Abstract

This study examines the effects of drilling, completion, and production operations and their associated cyclic stresses on a cement sheath. The operations performed after cement placement can damage cement sheath integrity and bond with the casing or formation resulting in loss of zonal isolation and sustained casing pressure often requiring remediation and reducing productivity.

This paper describes evaluation of cement sheath failure resulting from cyclic stresses experienced while drilling, fracturing, and producing shale gas wells and showcases optimization of cement systems used for Marcellus shale play intermediate casing strings. This study correlates the durability of each cement system with mechanical properties of the cements to determine each system's ability to resist failure under cyclic stresses. Two different cement compositions were used to cement intermediate casings on a number of wells. Both had similar performance properties and were designed to prevent gas migration following cementing. Wells cemented with one of the blends experienced a higher incidence of seal failure as evidenced by sustained casing pressure. In laboratory stress endurance testing, each cement system failed at a specific quantified magnitude of cumulative energy input. The results show a higher maximum endurance for the more durable cement, which also exhibits the higher field success rate. The fatigue endurance limit gives an approximation of the stress magnitude that a cement composition can withstand. Correlating laboratory endurance measurements and mechanical properties of the cement systems to field performance further quantifies the mechanical properties needed to optimize zonal isolation.

U.S. shale gas production is a major component in the future of U. S. energy supply. As such, there is focus on the drilling and production of U.S. shale plays. This study takes measured look at annular seal failure and lays the ground work to calibrate it to actual field results allowing operators and service companies to select more durable cement systems. Results from this study can ultimately decrease time and funds spent repairing compromised cement seals. Furthermore, improved seal performance equates to improved well performance with lessened environmental risk and impact.

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