The PEP structure in Matindok block in Central Sulawesi has been proven to produce gas reserves in the Minahaki formation based on the first exploration well PEP-001 that was drilled in 2018. The PEP structure has a Miocene carbonate build-up play, and the target reservoir is the M member pinnacle carbonate reef. One of the main challenges in this area is low resolution of seismic data, leading to a high depth uncertainty of top M position. The PEP-001 well was planned to set the 9 ⅝-in casing point above top M. Offset wells did not show any clear markers in the thick shale above M formation, that could have been used for log correlation. In previously drilled offset wells correlation was done conventionally by taking cutting samples and relying on drilling parameters break. However, when PEP-001 was drilled, no apparent drilling break was observed. By the time cuttings reached surface, the bit had drilled into 20-m thickness of M formation. Since casing covered most part of the upper carbonate formation, open hole logging and well testing data were not acquired to delineate target M formation optimally.

The second exploration well PEP-002 was planned with an objective to set 9 ⅝-in casing ~5 m above top M to acquire a full interval coverage of coring, open hole wireline logging, and well testing program. This information was critical for optimal reservoir delineation to allow for accurate reserve calculation and future structure development.

Conventional correlation (well-seismic pairing and correlation) has proven insufficient for casing point placement and was a lesson learned from PEP-001. The presence of limestone stringers observed in offset wells within proximity of top M presented an additional challenge. The stringers could have been mis-interpreted as the main carbonate body, if interpretation was solely based on cutting samples. Based on these challenges, a technology with the capability to map and detect lithology changes ahead of the bit in real time was required.

Real-Time EM Look Ahead technology uses deep directional electromagnetic (EM) technique to detect formation feature ahead of the bit. A feasibility study was done to simulate the tool response and define the placement of transmitter and receivers (spacings) in the BHA, as well as frequency selection based on the resistivity properties from offset wells. Based on the simulation, this technology was expected to detect top M formation as early as 10 m ahead of the bit. While drilling, top M could be resolved at 6 m ahead of the bit with an uncertainty of <1 m, therefore making this the fit-for-purpose technology to place the 9 ⅝-in casing point ~5 m above the M formation.

As a result, 9 ⅝-in casing was successfully placed 5 m above top M. High resistivity contrast, that is expected to be top M, was mapped continuously from 10 m ahead of the bit. The decision was to set the casing point at 1706 m MD, 4-5 m from the estimated top M. Coring results and open hole logging in the subsequent 8 ½-in hole section confirmed that top M was at 1711 m MD, 5 m from the casing point, which was precisely as estimated from Real-Time EM Look Ahead Technology. This technology also helped detect thin limestone stringer and differentiate it from the target carbonate formation. It prevented 9 ⅝-in casing to be set ~118 m shallower where the first limestone stringer was observed. This has avoided extra operating days in case of drilling problems due to long exposed shale in the subsequent 8 ½-in hole section. The potential cost savings were estimated at USD 1.35 million for an additional 6-in hole section. Following this success, the same technology will be used in the next planned exploration wells.

You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.