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Technical Paper: Selectively Shutting Off Gas in Naturally Fractured Carbonate Reservoirs

Society: SPE
Paper Number: 168195
Presentation Date: 2014
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Abstract

In the Mexico marine region, gas breakthrough is common in naturally fractured carbonate oil reservoirs. Increasing the gas production reduces crude oil production, and eventually the wells become uneconomic and are shut-in in spite of the remaining recoverable reserves. A typical example is the Akal field, a large fractured 300- to 1000-m thick carbonate reservoir whose permeability varies between 0.3 D to 5 darcy. The gas-oil contact moves by as much as 8m/month as the natural gas and nitrogen gas from gas injection move through the natural fractures and invade the oil zone. This condition results in production decline, reservoir pressure decrease, and oil remaining in the matrix.

Efforts to selectively shut-off the gas have been unsuccessful due to the low-reservoir pressure and high-permeability contrast. When pumping water-based fluids, the increased hydrostatic pressure causes the treating fluid to travel down the natural fractures and away from the gas cap. This condition led to abandoning the gas-invaded intervals and recompleting lower in the reservoir, leaving some recoverable reserves.

To selectively shutoff gas entry in fractured reservoirs, a stable foam-delayed crosslinked fluid was proposed for use by a service company. The fluid with a high foam quality (FQ) and low density rides over the crude and into the natural fractures/fissures, communicating with the gas cap. Once set, the fluid creates an impermeable seal with high-extrusion resistance.

The stable foamed fluid has been successfully used to selectively shutoff unwanted gas production in wells that have been, in some cases, shut-in for several years due to excessively high gas/oil ratios (GOR). Following the treatment, the oil production was restored to the same level as prior to the gas breakthrough.

The success of the initial campaign demonstrated that it is possible to restore the production levels of shut-in wells and recover otherwise lost reserves. This result has a very significant positive impact on economics of operating the field. The current plan is to extend the use of the technique to other fields.

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