Production Optimization by Use of the Capillary Technology in the Loma La Lata Field
- Pablo Cabral (Repsol-YPF) | Constantino R. Gierega (Repsol YPF) | Pedro Costanza (Bolland y Cia SA) | Alejandro A. Suriano (Bolland y Cia SA)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Production & Operations
- Publication Date
- August 2008
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 392 - 403
- 2008. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 5.8.8 Gas-condensate reservoirs, 4.2.3 Materials and Corrosion, 3.1 Artificial Lift Systems, 1.6.1 Drilling Operation Management, 5.6.11 Reservoir monitoring with permanent sensors, 2.2.2 Perforating, 1.10.1 Drill string components and drilling tools (tubulars, jars, subs, stabilisers, reamers, etc), 3.1.8 Gas Well Deliquification, 3.1.2 Electric Submersible Pumps, 1.7 Pressure Management, 4.2 Pipelines, Flowlines and Risers, 3.1.5 Plunger lift, 3.1.6 Gas Lift, 1.8 Formation Damage, 4.1.6 Compressors, Engines and Turbines, 3.1.1 Beam and related pumping techniques, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 3 Production and Well Operations, 2.5.2 Fracturing Materials (Fluids, Proppant), 4.6 Natural Gas, 5.3.2 Multiphase Flow, 3.1.3 Hydraulic and Jet Pumps, 4.1.4 Gas Processing, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements
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Ever since its discovery in 1977, the Loma La Lata field, located in the Neuquén basin, has been considered one of the most important gas fields in South America.
During the last decade, the progressive reduction in the reservoir pressure has led to successive changes in the field's operation conditions: from high to medium pressure, and, most recently, to low pressure.
As the reservoir pressure depletes, the subsequent reductions in the gas velocities bring about changes in the flow regimes and increasing liquid flow rates. These liquids produced at the wellbore and/or generated by vapor condensation through the production string contribute to increase the pressure drop along the tubing as well as the flowing bottomhole pressure, and will eventually reduce or prevent production.
In most cases, not only does liquid loading arise as a consequence of these changes in operation conditions, but also other production problems, such as mineral scales and organic deposits, and the difficulty to implement corrosion prevention conventional batch treatment programs aimed at extending the life of the production strings.
In addition to these factors, the increasing hydrocarbon demand, Argentina's energy policy, and economic restrictions are also matters of relevance when it comes to implementing conventional solutions that imply several shutdown hours per treated well.
The aforementioned problems have encouraged the operating and services companies to search for technological alternatives providing not only technical solutions but also economical benefits.
After 1 year since a novel capillary string system that allows for the injection of chemical products, and/or the deployment of special devices such as memory gauges at the desired depth was introduced in the country, the results obtained in several tests show a very promising future.
This paper summarizes the first-year results achieved using the capillary string technology as a tool for production enhancement and optimization in the Loma La Lata field.
With 196 major wells and an average daily production of 25 million standard cubic meters (883 million standard cubic feet), Loma La Lata is the largest producing gas field in South America. This field, located in the Neuquén Basin in the Neuquén Province of Argentina, was discovered by the formerly state-owned oil company YPF in 1977 and is currently operated by private Repsol-YPF under a concession that will last until 2027.
The area covered by the main gas fields in the Neuquén basin includes 4,481.47 Km2 that are operated and 2,922.20 Km2 non-operated. Within this area, the Loma La Lata, Sierra Barrosa, Aguada Pichana, and Aguada San Roque fields supply approximately 31% of the Argentinean market total gas demand. Additionally, these fields provide for approximately 23% of the Argentinean natural gas exports, 59% of the industrial delivery, and 62% of the distributing companies gas supply.
At the beginning of their exploitation, the wells in the Loma La Lata field produced at a high pressure oscillating between 90 and 100 kilograms per square centimeter. Given the fact that trunk gas transportation pipelines operate at a pressure of 70 Kg/cm2 (6.86×106 Pa), it was imperative then to reduce its pressure before the gas was injected into these pipelines.
As time went by, the reservoir pressure started to gradually decline as a natural consequence of its exploitation. At present, approximately 60% of the total gas flow rate is produced at medium pressure, between 40 and 70 Kg/cm2 (between 3.92 and 6.86×106 Pa), and the remaining 40% at low pressure, between 15 and 40 Kg/cm2 (between 1.47 and 3.92×106 Pa). The estimations indicate that by 2007 the whole field will be producing at low pressure.
As the power demand is increasing, the operating company has on the one hand started to invest in compressors in several plants in order to inject the gas into the pipelines at the specified pressure and, on the other hand, to investigate possible methods to resort to when the pressure becomes lower than 15 Kg/cm2 (1.47×106 Pa).
The first stage of a major gas compression project began approximately 6 years ago. During the last 4 years, a second stage has been initiated, and the third phase will be finished by 2007. By then, Repsol-YPF will have installed 67 compressors in the field, including new and reformed ones.
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