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A New Hydrofluoric Acid

System Improves Sandstone

Matrix Acidizing

Fr a c t u r i n g a n d S t i m u l a t i o n

A new hydrofluoric acid (HF) system has been used successfully on

more than 30 wells during the past
21/2 years. Field results from the
new HF system show a 350%
increase in incremental production over conventional mud-acid
formulas. The new HF system is a
deep-penetrating, nondamaging
acid system that improves oil- and
gas-well productivity significantly.
In the past, the majority of wells in the
Niger delta were stimulated with mudacid systems. Approximately one-half
of the wells stimulated showed a significant
increase, but the rest had either no production increase or a production
decrease. Attempts to mitigate these
problems by use of retarded and in-situ
generated HF formulas produced
inconsistent results and often have
been cost-prohibitive. A statistical
analysis of more than 50 wells stimulated with mud acid indicated a success
rate of less than 20%. A breakthrough
in sandstone matrix acidizing occurred
in December 1996 when the first new
HF-system job was performed.
Reservoir Description
The Niger delta basin is a prolific
hydrocarbon province. Most of the
sands treated with the new HF system
consist of several sandstone and shale
sequences. The sandstones contain
fine-to-medium quartz and smectite,
kaolonite, and illite clays with feldspathic and carbonate-scale materials.
This article is a synopsis of paper SPE
56527, New HF Acid System Improves
Sandstone-Matrix-Acidizing Success
Ratio by 400% Over Conventional
Mud-Acid System in Niger Delta Basin,
by Nicholas Kume, SPE, BJ Services Co.
Nigeria; Robert Van Melsen, SPE, and
Luckie Erhahon, SPE, Shell Petroleum
Development Co. Nigeria; and
Abiodun Afolabi, SPE, BJ Services Co.
Nigeria, originally presented at the
1999 SPE Annual Technical Conference
and Exhibition, Houston, 36 October.

Damage Mechanism. The major production-impairment mechanism is

believed to be fines migration, with
clay dispersion and swelling also
occurring. Scale deposition caused by
filtrate invasion is suspected to be an
associated damage mechanism. The
principal problems associated with
mud-acid sandstone matrix acidizing
in the Niger delta are caused by rapid
acid reaction leading to deconsolidation of the near-wellbore matrix and
by poor acid penetration. Job failures
also can be attributed to incompatibility and precipitation of reaction products of the acidizing process itself.
New HF System
The new HF system uses a phosphonic acid complex to hydrolyze fluoride
salts. The phosphonic acid complex
has five hydrogen atoms available that
dissociate at different stoichiometric
conditions. Mixtures of the phosphonic acid complex and ammonium bifluoride, NH4HF2, produce an ammonium phosphonate salt and HF, which
are combined with additional proprietary components to form the new HF
system. To prevent matrix deconsolidation near the wellbore, the new HF
system forms a temporary protective
film of aluminum silicate phosphonate
over the clays and feldspars.
Precipitation of damaging byproducts
is reduced by the chelating and dispersing properties of the new HF system. The new HF system is a strong
dispersant with substoichiometric
sequestering properties and is an
excellent antiscalant. Because the pH
ranges from 2.2 to 3.8, the system is
significantly less corrosive than conventional systems that use high percentages of HCl to maintain pH.
The new HF system has an extended dissolving capacity. After removing
the fines plug from the near-wellbore
area, the new HF system continues
dissolving suspended fines, significantly retarding subsequent fines
redeposition in this area. Because of
the high adsorbing and chelating
properties of the new HF system as
well as its ability to limit dissolution

of aluminosilicates, it is believed that

this acid system dissolves most of
these constituents of displaced fines,
unlike mud acid, which is spent mostly on clays.
Treatment Design. Xylene Spearhead.
This stage is optional and is applied in
wells with heavy crude that deposits
paraffin and asphaltenes. Xylene is
pumped to dissolve and disperse heavy
crude coating the near-wellbore matrix
to expose the surfaces to acid contact.
HCl Preflush. This stage is pumped
to dissolve minerals, act as a buffer
between the HF system and formation
brines, and remove iron-based scales
from the tubulars.
Main Acid Stage. The main acid
stage dissolves fines and aluminosilicates as well as quartz grains in the
matrix to provide a sustained and genuine matrix stimulation. Acid strength
is based on rock mineralogy, produced-fluid compatibility, and petrophysics of the reservoir sand.
Afterflush. The ammonium chloride afterflush ensures that live acid
penetrates deep into the matrix.
Table 4 in the full-length paper
gives a detailed recipe for the different
fluid stages. Foam and rate diversion
techniques are used for uniform distribution of the treating fluid across
the zones to be treated.
Success Definition
Matrix-acidizing success is defined in
terms of production and injectivity
increases, skin-damage reduction,
payback time, and job cost minimization. In this case, an acid job is
defined as economically successful in
the long term if the well sustains an
increase in oil or gas production or
fluid injectivity above the existing
decline curve for a minimum of 1
year. In the short term, the job should
produce or save revenues equivalent
to or more than twice the cost of the
job within a payback time of less than
30 days.
The short-term success index (SSI)
compares the revenue derived from a
30-day post-treatment cumulative

MARCH 2000

incremental production with twice

the total job cost. An SSI greater than
one indicates a successful job.
The long-term success index (LSI)
compares the revenue derived from
the cumulative production gains for
12 months following the treatment
with 20 times the total job cost. If the
LSI is less than one, the treatment is
considered unsuccessful.

Case Histories
Case History 1. This well produced
1,056 BOPD and suddenly declined to
235 BOPD. A mud-acid stimulation/
xylene-solvent soak in June 1991
increased production to 626 BOPD.
The interval was put on gas lift to sustain the approximately 400-BOPD
stimulation gain. The well was stimulated with the new HF system in June
1998, resulting in a 4,180-BOPD gain.
Treatment payback was 11/2 days, and
the well is generating an additional
revenue equivalent to 3,600 BOPD.
Case History 2. This well produced
2,000 BOPD and then declined to 726

BOPD. A mud-acid treatment in 1996

increased production 218 BOPD to
944 BOPD. In 1999, the new HF-system treatment increased production
to 1,123 BOPD.
1. The new HF system is a deep-penetrating, nondamaging acid system that
stimulates oil and gas wells and improves well productivity significantly.
2. In the Niger delta, the new HF
system delivers superior productivity
increments in wells previously unimproved or damaged by mud acid or
fluoboric acid formulas.
3. More than 20 different sands in
the Niger delta show the same production improvement trends when
treated with the new HF system.
4. Nine wells previously treated
with mud acid showed economic and
technical improvement when retreatJPT
ed with the new HF system.
Please read the full-length paper for
additional detail, illustrations, and references. The paper from which the
synopsis has been taken has not been
peer reviewed.

Fr a c t u r i n g a n d S t i m u l a t i o n

Comparison Analysis
Nine wells were selected that had been
treated with both mud acid and the
new HF system within the past 5
years. The new HF system exceeded
the SSI-criterion value of 1 for seven of
the nine wells, while the value of SSI
for the mud-acid treatments was less
than 1 for all the wells. All of the mudacid treatments failed to deliver additional production worth 20 times the
total job cost before reverting to original decline conditions within 1 year
(LSI<1). Seven of the nine wells treated with the new HF system had LSIs
greater than 1. These indices indicate
that wells treated with the new HF system have a faster payback and sustained post-treatment production

gains for a longer period of time.

Assuming an oil price of U.S. $12/bbl,
the wells treated with the new HF system had an average U.S. $330,000
incremental revenue over total job cost
for the first 30 days after treatment.
Over the long term, the new HF system treatments gave an average incremental revenue of U.S. $3.9 million
per well, while the mud-acid treatments gave an average incremental
revenue of U.S. $0.62 million per well.

MARCH 2000