The operator experienced an unusual casing failure at a producing SAGD (steam assisted gravity drainage) oil well in summer of 2017. The subject well in the Firebag SAGD field of NE Alberta, Canada had operated successfully for over 11 years. Once the problem was identified, the well was shut in to determine the nature of the failure and options for repair and recovery so it could be returned to operation as soon as possible.

Tasks included identifying and isolating the failure, establishing the cause and nature of the failure, and determining viable repair options. Logging diagnostics to measure/image the failure were performed, which included new ultra-sonic logging imaging technology, high-resolution multi-finger caliper logging, a downhole camera run and conventional eddy flux casing inspection log. Historical log data was also reviewed to assess whether the failure evolved over time, or if the mechanism was acute. Once the nature of the failure was established, the optimal repair method was chosen, planned and carried out.

Sophisticated analysis of multi-finger caliper log data, camera images and new technology in the form of an ultrasonic imaging tool for the casing were utilized and are presented. A discussion of potential root cause mechanisms for thermal wells is provided, including a variety of failure modes that could be ruled out. Confidence in the failure mode specific to this well was increased by considering information acquired from multiple diagnostic tools. The nature of the connection failure determined from this process is outlined, along the rationale behind the repair method selected to remediate the well.

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