Salt Drilling in the Rocky Mountains
- J.S. Sheffield (Exxon Co. U.S.A.) | K.B. Collins (Exxon Co. U.S.A.) | R.M. Hackney (Exxon Co. U.S.A.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- IADC/SPE Drilling Conference, 20-23 February, New Orleans, Louisiana
- Publication Date
- Document Type
- Conference Paper
- 1983. IADC/SPE Drilling Conference
- 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 1.14 Casing and Cementing, 1.11.2 Drilling Fluid Selection and Formulation (Chemistry, Properties), 1.14.1 Casing Design, 3 Production and Well Operations, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 1.6.10 Running and Setting Casing, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 2.2.3 Fluid Loss Control, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 1.11 Drilling Fluids and Materials, 2.2.2 Perforating, 5.3.2 Multiphase Flow, 5.1.2 Faults and Fracture Characterisation, 1.14.3 Cement Formulation (Chemistry, Properties), 1.10.1 Drill string components and drilling tools (tubulars, jars, subs, stabilisers, reamers, etc), 1.10 Drilling Equipment, 4.3.4 Scale
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A compilation of literature, design and operational data dealing with drilling and setting casing through salt formations is explained and summarized. This paper is adapted to drilling conditions in the Rocky Mountain area.
Discussion includes the origin of salt deposits, how salt can be detected during the planning and drilling of a well, and different drilling strategies employed for drilling salt. Casing design and cementing are discussed as well as failure of casing due to salt loading.
Operating experience is reviewed in several Rocky Mountain areas. Casing strings were set through salt with collapse ratings ranging from .3 psi per foot to 1.5 psi per foot. Casing collapse due to salt loading was observed in several wells with casing design ratings less than 1.0 psi per foot.
Conclusions are made concerning the major areas discussed in the paper including salt flow, interbedded salt, cementing and drilling strategy. The suggestion is made that casing set through salt zones should be designed for a collapse rating of 1.2 psi per foot. per foot
Planning for the drilling of salt sections is a very interesting and challenging problem for the drilling engineer. Salt drilling in the Rocky Mountains is particularly interesting because of the variety of ways that salt is encountered and behaves.
Many excellent papers have been written on various aspects of drilling salt and, in particular, casing failures opposite salt. These papers have been based on both theoretical work and actual experience from salt drilling throughout the world.
This paper addresses what the well designer should consider in planning either a field or wildcat well that will penetrate salt and relates field experience in the Williston and Green River Basins.
The "salt" discussed in this paper is a type common throughout the Rocky Mountains. It was formed during the various marine depositional periods in the area, mainly in Jurassic and Triassic times with occurrence in Mississippian, Devonian, Permian and other times. The shallow salt lakes or seas present in those times deposited the salts and minerals that had been held in solution or suspension. As would be expected in this type of evaporite, the salt deposited contains sodium chloride along with many impurities. Calcium and magnesium chlorides are present which may form gypsum or anhydrite stringers and deposition of other materials, such as shale or sand, may separate salt by a few, or a few hundred, feet. The thickness of the evaporite zone may vary widely due to erosion, salt flow, or possibly gouging due to thrust faulting occurring subsequent to deposition.
The salt evaporite exhibits plastic flow properties like most of the deep subsurface salt formations properties like most of the deep subsurface salt formations throughout the world. The rate of f low appears to vary widely from not being noticeable to a hole closing in a matter of days. The rate of salt flow, in addition to being a function of depth or overburden pressure and temperature, is probably also influenced pressure and temperature, is probably also influenced by how it is bedded or interbedded with other formations and its composition.
Seismic data can be used to detect large salt sections when planning a well.
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