C. This phenomenon may indicate that under higher tem-
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SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 43


BIOGRAPHIES Dr. Ali A. Yousef is the Chief
Technologist of Reservoir Engineering
Mohammed A. Geer has been Technology and Team lead of the
working for Saudi Aramco’s Improved/Enhanced Oil Recovery
Exploration and Petroleum (IOR/EOR) research program in the
Engineering Center – Advanced Saudi Aramco Upstream Advanced
Research Center (EXPEC ARC) for Research Center. He has more than
the past 3 years, during which time he 24 years of experience in upstream research and
participated in and led the macro-scale technology. Since joining Saudi Aramco, Ali has been
research activities focused on SmartWater flooding. Prior involved in applied research projects on IOR,
to this assignment, he worked for the Reservoir waterflooding and EOR. He played a pivotal role in
Management Department managing the water injection planning, developing and implementing the EOR roadmap
system in ‘Uthmaniyah field. for the company. Ali is currently leading more than 50
Mohammed has published multiple papers in the field EOR scientists, engineers, and technicians. Those EOR
of SmartWater flooding, and he has filed and been granted researchers are dedicated to the development of various
several patents. EOR processes, including SmartWater, carbon dioxide,
In 2015, he won the Iain Hillier Academic Award, and chemical EOR technologies as well as other novel
given by the London Petrophysical Society for the best processes with the clear target of meeting the company
petrophysics-related research. objective. He was the impetus for Saudi Aramco’s
Mohammed received his B.S. degree in Petroleum SmartWater revolution: a patented award-winning
Engineering from King Fahd University of Petroleum and technology that was proven in the laboratory and
Minerals (KFUPM), Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, and his M.S. demonstrated in the field through single well tests.
degree in Petroleum Engineering from Imperial College Ali received the Society of Petroleum Engineers
London, London, U.K. (SPE) 2016 prestigious IOR Pioneer Award at the IOR
conference in Tulsa, OK for his pioneering contributions
Dr. Ahmed Gmira is a Petroleum made to the advancement of enhanced water flooding
Scientist with the SmartWater Team processes in carbonates.
of Saudi Aramco’s Exploration and He has written over 60 technical papers and reports
Petroleum Engineering Center – and has more than eight patents. Ali is currently an active
Advanced Research Center (EXPEC member of SPE and has chaired several SPE workshops
ARC). His main interests are and forums, helped organize several petroleum engineering
enhanced oil recovery, SmartWater related conferences, and taught courses on IOR/EOR and
flooding, fluids-fluids interfaces and fluids-rocks interfaces. waterflooding. He is considered a worldwide authority in
Ahmed joined Saudi Aramco in April 2015. Prior to the field of IOR/EOR.
this, he worked as a Research Scientist in the Schlumberger Ali received his B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering
Research Centers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, and in Rio from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals
de Janeiro, Brazil. He also worked as a Research Fellow (KFUPM), Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, and his M.S. and
in a postdoctoral position with the Department of Physics Ph.D. degrees, both in Petroleum Engineering, from the
at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX.
Trondheim, Norway.
Ahmed received his Ph.D. degree in Physico-Chemistry Dr. Sultan M. Al-Enezi is a Petroleum
from the University of Orléans, Orléans, France. Engineer with the Reservoir
Engineering Technology Division of
Saudi Aramco’s Exploration and
Petroleum Engineering Center –
Advanced Research Center (EXPEC
ARC). His research interests include
enhanced oil recovery, digital rock physics, petrophysics
and fluid flow in porous media.
Sultan received his B.S. degree in Industrial Chemistry
from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals
(KFUPM), Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. He also received his
M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Petroleum and Natural Gas
Engineering from Pennsylvania State University, University
Park, PA.

44 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY


Reservoir Stress Path from 4D Coupled
High Resolution Geomechanics Model:
A Case Study for Jauf Formation,
North Ghawar, Saudi Arabia
Authors: Otto E. Meza Camargo, Dr. Tariq Mahmood and Dr. Ivan Deshenenkov

ABSTRACT the grid model using the following:

This study presents the full in situ stress tensor results, i.e., ΔShmin = 0.8055*ΔPP(Pore_Pressure) + 0.3762 (1)
orientation and magnitude, for the Jauf formation at pre- and
post-production conditions, and their use to build a 4D cou- The Shmin stress average maps were generated from pre- and
pled one-way geomechanics model. These results were con- post-production conditions in three stratigraphic levels (zones)
strained by using existing data from wireline logs, downhole of the Jauf formation — Upper, Middle and Lower. This
measurements and laboratory tests. After building 1D to 3D study concluded that the Upper Jauf is relatively more stressed
Mechanical Earth Models (MEMs) using data from 27 wells, than the Middle Jauf and Lower Jauf. Breakdown pressure
the 3D model was used as input to the 4D coupled model for maps for these three stratigraphic levels were also generated
years A, B, C and D. and are presented in this study.
This study concluded that the Jauf formation in the study
area is characterized by a strike-slip-faulting regime in which INTRODUCTION
the maximum horizontal stress (SHmax) is the largest principal
stress, i.e., SHmax > vertical stress (Sv) > minimum horizontal The main objective of this study was to define the full in situ
stress (Shmin). The SHmax orientation, N75°E, was constrained stress tensors at pre- and post-production conditions for the
by using borehole image logs. Jauf formation in the North Ghawar area and to build a 4D
coupled one-way geomechanics model for the years A, B, C
The calibrated stress models were established based on
and D. 1D to 3D geomechanics models were built utilizing all
poro-elastic equations, fracture closure pressures (FCPs), core
available data for 27 wells across the study area, and the 3D
data, wellbore stability models and drilling events depicting
geomechanics model was used as a prerequisite input for the
an average anisotropy ratio of approximately 1.2 to 1.4 (max-
4D coupled one-way geomechanics model.
imum principal stress magnitude)/(minimum principal stress
The 4D calibrated model will be used to identify field-scale
magnitude). The stress model at pre-production conditions
hydraulic fracturing “sweet spots” and to optimize hydraulic
showed values for the pore pressure gradient of approximately
~0.62 psi/ft, for the Shmin gradient of ~0.71 psi/ft to 0.95 psi/ft
and for the SHmax gradient of ~1.3 psi/ft to 1.4 psi/ft.
The 3D geomechanics high resolution grid was created for
elastic properties and rock strength parameters propagation;
the latter was driven by the total porosity (PHIT) model as a
controlling parameter. The range of the estimated values are:

• Young’s modulus from 1.2 Mpsi to 6.0 Mpsi.


• Poisson’s ratio from 0.24 to 0.38.
• Unconfined compressional strength (UCS) from 6.0 Kpsi
to 16.0 Kpsi.

In the 4D coupled model, the FCP values from hydraulic


fractures were used to calibrate the Shmin at post-production
conditions over years A, B, C and D. The predicted stress
model showed a good match with the FCP over the 27 wells Figure 1
Fig. 1. SHmax direction in study area (N75°E ± 10°) from borehole breakouts and
drilling-induced fractures in the Jauf formation (Upper, Middle and Lower).
used in this study. The reservoir stress path was defined over

SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 45


in the Jauf formation (Upper, Middle and Lower).

Gr Li thology AI PHT Density CAL DT DTS ROCK PHYSICS ANALYSIS

Well log corrections were performed for the sonic and density
logs of all 27 wells using core information and multilinear
regression equation analysis. Results from one of the wells are
illustrated in Figs. 2 and 3.

Rock Physics Modeling

Rock physics models are mathematical equations based on


physical principles that are used to generate P and S veloci-
ties based on rock structure, composition and properties. By
setting some of the parameters, i.e., clay content, sand bulk
and shear modulus, the equations can be solved to model ve-

High

High
PHIT(v/v) vs Vp (m/s) / VQUA(v/v) PHIT(v/v) vs AI (Kg.m/cm3.s) / VQUA(v/v)
locities in missing data intervals. The main advantage of this
200 ft approach is that all relations between elastic properties and
AI AI PHIT PHIT
RHOB RHOBDCAL DCAL DT DTSM DTSM
DT rock quality are preserved.
The rock physics model Increasing is focused on predicting
Porosity dynamic Increasing Porosity

AI
Increasing Vshale
Increasing Vshale
compressional velocity (Vp) and shear velocity (Vs) as accu-

VP
VP
Fig. 2. rately as possible, producing results suitable for further me-
Fig. 2.Well Wellloglogcorrections
correctionswerewere performed for sonicfor
performed and density
sonic andlogs, using core
density logs, using core information and
information and multilinear regression equation analysis.
multilinear regression equation analysis. chanical modeling. Using the porosity and clay content from

Low
Low

well
Low logs, an analysis Porosity was performed High to determine
Low
0
which rock
Porosity
1
High
0 1

physics models are most suitable. The advanced differential


High

High

PHIT vs Vp / VQUA(v/v)
(v/v) (m/s) PHIT vs AI / VQUA(v/v)
(v/v) (Kg.m/cm3.s)
effective medium modeling described by Prasad and Nur
(2003)3 was used to estimate P and S velocities. A tangential

High
High

PHIT(v/v) vs Vs (m/s) / VQUA(v/v) PHIT(v/v) vs RHOB (G/C3) / VQUA(v/v)


Increasing Porosity Increasing Porosity
shear factor was introduced to obtain an optimal match with
AI

Increasing Vshale
Increasing Vshale
observed Vp/Vs ratios in the sandstones, since contact theory
Increasing Vshale
VP
VP

is known to overpredict shear wave velocities by neglecting Increasing Porosity


rotational freedom and slip at grain contacts.
Low

RHOB
Low

Increasing Vshale
VS

Vp and Vs are functions Increasingof porosity, clay content, differ-


Low Porosity Low Porosity High
High
0 1
0 1 Porosity

ential pressure and saturation. The setup of the input pa-


rameters was completed iteratively to find the best solid clay Low
Low
High
High

PHIT vs Vs / VQUA(v/v) PHIT vs RHOB / VQUA(v/v)


(v/v) (m/s) (v/v) (G/C3)
properties for this dataset. This can be thought of as inverting
0
Low Porosity High
1 0
Low Porosity High
1

Increasing Vshale
for solid clay elasticity, assuming that all other properties are
Increasing Porosity known and that our model is correct. Calculated Vp and Vs
Fig. 3. Cross-plots were used to analyze the trends and relationship between
wererespect
then calibrated on dynamic mechanical properties de-
RHOB

Increasing Vshale
with to the PHIT.
VS

Increasing Porosity
rived from the core analysis to obtain the best fit between all
Low
Low

Low Porosity High Low Porosity High


High

PRD(v/v) vs AI (Kg.m/cm3.s) / PHIT(v/v)


0 1 0 1

Quartz
Fig. 3.
Fig. 3. Cross-plots
Cross-plotswere used
were to analyze
used the trends
to analyze and relationship
the trends betweenbetween different rock parameters
and relationship
different
with rock to
respect parameters
the PHIT.with respect to the PHIT.

fracture design. In addition, the 4D geomechanics model will


be used in(v/v)well
vs AIplacement optimization and in the analysis of
High

PRD (Kg.m/cm3.s) / PHIT(v/v)


AI

wellbore stability for horizontal Quartz wells.

The maximum horizontal stress (SHmax) direction, N75°E ±


10°, was inferred from drilling-induced tensile fractures and
borehole breakouts1, 2 identified in the borehole image logs. Increasing Porosity Calcite
AI

Figure 1 shows the results of the stress direction analysis. No


Low

significant azimuthal rotation of the principal horizontal stress Low PR Dynamic High

was identified across the study area. 0 0.2

Increasing Porosity Calcite Fig. 4. Cross-plots between the Poisson’s ratio and acoustic impedance showing
Fig. 4. Cross-plots between the Poisson’s ratio and acoustic impedance show
Low

the scatter of data over the Quartz zone.


the Quartz zone.
Low PR Dynamic High
0 0.2
46 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY
Fig. 4. Cross-plots between the Poisson’s ratio and acoustic impedance showing the scatter of data over
the Quartz zone.
WELL XX_A WELLXX_E
WELL XX_B WELL XX_C
Density Density Density
DTS DTS DTS
Gr Li thology DT AI PR YMD PHT CAL Gr Li thology DT AI PR YMD PHT CAL Gr Li thology DT AI PR YMD PHT CAL

200 ft

Fig. 5. Ultrasonic core test data was used to calibrate the dynamic rock properties derivate from sonic and density logs.
Datevs
Time Pressure Gradient
vs Pressure Gradient
Fig. 5. Ultrasonic core test data was used to calibrate the dynamic rock properties derivate from 1.200
High
density logs.
1.000

0.800
Gradient
Gradient

Pore Pressure Initial


5000 5000 5000 0.600 Gradient from XX_J

Low
Pressure

Leak Off Test Pressure Leak Off Test Pressure


Pressure

Fracture Close Pressure 0.400 Fracture Close Pressure


BHSP BHSP
Fracture Close Pressure
MDT MDT
0.200 Pore_Pressure_3D simulations
7000 7000 7000

Low
0.000
PP≈~ 0.49 PP≈~ 0.49
PP≈~ 0.49 PP≈~ 0.49
19-Apr-2001
Low
14-Jan-2004 10-Oct-2006 06-Jul-2009 01-Apr-2012 27-Dec-2014 22-Sep-2017
High
TimeTime

9000 9000 9000 Fig. 7. Pore pressure derived from 3D simulations and FCP plotted over time,
Fig. 7. Pore
show pressuretrends.
well-defined derivedThe
fromFCP-derived
3D simulations andpath”
“stress FCP plotted over time,
is interpreted show well-defined tre
to result
The FCP-derived “stress path” is interpreted to result from depletions.
TVD (ft.)
TVD (ft.)
TVDTVD (ft.)

from depletions.

available data, Figs. 4 and 5.


11000 11000 11000
The dynamic rock properties obtained from ultrasonic core
~ KUFF Unit ~ KUFF Unit ~ KUFF Unit ~
tests were used to calibrate the dynamic Poisson’s ratio (PRD)
and dynamic Young’s modulus (YMD) for Well XX_A, Well
YMD(PSI) vs YMS (PSI) YMD(PSI) vs YMS (PSI)
13000 13000 13000 XX_E and Well XX_C.
t~ BKDC Unit ~ BKDC Unit ~ BKDC Unit ~
2000 ft

~ JAUF Unit ~ JAUF Unit ~ JAUFPORE


Unit ~ PRESSURE AND MINIFRAC DATA

15000 15000 15000 The pore pressure model at pre-production conditions was
Fig. 6. FCP shows a wide dispersion effect (from 0.71 psi/ft to 0.98 psi/ft), which generated from direct measurements obtained through the
High
2
PP≈~ 0.62

0.4 0.6
can be due to depletions.
Shmin≈~ 0.71

0.8 01Low1.20.2
PP≈~ 0.62 PP≈~
Figure 6
Shmin≈~ 0.71
0.62 0.71
Shmin≈~

Pore
00.4 Pressure
0.6
5000 Grad
0.8
10000 1
15000 High
1.2
20000 0
modular formation Shmin≈~ 0.71
PP≈~ 0.62 dynamics

5000
tester and from bottom-hole
10000 15000 20000
Pressure Gradient (Psi/ft.) Pressure Gradient Pressure
(Psi/ft.)(Psi.) Pressure
SAUDI (Psi.) JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY
ARAMCO FALL 2016 47
Fig. 8. Tri-axial core, YMS and YMD relationship.
static pressure (BHSP) estimated from hydraulic fracturing in
0.6 the Jauf formation, Fig. 6. Eaton’s method was used for the
S(PSI)
(ratio) YMD(PSI) vs vsYMS
PHI (v/v) PRS (ratio)
(PSI) pore pressure estimation, and the results were calibrated with
0.5 the modular formation dynamics tester measurements, BHSP,
0.6
RS (ratio) PHI (v/v) vs PRS (ratio) mud weight (MW) and drilling events.
0.4
0.5 The BHSP estimated from hydraulic fracturing in the Jauf
PRS (ratio)PRS (ratio)

0.3 formation shows a wide variability, changing from 0.58 psi/ft


0.4
to 0.62 psi/ft. This effect may be due to the depletions in the
0.2
0.3
zones where the hydraulic fractures were performed.
0.1 The minimum stress values were estimated from the lea-
PRS = 0.1844*PHIT + 0.2515
0.2 R² = 0.012 koff test and the fracture closure pressure (FCP). These also
0
show a large variability across the study area, with values
2.9 0.10.00 0.05 0.10 0.15 0.20 0.25 0.30
Porosity
PRS(v/v)
= 0.1844*PHIT + 0.2515 ranging from 0.71 psi/ft to 0.98 psi/ft. The initial pore pres-
R² = 0.012
0 sure gradient in Well XX_J can be estimated as 0.62 psi/ft.
2.9 0.00 0.05 0.10 0.15 0.20 0.25 0.30 The lower values are predicted because hydraulic fractures
0.5 Porosity (v/v)
(ratio) Fig. 8. Tri-axial core, YMS and YMD relationship.
0.45
PRD(ratio) vs PRS (ratio) were performed over the depletion zones, which can reduce
Fig. 8. Tri-axial core, YMS and YMD relationship.
0.4 the FCP, Fig. 7.
0.5
S (ratio) 0.35 PRD(ratio) vs PRS (ratio)
PRS (ratio) PRS (ratio)

0.45
0.3 ROCK MECHANICAL PROPERTIES CORRELATIONS
0.4
0.25
0.35
0.2 Values for the YMD, shear modulus, bulk modulus and
0.3
0.15 Poisson’s ratio of the rock were generated from the compres-
0.25
0.1 sional sonic, shear sonic and density logs. Converted static
473 0.2 PRS = 1.1068*PRD
0.05 properties using empirical correlations from triaxial tests were
R² = 0.55
0.15
0 also estimated. From these triaxial tests, a relationship was de-
12000000
0.1 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5
2473 PRD (ratio ) PRS = 1.1068*PRD rived between the static Young’s modulus (YMS) and YMD,
0.05
R² = 0.55
Fig. 8. A derivative of the equation is:
0
12000000
0 0.1 0.2 0.3
Fig. 9. Static Poisson’s ratio plotted
PRD (ratio ) with0.4the PHIT,
0.5
density and YMS. There are no direct relationships
YMS = 0.0001646742* YMD1.51606 (2)
identified between the parameters.
Fig. 9. Static Poisson’s ratio plotted with the PHIT, density and YMS. There are

Fig.CoreCore
–Core
Core
9. Static
Core –– Log
–Log –correlations
Logcorrelations
correlations
no direct relationships identified between the parameters.
Log correlations
Poisson’s
Log ratio plotted with the PHIT, density
correlations Theand
PRDYMS. There are
was estimated withno
the direct relationships
poro-elastic equation, and
identified between the parameters.
WELL XX_A WELL XX_B WELL XX_C
Core
Core
Core–Core–– Log
–Log
Core Log –correlations
Log
Log correlations
correlations
correlations
correlations
Density TS Density TS Density TS
DTS UCS DTS UCS DTS UCS
Gr Li thology DT PRDWELL XX_APRS F_AN PHT CAL Gr Li thology DT PRD YMDWELL
YMD YMS YMS XX_B WELL
PRS F_AN PHT CAL Gr Li thology DT PRD YMD YMSXX_C
PRS F_AN PHT CAL

Density TS Density TS Density TS


DTS UCS DTS UCS DTS UCS
Gr Lithology DT PRD YMD YMS PRS F_AN PHT CAL Gr Li thology DT PRD YMD YMS PRS F_AN PHT CAL Gr Lithology DT PRD YMD YMS PRS F_AN PHT CAL

200 ft
RHOB
RHOB
RHOB
RHOB RHOB
PRDPRDPRD
PRD PRD
YMDYMDYMD
YMD YMD
YMSYMSYMS
YMS YMSPRS
PRSPRS PRS PRSUCS
UCSUCS UCS UCS
PHITPHITPHIT
PHIT
DCAL PHIT
DCALDCAL
DCALDCAL
F_AngF_Ang
F_Ang
F_Ang
F_Ang
RHOB
RHOB
RHOB PRDRHOB
RHOB PRD
PRD PRD
YMDYMD YMD
PRDYMD YMD
YMSYMS YMS
YMS YMS
PRSPRS PRS
PRS
UCSUCS UCS
PRS
UCS UCS
PHITPHIT PHIT
PHIT
DCAL PHIT DCAL
DCALDCAL
F_Ang F_Ang
F_Ang
F_Ang
F_Ang
200 ft
RHOB
RHOB
RHOB
RHOB RHOB PRD
PRDPRD
PRD PRD YMD
YMDYMD
YMD YMSYMS YMS
YMDYMS PRS
YMSPRS
PRSPRS UCS
PRSUCS
UCSUCS UCS
PHITPHIT PHIT
PHIT
DCAL DCALDCAL
PHIT
DCALDCAL RHOB RHOB
RHOB
RHOB RHOB
PRDPRDPRD
PRD PRD
YMDYMDYMD
YMD YMD
YMSYMSYMS
YMS YMSPRS
PRSPRS PRS PRSUCS
UCSUCS UCS UCS
PHITPHITPHIT
PHIT
DCAL PHIT
DCALDCAL
DCALDCAL
F_Ang
F_Ang
F_Ang
F_Ang F_Ang F_Ang F_Ang
F_AngF_Ang
F_Ang
RHOB
RHOB
RHOB
RHOB PRDRHOBPRD
PRD PRD
YMDYMD YMD
PRDYMD YMD
YMSYMS YMS
YMS YMS
PRSPRS PRS
PRS
UCSUCS UCS
PRS
UCS UCS
PHITPHIT PHIT
DCALDCALDCAL
PHIT DCAL
F_Ang F_Ang
F_Ang
F_Ang
F_Ang

Fig. 10. Well XX_A, Well


RHOB
RHOB
RHOB RHOB
XX_B
PRDPRD
PRDPRD
and
YMDYMD
Well
YMDYMD XX_C
YMSPRS
YMS PRSUCS
YMSPRS
with
PRSUCS
static
UCSUCS PHIT
PHITPHIT
DCAL
rock
DCAL
PHIT
DCAL
mechanics properties modeled using dynamic properties and core correlations.
DCAL
RHOB PRD YMD YMSYMS PRS UCS PHIT DCAL
Fig. 10. Well XX_A, Well XX_B and F_AngWell XX_C with static rock mechanics properties modeled using
F_Ang
F_Ang
F_Ang
F_Ang

dynamic
48
properties and core correlations.
FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY

Fig. 10. Well XX_A, Well XX_B and Well XX_C with static rock mechanics properties modeled using
Fig. 11. Vertical stress was estimated from the density log.
WELL XX_D
MW

Mineralogy
SV Shear Failure
Density UCS Shmin Kick
DTS PRS TS SHmax Losses SH/Sh
Gr SW DT YMS F_Ang PP Breakdown CAL PHIT Shmin BHI

MW MW

FCP FCP
BHSP BHSP

200 ft

BreakoutBreakout

SH/Sh SH/Sh
SV SV

RHOB RHOB
YMS PRS
YMS PRS
UCS F_Ang
UCS F_Ang
Pore Pore SHmax SHmax
Shmin Shmin DCAL DCAL
PHIT Shmin Shmin
PHIT
PressurePressure grad grad

Fig. 11. Vertical stress was estimated from the density log. Fig. 12. Stress model and wellbore stability model for Well XX_D.
Figure 11 Fig. 12. Stress model and wellbore stability model for Well XX_D.
the static Poisson’s ratio was defined based on several cor- poro-elastic and horizontal strain stress models, where the
relations from the triaxial core tests using the porosity, bulk Shmin and SHmax at each depth depended upon:
density, YMS and PRD results. No direct relationship was
inferred between these properties, Figs. 9 and 10. • Mechanical properties
• Pore pressure
Static_Poisson_ratio = 1.15*Dynamic_Poisson_Ratio (3)
• Vertical (overburden) stress
The unconfined compressional strength (UCS) was esti-
mated using the multi-correlation between the YMS and total The Shmin was also constrained by the FCP and leakoff
porosity (PHIT). The equations’ result was: test data4. The stress profiles were plotted together with
MW windows.
UCS = 0.001405728*(YMS) - 19821.21*(PHIT) + The Shmin, as estimated from the hydraulic fracture data,
5828.503 (4) was found to lie in the range of approximately ~0.85 psi/ft to
~0.98 psi/ft.
1D MECHANICAL EARTH MODEL (MEM) The SHmax was estimated using the poro-elastic model, the
wellbore stability model and drilling events. The wellbore
The Jauf formation is characterized by a strike-slip-faulting stability model was also calibrated with the borehole image
regime in which the SHmax is the largest principal stress — SHmax interpretation — identifying drilling-induced tensile fractures
> vertical stress (Sv) > minimum horizontal stress (Shmin). The and breakouts. The estimated gradient of maximum principal
orientation, N75°E, of the SHmax was inferred from borehole horizontal stress magnitude is approximately ~1.3 psi/ft.
breakouts and drilling-induced tensile fractures interpreted
from borehole images. Stress Calibrations Using Drilling Events

Vertical Stress Figure 12 shows the final wellbore stability calculation for
Well XX_D. No major drilling issues were observed in the
The overburden, or vertical stress, was evaluated using the wells drilled through the Jauf formation except for Well XX_B
density logs, which showed an average gradient of approxi- (drilled in 2009), which reported a gas kick. The MW used to
mately ~1.1 psi/ft, Fig. 11. drill through this well was 9.8 pounds per gallon. There is good
agreement between the calculated breakouts and the actual
Horizontal Stresses breakouts as interpreted from the borehole images5.
Figure 12 also shows the main results from the 1D geome-
The Shmin and SHmax profiles were estimated using the chanics process as follows:

SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 49


Porosity (v/v) Cube Static Poisson’s Ratio Cube (ratio)

Fig. 13. Geomechanics grid orientation following the SHmax direction.


Figure 13

Fig. 15. Modeled 3D static Poisson’s ratio. Figure 15


Porosity (v/v) Cube Static Young’s Modulus Cube (psi)

Porosity (v/v) Cube Unconfined compressi


High High

Figure 14grid properties extrapolations.


Fig. 14. Cross-plot over the 3D geomechanics

• Track 1. Gamma ray. PHIT PR

• Track 2. Stratigraphy through the reservoir section.


• Track 3. Measured depth. Low Low

• Track 4. Mineralogical model estimated from


petrophysics interpretation. Fig. 16. Modeled 3D YMS.
Figure 16
• Track 5. Water saturation estimated from petrophysics
Porosity (v/v) Cube UCS Cube (psi)
interpretation.
Z-values: RHOBR_Cor
• Track 6. Density, compressional slowness and shear 0 0.02 0.04
Density [g/cm3]
0.06
effective_Porosity, [ft3/ft3]
0.08 0.1 0.12 0.14 0.16 0.18 0.2 0.22 0.24

slowness.
2.8000
20000

20000
High
2.7000

PHI(v/v) vs UCS (PSI) / RHOB (G/C3)


2.6000
2.5000
2.4000
Low
High
2.3000
18000

18000
2.2000

• Track 7. Static rock properties — Poisson’s ratio (light


16000

16000
14000

14000
green) and Young’s modulus (pink). UCS, [psi]
12000

12000
10000

UCS

10000

• Track 8. Rock strength properties — UCS (light green),


8000

8000

friction angle (dark blue) and tensile strength (orange).


6000

6000
4000

4000

• Track 9. Calculated stress profiles — pore pressure Low


Low Low
PHIT High
0 0.02 0.04 0.06 0.08 0.1 0.12 0.14 0.16 0.18 0.2 0.22 0.24

(dark blue), Shmin (green), SHmax (red), Sv (black), FCP Symbol legend
effective_Porosity vs. UCS vs. RHOBR_Cor (All cells)
effective_Porosity vs. UCS vs. RHOBR_Cor (Upscaled)

(red dot) and BHSP (pink dot).


• Track 10. Calculation of the stable MW window; limits
Fig. 17. Modeled 3D UCS. Matrix Case
are calculated for kicks (gray), breakouts (red), mud Fig. 17. Modeled 3D UCS. Figure 17
losses (blue) and formation breakdown (purple), and the
drilling MW (dark yellow line) is also shown.
Method Gravity :Gravity
Method: PressurePressure
• Track 11. Caliper logs.
• Track 12. PHIT. Sh Gradient:
Sh Gradiend 0.71
:0.71 Psi/ft
psi/ft

• Track 13. Ratio between SHmax/Shmin (red) and the Shmin SH/Sh:
SH/Sh 1.35 :1.35
gradient (pink).
Sh Azimuth: 165°
• Track 14. Breakout from borehole image interpretation Sh Azimuth :165 Degree
Fig. 18. Boundary conditions used on the 3D MEM.
(red).

50 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY


Fig. 18. Boundary conditions used on the 3D MEM.
Maximum Horizontal Stress Tensor Maximum Horizontal Stress Magnitude (psi)

FigureThe19
Fig. 19. SHmax tensor stress estimated from geomechanics simulations.

3D GEOMECHANICS PROPERTY MODEL rock mechanics properties equations (Eqns. 2 and 3)


were applied to estimate the YMS, Fig. 16, and the static
3D Grid Model Poisson’s ratio based on the dynamic properties. The rock
strength properties’ UCS was estimated using Eqn. 4, Fig. 17.
The geomechanics grid was oriented to follow the SHmax direc-
tion, N75°E, Fig. 13. The vertical and horizontal resolutions 3D IN SITU STRESS MODEL
from the geomodel in the geomechanics grid were retained to
capture the wide variability in the model. The geomechanics 3D Stress Estimations
grid dimensions are:
The first stage of a 3D stress analysis involves calculating
• Total number of cells: 12 million. stresses that represent the pre-production conditions through-
out the reservoir and its surroundings. Due to the complex
• xinc = 100 m; yinc = 100 m; zinc ≈ 4.5 ft. variations in structure and properties within the model, the
stress equilibrium must be solved numerically. A finite element
Propagations of Geomechanics Properties method was used to determine the required solution, produc-
ing a 3D map of stress magnitudes and orientations that vary
The propagations of the properties were performed using the both laterally and vertically. The model then uses the structure
porosity model because it provided good correlation between and rock mechanical properties defined in the preceding sec-
Vp, Vs and density. A cokriging algorithm was used to ex- tions, together with the loads that govern stresses — gravita-
trapolate the well log data, which included Vp, Vs and bulk tional, pore pressures and boundary conditions — to simulate
density, Fig. 14. the initial stress state of the field.
The 3D static rock properties were estimated based on the The results are calibrated to in situ stress profiles from the
rock mechanics properties equations defined from the triaxial 1D MEMs. To address a number of uncertainties in the input
core test, with the range of the static Poisson’s ratio being data, such as the assigning of fault stiffness and the propaga-
modeled from ~0.24 to ~0.38, Fig. 15. tion of mechanical properties, a number of simulations were

SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 51


Fig. 20. Comparison between the 1D stress model (black) and the 3D stress model
(Shmin in green, Sv in red and SHmax in pink) for Well XX_J.
Fig. 21. Comparison between the 1D wellbore stability model (track 3 in dotted
lines) and the 3D wellbore stability model (track 3 in filled colors) for Well XX_J.
performed to assess the sensitivity to those parameters, Fig. 18.

Stress Initializations Figure 20 Figure 21


The goal is therefore to ensure that the general magnitude
and trend of the stresses is honored, while also expecting dif-
ferences in the details. The comparison is valuable, however,
The model was initialized on year A as describing pre-pro-
because it provides a way of checking that the overall cali-
duction conditions based on two cases: Matrix and Matrix +
bration of the 3D model is correct, particularly regarding the
Faults. Both models considered the same boundary conditions,
choice of boundary conditions.
and the maximum, minimum and vertical stresses were com-
In general, the match between the stresses obtained from
puted as tensor stress, Fig. 19.
the 1D MEM (stress model) and the 3D MEM (stress model)
is good at initial conditions, Fig. 20. In the Matrix case, the
Comparisons between the 1D and 3D Stress Models
relatively good match was achieved in 11 wells in the Jauf
formation.
When comparing the stresses between the 1D and 3D MEMs,
it is not expected that all three principal stresses of the 3D
MEMs will match those of the 1D MEMs exactly. One of the Comparison of 1D and 3D Wellbore Stability Models
advantages of the 3D model is that it accounts for interactions
that the 1D approach is unable to, for example: The 3D wellbore stability model was estimated using the 3D
geomechanics model and compared with the 1D wellbore
stability results. In both cases, the match was consistent under
• Vertical stress being different from the 1D integration of
the boundary conditions defined for the 3D geomechanics
overburden weight.
simulations model. Some of the wells were considered de-
• Magnitude and orientation changes of stress due to pleted in the 1D MEM (wellbore stability model) for calibra-
nearby faults. tion proposes. The estimated kick (pore pressure gradient),
• Consistent stress and strain variation between strong shear failure (breakouts), mud loss and breakdown pressure
and weak layers. all showed a good match, Fig. 21, Track 3.

52 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY


Fault cells
Tensor
Tensorstress
stressininthe fault’s
fault’s path
path

Slight rotation

Slight rotation

Fig. 22. Fault simulations case, showing the normal and shear stress for cells within faults.
Jauf Formation: Shedgum Field
• Fault shear stiffness: 2.35E+06 KPa/m.
9000
High
8500

8000

7500 • Friction angle: 20°.


7000

6500
• Cohesion: 1 Kpa.
Static Well Pressure (Psig)

6000

5500

Figure 22
Pore Pressure

5000

4500 From the borehole image interpretations, no significant


4000

3500 rotation of stress-induced5 features — drilling-induced tensile


3000 Stress Step Stress Step Stress Step Stress Step
2500
A B C D fractures and breakouts — was observed along depth, sug-
2000

1500 gesting either that the influence of faults and fractures was
1000 Static Pressure (Psig)

Low
500 minimal or that there are no minor faults in the vicinity of
0

Date these wells. Although some slight rotations can be identified in


1-Jan-12

1-Jan-15
1-Jan-02

1-Jan-03

1-Jan-04

1-Sep-04
1-Jan-05

1-Jan-06

1-Jan-07

1-Jan-08

1-Jan-09

1-Jan-10

1-Jan-11

1-Jan-13

1-Jan-14

1-Aug-15
1-Sep-01

1-Sep-02

1-Sep-03

1-Sep-05

1-Sep-06

1-Sep-07

1-Sep-08

1-Sep-09

1-Sep-10

1-Sep-11

1-Sep-12

1-Sep-13

1-Sep-14
1-May-02

1-May-03

1-May-04

1-May-05

1-May-06

1-May-07

1-May-08

1-May-09

1-May-10

1-May-11

1-May-12

1-May-13

1-May-14

1-May-15

Low High

the tensor stress model for the faults, these are still inside the
Fig. 23. Pore pressure and stress steps defined for years A, B, C and D.
Fig. 23. Pore pressure and stress steps defined for years A, B, C and D.
SHmax range. The normal stress and shear stress were computed
for each cell in the faults showing stable conditions, Fig. 22.
Faults Stability Analysis High
WELL XX_J

WELL XX_J

Shmin
Upper 4D COUPLED
Shmin PP ONE-WAY GEOMECHANICS MODEL
To evaluate the fault stability6 at pre-production conditions,
WELL XX_D Middle
Low
the
PP
normal
Shmin
stiffness and shear stiffness were estimated — un- Stress Step and Pore Pressure Changes
der the same boundary conditions — using the following geo-
mechanics
FCP
fault properties: The stress step calibrations were selected from the pore pres-
FCP
sure profile to simulate the stress conditions over years A, B,
• Fault normal stiffness: 7.67E+06 KPa/m. C and D, Fig. 23.
FCP
WELL XX_D @A SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 53
Fig. 24. 3D cross-section showing the Shmin initialization, compared with the FCP (hydraulic fracture over year A) for year A.

Fig. 25. 3D cross-section through Wells XX_D to XX_J, showing the Shmin at pre-production conditions and over time.

Stress Variations over Time In year D, the FCPs from Well XX_Z and Well XX_K were
compared with the 3D Shmin, showing a good match, Figs. 26
The stress calibration from pre- to post-production conditions and 27.
was performed taking the FCP measured from the wells over
time7. In Figs. 24 and 25, the FCPs from Well XX_D and Reservoir Stress Path
Well XX_J were compared with the 3D Shmin simulation for
initial conditions (year A), reaching a good match. In normal depletion behavior, the effective vertical stress

54 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY


Fig. 26. 3D cross-section showing the Shmin, compared with the FCP (hydraulic fracture year D) for year D.

Fig. 27. 3D cross-section showing the Shmin through Well XX_Z and Well XX_K at pre-production conditions and over time.

SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 55


Date vs Pressure Gradient
Pore Pressure (Psi/ft) vs FCP (Psi/ft)
1.200 1.200
High
High

1.100
1.000

1.000
Gradient

0.800 ΔShmin=0.8055*ΔPore_Pressure + 0.3762


0.900 R2 =0.5548
Pressure Gradient

Pore Pressure Initial


0.600 Gradient from XX_J 0.800

FCPFCP
Pressure

Shmin
Shmin
0.400
0.700 Middle

Fracture Close Pressure 0.600 Lower


0.200
Pore_Pressure_3D simulations
0.500
Low
Low
0.000
19-Apr-2001 14-Jan-2004 10-Oct-2006 06-Jul-2009 01-Apr-2012 27-Dec-2014 22-Sep-2017 0.400
Low High 0.20Low 0.30 0.40 0.50 0.60Pore 0.70
Pore Pressure 0.80 0.90 1.00 1.10 1.20
High
Time
Time Pressure

Fig. 28. The pore pressure from 3D simulation results and FCP plotted over time, Fig. 29. Reservoir stress path defined by the relationship between S
hmin
/Pp and FCP
Fig. Fig.
28. The pore pressure from 3D simulation results and FCP plotted over
showing the possible trend for the reservoir stress path.
29. Reservoir
time, showing stress path defined by the relationship
the possible
through to the reservoir depletions.
between Shmin/Pp and
trend for the reservoir stress path. reservoir depletions.

Z-values: Zon
5200 5600 6000 6400 6800 7200 7600 8000 8400 8800 9200 9600 PRESSURE, [psi]

11200 TOTAL_EFFSTR_HMIN[3]_2014
Z-values: Zones (hierarchy) 5200 5600 6000 6400 6800 7200 7600 8000 8400

Zones (hierarchy) Zones (hierarchy)

High Upper_Jauf
Middle_Jauf High Upper_Jauf
Middle_Jauf

13600
13600

13600
Lower_Jauf Lower_Jauf

12800
12800

12800

12000
12000

12000

Shmin_3D
Shmin_3D
[psi]
TOTAL_EFFSTR_HMIN[0]_2002,

11200
11200

10400
10400

10400

9600
9600

9600
Shmin=0.8055* Pore_ Pressure +5578 @A Shmin=0.8055* Pore_ Pressure +5578
Low Low

8800
8800

8800
Pore Pressure High Low Pore Pressure
5200 5600 6000 6400 6800 7200 7600 8000 8400
Low
5200 5600 6000 6400 6800 7200 7600 8000 8400 8800 9200 9600
PRESSURE, [psi]
Symbol legend Symbol legend
PRESSURE vs. TOTAL_EFFSTR_HMIN[0]_2002 vs. Zones (hierarchy) (All cells) TOTAL_EFFSTR_HMIN_3_2014_vs_PRESSURE
TOTAL_EFFSTR_HMIN_3_2014_vs_PRESSURE PRESSURE vs. TOTAL_EFFSTR_HMIN[1]_2008 vs. Zones (h

Z-values: Zones (hierarchy) Z-values: Zon


PRESSURE, [psi] PRESSURE, [psi]

TOTAL_EFFSTR_HMIN[3]_2014,
5200 5600 6000 6400 6800 7200 7600 8000 8400 8800 9200 9600 5200 5600 6000 6400 6800 7200 7600 8000 8400

Zones (hierarchy) Zones (hierarchy)

High
Upper_Jauf
Middle_Jauf High Upper_Jauf
Middle_Jauf
13600

13600
13600
Lower_Jauf Lower_Jauf
12800

12800
12800
12000

12000
12000

Shmin_3D
Shmin_3D

[psi]
11200

11200
TOTAL_EFFSTR_HMIN[2]_2011
11200
10400

10400
10400
9600

9600
9600

Shmin=0.8055* Pore_ Pressure +5578 @C Shmin=0.8055* Pore_ Pressure +5578


Low
8800

8800
8800

Low
Low Pore Pressure
5200 5600 6000 6400 6800 7200 7600 8000 8400 8800 9200 9600 5200 5600 6000 6400 6800 7200 7600 8000 8400

Low Pore Pressure High


Symbol legend Symbol legend
TOTAL_EFFSTR_HMIN_3_2014_vs_PRESSURE PRESSURE vs. TOTAL_EFFSTR_HMIN[3]_2014 vs. Zones (h
PRESSURE vs. TOTAL_EFFSTR_HMIN[2]_2011 vs. Zones (hierarchy) (All cells) TOTAL_EFFSTR_HMIN_3_2014_vs_PRESSURE

Fig. 30. Reservoir stress path defined by the relation between Pp 3D and Shmin 3
depletions time.

Figure 30
Fig. 30. Reservoir stress path defined by the relation between Pp 3D and Shmin 3D from simulations, over depletions time.

56 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY


Year A

Fig. 31. Year A Shmin average stress map for the Upper (left), Middle (middle) and Lower Jauf (right).
Figure 31
increases at the same rate that pore pressure decreases because Stress Maps
the total vertical stress is unaffected by changes in pore pres-
sure. Subsequently, the effective horizontal stress increases more Shmin stress average maps were generated for each stress step
slowly during depletion than the pore pressure decreases. The and the three levels defined for the Jauf formation, showing
total horizontal stress decreases with pore pressure following important changes throughout the formation.
the Shmin/pore pressure coupling ratio8-10, Fig. 28. For the pre-production conditions (year A), Fig. 31, the
Figure 29 shows the relationship defined between the Shmin/ Shmin stress average map shows:
pore pressure ratio with a value of 0.805 and the FCP, which
can be considered as a normal range for a strike-slip-faulting • In the Upper Jauf section, high stress values from the
regime. It was assumed that the drop in Shmin with the pore southwest area, e.g., Well XX_L, and lower values from
pressure is nonrecoverable and that the Shmin does not increase the central part of the reservoir, e.g., Well XX_D.
with a re-pressurization process.
• In the Middle Jauf section, lower stress in comparison
In the 4D coupled one-way geomechanics model, the
with the Upper Jauf section, but still with high stress in
stresses obtained for the three stratigraphy levels defined for
the southwest area — Well XX_L.
the Jauf formation — Upper, Middle and Lower — show al-
most the same behavior regarding the pore pressure and Shmin • In the Lower Jauf section, high stress in the southwest
relationship. This can be deduced from Fig. 30, where the area but less stress in the central area, e.g., Well XX_D.
Middle and the Lower Jauf are overlapping.
During the depletion process over years A, B, C and D, the The post-production conditions for years B, C and D show
pore pressure and Shmin follow the stress path previously defined important reductions in the stress due to depletions in the
in Fig. 29, reaching in year D depleted zones where the pore Middle Jauf. The stress map over the Lower Jauf also shows
pressure values are less than the original pressures. Following significant reductions in the central part of the reservoir near
the stress path defined at post-production conditions, separate Well XX_D. The southwest part keeps the high stress values for
trends were identified for the Upper, Middle and Lower Jauf. the Upper, Middle and Lower Jauf around Well XX_L, Fig. 32.

SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 57


Year D

Figure 32
Fig. 32. Year D Shmin average stress map for the Upper (left), Middle (middle) and Lower Jauf (right).

CONCLUSIONS gave a good match with the FCP over the 27 wells where data
was available, with the reservoir stress path defined over the
The Jauf formation in the study area is characterized by a grid model by the following equation:
strike-slip-faulting regime in which the SHmax is the largest
principal stress, i.e., SHmax > Sv > Shmin. The SHmax orientation, ΔShmin = 0.8055*ΔPP(Pore_Pressure) + 0.3762 (5)
N75°E, was constrained by using borehole image logs.
The calibrated stress models were established based on po- The Shmin stress average maps were generated from pre- to
ro-elastic equations, FCP, core data, wellbore stability models post-production conditions for the three stratigraphy levels —
and drilling events showing an average anisotropy ratio of ap- Upper, Middle and Lower Jauf — showing more stress in the
proximately 1.2 to 1.4 (maximum principal stress magnitude)/ Upper Jauf in comparison with the Lower and Middle Jauf
(minimum principal stress magnitude). The stress model at sections. The southwest area shows the highest stress values
pre-production conditions showed values in the pore pressure of the three levels, > ~13,000 psi, even at post-production
gradient of ~0.62 psi/ft, the Shmin gradient of ~0.71 psi/ft to conditions.
0.95 psi/ft, and the SHmax of around ~1.3 psi/ft to 1.4 psi/ft.
The high resolution 3D geomechanics grid was used to ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
propagate the elastic properties and rock strength using the
PHIT model as the main drive; the ranges of estimated values The authors would like to thank the management of Saudi
were as follows: Young’s modulus from 1.2 Mpsi to 6.0 Mpsi, Aramco for their support and permission to publish this ar-
Poisson’s ratio from 0.24 to 0.38, and UCS primarily from ticle. The authors would also like to thank Khaqan Khan,
6.0 Kpsi to 16.0 Kpsi. Jubril Oluwa and Thamer A. Sulaimani for their contributions
In the 4D coupled model, the FCP values from the hydrau- to this project.
lic fractures were used to calibrate the Shmin at post-production
conditions over years B, C and D. The predicted stress model

58 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY


REFERENCES BIOGRAPHIES
Otto E. Meza Carmargo joined Saudi
1. Bell, J.S.: “Practical Methods for Estimating In Situ Stresses
Aramco in 2014 as a Geologist
for Borehole Stability Applications in Sedimentary Basins,”
Engineer working in the Exploration
Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, Vol. 38, Technical Services Department. He
Nos. 3-4, June 2003, pp. 111-119. has 10 years of experience in the oil
2. Prensky, S.: “Borehole Breakouts and In Situ Rock Stress industry, and prior to joining Saudi
— A Review,” The Log Analyst, Vol. 33, No. 3, 1992, pp. Aramco, he worked in a variety of
304-312. geological positions across the Middle East region, Brazil,
Peru and the U.K. Otto’s experience includes several
3. Prasad, M. and Nur, A.: “Velocity and Attenuation
aspects of reservoir characterization and integrated
Anisotropy in Reservoir Rocks,” SEG paper 2003-1652,
geomechanics modeling for conventional and
presented at the Society of Exploration Geophysicists unconventional reservoirs.
International Exposition and Annual Meeting, Dallas, He received his B.S. degree in Geological Engineering
Texas, October 26-31, 2003. from the University of San Marcos, Lima, Peru.
4. Raaen, A.M., Skomedal, E., Kjørholt, H., Markestad, P.
and Økland, D.: “Stress Determination from Hydraulic Dr. Tariq Mahmood joined Saudi
Fracturing Tests: The System Stiffness Approach,” Aramco in 2008 and is currently
working as a Geological Specialist/
International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining
Geomechanics Team Leader in the
Sciences, Vol. 38, No. 4, June 2001, pp. 529-541.
Exploration Technical Services
5. Kirsch, E.G.: Die Theorie der Elastizität und die Department. He began his career in
Bedürfnisse der Festigkeitslehre, Springer, Dresden, 1996 working in Perth, Australia, for
Germany, 1898, 11 p. Z&S Geoscience/Baker Hughes, specializing in fractures/
6. Zoback, M.D.: Reservoir Geomechanics, Cambridge faults characterization from borehole images. Tariq has
University Press, Cambridge, U.K., 2010, 461 p. provided consultancies to the major oil companies in the
Asia Pacific region and Australia, including Shell Brunei,
7. Koutsabeloulis, N.C., Heffer, K.J. and Wong, S.: Petronas, Chevron, Santos, Apache, Woodside, etc.
“Numerical Geomechanics in Reservoir Engineering,” He is a member of the American Association of
in H.J. Siriwardane and M.M. Zaman (eds.), Computer Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), the European Association
Methods and Advances in Geomechanics, A.A. Balkema, of Geoscientists and Engineers (EAGE) and the Dhahran
Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 1994. Geosciences Society (DGS).
8. Santarelli, F.J., Tronvoll, J.T., Svennekjaier, M., Skeie, H., In 1996, Tariq received his Ph.D. degree in Structural
Geology from the University of Adelaide, Adelaide,
Henriksen, R. and Bratli, R.K.: “Reservoir Stress Path: The
Australia. Atlas: 3D Analogue Modelling of Extensional
Depletion and Rebound,” SPE paper 47350, presented at
Fault Systems Plus Field Applications (1995), published
the SPE/ISRM Rock Mechanics in Petroleum Engineering,
by the University of Adelaide, et al., included his Ph.D.
Trondheim, Norway, July 8-10, 1998. research.
9. Hillis, R.R.: “Coupled Changes in Pore Pressure and
Stress in Oil Fields and Sedimentary Basins,” Petroleum
Geoscience, Vol. 7, No. 4, December 2001, pp. 419-425.
10. Breckels, I.M. and van Eekelen, H.A.M.: “Relationship
between Horizontal Stress and Depth in Sedimentary
Basins,” Journal of Petroleum Technology, Vol. 34, No.
9, September 1982, pp. 2191-2199.

SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 59


Dr. Ivan Deshenenkov is a Geologist
with the Exploration Technical
Services Department. He joined Saudi
Aramco in 2013 with over 9 years of
petrophysical experience in both
service companies and exploration
and production companies in Russia,
the U.S. and France, specializing in petrophysics, rock
physics, digital rock physics and special core analysis.
Ivan holds several patents and has authored more than
30 technical papers. During his career, he has received
several awards, including the Russian President Grant, the
Society of Petroleum Engineers’ (SPE) STAR Fellowship
and the American Association of Petroleum Geologists’
(AAPG) Gustavus E. Archie Memorial Grant for research
work.
He is a member of AAPG, the European Association
of Geoscientists and Engineers (EAGE) and the Dhahran
Geosciences Society (DGS).
In 2013, Ivan received his Ph.D. degree (with honors)
in Petrophysics and Petroleum Engineering, with a
concentration in capillary pressures, relative permeability
analysis and reservoir production forecasting, from Gubkin
Russian State University of Oil and Gas, Moscow, Russia.

60 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY


Implementing the Pressurized Mud Cap
Technique for Drilling through Total Loss
Zones: A Way to Improve Well Control while
Drilling the Reservoir in Oil Well Reentries
Authors: Khalifah M. Al-Amri, Julio C. Guzman Munoz, Abdulrhman M. Al-Hashim, Ali M. Hassanen and Ayoub Hadj-Moussa

ABSTRACT INTRODUCTION

Drilling through total loss zones without returns at the surface Reentering old wells to access bypassed portions of the
is a common practice for operating companies in the Middle reservoir is one of the most common jobs in the workover
East. This is known as the mud cap drilling technique, a operation. Workover engineers spend a great deal of time and
“blind drilling” technique that has been used for a long time effort to come up with designs to accommodate the conditions
in the region. The lessons learned throughout these years have of the existing wellbore so the reentry well can reach the
produced well established procedures and “rules of thumb” required targets in a cost-effective manner.
for estimating the mud density, volume and pumping schedule Currently, one of the most common reentry designs applied
of the mud cap for different situations. in one of the main oil fields in Saudi Arabia is the long radius
The application of this mud cap (blind) drilling technique sidetrack. The wells following this design are initiated by
becomes more challenging when drilling through oil reservoirs cutting a window in the existing 7” casing, then drilling a
with a high hydrogen sulfide (H2S) content and through a 6⅛” curve section with dogleg severities around 5°/100 ft
combination of zones in the same hole section with pressure through the overlying formations to land the well horizontally
regimes that are significantly different. This situation is often at the top of the reservoir. Drilling continues using geosteering
the case when drilling wells used to reenter oil producer wells techniques with logging while drilling tools until the well
in Saudi Arabia fields. Under these circumstances, the main reaches the planned total depth (TD). Finally, the opened
well control strategy is to maintain enough of a mud cap to upper formations are isolated from the producing lateral by
prevent any migration of the hazardous gases and/or liquid means of a cemented off-bottom liner, Fig. 1a.
hydrocarbons to the surface. The main drilling hazards found during the workover
This approach often results in a conservative design reentries come from having different pressure regimes
requiring large mud cap densities and volumes, which in combined in the same hole section. These hazards are as-
turn generates huge expenditures in mud material and puts sociated with (1) the relatively high pressure in the water
tremendous stress on logistics and transportation. producer, Formation-A, and (2) the nature of Formation-B, an
The pressurized mud cap technique offers a safe alternative oil reservoir that is highly fractured in some zones of the field.
to blind drilling. This technique uses regular managed These two create conditions for experiencing differentially
pressure drilling (MPD) equipment to monitor the behavior stuck pipe or a total circulation loss. Moreover, dealing with
of the reservoir at all times, thereby improving the safety of total circulation loss while drilling through the oil reservoir
the operation by having accurate well control. This approach can produce dangerous well control situations, which are
also realizes substantial cost savings by optimizing the use of severely aggravated by the high hydrogen sulfide (H2S) content
drilling fluid materials and other resources associated with the found in the reservoir fluids.
mixing and pumping of the mud cap. Conventional managed pressure drilling (MPD) has been
This article describes the successful implementation of this used in the past to optimize the overbalance applied to the
technique for reentering oil wells in an onshore field in Saudi lower pressure zone and to reduce the risk of getting the
Arabia. The article also provides details on the equipment drillpipe differentially stuck. But conventional MPD is not
and procedures utilized to maintain a full column of fluid applicable once total losses are encountered. This led to the
under pressure by keeping the MPD choke fully closed while idea of using the pressurized mud cap technique, a variant
drilling without any returns at the surface. The results, when of MPD, as an alternative to the traditional blind drilling
compared with the conventional mud cap (blind) drilling to continue drilling the reentry under total circulation loss
technique, show significant improvements in safety (well conditions, all while providing accurate well control and
control), cost efficiency and logistics. minimizing fluid lost to the reservoir.

SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 61


Fig. 1a. A typical oil reentry well, showing a window is cut into the existing 7” casing.
Fig. 1b. Cross flow from the higher pressure formation into the low-pressure formation.

CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK THE PRESSURIZED MUD CAP TECHNIQUE

Conventional MPD, understood as the “constant” bottom- Once the total loss of drilling fluid is encountered, the
hole pressure (BHP) variation of MPD1, does not solve the pressurized mud cap technique uses MPD equipment —
challenges presented by workover reentry operations in Saudi drillpipe check valves, rotating head and choke — to maintain
Arabia. The main reason is that to maintain a constant BHP, a full column of viscous fluid with a density lighter than that
it is necessary to have a “closed system.” The regular closed required to control the pore pressure found in the highly
circulating system existing in any ordinary drilling operation fractured formation. In this way, a positive pressure is
is lost once the drilling fluid starts massively leaking into the maintained in the MPD choke at the surface.
downhole formations. Drilling continues with a sacrificial amount of fluid being
Initially, it was thought that the conventional MPD was pumped through the string to drive directional tools and lift
going to help prevent these drilling fluid losses by keeping the cuttings to the loss zone; the MPD choke remains fully
the wellbore pressure profile within the mud weight (MW) closed. The positive choke pressure permits operators to
window and walking along the line between well kicks monitor the well to detect any hydrocarbons migrating to the
and losses. This approach was attempted but failed to have surface, any increase in drilling fluid losses or any evidence
positive results. It became clear that conventional MPD was that the formation is plugged.
not the right application for this environment due to the It is important to emphasize that the pressurized mud cap
pre-existence of karst type fractures with extremely high approach will work only if the formation fracture or karst is
permeability. big enough to receive all the fluid and cuttings being dumped
Pressurized mud cap drilling is another variation of MPD1, as a result of the change in drilling technique. If the formation
and a quick literature review confirmed the suitability of the starts getting plugged, the operation will have to switch to
technique for drilling through highly fractured hydrocarbon conventional MPD.
zones with H2S content2, 3. It was decided to take a hybrid In this particular field, operators suspected that the high-
approach to the implementation of MPD in the oil reentry pressure formation, Formation-A, had started to cross
wells: start with conventional MPD and then switch to flow and to dump formation water into the oil reservoir,
pressurized mud cap drilling once total loss of the drilling Formation-B, as represented in Fig. 1b. At first, they expected
fluid is encountered. The two main objectives of this effort to use the pressurized mud cap technique only for drilling and
are to (1) reduce the frequency and severity of differentially tripping; however, as the crew became familiar with it, the
stuck pipe and well control events, and (2) minimize the total implementation was extended for the logging and completion
amount of drilling fluid used during the reentry. phases, including running and cementing the off-bottom liner.

62 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY


potential for occurrence or historical data shows a
frequency of more than one incident per year.

Probability Severity (Impact)


High
Low: Incident/scenario being
analyzed has not occurred in the Low: Less than 12
region or frequency is less than hours rig lost time.
one incident every five years.
Medium
Medium: Incident/scenario being
analyzed has occurred in the Medium: Between 12
region and frequency is more hours and 24 hours
than one incident per every 5 rig lost time.
years and less than once yearly.
Low
High: Incident/scenario being
analyzed has a high potential
High: Rig lost time is
for occurrence or historical data
more than 24 hours. Low Medium High
shows a frequency of more than
one incident per year.
Fig. 2. The matrix for probability and impact risks.
Fig. 2. The matrix for probability and impact risks.

RISK ASSESSMENT AND FINAL PROCEDURE Uncontrolled Flow to the Surface — Rotating
Control Device (RCD) Failure
The peer review and risk assessment process identified
the following main issues for the implementation of the The probability of uncontrolled flow to the surface was
pressurized mud cap technique. Some of the issues are related considered a low risk; there are no records of catastrophic
to conventional MPD, but are mentioned here due to their rotating control device (RCD) failures causing a sudden
relevance for the pressurized mud cap technique as well. For release of fluids to the atmosphere in regular MPD operations
simplification purposes, the risk scenarios listed here are based in Saudi Aramco or in the region. Obviously, the severity was
on a 3 × 3 Risk Matrix, Fig. 2. deemed as a high risk due to personnel considerations. Rig
well control equipment would take care of the situation to
Differentially Stuck Pipe in Low-Pressure and/ contain the momentary release, but to maintain the severity
or High Permeability Formations to as low a risk as was reasonably practical, it was decided to
keep the surface working pressure at a maximum of 500 psi
The concern was that once operators started implementing at any given time. It is important to mention that the pressure
the pressurized mud cap, the clear, solids-free fluid used as the rating for the RCD used is 2,500 psi, and the rig blowout
“mud” cap was going to deplete the bridging agent — regular preventer stack is rated at 5,000 psi.
calcium carbonate (CaCO3) — in the formations uphole of
Formation-A and Formation-B, promoting the tendency for Drillpipe Check Valve Failure
having the drillstring differentially stuck; the probability of
this happening was considered a medium risk. Even though In the event of a check valve failure, flow or pressure through
such depletion is not normally observed in regular blind the drillpipe would occur during the connection. Because
drilling while pumping the mud cap, in this new scenario, several failures have been associated with check valves in
the fluid acting as the mud cap would not have any of the MPD operations in the region, the probability was considered
bridging agents common in regular mud caps. a high risk. The severity was a medium risk, mainly associated
The severity was considered a medium risk as well, since with the lost time spent tripping and replacing the valves.
it was hoped that the differential sticking situation would be As a risk mitigation factor, it was decided to use the valves
managed by manipulating the pressure in the backside with provided by the MPD company, which have a better track
the MPD choke. To mitigate this risk, the decision was made record than the valves provided by the rig and/or the di-
to use resilient bridging material — graphite and gilsonite — rectional drilling company. Also, a minimum of two of these
to set a good durable cake in these upper formations. The use valves were requested in the final procedure. In the event of
of these damaging bridging agents would then be discontinued a drillpipe check valve failure, the procedure to follow was
before starting to drill the reservoir. to kill the well, switch to the conventional mud cap (blind)
drilling technique and trip out of the hole to fix the problem.

SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 63


Drillstring Washout or Failure Tripping

Pressure containment is lost if the drillstring fails. The The trip for conventional MPD is performed with the well
probability of this happening was considered a medium to low killed. The trip for the pressurized mud cap application can be
risk, and the severity was deemed as a medium to low risk performed using the rotating head and pressurized fluid in the
as well, mainly associated with the rig lost time and the need backside all the way to “light pipe” depth. At this point, the
to kill the well by bullheading. To mitigate the risk, it was well is controlled by bullheading kill mud, and the operation
decided to perform a full drillstring inspection to the DS-1 Cat switches to conventional mud cap (blind) drilling techniques,
3-5 level prior to beginning with the MPD and pressurized which involves frequent pumping of a certain volume of mud
mud cap operation. In the event this situation happened, the cap that is heavier than the kill drilling fluid. The empirical
contingency was to kill the well by bullheading and continue best practice, learned over the years, is to pump (for the mud
remedial operations with the conventional mud cap (blind) cap) 60 barrels (bbl) per hour of fluid that is 10 pounds per
drilling technique. cubic foot (pcf) heavier than the kill mud.
The main tripping risks — RCD failure and drillpipe
Hydrocarbons and H2S Migrating to the Surface check valve failure — have already been mentioned, as well
as their respective mitigations. Additionally, the light pipe
Preventing such a migration is actually an advantage of the depth for the drillstring would have to be calculated prior to
pressurized mud cap technique compared with the regular tripping and after any pressure change observed during the
mud cap (blind) drilling technique. The probability of having trip, making sure that the calculation included a 100% safety
hydrocarbons and H2S migrate uphole to the surface was factor. The procedure involves pumping viscosified water in
considered as a medium to high risk. The severity was deemed the backside to replace the drillstring volume being pulled out
as a medium risk since having the RCD rigged up was going of the hole.
to actually mitigate the consequences of having any gas or It is necessary to keep in mind that the operating company,
oil cut mud to surface — when compared with the regular like others in the region, has extensive experience in drilling
blind drilling. The risk mitigation strategy was basically the without returns to the surface using the conventional mud
concept of the pressurized mud cap itself. With it, the rig team cap (blind) drilling technique. Because of this, risks related to
was going to be able to monitor the behavior in the drillpipe drilling mechanics and hole cleaning were not included for
casing annulus, thereby detecting any gas or hydrocarbon this analysis since those have already been addressed in the
migration in time to take the corrective actions well before blind drilling practices.
the hazardous fluids rose to the surface. The main additional A common operational risk faced when using any of the
barrier used to reduce the chances of having gas migration MPD variations is the drilling crew’s and rig team’s lack
to the surface was the utilization of viscosified water — 25 of familiarity with MPD equipment and procedures. The
lb/100 ft2 to 30 lb/100 ft2 yield point — as the fluid in the MPD service provider thereby played a very important role
pressurized mud cap. in training all crews on-site. The numerous pre-job meetings
held with the key members of the well site management team
Formation Plugging were also crucial to explain the objectives and details of the
application. For this particular case, the footage drilled in
In the event the loss zone(s) get plugged and returns are the “dead” rock found in the formations above the high-
regained, the cuttings would be trapped in the annulus pressure zone — Formation-A — was used to get the crews
space since the choke is fully closed. This would severely familiar with the connections, tripping and directional survey
affect the hole cleaning capabilities and create a big risk of procedures as well as with the MPD equipment.
hole pack off. Also, since the pressurized mud cap — water The simplified procedure for the application of the
— would be substantially underbalanced with the higher pressurized mud cap technique for drilling through a total loss
pressure Formation-A, the pressure at the surface might zone is summarized as follows:
increase to values higher than desirable. The probability
of having this situation develop was considered a low risk, 1. Once total losses are observed during conventional MPD
based on the extensive experience with conventional blind operations, close the MPD choke fully and completely fill
drilling; the severity was deemed as a high risk, mainly for the annular space until positive pressure is observed in the
the potential stuck pipe and well control issues. As a point of casing pressure MPD gauge. Keep filling until 100 psi to
risk mitigation, the procedure included alarms set to flag any 150 psi casing pressure is reached. Continue drilling with
abnormal increase in casing pressure; two full hole volumes of the choke fully closed and pump sacrificial water through
kill mud were ready to be used at any time; and the full MPD the drillstring; also pump a 30 bbl hi-vis water pill for
package was primed to switch to conventional MPD in case every stand drilled to assist with hole cleaning.
full circulation was regained.

64 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY


a. Fill the hole with viscosified water — XC polymer at 3. If total losses are observed and it is not possible to follow
1.5 ppb + water — to obtain a viscosity of 25 lb/100 ft2 the above procedures, maintain positive casing pressure
to 30 lb/100 ft2. with one of the two actions:
b. Have the MPD engineer record the exact amount of a. Pump 3 bpm with viscosified water.
water used to fill up the annulus space. b. If it is not possible to keep up with viscosified water,
2. Continue drilling with the choke fully closed while switch to plain water and pump a 30 bbl pill of vis-
observing the pressure behavior in the casing pressure cosified water every hour.
MPD gauge. This pressure should remain stabilized.
a. If the casing pressure drops below 50 psi, pump vis- ACTUAL IMPLEMENTATION
cosified water at 1 barrel per minute (bpm) to bring
the pressure back to the previous value, then carry on Operations commenced in the selected well. Figure 3 shows
drilling to TD. the MPD equipment that was rigged up after cutting the
b. If the casing pressure starts steadily increasing and window in the 7” liner. A good pressure profile was obtained
does not show signs of stabilization while the drillpipe while drilling through the upper interval. The high-pressure
pressure remains steady at the same value, bullhead zone was detected in Formation-A, and an exact pore pressure
the annulus volume with viscosified water to the top value was obtained for the maximum pressure found in this
of Formation-A at 8 bpm, then stop bullheading and formation. This value was used later on for all killing fluid
observe the pressure behavior. density and mud cap density calculations.
• If the pressure is below 500 psi — the risk Drilling in a conventional MPD mode continued. The well
mitigation limit set by management — carry on was landed as planned into the reservoir in Formation-B, and
drilling while monitoring the casing pressure. total losses were encountered approximately 400 ft after the
• If the pressure is greater than 500 psi, stop drilling target entry point. A total of 2,488 ft were drilled horizontally
and perform calculations for the new MW to — via geosteering — after hitting the total loss zone. The
be used as a pressurized mud cap. Bullhead the procedure described previously was utilized to drill the total
annular space with the new pressurized mud cap loss section using a pressurized mud cap. The surface casing
— at a heavier MW — and continue drilling, closely pressure remained very steady at ± 300 psi, and no major
monitoring the casing pressure and repeating the changes were observed during connections. Figure 4 is a
previous procedures as needed. sample of the pressurized mud cap log. The drilling BHA was
c. If the drillpipe pressure increases at the same time that pulled out of the hole while maintaining the pressurized mud
the casing pressure does, the loss zone is probably cap, and the well was killed, when the bit was approximately
getting plugged. Attempt to establish full circulation 2,000 ft from the surface. After killing the well, conventional
with conventional MPD and then continue drilling. mud cap (blind) drilling procedures were followed for laying

RCD
Main
Main flow
flow line
line

Microflux control manifold


Gas
Gas to
to vent
vent
Trip tank fill up

Trip tank
pump

Fig. 3. MPD equipment configuration used for the pressurized mud cap technique implementation.
Fig. 3. MPD equipment configuration used for the pressurized mud cap technique implementation.
SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 65
TOTAL LOSSES:
Zero Returns (Red Line)

TOTAL LOSSES:
Surface Pressure to Zero
(Red Line)

Pressurized Cap:
Surface Pressure Steady
at ±300 psi. (Red Line)

Fig. 4. Actual MPD log while drilling using the pressurized mud cap technique.
Fig. 4. Actual MPD log while drilling using the pressurized mud cap technique.
down the drilling BHA and picking up the next reaming BHA. The off-bottom liner was then run with the pressurized
A pressurized mud cap was used again for the reaming trip mud cap, and returns were partially regained after stringing
and the logging run. Memory pipe conveyed logs were run the seal assemblies into the lower completion. Full returns
using the RCD and pressurized mud cap procedures. Also were obtained with MPD techniques, and the liner cementing
the lower completion, consisting of inflow control devices job was performed successfully, with full returns, keeping
and mechanical open hole packers, was run while using the control of the BHP with the MPD equipment.
pressurized mud cap.

66 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY


RESULTS CONCLUSIONS AND OBSERVATIONS

All objectives were met and the actual results significantly Conventional drilling approaches or even conventional MPD
exceeded all expectations for this first trial of the pressurized techniques won’t work in drilling scenarios like the one
mud cap. presented in this article. When the dominant cause of the
When compared with the conventional mud cap (blind) total losses is pre-existing karst type fractures, any attempt
drilling technique, the pressurized mud cap offered a much to regain circulation before continuing drilling will require
better control of the well and provided the ability to monitor an excessive amount of time and materials and presents very
BHP and reservoir fluid behavior at all times. limited chances to succeed. The only options left are either to
The main immediate cost benefit was obtained from continue drilling with the mud cap (blind) drilling technique
eliminating the cost of the saved mud. A total of 17,000 bbl or to set a sacrificial casing if the well design allows it.
of 95 pcf mud cap were saved in this well, thanks to the Pressurized mud cap drilling was demonstrated in this trial
pressurized mud cap implementation. to be a safer and more cost-effective alternative to the con-
The value goes beyond the monetary savings of these ventional mud cap (blind) drilling technique. The main benefit
mud cap barrels themselves. The associated logistics and obtained with the application of this technique is the ability
materials for preparing the 17,000 bbl, involving about 3,500 to accurately monitor the pressure profile in the wellbore by
metric tons of calcium chloride and CaCO3, represent ±190 means of the indications seen at the casing pressure gauge,
truckloads and round trips to the rig site — approximately thanks to having a full column of mud filling the annulus
76,000 km of heavy traffic avoided on public roads. Also, space. This capability allows the drilling crew to react in time
there was a corresponding reduction in operational exposure to take the corresponding corrective actions well before any
for the rig personnel, who did not have to mix this large hazardous fluids reach the surface.
amount of drilling fluid at 60 bbl per hour. This added benefit In addition to the huge cost savings that come from
should not be understated since the mixing process involves achieving a reduction in the mud cap volumes of about
numerous heavy load movements and other hazards. 70% and the obvious operational safety improvements
In terms of the rate of penetration (ROP), there was not related to well control, there were at least three further
a noticeable improvement during the application of the important benefits observed during the implementation of
pressurized mud cap; the ROP in the lateral is very dependent this technique:
on the amount of the intersected pay zone, and the observed
ROP in the interval below the loss zone was the same as other • A dramatic reduction in the usage of fresh water for
wells drilled in the area. It is fair to say, however, that while mixing mud.
using the MPD in the upper section — when full returns were
• Improved safety at the rig site since the mud mixing
still in place — the observed ROP was about 33% higher than
requirements were significantly reduced.
in the offset wells.
With these encouraging results, the technique was applied • A significant reduction in transportation requirements,
in one more reentry well and later in three newly drilled wells. decreasing exposure to motor vehicle accidents.
The results were consistent with the observations made in the
first trial well. A diligent risk management process helped the team to
develop a robust procedure with virtually all the contingencies
FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS well covered. Many of the identified risks were easily
mitigated by having the possibility to bullhead the well due to
Currently, the pressurized mud cap technique is the operator’s the high permeability of the fractures.
preferred way to drill reentry wells in zones where total losses
are expected. The main urgency now is to bring the technique ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
to offshore rigs, where the potential savings are even higher.
During this first stage of the implementation, the operating The authors would like to thank the management of Saudi
company is keeping the full MPD setup. This definitely Aramco, Halliburton and Weatherford for their support and
permission to publish this article. The authors would also like
offers a high degree of flexibility, especially useful to obtain
to thank the operations and field personnel involved in the
all the information in the zones above the lost circulation
first implementation of the pressurized mud cap technique
zone. Currently, the operator’s engineering team and the in Saudi Arabia, especially Askar S. Al-Hajri, Gabriel M.
service providers are working on alternatives to optimize the Morava, Joshi Ainnikal and Hussain Ghazzaly.
equipment requirements. Reducing the amount of equipment This article was presented at the SPE/IADC Middle East
needed for a pressurized mud cap will help to enable an easier Drilling Technology Conference and Exhibition, Abu Dhabi,
implementation of the technique and to capture more oppor- UAE, January 26-28, 2016.
tunities for its application.

SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 67


REFERENCES BIOGRAPHIES
Khalifah M. Al-Amri is a General
1. Chopty, J., Jaipersad, M., Arnone, M. and Sardo, A.:
Supervisor at the Gas Drilling
“Development of Technological Applications of Managed
Engineering Department; he is
Pressure Drilling,” paper presented at the 10th Offshore currently in charge of the Offshore
Mediterranean Conference and Exhibition, Ravenna, Italy, Gas Division, handling the drilling
March 22-25, 2011. engineering for the most critical and
2. Colbert, J.W. and Medley, G.: “Light Annular Mud challenging offshore gas wells in Saudi
Cap Drilling — A Well Control Technique for Naturally Aramco. During Khalifah’s more than 18 year-long career,
Fractured Formations,” SPE paper 77352, presented at he has built in-depth knowledge and solid experience in all
aspects of onshore and offshore well construction and
the SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, San
intervention processes for both oil and gas wells. Khalifah’s
Antonio, Texas, September 29 - October 2, 2002.
specialized expertise is in oil and gas workover engineering
3. Sweep, M.N., Bailey, J.M. and Stone, C.R.: “Closed Hole and operations, covering all procedures required during the
Circulation Drilling: Case Study of Drilling a High-Pressure entire life cycle of the wells, high-pressure/high temperature
Fractured Reservoir — Tengiz Field, Republic of drilling, underbalanced coiled tubing drilling and snubbing
Kazakhstan,” SPE paper 79850, presented at the SPE/ operations.
IADC Drilling Conference, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Petroleum
February 19-21, 2003. Engineering (with Second Honor) from King Fahd
University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM), Dhahran,
Saudi Arabia.

Julio C. Guzman Munoz is an


Engineering Supervisor at the
Workover Engineering Department in
Saudi Aramco. During his 13-year
career in the oil and gas industry, he
has gained extensive experience
working on several projects associated
with coiled tubing drilling, extended reach drilling,
high-pressure/high temperature gas wells, underbalanced
drilling and workover operations in Venezuela, the United
States, Mexico, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Currently, Julio
is providing engineering support for several key initiatives
for Saudi Aramco Drilling & Workover.
Julio received his B.S. degree in Petroleum Engineering
from the Universidad Industrial de Santander,
Bucaramanga, Santan der, Colombia, in 1997.

Abdulrhman M. Al-Hashim is leading


a unit in Saudi Aramco’s Workover
Engineering Department. Previously, he
worked in various departments within
the Drilling & Workover (D&WO)
Department, gaining extensive
experience in onshore and offshore
D&WO engineering. Abdulrhman has also worked on the
Manifa Workover Campaign, the D&WO Environmental
Stewardship program, a lump sum turnkey (LSTK) reentry
contract and multiple other critical projects.
He received his B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering
from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals
(KFUPM), Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
Abdulrhman is member of the Society of Petroleum
Engineers (SPE).

68 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY


Ali M. Hassanen works for
Halliburton in Saudi Arabia as a
Drilling/Well Engineer (Design and
Operation) for reentry wells. He has
11 years of experience in the oil and
gas industry.
Previously, Ali worked with the
Khalda Petroleum Company (Apache Egypt) in drilling and
workover for land wells and well intervention for oil, gas
and water wells. His work experience also included time
with the El Paso Egypt Production Company where he was
involved in an exploration drilling project. Ali then moved
over to work with TransGlobe Energy Corporation doing
the same type of work. Finally, he worked for the Petrol
Amir Petroleum Company in both drilling and workover
operations prior to his current position.

Ayoub Hadj-Moussa is currently the


Country Product Line Manager of
Secure Drilling Services for
Weatherford Saudi Arabia. With over
9 years of oil field experience, he
specializes in controlled pressure
drilling operations, such as
underbalanced drilling (UBD) and managed pressure
drilling (MPD). In 2005 Ayoub joined Weatherford,
starting his oil field career as a Data Acquisition Engineer
in Underbalanced Drilling Operations in Hassi Messaoud,
Algeria, gaining valuable hands-on experience. Since then,
Ayoub has worked on a broad range of UBD and MPD
operations in various countries in the MENA region.
In 2010 he relocated to Saudi Arabia to work on
various projects, such as the Deep Gas Drilling Coil
Tubing UBD project, the High-Pressure Jilh Formation
Depletion project and the MPD project for Saudi Aramco’s
Drilling and Workover Department.
Ayoub has coauthored various Society of Petroleum
Engineers (SPE) papers in the field of MPD.
In 2004, he received his B.S. degree in Systems
Engineering from Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario,
Canada.

SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 69


Automatic Well Completion and
Reservoir Grid Data Quality Assurance
for Reservoir Simulation Models

Authors: Tariq M. Al-Zahrani, Muath A. Al-Mulla and Mohammed S. Al-Nuaim

ABSTRACT geologists and geophysicists develop structure models, geo-


logical horizons and geological models for the reservoir; pet-
Reservoir simulation engineers have to go through an intense rophysicists develop initial saturation and initial oil in place
and time-consuming process to manually quality check large maps; and reservoir engineers provide the field development
amounts of data, which consist of wells, logs and completion plan — all of which represent interpreted data. The raw and
events going back for more than 50 years of history. It is interpreted data are then integrated when constructing the
fundamental that data used in building reservoir simulation reservoir simulation model2. To date this had been a notably
models be quality controlled and cross-checked to eliminate cumbersome process.
inconsistencies during the history match process. Building reservoir simulation models is a challenging (and
This article provides an overview of a new simulation data tedious) task, given that simulation models are essentially
quality workflow design and outlines the development of a an integration of all collected geological and engineering
state-of-the-art software package that will guide engineers multidisciplinary data. After building the model, reservoir
through the quality checking process, seen as the first stage of simulation engineers have to go through an intense and
simulation model construction. time-consuming process to manually quality check the large
The workflow software package developed here covers most amounts of data, which consist of wells, logs and completion
of the data required for building simulation models. The prepa- events going back for more than 50 years. It is fundamental
ration and validation of data are conducted using tailored, that data used in building reservoir simulation models be
automated workflows that guide engineers through the quality quality controlled and cross-checked to eliminate inconsisten-
control steps in a streamlined manner. At every step, specific cies and problems during the history match process. The tool
data is reviewed and validated based on some well-developed described in this article strives to develop new capabilities that
quality control (QC) criteria. In case of any inconsistencies, the allow simulation engineers to easily prepare, validate, store
software issues relevant error and/or warning messages and rec- and retrieve geological model related data, e.g., grids, well
ommends possible remedial solutions or actions. rates, historical events, perforations, deviation surveys, etc., in
This tool eliminates tedious informal manual effort and a secure and user-friendly manner.
results in high quality simulation models that have been
By using this automated reservoir grid and well completion
checked and verified through formal automated workflows.
data workflow, reservoir engineers can easily validate the
The new workflow/software reduces the length of time spent
simulation related data and so reduce the time spent in the
on the checking process from weeks to days or even hours,
history matching process, leading to a more accurate reservoir
and thereby minimizes the overall time needed to perform
history matching.

INTRODUCTION

During the production life cycle of oil and gas extraction from
reservoir fields in geological formations, certain stages follow
in a specific order: exploration, appraisal, reservoir develop-
ment, production decline and abandonment of the reservoir.
Massive amounts of data are collected in the process, such
as seismic, well logs, core data and production data, all rep-
resenting raw data1. In addition, during the life of the field
development, several disciplines develop studies to increase
Fig. 1. Cross section where the colors indicate geological properties in a reservoir.
understanding of different parts of the reservoir. For example,
Fig. 1. Cross section where the colors indicate geological prope
70 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY
model. What follows is a better prediction of gas and/or oil actions of interpreting and integrating quality controlled data
production. This tool will reduce the time spent in quality at different scales from a variety of sources and vintages are
checking simulation related data from months to days. prerequisites for preparing a comprehensive reservoir model.
Therefore, the validation of the geological model at the very
GEOLOGICAL MODEL VALIDATION beginning of the larger overall process is a very important part
of constructing the simulation model3.
The geological model aggregates all the concepts and static
measurements of reservoir properties into a full reservoir char- THE QUALITY CONTROL (QC) TOOL
acterization. The geological model not only provides the geo-
logical basis of the reservoir simulation model, but also serves As mentioned, it is time-consuming and critical work to check
to assist with well planning and volumetric calculations, among all geological parameters. This is where the idea of this tool
other uses. The geological model is constructed by integrating came from. This in-house developed system will assist in im-
the reservoir geometry with rock characterization data3. proving the model quality, enforce best practices and reduce
The geological model depicts the distribution of rock types the turnaround time required for building and conducting
and properties in the reservoir, Fig. 1. It also includes geological reservoir simulation studies. The workflow consists of nine
features, such as faults, fractures and stratiforms. Rock prop- QC steps, Fig. 2, that allow simulation engineers to easily val-
erties such as porosity, permeability, and thickness of reservoir idate the geological model, especially the data related to the
strata are described in the geologic model as well. Engineering grid and well completions, e.g., grid orientation, grid origin,
data, such as pressures, fluid densities, free water levels, satura- flipped cells, grid horizon, well trajectories and completions,
tions, etc., may also be included in the geologic model. Because and faults orientation, by using one of the pre-processing and
the model is an interpretation, and interpretation is necessarily post-processing platforms.
the result of the geologist’s judgment, knowledge and experi- The following are just a few of the aforementioned issues
ence, the geological model may have some issues4. that reservoir simulation engineers can face when checking the
Interpretation is often a step toward a more accurate and geological model:
reliable geologic model, developing further as new data is
gathered and new concepts are formulated. The geologic • When the well completions are integrated with the
model is not a final product, but a milepost on the way to model grids, they sometimes do not share the same
obtaining a description of the “actual” reservoir. The two depth zone, Fig. 3.

Fig. 2. The nine QC steps.

SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 71


Fig. 4. Example of the mismatch of well tops with grid horizons.

• When the horizons in the geological model are


integrated with the well tops, sometimes those well tops
do not overlay the horizons correctly, Fig. 4.
Fig. 4. Example of the mismatch of well tops with gr
• When the well trajectories are integrated with the well
tops and the grids, they sometimes do not intersect with
each other, Fig. 5.

Actually, building a simulation model is a good opportu-


nity for the simulation engineer to go to a second level of QC
to see the data from an integration perspective.

Fig. 2. The nine QC steps.


NINE QC STEPS
Fig. 5. Examples of the mismatch of well trajectories with grids (left) and well
tops (right).
Fig. 5. Examples of the mismatch of well trajectories with grids (left) and w

At every step, specific data is reviewed and validated based Grid Validation
on some well-developed QC criteria. The following discusses
these nine QC steps. Validation of the grid requires checking the origin and lo-
cation of the grid. This is the first step to performing QC of
any other data. In this first QC step, the tool validates the
Well A
reservoir grid index order automatically, and it checks the
origin of the grid by considering all possible reasons, which
is implemented to generate the grid or grid affected because
of the loading process by using a different format2. An output
result is displayed in text format showing a 3D environment
with the base horizon and the origin of the grid indicated with
a point at the cell where I=1, J=1 and K=1. The tool validates
Fig. 5. Examples of the mismatch of well trajectorie
the top left cell, whether it is (1,1,1) or not, then it validates
the grid location by importing a well-known location well.
Validating the grid location can be performed with reference

Fig. 6. Grid origin checked with one well location in 3D environment.

Fig. 3. Example of the mismatch of well completions with model grids.


Well A
Fig. 3. Example of the mismatch of well completions with model gr

Fig. 4. Example of the mismatch of well tops with grid horizons.


Fig. 4. Example of the mismatch of well tops with grid horizons.
Fig. 6. Grid origin checked with one well location in 3D environment.

72 FALL 2016
Fig. 6. Grid origin checked with one well location in
SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY
Well Tops Horizon
which the tool provides statistical results of how many well
Well Tops Horizon tops have a distance of more than the assigned threshold for
each grid horizon. Also, the tool displays all the well tops that
do not intersect with grid horizons in 3D, Fig. 7.

Grid Faults
Fig. 7. Horizons checked against well tops.

Fig. 7. Horizons checked against well tops. In the third QC step, the tool automatically validates the grid
Fig. 7. Horizons checked against well tops.
faults against the interpreted faults to ensure that the grid
faults are modeled correctly, Fig. 8. All the grid faults should
intersect with the imported interpreted faults. The simula-
tion engineers are allowed to select a threshold, then the tool
provides statistical results of how many grid faults have a
distance of more than the assigned threshold for imported
interpreted data. Also, the tool displays all the grid faults that
do not intersect with imported faults in 3D.

Geometry of the Grid Cells

In the fourth QC step, the tool highlights all the simulation


grids having issues related to cell angle, cell bulk volume, cell
Fig. 8. Interpreted faults and model grid faults, highlighting issues graphically.
Fig. 8. Interpreted faults and model grid faults, highlighting issues graphically. volume contrast and cells inside out that will significantly im-
to any of a number of existing objects, like wells, faults, etc., pact both the simulation convergence and the simulation com-
Fig. 8. Interpreted faults
or to a range of grids, Fig. 6. and model grid faults, highlighting issues graphically. puting time. This step is about checking the geometry of the
Property Units Total
Minimum
Total
Maximum
Total
Average
Threshold Bad
Cells
grid cellsMaximum
Minimum and assuringAverage thatStatus
the criteria
Display related to the simulator

Grid
Cell Vol.
Horizons ft3
52,329 507,243,264 53,167,167 0 0 grid
0 cell are0 met. The 0 tool displays all the cells having issues
Property
Cell Angle Units
Areal
deg Total 0.00
Minimum
Total 0.64
Maximum
Total
Average
Threshold
0.150.81 Bad25
Cells
Minimum0
in
Maximum
3D,
0.00 based
Average 0.00
on the threshold
Status 0.000.52
Display
put forward by the simulation
Cell Vol. ft3 52,329 507,243,264 53,167,167 0 0 0 0
In the
Cell second
Angle degQC step, 0.09 the tool automatically
8.96 4.16 validates 25 the 0 engineers,
0.00
0
and provides
0.00 0.00 full statistics for, and the status of,
Cell Angle deg 0.00 0.64 0.150.81 25 0 0.00 0.00 0.000.52
Vertical
grid horizons against the well tops to ensure that the grid
Areal each cell’s properties, Table 1.
Cell
horizons
Dimension are ftmodeled
Cell Angle deg 0.09
635.93correctly.
8.96 This step917.70
1,916.05
4.16 determines0.00
25 0 the ac-2.295
0.00 0.00 The
635.93
properties
0.00
1,916.05
that
917.70
are generated in checking the geometry
Vertical X
X
curacy of the horizons in the grid by comparing them against of the grid cell as listed in Table 1 are discussed next.
Cell
Cell
the well tops,
Dimension
Dimension ft ft which
635.93 are 1,916.05
708.69 deemed to917.70
1,974.32 be interpreted
0.00
1,041.62 with
0.0 high
2.295 635.93
2.295 1,916.05
708.69 917.70
1,974.32X 1,041.62 X
X
Y
confidence.
Cell The tool automatically picks the horizons of the Cell Volume. This refers to the bulk grid cell block volume;
Cell Vol. 0.00 1 0.81 0.75 581 0.00 0.75 0.52 X
grid provided
Dimension
Contrast ft
for the grid
708.69
validation
1,974.32
— previously
1,041.62 0.0
described.
2.295 708.69 the porosity
1,974.32 1,041.62 and
X saturations are not accounted for in the cal-
Y
All the well tops0.00
Cell Inside
Cell should
0.00
intersect
0.00
with
0.81 the horizons.
0.00
The
0
simu- 0 culation.
0.00
0.52 The Xminimum and maximum cell volume values of
0.00 0.00
OutVol. 1 0.75 581 0.00 0.75
Contrast
lation engineers are allowed to select a threshold in feet, after the entire grid are reported in the “Total Min.” and “Total
Cell Inside 0.00 0.00 0.00 0 0 0.00 0.00 0.00
Table
Out 1. Statistics describing the results of the cell validation step
Total Total Total Bad
Property Units Threshold Min. Max. Average Status Display
Minimum Maximum Average Cells
Table 1. Statistics describing the results of the cell validation step
Cell Vol. ft3 52,329 507,243,264 53,167,167 0 0 0 0 0
Cell Angle
deg 0.00 0.64 0.150.81 25 0 0.00 0.00 0.000.52
Areal
Cell Angle
deg 0.09 8.96 4.16 25 0 0.00 0.00 0.00
Vertical
Cell
Dimension ft 635.93 1,916.05 917.70 0.00 2.295 635.93 1,916.05 917.70 X
X
Cell
Dimension ft 708.69 1,974.32 1,041.62 0.0 2.295 708.69 1,974.32 1,041.62 X
Y
Cell Vol.
0.00 1 0.81 0.75 581 0.00 0.75 0.52 X
Contrast
Cell Inside
0.00 0.00 0.00 0 0 0.00 0.00 0.00
Out

Table 1. Statistics describing the results of the cell validation step

SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 73


Max.” columns, respectively, and an arithmetic average of all the total grid block volume
cell volume values in the entire grid is calculated and reported is of the correct sign, then
under the “Total Average” column. this may not affect the abil-
ity of the simulator to solve
Cell Angle Areal. This property, along with the “Cell Angle
the flow equations. It is
Vertical,” is generated to investigate orthogonality issues that
recommended that engineers
may rise during simulation. The property represents the worst
investigate the causes of any
angle deviation from the ideal 90° angle in the areal plane. All
inside out cells. Inside out
eight angles in a grid cell block in the XY plane, Fig. 9, are
computed and compared to an ideal orthogonal angle, after cells usually occur because
Fig. 9. The eight angle positions.
which the deviation from 90° is reported. For example, both there is too much distortion Fig. 9. The eight angle positions.
angles of 75° and 105° are reported as deviated by 15°, and in some of the input data or
the maximum deviation value is assigned for the grid block. A because one or more control lines are incorrectly classified as
cell angle of 0° means that the cell is areally orthogonal. “I” lines when they should be “J” Property Name
lines, and vice-versa. Threshold Desc
After reviewing the statistics, Cell
the engineer Minimum cell volume a
Volume needs to define
Cell Angle Vertical. This property, along with the “Cell Angle Any values less will be
threshold values for each property. Notice that these values
Areal,” is generated to investigate orthogonality issues that Maximum cell angle de
are treated differently as explained
CellinAngle
TableAreal
2, which also pro-
allowed.
may rise during simulation. The property represents the worst
vides recommended threshold values for best performance by
Any values greater will
angle deviation from the ideal 90° angle in vertical planes. All Maximum cell angle de
the simulator.
16 angles in a grid cell block in the XZ and YZ planes are Cell Angle Vertical allowed.
computed and compared to an ideal orthogonal angle, after Property Name Threshold DescriptionAny values greater will
which the deviation from 90° is reported. For example, both Cell dimension X direc
Cell Dimension
Minimum cell volume X allowed.
Any values outside the
angles of 75° and 105° are reported as deviated by 15°, and
reported.
the maximum deviation value is assigned for the grid block. A Cell Volume
Cell dimension Y direc
cell angle of 0° means that the cell is vertically orthogonal. Any values less will be
Cell Dimension Y reported
Any values outside the
reported.
Cell Dimension. This is the cell size in meters. Maximum cell angle deviation Maximum cell volume
Cell Volume
allowed. allowed.
Cell Angle Areal Contrast
Any values Less will be
Cell Volume Contrast. This property is generated to investigate Any values greater will be
Maximum cell inside-o
any throughput issue that might occur in the simulation. The reported.
Cell Inside Out
Any values greater will
QC tool computes the ratio of the volume of a specific grid Maximum cell angle deviation
block and all its neighboring cells’ volumes, and then reports Table 2.allowed.
Cell’s threshold description
the highest values. The ideal value for volume contrast is 1. Cell Angle Vertical
Any values greater will be
reported.
Cell Inside Out. To measure the quality of the simulation grid
block geometry, the tool uses a temporary fine grid of micro- Cell dimension X direction to
honor.
cells. Assuming that these microcells are defined by trilinear Cell Dimension X
mapping, the QC tool calculates the Jacobian at the eight Any values outside the range will
corners and at the center points of the microcells. It then uses be reported.
those calculations to construct an M by M by M grid inside Cell dimension Y direction to
each simulation grid block, M being a resolution parameter honor.
Cell Dimension Y
controlled by the QC tool. The total number of times that the Any values
Fig. 10.outside thechecked
Well tops range will
against horizons.
Jacobian is negative is then reported. When the grid is good, be reported.
the reported result is zero. In most cases, the values are all, or
Maximum cell volume contract
almost all, zeros. Only when an inverted coordinate system
Cell Volume allowed.
has been used at the start will a larger number be the result.
Contrast
A grid is not good when the result is different in different Any values Less will be reported.
grid blocks. There is no known rigorous test for an inside out
hexahedral with bilinear surfaces1.
Maximum cell inside-out allowed.
Even if none of the cells is inside out, many of them can be
Cell Inside Out
much distorted. This is to be expected, depending on the input Any values greater will be
data. The converse can also happen: a cell is flagged as inside reported.
out but does not appear to be so. In these cases, the Jacobian
Table 2. Cell’s threshold description
still will have changed sign somewhere inside the grid block. If

74 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY


Table 2. Cell’s threshold description

Perforations
Fig. 10. Well tops checked against horizons.
Fig. 10. Well tops checked against horizons.

Trajectories
Grids

Fig. 11. QC step for the well trajectories.

Completions
Fig.
Well 11.
TopsQC step for the well trajectories.

In the fifth QC step, the tool ensures that the well trajecto-
ries are located correctly by comparing them with the well
tops’ locations. This step is about checking the well trajectory Fig. 12. Well completions checked against perforations.

locations by comparing the intersections of synthetic well


tops with the grid horizons against the current well tops that
Fig.perforation
12. Well completions
events. checked
They should share the against pe
same depth zone,
and the tool displays all the well completion events that do
have been imported. They should intersect, and based on the
not intersect with the perforation events in 3D, Fig. 12.
threshold provided by the simulation engineer, the tool pro-
vides statistical results showing how many well trajectories
have distance more than the threshold. All the well trajectories Well Logs (Production)
with issues can be displayed in 3D, Fig. 10.
In the eighth QC step, the
Well Trajectories tool checks if the well com-
Perforations pletion events are located
In the next two QC steps, multiple validations are executed correctly by comparing them
at the same time. The first uses simulation perforations to against the well’s production
validate well trajectories, assuming that the perforations are of logs. Production logs are im-
high quality, and the second uses imported completion events ported and checked against
that are cross-checked with the perforations for any inconsis- the completion event, and
tencies. In this QC step, the tool checks if the well trajectories the tool reports any incon-
are located correctly by comparing them against the assigned sistencies, like observed
grids — i.e., the perforation events. They should intersect, and production in the production
the tool displays all the trajectories that do not intersect with logs within intervals that
the perforations in 3D, Fig. 11. are not perforated. The well
completion events should
Well Completion lower the production log
depth zone. Based on the
In the seventh QC step, the tool checks if the well completion
Completions threshold provided by the Fig. 13. Production log checked against
Fig. 13. Production log checked against the c
the completion events.
events are located correctly by comparing them against the simulation engineer, the tool

SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 75


Water Injectio
Fig. 13. Production log checked against the completion events.

Li
Water Injection Rate Observed
Rate
Flow Rate
Liquid Flow

Fig. 14. Observed data checked against the completion events.

Fig.
lists and displays all the wells with issues, Fig. 13, 14. Observed
showing datamade
decision checked
in theagainst the This
QC process. completion
will enhanceevents.
the com-
production log vs. completion. munication and collaboration among simulation engineers by
allowing them to save, access and review previous decisions.
Observed Data The tool also provides automatic KPIs summarizing the simu-
lation model data quality, displayed in statistical and graphi-
In the ninth QC step, the tool validates the well completion cal forms, Fig. 15.
events
Fig. 14.against the observed
Observed data.against
data checked The observed production
the completion data
events.
is imported and cross-checked against the completion data over CONCLUSIONS
time; the purpose is to highlight any production that coincides
with a closed well, Fig. 14. The tool first checks the opening and This workflow contains nine QC steps that streamline all the
closure of the wells for production against the observed data workflows that are currently being used by simulation engi-
measurement, then it issues messages with the well’s name and neers, and the QC tool automates the processes applied in the
corresponding error, e.g., flowing wells without an open flow grid and well completion workflow. The tool also highlights
section, completed wells without a flow rate, etc. all the simulation model data inconsistencies, and it issues a
warning message and specifies proper actions needed to resolve
REPORTING AND KPI the relevant errors.
Even more, this tool enforces reservoir simulation best prac-
In addition, this system provides a means of transferring tices by not allowing the user to go further without finishing
the accumulated knowledge by capturing every activity and the current QC step successfully. It gives flexibility within this

Fig. 15. KPI report sample highlighting the statistics of the well tops and cell volumes.
Fig. 15.
Fig. 15. KPI
KPI report
report sample
sample highlighting
highlighting the
the statistics
statisticsof
ofthe
thewell
welltops
topsand
andcell
cellvolumes.
volumes.
76 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY
stricture by letting the user activate the next QC step after pro- ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
viding a proper business and technical justification.
Tests and quality checks of the static model using this tool The authors would like to thank the management of Saudi
before the reservoir simulation process will ensure the consis- Aramco for their support and permission to publish this
tency and good quality of the reservoir model. It offers many article.
advantages: This article was presented at the SPE Reservoir
Characterization and Simulation Conference and Exhibition,
• Eliminates the manual effort. Abu Dhabi, UAE, September 14-16, 2015.
• Reduces the turnaround time.
REFERENCES
• Increases the accuracy.
• Reduces the history matching process. 1. Aziz, K. and Settari, A.: Petroleum Reservoir Simulation,
• Enforces reservoir simulation best practices. Applied Science Publishers, London, U.K., 1979, 476 p.
2. Shirzai, A.F., Solonitsyn, S. and Kuvaev, I.: “Integrated
Such an automated QC tool requires less work, which saves Geological and Engineering Uncertainty Analysis
a lot of time during the history match phase and significantly Workflow, Lower Permian Carbonate Reservoir,
improves the static models. It enhances the robustness of the Timan-Pechora Basin, Russia,” SPE paper 136322,
production forecasts based on these models. It must be noted presented at the SPE Russian Oil and Gas Conference and
as well that the proposed workflows can be applied in con- Exhibition, Moscow, Russia, October 26-28, 2010.
junction with any geostatistical simulation method. Therefore,
3. Aljenaibi, F.S., Salameh, L.A., Recham, R., Albadi, B.S.
the geological modeling process chosen by the geologist will
and Meziani, S.: “Best Practice for Static and Dynamic
always be preserved, as long as it is consistent with dynamic
Modeling and Simulation History Match Case — Model
data. Only the input parameters will be adjusted later to better
QA/QC Criteria for Reliable Predictive Mode,” SPE paper
account for constraints defined by the reservoir engineer.
148279, presented at the SPE Reservoir Characterization
and Simulation Conference and Exhibition, Abu Dhabi,
UAE, October 9-11, 2011.
4. Flint, S.S. and Bryant, I.D.: The Geological Modeling
of Hydrocarbon Reservoirs and Outcrop Analogues,
Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford, U.K., January
1993, 269 p.

SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 77


BIOGRAPHIES
Tareq M. Al-Zahrani joined Saudi
Aramco in October 2002. He is a
Petroleum Engineer working in the
Northern Area Reservoir
Management Department. Tareq has
13 years of experience, mainly in
reservoir engineering and reservoir
management, and he has a proven track record of success
within various organizations in Saudi Aramco.
He has authored and coauthored many Society of
Petroleum Engineers (SPE) papers.
In 2002, Tareq received his B.S. degree in Petroleum
Engineering from King Fahd University of Petroleum and
Minerals (KFUPM), Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

Muath A. Al-Mulla is a Reservoir


Simulation Engineer working in Saudi
Aramco’s Reservoir Simulation &
Description Department. He is
currently working on constructing
high level integrated reservoir
modeling and studies, conducting
reservoir and well performance data analysis, and
providing technical support to the optimization of field
development plans for the major operated oil fields in
Saudi Arabia.
He received his B.S. degree in Petroleum Engineering
from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals
(KFUPM), Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

Mohammed S. Al-Nuaim joined Saudi


Aramco in mid-2000 as a Chemical
Engineer working in the Ras Tanura
Refinery Projects Division. In 2003 he
was moved to the ECC/PEASD
Simulation Systems Division to work
as a Petroleum Engineer and System
Analyst for two years. Currently, Mohammed is leading
the Business Analysis Group in the Intelligent Field and
Producing Systems Division of the Southern Area
Production Engineering Department.
His 15 years of experience include working on several
key projects related to reservoir simulation, i.e., assisting in
the development of history matching and simulation model
data accuracy systems.
Mohammed has filed two patents with the U.S. Patent
Office and has four more under processing.
He received his B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering
from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals
(KFUPM), Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, and an M.S. degree in
Petroleum Engineering from the University of New South
Wales, Sydney, Australia.

78 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY


Case Study of Intelligent Completion
with New Generation Electro-Hydraulic
Downhole Control System

Authors: Suresh Jacob, Nibras A. Abdulbaqi, Chandresh Verma and Rabih Younes

ABSTRACT sensors are powered from the surface using small diameter
control lines. An early generation of intelligent completion
Extended reach wells with thousands of feet of open hole systems relied heavily on electronics, where multiple downhole
reservoir contact and multilateral wells with eight to 10 laterals valves were operated through a single electric line from the
are becoming common practice as the industry develops tight surface1. These systems used a downhole motor or a hydraulic
and difficult reservoirs. Over the years, drilling and well pump to generate the motive force. The downhole electronics
construction technologies have made significant advances in the were later simplified by replacing the motor and pumps
field of geosteering, multilateral junctions, etc., to make these with simpler electro-hydraulic solenoid systems that uses
complicated wells not just a reality but also commonplace. The high-pressure hydraulic fluid from the surface through control
industry has recently introduced several new well completion lines. These hybrid systems had only solenoid valves downhole
technologies for the downhole monitoring and inflow control to select the valve to be operated. Both the electronic and
of these extended reach and multilateral wells. Over the last the hybrid electro-hydraulic valves had a very fast operation
10 years, Saudi Aramco has drilled and completed hundreds time and provided excellent feedback for the operation.
of multilateral wells with intelligent completions for real-time Unfortunately, the electric cable, connectors, and electronics
downhole monitoring and for remote valve operation to control used in these systems were highly susceptible to electrical
inflow from each lateral. These technologies have improved failures due to water ingress. The low reliability of such
well performance and reduced well intervention. electronics in harsh downhole conditions and the high cost of
This article presents a case study examining the design, these systems forced the industry away from electrical systems.
planning, installation, and operation of Saudi Aramco’s The industry therefore moved from electronically
first intelligent completion to be operated with a combined operated systems to purely hydraulic systems. Valves were
electro-hydraulic control system. New technologies like this operated with high-pressure hydraulic fluid supplied from
system are expected to improve the operation and inflow from the surface through small diameter lines to the valves. The
multi-zone wells by increasing the number of downhole inflow industry leveraged its experience with hydraulically operated
control zones and faster operation of downhole valves. subsurface safety valves and mechanical sliding side doors
Conventional intelligent completion systems use downhole to make highly reliable, hydraulically operated intelligent
valves that are operated by hydraulic pressure. The pressure completion valves. In addition to their high reliability,
is supplied from the surface through dedicated hydraulic lines these valves were less expensive than previous electronically
running to each of the downhole valves. The wellhead and operated valves. Over time, hydraulically operated valves
operations equipment constraints impose a maximum limit of became mainstream in intelligent completions. Currently,
five downhole valves in a well. nearly 1,000 wells have been completed in the industry with
The system in this case study uses an electro-hydraulic hydraulically operated intelligent completions.
control module at each of the downhole valves. The system The hydraulic system, while being highly reliable and more
can control up to 12 intelligent completion tools with the use cost-effective than the electronic system, had its own set of
of only two hydraulic lines and one electrical line from the drawbacks, i.e., it took a longer time to operate each downhole
surface. Technology like this allows control of inflow from each valve, and the system could operate only a limited number of
of the laterals, enhancing the performance of the completion. downhole valves. Given the hydraulic system’s complicated
downhole fluid metering and fluid directing systems, in some
EVOLUTION OF INTELLIGENT COMPLETIONS cases it took hours to operate a single downhole valve. This
TECHNOLOGY delay in valve operation created additional rig time for the
installation of an intelligent completion. In regions with high rig
Downhole inflow control valves (ICVs) and permanent sensors costs, the additional time negatively affected the economics of
are critical elements of intelligent completions. The valves and those completions. The long operating time for the valves also

SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 79


One ICV for two laterals

One ICV for two laterals

Fig. 1. Schematic showing a well completion with a hydraulic intelligent completion — limited to a
maximum of five downhole valves.

Fig. 1. Schematic showing a well completion with a hydraulic intelligent completion — limited to a maximum of five downhole valves.
Fig. 1. Schematic showing a well completion with a hydraulic intelligent completion — limited to a
maximum of five downhole valves. immediate feedback of valve positions. Recently the industry
has leveraged the advances in high temperature electronics to
develop new electronically operated intelligent completions
that overcome the limitations of the previous electrical
systems3, 4.
The following sections of this article describe this new
generation electro-hydraulic system that uses a single electric
line and two hydraulic lines to operate up to 12 downhole
ICVs. The single electric line and two hydraulic lines are
connected to all the downhole valves. The two hydraulic
lines are connected, one each, to the open and closed sides
of the downhole ICV, while the electric line is connected to
a solenoid valve in the ICV. Each of the solenoid valves has
a different address, and each can be electrically activated
from the surface independently from the others. Activating a
particular solenoid valve allows the high-pressure hydraulic
pressure in the control lines to operate the ICV for the zone,
without affecting the other connected ICVs.
Fig. 2. Schematic of the electro-hydraulic intelligent completion showing
Fig. 2. Schematic
Valve B operation.
of the electro-hydraulic intelligent completion showing Valve B operation.
In summary, the electric system is used to select the specific
valve to be operated, and the hydraulic system provides the
reduced the frequency of their operation during production. motive force to operate the valve. Figure 2 shows the valve
The hydraulic intelligent completion system required a operation using the electro-hydraulic system. Valve B is being
dedicated hydraulic line for each downhole valve. The maximum operated. After the solenoid valve is energized for that zone,
number of valves in a well was five, due to the operation high-pressure fluid from the surface in open line 2 (purple),
constraints of multiple lines and the limited number of ports on flows through the solenoid valve in Unit B to Valve B. This
the wellhead and packers. This created a situation where a well high-pressure fluid operates Valve B, and the fluid from the
would be drilled with eight laterals but completed with only backside of the piston on this valve (pink) returns to the
Fig. 2. Schematic of the electro-hydraulic intelligentsurface
five downhole valves, Fig. 1. This limitation forced adjacent
completion showing Valve B operation.
through line 1. Valves A and C are not operated
laterals to be commingled through one valve2. Premature gas during this process as the solenoid valves in Unit A and Unit
or water breakthrough on one lateral would require its valve C are not activated and the ICVs are hydraulically isolated..
to be closed, thereby reducing inflow from the adjacent lateral, The solenoid is activated and kept open during the
which is produced through the same valve. New technologies duration of the ICV operation, it is de-activated and closed
were developed to increase the number of downhole valves when the ICV operation is complete. The downhole valves
while maintaining the same number of downhole cables. may be closed, opened fully or operated to an intermediate
choke setting by controlling the time period the solenoid is
NEW GENERATION ELECTRO-HYDRAULIC kept open.
INTELLIGENT COMPLETIONS Figure 3 shows a comparison of operating times for
the hydraulic and electro-hydraulic downhole valves. The
As stated earlier, the electronically operated intelligent electro-hydraulic valves’ operation is much faster.
completion offers several benefits, like faster operation and The solenoid valve unit used in the system is physically

80 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY


Zone 1 Zone 2 Electro-hydraulic Zone 1 Actuation

Electro-hydraulic Zone 2
Actuation

Fig. 3. Comparison of operating times for hydraulic valves (left) and electro-hydraulic valves (right).
Fig. 4. Comparison of operating times for hydraulic valves (left) and electro-hydraulic valves (right).

Electro-hydraulic
Electro-hydraulicmodule
module

Actuation
ICV

Electro-hydraulic
Electro-hydraulic module
module (enlarged)
(enlarged)

Fig. 4. The electro-hydraulic control module and hydraulically operated ICV as separate components.

Fig. 3. The electro-hydraulic control module and ICV as separate components.


separate from the valve, with only hydraulic connections WELL CONSTRUCTION AND COMPLETION DESIGN
between the solenoid module and the hydraulically operated
valves, Fig. 4. This physical separation of the valve from the An existing single lateral well with a 7” casing and a 4½”
solenoid control module allowed the continued use of an liner was converted to a multilateral well to test the electro-
industry proven hydraulic ICV. The only new equipment in hydraulic intelligent completion. Figure
Electro-hydraulic Zone 51shows the initial
Actuation
Zone 1 Zone 2
the system is solenoid valve module. All the other components well condition and the proposed multilateral. The workover,
are taken from existing, field proven technologies. The system drilling and completion sequenceElectro-hydraulic Zone
included retrieving the 2
Actuation
uses a fluid filled electric cable with positive pressure to reduce existing tubing, milling the upper section of the 4½” liner to
risk of water ingress into the electric chamber and subsequent reach deep enough within the 7” liner to cut a new window,
electrical failures. drilling a 6⅛” open hole, installing a 5½” expandable liner,

SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 81


drilling the TAML classified level-2 laterals from the 5½” of the electro-hydraulic valves and the reduced number of
expandable liner and installing the intelligent completion. control lines. After installation, the valves were tested to
The number of laterals was reduced from nine to six due confirm their proper operation. The electro-hydraulic system
to operational requirements. Figure 6 shows the intelligent enabled the use of an individual downhole valve for each
completion installed. lateral, so the flow from two or more laterals did not need
A downhole valve with 10 discrete choke settings was used to be commingled. In addition to the downhole valves, a
in each of the zones. Figure 7 shows a zoomed-in view of downhole fiber optic cable was also installed for inflow
the choke trim section of the ICV, fully open position (left), monitoring using distributed acoustic sensing.
closed (center) and position 3 (right).
PRODUCTION OPERATIONS
COMPLETION INSTALLATION
Production from the well commenced three months after
The six-zone intelligent completion with downhole valves, installation of the electro-hydraulic system. First, each of the
packers, sensors, etc., was successfully installed without any laterals was flowed back individually to verify operation of
downtime. The time to deploy the electro-hydraulic valve the downhole valves and flow back of the completion brine
system was much shorter than the deployment time for and removal of any drilling mud. Once a lateral was cleaned
normal hydraulic valves. This was due to the faster operation

Fig. 5. Detailed drawing of the single lateral well before workover (left), and the planned well trajectory
and laterals (right).

Fig.Fig.
7. 7.
Detailed
Detailedviews
views of
of the intelligentcompletion
the intelligent completion valve
valve showing
showing the fully
the fully open open position (le
Fig.5.5.Detailed
Fig. Detailed drawing
drawing of theof the single
single lateral
lateral well well
before before(left),
workover workover
and the(left),
plannedand the
well
closed position (center) and the valve set to position 3 (right).
trajectory position (left), the fully closed position (center) and the valve set to position 3
and laterals (right).
planned well trajectory and laterals (right). (right).

Tubing Hanger
Tubing Hanger

35
Nipple Nipple
PDHMS 30
PDHMS
PDHMS 25
SSD
Packer 6
20
PDHMS
Electro-hydraulic ICV 6
15
Dual PDHMS
SSD
10
Packer 6
7” 26# Casing Shoe
Packer 5 Packer 4 Packer 3 Packer 2 Packer 1
5
5½” Liner Shoe

Electro-hydraulic ICV 6 0
L5 L4 L3 L2 L1 L0
DTS TAS and Bullnose

Fig. 8. Percentage inflow contribution from each lateral with all the downhole valves in a fu
Electro-hydraulic ICV 5 Electro-hydraulic ICV 4 Electro-hydraulic ICV 3 Electro-hydraulic ICV 2 Electro-hydraulic ICV 1
Dual PDHMS
position.
Fig. 6. Schematic of7”
the26#
intelligent
Casing completion
Shoe with the electro-hydraulic controls installed in six lateral
wells. Packer 5 Packer 4 Packer 3 Packer 2 Packer 1

5½” Liner Shoe

DTS TAS and Bullnose

Electro-hydraulic ICV 5 Electro-hydraulic ICV 4 Electro-hydraulic ICV 3 Electro-hydraulic ICV 2 Electro-hydraulic ICV 1

Fig. 6. Schematic of the intelligent completion with the electro-hydraulic controls installed in six lateral wells.

Fig.
82
6.FALL
Schematic of the intelligent completion with the electro-hydraulic controls installed in six lateral
2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY
wells.
L-5 (Pos-10) L-4 (Pos-10) L-3 (Pos-10) L-2 (Pos-10) L-1 (Pos-10) L-0 (Pos-10)

Downhole Valve Choke Setting for Each Lateral (a)

35 18

Percentage Inflow from Each Lateral


Percentage Inflow from Each Lateral
16
30
14
25
12

20 10

15 8

6
10
4
5
2

0 0
L-5 (Pos-10) L-4 (Pos-10) L-3 (Pos-10) L-2 (Pos-10) L-1 (Pos-10) L-0 (Pos-10) L-5 (Pos-7) L-4 (Pos-4) L-3 (Pos-8) L-2 (Pos-8) L-1 (Pos-9) L-0 (Pos-10)

Downhole Valve Choke Setting for Each Lateral (a) Downhole Valve Choke Setting for Each Lateral (b)

Fig. 8(a). Percentage inflow contribution from each lateral with all the downhole valves in a fully open position, and (b) Balanced inflow contribution with downhole
valves in18different choke settings.
Percentage Inflow from Each Lateral

16
Saudi Aramco: Company General Use
up and14had started producing dry oil, it was extensively flow ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
tested 12
to measure reservoir pressure, gas-oil ratio, water cut
and to10estimate productivity. The authors wish to thank the management of Saudi Aramco
8 and Halliburton for their support and permission to publish
WELL PERFORMANCE
6 MODELING this article. The authors also acknowledge the valuable
4 support of Manesh Mathew, Ameen Al-Zubail, Elias Garcia
The data2 collected from the lateral flow tests was used to
and Savio Saldanha at Halliburton for their contribution to
simulate0 well and lateral inflow performance at different well
L-5 (Pos-7) L-4 (Pos-4) L-3 (Pos-8) L-2 (Pos-8) L-1 (Pos-9) L-0 (Pos-10) the successful installation.
conditions. The simulations show that due to variations in
Downhole Valve Choke Setting for Each Lateral (b) This article was presented at the SPE Saudi Arabia Section
productivity and completions geometry, some laterals will
Annual Technical Symposium and Exhibition, al-Khobar,
dominate inflow while others will have low contributions.
Saudi Arabia, April 25-28, 2016.
The results shown in Fig. 8a indicated that laterals 5 and 3
dominated the inflow when the well was produced with all the
Saudi Aramco: Company General Use REFERENCES
downhole valves in the fully open position. This dominance
prevents weaker laterals, like the mainbore and lateral 4,
from meeting the target rates. Long-term production in this 1. Shaw, J.: “Comparison of Downhole Control System
condition can cause premature water or gas breakthrough in Technologies for Intelligent Completions,” SPE paper
the laterals with the higher contribution, which can ultimately 147547, presented at the Canadian Unconventional
affect the life of the well. Resources Conference, Calgary, Alberta, Canada,
The production objective of balancing inflow from all the November 15-17, 2011.
laterals is achieved by reducing the rate from the stronger laterals 2. Jacob, S., Bellaci, I.J., Nazarenko, P. and Joseph, P.:
and increasing the rate from the weaker laterals. The rate from “Designing, Planning and Installation of an 8-Zone
the stronger laterals can be reduced by operating the downhole All-Electric Intelligent Completion System in an Extreme
choke from the fully open position — position 10 — to a smaller Reservoir Contact Well,” SPE paper 176811, presented at
position. The rate from the weaker laterals can be increased the Middle East Intelligent Oil and Gas Conference and
by keeping the ICV fully open and increasing the pressure Exhibition, Abu Dhabi, UAE, September 15-16, 2015.
drawdown of these laterals. Figure 8b shows the balanced inflow
3. Garcia, E. and Saldanha, S.: “Electrohydraulic ICV Control
from all laterals by following the above process.
System: A Novel Approach to Multizonal Control,”
OTC paper 26816, presented at the Offshore Technology
CONCLUSIONS
Conference Asia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, March 22-25,
2016.
Saudi Aramco’s first electro-hydraulic intelligent completion
was successfully installed in a six-lateral multilateral well. 4. Garcia, E. and Mathew, M.: “Delivering Selective Interval
The technology performed as designed during installation and Control: Electro-Hydraulic Intelligent Completion
subsequent production. The electro-hydraulic system allows Enhances Reservoir Management for Multilateral Well,”
the number of downhole zones in a well to be increased, and SPE paper 178168, presented at the SPE/IADC Middle
it improves efficiency by reducing the time required to operate East Drilling Technology Conference and Exhibition, Abu
the valves. Dhabi, UAE, January 26-28, 2016.

SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY FALL 2016 83


BIOGRAPHIES Rabih Younes is currently working as
the Acting Production Engineering
Suresh Jacob is a Petroleum Unit Supervisor in Saudi Aramco’s
Engineering Specialist in Saudi Northern Area Production
Aramco. He works primarily on Engineering Department. His
advanced well completions, i.e., experience includes working in both
intelligent completions, permanent the conventional and the
downhole gauges, inflow control unconventional gas production sectors of the industry.
devices and integrated solutions. Rabih has extensive experience in the areas of well testing,
Suresh has led or participated in the design, field well modeling and production allocation and forecasting.
installation and production operation for several new well He has over 10 years of industry experience in service and
completion technologies. He has over 20 years of industry operating companies, including work in Australia and the
experience in service and operating companies, including Middle East.
work in North America, the Middle East and the Asia In 2003, Rabih received his B.S. degree in Geological
Pacific. Engineering from the Royal Melbourne Institute of
Suresh received his B.S. degree in Mechanical Technology, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. In 2004, he
Engineering from the University of Kerala, Kerala, received his M.S. degree in Petroleum Engineering from
India, and his M.S. degree in Petroleum Engineering from Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia.
Texas A&M University, College Station, TX.
Suresh is the recipient of the 2015 Society of Petroleum
Engineers (SPE) Middle East Regional Completions
Optimization and Technology Award for his contribution
to technical expertise in well completions.

Nibras A. Abdulbaqi is a Petroleum


Engineer working for Saudi Aramco’s
Reservoir Management Department in
Shaybah, as part of the team under
the Manifa Reservoir Management
Division.
In 2011, she received her B.S.
degree in Petroleum Engineering from the University of
Oklahoma, Norman, OK, and in 2014, Nibras received her
M.S. degree in Petroleum Engineering, with a concentration
in Smart Oil Field Technologies, from the University of
Southern California, Los Angeles, CA. While at USC, she
worked on conventional and unconventional reservoirs for
reservoir performance forecasting and prediction.

Chandresh Verma is a Supervisor with


Saudi Aramco’s Drilling and
Workover Engineering Department.
He joined Saudi Aramco in 2006 after
working at India’s premier E&P
company, Oil & Natural Gas
Corporation, from 1984-2006.
Chandresh has 32+ years of oil field experience in onshore
and offshore drilling operations as well as in drilling
engineering.
In 1982, he received his B.S. degree in Mechanical
Engineering from the University of Indore, Madhya
Pradesh, India.

84 FALL 2016 SAUDI ARAMCO JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY


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An Experimental Investigation of Performance Evaluations for Seawater and CO2 Injection Using Dual Core
Methodology at Reservoir Conditions
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evaluate the displacement efficiency and performance of seawater and supercritical carbon dioxide (sc-CO2) injection in tests of
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