Annular sealants are used as static barriers to avoid fluid communication in-between zones and provide proper isolation of the different formations as well as support and protection to the casing. Therefore, the sealant can have a direct relationship to wellbore integrity. Data suggest more than 4 million hydrocarbon wells have been drilled globally; interestingly, some datasets indicate well integrity failure is highly variable (1.9 to 75%).
Historically, sealants have been characterized for short-term placement properties up to the point at which the sealant is pressure tested and a log is performed to establish if the annulus is properly sealed. However, as hydrocarbon resources are becoming gradually depleted in easy-to-recover environments, harsher conditions are more common. Additionally, stimulation and enhanced oil recovery (EOR) techniques involving high-pressure and high-temperature (HP/HT) cycles during the entire well life pose significant challenges to the sealant's integrity.
Sealant integrity issues can result in very high remediation costs, reduction of hydrocarbon production, and in some cases, loss of the well. All of these can lead to an increased cost per barrel of oil equivalent (BOE). During the last few decades, in view of the drastic changes in drilling conditions toward more challenging environments, the industry has opted for a sealant design approach, which considers all of the events that occur throughout the entire life of the well and their effects on integrity of the sealant and wellbore. This approach can be successful by employing analytical tools, which allow for synchronizing all of the different events and/or operations occurring during wellbore construction (from drilling to abandonment) with the different elements that encompass the wellbore architecture (geometry, formations, casing, and sealant). The use of these tools' forecasting capabilities can result in data-led decisions that allow operators to construct wellbores more efficiently and with more confidence, which should ultimately help reduce production costs.
This study focuses on illustrating an analytical tool for predicting the sealant's performance in both onshore and offshore cases throughout the life of the well and determining how this affects wellbore economics in the long term. Moreover, this paper discusses how sealants have evolved from conventional Portland cements to elastic-, foamed-, glass-bead-extended cements, and epoxy-resins based on wellbore integrity predictions performed by analytical tools. The impact of nanomaterials in converting cement/sealant systems into multifunctional and/or smart materials capable of self-sensing specific stimuli (i.e. stress, strain, etc.) is also shown.