Focus on Cement Design and Job Execution Increases Success for Shale Cementing Operations
- Jessica Alane Bassett (CSI Technologies) | Jeffrey Thomas Watters (CSI Technologies) | Fred Lynne Sabins (CSI Technologies) | Anthony Febbraro (CSI Technologies)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Americas Unconventional Resources Conference, 5-7 June, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania USA
- Publication Date
- Document Type
- Conference Paper
- 2012. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 5.8.2 Shale Gas, 1.14.3 Cement Formulation (Chemistry, Properties), 1.6 Drilling Operations, 4.3.4 Scale, 6.5.1 Air Emissions, 3.2.3 Hydraulic Fracturing Design, Implementation and Optimisation, 6.6.2 Environmental and Social Impact Assessments, 2 Well Completion, 4.6 Natural Gas, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 2.2.3 Fluid Loss Control, 1.14 Casing and Cementing, 5.2 Reservoir Fluid Dynamics, 6.5.2 Water use, produced water discharge and disposal, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating
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In recent years, drilling and production activity in US shale gas has been increasing. This high volume of work has led to the use of manufacturing-style well construction. Each area has its own challenges; however, problematic wells are prevalent in many shale plays. A major study in the Haynesville shale targeted the manufacturing-style methodology. Over the course of the study, more than 160 cement jobs were analyzed including surface, intermediate and production strings. This study implemented the use of careful engineering decisions that were focused on the issues and challenges specific to wells in this area. This was achieved through analyzing and optimizing the laboratory operations, design of cement systems, bulk plant and job site processes. This study shows by taking the proper steps to design these processes, a manufacturing style approach can be very successful when applied in challenging shale cementing operations.
Shale gas drilling and production activity in the United States has exploded in the last five years. In 2009 US Shale gas production was at 3,110 billion cubic feet, a 47% increase from the previous year (U.S. EIA). With Americans consuming 22.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in 2009, increasing the options available domestically is very attractive. Proven natural gas reserves in the United States is around 272.5 trillion cubic feet (U.S. EIA). Technically recoverable shale gas resources add an additional 862 trillion cubic feet. However, complex issues hinder extraction of this resource as shale wells are typically highly technical and pose many challenges along the drilling and completion process. Environmental concerns with integrity of shale wells including poor zonal isolation resulting in groundwater contamination, impacts on air quality, and increased footprint and traffic further hinder drilling and production in shale gas plays.
Shale wells are commonly drilled horizontally through relatively tight target reservoirs resulting in cementing of long horizontal sections. The long lateral length coupled with lost circulation, narrow annular clearance, high reservoir pressure, and increased circulating temperature translates to extremely difficult cementing conditions. These wells must then endure complex, multi-stage hydraulic fracturing treatments to maximize production. These challenges leave the chance of effective, long-term zonal isolation in jeopardy. Surveys estimate 70% of shale gas wells drilled in the Marcellus shale exhibit either surface leaks or sustained casing pressure posing both safety and environmental concerns (Gray, 2011).
Drilling activity has increased dramatically from 2009 through 2011 in both the Marcellus and Haynesville shale plays. This boom has caused a lack of attention to detail with regards to the engineering design approach to drilling and completion of these wells. An assembly line or factory-style technique was adapted by drillers and service companies to handle the increased activity level. Limited interaction and communication between operators and service companies has led to inadequate controls and procedures that are required to successfully conduct a factory style operation in this challenging shale well environment.
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