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SPE 53955

Primary Cementing Optimisation: Well Conditioning Procedure and Foamed Spacer


Use
Carlos D. Degni, Tecpetrol S.A.; Carlos R. Marcinkevicius, Halliburton Argentina S.A.

Copyright 1999, Society of Petroleum Engineers Inc.


Cement Job Design
This paper was prepared for presentation at the 1999 SPE Latin American and Caribbean Cement jobs were designed using a dynamic computer model
Petroleum Engineering Conference held in Caracas, Venezuela, 21–23 April 1999.
that allows monitoring the equivalent circulation density
This paper was selected for presentation by an SPE Program Committee following review of (E.C.D) at weak zone(s) depth(s) during whole cementing job.
information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents of the paper, as
presented, have not been reviewed by the Society of Petroleum Engineers and are subject to Predicted cement job simulator pressure curves are quite
correction by the author(s). The material, as presented, does not necessarily reflect any
position of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, its officers, or members. Papers presented at similar to actual recorded job data thus helps to improve
SPE meetings are subject to publication review by Editorial Committees of the Society of
Petroleum Engineers. Electronic reproduction, distribution, or storage of any part of this paper
cement job designs continuously.
for commercial purposes without the written consent of the Society of Petroleum Engineers is
prohibited. Permission to reproduce in print is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300
words; illustrations may not be copied. The abstract must contain conspicuous Foamed spacer and lightened preflushes
acknowledgment of where and by whom the paper was presented. Write Librarian, SPE, P.O.
Box 833836, Richardson, TX 75083-3836, U.S.A., fax 01-972-952-9435.
To assure a proper annular drilling mud displacement and
filter cake removal and to contribute to cement bond design
Abstract we include the following spacer and preflushes sequence:
Since late 1993, in El Tordillo Field, Chubut, Argentina,
Tecpetrol S.A. has experienced severe cleaning and loss of Foamed spacer
circulation problems while drilling and cementing production It is designed to give 2000 ft annular height at bottom hole
casing in very depleted zones located from 4265 ft to 6562 ft, conditions
El Trébol and Upper Comodoro Rivadavia formations. 60 bbl crosslinked water base gel + 1% Foaming/Stabilizer
The average depth for the wells studied is 9843 ft, the Agents + 500 SCF/bbl N2
desired cement top for isolating primary and secondary Lightened chemical wash
production zones is 4265 ft. It is designed to give at least a ten-minute annular contact
Several drilling fluids and cementing procedures were time
optimised through the fifty-well drilling program. In spite of 90 bbl water + 2% KCl + 1% Surfactant+ 250 SCF/bbl N2
this optimisation procedure, random results were experienced Lightened reactive flush
while cementing the production casing, either single or two- A 30-bbl + 250 SCF/bbl N2 sequence is batch pumped
stage cementing jobs.
In the last thirteen wells a different approach to circulating A 5-bbl water/2%KCl (non-reactive spacer w/o N2) volume is
and cementing the production casing was adopted. pumped in order to separate the spacers from cement slurries.
The 7-inch production casing was circulated while running
at pre-selected depths. Preflushes for the cementing job were Cement Slurries
lightened with nitrogen, thus providing a low density, high Normal density range cement slurries were used in the
viscosity foamed spacer in the front of the primary cement job. cement job designs. There follows a general design slurries
The foamed spacer was used to improve displacement pumping schedule:
efficiency in open hole. The results were positive, the low-
density spacer and preflushes reduced loss of circulation while Scavenger Slurry
cementing the production casing and improving hole cleaning. Cement: 58.5 SK
So far the thirteen wells were cemented in one stage using Yield: 2.55 cu ft/SK
foamed spacer and lightened preflushes ahead of normal Density: 11.9 ppg
density cement slurries. Results have been very good with
cement columns rising up to 4265 ft. The casing and formation Lead Slurry
bond for these jobs have been excellent, achieving consistent Cement: required from 8200 ft to top of cement
results and a total saving over 42% of the total cementing Yield: 1.62 cu ft/SK
costs. Density: 13.8 ppg
2 C.D.DEGNI, C.R.MARCINKEVICIUS SPE 53955

Tail in Slurry Final well conditioning


Cement: required from casing shoe to 8200 ft When casing running is completed, final well conditioning
Yield: 1.49 cu ft/SK starts circulating at reduced flow rate bottom up while
Density: 15.6 ppg reciprocating casing until the moment when shaker clean mud
return is observed.
Dynamic computer model plots contribute to prove After that, the following sequence is initiated and repeated
conventional job designs (normal density spacer and to the well conditioning process ends: a viscous pill is pumped
preflushes) that before cement slurries reach the weak zone, and flow rate and reciprocating strokes are increased. During
during cement free fall, E.C.D exceeds the maximum safety the entire final well conditioning process drilling fluid runs
level. On the other hand, when the spacer is foamed and the through all available solid-control equipment.
preflushes lightened, displacement is completed without Surface pumping rates are increased step by step while
overcoming maximum safety level (see Fig. 1). monitoring mud displacement efficiency through software that
calculates the well annulus circulating percentage after
Well Conditioning Procedure processing circulating pressures and flow rates measured on
The main objective is to overcome 7-inch casing-running the surface.
difficulties observed in previous wells and to improve the Maximum flow rate is established in advance, for each
whole conditioning process. particular final well conditioning, depending on previous
records obtained while drilling, to avoid inducing mud loss
Previous mud conditioning circulation during this process.
Drilling mud fluid loss, filter cake thickness, Yield Point Circulation is stopped when an acceptable circulating well
(YP), Plastic Viscosity (PV) and Static Gel Strength (SGS) are percentage is reached and mud shakers screens are solids free.
conditioned while circulating the well previous to POOH There are no previously fixed totals well conditioning times;
laying down drill pipe and BHA to increase mobility and in each well, times are established following the procedure
facilitate the mud displacement process. and observing mud returns.
Good conditioned mud with low solid content has the It is important not to allow mud to remain static for a long
following values: period before the job is started; otherwise, there is a significant
♦ Fluid loss: 6.5 cc decrease in displacement efficiency.
♦ Filter cake: < 3/32 inch To reduce static period, double-plug, double-inlet
♦ Yield Point: < 11-lb/100 sq. ft cementing heads were used. Both upper and lower
♦ Plastic Viscosity: < 15 cp. displacement plugs are pre-charged before cementing head is
♦ Flat gel strength profile 10 sec/10 min = 2/4 made-up. See Fig.2 for details.
♦ 24 hours SGS: < 45 lb. / 100 sq. ft Injecting mud with drilling rig pumps through the mud line
The well is circulated, at least with a hole capacity plus inlet starts well circulation. After the final well conditioning is
surface circuit volume, while conditioning mud rheology completed, and the safety meeting is held, cement slurries are
sweeping with two 60 bbls mud viscous pills to ensure that the batch-mixed and the cementing set is ready, the mud pump is
hole is cleaned from cuttings. shut-down, the cementing line valve is opened, the well
circulation line valve is closed and cementing job starts as
Casing running considerations and intermediate hole soon as possible.
interval circulations Previous to casing running a table is prepared to control
The casing running is performed carefully trying to avoid and post-evaluate the intermediate hole interval circulations
surge pressures that overcome formation-fracturing gradients. and the final well conditioning; e.g. El Tordillo Field type
Any attempt to run casing without intermediate well: Table 1 was prepared to control and post-evaluate the
circulations implies the strong possibility that the eroded intermediate circulation during running casing and the final
cuttings and partially dehydrated mud mobilisation can lead to well conditioning process.
an induced loss of circulation. Therefore it is necessary to
circulate the annulus at intermediate depths before the bottom
of the hole is reached. Location layout
The well is circulated with a hole capacity – one annular A Nitrogen Unit was added to the cementing set used for the
plus casing volume – at three pre-selected depths trying to previous conventional one or two-stage cementing operations
avoid an excessive pressure build-up when circulation is in El Tordillo field.
resumed after several hours. A foam generator and a check valve were added to the surface
At every circulation depth, a 60 bbls mud viscous pill is line allowing injecting of N2 to the liquid phase without
injected ahead to sweep the annulus and carry removed solid affecting the cementing pumps normal operation.
materials out of the hole. Circulation is stopped when the The location layout used for the foamed spacer design is
viscous pill reaches surface and mud shakers screens are solid- shown in Fig.3.
free.
SPE 53955 PRIMARY CEMENTING OPTIMIZATION: WELL CONDITIONING PROCEDURE AND FOAMED SPACER USE 3

Foamed Spacer for the foamed spacer - on surface, weak zone and bottom hole
depths.
General description The foamed spacer property evolution from casing shoe to
The spacer is a stabilized system obtained by injecting “on surface was plotted as depth function. See Fig.4.
the fly”, and through a foam generator proper amounts of We have prepared Fig.5 with the pore pressure data
nitrogen to the cross-linked gel that includes foaming obtained during the open hole logging using the computer
surfactant and stabilizer agents in its formula. program output information. It shows ECD’s behavior in
The tee foam generator provides the level of mixing contrast with well depth. The foamed spacer allows the
energy required to incorporate gaseous nitrogen into the maintenance of the required ECD’s avoiding the inflow of
external liquid phase as discrete high-energy bubbles. It is a formation fluid or cement slurry loss towards weak
very important device that contributes to the foamed spacer formations.
stability.
Nitrogen is pumped at 1200 to 1500 SCFM constant flow Foamed spacer lab test and field research
rate, adapting the cross-linked gel flow rate in order to obtain Water base gel formulation
500 to 750 SCF / bbl N2 concentration in the foamed spacer. 50 lb./1000 gal Gelling Agent (HPG) + Gel stabilizer + pH
The shear experienced while is circulating downhole through Buffers + Surfactant & Foam stabilizer agents
the casing contributes to foamed spacer homogeneity.
Nitrogen concentration is programmed to obtain the Intensive quality control test are conducted in the
required density to prevent formation breakdown and cement laboratory using standard foam fracturing fluids procedures:
slurries loss to weak formations. Computer assisted programs Cross-linking time test
are used to pre-plan changing nitrogen concentration, if Optimum cross-linker concentration test prevents the
necessary, by adapting the design to particular job harmful loading variation effects.
requirements. Over cross-linking results in loss of stability, reduction in
Foamed spacer density decreases as it ascends in the the fluid loss control and loss of viscosity. Under cross-linking
annular space, compensating ECD increase caused by the results in lower viscosity and instability. Variations of pH
cement slurries annular circulation. could cause the same effect.
Foam stability test
Nitrogen effects on the foamed spacer properties Foamed spacer stability depends on texture with good
The main effects caused by the addition of nitrogen to the bubble size distribution and high level of dispersion
cross-linked spacer are: characterized by many very small bubbles that have a high
specific area.
 Yield increase. Cross-linked water base gel viscosity has an elastic surface
 Density decrease. layer optimum for foam stability.
 Apparent viscosity increase – the flat profile allows to The basic tests are repeated at the wellsite as part of final
maintain a neat interface between the displaced mud fluid quality control to assure a proper performance.
and the foamed spacer thus helping to avoid
channelling. Foamed spacer pumping procedure
 Effectiveness of gelled and partially dehydrated mud Cross-linker additive is injected to the cementing-pump
removal increases due to the enhancement of the suction, maintaining lab test determined ratio, with the batch
spacer erodability properties. The foamed spacer mixed linear gel. The implemented system assures a shorter
contains a large amount of energy through the cross-linking time than the one required to reach the foam
entrained nitrogen gas that strongly contributes to the generator.
annular cleanliness. The cross-linked gel quality and cross-linking time are
 Solid suspending properties improvement. It allows checked through a sampler located at the cementing pump
better solid transport. outlet, which shows the appearance of gel at surface
 An increase in temperature stability range. conditions and eventually allow us to modify the cross-linker
 Fluid loss reduction. injection rate.
 An excellent drilling mud compatibility kept Nitrogen gas is injected to the cross-linked gel at the foam
throughout the process. generator, with a proper size selected choke; assuring that
sufficient energy is provided to the system to create stable
Bottom hole, weak zone and wellhead foamed spacer foam.
properties planning
A computer-assisted program is used to determine Foamed spacer surface handling procedure
commingled fluid to liquid ratio (VLR) foamed spacer quality The foamed spacer return to surface is controlled by the
as nitrogen concentration and depth function; e.g. El Tordillo following standard procedure:
Field type well: Table 2 shows the main properties estimated ♦ Stop casing reciprocation before foamed spacer
wellhead circulation.
4 C.D.DEGNI, C.R.MARCINKEVICIUS SPE 53955

♦ Close annular BOP. The registered cement logs were classified, according to
♦ Divert annular flow through a choke that allows, casing and formation bonding and general zonal isolation as:
maintaining a 100-psi to 300-psi backpressure, to ♦ 4 Very good
control the nitrogen expansion from annulus to ♦ 3 Good
atmospheric conditions. ♦ 2 Fair
♦ 1 Bad
Fig.6 shows the foamed spacer after having circulated An important cement quality improvement was obtained
down through the casing and returning to surface, cleaning the through well conditioning procedure and foamed spacer
annulus. design implemented as shown in Fig. 10.

Evaluation Conclusion
Up to now thirteen wells have been cemented in one-stage The following conclusions can be drawn from the present
jobs using foamed spacer and lightened pre-flushes ahead of experience:
normal density cement slurries.
Initially two wells were cemented using foamed spacer and 1. Mud rheology and well conditioning procedure while
lightened pre-flushes, but without proper circulation at running casing were important issues to be aware due to
intermediate depths while running casing. A total loss of their fundamental incidence on whole cementing job
return was observed at total depth in both wells. results.
The cementing job was initiated without circulation and in 2. A proper casing centralization and reciprocation while
spite of the normal surface operations only fair results were conditioning and cementing were maintained.
obtained. Cement columns barely reached from bottom to the 3. Final circulation process on bottom completes well
weak zone depths, showing a good quality of cement in conditioning and assures a clean annulus previous to the
general. Both wells were squeeze cemented in order to correct initiation of cementing job.
lack of isolation until the programmed top of cement. 4. Foamed spacer contributed to the efficient displacement
As a direct consequence, the well conditioning procedure of drilling fluid, helping to erode the partially dehydrated
was established and maintained up to date due to its filter cake. Foamed spacer shear stress exceeds the one in
importance to the cementing operation success. drilling mud, allowing the solids removed from the
After that, an improvement in the general cost and quality wellbore to be eroded and transported to surface.
was observed for the rest of the wells. 5. Lightened chemical wash contributed to improve drilling
fluid removal by additionally eroding partially dehydrated
For evaluation purposes we should consider these main mud filter cake. Its water wetting effect leads to better
cementing job indicators: cement bonding to casing and to formation.
♦ Cementing cost 6. Lightened reactive flush helped to reduce permeability
♦ Cement column heights across thief zones, to prevent loss of circulation and to
♦ Cement column quality improve cement bonding to formation.
7. Due to the well conditioning procedure and foamed
Total cementing costs spacer use, total cementing costs were significantly
Due to this procedure cementing costs were significantly reduced and a general quality improvement was observed.
reduced (more than 42%). 8. The new approach also reduced well completion time and
Fig. 7 shows the total cementing costs obtained by using allowed normal perforation, evaluation and production of
both systems: the selected pay zones.
♦ Conventional: fourteen wells (28 cementing stages) 9. Productivity of the drilled wells has risen together with
♦ Foamed Spacer: thirteen wells (13 one-stage jobs) other technical advances that have improved drilling
economics both IRR and NPV.
Cement column heights
Fig.8 shows the improvement arising from comparing the Acknowledgements
programmed cement columns heights and the ones actually We wish to thank TECPETROL SA and HALLIBURTON
achieved. ARGENTINA SA managements for their support in
For conventional primary cementing jobs the determined preparation and presentation of this paper.
ratio includes the column heights in both stages.
Nomenclature
Cement quality qualitative interpretation VLR Commingled fluid to liquid ratio
Analysis of the CBL - VDL and ultrasonic logs - Fig.9 - IRR Internal rate of return
gives qualitative information about cement job results – casing NPV Net present value
and formation bonding, mud channelling, occluded gas, etc. – POOH Pull out of the hole
that contribute to the evaluation of the specific zone isolation. BHA Bottom hole assembly
Table 1
Flow Lost Inicial Final
Joint Depth Time REMARKS
Rate volume pressure pressure
[ft] [gpm] [min] [bbl] [psi] [psi]
Injected 60 bbl viscous pill +
44 1962 278 26 30 325 300 + 1 Sk biopolymer + 2 L.C.M Sks

Injected 60 bbl viscous pill +


102 4491 282 60 170 500 400 adding 4 L.C.M Sks

Injected 60 bbl viscous pill +


186 8291 278 95 145 1200 700 adding 10 L.C.M Sks

278 60 700 650 Injected 60 bbl viscous pill +

217 9650 380 100 19 800 750 + 1 Sk biopolymer + 15 L.C.M Sks

450 120 830 780

Table 2
 

Gelled Chemical Reactive


Mud
Spacer Wash Spacer
Density 9.7 8.5 8.5 9.7
Viscosity - cP 20 407 1 1
N 2 Concentration - SCF/bbl 0 500 250 250

ECD - ppg 9.9


(*) Surface backpressure - psi 300 (*) applied when leading Foamed
Weak zone top - ft 4500 spacer edge reaches 400-500 m
Casing shoe depth - ft 9650

 

Bottom Weak
Surface
hole zone
Temperature [°F] 244 157 80

Pressure [psi] 4964 2317 300

Foam Quality [%] 30 41 82

Foam Density [ppg] 6.55 5.49 1.70

VLR [bbl mix. / bbl gel] 1.43 1.70 5.52


6 C.D.DEGNI, C.R.MARCINKEVICIUS SPE 53955

Figure 1

CEMENT JOB SIMULATOR


Circulating pressure and density at weak zone

4000 14

3500 12
Weak zone Fracture pressure

3000
10

2500
8
2000
6
1500

Weak zone Pore pressure 4


1000

500 2

0 0
0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 450 500 550 600 650 700 750 800 850

Volume [bbl]

Conventional Job Foamed spacer job

Fig 2

CEMENTING LINE MUD LINE

CEMENTING LINE

DOUBLE-PLUG, DOUBLE-INLET CEMENTING HEAD


SPE 53955 PRIMARY CEMENTING OPTIMIZATION: WELL CONDITIONING PROCEDURE AND FOAMED SPACER USE 7

Fig. 3

LOCATION LAYOUT

Manifold

BULK

BATCH
MIXER
NITROGEN TRUCK
CEMENTING
UNIT FLUSHES TANKS
COMPU VAN
8 C.D.DEGNI, C.R.MARCINKEVICIUS SPE 53955

Figure 4
FOAMED SPACER DENSITY & QUALITY PLOT

FOAM QUALITY [%]


0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
0

500

1000

1500

2000

2500
FOAM
3000 QUALITY

3500
DENSITY
4000 QUALITY
4500

5000

5500

6000

6500

7000

7500
FOAM
8000 DENSITY

8500

9000

9500

10000
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
FOAM DENSITY [ppg]
SPE 53955 PRIMARY CEMENTING OPTIMIZATION: WELL CONDITIONING PROCEDURE AND FOAMED SPACER USE 9

Figure 5

PRESSUR E GRADIENTS
7" CASING CEMENTING JOB

5,000

PORE
5,500
FRAC

ECD máx
6,000

ECD mín.

6,500

7,000
DEPTH [ft

7,500

8,000

8,500

9,000

9,500

10,000
0 1,000 2,000 3,000 4,000 5,000 6,000 7,000

PRESSURE [psi]
10 C.D.DEGNI, C.R.MARCINKEVICIUS SPE 53955

Figure 6

FOAM RETURN TO SURFACE


SPE 53955 PRIMARY CEMENTING OPTIMIZATION: WELL CONDITIONING PROCEDURE AND FOAMED SPACER USE 11

Figure 7

AVERAGE CEMENTING WELL COSTS

100 %

57.5 %

CONVENTIONAL TWO STAGES FOAMED SPACER

Figure 8

CEMENT COLUMN HEIGHTS


100

90

80
91.0
70

60
71.3
50

40

30

20

10

0
CONVENTIONAL FOAMED SPACERS
12 C.D.DEGNI, C.R.MARCINKEVICIUS SPE 53955

Figure 9

CEMENT QUALITY
4

3.85
3

2 2.50

0
CONVENTIONAL FOAMED SPACERS

INDEX 4 = V.Good ; 3 = Good; 2 = Fair ; 1 = Bad

Figure 10

Interval 7900 - 8100 ft


SPE 53955 PRIMARY CEMENTING OPTIMIZATION: WELL CONDITIONING PROCEDURE AND FOAMED SPACER USE 13

71° 70° 69° 68° 67° 66°

0 30 44°
44°
MILES SOMOCURA MASSIF

45° NORTH- NORTH 45°


ARGENTINA

CHILE

OCEAN
WESTERN CENTRAL
AREA AREA

ANDEAN
BELT
COMODORO
WESTERN RIVADAVIA

ATLANTIC
46° AREA CENTRAL 46°
BASIN OFFSHORE
COMODORO
RIVADAVIA SOUTH-
WESTERN
AREA SOUTH
47° FLANK 47°

DESEADO MASSIF
71° 70° 69° 68° 67° 66°

TORDILLO FIELD
EL TORDILLO

PERIMETRO=154 Km
8.8 Km
2
SUPERFICIE=116 Km

21 Km

Location of San Jorge Basin, prominente oil field are indicated.