A Lean Sigma Approach to Well Stimulation on Barrow Island, Australia

O'Reilly, Daniel I. (Chevron Australia and University of Adelaide) | Hopcroft, Brad S. (Chevron Australia) | Nelligan, Kate A. (Chevron Australia) | Ng, Guan K. (Chevron Australia) | Goff, Bree H. (Chevron Australia) | Haghighi, Manouchehr (University of Adelaide)



Barrow Island (BWI), 56 km from the coast of Western Australia (WA), is home to several mature reservoirs that have produced oil since 1965. The main reservoir is the Windalia Sandstone, and it has been waterflooded since 1967, whereas all the other reservoirs are under primary depletion. Because of the maturity of the asset, it is economically critical to continue to maximize oil-production rates from the 430 online, artificially lifted wells. It is not an easy task to rank well-stimulation opportunities and streamline their execution. To this end, the BWI Subsurface Team applied the Lean Sigma processes to identify opportunities, increase efficiency, and reduce waste relating to well stimulation and well-performance improvement.

The Lean Sigma methodology is a combination of Lean Production and Six Sigma, which are methods used to minimize waste and reduce variability, respectively. The methods are used globally in many industries, especially those involved in manufacturing. In this asset, we applied the processes specifically to well-performance improvement through stimulation and other means. The team broadly focused on categorizing opportunities in both production and injection wells and ranking them—specifically, descaling wells, matrix acidizing, sucker-rod optimization, reperforating, and proactive workovers. The process for performing each type of job was mapped, and bottlenecks in each process were isolated.

Upon entering the “control” phase, several opportunities had been identified and put in place. Substantial improvements were made to the procurement, logistics, and storage of hydrochloric acid (HCl) and associated additives, enabling quicker execution of stimulation work. A new program was also developed to stimulate wells that had recently failed and were already awaiting workover (AWO), which reduced costs. A database containing the stimulation opportunities available at each individual well assisted with this process. The project resulted in the stimulation of several wells in the asset, with sizable oil-rate increases in each.

This case study will extend the information available within the oil-industry literature regarding the application of Lean Sigma to producing assets. It will assist other operators when evaluating well-stimulation opportunities in their fields. Technical information will be shared regarding feasibility studies (laboratory-compatibility work and well-transient-testing results) for acid stimulation and steps that can be taken to streamline the execution of such work. Some insights will also be shared regarding the most-efficient manner to plan rig work regarding stimulation workovers.