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SPE 155787

Focus on Cement Design and Job Execution Increase Success for Shale
Cementing Operations
Jessica Bassett, Jeff Watters, Fred Sabins (SPE, CSI Technologies, LLC), Anthony Febbraro

Copyright 2012, Society of Petroleum Engineers


This paper was prepared for presentation at the Americas Unconventional Resources Conference held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, 57 June 2012.
This paper was selected for presentation by an SPE program committee following review of information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents of the paper have not been
reviewed by the Society of Petroleum Engineers and are subject to correction by the author(s). The material does not necessarily reflect any position of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, its
officers, or members. Electronic reproduction, distribution, or storage of any part of this paper without the written consent of the Society of Petroleum Engineers is prohibited. Permission to
reproduce in print is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300 words; illustrations may not be copied. The abstract must contain conspicuous acknowledgment of SPE copyright.

Abstract
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.
Introduction
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.
This project was initiated as a result of several job failures in both the Haynesville and Marcellus Shale plays. The problems
encountered included cement slurry stability issues leading to incomplete displacement, lost circulation resulting in
inadequate cement heights, and annular gas flow post cementing. These job failures made operators and service companies
aware of the level of difficulty of cementing these shale wells. The study initially focused on the Haynesville Shale area on

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both production and intermediate string cement systems, and is currently switching focus to the Marcellus Shale play. The
major factors investigated were stability and suspension properties, thickening time requirements and safety factors, pipe
movement and gas migration.
Early results of the investigation revealed that traditionally accepted design specifications and testing techniques for slurry
suspension and stability did not detect cement design deficits. An empirical laboratory test was implemented to evaluate
slurry suspension and stability which improved slurry design. Standardization of cement slurry performance requirements
were established for each string of pipe and these eliminated underlying problems by providing suitable slurry designs
regardless of service provider. Cement systems that met these standard performance requirements in the laboratory screening
process were successfully utilized in the field without evidence of problems associated with solids settling. In the early
stages of the project, other issues were identified regarding laboratory practices, bulk blending processes, and cementing
operations. More effective lines of communication were opened between the service companies and operators, which
allowed these issues to be resolved.
Initially, the service companies and operators took an off-the-shelf, assembly line style approach to operate in this field. The
assembly line approach can work; however, it requires the utmost attention to detail encompassing the entire cementing
process. Each well and every string of pipe are unique and each presents its own challenges that require some level of
engineering job design. Standardization of slurry performance requirements for all strings of pipe is appropriate, but requires
engineering job design up front and continual effort and monitoring to ensure the end product is meeting the performance
requirements set for each application. A high level of interaction between drilling engineers, operations personnel, and the
service companies is essential for an effective cementing program in shale well environment.
Overview
The goal of this project is not to denounce the technique of manufacturing-style well construction, but to improve upon the
current practices by recognizing the complexity of these wells and optimizing the current designs and techniques. The
manufacturing approach to these complex wells can be successful if sufficient engineering design, analytical, and quality
control measures are installed into the manufacturing process. Other studies will support this approach and theory (Perner
2011). This project used operations optimization, engineering analysis and laboratory testing; all parts of this investigation
were vital to the success of the project.
The operations optimization involved observing of all areas of operations concerning cementing. This included bulk plant
auditing, load out monitoring, laboratory auditing, test monitoring, and observing and monitoring location operations. A CSI
field consultant performed a standard audit and observed operations on the wellsite. With the information collected, CSI
engineers and field consultants worked together to determine areas of improvement and provide the operator with a list of
best practices to follow before, during and after a cement job.
The following flowchart gives an outline of how the process of cementing improvement was developed. Initially a method of
investigation was used, which helped to identify the deficits. From those deficits, recommendations were made and
implemented. All of this yielded improved results.

Figure 1: This chart illustrates the flow of the project

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Method of Observations
This section deals with the general technique used to make observations and analyze data. Observations and analyses
resulted in progress reports at nearly every step of the process. Typically, lab data reports are sent out at the conclusion of
each round of lab testing; reports are also made from observations during the bulk load out and the job site monitoring. Each
report gives the engineers more insight into how and why cementing operations are running as they are.
The methodology involved several phases. The initial phase involved pilot laboratory testing and qualification of slurry
designs from each service company. Engineering analysis was performed throughout the process to identify deficiencies and
areas of concern. During the operations phase, bulk load outs were observed, field blends were confirmation tested, and onsite consultants audited jobs. Reports during each phase were provided to the operator to help improve future cementing
operations.
The engineering analysis incorporated a study of the current operations, current cement designs, and utilized simulation
software to confirm temperatures and optimize the cementing process. The area of most concern was the long horizontal
section of the production string. Several job failures had occurred when pressure increased during displacement of the
cement. This resulted in cement left inside the pipe and was very costly in terms of time and money required to drill it out.
Laboratory testing determined that the vast majority of these failures were related to cement stability issues. Production
cement slurries in this scenario must travel several thousand feet horizontally at high temperatures and pressures. The long
horizontal section makes cement slurry stability very critical to prevent settled solids from eventually plugging the floats. The
high temperature and pressure conditions, however, makes this a challenging design criteria. Modified laboratory testing
procedures were used to identify slurries showing a tendency to settle and could potentially cause a job failure. These
cements could then be redesigned, providing a more stable slurry with minimal risk of solids settling. Intermediate and
surface strings also had design challenges, mainly due to temperature variations and slurry design differences among service
companies. Once slurry design guidelines were implemented, more consistent results were obtained.
In the initial laboratory testing stages, the original cement designs from several service companies were tested. The designs
were tested against the rigorous standards set forth by the engineering analysis. After determining the deficiencies of the
systems, adjustments were made, and the systems re-tested. This created a baseline cement system the service companies
could modify according to placement time, temperature and pressure as well as any variances in the cement and chemicals
themselves to make a fit-for purpose cement system for every job. The properties focused on were rheologies, free water,
fluid loss, compressive strength development, and settling tendency. Testing details are available in Appendix A.
In operations, a field consultant would be sent to the service companys bulk facility to analyze equipment and observe
procedures. A standard audit sheet was filled out with enough area for comments concerning the load out practices (see
Appendix B). Equipment maintenance and calibration was of particular concern as cement performance is highly dependent
on the correct ratio of the cement to the chemicals. The other major area of concern involved the service companys
procedures during blending, loading, and storing cement. Cement must be properly blended, sampled and loaded in order for
the cement job to perform as predicted by laboratory procedures. The sample taken from this job blend must be tested to
ensure the cement was blended as designed.
After observing load out and job preparation, the field consultant was on location during the cement job. During the job, the
consultant would observe and monitor the activity of the cement job from the cement unit to the rig. The field consultant
would utilize a standard audit sheet to track density, pressure, rate and volume (Audit form available in Appendix C). He
also made comments regarding the operations such as equipment issues, shut-downs, rig issues, and mixing concerns. Using
this information, the field consultant and engineer could then determine areas of improvement.
Below, in figure two, the methodology is summarized in a flowchart format to illustrate each step leading to the next.
Engineering analysis is the first, laying the groundwork for the laboratory testing and the field observations. This
engineering analysis identifies key points for field consultants and engineers to target while making their observations.

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Figure 2: A summary of the method used for making observations and analyzing data

Deficits
The analysis of the observations and testing described previously allowed engineers and field consultants to determine
several deficits that may be affecting the efficiency of the cementing operations. Identifying these deficits enabled the
operator and the service companies to work together and communicate in a more constructive manner to solve issues.
Lab Testing
Using parameters targeted by the engineering analysis, the initial lab testing and slurry qualification identified several issues
early on in the planning/design phase. This was very useful in preventing operational issues and possibly lessening cement
sheath issues and potential failures.
Production casing cement systems were initially targeted. These systems were the highest priority for the operator due to the
number of job failures experienced in the area. Investigation of these job failures showed jobs ending prematurely due to
pressure building in the casing during cement placement. Testing revealed an acceptable pump time, but excessive dynamic
settling of the slurry systems. Such settling can result in catastrophic failure. Other concerns with the production casing
were focused on zonal isolation.
Stability was the primary concern, due to the correlation with job failures.
o Initial testing identified that all service companies had issues ranging from minor to major settling in their
production systems.
Free Water
o Excess free water was found in some systems.
o This can result in free water channels if on the high side of the hole, especially in horizontal sections.

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Rheologies
o Mixability/pumpability are typically the two major concerns when considering rheologies. Difficulty
mixing on surface can lead to a shutdown on the job. Also, high rheologies as the cement is pumped
downhole can result in losses due to increased ECDs.
o Rheologies must be optimized for pumping and mixing as well as providing enough stability to the system
to prevent settling.
o Several systems displayed extremely thin rheologies down hole, inducing settling. Those that were thick
enough downhole were too thick at surface to mix efficiently, resulting in issues while mixing and
pumping.
Fluid Loss
o Poor fluid loss control will result in a poor cement sheath.
o Poor cement sheath can result in annular gas flow.
o High fluid loss was occasionally seen, but not identified as a recurring issue in production blends.

Intermediate casing cement systems were the next area analyzed. The concern in this area, as with the production casing
cement, was focused on annular gas flow.
Lead and tail systems were both analyzed for deficiencies.
o High free water can cause poor cement coverage resulting in poor zonal isolation and annular gas flow.
Excess free water was found in all lead systems and some tail systems.
o Low fluid loss control can also result in an inadequate cement sheath.
While the intermediate system does not need to be held to the standards the production blend is
held to, it needs to provide adequate fluid loss control to result in a competent cement sheath.
Both lead and tail were lacking fluid loss control.
o Due to the high temperatures experienced during production, silica would be needed even in the
intermediate string to prevent strength retrogression.
With a BHST of 300F to 350F in some wells, the production temperature can be higher than
230F depending on flow rate
This high temperature can be transferred to the cement in the intermediate string and cause
strength retrogression if not mitigated by the addition of silica.
Silica was either low or not present in several systems.
Bulk Plant
After analyzing the pilot blends, it is important to assure the bulk handling process is efficient and adequate so as to obtain
the same results as were attained in the laboratory. All areas of concern were focused on blending the cement homogenously.
Loading procedures
o Several bulk plants were not dividing the cement and chemicals and loading them in a layered fashion,
instead were just loading all cement then all chemicals.
Blending procedures
o At least 3 transfers are needed to properly blend cement.
o In many situations, only one transfer was made.
Sampling procedures
o Typically, just one sample was taken. This sample was usually taken all at one time as opposed to taking a
composite sample throughout the blend.
Field Blend Tests
Once the sample was taken from the bulk plant, field blend testing will reveal the efficiency and effectiveness of the bulk
plant procedures. The following issues were identified in this analysis:
Often, the field blend was not tested.
If testing did occur, it was abbreviated, with service companies only running the bare minimum.
o No settling test was run.
o In one case, a non-industry standard substitution was used in place of a full thickening time test. (API RP
10B-2).
o These short cuts can have detrimental effects. If there is an issue with the slurry, it may not be identified
prior to the cement job.
Low or no repeatability
o When compared to the service companies pilot results, the repeatability was low. This is typically a result
of poor blending and sampling procedures.
Job Site
After the testing analysis was complete, the next step is to assure the job site operations allow for the cement to be mixed and
placed as effectively as possible. The following deficits were identified:

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Losses were experienced during intermediate jobs.


In general, equipment was not properly maintained, and would repeatedly break down during jobs.
In several instances, the acquisition equipment would be inaccurate, crash, or fail to start up.
o One service company did not even use an acquisition system.
The operator did not practice adequate mud removal practice.
o The casing was not centralized.
o The casing was neither rotated nor reciprocated during the cement job.

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Recommendations
Laboratory testing
The deficits identified during the analysis led to a standardization of the cement systems for each service company. Using
slurry parameters specific to the Haynesville shale, slurries were tested and adjusted to be optimized for the area. Major
points are highlighted in the tables below

Material Description
Cement
Weighting Agent
Silica Flour
Silica Sand
Slurry Properties
Slurry Weight (ppg)
Yield (ft3/sk)
Total Mixing Water (gps)
Total Mixing Fluid (gps)
Required Properties
TT Initial Consistency
(Bc)*
TT 40 Bc (hr:mn)*
TT 70 Bc (hr:mn)*
Measured Density (ppg)
Free Water CUP, 45 deg
(%)
Fluid Loss @ 315F (mL)
Pv 80F (cP)
Yp 80F (lbf/100ft2)
Pv 190F (cP)
Yp 190F (lbf/100ft2)
Pv CUP (cP)
Yp CUP (lbf/100ft2)
10 sec gel CUP (3 rpm)
10 min gel CUP (3 rpm)
Motor on/off
Consistency (Bc)
12 hr. Comp. Strength
(psi)
24 hr. Comp. Strength
(psi)

16.4 ppg Slurry

16.8 ppg Slurry

17.5 ppg Slurry

Class H
As Needed
35% bwoc
(SF+SS)

Class H
As Needed
35% bwoc
(SF+SS)

Class H
As Needed
35% bwoc
(SF+SS)

16.4
Report
Report
Report

16.8
Report
Report
Report

17.5
Report
Report
Report

<40

<40

<40

Report
6:00 8:00
+/- 0.1
Zero

Report
6:00 8:00
+/- 0.1
Zero

Report
6:00 8:00
+/- 0.1
Zero

<50
<300
<40
<300
<40
<300
<40
<2xCUP 3 rpm
<3xCUP 3 rpm
<10

<50
<350
<40
<350
<40
<350
<40
<2xCUP 3 rpm
<3xCUP 3 rpm
<10

<50
<400
<50
<400
<50
<400
<50
<2xCUP 3 rpm
<3xCUP 3 rpm
<10

>2,000 (@
315F)
>3,000 (@
315F)

>2,000 (@
315F)
>3,000 (@
315F)

>2,000 (@
315F)
>3,000 (@
315F)

Table 1: Production casing cement system recommendations. The test conditions determined from the engineering analysis are as
follows: BHST = 315F, BHCT = 315F at 17,500ft TVD/12,000ft MD. Ramp to temp & press in 55 minutes: Tinitial = 80F, Pinitial= 700 psi,
Tfinal = 315F, Pfinal = 10,000 psi (16.4 ppg slurry), 11,000 psi (16.8 ppg slurry), 11,500 psi (17.5 ppg slurry)

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Material Description
Cement
Pozzolan
Bentonite (Gel)
Silica
Slurry Properties
Slurry Weight (ppg)
Yield (ft3/sk)
Total Mixing Water
(gps)
Total Mixing Fluid
(gps)
Required Properties
TT Initial
Consistency (Bc)*
TT 40 Bc (hr:mn)*
TT 70 Bc (hr:mn)*
Measured Density
(ppg)
Free Water @ 190F
(%)
Fluid Loss @ 230F
(mL)
Pv 80F (cP)
Yp 80F (lbf/100ft2)
Pv 190F (cP)
Yp 190F (lbf/100ft2)
10 sec gel 190F (3
rpm)
10 min gel 190F (3
rpm)
12 hr. Comp.
Strength (psi)
24 hr. Comp.
Strength (psi)

Intermediate Casing
Lead

Intermediate Casing
Tail

Class H
35% bwoc
+/-6% bwoc
25% bwoc

Class H
35% bwoc

12.5 12.8
Report
Report

16.4
Report
Report

Report

Report

<40

<40

Report
5:30 6:30
+/- 0.1

Report
4:15 5:30
+/- 0.1

Trace or less

Trace or less

<150

<100

<300
<50
<300
<50
Report

<300
<50
<300
<50
Report

Report

Report

Report (@ 255F)

500 (@ 270F)

500 (@ 255F)

1,500 (@ 270F)

Table 2: Intermediate Casing cement system recommendations. The testing conditions determined by the engineering analysis are
as follows: BHST = 270F, BHCT = 230F at 11,250 ft. Ramp to temperature & pressure in 55 minutes: Tinitial = 80F, Pinitial= 690 psi,
Tfinal = 230F, Pfinal = 7,100 psi

Stability

o
o

In high temperature/high pressure environments with long horizontal sections, settling can be a major
concern. Dynamic settling can result in catastrophic failure if severe. Several job failures in the
Haynesville area were a result of dynamic settling in the horizontal section.
Recommendations are as follows:
For the HTHP dynamic settling test, less than a 10% difference should be seen between the
top density reading and bottom density reading.
Deflections of less than 20 Bc from the motor on/off cycle included in thickening time tests.
To increase stability, additive concentrations were adjusted and new additives, such as an
anti-settling additive, were included.
Balancing downhole stability with surface rheologies and mixability was key.

Bulk Load Outs


Field consultants spent significant time in service companies bulk plants, inspecting equipment for proper maintenance and
calibration. Bulk load out procedures were also inspected and monitored. Efficient and thorough blending of a dry cement
blend is vital to the success of a cement job. Obtaining a homogenous blend was the goal.
Loading Procedures
o Properly loaded cement and additives can help achieve homogeneity.

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The recommended method for loading conventional cement is to layer 1/3 cement, additives, 1/3 cement,
additives and then last of the cement. This will help promote adequate blending.
Blending procedure recommendations
o Blending cement should involve at least 3 transfers, plus a final transfer to a truck or holding tank, resulting
in a total of four transfers. This will help create a more homogenous mixture.
o Non-conventional cement systems may require more transfers.
Sampling Recommendations
o If a sample is taken at a single point in the blend, it may not be representative of the entire blend. While the
cement is beginning to be transferred to the bulk truck or storage tank a composite sample should be caught
o Each bulk plant should have automatic sample catchers, or at the very least, a system for taking a
composite sample during the transfer.
o

Field Blend
An important step in the preparation for a cement job is to test the field blend to ensure the cement was properly loaded and
blended. A representative sample is needed for this step. The field blend testing can highlight an issue with the chemicals, or
blending procedure or even with dirty equipment. Recommendations are stated below.
Field blends must be tested prior to each job.
Good sampling techniques must be enforced.
The appropriate tests must be run with the proper techniques
o Settling tests are needed on the field blend to determine tendency to settle, and possibly prevent a costly
cementing failure.
o Ensure sample size is adequate to complete all testing and that all samples are comparable and
representative of the entire blend.
Job Site
Job site practices are important to the success of a cementing job. From rig up to plug bump, every step is important and
critical.
Equipment recommendations
o Recommendations were made to each service company to properly maintain or replace faulty equipment.
o When maintenance was not enough, and replacement was out of the question, it was recommended to bring
back up equipment to location for quick swap overs when required
Electronic acquisition systems recommendations
o It was recommended to all companies to replace, repair or otherwise fix the acquisition system so it would
perform properly for cement jobs
o It was recommended to the service company with no acquisition system to acquire one.
Down hole recommendations
o The heavy, oil based mud used to displace intermediate cement jobs was swapped out for a lighter water
based mud. After this change, a decrease in the number of jobs seeing losses was shown.
o Mud removal is vital to a good cement job. Good mud removal minimizes contamination, increases the
likelihood of good bonding to the casing and formation, and therefore maximizes zonal isolation.
o Prior to this project, the operator did not rotate casing during cementing. This rotation allows gelled up
mud on the narrow side of the annulus, that would otherwise be immobile, to move and be effectively
displaced by the cement.
o Centralization was another addition recommended to the operator. Centralization improves flow
throughout the entire annulus, helping to keep the low side of the casing from resting on the bottom of the
wellbore, and will also greatly improve mud removal.
Implementation
As the reports detailing the recommendations were created, they were given to the operator then CSI and the operator
discussed the issues and proposed solutions. This communication is vital for the operator to understand why and how to the
current cementing procedure will be altered. The process is detailed below.

10

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Figure 3: The process for reviewing and implementing recommendations for streamlining the cementing process.

Implementing this process required excellent communication between the operator and service companies as the entire
process of cementing experienced some alteration. After reviewing and discussing the recommendations with the operator,
the service companies were provided with the new requirements and with effective communication, began to implement them
immediately. This process occurred in waves. New recommendations were discussed and implemented as they were
reported. While the recommendations were being implemented, the processes were being continually monitored and tested to
reinforce the implementation and move it along as quickly as possible.
After each recommendation had been implemented and was showing good results in practice, monitoring was reduced to
occasional spot checks to ensure quality performance and to identify any new deficits for continual improvement. As this
process continued, reports were sent to the operator targeting best practices or any new issues discovered. This type of
continuous communication allowed for better communication between the operator and the service companies.
Results
While somewhat difficult to see at first, the continual reports to the operator began to show improving results as the cookie
cutter well process became more highly engineered and streamlined. The end product was a more efficient approach to
cementing these wells with fewer setbacks due to poor cementing techniques or practices.

Laboratory Testing
o Slurry requirements based on lab testing were set for both the production and intermediate systems. This,
keeping with the spirit of manufacturing-style cementing produced repeatable results that were somewhat
tailored to the region. After testing and adjustments, the cement slurry designs were repeatable and
dependable.

Bulk Plant
o Many service companies easily complied with the new procedures. One company, however, was removed
from service for this operator. Too many processes were deficient.
o Once the remaining companies complied with the procedures, confirmation testing usually matched very
closely with service company results
o Several service companies have installed an automatic sampler that will take small samples nearly
continuously throughout the last transfer, providing a composite sample of the entire blend.
o The blending process is typically done at the last minute and correct blending procedures may not always
be followed.

Field Blend
o As stated before, several companies never tested field blends prior to the project. Only pilot blends were
tested or short blends which consisted of small - approximately 50 sacks - preliminary blends were
tested.

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11

o
o
o
o

One company was no longer used for intermediate work due to several issues with blending, sampling, and
testing
Other companies began testing the field blend prior to every job
This action resulted in service companies catching issues before the cement got to location, leading to far
less downtime.
Several service companies began performing a settling test on their cement. This action has decreased the
number of job failures seen in the area with this operator.

Job Site
o To improve mud removal while cementing, the operator began rotating the casing during cementing. This
improvement can result in a better bonding between the cement and casing and cement and formation as
well as reduce the amount of contamination in the cement.
o Service companies also repaired and/or replaced their equipment. Those who didnt brought out back up
equipment in case of failure
o In one case, due to multiple equipment and job procedure failures, a service company was excluded from
work for this operator
o Companies, who had the available equipment, were batch mixing the production strings. This helped
produce a more uniform slurry down hole. Some who could not batch mix would perform a pseudo batch
mix procedure by mixing in to a larger separate tub and pumping down hole from there.
The response from the operator was very positive.
o The number of job failures decreased.
In the years prior to the project, 10 cement job failures were recorded by the authors. As deficits
were eliminated, with no failures reported in the last 6 months.
One of the biggest advantages is less time and money spent doing remedial work, or drilling out a
cemented well.
o An improvement was also seen in cement performance.
The operator reported seeing a decrease in number of wells with annular gas flow
This decrease is likely due to improved cement coverage and bonding. With no free water, low
fluid loss, good stability, and better mud removal, the cement sheath was much more likely to
adequately isolate different zones.
o The savings induced by the project include:
Fewer remedial cement jobs.
Less time spent curing annular gas flow issues.
Quicker response time from service companies for a cement job.

Conclusions
This project lasted 11 months, resulting in many improvements in the manufacturing style cementing process. It takes sound
engineering and good cement practices to make the cookie cutter style cementing process work for highly technical wells
in shale plays. Each area within the specific shale play will have different challenges. This project has focused on the
Haynesville region where wells are highly deviated, high temperature and high pressure wells are the norm.
This technique can and will be applied in other plays. The next area to be studied is the Marcellus region. These wells will
bring a different set of challenges. However, as shown in this project, these difficulties can be overcome with proper lab
testing, engineering analysis and careful job execution. The following are the major conclusions from this study:
1.

2.
3.

4.

By ignoring the highly technical issues presented by horizontal, high temperature/high pressure wells and
implementing the traditional manufacturing style approach to well construction, the resulting wells can be very
problematic.
With sound and careful engineering decisions behind each detail of the process, the manufacturing style approach
can be a very efficient and effective technique when the goal is to create many similar wells.
The cement design format was standardized which helped dramatically decreased the number of problematic cement
jobs.
a. Laboratory testing for the areas specific concerns provided more effective cement systems
b. Running a dynamic settling test on cement systems in areas with horizontal, high pressure, high
temperature environments will aid in preventing excessive settling and possible catastrophic failure.
Quality control audit forms ensure all details will be taken care of
a. In areas with a high volume of work, using audit forms to carefully monitor bulk plant processes for lapses
in maintenance and procedure will help to prevent issues when preparing for a job.
b. Audit forms on the job site ensure equipment and job procedures are examined and closely followed. This
can decrease the number of problems occurring on location.

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5.
6.

Implementing procedures that focus on optimizing displacement efficiency, such as pipe movement, hole
conditioning and circulation, were found to help increase the cements effectiveness.
An effective communication process was implemented and improved the quality and quantity of communication
between the operator and the service company.

References
API RP 10B-2/USI 10426-2, Recommended Practice for Testing Well Cements. 2007. Washington, DC: API.
Gray, D.A. 2011. Using casing annular packers to prevent shallow gas migration to surface in shale wells. World Oil Online
232 (12). http://www.worldoil.com/December-2011-Using-casing-annular-packers-to-prevent-shallow
gas-migration-to-surface-in-shale-wells.html
Perner, E., Febbraro, A., Evans, E., Watters, J. 2011. Cement Quality Assurance in Factory-Style Wells in Haynesville Shale.
Technical Report, CSI Technologies LLC. Houston, Texas U.S.A. (Unpublished).
U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). 2012. U.S. Natural Gas Exploratory and Developmental Wells
Drilled(Number of Elements), http://www.eia.gov/dnav/ng/hist/e_ertwg_xwc0_nus_cA.htm (accessed 7
February 2012)

SPE 155757

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Appendix A: Laboratory Testing Procedures


1.

Measured Density
a. Utilizing a pressurized mud scale, the cement is mixed as recommended and density is verified.

2.

Thickening time
a. This test allows you to determine if the slurry will be pumpable long enough for placement time
b. Ramp to bottom hole pressure and circulating temperature using the estimated time from the
simulation
c. Hold at that pressure and temperature until the slurry consistency reaches 70 Bc

3.

Free water using CUP method


a. Conditioned under pressure free water test gives a more accurate view of how the slurry will behave
after placement
b. Using a consistometer, ramp up to bottom hole circulating temperature and pressure
c. Hold for 30 minutes
d. Cool, pull the sample and use it for Free water
e. The free water test should be performed at

4.

Rheologies 3 techniques that should all be utilized


a. Surface at 80F Shows how slurry behaves at surface
b. Downhole temp Typically conditioned at 190F in an atmospheric consistometer for 30 minutes
before taking readings
c. CUP Conditioned under pressure as detailed in the free water procedure
i. This method can show if the slurry will thin out down hole
ii. Typically, one can get both rheologies and free water done from 1 CUP sample

5.

Compressive Strength
a. Using a UCA to determine how compressive strength develops in a cement system

6.

Fluid Loss
a. Two types, Static and Stirred; stirred is recommended
b. Using a stirred fluid loss cell gives more accurate results in an HTHP situation

7.

Settling Tests
a. Static
i. Using the sample from the UCA, break it into top, middle, and bottom pieces, measure
density using Archimedes Method
ii. Compare the variance from top to bottom
b. Dynamic
i. Using the sample from the Thickening time test. Allow it to cool while running the motor,
pull it off at 190F and measure the top, middle and bottom densities
c.

HTHP
i.
ii.
iii.
iv.
v.
vi.
vii.
viii.
ix.

Ramp to pressure and temperature in a pressurized consistometer


Run at bottom hole circulating temperature and pressure for 30 minutes
Shut down motor for 15 minutes
Start motor, and upon start up record the spike in consistency
Run for 15 more minutes
Shut down motor for 15 minutes
Start motor, and record spike in consistency again
Shut down motor and cool to 180-190F
Pull sample and measure top, middle, and bottom densities of the sample

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Appendix B: Bulk Loading Audit form

SPE 155757

SPE 155757

Appendix C: Job Audit form, example

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