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Halliburton Energy Services

Foam Applications
Manual

Notices
All information contained in this publication is confidential and
proprietary property of Halliburton Energy Services, a division of Halli-
burton Company. Any reproduction or use of these instructions, draw-
ings, or photographs without the express written permission of an officer
of Halliburton Energy Services is forbidden.
Copyright 1992, Halliburton Company
All Rights Reserved.
Printed in the United States of America.
Printing History:
First Release 1992
Second Release
Reprinted
Table of Contents TOC-1
TOC
Foam Applications Manual
Table of Contents
Section 1: Introduction
Foamed Acid ...........................................................................................1-3
Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation.............................................................1-3
Foam Cement ......................................................................................... 1-3
Other Applications .................................................................................. 1-3
Section 2: Nitrogen Properties
Introduction .............................................................................................2-3
Physical Properties .................................................................................2-4
Nitrogen Expansion ................................................................................2-4
Nitrogen in Foam ....................................................................................2-4
Section 3: Nitrogen Safety
Physical Properties .................................................................................3-3
Nitrogen in the Air ...................................................................................3-3
Cryogenic Thermometer .........................................................................3-3
Safety Precautions for Handling Liquid Nitrogen.................................... 3-4
First Aid Procedures for Cold Liquid Frostbite (Freeze Burns)...............3-4
Liquid Air Hazard ....................................................................................3-5
Oxygen Deficiency Hazard ..................................................................... 3-5
Liquid Nitrogen Equipment Safety ..........................................................3-5
Section 4: Foam Applications in Acidizing
Acidizing with Foam................................................................................4-3
Advantages of Foamed Acid ...................................................................4-3
Foamed Acid Penetration .......................................................................4-4
Foam Stability ......................................................................................... 4-6
TOC-2 Table of Contents
Foam Diversion.......................................................................................4-6
Fracture Acidizing ................................................................................. 4-10
References ........................................................................................... 4-15
Other References ................................................................................. 4-15
Section 5: Foam Applications in Hydraulic Fracturing
Introduction ............................................................................................. 5-3
Types of Foams Used in Hydraulic Fracturing ....................................... 5-4
Foam Rheology.......................................................................................5-4
Crosslinked Foams .................................................................................5-5
Foam Fluid Loss .....................................................................................5-7
Fracture Conductivity............................................................................ 5-12
Treating Pressure Response ................................................................ 5-14
Fluid Recovery...................................................................................... 5-22
Treatment Designs for Hydraulic Fracturing ......................................... 5-22
Minifractures ......................................................................................... 5-31
Conclusions .......................................................................................... 5-34
References ........................................................................................... 5-34
Additional References .......................................................................... 5-35
Section 6: Foam Cementing
Introduction ............................................................................................. 6-3
Foam Generation ....................................................................................6-4
Downhole Behavior .................................................................................6-6
Cement and Additives .............................................................................6-9
Job Considerations ............................................................................... 6-10
Design Considerations ......................................................................... 6-11
Evaluating Foam Cementing Results.................................................... 6-13
Section 7: Other Nitrogen Applications
Sand Washing ........................................................................................7-3
Unloading Wells .....................................................................................7-7
Gas Displacement ................................................................................ 7-10
Pressurizing Medium ............................................................................ 7-11
Commingled Gas .................................................................................. 7-12
Sand Consolidation............................................................................... 7-13
Leak Detection Service ......................................................................... 7-17
References ........................................................................................... 7-19
Introduction 1-1
Section 1
Introduction
Contents
Foamed Acid ......................................................................................... 1-3
Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation.......................................................... 1-3
Foam Cement ....................................................................................... 1-3
Other Applications ................................................................................ 1-3
1-2 Introduction
Introduction 1-3
Nitrogen has been used in the well
service industry for more than 30 years.
Nitrogen is an inert gas that allows pres-
sure to be applied downhole without
causing damage to sensitive formation
surfaces. Nitrogen can be used in well
testing and wellbore cleanout or in creating
foam fluids to stimulate oil and gas pro-
duction. This manual discusses the physi-
cal properties of liquid and gaseous nitro-
gen, important safety considerations for
personnel and equipment, and some of the
more popular applications for nitrogen
foaming.
Foamed Acid
Foamed acid is a finely dispersed
mixture of nitrogen gas bubbles within
hydrochloric acid liquid. Foaming the acid
increases the volume of the active acid and
improves penetration. Foam also helps
divert fluid from high permeability zones
into lower permeability zones. Expansion
of the gas after treating helps remove
created fines and lessens damage to the
conductive fracture.
Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation
Nitrogen is widely used in hydraulic
fracturing stimulation. High quality foams
produce high viscosity for proppant trans-
port. The foam also has a low liquid con-
tent to protect formations that are sensitive
to fluids. In addition, Foam helps to control
fluid loss, maximize fracture conductivity,
and provide gas expansion to assist
flowback. Foam fracturing fluids are espe-
cially beneficial for under-pressured or
depleted reservoirs, but have been used in
high-pressure and high-temperature reser-
voirs as well. Foam can also be used in
minifrac analysis, aiding in fracture design.
Foam Cement
Nitrogen in foam cement provides a
means of producing very lightweight
cement. Foamed cementing slurries in the
range of 4 to 15 lb/gal can develop rela-
tively high compressive strength in a
minimum period of time. Due to the inert
character of nitrogen, Halliburton's conven-
tional additives can be used in foam ce-
ment.
Other Applications
Nitrogen is frequently used in other
applications such as sand washing, well
unloading, drillstem testing (as a pressuriz-
ing medium), sand consolidation, and leak
detection. Halliburton has a variety of
fluids, additives, and engineering com-
puter programs to properly design nitro-
gen-assisted service for your well.
Introduction
1-4 Introduction
Nitrogen Properties 2-1
Section 2
Nitrogen Properties
Contents
Introduction .............................................................................................2-3
Physical Properties .................................................................................2-4
Nitrogen Expansion ................................................................................2-4
Nitrogen in Foam ....................................................................................2-4
2-2 Nitrogen Properties
Nitrogen Properties 2-3
Nitrogen Properties
Introduction
Nitrogen (N
2
) was first introduced to well
servicing in 1956 when it was used as a gas
cushion to control well flowing pressure
during drillstem tests. Although quantities
and pressures were limited, this service did
allow operators to control well liquids and
pressures by using an inert gas.
In 1959, cryogenic transports and pumps
were introduced for use with liquid N
2
. This
allowed great volumes of liquid N
2
to be
converted to gas and placed in the well
system under any combination of pressure
and rate that the job might require.
Liquid N
2
is readily available at several
industrial complexes. As a manufactured
byproduct of industrial gases, it is usually
created during the air separation process
used to obtain liquid oxygen.
Because N
2
is an inert gas, it cannot react
with hydrocarbons to form a combustible
mixture. In addition, N
2
is only slightly
soluble in water and other aqueous liquids,
which allows it to remain in bubble form
when commingled with these fluids.
Nitrogen is a nontoxic, colorless, and
odorless gas naturally found in the atmo-
sphere (78% of air is N
2
). Nitrogen is brought
to the work site in liquid form in cryogenic
bottles at temperatures below -320F (Fig. 2-
1). The nitrogen is then pumped through a
triple-stage cryogenic pump at a desired rate
and forced into an expansion chamber. The
expansion chamber allows the N
2
to absorb
sufficient heat from the environment to
vaporize into dry gas. The N
2
gas is then
212F
70F
32F
-297.3F Liquid oxygen
-109.3F CO2 sublimes (dry ice)
-320.4F Liquid nitrogen
100C
20C
0C
-78.4C
-183.0C
-195.8C
-273.16C -459.7F Absolute zero
Cryogenic range
Fig. 2-1: Cryogenic thermometer showing relative coldness of liquid nitrogen.
2-4 Nitrogen Properties
Fig. 2-2: Liquid N
2
expands to 696 times its liquid
volume when heated to 70F.
Liquid Nitrogen Gaseous Nitrogen
Heat
displaced by positive displacement pumps
out of the expansion chamber and down the
service piping to perform the prescribed job.
Physical Properties
Table 2-1 lists some of the physical prop-
erties of N
2
at atmospheric pressure (14.7 lb/
in.
2
).
Nitrogen Expansion
Nitrogen expands greatly as it absorbs
heat from the environment. Nitrogen
expands 696 times its volume in going from a
liquid at -320F to a gas at 70F, as shown in
Fig. 2-2.
Nitrogen in Foam
Nitrogen is most often used as the gas
phase of foams. Because foam has low fluid
loss, low density, low liquid content, and
high viscosity, it can be used when stimulat-
ing, drilling, and cleaning low-pressure and
water-sensitive formations effectively.
Foam quality is the ratio of gas volume to
foam volume at a given pressure and tem-
perature. Usually, the pressure and tempera-
ture are the same as bottomhole treating or
circulating conditions. To determine foam
quality (Q
f
), use the equation below:
Q
N volume
liquid volume N volume
f
=
+
2
2
, ... (2-1)
In the 0 to 52-quality range, gas bubbles
in the foam are spherical and do not contact
each other. Foam in this quality range has
rheology similar to the liquid phase.
In the 52 to 96-quality range, gas bubbles
in the foam interfere with one another and
deform during flow. This causes foam viscos-
ity and yield point to increase as quality
increases. In this particular range, foam
behaves like a Bingham plastic fluid, where
yield stress must be overcome to initiate fluid
movement.
Above 96 quality, foams may degenerate
into a mist. The thin liquid layer cannot
contain the larger volume of gas, causing the
foam bubbles to rupture.
The liquid phase of foam can be either
water-, methanol-, or hydrocarbon-based.
Usually less than 1% foaming agent by
volume is added to generate the foam.
Table 2-1: Physical Properties of Nitrogen
Boiling point -320.36F
Liquid weight density 6.745 lb/gal
Gas weight density 0.0724 lb/scf
Heat required to convert
liquid to 70F gas
184 btu/lb
Expansion ratio of liquid
to gas
1 to 696*
Solubility in water
2.35 parts nitrogen in 100
parts water at 32F
1.55 parts nitrogen in 100
parts water at 68F
* One gallon of liquid nitrogen at -320F expands to
93.11 scf gas at 70F
Nitrogen Safety 3-1
Section 3
Nitrogen Safety
Contents
Physical Properties .................................................................................3-3
Nitrogen in the Air ...................................................................................3-3
Cryogenic Thermometer .........................................................................3-3
Safety Precautions for Handling Liquid Nitrogen.................................... 3-4
Wear protective clothing .............................................................................. 3-4
Avoid skin contact ........................................................................................ 3-4
First Aid Procedures for Cold Liquid Frostbite (Freeze Burns)...............3-4
Symptoms .................................................................................................... 3-4
What to Do ................................................................................................... 3-4
What Not to Do ............................................................................................ 3-4
Liquid Air Hazard ....................................................................................3-5
Oxygen Deficiency Hazard ..................................................................... 3-5
Liquid Nitrogen Equipment Safety ..........................................................3-5
Cryogenic Materials and Components ........................................................ 3-5
Cryogenic Materials ............................................................................... 3-5
Cryogenic Components ......................................................................... 3-5
Noncryogenic Material and components ..................................................... 3-5
Noncryogenic Material ........................................................................... 3-6
Noncryogenic Components.................................................................... 3-6
Equipment Precautions................................................................................ 3-6
Pressure Buildup.......................................................................................... 3-6
3-2 Nitrogen Safety
Nitrogen Safety 3-3
Nitrogen Safety
Physical Properties
Below are some of the important proper-
ties of nitrogen (N
2
) at atmospheric pressure
(14.7 lb/in.). The importance of each prop-
erty is explained in the following sections.
Boiling point -320F
Liquid density 6.745 lb/gal
Heat required to
convert liquid to 70F gas 184 btu/lb
Expansion ratio of
liquid to gas 1 to 696*
*One gallon of liquid nitrogen at -320F
expands to 93.11 scf gas at 70F
Nitrogen in the Air
Air contains 78% nitrogen, confirming
that nitrogen gas is colorless and odorless
and is not toxic or irritating. Nitrogen gas
neither burns nor supports combustion, does
not support life functions, and is a poor
conductor of heat, preventing cold liquid N
2
from instantly collapsing hot pressure
building gas. Oxygen is the component of air
that supports combustion and life functions.
Cryogenic Thermometer
The cryogenic thermometer below shows
the extraordinarily cold nature of liquid
nitrogen.
Note: Water boils at 212F, and liquid
nitrogen boils at -320F.
Fig. 3-2: Cryogenic thermometer showing relative
coldness of liquid oxygen and liquid nitrogen.
212F
70F
32F
-297.3F Liquid oxygen
-109.3F CO2 sublimes (dry ice)
-320.4F Liquid nitrogen
100C
20C
0C
-78.4C
-183.0C
-195.8C
-273.16C -459.7F Absolute zero
Cryogenic range
Fig. 3-1: Chart showing the amount of nitrogen in the
air.
Components of Air
Nitrogen- 78%
Oxygen- 21%
Other- 1%
3-4 Nitrogen Safety
Safety Precautions for Handling
Liquid Nitrogen
Wear protective clothing
Safety goggles or face shield
Insulated gloves
Long-sleeved shirts
Cuffless trousers
Avoid skin contact
Liquid leaking from equipment
Cold equipment surfaces
Liquid nitrogen is hazardous! Contact of
human tissue with severe cold will destroy
tissue in a manner similar to high-tempera-
ture burns. Freeze burns will result from
contact with the actual liquid or contact with
the cold surfaces of piping and equipment
containing the liquid. An increased dimen-
sion of hazard is added when the liquid N
2
is
under pressure. These facts emphasize the
need for protective clothing and safety atti-
tudes by the nitrogen equipment operator.
Safety goggles or a face shield should be
worn if liquid ejection or splashing may occur
or cold gas may issue forcefully from equip-
ment. Clean, insulated gloves that can be
easily removed and long sleeves are recom-
mended for hand and arm protection.
Cuffless trousers should be worn outside
boots or overshoes to shed spilled liquid.
Liquid N
2
causes immediate eye damage
that is usually beyond repair! The severe
nature of eye injuries emphasizes the extreme
importance of wearing eye protection. One
drop of liquid N
2
to the eyeball could damage
the eyeball instantaneously. For one second
of unsafe practices, someone could be blind
for life.
First Aid Procedures for Cold
Liquid Frostbite (Freeze Burns)
Symptoms
Skin pink just before frostbite devel-
ops
Skin changes to white or greyish-
yellow as frostbite develops
Initial pain that quickly subsides
Victim feels cold and numb; he or she
is often not aware of frostbite
What to Do
Cover the frostbitten part with a
warm hand or woolen material. If
fingers or hand is frostbitten, have
victim hold hand in his or her armpit,
next to body.
Bring victim inside as soon as pos-
sible.
Place frostbitten part in lukewarm
water or warm by air at room tem-
perature.
Gently wrap the part in blankets if
lukewarm water is not available or is
impractical to use.
Let circulation reestablish itself natu-
rally.
When the part is warmed, encourage
the victim to exercise fingers and toes.
Give victim a warm, nonalcoholic
drink.
What Not to Do
Do not rub with snow or ice. Rubbing
frostbitten tissue increases the risk of
gangrene.
Do not use hot water, hot water
bottles, or heat lamps over the frost-
bitten area.
Nitrogen Safety 3-5
Liquid Air Hazard
Because oxygen condenses and liquifies
at a higher temperature than nitrogen, air
that has supercooled, from condensing on
cold liquid nitrogen equipment surfaces, will
rapidly become oxygen-enriched. This con-
densed air can contain up to 52% oxygen,
causing normally noncombustible material to
become flammable and normally flammable
material to burn at an increased rate.
Oxygen Deficiency Hazard
Cold N
2
gas will displace warmer air
containing vital oxygen for breathing. As
seen below, oxygen is necessary for people to
function correctly. A slight oxygen deficiency
results in deeper respiration, faster pulse, and
poor coordination. As the oxygen deficiency
increases, ones judgment becomes so poor,
he or she may not know to move to a well
ventilated area. One full breath of pure
nitrogen will strip blood of necessary oxygen,
resulting in a loss of consciousness. Maintain
proper ventilation to prevent asphyxiation.
Liquid Nitrogen Equipment Safety
Cryogenic Materials and Components
Most construction materials are adversely
affected by extreme low temperatures. It is
imperative that the components engineered
for use in cryogenic service be chosen from
suitable approved materials.
Cryogenic Materials
Copper and brass
Stainless steels300 series
Aluminum (open-ended only and low
psi)
Cryogenic Components
Inner tank of nitrogen tank
Nitrogen low-pressure piping
Nitrogen fluid ends
Nitrogen high-pressure piping
Noncryogenic Material and
components
Most of the components of nitrogen
pumping units are constructed of materials
that cannot withstand cryogenic tempera-
tures. Do not expose these components to
extreme cold.
Table 3-1: Symptoms of Oxygen Deficiency
Amount of Oxygen
in the Air
Symptoms
21% Normal
14%
Deeper breathing
Faster pulse
Poor coordination
12%
Giddiness
Poor judgment
Blue lips
10%
Nausea
Vomiting
Ashen complexion
Approaching loss of
consciousness
8%
Death within 8 minutes
At 6 minutes, 50% will die
At 4 minutes, all will recover
with treatment
4%
Coma in 40 seconds
Convulsions
Death
3-6 Nitrogen Safety
Noncryogenic Material
Carbon steels
Low-alloy steels
Most rubbers
Most plastics
Noncryogenic Components
Treating iron
Cryogenic tank casing
Trailer frame
Power train
Structural components
Hydraulic lines
Tires
Equipment Precautions
Treating iron will not withstand cryo-
genic temperatures! Allowing liquid N
2
in
the carbon steel treating iron is one of the
most dangerous mistakes an operator can
make.
Carbon steel becomes brittle at approxi-
mately -40F. When this occurs, any shock
could cause treating iron to break like glass.
Carbon steel cannot withstand rapid
contraction. Nitrogen can shrink the inside of
treating iron so fast that it separates from the
outside, causing severe breaks.
Pressure Buildup
Nitrogen to be used as a gas is often
stored and transported as a liquid for
economy and convenience. It is easier to
pump as a liquid than as a gas. However,
there is a continuous, unavoidable, and
inexhaustible heat leak into liquid N
2
. This
heat increases the temperature of the liquid
or boils the liquid at a constant temperature.
Nitrogen expands 696 times its volume in
going from a liquid at -320F to a gas at 70F,
as shown in Fig. 3-3. One cubic foot of liquid
nitrogen (50.46 lb) at -320F exerts 0 psi.
When this same volume warms to 70F, it
will exert 42,500 psi while in the same space.
As an example of the extremely high pres-
sure, 12 ft of 3-in. treating iron full of N
2
at
10,000 psi has the same energy as 90 lb of
nitroglycerin!
This possible high pressure is why
Halliburton pumping systems are designed
using a primary safety relief valve and a
secondary bursting disk
assembly at any place
N
2
could be trapped.
Liquid Nitrogen Gaseous Nitrogen
Heat
Fig. 3-3: Liquid N
2
expands to 696 times its liquid volume when heated to 70F.
Foam Applications in Acidizing Stimulation 4-1
Section 4
Foam Applications in Acidizing
Stimulation
Contents
Acidizing with Foam.............................................................................. 4-3
Advantages of Foamed Acid ................................................................ 4-3
Foamed Acid Penetration ..................................................................... 4-4
Foam Quality ...............................................................................................4-4
Fracture Temperatures ............................................................................... 4-5
Fracture Width............................................................................................. 4-5
Pump Rate................................................................................................... 4-6
Foam Stability ....................................................................................... 4-6
Foam Diversion..................................................................................... 4-6
Diverting Agents .......................................................................................... 4-7
Types of Diversion Systems ....................................................................... 4-8
Mechanical Systems ............................................................................. 4-8
Chemical Systems ................................................................................ 4-8
Foamed Systems .................................................................................. 4-8
Using Foam DivertersPointers and Recommendations ........................ 4-9
Commingled Nitrogen and Acid .................................................................4-9
Fracture Acidizing ............................................................................... 4-10
Results of Fluid-Loss Tests ..................................................................... 4-10
Results of Fracture Flow Capacity Tests................................................ 4-13
References .......................................................................................... 4-15
Other References ............................................................................... 4-15
4-2 Foam Applications in Acidizing Stimulation
Foam Applications in Acidizing Stimulation 4-3
Foam Applications in Acidizing
Stimulation
Acidizing with Foam
As oil and gas wells age, many of them
show similar characteristics. One of the
most obvious is, of course, reduced
bottomhole pressure that can contribute to
the formation of paraffins, asphaltenes, and
scales. Many old wells have had repeated
acid treatments. Following conventional
acid treatments, large amounts of insoluble
fines such as quartz, gypsum, and feldspars
may reduce fracture conductivity. All of
these factors related to old wells can be
controlled through foamed acid stimula-
tion.
Treating wells with characteristics as
outlined above with a conventional
nonfoamed acid treatment will probably be
beneficial. However, the high liquid con-
tent of conventional fluids may increase
clay problems. Also, low viscosity of the
spent acid may leave a large amount of
insoluble fines in the well. In addition, low
bottomhole pressure may require swabbing
to clean up the well.
Nitrogen (N
2
) is the most widely used
material in foam treatments. Volumetric
gas content (foam quality) is generally
between 65 and 85% (comprising 65 to 85%
gas and only 15 to 35% liquid), although
qualities as high as 95% have been used.
The liquid phase of the foam may contain
0.5 to 1.0% surfactant and 0.4 to 1.0% in-
hibitor.
Advantages of Foamed Acid
Foamed acid has widespread applica-
tions in both oil and gas wells and offers
the following characteristics to virtually
eliminate the problems mentioned in the
previous section:
Low liquid content- Foamed acids used
in fracture acidizing generally range from
60 to 80 quality. The low liquid content is
extremely important when treating a liq-
uid-sensitive formation where large
amounts of liquid may cause swelling in
the formation and reduce the permeability
of the formation to the produced fluids.
Reduced fluid loss- The high apparent
viscosity of the foamed acid results in
reduced fluid loss, allowing deeper acid
penetration than a comparable nonfoamed
or conventional acid system. In low perme-
ability reservoirs, the bubbles of the foam
may be sufficient to prevent leak-off to the
matrix. This can reduce the affect of
wormholing (channeling). Also, since no
fluid loss additive is necessary in low
permeability reservoirs, there is a reduced
chance of impairment of formation conduc-
tivity due to the solids in some additives.
High apparent viscosity- Viscosity is
difficult to obtain in a nonfoamed acid
system since the acid used frequently is not
compatible with the gelling agent. A vis-
cous acid provides the advantage of better
pumpability, wider fracture, and improved
fluid loss when used in fracture acidizing.
Increasing the viscosity of the acid before it
is foamed will give these benefits plus help
to increase foam stability.
Better cleanup- The built-in gas assist
derived from using a foamed acid treat-
ment now makes recovery of treating fluids
from low-pressure reservoirs more effective
than nonfoamed treatments. The built-in
gas assist plus the high apparent viscosity
of the foamed acid enable the acid in-
soluble formation fines to be returned to
the surface on flow back rather than stay in
4-4 Foam Applications in Acidizing Stimulation
the formation where they could hamper
production. This means a faster cleanup
that reduces liquid damage to water-sensi-
tive formations. Also, it may eliminate the
need to swab the well after the treatment.
Improved solids transport- Another
advantage of foamed acid is its capability
to suspend fines. Often in conventional
acid treatments, large amounts of insoluble
fines such as quartz, gypsum, and feldspars
will be left behind because of the low
viscosity of the spent acid. This may reduce
fracture conductivity, but with the addi-
tional viscosity provided by foaming, more
of these fines are suspended and removed
from the well during cleanup.
Less formation damage- Foamed acid
has a low liquid content. Normally, foamed
acid is 60 to 80 quality. Less liquid contacts
the formation, thus reducing the opportu-
nity for damage to occur.
Minimum well shut-in time- Foamed
acid treatments should have minimum well
shut-in time after pumping. The foamed
acid should be flowed back as soon as
possible following the treatment to reduce
the chance of liquid and nitrogen separa-
tion. The longer the foamed acid is allowed
to remain in a static, nonflowing condition,
the easier it is for liquid to drain from the
foam bubbles and for suspended fines to
settle out of the foamed acid.
Better control- Foamed acid also pro-
vides better control. Flow can be better
controlled by adjusting the amount of
nitrogen, thereby changing the acids
density. Because acid is normally heavier
than the formation water, acid treatments
tend to sink. Foamed acid can be made to
stay higher in the fracture by being less
dense than the formation water. Foaming
the acid also helps control the reaction rate
by reducing its diffusion. Foam increases
the viscosity of an acid system, so the acid
can be prevented from entering more
permeable or low-pressure zones. This
allows for more uniform coverage without
the use of other diverters. Foamed acid can
also carry any of the conventional diverting
systems such as Perf Pac ball sealers or
granular diverter.
Foamed acid offers other advantages. It
has less thermal demand, causing less
thermal contraction in the tubing. In cold
treatment conditions, this can save having
to reset the tubing due to tubing shrinkage.
Nitrogen-foamed acid systems reduce
asphaltene sludge by diluting the concen-
tration of carbon dioxide (CO
2
) formed
from acid reactions. In addition, foamed
acid treatments can be displaced with
straight nitrogen, leaving the hole with no
hydraulic column to impede load recovery.
Foamed Acid Penetration
Tests have been conducted to calculate
the effect of various parameters on acid
penetration distance.
1
Foamed acid reaction
rate tests were performed on a laboratory-
prepared fracture. These tests show that the
spending of HCl in a fracture is governed
primarily by the mass transfer of the acid to
the fracture wall. This is referred to as a
"mass transfer or diffusion" controlled
spending. These tests also show that in a
dolomite formation at low temperaures,
the foamed acid spending is primarily
controlled by the surface reaction kinetics.
The effects of various factors on the spend-
ing of foamed acid are discussed in the
following sections.
Foam Quality
The calculated effect of foam quality on
acid penetration distance (defined as the
distance the live acid would travel before
its concentration is spent to 0.1%) at vari-
ous temperatures is shown in Figs. 4-1 and
Foam Applications in Acidizing Stimulation 4-5
4-2 for limestone and dolomite, respectively.
Four curves are shown representing 60-, 70-,
80-, and 90-quality foamed 28% HCl in each
figure. An increase in foam quality results
in a decrease in acid penetration distance.
The higher the quality of the foam the lower
the acid content of the foam. The less acid
present in the foam the lower the foam's
rock dissolving power. This is true for both
the limestone and dolomite cases.
Fracture Temperatures
The effect of temperature on acid pen-
etration distance in limestone is negligible
in the test calculations. The experimental
mass transfer coefficients were measured at
70F [21.1C] and assumed to be indepen-
dent of temperature. This may be approxi-
mately correct as long as the foam texture
does not change substantially with tempera-
Fig. 4-1: Penetration distance vs. fracture
temperature for limestone.
ture. However, the surface reaction rate
does change with temperature, but this
reaction already is fast compared to the
mass transfer to the fracture face in the
HCL-limestone reaction.
The dolomite acid penetration distance
does decrease with an increase in
temperture. This is because the surface
reaction rate is the controlling factor. The
surface reaction rate changes as the tem-
perature changes. This effect of surface
reaction rate can be determined experimen-
tally by rotating disc tests at various tem-
peratures.
Fracture Width
The wider the fracture, the longer it will
take for hydrogen ions to reach the carbon
ate rock surface. Thus, the acid will travel
farther down the fracture before spending.
Fig. 4-2: Penetration distance vs. fracture temperature
for dolomite.
4-6 Foam Applications in Acidizing Stimulation
This is true for foamed acids as well as for
nonfoamed acids. Fig. 4-3 shows this width
effect.
Pump Rate
If the pump rate is increased and the
fracture height remains constant, the dis-
tance that the foamed acid will travel down
a fracture before spending will increase.
This is true in foamed acidizing of both
limestone and dolomite formations. The
effect of pump rate is shown in Fig. 4-4.
Foam Stability
Stability of the foam is an important
consideration. If a foam is stable in spent
acid, foam can be returned to the surface
when the well is opened, bringing the fines
with it. This also helps improve formation
conductivity.
Fig. 4-3: Penetration distance vs. fracture width.
Halliburton's Pen-5, HC-2, and SPERSE-
ALL surfactants have been found to be
effective foaming agents providing stable
foams in both active and spent acid systems
(see Table 4-1).
Foam Diversion
In most cases, formations will be com-
prised of zones possessing different
permeabilities or zones that may have
sustained differing degrees of damage
during drilling, completion, or workover
operations. When acidizing treatments are
performed on such formations, the treating
fluids naturally enter the zones that present
the least resistance to flow. This can result
in placing the acid in zones that require the
least stimulation.
Diversion can be used to alter the fluid
injection profile of a treatment. Because
Fig. 4-4: Penetration distance vs. pump rate.
Foam Applications in Acidizing Stimulation 4-7
fluids across the entire perforated
interval, diverting agents such as
insoluble sand, benzoic acid flakes,
solid organic acids, deformable
solids, mixtures of waxes and oil-
soluble polymers, acid-swellable
polymers, and mixtures of inert
solids (silica flour, calcium carbon-
ate, rock salt, oil-soluble resins, etc.)
are frequently used to form tempo-
rary filter cakes on the higher permeability
or least damaged zones. This then forces
the treatment into the rest of the interval.
One concern when using such materials is
that the filter cakes are sometimes slow to
dissolve in the produced fluids, thus re-
quiring remedial treatments for diverting
agent removal.
In the mid 1980's, foam was introduced
as a diverting agent in place of particulate-
type diverting agents for acidizing through
gravel packs. Such foams achieve diversion
due to their high apparent viscosity and the
plugging effect of the gas bubbles in the
foam as they enter the pore network of the
formation. Diversions have been accom-
plished with 60 to 80 quality foam. The
better the quality of the foam, the better its
diverting ability.
Foams possess several distinct advan-
tages over particulate diverting agents. One
main advantage is that since no solid
particles are used, and because foams
degrade fairly rapidly, the concern about
diverting agent cleanup is eliminated. A
second advantage becomes evident when
acid treatments are performed on gravel-
packed wells. If particulate-type diverters
are used on such wells, the particles have
to be sized such that they will be able to
pass through the gravel-pack sand and still
be able to form a filter cake on the forma-
tion. This dramatically limits the types of
material that can be used. Foam, however,
easily passes through the gravel-pack sand
while still providing effective diversion on
Table 4-1: Halliburton Acid Foaming Agents
Agent Charge
Temperature
Limit
Concentration
Pen-5 Nonionic 250F 0.5 to 1%
HC-2 Amphoteric 275F 0.5 to 1%
SPERSE-ALL Nonionic
275F 0.5 to 1%
275 to 300F 2%
fluids will choose the path of least resis-
tance, diversion is primarily a resistance
problem; the goal is to alter injection rate
per unit of area so that all zones accept the
proper proportion of the treatment. Reser-
voir properties that can vary the injection
rate per unit of area are permeability,
differential pressure, and length; if these
properties are not in the correct proportion,
diversion should be considered. This
disproportion can result from the follow-
ing:
zones having differing
permeabilities
zones having differing formation
pressures
zones containing fluids with differ-
ent compressibility
zones containing fluids with differ-
ent viscosity
zones having natural fractures
A goal of acid treatment is to cause
zones of similar permeability to produce at
higher rates by increasing the permeability
in the critical near-wellbore area. Diver-
sion helps reach this goal by forcing acid
into damaged areas to allow the entire zone
(assuming near equal permeability distri-
bution) to be productive.
Diverting Agents
Diverting agents have been used in
stimulation treatments for years to help
ensure treatment distribution over the
entire perforated interval. In order to
provide uniform placement of the reacting
4-8 Foam Applications in Acidizing Stimulation
the formation without concern about sizing
or cleanup considerations.
Types of Diversion Systems
Three types of diversion systems are
presented herein: mechanical, chemical,
and foam. For the purposes of this discus-
sion, foams are treated separately from
other chemical systems because they pos-
sess several different characteristics.
Mechanical Systems
Mechanical systems may be used to
create diversion. Examples of such systems
are (1) straddle packers, (2) bridge plugs
and packers, and (3) perforation ball seal-
ers. More information on mechanical sys-
tems may be obtained from the SPE mono-
graph, Hydraulic Fracturing (Sections 7.5
and 8.8).
Chemical Systems
Some commonly used diverting tech-
niques involve chemical systems; however,
these are also more difficult systems to use
properly. Chemical diverters can be used
on perforations, in the perforation tunnel,
in fractures, and on the formation face.
The choice of chemical diverter to use
for a particular application is determined
by type of production, bottomhole static
temperature (BHST), placement fluids, type
of well completion, and type of treatment.
In addition, the chemical diverter chosen
usually has these characteristics:
soluble in production fluids
insoluble or marginally soluble in
placement fluids
relatively inert to other additives
used in the treatment
a melting point above the BHST
The carrier fluid for a chemical diverter
can be either a brine, an acid, a gel, a hy-
drocarbon, an emulsion, or a foam.
If the diverter is soluble in the carrier
fluid, it is important to saturate the carrier
fluid with the diverter. Enough excess of
diverting solid should be used to satisfy
carrier fluid solubility of the diverter at
bottomhole temperature conditions.
Advantages of chemical diverters
include low cost and a wide range of appli-
cation (perforated, openhole, gravel-
packed, and fractured formations). Disad-
vantages include uncertain diversion and
secondary formation damage potential.
These are examined in the following sec-
tions.
Chemical diverters can cause secondary
formation damage. This occurs when a
diverter has completely shut off part of a
zone, and removal of the diverter is depen-
dent on producing formation fluids. Disso-
lution of the diverter may not occur in a
reasonable length of time.
Uncertain diversion is one of the major
limitations of continuous chemical divert-
ing in chemical treatments. A diversion in
a fracturing treatment can be indicated by a
pressure surge at the surface. In matrix
treatments, however, solids introduced into
the formation can reduce permeability. A
high-permeability zone can act as a lost
circulation zone, diverting the fluid away
from the damaged or low-permeability
zones and into the higher permeability
zones. This is what diversion is designed
to prevent.
Another diversion technique involves
pumping an immiscible mixture of two
fluids (emulsions or foams). Nonfoamed
immiscible mixtures, emulsions, are difficult
to work with because their surface charac-
teristics can be dramatically altered by (1)
the shear encountered during injection
down the tubing string and by (2) forcing
the emulsion to flow through formation
capillaries. This is further complicated by
their high friction pressures in tubing.
Foam Applications in Acidizing Stimulation 4-9
Foamed Systems
Foam passes easily through a gravel
pack but has difficulty flowing into a
formation. Because of this, foam was
introduced as a diverting agent and has
been used successfully in sandstone
acidizing for almost any type of completion
or production. Foamed water-based fluid
diverters have been applied either continu-
ously or as staged slugs.
Foams have several characteristics that
make them effective diverting agents. The
physical nature of foams (bubbles consist-
ing of discrete cells) helps control leakoff
and limits the reaction rate at any given
site, thus allowing deeper penetration.
Foams can flow as liquids and remain
motionless like a solid. Major advantages
of using foam diverters include the follow-
ing:
suitability over a range of pressures,
temperatures, and permeabilities
enhanced treatment flowback
improved gravel transport into
perforations
transportation of released fines
Foam quality increases as it flows away
from a wellbore, which is advantageous
when treating a multizone interval with
varying pressures. In the lower pressure
zone, the foam will have higher quality and
potentially more diversion effect. The
relationship among pressure, quality, and
viscosity is such that as pressure is lost,
quality and viscosity increase (until 90
quality is reached).
Foams also exhibit different flow prop-
erties as a function of permeability. The
specific foam diversion technique used in a
treatment design depends on individual
well characteristics and the stimulation
objective; therefore, it should be expected
that foams may exhibit diverting properties
as a result of differences in permeability or
reservoir pressure.
A significant benefit of foamed
diverters is their capability to transport
released fines and insoluble particles out of
the near-wellbore area during flowback.
This property is especially important in
underpressured reservoirs.
Foam slugs (partially foamed treatments)
offer the same advantages as using foamed
fluids, but at considerably lower cost and
less risk of system upsets during treatment
flowback.
Using Foam DivertersPointers and
Recommendations
Foams having 60 quality and higher
provide a greater reduction in flow
than lower quality foams. More
importantly, the duration of the
diversion lasts much longer when
using foams with 60 to 90 quality.
In certain types of rock, brine foams
give more resistance and longer
diversion than acid foams. This is
most prevalent in either high poros-
ity and/or high permeability lime-
stones.
Alternating stages of foamed
diverter and either nonfoamed or
commingled acid are more effective
than a single stage of foam diverter.
Foam effectively diverts acid from a
nondamaged core to a damaged
core.
For successful diversion, the differ-
ences in zone permeabilities should
not be greater than a factor of 10.
Wormholes play an important role
in acidizing. When there is no fluid-
loss control, the distance that an
acid will penetrate is controlled by
the development of wormholes.
Foamed diverters discourage worm-
hole formation because the discrete
cells help control leakoff and limit
the reaction rate that can occur at
4-10 Foam Applications in Acidizing Stimulation
any given site. By not producing
wormholes, the acid stays active
longer in the fracture, develops a
deeper penetration, and produces
more flow capacity.
Commingled Nitrogen and Acid
When enough N
2
is introduced into an
acid to impart energy for load recovery and
hydrostatic column reduction, but the
amount of gas is not sufficient to cause
bubble bumping, it is not considered a
foam. This condition greatly decreases the
load recovery time by providing a gas
assist. This type of gas addition can also aid
in reducing the total weight of the treat-
ment column by helping place it effectively
in low bottomhole pressure wells.
Fracture Acidizing
Use of foam in fracturing treatments has
gained widespread
acceptance. Low liquid
content, good fluid-loss
control, and quick
cleanup are just a few
reasons why foams are
being used. Halliburton
has investigated the
effects of foam quality,
foam stability, and
chemical compatibility
on fluid loss and fracture
flow capacity.
2
The
results are summarized
in the following sections.
Results of Fluid-Loss
Tests
Table 4-2 shows the
effect of foam quality
and two different foam-
ing agents on fluid loss control. Conven-
tional 15% HCl channeled through a six-in.
core in less than 1 minute and exhibited
little or no fluid-loss control. Fig. 4-5
shows the face of this core and several
large wormholes indicating where acid
breakthrough occurred. Fig. 4-6 shows the
face of the core across which the 90-quality
foamed acid, 15% HCl plus 1% foamer, was
flowed for 36 minutes. No fluid loss for 36
minutes and the large number of small
holes on the face of the core indicates 90-
quality foamed acid gave good fluid-loss
control. These same results were noted for
80-quality foamed acid.
When the quality of this foamed acid
was lowered from 80 to 70, breakthrough
occurred after 18 minutes. At break-
through, foam, rather than separate gas and
liquid phases, came through the core.
Bubble size in this foam was much larger
than when the foam was initially gener-
ated.
A 60-quality foamed acid broke through
Table 4-2: Effect of Foam Quality and Foaming Agents upon Fluid
Loss of Foamed Acid (pressure diff.= 100 psi)
Test Solution
Foam
Quality
Rock Permeability
to N2 at 110F (md)
Breakthrough
Time (min)
36-min N2
Fluid Loss (L)
15% HCl 0 0.85 <1
15% HCl +
1% Foamer A
90 0.83 >36
80 0.72 >36
70 0.84 18
60 0.66 7
15% HCl +
1% Foamer B
90 1.21 0
90 0.26 0
80 0.63 0
80 0.61 0
70 0.88 0.07
70 1.14 0.69
60 0.69 0.22
60 1.83 0.46
Foam Applications in Acidizing Stimulation 4-11
the core in 7 minutes. Tests were repeated
substituting a different foamer, and results
indicated no acid or foam fluid
loss occurred for 36 minutes
when any of these four quality
foamed acids were tested.
However, nitrogen loss did
occur when the 70- and 60-
quality foamed acids were
tested.
Results show the effect of
chemical compatibility in a
foamed acid system. The first
foamer made a stable foamed
acid with 15% HCl, but when
this foamed acid came in con-
tact with a large amount of
spent acid, such as when a 60-
or 70-quality foamed acid was
run, the foam apparently col-
lapsed and subsequently broke
through the core. The second
foamer appeared to be more
compatible with spent acid than
the first, so no foam break-
through occurred. It is impor-
tant that all chemicals used in a
foamed acid system be checked
Fig. 4-5: Fluid-loss test core showing effect of
conventional 15% HCl. Note the "wormhole."
Fig. 4-6: Fluid-loss test core showing effect of 90-
quality foamed 15% HCl.
Table 4-3: Effect of Foam Quality and Acid Concentration
upon Fluid Loss of Foamed Acid (pressure diff.= 100 psi)
Test Solution
Foam
Quality
Rock Permeability
to N2 at 110F (md)
36 min N2 Fluid
Loss (l)
15% HCl + 1%
Foamer
90 1.21 0
90 0.26 0
80 0.63 0
80 0.61 0
70 0.88 0.07
70 1.14 0.69
60 0.69 0.22
60 1.83 0.46
28% HCl + 1%
Foamer
90 0.48 0
90 0.41 0
80 0.55 0
80 0.69 0
70 0.47 0.06
70 0.70 0.25
60 0.71 0.20
60 0.78 0.97
4-12 Foam Applications in Acidizing Stimulation
Table 4-4: Effect of Acid Type upon Fluid Loss of Foamed
Acid (pressure diff.= 500 psi)
Test Solution
Foam
Quality
Rock Permeability
to N2 at 110F (md)
Breakthrough
Time (min)
28% HCl + 1%
Foamer
90 0.43 3
90 0.39 3
80 0.53 2
80 0.15 25
80 0.41 2
28% HCl +
HAC + 1%
Foamer
90 0.41 4
90 0.37 4
80 0.32 3
80 0.31 2
Table 4-5: Acid-Etched Fracture Flow Capacity with
Conventional and Foamed 28% HCl
Temperature- 110F, Pressure- 1,500 psi, Closure Pressure- 1,000
psi
Test
Etching
Time (min)
Fracture Flow
Capacity
(md-ft)
Core Removed
(in.)
No. 1- 200 ml/min
28% HCl
9 9,691 0.044
18 12,960 0.056
27 26,691 0.068
36 40,255 0.088
No. 2- 20 ml/min
28% HCl
9 4,833 0.058
18 6,990 0.074
27 7,535 0.091
36 28,409 0.109
No. 3- 180 ml/min
N2 + 20 ml/min
28% HCl + 1%
Foamer
90-Quality Foam
9 17,533 0.066
18 12,329 0.084
27 70,000+ 0.130
36 70,000+ 0.153
tained fluid-loss control for 25
minutes before foamed acid
breakthrough. The more
permeable 0.41 and 0.53 md
cores experienced foamed acid
breakthrough in 2 minutes.
Increase in differential pres-
sure from 100 psi to 500 psi
changed the fluid-loss control
of the foamed acid consider-
ably. Comparison of the
foamed 28% HCl results from
Table 4-3 with the results
given in Table 4-4 clearly
illustrates the difference.
A similar trend was noted
for conventional acids contain-
ing solid fluid-loss material. With increas-
ing pressure differential, it is more difficult
to maintain fluid-loss control. One way to
help minimize the effects of the increased
pressure differential is to stabilize the
foamed acid. This can be accomplished by
for compatibility in spent acid as well as in
the live acid.
Effects of foam quality and acid concen-
tration on foamed acid fluid loss are shown
in Table 4-3. No acid fluid loss occurred for
any of the four qualities of foamed 15%
HCl. Nitrogen loss did occur
with the 60- and 70-quality
foamed 15% HCl. This same
trend was shown when acid
concentrations were increased
from 15 to 28% HCl.
Effects of acid type, forma-
tion permeability, and pressure
differential are illustrated in
Table 4-4. The two types of acid
studied, 28% HCl and a mixture
of mineral and organic acid,
foamed equally well and gave
virtually the same fluid-loss
control. When foam break-
through occurred, bubble sizes
of the foams were about equal
to the bubble sizes just after
generation.
Upon examination of the 80-
quality foamed 28% HCl sys-
tem, it was noticed that the 0.15
md permeability core main-
Foam Applications in Acidizing Stimulation 4-13
Table 4-6: Effect of Foam Quality on Acid Etched Fracture
Flow Capacity
Temperature- 110F, Pressure- 1,500 psi, Closure Pressure- 1,000
psi
Test
Etching
Time (min)
Fracture Flow
Capacity (md-ft)
Core Removed
(in.)
No. 1- 180 ml/min
N2 + 20 ml/min
28% HCl + 1%
Foamer,
90-Quality Foam
9 17,533 0.066
18 12,392 0.084
27 70,000+ 0.130
36 70,000+ 0.153
No. 2- 80 ml/min
N2 + 20 ml/min
28% HCl + 1%
Foamer,
80-Quality Foam
9 8,613 0.037
18 21,537 0.070
27 70,000+ 0.139
36 70,000+ 0.175
No.3- 47 ml/min
N2 + 20 ml/min
28% HCl + 1%
Foamer,
70-Quality Foam
9 12,392 0.036
18 41,464 0.074
27 36,026 0.096
36 27,259 0.120
No. 4- 30 ml/min
N2 + 20 ml/min
28% HCl + 1%
Foamer,
60-Quality Foam
9 14,678 0.030
18 28,977 0.075
27 38,443 0.097
36 37,234 0.120
increasing the viscosity of the acid before it
is foamed.
Both 80- and 90-quality foamed acids
showed only N
2
fluid loss but no acid fluid
loss for 36 minutes where previously they
broke through the core in 2 to 3 minutes.
Both 60- and 70-quality foamed acids
maintained fluid-loss control for 10 to 11
minutes. Increasing the acid viscosity to
help stabilize a foamed acid and improve
fluid-loss control without the use of wall-
building additives is keeping with the idea
of a true foamed acid. Extremely large
pressure differentials and large formation
permeabilities may, however, require
adding conventional fluid-loss additives to
the foamed acid system. Fluid loss in high
permeability formations can be
reduced by using a pad fluid
ahead of the foamed acid.
Results of Fracture Flow
Capacity Tests
Tests have shown that
foamed acid can give good
fluid-loss control. However, a
successful fracture acidizing
treatment does not depend only
on good fluid-loss control.
Adequate fracture flow capac-
ity must be established by the
acid system used. Quantity of
rock removed and the pattern
in which it is removed from the
fracture faces are important.
Fracture flow capacity
depends on the nature of the
rock and the volume, type, and
concentration of acid used. In
order to eliminate some of the
variables, Bedford Indiana
limestone was selected as a
homogeneous rock and was
tested with one concentration
of acid (28% HCl).
Table 4-5 shows the results of equal
velocities of treating solution as well as
equal amounts of acid. Tests No. 1 and 3
were both conducted at a total flow rate of
200 ml/min. The foamed acid in Test No. 3
was only one-tenth the amount of 28% HCl
as compared to the conventional acid in
Test No. 1 and created more fracture flow
capacity. Comparison of Tests No. 2 and 3,
which used equal amounts of 28% HCl,
indicated that foamed acid created more
fracture flow capacity. Also, the foamed
acid system removed more core than either
of the two conventional acid systems
tested. It was noted in Test No. 3 that some
fracture flow capacity was lost between the
first and second time intervals. This effect,
4-14 Foam Applications in Acidizing Stimulation
called overetching, is quite common in
homogeneous cores where rock is often
removed evenly.
Effect of foamed acid quality on fracture
flow capacity is shown in Table 4-6. Excel-
lent fracture flow capacities were obtained
when any of the four qualities of foamed
acid were used. Large amounts of core
were also removed in each of the four
cases. Niether 60- nor 70-quality foamed
acids obtained the maximum fracture flow
capacity that the 80- and 90-quality foamed
acids obtained. Overetching effects were
also more pronounced in the 60- and 70-
quality foamed acids.
Foam stability affects acid-etched
fracture flow capacity the same as it affects
Table 4-6: Effect of Foam Quality and Foam Stability on
Acid Etched Fracture Flow Capacity
Temperature- 110F, Pressure- 1,500 psi, Closure Pressure- 1,000
psi
Test
Etching
Time (min)
Fracture Flow
Capacity (md-ft)
Core Removed
(in.)
No. 1- 47 ml/min
N2 + 20 ml/min
28% HCl + 1%
Foamer,
70-Quality Foam
9 12,392 0.036
18 41,464 0.074
27 36,026 0.096
36 27,259 0.120
No. 2- 47 ml/min
N2 + 20 ml/min
28% HCl + 1%
Foamer + 4%
Foam Stabilizer,
70-Quality Foam
9 11,314 0.048
18 30,126 0.067
27 70,000+ 0.076
36 70,000+ 0.087
No.3- 30 ml/min
N2 + 20 ml/min
28% HCl + 1%
Foamer,
60-Quality Foam
9 14,678 0.030
18 28,977 0.075
27 38,443 0.097
36 37,234 0.120
No. 4- 30 ml/min
N2 + 20 ml/min
28% HCl + 1%
Foamer + 4%
Foam Stabilizer,
60-Quality Foam
9 30,695 0.037
18 70,000+ 0.054
27 70,000+ 0.063
36 70,000+ 0.070
fluid-loss control. Acid viscos-
ity was increased, and 60- and
70-quality foamed acids gener-
ated. Table 4-7 compares these
results. Both 60- and 70-quality
foamed acids achieved maxi-
mum fracture flow capacity and
showed no signs of overetching.
Smaller amounts of rock were
removed from the core faces,
but pattern of removal was
more effective.
These tests show that
foamed acid achieves better
fracture flow capacity when
compared to conventional acid
at equal velocities of treating
solution as well as equal
amounts of acid.
Foam Applications in Acidizing Stimulation 4-15
References
1. Ford, W., and Roberts, L.: "The Effect of
Foam on Surface Kinetics in Fracture
Acidizing," paper SPE 11120 presented
at the 1982 Annual Fall Technical Con-
ference and Exhibition of the SPE, New
Orleans, LA (September 26-29).
2. Ford, W.: "The Use of Foamed Acid in
Fracture Acidizing," paper SPE 9652
presented at the 1981 SPE Middle East
Oil Technical Conference, Manama,
Bahrain, March 9-12.
Other References
Burman, J.W. and Hall, B.E.: Foam as a
Diverting Technique for Matrix Sand-
stone Stimulation, paper SPE 15575
presented at the 1986 SPE Annual
Technical Conference and Exhibition,
New Orleans, (October 5-8).
Ford, W., Burkleca, L., and Squire, K.:
"Foamed Acid Stimulation: Success in
the Illinois and Michigan Basins," paper
presented at the 1980 Annual Fall
Technical Conference and Exhibition of
the SPE, Dallas, Texas (September 21-
24).
Kennedy, D.K., Kitziger, F.W., and Hall,
B.E.: Case Study on the Effectiveness
of Nitrogen Foams and Water Zone
Diverting Agents in Multistage Matrix
Acid Treatments, paper SPE 20621
presented at the 1990 SPE Annual
Technical Conference and Exhibition,
New Orleans (September 23-26).
King, G.E.: "Foam and Nitrified Fluid
TreatmentsStimulation Techniques
and More," paper SPE 14477presented
as a Distinguished Lecture during the
1986-86 Distinguished Lecturer Pro-
gram.
Thompson, K. and Gdanski, R.D.: Labora-
tory Study Provides Guidelines for
Diverting Acid with Foam, paper SPE
23436 presented at the 1991 SPE Eastern
Regional Meeting, Lexington, Kentucky
(October 22-25).
Williams, B.B., Gidley, J.J., and Schechter,
R.S.: Acidizing Fundamentals, SPE/
AIME monograph, Vol. 6., Dallas, 1979.
4-16 Foam Applications in Acidizing Stimulation
Foam Applications in Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation 5-1
Section 5
Foam Applications in Hydraulic
Fracturing Stimulation
Contents
Introduction .............................................................................................5-3
Types of Foams Used in Hydraulic Fracturing ....................................... 5-4
Foam Rheology.......................................................................................5-4
Crosslinked Foams .................................................................................5-5
Foam Fluid Loss .....................................................................................5-7
Fluid-loss Coeffecients ................................................................................ 5-8
Test Results of Factors Affecting Foam Performance ................................ 5-8
Test Conclusions ....................................................................................... 5-12
Fracture Conductivity............................................................................ 5-12
Proppant Pack Permeability ...................................................................... 5-12
Proppant Grain Size............................................................................. 5-12
Effective Closure Stress ...................................................................... 5-12
Multiphase Flow Effects ....................................................................... 5-13
Fracturing-Fluid Residue Damage .......................................................5-13
Filtercake Buildup ...................................................................................... 5-13
Treating Pressure Response ................................................................ 5-14
Constant Internal Phase ............................................................................5-15
Increased Proppant Concentration ............................................................ 5-17
Field Treatment Results of Constant Internal Phase ................................ 5-17
Conclusions................................................................................................ 5-22
Fluid Recovery...................................................................................... 5-22
Treatment Designs for Hydraulic Fracturing .........................................5-22
PROP Hydraulic Fracture Design Program ...............................................5-22
FracPac II ................................................................................................... 5-24
Candidate Selection............................................................................. 5-24
Wireline Logging .................................................................................. 5-25
Formation Strength .............................................................................. 5-26
Fracpressure Log ................................................................................. 5-26
Perforating............................................................................................ 5-26
Fracture Design.................................................................................... 5-26
3-D Fracture Design Simulator ............................................................ 5-29
Prefracture Testing .............................................................................. 5-29
Downhole Tools ................................................................................... 5-30
Example Procedure ............................................................................. 5-30
5-2 Foam Applications in Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation
Minifractures ......................................................................................... 5-31
Minifracture Analysis Technique................................................................ 5-31
Analysis Theory.................................................................................... 5-31
Minifracture Test Results ...........................................................................5-33
Well Data.............................................................................................. 5-33
Minifracture Fluids ................................................................................ 5-33
Treatment Fluids .................................................................................. 5-33
Conclusions .......................................................................................... 5-34
References ........................................................................................... 5-34
Additional References .......................................................................... 5-35
Contents (cont.)
Foam Applications in Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation 5-3
Foam Applications in Hydraulic
Fracturing Stimulation
Introduction
Foams are being used in a number of
petroleum industry applications that exploit
the foams' high viscosity and low liquid
content. Some of the earliest applications for
foam dealt with its use as a displacing agent
in porous media and as a drilling fluid.
Following these early applications, foam was
introduced as a wellbore circulating fluid for
cleanout and workover applications. In the
mid-1970s, nitrogen- (N
2
) based foams
became popular for both hydraulic fracturing
and fracture acidizing stimulation treatments.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, foamed
cementing became a viable service, as did
foamed gravel packing. Most recently, carbon
dioxide (CO
2
) foams have shown usefulness
in hydraulic fracturing stimulation.
The early widespread use of foams as
fracturing fluids was to help low-pressure
gas reservoirs in returning the liquid phase of
the foam. The internal phase of the foam
typically consisted of 65 to 80% by volume
(quality) of N
2
gas, with an external phase of
water and a foaming agent (surfactant). These
simple N
2
foam fluids, coupled with the
pumping technology of the 1970s, were able
to transport sand concentrations of 1 to 2 lb/
gal [120 to 240 kg/m
3
] into fractures. Such
low proppant concentrations gave beneficial
results in low-pressure sandstone, carbonate,
and shale reservoirs. Much of the success of
the early treatments was due to the capability
of N
2
gas to expand and remove substantial
quantities of the liquid phase from the reser-
voir. Gelling agents were not originally used,
so no gel filtercakes were formed to damage
proppant beds.
With the success of simple N
2
foams in
low-pressure gas reservoirs and the develop-
ment of high-pressure N
2
pumping equip-
ment, the application of foam fluids was
extended to higher pressure gas reservoirs
and oil wells. These zones placed additional
requirements on foam fracturing fluid, such
as higher viscosity, better leakoff control,
higher temperature stability, and greater
proppant carrying capacity.
The need for higher viscosity was met by
using water soluble polymers, such as guar
and hydroxypropyl guar (HPG) gelling
agents, to increase viscosity of the liquid
phase and the foam. Adding gelling agents
served to improve fluid leakoff control by
building a thin gel filtercake on the face of the
fracture. Higher temperature stability was
improved by the development of surfactants
that were capable of stabilizing foams to
greater than 392F [200C].
1
Mechanical improvements in high-
pressure slurry pumping equipment allowed
significantly higher concentrations of prop-
pant in slurries to be pumped. By 1980,
technology had developed to the point that
massive hydraulic foam fracturing treatments
were conducted that placed over 1 million lb
[454,000 kg] of sand at concentrations up to 4
lb/gal [480 kg/m
3
] in a formation with a
temperature of 270F [130C].
2
Deeper reservoirs were made accessible
with the introduction of CO
2
foams. CO
2
,
pumped into the wellbore as a liquid, has a
greater density than N
2
gas, allowing surface
pumping pressures to be lower than with N
2
for a corresponding depth. CO
2
foams are
formed when reservoir temperatures warm
the fluid to above the critical temperature of
liquid CO
2
. The resulting mixture of gaseous
5-4 Foam Applications in Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation
CO
2
with water is considered to be a foam,
but the density of the CO
2
remains high as
long as pressure is maintained. The structure
of CO
2
foams is similar to N
2
foams, but the
proppant transport capability of CO
2
foams is
inherently greater because of its higher
bouyancy.
As the number of treatments using CO
2
increased, it became apparent that the friction
pressure of CO
2
foams was higher than for N
2
foams, especially in the high concentration
proppant stages. In an effort to overcome
high friction problems, a new method of
producing sand-laden foams was developed.
The technique of constant internal phase held
the liquid phase volume constant while
balancing the sum of gas plus sand to equal
the desired internal phase volume.
3
Delayed crosslinked gelled fluids were
introduced as fracturing fluids in the early
1980s, and these crosslinking agents were
soon applied to producing crosslinked N
2
foams. The higher viscosity produced by
crosslinking the gelling agent in the foam
produced higher viscosity foam fluids that
were able to place higher proppant concen-
trations than noncrosslinked foams.
Crosslinking of CO
2
foams was introduced at
a later date and extended the advantages of
CO
2
foams to deeper, hotter reservoirs.
4
Proppant concentrations as high as 12 lb/gal
[1,440 kg/m
3
] have been successfully placed
with crosslinked CO
2
foams using the con-
stant-internal-phase technique.
Throughout the development of foam
fracturing fluids over two decades, foam
fracturing fluids have been used in liquid
sensitive formations because of their capabil-
ity to minimize liquid contact with the reser-
voir and their capability to rapidly recover
the majority of the treatment fluid. Even
though the cost of foam treatments is typi-
cally 10 to 20% greater than nonfoamed
crosslinked stimulation treatments, quick
fluid recovery and minimal damage to the
reservoir have given foamed fluids a place
among the leaders in number of treatments
performed. This section presents some of the
technical benefits of foam as a minimal
damage fluid for fracturing.
Types of Foams Used in Hydraulic
Fracturing
A wide variety of liquid phases are
available for N
2
foam fracturing. The base
liquids include water, water-alcohol mixtures,
and hydrocarbons. Water is the most eco-
nomical liquid phase available. When water-
sensitive clays are likely to be encountered,
salts, such as potassium chloride or Cla-Sta
TM
additives may be used to help protect such
clays. Adding up to 50% alcohol will further
reduce potential clay swelling. Alcohol also
lowers the surface tension of the liquid and
has a higher vapor pressure to aid in produc-
ing back the frac fluid.
Maximum protection against formation
damage can be realized by using a hydrocar-
bon foam. Suitable oils for N
2
foam fracturing
would include diesel and condensates. Lease
crude oils should be laboratory tested for
foamability prior to field usage. Foam genera-
tors may be desirable when fracturing with
hydrocarbon foam or any of the gelled sys-
tems.
Foam Rheology
The viscosity of a fracturing fluid is
important because of its influence in creating
fracture geometry and in transporting prop-
pant. Adding linear polymers or crosslinked
polymers to water increases its viscosity.
Viscosity of the fluid mixture is also in-
creased by adding N
2
or CO
2
gas to create an
internal phase (gas bubbles), when a stabiliz-
ing surfactant (foaming agent) is present.
Foam Applications in Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation 5-5
High viscosity foam fluids can be prepared
using low amounts of water and gelling
agents, thereby minimizing the liquid load
placed on a formation.
Foam rheology has been described by a
number of investigators using various fluid
models. Work by Mitchell,
5
using ungelled
water foamed with N
2
, characterized foam as
a Bingham plastic fluid, having a positive
yield stress at zero shear rate. Foams contain-
ing polymers have been described by several
models,
6
including power law and yield-
pseudoplastic.
Foam viscosity depends on a number of
variables, including quality, viscosity of the
external phase, and texture. The most impor-
tant parameter is foam qualitythe percent
volume occupied by the internal gas phase.
Since gas volume is a function of temperature
and pressure, downhole conditions must be
known. As quality increases, foam viscosity
increases. In addition, the yield point charac-
teristics of foams are an exponential function
of quality.
Higher quality foams have better trans-
port properties, particu-
larly at very low shear
rates, because of high
yield points. The viscous
character of the external
liquid phase is also a
major parameter. Flow of
high-quality foam may be
visualized as gas bubbles
sliding past one another
on thin films of the liquid
external phase. If the
liquid film contains a
viscosifying agent, then
the bubbles will undergo
greater drag forces be-
cause of the viscous thin
films, and flow will be
more difficult, resulting in
higher bulk viscosity.
Texture, or the bubble
size distribution, plays an important but
lesser role in determining foam viscosity.
Foams exposed to shear for a sufficient time
will equilibrate to a bubble size distribution
that is characteristic of that shear rate. Tex-
ture is also influenced by the surfactant that
must be present in sufficient concentration to
stabilize the foam under dynamic condi-
tions.
7,8
Crosslinked Foams
Foams containing polymers that have
been crosslinked are more viscous than foams
without crosslinking. An example is given in
Fig. 5-1 of CO
2
foams containing 0.48% of a
guar derivative. The foam containing poly-
mer crosslinked with zirconium has approxi-
mately twice the viscosity of the
noncrosslinked foam. Crosslinked N
2
foams
can be generated with any of the typically
used polymer-crosslinking agent combina-
tions since N
2
is considered chemically inert
Fig. 5-1: Viscosity of gelled foams0.48% linear and crosslinked polymers.
5-6 Foam Applications in Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation
and does not interfere with crosslinking
chemistry. Combinations would include guar
and guar derivatives with aluminate, borate,
titanate, and zirconate crosslinking agents.
Crosslinked CO
2
foams must be formed with
polymer-crosslinking agent combinations
that are active in the pH range of about 3 to 5
because of the strongly acidic pH effect of
CO
2
on the aqueous external phase. For
example, borate crosslinked foams cannot be
made with CO
2
since a pH above 8 is re-
quired to crosslink guar with borate.
Several differences exist between the type
of fractures created by crosslinked and
noncrosslinked foams. Crosslinked foams
have higher proppant carrying capacity than
noncrosslinked foams because of their higher
viscosity. Proppant is easier to transport into
the fracture since a wider fracture is created
by the more viscous crosslinked foam. Since a
wider fracture is created, the fracture will be
shorter for a given volume of fluid pumped.
A shorter, wider fracture has less total frac-
ture area created, meaning less surface area
exposed to fluid leakoff. The fluid-loss coeffi-
cients for crosslinked and noncrosslinked
foams are similar for the same leakoff area, so
the total leakoff with crosslinked foams is
less. Lower overall leakoff, coupled with
wider fractures, means that proppant place-
ment with crosslinked foams is easier to
accomplish than with noncrosslinked foams.
Gel filtercakes generated with crosslinked
foams are about as thin as noncrosslinked
foams, 0.004 in. [0.10 mm]. Although such
thin filtercakes cause minimal occlusion of
proppant pack conductivity, the chemical
character of the residue is still crosslinked
and is harder to remove than noncrosslinked
linear polymers.
Compressible foams are structured, two-
phase fluids that are formed when a large
internal-phase volume (typically 55 to 95%) is
dispersed as small, discrete entities through a
continuous liquid phase. Under typical
formation temperatures of 90F [32.2C]
encountered in stimulation work, the internal
phases exist as gas and hence are properly
termed foams in their end-use application. At
typical surface conditions of 75F [23.9C]
and 900 psi [6,205 kPa], N
2
is a gas, but CO
2
is
a liquid. A liquid/liquid two-phase struc-
tured fluid is classically called an emulsion.
The end-use application of the two-phase
fluid, however, normally is above the critical
temperature of CO
2
. Evidence shows the
similarity of two-phase structured fluids
independent of the state of the internal phase.
The liquid phase typically contains a surfac-
tant and/or other stabilizers to minimize
phase separation (bubble coalescence).
These dispersions of an internal phase
within a liquid can be treated as homoge-
neous fluids, provided bubble size is small in
comparison to flow geometry dimensions.
Volume percent of the internal phase within a
foam is its quality. The degree of internal-
phase dispersion is its texture. At a fixed
quality, foams are commonly referred to as
either fine or coarse textured. Fine texture
denotes a high level of dispersion character-
ized by many small bubbles with a narrow
size distribution and a high specific surface
area, and coarse texture denotes larger
bubbles with a broad size distribution and a
lower specific surface area.
Because foams exhibit shear-rate-depen-
dent viscosities in laminar flow, they are
classified as non-Newtonian fluids. In addi-
tion to shear rate, their apparent viscosities
also appear to depend on quality, texture,
and liquid-phase rheological properties.
Measured laminar-flow apparent viscosities
generally are larger than those of either
constituent phase at all shear rates. When the
liquid phase is thickened by adding solids,
soluble high-molecular-weight polymers, or
other viscosifying agents, even larger foam
viscosities are produced.
While laminar flow is characterized by
strictly viscous energy dissipation, turbulent
flow is characterized more by kinetic than
Foam Applications in Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation 5-7
viscous energy dissipation. Density and
velocity are the factors that establish kinetic
energy, and reduced foam density may
outweigh an increased viscosity contribution
and produce a turbulent-flow friction loss less
than liquid-phase friction loss. Soluble high-
molecular-weight polymers produce a form
of turbulent drag reduction that is analogous
to that which occurs in a nonfoamed liquid.
In this case, a substantial drag reduction
effect is evident when one compares the
turbulent flow friction loss of foams with and
without a gelled liquid phase.
Foam Fluid Loss
Good fluid-loss control is important in
creating fracture geometry and transporting
proppant into the fracture. Fluid loss from
nonfoamed gelled fracturing fluids may be
understood as the loss of water into forma-
tion capillaries at an initial rate determined
by the permeability of the rock matrix. As
water is lost from the
gelled fluid, polymer
(filter cake) gradually
forms on the formation
face. Once a gel filter cake
has been deposited, the
permeability of the filter
cake is lower than the
permeability of the forma-
tion, so the filter cake
controls further loss of
water to the formation.
Linear gel and crosslinked
gelled fluids typically
deposit filter cakes about
0.03 to 0.04 in. [ 0.75 to 1.0
mm] thick under dynamic
conditions in the labora-
tory.
9
Gel filtercakes are also
deposited from foamed
fluids that contain gelling agents, but the
filter cakes are much thinner. Filter cakes
deposited in the laboratory from linear gel
foams and crosslinked foams typically
ranged between 0.0016 to 0.006 in. [0.04 to
0.15 mm].
10
Even though the deposited filter
cake is less thick, the overall fluid leakoff rate
in matrix with foams is still less than with
nonfoamed fluids. The reason for the lower
leakoff rate is that bubbles of gas from the
foam enter the formation matrix and impede
the loss of liquid. Two-phase flow in porous
media is slower than single phase flow. A
plot of overall fluid-loss coefficient vs. matrix
permeability is shown in Fig. 5-2.
A thinner filter cake represents less gel
mass to block produced fluid flow after the
treatment has been completed. Regained
permeability tests on 0.1 to 0.3 md cores
indicated 87 to 95% of the original matrix
permeability was regained after exposure to
foamed fluids. Fracture conductivity studies
of proppant packs indicated that 80 to 100%
of baseline conductivity was measured after
treatment with linear gelled foamed fluids.
11
Fig. 5-2: Foam fluid-loss coefficient for gelled external phase.
5-8 Foam Applications in Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation
Crosslinking the gelling agent in a foam
reduced regained conductivity compared to
linear foam, but crosslinked foams still had
higher conductivity than nonfoamed
crosslinked fluids. The capability of both
formation matrix and proppant pack to flow
fluids at rates near their undamaged capaci-
ties is a measure of the clean character of
foamed fluids.
Fluid-loss Coeffecients
Foam has been established as a successful
fracturing fluid for several years. Claims
about its efficiency in fluid leakoff control
have ranged from excellent to virtually no
leakoff at all. Yet treatment experience has
indicated that foam fractures occasionally do
screen out.
2
Because excessive fluid leakoff is
one potential cause of a premature job termi-
nation, an adequate knowledge of fluid-loss
coefficients is essential for proper design of
stimulation treatments.
Foam has been described previously as a
nonwall-building fluid.
12
Such a fluid should
have leakoff properties described by Howard
and Fast
13
as
C k p
I
0 0469 . / , .......................... (5-1)
where k is permeability (darcies), p is
pressure drop (psi) across the matrix, is
fractional porosity, and is viscosity (cp).
There is a problem with calculating C
I
for
foam, however. Because foam is a two-phase
structured fluid and because some of the
bubbles may be able to enter the pores of the
rock matrix, the rheology of foam in porous
media is not well defined. The expansion of
bubbles in the foam caused by pressure drop
can be significant.
A fluid-loss coefficient can be determined
empirically without knowledge of the fluid
viscosity by the equation from Howard and
Fast:
13
C
III
= 0.0164 m/A
c
, ...................................... (5-2)
where m is the slope of an experimental
plot of fluid volume vs. the square root of
time and A
c
is the cross-sectional area of the
filter medium in square centimeters. C
III
is
useful for wall-building fluids, but C
I
is
intended for nonwall-building fluids. For
nonwall-building fluids, the slope of the
experimental plot of filtrate volume will be
linear with time, rather than with the square
root of time.
The majority of foam fracturing treat-
ments performed contain a viscosifier to
stabilize the liquid phase, typically
hydroxypropyl guar (HPG), that has wall-
building character.
Test Results of Factors Affecting Foam
Performance
Foam fracturing fluid may experience
many conditions during a fracturing treat-
ment. Both foam-fluid and rock-matrix
variables may affect fluid-loss characteristics.
A series of experiments were conducted to
examine how several variables may effect
foam performance. Some results of these
experiments are presented and discussed.
Permeability of the rock matrix had a
significant effect on fluid-loss characteristics,
as indicated in Fig. 5-3. The overall effect
showed C
III
for foam increases one order of
magnitude for an increase of two orders of
magnitude in permeability. Some variations,
dependent on foam texture and rock pore
structure, might be expected from this trend.
For example, a given bubble size may be of
proper size to plug small holes in low-perme-
ability rock but may be too small to block
flow into much larger pores in high-perme-
ability rock. Foam texture, which was not
examined as a variable, was controlled only
by the generation technique used in this
experiment.
Foam Applications in Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation 5-9
The amount of gel present in the liquid
phase also had a significant influence on C
III
(Fig. 5-4). Previous studies concluded that
foam is not a wall-building fluid.
12
This study
also found that foam containing no gel in the
liquid phase is not a wall-building fluid.
However, foam containing 10 lb HPG/1,000
gal [1,198 g/m
3
] or more in the liquid phase
does form a wall. The gel layer could be
observed visually on the core face after test-
ing. The semipermeable barrier controlled a
number of the variables investigated.
There was a slight effect of core length on
fluid loss with no gel
present. Yet when 20 lb
HPG/1,000 gal [2,397 g/
m
3
] was present in the
liquid phase of the foam,
varying core length from
0.15 to 1.87 in. [0.38 to
4.75 cm] produced no
effect on fluid loss (Table
5-1). In addition, the effect
Fig. 5-3: Foam fluid-loss coefficient at 75F with liquid phases containing 20 lb
HPG/1,000 gal.
Table 5-2: Effect of Pressure on Fluid-Loss Coefficient
High/Low Pressure
(psi)
HPG concentration
0 lb/1,000 gal 20 lb/1,000 gal
700/200 0.00274 0.00122
1,200/200 0.00518 0.00134
1,200/700 -- 0.00136
of differential pressure
was minimized with gel
in the foam. However,
with no gel present, foam
fluid-loss increased
significantly with in-
creases in differential
pressure (Table 5-2).
A moderate increase
in fluid loss was observed
when the core tempera-
ture was increased from
75 to 200F [24 to 93C].
The effective increase
probably was caused by
the thinning of the liquid
phase of the foam by
temperature (Fig. 5-4).
No significant effects
were observed when
Table 5-1: Effect of Core Length on
Fluid-Loss Coefficient
Liquid phase contains 20 lb HPG/1,000 gal
Length (in.)
C
III
0.15 0.00128
0.30 0.00122
0.45 0.00111
0.62 0.00122
1.87 0.00118
5-10 Foam Applications in Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation
Fig. 5-4: Effect of core temperature and gel concentration on foam fluid-loss
coefficient in 0.3-md sandstone.
foaming agents were exchanged in water-
based foams. The differences in fluid-loss
characteristics between anionic and nonionic
surfactants were insignificant. The addition of
up to 50% methanol in the liquid phase also
did not change fluid-loss properties. Oil-
based foam with no gel was comparable to a
water-based foam with no gel. Therefore,
fluid loss is controlled more by the texture of
the foam and viscosity of the liquid phase
than by whether the liquid phase is water,
alcohol, or oil.
Most of the foams were tested at 75
quality. In one experimental series, quality
was varied at 65, 70, 75, and 80 in a foam
containing 20 lb HPG/1,000 gal [2,397 g/m
3
]
(Table 5-3). No effect was observed when
quality was changed, indicating that the gel
layer was controlling leakoff.
The effluent discharged from the cores
did not have the same composition as the
foam impinging on the cores. The mechanism
of foam flow through porous media de-
scribed by Holm is of a continuous, moving,
external liquid phase and
a discontinuous, internal
gas phase moving dis-
cretely or by rupture of
the gas cells.
14
This
mechanism would be
sensitive to the viscosity
of the liquid phase. A
viscous liquid phase
should flow slowly and
exhibit less liquid loss
through porous media
relative to a thin liquid
phase.
The effect of gelling-
agent concentration on
effluent quality is shown
in Fig. 5-5. Effluent vol-
umes for gas and liquid
were averaged and quali-
ties calculated for foams
with 0, 20, and 40 lb
HPG/1,000 gal [0, 2,397, and 4,793 g/m
3
].
The Ohio sandstone curve represents more
data and should be more reliable than the
other samples. The higher-permeability
Bandera sandstone showed a similar trend
even though fewer data points were avail-
able. In general, the liquid-loss relative to gas
in a foam fluid was greater when low-viscos-
ity liquid phase were used. In all cases, the
effluent quality was lower than the original
foam quality. The numerical value of effluent
Table 5-3: Effect of Foam Quality on
Fluid-Loss Coefficient
Liquid phase contains 20 lb HPG/1,000 gal
Foam Quality
C
III
65 0.00126
70 0.00119
75 0.00123
80 0.00119
Foam Applications in Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation 5-11
Fig. 5-5: Quality of fluid passing through Ohio and Bandera cores vs. gel
concentration of liquid phase.
Table 5-4: Gas Permeability Regained in 4 Hours
Foam Type
Original Permeability
(md)
Regain (%)
Water 0.3 91 to 93
50% Methanol 0.3 92 to 95
50 lb HPG/1,000 gal 0.13 87 to 91
quality was probably influenced by volume
expansion of gas bubbles passing from high
to lower pressure through the core. This
expansion ratio is probably greater in the
laboratory test core than in an actual stimula-
tion.
Because foams containing polymers are
wall-building fluids, the potential exists for
damage to original matrix permeability. A
number of sandstone cores were tested for
permeability to nitrogen gas regained after
the tests with foam. Table 5-4 lists regained
gas permeability ranging from 87 to 95% of
the original gas permeability after 4 hours of
flowback. The data show no
significant difference between
foams containing 0 to 50 lb
HPG/1,000 gal [5,991 g/cm
3
]
in the liquid phase. This
indicates minimal permeabil-
ity damage caused by foam
fracturing fluids. Measure-
ments of filter-cake deposi-
tion reported elsewhere
indicate that thinner filter
cakes formed from foams
than from linear gel or
crosslinked gel fluids
tested under comparable
dynamic conditions.
10
Because foams contain a
gelling agent only in the
liquid phase, there is less
gelling agent available
for deposition than from
nonfoamed gelled fluids.
The values reported
here have been used to
design successful foam
fracturing treatments
since 1981. Typical foam
fracturing fluids have
fluid-loss control compa-
rable to gelled or
complexed fluids for
permeabilities near 1 md.
Based on field experience, the screenout
potential appears similar for foams and
crosslinked-gel fluids.
In core permeabilities higher than 1 md,
foam fluids still exhibit fluid-loss control,
although solid additives may be helpful to
achieve adequate leakoff control. Typical
foam fracturing fluids have improved fluid-
loss control in core permeabilities lower than
1 md.
5-12 Foam Applications in Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation
Test Conclusions
1. Foam fracturing fluids that contain
HPG in the aqueous phase are wall-
building fluids.
2. The fluid-loss coefficient, C
III
, is
dependent on permeability, gel
concentration in the liquid phase, and
temperature of the core.
3. For foam fluids containing gel, little
effect on C
III
was observed by the
variation of core length, foam quality,
foam agent, or type of liquid phase.
The effect of differential pressure was
minimal.
4. For foam fluids with no gel, fluid loss
is dependent on core length and
differential pressure across the core.
5. The composition of the fluid passing
through the core differs from the foam
impinging on the core. Effluent
composition is enriched in the liquid
phase and is dependent on the con-
centration of gel in the foam.
6. Regained-gas-permeability tests
indicate minimal damage caused by
foam fracturing fluids.
Fracture Conductivity
Proppant Pack Permeability
Many factors influence the effective
proppant-pack permeability (k
f
): proppant
grain size, effective closure stress acting on
the proppant pack and formation face,
multiphase flow effects, and fracturing-fluid
residue damage.
Proppant Grain Size
The permeability of a lightly stressed
proppant pack is a function of the porosity of
the pack, , and the mean diameter of the
proppant grains, d
50
:
k d
f

50
2 5
, ................................................... (5-3)
Notice the importance of the proppant-
pack porosity. In addition, a wider grain-size
distribution of a given d
50
reduces the perme-
abilityhence the modern tendency to
market narrow sieve fractions, with a bigger
mean grain size within a given nominal mesh
range. For gas wells, non-Darcy (turbu-
lence) flow effects in the propped fracture
result in an extra pressure drop, p
t
:
p
t

_
,


, ....................................... (5-4)
where v is the fluid flow velocity and
the non-Darcy flow factor, which is depen-
dent on k
f
.
Non-Darcy flow effects calculated from
Guppy et al.
15
for typical hydraulically frac-
tured gas wells can reduce the effective
fracture conductivity by more than a factor of
3.
Effective Closure Stress
The fracture conductivity dependence on
effective closure stress (minimum in-situ
stress minus pore pressure) cannot be as-
sessed theoretically; empirical relations based
on extensive proppant conductivity measure-
ments over a wide range of conditions are
required. The majority of these measure-
ments have been carried out on the most
popular proppant size (20/40 mesh) with low
liquid flow rates (negligible non-Darcy flow
effects) at low temperature and short mea-
surement times. Limited data are available
for measurements with gas. The most recent
measurements were conducted at reservoir
Foam Applications in Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation 5-13
temperature with long measurement
times.
16,17
Significantly lower proppant con-
ductivities are measured for realistic reservoir
conditions than reported for the early short-
term conductivity tests. Lack of reproducibil-
ity of absolute-permeability measurements
between the various laboratories plagues this
area of research because standard procedures
for preparation-in particular pack porosity-
have not been agreed on.
The high closure stresses encountered in
deeper wells require the use of artificial
(intermediate- or high-strength) proppants to
improve fracture conductivity. The recent
long-term measurements discussed show a
technical need for these stronger (and there-
fore more conductive) proppants at lower
closure stresses (shallower depth). This is
also true if coarser proppant sand grades are
used in an attempt to increase fracture con-
ductivity because crushing occurs at lower
closure stress.
Multiphase Flow Effects
Proppant-pack conductivity is normally
measured with single-phase flow. Adding a
second or third phase reduces the effective
proppant-pack permeability to the original
phase significantly. A proppant-pack perme-
ability decreases by more than a factor of 5 if
water-saturated gas (two phases) flows
through the pack.
Fracturing-Fluid Residue Damage
The fracturing fluid is an essential part of
a hydraulic fracturing treatment. It creates
the fracture in the reservoir and transports
the proppant. The fluid is very viscous and
shows a controlled (restricted) formation
leakoff to ensure an efficient fracturing
operation. Fracturing fluids often include a
breaker to reduce their high viscosity to low
values to facilitate cleanup. Types of fractur-
ing fluids include water-based fluids, oil-
Table 5-5: Global Ranges for Proppant-
Pack-Conductivity Retention Factors
Type Range
Foams >80 Best
Polymer emulsion fluids 65 to 85
Gelled oils 45 to 70
Linear gels 45 to 55
Crosslinked HPG 10 to 50 Worst
based fluids, emulsions, and foams. Fractur-
ing-fluid residue in the proppant pack and
filter-cake buildup at the rock surface reduce
fracture conductivity.
Crosslinked fracturing fluids result in
more residue than polymer emulsion fluids.
Laboratory tests with the latter fluids yield
loose proppant grain pack that is virtually
residue-free.
18
By contrast, use of crosslinked
fluids produces a proppant pack containing a
lot of fibrous material between the grains,
which are then glued together.
Filtercake Buildup
During the fracturing operation, as high-
pressure fracturing fluid leaks away into the
formation, a polymer and fluid-loss additive
filter cake is formed. The filter-cake thickness
is determined by the particular fracturing
fluid used, the formation characteristics, the
fracture-to-reservoir pressure difference, and
the erosional effects caused by slurry being
pumped along the fracture faces. During
fracture closure, the proppant is embedded
into the filter cake, making it difficult to
remove the cake during production. A typical
filter-cake thickness of 0.13 in. [0.5 mm] on
each fracture wall will completely block a
thin fracture propped with two layers of 20/
40-mesh proppant. Such filter cakes occur, for
example, when crosslinked fluids are used
with diesel added as a fluid-loss agent.
5-14 Foam Applications in Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation
Polymer emulsion fluids do not give signifi-
cant filter-cake buildup.
Table 5-5 shows the global ranges that
have been published for proppant-pack-
conductivity retention factors with gas as the
cleanup fluid.
16,18
The most important vari-
ables that influence these ranges are the
specific fracturing fluid, the fracture width (in
particular when thick filter cakes are formed),
and the cleanup (reservoir) fluid.
Proppant permeability damage by
crosslinked fluids substantially depends on
the filter-cake buildup. It is minimized by use
of an effective viscosity breaker; this is par-
ticularly necessary in shallow (low-tempera-
ture) formations. An inadequate breaker
leads to virtually complete loss of the prop-
pant-pack conductivity. On the other hand,
aggressive breaker schedules (short break
times) can provide high retention factors in
excess of 80%. Such aggressive breaker
schedules, however, can result in excessive
proppant settling in the fracture before
closure. A proper balance is required.
Polymer emulsion fracturing fluids help
because conductivity recovery is less sensi-
tive to breaker efficiency. However, surfac-
tants used in these fluids sometimes make
the proppant pack oil-wet. Retained effective
permeability to water (2% KCl brine is often
used in tests) is much lower in such cases, as
low as 30% in some cases.
Proppant-pack conductivity increases the
non-Darcy flow (turbulence) factor. This
turbulence factor needs to be accounted for
when optimum hydraulic fracture stimula-
tions for gas wells are designed.
Foam fluids contain only one-third to
one-fourth the amount of water as a
nonfoamed fracturing fluid. Even though this
lesser amount of water represents less poten-
tial damage to the formation, the water still
needs to be removed to minimize damage to
the formation. Controlled flowback proce-
dures are important for any fracturing treat-
ment, and they are especially important for
foam fluids.
The common practice for flowback of
foam fluids has been to wait from 30 minutes
to 4 hours before opening the wellhead
valves to a small production choke. More
recent techniques include opening the well
immediately at a low rate. A properly stabi-
lized foam fluid structure will remain intact
with high viscosity after 4 hours under
downhole conditions. Common enzyme or
oxidizing breakers reduce only the viscosity
of gelling agents and do not directly attack
the stabilizing surfactants. Reduction of
pressure at the wellbore will cause some
migration of fluid, carrying proppant back
towards the wellbore.
Experience of most foam flowbacks has
been that little proppant is produced if the
flowback rate is kept low. The fact that so
little proppant is produced indicates that the
formation has closed near the wellbore,
trapping the proppant and forming a bridge
to prevent further production of proppant
from the fracture. If high flowback rates are
used, a proppant bridge may not be formed
or else be eroded, and significant amounts of
proppant can be produced with the potential
to harm the formation, wellhead equipment,
and personnel.
Treating Pressure Response
The pumping pressure experienced at the
wellhead during a stimulation treatment is
the result of several factors:
p
w
= p
bht
+ p
pf
- p
h
,....................................... (5-5)
where p
w
is wellhead pumping pressure
(psi), p
bht
is bottomhole treating pressure
(psi), p
f
is fluid friction pressure in tubular
goods (psi), p
h
is hydrostatic pressure (psi/ft),
and p
pf
is perforation friction (psi).
Foam Applications in Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation 5-15
Table 5-6: Fluid Velocity Change for
1-bbl/min Fluid Rate Change
Tubular Configuration
Velocity Change
(ft/sec)
4.892-in. ID casing 0.72
4.00-in. ID casing 1.07
2.992-in. tubing 1.92
2.441-in. tubing 2.88
2.375-in OD x 4.892-in. ID
tubing/casing annulus
0.94
Table 5-7: Hydrostatic Pressure of 70 Quality N2 and CO2
Foam Fluids at 100F, 5,000 psi, Containing Sand
Sand (lb/gal) N2 Foam (psi/ft) CO2 Foam (psi/ft)
0 0.226 0.411
2 0.302 0.472
4 0.367 0.523
6 0.422 0.567
8 0.470 0.606
10 0.512 0.639
12 0.548 0.667
The bottomhole treating pressure (BHTP)
is a function primarily of formation stresses
plus pore pressure. BHTP may increase
during a treatment as a result of laminar-flow
friction within the fracture.
Fluid friction in turbulent flow down the
tubular is a function of flow rate, tubular
diameter, fluid density, and fluid viscosity. A
change in flow rate of 1 bbl/min has a rela-
tively small effect of velocity in casing, but it
has a larger effect in small tubing (Table 5-6).
The use of high pumping rates, small-diam-
eter tubing, high sand concentrations, high-
quality foams, and high gel concentrations
for high foam viscosity all increase p
f
.
Reidenbach et al.
19
gave a correlation for
turbulent-flow friction
pressure of foams. They
provide a relationship
developed from N
2
foam
data, but the equation
works satisfactorily with
CO
2
or proppant if the
proper density is used.
Perforation friction is
important when the
number of perforations is
limited to restrict fluid
flow to certain zones. The
field examples cited here
did not use limited-entry design, so p
pf
will be
considered negligible.
The hydrostatic weight of the fluid col-
umn helps reduce the surface pumping
pressure required to fracture the formation.
N
2
foam fluids always have a lower density
than water. The density of CO
2
foams will be
significantly higher than that of N
2
foams and
similar to that of water. The addition of
proppant has a large effect on pH, especially
at latter proppant stages. Table 5-7 shows the
effect of sand on hydrostatic pressure.
Constant Internal Phase
The observation of high friction pressures
for foams pumped down small tubing re-
quired re-examination of the structure of
foam fracturing fluids. For nonfoamed frac-
turing fluids, when proppant is added to the
fluid, the proppant causes no major change in
the viscous character of the fluid. Foam,
however, is a two-phase structured fluid,
consisting of a gaseous internal phase and
a liquid external phase. Discrete gaseous
bubbles are surrounded by a continuous, thin
liquid coating. The viscosity of the foam fluid
is a function of the foam quality, as shown in
Fig. 5-6. Quality is the ratio of gas volume
to gas-plus liquid volume at a specific tem-
perature and pressure. A similar viscosity
5-16 Foam Applications in Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation
Fig. 5-6: Apparent viscosity of CO
2
/water two-phase fluid as a function of CO
2
quality.
Liquid Liquid Liquid Liquid Liquid
Gas Gas Gas Gas Gas
Solid
Solid Solid
Conventional Constant-Internal-Phase
A B C D E
Fig. 5-7: Diagram of fluid ratios for conventional and constant-internal-phase design.
relationship exists for two-phase liquid/
liquid emulsions. As the percentage of inter-
nal phase increases in a two-phase fluid, the
fluid viscosity increases.
When a solid proppant particle is added
to a two-phase foam, it is readily apparent
that a solid particle cannot become part of the
continuous liquid
phase. Rather, it
must exist as a
discrete entity,
alongside the gas
bubbles, Because
the solid particles
occupy volume,
they produce the
effect of increasing
the quality and
hence the viscosity.
Although the
addition of prop-
pant to a
nonfoamed gelled
fluid may increase
viscosity slightly, adding
it to a high-quality foam
will cause a larger in-
crease in viscosity. For
example, addition of 1
lb/gal [120 g/m
3
] sand to
a 40 lb/1,000 gal [4,793
g/m
3
] linear gel will
increase the viscosity by 5
cp at 100 seconds
-1
.
Addition of 1 lb/gal [120
g/m
3
] sand to a 70-
quality, foamed, 40 lb/
1,000-gal [4,793-g/m
3
] gel
will increase the viscosity
by 14 cp at 100 seconds
-1
.
To maintain a constant
viscosity fracturing fluid,
the balance between the
internal and external
phases must be kept
constant, hence the term
constant internal phase.
Fig. 5-7 illustrates the concept of constant
internal phase. Fluid A is a conventional
foam pad fluid (no proppant) containing a
fixed volume of gas and liquid. Fluid B is a
proppant-laden fluid with solid added while
gas and liquid volumes are held constant.
Foam Applications in Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation 5-17
During a fracturing treatment, these volumes
are pumped in a given time, so the ratios also
relate to pumping rates. The volume of
internal phase (gas plus solid) in Fluid B is
greater than that of Fluid A, although the
liquid is constant, and would result in higher
viscosity and a higher downstream rate. This
condition has often led to excessive friction
losses, higher wellhead pressures, and pre-
mature job termination. An attempt to reduce
solid, liquid, and gas rates proportionally to
make the downstream rate the same as the
pad does not solve the overall problem.
Although the ratios in Fluid C are the same
as in Fluid B, the internal phase ratio of Fluid
C is higher than that of Fluid A, so the viscos-
ity of Fluid C is higher than that of Fluid A
and will give higher friction pressure. In
addition, adjusting all three ratios increases
operational difficulty.
An example of the viscosity increase
caused by proppant addition may be calcu-
lated.
5
Addition of 5 lb/gal [599 g/m
3
] sand
to a 70-quality foam containing 40 lb/1,000-
gal [4,793 g/m
3
] base gel will increase the
internal-phase fraction to 75.6%. The appar-
ent viscosity of the fluid will increase from
325 to 445 cp at 40 seconds
-1
.
A solution was proposed to keep both
downstream flow rate and viscosity constant.
When solid proppant is added, a constant
liquid rate should be maintained but the gas
flow rate should be decreased sufficiently to
equal the absolute solid flow rate. Applica-
tion of the constant-internal-phase concept
has allowed much better control of foam
fracturing treatments down small tubing,
especially with CO
2
.
Increased Proppant Concentration
The constant-internal-phase design has
allowed higher proppant concentrations to be
pumped than conventional foam designs. In
a foam stimulation treatment, sand is not
added directly to the foam fluid but to the
liquid phase in the usual manner at a blender
unit. The resulting slurry goes through high-
pressure pumps and any additional surface
equipment and approaches the wellhead.
High-pressure N
2
or CO
2
is added just before
the wellhead and dilutes the sand concentra-
tion by several-fold. Standard field blending
equipment can routinely handle proppant
concentrations of 20 lb/gal [2,397 g/m
3
] at
low fluid rates, and higher concentrations are
possible for short periods. Following conven-
tional foam design, where proppant is not
considered part of the foam, a 67-quality
foam would be limited to about 7 lb/gal [839
g/m
3
] sand downhole. However, use of the
constant internal-phase design decreases N
2
or CO
2
as proppant concentration is in-
creased. Therefore, the dilution effect of the
gas is less, and higher downhole proppant
concentrations may be reached. For example,
starting with a 70-quality foam pad, proppant
concentrations of 12 lb/gal [1,438 g/m
3
] have
been placed successfully during foam stimu-
lation treatments.
A potential disadvantage of constant-
internal-phase design is that the fluid
pumped last contains less gas to assist in
fluid return. Even in nongas-assist fluids,
however, the easiest fluid to recover is the
fluid pumped last. The fluid in greatest need
of gas assist is the first fluid pumped. There-
fore, the constant-internal-phase design loses
very little potential for fluid recovery by
reducing gas during the latter proppant
stages.
Field Treatment Results of Constant
Internal Phase
Field simulation treatments considered
here were pumped down one of three tubular
configurations: casing, annulus, or tubing.
Surface pressure responses for foam fluids
may differ for each configuration. Table 5-8
lists examples of treatments according to
tubular configuration. The numbers were
5-18 Foam Applications in Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation
Table 5-8: Treating Information for Conventional and
Constant-Internal-Phase N2 and CO2 Foams
Fig.
Fluid
(quality)
Type*
Volume
(1,000 gal)
Proppant
(lb x 1,000)
Depth
(ft)
Tubular ID
(in.)
Rate
(bbl/min)
Pressure
(psi)
8 75/67 N2 Conv 41 71 6,200 4.892 15 3,800
9 70 N2 CIP 130 306 10,000 4.000 20 4,800
10 70 CO2 CIP 67 72 9,800 4.892 25 5,000
11 76/67 N2 Conv 33 70 5,600
2.375 x
4.892**
13 4,000
12 75 N2 Conv 76 128 10,000 2.992 14 7,500
13 70 CO2 Conv 86 144 10,100 2.992 15 5,600
14 70 CO2 CIP 57 104 9,500 2.992 15 6,300
* Conv= conventional; CIP= constant internal phase
** Annular space between 2.375-in. tubing and 4.892-in. casing
reproduced from actual treatment pressures
and rates collected by data-acquisition com-
puters on location.
The first example in Fig. 5-8 is a conven-
tional N
2
foam treatment down 6,200 ft of 5.5
in. casing. A 75-quality foam pad was initially
pumped, followed by 67%
quality sand-laden fluid.
The wellhead pressure
increased throughout the
pad but declined as sand
was added, increasing the
hydrostatic weight of the
foam column. Once the
foam column stabilized in
the wellbore, pumping
pressure remained stable
until the sand addition
was stopped. Pumping
pressure then increased
from 3,400 psi for sand-
laden fluid to 3,900 psi for
neat foam owing to loss of
hydrostatic weight.
Fig. 5-9 shows an
example of a constant-
internal-phase N
2
foam
treatment down 10,000 ft
of 4.5-in. casing.
The smaller diam-
eter casing and
higher foam rate
should show more
pronounced fric-
tion effects than
the previous
example. During
treatment, the
downhole foam
rate including sand
was increased by
10% from the
designed 10 bbl/
min. As sand
concentrations
increased from 1 to
7.5 lb/gal [120 to 899 g/m
3
], the pumping
pressure dropped stepwise from 6,000 to
4,500 psi. When sand feed was stopped and
the foam slurry was flushed from the casing,
wellhead pressure increased by 2,000 psi
because of the loss of hydrostatic pressure of
Fig. 5-8: Conventional 75/67-quality, N
2
foam pumped down 6,200 ft of 5 1/2-in
casing.
Foam Applications in Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation 5-19
Fig. 5-9: Constant-internal-phase, 70-quality, N
2
foam pumped down 10,000 ft
of 4 1/2-in casing.
sand. The small differences in fluid friction
pressure between Figs. 5-8 and 5-9 are over-
shadowed by hydrostatic
effects resulting from the
proppant.
Fig. 5-10 gives an
example of constant
internal-phase CO
2
foam
treatment down 9,800 ft of
5.5-in. casing. This ex-
ample shows the control
of clean gel, liquid CO
2
,
and proppant rates to
give a constant downhole
foam slurry rate. The
clean-gel rate remained
constant and the CO
2
rate
decreased as the proppant
rate increased. The pump-
ing pressure rose to a
maximum by the end of
the pad stage but steadily
decreased as the added
proppant increased the
hydrostatic weight of the
fluid column.
Fig. 5-11 shows an
example of a conventional
N
2
foam fracturing treat-
ment down 5,600 ft of
2.375 x 4.891 in. annular
space. Wellhead-pressure
rise during a 75-quality
foam pad was followed
by a pressure decline
upon switching to sand-
laden 67-quality foam.
The slight decline was
caused by the combined
effect of slightly lower
foam viscosity and in-
creased hydrostatic
pressure with added
sand. During later sand
stages, wellhead pump-
ing pressure increased in spite of increased
hydrostatic weight. Fluid friction pressure, as
Fig. 5-10: Constant-internal-phase, 70-quality, CO
2
foam pumped down 9,800 ft
of 5 1/2-in. casing.
5-20 Foam Applications in Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation
Fig. 5-11: Conventional 75/67-quality, N
2
foam pumped down 5,600 ft of 2 3/8
x 5 1/2-in. annulus.
Fig. 5-12: Conventional 75-quality, N
2
foam pumped down 10,000 ft of 3 1/2-in.
tubing.
calculated from Eq. 1 increased from 666 psi
in the pad to 776 psi in the 3-lb/gal proppant
stage to 984 psi in the 4.5-
lb/gal proppant stage.
This treatment ended in a
sandout.
Fig. 5-12 gives an
example of conventional
N
2
foam treatment down
10,000 ft of 3.5-in. tubing.
A pumping pressure of
7,500 psi was established
during the pad and
continued into the early
sand stages. During the
later sand stages, the
hydrostatic weight in-
crease caused by the
additional sand did not
offset the increase in
foam-slurry friction
pressure, so wellhead
treating pressure (WHTP)
rose to more than 9,000
psi. From the upward
trend in treating pressure,
an imminent sandout
might have been expected
but did not occur. If a
lower maximum allow-
able treating pressure had
been set for this well (e.g.,
if lighter wellhead equip-
ment or lighter tubing
had been used), the
stimulation treatment
would have been stopped
prematurely and not
completed.
Fig. 5-13 shows an
example similar to that in
Fig. 5-12. In this case a
conventional CO
2
foam
treatment was pumped
down 10,100 ft of 3.5-in.
tubing. The pumping
pressure began to rise as soon as sand was
added to the foam. The friction pressure of
Foam Applications in Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation 5-21
Fig. 5-13: Conventional 70-quality, CO
2
foam pumped down 10,100 ft of 3 1/2-
in. tubing.
Fig. 5-14: Constant-internal-phase, 70-quality, CO
2
foam pumped down 9,500 ft
of 3 1/2-in. tubing.
sand-laden 70-quality CO
2
foam has often
been reported as being higher than that of N
2
foam, and the 3,500 psi
rise in pressure compared
with the previous case
tends to confirm this
report. One might suspect
an imminent sandout in
Fig. 5-13, but such was
not the case.
Fig. 5-14 demonstrates
the corrective action that a
constant-internal-phase
design can have over
conventional foam design.
A 70% constant-internal-
phase CO
2
foam treat-
ment was pumped down
9,500 ft of 3.5-in. OD
tubing. Table 5-9 gives the
pumping schedule for the
treatment of Fig. 5-14.
Note that the clean-gel
rate remained constant,
while the slurry rate
increased and the CO
2
rate decreased. The
WHTP was very well
behaved. Both wells in
this formation had a
nearly constant pressure
response during injection
of the CO
2
foam pad.
Once sand addition
began, the treating pres-
sure of the conventional
treatment of Fig. 5-13 rose
at a substantial rate with
increasing proppant
addition, whereas the
treating pressure for the
constant internal-phase
treatment of Fig. 5-14
actually declined with
proppant addition.
Although theses are
only a few examples, they are consistent with
field experience that WHTPs are more
5-22 Foam Applications in Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation
Table 5-9: Constant-Internal-Phase Design for CO2 Foam Injected Down
9,500 ft of 2.992-in. ID Tubing
Stage
Foam Volume
(gal)
Proppant
(lb/gal)
Clean-Gel
Rate (bbl/min)
Slurry Rate
(bbl/min)
Liquid CO2
Rate (bbl/min)
1 25,000 0 4.50 3.50 10.56
2 5,000 1 4.50 5.15 9.93
3 5,000 2 4.50 5.75 9.34
4 7,500 3 4.50 6.29 8.80
5 10,000 4 4.50 6.80 8.31
6 5,000 5 4.50 7.27 7.84
evenly controlled with a constant-internal-
phase design, especially in treatments at high
flow rates down small tubing.
Conclusions
The use of the constant-internal-phase
design has proved successful for foam treat-
ments. The design technique provides for a
decreasing N
2
or CO
2
rate as proppant rate is
increased. Because all internal phases are
considered to be the same, higher proppant
concentrations of up to 12 lb/gal [1,438 g/m
3
]
have been placed successfully and with better
control of wellhead pumping pressure than
in conventional designs.
Fluid Recovery
The relationships between the productiv-
ity improvement factor, Fp, obtained by
hydraulic fracture stimulation and the dimen-
sionless fracture conductivity, C
fD
, of the
propped fracture have been published by
Prats.
20
C
fD
is proportional to proppant-pack
permeability, k
f
, and fracture width b
f
:
C
fD
k
f
b
f
, ........................................................ (4)
The fracture
conductivity
may be in-
creased by
enlarging the
propped fracture
width, b
f
, by
application of
high proppant
concentration.
This has become
popular during
the last few
years.
A dimen-
sionless fracture conductivity (C
fD
) of 15 is a
proper design value for (pseudo-) steady-
state flow conditions. This value is often not
achieved in practice. Moreover, the fracture
conductivity found from production-test
interpretation on hydraulically fractured
wells is often an order of magnitude smaller
than expected.
Tight reservoirs with high initial transient
production rates require higher dimension-
less fracture conductivities than indicated
above because these transient rates can last
for more than one year and significantly
contribute to the economic success of the
fracturing treatment. More sophisticated
tools, such as type curves or reservoir simula-
tors, are required to assess optimum fracture
conductivity in these cases.
Treatment Designs for Hydraulic
Fracturing
PROP Hydraulic Fracture Design
Program
Halliburtons premier hydraulic fracture
design program, PROP, has many features
and options that allow good engineering
design of most stimulation processes. For
Foam Applications in Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation 5-23
Table 5-10: PROP Foam Fracture Treatment Design Methods
Option
Total
Rate
Liquid
Rate
Clean
Quality
Internal
Phase
Fraction
Proppant's
Volume is-
0 Varies Constant Constant Varies Added to
1 Constant Constant Varies Constant Added to
2 Constant Constant Varies Constant Included in
3 Constant Varies Constant Varies Added to
example, PROP offers four methods of de-
signing a foam fracture treatment by direct
data entry and output, as shown in Table 5-
10.
Modifications, such as binary foam and
variations on the above standard options,
are readily accommodated by PROP.
The output of PROP assists designers,
customers, and operators in completing a
successful job by including functional infor-
mation such as rates for components and
proppant schedules as a function of time on
the job. Options include choosing outputs to
present foam quality at bottomhole static
temperature as specified or calculated.
Other features include the following:
Options to specify foam rates and
qualities (internal-phase fractions) (1)
in the fracture adjacent to the perfora-
tions (at calculated perforation tem-
peratures and BHTP), (2) at the frac-
ture tip (at BHST and BHTP), (3) at an
estimated average fracture tempera-
ture, or (4) at a user-selected tempera-
ture.
Allows differing qualities or internal-
phase fractions (IPF) from stage to
stage.
Allows differing injection rates from
stage to stage.
Design calculations may be made by a
variety of different techniques (con-
stant internal-phase fraction,
constant clean quality, etc.).
Note: because the calculations
allow qualities or IPFs to be
specified separately for each
treatment stage, the program
is flexible enough to allow
design using almost any
method of proportioning the
components (gas, liquid,
and proppant); some tech-
niques are simply more
automatic.
Foam friction and hydro-
static calculations are made along the
length of the wellbore so as to (1)
convert specified downhole rates and
qualities into component rates at
surface or standard conditions (i.e.,
pressures and temperatures), and (2)
help determine fluid temperature at
the perforations.
Up to five tubing/casing strings can
be considered.
Proppant is considered in the friction
as well as hydrostatic calculations.
Perforation friction is considered. The
user is allowed to specify the perfora-
tion discharge coefficient as well as
the number of (open) perforations.
Gas requirements for the treatment
are calculated.
N
2
foam and CO
2
treatments may be
designed.
For proppant settling calculations, a
settling velocity correlation is used.
One consequence of this calculation is
that if the gravitational forces on the
proppant particles are sufficient to
overcome the yield stress of the foam,
settling is predicted to occur; other-
wise, it is not.
Foam rheology is modeled using the
three-parameter Herschel-Bulkley
model. The values of n, K, and
0
are
determined from the correlations
5-24 Foam Applications in Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation
developed by
Reidenbach
19
et
al. that take
into consider-
ation the gel-
phase rheology
and the com-
position of the
internal phase
(N
2
or CO
2
).
The rheological
parameters can
change not
only from
stage to stage,
but with time
and tempera-
ture as the
properties of
the external
phase (i.e.,
base gel) change.
Notes: A few of the mentioned features
are not available at the moment, but
will be available in the next major
release of the PROP program (now in
preliminary testing).
FracPac II
A Halliburton FracPac II treatment is
designed to create a short, wide, and highly
conductive fracture that will enhance hydro-
carbon production in poorly consolidated
formations. FracPac II can help alleviate
permeability damage and sand migration
production barriers. FracPac II also offers
advantages over conventional gravel-pack
treatments by avoiding near-wellbore dam-
age and providing longer term, more success-
ful, sand/fines migration control. FracPac II
stresses the use of modern technology for
design and job execution.
Two reservoir properties commonly
associated with poorly consolidated rocks are
low Youngs Modulus and high permeability.
FracPac takes advantage of both parameters.
Low values of Youngs Modulus allow for
relatively wide fracture widths, as compared
to more stiff, or higher modulus, rocks.
Combining tip screenout with a low Youngs
Modulus helps create maximum fracture
width. High permeability allows significant
fluid leakoff during the screenout mode,
resulting in an increased concentration of
proppant in the fracture at the end of the job.
The result is a maximum amount of proppant
placed per square foot of fracture area. This
counteracts the effect of permeability damage
and improves sand control.
Candidate Selection
The FracPac II process can be applied to
reservoirs where the rock is anticipated to
fail, leading to sand production. Assessment
of the failure mechanisms for a given reser-
voir will supply information critical for a
successful design. Core samples and pressure
analysis, along with drilling and/or comple-
tions records, should be analyzed. With
Fig. 5-15: The pressure drop near the wellbore, due to radial convergence and
damage, can initiate formation failure. FracPac II technology focuses on minimizing
this pressure drop for a given flow rate.
p
skin
p
(flow convergence)
r x
s f
Radius
Pressure
p
i
Foam Applications in Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation 5-25
adequate information, the hydraulic fracture
that is necessary to prevent failure can be
designed.
Reservoir candidates should have a
permeability of sufficient magnitude (nor-
mally > 5 mD) so that fracture conductivity is
more important than fracture length. The
following list represents conditions that
would make a well suitable for a FracPac II
treatment:
Reservoir rock that fails due to high
pressure drawdown developed near
the wellbore (Fig. 5-15)
Reservoir rock that fails due to pore
collapse
Reservoirs that have a history of sand
production
Reservoirs that require restricted
production rates to prevent sand
migration
Reservoirs that are overpressured,
resulting in the sand being poorly
compacted
Formations that tend to have water
coning problems
Gravel-packed
wells that have lost
productivity due to
pore collapse (Fig. 5-
16)
Poorly consoli-
dated reservoirs
exhibiting permeabil-
ity damage from
drilling/completions
fluids
Factors that will
adversely affect
selection of a candi-
date well are the
location of oil/water
contact or gas/oil
contact. These should
be considered when
treating a specific
zone. Low stress
contrast of boundary layers may result in too
much height growth. The manner in which a
wellbore is perforated may have a negative
impact upon a treatment. Wellbore tubulars
must be of sufficient strength to withstand
the execution of the job. As with any comple-
tion, the quality of the cement job, both in
bonding quality and TOC, should be exam-
ined for possible inter-zonal communication.
Wireline Logging
Knowing key rock properties is essential
for a successful design. Wireline logging data
should be used to obtain this data if labora-
tory analysis is not available. The optimum
situation would occur when logging informa-
tion is available to correlate with laboratory
tests. The recommended suite of logs follows:
Open Hole Logging
Full wave sonic log/Dipole sonic
Density log
Formation tester
Cased Hole Logging
Time
Productivity
Normal decline
FracPac II treatment
Apparent gravel-
Regravel pack
pack failure
Fig. 5-16: Productivity decline, which may appear to be due from gravel pack failure,
may actually result from pore collapse. A FracPac treatment would be the only way
of reaching past this type of formation damage.
5-26 Foam Applications in Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation
Full wave sonic cased hole tool/
Dipole sonic (the quality of the ce-
ment bond will affect the efficiency of
the tool in this case)
The post processing of this information
provides the following logs:
Formation Strength
This log calculates the drawdown neces-
sary to cause rock failure and sand produc-
tion. The Mohr-Coulomb failure model is
used. Information from the sonic and density
logs are used in this analysis. For cased hole
logging, values from a previously run density
log must be used, or estimated from other
sources.
Fracpressure Log
The Fracpressure log calculates the least
principal horizontal stress. In addition to the
stress profile, a complete listing of all the
critical rock properties are presented. These
include Youngs Modulus, lithology, water
saturation, average interval pressures, and
fracture barrier identification. The formation
tester, used to measure pore pressure, in-
creases the accuracy of stress calculations. For
cased-hole logs, the value of pore pressure
must be estimated.
Stress data, from the Fracpressure log,
can be input directly into the FracPac II
design simulator.
Perforating
The manner that a well is perforated may
affect a FracPac treatment. The phasing of the
perforations and wellbore deviation through
the pay are two of the most critical factors. If
the option is open as how to perforate the
reservoir for a FracPac candidate, this portion
of the design should be carefully studied.
For vertical completions, multiple phase
perforating (other than 0/180 phasing) will
most likely result in a high percentage of
holes taking little or no sand during the
treatment. At the least, this will necessitate a
gravel pack to be incorporated following the
FracPac. If the gravel pack fails to exclude
fines from entering the wellbore from un-
treated holes, the success of the FracPac may
be obscured. The recommended approach for
vertical wells is to perforate with 0/180
phasing. Preferably, the phases would be in
line with the direction of fracture orientation.
For deviated and horizontal wellbores,
attention must be given to the fact that
multiple fractures can be formed (Fig. 5-17).
Unless the axis of the wellbore is closely
aligned with the maximum principal horizon-
tal stress, multiple fractures will likely occur.
The result of this is premature screenouts.
The recommended approach, for wells drilled
in the direction of the minimum horizontal
stress, is to cluster the perforations within a
1- or 2-ft section to increase the likelihood
that a one-fracture system will develop.
Fracture Design
To obtain a successful FracPac II design,
the following parameters must be considered:
Fracture geometry
Tip screenout
Fluid loss
Injection rate
Proppant selection
Proppant concentration
Proppant embedment
Fluid viscosity
Concerning stimulation, fracture length is
not as important as the permeability contrast
between the fracture and formation. Fracture
length should be adequate to extend beyond
near wellbore damage and the area where
radial convergent flow occurs. In many cases,
a fracture length of 30 to 50 ft [10 to 16.4 m]
may be quite adequate for successful results.
There may be circumstances where
increased fracture length is required to obtain
Foam Applications in Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation 5-27
Fig. 5-17: For deviated wellbores, especially those that are horizontal, the relationship of the principal stresses will
have a major impact upon fracture initiation.
sufficient fracture width for proppant place-
ment. Also, if pore collapse is anticipated as
pressure is depleted (causing permeability
reduction), fracture length should be ex-
tended. Once fracture length becomes impor-
tant for stimulation purposes, and can be
economically justified from production
improvement, the process should be consid-
ered as a fracturing job rather than a FracPac.
Fracture width needs to be maximized.
The goal is to place the highest possible
amount of proppant per square foot of
fracture area. Fluid viscosity and pressure
increase from tip screenout are the factors
that will govern fracture width. The propped
fracture width should be close to the created
width.
It would be best for the fracture height to
be limited within the zone of interest. Accu-
rate stress logs, used with a simulator, will
serve to estimate the effect of boundary
layers on height growth. In the absence of
stress barriers, a penny-shaped fracture can
be expected. In this case, treatment volume
would control height growth. Fracture length
and height would maintain a constant pro-
portion.
5-28 Foam Applications in Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation
Fluid loss at the fracture wall can make it
difficult to maintain fracture extension. For
permeable formations, a fluid efficiency of 10
to 20% is quite common. As the area of the
fracture grows, the total leakoff may actually
increase to the point that it equals injection
rate. Increasing the injection rate, maximizing
fluid viscosity, and using fluid-loss additives
will help improve the fluid efficiency. Of
these options, changing injection rate will
have the greatest impact on fluid efficiency.
However, this option may also result in
undesirable height growth and increase the
job cost. High fluid loss will provide the
benefit of being able to pack the fracture with
sand during the screenout mode.
Proppant selection should focus upon
maximizing the permeability of the propped
fracture, especially near the wellbore. For a
given production rate, drawdown will de-
crease as flow capacity in the fracture in-
creases (Fig. 5-15). For permeable formations,
it is very difficult to obtain sufficient flow
capacity to change the radial pattern of fluid
flow to the wellbore. To do so requires sig-
nificant concentrations of large proppant.
When sand/fines migration is initiated at
reduced drawdown, the proppant will need
to be selected based upon the sieve analysis
of the formation. Normally a proppant size is
determined by multiplying the mean diam-
eter of proppant grains (d
50
) of the formation
sieve analysis by five or six. This will result in
a flow capacity that is less than optimal.
However, the surface area over which the
formation is screened will be much larger
than with a gravel pack.
The job should be designed to reach high
proppant concentrations early in the job.
Maximum concentration will need to be
based on numerous factors including rate,
fluid type, and field experience. High prop-
pant concentrations will minimize the vol-
ume of fluid lost to the formation to obtain a
packed fracture. If for some reason screenout
does not occur, the existing proppant concen-
tration will offer significant benefits.
The use of PropLok coating system is
highly recommended. This curable resin,
added on-the-fly at the blender tub, will
alleviate flowback problems associated with
high proppant concentrations and low clo-
sure stresses. PropLok may also reduce
proppant embedment and provide an addi-
tional way of controlling sand migration.
Proppant embedment will reduce the
propped fracture width significantly in many
instances. Narrow propped frac widths may
actually allow the fracture to heal. This is an
additional reason for maximizing frac width
and placing as much proppant as possible
per unit area of fracture.
The fluid used for a FracPac will need
adequate viscosity to create a wide fracture
and place the proppant. The 60 to 80 lb/1,000
gal [7.2 to 9.6 kg/m
3
] linear HEC gels popular
for gravel packing will work for FracPac
purposes. Other fluid systems, such as
BoraGel/Hybor Gel, PUR-GEL, and Kleen
Gel II, will offer superior viscosity. Often, this
is accomplished at a reduced cost.
As formation permeability increases, the
deeper the fracturing fluid invades into the
fracture wall. Also, stabilized fluid-loss
control is reached earlier in time as perme-
ability increases. There are indications that
complexed gel systems may aid fluid-loss
control and reduce the depth of invasion at
the fracture face.
The use of N
2
or CO
2
foam should also be
considered for FracPac treatments. Foam
fluids may act to control excessive leakoff
without the aid of additional fluid-loss
additivies. Less liquid is available to cause
permeability damage at the fracture face.
Improved flow capacity, in the propped
fracture, can be expected due to less polymer
usage. The gas phase of the foam may also
act to aid in fluid recovery.
Foam Applications in Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation 5-29
3-D Fracture Design Simulator
The FracPac 3-D Fracture Design Simula-
tor program uses planned screenout as a way
to place large amounts of proppant per
square foot of fracture area. Injecting prop-
pant-laden fluid into the formation will
continue after tip screenout has begun. The
job will continue until a predetermined
increase in bottomhole pressure is reached.
The simulator tracks changes in fracture
geometry and proppant placement. Forma-
tion characteristics and pumping schedule
are required to be input by the user. A net
increase in bottomhole pressure must also be
entered.
The program provides for three stress
options. The first option is to enter an aver-
age stress for the upper boundary and one
for the lower boundary. The second option is
to enter stress vs. depth pairs for the bound-
ary layers. The third option is for the simula-
tor to directly read stresses from digitized
full-wave sonic log data files.
Prefracture Testing
Prefracture testing incorporates a series of
pumping jobs, prior to the FracPac, that yield
valuable information about the target reser-
voir. For extremely short fracture lengths,
these tests may not prove to be economical.
However, as job volumes increase and de-
signs call for extended fracture lengths, these
tests will prove beneficial to overall success.
Fig. 5-18: Example of a FracPac 3D Fracture Design Simulator output.
5-30 Foam Applications in Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation
Of the prefracture testing techniques, the
minifrac yields the most useful information
but will cost the most. The most valuable
piece of data obtained from the minifrac is
the fluid-loss coefficient. A temperature
survey or radioactive tracer log may be run in
conjunction with the minifrac for determining
fracture height. A dual minifrac may be used
for determining both the C
w
and spurt loss.
Downhole Tools
Ideally, FracPac II treatments are per-
formed using open-ended tubing that allows
monitoring bottomhole treating pressure
from the annulus. Niether screens nor gravel
packing would be required as a part of the
completion system.
Where a treating packer is required, it is
useful to incorporate a downhole pressure
gauge to record bottomhole treating pressure.
This data can then be analyzed after the job
for trends in pressure that are not affected by
tubular friction. This would be especially
beneficial for the first jobs performed in a
field.
Gravel packing may be required in very
poorly consolidated reservoirs, in instances
where perforation phasing and density
would require a gravel pack, and in deviated
wellbores where significant footage is perfo-
rated. Special tools will be required.
Otis Sand Control provides a complete
line of sand control screens manufactured by
Howard Smith Screen Company. These
include all-welded wire wrap and Sinter-Pak
screens. The Sinter-Pak screen design excels
in resisting bending and compression stresses
encountered in deviated or horizontal holes.
Such screens are also more efficiently cleaned
with acid than other designs.
Multi-position gravel-pack systems are
designed to provide a variety of operating
positions. Multi-position tools allow the
Versa-Trieve gravel-pack assembly to be run
and set hydraulically. Once the packer and
assembly is set, the four gravel-pack posi-
tions are obtained by reciprocating the work
string. No rotation is required throughout the
entire operation.
Before performing a FracPac II treatment,
the effect of pressure and temperature on the
tubulars should be checked by calculating
expected tubing contraction.
Example Procedure
The following is an example of a recom-
mended procedure for executing a FracPac II
design on location. This includes downhole
equipment for gravel packing.
1. If required, pull existing gravel pack
from well.
2. Go in hole with tubing and circulate
well clean with filtered completion
fluid. Pull out of hole.
3. Pick up gravel-pack assembly (screen,
packer, and multi-position tool).
4. Go in hole slowly until two stands off
depth. Make slow pick up and
slack off and record weight indica-
tor readings.
5. If applicable, tag sump packer and
verify position.
6. Rig up Halliburton Services pump
equipment.
7. Test surface lines to necessary maxi-
mum.
8. Break circulation by pumping down
workstring.
9. Hydraulically set packer at required
depth.
10. Calculate differential pressure be-
tween slurry weight of final proppant
concentration and annular fluid over
depth of workstring. Test tubing/
casing annulus to 500 to 1,000 psi
above this value.
11. Reverse one tubing volume with
filtered completion fluid.
12. Hold prejob safety meeting to cover
sequence of job events.
Foam Applications in Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation 5-31
13. Break circulation to establish lower,
upper, and reverse positions; record
all rates, volumes, and pressures.
14. Locate multi-position tool to reverse
position, and pump a tubing cleaning
treatment (pickle treatment).
15. Place tool in reverse position, and
spot minifrac fluid to end of tubing.
16. Perform first portion of dual minifrac
with an initial volume equal to 20% of
the FracPac treatment volume, or 100
gal per gross foot minimum. Use
identical fluid and pump rate as
planned for the FracPac. Incorporate a
radioactive isotope.
17. Monitor shut-in pressure for two to
four times pump time.
18. Execute second minifrac with approxi-
mately 13 to 15% of the FracPac
volume. Monitor shut-in as with first
job.
19. Rig up and run gamma ray and
temperature log.
20. Calculate closure pressure and fluid-
loss coefficient from minifrac and log
data.
21. Adjust FracPac procedure, if neces-
sary.
22. Execute FracPac:
Monitor treating pressure for
BHTP trends.
If screenout mode is reached,
reduce rate to stay below maximum
wellhead treating pressure.
Have additional fluid and prop-
pant available so that job can be
extended, in case screenout does not
occur.
If screenout has not occurred
when proppant slurry left to inject
equals the gravel-pack requirement,
slow rate to 2 bbl/min to force
screenout.
Do not overflush.
23. If screenout does not occur, conduct
gravel-pack operation.
Minifractures
"Minifracture" treatments, or
prestimulation injection tests, have been used
to estimate fluid-loss characteristics since
1979. This technology has only recently been
extended to foams. Meaningful minifracture
analyses require fluids with similar or identi-
cal properties to the actual stimulation fluids.
Conventional aqueous fracturing fluids are
inappropriate for estimating the fluid-loss
behavior of gasified fluids. Foams exhibit
great compressibility and thermal effects
during shut-in that can mask actual fluid-loss
behavior. The capability to account for these
effects and properly analyze the pressure
response would be very beneficial in optimiz-
ing stimulation treatments using fluids
foamed with N
2
or CO
2
.
Minifracture Analysis Technique
Analysis Theory
Minifracture analysis techniques, mostly
centered on the determination of fluid effi-
ciency and alternate fracture geometries,
involve prediction of volume loss from
pressure decline data following fracture
extension. The relationship is based on the
fracturing fluids being isothermal and incom-
pressible.
In practice, thermal and compressibility
effects of fluids in the wellbore and fracture
may become significant. Both of these effects
may cause significant underestimation of
fluid loss if the observed pressure decline is
analyzed using conventional methods.
Works by Soliman
21
and Tan et al.
22
show the
need to correct pressure declines from water-
based fracturing fluids in high bottomhole
temperature (usually above 250F) wells.
This technique generates an effective pres-
5-32 Foam Applications in Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation
sure decline for analysis. The magnitude of
the correction increases as fluid loss decreases
or bottomhole temperature increases.
A technique similar to that presented by
Soliman is used to estimate the effective
pressure decline. The equation is presented
below:
( )


eff p avg
t
s
C P
C
t
d
dt
dt + +

( )
, (5-7)
The above equation was used by Soliman
to obtain his effective pressure decline;
however, the pressure term was changed
from the difference between bottomhole
pressure and fracture-closure pressure to the
difference between the bottomhole pressure
and the reservoir pressure. The change is
significant, since the magnitude of the correc-
tion is based on this pressure drop. Since the
modification, excellent agreement between
effective pressure decline analysis and treat-
ment simulations has occurred.
22
For a
constant observed pressure decline this
change makes the effective pressure decline
extrapolate to reservoir pressure rather than
to fracture closure pressure.
C
p
, compressibility
coefficient, and C
t
, thermal
expansion coefficient, have
been calculated using the
volumetric average of the
fluid components. These
coefficients are corrected
with a volume fraction
which is defined as the
ratio of total volume
(wellbore volume and
fracture volume) to the
fracture volume. If the
wellbore is flushed with
incompressible fluids, the
wellbore volume is ne-
glected in the correction
and volume fraction would be unity.
The
s
term in Eq. 5-7 is defined as the ratio
of average to net wellbore pressure. For vari-
ous geometry models,
s
was derived as fol-
lows:
23
( )

s
n n a

+ + +

1
]
1
1
1
2 2 2 3
32
' / ( ' )
/
for Pk
0.9 for Cz
3 for Radial
2
, (5-8)
where n is the power-law exponent for
fluid and a is the viscosity constant.
The viscosity constant, a, can range from 0
for uniform viscosity fluid to 2 for fluids that
strongly degrade with temperature.
The correction technique in Eq. 5-7 requires
a thermal recovery profile during shut-in to
determine the thermal effect on the pressure
decline. The thermal recovery profile has a
significant effect on the correction of pressure
decline. Bottomhole gauges are recommended
for monitoring the actual bottomhole tempera-
ture recovery profile. Mathematical tempera-
ture simulators can be used to estimate the
wellbore and fracture profiles. The current
method assumes that the change in tempera-
Fig. 5-19: Pressure decline for pump-in/shut-in Test 2.
Foam Applications in Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation 5-33
ture within the wellbore and fracture length
can be approximated by the thermal response
at the perforations.
A technique presented by Lee
24
was used
to obtain the fracture geometry and fluid loss
coefficient once a corrected pressure decline
was obtained. This technique makes use of
an energy balance equation instead of the
pressure difference between the ISIP and P
c
to determine the fracture geometry. This
technique gives more applicable values than
previous methods.
Minifracture Test Results
Minifracture tests were performed in
Webb County, Texas. Following are the
results.
25
Well Data
Reservoir Temperature: 215F
Reservoir Pressure: 4,200 psi
Permeability: 1-10 md
Minifracture Fluids
Pump-in/Shut-in Test 1 -
40 lb CMHPG/Mgal in 4%
KCl with 50 lb degradable
particulate fluid-loss
additive/Mgal
Pump-in/Shut-in Test 2 -
70-quality CO
2
foam with
40 lb CMHPG/Mgal
delayed crosslinked fluid
and 15 lb degradable
particulate fluid-loss
additive/Mgal foam
Treatment Fluids
Same as pump-in/shut-in Test 2.
Proposed Treatment Actual Treatment
Schedule Schedule
3,000 gal pre-pad 3,000 gal pre-pad
15,000 gal pad 10,000 gal pad
13,500 gal 5,000 gal
@ 2 to 8 lb/gal 16/20 ISP @ 2 to 8 lb/gal 16/20 ISP
1,500 gal 2,000 gal
@ 8 lb/gal 16/20 ISP* @ 8 lb/gal 16/20 ISP*
1,570 gal flush 1,100 gal flush
*resin-coated
The pressure decline for pump-in/shut-in
Test 1 is presented in Fig. 5-19. A fluid-loss
coefficient of 0.0055 ft/sqrt (min) was calcu-
lated with a closure pressure of 5,100 psi.
The pressure decline for pump-in/shut-in
Test 2 is presented in Fig. 5-20. A fluid-loss
coefficient of 0.0032 ft/sqrt (min) was calcu-
lated with the observed data and a fluid-loss
coefficient of 0.0050 ft/sqrt (min) was calcu-
lated with corrected data. The fluid-loss
coefficient increased about 35% as a result of
the correction. It is noteworthy that the foam
yielded a lower fluid-loss coefficient than the
base gel despite having a lower concentration
of degradable particulate fluid loss additive.
Fig. 5-20: Observed and corrected pressure declines for pump-in/shut-in
Test 2.
5-34 Foam Applications in Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation
The tracer and temperature surveys indicated
that gross fracture height was about one-half
of what was expected.
The treatment design was modified using
the fluid-loss coefficient of 0.0050 ft/sqrt
(min) and the smaller gross fracture height.
The treatment screened out after about 70%
of the flush was pumped. Simulation of the
screenout with a two-dimensional fracture
model yielded a fluid-loss coefficient of
0.0058 ft/sqrt (min). This is even higher than
the value calculated with the corrected
minifracture data. The treatment would
probably have screened out much sooner if
the uncorrected fluid loss coefficient had been
used to modify the design.
Conclusions
Foam fluids have established their value
as low damage fracturing fluids. Foams have
good inherent fluid-loss control characteris-
tics. Foams containing polymers leave a
much thinner gel filtercake residue than
nonfoamed fluids. The proppant bed regains
a high percentage of conductivity after
treatment. Foams have a low water content,
so there is less aqueous fluid to recover from
the formation after the fracturing treatment.
Gas in the foams expands to assist in recov-
ery of treatment fluids.
The rheology of foams has been charac-
terized. Crosslinked foams provide easier
placement of proppant in a formation than
noncrosslinked-gel foams. Constant-internal-
phase designs provide higher proppant
concentrations downhole.
The positive benefits of clean foam fluids
are partially offset by the slightly higher cost
of a foam fracturing treatment. But where
formation damage is a major factor in select-
ing a fracturing fluid, foams are the fluid of
choice.
References
1. Warnock, W.E., Harris, P.C., and King,
D.S.: Successful Field Applications of
CO
2
-Foam Fracturing Fluids in the Ar-
kansas-Louisiana-Texas Region, JPT (Jan
1985) 80-88.
2. Bleakley, W.B.: Mitchell Energy Foam
Fracs Tight Gas Zones, Pet. Engr. Intl.
(Dec 1980) 24-26.
3. Harris, P.C., Klebenow, D.E., and
Kundert, D.P.: Constant-Internal-Phase
Design Improves Stimulation Results,
SPEPE (Feb. 1991) 15-19.
4. Harris, P.C.: A Comparison of Mixed
Gas Foams With N
2
and CO
2
Foam
Fracturing Fluids on a Flow Loop Vis-
cometer, paper SPE 20642 presented at
the 1990 SPE Annual Technical Confer-
ence and Exhibition, New Orleans, Sept.
23-26.
5. Mitchell, B.J.: Viscosity of Foam, PhD
dissertation, Univ. of Oklahoma (1970).
6. J.L. Gidley, et al., Ed.: Recent Advances in
Hydraulic Fracturing, , Monograph Series,
SPE, (1989) 12 198-209.
7. Borchardt, J.K., et al.:Surfactants for CO
2
Foam Flooding, paper SPE 14394 pre-
sented at the 1985 SPE Annual Technical
Conference and Exhibition, Las Vegas,
Sept. 22-25.
8. Nikolov, A.D., et al.: The Effect of Oil on
Foam Stability: Mechanisms and Implica-
tions for Oil Displacement by Foam in
Porous Media, paper SPE 15443 pre-
sented at the 1986 SPE Annual Technical
Conference and Exhibition, New Orleans,
Oct. 5-8.
9. Norman, L.R., Hollenbeak, K.H., and
Harris, P.C.: Fracture Conductivity
Impairment Removal, paper SPE 19732
presented at the 1989 SPE Annual Techni-
cal Conference and Exhibition, San Anto-
nio, Oct. 8-11.
Foam Applications in Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation 5-35
10. Harris, P.C.: Dynamic Fluid-Loss Char-
acteristics of CO
2
-Foam Fracturing Flu-
ids, SPEPE (May 1987) 89-94.
11. Davies, D.R. and Kulper, T.O.H.: Frac-
ture Conductivity in Hydraulic Fracture
Stimulation, JPT (May 1988) 550-552.
12. Blauer, R.E. and Kohlhaas, C.A.: Forma-
tion Fracturing with Foam, paper SPE
5003 presented at the 1974 SPE Annual
Meeting, Houston, Oct. 6-9.
13. Howard, G.C., and Fast, C.R.: Hydraulic
Fracturing, Monograph Series, SPE,
Richardson, TX (1970) 2, 36.
14. Holm, L.W.: The Mechansim of Gas and
Liquid Flow Through Porous Media in
the Presence of Foam,: SPEJ (Dec. 1968)
359-69.
15. Guppy, K.H. et al.: Non-Darcy Flow in
Wells with Finite-Conductivity Vertical
Fractures, SPEJ (Oct. 1982) 681-98.
16. Much, M., and Penny, G.S.: Long-Term
Performance of Proppants Under Simu-
lated Reservoir Conditions, paper SPE
16415 presented at the 1987 SPE/DOE
Low-Permeability Reservoirs Symposium,
Denver, May 18-19.
17. McDaniel, B.W.: Conductivity Testing of
Proppants at High Temperature and
Stress, paper SPE 15067 presented at the
1986 SPE California Regional Meeting,
Oakland, April 2-4.
18. Roodhart, L.P., Kuiper, T.O.H., and
Davies, D.R.: Proppant Pack and Forma-
tion Impairment During Gas Well Hy-
draulic Fracturing, paper SPE 15629
presented at the 1986 SPE Annual Techni-
cal Conference and Exhibition, New
Orleans, Oct. 5-8.
19. Reidenbach, V.G., Harris, P.C., Lee, Y.N.,
and Lord, D.L.: Rheological Study of
Foam Fracturing Fluids Using Nitrogen
and Carbon Dioxide, SPEPE (Jan. 1986)
31-41.
20. Prats, M.: Effect of Vertical Fractures on
Reservoir Behavior; Incompressible Fluid
Case, SPEJ (June 1961) 105-17; Trans.,
AIME (1961) 222.
21. Soliman, M.Y.: "Technique for Consider-
ing Fluid Compressibility and Tempera-
ture Changes in Minifrac Analysis," paper
SPE 15370 presented at 1986 SPE Annual
Technical Conference and Exhibition,
New Orleans, Oct. 5-8.
22. Tan, H.C., McGowen, J.M., and Soliman,
M.Y.: "Field Application of Minifrac
Analysis to Improve Fracturing Treat-
ment Design," SPE Production Engineering
(May 1990) 125-132.
23. Nolte, K.G.: "A General Analysis of
Fracturing Pressure Decline with Applica-
tion to Three Models," SPE Formation
Evaluation, (Dec. 1986) 571-583.
24. Lee, W.S.: "Study of the Effects of Fluid
Rheology on Minifrac Analysis," paper
SPE 16916 presented at the 1987 SPE
Annual Technical Conference and Exhibi-
tion, Dallas, Sept. 17-30.
25. Juranek, T.A., et al.: "Minifracture Analy-
ses and Stimulation Treatment Results for
CO
2
-Energized Fracturing Fluids in South
Texas Gas Reservoirs," paper SPE 20706
presented at the 1990 SPE Annual Techni-
cal Conference and Exhibition, New
Orleans, Sept. 23-26.
Additional References
Biot, M.A., Masse, L., and Medlin, W.L.:
Temperature Analysis in Hydraulic
Fracturing, JPT (Nov. 1987) 1389-1397.
Craighead, M.S., Hossaini, M., and Freeman,
E.R.: Foam Fracturing Utilizing Delayed
Crosslinked Gels, paper SPE 14437
presented at the 1985 SPE Annual Techni-
cal Conference and Exhibition, Las Vegas,
Sept. 22-25.
Ely, J.W., Arnold, W.T., and Holditch, S.A.:
New Techniques and Quality Control
Find Success in Enhancing Productivity
5-36 Foam Applications in Hydraulic Fracturing Stimulation
and Minimizing Proppant Flowback,
paper SPE 20708 presented at the 1990
SPE Annual Technical Conference and
Exhibition, New Orleans, Sept. 23-26.
Harris, P.C.: Dynamic Fluid-Loss Character-
istics of Nitrogen Foam Fracturing Flu-
ids, JPT (Oct. 1985) 1847-1852.
Harris, P.C., Haynes, R.J., and Egger, J.P.:
The Use of CO
2
-Based Fracturing Fluids
in the Red Fork Formation in the
Anadarko Basin, Oklahoma, JPT (June
1984) 1003-1008.
Harris, P.C.: Effects of Texture on Rheology
of Foam Fracturing Fluids, SPEPE (Aug.
1989) 249-257.
Robinson, B.M., Holditch, S.A., and
Whitehead, W.S.: Minimizing Damage
to a Propped Fracture by Controlling
Flowback Procedures, JPT (June 1988)
753-759.
Stim-Lab, Inc, Consortium: Preliminary
Report on the Investigation of the Effects
of Fracturing Fluids upon the Conductiv-
ity of Proppants, June 22, 1989.
Watkins, E.K., Wendorff, C.L., and Ainley,
B.R.: A New Crosslinked Foamed Frac-
turing Fluid, paper SPE 12027 presented
at the 1983 SPE Annual Technical Confer-
ence and Exhibition, San Francisco, Oct. 5-
8.
Foam Cementing 6-1
Section 6
Foam Cementing
Contents
Introduction .............................................................................................6-3
Foam Generation ....................................................................................6-4
Stabilizing Additives ..................................................................................... 6-4
Strength Development ................................................................................. 6-5
Gas Injection ................................................................................................ 6-5
Downhole Behavior .................................................................................6-7
Constant Gas Rate Foam Cement .............................................................. 6-7
Constant Density Foam Cement .................................................................. 6-7
Cement and Additives .............................................................................6-9
Job Considerations ............................................................................... 6-10
Primary Cementing .................................................................................... 6-10
Squeeze Cementing .................................................................................. 6-11
Design Considerations ......................................................................... 6-12
Prejob Checklist ......................................................................................... 6-12
Operator ...............................................................................................6-12
Service Company ................................................................................. 6-12
Drilling Contractor ................................................................................ 6-13
Using a Reactive Flush .............................................................................. 6-13
Cement Rheology ...................................................................................... 6-13
Evaluating Foam Cementing Results.................................................... 6-14
6-2 Foam Cementing
Foam Cementing 6-3
Foam Cementing
Introduction
There have always been areas in which
weak zones can support only a limited height
of a normal-density (11 to 18 lb/gal) cement
column without breaking down. Foam
cement provides a means of preparing 4 to 15
lb/gal cementing slurries that develop rela-
tively high compressive strengths in a mini-
mum period of time, even at low formation
temperatures.
The use of foamed cement offers a low-
density slurry that
develops relatively high compressive
strengths and low permeabilities
protects water-sensitive clay, shale,
and salt formations
can control high-volume water flow in
weak formations, when mixed as a
quick-set formula
enhances protection against annular
gas invasion
is economically competitive
can be used from 28 to 600F.
Halliburton Foam Cement is a stabilized
system consisting of cement with carefully
chosen additives, a foam stabilizer, a gas
(usually nitrogen), and water. Success of
foam cement comes from the ability to main-
tain cement slurry density below the hydro-
static breakdown of sensitive formations,
Fig. 6-1: Equipment needed in the field to mix and monitor foam cements is very similar to that used in conventional
jobs. The major exceptions are the foam generator inserted into the slurry discharge and the nitrogen unit.
6-4 Foam Cementing
which prevents lost circulation and fallback
problems. This density control flexibility
allows a wide latitude in designing the
overall job before it is actually run in the
field. Appropriate computer-assisted pro-
grams are used for prejob planning. If neces-
sary, one can choose to change the density as
the pressure and circulation events vary
during job execution.
To prepare a stable foam cement, the
slurry should be conveyed through an effec-
tive mechanical foam generating device that
imparts sufficient energy and mixing action
with pressurized gas to prepare uniform gas
bubbles of the correct size. In nearly all
respects, regular cementing equipment is set
up as for an ordinary cementing job. The
foam generator is inserted in the cement
slurry discharge line that is connected to the
well head, and the nitrogen unit is connected
to the foam generator. The cement slurry is
mixed in a normal fashion, and foaming
surfactants and stabilizers are injected into
the slurry as it is picked up by the displace-
ment pump unit. Fig. 6-1 on the previous
page depicts a typical field job equipment
layout.
Foam Generation
Stabilizing Additives
Foam cement requires that a stable foam
be created in which the entrained gas is
trapped in discrete bubbles that are uni-
formly dispersed throughout the slurry. If
gas bubbles are not discrete and within a
certain size range, the foam may be unstable,
and the set cement will have high permeabil-
ity and low compressive strength. Retained
stability at high foam quality is important for
foam cements with densities less than 9 lb/
gal. Small, fine foam bubbles are believed to
promote stronger cement walls around the
bubbles and provide a set cement of in-
creased integrity.
Stabilization is achieved by using an
efficient foaming surfactant in addition to an
effective chemical foam stabilizer. Halliburton
Foam Stabilizer is recommended for circulat-
ing temperatures of 50 to 110F and HC-2 for
temperatures greater than 110F. The normal
surfactant requirement is 1.5% foam additive
and 0.75% foam stabilizer, with both quanti-
ties based on the volume of mixing water that
the cement slurry is mixed with. Both addi-
tives are mixed together, stirred to insure
uniformity, and then injected as one solution
with an injection pump. This results in
Table 6-1: Effect of Water Ratio on Foam Cement Strengths
Water Ratio 0.72 0.60 0.46 0.38
Surface Density of Cement Slurry (lb/gal) 13.6* 14.5** 15.6** 16.4**
Compressive Strength (psi)
Curing Time 24 hr 72 hr 24 hr 72 hr 24 hr 72 hr 24 hr 72 hr
Density of Foam (lb/gal)
8 224 230 260 518 395 665 825 1070
6 84 128 131 168 163 288 235 208
4 43 57 38 82 18 56 20 60
Samples cured at atmospheric pressure and 100F. All samples contained 1.5% surfactant + 0.75% stabilizer by volume of water.
* Class H + 2% solids stabilizer + 2% CaCl2
** Class H + 3% CaCl2
Foam Cementing 6-5
approximately 0.4 gal of foam additive and
0.2 gal of foam stabilizer being injected per
barrel of surface cement slurry.
Strength Development
As with ordinary slurries, the
water to cement ratio (w/c) of a foam
cement slurry strongly affects the
strength of the set solid. This is illus-
trated by the results in Table 6-1. The
chemical and physical properties of
the cement also affect strength devel-
opment as shown in Fig. 6-2. Perme-
ability of set foam cement varies as a
function of both entrained gas volume
and curing temperature. Table 6-2 lists
typical permeability data.
To those familiar with the lack of
strength development of ordinary low-
density oil well cements (10 to 11.5 lb/
gal), the ability of foam cement to
achieve strengths in excess of 500 psi
with air permeabilities less than 20 md
at cool temperature conditions seems
remarkable. Foam cement achieves
higher strengths than water-extended
cements primarily because of the very
low density of gas versus the density
of water. As a result, it takes
fewer volumes of gas per vol-
ume of cement to achieve the
same density reduction. Absence
of these additional dilution
volumes in foam cement results
in much stronger, competent
cement. Table 6-3 on the next
page presents some typical
compressive strengths of foam
cement.
Gas Injection
The required gas injection
rate per barrel of cement slurry
should be determined by enter-
ing the job data in a foam cement computer
program (such as FMCEM). Fig. 6-3 on the
next page shows typical nitrogen require-
ments for an 8.5 lb/gal foam cement. Foam
jobs can be designed using a constant nitro-
1,400
1,200
1,000
800
600
400
200
4 6 8 10
Density (lb/gal)
Class C + 2% CaCl2
w/c = 0.56
Class A + 2% CaCl2
Class H + 2% CaCl2
w/c = 0.46
w/c = 0.38
C
o
m
p
r
e
s
s
i
v
e

S
t
r
e
n
g
t
h

(
p
s
i
)
Fig. 6-2: This graph of results from a 24-hour compressive
strength development test run at 100F illustrates how physical
and chemical properties can affect foam cement strength
development.
Table 6-2: Permeability of Set Foam Cement, K (air)
Surface slurry =
Class H + 2%
CaCl2, w/c = 0.38
Density (lb/gal)
4 6 8 10
Temp Permeability (md)
65F 129 28 1.3 1.5
85F 159 111 6.7 2.3
Surface slurry =
Class C + 2%
CaCl2, w/c = 0.56
Density (lb/gal)
4 6 8 10
Temp Permeability (md)
65F -- 15.2 1.32 1.12
85F -- 846* 0.42 0.11
* Sample most likely had a microcrack present
6-6 Foam Cementing
gen (N
2)
rate or a constant downhole density.
With a constant N
2
rate, if the cemented
interval is long or back to the surface, dra-
matic density changes can occur because of
the decreasing hydrostatic
pressure as the slurry rises
in the annulus.
This problem can be
avoided by initiating the
job with a low N
2
rate and
increasing the rate as the
job proceeds. To inject the
ever-changing quantity of
N
2
required to produce a
column of constant final
density is not operationally
feasible. Instead, foam jobs
based on constant density
can be successfully per-
formed with the N
2
rate
varied incrementally. If the
increments are sufficiently
small, the density variations will also be
small.
Unfortunately, constant density designs
have problems also. When the first stages
Table 6-3: Compressive Strengths of Foam Cement
Curing Temperature 65F 100F 140F
Curing Time 12 hr 24 hr 72 hr 12 hr 24 hr 72 hr 12 hr 24 hr 72 hr
Density
of Foam
(lb/gal)
Compressive Strength (psi)
Surface Slurry:
15.6 lb/gal
(Class A, 2.0%
CaCl2)
10 130 220 490 370 630 1,040 510 870 1,100
8 70 190 210 230 530 720 250 430 680
6 40 100 210 150 230 300 160 340 200
4 10 60 38 60 110 140 70 110 60
Surface Slurry:
14.8 lb/gal
(Class C, 2.0%
CaCl2)
10 50 410 1,130 260 1,280 1,280 650 1,250 1,390
8 70 240 320 270 350 780 260 650 530
6 50 120 200 150 180 310 120 150 140
4 10 30 110 60 80 150 50 70 80
Surface Slurry:
16.4 lb/gal
(Class H, 2.0%
CaCl2)
10 60 160 290 130 400 440 150 570 500
8 40 80 160 110 200 350 120 200 190
6 20 50 100 90 90 180 50 90 90
4 10 20 30 10 30 50 10 30 30
8.5 lb/gal
10.5 lb/gal
12.5 lb/gal
2,000 4,000 6,000 8,000 10,000
Downhole Hydrostatic Pressure (psi)
4,000
3,000
2,000
1,000
N
i
t
r
o
g
e
n

R
e
q
u
i
r
e
m
e
n
t
s

(
s
c
f
/
b
b
l
)
Fig. 6-3: Nitrogen requirements for preparing an 8.5 lb/gal foam cement.
Values are in standard cubic feet of N
2
per barrel of 14.8 lb/gal cement.
Foam Cementing 6-7
that have the lower N
2
concentrations turn
the corner under maximum pressure, the
density will be much greater than the design
density and can cause breakdown.
To avoid this situation, the job can be run
with constant N
2
. If the interval is long, two
or three constant rates may be chosen, and
a neat cap cement can be pumped down the
annulus after the plug is bumped, if cement
is brought back to surface.
The FMCEM program can be operated in
four different modes. These options allow the
user a choice between a constant density and
a constant N
2
format with or without a set of
job calculations. These job calculations
contain information about N
2
foamer, mix
water, and cement volumes and rates to be
used during the job. The program may be run
with interactive data input or with the file
input.
Physical stabilization results when the gas
is introduced into the cement slurry with
sufficient energy to create microscopic,
discrete gas cells. This is accomplished by
using a foam generator equipped with 3/16-
in. or 1/4-in. jets. Foam cement is stable,
unlike nitrified cement or drilling fluid. The
entrained gas will not coalesce from the
cement slurry if the slurry remains under the
designed temperature and pressure condi-
tions.
Downhole Behavior
Foam cement applications can be divided
into two types: constant gas rate and constant
slurry density. These two designations
represent the two extremes and are normally
greatly modified to arrive at a practical job
design.
Constant Gas Rate Foam Cement
The constant gas rate technique can be
used to remedy lost circulation problems,
within certain limitations. Fig. 6-4 on the next
page shows the difficulties in attempting to
use a constant gas rate foam cement and
circulate it back to surface. This example
shows a foam cement with 30 sv/vus (stan-
dard volumes of N
2
per unit volume of
unfoamed slurry, which is 168 scf/bbl). With
no backpressure on the annulus at the surface
(curves labeled 0/0), the pressure gradient
(PG) is below the fluid entry gradient to
about 7,000 ft, and cement above 2,000 ft
would not be dense enough to provide low
enough permeability for casing protection. If
N
2
content is reduced, density at the shallow
depths can be corrected, but the maximum
pressure gradient easily can be exceeded at
the greater depths.
This profile can be partly corrected by
holding backpressure at the surface. The 500/
0 curves in Fig. 6-4 show the effect of holding
500 psi backpressure. However, this method
runs the risk of breaking down weak, shallow
formations unless intermediate or deep
surface casing has been set to about 1,000 ft.
A better approach to using a constant rate
foam cement is to use a nonfoamed cap of
either mud or regular lightweight cement
ahead of the foam cement. Fig. 6-5 on the
next page shows the results of using a 3,000 ft
cap of 9.9 lb/gal mud (curves A) and a 12.9
lb/gal regular lightweight cement (curves B).
Even with a lighter 9.9 lb/gal mud cap, the
foam slurry density is never less than 9.2 lb/
gal, which provides low permeability and
sufficient compressive strength, and the
pressure gradient profile falls well within the
maximum and minimum limits.
Constant Density Foam Cement
Theoretically, constant density can be
maintained throughout a foam cement
6-8 Foam Cementing
Fig. 6-4: Graph illustrates problems involved with using
a constant gas rate foam cement to remedy lost
circulation problems. Two options are shownone
using no backpressure on the annulus during circulation
and another in which 500 psi is held at the surface.
Fig. 6-5: To overcome problems illustrated by Fig. 6-4,
a cap of mud or heavier cement can be used with
constant gas rate foam cements.
column by continuously adjusting the gas
ratio. In practice, incremental adjustments are
used, but the increments are designed to
cause only minor, acceptable density varia-
tion throughout the column.
The results of changing the N
2
ratio for
every 1,000 ft of slurry at shallow depths and
every 2,000 ft at the greater depths are shown
in Fig 6-6. The initial ratio was 8.5 sv/vus
(47.7 scf/bbl) for the slurry to be placed near
the surface, and this increased to 123 sv/vus
(690 scf/bbl) for the slurry at 12,000 ft. The
8.5 sv/vus requires only 191 scf N
2
if the
unfoamed slurry is pumped at 4 bbl/min.
This rate is too low to make accurate delivery
with most N
2
pumps currently used in
oilwell servicing. The properties of foam
cement with only 8.5 sv/vus in the top 500 ft
(3 to 8 lb/gal) are marginal for competent
cement. Unless intermediate casing has been
set or unless poor quality cement in the
upper 500 to 1,000 ft can be tolerated, place-
ment of a nonfoamed slurry cap is recom-
mended followed by foam cement prepared
by incrementally adjusting the N
2
ratio.
Results of using only 200 ft of a neat Class
C slurry cap or lead slurry are shown in Fig.
6-7. The minimum foam slurry density is 9.8
lb/gal, and the pressure gradient still does
not exceed the breakdown pressure at 8,000
ft.
Actual applications of foam cement have
shown that a blending of fixed gas rate and
constant foam slurry density procedures will
provide the most practical method in field
operations. The following suggestions are
offered:
Foam Cementing 6-9
Fig. 6-6: To obtain a constant density foam cement,
the N
2
ratio must be adjusted with depth. In this
example, the ratio is changed every 1,000 ft at
shallower depths and at every 2,000 ft at greater
depths to obtain an average slurry density of 10.5 lb/
gal.
Fig. 6-7: In this example, the N
2
ratio was adjusted with
depth, but a 200-ft 14.1 lb/gal cement cap was also
used.
Use constant N
2
ratios only for jobs in
which a nonfoamed cap equal to 10 to
30% of the total depth can be used or
when poor cement and low hydro-
static pressure can be tolerated in the
top 25% of the column.
Use incremental N
2
ratio adjustment if
a constant N
2
ratio results in unaccept-
able strength and permeability in the
upper part of the foam slurry.
Limit incremental adjustments to a
maximum interval of 1,000 ft for
depths less than 6,000 ft and to a
maximum interval of 2,000 ft for
depths greater than 6,000 ft.
Cement and Additives
Cement slurries using many conventional
cement additives are generally batch-mixed
before being foamed. Certain additives are
not recommended for use with foam cements
because they will destabilize the foam cells.
Any additives that act as defoamers or dis-
persants should be avoided (e.g., NF-1, D-
AIR, CFR-1, CFR-2, HR-12, HALAD(R)

-9,
HALAD

-14, HALAD

-22A, etc.). Most
additives that promote gel strength usually
are beneficial (e.g., THIX-SET A and B, THIX-
SET 31A and 31B, LA-2 latex, Diacel LWL,
WG-17, bentonite, ECONOLITE, etc.). To
achieve extended pumping times, it is best to
6-10 Foam Cementing
use Diacel LWL and/or WG-8 as
set retarders and foam stabilizers
whenever possible.
Foam cement can also be
made salt-tolerant. Halliburton's
CFA-S foaming agent permits
generation of foam cement using
fresh water, NaCl concentrations
up to saturation, KCl concentra-
tions up to 5%, or seawater.
Studies show foamed salt cement
provides improved bonding to
salt zones and other freshwater
sensitive formations.
The use of SUPER FLUSH
(liquid or powder) spacer as a
preflush is highly recommended
for use with foam cement to
further promote bonding and
displacement.
As with conventional slurries, adding fine
silica flour (SSA-1) to foamed slurries helps
prevent strength retrogression when tem-
peratures in excess of 230F will be encoun-
tered. Geothermal foam cement inherently
has several attractive properties such as low
density, good strength, temperature stability,
and excellent heat insulation properties.
Table 6-4 shows properties of 550F high-
temperature cycling foam cement.
Job Considerations
Primary Cementing
As with most conventional cementing
operations, foam cement jobs are initially
designed based on static density. It is pos-
sible that when frictional pressures are
considered, a job that has a safe final hydro-
static pressure might actually fracture the
well during the job. A computer cement job
simulator program (CJOBSIM) allows the
user to simulate the actual downhole circulat-
ing pressure throughout the job at total depth
and any other zone of interest. If the initial
design fractures the well, this program can be
used to determine ways to modify the design
to prevent fracturing. Such modifications
could include varying the rates at different
points in the job, changing fluid density,
running more or less spacer, or foaming a
fluid ahead of the cement.
A section is included in the program for
N
2
concentration. This can be for foamed
cement and spacer. The N
2
section will
usually be based on the output from the
FMCEM program.
To accomplish primary cementing with
foam cement, the wellhead should be
equipped with annular pressure-containing
devices. If foam cement is to be circulated to
the surface, the presence of this equipment is
nearly mandatory. When pressure-containing
devices are not feasible, an unfoamed cement
cap should be run ahead of the foam cement.
The unfoamed cap interval is tailored for
each specific job and has a minimum interval
of 200 ft.
Table 6-4: Properties of 550F High Temperature Cycling
Foam Cement (for steam injection conditions)
Surface Slurry: 15.4 lb/gal (Class G, 40% SSA-1, 3% Lime)
Properties
Foam Cement Density
10 lb/gal 11.5 lb/gal 13 lb/gal
Compressive strength after
20 days at 550F
1,210 psi 1,680 psi 2,260 psi
Compressive strength after
100 days at 550F*
1,630 psi 1,550 psi 2,440 psi
Compressive strength after
160 days at 550F**
1,240 psi 2,020 psi 2,430 psi
Air permeability after 100
days
2.4 md 1.0 md 0.9 md
Porosity 75 68 64
K-value (BTU/hr-ft-F) 0.14 0.18 ---
* Cycled to 100F twice
** Cycled to 100F three times
Foam Cementing 6-11
Table 6-5: Squeeze Job Parameters
Case 1 Case 2
Current Casing 5 1/2 in. 5 1/2 in.
Tubing Size 2 7/8 in. 2 7/8 in.
Tubing Depth 5,640 ft 5,496 ft
Tool 5 1/2 in. retainer 5 1/2 in. retainer
Injection depth 5,800 ft 5,800 ft
Injection Pressure 3,240 psi 3,310 psi
Well Fluid 8.9 lb/gal brine 8.9 lb/gal brine
Job Sequence
Spacer(s) 10 bbl water 10 bbl water
Lead Cement*
27.3 bbl of Class C
(foamed), 10.8
lb/gal
33 bbl of Class C
(foamed), 10.8
lb/gal
Tail Cement
8 bbl of Class C,
14.8 lb/gal
2.3 bbl of Class
C, 14.8 lb/gal
Displacement 31 bbl water 31 bbl water
* volume of unfoamed slurry
For safety and cleanup ease, the return
relief lines should be carefully staked and
chained to discharge in an acceptable waste
area, such as a sump pit. Foam cement under
pressure will greatly expand if released at
atmospheric pressure.
Squeeze Cementing
Since squeeze cementing is frequently
remedial in nature, the volume of cement
actually required to perform the job is often
quite small. Excess cement blend is often
preparedwhether or not it is actually
mixedfor an average squeeze job because
of the uncertainty regarding the endpoint of
the job and/or to ensure that an adequate
volume of cement is available in case forma-
tion breakdown should occur. When small
cement volumes are employed, loss of ce-
ment slurry to a created fracture can result in
inadequate coverage of the zone of interest,
thus requiring another squeeze job.
When a known potential exists for going
on vacuum on a squeeze job, foamed cement
can be used to help reduce the pressures
exerted on the weak formation, thereby
providing a means of obtaining surface
pressure indication during the squeeze. A
key element in optimizing job design vari-
ables such as cement density, circulating
pressure, etc., is a computer squeeze job
simulator (SQZSIM2) program.
A critical factor in using the squeeze job
simulator has been its capability to assist in
planning and performing foam cement
squeeze jobs. Probably the most critical job
parameters that can be computed using the
computerized simulation for foam cement
squeeze jobs are (1) the N
2
injection volume
required to obtain a specific foam cement
density and (2) the base slurry volume (to
yield the requested foam volume), taking into
account the effects of hydrostatic, circulating,
and frictional pressures on the downhole
density of the compressible foam cement
system.
As an example of these applica-
tions, two existing producing wells
were to be drilled to a deeper produc-
ing formation (Table 6-5). The forma-
tion that was being produced had a
low fracture gradient that would break
down if the well was loaded with
conventional drilling fluid. Safely
drilling to this zone would require the
use of foam air drilling techniques to
help maintain circulation while drill-
ing to the new producing interval. A
foam cement squeeze job was de-
signed to eliminate the need for this
costly technology and to prevent
invasion of drilling fluids and fines
into the older producing formation.
Following the squeeze job, the foam-
squeezed interval would be drilled out
to allow the wells to be completed
with liners.
6-12 Foam Cementing
A prejob simulation
was performed to obtain
the desired foam cement
density (10.8 lb/gal) and
to predict wellhead
pressures for each job.
Squeeze pressure was not
obtained in Case 1. In
Case 2, however, addi-
tional pressure was
applied at the end of the
job, increasing the den-
sity of the foam cement.
Actual wellhead pres-
sures from both jobs
followed very closely
those predicted by the
computer simulation
(Figs. 6-8 and 6-9). The
graphs show that, al-
though the time at which
certain pressures were
obtained varied slightly from the times
predicted through the simulations, the maxi-
mum and minimum pressure values them-
selves are consistent with those predicted by
the simulator.
Both wells were successfully drilled to
target depth without lost circulation prob-
lems, and production liners were set. Result-
ing production data for the original zones
showed decreased water-to-oil ratios (WOR)
without a decrease in oil production.
Design Considerations
To successfully circulate and retain foam
cement at the correct density in a well that
has severe lost circulation problems, an
operator must carefully design the job and
follow the correct procedures. Prejob plan-
ning and calculation from accurate data
provided by the operator is as important as
on-the-job timing and execution of the plans.
Reliable equipment should also be planned
for. A summary of important design consid-
erations is offered below.
Prejob Checklist
Operator
1. Depth of well
2. Location of lost circulation zone(s)
3. Breakdown gradients of fragile zones
4. Circulating and static temperatures
5. Ultimate formation temperatures
6. Fallback history? (if yes, design
thixotropic cement blend)
7. Electric, fluid, and mechanical dis-
placement hole volume
8. Backpressure requirement on annulus
9. Adequate spacer/flush
Fig. 6-8: Comparison of actual vs. simulated wellhead pressure (Case History 1).
Actual pressure Simulated pressure
Foam Cementing 6-13
Service Company
1. Pump truck unit- cement slurry
density and slurry rate instrumenta-
tion
2. Nitrogen service unit- gas rate, gas
pressure, and control equipment
3. Check valves
4. Bulk cement equipment
5. Surfactant, surfactant pump, surfac-
tant rate meter
6. Foam generator- metering jets, mul-
tiple connection nipples, and adapters
Drilling Contractor
1. Freshwater source
2. Displacement fluid
3. Location layout- sufficient equipment
space
4. Reliable well head annulus pressure
control
5. Chained
diverter return lines:
sump disposal area
6. Annulus choke
system
7. Casing place-
ment precautions and
control
8. Minimum pipe
movement
Using a Reactive
Flush
Exceptionally bad
lost circulation problems
can be lessened or
remedied by pumping a
chemically reactive flush
system, such as SUPER
FLUSH, behind the
drilling fluid and ahead
of the cement slurry. This technique was
developed for use with conventional slurries
as early as 1971. The technique remains
highly recommended for use with foam
cement practices.
The reactive flush is designed to coat both
the formation and pipe with chemically active
material. Larger quantities of the material
may tend to preferentially enter areas that are
accepting fluids under pressure. When
contacted by the foam cement slurry, a rapid
chemical reaction occurs that tends to create a
nearly immobile precipitate that can seal the
zones that have accepted the flush. Postjob
evaluations have indicated that the use of the
reactive flush promotes improved bond logs
and improved mud-displacement efficiency
as well as sealing lost circulation zones.
Foaming the reactive flush, using the same
technique as with the foam cement, before
pumping can improve its effectiveness.
Fig. 6-8: Comparison of actual vs. simulated wellhead pressure (Case History 1).
Actual pressure Simulated pressure
6-14 Foam Cementing
Cement Rheology
Foam cement rheology
places some limits on job design.
The general nature of foam
cement is that its viscosity
increases as the density is low-
ered (i.e., the gas content in-
creases). Foam cement slurries
are usually more viscous than
the surface slurry from which
they are prepared. Mathemati-
cally, this behavior is reflected as
a steady increase of K value as
more gas is stabilized in the foam cement.
The n value for a typical slurry slightly
decreases, indicating the shear thinning
ability of the foamed fluid remains approxi-
mately constant.
Table 6-6 lists typical data derived from
Fann viscometer readings for Class G cement
plus 40% silica flour. Steady decrease of
plastic viscosity as the cement density is
lowered correlates to lower solids per given
volume, and the general increase is yield
point indicates greater solids carrying capac-
ity for the lighter foam cement slurries. The
practical significance of this foam cement
behavior is to make placement of foam
cement in turbulent flow unlikely in wells
that already suffer from severe lost circula-
tion problems. Consideration of the frictional
backpressure generated when placing foam
cement with viscosity also suggests that low
cement displacement rates should be ob-
served, especially after the foam cement
clears the pipe and enters the annulus.
Evaluating Foam Cementing
Results
Success of foam cement jobs can be
measured in two waysfactors noticed
during the job and post-job evaluation.
During the job, such things as interrupted
circulation, sudden or unexpected increases
or decreases in surface pressure, and infor-
mation about mixing and measuring proce-
dures should be carefully recorded. Experi-
ence indicates that certain guidelines should
be followed to help assure the best possible
results from a foam job. The following basic
items are important for a successful foam
cement job:
A means of mixing an unfoamed
surface cement slurry at a specified
air-free density with a reasonable
accuracy (e.g., 0.1 lb/gal)
Method of measuring the unfoamed
slurry pump rate and total volume
with an accuracy of 5% or better
Techniques for introducing foam
stabilizing chemicals into the
unfoamed slurry or N
2
stream with an
accuracy of 10 %
Facilities for measuring and control-
ling gas injection rate based on mass
or standard volume
Injection of the gas into the unfoamed
slurry stream with sufficient energy to
obtain maximum stabilization
An inline mixing device to add stabil-
ity and uniformity to the foam slurry.
Up to a point, higher energy provides
greater stability. Inappropriate field
sampling methods can easily lead to
Table 6-6: Foam Cement Viscosity Behavior
Class G + 40% Silica Flour; 15.8 lb/gal surface density
Slurry
Density
(lb/gal)
n' k'
Yield Point
(lb/100 sq ft)
Apparent
Viscosity
(cp)
Plastic
Viscosity
(cp)
15.8 0.67 0.02460 34 125 113
12.0 0.65 0.03149 58 141 112
10.0 0.59 0.04373 68 130 96
8.0 0.57 0.05022 74 129 92
6.0 0.48 0.06713 68 90 56
Foam Cementing 6-15
false conclusions regarding the stabil-
ity of field-mixed foam cement.
Post treatment measurements using bond
logs and temperature surveys have been
used to evaluate foam cement jobs. Bond logs
indicate the presence of foam cement prima-
rily through attenuation of the amplitude
curve and the micro-seismogram. The ampli-
tude curve responds to differing densities of
both the conventional cements present and
the foam cements, and is helpful in locating
the interface between the two. To get the
most information possible, the amplitude
should be set as high as possible to provide a
greater range, and therefore better resolution,
on the curve, which will better show changes
in density.
The micro-seismogram may not show an
apparent bond through the foam that is as
good as shown through normal density
slurries, but arrival of formation signals along
with each free pipe signal indicates that
bonding has occurred. Correlation of the
micro-seismogram with gamma ray or den-
sity logs for verification of formation signals
has been found to be a helpful tool in evaluat-
ing bond quality.
Temperature surveys, run 8 to 24 hours
after completion of the job, have proven
valuable in locating the top of the different
intervals of cement. Cap and tail-in cements
will show a temperature gradient greater
than normal background, while the foamed
interval will be about the same as back-
ground profiles or may even show a less-
than-normal temperature gradient.
Evaluation of results should not be left to
one graph, one chart, or one log, but rather as
much information as possible should be
gathered and correlated.
6-16 Foam Cementing
Other Nitrogen Applications 7-1
Section 7
Other Nitrogen Applications
Contents
Sand Washing ........................................................................................7-3
Incompressible Wash Fluids ........................................................................ 7-3
Compressible Wash Fluids .......................................................................... 7-4
Sand Washing with Foam............................................................................ 7-4
Operations.................................................................................................... 7-5
Wash Penetration Rate ......................................................................... 7-5
Produced Fluids ..................................................................................... 7-6
Wash Tools ............................................................................................ 7-6
Conventional Circulation ........................................................................ 7-6
Job Procedure.............................................................................................. 7-6
Unloading Wells .....................................................................................7-7
Unloading Design Considerations ............................................................... 7-7
Unloading Concerns .................................................................................... 7-8
Nitrogen-Assisted Unloading ....................................................................... 7-8
Nitrogen Behavior .................................................................................. 7-8
Nitrogen Unloading Methods ................................................................. 7-9
Gas Displacement ................................................................................ 7-10
Pressurizing Medium ............................................................................ 7-11
Drillstem Test Cushion ............................................................................... 7-11
Perforating Technique ............................................................................... 7-11
Gas Lift Medium......................................................................................... 7-12
Commingled Gas .................................................................................. 7-12
Reduce Mud Weight .................................................................................. 7-12
Remove Differentially Stuck Pipe .............................................................. 7-12
Perform Hydrojetting .................................................................................. 7-12
Sand Consolidation............................................................................... 7-13
Operations.................................................................................................. 7-13
The Resin .................................................................................................. 7-16
Leak Detection Service ......................................................................... 7-17
Advantages ................................................................................................ 7-17
Procedure................................................................................................... 7-17
References ...........................................................................................7-19
7-2 Other Nitrogen Applications
Other Nitrogen Applications 7-3
Other Nitrogen Applications
Fig. 7-1: Sand washing using coiled tubing.
Casing
Tubing
Coiled Tubing
Packer
Sand Washing
One of the most common problems
associated with producing oil and gas wells is
sand production. This problem occurs in
wells completed in unconsolidated or loosely
consolidated sandstone reservoirs or in wells
recently subjected to fracture stimulation.
Coil tubing can be used to clean out
(wash) sand from a wellbore in much the
same manner as with a conventional work-
string; fluid is circulated at rates sufficient to
wash the sand back to the surface. The
tubing is lowered as the sand is displaced
from the wellbore.
The obvious advantage of continuous coil
tubing over jointed tubing for sand washing
is the ability to maintain circulation while
going in or coming out of the hole, or when
washing sand under pressure. When using
jointed tubing, the circulation must be inter-
rupted while
making up or
breaking down
joint connections.
Water is
commonly used
for sand wash-
ing, but many
wells require
using lighter,
compressible
fluids. Com-
pressible wash
fluids used in
coil tubing
service are dry
N
2
and foams
(aqueous or oil-
based). These
lighter fluid sytems offer many benefits for
low-pressure or liquid-sensitive reservoirs.
Wash-fluid density is designed to mini-
mize fluid losses to the reservoir, to minimize
pressures in the wash string, and to minimize
the pressure drop at the surface returns side.
Incompressible fluids are commonly used
when velocity is the major fluid criteria, and
compressible fluids are commonly used when
solids-carrying capability is the major fluid
criteria.
Incompressible Wash Fluids
Both water and hydrocarbon liquids are
commonly used as incompressible wash
fluids. They can be used when sufficient
formation pressure exists to allow circulation
of these fluids in the well. The design of
these wash fluids is based on formation
compatibility, well deviation, required
7-4 Other Nitrogen Applications
solids-transport capability, rheology, and
surface logistics.
For wellbores deviated above 30, increas-
ing the wash fluid viscosity reduces cleanout
efficiency, and cleanout becomes most diffi-
cult around 60 deviation. For deviations less
than 30, increasing circulating fluid viscosity
results in more efficient sand cleanout. Maxi-
mizing annular velocity and wash string
centralization improves cleanout efficiency.
A given wash fluid will carry solids out of a
well if the annular velocity exceeds the
terminal particle settling velocity. Due to the
need to prevent holdup of solids in the
annulus and unknowns about the nature of
the solids being removed, designs typically
aim to have the fluid velocity twice the
particle settling velocity. When annular
velocity is less than 100 ft/min, adding a
viscosifier may be necessary. It is recognized
that most combinations of coiled tubing and
casing diameters will not allow wash fluids
(slurries) to achieve turbulence in the annular
space even when water is used.
Compressible Wash Fluids
Compressible wash fluids are composed
of gas and either water-based or oil-based
liquids and surfactants. The liquid phase is
chosen on the same basis as noted above.
Compressible fluids are more difficult to
design and use than incompressible fluids.
Compressible wash fluids are composed of
varying gas fractions and are used to com-
pensate for low bottomhole pressure (BHP)
formations or to lift solids when annular
liquid velocities are low. Since fluid volumes
change with temperature and pressure in a
compressible system, wash-fluid returns will
not travel at the same rates throughout the
annulus.
Sand Washing with Foam
In some wells, the maximum velocity that
can be achieved with incompressible fluids is
insufficient to carry the sand from the well-
bore to the surface. This may be due to the
extreme depth, the production tubing being
large, the formation pressure being too low,
or a combination of these and other factors.
In such cases, a compressible fluid such as
foam is required.
Foam can be generated in hydrostatic
pressure gradients ranging from 0.350 to
0.057 psi/ft, depending on wellbore pres-
sures and temperatures. Stable foam rheol-
ogy most closely resembles Bingham plastic
fluids, where yield stress must be overcome
to initiate fluid movement.
The greater sand-carrying capacity of
foam allows sand to be washed from deep,
large diameter holes with limited pump rates
and low velocities. This makes the use of coil
tubing possible in wells that might otherwise
require a workover unit.
Foam is a gas-in-liquid emulsion consist-
ing of 52 to 96% gas, ideally N
2
. For this
application, the liquid can be aqueous or oil-
based. Surfactants are mixed with the liquid
phase in concentrations ranging from 1 to 5%
by volume to reduce surface tension. The
wet liquid phase is then commingled with
N
2
in a foam-generating tee. Turbulence
created by N
2
and wet liquid mixing provides
sufficient dispersion to form a homogeneous,
emulsified fluid.
Foam is generated by pumping a mixture
of 99% water and 1% surfactant through an
atomizer tee where it is mixed with N
2
gas.
Because foam is comprised mostly of gas,
changes in pressure, temperature, and solids
loading affects the foam quality. As such,
compressible fluids have constantly changing
rheology. It is well understood that the
compressible fluid has maximum carrying
capacity when the foam quality is maintained
at 65 to 90.
Other Nitrogen Applications 7-5
Operations
Predicting annular velocities and solids
removal capability requires complex calcula-
tions. Sand-washing foam fluids are generally
designed using a computer program like
FOAMUP. The sand washing rate can be
established within the need to maintain a
wash fluid quality of 65 to 90.
To calculate the N
2
-to-fluid ratio, a bot-
tomhole treating pressure must be assumed.
This pressure should be less than the reser-
voir pressure to sustain circulation without
losing fluid in the formation. After the
bottomhole circulating pressure to be used is
determined, foam calculations should be
performed using the stable foam calculating
sheet or a computer program.
Because a circulating system is being
used, a surface backpressure value equal to
the bottomhole pressure less the hydrostatic
weight and friction pressure loss of the
column of foam must be maintained to
control the foam quality at depth. A surface
choke system is needed to maintain the
backpressure on the system consistent with
maintaining the foam quality in the well
system. Managing this choke system and
handling the returning foam and solids need
careful consideration. Preparation must be
made for foam disposal if necessary. The
foam liquid may be recirculated if no hydro-
carbons are mixed with the foam and all sand
is first removed.
The coil tubing and all surface equipment
should be tested before going in the hole.
Circulation of foam should be started at the
surface to displace any fluids in the hole as
the tubing is lowered and to be sure there is
circulation on reaching the sand fill. The
washing operation should not be performed
too fast; the sand carrying capabilities of
foam, although excellent, could be exceeded.
Care should be taken not to wash down
into the solids too fast. Surface observation
and measurement of solids washed is gener-
ally required. Often, a settling tank is used.
Solids that are entrained in wash fluid must
be continually removed from the well. The
operator's experience should be used to
determine the best sand-washing rate along
with the pipe size, fluid rate, and N
2
rate
since the nature of the solids entrained are
often only the subject of speculation prior to
the job.
Once circulation is established in a com-
pressible wash program, unit volumes of
wash fluid are pumped down the coiled
tubing at pressures needed to overcome
friction pressure losses. In this condition,
wash fluid is under high pressure and occu-
pies minimal volume. As a unit volume of
compressible fluid exits the coiled tubing,
decreasing hydrostatic head in the annulus
and reduced friction pressure allow gas in the
wash fluid to expand. This expansion and
subsequent increases in wash fluid velocity
create high frictional pressure losses.
After washing the sand to the desired
depth, circulation should be maintained until
the returns are clean. The bottom should be
tagged several times to ensure that all sand
has been removed. After the well is cleaned
out, it may be jetted in or filled with fluid by
stopping either the water or N
2
.
Wash Penetration Rate
Coil tubing rate of penetration into
packed solids, coupled with annular fluid
velocity, determines the solids concentration
in fluid returns. Dispersion of solids in wash
media causes an increase in effective weight
of annular fluid returns. As a result, the
hydrostatic pressure differential between
clean wash fluids in the coiled tubing and
dirty fluids in the annulus increases.
It is not uncommon to run 1 1/4-in. OD
coiled tubing in 2 7/8-in. OD production
tubing at 60 ft/min when washing sand. If
wash fluid is circulated at 0.50 bbl/min,
annular fluid velocity is about 2 ft/sec. The
7-6 Other Nitrogen Applications
unobstructed production tubing volume is
0.0325 ft
3
/ft and the annular volume is 0.0240
ft
3
/ft. If there is greater than 60 ft of loose
sand above a bridge, the coiled tubing can
penetrate 60 ft in one minute. At an annular
velocity of 2 ft/sec, 180 ft of annulus is
displaced by dirty fluids.
Penetration of loose sand packs are
generally not indicated at the surface and
several sand bridges may be encountered
when washing deep production tubing. If
sufficient circulation time for solids to reach
the surface is not allowed, significant hydro-
static pressure increases could develop in the
annulus due to entrained solids. If this
occurs, increased hydrostatic pressure from
dirty annular fluids may force some fluid into
the formation. If, as a result, annular velocity
is reduced below the rate required to keep
particles suspended, solids will fall back and
could stick the coiled tubing.
Produced Fluids
Formation fluid types can also determine
how a wash program will proceed. In a
liquid-producing wellbore (oil and water),
fluids are essentially incompressible and can
support a piston displacement of solids up
the annulus. If produced fluid is gas, be
prepared for gas kicks or lost returns when
breaking through sand bridges. In addition,
the difference between gas and liquid densi-
ties can allow gas to override wash fluids.
This results in loss of wash fluid to the forma-
tion, regardless of BHP.
When washing low BHP oil wells with
aqueous foam, be prepared for foam degra-
dation when it commingles with oil. Oil will
destabilize foam regimes at the contact
interface, which breaks down into a gassified,
oil-water emulsion. As the foam degenerates
and moves up the annulus, the sand-laden
returns become compromised and solids
fallback can occur.
Wash Tools
Wash tool selection should be governed
by wash program hydrodynamic require-
ments. Wash tools should only be used if
additional turbulent action is needed down-
hole. Several tools are available for ported
hydraulic jetting on packed solids or me-
chanical action to break up bridges. These
wash tools can often be constructed to serve
as bypass mandrels, further extending their
use. Depending on wash port number, size
and wash fluid system selected, frictional
pressure losses can range from 50 to 2,500
psi.
Conventional Circulation
Pumping fluid down tubing and taking
returns up the annulus is the most common
coiled tubing technique for washing solids.
In addition to wash fluid system criteria,
maximum tensile loads on coiled tubing
strings should be estimated to ensure that
stress does not approach minimum tube
yield.
Both compressible and incompressible
fluids can be used with conventional circula-
tion. Selection of an appropriate size of
coiled tubing depends on minimum pump
rates, total circulation system pressure losses,
and minimum load rating required to safely
wash and retrieve pipe from the well. Use of
downhole safety check valves and ported
wash tools does not limit conventional circu-
lation wash programs.
Job Procedure
1. Rig up equipment according to stan-
dard operating practices. Check
flowlines to make sure a minimum of
ells are installed and that flow lines
are properly secured.
2. Install a flow tee under the BOP's to
direct returns out of the well so that
Other Nitrogen Applications 7-7
cutting out the Christmas tree is
avoided.
3. Install an adjustable choke in the
flowline (particularly applicable to
foam washing) and have a replace-
ment stem on location.
4. Pressure test coil tubing unit and tree
to 110% of maximum expected work-
ing pressure or minimum anticipated
surface pressure, whichever is greater,
before going in the hole.
5. Start the tubing in the hole at 30 to 40
ft/min if top of fill is unknown while
circulating fluid at a slow rate. If top
of fill has been located, do not exceed
60 ft/min.
6. Check tubing drag every 1,000 to
1,500 ft to prevent sticking the wash
string. Have coiled tubing representa-
tives identify tubing sections that
have been cycled extensively and
avoid conducting periodic drag tests
in these intervals.
7. Wash the sand slowly. When break-
ing through bridges, allow sufficient
time to circulate solids from the well
before continuing downhole. String
sand out in case of lost circulation to
prevent sticking the wash pipe.
(When washing with foam, fluid can
be lost in the formation and still show
returns on surface; therefore, the
pressure recorder chart should be
monitored for pressure loss.)
8. Before entering open casing, always
circulate a minimum volume of fluid
that would fill the tubing string twice.
(Run wash tool in open casing).
9. Maintain returns throughout the wash
program. If circulation is lost during
the operation, immediately pull the
tubing up the hole approximately
2,000 ft; hold there and work until
circulation is regained.
10. Maintain circulation until tubing is
pulled completely out of wellbore.
11. Keep pipe moving at all times while
jetting.
Unloading Wells
During the life of oil and gas wells, well
control practices during completion or
workover can create hydrostatic overbalance,
which can reduce inflow performance and
may cause the well to stop producing. This
overbalance results from the pressure of
fluids in the wellbore exceeding the produc-
ing formation pressures. Temporary and
lengthy shut-in periods can also create hydro-
static overbalance when the once active
wellbore loads up with fluid. If no other
damage exists, wells can often be returned to
production by reducing the hydrostatic
pressure of the fluid column. Once an
underbalance is created, the well can flow
again.
Unloading Design Considerations
Before an unloading program is designed
and started, the wells flow and production
potential must be determined. Sas-Joworsky
4
provides equations for estimating reservoir
fluid production rates and well flow rates in
his article titled Coiled Tubing...Operation
and Services, Part 5Unloading Wells with
Lighter Fluids. He also explains the follow-
ing mechanical considerations:
completion type
wellbore tubular sizes
workover service tubing size
required operating system pressure
for surface flowlines and separation
equipment
These mechanical parameters are used to
predict backpressure, which is system
pressure losses. Backpressure decreases
effective formation drawdown and reduces
fluid production to surface.
7-8 Other Nitrogen Applications
The tubular sizes are the most important
mechanical factor for unloading wells. Pro-
duction tubing ID determines flowing liquid
head and frictional pressure loss for a given
production flow rate and gas-liquid-ratio
(GLR) when producing fluids to the surface.
As tubing ID increases, fluid velocity and
frictional pressure losses in the flowing fluid
regime decrease. However, as fluid velocity
decreases, slippage and flowing pressure
gradient increase. The effects of pressure loss
in the tubing become critical when trying to
flow fluids to the surface with coiled tubing
concentric to production tubing.
Unloading Concerns
Numerous coiled tubing service tech-
niques can be used to reduce wellbore hydro-
static pressure, thereby achieving an
underbalance and unloading wellbores. The
object of these techniques is to initiate flow
from the formation without creating adverse
pressure shocks downhole. In many cases,
varying degrees of skin damage in the
completion interval clean up as the wellbore
unloading program progresses. However,
apparent skin damage could also be due to
relative permeability changes near the well-
bore, perforation plugging, or damage depos-
ited during completion or workover.
Once a maximum recommended pressure
drawdown has been selected, it should not be
exceeded during unloading programs. If
produced fluid volumes remain significantly
below projected flow rates for the applied
drawdown, it is most likely due to inaccurate
parameters in flow potential calculations, but
actually, something may be wrong downhole.
A common response to low surface flow
rates is to increase drawdown and hope that
downhole flow restrictions dissipate. Unfor-
tunately, this reaction generally causes
formation integrity failure in unconsolidated
formations, resulting in perforation tunnel
collapse and damaged flow potential. Con-
solidated formations are somewhat more
forgiving and may not be damaged as much
from downhole pressure shocks. Unloading
programs should be designed to create the
minimum pressure drawdown needed to
initiate flow. Once stable flow is established,
formation damage can be properly assessed
and corrective steps taken.
Nitrogen-Assisted Unloading
The most common method used to
unload wells is nitrogen (N
2
) circulation
through coiled tubing run to a predetermined
depth below the static fluid level. Although
this technique is commonly called jetting or
jet-lifting, it starts flow by reducing well-
bore hydrostatic pressure through aeration
and not by jetting the fluids to surface. N
2
is most commonly used for unloading pro-
grams because it is chemically inert and only
slightly soluble in liquids. Coiled tubing
conveyed gas circulation offers greater use
than conventional single-point gas-lift opera-
tions because the gas injection point can be
moved up and down the wellbore to opti-
mize fluid withdrawal rates.
Nitrogen Behavior
When using N
2
to unload wellbores and
initiate flow, it is important to recognize the
effects of lifting high GLR fluids within the
annulus between the coiled tubing OD and
the production tubing ID. As the annulus
area decreases, annulus pressure losses
increase exponentially. Also, the length of
concentric coiled tubing inside the production
tubing significantly affects annular friction
pressure loss and flowing fluid head.
Nitrogen pumped down the coiled tubing
is compressed to overcome the annulus fluid
gradient. As the N
2
injection point is lowered
further into the well, the increased pressure
gradient compresses the N
2
more. When N
2
exits the coiled tubing and starts to rise in the
Other Nitrogen Applications 7-9
annulus, it expands. This expansion of N
2
dispersed in the annular liquid increases
apparent fluid velocity, resulting in a further
decrease in flowing pressure gradient. Nitro-
gen expands dramatically as it continues to
flow to surface.
Fluid velocity and frictional pressure
losses in the annulus increase significantly
relative to velocity and frictional pressure
losses at the downhole N
2
injection point.
Turbulence from the expanding gas increases
frictional pressure loss. At some depth in the
well, based on well parameters, frictional
pressure losses will overcome reduced pres-
sures from flowing fluid gradients in the
tubing annulus. Also, decreased annular
cross-sectional areas greatly increase fric-
tional pressure losses for equivalent N
2
and
liquid circulation rates. A higher N
2
circula-
tion rate may actually yield lower production
due to reduced annular cross-sectional area
and the exponential increase in system
frictional pressure loss. If this fluid produc-
tion drop is not interpreted correctly, the
injection point may be run deeper into the
wellbore and the N
2
injection increased. This
reaction could be disastrous by creating
greater frictional pressure loss in the annulus
and, in some cases, causing liquid flow to
cease.
To increase flow from the completion, N
2
circulation must be cut back very slowly
while pulling the coiled tubing back up the
wellbore. If a high circulation rate is inter-
rupted while deep in the tubing, the rapid
decrease in annular friction pressure loss may
cause a pressure shock at the formation.
This pressure shock can be greater than
recommended pressure drawdowns for
optimum well performance and induce
sudden, uncontrolled flow rates that can
damage the completion. For these reasons,
using the smallest coiled tubing size available
and performing unloading procedures with
the lowest possible N2 circulation rates is
recommended.
Nitrogen Unloading Methods
Continuous injection- The most effective
method for achieving an underbalanced
hydrostatic head with N
2
is to run coiled
tubing into the wellbore while slowly circu-
lating nitrogen. This technique allows N
2
in
the fluid column to disperse in the wellbore,
thereby aerating annulus liquids slowly and
initiating production from the formation in a
controlled manner.
In initiating an unloading program with
N
2
, coiled tubing is run in the well at about 40
to 60 ft/min. Low N
2
circulation rates, gener-
ally from 150 to 250 scf/min, are initiated
when the end of coiled tubing is just above
the fluid level to minimize waste. Coiled
tubing is then lowered to a predetermined
depth in the well to assist fluid lifting until
the completion can sustain production. As
coiled tubing is run into the wellbore, the
fluid column is aerated, creating an
underbalanced effect.
Intermittent injection- Another technique
used to lighten fluid columns is intermittent
N
2
injection. This is accomplished by running
coiled tubing to a predetermined depth below
the fluid level in a wellbore before starting N
2
pumping. In this case, N
2
pump pressure
must be greater than the fluid column hydro-
static pressure at the injection point. Once N
2
injection pressure overcomes fluid column
hydrostatic pressure, N
2
enters the annulus
and initiates a single-point gas lift operation.
As wellbore pressure above the N
2
circulation
point decreases, gas expansion in the coiled
tubing accelerates, causing an effect similar to
an N
2
circulation rate increase. This may
cause undesirable and erratic wellbore pres-
sure drops, which can destabilize pressure
drawdown at the formation.
7-10 Other Nitrogen Applications
Gas Displacement
Nitrogen is most widely used to displace
well fluids from the tubing string or from the
well system to begin oil or gas production.
When the well is completed with a single
string of tubing without a packer, or with a
circulating valve, the fluid is displaced down
the tubing and out of the annulus (Fig. 7-5).
On a single completion with a packer, the
fluid may be displaced out of the tubing into
the annulus before the packer is set. By using
N
2
for gas displacement, you can save rig
time and eliminate the danger of lost swabs.
Not only can N
2
reduce the danger of damag-
ing internal pipe coatings, but it can displace
fluid in multiple-diameter tubing strings. You
can control the return fluid rate during gas
displacement by reducing N
2
pressure.
Nitrogen is chemically compatible with all
completion fluids and formation waters.
After treating the formation with frac, acid, or
other chemicals to control corrosion, scale,
and paraffin, you can use nitrogen to displace
the treating fluid from the tubing into the
formation (Fig. 7-6).
Nitrogen gas is chemically compatible
with all completion fluids, does not damage
the formation, and allows faster cleanup and
flowback without swabbing, because it has
low hydrostaticity.
Another way to return reusable comple-
tion fluids, remove sand from the tubing, or
provide annulus insulation is to displace
fluid from the annulus into the tubing (Fig. 7-
7). Fluid can be displaced around open-ended
tubing, around an unseated packer, or
through a circulating valve.
This technique is successful because N
2
is
noncorrosive to tubing and casing. It reduces
heat transfer because of the low specific heat
and thermal conductivity. Because N
2
has a
Completion fluid,
gas, or gas and
sand
N
2
Casing
Fig. 7-6: Fluid displaced from the annulus into the
tubing.
N
2
gas at wellhead
pressure (WHP)
Casing
Packer
Fig. 7-7: Fluid displaced from tubing into the formation
with nitrogen.
N
2
gas at wellhead
pressure (WHP)
Casing
Tubing
Bottomhole pressure
(BHP)
Fig. 7-5: Fluid displaced down tubing and out the
annulus.
Other Nitrogen Applications 7-11
low density, it also allows circulation with
low bottomhole pressure.
Pressurizing Medium
When used as a pressurizing medium, N
2
can be used for the following:
drillstem test cushion
perforating technique
gas lift medium
Drillstem Test Cushion
A water or N
2
cushion is sometimes used
on a drill stem test (DST) for five purposes:
(1) protect the drill pipe or tubing from
collapse, (2) protect unconsolidated sands
from caving in when the tester valve opens,
(3) help control high pressure and high
volume wells by bringing-in the well slowly,
(4) help prevent dehydration of the mud or
salt water when the tester valve opens on
high temperature (above 375F) wells, and (5)
help relieve the sudden differential pressure
across the packer seat.
While a cushion may help in these ways,
it may also hinder obtaining a good drill stem
test. When testing hard-rock formations,
considerable rig time can be saved by using
minimum cushions or no cushion at all. Wells
that flow to the surface must first get rid of
the cushion prior to really starting to obtain
information on the test. Gas wells clean up
faster with minimum cushion.
Minimum cushion puts maximum differ-
ential on the formation and packers when the
tester valve opens rather than during the
middle of the test when the cushion has been
removed. This is important when using a
nitrogen cushion. If the packer or packer seat
is going to fail, it will do so immediately
when the tester valve opens rather than
several hours later after bleeding of the N
2
cushion.
Too much water cushion could result in
an indication of a dry test when actually it
was caused by the hydrostatic head of the
cushion being greater than formation pres-
sure. Conversely, unconsolidated formations
must be protected by a cushion. In this
instance, the cushion is beneficial because it
reduces the differential pressure suddenly
applied across the face of the formation when
the tester valve opens. Too much differential
across the face of the formation will many
times cause an unconsolidated formation to
cave in or produce extreme quantities of
sand, plugging the tools and possibly causing
a stuck string.
Maximum differential pressure across the
face of the formation will result in highest
production rate; therefore, when the drill
pipe, the formation, and safety permit,
miminum cushion should be used.
To use N
2
as a DST cushion, perform the
steps below:
1. Before a packer is set, pressure the
drillpipe with N
2
gas to check for
leaks. You can do this with or without
a water cushion, depending on the
need for collapse protection.
2. After the packer is set and the tool
opened, bleed the pressure at the
surface to increase the pressure
differential into the tubular string.
Perforating Technique
Using a nitrogen cushion in perforation
reduces fluid damage to the reservoir and
perforation damage to the formation. It
controls production rate by controlling
surface pressure reduction. To perforate with
N
2
, perform the following steps:
1. Displace well fluid from the tubing
string to the needed depth.
2. Set the packer and secure the well-
head.
7-12 Other Nitrogen Applications
3. After the perforating gun is in posi-
tion, adjust the pressure within the
tubing string with nitrogen.
4. Perforate with positive pressure
differential into the wellbore.
5. Retrieve perforating tools and vent
the tubing pressure to start produc-
tion.
Gas Lift Medium
Using nitrogen as a gas lift allows sam-
pling and gauging reservoir fluids. It also can
inexpensively remove fluid from stimulation
or zone communication. To use N
2
as a gas
lift, the following steps must be performed:
1. Displace the well fluid from the
tubing out through the continuous
tubing/production tubing annulus.
2. Continue to circulate N
2
gas to carry
formation fluids to the surface.
3. Continue injection until the well will
flow naturally. Note: production data
is sometimes provided for sizing
permanent gas lift equipment.
Commingled Gas
Nitrogen can be commingled with vari-
ous well treating fluids to
reduce mud weight
remove differentially stuck pipe
perform hydrojetting
Reduce Mud Weight
Nitrogen is commingled with drilling
fluids to reduce mud weight and combat lost
circulation. This can be done while drilling or
performing primary cement jobs. Nitrogen
quickly dissipates from the drilling mud on
return to the surface, allowing quick return to
heavier weights.
Nitrogen eliminates fluid-loss materials
usually needed for balanced or
under-pressure drilling. It is chemically
compatible with all mud systems and in-
creases cement circulation height.
Remove Differentially Stuck Pipe
Nitrogen can be commingled with mud or
used to displace mud in techniques that
lower bottomhole pressure. Reducing well-
bore pressure until it equals the pressure
surrounding the pipe will allow it to be
removed.
Another technique used to remove pipe is
to spot a bubble of N
2
gas over the differen-
tially stuck zone. The low viscosity and high
leakoff rate of the N
2
will tend to equalize
pressure around the pipe. Using N
2
for this
purpose is beneficial because it does not
damage the mud system.
Perform Hydrojetting
Hydrojetting involves mixing N
2
with the
gel and sand to increase the penetration rate.
As expanded gas passes through, the nozzle
accelerates sand speed.
When used this way, N
2
increases the
penetration rate, maintains circulation past
lower pressure formations, and reduces the
risk of fracturing the formation being jetted.
Other Nitrogen Applications 7-13
Sand Consolidation
In gas production operations in the Gulf
of Mexico, a gravel-pack screen was salvaged
by applying furan resin for near-wellbore
sand consolidation. This technique differs
from traditional sand consolidation methods
in that coiled tubing is reciprocated across the
gravel-pack screen interval throughout the
treatment. Additionally, nitrogen is com-
mingled with all injected liquids to create
short-lived foams that expand the volume of
the liquids, provide some diverting effect,
and help ensure maintenance of permeability
during the treatment. The procedure was
done at about one-fifteenth the expected cost
to replace the gravel pack, which was esti-
mated at more than one million dollars.
2
The work was needed after an upper gas
zone was accessed with a jet punch. Gas
production after the tubing was punched was
more than 14 MMcfd, however, buildup tests
indicated a flow potential of 18 MMcfd. An
acid stimulation treatment was performed,
after which the well began to produce sand
and had to be choked back to 2.5 MMcfd to
avoid sand production. After the resin repair,
flow recovered to 13 MMcfd with no sand
production.
Originally, the completion was a selective
alternate, or stack pack, where two reser-
voirs were gravel packed by installing two
screens (separated by packers) on one string
of production tubing. The lower zone wa-
tered out and was shut off by setting a plug
in a landing nipple in the isolation string (Fig.
7-2).
Operations
Once sand production began, a remedial
operation to replace the gravel-pack screen
was estimated at $1.3 million, or 15 times the
estimates for repair by resin. The excessive
cost for a rig workover and the fact that
Table 7-1: Well Data
Casing 7 in., 3.5 lb/ft
Tubing 3.5 in., 12.95 lb/ft
Perforations
Casing- 11,465 to 11,497 ft
Isolation Tubing- 11,467 to
11,494 ft
Gravel-pack assembly 4 in., 0.007 gauge x 42 ft
Gravel-pack packer 11,351 ft
Bottomhole temperature 210F
Bottomhole pressure
(est.)
2,570 psi
Plug back TD (PX plug) 11,499 ft
Deviation 22
Well Type Gas
Fig. 7-2: An isolation string (extension of the production
tubing) with a landing nipple, was run across the upper
gravel pack during initial completion. A plug was set in
the landing nipple to shut off watered-out lower zone. A
tubing punch was performed to penetrate the isolation
tubing.
additional completions existed in the same
reservoir made sand consolidation the logical
choice.
A 200-ft class liftboat with coiled tubing
and nitrogen units aboard was preloaded and
7-14 Other Nitrogen Applications
moved into position. The outline of the
planned procedure was as follows:
1. Rig up N
2
and 1-in. coiled tubing with
nozzle.
2. Test all surface equipment to 5,000
psi.
3. Pickle coiled tubing with 250 gallons
15% HCl with acid inhibitor and
displace with 2% KCl (12 bbl) contain-
ing 35 lb pH neutralizer.
4. Go in hole with coiled tubing and
wash well down to plug back TD at
11,499 ft. Use filtered 2% KCl water
throughout washing operations.
Foam, if necessary.
5. With end of coil tubing positioned
across perforated interval, spot the
following treatment and squeeze
away at 1/4 to 1/2 bbl/min:
2,750 gal 15% sodium chloride
(NaCl) water containing 0.25 % surfac-
tant and 600 scf/bbl N
2
1,060 gal externally catalyzed
furan resin containing 600 scf/bbl N
2
1,000 gal 15% NaCl water contain-
ing 0.25% surfactant and 600 scf/bbl
N
2
3,500 gal 10% HCl with catalyst
mixed in NaCl water containing 0.25%
surfactant, 0.3% acid inhibitor, and
600 scf/bbl N
2
Displace coiled tubing with fil-
tered 2% KCl water (12 bbl)
6. Shut well in for 8 to 12 hours while
resin cures.
7. Resume production at 4 MMcf/D
until load water is recovered.
However, the coiled tubing (furnished by
a third-party vendor) parted after placing the
resin. The well was killed with brine, and the
parted tubing was fished from the well. Since
the resin used was externally catalyzed, the
40-hour delay resulting from the fishing job
had no effect on the resin. When repair
operations resumed, the catalyst was
overflushed through the gravel pack and
consolidation occurred as planned. The actual
job was as follows:
Day 1:
Preloaded jackup rig arrived on
location.
Rig jacked up in place.
Coiled tubing rigged up.
Started pressure test.
Day 2:
Pressure tested to 5,000 psi.
Ran in hole to 9,810 ft; stripper on
injection head blew out.
Stripper replaced; continued in hole.
Pumped 2,750 gal 15% NaCl
2
water
with 0.25% surfactant and 600 scf/bbl
N
2
.
Pumped 1,060 gal resin containing 600
scf/bbl N
2
.
Followed with 1,000 gal NaCl
2
with
0.25% surfactant and 600 scf/bbl N
2
.
Pulled up off bottom.
Discovered coiled tubing had parted.
Went in hole and found the tubing
below the stripper.
Day 3:
Mixed and pumped 65 bbl NaCl water
at 1/4 bbl/min and 200 psi down
coiled tubing to kill well.
After well was dead, went in hole and
caught fish at 28 ft.
Removed injector head and made cut.
Well came in, everything secure.
Pulled out of hole.
Pulled coiled tubing out of head and
swapped out reels.
Rigged up new coil.
Went in hole to pump acid.
Day 4:
Pressure tested new coiled tubing.
Ran coiled tubing in hole to bottom.
Pumped 3,500 gal 10% HCl with
catalyst.
Displaced with 2% KCl water.
Pulled out of hole.
Rigged down.
Other Nitrogen Applications 7-15
Figs. 7-3 through 7-5 show the stages of
the treatment. N
2
has been commingled with
all the injected fluids in this treatment.
Nonreactive and immiscible with the other
fluids formed, the N
2
inclusion forms of a
short-lived, volume-expanding foam. The N
2
in the foam acts as a diverter during the
multiple-phase flow to help maintain perme-
ability. In Fig. 7-3, the saltwater preflush has
entered the screen and exited casing perfora-
tions to contact formation sand. In Fig. 7-4,
resin has been pumped and is coating the
sand. The coiled tubing has been reciprocated
across the screen interval to direct the fluid at
the borehole wall (on longer intervals, a
special nozzle can be attached to the end of
the coil optimize fluid flow direction). The
saltwater spacer slug and the catalyst have
been pumped in Fig. 7-5, and the gravel pack
repaired by the resin coating in-situ sand is
hardening and forming a permeable but solid
sand filter. A final brine flush is injected to
enhance displacement of the acid catalyst.
Fig. 7-3: The brine preflush has entered the screen
and exited the casing perforations. This salt water will
help prepare the sand surfaces for adsorption of the
resin.
Fig. 7-4: Resin has been pumped into the well and
sprayed laterally against the walls of the borehole along
the damaged interval. The resin is coating the sand and
will be further dispersed into the formation by the brine
spacer before the catalyst is injected.
Fig. 7-5: The catalyst overflush has been injected,
and the resin is hardening. After curing is complete,
the gravel pack repaired by this in-situ resin coating will
form a permeable but solid sand filter.
7-16 Other Nitrogen Applications
Typically, such sand packs have 85 to 90% of
the original permeability.
The set resin is resistant to acids (except
HF), brines, alkalies, and other common well
treating fluids. Laboratory tests on the dura-
bility of sand consolidation resin systems
show that furan resins remain stable and
retain high strength when subjected to dam-
aging fluids. Brine, considered to be more
damaging than oil to the stability of resin-
consolidated sand, was selected as the test
fluid. Field experience with furan resin
overflush treatments indicate no resin con-
solidation impairment where brine has been
produced.
3
The Resin
The resin system used in the screen repair
was a water-compatible, furan resin catalyzed
by overflushing with acid. Long noted for
high temperature stability, the furan resins
have been widely used as a foundry core
resin binder.
4
As described in job procedures,
NaCl water is placed ahead of the resin and
pumped between the resin and catalyst. The
saltwater lead is placed to help prepare sand
surfaces for the chemical reaction needed for
the resin to adsorb on the sand.
A notable benefit of externally catalyzed
resin in sand-packing treatments has been the
fact that it has been possible to reverse circu-
late excess coated sand from the wellbore.
The well can then be repacked before inject-
ing the catalyst because the resin does not set
until contacted by acid.
4
This proved espe-
cially beneficial when the fishing job required
a 40-hour delay before catalyzing. The tail-in
load of salt water (the spacer) separates resin
from catalyst so that no partial reaction is
started until resin is properly placed. The salt
water also begins removal of excess resin
from pore spaces, flushing the resin further
into the formation.
Traditionally, furan resin has been used
in sand control treatments both to consolidate
formation sand in-situ and to precoat sand
at the surface before pumping downhole.
Extra resin has normally been injected after
washing out the excess pack sand and before
pumping the catalyst to consolidate a portion
of the formation sand adjacent to the pack
sand. This new treatment is unusual in that
large grained pack sand is being treated in
place. An average radius of over 3 ft may be
expected from in-situ consolidations of this
kind.
3,4
Resin-coated sand has also been used to
repair damaged slotted liner gravel packs in
situations where productivity of the well,
environmental impact, or a severely damaged
liner would preclude the expense of complete
liner workovers. The use of resin-coated sand
in such a repair job is relatively economical
and has been marginally successful. Where
the original liner was in place and could be
treated directly, the success ratio has been
90% or more, but in cases where a wire-
wrapped screen has been used as an inner
liner, the results have not been as satisfac-
tory.
5
Because the damaged screen must be
completely cleared of sand on both the inside
and outside, so that resin coated sand can be
squeezed through the damage area and form
the patch, the above alternative approach
was rejected. There was no way to ensure
removal of both the pack sand and the
invasive formation sand in the well.
Other Nitrogen Applications 7-17
Leak Detection Service
Essential to the operation of oil and gas
processing systems is the knowledge that the
plant is in a safe operating condition. With
the ever increasing demands and complexity
of our often aging processing plants, the
handling of toxic gases at high pressures
requires the need for stringent safety stan-
dards. To comply with these standards, we
have to be able to locate and repair all leaks.
Halliburton has developed an efficient
and cost effective technique for purging and
leak detecting a processing plant. Halliburton
has the capability and expertise to sweep out
the dangerous gases. Halliburtons N
2
con-
verter pump is a self-contained, flameless
twin pump that provides high pressure, high
rates, and/or low rates to cover the numer-
ous types of jobs demanded.
Conventional methods such as hydro-
statically testing, visual inspection, or, on gas
plants, a soap solution for detection of
bubbles, are all unrepresentative and limited.
However, for accuracy and reliability, Helium
Leak Detection gives results at a level not
previously known in the oil and gas industry.
Advantages
Halliburtons Helium Leak Detection
advantages include the following:
Simulates live gas conditions
Tests conducted at operating pres-
sures
Gases are safe and inert.
No need to remove instrumentation
Forms an integral part of the hook-up
program
Uses reliable and robust technology
Helium is rare in the atmosphere,
therefore, sensitivity cannot be com-
promised by other gases.
The process saves time and costs by
permitting leak testing to be carried
out before start up and by removing
the need for live gas detection.
By giving a quantifiable leak rate, it is
possible to monitor leaks over a
period of time to determine any
deterioration of the joint.
Using standards derived from the US
Navy in testing their submarine nuclear
reactor compartments, Halliburton has the
capability of detecting leaks of 1 scf/yr to
100,000 scf/yr using the same mass spec-
trometer. Using our Zone II* pump units
and our certified N
2
tanks, we will safely,
under controlled conditions, bring plant
sections up to working pressure. Operators
can then proceed with leak detecting.
Procedure
A vessel or section is first isolated. Halli-
burton then ties in with a high-pressure 3/4
in. hose and pumps 99% N
2
gas and 1%
helium gas into the vessel until the operating
pressure is reached. All flanges, valves, valve
stems, etc. are taped or bagged using duct
tape or plastic bags. This will contain the
possible leak. Upon pressuring the vessel,
the leak detector will pierce the tape or bag
and draw a sample through the previously
calibrated mass spectrometer. Should more
than 5 scf/yr gas leak be monitored and
recorded, then the flange is a fail and
would require a retest after further mainte-
nance. Less than 1 minute per test is re-
quired.
7-18 Other Nitrogen Applications
Fig. 7-4: Helium leak detection schematic.
Other Nitrogen Applications 7-19
References
1. Sas-Jaworsky II, A.: Coiled Tubing...
Operation and Services, Part 5Unload-
ing Wells with Lighter Fluids, World Oil
(April 1992) 59-66.
2. McInturff, C., et. al.: "Resin Salvages Gravel
Pack in Offshore Well," Oil & Gas Journal
(Sept. 30, 1991) 94-96.
3. Rensvold, R.F.: Sand Consolidation Resins
- Their Stability in Hot Brine, paper SPE
10653 presented at the 1982 SPE Forma-
tion Damage Control Symposium,
Lafayette, Mar. 24-25.
4. Murphey, J.R., Bila, V.J., and Totty, K.:
Sand Consolidation Systems Placed with
Water, paper SPE 5031 presented at the
1974 SPE/AIME Annual Fall Meeting,
Houston, Oct. 6-9.
5. Murphey, J.R., Roll, D.L., and Wong, L.:
Resin-Coated Sand Slurries for Repair of
Damaged Liners, paper SPE 13649
presented at the 1985 SPE California
Regional Meeting, Bakersfield, Mar. 27-
29.
7-20 Other Nitrogen Applications