As Malaysia’s first tension leg platform, the Shell Malikai project, represents an unconventional approach towards deepwater operation in this region. In a field embedded characterized by reservoir drawdown from adjacent production wells, the lowest cementing margin is 0.65 ppg. Annular gaps between casings of as tight as 0.53 in each side further elevates the equivalent circulating density (ECD). Cementing software simulation predicts risk of heavy losses during cement placement and subsequently lack of isolation between multiple hydrocarbon-bearing zones. The loss of zonal isolation would mean crossflow between the reservoir. At worst case, some of the water injector wells may be abandoned due to inability to inject into the target reservoir and uncertainties of injection efficiency. This represents a significant loss of capital investment. A two-pronged solution has been developed to secure the long-term well integrity of the deepwater project. Implementation involved front-end design, modelling, planning, and execution.

Two-stage cementing is a technique by which selected intervals along the casing can be cemented in separate stages. It reduces the risk of losses due to long column of cement slurry exerting high hydrostatic head towards the weak formation. In 11 3/4in liner with tight annular gap, the risk of taking losses is high. Therefore, two-stage cementing was employed, combined with specialized blended lightweight 11.5-ppg cement. First-stage cement will provide good liner shoe strength for drilling ahead, and second-stage cement will provide zonal isolation for two hydrocarbon zones near the top of the liner. For 9 5/8in liner, due to the presence of a pressure ramp at the top of the section and weak formation at the bottom, managed pressure cementing (MPC) was the chosen approach to mitigate the risk of losses. MPC is a technique that enables cementation to be conducted in a hydrostatically underbalanced condition where surface backpressure (SBP) is applied to maintain the bottomhole pressure between the highest pore pressure and the lowest fracture pressure of the well.

The combination of MPC and two-stage cementing, together with other existing best practices, formed an integrated solution in narrow margin cementing. This has resulted in flawless cementation for two water injector wells. No losses were observed during cement displacement, there was no gas migration, and the liner top packer was successfully set, and pressure tested in MPC mode. A subsequent cement log confirmed the top of cement requirement was fulfilled. The paper will further explain on how this unconventional technique were planned and executed.

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