Novel Use of LWD Technologies Help Coal Seam Gas Projects Thrive

Dolan, James (Schlumberger) | Pell, Stephen (Santos Ltd) | Pfahl, Matt (Santos Ltd) | Zaman, Mohammad (Santos Ltd) | Hibberson, Chris (Schlumberger) | Yang, Xingwang (Schlumberger)



The coal-seam gas (CSG) industry has long been considered as a high volume, low cost market. As the industry has matured, the selective application of high-tier technologies has realized a step change in performance and real-time formation evaluation results. We investigated whether a high-tier LWD multi-function service could provide a suite of quantitative real-time measurements in several deviated wells. The key objective was to reduce the amount of non-productive rig time spent waiting for memory data in order to confirm the completion design. Significant savings in rig time could be realised if reliable, high-quality real-time data enabled the early identification of coal seams and permeable aquifers such that the swellable packer and slotted liner completion design could be completed without the need for final memory logs.

The area of interest is characterized by thin Jurassic coal seams rather than thick Permian seams. It was critical to accurately identify thin coal beds in real-time whilst maintaining a high rate of penetration (ROP). Low-resolution data would result in poor completion design, underestimation of net coal reserves, and sub-optimal static models. Measuring coal thickness and properties can be difficult due to the fundamental differences between the formation evaluation measurements and their relative axial resolutions. The presence of thin coals can further complicate the interpretation. Another challenge was to optimize the real-time data transmission to prevent any limitation on the key directional drilling data parameters.

Conventional LWD logs (gamma ray, nuclear, and resistivity measurements) provide formation evaluation information while drilling. The selection of a rotary steerable system (RSS) was critical as it ensured directional control and avoided any sliding intervals over key aquifers and coal zones, thereby ensuring optimal LWD acquisition. Advanced formation evaluation options of the LWD data also included using dual-pass resistivity inversions for Rt/Rxo to determine the invasion profile in a permeable aquifer zone above the main coal-producing reservoir. Having this information in real-time was critical in guiding well-specific competition decisions. Induction and laterolog-type resistivity tools were run on one well to quantify differences in the measurements and to determine the best resistivity acquisition tool for CSG wells drilled with saline muds in freshwater formations.

The results showed that high-tier LWD technologies provide multiple benefits in CSG wells. The project was executed with all directional and logging objectives achieved. Quantitative real-time data was critical for completion decisions including ECP placement together with swellable packer and slotted liner designs. This resulted in significant cost savings which are important to major CSG developments operating within a low-cost operating model. LWD memory data provided a rich suite of additional measurements to complement the real-time data. Memory data was used for advanced reservoir analysis with industry-unique measurements.

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