Identification and Qualification of Shale Annular Barriers Using Wireline Logs During Plug and Abandonment Operations
- Stephen M. Williams (StatoilHydro) | Truls Carlsen (StatoilHydro) | Kevin Charles Constable (StatoilHydro) | Arne Christian Guldahl (Schalambuer)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE/IADC Drilling Conference and Exhibition, 17-19 March, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
- Publication Date
- Document Type
- Conference Paper
- 2009. SPE/IADC Drilling Conference and Exhibition
- 3 Production and Well Operations, 5.3.4 Integration of geomechanics in models, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 1.11 Drilling Fluids and Materials, 1.14 Casing and Cementing, 2.2.2 Perforating, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 1.2.3 Rock properties, 4.5 Offshore Facilities and Subsea Systems, 1.14.4 Cement and Bond Evaluation, 1.7 Pressure Management, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 5.6.1 Open hole/cased hole log analysis, 1.6.11 Plugging and Abandonment, 1.11.2 Drilling Fluid Selection and Formulation (Chemistry, Properties), 1.10.1 Drill string components and drilling tools (tubulars, jars, subs, stabilisers, reamers, etc)
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It has long been recognised that during and after drilling through certain formations, the rock moves inward and begins to close off the well. Normally this phenomenon is considered undesirable since it can cause problems for drilling and casing running. It can however be put to good use as the mechanism to create an annular barrier behind casing.
In order to extend the life of a number of North Sea brown fields many well slots on production platforms and sub-sea templates are being re-used. This process involves permanent plug and abandonment of the old well track prior to sidetrack drilling into a fresh area of the reservoir. Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS) regulatory requirements dictate that compliant procedures for well abandonment require the establishment of double barriers to avoid leakage from the reservoir. With a shortage of sufficient traditional cement barriers these wells often need costly remedial work in order to meet abandonment requirements.
Traditional sonic and ultrasonic azimuthal bond logging provides information on the material immediately behind the casing. Many such bond logs show solid material behind the casing far above the theoretical cement top. Clear correlation of this bonding pattern to shales, known to cause problems during drilling, indicates that the shale has sealed off the annular region and that it is the presence of such formation material that results in a good bond log response
Logging and pressure testing sealed off zones in a number of wells allowed the bond log response to be qualified for a certain formation without further pressure testing. In this manner logs can provide a clear answer of whether shale successfully seals off certain zones and consequently provides a natural annular barrier. This technique has been employed successfully on over 40 wells, proving non-destructively that high quality natural annular barriers had formed, resulting in elimination of complex remedial work and substantial cost savings.
Historically log responses indicating a good bond have often been observed on bond logs far above the theoretical top of cement. Many explanations exist for these responses and it is likely that there are a number of possible causes. The most frequent cause is believed to be formation displacement. This is supported by the following observations on the log:
- Good bond log response far above the top of the theoretical cement.
- Good quality bond correlates with shale rich intervals.
- Large and sometimes frequent changes in bond log response at the same depth as geological changes.
- Above the casing shoe of an outer casing string the log response changes from good quality bond to free pipe as the formation can no longer impinge onto the inner casing string.
- Sinusoidal patterns on ultrasonic bond log images imply geological beds impinging on the outside of the casing.
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