Horizontal Wells: Applications, Considerations, and Case Histories
This paper discusses many aspects of the application of horizontal wells for field development, starting with the basic question of why to opt to this technology. The different considerations to be taken into account when dealing with the technology are reviewed, including some inherent downsides like higher cost and operational complications. The main emphasis, however, is placed on practical reservoir engineering aspects, including well planning and performance, and the handling of horizontal wells in specific technical applications like well test
analysis and numerical modeling.
The theoretical basis and pertinent differences in physics and flow regimes around vertical and
horizontal wells are discussed in the context, together with the inherent practical implications.
Case histories and examples are presented for several successful applications worldwide that the author was involved in. In one case, a medium size field offshore Canada was developed with waterflood utilizing very few horizontal producers, with a set of horizontal and vertical water injectors. Detailed planning and intensive modeling, carried out by a team of engineers and geoscientists, led to a remarkably
successful field development. In another case, few horizontals were used among many directional wells to develop a Mediterranean oil reservoir under aquifer and gas cap drives in an attempt to reduce coning problems, raising an opportunity to compare the long term performance of different geometry wells.
A brief description is also presented to some advanced techniques and special cases of implementing horizontal wells such as thermal recovery (Steam-Assisted-Gravity-Drainage, or SAGD Process), multi-lateral wells, and multi-fractured wells, with discussion on these applications. Under favorable conditions, horizontal wells can also be used as an Improved Oil Recovery (IOR) tool in mature fields, an application that became very common in many super giant fields in the Arabian Gulf Area.
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