You are on page 1of 12

Injectrol® and PermSeal Sealants Repair Leaks, Restore

Integrity to Casings
By Prentice Creel and Ronald J. Crook, Halliburton Energy Services, Inc.
Whenever leakage downhole occurs because of pinhole-sized breaks in the casing caused
by pitting or corrosion, repairs are vital. Such repairs are necessary on injection wells to
satisfy regulatory requirements, and on producing wells to halt unwanted water
production. Leaks can occur in designated freshwater zones, across intervals with poor
primary cement jobs, or in regions characterized by a high influx of water.
Leaks in injection wells that are unsuccessfully squeezed, and therefore fail regulatory
testing, may result in substantial economic losses in the form of imposed fines and the
eventual plugging and abandonment of the wells in question. In producing wells, the
undesirable migration of water can cause formation damage, a loss of production, and an
increase in the corrosion of tubulars and surface equipment.
Finding a remedy to the leakage problem helps avoid subsequent costs associated with
drillouts, repeated cement squeezes, and workovers.

Limitations of Ultrafine and Conventional Cements
Conventional cements and slurries containing ultrafine particulates are sometimes used to
repair casing leaks, but at best, these solutions are limited.

Ultrafine Cements
The particles in ultrafine cements average 5 microns in diameter, in comparison to the 50micron particles in Portland cement. Fine-grind cement jobs can restore integrity to the
casing if the pinholes are large enough to allow a sufficient volume of slurry to enter the
annulus. If the cracks are small, however, the cement is not protected from dissolution
and deterioration caused by the influx of water. In fact, if the breaks in the casing are too
minute, the placement of small-particle cement outside the casing is often ineffective
altogether; in such situations, this type of slurry cannot serve as a barrier to the inflow of
water or help provide zonal isolation.

Moreover, the presence of small pressure drops (± 50 to 150 psi/hr) presents additional
difficulties in placing finely textured cements. Filtrate from these slurries is squeezed
through the leaks, depositing nodules of cement particles on the casing face at the leak
sites. Upon drillout, pressure tests may fail and seepage may recur.
Conventional Slurries
Conventional cement slurries have proven less than 10% effective in squeezing pinhole
leaks; moreover, they typically require perforation of the casing to facilitate the entry of
the slurry.1 The potential for success is directly related to the severity of the leak, as
indicated by pressure leakoff rates and the maximum injection rate possible below
maximum pressure restrictions.

Halliburton's Alternative Solutions
If the remedy is outside the capabilities of either conventional or ultrafine cement, other
methods are necessary to squeeze off the leaks. The application of Injectrol® sealant, a
sodium silicate gel system, and the use of PermSeal sealant, a monomer solution that
undergoes polymerization in situ, have been successful in almost 100% of the cases in
which they have been used to repair pinhole casing leaks. Furthermore, these systems,
Halliburton's alternatives to small-particle cement squeeze jobs, can be used in both
producing and injection wells.
Injectrol Sealant
In a solution, sodium silicate gels form particulate solids whenever they come into contact
with such divalent ions as those found in calcium chloride or cement.2 As the water phase
is squeezed into the solution, these particulate solids accumulate to form a paste-like
material that continues to grow during the squeeze process until it becomes a permanent
solid. The strength of this new solid is equivalent to the final squeeze pressure applied.
Sodium silicate systems have been useful in the petroleum industry for more than 30
years in various near-wellbore and deep-formation treatments designed to modify well
profiles, curtail water coning, and effect other necessary changes downhole.3 Such
treatments are now considered a productive means for repairing casing leaks ranging
from 15 to 500 psi/hr. Because of an insufficient pump-in rate, particulate material cannot
be placed in such leaks. However, in squeeze operations, sodium silicate particulates
accumulate when the material enters a reactive medium (Figure 1).

Figure 1: An example of an External Injectrol Sealant Placement and Squeeze.

Since pressure-leakoff rates can be too high in sodium silicate solutions, some state
regulatory agencies demand that only a cement product be used across certain depths for
mending casing leaks. Particular wells, however, offer only a marginal possibility of
success in the repair of leaks with cement slurries. Therefore, only wells with a low
possibility of success using a cement squeeze are candidates for sodium silicate
An internal activator is added to Injectrol sealant's formula when the solution is injected
into a leak in which no external reactions will occur naturally. This internal initiator causes
the solution to form a particulate at the designed set time. When external reactions do
occur naturally, they induce the automatic formation of particulates by the sodium
The Injectrol system loses its water phase during the squeezing process, thereby forming
a paste in the restricted leaking channels (Figure 2). When the squeeze occurs in a
confined area, the sodium silicate component can exhibit an uncommonly high resistance
to extrusion pressures.4
Figure 2: An Internal Injectrol Sealant Placement and Squeeze.

Injectrol sealant logged a 90% first-attempt success rate for the initial squeeze jobs in
which it played a role. Furthermore, high leakoff rates contributed to positive secondattempt results on the 10% of the wells not treated successfully on the first try. The
sodium silicate squeezes maintained pressure from 500 to 2,500 psi on all jobs. Well
temperatures ranged from 85 to 190°F, with depths from 1,300 to 12,900 ft. The
pressure falloff of the leaks spanned 15 to 500 psi/hr.
The Halliburton service crew first spotted the target intervals with 250 to 500 gal of
Injectrol sealant. Based on placement-time parameters, Halliburton engineers determined
the solution's internal set times to be from 2 to 4 hours. Each of the treatments used
between 250 and 1,000 gal of squeeze material, with 1/4 to 5 bbl of solution typically
placed outside the casing in each job.Halliburton performed the following procedures in
applying Injectrol sealant to repair the casing leaks:
1. Determine the severity of the casing leak by analyzing the pressure leakoff rate or
the maximum rate achievable below the maximum pressure restriction.
2. Mix and pump the required amount of Injectrol sealant to spot across the leak
interval with excess in the casing or the tubing above.
3. Displace the Injectrol sealant to a balanced spot with fresh water if necessary.
4. Pick up the tubing to a point above the top of the solution and reverse-out the
casing if necessary.
5. If a packer is used, set and squeeze to the required pressure in multiple steps until
the pressure is holding at the required value. Do not use a packer if the interval to

be squeezed is at a shallow depth.
6. Squeeze the Injectrol solution into the leak with a hesitation method that causes
the water phase to be extruded, leaving the solution's base material.
7. Squeeze the material into a paste and eventually into a body of solid material with
a strength equal to the pressure applied to it. The material is permanently placed;
it is also resistant to acid, corrosion, bacteria, and time/temperature degradation.
8. Use tubing to circulate and clean out the wells through the squeezed interval, and
pressure-test the injector to meet regulatory requirements. Help ensure that the
injector has been swabbed or pressure-tested to determine if water entry has been
shut off.
Injection-Well Repair

In one of the workovers using Injectrol sealant in an injection well, three conventional
cementing squeezes had failed to seal a leak in a critical zone. Environmental mandates
required that the leak be stopped within its critical interval, which was believed to be a
freshwater zone extending from 400 ft to 800 ft into the wellbore. Follow-up drillouts of
the cementing squeezes had resulted in the same pressure leak although the cement had
been squeezed up to 1,000 psi.
A state regulatory agency authorized a single Injectrol sealant squeeze on the well
because the plan called for permanent placement. The area was specified as a freshwater
zone from ground level to 1,250 ft, and the pressure falloff rate of 450 psi/hr from a
starting pressure of 500 psi indicated a leak. Regulations stipulated that a pressure test
be performed in 12 months, again in 2 years if the first were successful, and every 3
years thereafter.
Earlier attempts to seal the leak with fine-grind cement had failed, and because of the
potential costs associated with further failure, the operator turned to Injectrol sealant.
The Halliburton service team based the volume of solution for each squeeze on the
capacity of the casing 800 to 50 ft from the surface. Because of a rapid pressure drop, the
squeeze was performed in two attempts using 750 gal for each. The first try caused the
pressure to fall from 450 to 150 psi/hr, and the well pressure would not drop below 350
A 1,000-psi squeeze was achieved on the second attempt with a holding pressure of 600
psi-a level exceeding the 500 psi demanded by the 12-hr regulatory test. The 600-psi
pressure level was maintained by the Injectrol sealant because of the compressive
strength of the formation surrounding the well at 400 ft. Table 1 includes a typical well

profile for the jobs performed using Injectrol sealant.
Table 1: Sodium Silicate Solution Jobs.

Production Casing Leaks

For economic reasons, or because of such practical considerations as hydrostatic
limitations, many producing wells feature exposed intervals above the top of the primary
cement. In these unprotected zones, the condition of the casing is generally poor because
of exposure to such forces as ionic changes that cause pitting. If a casing leak develops in
these wells, production levels usually decrease and problems like water invasion of the
producing interval occur.
The earlier practice was to identify the location of the leaks, set retrievable bridge plugs
to protect the production zones, and cement-squeeze the leak using retainers. Whenever
possible, cement was circulated to the surface to help eliminate further problems.
However, this method tended to impair casing integrity, damage sections of the annulus,
and impose hydrostatic restrictions on the exposed formations. These problems are
typically associated with wells with water crossflow from a more shallow zone that
migrates down the annulus into a porous interval. Because the hydrostatic pressure in this
interval exceeds the reservoir pressure, the porous zone accepts the fluid.
The placement of Injectrol sealant into the annulus is easily achieved even when it is
difficult to inject into the leaking intervals. The Halliburton service crew based the solution
volume on pressure restrictions. The gelled consistency of the Injectrol solution not only

seals the casing leaks-it also serves as an economical alternative to conventional squeeze
Sodium silicate squeeze jobs do not normally require squeeze packers or retainers if the
casing integrity above the leak is satisfactory. This helps avoid the potential for retainer
slippage that can create holes in old casings.
After the Injectrol sealant is placed and a squeeze is attempted, any solution remaining
inside the casing is circulated out with the tubing used to spot it. This procedure helps to
avoid the drillouts associated with cementing and thereby to help prevent damage to
older casings with a drill bit. Since most of the casings in the subject wells were old,
damage during drillouts or tool settings was a possibility. However, Injectrol sealant not
only stopped the leaks, but it also helped eliminate the need for costly drillouts.

Silicate Flour

Solutions containing either fine or coarse sodium silicate flour can also halt casing leaks in
which a greater pressure drop vs. time is encountered. Statistics are being gathered that
should allow Halliburton engineers to gauge the pressure-drop ranges for a given
application. With this information, they will be able to adapt the Injectrol treatment to
those ranges through the selection of the amount of silica flour and particulate size (fine
vs. coarse) best suited to achieve the desired slurry density and texture.
Since silica flour is not a factor in set-time development, it helps provide additional leakoff
blockage by furnishing a surface area on which the squeezed particulate can develop.
PermSeal Sealant
Another alternative solution to pinhole casing leaks is the application of PermSeal sealant,
a monomer solution that polymerizes in situ and demonstrates a unique capacity for
repairing such leaks. When injected, these monomers are transformed into right-angle-set
polymers that allow the solution to generate an extremely resilient material resistant to
high extrusion pressures (Figure 3).
Figure 3: In PermSeal Sealant, Monomers are Transformed into Right-Angle-Set Polymers
that Allow the Solution to Generate an Extremely Resilient Material Resistant to HighPressure Extrusion.

In fact, this tendency of the monomers to crosslink into polymers was a critical factor in
the development of PermSeal sealant. Because of the crosslinking process, engineers
were encountering very low injectivity when using formation-sweep modification
materials. They also noted a substantial resistance to the extrusion of the set polymers
and a failure to clear the tubulars of the material plug.
The principal components of the PermSeal system are a low-toxicity acrylate monomer
and a thermally controlled azo activator. Potassium chloride (KCl); fresh, potable water;
and a pH adjuster are incorporated into the formula to furnish a standardized ionic
concentration and the ideal pH ambience for activation of the in-situ polymerization
process that transforms the monomer into a polymer. The additional components also
help to render PermSeal sealant compatible with most formation conditions.5This
environmentally friendly system is also user-friendly in that it can be customized to
address a particular conformance problem through adjustments in the mix concentration.
The chosen formula combinations help establish the ultimate viscosity, solubility, and
strength that PermSeal sealant will exhibit downhole, and in so doing, help determine the
final nature of the sealant, which can vary from a strongly crosslinked, "ringing" gel to a
viscous polymer slug.5-7
The PermSeal activator is an azo compound that undergoes thermal degradation (a
process that forms a free radical). The activator initiates the polymerization of the
monomer in situ. Since premature gelation can occur with monomer solutions in the
simultaneous presence of transition metals and a free radical, temperature is used to

delay the formation of the free radical with the PermSeal system and thereby avoid this
occurrence. The specific activator chosen for the fluid system is dictated by design
temperature, which, in turn, is dependent on well conditions. Through the azo-initiator
selection process, gel times may extend from 1 to 20 hours at temperatures ranging from
70 to 150° F (21.1 to 65.5° C).5

In one application, multiple attempts had been made to repair casing leaks in a CO2flooded field. Normally, the successful completion of a pressure test required as many as
six attempts. In one well, the casing still yielded a trace of leakoff (25 psi/hr). PermSeal
sealant was selected for the treatment primarily for two reasons:
1. Its resistance to CO2, bacterial growth, and acid
2. Its record of achievement and reliability
Following is a detailed list of the procedures that can be used to repair the casing leaks
using PermSeal sealant:
1. Determine the severity of the casing leak by analyzing the pressure leakoff rate or
the maximum rate achievable below the maximum pressure restriction.
2. Mix and pump the required amount of PermSeal solution to spot across the leak
interval with excess solution in the casing or tubing above.
3. Displace the PermSeal solution to a balanced spot with fresh water if necessary.
4. Pick up the tubing to a point above the top of the solution and reverse-out the
casing if necessary.
5. Set the packer and squeeze to the required pressure in multiple steps until the
pressure is holding at the required psi.
6. Squeeze the PermSeal solution into the leak by using a hesitation method until the
top pressure is encountered and will hold without leaking off. The set time is
designed to take place during the squeeze operation.
7. Circulate and clean out the wells through the squeezed interval with tubing.
8. Pressure-test the well with an injector or swab to help determine if the leaks have
been shut off.
9. If necessary, remove the material later by using a polymer-breaking solution.
PermSeal sealant was designed with an internal activator that initiates a reaction based

on thermally timed conditions. After a portion of the material was squeezed into the
fissures, the well was pressure-tested and squeezed to a holding pressure satisfactory to
the operator. Pressure applied to tubulars with as little as 30 ft of polymer remaining
withstood a pressure drop of 6,000 psi without causing polymer extrusion. Injecting
monomers into the channels, fissures, or other elements contributing to the pressure
reduction ultimately leaves a material capable of withstanding internal and external highpressure drops (Figure 4).
Figure 4: An Example of an Internal in-situ Polymerizing Monomer (PermSeal Sealant)
Placement and Squeeze.

The dependability and high-performance capabilities that PermSeal sealant has
demonstrated in a number of operations has resulted in an almost-100% success rate.
Table 2 includes a typical well profile of the jobs performed with PermSeal sealant.
Approximately 5 to 25 bbl of PermSeal solution are typically placed outside the casing.
The volume used on the jobs is determined by the length of the target interval, the casing
size, the severity of the leak, and the need for the PermSeal sealant to enter the adjacent
Table 2: In-Situ Polymerizing Monomer Jobs.

Injectrol sealant, a sodium silicate solution, and PermSeal sealant, an in situ-generated
polymer, have proven successful in the repair of pinhole casing leaks in almost 100% of
the treatments in which they have been used.
The use of Injectrol and PermSeal sealants to seal casing and halt leaks can eliminate the
need for expensive drillouts and repetitive cement squeezes, and the reduction in
workover time when using these products can reduce expenditures for casing repairs.
Injectrol and PermSeal sealants can successfully repair casing leaks in areas where
conventional cements, including ultrafine blends, fail.

1. Shryock, S.H., and Slagle, K.A.: "Problems Related to Squeeze Cementing," JPT,
(Aug. 1968) 801-07.
2. Cole, C. and Lindstrom, K.: "Well Integrity Maintenance Using Pumpable Sealants,"
paper presented at Underground Injection Practices Council International
Symposium, New Orleans, May 1987.
3. Dalrymple, D., Sutton, D., and Creel, P.G.: "Conformance Control in Oil Recovery,"
Southwestern Petroleum Short Course, Lubbock, Texas, April 24-25, 1985.
4. Smith, C.W., Pugh, T.D., and Mody, B.: "A Special Sealant Process for Subsurface
Water," Southwestern Petroleum Short Course, Lubbock, Texas, April 20-21, 1978.
5. Dalrymple, D., Tarkington, J.T., and Hallock, J.: "A Gelation System for
Conformance Technology," paper SPE 28503 presented at the 1994 SPE Annual

Technical Conference and Exhibition, New Orleans, LA, Sept. 25-28.
6. McLaughlin, H.C., Diller, J., and Ayers, H.J.: "Treatment of Injection and Producing
Wells with Monomer Solution," paper SPE 5364 presented at the 1975 SPE
Regional Meeting, Oklahoma City, March 24-25.
7. Sinclair, B.C. and Ott, W.K.: "Polymer Reduces Channeling, Ups Waterflood Oil
Recovery," World Oil (Dec. 1978) 187, No. 7, 101-104.

The Authors
Prentice Creel is a senior global advisor for Halliburton Energy Services, Inc.'s, Permian
Basin development group and technical team in Odessa, Texas. He has been with
Halliburton for 16 years in various operational and technical engineering positions. Creel
holds a BS in engineering from New Mexico State University. He is currently a director for
the Trans-Pecos Section of SPE.
Ronald J. Crook is a senior global advisor technologist III in the zonal isolation
cementing group at Halliburton's Duncan Technology center. He coordinates requests for
joint research projects and acts as a point of contact for technology exchange between
various organizations. Crook holds a BS in chemical engineering from Oklahoma State

Send questions or comments about this site
to Halliburton Service Center or
call U.S. (877) 263-6071 or outside U.S.
(281) 983-4900.
Copyright © 2008 Halliburton. All Rights
Terms and Conditions