As drilling techniques advance and wellbores become more complex, placing successful cement plugs downhole on the first attempt becomes more challenging. Phenomena and well conditions can have a negative influence on the cement plug performance, significantly impacting well construction/abandonment time and costs. New equipment and procedures developed in recent years have been successfully deployed in hundreds of wells globally to help improve placement accuracy and reliability while also improving the economics associated with plug placement operations. Comparisons are made between various plug cementing operations using both conventional and new equipment to help exemplify options available to the modern drilling engineer.
Mature and newly developed fields require plug cementing operations as part of the life cycle of every well. Modern drilling engineers face new challenges from regulatory bodies and company practices related to best plug cementing practices. Often, regulations or standard practices do not incorporate modern solutions to age-old problems associated with cement placement downhole, such as contamination and fluid movement. Whether cementing operations are for plugback, kickoff, or abandonment, the drilling engineer is tasked with efficiently and effectively using available resources to perform the operation.
This paper documents field practices and tools available to today's drilling engineers that can more effectively enable and ensure slurry placement operations are achieved, and the section or hole abandonment conforms to operator requirements. Further, detailed operational comparisons are provided that compare/contrast how plug cementing operations are performed using conventional pump/pull procedures and the new equipment and procedures developed in recent years.