Visualization of Fluid Flow Through Cracks and Microannuli in Cement Sheaths
- Ragnhild Skorpa (SINTEF) | Torbjørn Vrålstad (SINTEF)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Journal
- Publication Date
- August 2018
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 1,067 - 1,074
- 2018.Society of Petroleum Engineers
- effective permeability, zonal isolation, well integrity
- 2 in the last 30 days
- 172 since 2007
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Cement-sheath integrity is important for maintaining zonal isolation in the well. The annular-cement sheath is considered to be one of the most-important well-barrier elements, both during production and after well abandonment. It is well-known, however, that cement sheaths degrade over time (e.g., from repeated temperature and pressure variations during production), but the link between leak rate and the cause of cement-sheath degradation has not yet been established.
In this paper, we have studied fluid flow through degraded cement sheaths. The degree of degradation of the cement sheaths varied from systematically connected cracks to real microannuli. The leak paths, created by thermal-cycling experiments, were imported into a computational-fluid-dynamics (CFD) simulation software. The pressure drop over the cement sheath was used as a boundary condition, and the resulting pressure-driven flow was studied using methane gas as the model fluid. The Forchheimer equation was used to estimate the effective permeability of the cement sheaths with defects.
Our results show that the pressure-driven flow is complex and greatly affected by the geometry of the flow paths. A nonlinear pressure-buildup curve was observed for all experimental cases, indicating that Darcy’s law was not validated. For homogeneous microannuli, the pressure-buildup curve was linear. The estimated effective permeability for all cases was observed to be orders of magnitude larger than that of a good cement sheath.
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