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Multipay Well Completion in Argentina: A Versatile Pinpoint Completion

Technology Applied through Several Conventional, Tight, and Shale

J. C. Bonapace and F. Kovalenko, Halliburton; F. Sorenson, Pan American Energy; P. Forni, Grupo Capsa, and F.
Barbalace, Pampa Energía

Copyright 2017, Society of Petroleum Engineers

This paper was prepared for presentation at the SPE Latin America and Caribbean Petroleum Engineering Conference held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 18-19 May 2017.

This paper was selected for presentation by an SPE program committee following review of information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents
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any position of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, its officers, or members. Electronic reproduction, distribution, or storage of any part of this paper without the written
consent of the Society of Petroleum Engineers is prohibited. Permission to reproduce in print is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300 words; illustrations may
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Many fields in Argentina have multilayer reservoirs that require various stimulation techniques, primarily
hydraulic fracturing. A variety of formations and types of reservoirs, such as conventional (mature fields)
and unconventional (tight gas and shale), are the main focus in the Golfo San Jorge and Neuquén basin. The
hydraulic fractures created in these basins present a variety of conditions and challenges related to depth,
well architecture design, bottomhole temperature (BHT), reservoir pressure, and formation permeability.
In 2006, a pinpoint completion technique was introduced to help achieve greater efficiency and reduce
time and costs associated with completions. This paper presents experiences gained using this technology
and proving such versatility in different types of reservoirs.
The pinpoint technique, called hydrajet perforating annular-path treatment placement and proppant plugs
for diversion (HPAP-PPD), was applied in new wells at different reservoir conditions. The history and
evolution of this technique in Argentina was initiated in conventional oil reservoirs (mature fields in Golfo
San Jorge) and then was introduced in the Neuquén basin in gas well completions. Throughout the last
seven years, this technique has been tested and implemented in tight gas wells. More recently, it was used
to improve a completion technique in a shale oil well.
This completion method allowed operators to focus treatments in desired zones using specific treatment
designs based on reservoir characteristics. Several case histories are presented for different basins,
formations, and reservoirs types, highlighting lessons learned and reduced completion time.

Hydraulic fracturing is one of the most widely used stimulation techniques. It is intended to increase the
production of reservoir fluids by applying hydraulic pressure to a fluid pumped with proppant material that
fills created fractures.
In Argentina, the application of this stimulation technique dates back to October of 1960 in the Puesto
Lopez field in the Sierras Blancas formation. Since then, this type of treatment has been performed in five
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producing basins in the country (Fig. 1) as well as in a variety of formations, including conventional and
unconventional reservoirs.

Figure 1—Argentina producting basins.

Throughout the years, constant changes have been made to treatment fluid systems used during hydraulic
fracturing operations, moving from petroleum-based fluids, methanol (Hernandez et al. 1994; Antoci et al.
2001), CO2 and nitrogen foams, nitrogen-assisted systems (Alvarez et al. 2012), and water-based systems
(Powell et al. 1997; Fontana et al. 2007).
These types of stimulation treatments have a variety of requirements for use in this productive basin,
which presents a wide range of depths from 300 to 4500 m, BHTs from 100 to 350°F (Ramallo et al. 2002;
Powell et al. 1997), various reservoir pressures (subnormal to overpressured) and permeabilities (high,
medium, low, and ultralow) (Schnaidler et al. 2013; Castellarini et al. 2015), and different types of complex
formations (D'Huteau et al. 2001, 2007; Porollan and Yochcaff 2012). Also, various types of reservoir
problems can be associated with these stimulation treatments, such as proppant flowback (Daparo et al.
2009; Nguyen et al. 2013) and the production of high levels of water (Brocco et al. 2000; Dos Santos et
al. 2005; Diaz et al. 2009).
Because of the characteristics of these basins, productive fields were developed in monolayer or
multilayer reservoirs, as well as with multitarget well types. Completions in these types of reservoirs
(multilayer or multitarget wells) require a detailed evaluation of technical, operational, and economical
aspects to apply the best methodology (Scianca and Gimenez 2002).
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This paper documents experiences, lessons learned, and results achieved using a versatile pinpoint
completion technique in Argentina for conventional oil and gas, tight gas, and shale oil reservoirs in the
Golfo San Jorge and Neuquén basins.

Completion Techniques
Generally, achieving success in multilayer completion wells requires combining reservoir understanding,
the types of stimulation necessary, and appropriate completion techniques. McDaniel (2005) presents a
review of several fracture stimulation techniques to achieve the best economics in multilayer reservoirs.
His work documents a scorecard to be used by the operator to identify the best completion option based on
the reservoir (or well) characteristics and limitations (or benefits) of the completion technique. Operators
may have to execute a "balancing act" with the need to maximize return on investment (ROI) while trying
to complete as many contributing zones as possible. This usually drives a well operator toward methods
to minimize the number of separate well interventions while maximizing the number of zones that can
be effectively stimulated. There are several multizone fracturing methods available with respect to well
completions, the most cost-effective method dependent on reservoir properties and characteristics.
An important group of fields along various basins in Argentina comprise multilayer reservoirs; this
condition is generated in some cases by formations with small lenticular lenses or by the existence of
different formation targets in the same well. Based on such conditions, operators evaluate and select the
most appropriate completion technique. The most common completion methodologies applied in Argentina
for these wells are as follows:

• Workover unit operations

◦ Tubing string with a set of packers and mechanical plugs

◦ Tubing string with a set of straddle packer systems (Velasquez et al. 2009)

• Rigless operations (plug-and-perf)

◦ Through casing, applying limited-entry perforating, isolating by bridge plugs

◦ Through casing, applying limited-entry perforating, isolating by sand plugs

For conventional oil wells, workover options are employed; for tight gas, and shale oil, the alternative
of rigless operations are preferred.

The HPAP-PPD completion technique, referred to as a pinpoint stimulation method, was introduced to the
industry in 2004 (Surjaatmadja et al. 2005) in vertical wells initially and was soon also applied in horizontal
wells (McDaniel et al. 2006). It consists of abrasive hydrajet perforating deployed on coiled tubing (CT)
and subsequent fracturing treatment pumping through the annulus between the CT and casing, resulting in
a fracturing stage which was then isolated with a sand plug so the perforating/fracturing processes could
immediately be repeated on another zone above.
This technique provides the benefit of allowing selective zones to be stimulated, encouraging faster
completions, and has the jetting tool has the versatility to allow clean out of sand plugs (washed with CT)
after all desired stages have been fracture stimulated. In Argentina, it was introduced in 2006 in the Golfo
San Jorge for conventional oil reservoirs (Bonapace et al. 2009); it was then used in the Neuquén basins for
conventional oil and gas (Folmer et al. 2008; Favoretti and Ferrer 2008; Kovalenko 2009), unconventional
reservoirs, tight gas (Barbalace et al. 2012), and shale oil (Forni et al. 2014, 2015) (Fig. 2). Throughout
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the years, this technique proved its versatility, being introduced and applied in various reservoirs based on
their requirements (Fig. 3).

Figure 2—(a) Conventional gas well completion; (b) conventional oil well
completion; (c) tight gas well completion; (d) shale oil well completion.

Figure 3—Historical evolution of pinpoint technique application in Argentina.

In Argentina, this completion technique has been successfully applied in a wide variety of formations,
such as the Comodoro Rivadavia and Mina del Carmen in the Golfo San Jorge basin and Lotena, Quintuco,
Tordillo, Lajas, Los Molles, Punta Rosada, Precuyo, and Vaca Muerta in the Neuquén basin. Table 1 and
Fig. 4 present the primary properties of these formations wherein HPAP-PPD was applied.
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Table 1—Summary of the main characteristics for each formation.

Neuquén Los
Basin Formation GSJ Comodoro GSJ Mina del Neuquén Neuquén Neuquén Vaca Neuquén
Molles Gas
Reservoir fluid Rivadavia Oil Carmen Oil Lotena Oil Lajas Gas Muerta Oil Punta Rosada
Reservoir type Conventional Conventional Conventional Conventional and gas Shale Gas Tight
Depth (m) 1000 to 2250 2250 to 3000 1400 to 2000 1600 to 2400 2350 to 3200 2400 to 3000 3200 to 3900
BHT (°F) 120 to 190 190 to 230 135 to 165 145 to 180 180 to 220 185 to 215 225 to 255
Porosity (%) 12 to 18 14 to 19 12 to 17 8 to 12 6 to 12 2 to 9 4 to 12
Permeability (md) 10 to 50 5 to 25 10 to 45 0.2 to 0.65 0.08 to 0.2 0.001 to 0.01
to 0.0001
0.28 to 0.35 0.37 to 0.40 0.32 to 0.38 0.23 to 0.35 0.35 to 0.65 0.75 to 0.90 0.55 to 0.7
pressure (psi/ft)
1.3 to 2.2 1.5 to 2.6 1.1 to 2.3 1.8 to 3.0 2.8 to 5.5 3.5 to 6.0 3.8 to 6.3
modulus (Mpsi)

Figure 4—(a) Fracture gradient (psi/ft); (b) minimum horizontal stress (psi) for different formation and type of reservoirs.

To date, 37 wells have been completed with a total of 336 fracturing stages for six different operators.
Fig. 5 shows the distribution of wells completed with this technique in terms of basins, operators, reservoir
type, and well geometry. Table 2 presents a summary of the main characteristics in terms of well geometry,
pinpoint technique, and fracture treatments performed for each reservoir type.
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Figure 5—(a) Wells completed by basin; (b) wells completed by operator;

(c) wells completed by reservoir type; (d) wells completed by well geometry.

Table 2—Summary of primary characteristics for each type of reservoir wherein HPAP-PPD was applied.

Data/Type Reservoir Conventional Oil Conventional Gas Tight Gas Shale Oil

Avg. fracture stages 9 9 11 12

Well geometry (in.) 5 1/2 5 1/2 4 1/2 7 + 4 1/2
Max. pressure (psi) 10,000 10,000 10,000 10,000
CT unit (injector) 60K 60K 60 to 95K 95K
CT outer diameter (OD) (in.) 1 3/4 1 3/4 1 3/4 1 3/4
Hydrajet tool Old tool Old tool Old tool / new tool New tool
BHA - N° hole 3 3 2 2
Working time (hours) 12 12 12 / 24 24
Fracture depth (m) 1050 to 2500 1400 to 2800 2900 to 3800 2350 to 2900
BHST (°F) 120 to 205 135 to 200 210 to 250 180 to 210
Fracture gradient (psi/ft) 0.53 to 0.85 0.55 to 0.80 0.75 to 0.95 0.93 to 1.05
Pump rate (bbl/min) 16 to 19 18 to 24 16 to 20 15 to 23
Wellhead pressure (psi) 1,100 to 4,300 2,250 to 5,700 6,800 to 9,300 6,500 to 8,500
Fracture fluid (gal/1,000 gal) Guar-borate (25) CMHPG-Zr (25) CMHPG-Zr (25) CMHPG-Zr (25)
Total well fluid (m3) 500 1,510 2,475 4,800
Total well proppant (lbm) 230,000 585,000 970,000 1,045,000
Type of proppant Sand - RCP - ISP Sand - ISP ISP ISP
Type of mesh proppant 12/20, 16/30, 20/40 16/30, 20/40 30/60, 20/40 30/60, 20/40
Hydraulic horsepower (HHP) 550 to 2,000 1,300 to 2,850 3,000 to 4,350 3,400 to 4,600
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This completion technique has proven its versatility over the years. Several authors have documented
cases applying this technique in vertical wells in various reservoir conditions globally:

• Gilbert et al. (2005). Australia, Cooper basin, in sandstone, normal pressure, and in some cases
with overpressure; with fracture gradient between 0.85 and 1.15 psi/ft and minimum horizontal
stress between 5,300 and 8,800 psi.
• Hejl et al. (2006). USA, California, Lost Hills field, at the upper Belridge Diatomite of the
Monterey formation. This section is combined diatomaceous mudstones (0.1 to 1.0 md) and
diatomaceous sandstones (0.1 to 100 md).
• Mohsen et al. (2010). Egypt, El Fadl field, at the Bahareya sandstone oil producer with low
reservoir pressure.
• Chellani et al. (2012). India, West Bengal field in a coalbed methane reservoir.

Additionally, application examples of hydrajet abrasive perforation in hard formations have been
published, indicating the benefits of this type of perforation. In some cases, modifications of HPAP-PPD
were introduced as an alternative completion methodology, performing the abrasive perforation and then
pulling the tool out of the well, and finally executing the hydraulic fracture. Examples include Argentina
(Schnaidler et al. 2013 in a tight gas Mulichinco formation), India (Aora et al. 2011 in the Raageshwari
reservoir, gas and condensate tight volcanic rock), Algeria (Kritsanaphak et al. 2010 in the Hamra formation,
oil tight quartzite sandstone), and Mexico (Lopez-Bonetti et al. 2014 in shale gas Eagle Ford), the latter of
which documents the application of HPAP-PPD in a horizontal well in the Pimienta formation (shale oil).

Case Histories
Conventional Oil
Several conventional oil wells were completed from 2006 to 2007 applying the HPAP-PPD technique.
Initially, the first campaign of wells was in the Golfo San Jorge basin for Operator A (Fig. 3b). The main
target for this operator was to reduce completion time using an alternative completion technique. The wells
completed with this technique required up to nine fracture stages at the Comodoro Rivadavia and Mina del
Carmen formations (Bonapace et al. 2009). In the Neuquén basin, Operator B completed up to five fracture
stages in the Lajas and Lotena formations with the same objective, improving completion time (Favoretti
and Ferrer 2008).
Operator A. The regular well geometry for this well consisted of 5 1/2-in. 15.5-lb/ft, K-55 casing and a
standard completion developed through 2 7/8-in. 6.5 lb/ft, J-55 tubing. This operator performed the well
completion according to the following procedure:

• Perforate all of the zones.

• Perform several swabbing tests for individual zones using mechanical plugs and packers.

• Select the zone to be stimulated.

• Perform hydraulic fracturing with plugs and packers.

• Evaluate post-fracture by means of swab testing.

• Place the well into production.

In some situations, it was necessary to use double packers because of the proximity of the zone to be
stimulated. This introduced longer completion times because of a large number of round trips of tubings.
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The HPAP-PPD completion technique was applied in two fields in nine wells with 90 total fracture stages.
A 60K CT injector unit and 1 3/4-in. outside diameter (OD) CT were used. The casing type was modified
(5 1/2-in. OD 17.0-lb/ft, N-80) to obtain a higher yield pressure. A cement bond log (CBL) acoustic image
log was run in the 5 1/2-in. casing in the first well to verify the quality of the perforation. The borehole
images in Fig. 6a clearly show three hole perforations as expected. Fig. 6b presents a comparative image
from conventional explosive perforations in an offset well.

Figure 6—(a) Hydrajet perforation, three holes in the same plane at

120°; (b) conventional shape charge perforation [6 shots per foot (spf)].

In all of the wells, an initial bridge plug was placed below the lowest zone to be used in the depth
correlation and reference. In some wells, because of the great distance between the first and last zone to
be stimulated, it was necessary to place a second bridge plug to minimize the amount of proppant used
to fill and isolate the previous zone stimulated. Table 1 presents a summary of the main characteristics
of this completion type for this operator. Fig. 7 shows examples illustrating that five days were necessary
to complete all of the operations proposed, considering a working day equal to 12 operative hours. Two
days were necessary for the rigup and rigdown of all of the equipment for each well; planning and logistics
were of extreme importance for both operations. Bonapace et al. (2009) documented the requirement of
performing at least three fracture stages within 12 operative hours in each well. The best result obtained
was completion of nine fracture stages in 19 operative hours.
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Figure 7—Completion time for conventional oil well in Golfo San Jorge basin, Operator A.

Folmer et al. (2008) presented results for conventional oil wells in the Neuquén basin, where three days
were necessary to perform five fracture stages in six zones using HPAP-PPD compared to four days to
complete three fracture stages with the same number of zones using a conventional completion (tubing-
packer-mechanical plug). Additionally, Favoretti and Ferrer (2008) document comparative production
results from wells completed using both methodologies in two wells. The first well used five fracturing
stages compared to an offset well that was stimulated with a rigless completion (fracturing treatment by
means of casing). The same intervals were targeted in both wells and were stimulated using the same
design criteria (same amount of proppant). Production results showed a higher initial production as well as
stabilized production for the well in which HPAP-PPD was employed, indicative of a more selective and
effective stimulation. For the second well, stimulation criteria were modified such that a lower amount of
proppant agent was used for the well completed using HPAP-PPD, which provided a production response
similar to an offset well in which the fracturing criteria were not changed.

Conventional Gas
HPAP-PPD was applied in this type of well only in the Neuquén basin from 2006 to 2010. The first well
where this technique was used was for Operator E. These hydraulic fractures were performed using a
foam fracturing fluid, which was an operational challenge. Forni (2008) present comparative production
results from one offset well completed using plug & perf by casing completion (4 fracture stages) versus
the well completed by pinpoint stimulation technique (7 fracture stages). The same intervals were targeted
in both wells and were stimulated using the same design criteria, fracture fluid and equivalent amount of
proppant. Production results showed a higher initial production as well as stabilized production for the
well in which HPAP-PPD was employed, indicative of a more selective and effective stimulation. This
comparative evaluation was performed for a period of time of one year production. Afterward, this technique
was evaluated and accepted by Operator B (Fig. 3b) and primarily used in the Neuquén basin. For this
operator, a total of nine fracture stages were executed during regular completion, and the main objective
was to reduce the completion time.
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Operator B. Historically, this reservoir was completed by fracturing several zones together. The well
completion for this wells consisted of 5 1/2-in. 17.0-lb/ft, N-80 casing. The field is located next to an urban
area, which limits the work schedule to fracturing only during daylight. Selected zones are fractured as a
unit using a pseudo limited-entry technique; the isolating method was alternated between mechanical plugs
placed with cable and sand plugs, depending on distances between fractures. After completing each fracture
stage, well cleaning was performed and the stages were isolated with a mechanical plug to help prevent a
possible crossflow produced by pressure differences among the formations, whether in the completion of
the superior zones or during the final well-cleaning process; Scianca and Gimenez (2002) document several
types of evaluated completions.
The HPAP-PPD completion technique was applied in conventional gas or gas-condensate reservoirs; a
total of 13 wells where a total of 124 fracturing stages were performed. A 60K CT injector unit and 1 3/4-in.
OD CT were used. The main objective for this operator was to reduce completion time in wells located in
urban/rural areas where operations must be performed under strict environmental controls. Several authors
(Favoretti and Ferrer 2008; Kovalenko 2009) conclude that the pinpoint technique generated a considerable
decrease in operational costs and reduced execution time for fracturing and completing wells. Additionally,
it was possible to decrease the generation of formation damage in this type of reservoir, either resulting from
a shorter residence time of fluid in the formation or avoiding the drowning of stimulated areas, compared
to using the rigless fracture technique by means of casing. A summary of the main characteristics of this
completion type for this operator is presented in Table 1.
The result obtained with this technique motivated this operator to stimulate a new reservoir, thereby
generating multi-target wells. Historically, Quintuco, Lajas (oil and gas producers), and the upper section of
the Los Molles formations (dry gas producer) were stimulated. The basal section of the Los Molles formation
is considered to be low permeability (tight gas) and highly sensitive to damage during well construction.
The operator proposed the goal of completing all zones in one well—Los Molles (tight and conventional),
Lajas, and Quintuco. These zones would be stimulated selectively, allowing the application of the HPAP-
PPD technique.
A total of 30 fracturing stages were selected to be performed: a) basal Los Molles formation—tight: eight
fracturing stages (F1 to F8); b) middle-upper Molles formation: 10 fracturing stages (F9 to F18); c) Lajas
formation: five fracturing stages (F 19 to F23); and d) Quintuco formation: seven fracturing stages (F24 to
F30). The completion strategy consisted of performing well operations in three phases, corresponding to
each of the formations being stimulated. Based on this, once operations for each formation were completed,
a wellbore cleanout and mechanical plug setting operation were conducted using a wireline unit. Afterward,
the same strategy and procedure was followed as for the previous formations.
A total of 30 days was necessary to perform all treatments in these formations (Fig. 8):
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Figure 8—Completion time for conventional gas well in the Neuquén basin, Operator B (those shown in black were aborted).

• Rigup and rigdown: four days

• Wellbore cleanout and mechanical plug millout: seven days (five days for Los Molles and two
days for Lajas)
• Nonworking days (holidays): two days (Christmas)

• Fracturing operations: 16 days (10 days for Los Molles, three days for Lajas, and three days for
It is important to clarify that a unit time of "day" corresponds to 12 operative hours. The times achieved
showed that, for the basal Los Molles formation, one stage per day could be performed and, in some cases,
two stages per day. Two stages per day were achieved in the Los Molles, and three stages per day were
conducted in Lajas and Quintuco. More details can be found in Bonapace and Perazzo (2016).

Tight Gas
From 2007 to 2013, a pinpoint technique was applied in tight gas wells in the Neuquén basin. Operator
D performed this technique on three wells with an average of five fracture stages. The main activity was
development by Operator C (Fig. 3b), completing a total of nine wells and 84 fracturing stages in the Punta
Rosada formation. The objectives for this operator was to improve completion time in this type of reservoir,
achieve a focalized stimulation, and obtain higher production.
Operator C. Historically, this reservoir is completed by fracturing several zones together. During the
beginning of the development of this reservoir, operations were performed using workover units with
tubing-packer and mechanical plugs, conventional perforations, and by completing only four fracture stages
(Sarmiento 2008). During development, the well geometry was changed, consisting of 4 1/2-in. 13.5-lb/ft,
P-110 casing. The next step of the completion was to move into a plug-and-perf completion using limited-
entry perforation and a sand plug or flow through composite bridge plug (FTCBP) (Alfaro 2008, 2010).
The unit required application of the HPAP-PPD technique using a 1 3/4-in. CT 60 and 95 K unit. Because
of overpressure reservoir conditions, it was necessary to perform only two holes per abrasive perforation to
achieve the delta pressure required. Throughout the years, problems with the bottomhole assembly (BHA)
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(erosion) were identified. This situation required an additional CT trip to change the BHA after eight to
10 hydrajetting trips. Because of this, a new hydrajet tool was introduced. This new tool was designed
to maximize its useful life, having a performance improvement of 200 to 300% compared to previously
existing tools, as well as reducing costs by eliminating additional trips resulting from tool changes or jet
erosion, as documented by Surjaatmadja et al. (2008). Fig. 9 presents comparative images of old and new
tools before and after operations performed by this operator. The implementation of this new tool helped
reduce the additional CT trips necessary to change the BHA.

Figure 9—Old hydrajet tool before and after performing 10 abrasive perforations; new hydrajet tools
before and after performing 21 abrasive perforations (it was not necessary to change the tool).

The zones stimulated for this operator were the Lajas and Punta Rosada formations. Both have common
characteristics, such as low permeability and overpressured zones, which have a pore pressure gradient of
0.65 to 0.70 psi/ft. Nevertheless, their thickness and distribution differ. Lajas has a hydrocarbon thickness
on the order of 20 to 45 m, while the Punta Rosada is more likely composed of lenticular sands being close
to one another, with a thickness of 2 to 10 m.
Barbalace et al. (2012) document the completion performed by this operator, which has been called
a hybrid completion because the stimulation treatments of the formations (Lajas and Punta Rosada)
used both plug-and-perf and pinpoint techniques. Their work discusses the characteristics of this type of
hybrid completion, the types of stimulations performed for each formation, the operative sequence, and
considerations during flowback operations and well testing. Seven fracturing stages were performed in 35
hours in the Punta Rosada formation with the HPAP-PPD technique, which means one fracturing stage was
performed every five hours, compared to the 72 hours necessary to perform the same number of stages
using other completion techniques. Additional benefits included minimizing the contact time of the fluid
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injected into the formation, being able to begin flowback operations faster, cost savings for well completion
operations, and early well production.
The case presented here involves a well in which only the Punta Rosada formation was completed; for
this well, it was necessary to perform 16 fracturing stages. The completion program included a BHA (older
style hydrajet tool) modification for Stages 10 and 11. In addition, a pumping diagnostic test was planned to
obtain information about excessive friction pressure in the fractures, perforating and near-wellbore (NWB)
friction, fracture gradients, and estimated closure stress. This type of injection added one additional hour to
each fracturing stage, except for the first stage in which an extended pressure decline period for 12 hours
was desired.
The well completion time required using this technique was consistent with that documented by Barbalace
et al. (2012). To perform a total of 16 fracturing stages, eight days were necessary (Fig. 10).

• Rigup and rigdown: four days

• Wellbore cleanout: one day

• Fracturing operations: seven days

• Changes in BHA and reservoir conditions: one day (during Stage 8, NWB problems were
identified, generating additional actions and delay)
Approximately three fracturing stages per day were possible in the Punta Rosada formation. More details
can be found in Bonapace and Perazzo (2016). A summary of the main characteristics of this completion
type for this operator is presented in Table 1 and 2.

Figure 10—Completion time for tight well gas in Neuquén basin, Operator C.

Shale Oil
Throughout the past five years, the Vaca Muerta formation was evaluated and developed. It is well known
that the main completion technique applied in these types of reservoirs (sources rock) is plug-and-perf.
Most operators working in this shale formation began evaluating the formation with vertical wells and then
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moved to horizontal wells. In 2013, Operator E decided to evaluate this formation by applying the HPAP-
PPD completion technique in a total of 12 fracture stages in a vertical well (Forni et al. 2014).
Operator E. Initially, this operator decided to evaluate the potential of the Vaca Muerta in its area using
existing wells. After several studies were performed, a group of candidate wells to be used was identified,
and a detailed planning of technical and operational aspects was executed (Forni et al. 2015). The first
three vertical wells were completed using a plug-and-perf technique (sand plug) (Bonapace 2013). The well
geometry for these wells consisted of 4 1/2-in. 13.5-lb/ft P-110 casing with packers and mechanical plugs
in 7-in., 26 lb/ft N-80 casing. Three fracture stages per well were completed using a pseudo limited-entry
perforation technique.
The HPAP-PPD completion technique was applied in the Vaca Muerta formation in a shale oil vertical
well with a total of 12 fracturing stages. A 95K CT injector unit, 1 3/4-in. OD CT, and a new style
hydrajet tool were used. The main objective for this operator was to reduce completion time and develop
an engineering solution to be applied to evaluate this formation in comparison to existing wells.
The case presented (Forni et al. 2015) documented the work flow, engineering solutions, and technologies
applied to complete this well. Throughout execution of the operation, several changes were necessary:

• Hydrajetting: use volumes between 1,500 to 1,800 lbm of proppant (sand) for perforating, keep
the pumping of 15% hydrochloric (HCl) acid in the procedure (300 gal), and assess in greater detail
the locations of the perforations (i.e., type of rock where perforating).
• Fracture design: the main objective was to place at least 85% of the designed proppant into the
formation and use a clean fluid sweep as a contingency when necessary.
• Fracturing fluid: used crosslinked gel for 90% of the treatment and keep the loading gel at 25
lbm/1,000 gal minimum.
• Fracturing pump rates: should be maximized, provided the wellhead pressure allows it.

• Proppant: modify the mesh percentages to 50% 30/60-mesh and 50% 20/40-mesh, and perform
gradual concentration increments of 0.5 lbm/gal in the initial stages.
It was demonstrated that the new hydrajet tool was a viable option to establish connectivity between the
well and formation for stimulating the entire well with a single CT deployment. This was validated because
18 consecutive perforations and 12 stimulation treatments were performed without requiring a change out.
This was a considerable improvement compared to previous older style tools used in conventional oil, gas,
and tight gas well operations, which require at least one change out during a well completion operation of
this magnitude.
The completion technique (HPAP-PPD) required a total of seven days (one day for rig-up, one day for
final cleanup, and five days for completion of 12 fracturing stages). It is important to mention that, once
an understanding of the stimulation responses resulting from well and formation conditions was obtained,
three stages were performed every 24 hours (Stages 4 to 12) (Fig. 11). It was proven that an unconventional
reservoir, such as the Vaca Muerta formation, can be stimulated using pinpoint techniques by adapting
several aspects. A summary of the main characteristics of this completion type for this operator is presented
in Table 1 and 2.
SPE-185478-MS 15

Figure 11—Completion time for shale oil well in Neuquén basin, Operator E.

Looking Forward
Throughout the past 15 years, a group of pinpoint family of technologies has been developed, covering a
wide range of reservoir completion conditions. Several authors document these techniques, such as Stanojcic
et al. (2009), East et al. (2010), Lindsay et al. (2012), Hartley and Holden (2013), McDaniel (2014), and
Pawar et al. (2015).
The HPAP-PPD technique was proven in Argentina to be flexible and adaptable to different types of
formations and reservoir conditions, providing economic benefits to these applications. Looking forward,
this completion methodology has been identified to be used in other conditions or scenarios to provide
similar benefits.
This technique can be used in the following areas:

• Geographic areas without workover units or with increased costs associated with this type of unit.

• Operators with experience, availability, and rigless completion models.

• Projects under development where it is necessary to optimize completion time and costs.

• Development of reservoirs (fields) that do not require evaluation testing by zone beforehand to
be stimulated.
• Well or reservoir revitalization (mature fields or Brownfield)—preconditioning old wells to be
applicable to this technology.
• Nontraditional applications—wells with no nominal internal diameters to create obstruction,
restriction, or deformation. Particular cases in Argentina have been evaluated and completion
proposals have been presented that apply HPAP-PPD in wells with similar problems to the Vaca
Muerta formation.
The following benefits can be obtained:

• It has been documented in several publications that HPAP-PPD is a completion alternative with
lower costs, less risk, and faster operating times.
16 SPE-185478-MS

• This technique can help prevent treatment overdisplacement of proppant, which could contribute
to achieving higher conductivity in the NWB region.
• CT hydrajetting could be a successful alternative for remedial applications when fracturing
treatments using plug-and-perf or sliding sleeves cannot be performed because of mechanical
issues. New style hydrajetting tools help enhance this benefit.
• Reservoirs that require effectively treating multiple closely spaced entry points but where limited-
entry techniques are not working efficiently.

During the last decade in Argentina, the implementation of a hydrajet perforating pinpoint stimulation
technique for well completion has allowed achieving considerable improvements in terms of reducing
operating times and associated costs. This technique has proved its versatility in different reservoir types
and formations. Several lesson learned and improvements have been observed to achieve this success:

• Adaptability: one of the main learnings was introducing changes to account for different types
of reservoirs. Modifications to the type of CT unit (60 to 95K), well geometry, type of rock to
stimulate, and fracture design were the main challenges resolved.
• Logistics and planning: continuous learning was maintained over the years with different
operators for proper coordination of water logistics, proppant, materials, resources, and equipment
to realize completion in the shortest time, preferring to not generate timing offsets that could
negatively impact the projects.
• Hydrajet tool: the initial tool used (old style hydrajet) in conventional oil, gas, and some groups of
tight wells exhibited some erosion (mainly in the last reservoir in harsh conditions). This situation
involved additional CT trips to change the BHA, increasing the total completion time. A new design
hydrajet tool with longer working life was implemented for applications in tight gas and shale oil,
which considerably improved completion time.
• Reduced completion time: completion time in conventional oil mature reservoirs has been
reduced up to 65% compared to standard completions (workover unit, tubing-packer-mechanical
plugs). For conventional gas completions, a 40 to 50% reduction was obtained compared to the
traditional plug-and-perf technique. Tight gas wells required only five hours to complete one stage
(from one hydrajet to the next hydrajet operation) and eight hours for the shale oil well.
• Production increase: several authors (Forni 2008; Folmer et al. 2008; Favoretti and Ferrer 2008)
have documented production increases and higher initial production rates compared to offsets
where other completion techniques were applied. The results obtained with this technique have
been attributed to a combination of effects and benefits, such as a) the elimination of the damaged
region (stress cage) in the perforation tunnel, b) creation of a high-conductivity cavity just at the
perforation tunnel, c) shorter residence time of the fluid in the formation, d) focalized stimulation,
e) high conductivity in the NWB area, and f) strong connectivity well-formation (no overflush).

The authors thank Pan American Energy, Pampa Energía, and Halliburton for permission to publish this
work. Additional thanks are extended to the staff of the Production Enhancement, Production Solutions PSL,
and Global Pinpoint Stimulation Group; Mariano Garcia, Leonardo Canini, Juan Martin Szklarz, and former
Halliburton employee Diego Duran (Pluspetrol) and German Rimondi (Calfrac); for their efforts throughout
the years to implement this technology. Finally, our gratitude to Buddy McDaniel for his guidance and the
very helpful comments that helped to improve the present and previous work along the last years.
SPE-185478-MS 17

CMHPG : carboxymethyl hydroxypropyl
ISP : intermediate-strength proppant
RCP : resin-coated proppant

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