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Awalt, Michael Shane (Schlumberger Overseas S.A.) | Bogaerts, Martijn (Schlumberger Technical Services Inc) | Bonsu-Gyimah, Maame Serwaa (Schlumberger) | Joneja, Galen (Schlumberger) | Meyer, Arnoud Willem (Schlumberger) | Auman, John (HRT America) | Paul, Joseph B. (HRT America)
The continual increase in exploration drilling in southern Africa has translated into a number of remote deepwater campaigns, the most recent ones being in Namibia. One particular three-well campaign was exceptionally challenging as there was no near offset-well data available. The challenges were especially acute in the riserless tophole section.
The well designs called for top of cement (TOC) at seabed for the surface casing. This was of the utmost importance for adequate structural and axial support for the blowout preventers (BOP) and subsequent casing strings. The very low fracture gradient near the seabed was the main challenge as the formations would not support the hydrostatic pressure of the cement column. On the first well, total losses were encountered prior to and during the entire cementing operation. As a result, no cement returns were observed at seabed, contrary to what was expected from hydraulic simulations and volume calculations and required to meet the job objective.
To achieve objectives required for the success of the subsequent two wells, all aspects of drilling and cementing operations were reviewed based on the findings of the first well. Mud weight and casing setting depth were critically challenged, with other parameters adjusted. Cement formulation and density were optimized to reduce hydrostatic and hydrodynamic pressures and to increase the chance of success. The cement slurry was changed to a bimodal lightweight system with better fluid- and set-cement properties. Lost circulation fiber technology was also incorporated in the spacer preflush and in the cement slurry to mitigate any losses during placement.
Alignment of service company and operator objectives and optimization of drilling and cementing parameters were critical for the successful cementation of these challenging tophole sections. Continuous improvements resulted in the second well being effectively cemented to seabed, even though intermittent losses were observed. After further optimization, the third well was cemented to seabed with full returns. Reaching the target TOC eliminated the need for a top-up job, saving valuable rig-time.
Jain, Bipin (Schlumberger) | Mesa, Alvaro Martin (Schlumberger) | Kalbani, Sultan Al (Schlumberger) | Meyer, Arnoud Willem (Schlumberger) | Aghbari, Salim (Petroleum Development Oman) | Al-Salti, Anwar (Petroleum Development Oman) | Hennette, Benjamin (SHELL) | Khattak, Mohammad Arif (Schlumberger) | Khaldi, Mohammed (Petroleum Development Oman) | Al-Yaqoubi, Ali (Petroleum Development Oman) | Al-Sharji, Hamed Hamoud (Petroleum Development Oman)
Oman is a hotspot for drilling activity and wells are being drilled in different environments varying from Deep exploration and development for gas and oil and water injection/disposal. One challenge tops all other challenges: Lost Circulation. Due to the fractured/fissured nature of the formation and low existing reservoir pressures, all major operators are suffering from lost circulation challenges. Some of the challenges include: Mud losses while drilling leading to cost overruns and HSE concerns, primary cement job failure due to not getting the cement up to the desired height resulting in subsequent sustained casing pressure and corrosion, not able to perform work over activity on certain wells due to losses. Enormous quantities of water are required to maintain well control, and due to the limitation of water availability all over Oman, this becomes another critical issue. An Engineered fiber-based Loss Circulation pill has proved successful to address these challenges in multiple fields for Petroleum Development Oman.
Drilling shallow wells in Oman through the naturally fractured limestone formation of Natih, usually results in significant losses of up to 55 m3/h (346 bbl/h) even with a low density drilling fluid of 1,033 to 1,070kg/m3 (8.6 to 8.9lbm/gal). Packoffs are often observed due to the swelling shale section, which leads to several attempts with kick-off plugs and sidetracking. Engineered fibers pills enabled total returns to surface when no other loss circulation solution had worked before. This also enabled to bring cement all the way to surface using 1,410kg/m3 (11.8lbm/gal).
In another field, a work over rig was mobilized to perform a well kill operation and pullout. Due to total losses through perforations into the reservoir, the well kill could not be completed. In addition, every time the water level fell gas started to flow in the well. After 17 attempts and 8 loss circulation material pills, a total of 763m3 (4,800bbl) of well-supply water had been pumped. An engineered fiber pill at 1,474kg/m3 (12.3lbm/gal) was designed and bullheaded into the perforations. The pressures while pumping and squeezing rose to 11,031kPa (1,600psi). The well was shut and observed for 3 hours without any pressure increase indicating losses were cured and gas flow stopped.
Engineered fibers have proved their value in all sorts of lost circulation applications in North Oman. These pills have been successfully used to mitigate losses while drilling, while cementing, during mud circulation before cement job when the casing is on bottom and in work over jobs in depleted reservoirs. With the level of success achieved with such treatments, in some fields it has become a standard practice for curing losses.