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Since the most common use of matrix acidizing is the removal of formation damage, it is important to understand the nature of the damage that exists so that an appropriate treatment can be designed. Well testing and well test analysis generate a skin factor and well completion efficiency. This is insufficient alone for formation damage diagnosis. Well performance analysis has provided a beneficial tool to identify the location and thickness of damage at flow points in the near wellbore area. Models of flow into perforations and gravel-packed tunnels provide a way to relate the location and severity of damage to the completion procedure that preceded it.
While formation damage is typically a problem affecting the productivity of well, it can also pose problems for injection. Understanding the causes of this type of formation damage is important so that efforts to prevent it can be undertaken. This page discusses the types of formation damage that affect injection wells. In such projects, the cost of piping and pumping the water is determined primarily by reservoir depth and the source of the water. However, water treatment costs can vary substantially, depending on the water quality required.
Swelling clays, although relatively abundant in shales, do not occur as commonly in producing intervals. Thus, formation damage problems with swelling clays are not nearly as common as those associated with fines migration. The most common swelling clays found in reservoir rock are smectites and mixed-layer illites. It was earlier thought that much of the water and rate sensitivity observed in sandstone permeability was caused by swelling clays. However, it is now well accepted that the water-sensitive and rate-sensitive behavior in sandstones is more commonly the result of fines migration and only rarely of swelling clays.
When cement is bullheaded into the annulus to displace mud, the differential pressure between the cement and the formation fluid can lead to a significant loss of cement filtrate into the formation. If, however, large volumes of cement filtrate invade the rock, the possibility of formation damage exists. Depending on the specific composition of the cement and its pH, the filtrate may be supersaturated with calcium carbonate and calcium sulfate. As the cement filtrate invades the formation and reacts with the formation minerals, its pH is reduced from 12 to a pH buffered by the formation minerals. This rapid change in pH can result in the formation of inorganic precipitates such calcium carbonate and calcium sulfate.
Fines migration is a recognized source of formation damage in some production wells, particularly in sandstones. Direct evidence of fines-induced formation damage in production wells is often difficult to come by. Although most other forms of formation damage have obvious indicators of the problem, the field symptoms of fines migration are much more subtle. Indirect evidence such as declining productivity over a period of several weeks or months is the most common symptom. This reduction in productivity can usually be reversed by mud-acid treatments.
Formation damage in gas/condensate reservoirs can be caused by a buildup of fluids (condensate) around the wellbore. This reduces the relative permeability and therefore gas production. This page discusses condensate banking and how to overcome its effects. As shown in Figure 1, gas/condensate reservoirs are defined as reservoirs that contain hydrocarbon mixtures that on pressure depletion cross the dewpoint line. In such instances as when the bottomhole pressure is reduced during production, the dewpoint pressure of the gas is reached in the near-wellbore region.
When completion or workover operations are conducted on a well (perforating, gravel packing, etc.), the fluid present in the wellbore must minimize the impact on the near-wellbore permeability. Several decades ago, engineers realized that the use of drilling fluids during completions was inappropriate because fluids caused severe damage to the productive zone. A wide variety of fluids are now available as completion or workover fluids. This page focuses on formation damage issues related to these different types of completion and workover fluids. A list of fluids used for completion or workover is provided in Table 1.
Producing formation damage has been defined as the impairment of the unseen by the inevitable, causing an unknown reduction in the unquantifiable. In a different context, formation damage is defined as the impairment to reservoir (reduced production) caused by wellbore fluids used during drilling/completion and workover operations. It is a zone of reduced permeability within the vicinity of the wellbore (skin) as a result of foreign-fluid invasion into the reservoir rock. Typically, any unintended impedance to the flow of fluids into or out of a wellbore is referred to as formation damage. This broad definition includes flow restrictions caused by a reduction in permeability in the near-wellbore region, changes in relative permeability to the hydrocarbon phase, and unintended flow restrictions in the completion itself. Flow restrictions in the tubing or those imposed by the well partially penetrating a reservoir or other aspects of the completion geometry are not included in this definition because, although they may impede flow, they either have been put in place by design to serve a specific purpose or do not show up in typical measures of formation damage such as skin.
Formation damage has received significant attention over many decades, but what about completion damage? Before we discuss this question, we first need to define these terms. Formation damage could be considered as damage to the near-wellbore (e.g., mud solids invasion, plugging). In contrast, completion damage is damage to the lower completion (e.g., plugging of screens). The combined effect of formation and completion damage is the observed well productivity development with associated skin and productivity index.
Formation damage caused by drilling-fluid invasion, production, or injection can lead to positive skin factors and affect fluid flow by reducing permeability. When mud filtrate invades the formation surrounding a borehole, it will generally remain in the formation even after the well is cased and perforated. This mud filtrate in the formation reduces the effective permeability to hydrocarbons near the wellbore. It may also cause clays in the formation to swell, reducing the absolute permeability of the formation. In addition, solid particles from the mud may enter the formation and reduce permeability at the formation face.