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

DI, O'Reilly (Chevron Australia Pty Ltd, The University of Adelaide) | BS, Hopcroft (Chevron Australia Pty Ltd) | KA, Nelligan (Chevron Australia Pty Ltd) | GK, Ng (Chevron Australia Pty Ltd) | BH, Goff (Chevron Australia Pty Ltd) | M, Haghighi (The University of Adelaide)



Barrow Island (BWI), 56 km from the coast of Western Australia, 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, while all the other reservoirs are under primary depletion. Due to the maturity of the asset, it is economically critical to continue to maximise 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 Lean Six 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" these are methods used to minimise 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 categorising opportunities in both production and injection wells and ranking them, specifically: descaling wells, matrix acidising, sucker rod optimisation, reperforating and proactive workovers. The process for performing each type of job was mapped and bottlenecks in each process isolated.

Upon entering "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 programme was also developed to stimulate wells that had recently failed and were already awaiting workover, 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.