Advantages of Multistage Frac Completion in Vertical Depleted Gas Wells and Lessons Learned

Sayapov, Ernest (Petroleum Development Oman) | Nunez, Alvaro Javier (Petroleum Development Oman) | Al Salmi, Masoud (Petroleum Development Oman) | Al Farei, Ibrahim (Petroleum Development Oman) | Gheilani, Hamdan (Petroleum Development Oman) | Benchekor, Ahmed (Petroleum Development Oman) | Al-Shanfari, Abdul Aziz (Petroleum Development Oman)



Multistage frac completion (MFC) has been playing a significant role in modern oilfield industry being one of the key tools making development of low permeable formations economical. Commonly, it is applied in horizontal wells that are drilled to compensate for reduced drainage radius of these wells due to a lack of formation conductivity. This technique is evolving, there are quite a few inventions introduced every year that make MFC easier, more economical and that allow the operators to control and precisely evaluate both the treatment itself and performance of the created fractures. However, due to its nature and initial focus on horizontal wells, it did not become very popular in vertical wells. One of the reasons for it is its limited formation access since the sleeves that are providing the access are short and cannot cover the entire net pay. What historically more common in vertical wells are either conventional "plug and perf" approach or its modifications, whereas intervals are perforated with either coiled tubing and sand-blasting perforation or wireline guns, while isolation of the zones is achieved by setting frac plugs, sand plugs or frac packers depending on pumping conduits. In Petroleum Development Oman, some of these vertical wells were stimulated via multistage frac completion.

In central part of the Sultanate of Oman, a deep tight gas field is developed using hydraulic fracture stimulation technique since the formation conductivity is low and the near wellbore damage after drilling is making it even worse. Normally, between 6 and 13 frac intervals are stimulated in each well. Majority of wells are completed vertically with pay zones separated with strong shale layers that restrict fracture height development. Since plug & perf has been the main technique used in this field, there are multiple well interventions during hydraulic fracture operations that consume time, money and delay the well delivery. Moreover, the depletion of the field and its main productive zones make well intervention activities much more challenging whereas the risks of getting coiled tubing string or even wireline tools stuck in wellbore are high due to immediate losses faced after opening those low pressurized zones having as low as 8,000 KPa formation pressure, which can be 5-7 times less than hydrostatic pressures in the wellbore depending on depths and fluid s used. At the same time, with downhole temperatures ranging from 135 to 150 deg C and fracturing pressures reaching around 145,000 KPa bottomhole (~21,000 psi), differential pressures across the target zones can reach enormous levels of 15,000-20,000psi. Conditions in general become very risky, making it extremely difficult to source the right tools and equipment from what is available on the market. Another challenge associated with depletion of this field is an effective deliquification of the wells after stimulation treatments to allow them to effectively get rid of frac fluids and be able to produce gas to surface.

By deploying multistage frac completion with the objective of producing, enhancing and cost/time savings, the effectiveness of the fracturing operations was expected to increase. Multistage frac completion allows the frac operation to be continuously performed without the need to conduct well interventions such as running/setting frac plugs, perforating, milling and clean out between intervals. If needed so, the intervention activities can be completed after frac operations. Equipment selection and completion design were performed based on well conditions, market availabilities, operational parameters and composition of the produced gas. However, this technique is associated with its specific challenges that require attention and tailored solutions. The main challenge in deployment of this system in vertical wells is the accurate positioning of the sleeves. The shale layers between the pay zones could be as narrow as 5 m or less and a small pay zone can be easily missed. Besides, deployment and cementing operations are equally essential because of water zones embedded in between the pays.

This paper is discussing the recognized benefits and lessons learned from utilization of multistage frac completion in vertical deep (around 5000 m) depleted tight gas wells covering the completion and hydraulic fracturing stimulation operations. This technique has industry proven cost & time reduction and efficiency gain, as well as faster well cleanup and reduced HSE exposure contributing to better gas recovery, improvement in operator's performance and energy delivery to the country; it was expected to demonstrate a step change in the efficiency compared to conventional approach to the field development.