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SPE 109837

Innovative Method for Predicting Downhole Pressures During Frac-Pack Pumping


Operations Facilitates More Successful Completions
Richard C. Jannise, Halliburton, and William J. Edwards, Dune Energy
Copyright 2007, Society of Petroleum Engineers
This paper was prepared for presentation at the 2007 SPE Asia Pacific Oil & Gas Conference
and Exhibition held in Jakarta, Indonesia, 30 October1 November 2007.
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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
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Abstract
Pressure limitations often prohibit engineers from placing
frac-pack sand-control treatments where they are needed the
most because of the collapse ratings of the bottomhole
assembly equipment. Often, these pressure limitations lead to
early abandonment of the well, or they create problems later in
the life of the well, because they do not allow for effective
sand-control, which inevitably will have a negative impact on
well economics. A new method, dynamic pMAX, used to
determine the amount of pressure exerted on the bottomhole
tools during the sand-control treatment, enables frac-pack
treatments that the industry once would have considered
impossible to achieve.
Introduction
Sand control methods were first implemented in order to
control the flow of fines during the production of
hydrocarbons. Initially, fines control was limited to standalone screens and consolidation treatments; however, as
technology progressed, new methods of sand control were
attained.1 The most notable of these new methods was the frac
pack, which became commonplace in the late 1980s and early
1990s for completing formations with high permeability. Fracpacks provide long-term stimulation similar to hard-rock
hydraulic fracturing treatments, and they control the
encroachment of small sand particles from soft formations.2
Although the frac pack could provide the capability to
stimulate the formation as well as control the formation fines,
high flow rates often induced proppant flow back. This
problem was best solved through the use of downhole tools.
Unfortunately, pressure limitations for the tools could impose
limits on the types of sand-control jobs that could be pumped,
and when modeling the maximum pressure for each job,
planned frac packs had to be cancelled due to the pressure
restrictions.

Early jobs had encountered problems with collapsed


components, primarily with the lower casing extension and the
blank tubing. Engineers determined that the collapse ratings of
these components were exceeded when a hard pressure
screenout, which is one that occurs at fracturing rates and is
desirable in a soft rock environment, was achieved.3 The
hard screenout occurs after a tip screenout event and when
the fracture is completely full of sand or proppant. The
pressures seen during a hard screenout can rise excessively
above the anticipated treating pressure in a short period of
time, leading to unpredicted stress on the downhole assembly.
During this time, it was assumed that building more robust
equipment components was easier than attempting to predict
what was actually going to occur; however, the excessive
pressures could not always be anticipated.
With a new method that has recently been developed, it is
now possible to determine how much pressure can be
encountered before the job is run. This method, known as pMAX
prediction, allows the tool assembly to be designed with the
expected pressures in mind.
Bottomhole Assembly Review
To fully comprehend the effects of pressure on the bottomhole
tools necessitates an understanding of how the assembly for a
sand-control completion is arranged. This knowledge will help
the job designer not only recognize how pressures can be
detrimental to job placement, but also how this pressure, when
used in the proper manner, can help to put the frac-pack in
place. The completion can be broken into two segments for
easier understanding: the upper completion and the sand face
completion. This paper focuses on the sand-face completion.
The sump packer is below the screen at the lowest point of
the completion. The sump packer separates the zone of interest
from any lower zones or rathole using a seal assembly
attached to the screen. The screens, found in a variety of
meshes and designs, are sized to keep the gravel-pack sand
from flowing through it. Above the screen is the blank pipe,
which is nothing more than tubing and is used to ensure
enough sand/proppant is left above the screen to allow
adequate sand to fall out, should any voids be present across
the screen. Above the blank, a shear sub, which is used for
releasing the assembly from the blank and screen if fishing
becomes necessary, is typically found. Past the shear sub, the
fluid-loss device (FLD) is activated after the frac-pack is
performed to stop completion fluid from being lost to the
formation through the newly created fracture. Integral to the

SPE 109837

completion and above the FLD are the lower casing extension,
the closing sleeve, the upper casing extension, and the gravel
pack packer, through which the multi-position tool is situated.
The multi-position tool is illustrated in Fig. 2. The
purpose of this tool is to direct fluid and proppant from the
tubing to the formation without disturbing the screen.
Fluid moves out of the tubing by means of a cross-over
placed across the closing sleeve in the assembly. The multiposition tool has three positions the circulating position, the
squeeze position, and the reverse circulating position. The
circulating position (shown in Fig. 2) allows fluid to flow out
of the tubing, into the screen, and up the annulus with minimal
fluid flowing into the perforation unless the annulus is closed
at surface. If the annulus is closed, then the fluid will be
forced into the perforations. Squeeze position, which is shown
in Fig. 3, closes the port to the annulus at the service tool and
forces the fluid into the formation.
Reverse position allows for the fluid on the annulus to be
circulated to the tubing, thereby removing any excess proppant
or under-balanced fluids, as seen in Fig. 4.
By understanding the path of the fluid, it is much easier to
comprehend the components upon which the pressure is
acting, since the pressures affecting the tools take the same
path as the fluid.
Original Formula
Researchers have determined that five parameters affect
collapse of the components below the crossover ports:
Tubing pressure exerted from the surface
Collapse rating of the components in the assembly
The safety factor applied to the components
Reservoir pressure, otherwise known as bottomhole
pressure
Hydrostatic pressure in the workstring.4
From these parameters, engineers developed a
mathematical formula to determine the maximum surface
pump pressure allowed, or pMAX. Eq. 1 represents the
maximum pressure:

pMAX = (0.8)(WLCollapse _ Rating ) + pBH ptub _ hydrostatic (1)


This formula fits for components run below the crossover
ports on the packer tool assembly, but it does not accurately
calculate the pressures affecting the packer itself. A different
set of parameters are needed to calculate the pressure
differential on the packer:
Tubing pressure exerted from the surface
Packer differential rating with the safety factor
included
Hydrostatic pressure in the tubing
Hydrostatic pressure in the annulus
Applied surface annulus pressure.5

PMAXP= pPackerDifferenti
c
alRating ptub_ hydrostat
+ pAnn_ hydrostati
c + pannulus

. . . . . . . . . . (2)

These formulas model the effects of pressure on the


downhole components. The first formula has shown that the
lower the reservoir pressure is, the lower the pMAX number will
be. The low pMAX number makes obtaining an effective fracpack in wells with low bottomhole pressure (BHP) difficult
unless the equipment run is extremely robust. The highpressure rating on this equipment is not necessary for the
differential pressures seen during production, shut-in, or even,
post completion stimulation scenarios; the pressures that are
seen during the initial stimulation treatments are the primary
concern. The frac-pack scenario can lead to eliminating the
safety factor on frac-pack jobs in reservoirs with low BHP to
place a fracture. At first glance, this seems like a risky solution
to a complex problem, but to date, there are no documented
cases of downhole components collapsing when this technique
has been used. Since a safety factor has not been incorporated
into the equation, at least one failure should have occurred
over that amount of time, and none have. So, what is the
reason for the lack of a failure?
PMAX Generation Two
During the initial study, engineers believed applied surface
pressure was not transmitted to the bottomhole components
because of losses from friction pressure. Looking at the
bottomhole gauge data from various jobs, the friction issue
appears true except during the instance of a hard screenout.
In Fig. 5, which illustrates the mini-frac operation, the applied
surface pressure is not reaching bottom because of friction
losses. When the pump shuts down, the surface pressure
immediately drops by an amount equal to the friction-pressure
loss. This is true even in the presence of a water-hammer
effect, which is the pressure surge that will travel in the tubing
after shut down when the fluid attempts to compensate for the
sudden halt of movement.
Hard screenouts are illustrated in Figs. 6 and 7. The rate
at which pressure bled off after shutting down the pumps
during the hard screenout was slower than the rate of bleed
off when shutting down during the mini-frac. This indicates
that much more of the surface pressure is getting to the
bottomhole components during a hard screenout than during a
mini-frac.
In theory, the fluid on the bottom stops or slows
considerably at the point of screenout. Since fluids are nearly
incompressible, the stoppage moves rapidly up-hole. Once the
fluid has stopped moving, the majority of the friction-loss
effect dissipates. The surface pressure during the mini-frac
bleeds freely into the reservoir. During screenout, the fluid
pressure must move through the proppant bed laid out around
the screen before it can get to the reservoir, slowing its
movement considerably.
On many frac-pack jobs, pressure and temperature
memory gauges are run at or near the reservoir to track which
area of the reservoir is seeing fluid, and therefore, fracture
growth. Most commonly, engineers run these gauges in the
washpipe of the gravel-pack assembly inside the screen. When
reviewing job charts where this memory gauge data was
plotted along with surface pressures, the authors have noticed
that the pressure at the memory gauges increased significantly
when pumping at rates exceeding the fracture gradient. In

SPE 109837

effect, the BHP increased during the frac-pack by this amount


of net pressure gain.
Fig. 8 illustrates the net pressure gain. The static BHP
recorded by the memory gauges in Fig. 8 is approximately
7,500 psi. As the fracturing rate of 25 bbls/min is reached, the
pressure increases to 9,100 psi initially and grows to 10,050
psi when we achieve the final screenout.
Using the gauge data from Fig. 8 and following pMAX
calculations, two assumptions for these calculations were
used:
The collapse pressure of the weak link below the sand
crossover port is 11,000 psi.
The hydrostatic pressure in the workstring is 8,000 psi.
The first calculation uses the static BHP:

pMAX = (0.8)(WLCollapse _ Rating ) + p BH


ptub _ hydrostati c
The results show that 8,300 psi is allowed at surface before
the tool assembly would see failure. In the second calculation,
the effective BHP, as fracturing rates are achieved, is put into
the formula. The pMAX increases by 1,600 psi to 9,900 psi. This
is the exact amount of the difference in BHP. In the third
calculation, the final effective BHP seen at screenout is used.
This time, the PMAX is increase to 10,850 psi, an increase of
2,550 psi over the original calculation.
All of these pMAX pressures appear to be adequate, but what
will happen in wells with low BHPs? To determine this, the
same calculations should be made, but the original BHP of the
reservoir is changed to 1,800 psi. PMAX is now 2,600 psi. To
place a frac pack in a maximum working pressure of 2,600 psi
would be very difficult. If the BHP is raised by 1,600 psi to
3,400 psi, the effective BHP increases as we reach fracturing
rates (the pMAX becomes 4,200 psi), which allows a much
better possibility of achieving an effective frac-pack. It is no
longer necessary to increase the collapse rating of the
downhole equipment to achieve the frac-pack required for the
formation.
In the last calculation, the reservoir pressure was increased
by 2,550 psi to 4,350 psi, the same increase as seen in the
previous third calculation. This pressure is the effective BHP
at screenout. This pMAX, 5,150 psi, provides the best
opportunity for an effective frac-pack without the need to use
expensive higher-collapse components. These examples prove
that the pMAX varies with BHP but can be overcome in wells
with low BHP by use of the effective BHP.
Dynamic PMAX
The next step in the evolution of the PMAX equation is
comprehension of how hydrostatic pressure in the tubing
changes as the job progresses. A typical frac-pack will either
increase the sand concentration in a ramp or step fashion to fill
the fracture as the job progresses while using less fluid. This
progression normally starts out at 1 lb of sand/proppant per
gallon of fluid and runs through a 12-ppg stage. As the
sand/proppant concentration increases, so does the hydrostatic
pressure of the fluid. In a sample problem using the previous

equation, we see the effects of the changing hydrostatic


pressure on the maximum allowable pressure.
For this example, the depth is 10,000 ft TVD with
seawater (8.65 ppg) as the base fluid, an effective bottomhole
treating pressure (BHTP) of 5,000 psi, and the weak link of
the bottomhole assembly is set at 7,500 psi. The first
calculation is for a clean volume of fluid, which is
conventionally termed the pad.

p hydrostati

= (. 052 )( )( D )

p tub

_ hydrostati

p tub

_ hydrostati

= (. 052 )( 8 . 65 )( 10 , 000 ' ) (3)


= 4 , 498

A pMAX of 6,502 psi is generated based on the tubing


hydrostatic pressure of 4,498 psi found above.
Now, if one supposes that a full column of 2 lbm of
proppant-added (ppa) fluid goes into the workstring, Eq. 4
will determine the fluid density where CS is the sand/proppant
concentration, and VABS is the absolute volume of the
sand/proppant.

slurry =

bf + CS

(Cs * VABS ) + 1

(4)

Therefore, for 2-ppa slurry with sand, with an absolute


volume of 0.0456 gal/lbm, the density of the slurry would be
9.76 ppg. Plugging this density into Eq. 3 gives a hydrostatic
pressure of 5,075 psi. Applying this new hydrostatic pressure
to the pMAX equation shows a decrease in the amount of
allowable pressure from 6,502 to 5,925.
This concept is extremely important to understand, since
slurries typically can be made up of up to 12 ppa of fluid,
which is equivalent to a 13.35 ppg fluid. With a 12-ppa fluid,
the increase in fluid density would give a hydrostatic pressure
in the tubing of 6,942 psi, decreasing the pMAX to 4,058 psi for
the case above. Very rarely is an entire workstring volume of a
single sand/proppant loading seen; therefore, it is important to
remember that hydrostatic pressures are an additive to
determining the variable volumes effect on pMAX.
Also, even though the pMAX is decreasing as the job is
pumped because of the increase in hydrostatic pressure; the
surface treating pressure is decreasing for the exact same
reason. Eq. 5 represents the effects of hydrostatic pressure on
the surface treating pressure.

pSurf = pFrac + p friction pHydrostatic .(5)


This equation shows how an increased hydrostatic pressure
would decrease the surface treating pressure, which in turn,
can help with any pMAX concerns during the job.
Determination of PMAX Pre-Job
The estimation of pMAX prior to the job is necessary, as stated
previously, to determine the effect on the BHA, which will
ensure that the job can be placed properly. The importance of
this property makes it a good idea to formulate estimates of
certain parameters, which will lead to estimating pMAX. The

SPE 109837

weak link of the tool system is obviously a known quantity,


since leading manufacturers have conducted years of testing
on various tubular products within the assembly.5 The
hydrostatic pressure in the tubing can be calculated simply
enough by looking at the proposed pumping schedule and
determining how the fluid and sand concentrations affect the
density over the course of the job. The hardest parameter to
predict is the BHTP; however, with a few simple assumptions,
it is possible to estimate this parameter!
To determine the BHTP over the course of the frac-pack,
estimation of the frac gradient is necessary. Eatons equation6
can be used to give an approximation of the fracture gradient
through the use of the vertical overburden gradient and the
minimum matrix stress. This approximation gives very
reliable results and has been checked against actual formation
fracture gradients for correlation.
Once the fracture pressure is determined, only two more
barriers standing in the way of modeling PMAX remain:
1. The first is to determine the amount of pressure increase
to expect throughout the job once the tip screenout event has
occurred. This will vary by formation and is completely
determined by the strength of the rock or the Youngs
modulus. Since this is a very complex calculation, a worst
case assumption should be developed, and the model should
be based on that assumption. A rule of thumb used in soft-rock
frac-packs is to attempt to gain 1,000 psi of net pressure
once the tip screenout event has been witnessed. Taking this
into account, the net pressure to the treating pressure
calculated from Eatons equation should be added to give the
maximum treating pressure throughout the job.
2. The second barrier, the difference between surface and
BHP, only requires the user to make any hydrostatic
adjustments necessary.
One important factor to remember is that the PMAX should
be recalculated once the actual effective treating pressure has
been determined from the mini-frac. This will give the actual
pressures being applied to the tools.
Determination of PMAX During the Job
The annular area between the workstring and the casing can
provide a huge advantage when pumping and analyzing fracpacks on a real-time basis. Since the annular area is devoid
of the majority of friction effects while the job is being
pumped, it can give a clear understanding of the pressures
being seen at the formation. Taking into account the
hydrostatic pressure of the fluid in the annulus area, calculate
the effective BHTP during the job.
Eq. 6 shows how to take the annulus pressure into account.

pMAX = (0.8)(WLCollapse_ Rating) + pBH ptub_ hydrostatic


+ pAnn

. . . (6)

In this case, the pAnn is the pressure above fracture initiation


added to the static BHP. This equation is similar to previous
equations but has been simplified to explain how to use the
variables during an actual job.
When using the method described in Eq. 6, an accurate
pressure reading from the annulus is very important. Pressure
is transferred to the annulus from the formation by moving

through the screen and up the service tool, as previously


described. The pressure then exits into the annulus through the
circulation ports above the packer. Since pressure is traveling
through the service tool, any sort of blockage would distort the
pressure reading and could have severe implications.
Therefore, the service tool must be completely open to flow
internally to alleviate any concern.
Several jobs have been recorded where the annulus
appeared higher than the actual pressure seen from bottomhole
gauges.7 The pressure on the annulus is not allowed to leak off
to the formation because of the presence of a check valve in
the service tool. Using a higher annulus pressure or BHP than
is actually present can cause an engineer to feel overconfident
in the pMAX.
Case Study
Table 1 shows two wells that are nearly identical, except for
the BHP, and therefore, the completion fluid weight differs.
Using only the static BHP in the pMAX formula, the authors
obtained two different numbers. In well B, more robust,
expensive completion equipment was necessary to place an
effective frac-pack. Note that during the frac-pack, the
effective BHP increased by 2,500 psi. This pressure advantage
was not used to predict PMAX. In well A, a similar
circumstance occurred except that the higher BHP allowed for
a PMAX that was adequate to put the job in the ground.
Taking the same comparison, but using the effective BHP
instead of using the static BHP, different numbers were
achieved. The dynamic method increases the pMAX numbers in
both wells. The dynamic method is especially useful in the
low BHP well. Whereas the pMAX was 4,922 psi prior to the
implementation of the dynamic method, it increased to 7,422,
an improvement of 2,500 psi. Table 2 shows the difference in
the pMAX numbers. The likelihood of achieving an effective
stimulation in both wells A and B is now greatly improved.
The increased pMAX numbers accurately represent what is
occurring during a frac-pack job. This is evidenced by the
downhole gauge data. In the preceding two scenarios, using
the static BHP to calculate pMAX would be equivalent to
applying only a 56% safety factor to the weak link rather than
the 80% factor used in the equations.
Case History
Figures 9 and 10 are a graphical representation of actual
pressure calculations and recordings taken during the pumping
of two separate frac packs on the same zone in the same well
bore. In Figure 9 the calculated value for PMAX is plotted as
well as the recorded values for Surface Pressure, Backside
Pressure, and Slurry Rate, Proppant Concentration both
Surface and Bottom Hole. The PMAX curve calculation was
based on the changing hydrostatic pressure in the work string
and the static Bottom Hole Pressure.
A PMAX curve
calculation based on the Bottom Hole Treating Pressure was
not used. The pump rate had to be reduced several times
during the pumping of the job because the surface pump
pressure was approaching the PMAX limit. One could conclude
that this caused the frac pack to screen-out prematurely, or
before the proppant concentration at the perforations reached
the design maximum of 12 ppg.

SPE 109837

In Figure 10 the calculated values for PMAX and Live


Annulus PMAX are plotted as well as Surface Pressure,
Backside Pressure, and Slurry Rate, Proppant Concentration
both Surface and Bottom Hole. The Live Annulus PMAX curve
calculation was based on the changing hydrostatic pressure in
the work string as well as the Bottom Hole Treating Pressure.
Note that the surface pressure crosses above the PMAX line, but
remains below the Live Annulus PMAX line. It was not
necessary to reduce the pump rate. Due to the knowledge of
the additional support provided by the Bottom Hole Treating
Pressure the job was allowed to continue to a successful
conclusion with the bottom hole proppant concentration
reaching the design maximum of 12 ppg before screen-out.
Conclusions
All future frac-packs in which bottomhole tools are present
should be placed while using a dynamic PMAX. This method
leads to several key advantages, which include the following:
The use of static BHP to predict the maximum pressure
on the downhole tools gives drastic differences when
compared to using the effective BHTP to determine the
maximum allowable pressure.
Calculating the PMAX in a dynamic manner provides the
possibility of effective frac-pack stimulation without the risk
of collapse, assuming realistic values are applied to the
parameters in the formula.
The dynamic PMAX calculation can be applied to future
jobs when using predicted downhole fracture pressures and an
estimated tip screen-out pressure.
When using the dynamic PMAX technique, it is imperative
to have an accurate pressure reading from the annular area.
Avoid the use of a check valve, even a weeping check, since
the check valve could mask any loss of effective BHTP during
the job.

The use of a dynamic PMAX calculation allows stimulation


treatments to be placed in circumstances where frac-packs
were once deemed impossible. This opens the opportunity for
greater production from these wells.
Acknowledgments
The authors wish to thank the management of Dune Energy
and Halliburton for their help and encouragement in
developing this analytical calculation and their permission to
publish this paper.
References
1. Duhon, P., Holley, A., Gardiner, N., Grigsby, T.: New
Completion Techniques Applied to a Deepwater Gulf of Mexico
TLP Completion Successfully Gravel Pack an Openhole
Horizontal Interval of 2400 Feet, SPE Paper 50146 presented
at the 1998 SPE Asia Pacific Oil & Gas Conference and
Exhibition held in Perth, Australia, 12-14 October 1998.
2. Halliburton Internal Investigation beginning in 2000.
3. Tiner, R.L., Ely, J.W., Schrafnagel, R.: Frac-packs State of the
Art, paper SPE 36456 presented at 1996 Annual Technical
Conference and Exhibition, Denver, CO, 6-9 October.
4. Halliburton Internal Investigation beginning in 2000 involving tool
collapse on frac-pack treatments.
5. Bulletin. 5C3, Halliburton Cementing Tables, sixth edition, API,
Houston, TX (October 1994).
6. Bourgoyne Jr. A.T., et al.: Applied Drilling Engineering, Textbook
Series, SPE, Richardson, TX (1991), 291.
7. Hale, C.L. et al: Is Live Annulus Data Interpretation During
Frac Pack Operations Viable Information?, Paper SPE 86461
presented at the 2004 International Symposium and Exhibition
on Formation Damage Control, Lafayette, Louisiana, 18-20
February.

SPE 109837

Case Study Tables


Table 1 Shows the parameters used and the Pmax obtained for well A and well B in
the case-study example. The lower the BHP, the lower the Pmax.
Well A
Well B
TVD
10,000
ft
TVD
10,000
ft
BHT
150
F
BHT
150
F
BHP
6,500
psi
BHP
3,500
psi
Fluid Wt.
13.00
ppg
Fluid Wt.
8.60
ppg
Packer Rating
8,000
psi
Packer Rating
8,000
psi
Slurry Density
13.42
ppg
Slurry Density
13.42
ppg
Weaklink
10,500
psi
Weaklink
10,500
psi
7,961
psi
4,961
psi
pMAX
pMAX
Applied BHP
2,500
psi
Applied BHP
2,500
psi

Table 2 Well A and well B after the implementation of the dynamic method. The Pmax has been
increased on each well by 2,500 psi, which is equivalent to the effective BHP.
Well A
Well B
TVD
10,000
ft
TVD
10,000
ft
BHT
150
F
BHT
150
F
BHP
6,500
psi
BHP
3,500
psi
Fluid Wt.
13.00
ppg
Fluid Wt.
8.60
ppg
Packer Rating
8,000
psi
Packer Rating
8,000
psi
Slurry Density
13.42
ppg
Slurry Density
13.42
ppg
Weaklink
10,500
psi
Weaklink
10,500
psi
10,461
psi
7,422
psi
pMAX
pMAX
Applied BHP
2,500
psi
Applied BHP
2,500
psi

SPE 109837

MULTI-POSITION TOOL
GRAVEL PACK PACKER

FLOW SUB
CLOSING SLEEVE

CLOSING SLEEVE SHIFTER


INDICATOR COUPLING
POSITIONING COLLET

FLUID LOSS DEVICE


SHEAR JOINT

SCREENS

SEAL UNIT ASSEMBLY


SUMP PACKER

COLLET MULESHOE GUIDE

Fig. 1 A typical sand-control completion using two


packers separated by tubulars and screen.

Fig. 2 The multi-position tool

SPE 109837

Fig. 3 Squeeze position closes the port to the


annulus at the service tool and forces the fluid into
the formation.

Fig. 4 Reverse position allows fluid on the


annulus to be circulated to the tubing, removing any
excess proppant or under-balanced fluids.

SPE 109837

Minifrac
A
12000

Tubing Pressure (psi)


BH Gauge Pressure (psi)

A Annulus Pressure (psi)


A BH Gauge Temperature (F)

A Slurry Rate (bpm)


F

B
50

F
140
135

10000

40
130

8000
30
6000

125
120

(F)

20

Friction

115

4000
110
10

2000

105
0
23:35

0
23:40

23:45

23:50

23:55

3/3/2003

00:00

00:05

3/4/2003

3/4/2003

100

Time
Fig. 5 Illustrates the mini-frac operation. The applied surface pressure is not reaching bottom because of friction
losses. When the pump shuts down, surface pressure drops by an amount equal to friction-pressure loss.

Tubing Pressure (p si)


Prop p ant Conc (lb/gal)
BH Gauge Temp erature (F)

A Annulus Pressure (p si)


C BH Prop p ant Conc (lb/gal)
D

A Slurry Rate (bp m)


C BH Gauge Pressure (p si)

B
A

Hard Screen-out

10000

12

200

10

190

180

170

160

150

140

20
At 15 BPM

8000

6000

4000

15

10

2000
5

Difference is
friction pressure
loss increase

-2000

0
08:40

08:45

08:50

08:55

09:00

4 /2 9 /2 0 0 2

09:05

09:10
4 /2 9 / 2 0 0 2

Time
Fig. 6 Illustrates a hard screenout.

10

SPE 109837

A
10000

T u b in g P ress u re (p s i)
BH P ro p p an t Co n c (lb /gal)
BH G au ge P res s u re (p s i)

A
B
A

P ro p p an t Co n c (lb /gal)
BH G au ge P res s u re (p s i)
Slu rry T em p eratu re (F )

B
A
J

Slu rry Rate (b p m )


Slu rry T emp eratu re (F )

C
J

14

9000
8000
7000

10

6000

4000
3000

14
12

At 10
BPM

2000

4
2

0 6 :4 0

4 /3 /2 0 0 3

0 6 :5 0

0 7 :0 0

160
150
140
130

1000

170

16

10

J
180

(F)

5000

18

Hard
Screen out

12

C
20

0 7 :1 0

0 7 :2 0

Tim
Time

0 7 :3 0

0 7 :4 0

120
110
100

4 /3 /2 0 0 3

(hrs)

Fig. 7 Also illustrates a hard screenout.

A
12000

B
30

10000

25

Tubi ng Pre ssure (psi)


Slurry Rate (bpm)
BH Proppant C onc (lb/gal)
BHT Top Gauge (F)
BHT Middle Gauge (F)
BHT Bottom Gauge (F)
BHT Tubing Gauge (F)
BHT Annulus Gauge (F)

A
B
C
D
D
D
D
D

Annulus Pre ssure (psi)


Proppant C onc (lb/gal)
BHP Top Gauge (psi)
BHP Middle Gauge (psi)
BHP Bottom Gauge (psi)
BHP Tubing Gauge (psi)
BHP Annulus Gauge (psi)

A
C
E
E
E
E
E

6000

20

16

4000

10

2000

14

2,600 psi increase

15

D
200

18

Effective BHP w/Frac


10,050 psi

8000

C
20

180
160

12
Static

10

BHP

7,500 psi

6
4

0
22:30

1/8/2003

22:50

23:10

23:30

23:50

Time (hrs)

00:10

00:30

0
00:50

1/9/2003

Fig. 8 This graph shows the net pressure gain. The static BHP recorded by the memory
gauges is approximately 7,500 psi. As the fracturing rate of 25 bbls/min is reached, the
pressure increases to 9,100 psi initially and grows to 10,050 psi at final screenout.

11000
10000
9000

140
8000
120
100

2
0

E
12000

80

7000
6000
5000

SPE 109837

Fig. 9 Graphical representation of actual pressure calculations and recordings taken during the pumping of a frac
pack using only pMAX calculations based on static bottom hole pressure and the changing hydrostatic
pressure in the work string.

Fig. 10 Graphical representation of actual pressure calculations and recordings taken during the pumping of
a frac pack using pMAX calculations based on static bottom hole pressure and the changing
hydrostatic pressure in the work string as well as live annulus pMAX calculations based on bottom
hole treating pressure and the changing hydrostatic pressure in the work string.

11