Producing and delivering North West Australia (NWA) deepwater gas reserves to LNG plants poses unique challenges. These include extreme metocean conditions, unique geotechnical conditions, long distances to infrastructure and high reliability/availability requirement of supply for LNG plants. A wet or dry tree local floating host platform will be required in most cases. Whereas semisubmersible, TLP, Spar and floating LNG (FLNG) platform designs all have the attributes to be a host facility, none has been installed in this region to date.
This paper will address important technical, commercial and regulatory factors that drive the selection of a suitable floating host platform to develop these deepwater gas fields off NWA. Linkages between key reservoir and fluid characteristics and surface facility requirements will be established. A focus will be on the unique influence of regional drivers and site characteristics including metocean and geotechnical conditions, water depths and remoteness of these fields.
There have been 17 FPSOs producing oil in Australian waters. These facilities have been chosen because of the remoteness of the fields and the lack of pipeline and process infrastructure. Storing oil on the FPSO for offloading and shipping from the fields becomes an obvious solution. Semisubmersible, TLP or Spar platforms show little advantage in such developments.
For deepwater gas developments, the product has to be processed, compressed and piped to shore for liquefaction. As host processing facilities, Semisubmersible, TLP and Spar platforms have clear advantages over FPSOs because of their superior motion performance in the harsh Australian metocean environment and other benefits such as facilitating drilling, dry tree completion and well services. FPSOs or FSOs may be applied for storage of associated oil and condensates. For marginal and remote gas field developments, an LNG FPSO (FLNG) may be an attractive option as it eliminates long pipelines and land-based liquefaction plants.
As discussed by Dorgant and Stingl (2005), a deepwater field development life cycle following discovery usually involves five distinct phases, Figure 1. The "select?? phase occurs after a discovery has been appraised sufficiently to further evaluate it for development. It consists of evaluating multiple development concepts and scenarios and selecting the one that will most likely achieve the identified commercial and strategic goals. Selecting a floating platform and its functions for a deepwater development is an important subset of the select phase and the overall field development planning.
The process of field development planning involves a complex iterative interaction of its key elements (subsurface, drilling and completions, surface facilities) subject to regional and site constraints (D'Souza, 2009). The objective is to select a development plan that satisfies an operator's commercial, risk and strategic requirements. It entails developing a robust and integrated reservoir depletion plan with compatible facility options. The selection occurs while uncertainty in critical variables that determine commercial success (well performance, reserves) is high. One of the challenges is to select a development plan that manages downside reservoir risk (considering the very large capital expense involved) while having the flexibility to capture its upside potential.
Low matrix permeability and significant damage mechanisms are the main signatures of tight gas reservoirs. During drilling and fracturing of tight formations, the wellbore liquid invades the tight formation, increases liquid saturation around wellbore and eventually reduces permeability at near wellbore. The liquid invasion damage is mainly controlled by capillary pressure and relative permeability curves.
Water blocking and phase trapping damage is one of the main concerns in use of water based drilling fluid in tight gas reservoirs, since due to high critical water saturation, relative permeability effects and strong capillary pressure, tight formations are sensitive to water invasion damage. Therefore, use of oil based mud may be preferred in drilling or fracturing of tight formation. However invasion of oil filtrate into tight formations may result in introduction of an immiscible liquid hydrocarbon drilling or completion fluid around wellbore, causing entrapment of an additional third phase in the porous media that would exacerbate formation damage effects.
This study focuses on phase trapping damage caused by liquid invasion using water-based drilling fluid in comparison with use of oil-based drilling fluid in water sensitive tight gas sand reservoirs. Reservoir simulation approach is used to study the effect of relative permeability curves on phase trap damage, and results of laboratory experiments core flooding tests in a West Australian tight gas reservoir are shown in which the effect of water injection and oil injection on the damage of core permeability are studied. The results highlights benefits of using oil-based fluids in drilling and fracturing of tight gas reservoirs in term of reducing skin factor and improving well productivity.
Tight gas reservoirs normally have production problems due to very low matrix permeability and different damage mechanisms during well drilling, completion, stimulation and production (Dusseault, 1993). The low permeability gas reservoirs can be subject to different damage mechanisms such as mechanical damage to formation rock, plugging of natural fractures by invasion of mud solid particles, permeability reduction around wellbore as a result of filtrate invasion, clay swelling, liquid phase trapping, etc (Holditch, 1979).
In general, for tight sand gas reservoirs, average pore throat radius might be very small and therefore it may create tremendous amounts of capillary forces. Capillary forces cause the spontaneous imbibition of a wetting liquid (in this case water) in the porous medium in the absence of external forces such as a hydraulic gradient (Bennion and Brent, 2005). This causes significantly high critical water saturation (Bennion et al., 2006). Two forces drive capillary flow (Adamson and Gast, 1997). The first is the reduction in the surface free energy by the wetting of the hydrophilic surface (wettability). In hydraulic fracturing, water in the fracturing fluid wets the surface of the pores in the rock, resulting in a decrease in the surface free energy of the pores. The other force that drives capillary flow is the capillary pressure.
Tight gas reservoirs might be different in term of initial water saturation (Swi) compared with critical water saturation (Swc), depending on the geological time of gas migration to the reservoir. Initial water saturation might be normal, or in some cases sub-normal (Swi less than Swc) due to water phase vaporization into the gas phase (Bennion and Thomas, 1996). The initial water saturation might also be more than Swc if the hydrocarbon trap is created during or after the gas migration time. A sub-normal initial water saturation in tight gas reservoirs can provide higher relative permeability for the gas phase (effective permeability close to absolute permeability), and therefore relatively higher well productivity (Bennion and Brent, 2005).
Most offshore wells that require artificial lift are gas lifted, as gas typically is readily available and compared to other lift systems, gas lifting is relatively inexpensive and low maintenance. However, electric submersible pumps (ESPs) can
efficiently and economically increase oil production and reserves recovery under the appropriate operating conditions. This may translate to a lower abandonment pressure in the long term—possibly reducing the total number of wells required to deplete an asset.
Since few ESPs currently are installed in offshore wells, an ESP screening "Rules of Thumb" was created as a simple guide for prioritizing offshore ESP candidates. The selection criteria focus on feasibility of installation, operability conditions
and operating practices to maximize run life, and economic considerations. ExxonMobil† and industry experience from North America, South America, West Africa, Asia, Australia, the Middle East, and the North Sea provided the basis for the study.
The giant Wafra Field is the largest field in the Partition Zone (PZ) between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The Cretaceous Wara reservoir represents one of the most prolific producing zones in the PZ. The Wara is a Cretaceous sequence of channel sands (fluvial/tidal) that have locally complex vertical and a stacking patterns. These sands are interpreted to have been deposited in a tidally influenced lower delta plain depositional environment in a low angle ramp setting characterized by low accommodation space. Stratigraphic complexity is high and in general, sandstone bodies are below seismic resolution. The Wafra Wara reservoir is a structural accumulation formed by a low amplitude anticline with 4-way dip closure, with some structural complexity at the reservoir level, consisting of normal faults with small displacements.
Although the Wafra Wara clastic reservoir is mature, new "sweet spots?? with original formation pressure were drilled recently in the middle of the development area, and there is also still significant remaining oil on the current margins of the field where deeper OWCs have recently been encountered. Increasing water cut and an active aquifer present some challenges to maintaining good oil production in the reservoir, mitigated by production optimization efforts and a rigorous surveillance program.
A comprehensive multidisciplinary study was performed to identify new infill well and workover opportunities within the most mature portion of the field to increase production and recovery. The team reviewed all existing data and performed detailed 3D-seismic interpretation to refine stratigraphy and structure, generate production attribute maps and to understand the production history and current state of the reservoir. Production, well-test data, cased-hole logs and analytical techniques were used to identify areas with by-passed oil and to predict initial rates and incremental recovery for infill wells. Deterministic and probabilistic forecasts were generated using field and offset well decline curve analysis. New opportunities were then ranked based on geological and engineering criteria.
This paper highlights the challenges and lessons learned from this integrated reservoir management study to define remaining oil and to identify opportunities to increase ultimate recovery.