The Cascade and Chinook Project is located in the Walker Ridge area in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM), 250 miles south of New Orleans in depths between 8,200 and 8,900 ft. The oil-producing reservoir is in the Lower Tertiary Wilcox formation, with a gross sand thickness of 1,200 ft. The reservoir midpoint is at an average depth of 25,600 ft true vertical depth subsea (TVDss), with a bottomhole pressure of 19,500 psi and a bottomhole temperature of 260°F. The reservoir comprises vertically stacked thin beds of sand and fine-grained-siltstone intervals with effectively no vertical permeability. Additional information on this project can be found in Moraes et al. (2010).
Multiple limitations were considered during the initial design phase of the frac-pack program. The fracs were designed taking into account the use of a single-trip multizone (STMZ) sand-control system. Some of these design challenges are briefly discussed by Cunha et al. (2009). Although this system was not crucial in the overall implementation of the frac program, it added additional complexity from an operational standpoint because of a continuous, multistage frac operation. Some of the operational limitations included service-tool-erosion limitations because of maximum pump rates and proppant volumes, overall frac-vessel capacity, boat-to-boat fluid transfers, and crew fatigue. The geological complexities of the reservoir were another major challenge in completing this very thick interval. Perforation intervals had to be placed to avoid a fault (and thus a potential early screenout), avoid a water contact, and comply with tool-spacing limitations, and still had to maximize contact with net pay.
This paper addresses the approach taken to develop a fracture-stimulation program for the Lower Tertiary formation in the Cascade and Chinook Project. Some of the major questions addressed during this process include the following: How many fracture treatments are needed? What is the optimum fracture geometry? What is the desired conductivity? How to effectively position the perforation intervals? What is the desired pump rate, and is a high-density fluid needed to fracture this deep, high-pressure formation? The approach, the answers, and the treatment are discussed along with responses to additional questions that arose during the actual fracturing operations.
Along with the Lower Tertiary in the GOM, the industry faces similar challenges around the world. These include reservoirs with potentially large reserves but much lower permeability (caused by depth and in-situ stresses) where fracturing is required for both stimulation and potential-formation-collapse sand control. Careful planning is necessary to avoid costly learning curves in these environments.