Impact of Casing Expansion on the Mechanical and Petro-Physical Properties of Wellbore Cements

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 1:55 PM
Arome Eleojo Oyibo, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, United States
The main objective of this research is to investigate the applicability of expandable casing technology as a remediation technique for leaky wells resulting in gas migration problems. Micro annulus is usually created at the cement-formation/cement-casing interface or within the cement matrix either due to poor primary cementing or as a result of activities such as temperature and pressure variation or fracturing operations. Recent reports on gas migration in hydraulically fractured wellbores, has raised concerns on the contamination of fresh water aquifers resulting from fluid migration though this flow path. A unique bench-scale physical model which utilizes expandable tubulars in the remediation of micro annular gas flow has been used to simulate expansion of a previously-cemented casing under field-like conditions. Three different designs of cement slurry: regular 16.4 lb. /gal, 16.4 lb. /gal base slurry foamed to 13 lb. /gal and 16.4 lb. /gal cement slurry with 10% salt concentration. Gas flow path (microannulus) was artificially created at the pipe-cement interface by rotating the inner pipe in a pipe inside pipe assembly with cement in the annulus within the first few hours of hydration to create debonding at the cement-casing interface. Nitrogen gas flow-through experiments were performed before and after the expansion to confirm the sealing of the microannulus. The results obtained confirmed the effectiveness of this technique in the complete closure of gas leakage path, providing seal-tight cement-formation interface free of microannulus. The manipulation of the cement sheath during the casing expansion resulted in improved porosity, permeability and the strength of the cement sheath. SEM micrographs revealed decrease in pore size and fracturing of unhydrated cement grains within the cement matrix. This technology has great potential to become one of the leading cement remediation techniques for leaks behind the casing if implemented.

Keywords: Wellbore Integrity, Casing Expansion, Well Gas Leaks, CSH, Pore Collapse, Cement Pore Water.