In this paper, we will describe techniques used to overcome the problems faced on the hydraulic fracturing jobs during the oil-to-gas conversion campaign in the Pilar field, Brazil.
The increasing demand for clean-burning natural gas in the Northeast of Brazil is fueled by the region`s industrial growth over the recent years, and represents the main drive for the oil-to-gas conversion campaign witnessed in the wells previously producing at marginal oil rates from the Coqueiro Seco formation in the Pilar field. These old wells are now producing gas from the 3000 meters deep Penedo sandstone formations. One of the main steps to meet the goals for natural gas output in the Pilar field was the hydraulic fracturing campaign in the deep Penedo formation. The treatment design and execution process to create these fractures was quite distinct from the normal jobs aiming at increasing the oil productivity in wells producing from the shallow Coqueiro Seco formation.
The Barra de Itiúba gas-bearing formation in the Furado, São Miguel dos Campos and Cidade de São Miguel dos Campos fields was also included, to a lesser extent, in the stimulation campaign aiming at the increase in natural gas production.
This paper describes the completion strategy for the old wells converted from oil to gas producers, highlighting the problems faced and overcome during the hydraulic fracturing campaign. In deviated wells crossing the deep Penedo reservoir, the risk of multiple fractures and influence of tortuosity have been diminished through corrective techniques, unique for each one of the existing wells. In the early hydraulic fracture treatments performed in the Pilar field, premature screen-outs were commonplace, disencouraging the use of the technique. The need to produce gas brought new ideas to the battlefield, and their implementation led to results beyond expectations.
The intense investiment to increase production of natural gas in the Alagoas, and its export through an expansion of the domestic natural gas transport network in the Northeast of Brazil, has the objective to keep up with the rapid growth in the regional gas consumption, due to an increase in the natural gas fired electricity generating capacity. Natural gas demand in Brazil, 1600 million scf/day in 2006, is expected to reach 4300 million scf/day by 2010, the direct result of investments in the sector estimated in US$ 22 billion.
The natural gas processing plant in Pilar was built to develop the compressed natural gas market for automotive, residential and commercial use in Alagoas, and to export gas through the Pilar-Cabo pipeline. Before its construction, all natural gas produced in Pilar and its neighboring fields was exported for processing and pumped back in the form of liquified petroleum gas. Seventy million scf/day of natural gas are processed in the Pilar plant, producing liquified petroleum gas, industrial gas and gasoline.
Given the increased demand for natural gas in the region, the gas-bearing formations in the Pilar area became attractive targets. Hydraulic fracturing played a major role in converting old oil wells producing at marginal rates from the shallow Coqueiro Seco reservoirs into good gas producers.
The Pilar Field
The Pilar, São Miguel dos Campos, Cidade de São Miguel dos Campos and Furado onshore gas and oil fields are located in the state of Alagoas, in the Sergipe-Alagoas Basin, in the Northeast of Brazil (Figure 1).
The Pilar field, discovered in 1981, is located near the city of Pilar (Figure 2). The Pilar field is characterized by intense compartmentalization produced by deltaic sedimentation that resulted in a stacked package of more than one hundred pay intervals, and by the extensional tectonics that produced a large number of fault blocks (Figure 3). The deposition occurred during the rift phase of the geologic evolution of the Sergipe-Alagoas Basin, in the Lower Cretaceous.
Intercalations of deltaic sandstones and shales compose the Coqueiro Seco formation, found at depths ranging from 500 to 2500 meters. These oil-producing sandstones have porosity of 20% and permeability of 100 mD.