Oil & Natural Gas Projects
Exploration and Production Technologies
The Use of Acid Stimulation for Restoring to Production Shut-In Oil Fields
The project was selected under the FY2003 Technology Development with Independents
Program, Round 2, DE-PS26-02NT15377 FY2003. The program reflects the growing
importance of small oil producers in supplying Americas demand for oil and aims
to help level the technology "playing field" for these companies.
The principal goal of the project is to restore production to wells in the Las
Cienegas field in Los Angeles, California. Las Cienegas field is representative
of many potential productive areas and wells that were shut in due to low oil
production and uneconomical operations. Low oil prices in 1998-1999 led to thousands
of oil wells being shut in throughout the United States. With oil prices apparently
higher and firm for the near future, returning shut-in wells to production is
now an attractive economic option for the independent oil operator.
St. James Oil Corporation
Laguna Hills, CA
The project has begun to stimulate five Las Cienegas wells, which have been
shut in for four years. The project will attempt to restore production to pre-shut-in
rates. Initial tests demonstrate that phosphonic acid/hydrochloric acid blend
can be used to successfully stimulate the wells and increase production.
The program design includes the use of a chemically modified hydrochloric acid
combined with phosphonic acid. The phosphonic acid reacts with aluminum in clays
and feldspars to form a temporary protective film, which then allows a deeper
and more effective acid penetration. Phosphonic/hydrochloric acid treatment
has the ability to inhibit the formation of calcium carbonate scale in the well
and near well bore area.
The St. James lease in the Las Cienegas field is in an historic area of downtown
Los Angeles, not far from Brea and the tar seeps that attracted early oil pioneers
in California. Las Cienegas field is located approximately two miles from the
Los Angeles, Civic Center. Production from this general area began in 1894.
The downtown area continued to be drilled and developed with several small discoveries
through the 1960s, when the Los Angeles Downtown and the Las Cienegas field
were discovered. In the Las Cienegas area east of Beverly Hills, over 122 wells
were drilled and the field became the only oil field with a street name-West
Pico Boulevard. Several major operators developed portions of the field including:
Atlantic Richfield (ARCO), Signal and Union Oil Company (Unocal), and Standard
Oil of California (Chevron).
Unfortunately, high operating costs and low oil prices in the late 1990s caused
wells in the St. James lease to be shut in. The Las Cienegas lease was acquired
by St. James Oil from ARCO and Chevron who had jointly produced this portion
of the field. St. James' experience indicated that wells in the Las Cienegas
field which have been shut in for a long period of time often produce at rates
30 - 50% less than their pre-shut in rates when returned to production. In addition,
these wells experience rapid scale build-up which results in severe production
Five Las Cienegas wells, all of which have a high tendency to form calcium carbonate
scale, were selected for treating. These wells had been shut in for approximately
four years. The intention of this project was to stimulate the wells and attempt
to restore pre-shut in oil production rates. The program design includes the
use of a chemically modified hydrochloric acid/phosphonic acid blend. The phosphonic
acid in this formulation apparently reacts with aluminum in clays and feldspars
to form a temporary protective film, which then allows a deeper acid penetration
and more effective treatment. An important side benefit of the phosphonic acid
is its ability to inhibit the formation of calcium carbonate scale in the well
and near well bore area.
Work on the five wells was expected to be completed within one year of the project
start. Unfortunately, work was delayed by metering and construction required
by Southern California Gas (SCG), and a lack of a workover rig. Initial work
on the selected wells has begun, with two wells acidized and prepared for returning
to production. Three wells remain to be treated and returned to production.
In addition, in an unrelated action, St. James was also granted the competitive
award of a Pump III project. This is a cooperative effort between DOE, the Interstate
Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC), the California Oil Producer's Electricity
Cooperative (COPE), the California Energy Commission (CEC) and the California
South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD). This project involved
the delivery to St. James and subsequent installation of three microturbines
from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), to settle overcharges
to industrial power users that came about as a result of the recent California
The microturbine units were installed and are now operating, providing power
to the St. James wells which are in the process of being returned to production.
Current Status (December 2004)
Work required by SCG has been finished. However, the delays in obtaining a workover
rig required a project contract extension to March 30, 2005. A complete report
will be made soon, as wells are returned to production and a production rate
Project Start: February 15, 2003
Project End: March 30, 2005
Anticipated DOE Contribution: $100,000
Performer Contribution: $105,000 (51% of total)
NETL - Jim Barnes (email@example.com or 918-699-2076)
St. James Oil - Richard Russell (firstname.lastname@example.org or 949-461-5213)
St. James production lines at Las Cienegas field, CA.