Research and Development

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Research and Development
Cost Effective Solutions to the Petroleum Industry

Over a decade of research and development, we learned how to tackle the most demanding challenges from the drilling, stimulation, and EOR problems. Most of these outlined snapshots of research ventures were part of graduate research programs at the Colorado School of Mines.

The photo shows a peak to the Rocky Mountains graced by the Capital letter “M” to celebrate the location and prominence of the Colorado School of Mines. Against this backdrop, serious research and development were done with the collaboration and sweets of many, including graduate and undergraduate students, and supporting staff.

 We have alliances with significant laboratory capabilities that allow us to quickly tap a lab setting with all the tools required to initiate a laboratory study.

The following snapshots are only a glimpse of the possibilities.

  • Chemical EOR Research
  • Stimulation and Formation Damage Research
  • Drilling Research
  • Production Research

Chemical EOR Research

Chemical EOR research started in earnest in the early days of 1985. Considerable experimentation were carried out in all types of porous media (sandpacks, Berea cores, limestone, extra) to study varieties of oil displacement mechanisms under high and low tension environments.

A list of major EOR projects included the following:

1. Linear scaling of low tension (micellar) flooding process in porous media.
2. Imbibitions oil recovery in low interfacial tension static fluid system.
3. Dynamic imbibitions oil recovery in Fractured carbonates.

Stimulation and Formation Damage Research

Foam Diversion in multilayer’s (permeability) system

A two years research studied the use of foam as a blocking agent to divert acid to damaged zones. Massive core holders were designed to accommodate 3 feet long cores at high pressure. Foam generation was controlled at specific desired quality at any given pressure. Attempts were made to look at fractured rock and foam flow through fractures. This research delivered field guidelines to design and implement a successful foam diversion process for stimulation purposes.

The following issues were addressed experimentally:

  • Investigate the performance (rheology and mobility) of polymer enhanced foam (PEF) in linear and radial flow systems (single layer fluid flow mechanics study). the effect of foam slug size, post-foam injection rate, foam quality, effect of residual oil will be the primary variables
  • Modeling the foam diversion process to match experimental and field data.

This research was supported by a JIP (Joint Industry Project) of major operators and has resulted in several PH.D. and MS theses at the Colorado School of Mines during the years 1995 to 1997.

Simulation of Fracture Closure under Reservoir Confining Stresses

Fracture conductivity is a function of acid treatment design as well as reservoir rock properties. For deep reservoirs characterized by high stresses and temperature, elastic closure and creeping effects will contribute to drastic decrease in fracture conductivity with stress and time. Reservoir fluid depletion will introduce additional effects such as reduction of effective stress and potential condensate banking (in gas reservoirs) around the fracture face. The productivity decline is related to the elastic properties of the reservoir rock, the creeping behavior, and compressive strength of the rock.

High Pressure Tight Gas flow and Well Testing Simulator

Research was conducted to simulate gas flow in 15 ft long porous media model at high pressure (5000 psi) and investigate the following issues in tight gas sand:

  • Pressure depletion
  • Buildup and draw down tests
  • Skin damage effect
  • Gas condensation damage near producing end
  • Simulate pressure support on pressure depletion
  • Monitor pressure at different points along the core, simulate layered system production and depletion
  • Simulate steady and unsteady state gas flow, etc.
  • 4 points test.

 

Unwanted Fluid Shut offs

We have experimented with a radial flow model to simulate fluid shut off technologies. This area can be further developed with industry joint industry projects. Field trials and optimization process are costly endeavors. Laboratory simulation of the process can provide a quick screening of the basic process parameters. The ultimate goal of this research is to provide the operator with field guidelines and methodology to optimize the foam process for preventing gas coning in the horizontal wells. This proposal represents a “crash program” to study the foam process for gas and water shut- off.

Formation Damage in Horizontal Wells

This research outlines a unique experimental approach to address the above problems. Specific tasks are listed in the following:

  • Assess the flow profile in an open-hole completed horizontal wellbore before and after mud damage.
  • Investigate the effect of reservoir heterogeneity on the production profile and formation damage characteristics (skin factor, skin depth, and shape of skin damaged region).
  • Determine the pressure drawdown requirements for open hole well clean up form mud cake and “unplugging” of fines.
  • Evaluate the effect of non-damaging drilling fluid on formation damage and compared to conventional water/benetonite mud.

Formation Damage in Complex mutilayered Reservoirs

Formation damage studies were designed and completed to completely visualize the 3 dimensional shape of skin damage around a horizontal wellbore. Unconventional laboratory methods and procedures were developed to illustrate the development of skin in time and space (3D). Post test analysis of core tests clearly showed the geometry of the damage and quantified the amount of permeability reduction for a given drilling fluid and overbalance pressure. The research was intended for an extension to study the skin damage in terms of quantifiable dimensionless physical condition during the drilling operation (such as overbalance, solids content, average solids size, permeability of porous media). Clearly, we have set the agenda for further work in this area which requires further funding.

Drilling Research

New Drill Bit Technology

DSI has been involved in developing a revolutionary new bit for the drilling industry which will significantly reduces drilling costs. Based on laboratory performance evaluation of DCB technology at CSM, the benefits are:

  • Achieve phenomenal drilling rate in excess of 40 feet/hr in the Tuff formation (metamorphic hard rock) and can drilling 2500 feet intervals without tripping.
  • Has the lowest torque requirement of any bit in operation to date. This reduces a drilling string’s twist-off failure in deep hole drilling.
  • Has the highest chip fragmentation efficiency of any bit type known to date.

 

Cement Displacement Research

Evaluation of liner cementation key success parameters were evaluated over a three years research program (at BP Alaska) heavily focused gathering relevant operational parameters during liner cementation. Almost every imaginable operational details were captured in a database, and every liner cement job was witnessed, evaluated after cementation with proper logs. This three years database was the Holy Grail from which lessons learned were captured and documented. In addition, we have evaluated in the laboratory the effect of casing centralization and different types of centralization on the hole cleaning prior to the cement job.

Production Research

Liquid Lifting in Low Pressure Gas Wells

Research was conducted at the Colorado School of Mines 4 story bay to study liquid unloading in low pressure gas wells. A 40 ft flow loop was built simulating the multiphase tubing flow with the effect of annulus storage or without (casing packer). The fully instrumented flow loop was successful to simulate low pressure gas wells undergoing liquid loading conditions. Experiments were developed to simulate foam lift technology” to unload the liquid. Internally generated foam at the bottom of the tubing was evaluated in terms of the minimum gas velocity required to keep the well flowing. The set up allowed visual inspection of the flow dynamics between the tubing (2” ID) and the 6” casing annulus. Several research initiatives were conducted and presented using this practical flow loop.