With the ongoing changes affecting the global drilling industry, well integrity has become an area of great engineering focus and development. Cement bond analysis is of key interest as the consequences of failed, or partially complete, cementing operations can, at best, be a costly delay in drilling operations and, at worst, an extremely hazardous safety issue. Traditionally, wireline acoustic tools have been used to analyze the quality of the cement bond between the casing and the formation. Wireline tools have been developed over many years to produce high-quality assessments of cement bond, which can then be confidently used to confirm well integrity. However, the conveyance method requires that the analysis be performed on the critical path and also that additional methods be used in high-angle wells. Logging-while-drilling (LWD) technology offers a potential alternative without these issues, provided the current limitations of the technology are understood and its applicability properly assessed as a fit-for-purpose solution. As a minimum, the LWD logging technique can provide a trigger as to whether more advanced logging techniques must be deployed or can be avoided.

This paper explores the applicability of LWD sonic tools to the analysis of cement behind casing. It considers both the currently accepted deliverable of top of cement (TOC) analysis, along with examples of more advanced processing techniques and their comparison to wireline cement evaluation, providing case study examples in each case. The benefits and limitations of these methods will be discussed, along with operational considerations to aid in successful logging, including the use of repeat logging passes to indicate changes in cement quality with time. The use of LWD sonic tools to identify casing collar connections on driller's depth, enabling the safe positioning of cased-hole whipstocks, is also covered, demonstrating a novel and little-used application of LWD technology.

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