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AADE-06-DF-HO-36

Salt vs. Non-Salt Cement SlurriesA Holistic Review


James Heathman and Richard Vargo, Halliburton
Copyright 2006, AADE Drilling Fluids Technical Conference
This paper was prepared for presentation at the AADE 2006 Fluids Conference held at the Wyndham Greenspoint Hotel in Houston, Texas, April 11-12, 2006. This conference was sponsored by the
Houston Chapter of the American Association of Drilling Engineers. The information presented in this paper does not reflect any position, claim or endorsement made or implied by the American
Association of Drilling Engineers, their officers or members. Questions concerning the content of this paper should be directed to the individuals listed as author/s of this work.

Abstract
The topic of when to use salted vs. non-salted
cement slurries has been around for decades and still
arises frequently. The answers vary depending on the
situation and the background of the person being asked.
This mixed bag often contributes more confusion than
clarification because well planners often seek a universal
answer that does not exist. The correct answer to this
simple question is it all depends. The variables
involved in making the correct decision are mostly
covered in existing literature, but there is lacking an allinclusive treatment on the subject.
The type of questions that should be raised any time
this topic arises should at least consider (1) the
formation types (halite, anhydrite, reactive shales,
mineralogy of salt formations other than halite, etc.) that
the cementing fluids will contact, (2) composition of the
mud system, (3) the wellbore temperature profile, (4) the
intended purpose of the casing string, and ultimately (5)
what the set cement is to accomplish. Only after all
these issues have been examined can the engineer
design a cement system specific to the application
without over or under-designing. This paper will provide
a complete review of salt-cementing application
situations, and a practical guide to help the well designer
decide when the use of salt-containing cementing fluids
is appropriate, and when it is not necessary. Also
included will be highlights of some more recent findings.
Background
This paper will apply the term salt when discussing
the general topic of cementing across predominantly
evaporate subterranean formations, but will apply the
appropriate specific mineralogy or chemistry when
needed. The literature is filled with publications on the
topic of salts in cements and cementing across salt
formations.1-18 Most earlier papers were generally in
favor of minimizing use of high concentrations of salts
such as sodium chloride in cement slurries.1-5 This
philosophy carries through to some of the more recent
papers.6 These more recent papers concentrate on the
North Sea and the US Gulf of Mexico. Some discussion
of cementing as related to salt dome solution mining
wells also appears in these publications.
Many of these publications present conflicting results

and recommendations when viewed as a whole.


However, they all contain valid recommendations when
viewed within the confines of the boundary conditions of
the paper and perspective of the author(s). Extensive
consideration has been given to:
Formation (salt) effects on the cement slurry
Formation (salt) effects on the set cement sheath
Effects of salts added to the cement by design
Additionally, formation damage from the perspective
of impaired flow capacity or formation damage has been
investigated.7,8 More recently, the topic was again
explored, but from the perspective of wellbore stability.9
In the 1970s, and again most recently, the topic of salt
formation dissolution during the cementing process was
examined in detail, and while the data indicated similar
trends, the recommendations by the authors differed to
some degree.10,11
Not All Salt Formations are Created Equal
When the term salt is used, whether in the context
of formation mineralogy or with respect to cement slurry
design, many individuals automatically assume the term
means sodium chloride or halite. While most evaporite
formations found in oil and gas basins are indeed halite,
many cases exist of salts that are anything but halite, or
can be one of many combinations of mineralogy to the
point that the salt is the cementitous material holding
together sand and other formation materials. For
example, the salt formations of the Preuss formation in
the western US Overthrust Belt fit this description.15 The
Rustler and Upper Salado formations of West Texas are
predominately halite, but contain significant (2 to 5 ft
thick) stringers of anhydrite. These anhydrites are not
simply calcium sulfate, but mixtures of calcium,
magnesium, and sodium sulfate. Water-soluble sulfates
are known to adversely affect Portland cement in several
ways, most noticeably with severe gelation and longterm degradation, if not accounted for by using sulfateresistant cements. Because the water-soluble salt is also
the cementitous matter for some of these formations,
allowing excessive dissolving by drilling and cementing
fluids can cause problems with wellbore stability and lost
circulation. Inclusion of high sodium chloride
concentrations in these situations are used to minimize

J. HEATHMAN, R. VARGO

borehole washout and interactions between the cement


slurry and these formations.
The Zechstein group of evaporites that extends
across much of northern Europe and the North Sea is
notorious for drilling problems and casing collapses.
Depending on where the well is located, this salt
sequence may be composed of any combination of
anhydrite, gypsum, bischofite, carnalite, halite, kieserite,
polyhalites, and sylvite. Table 1 reproduced from
Muecke provides a detailed chemical description of each
of these salts.12
The US Gulf of Mexico is well-known for its massive
salt formations that exceed 10,000 ft thickness in places.
The general assumption is that these formations are, for
all practical purposes, 100% halite. However, a recent
case found otherwise. An operator was encountering
unset cement after drilling out shoe tracks and having
difficulty in obtaining shoe tests on drilling liners set
through approximately 9,000 ft of salt formation.
Conventional lab testing of cement blends did not reveal
a problem, nor did a detailed review of job procedures.
Samples of the formation salt were later analyzed and
found to contain other salt species as shown in Table 2.
Subsequent lab testing by contaminating the cement
slurry with various amounts of formation salt as shown is
Table 3 resulted in significantly longer times to develop
compressive strength. Regardless of whether the nonhalite species of this particular salt formation were a
causal factor, it is common knowledge that the more
sodium chloride that is present (above a certain critical
level that will be cement chemistry-specific) in a cement
slurry, the slower the hydration process will be. By
designing the slurry with relatively high concentrations of
sodium chloride on subsequent wells, this contamination
effect was alleviated.
Identification of Salt Zones
Identification of the presence and type of salt
formations can be accomplished in a variety of ways.
Other than the most obvious of drilling fluid analysis and
coring, early warnings may take the form of seismic
detection to detect the presence of massive salt bodies,
although the mineralogy is still unknown until penetrated
by drilling.
Advances in log analysis have allowed for not only
identification of evaporate formations, but to some
degree, mineralogical identification as well. Classic
density, neutron, sonic, and other logs can be combined
to solve for volumetric quantities of evaporate, sand,
shale, other components such as water and
hydrocarbons. Bear in mind that this exercise is only as
good as making the correct choices of logs, modeling
algorithms, the quality of the logs, and the individual log
responses chosen to characterize and solve for the
individual components. Mineral identification by wireline
logs may take the form of direct elemental
measurements which can provide value combined with

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other log responses to determine matrix constituents,


porosity, porosity distribution, and fluid identification.
Water-Sensitive Formations
Wellbores that penetrate water-sensitive shales are
drilled with expensive, fit-for-purpose fluids ranging from
the simpler diesel-based systems to the very complex
synthetic and highly-inhibited water-based muds. Still,
some formations are so sensitive to even the osmotic
effects of internal water phases of invert drilling fluids
that they must be drilled with 100% non-aqueous fluids.
However, these same wellbores are then often subjected
to simple freshwater-based spacers and even cement
slurries. One must ask, does this really make good
engineering sense? The risk of wellbore or operational
problems due to this practice ranges from non-existent
to extreme, depending on the situation and degree of
formation sensitivity to the cementing fluids.
Formations that have extremely high levels of active
clays in the shale matrix can be problematic for obtaining
shoe tests after a cementing operation performed with
freshwater slurries. Reports of shales containing over
60% smectite clays are not uncommon across the US
Gulf coast from Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes of
Louisiana all the way (west) to Chambers and Galveston
Counties, Texas. Complicating the scenario are
numerous kaolinite shales that do not respond to the
same drilling-fluid chemistry. Depths of these shales
range anywhere between 4,000 and 12,000 ft TVD.
These formations have been documented to wash out
severely when shocked with freshwater spacers and
cements.9 The result of not adjusting cementing fluids to
better accommodate these formations can include
questionable cement bond logs, difficulty in obtaining
shoe tests, lost circulation during a cementing operation,
and on very rare occasions annular packoff and
pressure buildup sufficient to halt the job.
Shales encountered in deepwater regions are often
younger, less compacted, and more hydrated.
Encountered at all depths, these highly reactive shales
do not respond well at all to freshwater exposure. Fig. 1
is an SEM photo of a shale sample from the Gulf of
Mexico. Taken at a total depth of 6,000 ft RKB from a
location at 4,000-ft water depth in a well drilled with
SBM, this freshwater exposure resulted in immediate
swelling and associated stress cracking of the shale.
Fig. 2 shows the same shale exposed to cement slurry
filtrate, the cement slurry being mixed with fresh water.
Note the similarities. For comparison, Fig. 3 shows
another sample of the same shale exposed to 7% KCl
water. Note that the swelling and stress cracks are not
evident.
Finally, a common question that arises is whether or
not a reactive shale damaged by a freshwater-based
cementing fluid can be subsequently repaired by a fluid
of higher salinity. While the physics is well documented
that changing the activity of the filtrate in the borehole

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Salt vs. Non-Salt Cement SlurriesA Practical Review

can reverse the process and pull water back out of a


reactive shale, the mechanical damage that can lead to
wellbore instability (and conceivably lost circulation) is
irreversible as shown in Fig. 4. However, the extended
exposure time shown in Table 5 shows that these initial
exposure tests by no means advocate that KCl should
always be the salt used in a cementing fluid. In fact, it
indicates that, for this particular shale, there is a limit to
the effectiveness of KCl as measured by swelling.
Therefore, the design engineer should consider both the
intent of the cement sheath and the exposure time
between initial contact by the spacer and/or cement
slurry and the cement hydration (initial set) when filtrate
would be less available to interact with the shale.
Collectively, all this data illustrates that the effects of the
water activity of cementing fluids on reactive shales
should be a consideration in job design, especially when
targeting a successful shoe test as the primary goal of
cementing operation.
These authors propose that, even with the lower
reactive clay levels, leaving a freshwater-based cement
slurry (or spacer) across them can result in some degree
of destabilization (softening) of these formations.
Whether or not this softening is detrimental to long-term
zonal isolation or casing support for a specific well is up
to the practitioner to determine.
The ion exchange over time between formation
solutions and the remaining cement filtrate (water that is
not reacted in the CSH gel structure of the cement) is a
very elusive topic. This is not a simple issue and is
affected by numerous environmental variables: insitu
pressure, temperature, ion exchange efficiency through
the shale membrane, cement effective permeability, ion
concentrations, differentials between formation and
cement filtrate on all these, etc. The most recent
publication on this topic attempts to address all these
issues in as complete a manner as possible, but bear in
mind that the authors emphasis was on cementing
across salt formations. Nevertheless, the key
recommendation reported was to run approximately 14%
NaCl (bwow) when cementing across massive salt
(presumably halite) formations; anything else was
unnecessary.
Salt Formation Dissolution
Several authors have reported studies on salt
formation dissolution rates.10-11,16-17 While not always in
agreement as to the magnitude of dissolution, the
general trend of gradual borehole enlargement as a
function of exposure volume and original cement filtrate
salinity is consistent. The differences between these
research efforts are likely buried in variables such as
flow regime, volumetric effective flow parameters, total
dissolved solids (as opposed to simply the salinity), and
minute differences in the physical structure of the salt
cores (both man-made and natural) themselves.
Suffice to say, formation salt dissolution does occur

to some degree but the implications and risks associated


with a specific job must be considered on a case-bycase basis. For example, the evaporites of the Zechstein
group are most often magnesium-based. Magnesium will
cause severe gelation and flash-setting of Portland
cement, so NaCl-saturated cements are common. It is
also common practice to use NaCl-saturated slurries
when cementing casings across and into salt domes that
will be solution-mined and the resulting caverns later
used for storage. NaCl-saturated cements are generally
stressed in these cases to reduce the risk of long-term
isolation issues between the storage cavern and the
freshwater aquifers above, and with concern to
achieving the required mechanical integrity test.20
On the other extreme, casings and liners set through
thick halite formations in the US Gulf of Mexico are
seldom given consideration beyond low concentrations
of either NaCl or KCl. Reports from North Dakota were
that switching to low concentrations of KCl in place of
NaCl resulted in fewer casing failures, presumably by
way of achieving faster cement hydration as opposed to
when using NaCl-based cement slurries.4 The low
concentration of salt in both situations is favored due to
the desire to obtain faster compressive strength
development so that casing shoes can be drilled out
sooner and to reduce the assumed risk of point loading
on the casing. The assumption is that any excessive
enlargement or debonding will be irrelevant due to
closure caused by salt formation creep. However, aside
from very clean, massive halite formations, this
assumption may be overly-simplified because salt creep
into a borehole is generally not uniform due to borehole
mechanics, insitu stress magnitudes and orientations,
and impurities. In addition, boreholes are not perfectly
circular.15,16 In fact, salt creep and/or extrusion into a
borehole during drilling may create elliptical boreholes
that will in turn affect casing centralization and the flow
pattern in the annulus during the cementing operation.
This non-uniform flow pattern will obviously result in nonuniform salt formation dissolution.
Ultimately, at the end of a cementing job pumped
with a non-salt-saturated cement slurry, the annulus will
be filled with a cement slurry having varied salt
concentrations both from top to bottom and when viewed
as a cross-section of the wellbore. Whether or not this is
a detriment to the longevity of the cement sheath or the
casing should be considered by the design engineer
based on local experience or that of similar areas.
Laboratory Results vs. Downhole Reality
One of the most common arguments for minimizing
salt content in cement slurries is the concern about slow
compressive strength development, especially at low
temperatures. However, given the results reported in the
literature and in the previous section regarding
dissolution of salt formations during cementing, it is
evident that if significant formation dissolution does

J. HEATHMAN, R. VARGO

occur, the cement properties and/or timing of achieving


the properties anticipated in the wellbore (based on lab
data) are not correct. Table 3 provides an illustration of
this argument based on just the compressive strength
development issue.
In light of this observation, the operator has the
choice of either (1) allowing for a safety factor of
considerably longer WOC time than is normally
considered for compressive strength development for a
non-salt cement before drilling out, (2) performing salt
formation contamination testing as part of the cement lab
testing program, or (3) redesigning the cement slurry to
better align with the desires to minimize WOC time.
Table 6 provides a set of example data to illustrate
the variance in compressive strength development that
can occur for the same basic design by simply varying
the source of cement and amounts of various salts.
Comparing compressive strength rate development data
of various systems in simple table form can be
cumbersome, so the derivative (rate of development) is
also provided. This method shows quite clearly that
between 24 and 72 hours, the differences in rate of
strength development for all five slurries shown are
small.
In addition to differences between the lab and
downhole compressive strength ramifications, slurry
density and rheology, thus ECD, are also affected. For
example, Fig. 5 provides a curve of slurry density with
increasing NaCl in solution, holding the water content of
the slurry constant. Assuming a cement slurry has
sufficient contact time across a thick halite formation to
approach saturation, this curve illustrates the effect on
density alone. This is an ideal scenario that does not
account for variances in solution rate caused by thermal
effects and flow patterns in an eccentric, noncircular
annulus. However, the ensuing effects and possible
compounding effects of the increased density and
rheological effects on ECD should be apparent to the
reader.
Salt Effects on Cement Mechanical Properties
Several things occur simultaneously when salts and
Portland cements interact, whether the salt source is
formation-provided or included as part of the design.
Basically, three distinct processes occur, but they are
concurrent, so one cannot be given special
consideration at the exclusion of the others. These
processes are bulk shrinkage, ion exchange effects, and
the physical effects on both formations and the cement
itself.
Medium to high levels of sodium chloride are
sometimes used to reduce the effects of hydration bulk
shrinkage. Depending on the specific cement chemistry,
most Portland cements undergo some degree of
hydration bulk shrinkage unless steps are taken with
post-hydration expansion additives to offset this process.
Gas-generating additives provide plastic-state shrinkage

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prevention and also aid in preventing stress buildup in


the cement sheath during the early stages of hydration.
Post-set expansion can be provided with components
containing high amounts of tricalcium aluminate or
various grades of dead burned magnesium oxide. Salts
fall somewhere in between. The authors believe this is
because the mechanism by which they work to offset
hydration shrinkage is that they precipitate as the
remaining filtrate locked inside the setting cement
becomes super-saturated. As the salts crystallize, their
solid form takes up more room than when in solution,
thus offsetting the bulk shrinkage, and, to some degree,
causing the bulk expansion. Note also that this trend
would be affected by the solubility of salts in cement
filtrate as a function of temperature. This observation
could also explain why some researchers have reported
samples of salt-saturated cement cubes falling apart
after a few weeks.1 These cubes simply build up so
much internal stress that they fail from the inside out
when left unconstrained and without an external source
of lower-salinity water with which to exchange ions. This
would be physically analogous to water freezing in a
rock and splitting the rock open.
Relationship Between Cement, Formation, and
Casing
Much of the early work referenced in this paper was
concerned about both the rate of compressive strength
development and the ultimate compressive strength of
the set cement. This work centered primarily on the lack
of available cement admixtures that were compatible
with high salt concentrations in the slurry; operators
concluded that high-salt slurries were unattractive for
this reason. Cement additive and slurry design
technology has advanced sufficiently to reduce the
severity of many of these prior issues; however,
problems still exist under certain situations, such as low
temperatures. In addition, recent advances in cement
mechanical property investigations have aided in
reducing the once-insistent emphasis on obtaining high
compressive strengths.13,14 In fact, a comparison of
confined mechanical properties data shown in Table 7
for a simple cement design shows that a saturated-salt
cement does in fact provide substantially different, but
not necessarily detrimental, mechanical properties. Note
the apparent general improvement in apparent ductility
for the saturated-salt-cement slurry in terms of the
observed changes in Youngs Modulus and cohesion.
The full impact of the comparative data in Table 7 is
not apparent until it is used in a finite elemental analysis
of a cemented wellbore. Previous authors have
addressed FEA modeling of salt formation and casing
interactions extensively, but the degree to which the
cement mechanical properties were investigated is not
clear.15 To that extent, Figs. 6 and 7 provide a
comparison of freshwater-based versus salt-saturated
cements for a 13 5/8-in. cemented casing penetrating a

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Salt vs. Non-Salt Cement SlurriesA Practical Review

typical massive halite interval in the US Gulf of Mexico.


Both cements modeled were 16 lb/gal, and although this
ignores the difference in solids-to-liquid ratio, constant
density was used simply due to common convention.
To further illustrate the effects of borehole geometry
and standoff and why each situation must be studied
individually, Figs. 8 through 10 show the same casing
modeled with a larger borehole diameter and improved
casing centralization. The cross-section of Fig 9 shows
the cement sheath shear deterioration that was indicated
in Fig 8. While this analysis predicts debonding and loss
of cement sheath integrity for the freshwater-based
cement sheath in Figs. 6 and 8, it did not predict any
significant improvement due to changes in the borehole
geometry. However, a noticeable improvement is
predicted for the same borehole effects when comparing
Figs. 7 and 10 of the salt-saturated cement.
The analysis in Figs. 6 through 10 does not account
for the salt creep that is common to the Gulf of Mexico
halite formations that would presumably close any
microannulus or mechanical debonding event. Also,
even though the analysis shows that shear failure within
the matrix of the freshwater-cement sheath is likely, the
most common function of the cement sheath across
these formations is supposedly to reduce the risk of
point loading of the casing and to ensure a shoe integrity
test so that the well can be deepened as soon as
possible. Under these circumstances, even though the
FEA model indicated that failure due to debonding is
likely, the cement sheath would still have served its
purpose. Bear in mind that this particular model does not
take into account the salt creep that occurs with many
evaporite formations. For example, average rates of 2.5
to 3 inches per year are reported in the literature for the
US Gulf of Mexico.18 Note that this creep rate should not
be confused with the borehole closure rates reported
while drilling these massive salt formations that can
exceed one-half inch in only 12 hours, nor those of over
one inch an hour reported for some of the dirty salts.15
Note also that localized creep rates are a function of salt
mineralogy, impurities, temperature, overburden, water
content, and the presence of non-salt inclusions.
Conclusions
The decision as to whether or not to use salts in
cementing fluids, be it spacers, cement slurries, or both,
is not always a simple decision, nor should it be. Each
scenario should be evaluated on its own merits including
economics, wellbore stability, anticipated displacement
efficiency, and long-term zonal isolation. Blanket
statements such as always use salt of some specific
concentration or never use salts in cements can be
overly-simplifying, and, in some cases, a detriment to the
long-term integrity of the cement and casing. If in doubt,
small concentrations of salts are generally a prudent
practice, but the correct salt mineralogy and
concentration to include in cementing fluids should

ultimately be determined for the specific application.


Acknowledgments
The authors thank the management of Halliburton for
permission to publish this paper, and acknowledge the
editorial assistance of Ronnie Faul.
Nomenclature
ECD = Equivalent Circulating Density
FEA = Finite Elemental Analysis
RKB = Rotary Kelly Bushing
SBM = Synthetic-Based Mud
SEM = Scanning Electron Microscope
WOC = Wait-On-Cement
NLS = neutron limestone porosity
b = bulk density (environmentally corrected log reading)
LOG = density (log reading not environmentally
corrected)
Pe = photoelectric factor
Pem = modified photoelectric factor
tc = compressional interval transit time
ts = shear interval transit time
ma = thermal neutron capture cross section matrix
References
1. Beach, H.J.: Consequences of Salting Well Cements,
SPE paper 10032 presented at the 1982 International
Petroleum Exhibition and Technical Symposium, Beijing,
18-26 March.
2. Goodwin, K.J. and Phipps, K.: Salt-Free CementAn
Alternative to Collapsed Casing in Plastic Salts, paper
SPE 10885 presented at the 1982 Rocky Mountain
Regional Meeting, Billings, MT, 19-21 May.
3. Rike, E.A.: Success in Prevention of Casing Failures
Opposite Salts, Little Knife Field, ND, paper SPE 12903
presented at the 1984 Rocky Mountain Regional Meeting,
Casper, WY, 21-23 May.
4. Bryant, G.A.: Successful Alternatives to Conventional
Cement Designs in the Williston Basin, paper SPE 12904
presented at the 1984 Rocky Mountain Regional Meeting,
Casper, WY, 21-23 May.
5. Barker, J.W. and Feland, K.W.: Drilling Long Salt
Sections Along the U.S. Gulf Coast, paper SPE 24605
presented at the 1992 ATCE, Washington, DC, 4-7
October.
6. Sweatman, R., Faul, R.F., and Ballew, C.: New Solutions
for Subsalt-Well Lost Circulation and Optimized Primary
Cementing, paper SPE 56499 presented at the 1999
ATCE, Houston, TX, 3-6 October.
7. Jones, R.R., Carpenter, R.B., and Conway, M.W.: A
Study of Formation Damage Potential During Cementing
Operations, paper SPE 22777 presented at the 1991
ATCE, Dallas, TX, 6-9 October.
8. Tchistiakov, A.A.: Physico-Chemical Aspects of Clay
Migration and Injectivity Decrease of Geothermal Clastic
Reservoirs, presented at the 2000 World Geothermal
Congress, KyushuTohoku, Japan, 28 May-10 June.
9. Heathman, J.F., Tare, U., and Ravi, K.: Understanding
Formation (In)Stability During Cementing, paper
SPE/IADC 79913 presented at the 2003 SPE/IADC

10.

11.

12.

13.

14.

J. HEATHMAN, R. VARGO

Drilling Conference, Amsterdam, The Netherlands,19-21


February.
Van Kleef, R.P.: Optimized Slurry Design for Salt Zone
Cementations, paper SPE/IADC 18620 presented at the
1989 SPE/IADC Drilling Conference, New Orleans, LA, 28
February-3 March.
Martins, A.L., Miranda, C.R., Santos, F.J.P., and Bove, A.:
Dynamic Simulation of Offshore Salt Zone Cementing
Operations, paper IADC/SPE 74500 presented at the
2002 IADC/SPE Drilling Conference, Dallas, TX, 26-28
February.
Muecke, N.B.: Heated Mud Systems: The Solution to
Squeezing Salt Problems, paper SPE/IASC 25762
presented at the 1993 SPE/IADC Drilling Conference,
Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 23-25 February.
Ravi, K., et al.: Safe and Economic Gas Wells through
Cement Design for Life of the Well, paper SPE 75700
presented at the 2002 Gas Technology Symposium,
Calgary, Alberta, Canada, 30 April-2 May.
Reddy, B.R., et al.: Cement Mechanical Property
Measurements Under Wellbore Conditions, paper SPE
95921 presented at the 2005 Annual Technical,
Conference and Exhibition, Dallas, TX, 9-12 October.

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15. Wilson, S.M., Fossum, A.F., and Fredrich, J.T.:


Assessment of Salt Loading on Well Casings, paper SPE
81820 revised from paper IADC/SPE 74562 presented at
the 2002 IADC/SPE Drilling Conference, Dallas, TX, 26-28
February.
16. Whitfill, D., Rachal, G., and Lawson, J.: Drilling Salt
Effect of Drilling Fluid on Penetration Rate and Hole Size,
paper IADC/SPE 74546 presented at the 2002 IADC/SPE
Drilling Conference, Dallas, TX, 26-28 February.
17. Willson, S.M., et al.: Drilling Salt Formations Offshore with
Seawater Can Significantly Reduce Well Costs, paper
SPE 87216 presented at the 2004 IADC/SPE Drilling
Conference, Dallas, TX, 1-3 March.
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presented at the 2001 DEA DeepWater Geohazards
Workshop, 3-4 April.
19. Halliburton Log Interpretation Charts, publication number
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20. Title 40: Protection of Environment, Part 146:
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146.8, EPA.

Table 1Descriptions of Common Components of the Zechstein Sequence12


Solubility in Water,
Specific
Mineral
Chemical Formula
g/100 cc
Gravity
Cold*
Hot*
4[CaSO4]
Anhydrite
0.213
0.161
2.960
4[CaSO4 2H2O]
Gypsum
0.240
0.221
2.320
2[MgCl3 6H2O]
Bischofite
167.000
367.000
1.570
100
12[KMgCl3 6H2O]
1.610
Carnalite
64.518
decomposes
Halite
35.700
39.121
2.170
4[NaCl]
4[MgSO4 H2O]
Kieserite

68.410
2.450
4[K2MgCa2(SO4)4 2H2O]
Polyhalite

2.780
Sylvite
23.800
56.710
1.980
4[KCl]
*Temperature (C) at which solubility was reported

Table 2Chemical Analysis of Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Salt Formation*


Elemental Scan by XRF
Sample Number
1
2
3
NaCl, %
~93
~89
~88
S2O, %
1.30
2.30
2.70
CaO, %
2.10
6.00
7.50
Miscellaneous Trace Elements, %
3.10
2.12
1.32
*Samples from 300 ft intervals below 18,000-ft TVD and rinsed with hexane (3x) and
acetone (1x) to remove OBM and mud solids

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Salt vs. Non-Salt Cement SlurriesA Practical Review

Table 3Compressive Strength Data of Contaminated Cement*


Salt
12-hr Comressive 24-hr Compressive 36-hr Compressive
Sample Depth Contamination,
Strength, psi
Strength, psi
Strength, psi
% bwow
Reference
0
2,230
2,640
NT
1
10
1,000
NT
NT
2
10
1,020
NT
NT
3
10
1,060
NT
NT
1
Saturation
0
0
NT
2
Saturation
0
0
1,440
3
Saturation
0
0
600
*Slurry Composition: Class H + 3% KCl + synthetic fluid loss additive and retarder. Slurry was
preconditioned for 2 hr at 125F before contaminating slurry with formation salt and pouring cubes.
Cubes were cured at 155F and 17,500 psi.

Table 4Logging Tool Responses to Evaporites


NLS*
tc
ts
ma
b
LOG
Pe
Pem4*
thermal
g/cc
g/cc
(s/ft)
(s/ft)
(c.u.)
Name
Formula
(p.u.)
Halite
NaCI
-1.5
2.17
2.04
4.65
4.86
67
116
761
KCI
-2
1.99
1.87
8.51
8.71
74
572
Sylvite
Carnallite
KMgCI3 6H2O
63
1.61
1.57
4.09
4.11
78
372
Anhydrite
CaSO4
-1
2.96
2.98
5.05
5.14
50
97.5
12.6
53
2.32
2.35
3.99
3.99
52.5
18.6
Gypsum
CaSO4 2H2O
Langbeinite K2Mg2(S04)3
-1.1
2.83
2.82
3.56
3.57
52
24.0
Polyhalite K2Ca2Mg(S04)4 2H2O
14.5
2.78
2.79
4.32
4.35
57.5
23.8
37
2.57
2.59
1.83
1.79
14.1
Kieserite
MgSO4H2O
* DSN-II neutron porosity only
** Moake, G.L.: "Definition of an Improved Lithology Factor and a Laboratory Technique for Its Measurement." Presented
at the 29th Annual SPwla Symposium in San Antonio, Texas, June 1988, paper PP.

Table 5Shale Swelling Tests of a Deepwater Shale


Percent Linear Swelling
Fluid
37-hr Exposure 65-hr Exposure
Freshwater
44.04
50.00
Cement spacer
26.06
31.71
Cement spacer with 3% KCl
23.99
25.11
18.54
19.08
Cement spacer with 5% KCl
Cement spacer with 7% KCl
17.73
18.43
0.17
0.18
Synthetic drilling fluid

J. HEATHMAN, R. VARGO

Table 6Compressive Strength Trend Comparisons


Compressive Strength at
Density,
Slurry Description*
Indicated Hours, psi
lb/gal
12
24
36
48
72 d24
Class A + 5% KCl + 5% post-set
expanion additive
15.6
1303 1789 2002 2145 2338 41
Class A + 37.2% NaCl
16.1
691 1262 1492 NT
NT
48
Type 1 + 37.2% NaCl
16.1
729 1292 1531 1700 1930 47
Class A-1** + 37.2% NaCl
16.1
926 1643 1893 2060 2294 60
Type 1 + 35.2% NaCl + 1.5%
CaCl2
16.1
1004 1576 1800 1963 2180 48
NT = Not Tested
*NaCl and KCl content based on weight of mixing water
**Class A-1 denotes a different manufacturer of Class A

AADE-06-DF-HO-36

Derivative
d36

d48

d72

18
19
20
21

12
NT
14
14

8
NT
10
10

19

14

Table 7Mechanical Properties Comparison


Parameter Under
Freshwater Cement, NaCl-Saturated Cement,
Confining Load
Cured in Freshwater Cured in Saturated Brine

Compressive strength, psi


6,238
3,291
Young Modulus, psi
1.68 x 10E06
1.16 x 10E06
Poisson ratio
0.12
0.15
Tensile strength, psi
450
280
Friction angle,
7.25
8.52
Cohesion, psi
2,479
1,267
Bulk volume change, %
-1.80
0.55
*Class A cement mixed at 15.8 lb/gal, cured at 100F for 28 days. Mechanical
properties tested at 1,000 psi confining load.

AADE-06-DF-HO-36

Salt vs. Non-Salt Cement SlurriesA Practical Review

Fig. 1Shale from DeepWater Gulf of Mexico exposed to freshwater under SEM.

Fig. 2Shale from DeepWater Gulf of Mexico exposed to cement filtrate under SEM.

10

J. HEATHMAN, R. VARGO

AADE-06-DF-HO-36

Fig. 3Shale from DeepWater Gulf of Mexico exposed to 7% KCl under SEM.

Fig. 4Examination of freshwater exposure followed by 3% KCl cement filtrate exposure to


shale from DeepWater Gulf of Mexico.

AADE-06-DF-HO-36

Salt vs. Non-Salt Cement SlurriesA Practical Review

11

16.65
16.6

Slurry Density, lb/gal

16.55
16.5
16.45
16.4
16.35
16.3
16.25
16.2
16.15
0

10

15

20

25

30

NaCl Concentration, % bwow

Fig. 5Slurry density change as a function of formation salt dissolution.

35

40

12

J. HEATHMAN, R. VARGO

AADE-06-DF-HO-36

Fig. 6Risk capacity of freshwater cement for a 13 5/8-in. casing cemented in a 14 -in.
borehole, 20% standoff, no formation salt creep or plasticity allowed.

AADE-06-DF-HO-36

Salt vs. Non-Salt Cement SlurriesA Practical Review

Fig. 7Risk capacity of salt-saturated cement for a 13 5/8-in. casing cemented in a 14 -in.
borehole, 20% standoff, no formation salt creep or plasticity allowed.

13

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J. HEATHMAN, R. VARGO

AADE-06-DF-HO-36

Fig. 8Risk capacity of freshwater cement for a 13 5/8-in. casing cemented in a 16-in. borehole,
70% standoff, no formation salt creep or plasticity allowed.

AADE-06-DF-HO-36

Salt vs. Non-Salt Cement SlurriesA Practical Review

Fig. 9Shear deterioration of freshwater cement around a 13 5/8-in. casing


cemented in a 16-in. borehole, 70% standoff.

15

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J. HEATHMAN, R. VARGO

AADE-06-DF-HO-36

Fig. 10Risk capacity of salt-saturated cement for a 13 5/8-in. casing cemented in a 16-in.
borehole, 70% standoff, no formation salt creep or plasticity allowed.