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SPE 48856 Hydrajet Fracturing: An Effective Method for Placing Many Fractures in Openhole Horizontal Wells

J.B. Surjaatmadja, S.R. Grundmann, B. McDaniel, W.F.J. Deeg, J.L. Brumley, and L.C. Swor, Halliburton Energy Services, Inc.

Copyright 1998, Society of Petroleum Engineers, Inc. This paper was prepared for presentation at the 1998 SPE International Conference and Exhibition in China held in Beijing, China, 2-6 November 1998. This paper was selected for presentation by an SPE Program Committee following review of information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents of the paper, 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 an abstract of not more than 300 words; illustrations may not be copied. The abstract 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.

Abstract To date, the art of effective openhole horizontal well fracturing is not well defined. Difficulties in regional sealing hamper the fracturing task, and results are generally suspect. Without proper isolation methods, the use of openhole horizontal well fracturing is limited. During many fracturing processes, including fracture acidizing, fracture or acid placement often occurs where fluid first contacts the borehole, often at the heel of the well. A new method is now available that combines hydrajetting and fracturing techniques. By using this new method, operators can position a jetting tool at the exact point where the fracture is required without using sealing elements. Unlike other techniques, this new method allows operators to place multiple fractures in the same well; these fractures can be spaced evenly or unevenly as prescribed by the fracture design program. Largesized fractures can be placed with this method. Because the method is simple, operators can economically bypass damage by placing hundreds of small fractures in a long horizontal section. To enhance the process even more, operators can use acid and/or propped sand techniques to place a combination of the two fracture types in the well. This paper discusses the basic principles of horizontal hydrajet fracturing and how Bernoullis theorem was used to design a hydrajet fracturing technique. Laboratory test results for the new technique are provided on Page 4. Introduction Hydrojetting, the use of water under high pressure, is a wellknown technique that many industries use to perform different tasks.1 These tasks range from cleaning and preparing surfaces, References at the end of the paper.

placing cements, drilling, cutting, slotting, perforating, machining, grouting, and mining to household uses, such as car washing and dental hygiene. Sand-laden fluids can be used, or cavitating jets may be required. Jet pressures range from a few hundred psi to as great as 60,000 psi. One common function of the hydrojet (or hydrajet, when sand or another abrasive is being used) is that its high-power energy is concentrated or focused on its target. In the oil industry, the most common applications for hydrajetting are slotting (cutting) or perforating. In these applications, sand performs the abrasive cutting function. Over time, jet system quality has improved dramatically, resulting in greater resistance to abrasives and various chemicals, and significantly increased tool life. With the advent of better and more reliable tools, this technology can now be used for oilwell stimulation. Horizontal Well Completions The first horizontal well was completed successfully in 1939,2 but horizontal wells were not routinely used until the 1980s. This first horizontal well was drilled to a depth of 630 ft, and extended laterally for 802 ft (Fig. 1). A branch was created somewhere in the horizontal section, dipping down to another payzone at a depth of 953 ft, making this the first horizontal and multilateral well. The lateral well was cased near the main wellbore, while the remainder was completed openhole. The openhole sections were fracture-stimulated with 1,150 lb of TNT. Fifty-nine years later, with improved technologies, horizontal well completions are being used routinely as an economic exploitation technique in certain formations. The ability to steer while drilling allows operators to drill these wells from the surface, instead of sending mining crews downhole. The driving force is still economics; therefore, in land-based operations, horizontals are used when the height of the productive or target formation height is small to medium (payzone heights < 200 ft). Thick reservoirs (payzone heights > 200 ft) still require vertical completions, except in offshore locations where drilling costs are very high and the size of the surface location is extremely limited. Non-cemented horizontal well completions range from true openhole completions to slotted-liner completions in the deepest wells, perforated-liner completions, or liner completions with external casing packers. Cased and cemented completions can


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also be used on horizontal wells. The appropriate completion selection is influenced by reservoir rock properties and the owner/operators initial investment. Generally, most horizontal wells in competent formations are completed openhole. Often, wells drilled and completed in low-permeability formations sustain formation damage, thereby limiting productivity. For increased productivity and improved economics, these wells must be stimulated with acidizing or hydraulic fracturing treatments. Hydraulic Fracturing In hydraulic fracturing, fluid pressure is used to fracture the formation. Fluid pressure in the wellbore is increased until it exceeds the formations breakdown pressure, which creates one or more fractures at the wellbore. This pressure is more commonly referred to as the fracture initiation pressure (FIP). Once the well is fractured, the pressure necessary for the fracture to grow, the fracture extension pressure (FEP), is generally less than the FIP. Hydraulic fracturing was first used in 1948 by Stanolind Oil and Gas Co.3 Since its inception, more than 1 million fracturing jobs have been performed worldwide. Over time, technology improvements raised pressure limits and flow rates. Proppant concentrations have also increased with the use of sand, synthetic proppants, and different fluids, including foams. In the 1970s, horizontal wells were re-introduced as a means of avoiding fracturing. In formations with sufficient vertical permeability, fracturing is unnecessary; in fact, openhole horizontal completions have become commonplace. When a horizontal well is completed openhole, another problem surfaces: flow rates to fracture these wells often become excessive. Even if a fracture is initiated, it is likely to start at the heel of the well, instead of at the desired location within the horizontal section. Hydrajetting is one solution to this problem. Hydrajet Mechanics In oilfield applications, hydrajetting is used to abrade or penetrate various substances, including steel, cement, and rock formations. Setting aside the fact that the jet often carries a substantial amount of sand or other abrasives, the jetting operation appears much like Fig. 2. Fluid is forced from a jetting tool through a small orifice into the annulus. Pressure in the jetting tool C must be higher than the pressure in the annulus A. The fluids high-pressure energy within the tubing is transformed into kinetic energy, resulting in high-velocity fluids, as demonstrated by the following Bernoulli4 equation:

V2 p + = C ............................................... (2) 2
In a hydrajet system, the velocity inside the jetting tool is generally low, less than 50 ft/sec. The jet pressure, however, is usually 2,000 to 3,000 psi higher than the annulus pressure, causing the jet velocity to exceed 400 ft/sec. This kinetic energy is used to perform the selected task. Hydrajet Fracturing For the example under consideration, assume that the jet is used to perforate formation rock as shown in Fig. 2, and that the jetting process creates a perforation with a much larger inside diameter than the jet nozzle. The velocity of the fluid flowing into the perforation tunnel is very high. The tunnel length is usually short (about 12 in.). The velocity will become very low near the bottom of the perforation, as shown on the right side of Fig. 2. At this point, if the flow area is maintained and no friction is present, the fluid pressure will be equal to the original jet pressure. This scenario is unlikely, however, because pressure losses are typically high. In particular, jet boundary friction converts kinetic energy to heat loss and causes jet flaring. This jet flaring drastically reduces jet velocity, which equally reduces the pressure-per-unit area of impact. As a result, pressure transformation efficiency is low. Even if pressure transformation efficiency is low, rock can still be fractured when enough pressure is applied to the jets. Laboratory tests have shown that rock fracturing is commonplace when jet pressures are high. However, high pressures, in combination with low-energy transformation efficiencies, quickly become impractical technically and economically. For example, let us consider fracture-stimulating a well of 5,000 ft TVD. The FIP is 4,500 psi and the hydrostatic pressure is 2,000 psi. At 100% energy transformation efficiency, the net jet pressure, defined as the difference between the jet pressure and the annulus pressure, must be 2,500 psi greater than the annulus pressure. Because efficiencies are generally very low, such a fracture cannot start unless jet pressures are high. For an effective efficiency of 25%, the net jet pressures must be at least 10,000 psi greater than annulus pressure, to achieve a stagnation pressure of 4,500 psi in the fracture. In practice, even greater jet pressures are needed, because fluid is still flowing into the fracture, and true stagnation is not achieved. The transformation efficiency value primarily depends on the shape of the perforation tunnel, which is, at best, random and continuously changing during the jetting and fracturing process. To ensure reliable hydrajet fracturing, we can increase the pressure in the annulus A while continuing to pump at the same net jet pressure (C-A), by maintaining the same flow rate. While

V2 p + + gz = C ...................................... (1) 2
In high-pressure and high-velocity applications we can ignore gravitational effects, yielding:

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the annulus pressure continues to increase, the pressure differential between annulus pressure A and the FIP approaches zero. At this point, the combination of a high wellbore pressure and the jet stagnation pressure forces the fracture to begin at the jets. Now, assume a four-jet system (Fig. 3) in which all jets are positioned coplanar with the minimum stress plane; this positioning will assure initiation of a fracture parallel to the far field preferred fracture plane, which is perpendicular to the minimum formation stress. Each jet will quickly create a cavity in the formation. Soon, a fracture will start at the tip of each perforation tunnel. Because of their location along the preferred fracture plane, the fractures link up rapidly. Because the fracture fluid is allowed to move freely, it tends to flow back into the annulus where pressure is lower. In this scheme, the fracture size is very small. Increasing the number of jets will inhibit backflow, increasing fracture size only a small amount. Predicting Stagnation Pressure In an earlier paper, Surjaatmadja5 showed that with finite element analysis at early stages and under certain conditions, a fracture would open widest near the wellbore, close to a minimum at a distance of a few feet, and then open wider again until it nearly reaches the tip of the fracture. This applies to the conditions described in this paper. For example, the fracture could open to about 1.3 in. at the wellbore, then closes to about 0.24 in., and then slowly widens again as shown in Fig. 4. (Although 1.3 in. may seem excessive, it is quite reasonable, since the jets have eroded most of the entrance point.) If the jet effectively flares out to fill the gap area at a distance r from the center of the wellbore, then the local pressures can be predicted using Eq. 2, which can then be expanded into a simplified momentum equation:

so that Eq. 4 becomes

Cc + p r Ar = Ctotal ..................................... (6) Ar

where Cc = Cm Cv and

Ctotal = CmV1 + p1 A1
If we use the relationship

Ar = 2rWr ................................................ (7)

pressures at various locations in the fracture can be computed. These pressures are relative to the annulus pressure if p1 is the jet pressure in excess of the annulus pressure. Because Ar is governed by gap size, radius, and flow velocities, when gap size decreases, pressure toward the center increases; in turn, when pressure increases, the gap size increases. The same is true for flow velocity; when it decreases (and fluid loss is not the cause), pressure increases relatively. If the radius increases, pressure drops rapidly. These balancing processes provide a self-adjusting gap size, leading to continuous extension of the fracture. Based on the assumed gap-size model, we can plot our local pressure model as shown in Fig. 4. In this figure, efficiency of the energy transformation is assumed to be 50%, which should account for pressure losses resulting from friction and fluid loss. A maximum pressure point in the fracture will likely exist close to the wellbore, providing an interesting phenomenon: fluid on the left side of the maximum point in Fig. 4 will move back and forth erratically, while fluid on the right side will flow freely to the right and into the fracture. This phenomenon is demonstrated in the laboratory model shown in Fig. 5. Hydrajet-assisted Fracturing If large fractures are desired, the process can be modified by pumping down the annulus as shown in Fig. 6. The primary flow Q is pumped through the jets, while supplemental flow q is pumped through the annulus. During pumping, the annular pressure around the fracture must be maintained slightly below the wells FEP, so that existing well fractures will not reopen during this process. For example, Fig. 4 shows that minimum annular pressure can be 1,100 psi below the FIP; although in practice, the pressure should not be less than 200 to 400 psi below FEP. Operating 400 psi below FEP ensures that fracturing fluids will continue to flow into the fracture, as discussed earlier. When the fracture has initiated, fluid will be drawn from the annulus into the fracture, and annulus pressure will drop rapidly, stopping fracture growth; only a small fracture will develop.

Q1 1V1 Q V + p1 A1 = r r r + p r Ar .......... (3) 2 2

Here subscript (1) refers to the condition inside the tubing before reaching the jets. Assuming mass flow to be constant (no fluid loss occurs), we can simplify Eq. 3 as follows:

CmV1 + p1 A1 = CmVr + p r Ar .................... (4)

where Cm = Q1 1 2
Further assuming that pumping conditions remain the same, the left side of the equation becomes a constant. For incompressible fluids, we have

V1 A1 = Vr Ar = Cv ....................................... (5)


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If annulus pressure is maintained by pumping fluid into the annulus, then the fracture can be extended substantially. Fluid will be suctioned continually into the fracture, maintaining the wellbore pressure below the FEP level. In Fig. 4, the zero pressure level is brought to a pressure level slightly below the FEP. For a new fracture to initiate, this annular pressure plus the 1,100 psig generated by the jets must exceed the FIP. Otherwise, the annulus pressure must be brought to a level above the FEP for a brief time, to quickly initiate the fracture, while not reopening other fractures. By using this method, even though other fractures exist in the well, we can initiate and extend new fractures at will without using regional sealing or isolation methods. Possible Delivery Methods After 250 years, Bernoullis equation still has new uses. This new application allows operators to place many fractures in one openhole horizontal well without isolating the section of interest, which opens many new possibilities for completing openhole horizontal wells. For example, many large fractures can be placed in an openhole well, or hundreds of small fractures can be placed effectively in a well to bypass the damage zone. Even a complex combination of small and large fractures can be accurately placed in the well (Fig. 7) unlike conventional methods where fracture initiation points are usually unknown. In a well that penetrates different formations, each fracture can be tailored individually with different fluid volumes and even different fluid systems, such as acids or sand-laden gels. These stages can be delivered by the jetting tool in a single trip down the well. In wells that are not drilled in the direction of the minimum stress, fractures will not extend perpendicular to the well. As shown in the past,6 the new fracture must be initiated in the same direction as the far field fracture with use of a coplanar jetting tool. All jets in this tool must be positioned coplanar with the preferred fracture plane, to minimize tortuosities in the fracture system. Use of this new technology is not confined to openhole horizontals. Hydrajetting and hydrajet fracturing can be used effectively in cased wells, slotted liner completions, and even vertical wells. However, this method is particularly designed to create fractures in an angular direction with respect to the wellbore. In vertical well applications, or in horizontals that are drilled in the maximum stress direction, this new method is applicable but not as effective. Laboratory Testing As shown in Fig. 5, a laboratory model has been developed to demonstrate the effectiveness of hydrajet fracturing. Fig. 8 shows the results of jet-fracturing a large limestone rock. Although the fractures did not align initially, they did eventually connect. The perforation tunnel shown is about 2 ft long, which is unusual in hydrajetting, since jetting generally produces cavities

less than 12 in. long. During hydrajetting, fluids are splashed back into the jethead, creating a tremendous resistance to the jet stream, resulting in a short cavity in the rock. If the rock fractures, then the jetted fluid will continue to flow into the fracture, and no splashing fluids will interfere with the jets, resulting in deeper hole penetrations. Conclusions A new fracturing process has been developed on the basis of Bernoullis theorem. This theorem has been effectively proven in many applications such as jet pumps, additive injection systems, and jet airplane engines. Like any new technology, many procedural steps, processes, and limitations must be defined, and different tools are needed to ease the implementation of this new method. Nomenclature A = cross-sectional area of fluid flow C = constant g = gravity constant p = pressure Q = flow rate, tubing q = flow rate, annulus r = radius of interest W = fracture width z = height = fluid density References
1. Vijay, M.M.: Advances in the Applications of High Speed Fluid Jets, paper presented at 4th Pacific Rim International Conference on Water Jet Technology, Shimizu, Shizuoka, Japan, April 20-22, 1995. Ranney, L.: The First Horizontal Well, The Petroleum Engineer, (June 1939) 25-30. Hassebroek, W.L., and Waters, A.B.: Advancements Through 15 Years of Fracturing, Journal of Petroleum Technology, (July 1964) 760-764. Streeter, V.L., and Wylie, E.B.: Fluid Mechanics, Sixth Edition, McGraw Hill Book Co., New York City, (1975) 134-139. Surjaatmadja, J.B.: Finite Element Analysis Shows Screenout Development and Cement Bond Destruction in Horizontal Wells, paper SPE 36867 presented at the 1996 European Petroleum Conference, Milan, Italy, Oct. 22-24. Surjaatmadja, J.B.: Elimination of Near-Wellbore Tortuosities by Means of Hydrojetting, paper SPE 28761 presented at the 1994 Asia Pacific Oil and Gas Conference, Melbourne, Australia, Nov. 7-10.

2. 3. 4. 5.


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1,400 1,200 Pressure (psi), Gap size (1000xgap)

630 ft

953 ft

1,000 800 600 400 200 0 2 5 9 13 17 21 25

Stagnation Pressure Gap Size

22 ft dia.

630 ft

802 ft

29 33




49 53



950 ft

Distance (in.)

Fig. 1First horizontal well in First Cow Sand, Ohio.

Fig. 4Stagnation pressure vs. distance.

Stagnation pressure causes fracture C A

Ambient pressure equals hydrostatic or frac extension pressure


Stationary front

Fig. 2Hydrajetting process.




Fig. 5Evidence of stationary front in laboratory model.

Pressure Distribution Chart Low High

Q q Fluid flow

Bernoullis equation: v2 + p/ = C

Frac fluid flow pattern

Fig. 3Creation of small fractures.

Fig. 6Hydrajet-assisted fracturing.


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Hydrajet Assist Frac (Large)


Hydrajet Frac (Small)

Fig. 7Possible completion scenario with hydrajet fracturing.

Fractures Jetted tunnel

Connected fractures

Fig. 8Hydrajet-fractured rock.