Evaluating the Feasibility of Waste Slurry Injection in an Oil Prospect in the Western Desert, Egypt

Presented at SPE Middle East Oil and Gas Show and Conference, Manama, Bahrain, March 2019.


Oilfields produce huge amount of waste on daily basis such as drilling mud, tank bottoms, completion fluids, well treatment chemicals, dirty water and produced saltwater. These waste types represent a real challenge to the surrounding environment especially when the oilfield is located within a sensitive environment as in the Western Desert where there are natural reserves and fresh water aquifers. Waste slurry injection has proven to be an economic, environmentally friendly technique to achieve zero waste discharge on the surface over the past years. This technique involves creating a hydraulic fracture in a deep, subsurface, non-hydrocarbon bearing formation which acts as a storage domain to the injected slurrified waste. The objective of this study is to evaluate the feasibility of waste slurry injection in an oil prospect located in the Western Desert. The evaluation includes assessing the subsurface geology, recognizing the possible candidate injection formation(s), and designing the optimum injection parameters. Both geological and petrophysical data have been used to create the geomechanical earth model for an oil prospect located at Farafra oasis in the Western Desert. This model defines the mechanical properties, pore pressure, and in-situ stresses of the different subsurface formations. Afterwards, a fully 3D fracture simulator has been used to simulate the fracture growth within the candidate injection zone at different injection scenarios. Additionally, the fracture simulator has assessed the containment of the created fracture within the candidate injection formation(s) due to the presence of stress barriers above and below the formation. Finally, the formation disposal capacity has been calculated for each of the injection scenarios using a stress increment model. The geomechanical earth model shows that there is a good candidate injection zone which is upper/lower bounded by stress barriers. More importantly, it is located deeper than the local fresh water aquifer and thus no contamination is expected to the fresh ground water. In addition, the possible candidate is not a hydrocarbon bearing formation. A 3D fracture simulator has been used to determine the optimum injection parameters such as: the injection flow rate, the volumetric solids concentration, the slurry rheology and the injection batch duration. These optimum parameters are defined to minimize the stress increment rate over the well life, which ensure the highest disposal capacity and to contain the fracture within the candidate injection formation. Guidelines to conduct waste slurry injection technique in a new oil prospect that is located within a sensitive environment as in the Western desert are presented in this study. Also, the study highlights that this technique is economic for disposal of the different oilfield waste types in an environmentally friendly fashion.