Accelerated Learning Curve Through Industry Collaboration: Case Studies from Large Tight Gas Project Executed in an International Marketplace

Riyami, Qassim Al (PDO) | Briner, Andreas (PDO) | Nadezhdin, Sergey (Schlumberger) | Plus, Packers (Schlumberger) | Gurmen, Nihat (Schlumberger) | Kelkar, Shrihari (Schlumberger)



A large, strategically important tight gas project in the Sultanate of Oman progressed over 5 years on an accelerated path from exploration to the development stage. Collaboration between operator and service provider helped advance the deployment of technology that made this acceleration possible. Poor initial success in both hydraulic fracturing treatment placement and hydrocarbon productivity along with limited resources with ever-expanding work scope were the main challenges faced in the first 2 years of exploration. To address these challenges, an integrated approach to the project was taken. Technology trials and the selective deployment of technology along with improved operations gave flexibility to this new efficiency model. Close collaboration with the service provider allowed smoother and faster progress. Collaboration included joint technology mapping exercises, team visits to North American locations of the operator and the service provider with the goal of knowledge sharing, faster technology transfer, and the secondment of a senior engineer from the service provider as a full-time production technologist to the operators' subsurface team. The effective execution of strategy and implementation of various technologies resulted in an increase in the success rate of fracture placement and zonal evaluation from the initially low 50% to 100%. The integration of several disciplines was critical to achieving this goal. Technologies deployed in the project comprised of rock and core mechanical tests, such as reservoir coring, openhole stress testing, sonic measurements, continuous unconfined compressive strength measurements, abrasive perforating, various fracturing treatment designs, and several geomechanical studies targeting different aspects of fracture initiation. An additional focus was on the assessment of fracture geometry using radioactive tracers, advanced sonic logging, geomechanical evaluation coupled with geological mapping, microseismic monitoring, and cutting-edge fracture design methodology in both vertical and horizontal wells. The collaborative efforts led to evaluation of similarities and differences between North American and international unconventional projects and suggested techniques and best practices that can be applied in the tight gas project in the Sultanate of Oman. This project has been deemed one of the first commercially successful gas deliveries in the Middle East from a tight gas reservoir. Technologies, methods, and strategies developed for this large tight gas project and tested in the field will contribute to improving the success rate on similar projects around the world.