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Casing Design –

Review of Design Methodology

Review performed for Petroleum Safety Authority

at Norsk Hydro

Rock-Well Consultants


Report No. RWC 5/04

Contents: Page:

Summary 2

1. Project description 2

2. Review of Norsk Hydro’s casing design procedures 3

2.1 Norsk Hydro Casing Design Manual
2.2 Methodology, data and software

3. Gas leakages on Njord 7

3.1 Summary of events
3.2 Conclusions

4. Njord well design 11

4.1 Njord Well design
4.2 Supporting documentation
4.3 Discussion of Njord well design

5. Summary of review 21

6. Recommendations 21

Nomenclature 21

References 21


This report presents an evaluation of Norsk Hydro’s methodology for well construction using
leakages on Njord as a case.

The design documentation is of high quality. The manuals are modern and revised regularly.
Specific well designs were not received, therefore actual designs are not evaluated in this
report. Norsk Hydro’s should revisit their design practice as the casing design manual require
a design report.

Njord wells experience many small leaks around the production tubings. These are
thoroughly addressed in the documents evaluated, and there is a plan to reduce the leaks.

1. Project Description
The objective of the project is to investigate the methodology for casing design for several
operating companies in Norway. The present report focuses on Norsk Hydro, with leakages
on Njord wells as a case. The project will evaluate the design manuals, the methodology for
data collection, the quality and the use of these in the course of the well design.

The background for the project is that the Petroleum Safety Authority has observed cases
where the casing design was the limiting factor for the well in several operating companies.
Because a number of HPHT wells are expected in the near future, one wants to identify the
design basis each operator uses, to search for potential improvements.

2. Review of Norsk Hydro’s casing design procedures
2.1 Norsk Hydro’s Casing Design Manual

Norsk Hydro recently (ref.8) adapted a new casing design manual that contains the following

1. Introduction
2. Design methodology
2.1 Data gathering and interpretation
2.2 Casing sizes and setting depths
3. Detailed design
3.1 Design factor
3.2 Load criteria selection
3.3 Design criteria
4. Material selection
4.1 Exploration/appraisal wells
4.2 production/injection wells
5. Selection of couplings
6. Conductor design
6.1 Exploration/appraisal wells
6.2 Production/injection wells
7. Reuse of casing
8. References
9. Enclosures

Appendix A- Background references

A.1 The purpose of casing
A.2 Conductor/marine conductor string
A.3 Surface string
A.4 Intermediate string(s)
A.5 Production string
A.6 Liner string
A.7 Tieback casing
A.8 Tubing string

Appendix B – Casing specifications

B.1 API specifications and publications
B.2 Classification of casing and tubing

Appendix C – Connections
C.1 General
C.2 Gas tight connections
C.3 Special clearance connections
C.4 Connections failures
C.5 API connections ratings

Appendix D – Casing design methodlogy

D.1 General

D.2 Casing design methods
D.3 Stress Check design process

Appendix E – Maximum allowable kick volume/casing setting depth

E.1 Well integrity evaluation
E.2 Kick margin

Appendix F – Collapse strength

F.1 General
F.2 Collapse behavior
F.3 Factors affecting collapse strength

Appendix G – Burst strength

G.1 General
G.2 Deficiencies of uniaxial burst rating

Appendix H – Axial design

H.1 Tension
H.2 Compression

Appendix I – Special design criteria

I.1 Wellhead design pressure
I.2 Plugged perforations during bullheading
I.3 Bullheading during a kick incident
I.4 Separate design for drilling and well testing
I.5 Plastic formations
I.6 Long time effects
I.7 Heated annulus

Appendix J – Pressure testing

Appendix K- Wear
K.1 Factors affecting casing wear
K.2 Types of casing wear
K.3 The effect of casing wear on casing strength
K.4 Volumetric wear
K.5 Wear allowance in casing design

Appendix L – Corrosion
L.1 General
L.2 Corrosion fatique
L.3 Oxygen corrosion
L.4 Stress corrosion cracking
L.5 Carbon dioxide or “sweet” corrosion
L.6 Hydrogen sulfide or “sour” corrosion

Appendix M – Temperature effects

Appendix N – Biaxial effects

N.1 Effect of combined stress

N.2 Application of biaxial corrections for collapse
N.3 Applications of biaxial corrections for burst

Appendix O – Triaxial design

O.1 General
O.2 Triaxial check in casing design
O.3 Triaxial summary

Appendix P – Buckling
P.1 Definition of buckling potential
P.2 Prevention of buckling

Appendix Q - Reporting

App A: Revision/version Log

App B: Casing Design Procedure, all Design Categories
App C: Additional Design Requirements for Design Category 3 Wells
App D: Load criteria Selection

The manual reflects todays practice of well construction. The basic calculations are presented
in appendices, whereas most of the manual is devoted to establish a good basis for the design.
The manual is comprehensive and reflects a lot of updated experience from Norsk Hydro
wells. The technical aspects of the manual are good as it defines many elements that the oil
industry has overlooked in the past.

We will tie a few comments to the casing design manual, as seen from an outside observer.
These are not necessarily errors, but points for consideration.

As defined in the next chapter Norsk Hydro uses software programs that are generally
accepted by the international oil industry. Because these are used by virtually everyone in the
industry they of course have been quality checked. However, these programs have been used
for many years and may not be fully updated. As one example, Wellcat uses the Sorelle
model as equation of state for the drilling fluids, but more accurate models have been derived
recently. Therefore, one could allow for other programs to be used as well. In fact, it is the
competence of the design engineer that produce good results, not the data program which is
just a computational tool.

We would propose that a competency plan is used, and that a designer may use other design
tools as well. One example would be that the lowest level engineers may design ordinary
wells, whereas a HPHT well requires a specialist. The industry has no formal competency
plan today, but we foresee that in the future one may qualify for various degrees of
competency by formal training and experience.

Some specific comments will be given below.

On pages 3 and 4 the wear aspect is discussed. It is recommended to use a casing wear
program or to use caliper or USIT logs. Wear and corrosion may reduce the pressure integrity

of the casing. In critical wells one may also require pressure testing, as this is the only direct
method to determine the integrity level of a well. The pressure test aspect could be included.

In Section 3.2 the Load Criteria Selection is given. This table actually has 16 footnotes. One
may consider reorganizing the table to reduce the footnotes.

References 1 through 7 gives some of the supporting documentation, more specifically

Requirements and Guidelines for various aspects of well operations. It is not seen necessary
to reproduce the contents in this report. However, an overall impression is that the
documentation is short , concise and clear. All documents have been revised, some of them
up to 8 times, indicating a live set of documents.

References 9, 10 and 11 defines more general principles. Although not the complete set of
governing documentation, the impression is manuals of high quality, with clear and visible

2.2 Methodology, data and software

Norsk Hydro has adopted certain data programs for company use. In the manual chapter
2.1.2 are the following definitions:

-Landmark's StressCheckTM: For Design Category 1 and 2 casing design.

-Landmark's WellcatTM:
-Maurer Eng.'s CWearTM: For casing wear simulations.

The programs listed above are used by most major oil companies, and are considered current
industry standard. All programs are used and accepted in the oil industry.

Input parameters for a design of a well come from various sources. Pore pressure prognosis
comes from the drilling and/or the geology department. Fracture pressure and hole stability
considerations often comes from an in-house expert. There is no common methodology
established in industry to determine these factors, each company has their own philosophy.
Very often these data are determined from reference (similar) wells.

For the reasons stated above we are unable to evaluate the quality of the methodology, data
and software.

3. Gas Leakages on Njord
3.1 Summary of events

A number of small leaks between the production tubings and the production annuli has
occurred in the Njord field over several years. Norsk Hydro has investigated the problems
and initiated several measures to eliminate or to reduce the problem. The problem is tied to
the barrier requirements that exists for all Norwegian oil fields.

In the following, a summary of Norsk Hydros evaluation (ref. 13) is given. The summary has
the following main chapters, with the following main conclusions (free translation):

1. Introduction.

A taskforce was established to

-analyse the leakage problems
-propose modifications/solutions for drilling phase 2

2. Data
The data are not included, but presented as a reference list.

3. Wells
The following Njord wells have experienced leaks:

Oil producer Oil producer/Gas injector Gas injector

A-11 A-9 A-5
A-12 A-10 A-6
A-14 A-13 A-7
A-15 A-8

Table 3.1: Njord wells with tubing leaks.

4. Method of analysis
The task group identifies difficulties in obtaining relevant data such as: limited data
availability, many pressure cycles, no logging or corrosion evaluation. The task group
therefore looked at probable leakage causes and proposed solutions to eliminate these.

5. Oil production wells: Possible causes and solutions

Leak in sub-sea valves
The pressure in the annuli are controlled using 2-1/16” needle valves. Particles in the flow
may damage or erode these valves leading to leakage. The following valves are used:

-annulus master valve (AMV)

-annulus wing valve (AWV)
-annulus circulation valve (ACV)
-cross over valve (COV)

-annulus vent valve (AVV)

All wells have needle valves except in well A-17 where the valves have been replaced with
Pacson gate valves.

All AWV valves are connected to a common service line, such that all valves are exposed to
the same line pressure. The AMV is always open to monitor the A-annulus pressure. To
pressure test one specific well, the AWV is closed on all other wells.

The ACV is always exposed to the A-annulus pressure, and in the event of leakage, it will
leak to a corrosion cap. The threads on this cap is not leak tight, and the pressure can
therefore communicate to the sea. Hypothetically, seawater (36 bar) could leak through the
corrosion cap and the damaged needle valve and into the A-annulus, but this has not been
observed. Normally, the A-annulus pressure is 50 – 90 bar. A leak can occur through the
following valves:

-corrosion cap/sea (ACV)

-sea (AVV)
-service line (AWV)
-production tubing (COV)

It is not yet established which valves are leaking. However, a leakage to the sea is observed
in well A-12. A test program is recommended established to identify potential leaks. Also, at
future workovers, the needle valves will be replaced with gate valves.

Leak in the PBR

All wells have 7 in. polished bore receptables (PBR) installed. The installation procedure
used is as follows:
-Perforate in overbalance
-Run liner stem, tubing plug, production packer and PBR in separate run.
-Run PBR seal stem and tubing in separate run. Depth based on pipe tally, not on

This implies that the seal stem is not locked to the PBR. Lowering the seal stem 3000 m into
the well may lead to wear and debris may be pushed into the PBR, leading to a potential
leakage problem. Due to ballooning and temperature effects, the seal stem may move into the
PBR. The surface may be corroded and scaling can be deposited. From Snorre, the surface
roughness on the seal stem increased during production. At Njord, a potential exists for
deposition of CaCO3.

Most wells on Njord have a higher pressure in the A-annulus than inside the production
tubing (after reservoir depletion). This is also the case when the wells are shut in. A leakage
is therefore possible from the A-annulus, through the PBR and into the production tubing.
Several wells have experienced pressure drop in the A-annulus, indicating a possible leakage
through the PBR.

Leakage in tubing and connections due to corrosion and erosion.
All oil producers are completed using 13 Cr tubing. Corrosion is unlikely for this material.
All possible corrosion mechanisms are however, not ruled out. The wells produce with high
GOR, and sand and water is reported in the separator systems. Erosion should most likely
occur at chokes and bends. Measurements are not yet conducted. Some erosion was seen in
chokes, but defined as a design problem, it has been corrected. New Vam threads are used in
part of the completion. These are notoriously weak in compression, but there is no indication
that they have failed.

The completion string in well A-17 was pulled out for inspection. No corrosion was found,
only minor marks on the pipe surface, and some small signs of sand erosion inside. The PBR
had many small marks on the seal surfaces, but this is inconclusive with respect to leakage.

- Measure wall thickness in surface bend to see if sand erosion is present.
- Run caliper log/ pipe thickness tool in selected wells.
- Evaluate thread dope CATTS 101 used by Statoil on Snorre with good results.
- Check make-up torque chart for all tubing and assemblies run in the next well.
- Consider sand production reduction measures.
- Analyse the completion string on well A-10 when recompleted.

Potential tubing collapse

A study is performed to check the likelihood for tubing collapse in the present situation, as
collapse is another potential leak source. It was not found critical, but a reduced packer fluid
density is recommended for future wells and workovers.

6. Gas injection wells

Basically the same analysis applies as for the oil wells. The same recommendations applies,
but in addition it is suggested to leave out the PBR in wells where it is not required.

7. Other factors
The Njord oil wells were perforated in overbalance before placing the completion strings in
two runs. The wells were not cleaned out after perforating, which may led to high skin (wells
A-11 and A-18). It is possible that the upper perforating interval or layers of high
permeability contributes to the production. The bottom-hole pressures varies 150-200 bar
between production and shut-in. This will lead to movement of the PBR, and a risk of
leakage. Well A-11 has a leak, and well A-18 have an indication of a leak. In drilling phase
2, alternative completion solutions should be considered.

8. References

9. Recommendations
The following main recommendations are presented:

-Perform a leakage test program for subsea valves

-Replace needle valves with gate valves at future workovers
-Eliminate PBR where possible
-If PBR is required, set new packer and pre-spaced PBR over, alternatively use
extenda joint.
-Verify metal-to-metal seal and pressure test seal on downhole pressure transducer.

-Verify that thread loadings are within specifications.
-Revise procedure for monitoring of A-annulus pressure in oil wells:
A-annulus pressure between 10 and 90 bar
No shut in pressure in A-annulus when well is dead.
Monitor the A-annulus pressure with other production data.
-Measure wall thickness of bends to check for sand erosion.
-Analyze the completion on next A-10 workover.
-Run caliper log/wall thickness in selectd wells.
-Consider 13 Cr. Tubing in gas injections wells.
-Consider CATTS 101 thread dope.
-Consider sand production reduction measures.
-Reduce the density of the packer fluid on new/recompleted wells.

3.2 Conclusions

Norsk Hydro has done a through analysis of the possible leak sources on the completions on
Njord, and have recommended further work in an effort to reduce these leaks. This work is of
good standard, and if actions recommended are pursued then the amount of leaks should be

Further, an interesting approach to the barrier problems is shown (Ref. 12). The reliability
data used as a basis is based on limited experience, and the environmental data for the
reliability data are different from the actual case in discussion. In addition the uncertainties
introduced by the model itself and the calculation tools are not shown.

The recommendation was to test the 9-5/8 in. casing every 5 years, to bring down the
likelihood of blowout down to an “acceptable level”. Intuitively, this seems too optimistic,
and more frequent testing of the integrity of this barrier should be evaluated. The leak rate is
estimated to be 1.7 Sm3/hr, but it has previously been higher than this. The actions that
should be taken in case of a worsening of this leak rate are not addressed, although this is
possibly the most likely scenario.

A detailed well management system for the monitoring of the Njord well A-5AH by Norsk
Hydro may have been presented, but is not, at this time available for this report. This
document should address the concerns above to ensure that the risks are of a manageable

4. Njord Well Design

4.1 Njord well design

The casing design for the Njord field is summarized in reference 18, and an example of a
individual well program is given in reference 19. The summary of the casing design from ref.
18 is short and is reproduced in its entity on the following few pages.

Supporting documentation

Reference 18 shows the results of the casing design. In this process we asked for background
documentation that defines the design criteria, and were told that this information is found in
well files in StressCheck, WellCat and Cwear. Further we received hardcopy information
containing the following materials (ref.20):

Well Schematic
Well path data
Temperature data
Pipe data
Mud data
Various operational data
Temperature summary
Flow summary
Some load and tubing design data

Furthermore, ref. 20 specifically defines (free translation from Norwegian):

The supporting documentation is given by references 18,19 and 20. For new wells, the data are stored in design
programs such as StressCheck and WellCat. This applies for data such as pore pressure, fracture gradient,
temperature, specific heat capacity etc. Other information stored are well construction data such as casing,
tubing, wellpath, fluid types and properties including density, cement densities and height.

Also included are production data to develop temperature profiles for production or injection. This includes
reservoir fluid composition, production rates, GOR, watercut aso.

Expected casing wear is determined from the program Cwear for wells where wear may be a critical element.
Norsk Hydro has a “best practice” document for materials selection. For different well types/formation fluids.

All results from the data simulations are stored electronically in data files, connected to individual wells.


In Norsk Hydro’s casing design manual (App. Q, ref. 8) it is stated:


The computer program “Stresscheck” will be used in the design phase. This program can print out a
comprehensive report of both input and output data. However, if all options are printed the casing design report
will be impractical for its purpose. A small but relevant selection of print outs should be included in the report.
In addition to the print outs, a written report according to the table below should be submitted which is
summarizing all assumptions and results.

List of contents, casing design

1. Introduction
2. Summary and conclusion
3 Selection of casing setting depths
4. Design basis
5. Casing design
6. Pressure tests
7. Corrections and design factors
8. Well Integrity evaluation
9. Selection of connectors

Elements 2-9 are given below.

Summary and conclusion

-Gives setting depth etc.
-Gives casing string composition
-Explain special setting depth or casing design considerations made on this well.
-Reservations made.

Selection of setting depths

-Describes the factors affecting the setting depth for each casing string.
-Describes the objective for each hole interval.
-Describes prognosed pore pressures, mud weights and fracture gradients.

Design basis
-Describes the design basis and criteria for burst, collapse and tension calculations for each string.
-Describes uncertainties and/or reservations in the design basis which may affect the design and what
modifications possible deviations from the design basis may cause to the string composition.

Casing design
-Describes the design based in items 3 and 4.
-Presentation of results.

Pressure tests
-Describes maximum pressure which the casing shall be tested to.

Corrections and design factors

-Describes the corrections performed on each string if any.
-Describes the design factors used and documents deviations from the standard design factors.

Well integrity evaluation

-Identify full or reduced well integrity for each casing string.
-Define acceptable range for leak-off tests and maximum allowable influx.

Selection of connectors
-Explains the criteria for selecting the connectors.

Source references and documentation

-All documentation used in the design should be properly referred to. If deviations from the design
basis derived in this manual occur, these deviations should be documented.”


The Njord well design reproduced in chapter 4.1 apparently does not fulfill the casing design
requirements defined above. Ref. 18 specifically requires that “…..In addition to the print outs, a
written report according to the table below should be submitted which is summarizing all assumptions and

To our understanding there is a discrepancy between Norsk Hydro’s requirements and their
casing design practice.

4.2 Discussion of Njord well design

The well design on Njord can in simple terms be summarized as follows:

The results are presented in the main program and in the individual well programs.

The input data and the calculations are stored in several sources such as computer
design programs.

We found it difficult to evaluate the quality of the well designs because the information
required is not easily available.

Norsk Hydro does not prepare an integrated hard copy well design as a basic reference for
new wells. Rather, they uses a more distributed process where the information is stored
several places. To our understanding there is a discrepancy between their own requirements
and their practice of documenting the casing design.

The advantage of this distributed approach is that most data are electronically available,
allowing for simple upgrading of the information. They can modify the design quickly if
operational changes demands it.

The disadvantage can be that it is difficult for third parties to verify, and difficult to document
internal Norsk Hydro verification of the well design. The design process could become non-
vigorous and changes in design premises from well to well may be missed if a proper
verification process is not done.

Regardless of how well design is documented, some basic requirements should be:

-The design premises are as important as the results, and should be seen in the same
context. They should therefore be presented together with the results.

-The first well design, and also the following history of the well should be available at
all times during the lifetime of a well, to minimize the risk of mistakes, and to ensure a
most efficient handling of the well.

5. Summary of review
The following major conclusions came out of the study.

Norsk Hydro’s design manuals are documents of high quality. They are modern and revised
regularly. There is a structure in the manuals reflecting clearly defined responsibilities.

Evaluation of a Njord well design is not performed as we did not receive sufficient
information. Norsk Hydro does not develop individual well design reports, but store some of
the design data in various data files. We found a possible discrepancy between requirements
and the actual practice of casing design.

The gas leakages on Njord has been analyzed by Norsk Hydro. We conclude that the
analyzes is thorough and that all likely scenario are addressed. They have also identified a
plan to reduce leakages in the future.

6. Recommendations
We recommend that Norsk Hydro revisit their casing design practice in terms of their own
internal requirements.

PBR polished bore receptable
HPHT high pressure high temperature
API American Petroleum Institute
USIT pipe thickness measurement tool

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