Development of Small Size Heavy oil field with Innovative technology

Tewari, Raj Deo (GNPOC , ONGC - BV) | Malik, Mirghani Mohamed (Petronas Carigali Sdn Bhd) | Hassan Idris, Mohammed Ahmed (OEPA) | Naganathan, Sivaraman (Schlumberger) | Pleshkov, Dmitry (Schlumberger)


Exploration and development of Heavy oil fields in Muglad Basin in Northern Africa started with conventional vertical wells and as time progressed this matured into drilling of horizontal and high angle wells.

Typically drilling challenges in this area include drilling of very reactive shale's, shallow kick off depths and high build rates. Unconsolidated sandstones and interbedded shale's are sensitive to mud weight and are prone to lost circulation.

First few horizontal wells were drilled with traditional technology of positive displacement motor with Silicate mud. Many of these wells faced hole cleaning challenges leading to pack off -excessive back reaming and stuck pipe incidences, uneven build rates via sliding in interbedded formation leading to high borehole tortuosity. It is significant to note that due to these difficulties one of the planned horizontal wells was sidetracked thrice after stuck pipe incidences and finally completed as a 30 deg deviated well with an AFE over run of 300%.
Taking leaf from experience of horizontal drilling in Muglad basin, rotary steerable system (RSS) has been deployed to drill horizontal well in Umm Bareira field. This field is shallow, highly unconsolidated and heavy oil with viscosity nearly 350 cp. This methodology of drilling has resulted into significant improvement in drilling performance, saving days and cost and eliminating stuck pipe incidences. Well has been completed openhole with sand control strategy using standalone screen with two swell packers for addressing the future reservoir management requirements like intervention for isolating the high water cut intervals in the horizontal section and better productivity and avoiding life cycle risks. Well produced 1300 bopd which is 5 times higher than vertical well and more so make production significant from the field. This paper highlights the learning curve of horizontal well drilling, completion and production of viscous oil field in Muglad basin.

Umm Bareira is a small heavy oil field in Muglad basin. Three exploratory and appraisal wells have been drilled in the field. Three hydrocarbon bearing layers have been encountered at the shallower depth. Viscosity of the crude oil in field is very high. Reservoir is highly permeable and unconsolidated. All the wells were tested through swabbing due to its viscous nature and productivity was very poor. Exploitation of the field by vertical wells only is not a feasible concept. Therefore, it has been decided to drill horizontal well and complete openhole which will provide maximum reservoir contact and also enable to delay the water production and control the sand incursion problem.

Geological Setting
The development of oil-bearing basins in Sudan is closely associated with the global phenomenon of plate tectonics and particularly with the separation of Africa from South America trend. This west and central African Rift System extends from the Benue Trough in Nigeria to Cameron, Chad, Central African Republic and Sudan. The evidence for further southeast extension has been destroyed by Tertiary uplift associated with recent rifts in East Africa. The shear zone was identified by geophysical means, and has been demonstrated to experience right lateral movement in the Cretaceous. All the basins of the Sudanese rift-related system, such as the Muglad, White Nile, Blue Nile, Khartoum and the Atbara basins, terminate northwards at the Central African Shear Zone. The development of the rift basins of southern Sudan is related to the processes that operated not only within central Africa, but also along the western and eastern continental margins. The Sudanese interior basins are interpreted to be Mesozoic to Tertiary in age. Thus the Late Jurassic to Early Cretaceous Muglad Basin formed part of the West and Central African Rift-System.

The deep drilling coupled with geophysical data suggested the presence of sedimentary sequences of some 15000 m in the Muglad basin.

The subsurface continental sedimentation is structurally controlled and resulted in favourable juxtaposition of source, reservoir and seal. Abu Gabra and Bentiu formations deposited during rift Phase 1. Darfur Group and Amal formations deposited during rift Phase 2 and Nayil, Tendi, Adok and Zeraf deposited during rift-Phase 3. Most of the oil is accumulated in the Lower Cretaceous Abu Gabra and Bentiu formations and the Upper Cretaceous Darfur Group.