Making the Connection Between Conventional and Unconventional

Masood, Nabeel (BP) | Ishteiwy, Omar (BP) | Dawson, William (BP) | Kurniadi, Stevanus (Schlumberger) | Rylance, Martin (BP) | Al Harrasi, Sultan (BP) | White, Daniel (BP)



Multistage hydraulically fractured horizontal well completions have come a long way in the last two decades. Much of this advancement can be attributed to the shale gas revolution, from which numerous transformational tools, techniques, and concepts have led to the efficient development of ultralow-permeability resources on a massive scale. Part of this achievement has been through a widespread trial and error approach, with the higher risk/failure tolerance that is a trademark of the statistical nature of the North American unconventional resource business. However, careful consideration must be taken not to blindly apply these techniques in more permeable tight gas formations, which often cover an extensive range of permeability. Inappropriate application can compromise the effectiveness of the hydraulic fracture treatment and impair long-term well productivity.

Khazzan is a tight to low-end conventional gas field in the Sultanate of Oman, with low porosity and permeability in comparison to conventional formations. The target formations comprise extremely hard, highly stressed rocks at high temperature. The development strategy included vertical wells with massive hydraulic fracture treatments and multistage fractured horizontal wells. The former has been largely successful in the higher-permeability areas, and the economic transition from vertical to horizontal well development, based on rock quality, is continuously evolving. Compared to the rapid learning curve achieved through the more than 80 vertical wells drilled to date, fewer horizontal wells have been drilled, and, as a result, the understanding is still relatively immature.

The paper outlines the technical and operational journey experienced in horizontal wells, to prepare the wellbore and ensure a suitable frac/well connection for successful fracturing and well testing. The paper will describe how the intervention tools and practices have varied between the Barik and Amin formations; depending upon rock quality, frac treatment type, drive to maximize operational efficiency and availability of local resources. The differential application of these techniques, that result in measurable under-flush versus in contrast to the typical North American unconventional practice of defined but limited overflush (e.g., pump-down plug-and-perf will be described). Justification for these different approaches in two very different formations will be demonstrated, including supporting evidence of their relative value.

The obstacles that have been faced, overcome and are still ongoing with this campaign highlight the importance of several critical factors: including multi-disciplinary integration and planning, wellbore construction impacts, contractor performance and tool reliability. Although practices for shale and very low permeability sands are well documented, this paper provides a suite of case histories and operational results for horizontal well intervention techniques used in high-pressure and high-temperature sandstones that are in the very specialized transition zone between conventional and unconventional.