The wells in the Tuscaloosa trend in South Louisiana are high-pressure high-temperature (HPHT) wells reaching as deep as ±23,000 ft, with a bottomhole static temperature (BHST) as high as ±400°F. In the past these wells were completed using conventional cementing techniques. In some cases, soon after the wells were put on production, the intermediate casing annulus would show an increase in pressure. Historically, this pressure is manageable and can be easily reduced through current procedures and practices. However, a project was undertaken to understand the underlying cause and then subsequently deploy a solution to prevent pressure on the annulus side.

The first task was to make sure that the annulus pressure was not caused by other problems such as wellbore stability, hole cleaning, and cement slurry placement. Then the next possible cause was damage to the cement sheath during subsequent well operations and production. A detailed study was done to investigate this possibility. Mechanical and thermal properties of the formation were derived from the log data and drilling data. Additionally, this data was evaluated to identify the depths and formations associated with significant gas shows at surface.

Possible failure mechanisms in the previous conventional cement sheath were identified. The cement system was modified to prevent such failure and the new cement system was designed and tested. The modified cement system was deployed in the field in April 2006, and the well was put on production a few months later, and since then has been on line and producing without annular pressure problems.

The techniques and solutions discussed in this paper can be applied to wells around the globe that have related problems. These solutions may help prevent annular pressure and improve the safety and economics of operating these wells.

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