Behavior of Casing Subjected to Salt Loading
- J.B. Cheatham Jr. (Rice U.) | J.W. McEver (Shell Oil Co.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- September 1964
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 1,069 - 1,075
- 1964. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 6.6.2 Environmental and Social Impact Assessments, 1.14.1 Casing Design, 1.14 Casing and Cementing, 1.6 Drilling Operations
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A laboratory investigation of the behavior of casing subjected to salt loading indicates that it is not economically feasible to design casing for the most severe situations of nonuniform loading. When the annulus is completely filled with cement, casing is subjected to a nearly uniform loading approximately equal to the overburden pressure, and, although the modes of failure may be different, the design of casing to withstand uniform salt pressure can be computed on the same basis as the design of casing to withstand fluid pressure. Failure of casing by nonuniform loading in inadequately cemented washed-out salt sections should be considered a cementing problem rather than a casing design problem.
Casing failures in salt zones have created an interest in understanding the behavior of casing subjected to salt loading. The designer must know the magnitudes and types of loading to be expected from salt flow and he must be able to calculate the reaction of the casing to these loads. In the laboratory study reported in this paper, short-time experimental measurements of the load required to force steel cylinders into rock salt are used as a basis for computing the salt loading on casing. These results must be considered to be qualitative only since rock salt behaves differently under down-hole and atmospheric conditions and also may vary in strength at different locations. The beneficial effects of (1) cement around casing, (2) a liner cemented inside of casing, and (3) fluid pressure inside of casing in resisting casing failure are considered.
ROCK SALT BEHAVIOR UNDER STRESS
The effects of such factors as overburden loading, internal fluid pressure, and temperature on the flow of salt around cavities have been studied extensively at The U. of Texas. Brown, et al. have concluded that an opening in rock salt can reach a stable equilibrium if the formation stress is less than 3,000 psi and the temperature is less than 300 deg. F. At higher temperatures and pressures an opening. in salt can close completely. These results indicate that calculations based upon elastic and plastic equilibrium for an open hole in salt should be applied only at depths less than 3,000 ft. In most oil wells the temperature will be less than 300 deg. F in the salt sections, therefore no appreciable temperature effects are anticipated. Serata and Gloyna have reported an investigation of the structural stability of salt. They assume that the major principal stress is due to the overburden. Other stresses can be superimposed if additional lateral pressures are known to be acting in a particular region. In the present analysis an isotropic state of stress is assumed to exist in the salt before the hole is drilled, since salt regions are generally at rest. This assumption is partially verified from formation breakdown pressure data taken during squeeze- cementing operations in salt. Experimental measurements of the elastic properties of rock salt indicate a value of 150,000 psi for Young's modulus and a value of approximately 0.5 for Poisson's ratio. A value of 1/2 for Poison's ratio with finite Young's modulus would indicate that the, material was incompressible. Values ranging from 2,300 to 5,000 psi have been reported' for the unconfined compressive strength of salt. These variations may be due to differences in the properties of the salt from different locations or at least partially to differences in testing techniques. Salt is very ductile, even under relatively low confining pressures. For example, in triaxial tests reported by Handin strains in excess of 20 to 30 per cent were obtained without fracture. When casing is cemented in a hole through a salt section, the casing must withstand a load from the formation if plastic flow of the salt is prevented. To determine the forces which salt can impose on casing, circular steel rods were forced into, Hockley rocksalt with the longitudinal axis of the rods parallel to the surface of the salt. The force required to embed rods 0.2 to 1 in. in diameter and 1/2 to 1 in. long to a depth equal to the radius of the rods was found to be
where D is the diameter, and L is the length of the rod.
Since an open borehole through salt at depths greater than 3,000 ft will tend to close, cemented casing which prevents closure of the hole will be subjected to a pressure approximately equal to the horizontal formation stress after a sufficiently long time. As a first approximation the horizontal stress can be assumed to be equal to the overburden pressure, This is in agreement with the suggestion by Texter that an adequate cement job can prevent plastic flow of salt and result in a pressure on the casing approximately equal to the overburden pressure.
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