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ChevronTexaco and BP
Cement Manual
Cement Manual

Table of Contents

Section 1: Overview:

Special Considerations:

Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Cementing High Pressure - High Temperature wells (HPHT) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Cementing in Deep Water . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Cementing Highly Deviated and Horizontal Wells . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Cementing Extended Reach Wells . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Cementing of Multilateral Junctions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Coiled Tubing Cementing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Estimated job time (including cleanout time for excess cement) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20

Major Factors Influencing Success:

Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
Mud Displacement Practices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
Mud Condition and Mud Conditioning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Cement Slurry Design Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
Use of API schedules for measuring slurry Thickening Time(TT) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
Cementing Equipment Selection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
Access and Application of Best Practices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
Knowledge of Pore Pressure and Fracture Pressure Data . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Knowledge of the Well temperatures. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
Knowledge of Policies and Regulatory Requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
The Importance of Planning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44

Common Cementing Problems:

Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
Failing to Bump the Top Plug . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
Lack of Zone Isolation - Cross Flow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51
Annular Pressure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52
Low Leak-Off Test (LOT) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
Top-of-Cement Lower than Required . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55
Soft Kick Off Plugs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55
Liner Tops that Fail Pressure Tests . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
Less Common Cementing Problems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59

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Roles and Responsibilities:

Aim: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .65
The Well design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .65
Planning a cementing program . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
Information Needed by the Service Company . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68
The Cementing Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
The interaction with the Other Service Providers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .70

Cement Job Evaluation:

Temperature Survey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .73

Acoustic Logs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
Segmented Ultrasonic Tools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .79

Section 2: Equipment:

Surface and Subsurface Equipment:

Surface Equipment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Aims: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Cement Mixing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Recording . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
High Pressure Lines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Safety Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Bulk Cement Equipment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13
Cement Heads, Water Bushings, Sweges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15
Float Shoes and Collars . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18
Stage Tools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20

Casing Centralization:

Centralization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25
Reduce the Risk of Sticking the Casing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
Non Centralization Equals Poor Isolation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
How is Centralization Achieved? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30
Some Important Advantages/Disadvantages . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36
How Much Cement is Needed for Isolation? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .37
The Benefit of Swirl (Spiral Flow) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39
Durability and Wear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
Wear in Microns . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
Stop Collars – the neglected issue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .49

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Section 3: Cement:
Cement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Aims: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
What is Cement? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Manufacture of Portland Cement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Chemistry of Portland Cements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Cement Hydration or 'How does it Work?' . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Limitations of Cement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Brief History of the Use of Cements in Oil Wells in the USA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10

Cement Slurry Design:

Slurry Design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Aims: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
The properties which are generally considered to be important include: . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Cement Slurry Mixing Water Ratio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Quality of the Mixing Water . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
Density . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
Fluidity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
Controllable Setting Time . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
Sufficient Strength . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
No Permeability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
Long term durability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
The Use of Cement by the Oil Industry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
Cementing Additives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
Adjusting the Water Concentration to Change Slurry Density . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
Effects of Extreme Temperatures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52
Other Special Conditions, Systems and Additives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
Deepwater Situations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
Guidelines for Selecting Flow Migration Control Slurries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
Scale-Down Laboratory Test Method . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61

Cement Sampling, Blending and

Quality Control:

Dry Cement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
Aim: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
Steps for Successful Cement Blending . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
Inspection of Bulk and Blending Equipment to be Used in the Operation . . . . . . . . . . . . 71

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Section 4: Displacements:
Displacing Cement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
The Displacement Problem in a Nutshell . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Fluid Incompatibility . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Rheological Properties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Minimization of Channeling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

Erodibility Technology:

Wellbore Condition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
The Phenomenon of Free-fall . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21
Optimization of the Displacement Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25
The Importance of Pipe Movement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27
Modeling the Displacement Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29
Example of a Job Simulation: A Slim Hole Situation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
The Real World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .38
On Site Data Collection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .50

Service Company Cementing Software:

Software . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51
Schlumberger . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51
CemCADE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51
Computer-Aided Design and Evaluation for Cementing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51
Halliburton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
OptiCem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .56
A Primary Cement Job Simulation Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
BJ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .59
CMFACTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .59
Primary Cement Design, Analysis and Real-time Monitoring Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . .59

Mud Preparation and Removal:

Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .61
Wellbore Conditioning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .61
Different Mud Types . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
Cementing in Oil Based Mud (OBM) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .63
Cementing in Water Based Mud (WBM) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .65
Contnation of WBM with Cement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .66
Engineering Recommendations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .69

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Section 5: Cementing Operations Design Process:

Design Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Aims: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
This provokes the question “What constitutes success?”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
What are the major risks to achieving the objectives? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
The Risk Assessment Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Cementing Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Personnel Competency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Guidelines for completion of the assessment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13


Additional Information:

Publications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Guidelines, Check Lists . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Cementing Equipment – Operations Check List . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Cement Sampling Check List . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

Offshore Platform Cement Unit


Design Philosophy and Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

HSE Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

Guidelines for Setting Cement Plugs in Horizontal and

High Angle Wells:

Plug Setting Guidelines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17

Plug Design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Slurry Design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Mud Removal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Cement Placement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Job Execution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18

Setting a Kick-off or Abandonment Plug in Open Hole:

BP Alaskan Guidelines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
Objective . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19

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Abandonment Plug . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19

Kick-off Plug . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19
Keys to Success . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19
Minimum Requirements for Cement Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20
General Pumping Procedure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21
Abandonment Requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21

Final HTHP Guidelines Key:


General Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

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Section 1: Overview

Special Considerations

Understand some of the cementing issues presented by:

• Deep Water
• Horizontal wells
• Coiled Tubing Jobs
• Multilateral Wells

Examine several special situations which place particular, and often very critical,
demands on the cementing operation, seriously impacting not just the slurry and
spacer systems design, but also the execution of the job, placement equipment
and techniques.

Cementing High Pressure - High Temperature wells (HPHT)

Cementing under conditions of high temperature and/or high pressure is often

required in deep wells and/or wells drilled into environments that present high
temperature gradients. Deep HPHT wells have been drilled in many areas, for
example South Texas, the North Sea and Middle East . Extreme cases of
elevated temperatures include geothermal wells in California and Italy. In other
areas, for instance the Caspian Sea, pore pressures are high requiring very high
drilling fluid and cement slurry densities, but the temperatures are in not extreme.

In any of these applications – high temperature or high density - the cementing

operation requires considerably more attention to detail. The conditions are such
that even minor overlooked details can cause failure. The lower tolerances
associated with HPHT wells are extreme. Under normal well situations the same
details may not present serious problems. Furthermore, the consequences of job

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failure are normally more severe than for ‘normal’ wells. This is due to the
technical difficulties of drilling and completing these wells and the often elevated
costs of such operations.

The best, most experience personnel and resources must be brought to these
wells. ‘Train-wrecks’ in HPHT cementing operations are usually caused by simple
things overlooked or by a complete, total, lack of knowledge about some critical
aspects of the operation (you don't know what you don't know).

Of all the aspects connected with a cementing job, an accurate knowledge of the
well temperatures is normally considered one of the most critical. In HPHT wells,
temperature is, without question, the key to success of the job. Laboratory design
of the cement slurry and spacer systems needs to be done way ahead of the job,
using realistic well temperatures. As drilling continues and better information is
obtained, the lab designs need to be refined using exactly the same cement and
batches of additives that will be used on the job.

Another aspect often associated with HPHT wells, is the narrow pore
pressure/fracture gradient window. Accurate knowledge of this is vital for correct
job design. Additionally, realistic simulations of surge and swab pressures to
estimate casing, or liner, running speeds and break circulation are essential.

An HPHT cementing operation should include contingency planning for situations

that require unexpected cement jobs. For example, sidetracks, losses or casing
shoe squeezes. The slurry and spacer designs need to be tested well ahead of
time. It can easily take a week of laboratory testing to achieve a slurry design
which can be mixed and pumped with confidence at high temperatures.

The best possible quality cement must be used, and the additives must be
selected for the elevated temperatures of the job. Sensitivity testing to
temperature is needed on the critical properties of the cement slurry such as
thickening time, fluid loss, free fluid, rheology and compressive strength
development. This is to cover the uncertainty normally associated with well
circulating temperatures. Slurry and spacer systems need to be kept simple,
eliminating the use of additives that are not strictly needed to fulfill the goals of the
design (for example, the need to be able to control gas or water invasion after
cementing). Since elevated temperatures accelerate chemical reactions and
effects considerably, compatibility studies between the drilling fluid, spacer system
and cement slurries must be carefully conducted ahead of time.

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Cementing in Deep Water

Cementing in deepwater presents unique problems to the drilling engineer. Rig

costs are so high, that that the timing of each operation essentially controls the
cost of the well. The selection of techniques used to drill the well is driven by the
high cost of time. Thus, reducing that time becomes extremely important.
Likewise, reduction/elimination of failures is essential. For example, it costs
around US $300,000/day for a deepwater rig. If, for example, waiting on cement
time could be reduced for a given operation from say 12 hours to 8 hours, the cost
of drilling the well would be reduced by around $50,000! By the same token,
reduction of failures is of the utmost importance since, again, costs accumulate
rapidly. If it becomes necessary to repair (squeeze) a casing shoe, the cost of that
repair could easily approach or exceed one million dollars.

In deepwater, typically a 30 inch or 36 inch conductor casing is jetted to about 200

ft below the mud line (BML). Next, a 20 inch or 26 inch surface string is cemented
using an inner string method, with the returns being to the ocean floor.

Deepwater Surface Casings and Shallow Water Zones T

Water Sands

Figure 1: Typical Deepwater Shallow Casings Configuration

Courtesy of BJ Services

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While drilling the surface holes of these wells in the Gulf of Mexico and other parts
of the world, formations shallower than 2,000 ft below mud line can be weak and
unconsolidated. In addition, shallow, highly pressurized, water containing zones
may be encountered. The presence of these shallow, pressurized water zones is
quite hard to predict even with the use of shallow seismic methods. These
complex situations, if not handled correctly, can easily lead to the occurrence of
high water flows through the cemented annulus of the shallow surface casing.
Shallow water zones with pore pressures of around 9.5 lb/gal equivalent may
require (depending on the depth where they are encountered), as much as 12 to
14+ lb/gal mud density to control them.

Operators have experienced pore pressures as high as 12.6 lb/gal very close to
the mud line. Very severe water flows have been experienced. It has been
reported that flow rates as high as 30,000 barrels per day are possible in some
deepwater locations. In these extreme situations, the shallow water flow rates
can be so high , that they can generate washout craters large enough to seriously
jeopardize the integrity of the well. There are documented cases in the industry
where uncontrolled shallow flows have practically "swallowed" the entire
multi-well template, at a cost of millions of dollars to the operator.

In addition to the potential for shallow water flows, these deep water wells present
other complicating problems such as:
• shallow gas,
• cool temperature profiles down the riser and at the mud line - often
approaching freezing temperature for water,
• narrow window between the pore and fracture pressure,
• large washouts in big holes
• hydrates

To control shallow water flows and the other complicating well conditions, special
techniques and cement slurry designs are used.

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Figure 2: World Areas Experiencing Shallow Water Flows

Shallow Water Flow Areas

Confirmed Flow Potential Flow No Reported Flow

Courtesy of BJ Services

The basic approach to cementing across shallow water zones consists of:
• maintaining control of the water zones while drilling
• properly preparing and treating the hole before cementing to avoid the onset
of water flows
• cementing the annulus using spacer fluids and cement slurries that maxi-
mize the potential for inhibition of the flows after cementing.

To accomplish this, sacrificial muds are sometimes used to drill the zones (these
are muds which are lost to the seabed since the riser is not yet connected). The
drilling fluids will have some fluid loss control and tailored rheological properties to
minimize the formation of progressive gels and of thick, mushy mud films across
permeable weak zones. This is done to facility mud removal during the cementing

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Spotting fluids are sometimes placed across the entire annulus, or across the
lower critical zones, before pulling the drill pipe. These fluids are designed to
maintain hydraulic control across the water zones, and may include some setting
properties to assist in cementing annular areas that may not be fully covered with
cement during the cementing operation. They will not set so well, or as hard, as
cement nevertheless can provide a barrier to flow.

The cement slurries used are specially designed and tested to be able to control
the shallow water zones. Most of the currently used cement systems are foamed.
Foamed slurries can be mixed at different densities using the same base slurry
design. This flexibility is needed to be able to rapidly and easily adjust the slurry
density to the levels needed to control the water zones.

Foamed systems have great sweeping properties to facilitate displacement of the

mud and/or spot fluid from the large annuli. In addition, they posses the ability to
control water and gas flows by their capacity to maintain elevated pore pressures
in the cement column while it goes through the transition stage. The cement
slurries are often preceded by foamed spacer systems to again aid in displacing
the well fluids.

Shallow gas may also be encountered while drilling the shallow sections of
deepwater wells, but generally is not so problematic as that of the shallow water
zones. In general, the same cement slurry formulations and placement
techniques needed to control the shallow water flows, apply to the control of
shallow gas.

The cool temperatures and the necessarily low cement slurry densities seriously
complicate slurry design. Temperature affects all the properties of cement slurries
that are critical for deepwater cementing: rheology, thickening time, transition
time, free fluid, fluid loss and strength development.

Excessive thickening times are undesirable and the goal must be to eliminate or
minimise WOC time.

Transition Time is the time from when the slurry stops behaving as a fluid (full
transmission of hydrostatic head) to the point when it develops a significant
measurable rigidity. During the transition time of un-foamed slurries, the pressure
exerted by the column decreases due to the generation of progressive gels which
support part of the annular load exerted by the slurry.

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This pressure drop can allow influx of formation fluid or gas into the annulus.
Short transition times are therefore necessary when cementing across shallow
water zones. Again, foamed cement slurries, due to the presence of the Nitrogen
phase, have the ability to maintain the pore pressure of the cement columns,
reducing the risk of annular invasion.

Cementing Highly Deviated and Horizontal Wells

Cementing highly deviated wells is somewhat more difficult than vertical, or

near-vertical, wells due to the following factors:

• The casing or liner is difficult to centralise, generally lying on the low side of
the hole. This makes mud removal difficult.
• Torque and drag considerations can make running a casing or liner to depth
• Cuttings beds can form during drilling. These may hinder getting the casing
to TD. They can also act as a conduit for later flow and compromise zone
• Highly deviated wells are often ‘long reach’ or Extended Reach (ERD), this
means the Equivalent Circulating Density (ECD) can be high. Long section
lengths create problems with cement channeling past the mud and mixing in
the annulus.
• As deviation increases, wellbore stability problems and the narrowing mud
weight window can constrain job design
• Concerns about barite sag can result in relatively higher mud rheologies
which further constrain the cement placement.
• The cement slurry has to be an extremely stable suspension with very little
free water. Free Water will create channels on the high side which will com-
promise zone isolation.

One of the main problems encountered while drilling and cementing highly
deviated, extended reach and horizontal wells is the tendency of solids from all
the fluids in the wellbore to settle on the low side of the hole. The Figure below
shows the result of a large scale experiment conducted in a man-made wellbore.
Notice the presence of the solids bed on the low side of the hole. To further
complicate the problem, experiments have shown that solids beds on the low side
of highly deviated and horizontal holes can quickly become immobile (dehydrated)
across permeability, making their removal extremely difficult.

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Research has shown that transport of cuttings in drilling muds becomes more
difficult as hole angle increases. Hard solids beds have also been found on the
low side of the inside of the casing. These ‘inside-casing’ solids beds are not
always easily removed by the cementing plugs; in fact, cementing plugs damage
has been observed in certain cases.

D e v ia te d /H o riz o n ta l W e lls
• S t a tic /D y n a m ic
S o lid s S e t tlin g
• D if fic u lt to
rem ove

M u d S o lid s

Figure 3: Solids Settled on the Low Side of an Inclined Hole

Courtesy of Halliburton Services

It can be seen that minimization of solids settling from the drilling fluid while drilling
the hole is critical to the success of the cementation of these types of wells.

Another problem is the tendency of the casing to rest on the low side of the hole.
Across doglegs, the string may even rest against the high side of the well,
depending on the direction of the normal forces generated in the wellbore.
Because of this, to get good cement jobs, it is critical to use proper centralization.
Minimum stand-off should be around 80 to 90% + at the lowest casing point (i.e.
between centralizers). Fortunately, specially designed centralizers have been
developed that are capable of reducing drag and torque in these wells, while still
providing good centralization for the pipe. The most recent developments include
rollers to effectively "roll" the pipe to bottom.

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Settling of solids from the cement slurry and spacer fluids is also a serious
potential problem Therefore, the slurry and spacer used in these wells must be
non-settling statically and dynamically at downhole conditions.

The Free Fluid of the cement slurry must be zero at downhole conditions,
particularly if gas or formation water migration is a potential problem in the well.

An unstable mud or cement can lead to a blow out in these wells.

Estimating well circulating temperatures to design the cement slurries can be a

challenge for these wells. To estimate the well bottom hole circulating temperature
(BHCT), a bottomhole static temperature (BHST) and/or the temperature gradient
in the particular area is used. For vertical holes, the BHCT can be calculated
using API published formulas or temperature charts. While the API method is the
accepted standard for estimating BHCT, the correlations were developed before
deviated drilling was common. Factors such as hole size, pipe size, surface
temperature, water depth (for offshore locations), mud type, pump rates, etc., vary
from well to well and can have an affect on the actual BHCT. Most of the wells
investigated to develop the API temperature correlations were vertical. Thus, for
highly deviated, extended reach and horizontal wells, the API correlations should
not be used.

Other methods to estimate the expected well temperatures are available. In

extreme ERD wells, the BHCT can become close to the BHST at the TVD.

If we compare two wells with the same true vertical depth (TVD), one vertical and
the other with a horizontal section, the BHCT of the horizontal well will be hotter
due to the high constant temperature along the horizontal section. On the other
hand, if we compare two wells with the same measured depth (MD), one vertical
and one horizontal, the BHCT of the vertical well will be the hotter because it sees
higher temperatures at the bottom of the hole.

One of the best ways of obtaining the BHCT of highly inclined and horizontal wells
is using downhole temperature recorders specially designed for this purpose. One
of the available designs consists of a memory recorder that can be tripped into the
well with pipe or can be dropped down the drillstring during a cleanup trip. The
tool measures the temperature at the bottom of the hole versus time. Once
retrieved, the tool is connected to a portable computer and a graph obtained. This
can be used to estimate BHCT but it should be born in mind that the geometry is

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different. In cementing the annulus is small and the pipe large. When the gauge is
run in DP, the pipe is small and the annulus large. This can result in different flow
regimes and different heat transfer results.

However, with several of these BHCT measurements at different depths in a given

field, a reliable BHCT correlation may be developed. Of course, on critical wells
the cost of making these BHCT measurements may be acceptable; but it is often
critical wells which have high costs and the time is not made available.

Next to actual measurements of the well temperatures, software temperature

simulators can be used to predict BHCT at any well deviation and geometry.
Simulators are capable of estimating the entire temperature profile up and down
the well, not just the BHCT. In long horizontal sections, due to the near constant
temperature, the circulating temperature tend to be near constant too.

The best way to use simulators is to first match measured temperatures from the
well (such as log temperatures). This allows fine-tuning of the simulation to obtain
a more reliable prediction of the BHCT temperature at the depth of interest.

The Measure-While-Drilling (MWD) instrumentation can provide a temperature

while drilling. The BHCT temperature obtained from MWD at the depth of interest
is typically higher than the actual BHCT is during cementing, but it provides an
upper limit to estimate the BHCT for cementing.

Cementing Extended Reach Wells

In recent years, horizontal and extended reach drilling has made possible the
exploitation of many otherwise sub-economic, or inaccessible, hydrocarbon
horizons. Economic considerations have driven operators to continue to "push
the envelope” to reach more hydrocarbon deposits per well, per pad, or per
offshore platform. A major technical obstacle, with ever larger displacement wells,
has been the increasing axial and rotational friction forces generated. Another
complicating factor is the tendency for the pipe to rest on the low side of the hole,
making centralization of the casing difficult.

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E x te n d e d R e a c h

A p p lic a tio n
Reach sections
well sections

B eiru te C o nsu ltin g

Courtesy of Weatherford
Figure 4: Extended Reach and Horizontal Well Sections

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Extended reach wells, by definition, present long sections of hole where the angle
of inclination is high and essentially constant. These extended sections of hole
can be many thousand of feet. It is not uncommon to find extended reach wells
with measured depths of 15,000 feet or more. These extended sections further
complicate problems like formation of solid beds, the difficulty of centralizing the
pipe, etc. All of the comments made in the previous section on cementing highly
deviated and horizontal wells apply to cementing extended reach wells.

An additional factor can be the very high ECD’s which result from the pressure
drop in the annulus in the long hole sections. This can impact displacement rates
which, coupled with eccentric pipe, can lead to massive channeling of cement
through the mud. This again emphasizes the need for a fully integrated approach
to job design. The aims and requirements of the cement job need to be carefully
set out and all the factors which might influence success addressed thoroughly.
The mud, the hole condition, the pore/fracture gradient window, dog leg severity
and many other factors will play a crucial role.

Cementing of Multilateral Junctions

Multilateral wells are wells with branches from a main parent wellbore. The
branches are often highly inclined, or horizontal, and multi-directional. When
cementing multilateral junctions, two main aspects need to be considered:
• selection of a cement system that will provide structural support and isolation
at the junction.
• the placement technique to displace the drilling fluid and to place the
cement/sealant in the well.

Both these aspects create severe difficulties in some types of multilateral well.

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Figure 5: Multilateral

For placement of the

cement, industry "best
Many multilateral wells are drilled
offshore practices" such as mud
conditioning, centralization,
Parent well may be a producer in use of spacer fluids, are all
the conventional way applicable and should be
used. The selection of the
Multilateral well my be a re-entry appropriate cement system
well for a multilateral well can be
affected by several factors
specific to these types of

These factors include:

• Configuration of the multilateral hardware used to construct the junction
• Stresses that will be applied to the cement during the life of the well
• Junction sealing requirements
• Composition, strength, permeability of the formation(s) in which the junction
is placed
• Types of fluids that the cement may be exposed to during the life of the well

Because of the wide variety of requirements that can exist, no one single cement
system is applicable in all cases. Furthermore, in some cases, there is no
currently available cement which will provide the required pressure isolation at the
junction. Thus, the selection of the cementing system needs to be done on a
case-by-case basis.

TAML Multilateral Well Classification

The most commonly used classification of multilateral wells is the TAML

TAML (TechnologyAdvancement of Multilaterals) is a group of operators with
multilateral experience who developed a categorization system for multilateral

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wells based on the amount and type of support provided at the junction. This
categorization makes it easier for operators to recognize and compare the
functionality and risk-to-reward evaluations of one multilateral completion design
to another. Recognized TAML levels increase in complexity from Level 1 (simple
open hole mainbore) through Level 6 as shown.
Figure 6:

TAML Multilateral Classification

Construction Level 1 Construction Level 2 Construction Level 3

time: 1 day time: 2 - 3 days time: 4 - 7 days

Construction Level 4 Construction Level 5 Construction Level 6

time: 4 - 9 days time: 8 - 12 days time: 5 -10 days

Level I Junctions: Open Hole Trunk—Open Hole Laterals

In this case the Trunk is open hole. The laterals are also barefoot or slotted liners.
Level I junctions are placed in consolidated, competent formations No cementing
is involved in the construction of Level I.

Level II: Cased Hole Trunk—Open Hole Junction

In these wells the parent well is cased off and cemented, but the laterals are
barefoot (open hole) with or without slotted liners. Level II junctions are also
typically placed in consolidated formations. Again, no cementing is involved in the
construction of Level II multilateral wells in the lateral hole sections. However, the
cement sheath of the parent wellbore need to be considered when choosing a
location for the window for the lateral section.

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Many conventional cement systems are prone to crack and lose their ability to
provide an annular seal during the process of milling a window, drilling the lateral,
and constructing the junction. For these applications, non-conventional cement
systems are available. For example, research has suggested that foamed
cements with gas content between 18 to 38% by volume produce more ductile
systems which are more likely to retain integrity. In laboratory experiments,
foamed cement systems have been shown to withstand significant deformation
and cyclical loading, showing no damage to the integrity of the cement matrix and
experiencing minimal permanent deformation. Cement systems containing latex,
and latex with fibers, have also been used. The primary benefit of the fibers in the
cement is that they hold the cement together even after compressive load failure.
This can help prevent chunks of cement from falling down into the parent wellbore
during milling, drilling, and other operations conducted around the junction.

Level III: Cased Hole Trunk—Mechanically Supported Junction

For these applications, the mother-bore is cased off and cemented. The laterals
are also cased, but not cemented. Level III junctions are again typically placed in
consolidated formations. They have a non-cemented junction with no hydraulic
integrity at the junction. The lateral liner is anchored to the mother-bore. Like
Levels I and II, no cementing is involved in the construction of Level III multilateral
wells in the lateral sections.

Level IV: Cased Hole Trunk—Cased and Cemented Lateral

In Level IV applications, both the main bore and the laterals are cased and
cemented. They include a cemented junction. The junction does not require
hydraulic integrity to be a Level IV junction, but some Level IV systems require
hydraulic sealing at the junction.

In this configuration, the cements used to cement the lateral section must
maintain their integrity under conditions that cements used for conventional jobs
are normally not subjected to. For this junction configuration, a window is milled
and a lateral hole drilled. A casing string is cemented through the window to form
the junction. The cement is then exposed to additional stresses when the junction
is completed. For example, the completion process may involve milling off the
casing stub that is left inside the parent wellbore. The milling process leaves a
flush joint at the junction with the cement being exposed to the inside of the casing
at the junction with the main wellbore.

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Some of the physical and mechanical properties that the Level IV junction cement
systems may need to possess include:

• Acid resistance
• Durability to exposure to various oils, synthetic oils, and other fluids
• Impact resistance
• Elasticity
• Hydraulic bonding

Impact resistance will generally be required for every Level IV multilateral junction
system. The cement at the junction will be exposed to impacts during the
completion of the well construction.

Methods used to improve the impact resistance of cements include incorporating

latex in the cement formulation. Foam cements have also been found to improve
a number of the mechanical properties of cement systems.

Conventional cement systems, while having high compressive strengths, are very
brittle and prone to crack when loaded by impacts and/or internal pressure
cycling. For conventional applications, this cracking of the cement may be
acceptable because the cement is not always required to provide hydraulic
sealing from within the casing, nor is the cement exposed to direct impact from
drill pipe, tools, etc. while tripping in and out of the hole. However, for some
multilateral configurations, the cement is relied on to help provide the hydraulic
seal at the junction. Inspection of a model junction will soon indicate that this is

In addition to the research to help the field engineer with the selection of the "best"
cement systems to use in multilateral applications, work is ongoing to developed
computer modeling capabilities (finite element analysis, etc.) to better predict the
behavior/integrity of cemented sealed junctions when the well is loaded with
various stress conditions (pressurized junctions, draw-down, etc.) and when
exposed to impact loads.

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One recent, novel technique that needs to be considered for Level IV multilateral
wells involves the treatment of the formation surrounding the formation before or
during the construction of the multilateral hole section with special, low viscosity
resins. For the treatment to work, the formation needs to be permeable to be able
to accept the resin. By injecting the material into the formation, the permeability
can be reduced to essentially zero.

Level V: Cased Hole Trunk—Hydraulically Isolated Junction

In this type of multilateral application, hydraulic integrity at the joint is achieved by

the mechanical completion used and not by the cement. The parent hole is cased
and cemented. The lateral is also cased and cemented. Level V junctions are
placed in consolidated and in unconsolidated formations. They have a cemented
junction, but the cement is not necessarily relied on for hydraulic integrity at the
junction. The junction has hydraulic integrity by way of some type of packer
assembly. Level V junctions have main bore and lateral re-entry access.

Level VI: Cased Hole Trunk and Lateral

Level VI junctions are placed in consolidated and unconsolidated formations .

They have a cemented junction, but the cement is not relied on for hydraulic
integrity at the junction. The junction has hydraulic integrity. Level VI junctions
have full bore access to the main bore and the lateral.

Level VIs: Cased Hole Trunk and Lateral & Down-hole Splitter

Level VIs junctions are placed in consolidated and unconsolidated formations.

They have a cemented junction, but the cement is not relied on for hydraulic
integrity at the junction.

Coiled Tubing Cementing

Cementing operations performed with coiled tubing are mostly squeezing and
plugging. The most common coiled tubing cementing application is squeezing off
perforations which are no longer required. The well may then be re-perforated
across another zone. Squeezing off perforations which have a high water cut is a
common reason for such intervention.

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Squeeze cementing through coiled tubing (CT) is a relatively new operation in the
petroleum industry. Interest in coiled tubing squeeze operations increased
significantly with the success and cost savings generated in the Prudho Bay field,
Alaska, in the 1980’s. Techniques and cement properties developed or identified
by BP, ARCO and others for Alaskan North Slope operations served as the
foundation for CT squeeze operations throughout the world.

Squeeze, or remedial, cementing is a common operation in the petroleum industry

throughout the world. Most squeeze operations are conducted with a drilling or
workover rig, through tubing or drill pipe with threaded connections. Cement is
the most common material used for squeezing and represents approximately 7 to
10% of the total cost of the squeeze operation. The rest of the job cost is related
to well preparation, tools, waiting on cement (WOC), drilling out of excess cement
left in the wellbore after the squeeze, etc. Squeeze operations using coiled tubing
offer significant benefits for slurry placement, control of the squeeze process, and
reduced squeeze costs. However, candidate selection and preparation, cement
slurry formulation, and job design require special considerations to realize the full
potential offered by the technique. A serious complicating factor is the reduced
annular clearances often encountered when performing coiled tubing operations.

Using CT can eliminate workover rig costs and significantly reduce well
preparation and post-squeeze cleanup costs. Using CT in workover and squeeze
operations has been successful in remote areas where rigs are not readily
available or in areas where rig costs are high. Bringing a CT Unit to the well,
performing a squeeze, cleaning out and reperforating can make money. Special
techniques and material properties have been developed which improve the
probability of success and realize the cost-saving potential of CT operations.

The process of squeezing with CT is similar in many ways to squeezing through

conventional threaded tubulars. Many of the general techniques for problem
diagnosis, well preparation, and job design and execution used in conventional
squeeze cementing operations apply to CT operations. However, there are some
differences, and these differences can significantly affect the success of the
operation. CT squeeze operations are essentially scaled-down squeeze
operations: smaller tubulars and annular clearances, and generally smaller
cement volumes. As with most reduced scale operations, attention to details is
very critical in every aspect of the job.

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Coiled tubing lends itself to plugging operations because it allows the operator to
place small volumes of slurry in the wellbore more quickly and inexpensively than
with conventional plugging procedures. Well pressure control can be maintained
at the surface through a stripper and blowout preventer (BOP) so it is possible to
run into a live wellbore, and the production tubing and wellheads do not need to
be removed before the job. The tubing can be reciprocated during hole

Temperatures in the wellbore for CT operations can be significantly different from

temperatures in conventional squeeze cementing operations. Downhole
temperatures are affected by many variables including the type of fluid pumped or
circulated, fluid density and rheological properties, volume pumped or circulated,
rate of pumping, and the well configuration. Generally, the temperatures in CT
operations are higher than in conventional squeeze operations with threaded
tubing or drill pipe, primarily because of the lower volumes of fluid pumped and
the lower flow rates used. However, with the larger CT workstrings, the
temperatures may be closer to the conventional case. For most squeeze
operations, and especially CT operations, accurate measurement of the wellbore
temperature and temperature profile above and below the interval to be squeezed
is necessary.

Most cement slurries for conventional applications are tested using well simulation
tests developed by the American Petroleum Institute (API). These tests represent
a composite set of conditions, generally based on well depth, type of cementing
operation and geothermal gradient. It is important to understand that none of the
current API test schedules or procedures were developed from CT cementing
operations. Therefore, job-tailored test procedures and schedules should be used
to model the planned CT squeeze cementing operation as closely as possible to
field conditions. Job related information needed to formulate job tailored test
schedules include the following:

Well temperatures (temperature is the most important variable affecting cement


Well pressure (pressure has a lesser effect than temperature on cement hydration
but has a significant effect on fluid loss. Well pressures can be reasonably
estimated from the hydrostatic pressure of wellbore fluids and the cementing
fluids plus the expected surface pump pressure.)

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Mixing equipment and procedure (the amount of time the slurry will be held on the
surface before being pumped into the well can have a substantial effect on the
thickening time of the cement, depending on the surface temperature, well
temperatures and cement slurry formulation.). Batch mixing of the slurry is
recommended, but the type of batch mixer and the way it is operated can affect
the slurry properties. In some cases, particularly relatively small volumes of slurry
(<25bbl), the actual properties of the slurry can be very different to the lab design.
This can arise through the different magnitude and duration of shear imparted in
the mixing process and to the heating involved. Beware of over-shearing the
slurry in a batch mixer with a centrifugal recirculating pump.

Expected pump-rate range (the time taken to pump the slurry down the CT to the
interval to be squeezed determines the rate of heating experienced by the slurry.
The heat-up rate is an important variable affecting the thickening time of a cement

Coiled tubing dimensions (the volume of the coiled tubing coupled with the pump
rate can be used to design the thickening time test schedule for the slurry.)

Planned pumping schedule and technique. Modified well simulation test

schedules have been designed to simulate hesitation squeeze operations.

Estimated job time (including cleanout time for excess cement)

The thickening time test for a coiled tubing cement slurry should model the well
operation as closely as possible. It is necessary to duplicate the temperature,
pressure, and pumping profile of the operations. For example, potential for
hesitation should always be included in the design of a slurry for a squeeze job.
This, is important to simulate the static periods for hesitation when the cement
slurry (or other sealant) is not being sheared by pumping action. During these
periods, the slurry may lose fluid and may develop gel strength, as the wellbore
temperature begins to increase because there is no fluid movement to cool the
wellbore. In most CT squeeze operations, some static or hesitation periods will
occur during the pumping operation. These periods can dramatically alter the
thickening time of the cement slurry.

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The API Operating Fluid Loss test is a filtration procedure performed to determine
the amount of filtrate that can be removed from a slurry under specific conditions.
This test is performed with a known filter medium, under 1,000 psi differential
pressure and at the expected well temperature for the squeeze operation. For
API tests, the filter medium is a 325-mesh, stainless steel screen. This screen
has an effective permeability greater than about 1 darcy, and the entire filtration
area is about 3.5 in2.

For most cement slurry designs, the amount of fluid removed from the slurry in 30
minutes under the conditions listed above is the value of interest. However, for
CT squeeze operations, the thickness or volume of filter-cake produced during the
test is also of interest. Pressure applied during a CT squeeze is often higher than
1,000 psi, particularly when excess cement will be washed out to eliminate drillout
cost and time. In these cases, the filter-cake must withstand the pressure
differentials present in the wellbore during cleanout of excess cement before the
cement has hydrated and developed strength. The permeability of the filter
medium used in the API test is significantly higher than many formations,
especially carbonates. In some test cells, core disks or synthetic (aluminum
oxide) disks of varying permeability can be inserted in the cell by using an
adapter. These adapters should be used when available, to better simulate well
conditions during the test.

For CT squeeze simulation tests, filtration time or the time of applied squeeze
pressure usually exceeds the 30 minutes used during an API test. Thus,
filter-cake volume produced under downhole CT conditions can be significantly
larger than the filter-cake volume generated during an API test procedure at a
single pressure. The API fluid loss cell does not have enough volume to
accommodate all the filtrate generated from a CT in-situ test because of the
extended time for squeezing and the higher pressures typically applied during CT
operations. Cement slurries with filtrate volumes in excess of 60 ml will cause all
the slurry to form filter-cake (become dehydrated) in the API cell. Modified
methods for measuring fluid loss and filter-cake have been develop for CT

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Rheological properties of the cement slurry are more important in CT squeezes

because of the smaller diameter workstrings and slim annular configurations,
placement conditions, and squeeze techniques. Solids suspension, flow
properties, and gel strength development are of primary interest in designing
cement slurries for CT squeeze operations.

“Strength of cement” usually refers to the amount of compressive load the cement
will withstand before failure. The compressive strength of a cement slurry can be
determined by the API procedure in which an unconfined 2-in. cube (nominal
dimensions) is compressively loaded (uniaxially) until the cement fails. This
convenient method of compressive strength testing is similar to failure testing
procedures used for construction industry practices from which the API methods
were developed.

The UCA (Ultrasonic Cement Analyzer) has the advantage of providing a

continuous measure of compressive strength vs. time. This compressive strength
is determined from correlations of sonic transit time vs. compressive strength, and
therefore, the results need to be calibrated with destructive API tests. The mode of
cement failure is tensile, or shear which is some 10% or so of the compressive

The API compressive strength test does not measure the strength of the
filter-cake for squeeze cementing. Cement filter-cake density can be
approximately 18 to 19 lbm/gal for a 15.8 lbm/gal slurry. It has been reported that
some cement blends can build filter-cake compressive strengths of 5,000 psi
before the liquid cement slurry itself has developed any measurable strength.
Under most conditions, the compressive strength of the filter-cake from a squeeze
cementing operation is two to five times greater than the compressive strength of
the un-dehydrated cement.

Durability of the cement is a concern in many CT squeeze operations. Portland

cements are subject to attack by a variety of well fluids such as acid, certain
components in formation waters, carbon dioxide, and others. To increase cement
resistance to acid and some brines, latex has been used in the formation. Fly ash
has been used to improve cement resistance to carbon dioxide.

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Regarding placement of the cement slurry, where possible, spotting cement

across the interval to be squeezed is preferred. The general procedure
recommended for spotting cement with coil tubing is listed below. This technique
is designed to minimize contamination of the cement with the fluid in the wellbore.

1. RIH to TD or below the squeeze interval.

2. Begin pumping cement out the CT.
3. Allow the top of the cement to rise above the nozzle at the end of the CT
before pulling the CT string up.
4. Pull the CT string out of the well at the same or a slower rate than pumping to
permit the end of the CT nozzle to remain 5 to 10 ft below the top of the
5. For the last volume of cement, accelerate the CT pulling rate to allow the end
of the CT nozzle to be above the planned top of cement.

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Major Factors Influencing Success


The success of a cementing operation is influenced by many factors. In addition to

the obvious ones of:

• well geometry

• well location

• types and properties of the formations penetrated,

• other aspects play a crucial role.

We examine some of them here:

• Mud displacement

• Slurry design

• Job planning and execution

Mud Displacement Practices

To be able to properly cement the casing in the open hole, the drilling fluid used to
create the open hole must be removed from the annulus ahead of the cement
slurry. Most investigators agree that the following factors affect the process of
mud displacement:

• Mud properties to drill the hole, and mud conditioning prior to the cement job

• Hole condition - non uniform, washed out hole presents special difficulties

• Pipe movement - rotation or reciprocation

• Pipe centralization

• Fluid velocity - pump rate

• Mud filter cake condition (erodibility)

• Spacers and flushes

• Cement slurry poperties

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Mud Condition and Mud Conditioning

Perhaps the most critical of the displacement factors is the condition of the hole
and the mud prior to cementing – in fact, prior to picking up pipe.

During hole conditioning, it is necessary to create a situation where the bulk of the
mud is moving (circulating). Therefore, the goal of the conditioning process is to
end-up with a “high mobility mud” across the entire annular length and
cross-section. To achieve this, it is necessary, once the casing gets to bottom, to
break and circulate all the pockets of gelled mud before the initiation of mixing and
pumping of the cement slurry.

For deviated wells, the low end rheologies (and gels) of the drilling fluid are
normally higher than for vertical wells. The higher properties are needed to
minimize solids settling from the mud on the low side of the hole while drilling the
well. If solids settling from the mud is not prevented, a solids bed can form.
These solids beds - either barite or cuttings - are very difficult to remove (see
Figur), particularly across good permeability.

Courtesy of Halliburton Services

Figure 7: Solids Settling from Drilling Muds in Deviated Wells. A large Scale

It is sometimes assumed that as long as the mud is “conditioned” (pumping of a

reduced rheology mud, etc.) before the cement job, that the cement job will go
well. However, as confirmed by large-scale experiments, if permeable zones are
drilled with mud with poor properties (capable of developing thick, gelled, partially
dehydrated, mud cake), it is extremely difficult to get the bulk of the mud in the
annulus moving. In fact, there is evidence that pumping a high mobility

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(conditioned) mud in the hole during hole conditioning in this situation, may lead to
channeling of the high mobility mud through the low mobility (gelled) mud. At the
surface, the mud properties may look fine, giving a false indication that the hole is
in good shape. In such a situation, the chances of getting a good cement job are
reduced greatly. The answer is to ensure the zones of interest (pay) are never
contacted by a low quality drilling fluid. The pay zones need to be drilled with a
high mobility, good property drill-in mud that can be easily conditioned before the
cement job.

Pipe Movement

A fairly straightforward and relatively simple technique to aid in the mud

displacement process is to move the pipe while conditioning mud and, if possible,
while pumping the cement into the annulus. Full-scale displacement tests have
shown that simple pipe movement, either rotation or reciprocation, can improve
displacement. Pipe movement helps remove gelled mud and assists in getting a
competent, uniform sheath of cement all around the casing.
• Pipe movement is often not a viable option in the following circumstances:
• large ‘surface’ casing strings (bigger than 9 5/8”)
• very long strings
• high deviation wells or wells with high doglegs (DLS)
• offshore wells fromdrillships or semi-submersibles.

In near-vertical wells, during reciprocation the pipe tends to move from side to
side of the hole and this helps break much of the gelled mud. For highly deviated
and horizontal wells, the pipe may not move from side to side so well (around
doglegs, for example).

With reciprocation in highly deviated/horizontal holes, the pipe may get stuck on
the upward stroke, potentially leaving uncased openhole. Reciprocation
sometimes limits pipe movement to only pre-cement job conditions. In deviated
wells, rotation has an advantage over reciprocation in that it tends to drag the
fluids all the way around the pipe (better mud removal).

With liners, reciprocation all the way to bumping of the plug has been used very
effectively in near-vertical holes. Reciprocation is much better than no pipe
movement, but regardless of deviation, with liners, rotation is preferred because it
overcomes some disadvantages of reciprocation:

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• Eliminates the piston surge of the reciprocation downstroke.

• Eliminates the swabbing effect of the reciprocation upstroke.

• Eliminates the possibility of sticking the pipe out of position with respect to
the desired setting depth.

• It is less risky when the drillpipe and setting tool can be released from the
liner prior to cementing.

The best practice is to begin casing movement as soon as the liner reaches
bottom and continue during hole conditioning and until cementing is finished.
Rotation should be at least 10 to 20 rpm.

Casing Centralization

A well planned and executed centralizer program is one of the items on the “must
do” list to obtain a good primary cement job, particularly in highly deviated wells.
Displacement of the mud on the narrow side of the annulus will not take place if
the pipe is close to, or against, the wellbore wall.

Adequate centralization of the casing is essential to obtaining good displacement

of the drilling fluid and proper placement of the cement slurry around the pipe.
Whilst pipe centralization is sometimes – incorrectly - viewed as optional for
vertical wells, it is a requirement for cementing under deviated conditions. If the
pipe is not mechanically centralized, the pipe will lay on the low side, making it
impossible to obtain a cement sheath that completely encircles the casing.
Centralization of the casing helps provide a uniform flow path around the entire
circumference of the casing so that the mud can be more readily replaced.
Large-scale tests have shown that mud displacement efficiency is directly related
to the degree of casing centralization.

A standoff of 80 - 90% is recommended for cementing.

A well designed and executed casing centralization program will also greatly
assist in running the casing to bottom, and with moving of the pipe once on
bottom. Special centralizers have been developed recently that reduce torque
and drag during running and moving of the pipe. The type and number of
centralizers, and their location on the pipe, needs to be optimized using industry
available computer programs, particularly for highly deviated wells.

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Fluid Velocity - Pump Rate/Flow Regime

The velocity (rate) at which the various fluids are pumped during the conditioning
of the drilling fluid and during the actual cement job is a major factor in achieving a
good mud displacement and cement job.

Oil industry experts agree as to the benefits of pumping fluids in turbulent flow.
However, because of the viscous nature of most cement slurries, it is usually
difficult to achieve turbulent flow without breaking down weak formations in open
hole. If this is the case, cement slurries will be pumped in laminar flow.

Extensive studies of the effects of fluid velocity (flow regime) have been made
both in full-scale displacement studies and in actual wells. The majority of the
results from the full-scale displacement studies have shown that the faster flow
rates will provide better displacement efficiency. These results have been
confirmed in actual field jobs where the percent open hole volume circulating was
measured as a function of flow rate.

It is now known that the higher flow rates provide better displacement efficiencies
because higher flow rates generate higher shear forces in the open hole. The
higher the shear forces (shear stress) on the hole, the more partially
dehydrated-gelled (PDG) drilling fluid will be broken free and circulated from the

Spacers and Flushes

Spacers and Flushes are used ahead of the cement slurry to prevent mud
contamination of the cement slurry (formation of thick masses), and to facilitate
the removal of the drilling fluid. However, spacers are very difficult systems to

Spacers must be compatible with two fluids, the mud and the cement slurry. In
general, these are very incompatible with each other. Spacers are designed to
“work chemically” with muds and cement slurries. Since every mud and cement
slurry is different, spacers should be essentially “custom designed” for every job.
It should not be assumed that a spacer formulation which worked with a previous
field mud will also work with the present field mud, even if similar additives are
being used. This is particularly important when designing spacers for oil-based
mud systems.

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When designing or evaluating a spacer system, the following criteria should be

used to maximize the spacer’s effectiveness downhole:
• The spacer must be compatible with both the drilling mud and the cement
• The spacer must be non-settling.
• The spacer should have a density between that of the drilling mud and the
cement slurry, when possible, to assist with mud displacement and to reduce
chances of channeling.
• If possible, the spacer should have a consistency between that of the drilling
mud and the cement slurry to again help with mud removal.
• When using oil-based muds, the spacer must contain surfactants for
water-wetting the pipe and formation face, to enable the cement to bond
effectively to those surfaces.
• For best results, the spacer should be pumped at the rates needed to effec-
tively remove the PDG mud films across the permeable faces in the open
• Based on field experience, enough spacer volume should be pumped to
achieve a minimum of 10 min contact time at the top of the pay, or to fill 800
to 1,000 ft of annulus, whichever produces the greater volume.
• The spacer should possess fluid loss control.

Cement Slurry Design Considerations

The cement slurry design for a given job needs to be specifically tailored to the
particular requirements for the given section of hole to be cemented. Of the
utmost importance is keeping the design simple; including only essential
additives. If ‘book’ formulations from previous jobs are considered, they need to
be very carefully re-examined to ensure they apply to the specific well conditions
at hand.

The cement, additives and field mixing water used in the laboratory to optimize
the slurry design must be the same as to be used on the job (same batches).

Cement quality is very important. A quality, consistent, API monogrammed

cement should be used whenever possible. However, lower quality cements are
sometimes used due to remote location and other factors including local
government requirements. In those cases, laboratory testing needs to be even
more rigorous. For example, sensitivity tests of the slurry design to temperature

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should be performed, since the well temperatures that the slurry will see are not
well known (margin of error is often +/- 10 to 15 degrees F for the BHCT).

Properties that Need to be Measured for Slurry Designs

To minimize the potential for job failures, the following properties should to be
measured in the laboratory and reported for slurries to be used in the field:
• Thickening time
• Compressive strength development
• Rheology
• Fluid loss
• Free fluid
• Settling behavior
• Expected WOC time

Use of API schedules for measuring slurry Thickening Time(TT)

The thickening time of a cement slurry is a measurement of the time the slurry will
remain pumpable at bottom hole circulating temperature and pressure. The API
thickening time test schedules are “standard” based on generalized well designs
(casing sizes, casing depths, pump rates, well pressures), and should be used
only for preliminary designs, before details for the particular job are known. Once
the details for the job are available: casing size, depth and mud density, as well as
the projected pump rate, these parameters need to be used to calculate a
job-tailored test schedule. With this approach, time to BHCT and maximum job
pressure often differ from standard API Schedules. This difference between the
“job-tailored” and the API Schedules may have a marked effect on the measured
TTs for the slurries.

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Acceptable Values for Thickening Time:

A criteria for acceptable thickening time values is needed, to minimize WOC times
and the time cement slurry remains liquid after placement. A criteria often used is:

Minimum TT = MEPT + 1 hour ( 2 for some jobs, 1/2 hr for plug jobs)
MEPT = Maximum Estimated Job Placement Time
TT = Thickening Time
If the cement slurry will be batch-mixed, the surface retention time (time in the
batch mixer) needs to be added to the calculated minimum TT, but must be
simulated in the laboratory at the expected surface mixing temperature and
atmospheric pressure.

Maximum TT acceptable is normally two to three hours above the Minimum TT.
Longer maximum TTs may be acceptable provided compressive strength at the
top of the cement column is developed within field acceptable WOC times.

Free Fluid

Free fluid is an important cement slurry property related to slurry stability. It

should be measured as closely as possible to downhole conditions. The preferred
value for free fluid is zero, particularly for highly deviated wells, and particularly if
gas/brine migration after cementing is a risk. For nearly vertical holes, the
maximum allowed free fluid should be around 1.0%, provided gas/brine migration
is not a concern.

Cement Slurry and Spacer Fluid Settling Behavior

A very critical property of the cement slurry is its solids suspending ability, both
during and after placement, particularly for highly deviated and horizontal wells.
In these wells, solids in suspension have a much shorter settling path than they
would in a vertical well. Because solids can settle out of a slurry while being
pumped the cement slurry must have sufficient yield point at downhole conditions
to prevent dynamic settling. After placement, the slurry must suspend the solids
until it develops sufficient gel strength to support them while setting.

The same comments regarding solids suspension apply to spacer fluids. For
example, the spacer needs to suspend its solids statically to keep from grabbing
drillpipe during liner cementing.

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WOC Time

The waiting on cement (WOC) time is best determined using an Ultrasonic

Cement Analyzer (UCA). The UCA provides a nondestructive way to continuously
monitor compressive strength development under downhole temperature and

The test should also be conducted at the downhole T and P at the top of the
cement column.

The cement slurry should be pre-conditioned in a consistometer. The preferred

practice is to run UCA compressive strength tests at both bottom hole and at the
top of the cement column or top-of-liner conditions to determine the optimum time
to resume operations in the well. Normally, operations should not be resumed
until the cement has developed 500+ psi at the top of the column. It needs to be
remembered that the UCA obtains the compressive strength from correlations
based on the acoustic transit time of the cement. Often, it is found that the
compressive strength estimates of the UCA are conservative when compared with
destructive (crushed) compressive strength tests. However, the UCA estimate of
the time for initial set (~50 psi strength) is often quite accurate.

Cementing Equipment Selection

One of the important functions of the operating company engineer is to liaise with
the service company to make sure that job failures will not occur due to
equipment. Similarly, service company personnel on location need to be well
trained and experienced in the particular operation at hand, and if possible, with
the particular field conditions. Many jobs have gone wrong due to surface
equipment failures, and/or human errors, easily attributed to lack of experience of
the service company personnel.

Since it is imperative for the cement slurry going downhole to have the same
properties as the slurry designed in the laboratory, it is necessary for the slurry to
be mixed at the correct density. The old mixing device "the jet mixer" should no
longer be used to mix cement slurries. Modern mixing equipment with
re-circulating, automatic density control and/or the high shear batch-mixers
should be used instead.

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Once the mixing operation begins, the only control the operator has over the
cement slurry going downhole is the regulation of slurry density. The cement
slurry is designed to have an specific solids-to-water ratio. Deviations from this
ratio will affect the cement properties. Most slurries will entrain air during the
mixing operation. Chemicals are available that eliminate serious foaming but do
not always prevent the formation under shear of minute air bubbles. When a
slurry density measurement is made with a balance that weighs the slurry under
atmospheric pressure, these tiny air bubbles can cause an erroneous
measurement of the slurry density. The more accurate devices are those which
measure the slurry density under pressure (the pressurized mud balance).
Pressurized density measurements during the job should be made to validate the
accuracy of the radioactive densiometer or other continuous density
measurement device being used in the job.

Access and Application of Best Practices

Field application of industry best practices is essential to success. Many of the

"best" practices have been developed in the field, and then validated through
laboratory studies. Others have been obtained with the assistance of large scale
laboratory investigations, and successfully applied to the field.

It has been said that "one cannot apply what one does not know." In order to be
able to apply the best practices to the cement job at hand, the engineer needs to
have access to these procedures. One of the main goals of this manual is to
provide the bulk of the accepted industry wealth of cementing knowledge to the
engineer and field personnel. However, it will also be necessary for the interested
personnel to search the literature and to read many key papers written by industry
experts through the years, to help complete his/hers knowledge base. Some of
the industry available best practices include the following, many of which will be
treated in detail in other chapters of this manual:
• Slurry and spacer laboratory design optimization
• Cement and spacer dry and liquid blending
• Cement and spacer field mixing
• Job design optimization using computer simulators
• Equipment selection
• Hole conditioning
• Field techniques for mud displacement and slurry placement

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• Contingency planning
• Cement job post-analysis
• Cement job evaluation
• Cementing in particularly difficult situations:
- Deviated/horizontal/extended reach
- Cool environments
- Slim holes
- Deepwater
- Challenging muds
- Difficult formations: lost circulation, rubble, etc.
- Potential for gas or formation water flows
- Off-shore
- Remote locations

Knowledge of Pore Pressure and Fracture Pressure Data

A cement job cannot be properly designed without accurate information of the

pore- pressure, fracture-pressure profiles for the well (see Figure). As the well
gets deeper, a good understanding of the window of operation becomes even
more critical, since often the pore pressures and fracture pressures of the
formations penetrated are closer together (narrower window). In deeper sections,
it can become a real challenge to design the cementing operation such that the
job is performed without loosing returns (fracturing) or without the well flowing
during or after the cement job.

The challenge for the engineer is always to perform the cement job within the
safety window; making sure not to fracture the weaker formations, and not
allowing the well to flow. It is also important to make sure that the hydrostatic
head across the high pressure zones is higher than the pore pressures after the
cement job is completed (static). This is important particularly when flushes (low
density spacer fluids) are used ahead of cement. Computer programs are
available from service companies and operators that allow the safe optimization of
the job. Factors that are taken into account to safely design and execute the job
include the well configuration, the volumes and density of all the fluids, the
rheological properties of the fluids, and the flow rates to be used during the job.

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Figure 8: Pore Pressure-Fracture Pressure Profile

Knowledge of the Well temperatures.

The ability to estimate the temperatures experienced by slurries while cementing

is critical. Temperature is the most important variable affecting cement hydration,
and because of this, the need to accurately know the BHCT during primary
cementing operations is normally well recognized. One of the first design
parameters with any cement slurry design is placement time, which is governed
by the expected pumping rates and the estimated bottomhole circulating
temperature. The effect that different BHCTs may have on a given cement slurry
design is hard to predict since it varies with the type of additives, temperature
range, etc. However, in general, changes of 10°°F or above in either direction (+
or -) may cause some alterations to the design. Temperature changes of 20°°F or
more will likely force modifications in the slurry formulations (different additive
loadings, different additives, etc.)

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Circulating temperatures during actual cementing operations are difficult to

measure and predict because they are affected by many variables. Since
measurement of circulating temperatures while cementing is normally not done,
the oil industry has used for many years, other means to estimate wellbore
temperatures during cementing operations. Under Cementing Highly Deviated
and Horizontal Wells in this section of the manual we examined several
considerations regarding the estimation of well temperatures.

The most common way of estimating bottom hole circulating temperatures for a
well is the American Petroleum Institute (API) correlations. To estimate
bottomhole circulating temperatures, the American Petroleum Institute (API) has
used measurements of circulating temperatures near the lowest point of
circulation with drill pipe in the well, prior to coming out of the hole to run casing.

The API Subcommittee Committee 10 on Standardization of Well Cements has

served over four decades as the focal point for gathering temperature information
useful for cementing operations. Many of the data points used by the API came
from wells where the drilling fluid was circulated for a sufficiently long period of
time to allow the temperature in the wellbore to reach a near steady-state
condition. Standardized thickening time test schedules containing temperatures
for primary and remedial cementing operations have been prepared from these
data sets. The temperature data in API RP 10B have been used by the industry
for nearly two decades. However, be aware that temperatures for a given well
during cementing, or during circulation with mud, with casing in the hole may vary
(in some cases significantly) from the temperatures estimated by the API
correlations. This is because the correlations are really "averages" (with
associated errors) from all the available data. In addition, as indicated above, the
circulating temperatures developed by the API came from data collected with drill
pipe in the hole.

As mentioned under Cementing Highly Deviated and Horizontal Wells, the best
way to estimate the BHCT for critical wells is to actually measure it during a
cleanup trip using downhole tools provide by the service companies. The Figure
below shows one of the industry available temperature recorders. The tools have
been used in many wells to better estimate cementing temperatures.
Measurements from the tools can be used to fine-tune computer simulator
predictions to be able to estimate the entire temperature profile seen by the
cement slurry during the cementing operation.

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Figure 9: Downhole Temperature Recorder

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Knowledge of Policies and Regulatory Requirements

The US and other countries have regulations covering cementing operations. At

least 43 of the 50 US states have regulations controlling the drilling and
cementing of wells drilled for the production of oil or gas. These regulations
include aspects like depth of casing seats, strength of the cement (mainly for
surface casing), WOC time, volume of cement used, need to circulate cement to
the surface, plugging and squeezing requirements, etc.

For surface casings, the main emphasis of the regulations is the protection of
potable waters. Many states also require that mineral deposits be protected from
contamination with hydrocarbons. The Tables below lists regulatory bodies and
some of the requirements in the US.

Drilling offshore outside the US territorial waters is governed by the Mineral

Management Service of the Department of the Interior (MMS). Since regulations
and regulatory bodies change, it is very important that the current guidelines be
periodically reviewed to make sure drilling operations and cementing practices
follow the requirements established by each state and local bodies (city
ordinances, etc.)

More and more countries are developing regulations and guidelines for the
cementing of wells. The Table list several countries that have drilling and
cementing regulations. One part of the world that is working very hard to protect
the environment is the North Sea, particularly the Norwegian sector. This area is
basically a zero discharge zone, meaning that no materials can be dumped to the
sea from drilling platforms. All drilling materials (cuttings, residues from tank
washing, excess cement and cement additives, tank washing, etc.) are required to
be transported onshore and disposed off using environmentally safe and
approved methods. The use of only government approved or green label
chemicals and materials is becoming wide spread in many areas of the world.
Regulations for onshore locations are also becoming quite strict. For example,
even oil drippings from engines and bulk equipment need to be collected and
properly discharged in many onshore locations.

In those cases were local regulations are non-existing, the operator uses best
known practices and guidelines from other locations like the US to make sure that
fresh waters are properly protected, and that hydrocarbon zones are effectively
isolated during cementing and plugging operations.

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Regarding permanent plugging of zones and abandonment of wells, regulations

normally require the isolation, with cement plugs, of all potable waters, minerals
and hydrocarbon zones. Cement plugs are set either across the zones, or at
some length above and below the zones to create isolation in the wellbore. The
length of the cement plugs normally includes 50 feet above and below the interval
to be covered. Cement plugs are also required to cover all casing shoes, all
perforated intervals and any other questionable portion of the well that may
present potential for communication. Additionally, a cement plug of about 25 ft is
required right at the surface of the well. The previous section on Cement Plugs
discusses the topic of abandonment in a little more detail, and the Figure below
illustrates the typical location of abandonment cement plugs.

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Taken from the SPE Cementing Monograph, 1990

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Figure 10: Taken from the SPE CementingMonograph, 1990

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Figure 11: Taken From the SPE Cementing Monograph, 1990

The Importance of Planning

Detailed planning of cementing procedures from the initial well design stage to the
actual execution is an essential key to success. It can be said categorically that
the success or failure of the cementing operation will depend heavily on the effort,
depth and vigor dedicated to the planing process.

Planning is a time consuming, team effort. To assure a successful operation,

team effort is essential. The team must include:

• cementing service company specialists,

• mud company - the mud and its properties are crucial to the cement job
• operating company driling engineer in charge of the job,
• drilling contractor,
• equipment providers (casing jewelry, float equipment, stage tools, liner
hanger, etc.)
• geologist/geophysisist - a knowledge of the formation propeties is vital - eg,
pore/fracture pressure, permeability, reactivity, washouts.

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Communication and co-operation must be established very early among all

involved. All personnel must apply the best known cementing practices from the
start of planning. The team effort is also needed to handle all the quality control
measures required at each stage of the planning process and during the job.

At the Planning of the Well Stage

Detailed planning of all the expected cementing operations and cementing

contingencies (kick-off plugs, squeeze of casing shoes, etc.), must start with the
planning of the well itself. Since cementing is the most important operation
performed to provide a competent conduit of the hydrocarbons to the surface,
facilitation of the success of the cementing operations needs to be an integral part
of the planning. For example, selection of mud systems that can provide near
gauge holes must also be evaluated. Another aspect that can negatively affect
the potential for zone isolation is narrow annular clearances that make
centralization and cementing difficult, if not impossible.

All service company personnel must be consulted and made aware of the job
requirements at the very early stages of the well planning process. They need to
be allowed to provide input based on their expertise, and they need to be allowed
time to initiate recommendations and testing of preliminary slurry and spacer/flush

Service company personnel that needs to be involved early include drilling fluid
and cementing specialists and casing jewelry providers. They need to be talking
to each other and with the company drilling engineers and geologists. Questions
that need to be asked should included the logistics of the entire process. For
example, can we centralize this casing with these hole angles, and with this mud
in the hole? What problems can be expected, and what things can we adjust, or
change, at this stage to help assure cementing success?

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The following information needs to be shared. Much of it is normally included in

the well drilling plan:

• Well configuration: casing sizes and weights, hole /bit sizes, casing depths

• Project mud types, densities, expected rheologies

• Cement tops

• Expected well temperatures

• Proposed tail and filler slurries densities and column lengths

• Lithology information: formation types, strengths, etc.

• Pore pressure/fracture pressure profiles

• Expected times for drilling, proposed slurry and spacer designs and cement
job executions

Preliminary discussions with service company personnel need to be geared also

toward determining the information that may currently be questionable. For
example, the source of the estimated well temperatures must be examined to
make sure that the data are reliable and that they can be used for the well at
hand. Plans may need to be made to obtain the extra data. Responsibilities need
to be assigned to specific personnel to gather information. Preliminary computer
job simulations need to be initiated. These simulations need to be continuously
updated as better information is fed into the planning process.

While Drilling the Section

During drilling a section, a wealth of information is obtained that will potentially

affect the success of the cement job. For example, drilling fluid formulation and/or
density adjustments are normally needed during drilling. Higher pressures than
expected may be encountered, loses of mud may be experienced, sections of the
hole may tend to slough, logging runs give better information regarding actual well
temperatures, lithology, pore and fracture pressures, etc. This information needs
to be periodically passed to the cementing specialists, since this data may cause
changes in the design of the cementing fluids and spacer composition. Also, the
actual execution of the job may be impacted by the drilling data such as pumping
rates, pipe movement and centralization, volumes of fluids, etc. Fluid designs and
job computer simulations need to be revised/updated as the information from the
drilling is obtained.

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We said above that the planning process is a team effort. It is also a

dynamic/continuous/changing effort all the way to the job execution.

At the Cement Job Design Stage

As a particular cement job approaches, finalization of many details is needed. For

this, a more detailed look at the requirements of the operation is based on all the
information collected during drilling. Well temperatures are fine-tuned and fixed.
Slurry and spacer densities are finalised. Laboratory tests are performed and the
final formulations for the tail and lead slurry are decided on. Final testing is done
with the cement, additives and field water to be used on the job. Spacer design is
fine-tuned and final compatibility studies are done using a drilling fluid sample
from the well. Final bulk equipment (transports, pumps, batch mixers,
densiometers, data recorder, etc.) are cleaned, check for performance and
readied for the job. A decision is made as to when the cement will be blended,
and the way the blend will be laboratory tested for compliance with the design.
Confirmation is made with the float equipment and casing jewelry provider to
make sure the equipment will be ready and properly installed. If centralizers and
scratchers will be installed on the rack, arrangements are made for the installation
to begin as soon as the casing has been inspected and cleaned. Final decision is
made as to when the cement and other materials will be brought to location
Spotting of the equipment, and any other location related decisions (like location
of source of water, volume of water needed during the job and for washing,
disposition of excess cement, etc.) are finalized.

While Running Casing

Prior to running casing, planing meetings need to be held with all personnel
involved to make sure that the operation goes smoothly, preventing breaking
down of weak formations, and avoiding getting the casing stuck. Procedures for
casing movement during cementing are revised. Liner setting procedures and
contingencies are reviewed. A decision is made as to when the spacer and
cement slurry mixing operations will start.

Meetings are held going over the entire cementing operation, reviewing personnel
assignments, to make sure everyone knows exactly what their responsibilities are.
For example, who will be checking returns, personnel in charge of dropping plugs,
who will be taking the cement samples and checking the slurry and spacer
densities, etc.

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During casing running, running speeds need to be controlled and checked vs. the
computer simulations for surge and swab pressures. Responsibilities are
assigned to specific personnel to make sure the casing is run according to the
pre-calculated speeds, paying special attention once the casing starts below the
last casing shoe, and in particular as the casing approaches the bottom of the
hole. Line testing pressures are decided upon based on the expected job
pressures and the weakest pressure rating of the equipment (normally the
cementing head).

Planning for last minute contingencies is also done at this stage of the process.
“What if?” scenarios are constructed. For example, what will be done if the well
loses complete circulation once the casing is on bottom? What if the liner cannot
be set? What if we do not see the pressure blip when the dart picks up the liner
wiper plug? How much over-displacement (if any) will be pumped if the plug does
not bump, etc.

During and After the Cement Job

Once the job is in progress, hopefully all possible situations have been reviewed
and contingency plans are in place for any unexpected event. The job needs to
be performed exactly as planned (rates, volumes, etc.). and all the data collected
so that an effective post-analysis can be performed.

After the job, the previously discussed plan for material balance is put into effect.
Water volumes used are checked. Tanks are checked for leftover cement.
Cement bulk volumes used are checked vs. volumes pumped, etc. The job is
reviewed with all personnel involved, and discussions are conducted as to how
the job went vs. the expected pressures, etc.

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Common Cementing Problems


Understand some of the common problems associated with primary cementing

operations and how they might be avoided

One problem - failure to bump the top plug - manifests itself during the actual job.
Other problems are observed after the cementing operation, while testing the job
or during the life of the well. The severity and cost of these problem varies with
well type and location.

Failing to Bump the Top Plug

To minimize contamination of the cement slurry with the fluids ahead of it while
being pumped down the casing, a bottom plug is used ahead of the cement slurry.
Actually, it is now common practice to use several bottom plugs. For example, a
bottom plug is used in front of the spacer, and another in between the spacer and
the cement slurry. The first bottom plug pushes and wipes the drilling fluid from
the casing walls as it moves down the pipe. The second bottom plug separates
the fluids minimizing contamination, and also further wipes the casing. When the
bottom plug lands on the float collar, a differential pressure is generated and the
diaphragm or disk on top of the plug ruptures to allow the fluids to continue intto
the annulus.

Following the cement slurry, a top plug is used. This plug is solid, and also
minimizes contamination of the cement slurry, but the main function is to cause
and signal the termination of the cementing job by generating a pressure increase
when it lands on top of the bottom plugs. Based on the casing size and depth of
the float collar, a displacement volume to "bump the plug" is calculated. A few
barrels before the calculated displacement volume is reached, the pump rate is
slowed to make sure that the plug is not landed with excessive force causing
damage to the casing or surging weak zones in the annulus (hydraulic hammer

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On occasions, the plug does not bump at the calculated and pumped
displacement volume. Possible causes include:

• compressibility of the displacement fluid not included in calculations

• errors associated with the calculation of the displacement volume due to
casing actual volume somewhat different from the ‘book’ value
• air in lines between pumps and the well head
• assumptions about rig pump efficiency which lead to an over-estimation of
‘number of strokes to bump the plug’
• human errors during the monitoring of the volume being pumped
• mechanical problems or failure of the devices being used to measure the
volume (displacement tanks, pump efficiency, flow meters, etc.)

Occasionally, the plug may bump early (before the total calculated displacement
volume is pumped). This is clearly an indication of a serious human error or of a
mechanical problem as outlined above. For example, displacement volumes
have been calculated all the way to the shoe, instead of to the float collar.

The plug not bumping may, or may not, present a serious problem. If it is not
absolutely necessary for the plug to land, often the pumps are shut down after
pumping the calculated displacement volume and the cement slurry allowed to set
(WOC time). Another approach is to pump an extra one half the shoe-track
volume (casing volume between he float collar and the float shoe) to see if the
plug bumps. If not, again the pumps are shut down and the job terminated. This
last practice is more common with the large casing strings. With the smaller sizes
of casing, this approach needs to be used with extreme caution because of the
reduced capacity of the casings, and the great danger of over-displacing
(pumping displacement fluid around the shoe), causing what is called a "wet
shoe" situation. A wet shoe will require a cement squeeze operation of the casing

The end result of the top plug not bumping may be that more cement needs to be
drilled inside the casing before drilling ahead. This is not near as serious as
causing a wet shoe by over-displacing, so normally, under-displacement is

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There are situations, however, where it is necessary for the top plug to bump, for
example if an external casing packer needs to be inflated, or if a hydraulic stage
tool needs to be opened. In these cases the top plug not bumping can be a very
serious problem. For these cementing jobs, a pre-agreed procedure needs to be
on hand outlining actions to be taken. Obviously, calculations and metering
devices need to be checked and double checked to obtain the best possible
estimate and measurement of the displacement volume needed to bump the plug.

A good rig will keep records of calculated and actual pumped volumes to pump
plugs so that efficiencies can be confirmed and/or adjusted. Some callibration of
rig pumps can be done by pumping from one mud pit to another but this does not
take account of all the potential errors which can occur.

Lack of Zone Isolation - Cross Flow

Even when using the best procedures and practices in primary cementing, there
are occasions when zones are not fully isolated. There are many potential causes.

If isolation is inferred from cement logs (CBL/VDL, USIT, etc.), the analysis of the
logs must be complimented by a review of the job execution against the program
and expected behaviour before deciding that poor isolation exists. Many times
when the results of the analysis are not clear, the decision is made to produce the
well to see if communication manifests itself in the life of the well, rather than
endangering production by pumping cement (squeeze) near the productive

Factors which should be reviewed include:

• Mud properties

• Centralisation

• Displacement rates – planned and actual

• Returns during the job – downhole losses?

• Cement properties

• The density and volume pumped

• Spacer

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Sometimes during the life of the well, poor isolation becomes evident by the
observation of communication between zones. It can be noticed by the
production of water or gas from a nearby zone, or by noise logs detecting flow to a
depleted zone, etc. In these cases, isolation can be regained by performing
some type of repair procedure. The most common way to recapture zonal
isolation is by performing an squeeze cementing operations. Squeeze cementing
practices are discussed in detail in the Squeeze Cementing Manual.

Where cross flow exists in an open hole section prior to cementing – perhaps due
to an induced fracture and a loss and kick zone open simultaneously - every effort
should be made to cure this before running casing.

Annular Pressure

Sustained Annular Casing Pressure can be caused by several factors. One

obvious one is poor displacement of the drilling mud in the hole during cementing,
generating mud pockets and channels that eventually allow communication of
fluids to surface.

Another cause can be flow through a micro-annulus. Micro-annulus flow may

occur after the cement sheath is damaged during drilling out of the liner top, or
casing shoe, or by high pressure testing the casing after the cement has taken an
initial set (this may include when conducting a Leak Off Test). Similar effects can
occur if the cement is displaced with heavy kill weight mud and then a light weight
completion brine is used. It has been shown in the literature that testing the
casing with pressure differentials of 4,000 psi and above over the differential that
existed in the well when the cement set up, will cause damage to normal cement
formulations. Extreme temperature changes during production can also cause
damage to the cement sheath, particularly if coupled with fluid density changes.

In many producing wells this pressure is routinely bled-off and is not a major
problem – high pressure, but small volume. In other wells it can be a serious
problem requiring difficult and expensive intervention.

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Certain cement formulations (e.g. foamed systems) resist extreme pressure

differentials and temperature changes better than others. If a conventional
density cement is being used, one possible way to minimize damage during
testing and drilling is to make sure the cement has had plenty of time to develop
most of its ultimate strength before resuming operations. To ensure that the
cement has developed sufficient compressive strength, accurate temperature
data must be available when conducting compressive strength tests in the
laboratory. When drilling highly deviated or horizontal wells, the determination of
well temperatures can be much more difficult than for vertical wells. In addition,
offshore, the temperatures will be affected by water depth, sea currents and other
factors. Care must be taken to ensure that the cement has cured sufficiently
before drilling out the liner top or casing shoe, or testing the casing. The cost of
the additional WOC time will not be as significant as the cost of trying to repair and
seal a cement sheath that has been damaged because of premature resumption
of operations on the rig.

Annular surface pressure is not an uncommon problem. The U.S. Department of

the Interior, Minerals Management Service (MMS) has stated that, of the 14,000
producing wells offshore; some 11,000 exhibit sustained annular casing pressure.
It may be noticed days, weeks, months or even years after the primary cement
job. Fixing the problem is normally not an easy task since it is very hard, if not
impossible, to pump even water down the annulus. In cases where it is possible
to pump, several materials can be used to remedy the situation. For example,
micro-fine cement and polymeric systems. The polymer formulations can be
mixed at viscosities near that of water, but harden or greatly viscosify once in
place. It has also been reported in some cases, that loading (lubricating) the
micro-channels with water (pumping slowly until the channels are filled) has
mitigated sustained surface gas pressure.

If it is impossible to pump down the annulus, it may be necessary to identify the

source of the gas, and perforate the well to cause a seal across and/or above and
below the source. This repair method causes production shut-down, and is
normally deferred until abandonment.

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Low Leak-Off Test (LOT)

The Leak-Off Test is used to make sure that the casing shoe is capable of
preventing communication behind the casing, and that it will withstand the higher
mud densities needed to drill ahead. Casing seats are selected such that the
casing shoe will be cemented across a competent formation. A good prognosis of
the fracture gradient at the section TD is normally available and there may be
offset wells with recorded LOT data to act as a guide.

When the LOT is low (i.e. leak-off occurs below the expected equivalent mud
density), several factors may be the cause:
• Contaminated cement around the shoe. For example, over-displacing the
top plug may cause a "wet shoe" or, in the case of no bottom plug and a
short shoe-track, mud film pushed ahead of the top plug.
• Long rat-hole below the casing may cause excessive contamination of the
cement around the shoe – perhaps after the job but while still fluid. The
cement falls through lighter mud which then channels upwards
• Lack of centralisation at the shoe and a mud channel as a result

In these cases, communication behind the casing may be taking place. This
problem is resolved by performing a squeeze job of the casing shoe. This type of
repair, when conducted correctly, is normally quite successful – but time
consuming. Ever effort should be made to assess the reason(s) for the low LOT
before performing a squeeze.

It is also possible that the formations around the shoe (or exposed when drilling
the shoe) are not as competent as expected. This is a much more serious
problem since squeeze cementing will not solve the problem.

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Top-of-Cement Lower than Required

Cement tops (TOC) can be roughly estimated after the cement job by
back-calculating from the end-pressure of the job – low rate just before bumping
the plug. More accurate estimation of the cement tops can be obtained from
cement bond logs (CBLs) and/or temperature logs run within 24 to 36 hours of the
job. If the top of cement is lower than needed, several things may have caused
this. The more obvious one is not enough cement slurry used during the job. This
may have been caused by human error or by a greater than estimated hole
washout. Lost circulation during the job or cement fallback after the job may also
cause cement tops lower than expected.

For the conductor or surface casing, low top of cement is normally solved by using
spaghetti string or small tubing to do a ‘top-up’ job. For deeper casing strings, a
circulation squeeze job may be needed to circulate cement above the current
cement top. Depending on well conditions, cement may be circulated taking
returns from the annulus at the surface from a set of perforations just above the
cement top, or two sets of perforations may be needed for the circulation squeeze

Soft Kick Off Plugs

Soft kick off plugs can prevent sidetracking of the well. Several factors can
contribute to this problem, but the key cause is contamination of the cement slurry
during placement or after the plug is placed (plug migration due to density

Selection of the cement slurry formulation is very important for kick off plugs.
Normally the cement is required to develop high levels of strength to allow
sidetracking. Often the cement is expected to develop higher strength that the
surrounding formations (of course, this is not always possible). Therefore, kick off
cement slurries need to be resistant to contamination with the wellbore fluids.
Because of this, densified cement slurries (low water concentrations and densities
of up to 17.5 lb/gal without the use of heavy weight additives) are often used.
These systems tend to resist contamination by developing good levels of
compressive strength even when mixed with some mud systems. In all cases,
contamination tests need to be conducted in the lab with the particular drilling fluid
in the hole and the selected slurry formulation and adjustments made as needed.

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Figure 12: Example of the Effect of a Water Base Mud Contamination on the 12
hrs Compressive Strength Development of Cement Slurries Cured at 230°F
Percent Mud Cement Slurry Density
on 15.6 lb/gal 17.4 lb/gal

0 2910 7010

10 2530 5005

30 1400 2910

60 340 2315

The need to use densified (low water ratio, heavy density cement slurries)
complicates the placement of the kick-off plugs because heavier cement slurry
tends to swap places with the lighter mud in the hole. Therefore, the best plug
placement practices need to be used to protect the cement slurry from levels of
contamination that would prevent sidetracking. This will often involve spotting
some very viscous mud or using a mechanical device to give the plug something
to ‘sit on’.

Kick-off cement plugs are normally allowed to harden for 12 to 24 hours. When
testing the plug, drill pipe with a bit is run in the hole and the plug is tagged and
weight is applied. The time required to drill or dress off the top of the plug is used
as one of the means to judge the quality of the plug. A good kick off plug may drill
at a rate of around 20 to 30 ft/hr with a medium tooth rock bit and weight on bit
(WOB) of around 1000 lb/in of bit diameter and around 50 rpm. When drilling a
hard kick off plug, the cuttings should be sharp and angular.

If the kick off plug is too soft for sidetracking, the normal procedure is to drill or
wash to a point low enough to allow setting of another plug, and the plug
placement procedure repeated. Often the second plug will work because the first
one contributes to forming a base that minimizes migration of the second cement

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Liner Tops that Fail Pressure Tests

Good cement jobs on liners often carry a higher risk of failure than a primary
casing job.

Among the risk factors are:

• they are normally deeper jobs with issues of temperature estimation and
slurry design
• more complex downhole equipment that may fail to work properly
• annular clearances are normally small
• liners are hard to centralize,
• pipe movement during the jobs may be limited
• cement volumes are relatively small

Sometimes liner cementing operations are further complicated by partial, or total,

loss of circulation during the jobs. These losses are commonly caused by
excessive equivalent circulating densities (ECD) across weak formations due to
tight annular clearances across the open hole and in the overlap, and possibly by
bridging of solids and/or drilling fluid filtercake across tight liner lap areas. Major
flow restrictions are often found at the liner tops due to reductions in flow area
around liner hangers and polished bore receptacles (PBR).

Liner tops are tested using positive, negative or positive and negative differential
pressures, depending on the well requirements. When the liner top fails a
pressure test, this is normally a serious problem because, similarly to the situation
of annular surface pressure after the cement job, it is very hard to impossible to
pump into liner overlaps. A mechanical packer may be the best option.

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Several factors can contribute to failed cement jobs across liner tops (overlaps).
A field survey conducted by a major oil company suggested the following possible
causes of leaky liner tops:

• Poor cement placement (channeling) around the liner in the overlap due to
poor liner centralization, lack of pipe movement, poor spacer design, etc.

• Poor cement placement around the liner in the overlap caused by tight clear-

• Lost Circulation during cementing due to excessive pressures ECDs, bridg-

ing of the liner lap, etc.

• Not enough overlap (300 - 500 ft needed based on field experiences).

• Contaminated cement in the overlap caused by not using enough cement on

top of the liner, lack of centralization, improper spacer design, etc. Should
aim for 500ft of cement ontop of the liner.

• Immobile solids beds accumulated in the overlap due to tight clearances,

and the aggravating presence of flow restrictions caused by the presence of
liner hangers, and polished bore receptacles (PBRs).

• Immobile solids beds accumulated in the overlap generated by well inclina-


• Poor cement slurry design: over-retarded slurry, not using a gas migration
control slurry, slurry settling, etc.

• Not waiting on cement long enough for the cement to get a good set at the
top of the liner.

• Swabbing of the liner top, by using poorly planned well operations after the
job, before the cement is set.

• High pressure testing of the casing after the cement is set, damaging the
cement sheath in the overlap, etc.

Leaky liner tops may be repaired from the top if the overlap is capable of taking
fluid. If not, perforating below the overlap or across the offending zone may be
needed to shut off the source of the flow. A liner top packer would be a more
common solution.

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Less Common Cementing Problems

Flow After Cementing

Gas/water migration after cementing has been recognized as a problem in the oil
industry for decades. Much work has been done to investigate the causes and
possible solutions to this problem. Reduced hydrostatic head, particularly in tight
fracture-pressure/pore-pressure situations and in highly deviated/horizontal holes,
can make formation fluid migration control critical. A concise summary of the
potential causes of migration is given below.

Types of Gas Migration

It is generally accepted that gas migration can occur through three basic
mechanisms. Proper identification of the potential gas migration path in a given
well is critical in devising a plan to prevent the problem from recurring in future

• Gas flow through mud channels and the mud cake-formation interface

• Gas flow through microannulus and damaged cement sheath

• Gas flow through unset (but setting) cement

Gas Flow Through Mud Channels and the Mudcake-Formation Interface

Gas flow through mud channels, which is sometimes referred to as long-term gas
migration, occurs because of the following: Cement is pumped in place and the
slurry gels, and then sets. During the setting process, the cement may go through
a small amount of plastic-state shrinkage and/or may take water from any thick
mud filtercake left against the permeability, or from bypassed mud (a mud
channel), weakening and shrinking the filtercake. When this occurs, micro-cracks
providing a flow path for gas migration may form between the cement and the
mud filtercake or mud pockets. This problem appears in cases where the mud
cake is relatively thick and/or when there is poor mud displacement. As gas flows
through these micro-cracks, it begins to dehydrate the moist mud filtercake or
mud pocket. As this dehydration continues, the crack gets wider, which allows
more gas, which causes the crack to widen, and so on.

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Figure 13: Example of Potential Gas Migration

Through Mud Channels

As gas flows through the channel, it can communicate up the annulus. Typically,
this gas is not seen at the surface for several days, weeks, or even months.

Gas Flow Through Microannulus (Pipe Interface) and Damaged Cement Sheath

We already briefly discussed this micro-annular mechanism of flow when we

talked about the sustained surface annular pressure problem. This mechanism
can also cause inter-zonal communication down hole.

Formation Fluids Flow Through Unset Cement

Flow through unset cement has been studied extensively, and many publications
have been written. This type of migration occurs when the overbalance pressure
is lost in a cemented annulus before the cement sets (or develops enough gel
strength to prevent invasion). The loss of hydrostatic pressure in a cemented
annulus before the cement actually sets has been well documented and is
illustrated in the following figure.

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C em ent C em ent C em ent C em ent

F lu id G e ls S e ts H a rd e n s

Hydrostatic Pressure
O v e rb a la n c e
P re s s u re
F o rm a tio n G a s P re s s u re

T im e
Figure 14: Loss of Overbalance Pressure in a Cemented Annulus

The loss of hydrostatic (overbalance) pressure is caused by the combined effects

of static gel strength (SGS) development and volume losses (primarily caused by
fluid loss from the cement slurry to permeable zones). As the cement gels, it can
support some of the hydrostatic (overbalance) load and it becomes
self-supporting. When the overbalance pressure is reduced due to cement
gellation to the point that the pressure in the cement column is nearly equal to the
formation pore pressure, formation fluids can invade the unset cement annulus.
The buoyant force on the gas bubbles in the annulus can cause the bubbles to
coalesce and to percolate up the cement column (gas migration). If sufficient
volume of gas percolates up the annulus, a permanent channel (or series of
channels or micro-channels) can form and remain in the set cement. The cement
can then exhibit a high permeability.

Transition Time

Laboratory research has suggested that gas can percolate through unset cement
until the cement reaches a “safe” static gel strength (SSGS) of about 500 lb/100
ft2. After the cement reaches 500 lb/100 ft2 (Some experts use a minimum of
1,000+ lb/100 ft2), it is too thick for gas bubbles to percolate through.

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No Gas flow
Static Gel Strength (lb/100 ft 2)


Gas Flow


0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90

Time (min)
Figure 15: Gas Flow in Cement vs. Static Gel Strength

Beyond 500 - 1,000+ lb/100 ft2 (or some other high value), gas migration through
the unset cement can no longer occur. The time it takes for the cement to gel
from 100 to 500 lb/100 ft2 has been defined by a service company as the
Transition Time of the cement. A better definition of "Transition Time" is the time
from the start of development of gel strength (the point when the cement stops
transmitting 100% of the hydrostatic head above it) to the time it has developed
1,000+ lb/100 ft2 of gel strength.

Before the industry had developed an understanding of the causes of gas

migration, and before cement slurries were developed that can help control the
flow, serious problems were encountered. Cases of blow-outs and fires are well
documented in the literature. Nowadays the situation is much less common.
When migration after cementing occurs, it is generally because the cementing
operation was not well designed, or executed, or the potential for migration after
the job was not correctly diagnosed. In all cases of gas or water migration after
cementing, repair normally consists of determining the location of the source of
the gas or water, and perforating and squeezing to seal off the offending zone.

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Cement "Flash Setting"

The so-called "flash setting" of cement slurries during pumping implies a sudden
and rapid setting. Normally, cement slurries do not flash set. A cement slurry
flash set would be apparent from an unexpected, very fast and large increase in
pumping pressure, leading to a premature termination of the cement job. Some
cement slurry formulations known as "right-angle set" cements do set very quickly
and go from a pumpable liquid to an extremely gelled, or set, state is just a few
minutes. However, like any other cement slurry, these cement slurries are
normally in place before the slurry gets to the point to where it right angle sets. An
exception may be if the cement has be designed at a much lower temperature
than experienced in the well or is pumped at a higher density than lab tested. Or, if
the slurry was pumped (say) without the retarder.

There are, nonetheless, some situations that seem as if the slurry has
experienced a flash set. They include cases of contamination of the Portland
cement slurry with materials that tend to cause severe chemical reactions with the
slurry. For example, calcium aluminate cements have been used in some wells
for reasons including very high temperature applications (e.g. steam floods). On
occasions, Portland cement slurries have been used ahead or behind the calcium
aluminate cements. It has happened that the two types of cement slurries have
come in contact in the wellbore. This mutual contamination of the slurries has
caused a flash set at the contaminated interface. Also, Portland-with-gypsum
cement slurries, if incorrectly used at high temperatures, may also set very
quickly. Finally, slurries formulated without fluid loss control, pumped in tight
annuli, across highly permeable zones may dehydrate suddenly, abruptly causing
the formation of a bridge of dehydrated cement solids across the permeable
zones. This, at the surface, would again look as if the cement suffered a flash set.

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Roles and Responsibilities

• Understand the roles and responsibilities of those who contribute to a suc-
cessful job.
• Understand the need for a multi disciplinary approach to achieve the opti-
mum job.

The Well design

Cementing is the one of the most important operations performed in well

construction. In exploration/appraisal it can be vital to achieving the objectives
with the minimum NPT and cost. In a development, the wells may never produce
to their full capacity without good zonal isolation.

Company personnel have a responsibility to coordinate the planning and ensure

that cementing considerations are addressed at all stages of the decision-making
process. Decisions made during the planning of the well can substantially impact
the ability to achieve cementing success. Examples are:
• do we really expect to be able to cement a very long string without losses
into productive but weak zones?
• Will the presence of washouts prevent properly centralizing and cementing
above and below the productive zones?
• Do we need to under-ream, or do we expect to get a good cement across the
pay with only 3/8 inch clearance across 1,000 ft of liner?

Answers to these, and other questions that affect productivity, will directly
influence the final construction of the well.

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Planning a cementing program

• The specific objectives of the cement job need to be clearly defined and
understood by all involved in the planning and execution of the operation.
For example, the cementing objectives for the surface casing to protect
potable water zones will be quite different from the objectives of an inter-
mediate casing that runs across zones with no potential for production. It is
the obligation of the operator’s personnel to clearly and unambiguously
transmit these objectives to the service company. It is the responsibility of
the service company representative to make sure that the cementing
objectives are always kept in mind while designing the cement slurry,
spacer systems and the cementing procedures to be used.
• Clearly define the objectives
• Communicate them
• Check understanding, particularly the relative importance of the various
• Identify and manage risks
• Control costs
• Monitor and document changes

Clearly defined cementing objectives facilitate the design of the operation and
facilitate the post-job evaluation. Success, or failure, of the job will therefore not
be based only on bumping the plug, or not having mechanical problems during the
job, but on meeting the previously established and agreed objectives. Below are
a few examples of possible cementing objectives for a couple of casing strings.

Cementing Objectives and Acceptance Criteria for the Surface Casing:

• Bring competent cement to the mud line (ML) to provide adequate struc-
tural support for the well.
• Isolate the potential loss circulation zone in the XYZ formation from +/- 225
to 255 meters from the rotary table (RT).
• Minimize WOC time to drill ahead.
• Avoid loss circulation and/or cement fallback.
• Obtain a competent casing shoe, confirmed by a leak off test (LOT), of not
less than 10.5 lb./gal to allow drilling to the next casing point.
• Prevent shallow gas flow after cementing.
• Cementing Objectives and Acceptance Criteria for the Production Liner:
• Obtain a competent liner top seal, tested under positive and negative pres-
sure (differentials to be selected later).

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• Obtain good mud displacement efficiency and no channelling during the

job, confirmed by comparing job recording (pressures, returns, etc.) vs.
expected (simulated) behavior, and the location of the top of cement on top
of the liner.
• Experience no lost circulation while cementing, preventing damage to the
productive zones.
• Minimize fluid loss to permeability from the cement slurry, preventing dam-
age to the sensitive productive zones.
• Obtain isolation of all permeable hydrocarbon intervals.
• No flow after cementing.

As the cementing job approaches, the cementing objectives for each casing string
need to be reviewed, refined and updated, based on all the information gained
during the drilling of the particular hole section.

In addition, to defining objectives, major risks to achieving these should be

identified and mitigation plans developed. Management of risk and control of
costs should be evident in the approaches adopted.

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Information Needed by the Service Company

The service company representative needs to have, in addition to the clearly

defined objectives for each casing string, all the relevant information about the
well to be able to deliver a good design and execution plan of the cementing job.
It can be a serious mistake to hold important and needed information from the
service company representative. Tight hole status is no excuse to withhold
information, and secrecy agreements can be used to protect the information. The
service company cannot address important cementing issues if he, or she, is not
aware of the location of the pay zones, pore pressures, etc. The following is the
minimum needed by the service company representative. For specific situations,
this may be extended,

Well configuration: casing sizes, grades and weights, hole /bit sizes, casing
• Well trajectory
• Drilling Rig details
• Mud types, densities, expected rheologies
• Required tops of cement (TOC’s)
• Expected well temperatures – static, undisturbed geothermal temperature
• Provisional tail and filler slurries densities and column lengths
• Lithology information: formation types, strengths, etc.
• Pore pressure/fracture pressure profile
• Potential loss and kick zones
• Anticipated drilling time curve
• Offset data, experiences, reports
• Any preconceptions about job type (e.g. inner string) or slurry, spacer
design or job approaches (special equipment)

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The Cementing Program

The cementing program is normally a part of the well Drilling Program and
contains details of the likely cementing jobs and the planned TOC‘s. This
document may not outline in detail how the objectives will be achieved.

A detailed cementing program will be prepared by the cementing service

company. This will include details of all slurry designs, spacers, pumping
schedules, materials quantities and costs. It should include recommendations for
all aspects which will have an impact on acieving the objectives. It should, for
instance, include recommendations for centralization and displacement rates.

Generation of a complete and effective cementing program is a team effort with

active participation of operator and service provider personnel (drilling engineer,
geologist, mud engineer, downhole equipment supplier, etc.). Again, as more
information is obtained as drilling progresses, the cementing program must to be
reviewed, refined and updated.

Below is a list of items that need to be part of the detailed cementing program.
• Well diagram including proposed depths, casing and hole sizes, casing
weights, MD & TVDs.
• Drilling fluids information: types, densities, rheologies, etc. Often, these
sections are left partially blank until the detailed interaction with the service
company representatives has taken place.
• Available well temperatures data and source (offset wells or from correla-
tions, etc.)
• Fracture pressure, pore pressure data vs. depth.
• Offset well information (when available) detailing problems experienced
during drilling and cementing. Presence of high pressure zones, lost circu-
lation, etc.
• Information on the lithology for the specific well:
• zones of potential loss circulation
• weak zones that may washout
• hole instability sections
• high pressure zones with potential for flow after cementing, etc.
• Cementing job objectives and acceptance criteria for each contingency
casing string.
• Methods to be used to test/evaluate each cement job.
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• Mud conditioning procedures.

• Casing running speeds.
• Details of casing hardware (jewelry) to be used. Number and placement.
Often to start with, these sections are left almost blank until the detailed
interaction with the service company representatives has taken place.
• Details of each cement job procedure including the contingency jobs.
Often to start with, these sections are left almost blank until the detailed
interaction with the service company representatives has taken place.
• Details of the cement slurries and spacer systems proposed: density, vol-
umes, fluid loss requirements, WOC times, cement tops, etc. Often to start
with, these sections are left almost blank until the detailed interaction with
the service company representatives has taken place.

The interaction with the Other Service Providers

In addition to the cementing service company, drilling fluid, casing hardware, rig
contractor (offshore rigs bulk system & delivery) and logging personnel need to be
included and consulted on items that require their expertise. For example, the
cementing company representative needs to actively interact with the drilling fluid
specialist and the operator’s drilling engineer to make sure the selected mud
system will be optimised to facilitate the cementing operations. Likewise,
consultation with the providers of hardware is needed to make sure the best
equipment is being used for the given application. Their help is needed to
simulate centralization and running of the casing (torque and drag forces)
particularly in deviated and extended reach wells. Logging specialists need to be
aware of the type of cement systems to be used, to make sure that cementing
logs are run and interpreted correctly, etc. This is particularly true when
lightweight, high quality slurries are used.

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Cement Job Evaluation

Several methods used to evaluate cement jobs. These include:

• Leak-off tests and Formation Integrity Tests – LOT/FIT

• Acoustic logs – CBL/VDL, USIT, etc
• Temperature logs
• Final pump pressure – to estimate TOC
• Job execution record analysis (pump pressure, fluid density & flow rate)
• Leak Off Test (LOT) and Formation Integrity Test (FIT)

After the cement is fully set, the shoe track and about 10 to 15 ft of open hole are
drilled is preparation for a LOT or a FIT. The tests are performed to determine if
the casing shoe job and the exposed formation are competent enough to support
the increased mud densities needed to drill ahead to higher pressure zones (plus
a safety factor to provide for protection in case of a kick). The LOT and the FIT
tests are basically the same, but the LOT carries the pressure increase to the
fracture point of the formation, while the FIT brings the pressure to a given point
needed to drill ahead, without necessarily fracturing the formation.

Figure 16: Illustration taken from the Applied Drilling Engineering SPE textbook
series. Vol. 2

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To conduct the tests, the mud in the casing is conditioned or displaced to new
mud for the next section. The casing is closed at the surface (BOPs) and a good
quality, low fluid loss drilling fluid is pumped down the well at a fixed slow rate,
normally about 1/4 bpm, until the desired pressure is obtained or the well starts to
take fluid, noticed by a departure in the observed pressure trend. The surface
pressure and the volume of fluid pumped are recorded and plotted on Cartesian
paper as the test is performed. The Figure illustrates the process. Once the
desired pressure is obtained, or the well starts to take fluid, the pump is stopped
and the pressure observed and recorded for 10 to 20 minutes. If the casing was
tested before drilling the shoe track, the line of pressure vs. volume pumped
should be plotted on the same graph. In the figure, the dashed line was plotted
based on anticipated results from previous tests (expected behavior). This line
and the casing pressure test line can be of great help when conducting and
interpreting the LOT or FIT.

As illustrated in the figure, the pressure vs. volume tends to fall on a near straight
line. Point D, near the start of the test, can be used to estimate the mud's gel
strength development (resistant to initiate movement of the fluid). Likewise, the
slope of the early portion of the line can be estimated from the compressibility of
the drilling fluid, or the early measured slope can be used to estimate the
compressibility of the mud.

For a good FIT, when the pump is stopped, the last pressure point should fall on
the straight line. For a LOT, a point is reached (point A on the graph) where the
data departs from the straight line behavior. At that point, the formation (or the
weak cement job) starts taking fluid. The pressure at point A is known as the leak
off pressure. Pumping is continued at the same constant pump rate after reaching
point A, to make sure that leak off is actually taking place. After a while (point B),
the pump is shutdown to observe the pressure decline.

As a rule of thumb, about 0.6 barrels of a 9 lb/gal water base mud is required to
increase the surface pressure by 1000 psi for every 1000 ft of a 13-3/8 in. casing.
Values for other casing sizes are given in the Table below. For example, if 13-3/8
in. casing is set at 7000 ft, it should require about 8.4 bbls of mud after all the
compressibility and slack have been removed from the system, if a surface
pressure of 2000 psi is desired for a FIT. This test would require about 34 minutes
if pumping at 1/4 bpm.

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Figure 17: Pressure Increase vs. Volume Pumped. Low Density Water Base

Casing, in bbl/1000 ft/ 1000 psi

13-3/8 0.60

10-¾ 0.40

9-5/8 0.32

7 0.16

If a good LOT or FIT is obtained, drilling continues. If not, and the cause is a
faulty cement job, a squeeze job may be performed to repair the shoe,. If the
cause of the problem is the formation (weaker than anticipated and incapable of
supporting the needed mud densities), normally a squeeze job will only
temporarily solve the problem. In extreme cases, a drilling liner may need to be
run and cemented to isolate the weak shoe.

Temperature Survey

Cements, when they set, generate energy, or heat of hydration, due exothermic
chemical reactions. The temperature increase thus caused can be used to locate
top of cement (TOC) by conducting a temperature survey before the heat is
dissipated into the surrounding formation. To obtain the best determination of the
cement top, the survey must be conducted around the time of maximum
temperature increase.

This maximum temperature increase is generated at around the time that the
cement develops its final set. One rule of thumb is that the maximum heat
generation takes place at a time approximately equal to the time needed for the
cement to thicken under downhole conditions multiplied by a factor of 2. For
example, if the thickening time of a slurry is 2-1/2 hours, then the temperature
survey should be run at about 5 hours after bumping the top plug. This rule of
thumb is not 100% since it needs to be remembered that for long cement
columns, the top of the cement column normally sees lower temperatures than the
BHCT. Thus, it is not unusual to have to re-run the temperature survey again if
the initial run fails to detect the cement top. On the other hand, if one waits too
long, the temperature surge may dissipate and the cement top may not be

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A better rule of thumb is to run the temperature survey at the time when it is
expected that cement top has developed an early compressive strength of about
50 to 100 psi. This places the emphasis on the behavior of the cement at the top
of the column. Laboratory data from the Ultrasonic Cement Analyzer (UCA) at the
conditions of the top of the cement column are needed in this case. In any case,
if the top of the cement is not clearly observed from the temperature survey,
waiting a few more hours and re-running the survey often yields a good cement

A big disadvantages is the time delay required.

Acoustic Logs

The evaluation of the quality of cement behind pipe after the cement has set is
one of the most difficult operations on the well. The problem is caused by the fact
that the current tools and interpretative methods are not accurate, and are subject
to a great deal of individual interpretation of the data generated. This had lead to
many myths, misconceptions and misuses of the instruments and methods
available in the industry. Here we will not discuss how to run or interpret a sonic
or ultrasonic log. That belongs in the Cement Evaluation Course. Instead, we will
review the proper way to make use of the logs as a tool to help evaluate the
cement job.

The above difficulties with the currently available technology has generated
different approaches to the evaluation of cement jobs. On one hand, some in the
industry use the data generated by sonic or ultrasonic logs exclusively to evaluate
the cement quality, without examining other important and relevant data. Others
do not believe in the tools at all and do not run them. The best approach is, of
course, somewhere in between the two extremes.

The proper evaluation of the quality of a cement job should include sonic and
ultrasonic logs, in addition to the examination of all the other information available
to the engineer. The cement job evaluation approach described below includes
the analysis of the data from all the different sources. These sources include the
open hole log data, the actual cement job execution and performance, the
formulation and properties of the cement used in the job, and the data from the
sonic and ultrasonic logs. Each of these sets of information needs serious

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consideration to increase the chances of performing an accurate evaluation of the

job. In addition, the following data must be available:

• Open hole caliper ( preferred four/six arm caliper)

• On-site data from the cement job, including pressures, rates and densities
• Simulation of the expected behavior of the job

Best Cementing Practices

The first question to ask when attempting to evaluate the quality of the cement
job is,

• was a serious effort made to use best cementing practices during the plan-
ning and execution?

If the answer is ‘no’, then there is a good chance that the job did not produced
good results, and this lack of attention to good practices may point, along with
other pieces of the puzzle, toward a possible bad job. When investigating the use
of best cementing practices, several issues need to be examined. For example:

Hole Conditioning and Displacement Procedures: The application of good

hole conditioning procedures and mud displacement practices is essential to the
success. The actual use of these techniques varies with well conditions. If good
procedures were used, this should imply a likely good job.

Proper use of Spacers: The job record should show that quality spacer systems
and proper spacer volumes were used. Lab data should indicate good
compatibility with the cement slurry, the spacer and the actual location mud. If an
oil based mud was used to drill the hole, the spacer should have been tested for
it’s ability to water-wet surfaces. If all of this was done, this should suggest the
potential for good cement job.

Use of Cementing Plugs: A bottom plug ahead of the cement slurry should have
been used. Another bottom plug ahead of the spacer would indicate that a good
effort to minimize contamination of the fluids in the casing was made. No use of
bottom plugs points to possible contamination of the fluids in the casing. The
bigger the casing ID, the greater the chances of contamination of the cement
slurry while going down the pipe.

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Casing Centralization: The centralization program should have been designed

with a computer simulator, particularly for deviated wells, dogleg situations,
extended reach, etc. Proper centralizer equipment should have been used.
Centralization should have been designed for a minimum of 80% or better. If all
the centralizers were actually run, that would indicate the potential for a good
cement job. If the pipe was not centralized, a very poor cement job is the likely

Use of Erodibility Technology: To remove the partially dehydrated-gelled mud

against the permeability, were the spacer and job rates designed and executed
with that purpose in mind? If the answer is ‘yes’, that points to the potential for a
good job

Pipe Movement, Use of Wire loop Scratchers, etc.: If other best cementing
practices were also applied, for example, if the pipe was moved during mud
conditioning and during the cement job, and even better, if wire loop scratchers
were used to removed the gelled mud against the permeability, that should have
helped obtaining a good job.

Post-Job Information

Cement top: If, after considering the actual cement slurry volumes pumped, and
with the help of an accurate caliper log, the cement top is found (with the sonic
logs, using back calculation from the final job pressure and/or with temperature
log) at about the expected depth, this again suggests a good cement job. On the
other hand, if the cement top is significantly higher than it should be, it is probable
that channeling occurred, suggesting a bad job. If the cement top is lower than
calculated, this may confirm a loss circulation problem that would be verifiable
using the record from the job pressures data.

Evaluation of the Recorded Job Data

Current onsite data recording technology allows a complete record of the

cementing operation to be obtained and displayed during the job. The record
includes density of the fluids pumped, surface pressures and pumping flow rates.
If the rate of returns is being measured, the record can also include that
information. After the job, all the recorded data needs to be evaluated in detail.

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Job pressure behavior: The analysis of the surface pressure signature can help
determine if the job went well without loss circulation, channeling or inflow. It can
also indicate if restrictions were present during the job. The correct analysis of the
data includes comparing the record to the predicted values and trends, the onset
and end of free-fall, etc.

Density record: This record should be used to check if all the fluids were pumped
at the designed densities. Cement slurry properties can be drastically altered if
the mixed density is not within the design requirements. Normally, the cement
slurry needs to be mixed at the desired density +/- 0.1 lb/gal.

Other problems experienced during the cement job: The recorded data and
the comments from personnel on the job, should be used to decide if other
problems occurred during the mixing and execution of the operation. For example,
problems with quantity and quality of the water getting to the mixing equipment,
excessive amounts of cuttings and debris coming in the returns, pipe tendency to
sticking, etc.

Data from logging tools

All these sets of data and information can only point to the possibility of a good, or
bad, cement job. The information must be used with data from logging tools to
come to an informed decision about the quality of the job. On the other hand, the
cement evaluation logs are the only tools run to try to actually "measure" the
condition of the cement behind pipe. Again, the reason for the necessity to look at
all the data available is that the cement logging tools are not accurate, and are
subject to individual interpretation. Other limitations of the tools will be discussed

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Tools Available

Sonic bond tools: These tools have the capability of "measuring" the bond of the
cement to the casing and the bond of the cement to the formations. The bond
however is greatly affected by the well conditions and other factors that will be
discussed below. The bond to the casing is inferred using the measurement of
the sonic energy transmitted down the casing. The bond to the formation is
qualitative and is implied by the characteristics of the formation signals received
by the tool (variable density log). All of the tools except the segmented tools
provide data that is omni-directional. This means that the data is averaged from
all the signals received from around the entire circumference of the pipe. This is a
serious limitation of these tools. The segmented tools however, provides
segmented data for the casing bond.

The following tools can be classified as sonic evaluation tools.

• Amplitude tools
• Attenuation tools
• Segmenting bond tool

The amplitude and the attenuation tools are similar and essentially provide the
same information. The amplitude tools provide energy transmission data while
the attenuation tools provide data on the amount of dampening of the sonic signal.
The segmented tools provide amplitude or attenuation at specific locations around
the casing.

Ultrasonic Tools: These tools measure the reflection of an ultrasonic signal as it

passes through the casing and is reflected by the casing cement interface.
Because these tools only give information on the condition of the cement-pipe
interface, only the quality of the cement bonding to the casing can be inferred.
This is a serious limitation of these tools, since often mud channels form at the
formation-cement interface, and the tools cannot "see" that section of the annulus.
The tools, however, are segmented and can provide the quality of the cement
bond at many locations around the casing. The tools are claimed to be less
sensitive to (but still affected by) the presence of a microannulus. The following
are the types of ultrasonic tools available:

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Segmented Ultrasonic Tools

Scanning Ultrasonic Tools

The segmented tools provide impedance data at eight locations around the
circumference of the pipe. The scanning tools provide data at small segments of
less than 1 mm. The data from around the casing is very useful when the well is
deviated, where there may be channels on the bottom or top of the annulus and
where there is potential for gas migration.

Tool Selection

The tool needed for evaluation of a cement job must be chosen based on well
conditions and requirements of the evaluation. Most of the time, the tools should
be run in combination to provide the best data for the analysis of the job. The table
below outlines the application of the different tools available.
Figure 18: Applications of Cement Logging Tools

Sonic Sonic Ultrasonic Ultrasonic

(omni-directional) (segmented) (segmented) (scanning)

Casing Bond Yes Yes Yes Yes

Formation Bond Yes Yes No No

Gas No No Yes Yes

Microannulus Very Sensitive Very Sensitive Sensitive Sensitive

Low side Chan- Not specific Large at the casing Large at the casing Small at the cas-
nel ing

Deviated High Not specific Large at the casing Large at the casing Small at the cas-
side Channel ing

Deviated Chan- Not specific Only Large Chan- Only Large Chan- Small Channels
nel on casing nels nels

Channel on for- Not Specific Not Specific No No


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Quality of the Log Data

It is important that the data provided by the logs is of high quality. Many factors
can affect this:
• Fast Formations
• Cycle Skipping/stretch
• Thin Cement Sheaths
• Casing thickness limitations
• Borehole fluids
• Gate Settings
• Transducer malfunctions
• Collection/presentation of the Log Data

It is important that the cement evaluation logs be run with and without pressure.
The sonic tools are very sensitive to the presence of microannuli and ultrasonic
ones are also to a lesser extent. If there is a substantial difference in the logs
conducted with and without pressure, then it is very likely that a micro-annulus is

Microannuli are frequently present in wells. They can form for a variety of
reasons. They normally do not compromise the cement job, but make the
evaluation of the job with sonic or ultrasonic tools more difficult. The presence of
a microannulus is normally not a serious problem since flow is not likely or, if it
takes place, is very small due to the large pressure drops required. Gas is more
likely to be a problem than oil or water.

There are other special considerations when evaluating a cement bond log. For
example, soft formations can produce a low stress environment for the cement
and allow it to lose tight contact with the casing creating a microannulus that
affects log evaluation.

Some Log Interpretation Comments

Continuous good bond: If the log indicates good bonding all along the cemented
interval and the formation signal is good (comparison with the open hole sonic log
and the Gamma ray log is very important!), then the cement job is generally
considered good, particularly if the bulk of the other information available
suggests a good cement job.

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Continuous poor bond: If the log indicates little or no bonding all along the
cemented interval, then the job may, or may not, be a good one. The examination
of the additional data will help decide the actions to take: ignore the log, or do a
squeeze job?

Combination of poor and good bond: As with the previous case, the other data
available will help with the interpretation. In addition, detailed examination of the
logs may indicate that, for example, the poor bond is always across permeability.
This may suggest the presence of a soft mud filter cake. If good contact with the
formation exists across the shale barriers (Gamma ray is used to determine the
presence of the shales), isolation may still exist, and a squeeze job may not be

Low side/high side differences in the logs: If the wellbore is deviated, channels
on the low and high side of the hole may be present. If the cement slurry exhibits
free fluid, a channel would form on the high side of the annulus. The channel may
exist along the entire cemented interval. If the low side solids in the hole were not
removed prior to or during the cement job, a solids channel will be present on the
bottom of the annulus. The use of the segmented tools can be valuable for
determining the presence of channels on the top or the bottom of the annulus. If
channels are detected, the next thing is to estimate the length of the channels,
and to decide if isolation exists or if a squeeze job may be needed.

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Section 2: Equipment

Surface and Subsurface Equipment

Surface Equipment

An understanding of the equipment used in well cementing - both surface and


Cement Mixing

Cement mixing equipment has to be robust and fail-safe. It has to cope with a
wide range of slurry densities and slurry types. It has to be capable of mixing
continuously at relatively high rates (minimum 4 to 5 bbl/minute, or greater than 1
MT/minute) and at a constant density. It must be able to cope with variations in
bulk cement supply.

These are very demanding requirements and in the early days required skilled
and experienced operators. Even today mixing can, and does, create problems. It
is, unfortunately, not that uncommon for the slurry to go downhole at a somewhat
different density from that designed in the lab.

Early mixing consisted of a jet mixer, hopper, small slurry tub and a cutting table
for sacks. The cementer operating the unit would vary the water going to the jets
in an attempt to cope with variations in cement supply or blockages in the hopper.
The slurry tub would contain only about a bbl of slurry so little homogenisation
took place. This type of mixing set-up is still the default, fail-safe, method on many
sophisticated modern units.

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Figure 1: Early Mixing Setup

Problems with delivery of a uniform, consistent slurry at constant density lead to

the development of recirculating mixers with a much larger holding tub and the
ability to get better control of density before pumping downhole. These mixers still
deliver the mix water through jets but the cement is fed through a knife gate which
can be controlled by the unit operator. The cement and water meet with high
energy and and the resulting slurry is ejected with some force into recirculating
tank. Here the slurry is further mixed by paddles and there is provision to
recirculate some of the slurry back to the mixing point in order to raise the density.
Once density matches the target value the slurry is fed to to triplex pumps and
downhole. While pumping, further water and cement are constantly being mixed
and fed to the recirculating tank which now acts as an averaging tank, smoothing
out fluctuations in slurry density.

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Figure 2: Recirculating Mixer

In place of sacks most cement now comes to the well as bulk powder. In most
land operations this bulk will have been pre-blended (dry-blended) with additive
powders at the service company base and brought to the well in a bulk trailer.

Offshore, it is usual for neat cement stocks to be held in rig silos (P-Tanks) and
additives (usually liquid additives) added at the time of mixing.

Both systems will usually involve a ‘surge tank’ which is essentially a small silo or
bulk tank. This is used to provide a steady, near constant feed to the mixer and it
is usually situated directly over it.

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Figure 3: Surge Tanks

Figure 4: Halliburton Skid Unit

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Batch Mixing

Batch mixers come in many forms and sizes. All are basically tanks which will hold
the slurry before it is pumped downhole. Some hold only 50 bbl; others are 100
bbl or more. They will usually be equipped with some form of agitation. This may
be paddles, centrifugal pumps or compressed air.

The main use is in liner and plug cementing; the advantage being that the slurry
can be brought up to weight with all the additives, homogenised and even tested
before being pumped. There is thus no variation in density or properties and there
is more assurance for critical slurries that everything is optimised.

Two aspects to be aware of:

• Lab testing (particularly pumping time) should take account of the holding
time on surface. Testing in the consistometer should include a period without
application of temperature and pressure.
• Centrifugal pumps, recirculating small volumes of slurry over a long time,
can lead to heating and shear effects which can alter the slurry properties.
The slurry may then behave differently to the lab design. This has been a
problem with Coiled Tubing (CT) jobs where slurry volumes are often small
(<25 bbl).
Automated Mixing

Increasingly, computer automation is being used to control mixing rather than

relying on the cementer’s skill and experience with the knife gate and water
valves. These systems can work well and reliably but a fall back system is good

Computer systems are essential for foamed cement slurry mixing with nitrogen.

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High pressure pumping units, like the mixer, have to be robust and capable of
highly reliable performance. The industry has standardised on triplex (three
plunger) pumps. Most cementing units will use two banks of triplex pumps – 2 x 3
cylinders. These are fed by centrifugal charge pumps through spring loaded
valves. The pumps are very ruggedly constructed, can easily be stripped and
repaired and are generally very reliable. They can pump highly abrasive slurries
across a full range of densities and rheologies. The pluger stroke can vary from 5
to 10 inches and the plunger diameter from 3 to 6 inches. By altering the sizes, the
delivery capability of the pumps can be varied to cope with different circumstances
but using the same horsepower of the unit – higher pressures/lower flow rate or
higher flow rate/lower pressure.

A unit will usually deliver between 200 and 500 hydraulic horsepower (hhp).

Rates of up to 8 bbl/minute at 500 to 1,000 psi are typical cementing parameters

when pumping downhole using 2” treating lines.

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Both diesel and electric powered units are available. The diagrams below show
the guts of the fluid ends of a Halliburton HT 400 unit.


The variables of interest are:

• Slurry density
• Flow rate
• Pressure
• Cumulative volume
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These variables are rquired throughout the job – mixing, pumping and
displacement. Where displacement is done by the rig pumps, either extra sensors
have to be installed and hooked up to the cement unit recording device or the data
has to be downloaded from the mud loggers.

Any cement job should have the above parameters recorded to provide:

• Assurance that what was pumped was what was designed

• Enable comparison between planned execution and actual – for
example, the final pressure just before bumping the plug can give a
rough check on the height of cement in the annulus and confirm the
estimated TOC.

• Allow analysis of a job to determine root cause of failure – pressure

can be particularly decisive in identifying problems

• Aid planning and optimisation of subsequent jobs – transfer of


Slurry Density

The main methods are:

• Standard mud balance

• Pressurised mud balance
• Radioactive densitometer
• U-Tube densitometer

The first two are non-continuous devices, measuring only a sample. The
Pressurised balance is much preferred although if is considered awkward to use.
The main reason is the considerable amount of air entrained in the slurry from the
mixing process. There is little time for this to break out and a normal mud balance
will give a reading which is ‘lighter’ than the downhole (compressed) density. A
pressurised balance will give a true, downhole density.

The latter two devices will give continuous readings and are, therefore, preferred.
However, it is still good practice to use a pressurised balance during the job to
check the reading being given by the densitometer.

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Figure 5: Pressurised balance (top) and normal mud balance

Jobs have gone seriously awry because the cementer worked from a
densitometer which has drifted off calibration. In any case, calibration of these
devices should be routinely checked.

Flow rate

If the cementing unit is being used for displacement, the flow rate will be taken
from the downhole pump stroke counter, corrected for pump efficiency.

If rig pumps are being used for displacement, then a separate flow meter is
needed or the data has to be obtained from the mud loggers and tied-back to the
job timescale.

Flow rate is particularly useful when compared with pressure.


Pressure can be recorded from a tranducer at the the downhole pump discharge
and is also usually measured by a Martin-Decker gauge which records on a
circular chart. Since the Martin-Decker is an old-fashioned clockwork device it
often provides a record when the more sophisticated devices, or the recording
media, fail.

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Cumulative volume pumped

This can be calculated from pump rate and time and also from strokes and pump

If displacement is with the cementing unit, then the number of displacement tanks
can be counted to give a good estiamte. In fact, where displacement volume is
important – pumping plugs, spotting fluids, picking up plugs, seating darts, etc –
the cement unit displacement tanks are the most accurate since they do not rely
on assumptions about pump efficiencies. Displacement tanks do need to be
calibrated like all other devices. Slight errors in the markings are cumulative.
Although the markings are fixed at the time of manufacture, the unit may not be
quite level.

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High Pressure Lines

The high pressure discharge of the cement unit pump is usually connected to the
cement head through a 2” diameter, rigid – but articulated – line called treating
iron or Chiksan line.

Treating lines are subject to erosional forces when pumping at high rates and
need periodic inspection to ensure satisfactory wall thickness. This is usaully
done annually by an ultrasonic method. Threads should be checked with a gauge
kit and magnetic particle methods are used to look for any cracking.
Maximum Working Pres-
Size Maximum Flow Rate (bpm)
sure (psi)

1 ½” 15,000 4.5
2” 20,000 4.5

2” 15,000 8.5

3” 15,000 20

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Higher rates will wear faster and require more frequent inspection.

An annual pressure test to 15,000 psi is also required.

The standard union is FMC Weco type 1502, with a working pressure of 15,000
psi. This is an integral, or Non-Pressure Thread Seal (NPTS). Threaded
connections are not permitted between a positive displacement high-pressure
pump discharge and the wellhead connection.

High pressure lines should always be chained down to prevent uncontrolled,

violent whiplash in the case of a catastrophic failure.

Safety Considerations

Cementing operations should be approached with a high precautionary

awareness of safety issues.

Particularly important are:

• High pressures
• Pressure testing operations
• Bulk cement with pneumatic supply
• Dust – cement is highly alkaline and can cause serious burns to the eyes
• Slips, trips and falls – cement units can be wet, slippery and frequently
require climbing
• Units are frequently noisey and communication of warnings can be difficult
• Heavy equipment to be manhandled – cement heads, Chicksan lines

Pressure awareness should cover both ends of the spectrum – high pressure/low
volume and low pressure/high volume.

Bulk tanks may be pressured to only 15-40 psi but the energy stored is
considerable and should not be underestimated. Bulk tanks and lines should be
subject to regular inspection and ultrasonic thickness testing. Lines, in particular,
can become eroded by cement transfers.

Always treat hatches with extreme care – how do you know there is no pressure

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High pressure treating lines are often subject to considerable rough handling and
can often spend long periods between detailed visual inspection.

In any pressure testing exercise the treating lines should be chained down to
prevent flying around in case of a test failure. Personnel should be excluded from
the viscinity and warning signs erected.

Wherever there is a chance of overpressure being applied there shoud be a

pressure relief device – either some spring-loaded device or a bursting disk.
Needless to say, such devices require periodic re-certification.

Bulk Cement Equipment

Land wells in many areas are serviced by bulk trucks which bring pre-blended
cement to the site for the job.

Off-shore neat cement is held in silos or P-Tanks in the same manner as bulk
barite and bentonite.

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With an air pressure of 20 psi, cement powder is easily fluidised and flows readily.
Excessive pressures should be avoided. Offshore tanks will often have a working
pressure of 40 psi but this is higher than should be required. The bulk tanks
should have a Pressure Relief Valve installed. This should be set slightly higher
than the maximum working pressure – say 45 psi on a 40 psi WP tank. Periodic
inspection and testing of these devices is required.

When cement is pneumatically transferred over many feet (>30 ft) it can separate
into slug flow. The surge tank situated close to the mixer smooths out the delivery
and also allows for the switching of tanks when one becomes empty without
interrupting mixing.

Bulk systems on off-shore rigs are the responsibility of the rig contractor. Many
rigs have been built and are still in service which have less than ideal bulk
systems. Sometimes the tanks are remote from the unit and at a different level.
Often there are considerable numbers of bends in the line. Not surprisingly, bulk
delivery problems can be a major source of trouble for the cementer. Every effort
should be made to identify causes of problems with the rig contractor and steps
taken to resolve any short-comings.

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Off-shore bulk sysytems should always be equipped with driers on the

compressed air supply. Moisture from ‘wet’ compressed air can adversely affect
the properties of cement and render lab testing on pre-shipment samples
erroneous. In any case, samples should always be taken from silos offshore and
sent in to the lab for checking. It is not uncommon for cement to be within the
API/ISO Specification when it is put on the boat and out of specification when it
has been on the rig for a few days. Needless to say, boat bulk systems are a
further source of problems with cement quality – not least due to contamination of
tanks with other materials.

Always ensure transfer lines and hoses are blown clean before a fresh delivery.

Cement Heads, Water Bushings, Sweges

Cement heads vary depending on the number of plugs they will release and
whether they have a facility to monitor release of the plug(s).

Subsea release plugs obviously differ from surface plugs and liners require a
different system.

Sweges allow connection of smaller diameter pipe or lines to casing threads. They
cross-over from casing to other pipe allowing fluids to be pumped down casing,
perhaps to wash it to bottom.

Their pressure rating should be greater than the casing to which they are
attached; usually the larger, surface casing sizes

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The above head is a single plug cement head and manifold. If used with both a
top and bottom plug, the bottom plug is loaded before the head is made up to the
casing. The plug is released ahead of the cement and then, after pumping the rest
of the cement into the casing, the head is opened and the top plug loaded. At this
time the cement is most likely free-falling in the casing and there will be a rush of
air as the head is opened. Alternatively, the bottom plug released and the spacer
pumped, The head is then opened and the top plug loaded before pumping the
cement. After pumping the cement the top plug is then released.

The right hand manifold is for a two plug head allows both plugs to be loaded and
circulation can be more or less continuous. Both heads have similar release
mechanisms for the plugs – often a pin horizontally screwed into the body of the

Two plug heads are sometimes too long for the standard bails on smaller rigs and
there are always fears of releasing both plugs before the cement with obvious

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Liner Cement Heads are similar in principle but hold the darts which are pumped
down the drill pipe running string. They are, therefore, much smaller diameter.

A sub-sea cement head consists of an assembly holding the plugs within the
casing at seabed. These plugs are launched by darts or balls released from a
head on the surface (similar to the liner head).

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Cement heads need frequent inspection for damage and for wall thickness. They
also require periodic pressure testing. Details of the last pressure test and general
inspection details should travel with the head to location.

The following are the normal steps are required before use on a job.
• Clean all threads and check them with thread gauge
• Remove and clean all caps, and check all O-rings.
• Apply grease to all valves and make sure that they function correctly.
• Operate the plug drop pin or bail assembly to make sure that it functions
• Check the bolts that hold the release pin or bail assembly to the head and
make sure they are tight.
• Make sure there is a thread protector installed.
• There should be additional O-rings for the cap, connector and pin in a con-
tainer with the pressure test chart.

Minimum Pressure Test Requirement for Cement Heads:

In addition to the above inspection requirements, all cement heads must be

pressure tested every 90 days to their component rated working pressure.
Fasten a copy of the test chart to the cement head. Cement heads and their
manifolds must have the normal annual inspections.

Float Shoes and Collars

Float shoes and float collars are essentially non-return valves installed at the deep
end of the casing string so that when cement is displaced into the annulus it does
not flow back into the casing. If there was no such valve installed, the cement
would U-tube back into the casing until the columns of fluid inside and outside
were balanced. In fact, if a float fails to work, then pressure has to be held on the
casing until the cement has ‘gone-off’ sufficiently to be self supporting. This is
likely to introduce an undesirable micro-annulus due to ballooning of the casing.

It is common practice to install a Float Shoe – which is a valve in a cementing

shoe and a float collar. The collar is installed one or two joints above the shoe and
may also be the landing collar for the cement plugs. If one float valve fails, the
other may hold.

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Obviously, these valves have to be able to cope with the erosion caused by mud
and cement during pumping. In deep, hot wells (which often have high density
abrasive muds) this can be a servere materials challenge. Some years ago the
API introduced a test method to provide assurance on such equipment - RP 10F ,
Performance of Cementing Float Equipment , 2nd Edition, November 1995.

The term ‘float’ comes from the use of the valve to enable the casing to be floated
into the well. Obviously, with a check valve in place the casing does not fill up with
mud as it is run and the weight carried by the derrick is reduced. This can assist
some rigs to run casing strings they would otherwise be unable to.

Figure 6: A Flapper Valve

Figure 7: A ball & cage valve

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Figure 8: A poppet type valve

If the casing is not manually filled at surface, at some stage – depending on the
casing grade and mud weight – it will collapse. Casing is usually filled every 5 to
10 joints with a hose at surface to prevent this.
Another type of float valve is called an auto-fill float shoe or collar. This auto-fill
device is like a normal valve except that during running in the casing the valve is
held open. The casing then fills with mud as it is run in and pressure surges
associated with movement of the pipe are reduced. When casing is close to
bottom the valve is ‘tripped’ or converted to a conventional one-way valve.
Depending on the design, this may be done by dropping a ball or by exceeding a
certain flow rate.

Stage Tools

Stage equipment, either a stage collar or port collar, is placed within the casing
string to provide a selectable intermediate passage to the annulus. Stage
equipment is generally used to protect weak formations from excessive
hydrostatic pressure, to cement two widely separated zones, and to reduce mud

Stage collars are typically hydraulically opened and closed using free-fall darts
and pumpdown plugs to select and shift the appropriate internal sleeve.The lower
sleeve covers the ports initially.

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Once the first stage is complete, the lower sleeve is pumped down to uncover the
ports by seating the free-fall (or pumpdown) opening plug and applying pressure.
The second stage is pumped and the ports are closed again by seating and
applying pressure to the larger closing plug.

Once closed, the stage collar cannot be reopened. The pressure required to open
and close varies with manufacturers, but is generally between 800 and 1,400 psi.
When two stagecollars are used, a special upper stage collar is required, and care
should be taken to release the correct plugs in the proper sequence. The internal
diameter of the upper stage collar seats must be larger than the lower collar seats.
For highly deviated holes, the free-fall dart should be re-placed with a pumpdown
Figure 9: Stage Tool Operation

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Figure 10: Stage Collar Operation

Port collars are mechanically operated from the surface with a tool connected to
an inner string of drillpipe – see below. They are available with sliding or rotational
valve mechanisms, and may be opened or closed as often as necessary. The
sliding valves are generally opened with an upward motion and closed with a
downward motion, and require a minimum of 10,000 lb to stroke. Port collars may
be placed as often as necessary in the casing string and selected in any
sequence. There are no plugs to use, nor drillout required. Some shifting tools
may be fitted with cup type seals to form a conduit from the inner string to the

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Figure 11: Port Collar Operation

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Casing Centralization
Casing should be centralized for three main reasons:
• To help get casing to bottom (this includes reduction of the potential for sticking)
• To help move the pipe during hole conditioning and the cement job
Provide a good path for fluid flow during hole conditioning and cementing (mud
removal, zone isolation).
Field experiences, numerous large scale experiments and computer simulations
have all shown that even a slight de-centralization can be detrimental to the
cement job, particularly in narrow annuli (for example SPE 8253, R. Haut, 1979).
Therefore, a good centralization program should aim for high levels of standoff (90
- 95+%), particularly in critical wells and in production zones.

Reduce the Risk of Sticking the Casing

Overbalance drilling across permeable formations generates mud cake and
partially dehydrated-gelled (PDG) mud films across the permeability. In some
cases, if the pipe is not centralized, it is possible that as much as 1/4 of the pipe
surface area can be in contact with the mud cake and PDG films. This can lead to
stuck pipe. Centralized pipe may only contact the mud cake in highly localised
The following simple example illustrates how centralizers can assist in reducing
the potential for differentially sticking of the pipe.
Assume 1,000 ft of 5” 18 ppf liner to be run across a permeable open hole.
Assume a pressure differential (hole to formation) of 500 psi. Let’s assume that
the formation consists of 10% sand and 90% shale

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Case on non-centralized pipe:

Calculate the force needed to pull the liner if it gets stuck across the entire open
Assume that the pipe is contacting the cake along a 2” strip, the entire length of
the pipe. Use a friction coefficient of 0.25
F = DP x Ac x Cf
F = Drag force, lb
DP = Differential pressure, psi
Ac = Contact area, (sq. in)
Cf = coefficient of friction (dimensionless)
F = 500 x (1000 x 12 x 2 x 0.1) x 0.25
F = 300,000 lb
Total Force needed: Liner weight + Drag Forces
TF = 1,000 x 18 + 300,000
TF = 318,000 lb
Calculate now what would the force be if the formation was 50% sand?
F = 500 x (1000 x 12 x 2 x 0.5) x 0.25 = 1,500,000 lb!!!
Case of casing centralized:
Assume two centralizers/joint to keep the casing from contacting the formation. In
this case, the added drag due to the centralizers is due the running force of the
Number of casing joints: 1000/40 = 25
Number of centralizers: 2 x 25 = 50
Starting force per centralizer for a 5” pipe ~ 520 lb
Drag Force = 50 x 520 = 26,000 lb
Total Force needed: Liner weight + Drag Forces
TF = 18,000 + 26,000 = 44,000 lb. Notice that this force is only ~ 14% of the force
needed in the differential sticking case!
Conclusion: centralizers can reduce the chances of sticking the pipe!

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Non Centralization Equals Poor Isolation

Below are examples of large scale experiments run with centralized and
non-centralized pipe. The arrows point to the mud channels in the
non-centralized case.

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Channeling can also be predicted from rigorous fluid dynamics calculations using
computer simulators of non-Newtonian flow. Below is a simulation of channeling
of a Bingham Plastic fluid in an eccentric annulus. Notice how the fluid moves
higher in the wide section of the annulus.

Less sophisticated
computation can estimate
the movement of fluids in
variable eccentricity annuli
(eccentricity varying up
and down the annuls). An example of a non-centralized, long annulus is given in
the attached graph. In the graph, the left side represents the wide section of the

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non-centralized annulus. The right side represents the narrow section of the
annulus. Notice that much mud (a large mud channel) was left on the narrow
side of the hole.

Positions of fluids in annular segments in wellbore at 180mins

wide side narrow side

1 2 3 4
Tail Slurry
depths (ft)

Lead slurry
10000 W.B. Spacer
O.B. Spacer

Figure 12: Pipe Movement

Large scale experiments and controlled field trials have shown that good quality
mud in the hole and proper hole conditioning prior to the cement job, are the keys
to the success - assuming good centralization of the pipe. Full mobilization of the
mud (full circulation) needs to be obtained before the start of the cement job.
Experiments have also shown that pipe movement is beneficial. The extent of the
benefit has been measured to be around ±10% without the use of casing jewelry.
The way to obtain the full benefit of moving pipe is in combination with the use of
high quality cable loop scratchers. The photo below (from a large scale
experiment) shows the dramatic difference between pipe movement with, and
without, cable loop scratchers.

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The sections of hole showing little to no dehydrated mud ring around the cement
across the sand were scratched (pipe movement). The others had no scratchers
(same cement job).

How is Centralization Achieved?

Centralization is achieved using mechanical devices which push casing away
from the formation wall. Key factors are:
• The tools have to provide enough load-support to overcome the normal
forces tending to lay the casing against the formation, particularly in devi-
ated holes.
• Enough tools need to be used to provide casing “centralization” over the
needed intervals.
• It is normally assumed (however not always the case) that the formation
can provide enough support for the tools (minimum embedment)

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Centralizer Types Available

The industry has developed three main types of centralizer:
• Bow
• Rigid
• Solid
Bow Spring Type:
The bow type consists of flexible, heat-treated steel spring bows attached to two
collars. By design, the bows are flexible enough to allow passage of the
centralizer through restrictions, but are also provide sufficient stand-off in
enlarged hole areas. The springs come in various shapes and dimensions. The
relaxed OD of the bows is normally larger than the nominal hole (bit) diameter;
thus affording potential centralization in moderately washout zones. Double bow
(tandem) centralizers are also available. They provide excellent restoring forces
with low starting and running forces.

Figure 13: Example of Bow Spring Centralizer

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Figure 14: Example of Double Bow Spring Centralizer

Rigid type:
Rigid centralizers are made out of non-flexible fins attached to collars. The fins
are not designed to flex and therefore maintain a constant OD. The centralizers
possess very little flexibility. These devices only adjust to slight hole restrictions
or enlargements. Several types of rigid centralizers are available. Good examples
of these devices are Weatherford's SpiraGlider and the STT-I-SL Slim Line
centralizer,often used for liner centralization.

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Figure 15: SpiraGlider

Figure 16: Slim Hole Centralizer

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Solid Type:
Solid centralizers are manufactured with totally non-flexible fins or bands. These
centralizers have solid bodies and solid blades with constant blade OD. They
have zero flexibility and therefore cannot adjust to any hole restriction or
enlargement. Good examples of this type of centralizer are the Spir–O-Lizer and
the aluminum spiral centralizers manufactured by Ray Oil Tools, Weatherford and

Figure 17: Spir–O-Lizer

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Figure 18: Aluminum Spirals

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Some Important Advantages/Disadvantages

Bow Spring

Advantages Disadvantages

Can adjust to varying hole sizes (can poten- Due to the spring bows, these centralizers
tially maintain stand-off even in irregular hole exhibit high starting and running forces.

Some designs incorporate fins to induce swirl Some designs are very strong, but others are
over a limited length which can assist mud weak and fall apart while running in the hole
removal and isolation (a source of many stories of unsatisfactory

Relatively low cost In highly deviated/horizontal holes, improper

use of these devices can prevent casing from
getting to bottom,


Advantages Disadvantages

Good where clearance is limited and hole is Fixed OD. Exhibit little flexibility. Not capable
close to gauge. of adjusting to varying (large) hole sizes.

Some deformation of the fins helps to run the No action in washout areas or over-gauge
centralizer through hole restrictions hole.

Some designs have good flow path character-

istics, i.e.low restriction to flow (SpiraGlider).


Advantages Disadvantages

Positive stand-off in gauge hole Fixed OD. No flexibility. Incapable of adjust-

ing to varying (large) hole sizes.

Robust – can stand rough handling and high No action in washout areas or over-gauge
downhole forces. hole.

The designs do not allow for deformation to

help run the centralizer through hole restric-
tions. If the centralizer gets stuck, the only
way to get it to go through is to break the cen-
tralizer or for the stop rings to slip (forming a
centralizers “nest”)

The design presents the highest flow restric-

tion of the three types. Consequently, care
needs to be exercised when using them in
narrow annuli (slim holes, etc.).

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How Much Cement is Needed for Isolation?

A few feet of well bonded cement (to pipe and formation) may be all that is needed
to isolation a zone. However, we normally want better protection than that for the
life of the well. We try to isolate above, across and below critical zones and
productive horizons. We also need to properly protect and support the pipe for
the life of the well (corrosion, formation movement, etc.). Thus, normally, we need
to design and attempt to obtain good cement jobs across long intervals. Washouts
and hole ovality are a problem and they are normally not confined only to shales.
It is not uncommon to find them across sands and pay. Centralization in elliptical,
deviated hole is a real challenge.

The Balancing Act

Particularly in deviated (ERD) and horizontal wells, it becomes necessary to
optimize between good centralization (high standoff ratio) and low drag forces.
The problem is not just good centralization but also being able to run the string to
TD. These applications require the use of computer simulators to calculate the
normal, drag and torque forces based on well trajectory, mud type and density,
and the centralizer properties. This will allow optimization of the centralization
selection, placement and numbers.
Good centralization (high stand off ratios) calls for centralizers with high restoring
forces (like the bow spring type). Low drag forces require centralizers with low
starting and running forces (like the rigid and solid type).
Rigid and solid centralizers have lower running forces than bow spring
centralizers, but their fixed OD renders them incapable of responding to hole size
variations. In addition, the drift of the previous casing often limits the OD of the
centralizer that can be run. The size (OD) of the rigid, or solid, centralizer in a
given case can be too small to generate the desired degree of stand-off for good
cementation. This becomes even more severe in cases where the open hole has
been under-reamed or has washouts or ovality.
Let's look at a simple example. We will examine only standoff at the centralizer.
The standoff ratio that we really need to be concerned about is at the sag point of
the casing, but that requires the use of a simulator. Standoff at the casing sag
point is lower than the standoff at the centralizer.

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Calculating standoff for a rigid or solid centralizer (at the centralizer):

W = Rc - Rp (assumes the centralizer blades are contacting the hole wall)
• Rc = radius of solid/rigid centralizer
• Rp = outside radius of the casing
• Rb = radius of the borehole
% standoff = W/(Rb - Rp) x 100 (assumes the centralizer is contacting the wall)
By the way, notice that by definition (as per the previous equation) it is impossible
to obtain 100% standoff with rigid or solid centralizers since the maximum OD of
this type centralizers is always less than the OD of the hole!.
Previous casing: 9-5/8 in, 43.5 lb/ft, drift diameter: 8.599 in.
Open hole (bit size) 8.5 in. Casing to be centralized in the open hole: 7 in.
Max. OD of rigid or solid centralizer that can be safely run inside the previous
8.599 - 1/8 in = 8.474 in.
Recommended (available) solid or rigid centralizer OD (from manufacturer's
tables) for an 8-1/2 in. hole: 8.25 in.
% standoff = ((8.25 - 7)/2)/((8.5 - 7)/2) x 100 = 83 % This is the best standoff that
can be obtained with this type centralizer!. It of course assumes that the hole is
equal to the bit size (normally not the case). If we now assume a more realistic
situation and visualize the hole being larger (the entire hole or sections of the
hole) than the bit size, then we can see the real problem with fixed OD

Hole OD (in.) Stand-off

8.50 83

8.75 71
9.00 0.63

9.25 0.56

10 (washout) 0.42

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Even the best obtainable standoff of 83% (hole size = to bit size) may not be good
enough to get a decent cement job!. For critical situations we want to design for
90 - 95 % standoff. Normally rigid and solid centralizes cannot give us that
level of standoff in real holes. We need to also remember that normally the
centralizers are purchased and often installed way before the size of the open
hole is known (caliper).
On the other hand, bow spring centralizers for this example can have max. OD's
of over 13 in., with a compressed OD of as low as 8.231 in.(less than the previous
casing drift diameter). Bow spring centralizers can potentially provide the desired
high levels of standoff, as long as the normal forces are not excessive (see
below). So, the main advantage of bow spring centralizers is that due to their
flexibility, they present the best chance of properly centralizing the pipe (the
issue of the quality and durability of bow spring centralizers will be visited later on
in this document.)

The Benefit of Swirl (Spiral Flow)

Swirl can be beneficial to the displacement process. It can move cement from the
narrow side to the wide side to at least increase the chance of intermittant
isolation. However, the danger lies in thinking that spiral flow is a solution to the
problem and sacrificing standoff (by not using bow spring centralizers).
Experiments to measure the angle and length of the swirl of different swirl
inducing devices have been conduced by the industry. The bulk of the studies
have been performed in pipe, with no permeability (for example, the JIP at
Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, USA in 1991). These experiments
showed a rapid initial decrease in swirl downstream of the aid, which decayed at a
slower rate as the distance increased. The effects of higher swirl angles have
always been concentrated in the proximity of the devices. This behavior is
observed even at high rates (Reynolds Numbers). Therefore, it is very doubtful
that the potential benefit of the use of swirl inducing devices can be experienced
at locations other than at or very close to the device; regardless of the type of fluid
or the pump rates used.

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An example test is shown below. Notice the high angles concentrated very close
to the device. Experiments and mathematical simulations have also shown that
even minor hole enlargements and eccentricity significantly reduce the beneficial
effects produced by the swirl due to portions of the flow bypassing the device and
not turning (Wells, 1991).

Based on these and other experiments, some in the industry have concluded that
the fact that the flow turns around the pipe, that that means that the cement will
always end up covering the entire annulus. Unfortunately, this is not always the
case in real holes.

Very few experiments have been conducted under realistic downhole conditions,
including the presence of permeability and hole inclination. Permeability has a
dramatic effect on the mobility of mud films and solids laden beds on the
low side of inclined holes. Due to partial dehydration and gelation, mud films
across permeability often exhibit levels or resistance orders of magnitude greater
than non-dehydrated mud portions (this depends also on the mud properties. Oil
base type muds for example, generate the most mobile mud films). To remove the
partially dehydrated-gelled mud films, spacer fluids have to be designed with
rheologies high enough to be able to apply the needed levels of stress.

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Thin fluids often cannot generate the necessary stress at the fluid-mud-film
interface. Mud films around the cement, across the permeable sand can be seen
in the first photo above. Below is another example.

Figure 19: Turbulator in a deviated, enlarged section of hole

This photo shows a turbulator in an enlarged hole across permeability. Notice the
presence of unremoved dehydrated gelled mud across the permeability, and a
bed of solids on the low side of the hole. Turbulators were also tested in
permeable, non-enlarged, inclined holes (small clearance between the blades and
the hole), and as expected, they did a better job of helping remove the mud than
across washouts.
In the very near proximity of the turbulators, less settled solids and partially
dehydrated-gelled mud films were observed than away from the device, but the
device did not completely clean the annulus, even right where the tool was
located. The photo below is not very clear but it illustrates the point. Notice the
bed of solids on the low side of the hole, right at the centralizer.

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Figure 20: Turbulator across Permeability in an Inclined Hole

So, swirl by itself does not completely remove the dehydrated-gelled films of mud
and solids beds in the hole. Why?
Mobility of partially dehydrated-gelled mud film has been measured in large scale
experiments. As mentioned, the mobility of those films can be orders of
magnitude lower than the non-dehydrated mud. The film is removed if the flowing
fluid applies sufficient interfacial shear stress higher than the resistance of the
film. That the fluid turns with swirl inducing devices does not mean that the
needed stress is applied. Much of the energy needed to remove the film is lost
with the fluid that bypasses the on the wide part of the hole.
So, Swirl Inducing Devices (rigid or solid) do not solve the problem, and they do
not provide enough standoff.
Bow spring centralizers have also being found to improved mud cleaning in the
very near proximity of the devices. Crook performed experiments in pipes in
1985. He showed that bow spring centralizers improve displacement in inclined
holes, particularly near the centralizers (SPE 14198, Crook, 1985). Also,
remember that bow spring centralizers can be purchased with fins to further
induce flow disturbances at the device.
Anything which disturbs flow is likely to help but over a short length.

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Figure 21: Effect of Bow Spring Centralizers in the Proximity of the Device
(after Crook, 1985)
Spiral Centralizers Digging (Plowing) into the Hole
There are documented field cases pointing to this possibility, particularly in short
radius holes and/or across "soft" formations. Cuttings beds, of course, offer a real
problem if they are pushed ahead. Therefore, caution needs to be exercised when
using high angle blade centralizers.
In an experimental well, a 7" casing with 45 degree blade angle turbulators was
run in a 9-7/8" hole with a 90 degree dog leg over 463 ft (from 0 to 90 degrees)
with a 125 ft lateral. The well was drilled across hard rock. With the turbulators,
the casing could not be run to bottom. After pulling the casing out of the hole,
packing-off was observed around the turbulator blades. Straight solid centralizers
(aluminum) were run next. Difficulties were again encountered, and the pipe was
again pulled out of the hole. One centralizer was never recovered; another was
cracked. No packing-off was noticed across the centralizers. A reaming run was
made, and the casing went down this time, with some difficulty.
In a field case, packing-off problems have been reported while circulating with
high angle blades centralizers. Plowing was suspected in this case when the hole
began packing-off while washing down the liner. The problem was cleared by
picking up the string and circulating.

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Quality of Bow Spring Centralizers

Concerns regarding quality and durability of bow spring centralizers are

definitively justified. Some manufactures have marketed and still do, devices that
should never be run in the hole. They are junk! Unfortunately, these poor quality
devices have caused many users to be very skeptical and doubtful of the
performance of bow spring centralizers in general. Another problem is that the
entire topic of stop collars, for some unknown reason, has been neglected by
many operators, and therefore not enough pressure has been applied to
manufacturers to produce and collars the can be used to keep centralizers in
It is not uncommon to find operators concerned about the type, size, etc, of the
centralizers to be used, but leaving the issue of stop collars completely
unaddresed. Frequently, centralizers are no longer installed by trained service
company personnel. Torque wrenches are not used in the installations, etc. Many
centralizers that fail downhole become damaged because the collars allow them
to move and end up bunched up across hole restrictions.
Fortunately, there are available in the industry, high quality bow spring
centralizers. That has been shown during industry testing, for example by Amoco
in 1992 and recently by BP (2000). During the Amoco study, destructive, non-API
tests were conducted on bow spring centralizers from six different manufacturers.
These tests were performed in addition to the API tests required by Spec-10D.
The centralizers were placed under tension with a force of up to 50,000 lbs. In
addition, they were tested under compression and impact loading by dropping a
load of 1,900 lbs from a distance of 9 inches up to 30 times onto the top
centralizer collar. Needless to say, many of the centralizers failed. However, two
designs held up very well: the old Gemoco (now made by Weatherford) and the
old Halliburton construction. The designs that performed well were all welded.
So, When Should We Use Rigid and/or Solid Centralizers?
Bow spring type centralizers should always be the first choice, except when high
quality bow centralizers will not perform due to large normal and/or running forces,
such as highly-deviated/horizontal, high dogleg applications. This needs to be
determined using a good simulator like Weatherford's CentraPro. Torque forces
and drag need to be calculated as well as the standoff. The figures below are
simulator generated. The first one shows a case where the pipe could clearly not
be run to bottom due to the high drag generated by the bow spring centralizers.
The next figure shows that a rigid type centralizer would allow the pipe to get to
bottom. The centralizer of choice to run in this case is obvious.

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Casing size: 7 in, 23 lb/ft
Hole: 8-1/2 in.
Mud: 10 lb/gal
Horizontal hole section: 6000 ft
Legend for the following figures:
Upper Line: upstroke hookload,
Central Line: neutral weight,
Lower Line: downstroke hookload

Figure 22: Bow Spring Centralizer Case:

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Figure 23: SpiraGlider Case:

Calculated excessive normal forces (forces that tend to flatten the centralizer) can
force the selection of the centralizer to move toward rigid or solid from bow spring.
The figure below illustrates this situation. Notice that after certain point, the rigid
or solid selection is again obvious due to excessive normal forces that can be
generated across for example severe doglegs.

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Durability and Wear

Published and field data tell us that friction coefficients in drilling operations are
dependent mainly on the drilling mud and its additives (lubricants), so, not much is
really gained by using centralizers made out of "soft" materials. Actually, much
could be lost due to wear! The data below shows that the material of choice
needs to be steel over aluminum and other materials such as aluminum-zinc
alloys. Steel resists wear much better than the other materials, providing a better
change for the centralizer to get to bottom without much wear (preservation of
standoff). The wear factors shown below were obtained in the laboratory using
the pin-on-disk technique. The test conditions are given first.

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Wear in Microns

Disk Material
Steel Aluminum-Zinc Aluminum

Steel 4.5 31 135

Sandstone 7.8 45.4 357

Stop Collars – the neglected issue

Considering the complex issue of casing centralization, stop collars and their
holding capacity are the most neglected aspects of the entire topic.

Stop collars are extremely important to the successful centralization. If the collars
are damaged or if they move, even the lowering of the casing in the hole can be
jeopardized. Centralizers become junk in the hole!

When hole conditions allow, centralizers are sometimes placed over casing
collars. This eliminates the stop collar concerns. On the other hand, this
technique is not a good one for casing reciprocation (it is not desirable to have the
centralizer move with the pipe), cannot be used in tight annuli, and it tends to
concentrate the normal forces on the casing connections.

Different hole configurations require different collar designs, but they all have to
provide substantial holding force. Since the forces that the collar will see
downhole cannot be reliably predicted, the answer to the question how much
force do we need is: as much as we can get!

Experiments have been conducted comparing the holding forces of different collar
types. Large differences have been reported among the different designs. Below
is the result of tests conducted back in 1992.

Collars with screws and "dogs" gave the greatest holding force. Tests have also
been conducted adding "Baker Lok" type materials in between the collar and the
pipe. Those tests have indicated that you can substantially increase the holding
force of a given collar that way (by as much as 5). Stop collars also need to
re-tested. The API Spec-10D provides a method to test the holding and slippage
forces of stop collars. Depth of the gouge on the casing after the collar moves
should also be measured. The tests should be conducted using the same grades
of pipe to be used in the actual wells.

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Section 3: Cement

• Cement - what is it and how does it work?
• Manufacture
• Limitations
• Modifications to make it suitable for use under different well conditions - par-
ticularly temperature and pressure.

What is Cement?
Clays and lime (CaO) were used as binding materials for stones from early times.
The Romans used materials of volcanic origin (natural pozzolans) and found that
pozzolans with lime produced a competent cementitious material that could be
used in building. A crude lime mortar was used in the building of the pyramids.

In 1756 John Smeaton rebuilt the Eddystone Lighthouse using a mixture of

natural pozzolan and lime.

Modern Portland cements started with the calcination of limestones - heating

CaCO3 - to produce quicklime (CaO). Later it was found that impure limestones
containing clay produced mortars that worked better than the more pure
limestones. These findings led to the burning of blends of limestone (calcareous
material) with silica and clay (argillaceous) materials. In 1796 James Parker
produced a material he called ‘Roman’ Cement; one of the first cements that set
and and remained water resistant. It was used in Brunel’s Thames Tunnel and in
railway bridges built by Robert Stevenson.

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Joseph Aspdin, who had a factory in Wakefield in England, was granted a patent
by the British Government in 1824 for a cement he had developed. Aspdin called
his cement Portland cement, because concrete produced from it resembled stone
quarried on the Isle of Portland off the south coast of England. He claimed “it is
not subject to atmospheric influences, and will not, like other cements, vegetate,
oxydate, or turn green but will retain its original colour of Portland stone in all
seasons and climates”.

Portland cement was first produced in bottle kilns and then in shaft kilns. It was an
American, Frederick Ransome who produced the first modern rotary kiln in 1885.

Portland cement was first used in oil wells around 1903 to shut-off water. By
1917, Portland cements were used routinely in cementing of hydrocarbon wells.
As wells became deeper, hotter and more difficult to cement, the industry required
the manufacturers to modify the properties to produce ‘so called’ oil-well cements.

Most cement is, of course, produced for the construction industry and relatively
little for the oil industry. The properties required differ considerably.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) established the first committee to study oil
well cements in 1937. Specifications for different oil well cements followed and
the industry developed ways to modify properties with additives to enable them to
perform under demanding well conditions.

Manufacture of Portland Cement

The principal compounds used to manufacture Portland cement are calcium

oxide, silica, iron, and alumina. The raw materials providing these compounds are
normally calcium carbonate (limestone), clay, shales, iron ore, and aluminum
ores. The calcium carbonate can be obtained from limestone, oyster shells, chalk
or marl. This material is reduced to calcium oxide during the manufacturing
process. Silica is obtained from clay, shale, or other sources of silica. Iron and
alumina are added in varying quantities to control the composition of the final
product. The raw materials are ground and combined by one of two processes:
dry or wet.

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The dry process consists of crushing the materials separately, storing each in
bins, performing chemical analysis on each and then blending prior to being
ground to a fine powder. The final blend is analyzed, adjusted as needed, and fed
to a rotary kiln.

In the wet process, the limestone is crushed and stored. The clays and shales are
crushed and mixed in water flotation tanks to remove unwanted impurities and
large chunks. The dry materials are then mixed into this dispersion to form a
slurry. The slurry is analyzed for correct chemical content. Then the slurry is fed
into a wet grinding mill, analyzed again and fed into the rotary kiln.

The normal concentration of material in either system is approximately two parts

limestone to one part clay and shale with small amounts of iron and alumina.

Figure 1: Cement Manufacturing Process

As the particles migrate down through the kiln and are heated, several reactions
take place. First the free water or moisture is driven out. Then the clays and
shales are reduced to silica and alumina. Further heating drives off carbon
dioxide from the limestone reducing it to calcium oxide. These compounds are

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further heated to temperatures of 2,600 deg F, 1400 deg C. At these temperatures

the new cement compounds are formed. As the liquid material approaches the
lower end of the kiln, the various compounds fuse together forming chunks of
material called clinker. Clinker varies in size from dust to about 2 inches in
diameter. The clinker passes from the kiln into either a grate or rotary cooler
where it is cooled in air.

After a period of storage, it is ground in a ball mill with gypsum to form the final
cement. Gypsum, in 1.5 to 3.0 percent by weight of cement, is used to control the
rate of setting and hardening of the cement. The materials are ground to a specific
fineness, dependent on the type cement desired, and the end product is stored in
bins for shipment. This is the final grey powder material commonly known as
Portland cement.
Figure 2: Portland Cement Burning Temperature Ranges
100 Deg C: Evaporation of Free Water
500 Deg C: Dehydroxylation of Clay Minerals
Crystallization of Products of Clay Min-
900 Deg C: eral Dehydroxylation Decomposition of
Reaction Between CACO3 or CaO with
900 - 1200 Deg C:
1250 - 1280 Deg C: Beginning of Liquid Formation
Further Liquid Formation and Formation
1400 deg C:
of Cementitious Compounds

Chemistry of Portland Cements

Four chemical compounds form about 95% of the cement clinker by weight.
These materials have a major impact on the strength developed of the set
cement. Minor concentrations of gypsum, sodium and potassium sulfate
(Na2SO4 and K2SO4), magnesia (Mg), free lime (CaO) and other admixtures are
also present in cement. Normally these minor components do not significantly
affect the properties of the hydrated cement. However, they do influence the rate
of hydration, resistance to sulfate attack and they also impact the properties of oil
well cement slurries.

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Phase Chemical Nomenclature Percentage

Tricalcium silicate (called alite) C 3S 65%

Dicalcium silicate (called C 2S 17%


Tetracalcium aluminoferrite C4AF 14%

Tricalcium aluminate C 3A 2%
In this nomenclature, C=CaO, S=SiO2 , A=Al2O3 , F=Fe2O3, H=H2O, etc

Tricalcium Silicate (C3S). Forms from CaO and SiO2. During hydration, two
molecules of C3S generate three molecules of lime. Normally the lime acts as a
filler and does not negatively affect the cement. However, in the presence of
acidic well fluids, it can contribute to cement deterioration. At elevated
temperatures (above 230F), the lime can react with finely divided silica added to
the cement slurry to form stable calcium silicates, which contributes to the integrity
of the cement. C3S is the major compound in most cements. It constitutes 40 to
45% of normal cements. In high strength cements it can be as much as 60 to
65% of the total composition. C3S is the main strength producing material. It
contributes to all the stages of strength development, but particularly during the
early stages. (up to 28 days).

Dicalcium Silicate (C2S). It is also formed from the reaction of CaO and SiO2.
This component hydrates slowly, so it does not affect the initial setting of the
cement. However, it has a great impact on the final strength development.
Dicalcium Silicate is the slow hydrating compound and accounts for the small,
gradual gain in strength which occurs over extended periods of time.

Tricalcium Aluminate (C3A). This compound if generated by the combination of

CaO and Al2O3. C3A does not contribute greatly to the final strength of the set
cement. However, it is the compound that responds most actively to cement
additives and promotes rapid hydration (early strength development) and it is the
component that controls the initial set and thickening time of the cement. The set
time of C3A can be controlled by the addition of gypsum.

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Tricalcium Aluminate is responsible for the cement susceptibility sulfate attack.

The final hydrated products from C3A are readily attacked by sulfate waters.
Therefore, to be classified as a high sulfate resistant (HSR) cement, it must have
three percent or less Tricalcium aluminate. On the other hand, high early strength
cements can contain up to 15% C3A.
Figure 3: Illustration of the Main Cement Compounds

Cement Hydration or 'How does it Work?'

The chemistry of the hydration of cements is not exactly known, and is still the
subject of controversy. It is, without doubt, very complex.

One of the keys to understanding lies in Calorimetric studies made from first
mixing of cement with water. These show two distinct peaks in the rate of heat
liberation. The first peak lasts only a few minutes and for an oil well cement
corresponds to the time the slurry is on surface. Many reactions are occuring; the
important ones being the formation of a gel coating on the grains (CSH gel) and a
calcium trisulphoaluminate hydrate known as Ettringite.

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Figure 4: Hydration of Cement: Calorimetry - Heat evolution with time

Figure 5: Hydration of Cement: Calorimetry – Effect of temperature

Following this initial exothermic reaction, there is then a period, which may last
from 30 minutes to several hours, when little or no heat is liberated. The cement
slurry remains liquid and behaves as if hydration had stopped. This is known as
the 'induction period' and is one of the reasons for the success of Portland cement
since it allows concrete to be placed in position. It also, of course, allows oil well
cement to be pumped into place without continuously increasing viscosity.

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According to one hydration theory, the CSH gel layer acts as a semi-permeable
membrane which allows water molecules to diffuse into the grain but slows down
calcium and hydroxide ion migration into solution. Therefore, osmotic pressure
continuously builds during the dormant period until a critical stage is reached and
the CSH gel layer ruptures. This heralds the onset of setting. The rupturing is
accompanied by growths of ‘spikes’ from the grains and the locking together of
these spikes causes viscosity increase and then strength to develop.

Grains of API class G cement well into the hydration process.

Anhydrous Clinker Hydration Products

C3S C-S-H gel
(Colloidal –


Slow Ca (OH)2
Fast but retarded by Gypsum
C4AF Sulpho-ferri-


Figure 6: Cement Reactions: the size of each box represents the approximate
volume of each phase

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After the paste has gained strength, the reactions become diffusion controlled. At
this time a local reaction product of dense fibrous C-S-H hydrate is formed. This
'late' or 'inner' product accounts for the high strength and low permeability of the
set cement structure.

The above brief synopsis of the setting process emphasized the hydration of the
C3S phase, for the simple reason that it is judged to be the main factor involved in
cement setting and hardening. The slower reacting C2S is probably responsible
for the long term hardening process and may follow an essentially similar
hydration mechanism. The aluminates, though important in the early stages, are
largely halted in their reaction by the presence of available sulfates; and their
contribution to the final strength is minimal.

Since the volume of the hydration products is more than double that of the cement
powder the spaces between the original grains of cement are gradually, but not
completely, filled. Once the cement slurry has set solid, hydration continues but
rarely will all the cement be hydrated. A set cement can have a quite high porosity
(30%) althought the permeability can be very low (similar to a shale). It is the
degree of porosity – together with the strength and structure of the hydration
products – which governs the strength and other properties of the hardened

Porosity is dependent on the initial water/cement ratio – a lot of water will result in
a high porosity and a low strength. Conversely, a low porosity hardened cement
will have a high strength.

Limitations of Cement

The performance of cements, particularly under elevated temperatures and

pressures, will vary from cement plant to cement plant and from one manufacturer
to another. This is due to variations in raw materials and in the actual
manufacturing process.

Other factors add further variability in the performance of cement slurries used in
hydrocarbon producing wells. These slurries require chemical additives to modify
the properties to accomplish cementation of the casing under widely different
downhole conditions. The inclusion of additives brings more potential for
discrepancies in the response of cement slurries, since the chemicals themselves
are manufactured materials with their own potential for performance changes.

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The extreme temperatures themselves magnify the effect of composition

variations. It is well known that the rate of chemical reactions dramatically
increases with temperature.

The result is that to prevent cementing job failures, slurries need to be tested
using the actual cement batch, field water and additives batches to be used in the
actual job.
• Cement varies.
• Water varies.
• Additives vary.
Brief History of the Use of Cements in Oil Wells in the USA

The U.S. petroleum industry goes back to the drilling of the Drake well in 1859. The first
recorded use of cement to shut off downhole water was in 1903 in the Lompoc Field,
California. Frank Hill, with Union Oil Company, mixed and dump-bailed 50 sacks
of neat Portland cement into the well. The procedure worked, and the treatment
became the accepted practice and soon spread to other California fields. The
dump-bailer technique was replaced by the two-plug method in California by A. A.
Perkins in 1910. It was with Perkins' method that the modem oil well cementing
process was born. The patent issued to Perkins specified two plugs.

Before 1940, wells were cemented using construction sacked cement mixed by
hand using very few additives. In the 1930's no additives were used. However, as
wells became deeper, more flexibility in cement performance was required than
could be achieved with available construction cements.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) Committee on Oil Well Cements

It was with the advent of the API Standardization Committee in 1937 that the
search for better cements for wells started. The API Sub-Committee 10 is still in
existence today and, in association with ISO, sets the current specifications for oil
well cements.

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An API cement is a cement that meets performance and chemical specifications

set by the API for the specific grade and class of cement. Today, there are eight
API classes of cements each with distinctive characteristics and performance.

Five of these API classes are commonly used today by the oil industry, and three
used very little. The API Classes in common use are A, B, C, G, and H.

API classes D, E, and F are not used in the U.S. and Canada and very little

About 80% of the oil well cements used in the U.S. are Classes G and H.

In international operations, most of the cement used is Class G.

The detailed specifications of the eight API cements are given below, taken from:
'Specifications for Cements and Materials for Well Cementing, API Specification
10A, January, 1995.' The specific application for a given cement will depend on
several factors including well location, downhole conditions and availability.

API Cement Specifications (Classes and Grades)

The American Petroleum Institute (API) sets specifications for the following
cement classes: As well as the Classes A, B, C, D, E, F, G and H the API
recognises grades of sulfate resistance: ordinary, moderate sulfate (MSR) and
high sulfate resistance (HSR).

Class A

Specification: The product obtained by grinding Portland cement clinker,

consisting essentially of hydraulic calcium silicates, usually containing one or
more of the forms of calcium sulfate as an interground addition. At the option of
the manufacturer, processing additions may be used in the manufacture of the
cement, provided such materials in the amounts used have been shown to meet
the requirements of ASTM C 465. This product is intended for use when special
properties are not required. It is available only in ordinary (0) Grade (similar to
ASTM C 150, Type 1).

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Intended Application: This cement is intended for use from the surface down to
about 6,000 feet, or to 170F bottom hole static temperature, when special
properties are not required. Class A (ASTM Type 1) cement is manufactured
using specifications applicable to the construction industry. The primary use in
well cementing is for surface pipe, or other applications of low temperatures and
pressure. Due to potential variations in the cement performance from mill to mill,
slurries formulated with this cement need to be tested very carefully each time.

Class B

Specification: The product obtained by grinding Portland cement clinker,

consisting essentially of hydraulic calcium silicates, usually containing one or
more of the forms of calcium sulfate as an interground addition. At the option of
the manufacturer, processing additions may be used in the manufacture of the
cement, provided such materials in the amounts used have been shown to meet
the requirements of ASTM C 465. This product is intended for use when
conditions require moderate or high sulfate-resistance. Available in both moderate
sulfate-resistant (MSR) and high sulfate-resistant (HSR) Grades (similar to ASTM
C 150, Type 11).

Intended Application: This cement is intended for use from the surface to 6,000
feet, or to 170F BHST, where moderate or high sulfate resistance is required. This
cement is manufactured according to more stringent specifications than Class A
and is similar to ASTM Type II. Class B is similar to Class A, but it contains less
C3A and is generally ground more coarsely. This causes longer thickening times
and slower strength development than Class A. This cement is recommended for
the same range of uses as Class A.

Class C

Specification: The product obtained by grinding Portland cement clinker,

consisting essentially of hydraulic calcium silicates, usually containing one or
more of the forms of calcium sulfate as an interground addition. At the option of
the manufacturer, processing additions may be used in the manufacture of the
cement, provided such materials in the amounts used have been shown to meet
the requirements of ASTM C 465. This product is intended for use when
conditions require high early strength. Available in ordinary (0), moderate
sulfate-resistant (MSR) and high sulfate-resistant (HSR) Grades (similar to ASTM
C 150, Type 111).

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Intended Application: This cement is also intended for use from the surface to
6,000 feet, or to 170F BHST, where conditions require high early strength or high
sulfate resistance. It is a common misconception that Class C cement cannot be
used at depths greater than 6000 feet. In fact, slurries using Class C cement
have been designed and used successfully in West Texas and New Mexico at
depths in excess of 10,000 feet. The lighter slurry density (14.8 ppg) of these
cements sometimes gives Class C cement a distinct design advantage. Class C
is available in ordinary, moderate (similar to ASTM Type 111) and high sulfate
resistance types.

Several manufacturers make Class C under different trade names. Through iron
modification, all are produced free of C3A which is the cement constituent
attacked by the sulfate ion and whose absence renders cement highly sulfate
resistance. These cements are mainly used in West Texas and New Mexico.
Other oil-field-related uses are for the lining of steel pipe that carry sulfate-bearing
flood waters for secondary recovery.

Class D

Specification: The product obtained by grinding Portland cement clinker,

consisting essentially of hydraulic calcium silicates, usually containing one or
more of the forms of calcium sulfate as an interground addition. At the option of
the manufacturer, processing additions may be used in the manufacture of the
cement, provided such materials in the amounts used have been shown to meet
the requirements of ASTM C 465. Further, at the option of the manufacturer,
suitable set-modifying agents may be interground or blended during manufacture.
This product is intended for use under conditions of moderately high temperatures
and pressures. Available in moderate sulfate-resistant (MSR) and high
sulfate-resistant (HSR) Grades.

Intended Application: Class D cement is intended for use from 6,000 to 10,000
feet, or from 170F to 230F BHST where moderate temperature and pressure
conditions are present. This cement is classified as one of the manufactured
slow-set cements and is no longer generally available. A "slow set" cement is
defined as a cement in which the thickening time was extended by (1) eliminating
the rapid hydrating components in its composition or (2) by adding a chemical
retarder. Starch is commonly used as the retarder in Class D cements. Class D
cement has been replaced by Class G and Class H cements for most

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Class E

Specifications: The product obtained by grinding Portland cement clinker,

consisting essentially of hydraulic calcium silicates, usually containing one or
more of the forms of calcium sulfate as an interground addition. At the option of
the manufacturer, processing additions may be used in the manufacture of the
cement, provided such materials in the amounts used have been shown to meet
the requirements of ASTM C 465. Further, at the option of the manufacturer,
suitable set-modifying-agents may be interground or blended during manufacture.
This product is intended for use under conditions of high temperatures and
pressures. Available in moderate sulfate-resistant (MSR) and high
sulfate-resistant (HSR) Grades.

Intended Application: This cement is intended for use from 10,000 to 14,000
feet, or from 230F to 290 deg F BHST, where high temperature and pressure
conditions are present. This cement is also classified as one of the manufactured
slow-set cements and is not generally available. Lignosulfonate retarders are
commonly used in the manufacture of Class E cements. Class E cement has
been replaced by Class G and Class H cements.

Class F

Specification: The product obtained by grinding Portland cement clinker,

consisting essentially of hydraulic calcium silicates, usually containing one or
more of the forms of calcium sulfate as an interground addition. At the option of
the manufacturer, processing additions may be used in the manufacture of the
cement, provided such materials in the amounts used have been shown to meet
the requirements of ASTM C 465. Further, at the option of the manufacturer,
suitable set-modifying agents may be interground or blended during manufacture.
This product is intended for use under conditions of extremely high temperatures
and pressures. Available in moderate sulfate-resistant (MSR) and high
sulfate-resistant (HSR) Grades.

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Intended Application: Class F cement is intended for use from 10,000 to 16,000
feet, or from 230F to 320F BHST where extremely high temperature and pressure
conditions are present. This cement is also classified as one of the manufactured
slow-set cements and lignosulfonate retarders are used in its manufacture. Class
F cement was used primarily in overseas markets but it has been largely replaced
by Class G and Class H cements.

Class G

Specification: The product obtained by grinding Portland cement clinker,

consisting essentially of hydraulic calcium silicates, usually containing one or
more of the forms of calcium sulfate as an interground addition. No additions other
than calcium sulfate or water, or both, shall be inter- ground or blended with
clinker during manufacture of Class G well cement. This product is intended for
use as a basic well cement. Available in moderate sulfate-resistant (MSR) and
high sulfate-resistant (HSR) Grades.

Intended Application: Intended for use as a neat cement from the surface to
8,000 feet, or to 200F BHST, without additives. When modified with additives, this
cement can be used for most well applications both shallow and deep. This
cement is manufactured under stringent requirements for chemical content and
physical performance tests.

Class H

Specification: The product obtained by grinding Portland cement clinker,

consisting essentially of hydraulic calcium silicates, usually containing one or
more of the forms of calcium sulfate as an interground addition. No additions other
than calcium sulfate or water, or both, shall be inter-ground or blended with the
clinker during manufacture of Class H well cement. This product is intended for
use as a basic well cement. Available in moderate sulfate-resistant (MSR) and
high sulfate-resistant (HSR) Grades.

Intended Application: Intended for use as a net cement from the surface to
8,000 feet, or to 200F BHST, without additives. When modified with additives, this
cement can also be used for most well applications both shallow and deep.

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More on Classes H and G: The API Class G basic cement was developed in
1964 and was specifically tailored for use in California. It was successful and the
use of it spread to the Rocky Mountain area. This success led to the development
of API Class H basic cement in 1967 and was designed for use in the Gulf Coast
area where higher slurry densities were required.

The purpose of the development of these two classes of cement was to provide
basic (neat) cements without additives, which would not vary in composition
among manufacturers. They would be standard products that could be
interchanged in various slurries.

Class G and Class H cements are both manufactured to the same chemical and
physical requirements. The only difference is in the grind. Class H is ground
more coarsely than Class G and, therefore, requires less mixing water, resulting in
a higher slurry density. The water ratios for these cements are 38 percent for
Class H and 44 percent for Class G. It should be noted that in many applications,
Class H Cement is mixed at 46 percent water as though it was a Class A cement.
This excess water can increase the thickening time, decrease the compressive
strength development, and result in excess free water within the cement column.
This practice requires that careful laboratory testing be performed with the cement
and additives prior to the job to make sure that the slurry and set cement possess
the required properties.

Other Commonly Used Cementitious materials


Pozzolans (poz) are the oldest truly cementitious material. It is known that the
Romans used natural (volcanic ash) pozzolans as a binding product in their
structures. Pozzolans normally do not possess cement-like properties of their
own. However, when mixed with lime and water, they form compounds that do
possess cementitious value. Since lime is found in Portland cements and it is also
liberated during the setting of cements, if pozzolans are combined with Portland
cements, the lime will react with the pozzolan. The pozzolan reaction depends on
time and temperature. It occurs slowly at temperatures below 140F, and faster
above that value. Straight poz and lime slurries (no cement) have been use at
elevated temperatures.

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It has been found that the addition of poz to cements is beneficial in reducing
shrinkage, improving sulfate resistance, and in helping stabilize strength
developments to temperatures near 270F. In addition, the inclusion of pozzolans
reduce slurry density and cost. Cement slurries containing poz have other good
characteristics such as good rheologies, usually easy to mix, have low heat of
hydration (in situations like permafrost, high heat of hydration is not a desirable
property), and can possess low permeability. Pozzolans slurries are good filler
type slurries due to their relatively low densities and high yields, They can also be
used as completion cements (across the pay).

Artificial pozzolans are derived from the burning of coal and are called "fly ash".
The oil industry uses fly ash almost exclusively over natural pozzolans. Variability
of the material can cause difficulty in slurry design and so many of the advantages
are outweighed.

When making calculations for the weight per sack of poz-cement blends, the API
guidelines and nomenclature need to be followed to avoid confusion and errors.
In these blends, the content of pozzolan is based on the absolute volume of
cement replaced by the poz. Absolute volume is the volume of the material per
unit of mass without voids. This should not be confused with bulk volume, which
includes the air around the particles of the material. Bulk volume is used to
calculate storage requirements for bulk materials.

For example, a 35-65 blend means 35 % by absolute volume of poz and 65% by
absolute volume of Portland cement. In the API recommended nomenclature, the
first number always refers to the poz, and the second to the cement. In this
example, if the absolute density of the cement is 26 lb/gal (absolute volume:
0.0384 gal/lb) and the absolute density of the poz to be used is 20.5 lb/gal
(absolute volume: 0.04878 gal/lb), then the equivalent weight of a "sack" of the
blend is calculated as follows. Notice that the API defines one sack of Portland
cement as weighing 94 lbs.
Absolute volume of one sack of cement: (94 lbs/sk)/(26 lb/gal) = 3.62 gal
35% absolute volume occupied by the poz = 1.267 gal
65% absolute volume occupied by the cement = 2.353 gal
Equivalent weight of a sack of the blend = 1.267 x 20.5 + 2.353 x 26 = 26.97 +
61.18 = 87.2 lb/sk

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Notice that the calculations shown above define an equivalent sack of the blend
as the weight of the blend in pounds that occupies the same volume as 94 lbs of
the Portland cement being used.

Once the equivalent weight of a sack of the blend is calculated, the concentration
of additives included in the slurry design is based on that weight. For example, if
0.2% retarder will be used, the weight of retarder per sack of the blends is 87.2 x
0.2 = 0.174 lb.
For laboratory and for filed bulk blending calculations, it is important to
re-calculate the weight of the cement and the poz needed per sack of the blend:
Weight of poz per equivalent sack of blend: 1.267 gal x 20.5 lb/gal = 25.97 lb
Weight of cement per equivalent sack of blend: 2.353 gal x 26 Lb/gal = 61.18 lb

Manufactured Light Weight Cements

These cements are a good alternative to fly ash-cement blends. They minimize
several of the quality control issues associated with the use of poz systems, and
have similar or improved properties over field blended fly ash slurries.

Trinity Lite-Wate

This high sulfate resistant cement is manufactured by the Trinity Division of

General Portland, Inc. It is a blend of Portland cement and calcined shale. The
material is finely ground. Water content of the formulations can be varied from
about 65 - 115 percent to generate high strength, lightweight slurries within a
range of densities of about 11.9 - 13.7 lb/gal. The cement is available in bulk or
packaged in 75 pound sacks (1 bulk cubic foot).

Trinity Lite-Wate cement can be used in wells with temperatures up to 300 deg F
(150C) without significant strength retrogression.

TXI Lightweight

This is also a high sulfate resistance, low-density cement that allows formulations
of slurries in a density range of about 11.9 to 14.2 ppg, using water rations of from
55% to around 109%. It is a blend of Portland cement and calcined shale. The
cement is available in bulk with a density of 75 pounds per sack (1 cubic foot).

Like Trinity Lite-Wate, this cement can be used at elevated temperatures, and
develops good levels of compressive strength.

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Laboratory Testing of Cement Slurries

The API 'Recommended Practice for Testing Well Cements' (API RP -10B),
provides recommended testing devices and procedures to measure the
performance properties of cement slurries to be used in wells.

Thickening Time

Thickening time often called "pumping time" is the time a cement slurry remains
sufficiently fluid to be pumpable under downhole temperature and pressure. The
thickening time must be long enough to allow the slurry to be mixed and placed
without risk of premature setting. Desired thickening times are based on the
estimated job time to pump the fluids, plus a safety factor. Excessive thickening
time should be avoided to eliminate lengthy WOC (waiting on cement) times.

The laboratory devices used to measure the thickening time of cement slurries are
defined in API RP-10B. Cementing laboratories throughout the world have these
devices known as consistometers. The apparatus allows agitation of the cement
slurry under simulated well conditions of temperature and pressure, while
measuring the consistency (an arbitary measure of viscosity) of the slurry.
Depending on the design, a consistometer can simulate well conditions of
temperatures as high as 500 deg F and pressures up to 30,000 psi.

As the apparatus applies heat and pressure to the cement slurry, a continuous
consistency measurement is recorded. The end of the thickening time test is
when consistency reaches 70 or 100 Bc. Bc is an API defined empirical unit of
consistency named in honor of Bob Bearden, a departed industry researcher.
Tests are often terminated once the cement slurry reaches 70 Bc to facilitate
removing of the gelled slurry from the testing cup before the cement sets hard,
making the clean up operation easier for the laboratory technician – one of the
unsung heroes of the oil-patch.

Although RP-10B provides "test schedules" for testing thickening times for
different well depths and temperature gradients, the test schedule for a given job
needs to be calculated using the actual well conditions and the anticipated pump
rates. The API schedules are ‘average circumstances’ and should be used only
when insufficient information is available. As soon as this information on the
actual job is obtained, the test needs to be re-run using a job-calculated test
schedule. API RP-10B provides information on how to calculate job-tailored

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thickening time schedules. For example, the length of time to pump the leading
edge of the cement slurry from the surface to the bottom of the hole (from the
surface temperature to the bottom hole circulating temperature), needs to be
calculated using the capacity of the casing to be cemented and the expected
average job pump rate. Below is an example calculation of a job-tailored
thickening time schedule. The job-tailored schedule is compared to the API
"average" schedule for the same depth and temperature gradient.
Well depth: 16,000 ft
Liner to be cemented: 7 in., 34 lb/ft, 0.0354 bbl/ft., 2,000 ft long
Drill pipe: 5-1/5 in, 24.7 lb/ft, 0.02119 bbl/ft
Drilling fluid density: 13.5 lb/gal
Spacer fluid density: 14.5 lb/gal
Spacer length in the annulus: 500 ft
Assumed pressure of the cement slurry as it leaves the cementing head: 300 psi
Expected average pump rate during displacement: 5 bpm
Temperature gradient: 1.7°F/100 ft
BHCT: 284°

Note: to be able to compare the calculated vs. the API schedule, we will assume that
the well BHCT is the same as the one given by the API. In an actual case, this
temperature would be refined using a numerical simulator and maybe log infor-
mation. It could be different than the API BHCT.
Pipe capacity: 14,000 x 0.02119 + 2,000 x 0.0354 = 296.66 + 70.80 =367.46 bbl
Calculated time to bottom: 367.46/5.0 = 73.49 minutes
API suggested time to bottom: 55 minutes
Calculated heat-up rate (rate of heating of the slurry in the consistometer from the
surface temperature, normally assumed to be 80°F to the BHCT): (284 - 80)73.49
= 2.78 °F/min.
API suggested heat-up rate: 3.71 °F/min.
Calculated bottomhole pressure above the cement slurry: 0.052(15,500 x 13.5 +
500 x 14.5) = 0.052(209,250 + 7,250) = 11,258 psi
API suggested final pressure: 11,400 ft
Well-tailored initial test pressure: 300 psi
API suggested initial test pressure: 1,200 psi

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Calculated pressure-up rate: (11,258 - 300)/73.49 = 149 psi/min.

API suggested pressure-up rate: 185 psi/min

In addition, if the top of the cement column temperature is known or estimated, it

is possible to adjust the tailored schedule to simulate the cement moving up the
annulus. This is often not done since normally the circulating temperature at the
top of the column is not known. The RP-10B contains the equations needed to
make this schedule adjustment.

As can be seen, a well-tailored thickening time schedule can be quite different

from the "average" API schedule. If the cement slurry for the job is not tested
using a realistic schedule, this could lead to incorrect additive concentrations in
the final slurry, and in the worst scenario, job failure.

Fluid Loss

Cement slurries are frequently pumped across permeable zones with a positive
pressure differential. As with muds, a positive pressure differential is maintained
to prevent a kick. Cement filtrate will pass into the formation even though a drilling
fluid filtercake is present. A small amount of cement dehydration (loss of filtrate)
is generally acceptable, but severe dehydration of the cement slurry will alter the
performance properties of the slurry including thickening time and rheology. With
dehydration, the cement will set earlier due to the lower water/cement ratio and
the loss of retarder. In extreme cases, cement can "block off" the annulus
terminating the job. It is therefore important to control the fluid loss rate in cement
slurries. The following conditions make control of fluid loss of the cement slurry
more critical:
• Squeeze operations (level of fluid loss controlled based on the results of
the injection test)
• High zone permeabilities
• Large differential pressures, for example across depleted or partially
depleted zones
• Narrow annular clearances, for example when cementing liners
• Poor mud properties

A well formulated mud system, even with a high overbalance of several thousand
psi, will produce a low permeability filtercake which will prevent loss of filtrate from
the cement. It can be argued that, in many cases, the fluid loss control in the
cement is an unnecessary added expense. However, it is well established

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practice to control fluid loss from cement slurries across permeable zones. A poor
mud cake will do little to control cement filtrate loss, but it will also hinder mud
removal and lead to poor isolation. Good fluid loss control in the cement will not fix

Cement slurry filtration under pressure against a permeable medium is normally

measured in the laboratory under static conditions with a high pressure filter
press, using API (RP-10B) established test procedures. The press is essentially
the same used to measure fluid loss of drilling fluids. The significant difference is
that the filter medium is a No. 325 U.S. standard sieve series wire screen instead
of filter paper. Normally, the slurry is placed in a HPHT consistometer and the
appropriate thickening time test schedule is followed. Upon completion of the
schedule and an additional 30 minute conditioning period, the slurry cup is
removed from the consistometer and the slurry is poured into the pre-heated
high-pressure filter press. The filtration is maintained for 30 minutes at 1,000 psi
differential and at the BHCT. For slurries that dehydrate in less than 30 minutes,
estimated 30-minute fluid loss values are obtained either by plotting the results on
log-log paper and extrapolating to the 30-minute value or by using the following

Q30 = 2Qt x 5.48/(t)1/2


Q30 = Extrapolated 30 minutes filtrate

Qt = Measure volume of filtrate at time t

A better way to measure the fluid loss of cement slurries is to use the apparatus
known as the Stirred Fluid Loss Cell This is specialized equipment that combines
the functions of a conventional, static fluid loss test cell, with the slurry
conditioning capabilities of a consistometer. With the Stirred Fluid Loss Cell, the
slurry is placed in the test cell and brought to bottom hole temperature conditions
(there is a 2000 psi testing pressure limitation) while stirring. The slurry is
conditioned at bottom hole conditions for an additional 30 minutes. After the
conditioning period is completed, stirring is stopped, the cell is inverted, and the
1000 psi pressure differential is applied in the normal manner for conducting a
fluid loss test. A procedural advantage of using this apparatus is that there is no
need to cool the slurry in the consistometer, to be able to remove it from the
device, if the test temperature exceeds 190F.

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The main advantage of this device is that it simulates the cementing job
conditions more closely than when using the static cell. One disadvantage (the
same as for the static cell) is the limitation on working pressure, as mentioned
earlier. Another shortcoming is that in reality, this is still a static, rather than a
dynamic test, because stirring of the slurry ceases prior to the application of the
differential pressure, and the filtration test is run with the slurry under static

Testing of the cement fluid loss at the BHCT is critical since fluid loss additives are
temperature sensitive. Normal range of concentration for fluid loss materials,
based on weight of cement, is about 0.5% to 1.5%. Levels of fluid loss normally
used throughout the industry are 50 to 300 milliliters/30 minutes for squeeze work
(depending on the injection test), around 150 to 250 for cementing casing
(depending on the annular clearance, permeability exposed, etc), and as low as
50 - 20 milliliters for cementing of liners, particularly if potential for gas migration

Viscosity (Rheology)

Rheology is the technical term used to describe the shear rate - shear stress
behavior of a fluid.

The rheology of a cement slurry needs to be measured to allow predictions of the

pressure drop and the flow regime of the slurry at projected job flow rates. These
calculations are normally performed using computers. In addition, the rheology of
the slurry can help the experienced engineer decide if the fluid will be easy to mix
in the field, and/or if the slurry will tend to segregate (settle).

The API document RP-10B contains two detailed chapters dealing with the
determination of the rheological properties of cement slurries, and with methods
for calculating pressure drop and flow regime in pipes and annuli.

Cement slurry rheology is normally measured using a portable, atmospheric

pressure rheometer. Two different instruments are available. The Fann V-G
meter and the Chan V-G meter. The two devices function in essentially the same
way. The maximum temperature than can be used with these rheometers is
about 190F.

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A few HPHT instruments are available throughout the industry. For critical wells,
HPHT instruments need to be used to better estimate the behavior of the slurry
and of the cementing job.

As an example, the Fann V-G Meter is a direct-indicating rotational-type

viscometer powered by a two-speed synchronous motor to obtain rotational
speeds of 600 rpm, 300 rpm, 200 rpm, 100 rpm, 6 rpm, and 3 rpm. The outer
cylinder or rotor sleeve is driven at a constant rotational velocity for each rpm
setting. The rotation of the rotor sleeve in the cement slurry produces a torque on
the inner cylinder or bob. A tension spring restrains the movement. A dial attached
to the bob indicates displacement of the bob.

The tension spring most commonly used is known as a "number one" spring. The
#1 spring was designed for studying drilling mud. The higher rheologies of a
cement slurry may cause a viscometer fitted with a #1 spring to "peg out". A
spring with a constant twice that of the #1 spring is available and is called,
appropriately, a "number two" spring. If a #2 spring is used, the viscometer dial
readings are doubled to convert them to the readings that would have been
obtained using a #1 spring. In effect, a #1 spring allows readings to be taken from
0 to 300 degrees while a #2 spring allows readings to be taken from 0 to 600
degrees. Viscometers equipped with #2 springs are often used because they
allow more complete data to be collected for slurries that have higher

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Figure 7 shows the rheological behavior of a neat cement slurry measured using a
Fann VG meter. The shear stress - shear rate response was curved fitted using
the Power Law model.

Figure 7: Rheology of a Neat Cement Slurry Curve Fitted Using the Power Law

Gel strength Development

As cement slurries hydrate, they develop gel strength. Gel strength is essentially
the result of the hydrated structure discussed in a previous section. It is also
influenced by the charges on the particles in the mix water. If a cement slurry is
allowed to remain static for a period of time, it will gel to a degree that depends on
the formulation of the slurry, the temperature and pressure, the time since the
slurry was mixed, and the length of time the slurry remains static. A knowledge of
the gel strength development behavior of a cement slurry is important since if, for
some reason, the slurry becomes static in the well and develops high levels of gel
strength, it will take high pump pressures to break the gels. These high pressures
may cause breakdown of weak formations in the well. In addition, static gel
strength development in the annulus causes a pressure drop in the cement
column. Depending on the magnitude of this pressure drop, and the fragility of the
structure in the cement, this may allow invasion of formations fluids into the

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The API RP-10B recommended practices document gives a test procedure to

estimate the gel strength development of cement slurries using the Fann or Chan
V-G meter. The procedure utilizes the lowest speed of the instrument to measure
the gel strength (normally the 3 rpm). For purposes of comparison among
different slurries and even for the estimation of the start-up pressures after a short
shut down period, this method is fine. However, for the estimation of the pressure
drop of a cement column to determine the time for potential fluid invasion of the
cement column under downhole conditions, the API method is totally inadequate,
and should not be used.

For estimation of the potential for formation fluid influx, a measure of the gel
strength development under downhole conditions needs to be made. The Fann or
the Chan V-G meters are not capable of measuring the gel strength development
at the needed accuracy. These laboratory instruments can test fluids only at
atmospheric pressure and at a maximum temperature of about 190×F. In
addition, the 3 rpm speed (normally the lowest available speed with these
instruments) is too high to measure true gel strength. This speed causes the gels
to break at the rotor interface, defeating the purpose of trying to measure the
strength of the weak gels as they develop. The measurement of gel strength
development needs to be made with the fluid static, taking great care not to break
the gels as they develop.

Two methods are available to the industry to perform accurate measurements of

gel strength development. One is that developed by Halliburton know as the
MACS. The MACS (Multiple Analysis Cement Slurry) Analyzer is a lab device
used to measure the static gel strength characteristics of fluids vs. time, at
downhole conditions of temperature and pressure (400×F and 10,000 psi max.),
with minimum effect on the developing gels (rotation speed is as low as 0.2×/min).
Below is an example of a MACS test run on a cement slurry.

Another method utilizes ultrasonic pulse techniques to measure the development

of the static gels. This recently developed capability can be added to the UCA
(Ultrasonic Cement Analyzer) which is used to measure the strength development
of cements vs. time (the UCA is discussed later in this section).

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Gel Strength (lbf/100ft) 400

Gel Strength
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160

Time (min)

Figure 8: Gel Strength Development Using the MACS

Recently, Schlumberger has developed a version of the vane rheometer for

simulated downhole conditions. The device is not well known or readily available
throughout the industry.

Free Fluid – formerly known as Free Water

Free Fluid is the liquid (water and dissolved chemicals) that separates from the
bulk of the cement slurry under static conditions. The amount of free fluid
depends on several variables including the composition of the cement slurry, the
temperature, the mixing and conditioning history, etc. Its measurement is
dependant on the method used. Again, the API RP-10B contains several
methods to measure the separation of "free" fluid.

Free fluid is an indication of the stability of the cement slurry. Cement slurries with
high levels of free fluid (normally ~2+% of the slurry volume) often tend to
segregate or settle out under static and/or dynamic conditions. This behavior can
produce cement columns that are non-homogeneous from top to bottom. In
addition, in deviated holes, free fluid can generate a fluid channel on the high side
of the hole. This channel can easily allow migration of formation fluids along the
cemented annulus.

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In the API “operating free water test,” the slurry is heated to BHCT (or BHSQT for
squeeze operations) in a pressurized consistometer in accordance with the
appropriate schedule, cooled to 194×F (if needed) and then transferred into a
250 ml graduated glass cylinder. If the free fluid test is going to be conducted
above room temperatures (maximum of 176 deg F according to API), the
graduated glass cylinder is placed in a pre-heated curing chamber or water bath
for the duration of the test. The cylinder is sealed to prevent loss of fluid through
evaporation, and then allowed to remain quiescent, on a vibration-free surface, for
the two-hour duration of the test.

In an attempt to determine free fluid under more realistic downhole conditions, the
test is sometimes conducted with the cylinder at an angle, particularly for highly
deviated or horizontal wells. Since the 45× angle is a severe case for free fluid
occurrence, it is often used as a default (all the free fluid tests run at this angle).

Holding the cylinder at an angle simply amplifies the free water by providing a
shorter settling path for the cement particles.

The preferred free fluid content of cement slurries, particularly for critical wells is
zero. This is particularly so for highly deviated or horizontal wells. For near
vertical wells, the maximum allowed free fluid content should be 1.0%, unless
potential for gas or water migration after cementing exists. In that case, the slurry
should be designed for zero free fluid, regardless of the well angle, tested at
conditions as close as possible to those to be encountered downhole.

Strength Development

The conventional way the oil industry has determined strength of cements is by
measuring unconfined compressive strength on 2” cubes cured for different
periods. This approach is borrowed from the construction industry and is a useful
comparative method for different slurry types and designs.

The strength requirement for oil well cements depends on several factors. In
general, the cement must have sufficient strength to secure the pipe in the hole,
exclude undesirable well fluids, and withstand the shock of drilling, completing
and subsequent production loads.

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In fact, cement needs very little strength to support casing. It is generally

accepted that cement tensile or shear strength is around 10% of the compressive
strength. A few feet of cement sheath with as little as 50 - 100 psi compressive
strength can support several hundred feet of casing. However, filler cements with
much higher strengths (1000+ psi) are normally used. It is also common practice
to use even higher strength cements (2000+ psi) around the shoe joints and
across potential pay zones.

This practice of using high strength cements across the pay zones has been
investigated in some detail lately, and available information suggests that very
high strength cements, because they tend to be brittle, may not be the best
cements to perforate. Lower strength cements, with around 1000 psi compressive
strength have been used and perforated across pay zones with good success.
Also, foamed cements are used routinely in many wells across the pay zones with
excellent results.

Another rule of thumb is that for drilling ahead, the cement needs to develop ~500
psi compressive strength. For offshore applications, however, this practice can be
very conservative (long WOC times). For those locations, WOC times have been
lowered with good results to the time when the cement has developed ~100 psi.

One reason why the industry has looked for high strengths is the effect that even
quite low levels of contamination can have on strength. High strength buys extra

Temperature has a pronounced effect on the strength development. Up to around

230F, increasing temperatures increase strength. However, at higher
temperatures than this, decreased strengths are observed with increasing time.
This behavior is known as strength retrogression. In order to prevent it, cement
formulations exposed to downhole temperatures above 230 deg F are formulated
with the addition of about 35% of fine silica. 230 deg F is a rather arbitary cut-off
figure. Just below this temperature cement strengths are extremely high and the
cement is very brittle. The fact that higher temperatures result in somewhat lower
strengths should be seen in context. Above (say) 260 deg F, silica is certainly

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API RP-10B includes two methods to measure the strength development of

cements. One is the destructive test referred to above using 2 inch cubes cured
in moulds at simulated downhole conditions. The other uses a special device
known as the Ultrasonic Cement Analyzer (UCA). With this instrument, a sample
of cement is held in a pressure cell and subjected to insitu ultrasonic pulse
velocity measurement. Again API RP-10B test schedules are used to heat up the
sample. Pressures used are generally about 5,000 psi, but the test equipment
can be used to much higher pressures (as high as 20,000 psi).

Measurements of the cement's ultrasonic pulse velocity are started during the
fluid state and continue through the initial set to any desired time. Strength values
are continuously computed and displayed until the test is terminated. The result is
a complete history of the initial set and the strength development. Figure III-8
gives an example of the UCA test.

The principal advantage of the UCA is that it allows determination of compressive

strength continuously vs. time. In addition, the measured transit time of the
cement can be used to help "fine tune" ultrasonic devices used in the field to
determine the condition of the cement behind the pipe. Other advantages are
simplicity of the test, and the low level of labor required. Once started, the device
can be left to collect data for long periods of times without attention. The main
disadvantage of this method is that the compressive strength of the cement is
inferred from correlations developed between transit time across the sample and
compressive strength. Three correlations are generally programmed in the
instrument for low, medium and high density/strength cements. At the start of the
test, the technician selects the correlation to be used. Pulse velocity is every bit
as useful a measurement as unconfined crush tests.

In general, the predictions of strength development when using the UCA, when
compared to the destructive test discussed above, are found to be conservative.
In other words, the strengths predicted by the UCA tend to be lower than from the
cube method at the same curing conditions.

With either one of the methods described above, curing schedules and test
parameters need to be adjusted to reflect as closely as possible the conditions of
the well. For example, the testing schedule should be modified as needed to be
able to measure the compressive strength development of the cement at the top
of the cement column. The API RP-10B gives guidelines to accomplish these
schedule adjustments.

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Figure 9: UCA Test: example chart

Settling Behavior

Solid segregation, or settling, downhole under static and/or dynamic conditions is

a serious concern in drilling operations. Barite sag is well recognised in the
industry and poorly designed cement slurries and spacer fluids can behave in a
similar manner. The concerns occur particularly in highly deviated and horizontal
wells. Settling of solids from these fluids can cause problems including:
• stuck pipe, e.g. liner running string
• kicks
• pack-off,
• gas and/or water migration after cementing
• failed primary cement jobs
• failed cement plugs

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Some investigators have thought that settling occurs mainly while the fluids are
static in the well. Although static settling occurs, other work indicates that
dynamic settling (while pumping) may be a problem too.

The best way to determine if a fluid will settle is to test it in the laboratory under
downhole conditions of temperature and pressure.

Static Settling Test

API RP-10B describes a static settling test that is widely used throughout the
industry. In essence the test consists in placing a sample of cement slurry in a
tube and allowing the cement to set under downhole conditions. The depth to the
top of hard cement is measured and then the tube is split to allow removal of the
set cement column. The column is then cut into sections and the density of the
different segments measured. From the data, a density profile is constructed,
and the user then decides if the slurry design is acceptable from the point of view
of segregation or settling. The Figure shows a sketch of the API sedimentation

Settling Test Tube

The main advantage of the API test is that it is quantitative in nature. The user is
able to "measure" the settling or segregation tendencies of the fluid. The other
advantage is that the method is very well known throughout the industry often as
the ‘BP Settling Test’.

The main drawback is that it takes time to obtain the results of the test. The
cement is usually allowed to set for 24 hours before removing it from the tube.
This may present a problem if the slurry is being optimized, and the the job is

Another test method uses a consistometer to bring the cement slurry to downhole
conditions of temperature and pressure. After a period of conditioning at BHCT,
the motor of the consistometer is stopped, the slurry is kept static for 10 to 30
minutes, and without re-stirring, the slurry is removed from the tests apparatus
and examined for static settling. Measurements of the density of the slurry are
made at several depths in the slurry cup to try to quantify the setting/segregation
tendencies of the slurry. The bottom of the cup is carefully examined looking for
settled/segregated solids. This procedure has been very successful in detecting
static settling/segregation of cement slurries, spacer and drilling fluids.

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The main advantage of this method is time, taking even less than a thickening
time test. Because of the size of the slurry cup, the tests is not affected by wall

Dynamic Settling Test

Dynamic settling (settling during pumping of the fluid) can be critical especially in
highly deviated, ERD and horizontal wells if the potential for gas or water invasion

Tests have suggested that it is possible for a cement slurry to show very little static
settling, but have serious dynamic settling. One possible explanation for this
phenomenon is that statically, the fluid is allowed to develop gel strength which
contributes to solids suspension. Under dynamic conditions, gel strength is not
developed, and if the fluid does not have enough viscosity at downhole
conditions, solids may settle out. Low flow rates will exacerbate the problem.

The API RP-10B does not contain a dynamic settling test. However a procedure
which was developed by a major oil company is available. Service companies are
familiar with the test and are capable of performing it.

The laboratory procedure requires a variable speed consistometer equipped with

a special slurry cup paddle that allows detection of dynamic settling. The fluid is
brought to downhole conditions of temperature (BHCT) and pressure using a
thickening time schedule, stirring at 150 rpm (normal rotation speed). Once the
cement slurry is stabilized at bottom hole circulating temperature and pressure,
the rotation speed of the consistometer is reduced to 20-30 rpm. Rotation at the
low rpm is continued for a minimum of 30 minutes then the cup is removed from
the consistometer and opened without turning it over.

The standard cement slurry cup paddle is intended to maintain the entire slurry
agitated and homogeneous. The paddle used to detect dynamic settling likewise
keeps the fluid stirred throughout the entire cup at high rpm, but allows solids
settling at the low rpm

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Once settling starts to take place, this is apparent on the consistency chart. The
solids at the bottom of the cup start to load and grab the paddle and the recorded
consistency starts to increase or to look “jagged”. The final confirmation of the
existence or nonexistence of settling is after the test, when the slurry cup is
opened and the fluid examined for settling. The height of the cone of solids at the
bottom of the paddle is measured and recorded. A true non-settling fluid will not
form a cone on the bottom plate of the paddle (zero cone height). The maximum
cone height normally allowed is 1/2 in. Another criteria is that for lightweight
slurries, more than 1/2 lb/gal difference from top to bottom of the cup is not
accepted. For weighted slurries, more than 1 lb/gal difference from top to bottom
of the cup is not permitted, particularly in a critical job.

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Cement Slurry Design

Slurry Design
Understand the properties of cement slurries and ways in which they can be mod-
ified to suit the aims and objectives of the job.
Understand the function of cementing additives and when it is necessary to use
Become familiar with the laboratory test methods, test equipment and the inter-
pretation of the results from standard tests.
Slurry Properties Required

The properties which are generally considered to be important

• Density – this may need to be high to control the well or low to prevent frac-
turing weak formations
• Fluidity to enable pumping and placement
• Setting time, or pumping time, so that the slurry sets soon after the job is
complete and the subsequent operations can begin.
• Strength – this may or may not be important. A kick-off plug may need a
high strength.
• Stable suspension of particles – non-sedimenting. Free Fluid or free water
• Ability to resist dehydration against permeability – Fluid Loss
• Permeability
• Shrinkage
• Durability. The cement must last a long time – longer than the well – and
prevent fluids moving between the subsurface and surface.

Cement Slurry Mixing Water Ratio

The optimum water to cement ratio for a cement slurry is the result of a balance
between opposing trends. On the one hand, low water to cement ratios generate
dense, high strength set cements. Test have suggested that the maximum
cement strength is obtained at a water-cement ratio of about 2.8 gallons of water
per sack of cement. This is the minimum amount of water necessary to fully chem-
ically react and hydrate the cement particles.

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However, this cement-water slurry would have the consistency of caulk, or tooth-
paste, and could not be pumped down a well. On the other hand, high water to
cement ratios reduce slurry density and give low slurry rheologies that facilitate
mixing, reduce frictional pressures and allow pumping with field equipment. Too
much mixing water de-stabilizes the slurry, causing free fluid and settling/segrega-
tion of the particles. In addition, high water to cement ratio slurries produce low
strengths. Therefore, one of the primary slurry design issues is the balance
between density (usually determined by the well circumstances) and the fluid and
set properties.

Quality of the Mixing Water

Whenever possible, potable (drinkable) water should be used to mix the cement
slurry. However, fresh waters are not always available. For example, offshore, sea
water is often used to mix the slurry. In remote locations, low quality (contami-
nated) water may be the only source available. In many cases non-potable
waters can be used with care, but the slurries must be lab tested using the actual
field water to be used in the job. Additive concentrations and response will vary
depending on the water source.
Field waters sometimes come from open pits or from shallow water wells, streams
or lakes. These waters are often partially contaminated. Contaminants in mixing
waters include:
• fertilizers dissolved in rain water,
• waste effluents in streams, including animal waste
• soluble agriculture products such as sugar cane or sugar beets,
• rotting vegetation (swamp waters),
• Dissolved salts from nearby caves, underground waters, etc.
Depending on the concentration, these materials can seriously alter the set and
other properties of the cement slurry.

The well design will normally fix a range for the slurry density. This will be influ-
enced by the height to which the cement is to be lifted, e.g. 500ft MD inside the
previous shoe, and the available pore/fracture pressure window. The slurry den-
sity will normally be higher than the mud density. A lead and tail system (a lighter
slurry followed by a heavier slurry) may be used to reduce total pressure at the
shoe and avoid losses.
Each API Class of cement has a 'normal' water ratio for a neat (no additives)
slurry. The water-cement ratio for each API class is given in as gallons of water
per sack of cement (94 lbs) and as percent water (pounds of water per 100
pounds of cement).

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The slurry density and yield are also given in the table. The slurry density is
shown in pounds per gallon and the slurry volume (yield) in cubic feet per sack of
Figure 10: API Normal Cement Slurry Densities

API Cement Mixing Water Weight Volume

Class gal/sack % lb/gal cu ft/sk

A 5.2 46 15.6 1.18

B 5.2 46 15.6 1.18

C 6.3 56 14.8 1.32

G 5.0 44 15.8 1.15

H 4.3 38 16.4 1.06

D,E,F 4.3 38 16.4 1.06

For a given well application, the density of the slurry required does not always
match that given above. It may be possible to use a tail slurry with the above
weight and use a lighter lead slurry above it. The lighter, lead, slurry can be
achieved by basically two approaches:
• Increasing the water/cement ratio
• Including light weight particles – particles with a density less than the

The ability to mix the cement slurry on the fly, or in a batch mixer, is obviously
important. In addition, the cement slurry must be placed in the annulus without
excessive friction pressures that may exceed the fracture gradient. Conversely, if
the slurry is too thin, problems with stability/settling and free fluid will develop.
The rheology of the slurry is an important parameter that enters into the displace-
ment/placement efficiency consideration discussed later. When necessary, the
rheology of a thick slurry can be reduced with additives called dispersants.

Controllable Setting Time

For drillers, the thickening time is the most critical property of the cement slurry.
The slurry must not set before the placement operation is completed but must set
fast once in place. Cement needs to develop strength fast to support and protect
the pipe, and for the drilling engineer to be able to proceed with drilling or comple-
tion. So, a controllable thickening time is needed.

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The thickening time of a cement slurry is extremely dependent on temperature. It

can be controlled by the use of chemical accelerators or retarders. The job time
plus one or two hours is a common rule.

Sufficient Strength
Cement needs to develop strength to protect and support the pipe, and to allow
subsequent operations in the well. However, just how much strength is needed for
proper protection and support of the casing is not well understood. It is likely that,
in general, the industry uses cements that develop more strength than is needed.
Cement contamination with well fluids that can dramatically reduce strength so
this is good insurance. However, high strength cements are brittle, and recent
studies have suggested that the industry needs to consider using lower strength
cements (below 2000 psi) across pay zones. Some of these lower strength
cements are better able to withstand casing perforating and loads imposed by
pressure and temperature changes in the wellbore, without damage to their integ-
The poor understanding of strength requirements is, in part, due to the very sim-
plistic crush test used in the industry. This unconfined 2” cube test is really only of
any use as an indicator of strength development and as a means of comparing dif-
ferent samples. The numbers generated are not useful in design calculations
where complex loading needs to be addressed.
The strength development of cements depends mainly on temperature and the
water/cement ratio.
Low well temperatures tend to cause slow strength development. This can pre-
sents a serious design challenge for shallow casing strings and/or low tempera-
ture environments like the North Slope and in deepwater locations. On the other
hand, elevated temperatures accelerate the development of strength.
At temperatures above about 230F, powdered silica needs to be added to the
cement to avoid the phenomenon known as ‘strength retrogression’.
The compressive strength development of the slurry is normally measured only
after the other properties have been determined and optimised. If the strength
developement is acceptable, the cement slurry formulation is considered satisfac-

No Permeability
Protection of casing and prevention of fluid migration within the cemented annulus
during the life of the well requires set cements to have very low permeability once
fully set. Fortunately, cements normally develop very low levels of permeability.
The Table below shows examples of permeability values for several neat

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Figure 11: Water Permeability (md) of Some Neat Cements

After 7 Days of Curing
Temperature F API H (1) API A (2) API C (3)

80 0.00218 0.000167 0.0000000537

120 0.000001 0.000241 0.0000000613
140 0.000175 0.0.0213 0.0000000459
160 0.000983 0.0172 0.0000000915
(1) course ground, 40% water
(2) medium ground, 46% water
(3) fine ground, 70% water

Set cements, cured at temperatures less than 230F develop very low permeabili-
ties, much lower than those of producing formations and similar to those of
shales. However, the final permeability of a cement is a property over which nor-
mally, relatively little control can be exercised. The API RP-10B contains a proce-
dure to measure the permeability of set cements but, under normal conditions, not
much attention is given to the permeability of the set cement, and permeabilities
are not often measured.
Cements subjected to high temperatures – higher than 230 deg F – which have
not been stabilized against strength retrogression will show increased permeabili-
ties with age due to the chemical phase changes. The Figure illustrates this effect.
Stabilisation with around 35% silica bwoc will prevent high permeability.
Figure 12: Effect of Temperature on Permeability

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No Shrinkage
Shrinkage is perhaps the most misunderstood and controversial property of oil
industry cements. The main reason is that the problem is complex. The API has
published a pamphlet (API Technical Report 10 TR2) on expansion/shrinkage of
cements that attempts to explain the phenomenon and better define the terms.
Shrinkage and expansion of cements results from the formation of hydration prod-
ucts having densities which differ from those of the reacting components. These
hydration reactions can cause:
• Changes in pore volume of the cement matrix
• Changes in pore pressure in the matrix
• Changes in the cement physical dimensions
• Changes in internal stresses
The actual behaviour depends partly on whether the cement is able to draw in
extra fluid or gas from the surroundings. When cements are sealed in totally
impermeable membranes – as they would be if used in an inflatable packer, ECP,
– then bulk volume shrinkage of around 2% is measured. If the cement is against
permeability – say a water bearing sand – and extra water can be sucked into the
sample as the hydration proceeds, then the total of the inner and bulk shrinkage is
around 6%. This inner, chemical, shrinkage is related to the development of inter-
nal porosity and permeability
Not surprisingly, temperature can also influence the resulting behaviour.
One reason for the confusion around shrinkage is related to the time at which
measurement starts. If cement is mixed with water, conditioned, then sealed in a
membrane while it is still a pumpable slurry; then the bulk volume change, mea-
sured from this early time, follows the curve shown below. It may never ‘expand’
since it will not cross the axis. However, if the sample is allowed to set solid and
then the measurements are started then the cement is seen to be expansive (see
the new origin ‘Time Zero’ on the curve).

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Mix with water and start measurement while still a liquid

Log time



Time zero


For cement inflated packers, cement shrinks and the sealing has to be compen-
sated for by the rubber. In a normally cemented annulus, early shrinkage may be
compensated for by movement (compaction) of slurry.

The negative pressure developed during hydration of the cement can draw in gas
from the formation. This effect, coupled with other properties of the slurry, can
lead to gas migration and an incomplete annular seal.

So-called expanding cements should only be used in extreme cases and where
their behaviour is understood in detail. When an unrestrained annular ring of
cement expands, the hole in the centre gets bigger not smaller. In a weak forma-
tion, cement expansion can produce a micro-annulus.

Long term durability

One very substantial benefit of cement is that it has an established track record for
durability – both in the oil industry and the construction industry. The mechanisms
of degredation are well understood and, in general, cement once placed and set
will remain to provide a pressure seal for a very long time – hundreds of years.

There are however some circumstances where this fails.

Attack by acid gases – this can cause quite rapid degredation. The best defence
is a low permeability – this is obtained through reduced water content and through
the use of particles within the slurry, e.g. latex.

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Strength Retrogression at temperatures higher than 230 deg F – addressed by

the addition of silica

Severe cycling of pressures and/or temperatures – this can lead to cracking and
eventual movement of fluids. Foamed cements may help to mitigate.

Formation movements due perhaps to reservoir compaction or tectonic stresses.

The casing may suffer considerable deformation but still remain intact but the
cement sheath may crack and allow migration of fluids.

The Use of Cement by the Oil Industry

Cement is a relatively low cost material that has proven quite reliable for sealing
wellbores. Long term integrity of cements is well proven and, in general, the integ-
rity of hydrocarbon producing wells has been satisfactory. This has been the tes-
timony from operators who have used cement in thousands and thousands of
wells throughout the world with good results. There are other materials that could
be considered, for example some resins and various inorganic systems, but these
materials have limited application due to their higher cost and chemical reactivity
(difficult to control at high temperatures).

Another reason for the use of cement is its availability world-wide, due to the use
of cement in the construction industry. It is relatively easy for a cement plant pro-
ducing construction cement, to also be able to manufacture API type cements.
Many cement manufacturers throughout the world are producers of mono-
grammed API cements. Sometimes the quality of local cements is not the best,
but with the use of additives, the cements can be made to work under downhole

Cementing Additives
Methods to Adjust the Slurry Density

There are basically just two ways to adjust cement slurry density,

• modify the water content

• add particles

In practice, it is often a combination of both approaches that is used.

Particles have either low or high specific gravity depending on whether the inten-
tion is to reduce or increase the slurry density. Often these density controlling
additives require additional water to be included in the formulation to maintain the
desired consistency, or the use of some concentration of dispersant.

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Adjusting the Water Concentration to Change Slurry Density

The simplest way to modify the slurry density is by changing the water to cement
ratio. For example, densified slurries can be designed by reducing the water con-
centration to levels that can produce densities of around 17 - 17.5 lb/gal without
the need of adding high density additives to the formulation. On the other hand,
light density slurries can be designed by increasing the water concentration from
the normal values. When designing light weight slurries by adding extra water,
additives need to be included to 'tie up' the water and prevent slurry instability.

One way to tie up water is to add a clay. Bentonite is the most common clay used
in the design of light weight slurries. The clay hydrates and allows high concen-
trations of water to be used while still maintaining good slurry consistencies and
slurry stability. Bentonite will absorb about 11 times its own weight of fresh water.
In cement slurries, however, the water absorbed or retained by a good quality
bentonite is about 6 pounds of water per pound of bentonite when the bentonite is
dry blended with the cement. If the bentonite is fully yielded by prehydrating it
with the mix water and then using the bentonite-water slurry to mix the cement, it
is possible to approach the level of 11 lbs of water per pound of bentonite. The
next table gives examples of some slurry formulations using bentonite.

Class G Cement with Bentonite

Figure 13: Dry Blended:

Percent Mix Water Slurry Weight
Bentonite(1) gal/sk lbs/gal
cu ft/sk

0 5.0 15.8 1.15

2 6.3 14.8 1.34

4 7.6 14.2 1.52

6 8.9 13.6 1.71

8 10.2 13.2 1.89

10 11.5 12.8 2.08

12 12.8 12.6 2.26

(1)Percent by weight of cement

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Figure 14: Prehydrated:

Slurry Vol-
Percent Mix Water Slurry Weight
ume cu
Bentonite(2) gal/sk lbs/gal

1.5 7.3 14.2 1.46

2.0 8.4 13.7 1.61

2.5 10.8 12.8 1.94

3.0 12.7 12.3 2.20

3.5 13.5 12.1 2.31

4.0 15.5 11.8 2.58

4.5 19.5 11.2 3.13

(2)Percent by weight of cement

Sodium Metasilicate
Sodium Metasilicate is available as a dry powder for dry blending or as a liquid for
mixing in the cement mixing water. Most of the Sodium Metasilicate used by the
industry is in the liquid form. This material is capable of taking-in large volumes of
mixing water, allowing slurry densities down to 11.5 lbs per gallon to be mixed with
little to no free fluid separation. Although the additive is a mild accelerator, at the
low densities, the strength development of the cements is quite poor. This mate-
rial should not be used at temperatures above about 150 F because conventional
retarders needed at high temperatures tend to destroy the effectiveness of the
additive. In addition, salt concentrations about 5% by weight of water (bwow)
should not be used with this material. Some slurry formulations using Sodium
Metasilicate are shown in the following Table.
Figure 15: Class H with Liquid Sodium Metasilicate - Fresh Water
Silicate Weight Yield Total Mixing Liquid
gal/sk lb/gal cu.ft/sk gal/sk

0.563 11.5 2.74 16.93

0.338 12.7 1.96 11.05
0.225 14.0 1.51 7.68

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Using Particles to Lower Slurry Density

There are several materials that can be used to reduce slurry density. We will
review several of the most commonly used.

Hollow Spheres

The most commonly used hollow spheres are fly ash 'floaters', a by-product of the
coal burning process. The material has an specific density of about 0.685 at
atmospheric conditions, and a bulk density of about 25 lb/cu.ft. The use of this
additive allows cement slurry densities as low as 10 lb per gallon with reasonable
strengths. Cement compositions containing hollow spheres are hard to design, to
make sure the spheres do not float out of the slurry. The recipes are also hard to
blend due to the light density of the spheres. In addition, because increasing
pressures tends to collapse portions of the spheres, the density and yield of the
slurries change with pressure. The currently used hollow spheres are competent
to about 6,000 psi.

Nitrogen - Foam Cements

Nitrogen has been used to generate foam cement slurries in the oil industry for
over 20 years. Initially, the primary application was solving severe lost circulation
problems almost exclusively on land wells. The main benefit was providing
ultra-lightweight cement systems that could be applied at densities of less than 11
lb/gal and gain good strength rapidly. Application of foam cement then grew to
include squeeze cementing of weak zones which would not hold a column of con-
ventional cement without going on vacuum during the job.

More recent applications have included prevention of water flows when cementing
surface casing in deep-water applications in the Gulf of Mexico and other areas of
the world. Foam cements provide a means of placing a light, competent cement
across weak formations, with minimum losses. Additionally, foam cements have
the unique property of “compressibility-maintained, hydrostatic pressure” across
high pressure gas and water zones, as the cement goes through the transition
from a liquid to a solid. Foam cements have overcome the problems associated
with conventional cements for this application. Conventional cements are not
compressible and readily loose hydrostatic pressure while going through the tran-
sition phase, potentially leading to influx of gas or water into the cement column
(flow after cementing).

Foam cements have also been used recently in HPHT wells due to their high duc-
tility, to eliminate cement failure caused by temperature and/or pressure changes
during the life of the well. Conventional cements have been found to fail (crack)
under those conditions. Physical properties and some advantages of foam
cement technology are outlined below.

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1. High Strength / Low Density: Foam cements have the highest strength at a given
(low) density of any cement system available. This is due to the fact that the base
slurry (unfoamed) is typically a conventional high strength cement. The addition
of nitrogen (gas typically used to generate foam cement) does not reduce the
overall strength of the system to the extent of other lightweight additives used in
cement (excess water, microspheres, etc.). Foam cements can be generated at
densities much less than conventional lightweight cements with sufficient strength
for completion purposes. Because of this, foamed cement can be placed in a sin-
gle stage without loss of circulation in situations where conventional cements
could not.

2. High Viscosity: When a fluid is foamed it typically develops significantly higher vis-
cosity than the unfoamed base fluid. Because of the highly energized nature and
viscous nature of foam cement fluids, better mud displacement can be expected
with foam cement in comparison to conventional cement systems. Better mud
displacement can ultimately mean better protection of the casing and sealing of
the annulus, helping to eliminate costly squeeze cementing operations and other
repair work.

3. Ductility: Set foam cements have been found to be significantly more ductile than
conventional cement systems. This ductility can help improve the durability of the
cement sheath over the life of the well. Successful applications of foamed
cements in wells with the potential for stress-induced failures due to temperature
and pressure cycling have been reported in the literature.

4. Compressibility and Fluid Loss Control: The gas phase of the foam cement
causes the unset slurry to have significantly more compressibility than conven-
tional cement slurries. Also, foamed fluids by nature have a degree of built-in fluid
loss control. Both of these properties can help prevent gas and/or fluid migration
into a cemented annulus. Gas migration can occur when overbalance pressure
across a gas and/or fluid bearing zone is lost. Overbalance pressure is lost due to
the combined effect of fluid loss, gel strength development, and the compressibil-
ity of the cement slurry. Because foam cement is compressible (i.e. minimal pres-
sure loss with a given amount of fluid loss) and has built-in fluid loss control, the
loss of pressure in the annulus is minimized while the cement is setting up. This
minimization of pressure loss aids in the prevention of annular gas and/or fluid

5. Reduced Environmental Impact: Another potential benefit of utilizing foam cement

is potentially a reduced environmental impact. Less cement and potentially fewer
chemicals are needed to obtain and equivalent volume of cement slurry for a
given job in comparison to when conventional lightweight cement systems are
used. Reduction of these materials could mean less impact on the environment in
manufacture, transportation, and utilization during the cementing operation.

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C lass G C em ent @ 100 °F

Strength (psi)
6 lb/gal 8 lb/gal 10 lb/gal

12 Hour 24 Hour 72 Hour

Figure 16: Compressive Strength of Some Foam Cements

Using Particles to Increase Slurry Weight

Additives used to increase slurry density need to have the following properties:
• have low water requirements (do not need much extra water to maintain
the desired fluidity),
• exhibit no significant strength reduction (due to dilution of the cement per
unit volume)
• have uniform particle size, or a particle size which does not sediment out
• be chemically inert or beneficial.

Hematite, an iron ore, is the most widely used slurry weighting material. Even
though it has a relatively high specific gravity, (5.02), the small particle size of the
ground additive helps keep it suspended in the cement slurry. Hematite high den-
sity slurries also contain some dispersant to maintain a good solids-suspending
consistency without having to add much water to the formulation. Slurries weigh-
ing up to 20 lbs per gallon have been mixed and pumped with this additive.

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Figure 17: Hematite Slurries With Class H Cement

Hematite Water Weight Yield
Lbs./Sk Gal./Sk. Lbs./Gal Cu. Ft./Sk.

0 4.29 16.47 1.05

10 4.50 17.00 1.11
20 4.60 7.68 1.16
30 4.66 18.15 1.20
40 4.75 18.70 1.24
50 4.81 19.15 1.28
60 4.90 19.60 1.33
Figure 18: Hematite + 35% silica flour

Hematite Water Weight Yield

Lbs./Sk. Gal./Sk. Lbs./Gal Cu. Ft./Sk.

0 5.86 16.04 1.46

10 5.95 16.50 1.51
20 6.00 17.00 1.55
30 6.10 17.45 1.59
40 6.20 17.71 1.63
50 6.30 18.25 1.68
60 6.40 18.60 1.73
70 6.50 18.91 1.77
80 6.60 19.25 1.82


Barite (barium sulfate) has been used for many years as a weighting material for
drilling muds but has limited application in cementing slurries. While its specific
gravity is high (4.23), the material has a fairly high water requirement due to its
fineness. The additive requires about 22% water by weight. This complicates the
design of the slurry since extra water lowers the density. The problem can be
minimized by using dispersants. Slurry weights up to 19 lbs per gallon have been
mixed and placed using barite.

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Manganese Oxide

Recently, manganese oxide (hausmannite) has been used as a cement additive

to help obtain high density slurries. The additive has an specific gravity of 4.9.
The material is ground to an average particle size of 5 microns. Because of its
fineness, the additive can be added directly to the cement mixing water, and it will
remain in suspension. This property facilitates mixing of heavy slurries offshore,
on the fly, without having to dry blend. Combinations of Hematite and Manganese
Oxide have been used to design ultra heavy slurries at densities up to 23 lb/gal for
ultra high pore pressure environments in some areas of Colombia.

Adjusting the Slurry Rheology

Dispersants are chemicals that are included in cement slurry formulations to
improve fluidity. Dispersed slurries exhibit lower viscosities and therefore are
easier to mix and can be pumped at lower pump pressures, thus lowering the
horsepower needed for the job and reducing the chance of damaging weak zones
(lost circulation).
Dispersant are polymeric chemicals normally available in powdered form,
although liquid forms are used offshore. Normal concentrations for dispersants
are in the range of ~0.2% to ~1.5% based on the weight of the cement. In addi-
tion to lowering the viscosity, these products impart a low level of retardation to the
cement slurries, particularly at low temperatures. Dispersants are included in slur-
ries to be exposed to a wide range of temperatures, from low conditions (60F), to
very high levels (350F). Often the dispersants are used mainly to allow mixing of
the cement.
In general, dispersants are compatible with most other additives, and can be used
in many slurry formulations, with few problems. One exception is systems con-
taining high concentrations of sodium chloride (above about 15%). With salted
slurries, the dispersants may tend to initially thin the slurries, but after a few min-
utes, the slurry may flocculate, producing large increases in viscosity.
One caution that must be observed with dispersants if to make sure the slurry is
not over-dispersed. Excessive amounts of dispersants de-stabilize the slurry,
causing large levels of free fluid and increased slurry settling tendencies.

Adjusting the Slurry Thickening Time

As previously indicated, the slurry thickening time is adjusted with the use of
retarders or accelerators, depending on the well temperatures.
Accelerators are normally inorganic chemicals that speed up the reactions of
hydration of the cement. Since acceleration of the set time of cement slurries is
normally not needed unless the well temperatures are low, these additives are
normally not used at temperatures above about 100F. Slurry acceleration is usu-
ally needed for the cementing operations of conductor and/or surface pipe to

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reduce WOC time and rig time costs. The most commonly used and effective
accelerator is Calcium Chloride. Many other inorganic materials can accelerate
slightly. Sodium Chloride is a good example and seawater another.
Retarders are usually organic chemicals that retard or slow down the reactions of
hydration of cement systems. Extension of the set time is normally needed for the
deeper casing strings. Retarder materials include lignosulfonates, some organic
acids and sugar derivatives. Cellulose derivatives used to help control the fluid
loss of cement slurries also perform as retarders at low to moderate temperatures.
At elevated temperatures, lignosulfonate retarders are stabilized by the addition of

Controlling Slurry Fluid Loss

Low fluid loss cement formulations have application in squeeze cementing opera-
tions, and during primary cementing across narrow annuli, under high differential
pressures, and particularly for controlling gas migration after the cement job
across gas and water zones.
Many fluid loss additives are cellulose based. Because of this, they tend to
increase the consistency of the slurry, and in addition, they also increase the
thickening time of the formulation. The degree of retardation depends on the con-
centration of the additive, and the well temperatures. Often dispersants need to be
added to adjust the fluidity of the system. Dispersants tend to enhance the effec-
tiveness of cellulose base fluid loss control additives. Latex materials are also
used to control fluid loss in cement slurries. .
Imparting fluid loss control to slurries containing calcium chloride or sodium chlo-
ride for low temperature applications is a difficult task. Fortunately, there are
some fluid loss control additives available that are compatible with sodium chlo-
ride up to a concentration of around 18% by weight of the mixing water.

Controlling Slurry Stability

Cement slurry stability is particularly critical in highly deviated, extended reach
and horizontal wells, and in any situation with potential for gas/water migration
after cementing. For these applications, designing for slurry stability becomes
extremely important.
The conventional way to control this slurry property is by designing the slurry with
very low to zero free fluid with a rheology that facilitates mixing and placing. At the
same time, the rheology needs to promote suspension of the solids at static and
dynamic conditions, and under downhole temperatures and pressures. Conven-
tional materials such as bentonite that can be used to help suspend solids but the
industry has developed additives that do not increase viscosity at the surface –
thus facilitating mixing - but that 'yield' under temperature, as the sluury is going

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Using Loss Circulation Control Additives in Cement Slurries

Losses of whole mud or cement slurry to natural or induced fractures or vugs dur-
ing drilling or cementing operations are referred to as 'lost circulation' or 'lost
returns'. Lost circulation should not be confused with filtration loss (seepage),
which normally occurs due to pressure differential across the permeability (filter-
cake formation and dehydration through the filtercake).
Lost circulation problems during drilling need to be solved before starting the
cementing operation. However, it is not uncommon to again experience loses
during the cement job, if weak zones are present. Minimization of these problems
must be addressed during the planning of these jobs. Some materials that can be
included in the cement slurry to help with the situation during cementing include:
• granular materials;
• flakes;
• fibrous materials
Granular Materials
To enhance their effectiveness, granular materials generally contain a distribution
of particles ranging from coarse (1/4 in.) to a fine powder. The coarser particles
bridge the fracture and the smaller particles then pack in around and over the
larger particles to complete the shut-off. The most commonly used granular addi-
tive is Gilsonite. Another granular material available is ground walnut shells sold
under the trade name "Tuf Plug". The shells are sold in three size grades: coarse,
medium, and fine, and should be used in combination to again augment the effi-
ciency of the additive. Normal concentrations of walnut shells used range from 1
to 5 lbs per sack of cement.
A third lost circulation additive containing granular materials is sold under the
name of 'Kwik Seal'. It contains fibers in addition to granular material and is also
available in three grades, coarse, medium, and fine. Normal concentrations used
in cement slurries range from 1 to 3 lb/sk. Higher of concentrations of 5+ lb/sk
have been used in specific instances across depleted zones in Trinidad. As for all
lost circulation materials, at the higher concentrations, it is important to make sure
that the float equipment is not plugged by the additive and that mixing and surface
equipment can cope.

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Flaked Materials

The lost circulation control additive most commonly used in cement slurries is cel-
lophane flakes. The flakes perform better when used across unconsolidated or
highly permeable zones where the lost circulation material can plaster over the
thief zone. The flakes are not as efficient across fractured zones as the granular
or fibrous materials. Cellophane flakes are usually used in concentrations ranging
from of 1/8 to 1/4 lb per sack of cement.

Fibrous Material

These lost circulation additives are usually short nylon or polypropylene fibers
used in concentrations of 1/8 to 1/4 lb per sack. These materials are best suited to
bridge off narrow fractures. Normally these additives are used in combination with
granular or flake materials. Bulk handling of the dry cement with fiber added is
troublesome, and special handling procedures for adding the fiber at the mixing
tub are often needed. Fibers can also be used to keep the cement together in
case it is damaged (cracked) downhole.

Effects of Extreme Temperatures

Strength retrogression at temperatures above about 230 deg F is prevented by

the addition to the slurry formulation of 35% fine crystalline silica (silica flour or sil-
ica sand). The silica actively enters into the reactions at these temperatures, gen-
erating reaction products that exhibit high strength. Silica is also added to
slurries used to cement surface casing strings in HPHT wells. This is because
during production the cement will be exposed to temperatures above 230F. Data
indicates that strength retrogression is possible, depending on the temperature
and recipe used, with cements that have set at low temperatures, but are later
exposed to elevated temperatures above 230F.

Special Situation - Deep, Long Liners

The design of deep long liners is normally complicated by the extreme differential
temperatures encountered from the bottom to the top of the liner. It is not uncom-
mon to find situations where the circulating temperature at the bottom of the liner
may be higher by as much as 50F or more than the static temperature at the top
of the liner. In these situations, waiting on cement times may be extended in
many cases to 48 and even 72 hours to allow the top of the column to set. In
cases of extreme temperature differentials, stage tools have been used because it
has not been possible to design a cement slurry capable of having the required
thickening time at the BHCT, and also be capable of setting up in a reasonable
time at the top of the liner.

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Special Situation - Geothermal Wells

Although geothermal wells are usually completed in the same manner as conven-
tional oil and gas wells, the environment is more severe. The bottomhole temper-
ature in geothermal wells can be as high as 700°F, and the formation brines are
often extremely saline and corrosive. Many failures in geothermal fields have
been directly attributed to cement failure. In geothermal wells, the temperatures
always exceeds 230°F. Studies have shown that at least 35% silica flour is
required to minimize strength retrogression. However, in geothermal wells where
very high amounts of CO2 may be present, it has been suggested that reducing
the silica flour concentration from 35% to 20% may improve cement resistance to
CO2 attack. However, these formulations need to be carefully tested in the labo-
ratory at the expected well conditions.

At present, geothermal well cements are usually designed to provide a minimum

of 1,000 psi compressive strength, and no more than 0.1 md water permeability
in accordance with the API Task Group on Cements for Geothermal Wells, 1985.
In addition, the set cement must also be resistant to degradation by saline brines.
Based on extensive lab tests performed by Schlumberger on slurry designs under
conditions similar to those in geothermal wells, the following guidelines were
documented for slurries to meet the above requirements:

• Silica flour must be used to prevent strength retrogression at temperatures

exceeding 230°F.

• Silica fume should be used in small amounts (<10% bwoc) to reduce per-

• The active solids-to-liquid ratio (by weight) should be 2.0:1 or greater.

• Slurry density should be reduced using microspheres or by creating
foamed cement with nitrogen.

• Foam quality should not exceed 30%.

• Special CO2 resistant systems stabilized with silica can be used to obtain
extremely low permeabilities and good strength.

• Latex slurries can be used to prevent gas migration as long as placement

temperatures are below 350°F to 400°F.

• Class F fly ash must not be used above 400°F.

• Microspheres, if used, must be composed of glass for BHST above 400°F.
• Bentonite should not be used in CO2 environments.
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Special Situation - Ultralow Temperatures (Permafrost Zones)

Permafrost zones in areas such as Alaska and Northern Canada present some
unique cementing difficulties. Permafrost is defined as any permanently frozen
subsurface formation. Frozen formations extend to depths greater than 2000 ft
and may consist of frozen soil in some areas or contain ice blocks in other areas.
When permafrost exists, the cement system to be used should have a low heat of
hydration to prevent thawing of the permafrost, must not freeze and be able to
develop sufficient compressive strength at temperatures as low as 20°F. Conven-
tional cement systems are not satisfactory in permafrost conditions because they
freeze before developing sufficient compressive strength.
Special cements such as gypsum/Portland blends with sodium chloride as a mix
water freezing depressant, are used extensively for permafrost cementing. For
surface pipe, these slurries are designed for 2 to 4 hours pumping time, yet their
strength development is quite rapid and varies little at temperatures between 20
and 80F. A typical composition consists of a 50:50 blend with 12% salt. The gyp-
sum sets and gains strength rapidly at freezing temperatures, and protects the
slower setting Portland cement from freezing. These cements also have a low
heat of hydration.

Other Special Conditions, Systems and Additives

Salts (Sodium, Potassium) as Cement Additives

The original use of salt (sodium chloride) in cements began in the late 1940s for
cementing casing through salt formations in the Williston Basin of North Dakota,
U.S.A. Collapsed casing was a repeated problem in that field until the cause was
traced to flow of the salt formations. It was theorized that the cement slurries
were leaching salt from the formations during and after placement, creating voids
behind the pipe, facilitating the flow of the salt. It was expected than when a
non-salted slurry was placed across a salt horizon, dissolution of the salt occurred
at the cement/salt interface due to ion exchange, and poor zonal isolation
resulted. This dissolution of salt formations has been confirmed with laboratory
experiments. In contrast, excellent bonding at the interface cement/formation has
been observed with salted slurries. In laboratory tests, shear bond strengths were
measured at the interface using slurries with varying salt concentrations. The
results showed that improved interface contact occurs with increasing salt con-
centrations in the cement.
Although no dissolution occurs when a salt-saturated slurry is used, these slurries
are quite difficult to design with the desired properties of compressive strength
development, settling, free water, fluid loss, etc. For this reason, cement slurries
used across salt formations often contain about 18% salt.

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This practice allows better control of the slurry properties, and has produced good
results. In addition, many of the cement recipes are designed with potassium
chloride instead of sodium chloride. Lower concentrations ( 3 to 5%) of KCl can
be used with similar results, and KCl slurries are easier to design. The problem
has also been helped by the development be the service companies of special
polymers (for example Schlumberger's Saltbond).
Another benefit of using a salted system across salt formations is that the design
is relatively immune to effects of salt contamination during placement. In general,
thickening times are reduced when cement slurries contain up to about 7 to 10%
salt, essentially unchanged at concentrations up to about 18%, and then increase
with increasing concentrations of salt. The time required to develop adequate
compressive strength also generally increases with increasing salt concentra-
tions. Because of this strength retardation effect, when designing slurries to be
placed across fast moving salts, the overriding consideration is to design the
slurry such that it will develop adequate compressive strength as fast as possible.
Often in these fast moving salt situations, heavier/thicker casings are used, along
with accelerated cement slurries, with minimum thickening times and lower safety
factors, to get the cement to set fast, before the formations have time to contact
the casing string, to minimize damage to the pipe.
A few years after starting to use salt in slurries across salt formations, it was also
observed that remedial squeeze cementing operations were improved (fewer
squeeze stages required) when produced salt water was used for mixing cement
in the western areas of the State of Texas, U.S.A. Investigators determined that
the salt in the mix water was less disruptive and damaging to bentonitic sands and
to shale beds, and produced a better cement bond to the shale. It was also
observed that salt concentrations less than saturated, 10% to 18% based on
weight of the mix water, were sufficient to protect freshwater sensitive formations.
Later, 3% to 5% potassium chloride was found to be equally effective, and again
these lower concentrations of KCl were less destructive to the effectiveness of the
fluid loss control additives and facilitated the design of the slurry formulations.
Finally, a word of caution. High concentrations of salt in cement slurries need to
be used only when necessary (KCl is preferred over NaCl because of the lower
concentrations and reduced negative effects). It has been shown that the use of
salted cement slurries across fresh water formations can be very detrimental to
the long term stability of the cement. Due to the differences in ion concentrations,
dissolution/osmotic forces can eventually destroy the integrity of the cement.

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Detrimental Effect of Magnesium Salt Containing Formations

Some salt formations contain very mixed salts and some contain Magnesium
Chloride. The seriously detrimental effects of magnesium chloride on cement has
been well documented. Magnesium chloride attacks calcium hydroxide (free
lime) in the cement forming calcium chloride, and causes decay of the calcium-sil-
icate-hydrate (C-S-H) structure of cement (formed during hydration) through
leaching of the calcium by chloride ions. The cement is further weakened during
the process by the formation of expansive compounds such as chloro-aluminates
and brucite (magnesium hydroxide). The cement is therefore attacked both chem-
ically and mechanically. It should also be noted that if the slurry becomes contam-
inated with magnesium chloride during placement, serious viscosity increases can
occur and the thickening time of the slurry can be significantly reduced. This vis-
cosification is caused by the precipitation of magnesium hydroxide. It has been
noticed that contamination of cement slurries by less than 5% by weight of water
(bwow) of magnesium chloride can reduce their thickening time by more than
50%. It has also been found that attack by magnesium chloride can be averted or
minimized by:
• reducing the free lime of the cement,
• reducing the permeability of the set cement, and
• using cement systems that develop fast early strength
• using available cement formulations that resist attack by magnesium chlo-
If magnesium brines are to be encountered in formations along the interval to be
cemented, the best practice is to use a magnesium resistant system. In addition,
compressive strengths and contamination tests should be performed on the slurry
using a magnesium brine fluid medium, preferably taken from the field at hand.
A high magnesium resistant (HMR) cement system is available to the industry.
The HMR system uses a special blend of Portland cement and granulated blast
furnace slag to which 28% fly ash and 15% salt (sodium chloride) are added. The
blended product is mixed at a density of around 15.8-16.0 lb/gal. This cement
was successfully used across 11,850 ft of massive salt in a Netherlands well in
the Dutch North Sea where the presence of magnesium chloride was expected.
Other available magnesium resistant systems incorporate latex and special poly-

Detrimental Effect of Sulfate Waters

Formation brines containing sulfates are among the most destructive downhole
agents to Portland cements. The deterioration is usually characterized by expan-
sion, strength loss, cracking, and finally complete failure of the cement structure.
Sulfate containing brines are found in West Texas and Kansas, U.S.A., the North
Sea, and other oil producing area of the world.

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The downhole brines which contain magnesium and sodium sulfates react with
calcium hydroxide (precipitated during cement hydration) to form magnesium
hydroxide, sodium hydroxide, and calcium sulfate. The formation of magnesium
hydroxide (brucite) causes expansion as mentioned earlier. The formation of
sodium hydroxide increases the porosity of the cement since it is more soluble
than calcium hydroxide. The calcium sulfate reacts with aluminates (present in
the cement) to form secondary ettringite, a tri-calcium aluminate (C3A) product
which causes expansion. Large calcium sulfo-aluminate crystals are also formed.
The calcium sulfo-aluminate crystal contains 31 molecules of water; thus, the
product is a large molecule that requires more pore space than the set cement
can provide, causing excessive expansion. The effect of all these reactions can
be uncontrolled expansion leading to loss of compressive strength and eventual
complete deterioration of the set cement

Temperature influences the sulfate resistance of a hardened cement. From inves-

tigation conducted at both low and high temperatures, it was concluded that sul-
fate attack is most pronounced at temperatures between 80F to 120F. At
temperatures of 180F and above, the attack is negligible. This conclusion is sup-
ported by observation of actual wells. Cement failures due to sulfate attack are
more common in shallow wells where temperatures are lower than 200F.

The API classifies cements as moderately sulfate resistant (MSR) and highly sul-
fate resistant (HSR) on the basis of the tricalcium aluminate (C3A) content. A
MSR cement contains 3-6 weight % C3A; and a HSR one 0-3 weight % C3A. API
HSR cements , are less susceptible to sulfate attack after setting, and should be
used whenever downhole brines may exist which contain magnesium and sodium
sulfates. Sulfate attack can also be substantially reduced by the addition of poz-
zolanic materials, such as fly ash, to the cement system.

Effect of CO2 Carbon Dioxide

Laboratory and field studies have shown that carbon dioxide in the presence of
moisture, can destroy the structural integrity of set Portland cements. The reaction
involves the formation of carbonic acid which attacks the alkaline constituents
(Ca(OHfavouredcium carbonate into soluble calcium bicarbonate. This begins a
chain reaction. The dissolved calcium bicarbonate reacts with the alkaline constit-
uents forming calcium carbonate and water. The water dissolves more calcium
bicarbonate. The net result is a “leaching” of cementitious material from the
cement matrix, increasing its porosity and permeability and decreasing its com-
pressive strength. Downhole, this can result in a loss of casing corrosion protec-
tion and a loss of zonal isolation.

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Carbon dioxide corrosion of Portland cements is thermodynamically favored, and

therefore, cannot be completely prevented as long as Portland cement is used.
For economic reasons, the approach which has been generally adopted is to slow
down the rate of degradation of portend cement by a combination of the following
• Addition of a pozzolanic material (fly ash) to the cement to reduce the alka-
line constituents (free lime) available for reaction, and to reduce permeability.
• Lowering of the water-to-cement ratio (densification) to reduce cement
matrix permeability.
• Addition of latex for additional sealing effectiveness
• Use of CO2 resistant cement blends
For example, a cement slurry design for this application may utilize a 50:50 type C
poz -Class H blend, and 2 gals of latex per sack of blend, mixed at 16.4 lb/gal.
Special CO2 resistant cement blends are also available. For example D889 devel-
oped by Schlumberger. The developers claim that the blend, when mixed at a
cement-to-water ratio of 2.3 to 1 or greater, provides 45% more resistance to the
action of CO2 leaching in cements than either neat class H cement or type F fly
ash/cement admixtures of equivalent slurry density.
Another system developed by Halliburton is claimed to produce significantly better
corrosion resistance to CO2 than the previously used systems, particularly when
wells are subjected to acid treatments. This claim is based on field tests per-
formed on samples installed in actual CO2 injection wells. This system called
Flexcem is significantly more expensive than conventional systems. The product
uses a crosslinked latex as its primary constituent, to which a quick-setting
non-Portland cement (25% by weight of latex), and silica flour (125% by weight of
latex) are added to provide structural rigidity. Base systems are mixed at around 9
lb/gal and have been weighted to around 12 lb/gal. The developers claim that the
properties of the system such as thickening time, compressive strength, etc., are
repeatable under standard API laboratory conditions.

Thixotropic Cements
Thixotropic slurries are systems that have low viscosity while being sheared
(pumped) but build high gel strength very rapidly when shearing (pumping) stops.
Upon resumed pumping, the slurries should ideally revert back to their initial low
viscosities, and this behavior should be repeatable for several cycles. Unfortu-
nately thixotropic slurries that truly behave as described are hard to design. They
tend to gel fast, but may not gel and thin through several cycles as it may be desir-
able in some applications. In addition, they in general have limited temperature
applications and their 'thixotropic' properties can be negatively affected by several
cement additives, again limiting the applicability of these slurries.

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In the real world, under downhole conditions, the best that can be hoped for is for
the slurries to develop high levels of gel strength once pumping is stopped. The
true gel strength properties of these systems need to be measured, at downhole
conditions of temperature and pressure, using devices such as the MACS or the
retrofitted UCA.
The primary advantages of thixotropic slurries are:
• Improving fill-up by reducing loss of slurry into weak formation, vugs, cav-
erns, etc.
• Quick-gelling to inhibit gas movement through the slurry.
• Expanding properties
One way to produce a 'thixotropic' slurry is to blend gypsum hemihydrate with an
API Class A, G, or H cement at concentrations of 8 to 15 percent by weight of the
cement. Other more sophisticated formulations are also available from the service
companies. Many of the applications of thixotropic slurries are at low tempera-
tures, but uses of the systems have been reported to temperatures as high as

Deepwater Situations
We already reviewed under Special Considerations, the complicating factors
associated with cementing operations in deepwater locations. Here we will review
slurry design considerations for this type of application. The main emphasis as
can be expected is on the slurries used to cement the shallow casing strings, par-
ticularly if the potential for shallow water flows exist. Once these strings are suc-
cessfully cemented, design of the slurries for cementing of the deeper casings can
be handled similarly as for land operations.
The following are the requirements for cement slurries to be used to cement the
shallow (conductor, surface) strings in deepwater applications.
• Maintain hydrostatic pressure control
• Exhibit short transition time
• Capable of setting fast at low temperatures
• Capable of developing adequate compressive strength
• Contribute to good displacement efficiency
• Flexible to allow design modification
• Provide long term sealing
- Good bonding
- Ductility
• Have good fluid loss and free fluid control
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Both conventional and foam cement systems are available to cement the shallow
strings. However, after carefully examining the list above, it is easy to see why
foam cement slurries are used most of the time when potential for shallow water
flows exist. Foam systems present the following advantages over conventional
• Excellent sweeping (displacement) properties
• Very flexible system (easy to adjust densities on location)
• Superior compressive strength at low densities and at low temperatures
• Good sealing properties (ductility)
• Inherent good fluid loss and free fluid control
• Excellent cement column pore pressure maintenance while setting
• Excellent flow after cementing control properties
For deepwater applications, one advantage that the conventional systems have
over the foam formulations is cost.
Cementing Slurries for Situations of Gas/Water Migration After Cementing

Guidelines for Selecting Flow Migration Control Slurries

The following are general design guidelines for cement slurries to be used across
hole intervals that present potential for fluid migration after the job:

1. Transition Time. Transition Time needs to be short. We define Transition Time

as the lapse of time from when the cement becomes static in the annulus (job
time) to when gel strength develops to some figure, typically 500 or 1,000+ lb/100
ft2. The gel strength has to be measured under downhole conditions of tempera-
ture and pressure.

Note: Transition time cannot be obtained from the consistometer thickening time
curve. Transition time needs to be measured using an apparatus like the
MACS or the retrofitted UCA, under static conditions, and at downhole tempera-
tures and pressures. It is normally accepted that if gas can be prevented from
invading the cement during the transition period, the chances of severe gas
migration problems in the well can be substantially reduced. Short transition
times are desirable. As a rule of thumb, less than ½ hr. transition time is consid-
ered a short transition time.

2. Non-settling/solids segregation. The cement column must be homogeneous

from top to bottom. Settling/segregation can cause severe changes in the hydro-
static head particularly in a deviated well and cannot be tolerated.
Free fluid. Free fluid must be zero and should be measured under downhole con-
ditions of temperature and pressure.

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3. Fluid loss. Fluid loss must be low. The lower the better. Without good fluid loss
control, chances of controlling cement column invasion are very poor. "If nothing
can leave the matrix of the cement, nothing can get in.” From successful field
applications, less than 50 mil API (less than 20 mil API preferred) is the recom-
mended design criteria across zones with flow invasion tendencies. The fluid loss
must be measured under downhole conditions.

4. Thickening time. TT must not be excessive. Cement behind the pipe needs to
set up as soon as possible after the cement job. Leaving unset cement behind the
pipe for extended periods of time is an invitation for potential problems. Thicken-
ing times should be designed whenever possible for the job placement time plus a
reasonable safety factor (1 to 1-1/2 hr.).

5. Laboratory testing. The gas migration control properties of the cement slurry
should be tested in the laboratory under simulated downhole conditions. An indus-
try available procedure called the Scale-Down will be discussed below. The use of
the Halliburton “flow potential” concept represents a good effort in the right direc-
tion and should be used as a “screening tool,” but exclusive use of this and other
selection criteria fall short of the necessity of actually testing in the laboratory, the
selected recipes under simulated downhole conditions before the final selection is
made. In cases where gas invasion/migration is a serious concern, testing a
cement formulation for gas migration control in the laboratory should be consid-
ered as important as testing the thickening time and compressive strength of the

Scale-Down Laboratory Test Method

A detailed description of the Scale-Down method is outside the scope of this man-
ual. Thus, only a brief overview of the method is given below.

A special lab device is used to conduct the gas migration test under the simulated
(scaled-down) well conditions. The Scale-Down lab procedure addresses a “worst
case” scenario. The method assumes that the offending gas zone (source of the
invading gas) has enough permeability, thickness and gas volume to fully invade
and pressure-charge the cemented annulus (cement column), if conditions allow
it. In the laboratory procedure, the measured, actual gel strength development of
the slurry is used to estimate the maximum potential pressure decline in the
cement column. The calculated pressure decline schedule is then used to allow
dehydration from the cement into the simulated gas formation, and to predict
when a pressure differential needs to be applied across the slurry to potentially
drive gas/water through the sample. The magnitude of the pressure differential
placed across the cement specimen is calculated using Darcy's Law, assuming
that equal “bulk permeabilities” exist in the well and in the test cell. The gas influx
into the cement is measured .

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At the end of the test, it is possible to tell if the proposed slurry formulation will
control the gas migration problem in the given well across the zone of interest.
Several service companies and independent laboratories have gas flow cells, and
thus can conduct Scale-Down tests.

Figure 19: Scale Down Test Device

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Cement Sampling, Blending and

Quality Control
Dry Cement
Present field-proven cement sampling, blending and quality control procedures

Recognise the importance of accurate sampling and protection of samples for lab

A knowledge of sampling and blending techniques and quality assurance issues
with cements is vital to avoiding serious cementing problems. These techniques
are needed to ensure that the cement slurries pumped down-hole closely match
the cement slurries as designed in the laboratory.

In many on-shore areas of the world, dry blending of the cement with dry additives
is the method of choice. Most off-shore operations will use liquid additives and
neat cement. However, even off-shore, there is often a blend of cement used at
some stage of the well, e.g. Class G +35% silica.

The methods described here are the result of many years of accumulated industry

Sampling of materials to Use for Pilot Testing

The absolute necessity of conducting all the slurry design testing using the exact
materials (cement, additives, field water) to be used in the actual cement job can-
not be overemphasized. In order to have representative samples of the cement
and additives to be pumped downhole, good sampling techniques need to be

A sample of the field water needs to be collected in clean, sealed containers,

properly marked and taken to the laboratory as soon as the source of water is
secured at the well location. If the water is in a tank at the rig, the sample needs
to be taken from a valve, after flushing enough water from the line to make sure
the sample is representative of the water in the tank. However, if there are settled
particles at the bottom of the tank, and the discharge line is close to the bottom,
the sample should be taken from the top, dipping the sampler container into the
water to try to collect the sample from the center of the tank.

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The additive lots to be used need to be put aside for the job. Under no circum-
stances should several lots of an additive be mixed for the job. The same consid-
eration applies for cement manufacturing runs. Samples of the additives for lab
testing need to be taken from the lots to be used, from un-opened, undamaged
bags. The materials need to be placed in clean bottles or containers and sealed.
Bulk cement sampling can be done using devices shown in the Figure below,
taken from API Spec-10B. Silos may be equipped with one of the sampling
devices shown below. Lines need to be purged long enough before taking the
cement sample to make sure the sample is representative of the cement in the
tank and not just what is trapped in the line. If the cement is in a transport
equipped with an upper hatch, samples can be taken using a special tube (auger)
that allows small samples to be taken simultaneously, at different depths, when
pushed into the cement from the top. The same techniques and devices can be
used to sample cement blends from tanks and silos.
Pilot testing by the lab will establish a suitable slurry design on which dry blending
will proceed. Once blended, the cement blend will have to be confirmed by repeat-
ing the lab tests and assessing any variation.
Cement is a very reactive material and will chemically react with moisture in the
air. This will change physical properties like thickening time and compressive
strength development. The extent to which this happens can vary widely. Some
cements are particularly sensitive, others not so. In any case, small quantities,
e.g. a cement sample, are particularly vulnerable to exposure and, if not ade-
quately protected, exposure of just a few hours can make several hours difference
to the thickening time – generally lengthening it…. the consequences of testing
such a samples and designing the retarder concentration can be disastrous! The
following guidelines should be adhered to:
• Cement container:
- Large enough for 5 kg, 10 lbs minimum
- Air-tight, waterproof and strong enough to remain so during transit
- Clean, dry and preferably un-used
- Completely filled to exclude as much air as possible
- Lined with a clean, previously unused, polythene bag
- Labeled to show the cement silo number, date, location, cement
type and blend, sample method.
Note: it is better to label the body of the container, not the lid.

• Additive containers
- Clean plastic bottles, 0.5 litre, 1 pint, or larger
- Water tight lids, sealed with tape to prevent unscrewing in transit

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- Labeled to show location, date, source (LAS, bags, etc), additive

name, lot number, etc
Note: roll drums, or circulate LAS, to ensure active components of liquid additives are
in suspension

• Mix water container

- Clean plastic bottle 3-4 litre, 1 gal, or larger
- Water tight cap sealed with tape
- Labeled to show date, location, type (sea or drill water). Do not use
soft drink bottles.
Figure 20: Bulk Sampling Devices

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Steps for Successful Cement Blending

The following are the logical steps that lead to a successful blending operation.
For critical jobs, it is not uncommon for a oil company representative to witness
the entire blending operation.

Step 1. Safety Meeting

Step 2. Isolation of all materials to be used
Step 3. Planning Meeting to discuss the entire blending operation, and to make
the final blending calculations
Step 4. Inspection of bulk and blending equipment
Step 5. Calibration of blending equipment, as needed
Step 6. Blending of the cement and additives
Step 7. Sampling of the blends
Step 8. Confirmation testing

Isolation of Materials to be Used in the Job

As soon as the slurry design to be used is identified, a conservative estimate of

the job size (slurry volume) should be made. Dry, liquid additives and cement in
sufficient quantities to cover contingencies such as greater than anticipated hole
enlargement, etc, should then be secured in a clearly identified area. The materi-
als are often isolated several days before the actual blending operation.

Planning Meeting

Influence of the Well Location

A clear understanding of the size and configuration of the well location, the condi-
tion of access roads (or marine transportation) is needed. This initial part of the
planning meeting may include a review of a diagram of the well location showing
the position of all the major components.

Selection of the Equipment

The next item of discussion is the selection of the equipment to be used (trans-
ports, batch-mixer, pumps, etc.). To be able to make a good selection, it is neces-
sary to know the capacity and capability of the transports, the batch-mixers and
pumping equipment. This information affects how the blends will be transported
to location, stored while waiting for the job, and finally mixed and pumped. When-
ever possible, critical liner slurries should be batch-mixed.

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Final calculations of the slurry volumes and bulk blend volumes need to be made,
to help finalize the selection of the equipment (size and number of transports,
etc.). It is a good idea at this point to add to the location diagram, the position
(spotting) of the different pieces of equipment. to be used.

Bulk Plant Considerations

Locations throughout the world vary in layout, capacity and capabilities. For
example, does the bulk plant have a scale tank and a blending tank, or is it
equipped with only a scale tank? This is very important because the blending
practice that consists of loading the cement and additives into the scale tank and
percolating air through the blend does not completely blend the cement and
should not be used alone. This practice is particularly ineffective when materials
like sand, hematite, salt and silica flour are part of the cement formulation. Air
percolating may actually de-blend the mixture, with the heavy and the larger parti-
cles ending up at the bottom of the batch.
To properly blend cement, the blend must be pneumatically transferred a mini-
mum of three times before it leaves the service company yard. So, if the plant is
equipped with only the scale tank, it may be necessary to hook up a clean trans-
port to the bulk plant, to use it as a blend tank. Often the use of a transport as a
blend tank considerably extends the length of time that it takes to blend, due to
the difficulty of moving the cement blend from the transport back into the scale
tank while blending the cement recipe. This must be done, particularly for critical
jobs. Percolation of air through the blend should only be used as part of the
blending operation, and with some bulk plant configurations can be substituted for
one of the moves (transfers) as will be seen below.

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Figure 21: Pneumatic Bulk Plant

Selection of the Blending Procedure

Blending methods are discussed below in order of effectiveness.

1) Four pneumatic transfers: The cement blend is transferred from the scale tank
to the blend tank, from the blend tank to the scale tank, from the scale tank
back to the blend tank, and from there to the bulk transport. Notice that the
transfer to the bulk transport is counted as a transfer. Experiments have
shown that this number of transfers generates a good blend. Some in the
industry prefer moving the cement six times.
2) Three pneumatic transfers: The cement blend is transferred from the scale
tank to the blend tank, from the blend tank to the scale tank, and from there to
the transport. Some plants are constructed in such a way that the four trans-
fers described above cannot be performed (cannot transfer from the blend
tank to the transport), forcing the use of the 3 transfer method.
3) Equivalent to three pneumatic transfers: The cement is percolated with air for
10 to 15 minutes in the scale tank. From there it is transferred to the blend
tank, and then to the transport. If this procedure is used, the percolating pres-
sure should not exceed 10-15 psig in order to minimize gravity segregation
within the blend. Notice that the percolation is counted as one transfer.

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4) Some locations throughout the world like to move the blend only twice before it
leaves the yard, and count on the last transfer on location, from the transport
to the batch or recirculating mixer to complete the blending operation. This
practice is not recommended. The cement blends should leave the service
company location fully blended. In addition, if this practice is used, the opera-
tions of sampling of the blend and confirmation testing will be negatively
affected. Sampling and confirmation testing will be discussed later on in this

Blend Size

The blending of the decided amount of cement formulation is done in "batches" at

the bulk plant. The selection of the size of the batches is affected by the capacity
of both, the scale tank and the blending tank. It has been found that the if the
tanks are over-filled, then the effectiveness of the blending operation is negatively
affected. To properly blend the cement recipe, the bulk volume of each batch
should not exceed about 40% of the capacity of the smaller of the scale and the
blend tanks. This is to allow plenty of empty space in the tanks for the cement
blend to move freely and blend as it is being transferred from tank to tank. If
needed, the batch size can be increased to up to 50% of the capacity of the small-
est of the tanks, but this is not a good practice if the blend contains large particle
additives such as silica sand, calcium chloride, hematite, salt, etc. When large
particle materials are present, the 40% number mentioned above is the recom-
mended batch size.

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Dry Blending Calculations

Important Note: It is a good practice to make sure that all the calculations needed
for the proper design of a blending operation be performed by two persons, inde-
pendently of each other, and then compared, to minimize human error.

The dry bulk yield of a formulation is the sum of contribution of all the dry compo-
nents of the recipe. This yield is determined from a material balance using the
bulk densities and the concentration of the dry additives being used. The dry bulk
yield of the given cement recipe is needed in order to properly size the batch to be
blended. An example of these calculations is given below.

Figure 22: Dry Bulk Yield of a Cement Formulation

Concentration Weight Bulk Density Bulk Yield
(BWOC) (lbs) (lbs/cu.ft.) (cu..ft..)

Cement 100% 94.00 94 1.00

Silica flour 35% 32.90 70 0.47
Hematite 50% 47.00 193 0.24
Dry retarder 0.5% 0.47 36 0.01
Dispersant 0.5% 0.47 36 0.01

Dry bulk yield (cu.ft./sk.) = 1.73

For the example case given in the Table, the calculated dry bulk yield of the partic-
ular recipe is 1.73 cu.ft./sk. So, for a blend of the cement recipe of say 450 sacks,
the total dry volume would be 778.5 cu.ft. The number and size of the batches
which will be required are determined, based as indicated before, on the need to
stay at 40% of the capacity of the smallest of the scale and blend tanks. If for
example the capacity of the smallest tank was 280 cu.ft., then the maximum batch
size would be 112 cu.ft., and seven batches would be required to blend the 450
sacks of the cement recipe.

Following, the weight of the cement and additives to be used in each batch are
determined based on the concentrations of the recipe and the pre-selected size of
the batch. A blending schedule is prepared. In the schedule, half of the cement is
added first, followed by all the additives which are then "sandwiched" by the sec-
ond half of the cement. This sandwiching approach has been proven effective in
numerous blending applications. Some in the industry like to use several layers:
cement, additives, cement, etc. This is time consuming and, in general, does not
generate better results than the single layer approach.

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Liquid Blending Calculations if a batch Mixer is Used

The discussion below applies to the case that a batch mixer is going to be used,
and the mixing liquid will be placed in the mixer before blowing into it the dry
cement blend, to mix the cement slurry.
When liquid additives are to be blended into the mix-water (batch approach), the
amount of mix-liquid to be used for each batch (tank) of slurry is calculated using
the mix-liquid requirements of the given slurry. As an example, let's assume that
the usable capacity of each batch-mixer tank is 45 bbls, the slurry yield is 1.63
cu.ft./sk, and that the mix-liquid requirement for the slurry is 5.90 gal/sk. Let's
also assume that four batches of slurry are going to be mixed in each of four
batch-mixer tanks. We will also assume that four dry batches of 112.50 "sacks"
were blended and transported to location in separate bulk tanks. Therefore the
mix-liquid required for each blend is 15.80 bbls ((112.5 sk x 5.90 gal/sk)/42). The
volume of slurry mix in each tank is 32.66 bbls ((112.5 sk x 1.63 cu.ft./sk)/5.6156)
which is well within the capacity of the batch-mixer tanks.
Once the volume of total mix-liquid per tank is determined, the volumes of each
liquid additive required needs to be determined from the known concentrations.
The Table below shows the calculation of volumes needed for the example case.
Figure 23: Liquid Additive Volume Needed for the Example Batch
Concentration Total volume per batch
(gal/sk) (gal)

Latex 3.5 393.75

Stabilizer 0.35 39.38
Antifoamer 0.05 5.63
Liquid Retarder 0.5 56.25
Water 1.50 168.75

Total mix liquid volume 663.76 gal = 15.8 bbls

Inspection of Bulk and Blending Equipment to be Used in the


Bulk Equipment

After the completion of the kick-off & safety meeting, the next thing is to inspect
the equipment to be used. The main reason for this is to ensure that the equip-
ment is functional and free of materials (old cement blends, etc) that could con-
taminate. Once inspected, this equipment must not be used in other jobs until
after the blending at hand is performed.

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Transports hatches must be opened and the inside of each tank inspected to
make sure it is completely clean. Clean equipment, free of possible contami-
nants, is a ‘must’ to achieve a successful blending operation.

Blending Equipment (Bulk Plant) General Inspection

Blending procedures need to be discussed in detail with the bulk plant operator.
Sandwiching of additives, number of transfers of the blend, sampling methods,
etc, need to be discussed and agreed. It is not uncommon to find that following
quality controlled blending procedures like the ones discussed here often takes
longer than other less rigorous methods. However, the methods suggested
should produce quality blends closely matching the slurry formulations designed
in the laboratory.

It is important to become familiar with the location of the scale tank, blend tank,
bulk equipment tanks, lines, valves, etc. A free-hand diagram drawn with the
assistance of the bulk plant operator will help in understanding of the equipment
layout. It is important to question when any load devices were last inspected and

At this poin verify that the additives to be used in the blending operation have the
same lot numbers that were used to run the pilot tests. This is a critical point dur-
ing the bulk plant inspection. It might not be possible to confirm the lot numbers
of bulk materials such as hematite, silica sand, etc, but many of the critical addi-
tives such as retarders, fluid loss additives, etc. have lot numbers stamped on the
bags. If the additives are not of the same lot numbers, the blending operation
should not start until a repeat of the pilot testing is done with the actual materials
to be used to blend the cement formulations.

Cleaning of the Blending Equipment

It is imperative that the scale tank, the blend tank, the additives hopper and all the
lines (from the bulk storage tanks and exiting the scale and blend tanks and the
hopper) be completely clean of potentially contaminating materials. In the same
way, the "socks" (dust collectors) often installed on top of the scale tank need to
be free from all material possibly accumulated in them from previous jobs. The
cleaning procedure needs to be performed prior to commencing the blending
operation and it is carried out as follows:

All the lines are purged into the scale and blend tanks several times. The socks
are then shaken for several minutes to allow discharge of materials into the scale
and blend tanks. The scale and blend tanks are then purged with air (30+ psig)
into a discharge tank. The operation is repeated three or four times or until there
is only dust coming out of the discharge lines of the scale and blend tanks.

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With very dirty bulk plants (sometimes found in more remote locations of the
world), or in situations were it seems that the plant is not "coming clean", 10 sacks
(about 1,000 lbs) of silica sand can be run through the lines and tanks to help
scrub the walls. After the sand, the cleaning operation outlined above needs to be
repeated from the first step. Some scale and blend tanks are equipped with
hatches that can be opened to inspect the inside of the tanks. When available,
they need to be opened to confirm cleanliness at the end of the cleaning opera-
Some plants have socks on top of the scale and the blend tanks. Others only
have one set of socks. In any case, sometimes the socks are found to be
non-operational. Every effort must be made to fix these devices before the start
of the blending operation. Socks are used as dust collectors, but they are also
very useful in putting back into the blend, the fine particles that tend to be carried
out by the air during the blending operation. Non-operating socks prevent the
operator from restoring the fine particles back into the blend, by periodically
"shaking the socks" while blending. At the end of the cleaning operation, the bulk
plant (scale, and blend tanks, hopper and all the lines) must be completely empty
of materials from previous operations.

Blending Equipment Calibration

As previously indicated, it is important to note the last time the scales were cali-
brated by a calibrating entity. A certification should be available for inspection.
Scales that have not been calibrated at least once in the last year can possibly be
out of calibration and need to be checked. The following "quick and dirty" test of
the accuracy the scale tank can be run before a blending operation starts: after
zeroing the scale of the scale tank, two or three people of known weight climb on
the scale tank (on top or on the frame) and a weight reading is taken on the scale
tank. The weight recorded on the scale should be within 10 to 20 pounds of the
sum of the weights of the individuals on the tank. If safety considerations, or
doubt about the weight of the individuals, prohibit this ”quick and dirty" calibration
approach, 5 to 10 bags of silica sand or barite on top of the tank can be used for
the same purpose. Again, the reading of the scale should be within 10 to 20
pounds of the actual weight. If an error greater than 20 pounds is measured, the
amount of weight in the tank should be varied (above and below the original
weight used), and the scale read again. This should allow a determination if the
error is constant or if it varies with changing weights. This procedure should be
repeated several times, looking to see if a reliable, consistent and repeatable cali-
bration trend line can be developed. If a calibration line cannot be developed for
the scale tank, the blending operation should be suspended until the problem is
fixed by the service company.
Similarly, the additives scale needs to be checked using a known weight. Several
sacks of additives of "known" weight (one bag at the time) can be used to check

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this scale, or any other available material of known weight can be used. The addi-
tives scale must be within a 1/4 of a pound or less of the known weight. It is rec-
ommended that the additives scale be calibrated before the scale tank. By doing
this, the additives scale can be used to weigh the individuals or sacks of additives
to be used to help calibrate the scale tank.

Zeroing of the Scale Tank

Another critical step in the process of proper blending of cement is the correct
zeroing of the scale tank. Zeroing means exactly that. It means to force the scale
tank to read "zero weight" at the start of a blending operation. The bulk plant
operator makes the scale tank read "zero" by turning a knob on a beam type
scale, or by pressing the zeroing button on an electronic read-out scale. Once the
scale is zeroed, this same zero must be maintained during the blending operation.
In addition, every time a weight is taken (read) on the scale tank, the same set of
conditions present when the scale was originally zeroed must be repeated or the
weight read will be in error. This set of conditions are the following:

1) All the lines leading to the scale tank must be purged and therefore completely
free of materials. When the tank is zeroed or when a weight reading is taking
during the blending operation, the goal is to read the weight of the materials in
the tank. So, the lines must be free of materials for two reasons. The first one
is that if material is left in the lines, the weight of this extra material is not fully
recorded when a weight reading is made. This material left in the lines will
then be pushed into the tank the next time the line is pressurized. This can
easily add several hundred extra pounds of the material present in the lines to
the scale tank. The second reason is that lines full of material, because of the
way they are connected to the scale tank, can add an undetermined amount of
stress to the tank, causing the load cell on the tank to record a certain (unde-
termined) amount of extra weight over the true weight in the tank.
2) The scale tank must be under a preset vacuum level, a preset pressure level
or under atmospheric conditions (no pressure or vacuum). Some operators, to
help facilitate the blending operation, prefer to zero the scale tank and make
weight readings either under vacuum or with pressure in the tank. This has to
do with the way the particular plant operates. For example, if materials are
"sucked" into the tank by pulling a vacuum in the tank (say 10 inches of vac-
uum), the operator might prefer to read how much material is in the scale with
vacuum in the tank. On the other hand, when transferring material out of the
tank, it might be easier to read the weight in the tank with pressure (say 30
psig) in the tank. Either method is acceptable but again, once the scale is
zeroed under a given set of conditions (vacuum or pressure), the same
amount of vacuum or pressure needs to be present in the tank when a weight
reading is made, or the reading will be in error.

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The best method is to zero the scale tank, and to make all weight readings at
atmospheric conditions (with no vacuum or pressure in the tank). This is the most
accurate and trouble-free way to know the weight of materials in the tank. This
method should be the one used, unless the particular plant design prohibits its
application. Some plant operators resist this method due to the extra time
required to bleed the pressure or release the vacuum from the tank before taking
each weight reading.
Proper zeroing and weight reading of the scale tank is so critical to the blending
operation that its importance cannot be overemphasized. For example: If the
scale tank has been zeroed at atmospheric conditions, and a weight reading is
taken either under vacuum or with pressure in the tank, the weight read can be
several hundred pounds below or above the true weight in the tank, depending
among other reasons, on the way the tank is plumbed.

Dry Blending of Cement and Spacer Recipes

Just prior to starting blending, it is recommended to drain the moisture sump of
the air compressor to reduce the chance of moisture contacting the blend. This is
particularly important in high humidity areas of the world. In high humidity areas,
purging of the water in the compressor should be done several times during the
blending operation.
Important note: Even after draining the moisture from the system, highly hygro-
scopic additives may tend to absorb water from the air and therefore cause prob-
lems during blending. With these materials, the particles may tend to ball-up,
and/or stick to the tank and line walls. Because of this, it is better to add highly
hygroscopic materials (e.g. calcium chloride), particularly in areas of high humidity
(for example Trinidad), to the mix-water whenever possible. Highly hygroscopic
materials dissolve rather easily and in this way, it is ensured that the material will
be present in the slurry formulation when pumped downhole. It is recommended
that this procedure (adding the material to the mix-water) be used also during the
pilot testing of the slurry.
During blending, approximately 10 inches of vacuum are used to "pull" material
into the scale tank. The storage tanks holding the bulk materials generally can be
pressurized to help in transferring materials to the scale tank. The general proce-
dure is to introduce first into the scale tank, half of the required cement. This is
followed by other "bulk" additives such as silica flour and hematite. Next, the
"sacked" additives are introduced through the additives hopper. This is then fol-
lowed by the rest of the needed cement. Each time the operator needs to strive
to get a weight on the scale tank, that is as close as possible to the cumulative
weight target. The "socks" must be shaken regularly during the blending opera-
tion to minimize accumulation of materials in them.
The maximum acceptable deviation between the actual cumulative weight read on
the scale tank and the target weight should be about 50 lbs. It is industry experi-

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ence that trained operators, when required, can stay within this window. One
common reason that causes many operators not to be able to accurately transfer
materials into the scale tank, is not properly accounting for the material in the lines
between either the bulk storage tank or additives hopper and the scale tank. An
estimate of the weight of material which the lines will hold must be made before
commencing blending (the bulk plant operator normally has a good "feel" for this
weight). This will allow the operator to "fine tune" his operation so that a weight as
close as possible to the target value is obtained for the material being introduced
into the tank. Since the lines are full of material while transferring into the scale
tank, the operator needs to aim for less than the target weight by the estimated
weight of material in the lines. He must then shut off the valve feeding material
from the bulk storage tank into the line, and purge the material in the lines into the
scale tank. This purging of the lines may have to be repeated if it is suspected
that material remained in "dead" spots of the lines. This can occur between shut-
off valves and line sections which are not in the direct path of flow. After ensuring
that all of the material has been introduced into the scale tank, the reading of the
weight in the scale tank must be made under the same conditions as the "zero"
reading (see Scale Tank Zeroing).
The procedure described above needs to be repeated for each of the materials
introduced into the blend. It should be noted that density differences between
materials can significantly alter the weight of material in the lines. The operator
must therefore not assume that the same "adjustment" can be made for the differ-
ent materials being blended.
If during a given transfer operation the operator does not bring into the scale tank
enough of a given additive, causing the scale tank to read more than 50 lbs below
the target weight, he needs to bring more additive into the scale tank. If on the
other hand, he transfers too much of a given additive (more than 50 lbs over the
target cumulative weight), proportional additions of the other additives and cement
may need to be made at the end of the transfer operation to keep the correct pro-
portion of components in the blend.
Another common area where errors are made in dry blending is in not accounting
for the weight of the sacks or bags when adding sacked additives at the hopper.
Each bag of additive should be individually weighted, and the empty sacks should
also be weighted to determine the rest of additive that is needed. Sacks usually
weigh around 1 lb. Therefore for a 50-lb sack of additive, an error of about 2%
can be introduced into the operation by neglecting to account for the weight of the
sack. Small amounts of additive must be weighted into a clean container, and the
weight of the bucket itself must be accounted for.
When introducing additives through the hopper, the sacks must be carefully
inspected to ensure that no "rocks" of material are present and that the materials
have not absorbed moisture or have otherwise become contaminated. If any
doubt exists, the particular bag of material should not be used. Large "chunks" of

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additives might not break during blending. If small "lumps" are observed in the
material being introduced into the hopper, these must be " broken-up" before
being included in the blend. Some service company locations use a screen over
the hopper to reduce the chance of adding large lumps into the tank. In addition,
previously opened sacks of additives must not be used.

When all of the materials have been introduced into the scale tank, the pressure in
the tank should be increased to around 30 psig to perform the first transfer. If
extremely light additives are being used to blend "light-weight" cements, for exam-
ple ceramic "bubbles", the transfer pressure should be reduced to about 6-8 psig
in order to minimize blend segregation and large losses of these light additives
through the vents. In many cases this pressure is sufficient to transfer these
light-weight blends at rates similar to those of the heavier blends. In all cases,
during the transfer process, the "socks" must be shaken regularly to restore the
light additives back into the blend. After each transfer process, the scale tank
must be "pressured-up" and "blown-down" several times to maximize the amount
of material transferred. It is normal to end up with 50 to 100 lbs of weight in the
scale tank, even after several "blow- downs". This is likely caused by material that
remains stuck to the walls, socks, etc.

After the first transfer of the blend into the blend tank, the blend is normally
"pulled" back into the scale tank, returned to the blend tank and finally transferred
to the "transport". After the final transfer has been made from the scale tank, after
several "blow-downs", and after the pressure in the tank has been bled down to
atmospheric, the weight of material left in the scale tank needs to be recorded.
This weight will need to be added to the actual cumulative weights of the next
batch of blended materials.

During the actual blending process, the "target" and actual cumulative weights
should be documented and compared after each addition of additive or cement to
the blend. This information is very important not only in "keeping track" of the
weights added but also in ensuring quality control at each stage of the operation.
The "target" cumulative weight for any particular additive is determined by adding
the theoretical weight of the additive to the actual cumulative weight present in the
scale tank (recorded after introducing the previous additive to the blend). Since
scale tanks normally can only read weight in increments of ten (10) pounds, target
cumulative weights are rounded off to the nearest multiple of 10 lbs.

As mentioned before, The maximum acceptable deviation between the target and
the actual cumulative weight after each addition of bulk material to the blend is
around 50 lbs. If the actual cumulative weight exceeds the target value by more
than 50 lbs, proportional adjustments need to be made to the weights of the addi-
tives and cement to compensate for the excess. Extra amounts of materials are
generally added on top of the second half of the cement. It should be mentioned
here that small differences in the concentration of critical additives (retarders, fluid

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loss, dispersants, etc.) can significantly alter the final properties of the blended

While transferring the blend to the "transport" for delivery to the rig site, a sample
must be taken for performing confirmation tests on the blend. Sampling proce-
dures are discussed in more detail later (see Sampling).

Important note: When extremely light additives (e.g. ceramic bubbles) have been
blended in the cement, re-blending on location may need to be done to ensure the
homogeneity of the blend. This is particularly critical offshore. Extremely light
additives tend to "gravity segregate" during transport to the rig, and while being
blown to the rig tanks from the boat on offshore jobs. A clean, empty tank of ade-
quate capacity should be used on location to transfer the blend at least twice to
re-blend it. Samples of the reblended material should be taken after the re-blend-
ing operation and if time allows it, sent to the lab for testing prior to the job.

The dry blending procedures discussed above should also be applied to

dry-blending of additives for spacers.

Liquid Blending When Using Batch-Mixers

After determining the total volume of mix-liquid to be blended and the minimum
mix-liquid to be blended in each batch-mixer tank (when batch-mixing is used), an
excess mix-liquid to be blended must be decided upon. This excess mix-liquid is
needed to allow for extra volume required to fill lines and prime pumps, etc. In
addition, some extra volume is needed to be able to effectively "fine tune" the
slurry density during batch-mixing at the rig-site. The procedure normally used on
location is to mix the slurry 0.2 to 0.5 ppg heavier than planned by transferring
some of the mix-liquid to another clean tank containing the excess mix-liquid,
then slowly adding some volume of the mix-liquid to the mixed slurry, while stirring
and making measurements with a calibrated pressurized mud balance, until the
target slurry density is obtained.

Prior to commencing the liquid blending operations, all blending equipment must
have been cleaned and inspected. The first critical operation in liquid blending is
ensuring that

the correct amount of water is added to the blender (batch-mixer tank). The
source of the water must be checked to make sure is the same as was used dur-
ing the laboratory testing. Batch-mixer tanks normally have barrel markers (vol-
ume indicators) to be able to tell how much volume of liquid is in the tank. These
markers are sometimes not accurate, can be affected by the leveling of the tanks,
etc. and therefore, should not be used as the only mean for measuring the water.
However, they can be used to double-check the volume of water placed in the
tank. One good method is to use a clean pump truck and to pump the water into
the batch-mixer tanks from the truck's displacement tanks. The pump truck must

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be well leveled, and all the lines, valves and connecting hoses to the batch-mixer
must be completely full of water prior to measuring the water into the batch-mixer.
After the correct volume of water has been added to the blender in accordance
with the blend size design, the correct volumes of liquid additives are then intro-
duced directly into the tank.
Important note: liquid additives often need to be added to the mix-water in a
pre-determinated order to maximize their effectiveness and to avoid some incom-
patibility problems. This order of addition must be followed during the liquid
blending operation. This sequence should be the same that was used in perform-
ing the pilot tests.
Liquid additives often come in 55 gal drums or 5 gal pails. It is important to make
sure that all the containers are full (have not been partially emptied). Often it is
assumed that a 5-gallon pail or a 55-gallon drum actually contain those volumes
of liquid additives. This practice can potentially result in blends that do not contain
the correct proportion of additives. A good way is to used a graduated container
like a 5 gal bucket. The graduated pail can be used to check the volumes con-
tained in the "5-gallon" pails. If measurements on several randomly selected
5-gallon pails indicate that they indeed contain 5 gallons of liquid, the contents of
the pails can then be added directly into the mix hopper. Again the graduated
bucket can be used to spot-check the volume in the 55 gal drums. This is nor-
mally done at the service company yard. One drum can be emptied using the
bucket, and the volume checked. If it checks fine, the thing that needs to be done
next is to make sure all the drums to be used are filled to the same height.
When all of the additives have been introduced into the blender, the blend must
be stirred for a minimum of 15 minutes to ensure that a homogenous mixture is
obtained. A sample must then be taken for performing confirmation tests on the
blend. Sampling procedures are discussed elsewhere.

On the Fly Mixing Using Liquid Additives

Cement slurries can also be mixed "on the fly" using continuous addition of liquid
additives to the mix water. This technique is most often used in off-shore loca-
tions. Liquid additives may be dumped from gauge tanks into the mixwater tanks
or more sophisticated computerized injection devices may be used. One impor-
tant issue with this type of cement slurry mixing is the maintenance of the correct
slurry density. Thus, calibration of the equipment and proper coordination of den-
sity measurement with the rate of addition of cement, mixing water and liquid
additives is absolutely critical. Once the cement slurry leaves the mixing tank,
there is nothing that can be done. It must be mixed correctly.
Industry experience with liquid additives has been mixed mainly because of prob-
lems with dispensing systems and maintaining good control of slurry density. Ide-
ally, the density of cement slurries needs to be controlled within +/-0.1 lb/gal.

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This is not always achieved even with the latest computerized equipment. Below
is an example of a field experience illustrating mixing on the fly vs. batch-mixing.
During the job, about 70 bbls of slurry were mixed on the fly. The following 100
bbls were mixed in a batch-mixer at the desired density of 15.8 lb/gal. The slurry
in the batch-mixer was stirred in the tank while the first 70 bbls were pumped
downhole. As seen in the figure, the density of the initial 70 bbls varied from 15.1
to 16.3 lb/gal.
Figure 24: Slurry Density Variations While Pumping

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The following list contains other best practices and precautions when using liquid

• The slurry mixing system must be capable of slurry density control of +/-
0.1 ppg.
• The liquid additive metering system should be tested for uniform and con-
stant delivery of liquid additive.
• A constant inventory of required and actual usage of mix water and liquid
additives should be maintained through the job.
• The dispersion of liquid additives throughout the mix water should be veri-
• Liquid lignosulfonate retarders should be avoided, unless their reliability
has been carefully verified in the laboratory.
• Slurries should be tested in the lab, 0.5 ppg (59.9 kg/cu m) above and
below the designed density to see the effect of density variation on proper-
• An onsite monitoring package capable of continuously recording rates and
density should be run and examined during and after each job to ensure
that the slurry is mixed to design specification. The scale for the density
printout should be small enough to detect small variations in density.
• Cement delivered at different times should be isolated from any other
• The cement, additives, and mix water used for design and testing should
always be the same materials used on the actual job.

Sampling of the Blended Cements

The process of sampling a blend is as important as the process of blending since

the samples are used to run confirmation tests on the blend. The success of the
blending operation is measured by how well properly taken samples of the blend
compare with the pilot tests of the lab slurry, within acceptable tolerances.

Automatic Sampling

One efficient method of achieving this is through the use of automatic sampling
devices such as Halliburton's Accu-sample Dry Bulk material collector. Compara-
ble devices are available from the other service companies. Many service com-
pany locations are equipped with these types of collectors. The devices enable
samples of the blend to be automatically taken from the "stream" while the blend
is being blown to the "transport".

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The sampling frequency of the "stream" can be adjusted from once every four
seconds to one sample every 1.5 minutes. If needed, two different sample rates
can be pre-selected and the two rates can be used at will during the sampling
process. The following are "ball park" sample settings for the device for different
blend sizes:
Figure 25: Example of Sample Taking for Typical Automatic Samplers

Sample Rate Total Sample Collected

Batch Size Sks
Seconds Gals

50 4 0.5
150 20 0.5
250 20 0.75

For blends containing only fine materials such as cement, retarders, etc., the col-
lector is assembled with four collecting holes (0.234 in. dia.) spaced across the
width of the discharge pipe. For blends containing granular materials like silica
sand, lost circulation materials, etc, a single hole (0.375 in. dia.) is used to collect
the samples from the center of the stream. It should be noted that if the single
hole arrangement is not available for sampling the coarser blends, plugging might
occur if the four-hole arrangement is used. Under these conditions it will be better
to sample manually (see below). Prior to taking the sample, the device must be
set at the desired sampling rate, and it must be checked to make sure that it is
operating properly and that it is free of material from previous jobs.

Manual Sampling

Many locations do not have automatic sampling devices. In these situations,

manual sampling needs to be used. This practice, if done correctly, can also be
very effective. It consists of taking the sample by using a discharge valve located
on the line going from the scale tank or the blend tank to the transport. Prior to
taking the sample, the valve must be purged of material from the previous batch.
While sampling, small amounts (surges) of material must be taken by opening and
closing the valve, throughout the transfer of the batch to the transport (usually
sampling is started a few minutes after the start of the transfer operation, to make
sure that the sample is representative of the current batch and it is not being
affected by material left in the lines from the previous batch. A well taken sample
needs to contain from 20 to 50 lbs of blended material.

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Sampling Liquid Blends

When sampling liquid blends, a clean, unused container of at least one gallon
capacity must be used. Prior to taking the sample, the blend must be agitated for
a minimum of 15 minutes to ensure that a homogenous mixture is obtained. The
sample is usually taken from a valve on the bottom of the blender while the blend
is being agitated. The sample must not be taken until the valve and line leading to
the valve have been purged. If the batch-mixer is not equipped with a sampling
valve, the sample can be taken from the top of the tank by using a container and
dipping it low into the body of the liquid. After taking the sample, the container
must be tightly closed and labeled as mentioned before. A sample must be taken
from each of the blend tanks.

Composite Sample Preparation

Each batch sample can be tested to check if the specific blend resembles the
properties measured during the pilot testing. However, this can be extremely
expensive and time consuming, and is not normally done. When done, it is only
for small critical jobs (like squeezing or plug cementing). Normally what is done
is that the different batch samples are mixed into one or two composite samples
and the confirmation tests are run on the composite samples. This technique,
when combined with the rigorous blending practices outlined in this section has
been very successful in numerous jobs throughout the industry worldwide.
One way to mix the different sample batches together is to place them in a clean
drum or container and roll the container until the samples are completely mixed.
However, depending on the number of the samples, location, etc. this is not
always possible. What is often done is the following: each sample bag is thor-
oughly mixed (a large metal spoon can be used for this purpose). Next, three to
four spoonfuls full of material are taken from each sample bag (or more if needed
for volume), and placed into a clean "composite" bag. As a rule of thumb, the vol-
ume of the composite sample should be approximately equal to the average vol-
ume of the individual sample bags. The "composite" bag must be thoroughly
mixed as before. Then the bag must be tightly closed and labeled "composite
blend" and with the same relevant information as for the individual samples.
A composite sample of the liquid blend is similarly prepared by thoroughly mixing
(shaking) the contents of each container, and then transferring equal amounts
from each container into a clean "composite" container. The "composite" con-
tainer must be closed and thoroughly mixed as before. Then the container must
be labeled "composite blend" and with the other important well information.
All the samples dry and liquid, from each batch and the composite ones, must be
saved in a dry environment (often in the laboratory) for future verification or
post-analysis work. The sampling procedures discussed above should also be
applied to the preparation of composite samples of dry and liquid blends of spac-

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Confirmation Testing

The "composite" samples are used by the lab personnel to run the confirmation
tests on the blends. To run the confirmation tests, the dry and liquid blends are
combined in the same ratios as used in the pilot tests. The confirmation tests
must be run using the same industry proven testing procedures that were used
when running the pilot tests.

First, the slurry density should be verified with a calibrated pressurized mud bal-
ance and then a thickening test should be run. Simultaneously, settling tests
should be run. Next, free water, fluid loss, rheology, spacer compatibility and
finally compressive strength tests are run. Following are some guidelines for toler-
ances to help decide the acceptability or rejection of the blended cement formula-

Slurry Density

The pressurized mud balance density of the slurry needs to be within 0.1 ppg of
the target density (as designed during the pilot testing). The same for the density
of the blended spacer.

Thickening Time

The thickening time must not be less than the minimum required thickening time
for the job. The minimum required thickening time for the job is computed as the
estimated job placement time plus at least one (1) hour safety factor to account for
unplanned events. Any preconditioning time which was used in the pilot test (to
simulate surface batch-mixing) must also be simulated in the confirmation test.
The thickening time should not run in excess of about 3 hours over the estimated
job placement time. However, thickening times that run long may be considered
acceptable as long as the WOC time (see compressive strengths) is adequate
(see also important note below).

Settling Test

The slurry needs to pass the settling test. The blended spacer must also pass the
settling test.

Free Fluid

The free fluid must be essentially the same as the one obtained during the pilot
tests. For slurries designed to prevent gas migration, the free water needs to be
zero (0) ml.

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Fluid Loss

The API fluid loss must be within about 10 ml of the pilot test result, with slurries
designed to have "good" fluid loss properties. Larger variations can be accepted
with slurries designed with higher fluid loss values (see important note below).


The consistency of the "composite" blend should allow surface mixing of the slurry
without difficulty. In addition, the rheological properties of the "composite" field
blend should produce similar pressure drop losses as those predicted from the
pilot testing.

Spacer Compatibility

The "composite" cement blend and spacer system must exhibit similar compatibil-
ity characteristics as observed during pilot testing.

Compressive Strengths

Compressive strength is perhaps the most difficult test to reproduce even during
pilot testing. As a guideline, WOC times (particularly at liner tops) should be rea-
sonably close to the WOC times determined during pilot testing. In addition, the
compressive strengths of the composite blend should be reasonable close to the
values obtained during pilot testing.

Important Note

All of the confirmation test results must be considered in assessing the quality of
the blend. Some results may be more critical in a particular case, and this must
influence the decision as to use or reject the blend.

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Section 4: Displacements

Displacing Cement

• understand the overall process of replacing drilling mud with cement slurry in
the casing-formation annulus

• highlight the factors which influence success

• review the use of spacers and flushes and the importance of mud properties

• review flow rates during hole conditioning and mud displacement.

The Displacement Problem in a Nutshell

The ideal outcome is for the drilling mud in the annulus to be completely replaced
with cement slurry. The slurry, when set, will support and protect the pipe and
provide zonal isolation during the life of the well. In most cases the result is less
than ideal.

Displacement efficiency is measure as the percentage of mud removed from the

section of annulus to be cemented. Most experts agree that the best that can be
expected, in a very well conducted cementing operation, is to displace and
replace with cement slurry, about 95% of the mud in the annulus. In the best of
the cases, 5% of mud is left in the annulus and that mud is capable of causing
problems in the life of the well.

For example, if we assume a case where 1500 ft of annulus formed by 9-5/8"

casing in 13-3/8" hole is to be cemented, 5% of the annular volume amounts to
6.3 bbls of mud (5% of 126 bbls). If, after the cement job, this mud remains in
long channels within the bulk of the cement, and/or against the casing or the per-
meability, then there is a good chance that problems may develop in the life of the
well (casing corrosion, zonal communication, etc.). On the other hand, if the 5%
mud is partially dispersed within the bulk of the cement slurry, and/or left in small
pockets or short channels that do not contact the pipe or communicate between
zones, then serious problems will not be observed.

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To be able to remove as much as possible of the mud in the annulus, the industry
has developed a variety of methods and techniques. Some of them are purely
mechanical such as pipe movement (with or without scratchers), casing centraliz-
ers, turbulators. Others depend on hydrodynamic effects such as fluid turbulence,
fluid stress at the formation wall, filter cake erodibility. A frequent complicating fac-
tor in the displacement process is that cement slurries and drilling fluids are chem-
ically incompatible. When mixed, chemical components contained in the fluid
formulations react with each other, generating undesirable viscosity increases and
loss of fluid loss control. The formation of viscous fluid in the annulus can seri-
ously jeopardize the displacement. Channeling of the cement slurry can bypass
the mud. To reduce the chance of cement slurry and drilling fluid contacting each
other, the industry has developed fluids known as spacers (and/or flushes) that
are chemically friendly with both cements and the muds. These fluids are
pumped ahead of the slurry.

The simplest flush or spacer is water.

Fluid Incompatibility
Basically, mud systems belong in one of two categories – oil based or water
based. Oil based systems are formulated with a variety of 'oils', ranging from die-
sel to more sophisticated, more environmentally friendly chemicals such as
esters, LAO’s.

In general, cement slurries are not compatible with water base muds, but they
tend to be even less friendly with oil based systems. Incompatibility problems
generally manifest themselves by viscosity increases (in some cases forming
almost solid masses). However, mixing can also degrade fluid loss control, free
fluid and compressive strength.

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The illustration of a cement slurry/water based mud incompatibility, is the

putty-like mass formed soon after mixing.

Figure 1: Example of cement Slurry-Water Base Mud Incompatibility

Cementing of wells drilled with oil based muds presents several problems:

• Incompatibility
• Downhole surfaces are oil-wet
• Some OBM’s contain high concentrations of salts which can impact slurry

However, there are significant advantages with OBM:

• holes drilled with oil based muds are normally are closer to "gauge" than
holes drilled with water base muds. This helps because good mud dis-
placement is easier with minimum washouts.
• they do not tend to build excessive gel strengths downhole. This also
helps in the displacement process.
• Good fluid loss control of OBM will reduce the potential for thick, "mushy”
filter cake, again aiding the displacement process. OBM filter cakes are
usually thin, tight and plastic.

So, drilling with OBM – or synthetic OBM - often facilitates good cementing. Again,
recognizing the importance of the mud in obtaining a good cement job and the
need to integrate all aspects of the well planning.

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One aspect of the placement process that needs special attention with oil base
muds is the spacer design. In wells drilled with OBM, the surfaces are normally
left oil-wet. Since cements do not bond to oil-wet surfaces, every attempt needs
to be made to render the surfaces water-wet before they are contacted by the
cement slurry. (In fact, cements do not bond well to water-wet surfaces either but
there is better adhesion). Spacer fluids used with oil base muds must contain sur-
factants capable of water wetting the surfaces. Many spacers and flushes are
available from the service companies. Since every well situation is different, it is
not possible to make "blanket" statements as to which systems are the best. Field
successes, or failures, should always be analyzed to assist in determining the
degree of effectiveness of a given system. The make-up and chemistry of the mud
system will influence the choice of surfactants so it is important to use samples of
the actual mud.
An example of laboratory data collected showing some viscosity incompatibility
between an oil based mud and a cement slurry is given below in Table IV-1. Com-
pare, for example, the readings for the mud and the neat cement slurry (100%)
with the mixtures of 75/25 and 50/50 (OBM/Slurry).
Figure 2: Example of Some Viscosity Incompatibility Data - an Oil base Mud and
a Cement Slurry
Fann Viscometer Readings

OBM/Slurry Temp
600 300 200 100 6 3
%/% F

100/0 72 209 131 102 70 30 28

100/0 150 95 66 55 43 24 22
95/5 72 252 160 128 88 37 35
95/5 150 118 85 73 58 32 30
75/25 72 390 262 232 178 78 74
75/25 150 280 206 178 141 84 79
50/50 72 254 130 96 64 10 10
50/50 150 296 290 206 68 56 40
25/75 72 62 32 22 13 2 2
25/75 150 70 40 28 18 4 4
5/95 72 42 22 15 9 1 1
5/95 150 36 20 14 10 2 2
0/100 72 35 17 12 7 1 1
0/100 150 24 12 9 5 1 1

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Rheological Properties
Rheological Models

Detailed procedures for rheological measurement are contained in the document

API RP-10B. In addition, methods and equations for the calculation of pressure
drops and flow regimes are given in the same document. Here we will only briefly
review these topics.

To be able to characterize the flow behavior (friction pressures, flow regime) in

any geometry (pipe, annulus), a rheological model that best represents the vis-
cometry data must be selected. The data obtained using a rotational viscometer
is converted to shear-rate and shear-stress data. A rheological model for the fluid
is then selected by regression analysis or by plotting the shear-rate/shear-stress
data, and deciding on the model that best represents the data.

Rheological models describe the relationship between shear-stress and

shear-rate of a fluid. The most commonly used models of drilling fluids, spacer
systems and cement slurries are the Bingham plastic and the Power Law models.
However, three parameter models are being used more and more throughout the

Newtonian Fluid Model. When plotting shear-stress versus shear-rate on Carte-

sian (rectangular) coordinates, a fluid behaving as a Newtonian fluid will generate
a straight line through the origin with a positive slope (Figure Curve A). This is a
model that often represents preflushes (un-weighted fluids) pumped ahead of
spacer fluids during cementing operations.

Bingham Plastic Model. When plotting shear-stress versus shear-rate on Carte-

sian (rectangular) coordinates, a fluid behaving as a Bingham Plastic will generate
a straight line with a positive shear-stress at zero shear-rate (Figure Curve D)

Power Law Model. When plotting shear-stress versus shear-rate on Cartesian

(rectangular) coordinates, this model will produce a curve with zero shear-stress
at zero shear-rate (Figure Curves B and C).

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Figure 3: Rheological Models

Selecting a Rheological Model

The shear-stress, shear-rate data of the fluid should be analyzed against the dif-
ferent rheological models. Often, regression analysis is performed. The model
with the best fit is then selected. Once a model has been selected, the equations
developed for that model are used to calculate, for example, the pressure drop for
the given fluid in a given geometry. Again, the equations for the different rheolog-
ical models are contained in RP-10B. The calculations are normally performed
using computer simulators.

Factors Affecting Rheological Measurements

As seen, temperature can have a marked effect on the rheological properties of

cement slurries, spacer fluids and drilling muds. The rheology of the fluids should
therefore be measured at temperatures that are representative of the well condi-
tions. If the BHCT of the well is less than 185F, the rheology is often measured at
a temperature between the surface and the BHCT. If the BHCT is higher than
185F, the rheology is then measured at 185F. This assumes that a HPHT rheom-
eter is not available. In critical wells, however, an effort needs to me made to
measure the rheologies of the fluids at realistic well temperatures using a HPHT

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In a well, the temperature varies up and down the casing and the annulus. Strictly
speaking, the rheology should be measured at several representative tempera-
tures covering the range anticipated. Rheology measurements are affected by
sedimentation tendencies, chemical reactions and other time and shear effects.
Calculations using rheology data should be expected to contain a degree of
uncertainty and need to be handled accordingly.

Pressure does not affect the rheology of water base fluids (cement slurries and
spacers) as much as temperature. However, for oil base muds, pressure – as
well as temperature - can have a marked effect on the rheology.

• Mud Conditioning and Hole Monitoring

• Hole conditioning, in general terms, prepares the hole for running casing
and cementing. Hole conditioning should be done before pulling out to run
casing and also once casing is on bottom. Hole conditioning, accom-
plishes several goals:
• Mud rheological properties are lowered to reduce surge pressures and
facilitate mud displacement – removal of low gravity solids and chemical
• Mud fluid loss is tightened
• Remove any cuttings or cavings
• Break mud gels
• Remove any gelled mud in pockets
• Circulated out any gas

Some of these tasks should occur while still drilling to section TD.

The condition of the mud is the most important factor in obtaining good displace-
ment and a successful cement job. Thus, one of the issues is how long to circu-

Traditionally, “rules of thumb” such as circulating bottoms-up twice or circulating

the open hole volume have been used. Displacement studies have shown, not
surprisingly, that “rules of thumb” can be unreliable.

More quantitative method have been used such as the “tag” or “dye tracer” meth-
ods. The technique involves adding a dye or other marker (e.g. a carbide slug) to
the drilling fluid and circulating the well at a constant pump rate. When the dye or
marker is detected in the return line, the percentage volume of mud circulating
can be determined based on the well geometry and the open hole caliper log.

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The use of such tracers, however, is time consuming and subject to gross errors
in poor hole conditions – exactly those which most need the assessment. At best,
the return is not a sharp peak but extends over a considerable time. Analysis is

A possibly more reliable method continuously estimates the circulatable hole (the
percentage of open hole mud volume that is actually moving during conditioning).
This provides knowledge of when circulation at a given rate is no longer providing
additional benefit. With this information, the circulation rate can be increased
and/or other techniques can be applied (pipe movement) to improve the percent
of circulatable hole. A knowledge of how much openhole mud is circulating is of
particular importance in highly deviated/horizontal holes, due to the potential pres-
ence of solids beds on the low side of the hole.

The continuous monitoring technique uses a software package, and it is based on

very accurate measurements of wellhead pressure and flow rate of the drilling
fluid while conditioning. The wellbore geometry, including an accurate caliper log,
and the drilling fluid rheological properties must also be known to predict the per-
centage of circulatable hole. The calculation is simply based on the pressure drop
that should occur in the openhole section of the annulus. If the hole has 100% of
the drilling fluid circulating, a certain pressure drop for the openhole section can
be calculated at a given flow rate. If less than 100% of the drilling fluid is moving,
the annular flow area will be smaller and the pressure drop across that annulus
will be higher.

The software used calculates the percentage of circulatable hole based on the
actual hole size (caliper). An example of the use of this technology in an actual
well is shown in the following figure.

Again, as with the tracer approach, this technique is difficult to apply, time con-
suming and subject to some error. However, just monitoring pressure against time
for a couple of flow rates can help establish whether mud is being brought into cir-
culation or not.

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Wellhead Pressure (100 psi)

10 100
Flow Rate (bbl/min) Efficiency

Efficiency (%)
8 Rate 80

6 60
4 40

2 20
Designates Pipe Movement
0 0
0 30 60 90 120
Time (min)

Figure 4: Wellhead Pressure vs. Displacement Efficiency with Pipe Movement

During hole conditioning, it is necessary for the bulk of the mud to be moving (cir-
culating). The goal of the conditioning process is to end up with a “highly mobile
mud” across the entire annular cross-section. If this is not done, the situation
depicted below may occur.




Figure 5: Cementing with Unconditioned Drilling Mud

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Several investigators have conducted research on hole conditioning, mud proper-

ties and displacement.

Example, ideal drilling fluid properties to be achieved before cementing a vertical

well are given in the Table below together with suggested downhole Yield Point
(YP) for drilling fluids used in highly deviated and horizontal wells.

As seen, the suggested YP for deviated wells is higher than for vertical wells.
This higher YP is necessary to minimize solids settling from the mud on the low
side of the hole (barite settling known as sag). If solids settling from the mud is
not prevented, a solids channel can form. These solids channels are very difficult
to remove. Also, barite sag can lead to loss of well control due to the resulting
effective reduction in mud density (hydrostatic head). To achieve the properties
given at downhole conditions, the properties may need to be higher at the surface.
Alternatively, if the properties are adjusted at surface to be close to the values
given in the tables, the properties downhole may not have the desired values due
to temperature and pressure effects.

Figure 6: Suggested Downhole Drilling Fluid Properties for

Vertical Wells
Property Recommended Preferred

Yield Point (YP) 10 or less 2

(lb/100 ft2)
Plastic Viscosity 20 or less 15
Fluid Loss (FL) 15 5
(cc/30 min)
Gel Strength Flat Profile (Not a pro-
(10 sec/10 min) gressive gel)

Figure 7: Suggested Downhole Drilling Fluid Yield Point for

Deviated Wells
Deviation Angle, ° Yield Point at 72°F, (lb/100 ft2)

45 15
60 20
85 28
90 30

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To adjust drilling fluid properties prior to cementing, the muds may be treated with
additives (dispersants, etc.) in the mud pits prior to circulation and/or during circu-
lation (conditioning). The properties that are normally adjusted are the rheology
(PV, YP and gels) and the fluid loss of the drilling mud.

Filtercake thickness is related, among other things, to the fluid loss of the mud. A
thick mud filtercake is not desirable because it is hard to remove, does not bond to
cement and can lead to poor long-term zone isolation. To minimize soft thick filter-
cake a low fluid loss is needed. Mud cake can easily be checked by the mud engi-
neer and the thickness will be reported on the Mud Reports.

Gel strength development is another property that should be checked and

adjusted as needed. Muds with 'flat' get strength profiles - those that do not
increase much with time - are desirable. WBM’s in poor condition need to be

Again, the mud properties will affect the success of the cementing. Poor mud –
poor cement job.

Minimization of Channeling
Research work has shown the following practices will help minimize channeling:

• Centralize as much as possible

• Density of the fluid doing the displacing needs to be higher than the density
of the fluid being displaced
• The viscosity of the fluid doing the displacing needs to be higher that the
rheology of the fluid being displaced.

In cases where the pore/frac window precludes density differences then a rheol-
ogy hierarchy should be used to minimize channeling.

An improved technique over conventional concepts of density and rheology hier-

archies is to use a pressure drop hierarchy of the mud, spacer, and cement slurry.
This means that each fluid should have a higher pressure drop in the annulus at
the given pump rate, and at the given annular location, than the fluid above it.

Pressure drop is a more comprehensive way to approach minimization of chan-

neling and relates to the shear stress at the wall developed as the fluid moves.
When using such a pressure drop hierarchy, the rheology (and if possible the den-
sity of the fluids) needs to be adjusted for the given annular configuration and
pump rates to be used. These calculations are normally performed using a
cement job simulator.

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The concept of pressure drop hierarchy explains why it is possible to effectively

displace a heavier fluid with a lower density one. If the lower density fluid has a
rheology such that at the given pump rate and in the given section of the annulus,
it generates a higher pressure drop (wall stress) than the heavier fluid, it will dis-
place the heavier fluid with minimum tendency to channel. A good example is
hole cleaning using high consistency foamed fluids.

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Erodibility Technology
Wellbore Condition
The outcome of a primary cementing operation is greatly influenced by the condi-
tion of the wellbore at the time the cement slurry is pumped. The Figure shows
the condition in a wellbore across permeability, at the end of drilling with a poor
WBM after running casing.

Figure 8: Typical Wellbore After a Shutdown Period

This figure shows dense filtercake next to the formation wall, covered by partially
dehydrated gelled (PDG) drilling mud and moderately gelled (MG) mud.

Moderately gelled mud has been defined as a portion of mud that has developed
gel strength in the absence of shear during static periods. Partially dehydrated
gelled mud is mud which, in addition to developing static gel strength, has also
lost some filtrate. This both densifies it and makes it thicker.

In general, a poor quality WBM is most likely to produce this scenario and a good
quality OBM the least likely. If a poor WBM is being run such that these properties
occur the best course of action would be to remove the mud company.

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It has been found through large scale experiments that the level of hole cleaning,
and the efficiency of the cementing job, is controlled by the degree of mud dehy-
dration across the openhole permeability. Tests have shown that displacement of
the MG mud is not the real problem during primary cement jobs. The real difficulty
is the removal of the PDG mud from the wellbore. The Figures below illustrate
this. They show PDG mud and filtercake trapped between the cement and the
permeable formation after large-scale laboratory cement jobs.

Vertical Hole Inclined Hole

Figure 9: Trapped PDG Mud and Filtercake

Through a joint research effort, a laboratory cell was designed and built to investi-
gate gelled mud displacement. This cell is called an "erodibility cell."

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Figure 10: Diagram of Erodibility Cell

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Figure 11: Photo of Erodibility Cell

Definition of Erodibility

Erodibility has been defined such that high values would mean the given PDG
mud would be easy to erode. On the other hand, low values would mean the PDG
mud would be hard to remove (low erodibility). Thus, erodibility was defined as
inversely proportional to the shear stress needed to remove the PDG mud.

Mathematically, erodibility was defined as:

E = 600/τw

where τw (lbf /100ft2) is the stress needed for removal at the interface between the
flowing fluid and the PDG mud.

It was found that chemical attack is an extremely effective way to increase the
removal of PDG mud. It was shown that certain chemical treatments allow effec-
tive removal in situations where shear stress at the wall alone could not be used
because of the high pump rates required. In other words, chemically it is possible
to cause the PDG muds (and filtercakes) to erode at substantially lower interfacial
shear stresses.

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Caution needs to be exercised in so far as different mud systems are likely to

behave differently due to their chemical and physical make-up.

This again emphasises how important the mud properties are to the physical dis-
placement process.

Erodibility “Rules of Thumb”

Experiments with the erodibility cell have suggested the following "rules of

• Mud systems with erodibilities of 5 or less are very hard to remove.

• PDG muds erodibilities around 10 are moderately hard to remove.
• Systems with erodibilities around 20 are moderately easy to remove.
• Erodibilities around 20 to 30 indicate systems that can be remove fairly
• Erodibilities above 30 are very desirable (systems are quite easy to

Example of Field Application of the Erodibility Technology

Some computer simulators are now able to make erodibility calculations. How-
ever, to help understand the process, the following example goes through the pro-
cess, step by step, how erodibility can be used to improve cementing job success.

The Problem

It is necessary to recommend a spacer design and the flow rate needed to remove
the PDG mud from the open hole in this well. As a first approach, it is planed to
use conventional spacer systems that do not chemically attack the PDG mud.

The well has 9-5/8 in. (40 lb/ft) intermediate casing set at 10,000 ft. Production
casing (5-1/2 in., 17 lb/ft) will be set at 13,000 ft in an essentially gauge hole of 8
in. There is a 100 ft washout zone near the shoe of the 9-5/8 in. casing with an
average hole diameter of 9.0 in. Fracture gradient at the bottom of the hole is 17
lb/gal equivalent. The cement slurry to be used is a 16.0 lb/gal system with a
Fann rheology of 124, 84, 68, 51, 23, 13. It will be brought back 500 ft into the

The mud density is 15 lb/gal. PV = 15 cp, YP = 10 lb/100 ft2. Using the erodibility
cell, its erodibility was determined to be 12.

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The shear stress (τw) needed to remove the PDG mud is: 600/12 = 50 lbf/100 ft2.
The needed pressure drop in the open hole is:
P = 4 x L x τw /De
Where L is the length of the open hole, and De is the equivalent diameter (hole
diameter minus casing O.D.).
If we calculate the pressure drop in the open hole in psi/ft using the shear stress in
lbf/100 ft2 and the equivalent diameter in inches, then the previous equation can
be written as:
P = 0.00333 x τw/De
Going back to our example well:
P = 0.00333 x 50 /(8 - 5.5)
P = 0.067 psi/ft (pressure drop per linear foot) is the pressure drop that is needed
in the open hole to erode the PDG mud and filtercake.
The next step is to design spacer systems and to calculate their pressure drop per
foot of open hole configuration for this well to see if they are capable of developing
the needed pressure drop of 0.067 psi/ft at reasonable pump rates.

Spacer Design
For our imaginary example, three spacer systems were designed for this well.
The systems were designed to be compatible with the mud in the hole and the
cement slurry to be used, and when tested for settling, the spacers did not settle
statically or dynamically. All the spacers had a density of 15.5 lb/gal, and they all
had good fluid loss control. The table below gives the rheology of the spacer sys-
Figure 12: Spacer Rheology
Spacer Rheology Readings

600 300 200 100 6 3

1 29 17 13 11 5 2

2 70 40 30 20 10 5

3 120 70 53 36 15 8

Using a computer program, the pressure drop for each of the three spacers was
calculated for this well's open hole configuration. The pressure drop for water was
also calculated. The following table summarizes the results obtained:

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Pressure Drop in the Well

Spacer 1

Rate Hole Size Pressure Drop

BPM in. psi/ft

12 8 0.0636

12 9 0.0219

14 8 0.0831 *

14 9 0.0286

Spacer 2

Rate Hole Size Pressure Drop

BPM in. psi/ft

8 8 0.0404

8 9 0.0181

12 8 0.0713 *

12 9 0.0238

14 8 0.0936

14 9 0.0313

Spacer 3

Rate Hole Size Pressure Drop

BPM in. psi/ft

5 8 0.0549

5 9 0.0251

8 8 0.0728 *

8 9 0.0333

14 8 0.1027

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14 9 0.0466


Rate Hole Size Pressure Drop

BPM in. psi/ft

12 8 0.0375

12 9 0.0120

14 8 0.0498

14 9 0.0160

From the table above, spacer 1 would have to be pumped at 14 BPM, spacer 2 at
12 BPM and spacer 3 at 8 BPM to erode the PDG mud and filter cake in this well.
Notice that none of the spacers developed the needed pressure drop in the 9 in.
hole (washout zone) even at the higher rates. This indicates that there is a great
chance that PDG mud will not be removed from the washout zone. This example
helps explain why it is so hard to get good cement jobs in holes with large wash-

The water did not develop the needed pressure drop even at 14 BPM in the 8 in.
hole, but reactive flushes should not be discarded from the screening of spacer
fluids. Certain spacers and flushes can increase the erodibility of PDG mud by
chemical means.

ECD Calculations

Again a computer program was used, this time to see if the selected flow rates for
each of the spacers would allow the job to be pumped without fracturing the well
(without exceeding the 17.0 lb/gal equivalent fracture gradient). For each set of
calculations, it was assumed that 1,000 ft (in the annulus) of spacer would be
used in the job.

Maximum ECDs at the Selected Rates

Maximum ECD at the

Spacer Rate BPM
Bottom lb/gal

1 14 16.4
2 12 16.3
3 8 16.1

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As can be seen from the table, the three spacers at their engineered rates would
work (maximum ECD's were below the 17.0 lb/gal fracture gradient).

Final Testing With the Erodibility Cell

To fully utilize the erodibility technology, the final selection as to which spacer and
flow rate combination to use for the job would be determined using the erodibility
cell. Each spacer would need to be tested (pumped at the cell rate equivalent to
the field rate selected), over a PDG mud and cake bed deposited with the same
mud, to confirm the design (removal of the PDG mud bed). Based on those tests,
the best spacer would be chosen. Reactive chemical flushes would also be
tested at this stage.

Obviously, this is a very time consuming and labour intensive exercise which will
always be subject to the difficulty of having a mud sample truly representative of
that in the well at section TD. The best that can be expected is to be able to
bracket the likely properties of the type of mud in use. If it looks poor, replacement
should be considered.

The Phenomenon of Free-fall

In the great majority of primary cement jobs, the densities of the spacer fluid and
cement slurry are greater than the density of the mud. Because of this density dif-
ference, the well "goes on vacuum" or "U-tubes" while the heavier fluids are being
pumped down the casing.

Free-fall presents many problems in primary cementing. For example, while the
heavy fluids (spacer, slurries) are free-falling, a vacuum is created at the well-
head. This can make removal of a cement-head lid (to drop a top cement plug)
difficult and time consuming.

The fundamental cause of free-fall is the difference in densities between the

spacer, the slurries and the mud in the hole. The phenomenon of free-fall is simi-
lar, in principle, to the U tube manometer problem. In a U-tube manometer, with
two different density fluids, there is a difference in the elevation of the two fluids at
rest. If this equilibrium is changed, or disturbed in any way, the fluids will oscillate
until the equilibrium position is again reached. In the case of free-fall during a pri-
mary cementing job, the fluids also tend to flow towards an equilibrium position.
For the sake of illustration, imagine a case where enough volume of a cement
slurry was pumped in a well to cause the well to "go on a vacuum" and then no
more slurry or drilling mud was pumped after that. In this situation, the fluids
would also free-fall seeking an equilibrium position. The real problem is much
more complex since fluids are continuously being pumped at the surface, while
the free-fall phenomenon is taking place. The "new" fluid being pumped at the

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surface eventually lands on top of the free-falling column and has an added direct
effect on the free-fall phenomenon.

The frictional pressures generated by the flow of the fluids have a strong effect on
the free-fall phenomenon. Frictional forces resist and slow down the rate of
free-fall of the fluids. At a given time during free-fall, the flow rate of the fluids is
dictated by the difference in density of the fluids, by the length of the column of
each fluid in the well, and by the frictional forces which in themselves are a func-
tion of the free-fall rate. During free-fall, the fluids move at flow rates which
change constantly and are not equal to the surface pumping rate. Initially, the
free-falling column of fluids moves faster than the surface pump rate. Eventually
this rate reaches a maximum value and then slows down as the heavy fluids get
close to the bottom of the well or even "turn the corner," and the lighter displace-
ment fluid is pumped behind them. During the deceleration stage of free-fall, the
fluids in the well may move at rates below the desired minimum rate for the job.

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The early acceleration

stages of free-fall cause
a "partially empty" or
"discontinuous" zone to
form in between the
free-falling column and
the wellhead. In this
discontinuous section of
the well, the fluids
free-fall at low pressures
(even under vacuum)
and do not fully fill the
inner diameter of the
pipe. The length of this
discontinuous zone con-
stantly changes during
the entire free-fall
period. It is nonexistent
at the onset of free-fall,
reaches a maximum
length sometime during
free-fall, and eventually
becomes nonexistent
again at the end of free-

Figure 13: The Phenomenon of Free-Fall

Sometimes the pump rate at surface is increased to "catch up with the plug."
Unfortunately, in some cases, this causes the free-fall period to terminate abruptly
by "running into the plug" too fast. It is possible to create large pressure surges in
the well which can be detrimental, possibly causing damage to the casing or frac-
turing the well across weak zones.

Mathematical models (computer simulators) have been developed by the industry.

The models solve for the flow rate in the well at anytime during free-fall by assum-

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ing that the surface pressure is essentially equal to zero while an "empty" gap
exists in between the free-falling column of fluids and the wellhead.

The development of free-fall models has substantially improved the industry's

understanding of the phenomenon of free-fall. With the use of the mathematical
models, job designs can be performed for specific cases. Some general conclu-
sions have been reached through the use of simulators:

• It is possible to estimate the free-fall rate of the fluid column at any time dur-
ing the job. Since the column of the fluid is continuous throughout the entire
annulus, the rate of free-fall is equal to the annular rate of returns at the sur-
face, assuming the fluids are incompressible.

• In general, equivalent circulating densities (ECD's) during the accelerating

stages of free-fall do not appear to be excessive enough to cause lost circu-
lation problems during most typical jobs. Simulation runs indicate that even
during highly accelerated free-falling periods, ECD's are less than the ECD's
after the cement is in place behind the pipe, at the end of the job.

• It is apparent from computer runs using simulators that many previous jobs
pumped "under turbulent flow" were, at least during the decelerating stages
of free-fall, not in turbulent but very likely in laminar flow.

• It is possible to get a good approximation of the time (or volume needed) for
the displacement fluids to "catch up with the plug" when a well is on a vac-
uum during cementing.

• When the fluids catch up with the plug, it is possible to estimate the rate at
which the free-falling column of fluid is moving. This can prevent "running
into the plug" at rates too different from the rate of the free falling column in
order to avoid damaging the well.

• It is possible to design surface pumping schedules to control the rate of

free-fall above certain minimum limits, for example to be able to use the
erodibility technology.

• It is possible to simulate shutdowns and obtain a good estimation of free-fall-

ing rates during pump shutdowns. The time needed for a free-falling column
of cement to come to a complete stop and its position in the well at the end of
a shutdown can also be estimated.

• Experience with simulators indicates that shutdowns from 15 to 20 minutes

are often enough to cause the free-falling cement column to come to a com-
plete stop.

• Free-fall can be prevented by choking the annular returns

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Optimization of the Displacement Process

The transition from hole conditioning to spacer pumping to cement and mud dis-
placement needs to be done with minimum shutdown time to minimize mud gel
strength development.

Importance of Proper Centralization and Centralizer Selection

Centralisation is a trade-off of a number of variables:

• Type of centraliser – bow-spring, rigid or solid

• Design, robustness and quality of manufacture
• Running force/hook load
• Number and placement
• Hole washout

A well planned centralization program should aim for a minimum of 80% standoff.
However, this may require so many centralisers that the casing will not run.

If the well has severe doglegs and deviations above about 20 degrees, a com-
puter simulator must be used to optimize the centralizer program. Extended
reach and horizontal wells require careful planning and use of computer simula-

Many different types of centralizers are available from the service companies.
Some of them are designed for specific applications such as slim holes, and
extended reach wells. The general classification of centralizers includes flexible
(bow), semi-rigid and solid. Construction materials include aluminum, bronze,
aluminum-zinc alloys and steal. They all have different applications depending on
the well conditions and configuration. Below are some general guidelines for the
selection of centralizers for a given well application.

For vertical holes, the normal practice is to use bow spring centralizers.

Solid centralizers including 'turbulator' types (blades in an angle to cause the flu-
ids to swirl) are used in narrow annuli, but normally they do not provide as good a
standoff as bow spring centralizers.

When the pipe is to be rotated, bow spring centralizers can be installed over stop
rings (and in some cases over pipe collars if annular clearances allow). This facili-

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tates running in hole easily without hanging up (for pipe rotation, the pipe should
be free to turn inside the static centralizers). However, this type of installation is
not good if reciprocation is used because the pipe cannot be rotated.

Reciprocation requires the centralizers to be placed between collars, or between

stop rings that are installed far enough apart to accommodate the reciprocation
stroke without moving the centralizer. This installation, however, may cause the
centralizers to be subject to damage while being run in very tight or high angle
holes. When using stop rings, the set screw style, and/or set screws with 'dogs',
have been found to produce the highest holding forces. Nail, or pin, type have
been found to produce the lowest holding forces.

For low deviation (say less than 20 - 30 degrees), bow spring centralizers are nor-
mally used as long as the design calculations (computer program simulations)
show that they are adequate to provide the desired standoff.

Semi-rigid (including double-bow) centralizers are often the next choice. Positive
stand-off centralizers (straight vanes, turbulators, etc.) are used when the bow
and semi-rigid types are not adequate. In any case, it is very important to try to
maintain high levels of standoff (80+%) whenever possible. In some high angle
holes, the 'turbulator' type centralizers have been found to “plow” their way into
soft formations, making running of the casing difficult. For very narrow annuli,
positive standoff centralizer subs may be needed, but they are expensive.

For highly deviated and horizontal holes, the semi-rigid (double bow) type central-
izers are often considered due to their potential higher standoff over the semi-rigid
vane type. Double-bow centralizers generate less starting and running forces
than typical bow centralizers, but better restoring forces than conventional bow
spring centralizers under lateral forces. Some operators have used combinations
of rigid and semi-rigid centralizers in highly deviated and horizontal holes to help
enhance the chance of getting a good cement job. In all cases, standoff needs to
be calculated at the lowest point of casing sag, in between the centralizers.

Recently, roller blade type centralizers have become available. These solid type
devices can greatly help running of casing in extended reach wells. The rollers
dramatically reduce the drag and torque in these wells. Below is an example of
the use of these centralizers in an extended reach well, comparing the drag forces
to an offset well where the centralizers were not used.

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Figure 14: Example of Drag Reduction by the use of Roller Blade Centralizers

The Importance of Pipe Movement

The reason for pipe movement is to help break up and remove as much of the
mud in the hole as possible. Pipe movement is an integral part of best practices to
obtain a good cement job.

From many large scale laboratory experiments and from field experiences, it has
been well established that the best way to achieve a good cement job is to:

• properly condition the hole,

• adequately centralize the pipe,
• run the proper type of scratchers (cable loop wipers),
• move the pipe,
• use well designed spacer fluids,
• use a pressure drop hierarchy when displacing the fluid in the annulus,
• pump at rates high enough to remove any partially dehydrated gelled mud
across permeability

When these things are done, comparison of results from pipe reciprocation and
rotation using scratchers has consistently shown little difference between the

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movement methods. The correct type of scratchers need to be used with each

For reciprocation, it is necessary to use the reciprocating (horizontal) cable loop

type. For rotation, the rotating (vertical) cable loop scratchers should be used.
The open wire type scratchers have been found to bend easily (the wires), and it
is doubtful that they can perform downhole. In fact, the integrity of scratchers and
centralizers is a very important aspect. These items have to be extremely robust
to survive running into the well. Experience has often indicated that, in practice,
these items are not robust enough and provide a source of junk in the hole rather
than performing their intended function. This does not detract from the philosophy
that centralisation, pipe movement and mechanical disturbance of the mud cake
will all enhance the quality of the cement job.

Pipe Movement vs. Displacement Efficiency

Conditions: 16 lb/gal Drilling Mud, 16.7 lb/gal Cement Slurry, 4 bbl/min Pump
Rate, and 60% Pipe Standoff

Pipe Movement Displacement Efficiency (%)

None 65
20 rev/min 97

Pipe Movement in Deviated, Highly deviated and Horizontal Holes

With reciprocation, the pipe may get stuck, potentially leaving uncased openhole
at the bottom of the well. Reciprocation sometimes limits pipe movement to only
pre-cement job use. In this type of well, rotation has an advantage over reciproca-
tion since, due to the torque forces, it tends to pull the fluids all the way around the
pipe (better mud removal).

Recently, roller blade centralizers have been developed with rollers that reduce
the torque during rotation. Those centralizers contain two sets of rollers. One set
for the reduction of drag during running of the casing, and another set to reduce
torque to allow the casing to be rotated.

Pipe Movement for Liners

Rotation is the preferred way to move liners. Liner hangers are available that per-
mit rotation of long heavy liners, and liner rotation has become common practice
even for horizontal wells. With liners, rotation is preferred because it tends to
overcome some of the potential disadvantages of reciprocation:

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• Eliminates the piston surge of the reciprocation down-stroke.

• Eliminates the swabbing effect of the reciprocation up-stroke.
• Eliminates the possibility of sticking the pipe out of position with respect to
the desired setting depth.
• It is less risky, when the DP and setting tool can be released from the liner
prior to cementing.

In all pipe movement scenarios, the best practice is to begin casing movement as
soon as the casing or liner reaches bottom, and if possible, continue the pipe
movement during hole conditioning and until cement is placed. Rotation should
be at least 10 to 20 RPM.

In the case that rotation cannot be achieved, for whatever reason, reciprocation is
much better than no movement and should be attempted whenever possible.

If reciprocation is applied, often strokes of 15 to 20 ft/min are used, but first per-
form surge/swab calculations to make sure the well is not damaged during pipe
movement. In some slim hole applications, calculations may indicate that recipro-
cation cannot be done due to fracturing weak zones during the down-stroke.

When moving liners it is, of course, necessary to make sure the rig crew do not
exceed the string tensile or torque limits, connection yield, the makeup torque of
the weakest connection, or the load rating of the bearing in the liner hanger.

While reciprocating, the pipe should be lowered close to bottom occasionally, to

keep the rat hole clean. Each stroke should be made to a depth of several feet
(2-5 ft) below where the pipe will be finally landed. When the top wiper plug is due
to bump, or if it appears that the casing is going to get stuck, pipe movement
should be stopped, if possible, at the desired depth.

Modeling the Displacement Process

Job Simulation Using Simulators

Cement job simulators have been developed by service companies and opera-
tors. They include simulation of free-fall, calculate the circulating hydraulics,
determine downhole pressures and attempt to take account of the mud displace-
ment mechanics.

To produce a good simulation of the job, the actual well trajectory must be used
together with actual fluid properties and hole dimensions. Pre-job simulations
need to be initiated as soon as possible - using assumptions - to help influence

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the job design. Re-runs can be made very easily with the latest data, to optimize
the job. Pre-job simulations will help with, among other things:

• Optimization of the flow rates during well conditioning and cementing, for
maximum mud removal.
• Ensure that the fracture gradient in the openhole is not exceeded during the
job. A very critical issue in some well conditions - tight liners, slimholes, etc.
• Maintaining sufficient overbalance pressure across pressurized gas and/or
fluid-bearing formations to maintain control of the well and prevent fluid inva-
sion during pumping and shutdowns.
• Optimizing spacer and cement properties (rheology, density) to maximize
mud displacement.
• Minimize the chances of channeling by properly designing a pressure drop
hierarchy in the annulus for the fluids, from the top to the bottom of the annu-

When performing a pre-job simulation, the following information is needed among

other data:

• Accurate well geometry (including deviation)

• Density and rheology of all the fluids (often rheologies need to be estimated
from previous lab information until the slurry and spacer designs are com-
• Fracture pressures or gradient vs. depth
• Pore pressures or gradient vs. depth

Accurate Geometry

A good caliper log (four or six arm) is needed to help simulate the openhole geom-
etry as closely as possible to the real situation. This is of particular importance in
slimholes, since relatively minor changes in hole geometry may make large differ-
ences in friction pressure (ECD) calculations.

Fracture Pressure (Gradient) vs. Depth

To be able to optimize the job without danger of breaking down weak formations,
the fracture pressures (gradient) at different depths must be accurately known for
the openhole section. Job pump rates are designed to stay below rates that may
initiate lost circulation. Often the job is pumped fast at the beginning and then the
pump rate is slowed to prevent the ECDs from exceeding the fracture gradient
across weak zones.

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Fracture pressure/gradient at 15,000 ft TVD

ECD — lb/gal
Circulating Pressure — psi 12,200


Fluids Pumped
11,400 ➁ Dual Spacer
➂ Lead Cement
➃ ➃ Tail Cement
➁➂ ➄
11,000 ➄ Drilling Fluid
0 400 800 1,200 1,600 2,000 2,400
Volume In —bbl
Plot shows total annular pressure and equivalent circulating density
vs. liquid volume pumped into the well.

Figure 15: Example of Job Pump Rates Reduced Toward the End, to Avoid Lost

In highly deviated and/or horizontal hole situations, chances of exceeding the

fracture gradient may often be more affected by the fluid rheology than by the
density. This is because the contribution to the total pressure from the hydro-
static component is smaller in these types of wells than in vertical holes. Again
simulators need to be used to optimize these situations.

Pore Pressure vs. Depth

Breaking down zones during placement of a cement slurry is always a concern,

and so is maintaining sufficient wellbore pressure across gas and other fluid-bear-
ing zones during the job, during potential shutdowns, and after placement of a
cement slurry.

To properly simulate the job, the depth and formation pressure (pore pressure) for
each liquid and gas-bearing zone must be known. If zones are not properly con-
sidered, the result may be annular flow during or after cementing or even a blow-

When using preflushes, it is critical that the whole job be carefully evaluated
because of the loss of hydrostatic head which may be generated by these fluids,
particularly if channeling occurs. This is important in narrow pore/frac window
wells, where low overbalance and the potential for gas migration is greater than in
more conventional wells.

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Example of a Job Simulation: A Slim Hole Situation

This section illustrate a slim hole cementing job simulation conducted using an
industry available job simulator. The Table defines the well configuration. Notice
that in this example, 3-1/2 in. casing will be set in a vertical 4-3/4 in. hole at a TD
of 12,500 ft. The previous casing was 7 in. set at 1,500 ft.

Wellbore Geometry
Figure 16: Annulus Segments
Top Bottom Hole Casing Size

Depth ft Depth ft Length ft in OD in Angle deg

0 1500 1500 6.1540 3.5000 .0

1500 12500 11000 4.7500 3.5000 .0

Figure 17: Casing Segments

Top Bottom Hole Casing Size

Depth ft Depth ft Length ft in Angle deg

0 12500 12500 3.00 .0

Float Collar Depth 2420 ft MD

Desired Cement Top 6000 ft MD

Total Casing Depth 12500ft MD

True Vertical Depth 12500 ft MD

The Figure below gives the preliminary data for the fluids to be pumped. The top
of the cement slurry will be at 6,000 ft to cover a gas zone located at 7,500 ft. The
gas zone has a pore pressure of 11.0 lb/gal equivalent and a fracture pressure of
13.4 lb/gal equivalent. The fracture gradient equivalent at TD is 13.8 lb/gal for this

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Figure 18: Fluid Properties for the Slim Hole example

The Figure below shows the erodibility calculations for the water-based mud
which has an erodibility of 10. As mentioned before, an erodibility of 10 suggests
that the PDG mud films from the mud are moderately hard to remove. This figure
shows that for the spacer to remove the PDG, it needs to be pumped at about 3
bpm. For the mud to remove its own PDG, it would have to be pumped at 4.4 bpm
(since as will be shown below, this well should not be circulated at rates above 4
bpm, this suggests that PDG mud will likely be present across the permeable
zones during the cement job.) Notice also in the same figure that the selected
rheologies of the spacer and cement slurry generate a pressure drop (wall stress)
hierarchy going down in the annulus, starting with the mud. This suggests that
there will not be a strong tendency for the fluids to channel if the casing is not
properly centralized (the exception is the water preflush, but the main function of
this fluid is to help dilute the mud ahead of the main spacer, and it is expected that
it will be sacrificed/expended early during the displacement process).

Notice also from Figure that the cement slurry would be able to remove the PDG
films if pumped at rates above 2 bpm. This is good news and bad news. The mud

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and mud films should be removed by the fluids ahead of the cement. Leftover
mud will contaminate the

cement slurry. On the other hand, if the PDG films are removed by the slurry with-
out drastically affecting the set properties of the cement, this would still provide
zone isolation. But again, this is not the ideal situation, and an effort should be
made to have the fluids ahead of the cement slurry do the removing of the PDG
mud films.

Figure 19: Erodibility Data for the 4-3/4"x 3-1/2" Annulus

We saw above that the needed pump rate to have a chance for PDG mud removal
by the spacer is 3 bpm for this cement job. However, as seen in the following fig-
ure, using only 10 bbls of the water preflush, the job could not be pumped at that
rate. The Figure shows that at 3 bpm, the ECD at the bottom of the hole would go
over 13.8 lb/gal before the end of the job.

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Figure 20: Job ECD's - 10 bbls Water

One thing that could be done is to increase the water preflush to 30 bbls (about
3,000 liner ft in the annulus) to reduce the hydrostatic head. This would allow the
job to be performed mostly at 3 bpm, having to reduce the rate to about 2 bpm
toward the end. The obvious concern about running 3,000 ft of water in the annu-
lus is the potential effect on the gas zone at 7,500 ft. The Figures shows that the
ECD at 7,500 ft never falls below 11 lb/gal pore pressure at 3 bpm. Even at 2
bpm, the simulations suggest that the ECD across the gas zone would be above
11 lb/gal, toward the end of the job, when the rate would be reduced to prevent
lost circulation. Using the 30 bbls of water, at the end of the job, the shut-in hydro-
static pressure across the gas zone would be 11.7 lb/gal.

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Figure 21: Job ECD's - 30 bbls Water

The process of optimization outlined above indicates that the job could be done
without losses, and that good PDG removal and minimum channeling would be
expected if the job is pumped at 3 bpm, and if 30 bbls water pre-flush are used
ahead of the spacer to reduce the hydrostatic and to allow the rate of 3 bpm to be

One critical aspect to consider is the pressure differential of only 0.7 lb/gal (273
psi) across the gas zone after the end of the job. This illustrates the high potential
for gas migration after cementing in slimholes. With this low differential, the pres-
sures in the cement column and the gas zone could cross (during the cement
transition time) before the cement has had time to develop enough gel strength to
prevent gas invasion. If this happens, the wellbore would be invaded by the gas,
unless the cement slurry was very well designed to control gas migration.

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Again, looking at all the simulation data, this is a case where good mud removal
(and thus a good cement job) would be expected based on the optimization.
However, there is danger for wellbore invasion after the cement job. The next
step would be to design and use a good gas migration control slurry, and to try to
do the job at the designed rates and with the optimized fluid properties, to obtain a
good job.

Let us now look at the effect of erodibility. The Figure below shows the effect that
a different mud with an erodibility of 5 could have on the outcome of this job (PDG
mud films with erodibilities of 5 or less are very hard to remove). Notice that with
that erodibility, the spacer would have to be pumped at over 6 bpm to erode the
PDG mud films. With that erodibility, none of the fluids would be capable of
removing the PDG mud films. We already know, however, that those high rates
would be prohibitive in this hole due to great potential for lost circulation. With the
lower erodibility, if the job was done at 3 bpm, thick PDG films would likely be left
against the permeable zones (great potential for poor zone isolation).

Figure 22: Lower Mud Erodibility Data for the 4-3/4"x 3-1/2" Annulus

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The Real World

When it comes to cementing a well, the hole may present conditions that will help
obtain a good cement job or the section may have elements that make obtaining a
good cement job quite difficult.

Benign hole

A benign hole, from the point of view of cementing, has the following characteris-

• no potential for gas migration,

• low temperatures,
• constant hole size (gun barrel),
• vertical configuration,
• No dog-legs
• not too long,
• high fracture pressure,
• reasonable low pore pressures,
• non-reactive formations,
• well centralized casing,
• 3/4- 1-1/2” annular clearance (each side)
• good mud properties, low gels
• ability to move pipe
• time allowed to condition the hole, etc.

Difficult Hole

A difficult hole presents the opposite of the conditions of the benign hole:

• potential for gas migration,

• high temperatures,
• large washouts,
• highly deviated, extended reach, horizontal hole,
• deep,

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• weak, unconsolidated, low fracture pressure formations

• high pore pressures (narrow pore/frac window),
• reactive formations,
• poorly centralized casing,
• narrow annular clearances,
• poor mud properties, high gels,
• unable to move pipe
• no time allowed to condition the hole, etc.

In the real world, holes to be cemented present a combination of favorable and

unfavorable conditions. Because of this, sometimes compromises need to be
made to balance the application of best practices with the available resources.

Centralization, Hole Shape and Pressure Drop

To generate the ECD data given in the slim hole example discussed above, the
casing was assumed to be completely centralized. Perfectly centralized pipe pro-
duces higher frictional pressures than eccentric pipe. The ECD figure below
shows the ECD's generated for the same slim hole situation, if the pipe was
eccentric (against the wall). As can be seen, the calculated ECD's are much
lower than for the centralized case. Obviously not centralizing the pipe to reduce
frictional pressures is not an option because non-centralized pipe will cause chan-
neling and a poor cement job. Additionally, in a real job, channeling would raise
the hydrostatic pressure, potentially causing the total well pressures to be higher
than for the centralized case.

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Figure 23: ECD's with 10 bbls Water - Pipe Eccentric

Reactive Formations

Hole sections containing reactive formations are often drilled with oil based fluids
to minimize hole problems such as sloughing, large washouts, etc. Depending on
the degree of reactivity of the formations, they may react when contacted with the
water base spacer during the cementing operation. A few formations can be so
reactive that they have been called 'explosive' when contacted with water.

In the case of reactive formations, it is important to conduct tests in the laboratory

using samples from the well (cuttings, cores) to carefully optimize the design of
the spacer system. Cases have been documented where the use of 3 - 5% KCl
in the spacer and the cement slurry have led to higher quality cement jobs.

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One thing that helps with this situation is that normally the length of time these
reactive formations are contacted by the water base spacer and the cement slurry
is very short when compared with the time needed to drill the hole section (a few
hours vs. days). However, there are cases where the TOC places the spacer in
open hole forever.

Fluids Left Behind the Casing

One issue associated with cementing of wells that is often ignored is the effect of
the fluids left behind the casing after the cement job. Often cement is not circu-
lated all the way to the surface, particularly when cementing the deeper strings in
a well.

Depending on the well conditions and the properties of the fluids in the annulus
above the cement column, the fluids may tend to segregate, and potentially cor-
rode the casing. Segregation/settling may lead to annular flow during the life of
the well (loss of hydrostatic), if the fluid is across zones with potential for invasion
of the annulus. Corrosive effects may eventually cause casing leaks at some
point during the productive life of the well. Thus, all fluids left behind the pipe
need to be examined to make sure they will not negatively affect the integrity of
the casing strings during the life of the well.

If WBM is to be left behind casing, the pH should be raised and, perhaps, an oxy-
gen scavenger used.

Fluid Contamination in the Casing

A bottom plug has two main functions. One is to wipe the mud film from inside the
casing wall ahead of the cement to prevent slurry contamination. If not used, the
mud film may be wiped by the top plug, potentially displacing that volume of mud
and contaminated cement into the shoe track. As an example, a 1/16" mud film in
15,000 ft of 7" casing amounts to 22.5 bbls of mud!

Another function of the bottom plug is to separate the cement from the spacer to
prevent mixing due to gravity effects while the fluids are going down the casing.
Bottom cement plugs are available that use a rupture disk rather than a rubber
diaphragm, to reduce concerns when using loss circulation materials. Under
pressure differential, the disk breaks into small pieces.

The potential for fluid contamination is greater with the larger casing strings. The
larger the casing, the greater the potential for contamination in the casing if bot-
tom plugs are not used. In practice, when pumping a large volume of lead slurry
on a surface casing string, the bottom plug can be omitted. Plugs for large casing
strings – eg 18 5/8” and above can be insufficiently robust to adequately perform

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the job. Bottom plugs should be used whenever possible. Best cementing prac-
tices call for the use of several plugs. For example, one separating the mud from
the spacer and another in between the spacer and the cement slurry.

Shutdowns During the Cement Job

Shut-downs are very detrimental to the success of cementing operations. The

longer the shutdown to release plugs, switch lines or tanks, etc, the higher the
potential negative impact on the job. Shutdowns cause gelation and dehydration
of the drilling fluid in the hole. Therefore, every effort needs to be made to mini-
mize or eliminate shutdowns during conditioning of the hole and during the
cement job. To eliminate shutdowns to drop plugs, the industry has developed
several versions of cementing heads that allow dropping of plugs "on the fly”.

Displacement Volumes

Quite often the service company's job monitoring devices (see On Site Data Col-
lection below) are not connected to the output of the rig pump. One serious effect
of this is that no permanent record of the job is collected when displacement is
done with the rig pumps. In addition, if the assumed efficiency of the rig pump is
not correct, the displacement volume may be in error. Where accurate displace-
ment volumes are needed then the cementing unit should be used.

Job Monitoring

Proper monitoring of the job, comparing the measured against the predicted
behavior, can assist tremendously in deciding if the well is experiencing loss circu-
lation. Additionally, a permanent, continuous job record is essential to be able to
perform a valid post-job evaluation to determine the causes of job failure.

Cementing in Narrow Annuli

Cementing in narrow annuli (slimholes) is not inherently different from conven-

tional hole, primary cementing processes.

Cement Slurry Design - The cement slurries used in slimholes must have some
very special properties. For example, the slurries must have rheologies low
enough such that they can be mixed and pumped at reasonable rates without
causing breakdown due to excessive ECDs in the narrow annuli, but without
exhibiting stability problems. In addition, the slurries need to contribute to prop-
erly displacing the drilling fluid from the annulus without dropping solids, particu-
larly in deviated configurations. The narrow configurations generally dictate that
the slurries need to have good fluid loss control and, in many instances, good gas
migration control properties.

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Slurry Placement - To take advantage of the erodibility technology, it is usually

advantageous to pump at high annular rates for optimum displacement and to
remove as much as possible of the partially dehydrated-gelled mud in the well-
bore. Although smaller annular clearances increase the annular wall stresses for
a given pump rate, there is also the problem of larger than conventional circulating
pressures generated by the high rates. This leads to elevated equivalent circulat-
ing densities (ECDs) and the possibility of lost circulation. Thus, the proper
design (fluids' rheologies, pump rates, etc.) for pre-job hole conditioning and
cement slurry placement is one of the most critical aspects to successful cement-
ing in a slimhole.
Operational Issues - Slimhole drilling leads to the use of much smaller slurry vol-
umes for cementing. This helps keep down the overall cost of the job, but also
means more time and effort spent in the cement slurry design and testing phase,
and special care during cement mixing and displacement. Due to the small
cement slurry volumes used, even small amounts of contamination while mix-
ing/displacing the cement slurry may dramatically affect the properties of the
cement such as the thickening time, strength development and the WOC time.
The narrow annuli also means that the volumes of spacers and washes must be
carefully designed to make sure adequate annular coverage and fluids separation
takes place during the job. In addition, volumes of un-weighted washes (flushes)
need to be carefully designed with the assistance of job simulators to ensure well
control is maintained during the cementing operation.
Gas Migration - Due to small annular clearances and possible low overbalance
pressures, potential for gas migration after cementing in slimholes is often signifi-
cant. A slimhole may require more specialized gas migration control cement
slurry design and field practices than a conventional well at the same depth. The
specific hole to be cemented needs to be analyzed in detail and the cement slur-
ries used need to meet critical gas migration control criteria verified by laboratory

Pressure Drop Across Liner Hangers and Polished Bore Receptacles

Attention needs to be given to the configuration (OD's) of liner hangers and PBR's
in relation to the ID on the previous casing, when preparing for liner cementing
operations. Very large pressure drops can be generated across these tools if the
annular clearances are narrow. This can cause a "piston effect" when running
the liner, potentially fracturing exposed weak formations. Surge/swab simulators
need to be used to check the configurations and/or to decide on the casing run-
ning speeds to avoid well damage. High pressure drops across liner hangers and
PBR's are bad enough. However, the worst potential problem is the bridging of
the narrow clearances across the tools. Bridging can easily occur from cuttings
and/or other particles present in the well fluids even after hole conditioning. Hole
cleaning and mud conditioning prior to running pipe is the key to success.

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Liner Top Packers

Liner top packers are frequently used to provide a seal at the top of liners. They
may be run either as an integral liner top packer; in which case setting takes place
at the end of the job prior to pulling out with the running tool. Alternatively, they are
run on a separate trip. Integral packers have become popular because they avoid
the need to drill cement from the top of liner. Immediately following the job the
packer is set and cement is reversed out. The packer avoids transmitting the
hydrostatic pressure to the annulus which could lead to formation fracture.

The use of such integral liner top packers needs to be carefully considered, partic-
ularly when permeable zones of unequal pressure are covered by the liner. If the
packer is set soon after completion of the cement job, and assuming packer
doesn’t leak, it then effectively shuts off the hydrostatic head on the cement col-
umn in the annulus. As fluid is lost from the cement slurry below the packer (inner
shrinkage due to hydration), a pressure drop will occur in the unset cement col-
umn, greatly increasing the potential for fluids invasion. The end effect is that gas
is trapped below the liner top and is often apparent on USIT logs. This may be
detrimental later on in the life of the well. Zones of unequal pressure may

Reverse Circulating Cementing

Reverse circulation cementing has been used in relatively shallow wells (around
2,500 ft), but some applications have been reported to depths near 9,000 ft. It has
also been used to cement tie-back strings.

Reverse circulation cementing is performed by taking returns through the casing.

A stab-in inner string can be used to hold a float shoe open and allow reverse cir-
culation. The valve closes when the inner string is un-stung at the end of the
cement job.

Reverse circulation cementing may be a very viable alternative to conventional

cementing practices in situations where weak formations may be broken down
during normal cementing. Reverse circulation cementing may generate much
lower job pressures across the open hole in slimhole cementing.

Some float equipment has been developed to allow such reverse jobs without the
need for an inner string, extending the potential application to deeper casing
strings. There are many objections to Reverse Circulation Cementing, e.g:

• Unconventional
• Conventional float equipment cannot be used.

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• Not possible to clearly tell when the job is finished (since there is no top plug,
there is no clear pressure increase at the end of the job)
• Concerns about the quality of the cement around the shoe.
• Hole conditioning in the reverse circulation mode
• Mud Displacement Efficiency
• Well control issues
• Casing collapse

Main advantages of reverse circulation cementing:

• Lower placement pressures across the lower weak zones during hole condi-
tioning and cementing.
• Lower placement pressures allow faster placement rates
• Shorter cement jobs because the cement slurry is pumped down the annulus
instead of being pumped down the casing and up the annulus.
• Not all of the cement slurry sees high well temperatures found near the bot-
tom of the well. In addition, placement times are shorter as indicated above.
This may lead to cheaper cement slurry designs.

Careful computer simulation is required to investigate the pressure drops and

pressures likely to be seen during such jobs. The effect of geometry must be

Liner Cementing Considerations

Aspects that differentiate liner cementing from conventional primary cementing


• Hole/annular size
• Frequent requirement for good cement all the way into the lap
• Often deeper and hotter
• Equipment issues
• Frequently need good mud removal & isolation – productive zones exposed

Hole Size

Annular clearance impacts the success of cementing operations. Studies have

indicated that the best results are obtained with annular clearances of 1 to1 ½

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inches. Depending on well configuration and mud properties, large annular clear-
ances may be detrimental to success, if at reasonable pump rates, not enough
stress can be applied to remove gelled mud.

With liners, annular clearances are normally small. In many liner applications
annular clearances are ¾ " or less. Many successful liner operations have been
performed with clearances of ¾ " (for example 7" casing in 8 ½ " hole) but in
many cases caliper logs shown holes larger than 8 ½ ".

When annular clearances fall below ¾ ", the cementing success ratio falls. Even
getting the liner to bottom within the pore/frac window may be difficult. Centraliza-
tion is a challenge and the use of very expensive centralizer subs may be neces-
sary. An alternative is to under-ream the hole.

Temperature Considerations

In cementing full strings of casing, the cement performance concerns are mainly
across the producing zones near the shoe. On liners, the cement must also set
and seal at the top of the liner, which may be several thousand feet up the hole.
The static formation temperature at the top of the liner may be much lower than
the circulating temperature at the bottom. Therefore, an accurate understanding
of the well temperatures is necessary for designing the cement slurry.

Mud Removal

Mud removal and avoidance of channeling are vital. Experience has shown that
the chance of sealing the overlap is improved if excess cement, sufficient to fill
about 500 ft of the drillpipe/casing annulus, is used. This excess volume can con-
tribute to removal of the mud from the overlap and is normally sufficient to ensure
all the contaminated cement slurry is out of the overlap.

Sufficient spacer volume should be used to give a contact time of about 10 min-
utes. Another ‘rule of thumb’ is to use enough volume to provide about 800 ft of
annular length to assist with mud removal. Weighted spacer should be mixed at a
density between that of the cement and the mud. If the mud is oil based, the
spacer formulation must contain surfactants to water wet the pipe. The spacer
should not exhibit settling which could cause the drill pipe and running tool to get
stuck above the liner top.

It the liner is to be hung prior to cementing, it is a good practice not to set the liner
hanger until bottoms-up have been circulated above the liner top. Setting the liner
can reduce the flow path by as much as seventy percent. Debris can bridge this
restriction and cause loss of returns.

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Liner Equipment

Detailed equipment information is given in another section of this manual. Here

we will only briefly review this topic. In most liner cementing operations, a float
shoe, a float collar and a landing collar are used. The use of redundant floats is to
provide backup to prevent flow back of the cement slurry into the liner at the end
of the job (U-tube effect). Some liner shoes incorporate multiple floats as an
added safety measure. At least two joints of casing should be used for the shoe
track, so that any contaminated cement slurry will be left in the liner rather than
around the shoe.

Liners should be centralized whenever possible. The difficulties in obtaining ade-

quate cement coverage in liner applications due to narrow annuli is tremendously
aggravated if the liner is not centered in the hole. Expensive solid blade or bow
centralizer subs may be the only way to centralize the pipe in very narrow configu-
rations (3/4 inch or less). These sub-type centralizers are made up as part of the
casing string.

Job Execution

Movement of the pipe should be incorporated whenever possible. If it is not feasi-

ble to move the pipe during cementing, the pipe should be moved while condition-
ing the mud.

Overlap Length

In shallow, low pressure well situations, relatively short liner overlaps (300-400
feet) may be adequate to provide an effective seal. In deep, high pressure gas
wells overlaps of 450 to 800 feet may be required. It has been reported that over-
lap lengths of less than 300 feet require more remedial cementing than overlap
lengths of more than 450 feet.

More on Liner Overlap Seal

Two methods are used by the industry to obtain an hydraulic seal at the liner top
with cement:

• single stage
• planned squeeze

When using single stage cementing, the cement slurry is circulated around the
shoe, up the hole and through the liner lap. If a planned squeeze is used, the
slurry is circulated to a pre-determined point below the liner top and the liner top is
then squeezed during a second operation. This approach is used when the forma-

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tion cannot support the ECD developed during placement. Squeezing the liner
top may require another trip. Whenever possible, the single stage method should
be preferred. The advantages of the single-step method are:

• A continuous sheath of cement may be placed all around and along the
entire length of the liner.
• No length of uncemented casing is exposed, in the life of the well, to high for-
mation pressures, potentially corrosive fluids, point loading, etc.
• The technique is normally less costly. Eliminates the need for another trip,
longer rig times, etc.

Post Job Testing and Evaluation

The integrity of the cement seal in the overlap needs to be verified before a liner
job can be considered a success. Before this overlap seal can be tested, the
cement inside the previous string above the top of the liner must be cleaned out.
In the ideal case, hard cement is drilled above the liner top. It is possible to obtain
an overlap seal without encountering hard cement above the liner top. Normally,
however, this is the exception rather than the rule.

Many operators clean the liner out to the float collar prior to pressure testing the
liner top for fear of collapsing the liner during liner top testing. If the liner top is to
be tested before the liner has been cleaned out, the maximum load to be applied
to the liner should be calculated and compared against the liner collapse rating.

Testing of the overlap seal should not be done until the cement at the top of the
liner has set and developed a predetermined amount of strength (normally about
500 psi). Compressive strength tests in the cement laboratory prior to the job will
indicate the waiting time necessary for the cement to attain the desired strength.
On long liners where the circulating temperature at the shoe may be much hotter
that the static temperature at the liner top, extended WOC times may be neces-
sary. Operators on expensive offshore rigs sometimes attempt to shorten these
long WOC times by reentering too soon, only to lose several days to squeeze
operations. To decide on the test pressure of the liner overlap, several
approaches and considerations are available:

• The maximum test pressure must not exceed the burst strengths of the
affected casings.
• Pressures to be used during the leak-off test at the liner shoe need to be
• It may be necessary to exceed the fracture limit of the zones near the previ-
ous casing shoe in order to determine if there is a seal.

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• Sufficient test pressure should be applied to make sure further drilling opera-
tions are not impaired.
• When drill stem or other testing is to be performed on lower zones, the over-
lap test pressure needs to be above the pressure needed in the annulus to
operate the downhole test tools.
• Pressures encountered in production or stimulation operations must also be

The permeability of a formation and micro channels in the cement sheath allow, in
many cases, the flow of fluids in one direction, while restricting flow in the opposite
direction. This may also be caused by debris in the overlap that may act like
flow-check valves. If this conditions exists, it is possible to obtain a sufficient pos-
itive pressure test and still have gas flow into the wellbore. For this reason, it is
always prudent to also conduct a negative test. This test is sometimes called a dry
test or a differential test. It involves the relief of a portion of the well hydrostatic
pressure in the wellbore.

A retrievable squeeze packer is generally used for a negative test but a drillable
packer can also be used. The packer is run in the hole on a work string (usually
drillpipe), to a depth above the top of the liner. After setting the packer and con-
ducting a positive pressure test, the bypass circulating valve on the packer is
opened and drill water or diesel is pumped into the drillpipe, displacing the well
fluid until a sufficient differential pressure is obtained. With the valve closed and
the packer set to isolate the well fluid in the annulus, the differential pressure is
bled off leaving the hydrostatic pressure of the fluid contained in the drillpipe on
the liner top. Flow back is monitored to determine if a leak is present. After 15 to
30 minutes with no flow, the drillpipe is then re-pressured to the amount of the dif-
ferential. The packer valve is opened again and the light fluid in the drillpipe is
reversed out and again replaced with well fluid. The expansion of cool water after
placement in a hot well will cause some flow and this should not be confused with
actual well flow.

A sufficient amount of differential would be the equivalent to the expected lightest

hydrostatic to be incurred during subsequent drilling and eventual production
operations. If this value is unknown, a 2000 psi differential is usually adequate. In
all cases, compliance must be made with all local regulatory bodies in the running,
cementing, and testing of liners.

Liner Tiebacks

Liner tiebacks to surface or liner stubs may be necessary at some point in the life
of the well. Thus a tieback receptacle or sleeve is often run with the liner hanger.
When running a tieback string of casing to the surface, a float collar and two plugs

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should be used. Only one plug is used probably 80 percent of the times when
cementing tieback strings to surface. As pointed out before, in large casing
strings, if a bottom plug is not used, severe channeling inside the casing can
occur, and a large portion of the cement slurry can become contaminated.

A fluted mill should be used to dress the tieback sleeve prior to running in the hole
with the tieback casing string. Many operators want to make sure the tieback
stem is stabbed into the tieback sleeve prior to cementing. However, it is possible
that the stem is pumped out during the cementing process due to the cooling
effect of the circulated fluids. In order to protect the seals on the tieback stem, the
pressure should be released and the surface left open when lowering the stem
into the tieback sleeve. If the tieback stem seals fail, pressure needs to be held on
the casing until the cement sets.

On Site Data Collection

The minimum data to be collected continuously during the job is:

Density of all Fluids Pumped

The slurry density is the only continuous data that helps ensure that fluids are
pumped as designed - particularly the cement. The slurry density data is critical
for analyzing the quality of the cementing operation even if the slurry is batch
mixed. This information should be recorded continuously using an on-site com-
puter system.

The Pump Rate

The flow rate data helps estimate the displacement efficiency of the cementing
job. To maximise displacement, the spacer and cement slurry must be pumped
at the designed flow rates. In addition, the pump rate data can help with the cal-
culation of the volume of the cement slurry placed in the well. This volume of
cement pumped into the well is critical to analyze the cement tops and the possi-
bility of channeling (along with the job pressures

The Surface Pressure

The job pressures are critical for the analysis of the cementing success. The
pressure can provide a good idea of the circulating hole volumes, as well as to
point out problems during the circulation of the cement like channeling, lost circu-
lation, etc.

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Service Company Cementing Software



This Section includes service company descriptions of their cementing job com-
puter simulators.


Computer-Aided Design and Evaluation for Cementing

CemCADE simulates a set of pumping conditions in a given well, but it is much

more than a mere U-tube simulator. CemCADE is fully integrated software con-
taining different modules where all aspects of a cement job are accounted for.
Dynamic graphics are automatically updated with any change of data and a num-
ber of independent calculators further help the user selecting the appropriate
cementing job parameters.

U-tube and placement

The U-tube simulator is an analytical tool, which calculates free-fall and ECD
using the rheology of fluids at the temperature selected by the user (see Labora-
tory database). This is normally the temperature output by the temperature simu-
lator. This U-tube simulator has been validated against field measurements where
return flow was measured.

The user inputs the different fluids, either by volume, or height (fill-up), or dynami-
cally on the graphics. A comprehensive set of graphs is selectable.

Pauses in the pumping schedule can be included at any stage in order for the
U-tube simulator to realistically simulate the movement of fluids during events
such as dropping plug, switching tanks or silos… Output can be selected versus
time or volume.

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The user is then able to easily verify that the well is kept under control at all times
during the cement job (no loss-no gain situation).

CemCADE simulates any kind of cement job: primary casing, liner, 1st, 2nd or 3rd
stage, stab-in, offshore with or without riser (and air gap), tie-back liner, tie-back

In the case of a liner, CemCADE also simulates circulation of excess cement

above the hanger, after the cementing operation, if a liner packer does not exist to
prevent transmission of applied annular circulation pressure through the
cemented annulus.

Input data

In order to achieve this first objective of well control, CemCADE is fully integrated
in the Drilling Office software suite. Not only can CemCADE read full survey and
caliper data (imported as ASCII files), but this well data can be automatically
downloaded from the Drilling Office database. Hence these caliper and survey
tables can have several hundred lines of data.

A pipe database is available, but the user can define his own casing and drill pipe

Formation description (rock and fluid types, pore and frac pressures) is also
described in a table containing as many lines as information is available. This data
is used for the pressure checks made whilst simulating the cementing operation,
as well as for the temperature simulator and the Post-Placement analysis.

Fluid database

CemCADE is fully coupled to the LabDB fluid laboratory database, where fluid
data can be searched locally as well as through the network. All tests for given
slurry are automatically retrieved. Rheology is measured at different tempera-
tures. The user then selects the rheology, which will be used in the simulations: he
would particularly choose the rheological parameters measured at the tempera-
ture closest to the one given by the temperature simulator.

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CemCADE contains a centralizer database, but the user can define his own cen-
tralizers. Different types of centralizers (rigid, bow, semi-rigid…) can be combined
at will. Centralization is calculated for a given distribution of centralizers, or the
simulator proposes a distribution in order to achieve a given minimum desired
standoff. The standoff is calculated not only at the centralizer, but also between
centralizers, in order to account for the deflection of the beam under its own
weight. Drag force while running the casing with the selected distribution of cen-
tralizers is calculated in order to verify that the casing will run to bottom.

Mud Removal


A number of independent calculators help the selection of the proper properties

for the fluids pumped, so that each fluid will effectively displace the preceding one
in the chosen flow regime, as a function of eccentricity, deviation, hole size… The
criteria must fulfill the WELLCLEAN eccentered mud removal technology.

Once the fluid properties have been selected, the U-tube simulator and the cen-
tralization calculations are run. The Mud Removal simulator will then output the
efficiency (versus depth, and time for turbulent flow or volume for Effective Lami-
nar Flow) at which the preflushes displace the drilling fluid, and the slurries dis-
place the preflushes.

Aids for Design of Effective Laminar Flow Displacement

This module helps the user selecting dynamically and graphically the optimum
properties for the displacing fluid for efficiently removing the displaced one, as a
function of annular geometry, deviation and pipe standoff.

Evaluation of the Mud Displacement Process

A 2-D numerical simulator visualizes the fluid displacement. Channels and films
on walls are identified. Primarily an evaluation tool, this simulator can be used in
design mode.

Cement Job Evaluation

CBL Adviser

The CBL Adviser module helps in evaluating cement bond logs, accounting for all
well parameters and outputs the referenced CBL amplitude for the given cement-
ing operation.

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Post-Job Evaluation

CemCADE uses the recorded job data to simulate all the operation using these
job parameters. This simulation of the operation using the execution data allows
to identify problems that occurred during the operation, by comparing the Job Sig-
nature with the simulated curves. Typical problems are hole instability and annular
closure, fluid channeling and losses. Subsequent cementing operations can
therefore take into account the occurrence of such events, and the design can be
modified accordingly.

Temperature Simulator

In addition to handling multiple temperature gradients, this analytical tool accounts

for well deviation, annular geometry, type of formations, fluid rheologies and flow
regime. Above all, pump rate and time are key factors in these heat transfer phe-
nomena. CemCADE’s temperature simulator was validated by field measure-
ments made in the early 1990s in onshore and shallow offshore wells. CemCADE
temperature simulator has now been validated in deep water conditions and
requires the input of the temperature profile and the current profile in the column
of sea water.

Temperature simulators are therefore recommended when well conditions deviate

from vertical or when a particular pumping schedule is planned to cool the well, or
in deep water wells, as the API schedules cannot handle these situations.

The output of the temperature simulator is used for the laboratory to optimize the
fluid properties. It is used also to recommend, particularly in HP-HT wells, a mini-
mum circulation period prior to cementing not only for cleaning the wellbore, but
also for establishing a flat temperature profile versus depth. This ensures that all
the fluids pumped will keep their properties as designed.

Plug Cementing

A plug cementing module helps designing the conditions for increasing the effec-
tiveness of placing cement plugs off bottom. This tool recommends a certain rhe-
ology for the fluids in order to prevent the instability of the plug after placement,
due to both fluid swapping in vertical and deviated wells and to slumping in highly
inclined wellbores.

The placement of the cement plug is also carefully considered in order to optimize
mud removal and avoid overdisplacing the fluids, particularly when using tapered
strings. Recommendations are for fluid volumes and rates in order to keep stable
interfaces between each fluid, inside and outside the drill pipe, and after having
pulled the pipe.

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MUDPUSH XL applies the Effective Laminar Flow (ELF) technique, which com-
bines several criteria to achieve optimum mud removal at low flow rates. For a
long period of time, the oil industry has considered only two suitable flow regimes
to achieve proper mud removal: Turbulent Flow and Sub-Laminar Flow (also
called Plug Flow). The reason very often put forward for promoting Plug Flow and
avoiding Laminar Flow is based on the confusion between the velocity profile of a
given fluid and the interface profile between two fluids. Although the exact
description of this interface is not yet fully known, it is recognized that, under cer-
tain conditions, the interface profile can be quite flat even in Laminar Flow. One of
these conditions, which is also our first criterion of the Effective Laminar Flow
technique, is the well-known Density Hierarchy between the Displaced and Dis-
placing fluids. In other words, the slurry density must be higher than the spacer
density, and in turn the spacer density must be higher than the mud density. As
the density differential between the displaced and displacing fluids increases, their
interfaces become flatter and more stable. A minimum density difference of 10%
between the displaced and the displacing fluids is recommended.

The second criterion that must be met concerns the Friction Pressure generated
by the flow of the Displaced and Displacing fluids. To increase the stability of the
interface, this criterion recommends that the friction pressure generated by the
displacing fluid be greater than the friction pressure generated by the displaced
fluid. This is equivalent to having, for a given annular geometry and flow rate, the
apparent viscosity of the displaced fluid lower than the apparent viscosity of the
displacing fluid.

The third criterion, often referred to as the MPG (Minimum Pressure Gradient) cri-
terion, verifies the mobility, in an eccentric annulus, of the displaced fluid providing
this fluid exhibits a yield stress. The fourth and last criterion is called the Differen-
tial Velocity criterion. In an eccentric annulus, a single fluid will always flow faster
on the wide side (the path of least resistance) than on the narrow side. This crite-
rion imposes that the displacing fluid does not flow faster on the wide side of the
annulus than the displaced fluid on the narrow side.

These four criteria have been implemented within the CemCADE program and the
acceptable range for annular flow is the output. For a given set of conditions, the
minimum annular rate calculated by the CemCADE program equals the highest of
the following values:
• Minimum rate for MOBILITY on the narrow side of the casing for fluids exhib-
iting a yield stress (MPG criterion)
• Beginning of the 20% friction pressure hierarchy
• Arbitrary lower limit of 1 bbl/min

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• Beginning of the stable front between the large and narrow sides of the cas-
ing (velocity criterion - optional).

• The calculated maximum annular rate equals the lowest of the following val-

• End of the 20% friction pressure hierarchy

• Full establishment of turbulence by the displacing fluid (turbulent-flow place-

ment should then be used)

• Arbitrary upper limit of 40 bbl/min

• End of the stable front between the large and narrow sides of the casing
(velocity criterion - optional).

The main parameters affecting these boundary rates are fluid rheologies and their
densities, pipe and openhole geometry, pipe eccentricity, and well deviation.
Within the MUDPUSH family (XT for Turbulent, XL for Laminar and XS for Salt
Systems), the viscosifiers used are special products that enhance each system’s
characteristic. The D149, for instance, allow a wide range of PV and Ty under dif-
ferent concentrations on the XL spacer, this behavior is not exactly found on other



A Primary Cement Job Simulation Program

OptiCem - is a primary cement job simulation program. Any type of primary job
can be simulated. OptiCem takes into account all known cementing factors. Mud
channeling, eccentricity, freefall, mud compressibility (inthe works), temperature
dependant rheology, gas expansion and compression,change in viscosity with
changing foam quality, Tuned Spacer, hookload, etc.

Mud channeling

OptiCem calculates the forces required to remove mud and then compares the
required forces to the force present under the planned job scenario and predicts
whether the mud will be removed or not based on these relative forces.

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OptiCem can calculate frictional pressure losses based on concentric pipe or

eccentric pipe. The standoff of the pipe for these pressure calculations can be
entered as a single fixed number or be dynamically calculated based on the
planned centralizer program. Thus the level of eccentricity is allowed to vary up
and down the entire wellbore, if the design requires that level of accuracy.


Freefall is important with the larger surface and conductor strings when cement
enters the annulus, these strings may become buoyant. Prior knowledge of this is
critical for the success of the job and the safety of those present on location. If the
rig is near capacity do to string weight, knowing the maximum weight when the
casing is full of cement is also critical for the success of the job and the safety of
those present on location. Pressures acting on all shoulders, lateral forces, and
drag stresses are all considered.

Mud compressibility (in the works)

Many of the new mud systems are compressible enough that there changes in
both volume and density become significant. The next release will contain PVT
correlation's for a minimum of 6 different base fluids and the algorithms that will
change there volumes and densities as they move through the well-bore.

Temperature dependant rheology

OptiCem can use anything from a basic straight line temperature profile to the
most sophisticated WellCat simulation as input. If a single rheology data point is
entered that rheology will be applied to the entire wellbore. If rheology data is
entered at two or more temperatures, OptiCem will thin the fluid on the way down
the casing and then thicken it as it cools on the way up the annulus. These contin-
ually adjusted rheological parameters will be used to calculate the frictional pres-
sure drops.

Tuned Spacer

OptiCem's Tuned Spacer wizard allows the user to tune the spacer's rheological
properties to the given well conditions. If the properties are entered to match the
well conditions, the tuning process will provide sufficient levels of shear at the wall
to remove the gelled mud.

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Gas expansion and compression

In foam cementing the gas must be allowed to expand and contract as the pres-
sure and temperature changes. As the gas changes volume the internal flow rate
will change in unison. As the foam quality increases the fluid density hydrostatic
pressure decreases. OptiCem takes all of these factors into account when deter-
mining ECD. To properly design a foam job the N2 concentrations and base slurry
volumes must be infinitely adjustable to allow the user to get the proper amount of
down hole volume and the required density profile. To know how to adjust these
parameters the user must know how much down hole volume results from the
planned job process and what the final density profile will look like. OptiCem
allows the users to easily adjust these data and provides the results required to
correctly make these adjustments.

Change in viscosity with changing foam quality

As the foam quality increases so will the viscosity. To accurately model foam vol-
umes and densities the user must accurately model pressures. OptiCem uses
these adjusted rheologies to modify the frictional pressures.


With large surface and conductor pipes after the heavy tail enters the annulus the
pipe can become buoyant. If the pipe floats out of the well the job will be a failure
and the safety of the rig personal will be at risk. When the hung pipe weight is
near the rigs maximum the added weight of the cement might exceed the safe
operating range for the rig. If the rig collapses, again the job will be a failure and
the safety of the rig personal will be at risk. OptiCem takes into account the forces
on all of the shoulders, the lateral forces, and the drag stresses.

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Primary Cement Design, Analysis and Real-time Monitoring


The following is intended to be a brief overview of the simulator methodology and

features. The simulator calculations make some general assumptions.

1) Base slurry properties remain constant (through shear/temperature


2) Temperature gradient (for foam calculations) is linear.

3) Flow characteristics of a nitrified fluid can be extrapolated from the base


4) The pipe is concentric and the fluids moves in plug flow with 100%

5) Annular fluid volumes do not change to account for measured and cal-
culated return rates.

The simulator tracks up to 300 fluid segments in the pipe and annulus. Fluid seg-
ments account for varying density and/or gas ratio.

Pressure calculations are performed iteratively at certain time intervals. Input

parameters are slurry rate in and slurry density in. Surface pressure at the well-
bore is assumed, and pressures along the flow path are calculated, accounting for
diameter changes, down the pipe and up the annulus. Iterations are performed
until calculated return pressure is sufficiently close to the specified or measured
value. If the iterations result in negative surface pressure, this is accounted for by
free-fall. This will cause slurry rate out to be different from slurry rate in.

Calculated pressure and return rate can be compared to the measured values,
and calculated ECD's at critical depths can be studied to gain an insight into the

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1) Generalized wellbore geometry.

2) Multiple fluid types (including multiple displacements).

3) Returns at sea floor allowed.

4) Newtonian, Power Law and Bingham Plastic fluid behavior.

5) API Spec 10 flow regime and pressure drop calculations.

6) Nitrogen or air foams.

7) Variable displacement rates, including shut-downs

8) Free-fall effect.

9) Integrated graphics: including time based xy-plots, depth based ECD

and Reynolds charts, wellbore diagram, fluid inventory, mud place-
ment/displacement graphic etc.

10) User can pause or slow down simulator and manually control key
parameters (rate, density etc) for “what-if’ analysis.

11) Tracks information (ECD, Reynolds) for critical depths.

12) Design, post-job analysis and real-time modes.

13) Allows plotting of design vs. actual surface pressure, return rate

14) Mud displacement calculations are performed by the simulator but are
not integrated into the flow calculations.

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Mud Preparation and Removal


Mud has a critical role and will influence the performance of cementing opera-
tions. The mud will be responsible for the condition of the wellbore and the quality
of the displacement to cement, which in turn will influence its long term.

Good mud engineering will create the environment that will allow for the smooth
installation of the casing or liner, the mud displacement and the quality of the
cement seal and casing support.

Wellbore Conditioning

While the displacement from mud to cement is critical, the condition of the well-
bore in preparation for the cement is also extremely important.

A conditioned wellbore will have been drilled with mud that has an efficient sealing
capacity, which will have left a thin tough filter cake across all exposed formations.
The mud will have been used with adequate flow rates and viscosities to ensure
the hole is clean and all drilled cuttings and cavings have been removed. The
directional drillers will have taken the bit to target leaving the hole with limited tor-
tuosity and minimal doglegs.

The filter cake is the man-made membrane formed behind the bit on the wall of
porous formations. This membrane will contain a sample of all the solids in the
mud and its thickness will reflect the relationship between the rock pore throat or
fracture size and the particle size distribution of the mud.

Formations with a large pore throat size and mud loaded with only very small par-
ticles will build a thick cake before the bore hole wall becomes impermeable.
While mud that has a distribution of different sizes will form a seal more quickly,
resulting in a thinner cake. This is applicable to all mud types.
Displacements and cementing can be best achieved when they are featured
throughout the drilling process. In the following table mud characteristics are
explained with regard to the drilling and casing/cementing operations.

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Figure 24: Mud Properties

Mud Characteristic Drilling Phase Benefits Casing & Cementation Benefits

Sealing capacity The mud should be designed to build A thin filter cake will ensure mini-
“Filter cake design the thin nest possible filter cake mal annular pressure loss.
and properties that against all the differing porous forma- Thereby, allowing higher pump
go beyond the con- tions, providing better trips, lower rates for a superior displacement.
ventional mud tests” annular pressure drops and reduced A thin/tough filter cake will prevent
risk of stuck pipe rapid unplanned dehydration of
Filter cake construction should be cement slurries, which could cause
matched to formations exposed and premature setting and erratic per-
not only based on API low and high formance.
pressure tests carried out as part of A thin filter cake will enhance cas-
the mud testing to provide wellbore ing running.
stability A thin filter cake will reduce the risk
of differential sticking of the casing.
A thinner filter cake will enhance
the cement bond.
An effective filter cake will maxi-
mise the benefits of the hydrostatic
force and improve wellbore stabil-
ity; a stable wellbore has fewer
Viscosity The mud is made viscous to facilitate A low PV will enhance hole clean-
“Lower Plastic Vis- cuttings transportation, this viscosity ing and a clean hole prior to
cosity and lower 30 should be man aged to reduce the cementing will reduce the risk of
minute gel strengths” Plastic Viscosity and optimise the losses caused by a build up of sol-
Yield Point and Yield Stress. ids in the wellbore.
Progressively increasing gel Mud with a lower PV require less
strengths - as measured between 10 energy to initiate flow and can
seconds, 10 and 30 minutes - are therefore be moved more easily
detrimental to all operations. Gel ahead of spacers and cement,
strengths measured after 30 minutes facilitating its removal from a nar-
should be reported throughout drilling row annulus.
operations with a maximum value set. Progressively increasing Gel
strengths pre vent mud flow in
washouts and take more pressure
to initiate flow, resulting in channel-
Solids Content Poor size distribution and high vol- Low values of low gravity solids
“Low Gravity Drilled ume will make viscosity more difficult will help control PV and gels and
solids” to control. allow for good mud removal. Low,
Poor size distribution and high vol- appropriate values of low gravity
ume spoil filter cake construction. solids will allow formation of thin,
tight, filter cakes.

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Different Mud Types

Drilling & Cementing with the same mud properties can be achieved, but will
require that the highest standards be maintained. The engineer must specify the
properties that are to be reported and agree with the contractor how much latitude
is allowed, as slippage is inevitable. All fluids used to drill will deteriorate and it is
this deterioration that must be controlled.

The mud used to drill will be either oil or water based and there are important dif-
ferences, which must be understood and taken into account during the planning

Cementing in Oil Based Mud (OBM)

Oil based muds derive limited viscosity from the base oil and submicron-sized
emulsified water, but this viscosity will be Newtonian in character. The major
non-Newtonian rheology is derived from organophilic clays (also known as organ-
oclay). These are bentonites in which the inorganic exchangeable cations, such
as sodium, calcium and magnesium, have been displaced by fatty quaternary

Low-Shear-Rate Viscosity
Generally, oil-based muds behave as pseudo plastic fluids. They thin with increas-
ing shear in a manner similar to clay-containing water-based muds. However,
absolute viscosities tend to be considerably lower in oil-based muds. A conse-
quence of this is that oil-based muds generally do not suspend solids, such as
weighting materials and drill cuttings, as well as similar viscosity water-based
muds. This property is particularly important at low shear rates and is related to
the low-shear viscosity and elastic properties of the mud.

Drilled Solids
Since there is, as yet, no reliable method of removing colloidal size particles from
oil-based muds, these solids tend to build up in the system, eventually affecting
the mud properties. High plastic viscosity values and elevated low gravity solids
content are indicators that the mud is contaminated. The longer the oil mud has
been in use, the more colloidal size solids will have accumulated. Although
removing solids with solids control equipment, particularly with the centrifuge, may
help, colloidal solids cannot effectively be removed mechanically. In this case,

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dilution with base oil is the only recourse.

Dilution can be minimised, however, with the use of a good solids control program
to remove as many solids as possible before they degrade to colloidal size. Fortu-
nately, oil mud does not allow degradation of the solids to occur as rapidly as it
would in water-based mud.

The Cement Job

To assure a good cement job with oil-based mud, we recommend careful adher-
ence to the principles outlined in this section. Some of the difficulties outlined
below will help you understand why these measures are so important.

Cement slurries and oil-based mud are extremely incompatible. These two fluids
form very viscous masses when they come in contact with each other. The pres-
ence of these viscous masses makes the displacement of the mud from the hole
during the cementing operation very difficult.

Since most oil-based muds contain salt in the aqueous phase, any mud left in the
hole and contaminating the cement slurry may significantly affect the thickening
time of the cement. In a well drilled with stable water-in-oil emulsion mud the cas-
ing and the formation are preferentially oil-wet. Since cements do not bond to oily
surfaces, it is necessary to reverse this preferential wetting. Oil-based muds tend
to be run with lower gel strengths which contribute to better displacement, and
finally, the good fluid loss control properties associated with oil-based muds gen-
erally produces a thin, firm filter cake which is also favourable to the displacement

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As mentioned above, the surfaces in wells drilled with oil-based muds are nor-
mally oil wet and cements will not bond to oil wet surfaces. We must do everything
possible to assure that all of these surfaces are water-wet before the cement
slurry contacts them. This factor makes flush/spacer design and placement a criti-
cal element in achieving a successful cement job in a well drilled with oil-based

Functions of Spacers and Pre-Flushes

The functions of spacers and pre-flushes are:

• To effectively separate the cement slurry from the drilling mud during placement
• To prevent the formation of thick viscous interfaces that are detrimental to
the displacement process
• To remove as much of the mud as possible, ahead of the cement slurry.
• To treat the pipe and formation surfaces so that they are water-wet, rather
than oil-wet, allowing an effective hydraulic bond to be established between
the cement, the casing, and the formation. (The spacer fluids used must con-
tain surfactants capable of water wetting the surfaces.) To maintain control of
the well during the sweep/flush and cementing process. (Be sure that the
density of the spacer/pre-flush does not reduce the total hydrostatic head
sufficiently to allow a kick to occur.)

Cementing in Water Based Mud (WBM)

As discussed above cement slurries and oil-based mud are extremely incompati-
ble. While this is not so true for water-based mud, water based mud does present
other problems.

Cement contamination drastically changes the nature of freshwater, clay-based

systems. The calcium ion tends to replace sodium ions on the clay surface
through a Base Exchange. The bound layer of water on the clay platelets is
reduced, resulting in diminished hydration or swelling characteristics. The effect of
calcium contamination on deflocculated muds is increased fluid loss, yield point
and gel strengths.

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The potential for contamination during the displacement must be a prime concern
and time must be allocated for a final treatment of the mud prior to cementing.
This treatment will be to reduce the viscosity, with particular attention to the gel
strengths. The 10-minute gel strengths should not exceed 35-lb/100ft2. If a treat-
ment is required it may take the form of a dilution, but when minimal disturbance
to filtrate control and inhibition is required, a treatment with an approved defloccu-
lant such as:

• Chrome free Lignosulfonate (1 to 4 ppb 3 to 11 kg/m3)

• DESCO® (1 to 4 ppb 3 to 11 kg/m3)
• Drill-Thin® (0.1 to 0.5 ppb 0.3 to 2 kg/m3)
• Other proprietary WBM thinner is advised.

Contnation of WBM with Cement

In the case of cement contamination, diagnosis is usually simplified by the fact
that we know ahead of time when we will be drilling cement. The physical and
chemical indications of lime or cement contamination are; increased yield point
and fluid loss, increased pH and alkalinities, and a possible increase in calcium.
The calcium increase may be masked, however, by pH. Gypsum and anhydrite
contamination is also characterised by an increase in yield point and fluid loss, as
these effects are the result of the divalent cation (Ca ++) in the mud. Alkalinities
and pH decrease with anhydrite contamination because CaSO4 and H2O liberate
H + ions. An increase in detectable Ca ++ is also likely since there is not a high pH
to limit its solubility.

Approximately 100 mg/L of Ca ++ should be left in the system to react with carbon-
ate ions.

In most drilling operations, cement contamination occurs one or more times when
casing strings are cemented and the plugs are drilled out. The extent of contami-
nation and its effect on mud properties depends on several factors. These include
solids content, type and concentration, deflocculants, and the quantity of cement
incorporated. One 94-lb sack of cement can yield 74 lb of lime. When cement is
completely cured only about 10% is available whereas, when it is soft (green) as
much as 50% of the lime may be available to react. It is the calcium hydroxide
(lime) in cement, reacting with solids, that causes most of the difficulty associated
with cement contamination.

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Freshwater bentonite systems are flocculated by cement, resulting in increased
viscosity and fluid loss. The severity of flocculation depends upon the quantity and
quality of solids present and the solubility of the Ca++ ion.

The major contributor to viscosity will be either hydrated clays and/or polymers.
The suspension will be in either fresh or low to medium salinity brine. In most
cases the suspension will be sensitive to cement as it contains high concentra-
tions of calcium and hydroxide ions, both can be detrimental. Calcium will cause
flocculation of clays while elevated pH (>11.5) will cause the degradation of most
viscosifying polymers.

Drilled Solids
Excess solids are by far the most prevalent and detrimental to all types of muds.
Solids problems are often magnified by the presence of other contaminants such
as cement, because excess solids and contaminant ions can strongly interact to
create a more serious mud problem than either one separately.

High plastic viscosity values and elevated low gravity solids content are indicators
that the mud is contaminated. Although removing solids with solids control equip-
ment, particularly with the centrifuge, may help, colloidal solids cannot effectively
be removed mechanically. In this case, dilution with either water/brine or whole
mud is required. Dilution can be minimised, however, with the use of a good solids
control program to remove as many solids as possible before they degrade to col-
loidal size (see section on solids control). Unfortunately, water does allow degra-
dation of the solids to occur as rapidly, unlike oil based mud.

The Cement Job

To assure a good cement job with water-based mud, we recommend careful
adherence to the principles outlined in this section.

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Cement slurries and water-based muds are incompatible, but unlike OBM where
the two fluids will form a very viscous interface when they come in contact with
each other, most WBM’s will not interact so severely. It is only WBM’s containing
high clay content and has not been properly prepared which will become viscous.
Such a viscous mass makes the displacement of clay/solids laden mud from the
hole during the cementing operation difficult.

Some water-based mud contain salt, therefore, any mud left in the hole and con-
taminating the cement slurry may significantly effect the thickening time of the
cement. In a well drilled with water-based mud, the casing and the formation will
remain water-wet and present no problems with regard to wettability.

Water-based muds tend to be run with higher gel strengths which contributes to
poor displacement, and finally, the fluid loss control properties associated with
water-based muds generally produce a thick, soft filter cake which is also unfa-
vourable to the displacement process.

The advantages of being able to displace to a hole filled with water-based are:

• The effects of contamination to the mud can be controlled

• Contamination to the cement is minimal
The disadvantages of being able to displace to a hole drilled with water-based

• Inferior wellbore condition

• Poor wall cake condition
• Higher gel strengths
Functions Of Spacers and Pre-Flushes
The functions of spacers and pre-flushes are:

To effectively separate the cement slurry from the drilling mud during placement,
to prevent the formation of thick viscous interfaces that are detrimental to the dis-
placement process and to remove as much of the mud as possible, ahead of the
cement slurry.

To maintain control of the well during the sweep/flush and cementing process. (Be
sure that the density of the spacer/pre-flush does not reduce the total hydrostatic
head sufficiently to allow a kick to occur.)

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Engineering Recommendations
If the correct pre-emptive actions are taken during each phase of well construction, it
is possible to use mud to optimise both drilling and cementing operations.
The following checklist is designed to help ensure nothing is left to chance.

Planning Phase
• When establishing the mud type to be used for drilling, review and itemise
the properties critical for cementing.
• Include a section in the Mud and Well Programme that will state the opti-
mum properties needed for the displacement. Ensure that the 30-minute
gel strength is included in the daily mud report.
• Establish a reporting process to ensure the Operations Drilling Engineer,
Mud Contractor, Drilling Supervisor, Cementing Contractor and Drilling
Superintendent are all aware of the critical cementing properties during

Drilling Phase
• Monitor and maintain the programmed properties needed for the wellbore
and displacement.
• Ensure the reporting process is maintained and those all concerned under-
stand the consequences of any slippage from the predetermined proper-
• Establish a contingency plan for the predicted wellbore condition and the
prevailing mud properties. If drilling conditions have required the mud prop-
erties to deviate from the programme, priorities for the cementing and cas-
ing operations may have changed. Discuss the changing situation with
the mud and cement contractor more frequently and establish a new strat-
egy for the cementing operations.
Inclusion of the Mud & Cement contractors as early as possible when drilling condi-
tions deviate from the plan, will lead to a better prepared cementing operation.

• Prepare a plan for the displacement. Ensure adequate pit space for the
spacers, contaminated returns. Arrange transportation for removal from site
of excess or unwanted liquids.
• Determine when time will be available for circulating and condition the mud.
Find out…

• “How much scope there will be for circulation and treatment while drilling
the last few feet and prior to tripping to run casing?” “Will circulation occur

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only prior to running casing or will it be possible to circulate with the casing
on bottom?”
• “Estimate how much time will be needed to condition the mud to optimum
properties for displacement?” “How much time can be spent circulating
when the bit reaches TD?”
• “What mud properties can be altered to meet the required specification?”
• Require the Cement and Mud Contractor to collaborate in the analysis of
the predicted viscosity and density of the mud and the predicted displace-
ment conditions. Use all available data to establish if additional condition-
ing is required and the pressure profile to be expected during the
displacement. Use all available Hydraulic Modelling devices with various
scenarios to prepare for all possible mud and wellbore conditions.
• Review drilling operations to determine the risk of subsurface losses during
the cementation. Establish a plan to ensure there is sufficient mud to
complete the displacement, if losses occur and mud returns are limited.
• Any loss of mud returns that occur during the cementing operations will
effect of the quality of the job. An accurate account of all volumes must be
made at the start of operations, with the anticipated volume gains from the
cement and spacers recorded. The anticipated pump rates used to pump
spacers, cement and the displacement must be known by the mud loggers
and the mud engineer. The mud engineer and loggers must be given the
responsibility of collecting this data. This information will allow any changes
top-of-cement to be calculated and an action plan to be implemented.
• Assess potential for an environmental incident during the cementation.
Cementing Phase

• Ask the Cement and Mud Contractors to collaborate in the analysis of the
wellbore condition and diameter. Various techniques can be used with-
out the need of a calliper; to aid in the establishing the volume of
cement required needed to reach the required TOC.

The volume of mud used to drill the section can be used to calculate an accurate estima
tion of the open hole size.

Mass Balance calculations using the retained low gravity solids content, dilution volumes
and the efficiency of the solids control equipment can be made to provide accurate infor
mation. This technique has proved to be within 10% of the actual hole size.

This process is extremely useful when cementing in areas that experience wellbore insta

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• Minimise the delays between the last circulation and the cement job.
• If using WBM determine if the mud being used to displace the cement
should be treated in advance of the cementation for possible cement con-
• Mud left in the hole behind casing may have more value being reused and
it may be viable to displace it and have it replaced by a less valuable mud.
This will need to be determined on a case by case basis.

A fte r tim e a n d u n d e r c erta in d o w n h o le c o n d itio n s , th e o rg a n ic m a te ria l fo u n d in W B M

w ill d eg ra d e a n d H 2 S c an ac c u m u late . P u m p in g m ud tha t co n ta in s n o o rg an ic m a te ria l
i.e . B e n to n ite , b arite a n d w ater, a h ea d o f the ce m e n t ca n p re ve n t this p ro b lem . H2 S sc a v
en g e rs c a n b e ad d ed if re q u ire d .

• Mud left in the hole behind casing may be the cause of future corrosion.
Therefore, have the mud contractor treat the mud system during the
final circulation. The treatment could include:
Increase the pH
- Reduce dissolved oxygen
• Check the proposed Cement Spacer formulation for:
- If any of the exposed formations are reactive to uninhibited mud,
they could be sensitive to the spacer.
- The exposed formations may be sensitive to small changes in
hydrostatic pressure. Ensure wellbore stability and pore pres-
sures remain unaffected by the spacer density or chemistry.
- Spacer viscosity and annular velocities ahead of the cement
may need to be compared with those used during the drilling phase.
The hole cleaning performance of the spacer and cement may be
improved to such a degree that cuttings previously undisturbed may
be moved, creating a potential pack-off at any restriction, such as
the liner hanger.
- If the spacer design calls for the use of barite, ensure the initial vis-
cosity is sufficient for its suspension.

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A great deal of effort will have gone into drilling the hole and the mud will have
played a critical role, but this is only its first job. For successful completion of the
well the mud will have to make way for the cement and protect the casing. To con-
struct the well, the properties needed for a good cementation must be part of the
daily assessment of mud performance.

The API low and high pressure fluid loss tests performed as part of the mud engi-
neer’s tests, will detect variations in the capacity for the mud to seal, but uses a
low porosity filter paper, which may or may not reflect the mud’s true sealing
capacity. It is recommended that a Permeability Plugging Test (PPT) be incorpo-
rated as part of the mud testing and that an aloxite disk of the required permeabil-
ity be used when high permeability and/or high overbalance are predicted.

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Section 5: Cementing Operations Design


Design Process

Optimising the cementing process by addressing:

• Well and cementing objectives
• Risk identification and management
• People competency
• Learning

Understand the requirements for Cementing Documentation:

• Cementing Basis of Design
• Cementing Risk Register
• Cementing Program
• End of Well Review


Much has been said elsewhere in this manual about the need for planning, for
achieving good mud properties, for a slurry design with the optimum properties.
This section will look at assurance processes and how to engage, not just the
cementing contractor, but also others who can make a difference to the success
and quality of the job.

The importance of the mud contractor as been repeatedly stressed. Mud, unlike
cement, is run as a dynamic, continuously changing process. The properties are
monitored, adjusted and the fluid is re-run around the system. Cement is a
‘one-shot’ process with no second chance. At best, a squeeze job is a time
consuming exercise. Often, it is less than satisfactory on a ‘life of well’ basis.

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Everything, therefore, needs to be done to ensure that the first attempt is the very
best possible job. You can’t fix it on the run. The planning has to be of the very
highest standard.

Traditionally, the cementing service company has supplied the cement,

chemicals, pumping equipment and personnel. Their main responsibility used to
be seen as providing the slurry and the capability to pump it into place. Poor
quality cement, poor quality additives and a casual approach to lab. testing led to
‘train-wreck’ jobs, junked wells and considerable frustration for the operator’s

You will have seen throughout this manual the multidisciplinary aspects involved
in getting the best quality job. The best slurry available, with the very best cement
and chemicals, will not give good zone isolation across a washed-out hole section
full of gelled mud. Nor will an eccentered casing string in a gun-barrel hole, if the
spacer and cement are not pumped in an engineered manner which specifically
addresses the complexity of the fluid rheologies.

Some surprisingly simple steps are often overlooked in the general drilling
engineering planning. Sometimes the service company engineer will not give due
thought to an aspect of the job because he feels that it is out of his hands. He is
sometimes encouraged by the drilling engineer into this thinking because he is
concentrating on other aspects of the well. The cementing engineer asks the mud
company for the mud properties and gets what the mud company thinks they
should be, rather than what they will actually be. The cementing engineer sees no
particular problem with the mud and, anyway sees his job as getting the slurry
design and logistics sorted.

On the rig the cementers see their job as mixing the slurry and pumping it without
mishap. The mud engineer is glad to have reached section TD with the mud in
some reasonable shape and is little concerned about the cement job other than
how it will affect his pit space management. Add to this scenario that nobody has
been particularly concerned about centralization and you can find plenty of
reasons why the job is not likely to be a success.

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This provokes the question “What constitutes success?”.

Many times you will hear “The cement job was a success – we bumped the plug
and had no losses during the job” Is this success?

What is success?

The first step in any cementing program should be to articulate the objectives for
the individual cementing operations.

Typical objectives could be:

• Isolate the shoe and allow drilling ahead with a maximum mud weight of xx
• Isolate the shoe and a hydrocarbon zone
• Cement back into the previous casing to provide structural support
• Allow earliest drillout of the shoe
• Facilitate earliest kick-off
• Enable unambiguous testing of two hydrocarbon zones
• Bring TOC to within 500m of the previous casing shoe, but not inside it
• Bring cement returns to surface, but not too much
• Isolate a high pressure zone from a low pressure zone
• Isolate a potable water zone

Sometimes many objectives will exist together and the objectives of the drilling
team may not always be those of the field production team. For example, the
drilling team may be happy with cement at TOL and a successful liner lap
pressure test. The reservoir engineers may be relying on long term isolation of
several zones across the liner.

It is now more common to have a multidisciplinary team approach to well planning

and a much greater awareness of what the well is trying to achieve – technically
and commercially. However, it is good practice to spell out just what the objectives
are and make sure that everyone is aware and agrees. Although this may seem
obvious, very few cementing programs ever lay out the objectives. It is only if
these objectives are stipulated that it is possible to judge performance. If you can’t
judge performance, you can’t do much to improve it.

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What are the major risks to achieving the objectives?

There are very many cases throughout the oil patch of events happening which,
prior to their occurrence, were thought almost impossible. On further investigation
it has been realised that these events had happened before and were known.
Wells have been cemented up, or junked, for quite trivial reasons or failures. The
impossible happens – the real questions are:
• how frequently
• what avoidance measures or contingencies can be put in place?

Risk Management is becoming well understood in Well Planning and is often used
at the Drilling Engineer level to identify and handle risk and its implications for well

The same sort of approach can be used to ensure that planning for cementing
operations on a well is robust and fit for purpose.

When a cementing service company submits a cementing program to an operator

this methodology is rarely apparent. Nothing can go wrong. In practice, you
realise there are risks throughout the cementing process – from lab design and
testing, through downhole equipment, mixing the slurry on surface, pumping,
displacing, bumping the plug.

In some cases, in some wells, a particular type of failure may not be too serious.
In other circumstances it can be catastrophic. A particularly good example of this
is HPHT wells. These wells present extreme difficulties in slurry design and
downhole equipment reliability. Slurry designs can be very sensitive to even minor
changes in additives or procedures. Thickening Times can lurch from excessively
long to too short just through some seemingly trivial change in some parameter.

If these risks are identified, quantified and the most important ones addressed in
detail, then the chances of a successful job are significantly increased. If not, then
the chances of a ‘train wreck’ will remain high.

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The Risk Assessment Process

The steps in a structured assessment will be as follows:

• Risk Identification

List all the risks

- have all the right people contributed ?
- was the whole operation examined systematically ?
- have human factors been properly considered ?
- how will a new risk identified later on be managed ?

It can be useful to look at risks through two lenses:

• Risks to the well and failing to achieve the objectives – e.g. failure to
achieve sufficient leak-off at the shoe
• Risk to being able to execute the job as desired (or designed) – e.g. failure
to mix slurry to correct weight

The second approach may constitute a second Risk Register developed by the
service company to provide assurance to the operator that it has covered its own
planning and contingencies.
• Risk Analysis

Establishes the level of each risk in terms of severity and likelihood. May include
making recommendations based on expected outcome
- what sources of information were used ?
- are there better sources ?
• Risk Reduction

Management of safeguards
- can any risk be eliminated by doing things differently ?
- are all existing safeguards properly understood ?
- do all high level risks have a wide variety of safeguards ?

These steps should be linked to an implementation plan and some type of

performance monitoring and should be preceded by a statement of the objectives
of each cementing job on the well.

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Needless to say, this needs to be a multidisciplinary team approach involving the

contractors (not just the cementing contractor) and the operator.

It can be argued that different types of wells require will require this process to be
implemented with more or less thoroughness, with more or less time and
expertise devoted to it, but all well planning should follow these steps. You would
not expect a hospital to undertake an operation without deciding exactly what was
the aim, how it was to be achieved, what the risks were and how to reduce them
to an acceptable level.


The following are examples of the use of this type of approach. Each drilling team
is likely to do things differently – in some cases maybe not so formally
documented as in these examples. However, the steps are necessary.

Figure 1: Cementing BoD – offshore, exploration well

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Figure 2: Cementing BoD – onshore well

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An alternative method would be to require the contractor’s Cementing Program to

follow a particular structure, eg, for each cementing operation,
Well section data ............................................................................................ 3
2.2 Objectives............................................................................................. 3
2.3 Assumptions and boundaries ............................................................ 3
2.4 Identified Risks & Mitigations............................................................. 4
2.5 Cementation method ........................................................................... 4
2.6 Spacer design....................................................................................... 5
2.7 Cement slurry design .......................................................................... 5
2.8 Casing hardware & acccessories....................................................... 6
2.9 Environmental evaluation ................................................................... 6

This document could be considered the Basis of Design and the actual Cementing
Program could be a correspondingly shorter document.

Cementing Risk Register – Example

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Cementing Program

Unless the items are adequately covered elsewhere, this document should
include detailed, final recommendations following detailed discussion and
• Detailed well schematic
• Annotated Lithology column highlighting risk zones
• Objectives
• The cementing method – inner string, two plug, single stage, etc
• Recommendations for casing hardware, shoes, float collars, etc
• The slurry design and properties – although these will be subject to confirm-
atory testing immediately prior to the job(s)
• Where applicable, casing or liner running and surge pressure issues
• Mud conditioning and displacement mechanics
- Mud properties
- Centralisation program – selection, placement, stop collars, etc
- Spacer(s)
- Flow rates
- Hydraulics modelling – pore/frac window, surface pressures, U-tub-
• All relevant job calculations, pumping schedules, materials requirements, etc
• Job monitoring/recording
• Where applicable, abandonment/suspension program recommendations
• Contingency proposals – KO Plugs, lost circulation, squeezes, etc

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Personnel Competency

The competency of the engineering support provided by a cementing contractor is

a vital element for success. Securing experienced, motivated cementing
engineers is increasingly difficult. The format below can be used as a basis for
evaluating engineering support proposed by cementing service company. For
certain types of operation – deepwater, HPHT, ERD – certain additional
experience may be sought and specified in the assessment form. What is
indicated here is just a guide to a more structured approach.

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Competence / Skill -
Area Assessed Forward Action
Skill required Minimum level required

Technical Cementing Experi- More than 2 years in an onshore

ence engineering post and present for
a minimum 10 cement jobs or, >
5yr as an offshore engineer + 1
year as onshore engineer.
Must have worked for more than
one Operator.
Aware of proper- Completed 1 week basic fluids
ties and functions course.
of drilling fluids
Overview of Well Either minimum 5 years off-
Construction Pro- shore, or 1 week drilling engi-
cess neering course.
Equipment selec- Understands principles of opera-
tion and application tion and limitations of squeeze
packers, surface and sub-sea
launched plugs, stage collars,
centralisers and float equip-
ment. Capable of doing all engi-
neering calculations related to
pressure testing operations.
Slurry Design Aware of all API and BP speci-
fied test procedures. Under-
stands function and limitations of
cement additives. Can deter-
mine design temperatures by
API and computer simulation.
Minimum of 2 weeks laboratory
testing orientation.
Language Fluent in English
Cement Placement Able to run cement placement
simulator and determine opti-
mum spacer and flow character-
istics using a computer
GENERAL / BP BP procedures Ideally will have worked within
SPECIFIC requirements and BP operations. Must be totally
REQUIRE- practices familiar with the Contract Scope
MENTS of Work.

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PERSONAL Presentation Skills Attended training course and

SKILLS capable of providing concise,
informative presentations.
Coaching / Supervi- Can supervise work of junior
sory engineers and be held account-
able for quality and delivery of
their work.
Team Skills Is fully participative and speaks .
from position of authority.
Report Writing Can structure concise report and
demonstrate good written com-
munications skills
Computer Literacy Must be proficient with Windows
based operating systems and
familiar with Word and Excel
Commercial Analy- Able to accurately generate cost
sis estimates and reconcile well
Risk Assessment Must understand the risk
assessment processes and
aware of procedures described
in BP GHSER practices.

Guidelines for completion of the assessment.

Aims of the process.

To select the most able and competent people to fill these critical positions for BP
- positions which impact capital spend and non productive costs.

Highlight the skills and competencies that are seen as important to BP to deliver
first class business results. These skills may be different to those that the
CONTRACTOR values for his business objectives but should be seen as

Outcome from the assessment.

The assessment is not set up to be pass/fail.

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The aim is to highlight where the candidate is strong and where development is
expected. It is possible that, when the process is complete, it may indicate that a
candidate is not suitable. It may indicate that a candidate is able to do the job, but
that training on, and off the job, will be required to enhance performance to the
high levels required. The selection process for different operations will also take
account of the specific technical requirements of the operation.


Pages 2, 3 and 4 should be completed within the context of the Scope of Work
provided by BP for this service. The scope provides the outline job requirements
from BP’s perspective.
When completing the “assessed box”, the competence level should first be deter-
mined numerically where;
0 is has no experience in this area.
1 is basic only in the assessed area
2 is competent in the assessed area
3 is highly competent in the assessed area.

Narrative should then be used to indicate the reasons for the indicated level.

The “forward” action box should be used to indicate what development is

suggested to develop and grow the candidate in post.

As an example. The assessed competence for computer literacy may be 1.

Forward action could be to go on an Excel training course followed by
re-assessment in 3 months.


As well as good planning and competent people, continuous evaluation of

performance is essential if improvements are to be made.

There are various ways in which this may approached. One is the end of well
review report and another (in BP) is the Global Well Services Initiative (GWSI)

Below is the BP Minimum GWSI reporting format (as of Dec 2001).

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The End of Well Review should be a structured analysis:

• what was planned,
• what was done,
• what went well,
• what didn’t go well,
• what could be done better,
• what did it cost: broken down by job and by chemicals, cement, services,
hardware, personnel, etc

Nothing less should be acceptable – unfortunately, it is frequently not done with

any commitment.

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Figure 4: Summary

Traditional Cementing Ser-

Job element Comments
vice Company approach

Mud type and properties Mud type will influence the No input.
shape and variability of the hole.
As the hole becomes less circu-
lar, less gauge and less uniform,
cementing becomes more diffi-

Hole condition When TD is reached there is a Left to the mud company who
chance to ensure the hole is feel they have done their part in
clean and that the mud is in reaching TD.
good shape with low gels.

Casing/liner running & centralli- Surge pressures need to be min- Usually seen as a Drilling Engi-
sation imised. Areas of immobile or neer responsibility. The cement-
gelled mud need to be swept. ing company will run software,
Pipe needs to be centrallised to but not be pro-actively engaged.
a reasonable degree consistent They will not usually challenge,
with the job objectives. just accept.

Slurry design First fix the objectives of the job The back-room. Vital role in
and define the properties which avoiding ‘trainwrecks’.
are required. Lab testing and
QA/QC are absolutely critical.

Spacer design There are three functions – be Source of revenue.

compatible with the cement and
the mud, keep the mud and
cement apart, enhance the dis-
placement mechanics.

Mixing and surface equipment Optimising this and having con- Offshore, the bulk system – often
hook-up tingencies in place can ovoid a source of inefficiencies – is the
shut-downs and problems during rig contractor’s responsibility.
the job. Cementing company relies on
the operator.

Pumping schedule This is where true engineering Need to see evidence of optimis-
input should be apparent. How- ation of the whole cementing
ever, it is easy to put numbers process rather than a hydraulics
into software programs and cre- calculation.
ate a mountain of print-out.

Evaluation, learning & optimisa- Keeping a Basis of Design docu- This is usually dropped in favour
tion ment alive through the develop- of current operations.
ment and keeping End of Well
reviews up to date so that expe-
rience is not solely in the person-

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A more structured approach:

• Define the cementing objectives
• Itemise the Risks
- Ensure offset well experience is reviewed
- Address both the well objectives and the execution of the cement
• Develop a Risk Register with mitigation plans and actions
• Ensure competency of people
• Ensure full and detailed End of Well Review

The resulting documentation should include:

• Cementing Basis Of Design
• Cementing Risk Register
• Cementing Program
• End Of Well Review

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Additional Information
ISO/API Cementing Specifications:

ISO 10426-1 - Cements and materials for well cementing - Part 1: Specification (API
Spec 10 & 10A)

ISO 10426-2 - Cements and materials for well cementing - Part 2: Recommended
practice for testing of well cement (API Spec 10B)

ISO 10426-3 - Cements and materials for well cementing - Part 3: Recommended
practice for testing of deep water well cements

ISO 10426-4 - Cements and materials for well cementing - Part 3: Recommended
practice for atmospheric foam cement slurry preparation

ISO 10427-1 - Casing centralisers - Part 1: Specifications for bow-string casing centr-
alisers (API Spec 10D)

ISO 10427-2 - Casing centralisers - Part 2: Recommended practice for centraliser

placement and stop collar testing (API Spec 10D)

ISO 18165 - Recommended performance testing of cementing float equipment

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Guidelines, Check Lists

Cementing Equipment – Operations Check List
• Check all feed lines to the cementing unit (water, mud, spacer, cement)
• Check that the cementing engineer has prepared the unit (fuel, oil, cooling
system, water, air, pump packings, etc). Check adequate spares available
• Circulate cement unit including RCM prior to job
• Pressure test unit early
• Check Martin Decker pressure recorder – is it wound up and working?
• Check data logger for unit, mud loggers for displacement
• Densitometer – calibrated, working?
• Check rate indicator – stroke counter, flow meter
• If using liquid additives in cold conditions make sure they are not too vis-
cous or are heated if needed
• Check the liquid additive system has been calibrated, is fully operational
and is loaded with sufficient of the correct additives.
• Where small quantities of additives are needed, ensure a suitably accurate
and calibrated device is available to measure – beware the inaccurate
• If adding to displacement tanks, check that additive concentrations take
account of the displacement tanks dead volume
• Check that pressure relief devices have been tested/certified
• Check telephone/tannoy system is acceptable for communication between
cementer and rig floor with the unit running. Use radios, headphones
• All relevant PPE safety gear available, glasses, gloves?
• Check all crossovers, subs, etc, have been drifted to allow passage of all
darts, balls, plugs
• Check cement head (on arrival at the rig site)
- Visually inspect the plug release mechanism
- Back-up O rings and spares available?
- Check 2” WECO connection is fitted with pipe seals
- Check WECO threads for damage
- Check pressure ratings
- Check all valves on manifold
- Check manifold is correct for the head
- Check O-ring in the cap – is there a spare?

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- Check plug release indicator if applicable

- Check any quick coupling is compatible with the casing threads
- Check O-ring on the coupling
• Check float equipment to ensure it is correct type for the casing string
- Check all threads on float equipment
- Check all protective wrappings and any foreign matter is removed
from float equipment prior to make-up
- Check equipment is functional, i.e. ball, flapper or sleeve is in the
correct position for the type of equipment.
- Check any balls and make sure they are in a safe place
• Check displacement plugs are the correct size. Clearly identify top & bot-
tom plugs. Be absolutely sure.
• Check any bypass baffles and shut-off baffles are compatible with casing
and plug systems
• Check casing handling tools are compatible with casing being run
• Check centralisers and stop rings – size, type, number – against program
• If using a stage collar, check threads, condition, seal area, ports closed,
• If using sub-sea release, thoroughly check items, threads, seals, plugs, etc
• Is there sufficient cement, cement & spacer additives, water for the job,
allowing for contingencies and problems?
• Have samples been sent from the rig for lab testing – particularly for off-
shore wells?
• Have job simulations been run and sent to the rig – check when U-tubing is
• Is the estimated job time plus safety factor consistent with the pumping
time (thickening time) quoted by the lab?
• Is the bottom hole depth & temperature consistent with the lab tests? Look
at any new log data and check against lab test temperature (Bottom Hole
Static Temperature).

Cement Sampling Check List

Particularly offshore, rig-site samples of all materials used in mixing the cement
slurry need to be sent to the lab as soon as possible following loading.
• Are samples truly representative of those to be used on the job? – Water,
cement, additives. Know which silo contains what, label samples with silo
details. Look at additive lot numbers – are they all from one lot? Take a
note of the numbers.

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- Has sampling been done correctly?

- Have samples been adequately packaged?
• Cement is a variable product and different batches from the same manu-
facturer may give quite different pump times even with the same retarder.
Also, cement chemically reacts with any moisture – even moisture in the
atmosphere – and the properties (pump time) can change depending on
storage conditions and length of storage. This makes it essential that any
cement samples are fully representative of what will be pumped on the job.
Three methods are detailed below. Methods 1 & 2 are preferred.
1. in-line sampling from the supply vessel
• Take several samples during transfer
• Do not sample at the beginning and the end of transfer
• If the sample is for a job which will not take place for several weeks, then
the sampling may be deferred and one of the other methods used
2. transfer from silo to surge tank
• Purge all lines between silo and surge tank
• Remove any cement from the surge tank and dump
• Fluff the silo and transfer cement into surge tank
• Open butterfly valve on the surge tank and take cement sample
• Dump cement in surge tank if possible and purge line from silo
3. sampling from a silo
• Fluff cement in silo, then depressurize
• Open lid and remove sample – beware of trapped pressure
• Do not take sample from the top few inches of cement as this may contain
excess fines and be unrepresentative
• Ensure samples are from silos to be used on the job
• Avoid mixing different batches of cement
• If different batches are present in the same silo, can samples be secured of
the individual batches or can the cement be homogenized?

Sample Packaging:
• Cement is a very reactive material and will chemically react with moisture
in the air. This will change physical properties like thickening time and com-
pressive strength development. The extent to which this happens can vary
widely. Some cements are particularly sensitive, others not so. In any case,

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small quantities, e.g. a cement sample, are particularly vulnerable to expo-

sure and, if not adequately protected, exposure of just a few hours can
make several hours difference to the thickening time – generally lengthen-
ing it…. the consequences of testing such a samples and designing the
retarder concentration can be disastrous! The following guidelines should
be adhered to strictly:
• Cement container:
- Large enough for 5 kg, 10 lbs minimum
- Air-tight, waterproof and strong enough to remain so during transit
- Clean, dry and preferably un-used
- Completely filled to exclude as much air as possible
- Lined with a clean, previously unused, polythene bag
- Labeled to show the cement silo number, date, location, cement
type and blend, sample method.
- Note: it is better to label the body of the container, not the lid.
• Additive containers
- Clean plastic bottles, 0.5 litre, 1 pint, or larger
- Water tight lids, sealed with tape to prevent unscrewing in transit
- Labeled to show location, date, source (LAS, bags, etc), additive
name, lot number, etc
- Note: roll drums, or circulate LAS, to ensure active components of
liquid additives are in suspension
- Mix water container
- Clean plastic bottle 3-4 litre, 1 gal, or larger
- Water tight cap sealed with tape
- Labeled to show date, location, type (sea or drill water). Do not use
soft drink bottles.

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Pre-job meeting:
• Discuss all HSE issues and any special hazards
• Review job objectives and expectations
• Calculate expected pressure against volume pumped during the job.
Review expected final pressure.
• Decide on returns monitoring and pit space requirements
• Review expectation of U-tubing during the job
• Review displacement volumes to all important stages of the job
• Review bulk delivery and contingencies
• Review communications and who is in charge of what and where they will
• Contingencies – blocked cement line, excessive pressure – set maximum
pressures for the different stages of the job, plug doesn’t bump on volume,
• Use of a T or Y piece to allow a rapid switch from cement unit to rig pumps

During the job:

• Ensure density is achieved before pumping down hole
• Ensure pressure on surge tank is controlled
• Ensure density is maintained throughout the job – do not allow to drop of
towards the end of the job
• Do not use a densitometer as the only density measurement. Check peri-
odically with a mud balance, preferably a pressurized mud balance.
• If necessary to open the cement head to drop a plug or ball, minimize any
break in the pumping. Ensure someone is responsible.
• Keep track of the estimated downhole position of the cement based on the
volume pumped so that any sudden changes in pressure/rate can be inter-
preted and understood

Keys to Successful Foamed Cementing

General Concepts
1. 1.Communication
a.Foam design
1. Base cement slurry
2. Constant rate versus constant density considerations
b.Logistical considerations of rig/location

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c. Between service company and operator - rig operations and engineering

d. Between pump operator and nitrogen unit operator during pumping operations
2. 2.Maintaining constant rate and constant density of base (unfoamed) slurry
3. 3.Maintaining correct ratio of nitrogen to base slurry
4. 4.Planning contingencies for possible problems during job
a. Back-up communications
b. Loss of automation on automated units
c. Poor cement supply (dry and slurry), density variation
d. Loss of key equipment - cement pumper, liquid additive system, nitrogen unit
e. Line failure/leaks/plugs
5. 5.Safety
a. Location (placement) of energized fluid equipment
b. Securing energized fluid lines
c.Protecting steel deck members from cryogenic fluids -- in case of liquid nitrogen
d. Restricting access to areas of pressurized equipment during job.
6. 6.Quality Control
a. Isolation of cement and additives
1. Pilot testing for slurry design
2. Pre-job field blend testing with rig samples
b. Calibration of liquid additive system, flow meters, pressure gauges, densome-
c. Equipment maintenance - cementing and nitrogen units, foam generator
d 1 inch and
2 inch valves.
e. Data collection during job
1. Pump rates
2. Pressures
3. Nitrogen flow rates

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4 Cross-checks of liquid additive usage (gauging tanks to check liquid

additive system.)
5. Cement density - unfoamed and foamed
6. Cement returns from annulus

Checklist for Foam Cementing Operations

1. Formulate base cement slurry for cementing operation with lab/district materials
a. Thickening time
b. Compressive strength - unfoamed and foamed slurries
c. Rheological properties
d. Transition time - unfoamed and foamed slurries
e. Solids suspension
f. Free water
g. Foam stability (Foam half-height/liquid drainage rate)
2. Pilot test base cement slurries with materials to be loaded for cementing operation
a. Isolate cement
b. Isolate additives and record lot numbers
c. Record ID numbers of tanks loaded out for liquid additives (TOTE
tanks, etc)
3. Determine required nitrogen rate for base slurry to obtain desired downhole foam
a. Determine if constant gas injection rate method can be used - operationally
1. Calculate foam density at top and bottom of column for this method
2. Calculate average foam density in column and check against frac-
turing/pore pressures
3. Adjust nitrogen rate, if required, and re-check foam density against
fracturing/pore pressure.
b If constant gas injection rate method cannot be used due to foamed column
length and fracturing/pore pressure limitations, break job into stages of
constant gas injection
c. Use the minimum amount of stages possible.

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4. Determine minimum and maximum gas rate for nitrogen pumping unit
a. Determine the maximum LIQUID (base cement slurry) rate possible based
upon nitrogen
requirements for foam density and nitrogen pump unit rate limit.
b. Determine the minimum LIQUID rate possible based upon nitrogen require-
ments for foam density and nitrogen pump unit minimum rate limit.
c Notify all personnel of this cement rate limit and target cement pump rate
for job at 80-90% of this rate (maximum)
d. Liquid pump rate may be the limiting factor, depending upon cementing
unit capability,nitrogen unit capability, and nitrogen requirements. Please
note if the rate limit on the cementing unit is the rate limiting equipment.
The objective is to operate the nitrogen pumper and cement pumper in the
middle to upper end of their power curves.
5. Consult with rig - foreman and toolpusher on location of nitrogen pumper, nitrogen
tanks, placement of nitrogen injection lines and foamed generator.
a. Ideally, nitrogen unit operator and cement pump operator should be in vis-
ual range of each other
b. Nitrogen equipment should be placed, if possible, out of main traffic areas
on the rig/location
c. Nitrogen lines should be run out of high traffic areas and where the line can
be secured at regular intervals to fixed rig equipment (to prevent lines
whipping around if they parted).
d. Foam generator assembly should lay flat on ground, deck or rig floor.
e. Work out contingency bleed-off of pressurized lines if a valve plugs or can-
not be opened.
(Have the service company bring extra 1 inch and 2 inch valves)
f. Water and a water hose should be available near all nitrogen equipment
and water should be run on deck to protect steel from cryogenic (-373 F) in
case of nitrogen tank leak.
g. Use plastic barrier tape to mark of ‘restricted’ or low traffic areas during
the cement job.
6. Arrange for radios and headsets for primary communications during cementing
7. Arrange for alternative methods of communication in case radios are not available
or fail.

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(blackboards and chalk, etc. like the car racing folks use)
8. Determine method for providing constant density, supply and pump rate of base
cement slurry
a Batch mixing if cement volume is small
b. Averaging or holding tank for continuous mixing operations where the
cement mixing unit DOES NOT have automatic density control.
c. Averaging/holding tanks recommended for cementing units with mixing tub
volumes less than about 8-10 bbls (even if they have automatic density
d. Averaging/holding tank size of 25 bbl (minimum) or larger recommended.
9. Arrange for job monitoring/data acquisition equipment
a. Check calibration of all sensors
b. Check cables\connectors\output devices
10. Arrange for tank straps/gauges to monitor liquid additive usage during the job and
verify correct metering by automated liquid additive system.
a. Prepare table with cumulative cement volume (base, unfoamed cement
slurry) and cumulative amounts of liquid additives that should be consumed
during the job.
b. Gauge or strap all liquid additive tanks at regular intervals during the job
and compare usage with table values.
11. Prepare table of total nitrogen rate (SCF/min) versus base cement slurry pump
a. Basic requirement for non-automated nitrogen/cementing unit equipment
b. Back-up in case automation units on equipment fail/don’t perform properly
c. Increment unfoamed cement slurry rates on 0.1 bbl/min from 1 to 10
bbl/min rates
(upper and lower limits for the table should be the minimum and maximum
pump rate determined in ITEM 4 above and not necessarily 1 to 10 bbl/min)
12. Calibrate all equipment on location prior to the job.
a. Flow meters
b. Liquid additive pumps
c. Densometers

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d. Pressure gauges/transducers
e. Data acquisition devices
13. For automated equipment, have an electronics technician trained for that equip-
ment on location for the job.
14. Take samples of cement
a. As loaded on the boat/truck
b. At rig during job
15. Check load tickets
a.Verify amounts
b. Verify lot numbers for isolated additives
c. Verify tank numbers for bulk liquid additives (TOTE tank serial numbers)
16. Inform rig personnel of dangers of pumping energized fluids and ask them to
avoid the rig floor and nitrogen equipment areas during the job. Minimize traffic in
these areas.

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Offshore Platform Cement Unit

Design Philosophy and Service
The Cementing Unit and accessories shall be capable of performing:
• All primary and remedial cementing operations
• Pressure Operations on the platform
• Well killing
• Emergency Mud Circulation or cuttings injection
• Well intervention support and general pumping operations

Options for new and fully re-furbished equipment will be considered.

Other options:
• with and without full Automatic Density Control

It will consist of:

• Diesel power units and associated day tank
• Transmission
• High pressure pumps
• Relief valve
• Mix water pump
• Displacement tanks
• Recirculating mixing system
• High pressure manifold
• Working platform and control panel
• Mixing system
• Surge Tank
• Back up mixing system
• System for measuring and recording of pressure/flow/density

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HSE Considerations

The equipment must:

• Be suitable for Zone 2 Gas Group IIA, temperature T3 hazardous areas.
• Have automatic and remote shutdown
• Have acoustic protection to prevent more than 85 Dba at Operators control
• Be able to mix cement without generating dust beyond that permitted under
• Designed to minimise risks of trips and falls
• Designed to minimise the risk of oil and chemical spills during maintenance
and operation.
• For well kill operations and emergency mud circulation the system shall be
capable of start up and operations without main platform power for XX

QA/QC Considerations

All materials used in the construction of the unit shall be traceable and
manufacture will be according to ISO9001. All fabricated parts should be sheared
or plasma cut.

Requirements/Desing Criteria

Pressure and pumping

• Maximum operating pressure = 10, 000 psi
• Pumping capability defined by:
• 2 bpm at 10,000 psi
• 3.6 bpm at 4900 psi
• 18 bpm at 1000 psi
• Design must be capable of pumping of acids and base fluid without use of
displacement tanks.

Cement Mixing Performance

Slurry mixing rates to be a minimum of:
• 12 bpm @ 11 ppg
• 6 bpm @ 16 ppg
• 2 bpm @ 22 ppg

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Liquid Additive Storage/Proportioning

System to be capable of adding 4 different chemicals and storing a minimum of

30 bbls split 15/5/5/5. The system must be able to add chemicals accurately to
permit mixing at 5 bpm with additive concentrations up to 2 gps in a 16 ppg slurry.
Contractors must indicate upper limit on additive viscosity. Tank heaters will be
required. There should be no shared manifold from the LAP’s to the
displacement tanks.

Recirculating Mixer

Recirculating mixer should have a total volume of 25 bbl and have agitators such
that it can be used to batch mix small cement volumes without retaining circulation
through the recirculating pump.

Displacement Tanks

Displacement tanks will be 2 x 10 bbl and be calibrated in 0.5 bbl increments.

They will have there own agitators to ensure effective mixing of any chemicals
dosed at the displacement tanks. The tanks should be strong enough to carry 22
ppg fluids and be constructed to materials suitable for OBM/brines/fresh
water/cement spacers/cement chemicals. All sump volumes associated with the
mixwater lines shall be measured and indicated on the unit.

Pressure Flow and Density Measurements

There should be a minimum of two calibrated independent pressure indicators.

Additional calibrated 10” gauges to cover 0-1000 psi and 0-3000 psi should be

Density measurements should be via non radioactive desnsitometers and

accurate to +/- 0.1 ppg.

The accuracy of all flow measurement devices must be advised.

Back Up mixing System

A back up mixing system to allow independent jet mixing must be provided. This
must enable 16 ppg slurries to be mixed at > 5 bpm.

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Surge Tank

A surge tank is required to provide steady flow to permit mixing at rated defined
above. Contractor is required to advise size of surge tank recommended for this
High Pressure Manifold

The high pressure manifold shall be configured for dual feed facility of cement to
the drill floor cement manifold. A third line should be “teed” off this manifold and
routed to the wellhead area for production kill operations.
Optional Equipment

For ADC option equipment must control cement density within +/- 0.2 ppg.

The data logger must record pressure density and flow.

Additional Information

Recommendations are required to permit bulk cement sampling which does not
require transfer to the steady flow bin or sampling from the bulk tanks.

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Guidelines for Setting Cement Plugs in

Horizontal and High Angle Wells
Plug Setting Guidelines
Plug Design
1. Set the plug in gauge hole. If not possible, use a caliper log to determine the
volume. If this is not possible use some other method (eg carbide slug). Use
excess cement and circulate excess out if in doubt.
2. Aim for a 250 m plug length, or 20 bbl slurry, whichever is greater volume of

Slurry Design
3. Use a heavyweight (17 lb/gal, or more) slurry to get good compressive strength
development. Use a reliable value of static temperature (BHST) at true vertical
depth (TVD), preferably from log data.
4. Estimate job time accurately, including pauses for switching tanks and plug
dropping, then get a Thickening Time with a 1 to 1-1/2 hours' safety factor. Use
API squeeze schedule values of circulating temperature, based on TVD, with a
1 hour initial simulation of batch mixing at 80° F (or surface mix water temper-
5. Slurry should have minimal (zero) API Operating Free Water and no Settling

Mud Removal
6. Condition mud by circulating at least one hole volume before setting the plug.
7. Use a stinger 30 m or more longer than plug length centralized with solid cen-
8. Pump a spacer, weighted half way between mud and slurry density, to fill 300 to
500 ft of drill pipe/open hole annulus ahead of the slurry.
9. If possible, rotate the string while conditioning the hole and until cement is in

Cement Placement
10. Use some sort of bottom barrier for the plug to sit on - either a Viscous Reac-
tive Pill ahead of the slurry or a ‘Para-Bow’ device or a weighted slug of heavy
viscous mud

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11. To avoid jetting the slurry straight down the hole use a diverter sub.

12. If hydraulic integrity is a priority, use a sacrificial stinger and a top barrier

13. Use a wiper plug to ensure accurate displacement unless incompatible with
barrier devices in the string.

Job Execution
14. Use a batch mixer to prepare the slurry, checking the density with a pressu-
rized mud balance.

15. Pump the spacer round the stinger in turbulent flow unless there is a risk of
exceeding formation fracture pressure.

16. Pump the cement into the annulus at 2 to 2.5 bbl/min.

17. Pump a few barrels of spacer to balance the annular spacer volume behind
the slurry (accuracy is not too important in a high-angle situation). Weight this
spacer 1 to 2 lb/gal higher than the first spacer to induce cement to fall out of
pipe, to pull a dry string.

18. Pull the stinger out of the slurry slowly - 5 minutes per stand, or more.

19. With stinger shoe above calculated plug top, circulate excess cement and
spacer out of the hole.

20. Wait until cement has 3,000 to 5,000 psi compressive strength before tagging
and dressing the plug.

The following are critical aspects:

• Batch Mix a heavy slurry

• Keep the Thickening Time to job time plus 60 minutes, not more
• Use more, not less, volume of slurry
• Use a support for the plug - viscous heavy mud if nothing else
• Slow down when cement is exiting the pipe, especially if using open ended
pipe (use blanked-off pipe with holes in the side if possible - ie a diverter
• Pull out slowly
• Wait long enough before attempting to KO

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Setting a Kick-off or Abandonment

Plug in Open Hole
BP Alaskan Guidelines

Drilling Manager M. Scheuring, L. Wilger, F.

Authority: Custodian: Hernandez, E. Dompeling

All SSD Operations Shared Services Drilling

Scope: Issuing Dept.: (SSD)

February 18, 1999 March, 1999

Issue Date: Revision Date:

Department controlled
Control Sta-


BPX World-wide Plug Setting


Abandonment Plug
Abandon existing open hole to comply with Government Regulations.

Kick-off Plug
Competent base to allow for successful kick off to new target on first

Keys to Success
There are many factors that contribute to a successful plug. The chances of

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obtaining a successful plug are greatly improved by following these points:

• Having a clean hole prior to pumping cement
• Slurry density of 17.0 ppg for kick-off plugs
• Slurry density of 15.8 ppg for abandonment plugs
• Batch mix slurry
• Keep the thickening time to job time plus 1 hr, not more
• Correct temperature selection
• Use more, not less, volume of slurry
• Use a support base for the plug
• Slow down when cement is exiting the pipe, especially is using open ended
• Setting the plug in gauge hole if possible
• Pull out slowly
• Wait long enough before attempting to kick-off

Minimum Requirements for Cement Program

To facilitate in smooth field operations, all cementing programs should
include the following:
• Objective
• Cement Blend
• Required Slurry Properties
• Cement Interval
• Bottom Hole Static Temperature
• Bottom Hole Circulating Temperature
• Approximate Pumping Time
• Top of Cement (TOC)
• Volume of Cement
• Hole Size
• % Excess
• Spacer Type and Density
• Preflush Type
• Batchmixing Requirements
If for any reason one or more of the requirements is not necessary or available,
the deficiency should be noted in the cement program and any necessary expla-
nation given.

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General Pumping Procedure

1. Verify that AOGCC has been contacted for approval to set an aban-
donment or kick-off plug..
2. RiH with workstring, conditioning the mud and hole until optimal con-
ditions are achieved. Flowrates during conditioning should mimic
flowrates anticipated while pumping cement.
3. A mechanical bottom, mud spacer, or viscous pill must be set if the
plug is not set on a competent bottom.
4. Rig up to pump cement plug.
5. Pressure test surface lines.
6. Pump balancing spacer according to engineering recommendation
(1000’ of the annulus capacity)
7. Mix and pump cement, displacing at the maximum rate (limited by
ECD constraints) to improve gelled mud removal then reduce dis-
placement rate to:
8. 2 bpm for last 20 bbl for hole size < 12 ¼”
9. 3 bpm for last 40 bbl for hole size > 12 ¼”
10. Pump balancing spacer to equalize hydrostatic differential due to
lead spacer (1000’ of workstring capacity if possible)
11. Displace with well fluid to 80’ above the calculated balance point.
12. POOH at approximately 25 stands/hour to 300’ above the top of
cement plug.
13. Circulate hole clean the long way.
14. Release wiper plug (optional)
15. POOH
16. Wait on cement before tagging or pressure testing (12 hours mini-
mum from plug placement.)

Abandonment Requirements
Well abandonment should proceed according to local regulatory requirements and
conditions (See Article 2 “Abandonment & Plugging” Section 105 of the Alaska Oil
and Gas Conservation Commission). Verify that AOGCC has been contacted for
approval to set an abandonment or kick-off plug.

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Open Ended Drillpipe (Recommended)

It is recommended that open ended drillpipe be used to place cement plugs.

If a tubing stinger is to be utilized, then use the following guidelines for tubing

Tubing Stinger

Use a tubing stinger on the end of the drillpipe. The length of the stinger should be
equal to or greater than the length of the cement with drillpipe in the hole. The
length of the cement plug, and therefore, the minimum length of a stinger, can be
calculated using the following equation:

Length of cement plug = S/(D+A)


S = bbls of cement slurry

D = capacity of tubing stinger (in bbls per foot)

A = capacity of the annulus between the stinger and the hole (in bbls per foot)

Tubing stinger diameter is dependent on the hole size. The smaller OD stinger will
help minimize the disturbance to the cement plug as the drillpipe is pulled up out
of the cement, although use of a stinger that is smaller than recommended will
result in annular flow rates that are insufficient for proper plug placement. Cou-
pling OD's of the tubing should be minimized. If no smaller tubing is available, 3
1/2" drillpipe may be considered.

Use the following as a guide.

Hole Size Recommended Stinger Size

17 ½” and larger set plug with drillpipe

12 ¼” to 17 ½” use 5” to 5 ½” stinger
9 ¼” to 12 ¼” use a 2 7/8” stinger
6” to 8 ¾” use a 3 ½” stinger
Less than 6” use a 2 7/8” stinger

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Support for Cement Plug

The lack of a competent bottom could lead to an unstable plug system. When
attempting to set a cement plug in open hole where there is no established bot-
tom, one of the following procedures is recommended.

Mechanical Bottom

The use of a Mechanical device (i.e. Open Hole Packer, Parabow, Bridge Plug,
etc.) is the best method to ensure that a stable bottom is in place to support a
cement plug. When practical, this is the preferred and recommended method.

Heavy Mud Spacer

Placing a heavy mud spacer (equivalent to the cement plug density) between the
bottom of the hole and the bottom of the cement plug is another method that will
create a competent bottom for a cement plug. Use this method if the setting of a
mechanical bottom is not practical.

Viscous Pill

When neither a mechanical bottom nor a heavy mud spacer can be used, a vis-
cous pill may be pumped to provide support for a cement plug. This method is not
as reliable as the other two methods but is usually the most practical. The length
of the pill should be based on the volume of the pill mixing system on the rig.
Pump as large a pill as is operationally feasible. There are two general recipes for
viscous pills using either bentonite or N-squeeze.

Typical Viscous Pill

Water X bbls
Bentonite 20-30 ppb

Barite 50 ppb ( for 9.5ppg pill, may be more or less,

depending on mud weight.)

N-Squeeze specifications:

Water X bbls

N - Squeeze 25 ppb

N - Plex 0.5 gal/bbl (while pumping)

Barite 50 ppb ( for 9.5ppg pill, may be more or less, depending on mud weight.)

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Items to bear in mind with Viscous Pills are:

• A reactive viscous pill depends upon the reaction between calcium and
bentonite. If the cement plug starts to drop, the calcium in the cement will
immediately react with the bentonite to form a thick immovable barrier.

• If a weighted spacer is required, then the freshwater should be viscosified

with XCD or equivalent and weighted with barites. For OBM/POBM the
spacer recommended on the cement program should be used. Typically,
20 bbl ahead of the cement and enough volume behind to hydrostatically
balance the lead is used.
• Ensure the mix water and any fluid remaining in the lines has a calcium
level below 400 ppm with chlorides below 2000 ppm.
• Treat the mix water with 0.5 ppb soda ash to remove the hardness and
adjust pH to 9 by the addition of 0.5 ppb caustic.

• Water based viscous pills must not be used for temporary suspension in
OH when using OBM/SBM to prevent water wetting of formations.

• The pill must not come in contact with any form of calcium on the surface or
while being pumped down the drillpipe.

• Typical rheological properties are: YP 50 lb/100 ft2, 10 sec gel 30- 50

lb/100 ft2


Cement volume is critical to the success of a cement plug. Small cement volumes
are consistently lost due to contamination. The minimum length of a cement plug
should be 500’. The maximum length of a cement plug to be set in one stage
should not exceed 1500’. Plug lengths greater than this increase the risk of the
cement failing to fall out of the drillpipe as the drillpipe is pulled above the cement.

It is preferable to use a caliper log to determine the cement volumes and to help
decide where to set a plug. It is much better to set the plug in a section of the hole
that is near gauge.

The actual excess used should take into account knowledge of the particular area
and hole conditions, e.g. sloughing shales or losses.

If no caliper or site specific field data is available , the following excesses are to be

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Nominal Hole Size % Excess (WBM) % Excess (OBM)

36” 200
30” 100
17 ½” 50 20
12 ¼” 50 20
8 ½” 30 20
6 ¾” 30 20
6” 30 20
3 ¾” 30 20

Addendum to General Procedure for 2-stage Cement Jobs

11a. Batch mix or prepare second half of plug.

11b. RIH back to estimated TOC of first plug. Ensure that the workstring is
washed down. Do NOT RIH without pumping.

11c. Repeat steps 5 through 12.


Recommended spacer length is 1000’, but maybe less due to hydrostatic con-
straints. The tail spacer should be hydrostatically balanced to the lead spacer, i.e.
1000’ of the drillpipe capacity.

Water Base Mud Systems

In water base mud systems fresh water can be used as a spacer. KCL can be
added for protection of water sensitive shales.

Oil Base Mud Systems

In oil base mud systems, 2 gal/bbl dispersant in water should be added to the
spacer with mineral oil ahead of the lead spacer and behind the tail spacer. Also,
diesel may be used if conditions permit.

Weighted Spacers

Use of a weighted spacer can be used if conditions require. Density should be 1

ppg over mud weight. KCL can be added for protection of water sensitive shales.
2 gal/bbl surfactant should be added for oil base mud systems.

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Wiper Plugs
It is recommended to use a wiper plug to wipe the drillpipe after the workstring has
been pulled above the cement plug and the well is being circulated. Running a
wiper plug between the cement and the spacer is optional, but not mandatory.
Wiper plugs help eliminate cement contamination in the drillpipe and help keep
the cement isolated as it is being pumped down the drillpipe. This is the most
important with small cement volumes. This will help to prevent downhole equip-
ment problems when drilling resumes.

Consistent slurry density and slurry volume is critical to a successful cement plug.
Batch mixing of the cement is recommended. An additional 2 bbls of cement
slurry should be mixed to make up for volume lost due to manifold piping in the
batch mixer. The density should be checked using a pressurized mud balance.
If a Recirculating Cement Mixer (RCM) is used, the cement should be brought up
to weight before pumping. The mixing rate should be controlled at 2 - 4 bbl/min.
For small cement volumes, less than twice the volume of the RCM, it can be used
as a batch mixer.
If the cement is mixed using a jet mixer, the cement should be dumped until a con-
sistent slurry is obtained, then begin pumping calculated volume downhole.

Slurry Design
The design of the cement slurry is based on several factors. A slurry design
must satisfy the following specifications:
• 24 hr compressive strength sufficient at BHST of 4000-5000 psi
• Minimum 12 hr compressive strength at BHST of 3000 psi for kick
• off plugs.
• Fluid loss 100 ~ 200cc/30 min at BHCT.
• Zero free water to prevent high side channelling.
• Thickening time – Calculated time to batch mix cement + pump the cement
+ displacement time + time required to pull drillpipe above the cement plug
+ 1 hr at BHCT.
The cement blend varies depending on whether the plug is to be set for
kick-off (17 ppg) or abandonment (15.8 ppg). Temperature of the well will
determine how much retarder will be used to give the required amount of
pump time and set up time.
Fluid loss is only required in plugs set across permeable formations in hole sizes
of 8 1/2" or smaller, a fluid loss less than 150 ml is adequate for abandon-
ment/suspension. However, less than 75 ml for squeeze slurries (coiled tubing

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slurries are special cases and in house experience should be consulted), is rec-
Increased thickening times adversely affect compressive strength set times.
When kicking off or tagging cement plugs it recommended to wait at least 12 hrs
from plug placement or until a compressive strength test shows at least 3000psi.
A cement dispersant should be used with care to maintain a minimum slurry yield
point of 5lb/100 sq. ft.

Cement Tests
All cement blends must be tested. The following tests are recommended:
• Thickening Time - Perform a Thickening Time test of the blended cement to
determine pump time of slurry. The thickening time test is to be performed
at the bottom hole circulating temperature. The results of this test must be
obtained before the cement is pumped.
• Compressive Strength - Perform a 12 and 24 hr Compressive Strength test
(UCA or Cubes) to determine when the cement will achieve adequate
strength for tagging or kicking off from. Perform this test at the bottom hole
static temperature. The results of this test are not required before the
cement is to be pumped, although the test should be performed as soon as
possible after the cement is blended.
• Static Cup Set - A Static Cup set will be performed to on the cement slurry.
This will reveal unacceptable Thixotropic characteristics.

The bottom hole circulating and static temperatures must be determined accu-
rately. Reference the BHST/BHCT RP to calculate BHST/BHCT.
Overestimated temperatures are a critical factor in plug failure. Temperatures
should be included in the written plug procedure to avoid confusion when calculat-
ing slurry pump times and performing lab tests.
Minimum thickening time should be job time plus minimum 1-hour safety margin.
Temperature should be selected based on deviation and operation; it should also
take into account local experience.

Displacement Rates
Maximum annular velocity is critical to successful plug placement. The minimum
annular velocity should be 200 ft/min. These higher velocities will enhance mud
removal and reduce contamination and channelling. In general, the cement plug
should be displaced with the cement unit to ensure accurate control over displace-
ment volume. The displacement can be accurately determined using a indicator
sub. When an indicator sub is not used a slight under displacement is desired in

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order to pull a dry string, typically 80’ of the workstring. For plugs deeper than
13,000 feet (~4,000m), the average ID of pipe should be determined to ensure
correct displacement volume.
In the larger hole sections where the cement pump is not sufficient to pump the
minimum annular velocity, the slurry may be displaced with either the rig pumps or
the cement unit pump. Rig pumps have a higher capacity, but are substantially
less accurate than the cement unit pump. If placement is more important than
rate, use the cement unit pump. Conversely, if the rate is more important than
placement, use the rig pumps.

Circulate hole until the mud is properly conditioned and the hole is free of cuttings,
gas, etc. This may take 2 bottoms up or more. A clean hole will increase the
chance of obtaining a successful plug.
Pipe movement is one of the most influential factors in mud removal. Reciproca-
tion and/or rotation, when feasible, will mechanically break up gelled mud and will
greatly improve flow patterns in the annulus. Move the pipe when conditioning the
hole and when placing the cement plug.

This is the better method in straight holes and when the pipe is well centralized.

This is the better method in deviated holes and when the pipe is poorly central-
ized. After setting the cement plug, pull back at least 300’ above estimated TOC
and circulate at maximum rate. In addition to circulating at a high rate, either.
dropping a wiper dart or pumping 50 bbl of 50 ppb Nutplug in active mud to clean
pipe from cement rings is recommended.

Tagging/Pressure Testing
Plugs should not be tagged until they have at least 1000-psi compressive strength
and 1500-psi compressive strength is required to pressure test the plug.
Kick-off plugs will require a compressive strength of 3000 psi. Deep kick-off plugs,
>12,000 feet (~4000m), across hard formations will require 4000 psi compressive
Compressive strength should be determined at a temperature mid way between
static and the temperature used for designing the pumping time. Where a plug is
being tagged with a kick off assembly, use minimum flow rates.
Do not run back into a cement plug until cement has set. When tagging, do not run
back into cement without any circulation.

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It should be assumed that the top and bottom 75 feet (~26 m) of a cement plug will
be contaminated with the spacer and appear to be green cement.
If large quantities of cement are observed when circulating well above top of
cement, then it is likely that cement channeling has occurred, with even more con-
tamination by the spacer. This will increase the chance of failing to tag the plug
and/or obtaining a pressure test.
When kicking off of a cement plug, care should be taken that the entire cement
plug is not drilled up. If cement integrity is not there, leave the lower portion of the
cement plug in place and place another plug above it using the other plug as a

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Final HTHP Guidelines Key

Question Directed at: Operational See text

Phase: at:
what experience does the Service Company have locally with HPHT ServCo Engineer, Planning 2.1 - 2.3
wells? lab staff, rig site
What experience do the individual engineers have with HPHT? cementers
What support is going to be brought in to ensure best available expertise ServCo Engineer, Planning 2.2
will be available? lab staff, rig site
How can the lab demonstrate that it has the expertise and resources that Lab staff Planning 2.3
it needs for this type of job?
What commitment is there from the ServCo to provide a full cementing Drilling Engineer Planning 2.4
service with positive interaction with other service providers - eg mud, and Serv Co Engi-
liner equipment, rig contractor, bulk supplier, etc - to provide more than neer
a slurry and a pump?
Question Directed at: Operational See text
Phase: at:
What are the roles and responsibilities of those who will provide input? Drilling Engineer Planning 2.5, 2.10
and Serv Co Engi-
neer, including oth-
ers, eg mud co.
Is the rig equipment good enough and how will this be assured? Drilling Engineer, Planning 2.6
How and when will the issues be addressed? Serv Co Engineer,
rig site cementers,
Drilling Contractor,
bulk operator
Cement Unit - up to the job? Drilling Engineer, Planning 2.6.2
Serv Co Engineer,
rig site cementers,
What are the limitations imposed by the rig, logistics and weather? Drilling Engineer, Planning 2.6.3
Serv Co Engineer,
rig site cementers,
Question Directed at: Operational See text
Phase: at:
What are the most likely temperatures, how are (were) they obtained, Drilling Engineer Planning 2.7, 3.3,
what confidence can be placed on them, what can be done while drilling and Serv Co Engi- 3.6.1
to enhance confidence and reduce uncertainty? Who owns the issue and neer
understands it?
Is there a clear understanding of the hydraulics risks involved - ie is there Drilling Engineer Planning 2.8
a norrow pore/frac. window? Does special attention have to be given to and Serv Co Engi-
circulating fluid properties? Does the mud need special attention prior to neer, including oth-
pumping cement? ers, eg mud co.
How will the mud company and the cementing company work together to Drilling Engineer Planning 2.4, 2.10
understand what can be done to optimise the cementing process?
Have contingencies been identified, is there a documented and agreed Drilling Engineer Planning 2.9, 5.7
plan of what is needed, by whom and when?
Is everyone clear what the process is and how it relates to them? Are the Drilling Engineer Planning 2.10
interfaces satisfactory?
Question Directed at: Operational See text
Phase: at:
Are there proper prcedures in place for sampling, sample protection and Serv Co Engineer, Planning/ 3.1, 3.2
shipment Company Rep. execution
Are tests on rig samples consistent with tests on other lab samples. Serv Co Engineer, Execution 2.3, 3.1
Lab Engineer
Check Batch Numbers on all materials Company Rep, Rig Execution 3.2, 5.3
site cementers
Temperatures - is the circulating temperature(s) consistent with what is Serv Co Engineer, Execution 2.7, 3.3,
known? What uncertainty is there? To what extent could this affect what Lab Engineer 3.6.1
is being done?
Has a “brainstorming” session been held on the rig to address ways in Company Rep. Execution 5.5
which the job could be jeopardised? Have ‘actions’ from this been
Contingency plans in place? Company Rep. Execution 5.7,
Displacement volumes, pump efficiencies, volume to bump the plug? Company Rep. Execution 5.12
Full, written job procedures? Company Rep., liner Execution 5.
running company,
Cement ServCo


General Index
A Class C, 3-12
Class D, 3-13
Adjusting the Slurry Rheology, Class E, 3-14 Data Collection, 4-50
3-49 Class F, 3-14 Density of all Fluids Pumped, 4-50
Adjusting the Slurry Thickening Class G, 3-15
Pump Rate, 4-50
Time, 3-49 Class H, 3-15
Surface Pressure, 4-50
Automatic Sampling, 3-81 History, 3-10
Data from logging tools, 1-77
Light Weight, 3-18
Deep, Long Liners, 3-52
Limitations, 3-9 Deepwater, 3-59
B Other Used, 3-16 Design Process, 5-1
Pozzolans, 3-16 ‘What constitutes success?, 5-3
Best Practices, 1-34, 1-75
Testing Slurries, 3-19 major risks, 5-4
Centralization, 1-76
Dynamic Settling Test, 3-33 What is success?, 5-3
Displacement Procedures, 1-75 Fluid Loss, 3-21 Displacement
Hole Conditioning, 1-75 Free Water, 3-27
Job Simulation, 4-29
Use of Erodibility Technology, Gel strength, 3-25
1-76 Displacement Modeling, 4-29
Settling Test Tube, 3-32
Use of Plugs, 1-75 Accurate Geometry, 4-30
Strength Development, 3-28
Use of Spacers, 1-75 Thickening Time, 3-19 Fracture Pressure, 4-30
Blend Size, 3-69 Viscosity, 3-23 Pore Pressure vs. Depth, 4-31
Blending, 3-63 Trinity Lite-Wate, 3-18 Using Simulators, 4-29
On the Fly, 3-79 TXI Lightweight, 3-18 Displacements, 4-1
Blending Equipment, 3-72 Cement Blending, 3-66 Incompatibility, 4-2
Blending Procedure, 3-68 Cement Heads, 2-15 Problem in a Nutshell, 4-1
Bulk Cement Equipment, 2-13 Cement Hydration, 3-6 Rheological Models, 4-5
Bulk Equipment, 3-71 Cement Job Evaluation, 1-71 Rheological Properties, 4-5
Cement Slurry Design Dry Blending, 3-75
Important Properties, 3-35 Dry Blending Calculations, 3-70
C Cement Slurry Mixing Water Ratio, Dry Cement, 3-63
3-35 Durability, 3-41
Carbon Dioxide, 3-57 Cementing
Casing Centralization, 2-25 Objectives, 1-66
Cementing Additives, 3-42 E
Cement Job Evaluation, 4-53 Cementing Equipment Selection,
CBL Adviser, 4-53 1-33 Effect of Magnesium Salt, 3-56
Plug Cementing, 4-54 Cementing in Oil Based Mud, 4-63 Engineering Recommendations
Post-Job, 4-54 Cementing Program, 1-69 Cementing Phase, 4-70
Temperature Simulator, 4-54 Channeling Drilling Phase, 4-69
Centralizer, 4-53 Minimization, 4-11 Planning Phase, 4-69
Fluid database, 4-52 CMFACTS, 4-59 Summary, 4-72
Input data, 4-52 Features, 4-60 Equipment, 2-1
Laminar Flow Displacement, 4-53 CO2 Carbon Dioxide, 3-57 Automated Mixing, 2-5
Mud Removal, 4-53 Common, 1-49 Batch Mixing, 2-5
Design, 4-53 Composite Sample Preparation, Bow Spring, 2-31
Evaluation, 4-53 3-83 Casing Centralization, 2-25
U-tube and placemen, 4-51 Confirmation Testing, 3-84 Cement Heads, 2-15
U-tube and placement, 4-51 Controllable Setting Time, 3-37
Cement Mixing, 2-1
Cement, 3-1 Controlling Slurry Fluid Loss, 3-50
Cumulative volume pumped, 2-10
API Specifications, 3-11 Criteria for the Surface Casing,
1-66 Float Shoes and Collars, 2-18
Class A, 3-11 Flow rate, 2-9
Class B, 3-12 High Pressure Lines, 2-11

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Cement Manual

Port Collar Operation, 2-23

Port collars, 2-22
I Standoff, 1-28
Manual Sampling, 3-82
Pressure, 2-9 Increase Slurry Weight, 3-47 Manufacture of Portland Cement,
Pumping, 2-6 Adjusting the Slurry Rheolog, 3-2
Recording, 2-7 3-49 Mud Conditioning
Rigid Centalizer, 2-32 Barite, 3-48 Different Mud Types, 4-63
Safety Considerations, 2-12 Hematite, 3-47 Engineering Recommendations,
Manganese Oxide, 3-49 4-69
Slurry Density, 2-8
Information Transfer, 1-68 Mud Conditioning and Hole
Solid Centalizer, 2-34
Interaction with Service Monitoring, 4-7
Stop Collars, 2-49
Providers, 1-70 Mud Preparation, 4-61
Surface and Subsurface, 2-1
Isolation, 2-37 MUDPUSH, 4-55
Sweges, 2-15
Types of Centralizers, 2-31
Water Bushings, 2-15
Zeroing of the Scale Tank, 3-74
Erodibility, 4-13 Job Evaluation No Permeability, 3-38
Definition, 4-16 Non-Centralized Pipe, 2-26
Acoustic Logs, 1-74
ECD Calculations, 4-20 Temperature Survey, 1-73
Field Application, 4-17 Job Simulation, 4-32
Final Testing, 4-21 Example, 4-32
Wellbore Condition, 4-13 Fluid Properties, 4-33 OBM
Evaluation of the Recorded Job Slim Hole Situation, 4-32 Drilled Solids, 4-63
Data, 1-76 Wellbore Geometry, 4-32 Low-Shear-Rate Viscosity, 4-63
Density record, 1-77 Viscosity, 4-63
Job pressure behavior, 1-77 OptiCem, 4-56
Other problems, 1-77 L Change in viscosity, 4-58
Extreme Temperatures, 3-52 Eccentricity, 4-57
Less, 1-59
Liner Overlap Seal, 4-47 Freefall, 4-57
Gas, 4-58
F Liner Tiebacks, 4-49
Liner Top Packers, 4-44 Mud compressibility, 4-57
Fibrous Material, 3-52 Liquid Blending, 3-71, 3-78 Temperature dependant
Flaked Materials, 3-52 Log Interpretation, 1-80 rheology, 4-57
Flash Setting, 1-63 Combination of poor and good Tuned Spacer, 4-57
Float Shoes and collars, 2-18 bond, 1-81 Overview, 1-1
Flow Migration Control, 3-60 Continuous good bond, 1-80 Deep Water, 1-3
Fluid Incompatibility, 4-2 Continuous poor bond, 1-81 Estimated job time, 1-20
Fluid Loss, 3-85 Low side/high side, 1-81 Extended Reach Wells, 1-10
Fracture Pressure, 1-35 Loss Circulation Control Highly Deviated and Horizontal
Free Fluid, 3-84 Additives, 3-51 Wells, 1-7
Free-fall, 4-21
HPHT, 1-1
Functions Of Spacers and
Multilateral Junctions, 1-12
Pre-Flushes, 4-68 M Special Considerations, 1-1
Magnesium Salt, 3-56
G Major Factors Influencing
Success, 1-25
Geothermal Wells, 3-53
, 1-25 Particles to Lower Slurry
Granular Materials, 3-51
API schedules for Thiickening Density, 3-45
Guidelines for completion of the
Time, 1-31 Hollow Spheres, 3-45
assessment, 5-13
Casing Centralization, 1-28 Nitrogen - Foam Cements, 3-45
Flow Regime, 1-29 Personnel Competency, 5-11
H Mud Condition, 1-26 Pilot Testing, 3-63
Mud Displacement Practices, Pipe Movement, 4-27
Halliburton, 4-56 1-25 Highly deviated and Horizontal
HPHT, 1-1 Pipe Movement, 1-27 Holes, 4-28
Slurry Design, 1-30 Liners, 4-28
Spacers and Flushes, 1-29 Pore Pressure, 1-35

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Portland Cement
Manufacture, 3-2
Post-Job Information, 1-76 Safety Considerations, 2-12 Water Concentration, 3-43
Cement top, 1-76 Salts, 3-54 WBM
Pressure Drop Across Liner Sampling, 3-63 Drilled Solids, 4-67
Hangers and Polished Bore Sampling Liquid Blends, 3-83 Viscosity, 4-67
Receptacles, 4-43 Sampling of the Blended Cements, Wellbore
Pressure Recording, 2-9 3-81
Benign hole, 4-38
Problems Scale-Down Laboratory Test, 3-61
Contamination in the Casing, 4-41
Annular Pressure, 1-52 Schlumberger, 4-51
Difficult Hole, 4-38
Segmented Ultrasonic Tools, 1-79
Cement "Flash Setting", 1-63 Displacement Volumes, 4-42
Failing to Bump the Top Plug, 1-49 Quality of the Log Data, 1-80
Fluids Left Behind the Casing,
Flow After Cementing, 1-59 Scanning Ultrasonic Tools, 1-79
Flow Through Unset Cement, 1-60 Tool Selection, 1-79
Hole Shape and Pressure Drop,
Settling Test, 3-84
Gas Flow, 1-59 4-39
Slurry Density, 3-84
Gas Flow Through Microannulus, Job Monitoring, 4-42
Slurry Design, 3-35
1-60 Narrow Annuli, 4-42
Density, 3-36
Gas Migration, 1-59 Reactive Formations, 4-40
Fluidity, 3-37
Lack of Zone Isolation - Cross Shutdowns, 4-42
Flow, 1-51 Permeability, 3-38
Wellbore Condition, 4-38
Liner Tops that Fail Pressure Sufficient Strength, 3-38
Wellbore Conditioning, 4-61
Tests, 1-57 Slurry Stability, 3-50
Low Leak-Off Test (LOT), 1-54 Sodium Metasilicate, 3-44
Sodium, Potassium, 3-54
Low Top-of-Cement, 1-55
Soft Kick Off Plugs, 1-55
Soft Kick Off Plugs, 1-55
Software, 4-51
BJ, 4-59
CemCADE, 4-51
Quality Control, 3-63 Halliburton, 4-56
Quality of the Mixing Water, 3-36 OptiCem, 4-56
Controllable Setting Time, 3-37 Schlumberger, 4-51
Special Considerations, 1-1
HPHT, 1-1
R Spiral Flow, 2-39
Sulfate Waters, 3-56
Reduce the Risk of Sticking the
Casing, 2-25
Reverse Circulating, 4-44
Hole Size, 4-45
Job Execution, 4-47 Temperatures, 3-52
Liner Cementing Considerations, Thickening Time, 1-32, 3-84
4-45 Free Fluid, 1-32
Liner Equipment, 4-47 Settling Behavior, 1-32
Mud Removal, 4-46 WOC Time, 1-33
Overlap Length, 4-47 Thixotropic, 3-58
Temperature, 4-46 Tools Available
Rheological Model Sonic bond tools, 1-78
Factors Affecting, 4-6 Ultrasonic Tools, 1-78
Selecting, 4-6
Rheological Models, 4-5
Risk Assessment Process, 5-5 U
Risk Register, 5-8
Roles and Responsibilities, 1-65 Ultralow Temperatures, 3-54
Planning, 1-66 Use of Cement by the Oil Industry,
Well design, 1-65

Rev. 01/2002
“Proprietary - for the exclusive use of BP & ChevronTexaco”