Achieving well integrity relies on achieving zonal isolation among narrowly separated sublayers of the reservoir throughout a long openhole section. This requires flawless primary cementation with a perfect match of optimized fluid design and placement.
In a UAE field, there are several challenges experienced while cementing production sections, predominantly due to long open holes with high deviation, use of nonaqueous fluids (NAF) for shale stability, and loss circulation issues while drilling and cementing. The need to pressure-test casing at high pressures after the cement is set and the change in downhole pressures and temperatures during well completion / production phases result in additional stresses that can further endanger the integrity of the cement. Breaking of the cement sheath would lead to sustained annular pressure and compromise the needed zonal isolation. Hence, the mechanical properties for cement systems must be thoroughly tested and tailored to withstand the downhole stresses.
A systematic approach was applied that used standard cementing best practices as a starting point and then identified the key factors in overcoming operation-specific challenges. In addition to the use of engineered trimodal slurry systems, NAF-compatible spacers, and loss-curing fibers, an advanced cement placement software was used to model prejob circulation rates, bottomhole circulating temperatures, centralizer placement, and mud removal. To enhance conventional chemistry-based mud cleaning and to significantly improve cleaning efficiency, an engineered fiber-based scrubbing additive was used in spacers with microemulsion based surfactant. Furthermore, a real-time monitoring software was used to compute and monitor equivalent circulating density (ECD) during the cementing operation and to evaluate cement placement in real time. Results of cement jobs were analyzed to define the minimum standards/criteria and then to verify the efficiency of the applied solutions.
The 9 5/8-in. casing / liners were successfully cemented using this methodological approach, and lessons learned were progressively used to improve on subsequent jobs. Advanced ultrasonic cement bond logging tools along with advanced processing and interpretation techniques facilitated making reliable, conclusive, and representative zonal isolation evaluation. The cement bond logs showed significant improvement and increased the confidence level towards well integrity.
After establishing field-specific guidelines over 2.5 years, continuous success was replicated in every well for all the rigs operating in this UAE field.
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