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Hydrofracking Forum Documents from Josh Fox, Gasland - Why Oilwells Leak Article

Hydrofracking Forum Documents from Josh Fox, Gasland - Why Oilwells Leak Article

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Published by: New York State Senate Democratic Conference on Jul 23, 2012
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SPE64733WhyOilwellsLeak:CementBehaviorandLong-TermConsequences.
MauriceB.Dusseault,SPE,PorousMediaResearchInstitute,UniversityofWaterloo,Waterloo,Ontano;MalcolmN.Gray,AtomicEnergyofCanadaLimited,Mississauga,Ontario;andPawelA.Nawrocki,CANMET,Sudbury,Ontario
COpyIIght
2000,
Society
01Petroleum
EnginfifS
Inc.
TIlls
peper
was
prepared
for
presenlation
at
1Ile
S1>EInternational011
and
Gas
Conference
and
Elohibition
inChina
held
In
Bellng.
ChIna.7-10
Novent>e<
2000.
TIllS
paper
was
seleeledlor
presentation
by
an
SPE
PJOgl8IIICOmmitteefolIov,;ngrIM9\\'
of
infonnauon
contained
Inan
abstacl
submitted
by
!he
aulhorjsl.
COntents
01
Ihe
peper.
as
presented,have
not
been
.eviawed
by
Iho
Society
ofPetroleum
Engineers.
and
are
subject
to
eo<rectIon
by
the
author(al.
The
material.
as
J)fesented.does
not
_tv
reHeeI
any
posl·tion
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Society01
PetroleumEngineers.
its
officers,
Of
members.PQPeIS
presented
atSPEmeetingsaresubjeCt
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pubfication....
ew
by
editorial
eorn....
ees
of
the
SocIety
01
PetroteumEngineers.Etectronic
Alproducllon.
ctstOOution.
or8to189801
any
perl
01this
paper
for
c0m-
mercialpurposes
..tthout
!he
writtenconsent01
Ih&
SocIety01
Petroleum
Engineers
is
prohib-
Ited.
Permission
to
reproduce
in
print
is
rastrtcted
to
anabstract
01
notmore
IIlan
:300
'NORIs;
eluSlratioJlsmay
not
be
copied.
The
abstract
must
eontaInconspicuousacknO"'edgment
0'
~and
by
whom
!hepaper
was
presented.WriteUbrarian,SPE,P.O.
Box
833836.
Richardson.
T)(
75083-3836.
U.S.A..fllx
01·972·952-9435.
Abstract
Oilandgaswellscandevelopgasleaksalongthecasingyearsafterproductionhasceasedandthewell
has
beenpluggedandabandoned
(p&A).
Explanatorymechanismsincludechan-nelling,poorcakeremoval,shrinkage,andhighcementper-meability.Thereasonisprobablycementshrinkagethatleadstocircumferentialfracturesthatarepropagatedupwardbytheslowaccumulationofgasunderpressurebehindthecasing.Assumingthishypothesisisrobust,
it
mustleadtobetterprac-ticeandbettercementformulations
Introduction,EnvironmentalIssues
Thisdiscussionisnecessarilysuperficial,giventhecomplex-ityoftheissueandattendantpracticalfactorssuchaswork-ability,density,setretardation,mudcakeremoval,entrain-mentofformationgas,shalesloughing,pumpingrate,mixconsistency,andsoon.Aconceptualmodelwillbedevelopedinthisarticletoexplainslowgasmigrationbehindcasing,butwedeliberatelyleaveasidefornowthecomplexoperationalissuesassociatedwithcementplacementandbehavior.
In
1997,therewere-35,000inactivewellsinAlbertaalone,tensofthousandsofabandonedandorphanwells
I,
plustensofthousandsofactivewells.Wellsarecasedforenvi-ronmentalsecurityandzonalisolation.IntheCanadianheavyoilbelt,itiscommontouseasingleproductioncasingstringtosurface(FigureI);fordeeperwells,additionalcasingstringsmaybenecessary,andsurfacecasingtoisolateshallowunconsolidatedsedimentsisrequired.Aswewillsee,surfacecasingshavelittleeffectongasmigration,thoughtheyun-doubtedlygivemoresecurityagainstblowoutsandprotectshallowsedimentsfrommudfiltrateandpressurization.Toformhydraulicsealsforconservationandtoisolatedeepstratafromthesurfacetoprotecttheatmosphereandshallowgroundwatersources,casingsarecementedusingwater-cementslurries.Thesearepumpeddownthecasing,displacingdrillingfluidsfromthecasing-rockannulus,leav-ingasheathofcementtosetandharden(FigureI).Casingandrockarepreparedbycarefulconditioningusingcentraliz-ers,mudcakescrapers,andsoon.Duringplacement,casingisrotatedandmovedtoincreasethesealingeffectivenessofthecementgrout.Recenttechniquestoenhancecasing-rock-cementsealingmayincludevibratingthecasing,partialce-mentationandannularfillingusingasmalldiametertube.Additivesmaybeincorporatedtoalterproperties,butPortlandClassG(APIrating)oilwellcementformsthebaseofalmostalloilwellcements?Generally,slurriesareplacedatdensitiesabout2.0Mglm
J,
butatsuchlowdensitieswillshrinkandwillbeinfluencedbytheelevatedpressures(10-70MPa)andtemperatures(35to>140"C)encounteredatdepth.Theconsequencesofcementshrinkagearenon-trivial:inNorthAmerica,thereareliterallytensofthousandsofaban-doned,inactive,oractiveoilandgaswells,includinggasstor-agewells,thatcurrentlyleakgastosurface.Muchofthisen-terstheatmospheredirectly,contributingslightlytogreen-houseeffects.Someofthegasentersshallowaquifers,wheretracesofsulfurouscompoundscanrenderthewaternon-potable,orwherethemethaneitselfcangenerateunpleasanteffectssuchasgaslockingofhouseholdwells,orgasenteringhouseholdsystemstocomeoutwhentapsareturnedon.MethanefromleakingwellsiswidelyknowninaquifersinPeaceRiverandLloydminsterareas(Alberta),wherethereareanecdotesofthegasinkitchentapwaterbeingignited.Be-causeofthenatureofthemechanism,theproblemisunlikelytoattenuate,andtheconcentrationofthegasesintheshallowaquiferswillincreasewithtime.ThisimpliesthatcurrentstandardsforoilwellcementingandP&Aareeithernotwellfounded,orthecriteriaarebasedonaflawedviewofthemechanism.Thisisnotacondemna-tionofindustry:allcompaniesseektocomplywithstandards.'Nevertheless,webelievethattheAEUBInterimDirective99-03
4
isflawedwithrespecttogasleakagearoundcasings.Torectifythis,themechanismsmustbeidentifiedcorrectly.Practisecanthenbebasedoncorrectphysicalmechanisms,givingabetterchanceofsuccess(thoughwedonotbelieve
 
2
DUSSEAULT,GRAYANDNAWROCKISPE64733
thattheproblemcanbetotallyeliminatedbecauseofthevaga-riesofnatureandhumanfactors,despiteourbestefforts).Thereisalsoneedforbetterqualityoil-wellcementfor-mulationsthatcanresistthermalshocking.Forexample,leakageoffluidsalongthermalwellsincyclicsteamopera-tionsinAlbertahasprovenachallengingproblemforImperialOil.
5
Ifpoorqualityorpoorlyconstitutedcementisused,highinjectionpressures,thermalshocking,plusnon-condensiblegasevolutionleadtoleakagebehindthecasingthatcouldbreaktosurfaceunderexceptionalconditions.Finally,inproductionmanagementforconservationpur-poses,zonalisolationismultiple-zone
wells."
Thereareinitiativestoidentifyoldleakingwellsandun-dertakemitigatingactioninAlbertaandSaskatchewan,the"orphanwell"programoftheAEUB,initiativesbythePetro-leumTechnologyAllianceCentreinCalgary,andsoon.Thisarticleisto
try
andclarifythemechanismsinvolved.
CementBehavior
CementShrinkage:
If
cementisplacedattoohighawatercontent,itloseswatertotheporousstrataunderlowerpres-sure
(Po)
throughdirectfiltrationbecausethecementhydro-staticheadisgreaterthantheporewaterpressurehead.TheannuluswidthbetweencasingandrockissmaIl(e.g.175mmcasingina225mmhole
=
25mm),soevenasmallshearstrengthdevelopmentbetweenrockandcementwillsupporttheweightofthecement.
If
thisshearstressisonly
-0.5
kPa,theentire"hydrostatic"headofthecement(Ycz)canbesup-portedbystresstransfertotherockmass.(Ofcourse,becauseoftemperatureandpressureeffects,thisdegreeofsetisnotattainedsimultaneouslyalongtheentirecementsheath.)Thus,whilethecementisstillinanalmostliquid,early-setstate,massiveshrinkagecanoccurbywaterexpulsion,butannularcementsettlingtocompensateforthelossofwaterisimpededbytheshearstresstransfertotherockmass.Theconsequenceisshrinkageinthecementsheath.Portlandcementscontinuetoshrinkaftersettinganddur-inghardening.
7
sThisautogenousshrinkageoccursbecausehydrationreactionproductsoccupylessvolumethantheoriginalpaste.Judiciousproportioningcontrolofthecementslurryandtheuseofadmixturesandadditivescanlimitthephysico-chemicaleffectsoftheautogenousshrinkageproc-esses.Mostly,thecarefulcontrolofwatercontentbyusingsuperplasticisersandthecontrolofmacro-shrinkagebyusingappropriateaggregatesbenefitthepropertiesofthesetgrouts.Silicaflour(Si0
2,
groundto-20um)isoftenusedtomake"thermalcement".Itisaddedinquantitiesapproaching75%ofthe
dry
constituents,theremainderbeingcementpowder.Silicaflourhasalsobeenaddedtocementinanattempttocounteractshrinkage.Unfortunately,forphysico-chemicalreasons,silicaflourcanenhancebothdryingandautogenousshrinkage.'Silicaflourisagroundproduct,usuallymadefrompurequartzsand.Physically,thesilicaflour,byvirtueofitsgrainsize(D5()""10-20
J.I.I1l)
hasalargesurfacearea;thisprovidesnotonlyenhancedreactionareasforkineticallycontrolledhydrationprocesses,itprovidesaneedforadditionalwettingforslurryformulation.Physico-chemically,afreshlyfracturedsilicasurfacepossessesahighchemicalreactivitybecauseofthepresenceofunsatisfiedbondsarisingfromthebreakingofthesilicachemicallattice.Thesefreshsurfaceswillelec-trostaticallybindpolarwatermoleculestosatisfythesebrokenbonds.Experimentsonpuresilicausingmagneticresonanceanddielectricpermittivityshowthatupto9-11layersofwatercanbeabsorbedonthesurface,andtheclosestlayersareofcoursethemosttightlybound.Thesurfaceareaincreasesinverselyasthesquareofthemeanparticlediameter,thereforereducingthesurfaceareabyafactoroffive(grinding100
J.Ut1
sandto20
J.1ll1
flour)in-creasestheareaby25,andbecausethenewsurfaceareaischemicallyfresh,itismorereactive.Thus,theelectrostaticboundwatervolumeforsilicaflourisvastlylargerthanforgeochemically"old"sand.Furthermore,electrostaticallyboundwaterthicknessisreducedbytemperature(Brownianmotion),socoolslurrywillhaveasurfeitofwaterwhenitbecomesheatedthroughcontactwithgeothermaltemperature.Alternativefillersarerequiredtocontrolthemacro-shrinkagepropertiesofthematerials.Werecommend60-100urnquartzsandbesubstitutedforSi~flourwhenpossible.Otherprocessescanleadtocementshrinkage.Highsaltcontentformationbrinesandsaltbedsleadtoosmoticdewa-teringoftypicalcementslurriesduringsettingandhardening,resultinginsubstantialshrinkage.
1011
Experimentswithrec-ommendedcementgroutformulationsplacedagainstsaltandpotashstrataclearlyshowmassivedewateringofthecementandtheformationoffreebrineattheinterfacebetweenthecementandthesalt.Thesameeffectmustoccurwhenfresh-watercementgroutsareincontactwithlowpermeabilityrockswithhighlysalineporefluids.Byensuringthatthegroutsareplacedathighdensity,conducivetoastablegroutmicrostructure,theeffectsofosmoticdewateringcanlikelybeminimized,butthisshouldbequantitativelyassessed.Recentlymarketedfinelygroundcements(Microfine™andU1trafine™)arePortlandcement-basedmaterials.TheyaregenerallyfinerthannormalPortlandcementsandincludepozzolanicadditives,suchasfinelygroundpumice.Slurriesofthesematerialspenetratefinefissuresandporesinrockmorereadilythanmoreconventionalgroutsbutinbulksufferfromveryhighshrinkageand,hence,withoutfurthermodifi-cation,arenotsuitableforgroutingtheannulusbetweenoil-wellcasingsandtheboreholewall.Dissolvedgas,highcuringtemperatures,andearly(flash)setmayalsoleadtoshrinkage.Itisnotclearifnon-shrinkageadditiveshavesubstantialpositiveeffectsatgreatdepthandhightemperature.Theseadditives(e.g.AIpowder)generallyproducesomegas,whichinthelaboratoryprovidesvolumeincrease.Additivesmayenhancesomeproperties;however,theymayinducenegativeimpactsonotherproperties,orloseeffectivenessatelevatedtemperatures,pressures,orinthepresenceofcertaingeochemicalspecies.Also,autogeneousshrinkagecontinueslongaftertheseagentshaveacted.
 
SPE64733WHYOILWELLSLEAK
3
CementStrength
and
Rigidity.
APIstandardsforoilwellcementspecifycertainstrengthcriteria.Strengthisnotthemajorissueinoilwellcementingunderanycircumstances.Basedonextensivemodelling,cementclearlycannotresisttheshearthatisthemostcommonreasonforoilwelldistortionandruptureduringactiveproduction.
13
If
compactionorheave(fromsolidsinjection)istakingplace,thecementitselfprovidesminimalresistancetobuckling(compression)orthreadpopping(tension).
If
theannuluscouldbefilledwithrelativelydensesand,theresistance
to
shearwouldbebetterthancurrentordinaryoilwellcementformulations.Basedonover50triaxialtestsatvariousconfiningstresses,wehaveshownthat28-daycuredoiIwelIcementsarecontractile(volumereductionduringshear)atallconfiningstressesaboveIMPa(150psi).Thisisalsothecasefor70%silicaflourcements,andforthenewproductsbasedonex-tremelyfinelygroundcement.(Specimenswerecuredunderwaterat20"Corat90"C.)However,denseconcretesused
in
CivilEngineeringaredilatant,andthereforeresistanttoshear,atallworkingstresses.Thestiffnessmodulusoftypicaloilwellcementissmallcomparedtothatoflowporosityrocks,andvastlylower
than
thatofsteel.
14
Thestiffnessmoduliareroughly2-4%thatofsteel,thoughthereisawiderangedependingondensity,con-tent,andconfiningstress.Dependingondepth(-stress)andinduration(-porosity),rockmodulimayvaryfrom2%to50%ofsteel,andareasonablevalueis5-15%inmostintermediatecasesofmoderateporosity(10-20%).Bond.Cementwillnotbondtosalt,oilsand,highporosityshale,andperhapsothermaterials.Also,bondstrength(i.e.thetensileresistanceofthecement-rockinterface)isquitesmaIl;infact,thetensilestrengthofcarefullymixedandcuredoilwellcementatrecommendedformulationsisgenerallylessthan1-2MPa.Giventhatfluidpressuresof10'sofMPamayhavetobeencountered,giventhatpressurecyclingofawellcaneasilydebondtherockandcement(thereisstrainincom-patibilitybecauseofthedifferentstiffnesses),andgiventhatde-bondingisgenerallyafracturingprocesswithasharpleadingedgeratherthanaconventionaltensilepull-apartpro-cess,alargecementbondtorockcannotbeassumedinanyreasonablecase.Initiationand
growth
ofacircumferentialfracture("micro-annulus")atthecasing-rockinterfacewillnotbesubstantiallyimpededbyacohesivestrengthatthisinter-face.Thepresenceof"goodbond"onacementbondlogisinfactnotanindicatorofbond,butanindicatorofintergranularcontactmaintainedbyasufficientradialeffectivestress.Thelackofbondonabondlogisactuallyevidenceoftheinabilitytotransmit
high
frequencysonicimpulsesbecauseofthepres-enceofan"openzone",thatis,acircumferentialfracturethatisopenbyatleastafewmicrons.Thus,maintaining"bond"actuallymeansmaintainingeffectiveradialstress.Notethatifeffectiveradialstresscannotbemaintained,thenhydraulicfracturingconditionsmustexistattheinterface.
TheGasLeakage
ModelAgoodconceptualmodelmustexplainthefollowingtypicalaspectsofoilwellbehaviorthatareobservedinpractice.Generallytherearenoopencircumferentialfracturesdetectableafteratypicalgoodqualitycementjob("goodbond"isobservedonthelogtraces).Suchfracturesdevelopovertimeandwithservice.Evenincaseswherebondappearsreasonableoversubstantialsectionsofthecasing,gasleakagemay
be
evidencedsomeyearsordecadeslater.Theprocessisinvariablydelayed;thus,theremust
be
physicallyreasonablerate-limitingprocesses.Thegasoftenappearsatsurfaceratherthanbeingpressureinjectedintoanotherporousstratumen-counteredinthestratigraphiccolumn.Thepresenceofsurfacecasingprovidesnoassuranceagainstgasleakage.Whereaswedonotdeny
that
mudchanneling,poormudcakeremoval,gaschanneling,andsooncanoccurinisolatedcases,webelievethatabetterhypothesisexiststorationallyexplainthepointslistedabove.Figure2showstheeffectofshrinkageonnear-wellborestresses.(plotsarequalitative,buthavebeenconfirmedbynumericalmodeling,tobepublishedlater.)Initially,cementpressurePc(z)
=
'Yz,almostalwayshigherthan
Po,
butlowerthan
Ohmin
(lateralminimumtotalstress).Setoccursandasmallamountofshearstressdevelopsbetweentherockandthecement;then,hydrostaticpressureinthecementisnolongertransmittedalongtheannulus.Thereafter,evenminorshrinkage(-0.1-0.2%)willreducetheradialstress
(or
=
e',
+
Po)
betweencementandrockbecauserockisstiff(4-20GPaforsofterrocks),andsmallradialstrains(0.001-0.003)causerelaxationof
Or
andincrease
in
oe.Aconditionof
Po>
Or(03)
isreached;i.e.thehydraulicfracturecriterion.Acircumfer-entialfracture(i.e.
.1
to
03
=
Or),
typicallynowiderthan10-20um,developsattherock-cementinterface.Athinfractureapertureissufficienttoappearas"lossofbond"inageophysicalbondlog.Becauseinsitustressesarealwaysdeviatoric(e.g.
Ohmin
.c
OHMAX),
bondlosswillusuallyappearfirstononesideofthetrace,orontwooppositesides(directionof
Ohmin).
Wellsthathaveexperiencedseveralpres-sureorthermalcycleswillalmostalwaysshowlossofbond,sometimesforverticaldistancesinexcessof100m.Azoneof
Po
>
0.(03)
canextendforconsiderableheights.Nevertheless,thisisstillnotamechanismforverticalgrowth.Tounderstandvertical
growth,
considerFigure3,whereahypotheticalcaseispresented.ThestaticcircumferentialfractureoflengthLisfilledwithformationwaterofdensity
Yw,
givingagradientofabout10.5kPaimfortypicaloilfieldbrine,butthegradientoflateralstress
(aOt/dZ)
isgenerallyon
the
orderof18-24kPaim.Thismeansthatifthefracturecontainsafluidpressuresufficienttojustkeepitopenatthebottom,thereisanexcesspressureattheuppertipequalto-L·(21-1O.5)""about10kPalm,intypicalAlbertaconditions,forexample.Thus,becauseoftheimbalancebetweenthepressuregradientinthefractureandthestressgradientinthe

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