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SPE 88736 Expandable Tubular Completions for Carbonate Reservoirs

F. Marketz, SPE, R.H.J. van Noort and M.N. Baaijens, SPE, Shell Exploration and Production

Copyright 2004, Society of Petroleum Engineers Inc. This paper was prepared for presentation at the 11th Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference held in Abu Dhabi, U.A.E., 1013 October 2004. This paper was selected for presentation by an SPE Program Committee following review of information contained in a proposal submitted by the author(s). Contents of the paper, as presented, have not been reviewed by the Society of Petroleum Engineers and are subject to correction by the author(s). The material, as presented, does not necessarily reflect any position of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, its officers, or members. Papers presented at SPE meetings are subject to publication review by Editorial Committees of the Society of Petroleum Engineers. Electronic reproduction, distribution, or storage of any part of this paper for commercial purposes without the written consent of the Society of Petroleum Engineers is prohibited. Permission to reproduce in print is restricted to a proposal of not more than 300 words; illustrations may not be copied. The proposal must contain conspicuous acknowledgment of where and by whom the paper was presented. Write Librarian, SPE, P.O. Box 833836, Richardson, TX 75083-3836, U.S.A., fax 01-972-952-9435.

monitor & intervene approach is under way. Expandable tubulars and swelling elastomer technologies enable completion designs that meet zonal isolation, selectivity, shutoff and stimulation requirements across the full life-cycle of the wells.
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Abstract Expandable tubular solutions have been developed and applied as a drilling solution to extend well depth while maintaining a larger borehole diameter [1]. In this paper we review the benefits of expandable tubulars for shut-off and zonal isolation in carbonate reservoirs. Particular emphasis is given on a major Middle East Operators experience. Expandable open hole liner (OHL) systems, developed as a drilling solution, is based on expanding a liner across an open hole section and into the previous casing to form a liner hanger [2]. Instead of cement, elastomer seals provide zonal isolation in open hole [3], [4].The liner is expanded to create a seal by energizing an elastomer between casing and the formation. In addition the elastomer swells in contact with water. This dual sealing mechanism provides an annular seal of any desired length. The technology is noninvasive on the reservoir. Alternative technologies either are invasive on the reservoir or have had limited success, i.e. cement, chemical squeezes or scab liners. Expandable tubular solutions have proven successful in terms of installation reliability, isolation of fractures, swept zones and ghost holes. Also, the technology enabled inflow profile control through zonal isolation in horizontal wells. Case histories for shut-off and zonal isolation demonstrate the viability of extending the scope of expandable technology deployment for better management of carbonate reservoirs through a drill, monitor & intervene completion philosophy combining selectivity and shut-off in a low-cost intelligent completion solution. Introduction A major Middle East Operator faces the challenge of increasing water production from maturing oil fields. Not counteracting water production may result in enormous treatment and handling costs. Therefore, a shift in completion philosophy from a drill & forget approach towards a drill,

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Figure 1: Oil and water production forecast of a major Middle East Operator. Carbonate reservoir fields with either natural water drive or water floods would benefit from effective fracture shut-off with the objective to reduce water production, to increase oil recovery and to improve the sweep efficiency of water flood operations. Solutions for the following problems are required: Water influx from fractures in new horizontal wells. Early injection water break-through in single horizontal and multi-lateral producers. Water short-cutting between water injector and producer wells via fractures. This applies to both horizontal and as well as vertical wells.

Figure 2: Water short-cutting via fractures. Red = oil; Blue = water.


SPE 88736

Inability to control the inflow profile of wells due to poor zonal isolation. One of the Operators large fields has some 40 to 50 km of un-perforated casing with well oil-saturated reservoir behind.

Expandable Tubular Solutions The two major value drivers to apply the expandable tubular solutions in carbonate reservoirs are water management and low-cost well construction. Value Driver Water Management + Reduce water production. + Control water injection. + Improve sweep efficiency. Low-cost Well Delivery + Eliminate time for curing drilling losses. + Reduce footprint Solution Mechanical annular sealing in open hole.

Slim well drilled with slant rig, Replace cement.

Figure 3: Water influx from water bearing formation intervals in horizontal wells. Red = oil; Blue = water. Both chemical and mechanical shut-off solutions are required and implemented. Chemical shut-off solutions are considered primarily for remediation of existing wells. The focus of this paper is on mechanical isolation with expandable tubulars that have been mainly applied in new wells. Past completion practices have either been unreliable, invasive on the reservoir and, over all, failed to provide the capability to manage water production over the life cycle of the well: Wells with barefoot completions have watered out due to water breakthrough via conductive faults and fractures. In numerous cases cemented horizontal liners have not provided zonal isolation. Selectivity requirements were not delivered. Even in vertical wells, liner cementation across reservoir section has had limited success, especially when drilling losses have occurred. Those are frequent in fractured carbonate reservoirs. Fracture shut-off with scab liners is considered unreliable due to limited deployment reliability and flow around the short open hole seal created by an external casing packer.
Fracture Fairway 7 liner ECP 3m short seal

Table 1: Value drivers for expandable tubular solutions in carbonate reservoirs. In the Operators on-shore, mainly low-cost wells environment, expandable tubular technology were initially adopted for completions rather than drilling applications. This is due to a higher benefit/cost ratio. First applications have been justified on a well per well basis as trials and planned contingency applications. More recently business cases have been developed for drilling and work-over campaigns. This makes the technology more attractive due to economies of scale. Open Hole Clad (OHC) is a Solid Expandable Tubular (SET) product line designed for shut-off applications.
Fracture Fairway 100m long seal 40% larger ID OHC Access

5.46 ID

Figure 5: Open hole clad for fracture shut-off. An OHC is an OHL without a tie-back into the previous casing. OHC and OHL provide a means of mechanical shutoff. The major Middle East operators OHC uptake increased from installations from trials in 3 wells in 2002 to installations in 21 wells in 2003. Most of the installations were in new wells. OHC technology was introduced in 2002 when the Operator decided to work-over an existing oil producer (horizontal sidetrack) with the objective to shut-off two water producing fractures. This particular application has been documented in earlier papers [4], [5]. After the work-over, the oil production from the well more than doubled. 2 years after

Diameter Reduction Access

3.92 ID
Flow around ECP

Figure 4: Fracture shut-off with a scab liner.


SPE 88736

the work-over the well still produces as much as before the work-over. The OHC is expanded to create a seal by energizing an elastomer between casing and the formation. Elastomer seals on its outside provide an enhanced capability for zonal isolation in open hole by swelling in contact with water [3], [4]. This dual sealing mechanism provides an annular seal of any desired length. Sealing design is based on caliper information. An example is given in Figure 6.
Calliper Log - Well ID 471

diameter exceeds the sealing envelope. In 6 1/8 hole a 5 OHC with swelling elastomers provides a seal up to 6.9 hole size. Repeated shut-off: Running an OHC through an already installed OHC is not possible yet. This capability is under development and technology trials in existing injector wells with barefoot completions are planned.

Fracture shut-off One of the Operators large fields consists of several stacked reservoir layers. The reservoir itself is subdivided into seven reservoir units. The average water cut of the field is 50 pct. To date, almost 400 wells have been drilled in this field. Reservoir simulations have predicted a very rapid increase in water cut if no fracture shut-off treatment is performed. Without shut-off, water cuts of more that 80 pct and low cumulative oil production have been predicted. A combination of a mechanical shut-off with an OHC in the producer well and a deep chemical fracture shut-off in the injector well would result in the highest recovery. However, a mechanical shut-off with OHC in both the producer and the injector wells would deliver 90 pct of the value of above mentioned mechanical/chemical shut-off solution at a fraction of the upfront investment for products and services. OHCs or OHLs have been installed in horizontal producers and injectors to isolate fractures in the reservoir section. The expandable tubular solution has been chosen over scab liners due to its re-entry potential and the potential for better isolation. When fractures were identified by FMI logs and considerable drilling fluid losses over a certain interval were encountered, an OHC was run. Production tests indicate that the OHC provides water shut-off. The table below shows the water cut of wells with OHC, 6 and 12 months after installation, respectively. Also, the water cut of a well (Well ID 361) of the same sequence with a scab liner is listed. Well ID. 358 361 368 370 Product Water cut 6 months 11 % 72 % 14 % 15 % Water cut 12 months 6% 78 % 3% 4%


Hole Diameter [in]

Perforations: 1396.3-1403.6

Hole Diameter














Depth [m]

Figure 6: Design of an open hole seal with solid tube expansion and swelling elastomer seals based on caliper log information. Benefits OHC has been developed for shut-off and zonal isolation due to the following advantages over other shut-off systems: 1. Placement: OHC can be accurately placed across a feature that needs shut-off. 2. Isolation: OHCs provide a large sealing area between pipe and the rock plus an energized seal due to expansion against the formation and swelling of rubber seals. OHC offer a non invasive, positive isolation for profile control. 3. Larger inner diameter: OHCs provide accessibility of a well below the OHC due to a larger diameter. Limitations Technical limitations for expandable tubular solutions have been experienced, especially when attempting to apply the technology in existing wells: Shut-off technologies in general are not applicable where the location of water inflow is unknown. Production logging or an alternative, i.e. underbalanced drilling is required to locate the water influx. In existing wells Production logging accessibility is required through the completion to determine the inflow profile. Therefore, in existing wells, expandable tubulars are only applicable if the well has been completed with gas lift or ESPs with Y-tools. Holes need to be near gauge to achieve a seal. Expandable tubular solutions are not applicable when the borehole

1 OHC 1 Scab 1 OHC 2 OHC 1 OHC 1 OHL 1 OHC 1 OHL 1 OHC 1 OHC 1 OHL

371 372 373 374 Field

8% 24 % 6% n.a.

n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. 50%

Table 2: Water cut of horizontal oil producers with fracture shut-off.


SPE 88736

Mechanical Profile Control A horizontal well design with OHL has been introduced in one of the major fields of the Operators portfolio. This field has been on stream since 1969. Production is from a carbonate reservoir at a depth of approximately 1400 m. The water cut is above 90 pct. To date, almost 500 wells have been drilled in this field. Variations in the geological characteristics, such as the degree of faulting and fracturing, and variations in the production/injection history of different areas have led to differences in the distribution of the remaining oil targets. Experience has shown that poorly cemented horizontal liners cause water influx from water bearing formation intervals in horizontal wells. Communication behind casing prevents development of oil producing intervals. To access undrained oil pockets cost-effectively, a horizontal well design has been introduced based on the capability to isolate the oil bearing intervals from water bearing features along the horizontal section of the well bore. To date, two horizontal wells have been drilled and completed that replace 5-spot vertical well patterns. This is possible by providing zonal isolation in a 1000 m length horizontal section. Expandable tubulars replace cemented horizontal liners. The horizontal well bore section is compartmentalized with elastomer seals. Also, the isolation provides the option to install an intelligent completion for selective inflow control and monitoring. Well placement and selection of perforation intervals based on reservoir modeling are crucial to ensure success of this application.

3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Run drift assembly to prove that OHC/OHL can be run to target depth, ream hole if necessary. Make-up and run in hole OHC/OHL, Expand OHC/OHL, If OHL, pressure test liner overlap, Mill out shoe.

From the operators point of view success of an installation operation either a success or a failure. Successful deployment of an OHC/OHL can be without or with operational problems. Category 1: Successful installation no problems Successful placement and expansion operations as per operator approved installation procedure without any operational problems and HSE incidents. Category 2: Successful installation with problems Successful placement and expansion operations as per operator approved installation procedure. No HSE incidents. Contingencies, remedial actions or fishing operations of OHC/OHL equipment are required. Category 3: Unsuccessful installation Placement or expansion operations are a failure. Loss of bore hole or sidetracking is required. 24 installations were successful, three of them with problems. Another installation was a fist well trial of a prototype tool from a new service provider. Category 1 2 3 Trial Total No. 21 3 0 1 25 % 88% 12% 0 -

Table 3: Reliability of 2003 OHC installation operations. During 2003 installation time normalized with respect to the length of OHC installed for all wells has been reduced by 75%. Installation time excludes the time for milling the shoe track. Focus areas to improve and sustain installation reliability have been identified as product quality assurance, drilling a gauge hole, and an alternative product design which makes milling of the shoe track redundant. Operational difficulties encountered during 3 of 25 installations stem from a quality assurance failure, borehole quality related difficulties and the need for milling the shoe track. An improved borehole quality and hole preparation is essential to reduce non-productive time (NPT) associated with installation operations of expandable tubulars. It is important to provide the drilling engineer with an incentive for the delivery of a good borehole quality. This includes the application of drilling practices that deliver gauge hole, minimizing doglegs and tortuosity. A drift run is required to make sure that the borehole dimensions permit running of the OHC or OHL to bottom. The most significant and recurring non-productive time has been to re-run the drift. More stringent procedures have been put in place.

Figure 7: Well bore compartmentalization for selective perforation of oil bearing formation intervals. Installation operations The deployment process for OHC and OHL has been described in detail by Filippov et al. [2] and van Noort et al. [3]. A typical installation operation of an OHC typically consists of the following steps: 1. Drill open hole section, 2. Run caliper log, design and select seals,


SPE 88736

While one open hole clad or liner has been installed in most wells, two or even three systems were run on two wells. All installations are listed in the table below. WI means water injector, P means producer, H means horizontal well, V means vertical well, New means an installation in a new well, W/O means an installation in an existing well during a work-over operations. Well ID. 356 358 329 373 464 379 126 384 368 471 128 26 26 370 Field New W/O new new W/O New New New New New New New New New New New Well Type WI-H P-H WI-HST P-V WI-H P-D P-V P-D P-H P-D P-V P-H P-H P-H Product Tier

Completion to provide cheapest possible intelligence. It is simple and reliable due to a minimum of moving parts and intelligence with minimum instrumentation. Initial completion enable maximum reservoir flow until water-cut is sufficient to identify its source by intervention, i.e. 50%. Until intervention the upper completion allows simultaneous wire line intervention and artificial lift with a Y-tool and ESP or gas lift. Completion allows for (repeated) selective stimulation.
Blank joint Pre-drill liner joint Sealing joint Blank joint

1 1 1 3 2 3 4 3 1 2 4 5 5 1


1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 3 1 1 1 Trial 1 3 4

6-8m 12m 12m 12m 10m 12m

Y-Tool w/ ESP (Or Gas Lift)

Liner with zonal isolation

6 1/8 hole 48m ~ 500m

Figure 8: Well bore compartmentalization through zonal isolation with expandable technologies. Conclusion Completions based on expandable tubular solutions have delivered improved well performance through fracture shutoff and zonal isolation in carbonate reservoirs. Also, the technology has enabled inflow profile control through zonal isolation. Placement has been accurate, installation reliability high. As expandable tubulars provide the opportunity to slim down wells and to cure drilling losses with minimum loss of wellbore diameter, the technology will become a standard solution for campaign drilling in carbonate reservoirs. References 1. Dupal, K.K. et al.: Solid Expandable Tubular Technology A Year of Case Histories in the Drilling Environment, presented at the SPE/IADC Drilling Conference held in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 27 February 1 March 2001. 2. Filippov, A., et al.: Expandable Tubular Solutions, paper SPE 56500, presented at 1999 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, Houston, Texas, USA, 3-6 October 1999. 3. Van Noort, R., et al.: Using Solid Expandable Tubulars for Open hole Water Shut-Off, paper SPE 78495, presented at the 10th Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference, 13 16 October 2002. 4. Braas, J.C.M., et al.: Water Production Management PDOs Successful Application of Expandable Technology, paper SPE 81489, presented at the SPE 13th Middle East Oil Show & Conference, Bahrain, 5-8 April 2003.

371 372 474 133 373 374 375

1 1 2 4 1 1 1

New New New New New New New


Table 4: 2003 OHC installations. Outlook Zonal isolation with solid tube expansion and/or swelling elastomers enables well bore compartmentalization. Based on this technical capability a new completion philosophy based on a drill, monitor & intervene approach to operating wells is evolving. This completion design combines selectivity and shut-off in a low-cost intelligent completion solution with the following benefits: Long seals instead of short seals with packers for zonal isolation. Completion enables a more effective identification of water source. Production log data of discrete inflow intervals in cased hole is easier to interpret that open hole data from (highly) fractured formation intervals. Completion facilitates (repeated) selective water shut-off.