An operator in the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS) required sufficient zonal isolation around a casing shoe to accommodate subsequent targeted injection operations. Located in the Ivar Aasen field, and classified as critical, the well had a 9 ⅝-in. casing shoe set in the depleted Skagerrak 2 reservoir. The lost circulation risk was high during cementing because the Hugin formation, located above the reservoir, contained 40 m [~ 131.2 ft] of highly porous and permeable sandstone.
During previous operations in the field, lost circulation was observed before and during the casing running and cementing operations. After unsuccessful attempts to cure the losses with various lost circulation materials, a new solution was proposed to target the specific lost circulation problem by combining two types of reinforced composite mat pill (RCMP) technology. Specifically, the first type of RCMP technology was engineered for use in the viscous preflush spacer, and the second was applied to the cement slurry itself. Working in synergy, the RCMP systems mitigated the risk of incomplete zonal isolation.
With no losses observed upon reaching total depth (TD) for the 12 ¼-in. hole, the 9 ⅝-in. casing was run with a reamer shoe and 15 rigid centralizers. Between 2700 and 2728 m [~ 8,858 and 8,950 ft] measured depth (MD), the rig observed constant drag of 30 to 40 MT whilst working the casing down, and circulation was completely lost before partial returns were eventually observed. The rig continued to work the string down to the planned landing depth at 3897 m [~ 12,785 ft] MD. Precementing circulation ensued with staged pump rates increasing at 100-L/min [~ 0.6-bbl/min] intervals up to 1400 L/min [~ 8.8 bbl/min], which induced losses at a rate of 6.5 m3/hour [~ 40 bbl/hour]). Subsequently, the flow rate was reduced to 1300 L/min [~ 8.1 bbl/min], and the annular volume was circulated 2.6 times with full returns.
Attempts to reduce equivalent circulating density (ECD) ahead of the cementing operation were implemented at 1300 L/min [~ 8.1 bbl/min] using a low-density, low-rheology oil-based drilling fluid pill. However, a significant loss rate of 18.0 m3/hour [~113 bbl/hour] was observed. The flow rate was reduced to 950 L/min [~ 6.0 bbl/min], and partial circulation was recovered. After the spacer and cement had reached the annulus, full returns were immediately observed and continued until the top plug was successfully bumped. Acoustic logging determined that the operation had achieved the primary job objective of establishing the required length of hydraulically isolating cement in the annulus.
Lost circulation is a costly problem that can be difficult to solve, even with the wide variety of technologies available (Vidick, B., Yearwood, J. A., and Perthuis, H. 1988. How To Solve Lost Circulation Problems. SPE-17811-MS). This case study demonstrates a successful solution. The operator will be able to incorporate lessons learned and best practices into future operations, and these lessons and practices will be useful to other operators with similar circumstances.