Decade of Stimulation Experience in the Deepwater Gulf of Mexico
- Dennis Denney (JPT Senior Technology Editor)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- May 2013
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 102 - 105
- 2013. Society of Petroleum Engineers
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- 138 since 2007
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This article, written by Senior Technology Editor Dennis Denney, contains highlights of paper SPE 159660, "A Decade of Deepwater Gulf of Mexico Stimulation Experience," by Lee N. Morgenthaler, SPE, and Leigh A. Fry, Shell E&P, prepared for the 2012 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, San Antonio, Texas, 8-10 October. The paper has not been peer reviewed.
The deepwater Gulf of Mexico is a technically and economically challenging production environment. High rates and ultimate recoveries are required per well to offset high development costs. Stimulation treatments maintain wells at peak production rates and accelerate reserves recovery. In these complex layered reservoirs, stimulation is necessary to ensure recovery volume. The primary objective of stimulation is to restore impaired well/reservoir connectivity. Successfully identifying the cause and location of impairment is required. Looking back over a decade of experience in this challenging environment yields useful insights as the industry moves into new deepwater provinces.
Shell’s deepwater development began in 1991 with the Tahoe subsea prospect tied back to the Main Pass 252 platform. Development continued with the Auger, Mars, Ram Powell, Ursa, and Brutus tension-leg platforms (TLPs) and many subsea fields that tie back to them (Fig. 1). Most of the reservoirs producing to these structures are geologically young turbidite sands that require sand control. Initially, all of the fields were geopressured significantly above hydrostatic and were significantly undersaturated. The soft compacting sands and aquifer support often provide sufficient energy to achieve adequate recovery by depletion.
The hydraulic fractures created in the frac-pack process provided lower skin values with minimal use of acid. The horizontal openhole gravel packs used acid-soluble bridging agents to stabilize the wellbore during gravel packing. The bridging agents were then removed with acid washing. Because most of these sand-control completions were cased-hole gravel packs or cased-hole frac packs, most of this paper refers primarily to the experience with those completion types.
As the fields matured, there were more subsea-tieback developments. Stimulation campaigns generally focused on the direct-vertical-access (DVA), or dry-tree, wells of the TLPs. However, stimulation of subsea wells has been highly profitable, and technology has been developed to reduce the subsea-intervention costs to make these interventions more attractive. The complex operations on TLPs introduce challenges when planning and conducting stimulation operations. Logistics coordination and proper management of returning wells to production are critical to realize production gains and to meet environmental-discharge regulations and goals.
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