Formation damage

Formation Damage

The combined effect of formation and completion damage is the observed well productivity development with associated skin and productivity index. Completion damage has the potential to affect well productivity to the same degree as formation damage.

Formation Damage intro text with oil production plant

Formation damage has received significant attention over many decades, but what about completion damage? Before we discuss this question, we first need to define these terms. Formation damage could be considered as damage to the near-wellbore (e.g., mud solids invasion, plugging). In contrast, completion damage is damage to the lower completion (e.g., plugging of screens). The combined effect of formation and completion damage is the observed well productivity development with associated skin and productivity index. Completion damage has the potential to affect well productivity to the same degree as formation damage. However, at a basic level, there is not even a classification system for completion damage, and yet one has been available for formation damage at least 30 years, possibly longer. Within Equinor, we are trying to address this imbalance by having increased focus on completion damage. We have an ongoing project to develop the following:

  • A classification system—We have focused on lower completion design and damage that can occur over a well’s lifetime.
  • A review of testing procedures used and development of new ones where appropriate.
  • Use of computation fluid dynamics (CFD) more in completion damage evaluations—This approach has provided invaluable new insights. We are using CFD, for example, to visualize displacement efficiency from drilling to completion fluids. We also are incorporating data from coreflooding and completion-damage testing into a single CFD simulation that will enable us to assess what effect formation and completion damage will have on future well productivity.

This Month's Technical Papers

Laboratory Formation Damage Test Data Upscaled With Computational Fluid Dynamics

Filter Cake Breaker Evaluation Scaled Up From Laboratory to Field Conditions

High-Density Brine Used in Oil-Based Completion Fluid Deployed Offshore Norway

Recommended Additional Reading

SPE 199294 Unplugging Standalone Sand-Control Screens Using High-Power Shock Waves by Ali Habibi, University of Alberta, et al.

SPE 199293 Effects of Kaolinite on Fines Migration and Formation Damage by Kofi Prempeh, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, et al.

SPE 199264 Overcoming Formation Damage in a Carbonate Reservoir Rock From Asphaltene Deposition by Bashayer Altemeemi, KOC, et al.


Niall Fleming, SPE, is a specialist in production technology for Equinor and is based in Norway. His main interests are well productivity, formation evaluation, and completion damage. For Equinor, Fleming has held positions as leading adviser for well productivity and stimulation; lead production engineer on North Komsomolskoye in Siberia; and, latterly, production engineer on Bacalhau offshore Brazil. He holds a PhD degree in geology from Imperial College London. Fleming is executive editor for SPE Production & Operations, serves on the JPT Editorial Review Committee, and has been a member of the organizing committees for several SPE conferences and workshops. In 2015, he was awarded the SPE A Peer Apart award, and he is a four-time recipient of SPE’s outstanding technical editor award. Fleming can be reached at nfle@equinor.com.