The use of foamed cement systems for deepwater applications has been increasing and is often the system of choice for shallow hazard mitigation as in the Gulf of Mexico. However, there is little information regarding foamed cement behavior under wellbore conditions. Research is being conducted to develop a predictive relationship between the mesostructure and physical properties of foamed cements used in offshore applications. Samples of foamed cement have been generated using both atmospheric laboratory and high-pressure field preparation methods. Field-generated foamed cement samples were collected in constant pressure (CP) sample cylinders using the same full-scale field equipment used to generate foamed cements in a well. These samples were scanned while inside the CP cylinders using X-ray Computed Tomography with a scan resolution of approximately 35 μm.
Results of the laboratory testing indicate a correlation between foam quality, bubble size distribution and physical properties such as strength and permeability. Initial results also highlight key differences in laboratory and field-generated foamed cements. The variations in cement structure within the field-generated foamed cement samples appear to indicate a strong relationship between the flow of the cement into the sample vessel and the final porosity and properties of the in-place hardened cement. This research will provide a better understanding of the effects that foam cement production, transport downhole, and delivery to the wellbore annulus has on the overall sealing process.