Global warming is one of the most significant issues the world is facing. Capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or industrial processes and storing it in geological formations (carbon capture and storage, CCS) can help counteract climate change. Nevertheless, the interaction between well barrier elements such as cement, casing, tubulars, packers, and valves can lead to possible leakages. To accomplish successful carbon dioxide sequestration, injecting the carbon dioxide in its supercritical state is necessary. The supercritical carbon dioxide can corrode steel and elastomers and react with the calcium compounds in the cement, dissolving them and forming calcium carbonate and bicarbonate in the process. This carbonation can lead to channels forming on the cement-to-rock interface or cracking due to the carbonate precipitation, resulting in a loss of well integrity.

This study focusses on finding ways that enable the continuous monitoring of cement integrity, under in-situ conditions, in a lab setup. The construction of an autoclave, capable of withstanding supercritical conditions of carbon dioxide, facilitates the in-situ monitoring. This autoclave also makes CT-scans of the pressurized sample possible, as well as acoustic measurements, using state-of-the-art piezo elements. The first tests will establish a baseline using neat Class G Portland cement to verify the design and sensors. The set up consists of a rock core in the middle of the autoclave surrounded by a cement sheath. A prepared channel in the center of the core expedites the distribution of the carbon dioxide. Once the ability of the sensors to monitor the integrity is verified, different cement compositions and their interaction with supercritical carbon dioxide can be studied.

The experimental setup and the procedure discussed here closely simulate the downhole condition. Hence, the results obtained using this setup and procedure is representative of what could be observed downhole. The direction is not to remove the sample from the autoclave for analysis, as is the current industry practice, but to measure cement integrity under in-situ conditions over an extended period of time. Digitalization is powering the in-situ analysis in these tests.

The first two tests of this study, using the afore mentioned autoclave, investigated the carbonation behaviour of two Class G Portland cement slurrys, one with a low and one with a high slurry-density. The low-density slurry showed extensive degradation and even the high-density slurry showed carbonation, but only close to the sandstone core.

The results from this study can lead to the prevention of leakage of carbon dioxide to the environment and other formations, which defeats the purpose of carbon dioxide sequestration. These results should improve the economics of these wells as well as the health, safety, and environmental aspects.

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