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Copyright 2005, International Petroleum Technology Conference

This paper was prepared for presentation at the International Petroleum Technology
Conference held in Doha, Qatar, 2123 November 2005.

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Abstract
Carbonate acidizing continues to be a vital process for
improving the production of oil and gas wells. Laboratory
studies and field evaluations of carbonate acidizing during the
past 30 years have shown a continually improved
understanding of the fundamental issues. This paper discusses
the current state of the advances in carbonate stimulation.
Average reactivity data for several limestones and dolomites
are presented and can be used as improved default values for
simulators. Wormhole development and structure during
matrix acidizing are viewed as symmetry dominated processes
controlled by fluid flow that obeys the native permeability
contrasts within the matrix. The resulting simplification allows
for rational treatment designs for matrix acidizing of
carbonates. Zonal coverage of long carbonate sections,
whether vertical or horizontal, remains a challenge. However,
using the 75-25 rule for horizontal wells, creating a thief
zone at the bottom or toe of the well, and utilizing the top
decade of permeability rule can aid in achieving reasonable
designs for maximizing productivity. The three fundamental
issues of fracture acidizing are addressed: reactivity control,
fluid loss control, and conductivity generation. Because
synthetic polymers for acid gellants have made reactivity
control easy, fluid loss control is usually the most dominant
issue to be addressed in fracture acidizing.

Carbonate Reactivity
Several models are available to predict the spending of acid on
carbonates. Some calculate the spending during fracture
acidizing while some calculate the spending during matrix
acidizing and wormhole generation. The earliest spending
tests were simple spending time experiments in open beakers.
However, it soon became clear that this was an inadequate
procedure because mass transport definitely plays a role.
Experiments conducted on quarried limestone and dolomite
during the 1970s gave our first estimates of the temperature
dependence of the reactivity of HCl on carbonates.
1,2
These
experiments suggested that limestones had incredibly high
reactivity with acid such that one could assume a mass
transport limited process. Laboratory experiments during the
1980s, however, could not support that conclusion and
eventually it became understood that even the reaction of HCl
with limestones was a balanced process.
3
This means that
while high-reactivity limestones may be mass transport
dominated, they are never truly mass transport limited.
Furthermore, their reactivity seems to be about 1/100
th
the
reactivity of the originally reported reactivity, and the
temperature dependence of the reactivity is much lower than
originally reported.
4,5
The reactivity of various oilfield carbonates has been
measured with optimized rotating disc experiments for several
years. Cores from producing carbonates in 13 countries have
undergone significant testing to provide temperature
dependant reactivity data from 70 cores. Sufficient data has
been collected to allow analysis and averaging of the
reactivities from those cores. Fig. 1 reports the average
reactivity of 30 limestones and 20 dolomites, normalized to a
reaction order of 0.40 for easy comparison. The carbonates for
these subsets were chosen based on their having at least 93%
composition as either limestone or dolomite. Another 20
carbonates fell into the category of being mixed carbonates.


Fig. 1Normalized and averaged reacti vity of carbonates.

The average energy of activation, Ea, which represents
temperature dependence, for the limestones was 2.5 kcal/mole,
significantly lower than the 15.2 kcal/mole historically
assumed. In fact, it makes much more sense that a reaction as
fast as HCl on a limestone should have a low Ea rather than a
high Ea. The average Ea for the dolomites was 5.9 kcal/mole,
again significantly lower than the 22.4 kcal/mole historically
assumed. Furthermore, notice that the reactivity of the average

IPTC 10693
Recent Advances in Carbonate Stimulation
R. Gdanski, Halliburton
1.0E-06
1.0E-05
1.0E-04
1.0E-03
1.0E-02
100 150 200 250 300
Temperature,
o
F
R
k

A
d
j
u
s
t
e
d

t
o

R
o

=

0
.
4
Limestones (30)
Ea = 2.5 kcal/mole
Dolomites (20)
Ea = 5.9 kcal/mole
2 IPTC 10693
limestone and average dolomite are the same at 200F. At
100F, the reactivity of an average limestone is about twice
that of the average dolomite.
Fig. 2 shows the reactivity data for all 30 limestones at the
average limestone reaction order of 0.36. Notice that
limestone reactivity can vary by a factor of 10 at almost any
temperature. As a consequence, it becomes very important that
the reactivity data of each carbonate formation be measured.
The average reaction rate constant, Rk, at 100F using the
average reaction order, Ro, of 0.36 was 7.7E-5 with an Ea of
2.5 kcal/mole. This average can be used as default reactivity
data for limestones, if no reactivity information is available on
a specific formation. However, the figure clearly shows that
some limestones react as slowly as dolomites.


Fig. 2Normalized reacti vity of limestones.

Fig. 3 shows the reactivity data for all 20 dolomites at the
average dolomite reaction order of 0.44. Notice that dolomite
reactivities can vary by a factor of 3 at almost any
temperature, and so are better behaved than limestones. Still,
the variation is significant enough that it is important that the
reactivity data of each carbonate formation be measured. The
average reaction rate constant, Rk, at 100F using the average
reaction order, Ro, of 0.44 was 5.2E-5 with an Ea of 5.9
kcal/mole. This average can be used as default reactivity data
for dolomites, if no reactivity information is available on a
specific formation. However, some dolomites are as reactive
as an average limestone.


Fig. 3Normalized reacti vity of dolomites.
The reactivity of acid systems gelled with synthetic
polymers has been well studied.
6
In general, it was found that
the reactivity of acid on carbonates is reduced by about a
factor of 10 in acid gelled with synthetic polymers. Acids
gelled with surfactants, however, do not exhibit lower
reactivity data, though they do spend slowly under application
conditions by reducing mass transport. All gelled acids give
enhanced performance by reducing fluid loss during fracture
acidizing, or improving zonal coverage during matrix
acidizing. The Ea is not affected by gelling the acid with either
synthetic polymers or surfactants. Therefore, plain acid
reactivity data properly generated with optimized rotating disc
experiments can be useful for a broad range of acid systems.

Matrix Acidizing
In 1979, SPE published Monograph Volume 6 of the Henry L.
Doherty Series entitled Acidizing Fundamentals, which was
coauthored by Bert Williams, J ohn Gidley, and Robert
Schechter.
7
Matrix acidizing of carbonates is extensively
discussed in the Acidizing Fundamentals monograph. A
method is given for calculating the spending of acid down a
dominant wormhole in either turbulent or laminar flow.
Calculations of acid spending lengths can be performed with
or without fluid leakoff. Unfortunately, three fundamental
questions remained unanswered at that time, which prevented
use of the published concepts:
1. How many dominant wormholes are generated?
2. What is the spatial distribution of these dominant
wormholes?
3. What is the leakoff profile from the dominant
wormholes?

Considerable laboratory work has been conducted during
the intervening years
8-12
but almost exclusively in short-core
tests. These tests suffer from restrictions imposed by linear
flow and the small dimensions of the core. The linear flow
tests give the following answers to the three questions above:
1. There is only one dominant wormhole.
2. The single dominant wormhole extends linearly through
the length of the core.
3. Leakoff is linearly out the end of the core.

Clearly these answers are of limited use in field
applications of radial flow. A new theory has recently been
introduced and discussed
13,14
that relies on the existence of
symmetry patterns first published by Daccord.
15
The presence
of symmetry in matrix acidizing of carbonates was assumed in
the development of the new model that proposes to answer the
three questions left unanswered 25 years ago. The numerical
results from the model are in qualitative agreement with
generally held guidelines for matrix acidizing. The model has
been validated by field treatments and indicates that only
fractions of a pore volume (PV) are required to reach a certain
distance from the wellbore. This stands in stark contrast to
predictions from linear experiments that suggest no less than 1
PV will be required, and that most often multiple PVs may be
required to reach a certain distance from the wellbore. In
addition, the simplification brought about by the new theory
made general matrix-acidizing treatment designs a simpler
process.
1E-06
1E-05
1E-04
1E-03
1E-02
100 150 200 250 300
Temperature,

F
R
k

A
d
j
u
s
t
e
d

t
o

R
o

=

0
.
4
4

1E-06
1E-05
1E-04
1E-03
1E-02
100 150 200 250 300
Temperature,
o
F
R
k

A
d
j
u
s
t
e
d

t
o

R
o

=

0
.
3
6

IPTC 10693 3
The new theory is, in fact, complementary to the detailed
understanding of wormhole development revealed by the years
of linear flow experiments. The effect of the Damkhler
number on wormhole structure and the existence of an
optimum Damkhler number are clearly correct. However, the
primary revelation of the modeling work from the new theory
is that wormhole penetration distance is not really controlled
by reactivity, but by volumetric invasion issues that are
controlled by the accessible porosity of the matrix, the
rheological nature of the acidizing fluid, and the native
permeability anisotropy of the matrix. Further, permeability
improvement of a carbonate above 100-fold renders that
portion of the matrix invisible from a production viewpoint.
This principle is shown in Fig. 4 by comparing the calculated
skin at several levels of permeability improvement. As such,
knowing the exact nature and structure of the wormhole
pattern becomes a moot point. It is not necessary to know
whether the wormhole pattern is highly ramified or has a
simple dominant wormhole pattern. It is sufficient just to
know that the permeability has been improved by at least 100-
fold by the acidizing process. Indeed, a recent study
comparing a classical spending approach with the new
simplified approach using a matrix-acidizing simulator
indicated that both provide nearly identical results with
wormhole penetration predominantly controlled by volumetric
invasion.
16



Fig. 4Effect of permeability improvement on skin.

The new theory proposes specific answers for the three
remaining questions left unanswered 25 years ago. The spatial
distribution around the wellbore is as sets-of-six. The overall
invasion pattern of the sets is governed by the native
permeability contrast. This means that the patterns elongate in
the most permeable directions. The sets of wormholes are
spaced along just enough of the length of the wellbore to
satisfy that the Damkhler number at the leading edge of
invasion is near the optimum. Sets of wormholes die out as
their length from the wellbore to the tip become the same as
their separation along the length of the wellbore. Wormhole
die-out occurs due to pressure interference between the sets
from the 3-D leakoff, as manifested by 3-D wormhole
branching. As a result, the number of dominant wormhole sets
decreases during the course of fluid injection. Fluid loss is
dominated by 3-D wormhole branching and not really by wall
leakoff as is the case in fracture acidizing.
The fundamental driver for all these manifestations in the
new theory is that wormhole patterns and symmetry arise as a
consequence of normal fluid flow through the porous media.
Wormholes are not created in an independent fashion that
follows paths of unpredictable direction. Stated differently,
wormholes follow behind fluid invasion, and fluid invasion is
controlled by the native permeability contrasts in the
formation.
Many of the predictions of the model are in good
agreement with classical guidelines of matrix acidizing normal
carbonates. For example, typical acid designs that produce
good stimulation under matrix flow conditions use about 100
gal/ft of 15% HCl as a reasonable optimum. Calculations
show that this volume should generate a -3 to -3.5 skin,
depending on porosity and permeability contrasts, as shown in
Fig. 5. Doubling the acid volume will give a 50% increase in
wormhole distance, but it will not dramatically decrease the
skin. As another example, nominal zonal coverage rates for
plain acid are about 10 ft of zone for every bbl/min of
injection rate. Calculations show that once the acid has
penetrated about 1 ft from the wellbore, this classical zonal
coverage rate is situated near the optimum Damkhler
number. As such, a 30-ft zone requires an injection rate of 3
bbl/min or higher for good zonal coverage. A pump rate of 10
bbl/min into a long horizontal well will probably only treat the
first 100 ft of zone, unless extraordinary efforts are taken to
achieve diversion.


Fig. 5Acid design chart.

Zonal Coverage
An important aspect of acidizing carbonates is achieving good
zonal coverage with the acid. If the zones are relatively short,
this can likely be accomplished simply with rate, or perhaps
rate and a little viscosity in the acid.
17
However, once the zone
becomes longer than about 100 ft, zonal coverage becomes
much more difficult. If the producing interval is in the range
of 1,500 ft, not only is good zonal coverage difficult to
achieve, it can also be very expensive. Questions naturally
arise as to: (1) how much of the zone is really going to be
productive, (2) does the entire horizontal interval need to be
acidized well, (3) what is the damage distribution along the
wellbore, (4) has the well produced long enough that there is a
0
100
200
300
400
500
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16
Radial Penetration, ft
V
o
l
u
m
e
,


g
a
l
/
f
t
S = - 2.5
Skin = - 3
Skin = - 3.5 Skin = - 4
20%
10%
5%
2%
-6.0
-5.0
-4.0
-3.0
-2.0
-1.0
0.0
0 10 20 30 40 50
Acidized Radius, ft
S
k
i
n
k/k
o
= 3
k/k
o
= 10
k/k
o
= 100
k/k
o
= 1000
4 IPTC 10693
reservoir pressure gradient along the wellbore, and (5) what is
the best way to get acid all the way to the bottom (or toe) of
the well?

The Top Decade Rule
One of the first principles to understand regarding acid
diversion, or zonal coverage, is the purpose of diversion.
Specifically, the purpose of diversion is to make zones having
similar permeabilities produce similarly by the removal of
damage and/or stimulating to about -3 to -3.5 skins. Diversion
cannot induce a 0.1 md zone to produce the same as a 1 md
zone, unless the 0.1 md zone has 10 times the pressure or 10
times the length. Furthermore, laboratory experiments
attempting to divert acid from one reactive core to another
have shown that the maximum flow contrast that can be
diverted is about 10 to 20.
18
However, if both cores have
nearly the same permeability and one is damaged by a fairly
thin skin, then diversion can be very effective and can easily
penetrate the damage, even at high initial flow contrasts.
Taken together, these two concepts can be used to develop
a guideline for deciding how much of an interval is likely to
contribute significantly to production, and how much is likely
to be within the grasp of acid diversion. (An exception to this
discussion would be the use of mechanical diversion.) The
approach is to create a normalized cumulative permeability
distribution plot to identify how much of the zone is in the top
decade of permeability.
Fig. 6 shows a hypothetical semi-log plot of cumulative
zone height vs. permeability. The average permeability for the
formation is about 5 md, but the permeability ranges from 0.1
to 280 md. The dashed lines show that only 10% of the total
zone height is in the range of 28 to 280 md, or the top decade
of permeability. As a result, achieving good zonal coverage
will be an extraordinary challenge with nonmechanical
approaches. In addition, it can readily be understood that about
30% of the zone, with permeability ranging from 0.1 to 3 md,
will probably not contribute significantly to production until
the higher permeability sections have been substantially
depleted.


Fig. 6Broad permeability distribution.

Fig. 7 shows a hypothetical formation with a narrow
distribution of permeabilities. The average permeability is still
approximately 5 md, but the permeability only ranges from
about 1 to 22 md. The dashed lines indicate that nearly 90% of
the zone is within the 2.2 to 22 md range, indicating that
typical diversion techniques should be quite effective at
covering the entire interval. In addition, most of the zone will
contribute production throughout the life of the well.


Fig. 7Narrow permeability distribution.

Rate and Viscosity
Once the length of interval to be acidized has been identified,
the next challenge is to assure that most of that interval is
effectively acidized. Unfortunately, the acidizing process itself
generates a permeability improvement in the matrix that works
against good zonal coverage, particularly under bullhead
conditions. There is, however, a natural zonal coverage rate
that is essentially the optimized acid injection rate for creating
fast developing wormholes. Experience and simulations
indicate that this optimum injection rate, once acid has
penetrated beyond a few inches from the wellbore, is
approximately 1 bbl/min for every 10 ft of wellbore coverage.
As such, an acid treatment conducted at 20 bbl/min should be
able to effectively cover about 200 ft of interval. Viscosifying
the acid to about 20 cp at bottomhole static temperature
(BHST) conditions is thought to double the zonal coverage
rate to about 20 ft for every 1 bbl/min of pumping rate. It is
also known that very high viscosities (perhaps >200 cp at
BHST), such as with emulsified acids or crosslinked acids,
also improve zonal coverage, but an effective zonal coverage
rate has not been estimated.
It should be mentioned that one of the challenges of zonal
coverage, or diversion, in bullheaded treatments is to displace
nonreactive wellbore fluids into the matrix ahead of the acid
treatment. Doing so requires keeping the wellbore pressure
sufficiently high and for sufficient time to allow acid to
displace the entire wellbore. Waiting until late in the treatment
to reach maximum injection rate or to use viscous acid can
significantly reduce the amount of zone effectively treated
with acid. Therefore, it is important that the acid treatments
reach maximum allowed injection rate as soon as possible
after the acid treatment commences.
Effective zonal coverage may also require stages of highly
viscous diverting fluids. The concept is to fill the recently
created wormhole patterns with diverter, such as high quality
foam or acid-stable crosslinked fluids. The diverter stage
residing within the wormhole pattern can then act as a
0.0
0.1
0.2
0.3
0.4
0.5
0.6
0.7
0.8
0.9
1.0
0.1 1. 10. 100. 1,000.
Permeability, md
C
u
m
m
u
l
a
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i
v
e


H
e
i
g
h
t

Max Perm: 22 md
1/10 Perm: 2.2 md
Ave Perm: 4.7 md
" Top Decade": 88 %
0.0
0.1
0.2
0.3
0.4
0.5
0.6
0.7
0.8
0.9
1.0
0.1 1. 10. 100. 1,000.
Permeability, md
C
u
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m
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a
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H
e
i
g
h
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Max Perm: 280 md
1/10 Perm: 28 md
Ave Perm: 5.0 md
" Top Decade": 10 %
IPTC 10693 5
reservoir of diverter while the following acid stages bypass the
treated zone as they travel along the wellbore.

Create a Thief Zone at the Bottom
Experience has demonstrated that during bullheaded
treatments of long intervals it is difficult to get acid to travel
much beyond the end of the pipe in the absence of effective
diversion. Even with effective diversion, experience and
numerical simulations demonstrate that the bottom 30% of the
zone can be very difficult to stimulate. The source of this
challenge is considered to be a combination of the ease of
continued acid flow into stimulated zones of -3 skin (or
better), and the resistance of forcing the original nonacid
wellbore fluids into the damaged or unstimulated sections at
the bottom of the well before the acid arrives.
Simulations suggest that an effective solution to this
problem is to pre-acidize the bottom (or toe) of the well to
create a thief zone of -3 skin or better.
19
The zone will not
act as a true thief zone as would be the case of a highly
naturally fractured section, but it will more easily enable the
original wellbore fluids to be quickly displaced by the acid
treatment. The pseudo-thief zone at the bottom can be created
using coiled tubing and a small amount of acid. A typical
design would be to pump 2,000 gal of 15% HCl at 2 bbl/min
through coiled tubing positioned at the bottom (or toe) of the
well. The tubing is then retrieved and the acid treatment
pumped at high rates using viscous acid and effective
diverting methods. This method has been applied successfully
in long vertical wells, and may be most efficient in horizontal
wells of perhaps less than 1,500 ft of perforated or exposed
length. However, a modification of this technique involving
perforating and acidizing the toe, followed by perforating and
acidizing the remaining interval with emulsified acid and ball
sealers, has been used successfully in 6,000-ft horizontals
having about 3,000 ft of selectively perforated length.
20


The 75-25 Rule
Horizontal wells present a unique challenge due to the
extended lengths of interval as compared to typical vertical
wells. Acid designs based on vertical guidelines, such as 100
gal/ft of 15% HCl to achieve a skin of -3 or better, become
prohibitively expensive for a 3,000-ft horizontal well. Several
investigators have used numerical simulations to study ways
of optimizing acid designs for horizontal wells.
21,22
These and
other studies are in general agreement with one another and
indicate the following two important results.
First, suppose that costs restrict the size of an acid
treatment to only 15 to 35% of a full classical design. The
question arises as to whether it is better to treat the entire zone
evenly with the acid, or acidize only a few places well. The
results from the calculations clearly indicate that it is far better
to acidize a few places well, rather than acidizing everything
poorly.
Second, a decision must be made as to how much of the
zone to acidize properly, perhaps 15%, or 25%, or 35%. The
calculations indicate that the more horizontal length that is
acidized, the more production that is possible. However, an
evaluation of the trends indicates that acidizing 25% of the
horizontal length properly will provide approximately 75% of
the productive potential if all the length is acidized properly.
For this author, this important result became the 75-25 rule.
Furthermore, technical conversations with others who have
independently verified these calculations suggest that the 25%
length should be broken into five to nine pieces along the
length of the horizontal well. Choosing the number of pieces
and their positions may depend on identifying (1) preferred
locations with logging techniques, (2) locations of
convenience, or (3) other design considerations.

Fracture Acidizing
The use of fracture acidizing to enhance the production of
carbonate formations continues to be an effective process.
Suggestions and claims regarding what is important for
achieving a successful treatment have fluctuated over the past
30 years to include special acid systems, special placement
techniques, etc. Nevertheless, three fundamental issues must
be addressed to achieve a successful fracture-acidizing
treatment. A focus on only one or two of these issues can
result in poor performance.

Reactivity Control
The first fundamental issue is that of reactivity control.
Dissolution of carbonate is the means by which conductivity is
generated. The dissolution is controlled by reactivity, which is
affected by both carbonate composition and temperature. An
improper understanding of reactivity may lead to a choice of
fluid that is inappropriate for the reservoir conditions.
Therefore, it is very important to understand the issues of
reactivity discussed in the earlier section. There was a time
when almost everyone considered reactivity control to be the
single most important issue in providing effective fracture-
acidizing treatments. This conclusion was based on the
combination of (1) an improper understanding of limestone
reactivity, and (2) the lack of effective fluid loss control
measures provided by synthetic polymer gelled acids.
Currently, reactivity control is sufficient that fluid loss control
has been clearly exposed as the dominant barrier to effective
fracture-acidizing treatments.
Guidelines have been developed for choosing an
appropriate method for achieving reactivity control. Low
reactivity carbonates at cool reservoir conditions need acid
systems that have not further lowered the acid reaction rate
constants. Foamed-acid and surfactant gelled acids are
examples of systems known to be quite effective in low
reactivity carbonates.
Moderate reactivity carbonates can also be treated with
foamed acid and surfactant gelled acids, but synthetic polymer
gelled acids provide a level of reactivity control and fluid loss
control that makes them widely applicable.
Treatments on high reactivity carbonates, or moderate
reactivity carbonates at high temperatures, should generally
employ acid systems using synthetic polymers to viscosify the
acid. These systems provide excellent reactivity control and
mass transport control.

Fluid Loss Control
The second fundamental issue involved in successful fracture-
acidizing treatments is fluid loss control. This is perhaps the
primary cause of failure for many fracture-acidizing
treatments. In sand fracturing, excessive fluid loss can result in
6 IPTC 10693
screenouts and a premature shutdown of the treatment. In
acid fracturing, a screenout is incredibly difficult to achieve
and only very rarely occurs, even with excessive fluid loss.
The absence of the feedback provided by a screenout has
made it easy for our industry to ignore the issue of excessive
fluid loss during fracture-acidizing treatments. Yet, if fluid
efficiency drops to the point that the treating pressure no
longer stays above fracture-extension pressure, it indicates that
all the acid is leaking off into the formation. When this
happens, the treatment has become a large matrix-acidizing
treatment and the etched length will be quite short. The result
will be a well that gives a high flush production, but quickly
falls to a much lower value over the long term. The property
that gives good long-term production increase is etched length
of sufficient conductivity. Etched length is different from
created length. Nonacid fluids might be used to create a long
fracture, but if the acid has excessive fluid loss, the etched
length will be very short and the long-term production
increase will be disappointing.
The single most significant step to improve fluid loss
control in fracture-acidizing treatments is to viscosify the acid.
All other efforts to improve fluid loss control will be relatively
useless unless the first step is using viscous acid. There are a
number of ways to viscosify acid, including:
natural polymers
synthetic polymers
surfactants
foams
emulsions

Laboratory testing using hollow limestone cores, even
under severe test conditions, has clearly demonstrated that
viscosity has a powerful effect on providing the first level of
fluid loss control.
23
This first level of fluid loss control can be
achieved with as little as 20 cP of viscosity at 511/sec at
BHST. This benchmark viscosity provides a good guideline
for deciding how much viscosity is enough for first-level fluid
loss control. It is generally sufficient viscosity in situations
where matrix permeability is less than about 1 md. Under such
conditions, the choice of viscosifier will largely be driven by
the reactivity issues mentioned earlier.
Some formation conditions require even more fluid loss
control than what is provided by first-level approaches, and so
may require a second level of fluid loss control. The second-
level of improved fluid loss control can be achieved by using
either large solids or much higher fluid viscosities. Studies
have shown that large solids can be very effective in providing
this second level of fluid loss control. The solids should be at
least 100-mesh in size, and can easily be 40- to 60-mesh
solids. The solids must be large due to the relatively larger
diameters of wormholes caused by acid leakoff as compared to
the original pore throats. Pore throats can be bridged with
particles of a few microns in diameter, but wormholes require
much larger particles. The solids can be sand, oil-soluble
resins, or anything else deemed useful. Concentrations should
start at 0.25 lb/gal and should be increased in 0.25-lb/gal
increments if an acid stage does not maintain fracture
extension pressure. Fracture-acidizing treatments using 1 to 2
lb/gal of solids have been successfully conducted and
provided significantly improved sustained production
increases.
If higher viscosities are chosen for achieving the second
level of fluid loss control, the target viscosities should be in
the range of a few hundred centipoise, perhaps 100 to 300 cP
under downhole conditions. This can be achieved with live
acid crosslinkers, such as zirconium, and near-spent acid
crosslinkers. Live acid crosslinkers provide high viscosity in
the fracture itself, while near-spent acid crosslinkers provide
high viscosity in the matrix after leakoff and at the leading
edge of acid flow in the fracture. Foams and emulsions can
also provide these higher viscosities. The choice of fluid may
depend on such factors as acceptable friction pressures in the
tubing, the availability of materials such as nitrogen, and
whether leakoff is perceived to be dominated by matrix loss or
natural fracture loss. The higher live-acid viscosities may be
preferable when leakoff is dominated by natural fractures.

Conductivity Generation
The third fundamental issue in successful fracture-acidizing
treatments is the generation of acceptable conductivity. Proper
reactivity control and proper fluid loss control are
prerequisites for obtaining good conductivity. The first two
issues assure that it is even possible to dissolve rock at a
significant distance from the wellbore in the created fracture.
However, they are not sufficient to assure that good
conductivity is truly generated. Conductivity generation
requires that two additional goals be met: (1) sufficient
carbonate removal, and (2) removal in an uneven manner, so
that good conductivity can be generated.
Sufficient rock removal is an easy issue to overlook.
Simulations can readily show that live acid can travel down a
fracture for well over 200 ft when proper reactivity control is
addressed. This factor can lead to the assumption that if acid
gets there, then conductivity will be there. Unfortunately, the
situation is a bit more complicated. Simple calculations can
highlight the issue.


Fig. 8Created fracture length.

Fig. 8 shows the results of calculations of created length
based on simple mass balance. A fracturing simulator was
used to estimate a nominal created width of 0.15 in. using a 20
cP fluid, which is the design criterion for the first level of fluid
0
200
400
600
800
1000
1200
1400
1600
1800
0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200
Injected Volume (gal/ft)
C
r
e
a
t
e
d

L
e
n
g
t
h
,


f
t
30%
20%
10%
5%

Fluid
Efficiency
Viscosity = 20 cP
Created Width = 0.15 in.
IPTC 10693 7
loss control. Several fluid efficiencies from 5 to 30% were
used to calculate the created length vs. injected fluid volume.
Notice that for a created length of 200 ft, it is relatively
easy to create such a fracture, even with poor fluid
efficiencies. At a fluid efficiency of only 10%, meaning 90%
of the fluid is leaking off into the matrix, it requires about 400
gal/ft to create two 200-ft fracture wings, but at a fluid
efficiency of 30%, it requires only 130 gal/ft to create two
200-ft fracture wings.
The situation is much different when considering the rock
dissolving power. Fig. 9 shows the results of calculations of
etched length based on simple mass balance. A nominal
etched width of 0.10 in. was used based on laboratory
observations that conductivity does not usually rise above
2,000 md ft unless the etched width reaches 0.10 in., or 0.05
in. from each face of the fracture. It was assumed that 15%
HCl was used to etch the fracture, and so a rock-dissolving
power of 1.8 lb/gal was used in the calculations. Finally,
several rock dissolving efficiencies ranging from 20 to 70%
were used to calculate the possible etched length vs. injected
acid volume. The rock dissolving efficiencies recognize that
under high fluid-loss conditions, much of the rock-dissolving
power goes to creating wormholes, not etched width.


Fig. 9Over-simplified etched length.

Suppose that at 30% fluid efficiency, the acid is able to
spend mostly on the fracture face before leaking into the
matrix such that the dissolving efficiency is high at 70%.
Fig. 4 shows that it will require about 450 gal/ft of 15% HCl
to dissolve exactly 0.10 in. (0.05 in. from each face) down the
length of two 200-ft fracture wings. However, if fluid loss
control is poor, and fluid efficiency is only 10% and
dissolving efficiency is low at 30%, it will require about 1,000
gal/ft of 15% HCl to create an etched width of 0.10 in. in the
200-ft fracture.
Figs. 8 and 9, when taken together in a simplified fashion,
suggest that a small fracture-acidizing treatment of about 250
gal/ft, even with good efficiencies, will probably only reach
about 75 ft. Long-term production increase is not likely to be
impressive with such a treatment. However, a serious fracture-
acidizing treatment of about 500 gal/ft will be capable of 150-
to 200-ft etched lengths. Of course, modern computer
simulators are capable of modeling the realities much better
than this simplistic approach, but the point remains that
conductive length can only be created by pumping sufficient
dissolving power.
In brief, good fracture-acidizing designs should recognize
that creating good conductivity means pumping sufficient
dissolving power to remove the amount of rock necessary to
create conductivity, and so will probably be about 500 gal/ft or
greater in volume.

Conclusions
The study of carbonate acidizing has progressively improved
the success of acid stimulation treatments. While much of the
science can be considered quite complex, a number of
simplifying guidelines have been developed that can improve
the application of modern acidizing theories. These theories
have provided the following conclusions:
The reactivities of oilfield carbonates have been
measured in the laboratory and exhibit fairly low
energies of activation, consistent with a mass transport
dominated process.
New default reactivity values for limestones and
dolomites have been proposed.
The average limestone and dolomite have similar
reactivities above approximately 200F.
Carbonate spending is often a mass transport dominated
process, but it is not a mass transport limited process.
The three fundamental issues that must be addressed for
successful fracture acidizing are reactivity control, fluid
loss control, and conductivity generation.
Reactivity control is most easily achieved by the proper
choice of acid viscosifier.
The first level of fluid loss control must be to viscosify
the acid to at least 20 cP at BHST conditions.
The second level of fluid loss control can be either
choosing large solids or acid viscosities in the few
hundred cP range.
Proper conductivity generation requires pumping
sufficient acid volume, good zonal height coverage, and
uneven etching of the fracture face.
A new matrix-acidizing theory based on symmetry has
significantly improved the understanding of the
performance of acid treatments.
Wormhole length in matrix acidizing is dominated by
volumetric issues such as accessible porosity,
permeability contrast, and acid volume.
Acidized permeability improvement is provided by the
wormhole diameters and is dominated by spending
issues such as reactivity, carbonate composition, acid
strength, and contact time.
Potential zonal coverage for diverting matrix-acidizing
treatments is often subject to the Top Decade Rule.
An optimum length of horizontal well to be acidized can
be calculated by the 75-25 Rule.
Creating a thief zone at the bottom of a well with a small
amount of acid can significantly improve the success of
bullheaded, diverted acid treatments.
0
50
100
150
200
250
300
350
400
450
500
0 200 400 600 800 1,000 1,200
Injected Volume, gal/ft
E
t
c
h
e
d

L
e
n
g
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,

f
t 70%
50%
30%
20%
HCl = 15 %
Etched Width = 0.1 in.

Dissolving
Efficiency
8 IPTC 10693
References
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