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SPE 112794

Fracture Acidizing of a HTHP Exploratory Well in Deep Carbonate Reservoir:


A Case Study
F.S. Al-Omair, SPE, M.A. Siddiqui, SPE, J.R. Singh, SPE and A. Manimaran, SPE, Kuwait Oil Company, Hai Liu,
SPE and Maen Razouqi, SPE, Schlumberger

Copyright 2008, Society of Petroleum Engineers

This paper was prepared for presentation at the 2008 SPE Europec/EAGE Annual Conference and Exhibition held in Rome, Italy, 9–12 June 2008.

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 of the paper have not been
reviewed by the Society of Petroleum Engineers and are subject to correction by the author(s). The material does not necessarily reflect a ny 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 not be copied. The abstract must contain conspicuous acknowledgment of SPE copyright.

Abstract
The Jurassic carbonate reservoirs in Kuwait are deep, characterized with extremely low porosity and permeability. The
temperature of these reservoirs ranges between 250-300ºF. High production from these types of reservoirs will be possible if
the oil filled fractures can discharge into large connected fractures during drawdown. Hence, these reservoirs are well suited
for fracture stimulation to be exploited properly.
Fracture acidization of a deep HTHP exploratory well producing from limestone reservoir was performed successfully
without any operational problem. The well was drilled to a depth of above 16,000 ft using high density oil-based mud (OBM).
The well was tested in three intervals out of which the middle section produced high API gravity oil with gas. Initially, the
well flowed at low rates but little increase in production was observed after matrix stimulation with emulsified acid. Lack of
flow channels in the matrix was indicated by the continuous increase in bottomhole pressure during long shut-in period with a
consistent drawdown pressure of 8,000 psi.
The low production of the well was investigated using borehole image logs, mud logs, daily drilling reports and core
examination study. The findings of the study combined with data of the offset wells prompted fracture acidizing treatment.
The well was fracture acidized using emulsified acid due to which the oil and gas production increased by several folds. Prior
to the main fracturing treatment a step rate test, using 2 wt% KCl brine with surfactant, was conducted to determine reservoir
parameters such as fracture extension pressure, fracture closure pressure and instantaneous shut-in pressure.
The paper highlights the usefulness of old data in deciding and designing the fracturing treatment to enhance reservoir
deliverability. Additionally, a procedural mechanism for the selection of stimulation techniques, acid or proppant, in deep
limestone reservoirs is discussed in this paper.

Introduction
Massive exploratory activities are in progress in Jurassic carbonate formations in north Kuwait at a depth of above 16,000 ft.
Drilling in deep reservoirs has always been a challenge with operational considerations. If the reservoir quality is low the
challenge will be compounded with the uncertainty of flow of reservoir fluids to surface.
Drilling in deep reservoirs necessitates the use of high density muds. Usually, when mud densities go high, the choices of
least damaging drill-in fluids will become narrow. Achieving high mud densities without increasing solid content will be
almost impossible unless high cost clear brines are used. The use of high cost formate or halide brines in fractured reservoirs
will be a concern due to the risk of potential losses of these brines into the formation. In such scenarios drilling fluids with
barite as a weighting material are typically used to maintain the required density to control downhole pressures. Some other
weighting materials, heavier than barite, such as manganese tetroxide and ilmenite are also reported to be used in high density
drilling fluids (Nicora et al. 2001).
Drilling fluids exert great influence on well productivity in terms of induced formation damage (Goode and Stacy 1984).
For drilling the pay/target zone, selection of appropriate drilling fluid is most important and this becomes highly significant in
HTHP drilling and completion (Svela and Wennberg 2006). Drilling in HTHP environment with increased depths at
temperatures above 250oF poses several challenges on the selection of mud type. Normal water-based muds (WBM) and OBM
or emulsion muds can not be simply used in these applications as the stability of fluid loss control polymers and other
ingredients will be at stake, wheras the increased quantity of barite potentially leads to sagging.
In high permeability and high porosity reservoirs, increased quantity of solids, such as barite, is considered as one of the
major sources of formation damage. However, in tight reservoirs similar problems are not essentially be severe. Deep, tight
2 SPE 112794

and hot reservoirs usually have very low permeability (<1 md) and can be regarded as naturally damaged reservoirs. By taking
the advantage of their diminished porosity and permeability the formation damage in these reservoirs during drilling can be
minimized by selecting optimized drilling fluids and adapting good maintenance practices. Nevertheless, lot of attention
throughout the life of the well is required for continuous exploitation of these reservoirs by maintaining sustainable
production, which frequently gets hampered due to various reasons (Nnanna and Ajienka 2005).
Deep carbonate reservoirs do not have enough permeability that can facilitate the flow of reservoir fluids to surface.
However, these reservoirs usually have natural fractures, which provide an alternate flow path for reservoir fluids (Nnanna and
Ajienka 2005; Abass et al. 2006; Jahediesfanjani and Civan 2006). If the fracture density in these reservoirs is low then the
flow of hydrocarbons from reservoir to wellbore will not be high. To overcome this problem and enhance productivity a
conductive flow path is created in the reservoir, which are induced fractures, by adopting suitable techniques ((Nnanna and
Ajienka 2005). The fractures are usually induced by injecting fracturing fluids such as acid or polymer gel in the reservoir at
high rates. It is commonly believed that fracturing is performed in tight reservoirs but the tendency of fracturing high
permeable reservoirs is increasing to bypass the deep wellbore damage especially when the matrix acidizing remains
ineffective (Abass et al. 2006).
Producing through low permeability carbonate reservoirs is not as difficult as producing through unconsolidated sand, due
to fewer problems in the production phase. However, in tight reservoirs if the flow of hydrocarbons takes place through
induced fractures, the production impairment may become a problem due to other reasons like minimum horizontal (fracture
closure) stress, which usually shorten the lives of such fractures (Abass et al. 2006). Hence, in this perspective, in such types
of reservoirs efforts of production enhancement has to be continued throughout the life of the well.
The well under study (SA-X4) was drilled to a depth of nearly 16,000 ft to establish the Jurassic prospective in the
downthrown block of east Sabriyah structure. The drilling fluid used in this well was an OBM containing diesel and barite.
The optimum properties of the mud used in drilling the pay zone are given in Table 1. The pay zone of this well is middle
Marrat, while other formations encountered in drilling the Jurassic section are: Gotnia anhydrite, Najmah, Sargelu, and
Dharuma shale. The Marrat formation lies below Dharuma formation and is divided into three sections; upper, middle and
lower. The subject well has two offset wells, SA-X3 and SA-X8, which are located in upthrown block of Sabriyah field.
Contrary to the upthrown block, the downthrown block of this field is deprived of faults and fractures (Figure 1). Due to this
natural deprivation, wells drilled in the down-thrown block do not show high production unless exhaustive stimulation
treatments are performed. Conversely, the upthrown block of Sabriyah is characterized with two reverse faults due to which
this zone has become highly prolific and the wells drilled in this block, SA-X3 and SA-X8, have shown high production form
all sections: Najmah, Sargelu and Marrat. The well SA-X3 has shown good production from Najmah-Sargelu and middle
Marrat without requiring any fracture acidizing treatment, while the well SA-X8 also showed good production from middle
Marrat but the production increased to almost four times after a mini acid fracturing treatment. The drawdown pressure of the
well SA-X8 before fracture acidizing treatment was reported to be 7,100 psi, which is an indicative of some kind of
obstruction (skin) in the flow path or the absence of proper flow channels. Usually high drawdown pressures are abated by
fracturing treatment in vertical wells (Hashemi and Gringarten 2005). After fracture acidizing treatment the production of the
well SA-X8 increased and the PI of oil and gas recorded were 9.9 bopd/psi and 29.3 MMscf/d/psi, respectively, against 0.21
bopd/psi and 0.80 mmscf/d/psi before fracturing.

Pre-fracturing Production Results of well SA-X4


The subject well was perforated for production testing in three intervals as shown in Table 2 and Figure 2. Lower Marrat
and Najmah-Sargelu sections did not show oil or gas on perforating and subsequent matrix acidization.
Following the test in the Najmah/Sargelu interval, the well was perforated in a third interval in middle Marrat section. A
total of 135 ft were perforated at overbalance condition using OBM of 16.0 ppg density with a perforation density of 6 SPF.
The well produced oil and gas at very low pressure, which proves the existence of hydrocarbons in this section. After matrix
acidizing the well showed increased flow rate (625 bfpd) at a flowing wellhead pressure of 860 psi indicating the reservoir to
be potential. Production details of the middle Marrat zone after matrix acidizing are given in Table 3.

Objectives of the Study


The objectives of this study are to:
1. Investigate the feasibility of enhancing well production by overlapping a long flow channel in the reservoir by
applying acid,
2. Understand the merits and limitations of fracture acidizing in deep HTHP tight limestone reservoirs, which are
quite often discussed by laboratory studies but field applications are very few, and
3. Come up with recommendations for future treatment processes that will be helpful in reservoir development.

Reservoir Lithology
The Jurassic carbonate platform is mainly composed of tightly cemented limestone and porous dolomite (Goff 2005). The
analysis of formation rock type in this well given by the openhole logs indicates that the Marrat section is mainly composed of
limestone, while anhydrite streaks are infrequently intruded at the base. The grain density log of the core of the subject well
(SA-X4) has indicated a clean limestone lithology throughout the Marrat section except at the depth of xx,700-xx,711, which
SPE 112794 3

was identified as dolomite. However, the exact nature of the formation can only be verified through mineralogical analysis;
hence, several core samples from the perforated interval (xx,690-xx,825 ft) of this well were analyzed by X-ray diffraction
technique and the data is presented in Table 4. The data reveals that the major component, nearly 95 wt%, of the rock is
calcite, while dolomite is in negligible quantity. Presence of any silicate mineral (clay) was not indicated by the analysis. The
piece of the core collected from the depth of xx,706 ft showed 77 wt% calcite and 22 wt% dolomite, confirming the readings
of grain density log.

Reservoir Properties
The petrophysical data of the Marrat section of this well shows low permeability and porosity throughout the section. The
porosity was found to be about 4.5%, while the average permeability of this whole section was reported as 1.5 md. Fractures of
all scale were noted in offset wells, while the well under discussion was found to be deprived of good quality fractures. The
dynamic log values of Poisson’s ratio and Young’s modulus were found to be 0.30 and 9.65×106 psi, respectively. The
calculated in-situ stress was reported as 12,822 psi and the initial reservoir pressure was accounted to be 10,607 psi.
Typically, the hydraulic fracturing is created perpendicular to the minimum horizontal stress. The fracture orientation was
found to be in the NE-SW direction (Figure 3). In a vertical well, borehole breakout will form parallel to the minimum
horizontal stress (s Hmin), whereas the drilling induced fractures will have a strike parallel to the maximum horizontal stress
(s Hmax). Borehole breakout in the interpreted interval of this well showed a consistent NW-SE orientation indicating s Hmax is
oriented in NE-SW direction. This was confirmed by the orientation of drilling induced fractures.

Reservoir Description and Analysis


It was shown in the previous sections that in deep carbonate reservoirs the production usually obtained through fractures. The
well SA-X4 is located in the Jurassic structure of the downthrown block of Sabriyah. The target zone of the subject well, SA-
X4, was Najma/Sargelu and Marrat sections. The onset of oil and gas was observed only from middle Marrat (xx,690-xx,825
ft), which can be attributed to the presence of microfractures. These microfractures were found to be located in the vicinity of
the wellbore as indicated by borehole image logs, which are the primary source of information on fractures in the subsurface
(Ozkaya 2005). These logs have identified a total of 42 fractures in this well. Out of the 42 identified fractures 38 fractures
were recognized as possible fractures, while four were identified as open microfractures. Apart from the microfractures the
presence of two micro faults in this section was also reported by borehole image logs. The details of the fractures in the Marrat
section of this well identified by borehole image logs are shown in Table 5. Four microfractures and two micro faults were
observed at a depth of xx,676.5 and xx,848.75 ft. These faults are located at or in the vicinity of the perforated (and
completed) interval in middle Marrat section.
The presence of fractures in the middle Marrat section of this well was also reported by core observation study. The
fracture density was found to be 0.465/ft, while the fracture spacing was reported as 2.15 ft for a single fracture set. The
fracture porosity was found to be 0.07%. The core observation study confirms the presence of 33 fractures; out of which 25 are
classified as joint type fractures, while 8 fractures are identified as shear fractures. The number of fractures (33) reported by
the core observation study is close to the number of fractures (42) identified by borehole image log. The fracture density and
fracture height obtained by core observation study is shown in Figure 4.
The interpreted seismic data has revealed that the reservoir quality of downthrown block of Sabriyah is very poor and the
lack of connective fractures in the formation is the main reason for the poor flow of reservoir fluids from matrix to wellbore.
The poor reservoir connectivity and obstruction (skin) in the flow path is clearly indicated by high drawdown pressure, nearly
8,000 psi. If a good connective fracture had existed in the reservoir the fluid flow would have been better and such high
drawdown pressure would not have existed. The presence of fractures in reservoirs provides a flow conduit to reservoir fluids
(Nnanna and Ajienka 2005; Abass et al. 2006; Jahediesfanjani and Civan 2006).
It is usually observed that the mud losses occur during drilling to the fault and fractured zones, to natural or induced
fractures, irrespective of the rock type (Shuttleworth et al. 2006). Specific fracture signatures can be identified from a
combination of borehole image logs, open hole logs and mud losses (Ozkaya 2005). The wells in this field having good
fracture density exhibited a good trend of mud losses during drilling. For example, one of the offset wells, SA-X3, has
experienced partial losses during coring in Najmah/Sargelu section in the interval of xx,653-xx,693 ft. However, complete
losses were observed at xx,570 ft in middle Marrat section. This tendency of mud losses indicates the presence of good quality
fractures in these sections.
The well SA-X3 has shown good production (4,500 bopd) from middle Marrat section without fracture acidizing. As
mentioned earlier this well is located in the upthrown block of Sabriyah field (Figure 1). A total of 77 conductive fractures in
an interval of 1,300 ft were reported by ultrasonic borehole image log in the Marrat section of this well. The presence of high
number of good quality fractures explains the good production from this well. Another offset well, SA-X8, is also in the
upthrown block located close to SA-X3 (Figure 1). Good production was obtained from this well from middle Marrat section.
The initial production was 1,568 bopd with wellhead pressure of 1,775 psi. The production increased to 5,752 bopd with
wellhead pressure of 5,556 psi after fracture acidizing treatment. The production log (PLT) of SA-X8 before fracture acidizing
indicated the flow of hydrocarbons to be mainly from upper portion of the perforated zone. The fracture density in this well,
SA-X8, was reported as 0.571/ft with 1.752 ft fracture spacing for a single set of fracture. The average porosity and
permeability of Marrat section of this well was found to be 3.7% and 6 md. In addition, good fracture connectivity was
4 SPE 112794

observed in this well in the vicinity of perforation interval. The visual inspection of the core of the well SA-X8 has revealed a
good fracture in the upper zone from where the hydrocarbons were produced. The comparative study of wells SA-X4 and SA-
X8 in terms fracture parameters, fracture connectivity and well location, clearly explains the difference in production behavior
of these two wells: high production in SA-X8 and low production in SA-X4. The production of wells located in the upthrown
block is to be bounded with faults and fractures. In general, the flow of hydrocarbons in Jurassic and Triassic reservoirs has
been observed to be facilitated by fractures associated with faults (Al-Saeedi et al. 2006).
The well under study (SA-X4) has experienced no losses during drilling of the reservoir zone: Najmah, Sargelu and
Marrat. Good fractures could not be seen in this well by visual examination of the core from reservoir interval. The borehole
image log of this well has also confirmed the absence of natural fractures in the reservoir. Daily drilling reports, conventional
core analysis, seismic data and production data of this well (SA-X4) supports the findings of borehole image logs and core
examination study that this well, SA-X4, has no good fractures in the production zone. The fracture density and fracture
spacing were also found to be low in this well compared to other offset wells.
The cores of the subject well, SA-X4, were studied in the interval of the target zone. A total of eight cores were examined,
from Najmah to lower Marrat. Fractures were found in the upper portion (xx,690-xx,700) of the perforated section (xx,690-
xx,825) (Figure 5). The lower portion of this zone beyond xx,700 showed no similar fractures (Figure 6). On the basis of the
information gathered from all the sources, namely, borehole image logs, conventional core analysis, fracture report, mud logs,
daily drilling reports as well as the visual observation of the core, it can be confirmed that the reservoir does not have good
fractures and the little production obtained initially from the middle Marrat section was mainly due to the presence of few (4)
microfractures. The internal connectivity of the fractures could not be established with the available information. The
production trend after matrix stimulation indicates the absence of good charged fractures in the vicinity of the wellbore as the
effective matrix stimulation will increase the well production by connecting the charged fractures to the wellbore (Sarma et al.
2007).
The literature survey has also revealed that the deep reservoirs with less number of fractures, minimum permeability and
low effective porosity do not deliver hydrocarbons at high rates (Nnanna and Ajienka 2005; Abass et al. 2006; Jahediesfanjani
and Civan 2006; Hashemi and Gringarten 2005). High porosity matrix store a large quantity of hydrocarbons and high
permeability fractures allow these fluids to flow (Jahediesfanjani 2006). The well SA-X4 has low porosity and permeability,
hence in these types of reservoirs creation of conductive channels will facilitate the reservoir fluid to flow to surface (Nnanna
2005; Goff 2005; Bale et al. 2001; Olsen et al. 2003; Poitrenaud et al. 2006). Reduction in the drawdown pressure and increase
in the well deliverability of the vertical well is possible by inducing fracture in the reservoirs (Hashemi 2005).
Acid stimulation in carbonate reservoirs using raw, gelled, or emulsified acids is a commonly applied technique to improve
the well deliverability by removing skin formed around the wellbore. However, in some cases the matrix stimulation does not
fulfill its objective, particularly in tight carbonate reservoirs (Muecke 1982). If the low production of the well is due to
formation damage in the near wellbore region then the matrix acidization helps to a greater extent to improve the well
productivity. On the other hand, if the well productivity is low due to poor reservoir permeability and lack of flow channels,
then fracturing of the carbonate reservoir, either by acid or gel with proppant, will address the problem of low production
(Abass et al. 2006; Jahediesfanjani 2006; Muecke 1982).
Matrix acidization of the subject well was not helpful in enhancing production hence a fracturing treatment became
necessary. As such there are no quantitative methods available to give a precise answer for choosing the fracturing technique:
acid or proppant (Abass et al. 2006; Kalfayan 2007), hence it is always preferred to follow a procedural mechanism in
stimulating the carbonate reservoirs particularly in HTHP environment: matrix acidization and then fracture acidizing. After
fracture acidizing the production trend of the well has to be monitored for a period of time as the fracture created by the acid
may collapse due to high fracture closure stresses in deep reservoirs (Abass et al. 2006). The collapse of the fracture will be
due to a single or a combination of reasons. An ideal fracturing treatment will leave the fracture faces unevenly etched that
make the created fracture conductive as explained in Figure 7. Otherwise the absence of unevenness (asperities) on the
fracture face will lead to minimized fracture conductivity, eventually collapse of the created fracture (Ben-Naceure and
Economides 1988). These phenomena are usually observed in soft or homogeneous reservoirs, due to which in such reservoirs
proppant fracturing is preferred over acid fracturing. However, a laboratory study including acid solubility and rock
mechanical properties needs to be conducted to understand the behavior of rock towards acid and high stresses, before
selecting the fracturing technique.

Fracture Acidizing Treatment Considerations


The calcite rocks dissolve in acid faster compared to clean dolomite or dolomite dominated rocks. The fracture created by acid
should be able to receive reservoir fluids from surroundings, store them and convey them to wellbore. Hence, the acid
fracturing in calcite dominated formations especially in HTHP reservoirs must be carefully designed with the consideration of
acid concentration, volumes, reaction rate, and soaking time. Due to the inherent high acid spending rates on pure limestone
formations, particularly at high temperatures, deep acid penetration will be limited, which results into shorter fractures. In
addition, for a fracture to be conductive the acid spending should be nonuniform throughout the fracture length that results into
the creation of lithological projections, called asperities, on the walls of the fracture. This is possible only by the differential
etching and viscous fingering on the face of the fracture by acid and other fluids. The differential etching is a function of
lithological makeup and heterogeneity of the formation. Hence the selection of appropriate diverting agent, its concentration,
SPE 112794 5

volume and the concentration of other ingredients of diverting fluid such as acid and corrosion inhibitor are most essential.
The addition of unoptimized quantities of the ingredients will not help in achieving the desired viscosity that is important in
maintaing effective acid diversion.
The asperities developed in clean limestone or limestone dominated lithology will be softer compared to dolomite mixed
lithology. Hence, these soft asperities will not be capable to bear the high fracture closure stresses. In this scenario, in HTHP
wells with limestone dominated lithology, consideration of factors such as the acid type, acid concentration, soaking time, and
especially the horizontal stresses will take prime importance.
The acid fracturing has several advantages over proppant supported fracturing such as the acid created fracture can have
high conductivity (infinite) with no risk of tip screen out, minimum flow turbulence, no conductivity loss due to; residual gel,
proppant flowback and proppant embedment. All these advantages are linked with the goodwill and one simple concept: the
effective differential etching by acid. If this does not happen the acid fracturing will not lead to desired results.

Fracture Acidizing Treatment Design


After considering several factors it was decided to perform fracture acidizing on this well as a first step to enhance production,
using emulsified acids. The technique used for fracturing the well was basically aimed to draw two benefits: firstly to initiate
and extend a fracture in the reservoir and secondly to easily recover the injected fluids from the fracture after its closure. To
avail these two benefits at larger capacity the fracturing fluid was designed without any solids and polymer gel, which
typically leaves gel residue in the created fractures and subsequently causes reduction in the fracture conductivity. A fluid
composed of non reactive, KCl brine based viscoelastic surfactant (VES) (6 vol%) was used to initiate fracture and was called
as VES pad fluid. Besides fracture initiation and extension the pad fluid is an excellent mean to condition the reservoir for
appropriate acid penetration, controlling leakoff to microfractures, matrix and vugs. The rheological profile of this fluid at
reservoir temperature was in the acceptable range. The other major component of the fracturing design was hydrochloric acid,
which was used in the form of an emulsion with diesel and regarded as main acid. This acid helps in penetrating deep into the
fracture with simultaneous etching and wormholing at the surface. The (main) acid was composed of 28 wt% HCl with other
components such as corrosion inhibitors and iron control agents. The acid and diesel, respectively, are mixed in 70:30 volume
percent ratio with the help of an emulsifier. In the resulting mixture the diesel becomes an external phase and the acid becomes
an internal phase. The emulsification impedes the high activity of acid since the diesel in the emulsified acid acts as a diffusion
barrier between acid and the rock (Peters and Saxon 1989). The stability and rheology of the pad fluid and emulsified acid are
more important in fracturing applications. The advantages and limitations of emulsified acid in stimulation treatments are
extensively discussed in the literature (Bujse 1997; Al-Anazi et al. 1998; Navarette et al. 1998; Lynn and Nasr-El-Din 2001;
Zillur et al. 2002).
The diesel is a hydrocarbon of very low dielectric constant, 4 at 70oF, thereby works as an insulator, while the hydrochloric
acid is an ionic compound. Since the droplets of acid get wrapped by the film of the diesel during emulsification, hence as a
principle this solution should not have ability to conduct electricity. In fact a properly mixed emulsified acid always shows
zero reading on a conductivity meter. This is a good measure to check the proper mixing of acid and diesel. Any short cut in
mixing procedure or the use of any bad quality or chemical contaminated diesel, will lead to a conductive emulsion, which is
highly undesirable.
Apart from the pad fluid and main acid the fracturing fluid design included several other fluids such as spacer acid,
diverting acid, over flush and post flush. The diverting fluid was composed of HCl based VES system, which has unique
properties (Lungwitz et al. 2004). The diverting agent spikes the previously etched fracture surface to prevent it from the
attack of the incoming fresh batch of acid and simultaneously preventing the acid and other fluids from leaking into the matrix
by blocking or filling the created wormholes, pores and vugs. The viscosity development of the VES system depends on the
products of the reaction between acid and the carbonate rock, wheras the breakdown of the VES system occurs when it comes
into contact with hydrocarbons including diesel and mutual solvents. Hence over or post flushes are designed with these types
of materials with an intention to break this system at the end of the treatment to ease its flow to surface. The water used in
preparing all the fluids of acid fracturing treatment was reported to have a TDS of 2,600 mg/L with low sulfate and low iron
content.

Step Rate Test


As a practice, prior to the execution of fracturing treatment, a step rate test was conducted to estimate reservoir parameters
such as fracture extension pressure, closure pressure (Pc) and instantaneous shut-in pressure (ISIP). In low permeability
reservoirs the test generally is performed with treated water or brines, whereas in high permeability reservoirs viscous polymer
fluids are used to avoid any leakoff. Due to the low permeability of the subject reservoir, 2 wt.% KCl brine treated with
multifunctional nonionic surfactant was used for step rate test. The volume of the brine used was nearly 190 bbls.
During the test, an increasing fluid injection was performed with rate ranging from 2.0 to 23.9 bpm and the test was then
shut in for pressure decline. The recorded ISIP was 11,985 psi. The treatment plot drawn by plotting calculated bottomhole
pressure against time is shown in Figure 8. The analysis of the step rate test with all data points showed the upper bound
fracture (extension) pressure to be 12,970 psi that shows a fracture gradient of 0.879 psi/ft (Figure 9). The closure pressure
was estimated from the pressure decline diagnostic plots and was found to be 11,504 psi at a G function time of 0.18.
6 SPE 112794

Treatment Execution
The fracture in the reservoir was initiated by injecting the pad fluid into it. The fracture extended into the reservoir with the
continuous injection of the pad fluid. Once the injection of the assigned volume of the pad fluid was finished, the main acid
was pumped into the reservoir with a spacer acid preceding it. The main acid was followed by the diverting acid preceded by
spacer. The spacer acid is a low surface tension fluid composed of surfactant, 15 wt.% HCl and other additives. It is used
between each stage of fluid injection to maintain the integrity of VES base fluids as the latter loses its integrity once comes
into contact with hydrocarbons including diesl of the main acid. Each fluid was pumped into the reservoir in a specified
volume in sequence: pad fluid, spacer acid, main acid, spacer acid, and diverting acid. All these steps were repeated in a
planned schedule in three stages. At the end of the treatment, 2 wt% KCl with mutual solvent was used for overflush. The
treatment sequence with volumes of each stage is presented in Table 6.
The fluid injection rate and treatment pressures are given in Figure 10. The figure shows that during the treatment the
fluid injection rate fluctuated between 20 to nearly 33 bpm and the average injection rate was found to be around 16.5 bpm.
The plot shows few sharp crashes in the treatment pressure, which may be related to small leakoff. However, the subsequent
immediate recovery in the pressure indicates that the leakoff was controlled by fracturing fluid itself as no extra fluid loss
control additive, sand or pill, was used during the treatment. The fracture propagation was smooth as the pump rate of all the
fluids of all stages remained almost constant. The maximum treating pressure at surface was found to be 13,919 psi and
bottomhole ISIP was 12,496 psi. These high pressures must be a consequence of increased fracture length and width and also
indicate the high net fracture pressure. The high treating pressures and high fracture gradients also reflect high closure stresses.
The ISIP recorded in the fracturing treatment of the offset well SA-X8 was 9,760 psi, which is much lower than the present
one.
The fracturing treatment was executed successfully without any major operational problem and the acid was allowed to soak
for two hours. The well was then flowed back for cleanup for nearly 24 hours and it is anticipated that all the acid must have
flowed to the surface during this period. The treatment was found to be very successful as the well productivity increased by
several folds. The well was flowed for production testing for 25 hours, and the oil and gas production rates were recorded at a
regular interval of 15 minutes. The well started with high flow rates of oil and gas, nearly 3,770 bopd and 8 MMscf/d,
respectively. The well showed a declining trend in the production and did not stabilize during flowback period. The oil
production trend is shown in Figure 11by converting the real production values to 100. At the end of the well flow, after 25
hours, the production of the well was much higher than the prefracturing production rate; four and two folds for oil and gas,
respectively (Table 7). The calculated decline rate attained near stabilized condition at the end of the flow period (Figure 12).
The predicted PI was found to be five folds of the PI recorded prior to acid fracturing. The pressure history matching to
estimate fracture geometry after fracture acidizing treatment is a complex task as the production results were acquired only for
a short period. A long term production evaluation is required to understand the fracturing treatment performance. However,
using the data obtained during fracturing treatment coupled with parameters determined by the prefracturing pressure buildup
analysis, the matched results showed an etched fracture half length of 1,390 ft and average etched fracture conductivity as 980
md-ft. These parameters of the fracture indicate propagation of fracture with minimum leakoff during fracturing treatment.
The detailed discussion on the production behavior of this well will be presented in forthcoming publications along with the
acid fracturing case histories of other HTHP wells.

Conclusions
1. The middle Marrat section indicated the presence of hydrocarbons, while the production marginally increased after
matrix stimulation.
2. The drawdown pressure consistently increased during long shut-in period indicating obstruction (skin) in the flow
path.
3. The reservoir quality with respect to petrophysical data was found to be poor.
4. The borehole image logs and other pertinent data exhibited poor fracture network in the reservoir.
5. The high drawdown pressure combined with petrophysical parameters of the reservoir suggested fracture acidizing
treatment.
6. The mineralogical analysis showed calcite dominated lithological makeup of the reservoir.
7. The fracturing treatment was performed using VES pad fluid, 28 wt% emulsified acids and VES diverting acids.
8. The fracture acidizing resulted in increase of oil production by four folds, and gas production by almost 3 folds.
9. Stabilization in the production trend in 25 hours could not be achieved yet the production rates were much higher.
10. The decline in production of HTHP wells will be possible if the failure of asperities occurs.
11. A procedural mechanism is required to be followed in stimulating HTHP oil wells in deep carbonate reservoirs:
matrix stimulation, fracture acidization then proppant fracturing.

Recommendations
On the basis of this case study following recommendations are made for fracturing the deep HTHP carbonate wells:
1. Study the reservoir lithology, rock mechanical parameters, petrophysical data (porosity, permeability, wettability),
and fracturing pattern of the reservoir.
SPE 112794 7

2. Conduct creep test on reservoir rocks prior to executing fracture acidizing treatment. This will help in predicting the
production after fracturing and understanding the reservoir behavior towards high stresses prevailing at the reservoir
due to increased depths.
3. Analysis of the flowback samples is necessary to further evaluate the acid fracturing treatment.
4. The stimulation of deep HTHP oil, condensate or gas wells must follow a procedural mechanism, which includes the
sequence - matrix stimulation and fracture acidizing. Proppant fracturing may be considered after monitoring the
production trends for a sufficient period after fracture acidizing.

Acknowledgements
The authors would like to thank Ministry of Oil - the State of Kuwait and Management of KOC for permitting to publish this
paper. Thanks go to all individuals involved in the fracturing job. The Inspection & Corrosion Team and Well Surveilance
Team are acknowledged for their cooperation.

Nomenclature
/ft = per foot
bbls = Barrels
bfpd = Barrel fluid per day
bopd = Barrel oil per day
bpd = Barrel per day
BS&W = basic sediment and water
ft = feet
FWHP = Flow well head pressure
GOR = gas oil ratio
HTHP = High temperature high pressure
ISIP = instantaneous shut-in pressure
mD = millidarcy
Pc = closure pressure
ppg = pound per gallon
pphsf = pound/1002 ft
psi = pound per square inch
ROP = rate of penetration
spf = shot per foot
VES = visco-elastic surfactant

References
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Antonio, Texas, 24-27 September.
2. Al-Anazi, H.A., Nasr-El-Din, H.A., and Mohamed, S.K. 1998. Stimulation of Tight Carbonate Reservoirs Using Acid-in-Diesel
Emulsions: Field Application. Paper SPE 39418 presented at the SPE International Symposium on Formation Damage Control,
Lafayette, Louisiana, 18-19 February.
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18536 presented at the SPE Eastern regional Meeting, Charleston, West Virginia, 1-4 November.
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38166 presented at the SPE European Formation Damage Conference, Hague, Netherlands, 2-3 June.
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8 SPE 112794

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Lafayette, Louisianna, U.S.A., 18-20 February.
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International Symposium on Oilfield Chemistry, Houston, Texas, 13-16 February.
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SI Metric Conversion Factors


cP x 1.0 E-03 = Pa.s
ft x 3.048* E-01 = m
in. x 2.54* E+00 = cm
lb/bbl x 2.853 0101 E+00 = g/m3
lb/gal x 1.198 264 E+02 = g/m3
lbm x 4.535924 E+02 = g
md x 9.869 233 E-04 = µm2
mL x 1.0* E+00 = cm3
o
( F-32) / 1.8 E+00 = oC
psi x 6.894 757 E+00 = kPa

*Conversión factor is exact


Table 1. Optimum properties of the reservoir drilling fluid for well SA-X4
Mud properties Optimum value Units
Mud weight 14.4-15.6 ppg
Plastic viscosity 18-34 cp
Yield point 4-6 pphsf
Pom 2.5-3.0 mL
HTHP fluid loss 2-3 mL
Solids for 15.6 ppg 26-34 %
Water 1-2 %
SPE 112794 9

Table 2. Perforation intervals of well SA-X4


Interval depth, ft Total interval, ft Formation
xx,948 – xx,028 80 Najmah/sargelu
xx,690 – xx,825 135 middle Marrat
xx,880 – xx,954 74 lower Marrat
xx,758 – xx,840 82 lower Marrat

Table 3. Production results of Well SA-X4 before fracture acidizing


Parameter Value
Choke setting 32/64”
FWHP, psi 860
Total liquid, bpd 625
Gas, MMscf/d 2.85
GOR 4,770
BSW% 4
pH 4

Table 4. Mineral composition (wt%) of core samples from well SA-X4


Sample depth, ft Calcite Dolomite Quartz
xx,693.1 98.8 0.97 0.23
xx,706.3 77.19 22.27 0.38
xx,726.0 99.0 0.87 0.12
xx 744.8 95.53 4.44 0.03
xx,770.0 95.78 3.98 0.16
xx,797.8 96.36 3.51 0.17
xx,816.0 6.81 93.06 0.13
xx,820.2 2.06 97.71 0.15

Table 5. Number and type of fractures in the Marrat section of well SA-X4
Formation Fractures count Type of fractures
middle Marrat 25 Possible fractures
lower Marrat 13 Possible fractures
middle Marrat 3 Microfractures
lower Marrat 1 Microfractures

Table 6. Stages and volumes of fracturing fluids used in well SA-X4


Stage Fluid Fluid volume, Pump time, Caculated Pump
bbl min rate, bpm
VES pad fluid 190 6.3 30
Spacer acid 95 6.3 15
1 Main acid 190 12.7 15
Spacer acid 95 6.3 15
VES Diverter 190 6.3 30
VES pad 165 5.5 30
Spacer acid 95 6.3 15
2 Main acid 190 12.7 15
Spacer acid 95 6.3 15
VES Diverter 190 6.3 30
VES pad 140 4.7 30
Spacer acid 95 6.3 15
3 Main acid 190 12.7 15
Spacer acid 95 6.3 15
VES Diverter 190 6.3 30
Spacer acid 120 8.0 15
Post flush 50 3.3 15
Displacement 124 8.3 15
10 SPE 112794

Table 7. Production results of well SA-X4 at the end of well flow after fracture acidizing
Parameter Post fracturing values
Choke setting 32/64”
WH tubing pressure, psi 3,312
oil rate, % 2,580
gas rate, % 5.877
GOR 2,576
BSW% 4
pH 7

SA-X3

SA-X8
SA-X4

Figure 1. Location and fracture play of the subject and offset wells
SPE 112794 11

Figure 2. Schematic of the target zone with perforations

Figure 3. Strike histogram of borehole breakout in well SA-X4


12 SPE 112794

48 1
Height
40

Fracture denisty, per foot


Density 0.8

Fracture height, inches


32
0.6
24
0.4
16
0.2
8

0 0
14600 14650 14700 14750 14800 14850 14900 14950
Depth, feet

Figure 4. Fracture density (triangle) and height (square) against depth for well SA-X4.

Figure 5. Core photos from upper portion of the perforated interval (xx,690-xx,700 ft)
SPE 112794 13

Figure 6. Core photos from lower portion of the perforated interval (xx,700-xx,825 ft)

Figure 7. A schematic of the fracture indicating asperities originated due to differential etching by acid
14 SPE 112794

180 40

150

Pressure, psi x 100

Barrels per minute


30
120

90 20

60
BHP_Cal 10
30 Treating pressure
Flow rate
0 0
95 100 105 110 115
Time, min

Figure 8. Pressure response during step rate test of well SA-X4

Figure 9. Pressure versus injection rate graph showing fracture extension pressure

15000 80

70
12000
Treating Pressure, psi

60
Barrels/minute

9000 50

40
6000 30

20
3000
10

0 0
0 20 40 60 80 100
Time, min

Figure 10. Treatment pressure (upper curve) and slurry rate (lower curve) during fracture acidization of
well SA-X4
SPE 112794 15

Figure 11. Production rate of well SA-X4 at 32/64” choke after acid fracturing

Figure 12. Calculated oil rate decline for well SA-X4 after acid fracturing