Introduction to

Casing

© The Robert Gordon University 2006

After each section of hole has been drilled a
string of casing is run to line the inside of the
wellbore. The main reasons for casing off the
open hole are:
• to prevent caving of the wellbore, as if unsupported, the
hole may be liable to fall in upon itself;
• to provide support for weak or fractured formations from
mud weights which may cause these zones to break down;
• to isolate zones of abnormal pressure;
• to seal off zones of lost circulation (i.e. thief zones where
mud or cement slurry etc enters the formation);
• to provide a means of completing and producing the well
efficiently;
• to provide structural support for wellheads and blow-out
prevention equipment
© The Robert Gordon University 2006

Different Casing Strings © The Robert Gordon University 2006 .

so great care must be taken to design a casing string which will satisfy the requirements of each well. eg: • • • • • • • Must withstand expected loadings Availability of different casing types Cost of material / casing-type options Operational problems in running the casing Be able to handle expected formation pressures Be functional for the anticipated lifespan of the well Be flexible enough to allow additional string to be run if operational difficulties are unexpectedly encountered • With a view to ultimate abandonment © The Robert Gordon University 2006 .Casing Programmes Casing makes up a considerable part of the overall well cost (<20%).

© The Robert Gordon University 2006 .Inner Casing String Casings have to be cemented in place to ensure a competent pressure control system Outer Casing String Cement Sheath Cement being injected More about cementing later...

Types of Casing We’ll now have a look at: • Conductor Casing • Surface Casing • Intermediate Casing • Production Casing • Liner © The Robert Gordon University 2006 .

continuous fluid circulation will likely create large “washouts” through erosion also protects surface formations which may have low frictional strength which could easily be exceeded by the hydrostatic pressures exerted by the drilling fluid when drilling a deeper section of the wellbore provides a conduit for mud returns © The Robert Gordon University 2006 .Conductor Casing • • • • Conductor casing (sometimes called “pipe”) is the first casing string to be run – often driven into the formation using large hydraulic jack-hammers. consequently has the largest diameter protects seabed formations .. It ..

.. and . If the casing is set too high there may not be sufficient formation strength at the shoe to handle a kick when drilling the next section © The Robert Gordon University 2006 .Surface Casing • The main functions of surface casing are to seal off any fresh water sands. • to provide structural support for the blow-out preventer (BOP) and wellhead equipment In an area where abnormal pressures are expected the setting depth is important. as the control equipment will need to be capable of withstanding that pressure.

if rock formations are stable.Intermediate Casing • Intermediate. drilling can be undertaken for relatively long periods of time prior to the setting of casing • The setting depth depends on a knowledge of pore pressures and fracture gradients • During drilling operations the mud weight controls pore pressures. or ‘protection’ casing is used to isolate any troublesome formations which would/could cause drilling problems in the wellbore . but must not exceed the fracture strength of shallower zones not cased (i.e.a few examples: − sloughing shale − lost circulation − high pressure zones • Several strings of intermediate casing may be required depending upon the number of problems encountered. not protected) from the drilling fluid © The Robert Gordon University 2006 .

leading to anomalously high formation pressures © The Robert Gordon University 2006 . The pressure of fluids within the pores of a reservoir (usually hydrostatic pressure) or the pressure exerted by a column of water from the formation's depth to sea level When impermeable rocks (such as shales) form as sediments are compacted. “Pore Pressure” It is ... their pore fluids cannot always escape and must then support the total overlying rock column...You’ll hear a lot about .

and − to protect the completion tubing (through which the reservoir fluids will be transported to the surface) Production casing should be thoroughly pressure tested. Usually the casing will be pressure tested to around 60% of its specified burst pressure.Production Casing This is usually the last string of casing to be run in the wellbore and is either run through the pay zone (reservoir) or set just above the pay zone (for an ‘open hole’ completion). if the casing withstands that pressure it is expected to be capable of withstanding higher pressures © The Robert Gordon University 2006 . Its main purpose is to: − isolate the production interval from other formations such as water bearing sands.

000 feet long. a tie back string can be run to extend the liner back to the wellhead • A liner is usually less than 5.Liner A liner is a short string of casing which does not extend back to the surface. It is run back inside the previous casing string to provide some overlap • Liners may be used either as an intermediate or production string • The liner has the advantage of being much cheaper than a full length casing string • If required. Overlap is somewhere in region of 200–500 feet and it is essential that the liner overlap is gas tight © The Robert Gordon University 2006 .

Casing vs. Bit Size (illustrative) Casing Size ~20” ~133/8” ~9-5/8” ~7” ~ 5” Bit Size (Typical) 24” < 26” 16” < 17-1/2” 12-1/4” 8-3/8” < 9-7/8” ~ 6” © The Robert Gordon University 2006 .

and to enable testing of the reservoir fluids © The Robert Gordon University 2006 . and the effect of hole angle on offset fracture gradient data has also been considered • The total depth of the well. The shoe must be set deep enough to give an adequate sump for logging. testing. The drilling engineers should ensure. and hence the setting depth of the production casing or liner. that relevant offset data has been considered in the estimation of pore pressures and fracture gradients. as far as possible.Casing setting Depth • The initial selection is based on the pore pressures and fracture gradients anticipated in the wellbore – pressures at which fluid will come out of the formation and the pressures at which pumped fluid will fracture the formation. is driven by logging. perforating. and completion requirements.

The mud weight curve should include a 200 to 400 psi trip margin 4. However.1) Draw the mean pore pressure gradient curve along with the lithology.5) Move across to Point (Total Depth (TD)) for that depth preferred setting E depth to identify the mud for the surfaceweight casing/required at that intermediate string depth © The Robert Gordon University 2006 4.4) Move up to Point D mud curve at Point Athe weight requirement which determines 4.2) Move up to Point B which determines the initial estimated setting 4) determine initial 3)To Draw the predicted depth the estimates of for casing fracture gradient curve intermediate casing setting depths – 4.3) Move across to (actually run it 300–400 First: Point C which feet deeper) Enter the mud weight identifies the 4. and the setting depth criteria for those strings are discussed later . if available 2) Draw the mud weight curve. a structural and conductor casing are required.6) Point E is the normal pressure range and no further casing is required to withstand the associated mud weight.

• if shallow gas zones are encountered whilst drilling.Other factors may affect the casing design programme. • if lost circulation zones are encountered. casing may have to be set © The Robert Gordon University 2006 . drilling should stop. mud returns should be checked and Lost Circulation Material (LCM) pumped downhole before the mud is conditioned to a more suitable rheology. operations must stop and casing must be set.. • formation stability: if the formation is sensitive to the mud weight over time. The zone will then need to be drilled before casing can be set..

Long open hole sections may require casing to reduce the occurrence of stuck pipe.e.• directional well profile: it is important to line out the well trajectory before setting casing and attempt to achieve a consistent survey ahead of a tangent. the 13-3/8” casing may be set high enough to allow 9-5/8” casing to be cut and pulled. have to protect drinking water. enabling a side-track in 12-1/4” hole. particularly if a long section of 171/2” hole is required © The Robert Gordon University 2006 . and the level of torque. • side tracking requirements as specified in the drilling programme. • fresh water sands: i. For example. • hole cleaning. and not contaminate it with drilling fluid.

Best source for this information is offset well data or area experience. • casing shoe shall. require a margin related to confidence limit when setting close to a permeable formation. be set in competent formations. where practicable.g. should be drilled round rather than through. • high pressure zones. • uncertainty in depth estimating e. invariably associated with a good reservoir.• salt sections.. but this should be documented © The Robert Gordon University 2006 .

Kick tolerance Once the initial casing setting depths are selected. the kick tolerance associated with those depths should be determined. capacity of rig equipment for kick detection and operator/driller’s experience. The acceptability of kick tolerance values of less than 100 bbls should always be justified – by a review of the type of well. area experience and geology © The Robert Gordon University 2006 . Start from TD up to the surface to determine the kick tolerance and preferred setting depth for each casing string.

The well should be designed from bottom-to-top. The pay zone should be analysed for its flow potential and the drilling problems that will be encountered upon reaching it. The opposite approach can result in a well that limits the production capacity of the pay zone © The Robert Gordon University 2006 .Design “Bottom-to-Top” A design should be developed by well planning that provides for economic production from the pay zone consistent with safety requirements.

and workover activities more complicated. therefore small diameter tubing is to be avoided. Small diameter tubing chokes the flow rate due to high frictional pressures. Large diameter strings are preferable for good flow rate.Design of the Completion Tubing The design of completion tubing strings must be given consideration relative to its ability to transport oil or gas to the surface at economical rates. Small completion tubing can also lead to operational problems due to reduced radial clearances making tool placement operations more difficult. The required completion characteristics must therefore be taken onto account when designing the casing string © The Robert Gordon University 2006 .

Further Reading • Virtual Campus/Moodle: ENM201 “The Casing String” • SPE’s Applied Drilling Engineering (Red Book) :– − Chapter 7 “Casing Design” • (NB – This topic will be further developed during Semester 2 in the “Drilling Technology” module) © The Robert Gordon University 2006 .