According to Zion CEO Richard Rinberg in last week’s ‘Zion Oil & Gas Newsletter’: “In the light of the uncertainty regarding the depth of the Permian geological layer at our well site and knowing that we have found seven zones that warrant completion testing, we decided that the prudent course, for the present, was to stop drilling on this well and (i) test the seven zones mentioned, as well as (ii) carry out further analysis on the geology, using the drilling and logging data obtained in the last weeks.”
With as many questions as I receive about Zion’s progress, there seems to be a general assumption that producing oil and gas is simply a matter of drilling a hole and letting the hydrocarbons bubble out … that’s what I thought. I’ve learned it’s more involved that that. With Zion Oil in the ‘completion testing’ phase of the Ma’anit-Rehoboth #2 well, now might be a good time to explain what that is and how a ‘hole in the ground’ becomes a producing well.
Most of text below comes from the United States Department of Labor website.
Once the design well depth is reached, the formation must be tested and evaluated to determine whether the well will be completed for production, or plugged and abandoned. To complete the well production, casing is installed and cemented and the drilling rig is dismantled and moved to the next site. A service rig is brought in to perforate the production casing and run production tubing. If no further pre-production servicing is needed, the christmas tree is installed and production begins.
Well completion activities include:
Conducting Drill Stem Test: To determine the potential of a producing formation, the operator may order a drill stem test (DST). The DST crew makes up the test tool on the bottom of the drill stem, then lowers it to the bottom of the hole. Weight is applied to the tool to expand a hard rubber sealer called a packer. Opening the tool ports allows the formation pressure to be tested. This process enables workers to determine whether the well can be produced.
Setting Production Casing: Production casing is the final casing in a well. It can be set from the bottom to the top. Sometimes a production liner is installed. This casing is set the same as other casings, then cemented in place.
Installing Production Tubing: A well is usually produced through tubing inserted down the production casing. Oil and gas is produced more effectively through this smaller-diameter tubing than through the large-diameter production casing. Joints of tubing are joined together with couplings to make up a tubing string. Tubing is run into the well much the same as casing, but tubing is smaller in diameter and is removable.
Starting Production Flow: Production flow is started by washing in the well and setting the packer. Washing in means to pump in water or brine to flush out the drilling fluid. Usually this is enough to start the well flowing. If not, then the well may need to be unloaded. This means to swab the well to remove some of the brine. If this does not work the flow might be started by pumping high-pressure gas into the well before setting the packer.
If the well does not flow on its own, well stimulation or artificial lift may need to be considered.
Beam Pumping Units: If the well doesn’t produce adequately, a beam pumping unit may be installed. There are four basic types of beam pumping units. Three involve a walking beam, which seesaws to provide the up and down reciprocating motion to power the pump. The fourth reciprocates by winding a cable on and off a rotating drum. The job of all four types is to change the circular motion of an engine to the reciprocating motion of the pump.
The explanation above depicts, very simply, the completion program for most wells. Much more activity and many processes such as acidising, fracturing and nitrogen circulation may take place before the well is actually ready for production. My goal was to let you know the kind of activities that must take place before a ‘hole in the ground’ becomes a well.
When we built our house I was so excited when the framing and the roof were complete; when the contractors installed the siding and I saw the house from the outside I thought, “Wow, this baby is just about finished!” I had no idea how much time and work was involved in building the inside of the house.
I’m learning that ‘building’ an oil well is similar. There’s a lot more to it than the hole. Zion Oil is in the middle of ‘down-rigging’ now; they’re disassembling the drilling rig at the Ma’anit-Rehoboth #2 so they can move it to the Elijah #3. While they work on ‘building the inside of the house’ at the Ma’anit-Rehoboth #2, they’ll begin work on the ‘outside of the house’ at the Elijah #2 site. That’s goods news!