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Chapter 11

P RIMARY C EMENTING

INTRODUCTION
Cementing is the most important non-drilling function performed by the Drilling Foreman. Poor
cementing techniques can cause countless drilling problems if the bottom joint of surface pipe is
lost. It can also cause costly remedial operations or loss of hole. A bad cement job can make
an otherwise sound investment a disaster. Loss of control means loss of reserves and
reduction in the potential of secondary recovery operations.
This area is wide open for engineering. For many years the industry has relied on the service
companies for technology. Service companies are to serve not replace, and service companies
are sales oriented-conscientious, but sales oriented.
Cement has three functions. The first and most important function of the cement slurry is to
carry all of the worlds trash (we call it additives) a mile or two under the ground and dispose of
it. The cement must also be capable of supporting the casing. And finally, the cement must
adequately isolate the intervals of interest. All design considerations should be directed at
these functions. The Drilling Foreman should be concerned with accomplishing these functions
as simply and economically as possible.
In order to function in this capacity we must become fundamentally familiar with the cements
available. Service companies will cover you up.

MANUFACTURE AND COMPOSITION OF CEMENTS


Cements are made from limestone (or other high calcium carbonate materials) and clay or
shale. Some iron and aluminum oxides may be added if not present in sufficient quantity in the
clay or shale. These materials are finely grounded and mixed, then heated to 2,600-2,800F in
a rotary kiln. The resulting clinker is then grounded with a controlled amount of gypsum to form
Portland Cement.
The following are the principal compounds formed in the burning process and their functions:
1. Tricalcium Aluminate (Ca3A) is the compound that promotes rapid hydration and is
the constituent which controls the initial set and thickening time. It is also
responsible for the susceptibility of cement to sulfate attack; and to be classified as
high sulfate resistant cement, it must have 3% or less Ca3A (some cements have no
Ca3A).
2. Tetracalcium Aluminoferrite (Ca4AF) is the low-heat-of-hydration compound in
cement. It gives color to the cement. An excess of iron oxide will increase the
amount of Ca4AF and decrease the amount of Ca3A in the cement.
3. Tricalcium Silicate (Ca3S) is the major compound in most cement and is the
principal strength-producing material. It is responsible for early strength (1 to
28 days).

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Drilling Practices
Chapter 11

4. Dicalcium Silicate (Ca2S) is the slow hydrating compound and accounts for the
gradual gain in strength which occurs over an extended period.
All cements are manufactured in essentially the same way from the same ingredients, but in
different proportions. The water requirement of each type of cement varies with the fineness of
grind or surface area. High early strength cements have high surface area (fine grind).
Retarded cements have low surface area, and Portland cements have a surface area slightly
higher than retarded. Table 11-1 gives typical composition of Portland cement compounds.
Table 11-1. Typical Composition of Portland Cement Compounds*

API CLASS

Ca3S

Ca2S

Ca3A

Ca4AF

Portland

53

24

Portland

47

32

12

Accelerated

58

16

D&E

Retarded

26

54

12

Basic

52

32

12

Basic

52

32

12

* Plus gypsum, free lime, alkali (Na + Mg)

API classes A through E are becoming obsolete, though A and C are still used for shallow
casing strings. The trend is toward basic cement - Class G or H - tailored with additives to meet
particular requirements. Basic cements are compatible with additives and tailored slurry is
slightly cheaper than neat slurry. Standardization to basic slurry reduces manufacturing and
packaging costs which will tend to keep the price of cementing at a minimum. This is good for
the industry and the Drilling Engineer because it makes us know more about the products
added to the basic cement.

GENERAL PROPERTIES OF OIL WELL CEMENTS


Cements have various properties that are important to drilling personnel. The properties are:
1. Viscosity,
2. Thickening time,
3. Density,
4. Yield,
5. Fluid loss,
6. Free water, and
7. Compressive strength.

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Drilling Practices
Primary Cementing

VISCOSITY
The viscosity of cement is normally 40-75 funnel seconds. Cements are non-Newtonian fluids
and are shear thinning. The cement gets thinner as the shear rate (velocity) increases. The
Bingham Plastic and the Power Law Models can be used to describe the viscosity of cement at
various shear rates; however, the Power Law Model is more accurate. For a discussion of
Newtonian and non-Newtonian fluids, see Chapter 4 on Drilling Fluids.
Viscosity is important when considering displacement mechanics. Low viscosity cement will
have better displacement properties at higher flow rates, while high viscosity cement may have
better displacement properties at lower flow rates.
Viscosity is controlled by the amount of water added to the cement. Only 25% water by weight
of cement is required for hydration, but more water is added to provide for pumpability.
Dispersants lower the yield point of cement slurries reducing friction and allowing turbulence to
occur at lower pump rates. Using dispersants allows the cement to be mixed with less water
yielding higher densities.

THICKENING TIME
The thickening time of cement can vary anywhere from 20 minutes to days depending upon
pressure, temperature, additives and how the cement is mixed. Published values for thickening
time are based on the API Standards for Temperature in Table 11-2. Thickening time tests
should be run for actual well conditions when the conditions vary from the API standards.
Table 11-2. Basis of API Testing Schedules for Standardization Purposes

WELL DEPTH
(feet)

BOTTOM-HOLE
STATIC TEMPERATURE
(F)

BOTTOM-HOLE
CIRCULATING TEMPERATURE
(casing)
(squeeze)

2,000

110

91

98

4,000

140

103

116

6,000

170

113

137

8,000

200

125

159

10,000

230

144

186

12,000

260

172

213

14,000

290

206

242

16,000

320

248

271

18,000

380

340

---

Thickening time tests are run in a pressurized consistometer as shown in Figure 11-1. It should
be remembered that a pressurized metal container does not always simulate downhole
conditions. If some of the mix water is lost to a permeable formation through filtration, then the
pumping time can be less than anticipated. Interruptions in pumping the cement can also cause
a reduction in the thickening time. If the cement is allowed to sit for a while, the thickening time

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Drilling Practices
Chapter 11

values are no longer applicable. The actual mix water from the location should be used in the
thickening time tests whenever possible.

Figure 11-1. Schematic of a Typical Pressurized Consistometer1

Planned thickening times should allow ample time to place the cement plus enough time should
any unexpected problems occur. However, thickening times should not be excessive. Waiting
on cement (WOC) to set before resuming drilling operations can be costly especially in high day
rate operations. Excessive thickening time can also allow settling and separation of slurry

11-4

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Drilling Practices
Primary Cementing

components, loss of hydrostatic head resulting in gas cutting, and formation of free water
pockets.
Thickening times can be reduced by adding accelerators such as calcium chloride. The
temperature of the mix water is also important particularly with accelerated cements. Figure
11-2 shows the effect of temperature on thickening time. The thickening time for Class A with
two percent calcium chloride is ten hours at 60 degrees but reduces to 4 hours at 80 degrees.
Increasing pressure will shorten thickening time although its effects are less pronounced than
temperature.
Retarders are added to cement to increase thickening time. Usually, extenders added to the
cement to reduce density will increase thickening time. Adding more mix water will increase
thickening time with unretarded cements but may not be the case with retarded cements. The
additional water can dilute the retarder concentration and therefore its effectiveness.

Figure 11-2. Effect of Temperature on Thickening Time2

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11-5

Drilling Practices
Chapter 11

DENSITY
The density of cement can vary from less than 8.33 ppg for foamed cement to as much as 20
ppg for densified slurries. Slurry densities need to be varied to prevent lost circulation or to
control abnormal formation pressures.
Normal densities for API cements are
shown in Table 11-3. The density can
be varied by altering the water content;
however, care should be taken to avoid
excess water. Too much water will
increase thickening time and reduce the
strength of the cement.
The density can also be decreased by
adding extenders such as pozzolans
and bentonite. The extenders require
more mix water. Of course, density can
be increased by adding weight material
such as barite and hematite.

Table 11-3. Normal Water Requirements and Densities for


Neat API Slurries from Halliburton Red Book

API CLASS
A
B
C
D
E
G
H

WATER
(gals/sk)
5.2
5.2
6.3
4.3
4.3
5.0
4.3

DENSITY
(ppg)
15.6
15.6
14.8
16.4
16.4
15.8
16.4

YIELD
(ft3/sk)
1.18
1.18
1.32
1.06
1.06
1.15
1.06

YIELD
The yield is the volume of cement mixture created per sack of initial cement. The yield can vary
significantly depending upon the additives. Slurry yields can be as little as 0.90 ft3 per sack for
densified cement to 4.70 ft3 per sack for a pozzolan, cement and bentonite mix. Table 11-3
shows the yields for various API cements when the normal mix water is used.

FLUID LOSS
The API fluid loss test is conducted at 100 psi differential through a 325 mesh screen. The fluid
loss for Class A neat cement will exceed 1,000 ml. The API well simulation test is run at various
elevated temperatures and a pressure differential of 1,000 psi through a 325 mesh screen. The
testing procedures can be found in API Spec 10. Whenever fluid loss test are reported, the
temperature and differential pressure should be included.
Usually, bentonite or high molecular weight polymers are added to the cement to reduce the
fluid loss. The fluid loss additives are temperature dependent and will loose some effectiveness
at higher temperatures. Some polymers will even break down at high temperatures.
Reported optimum values for fluid loss varies considerably using the API well simulation test at
bottomhole circulating temperature.3,4,5,6,7 For a typical casing job, recommended fluid loss
values range from a maximum of 100 ml to no control. The recommended API fluid loss ranges
from 50 to 250 ml for liners and 50 to 200 ml for squeeze cementing. The literature also
recommends that the fluid loss be kept below 150 ml when annular gas flow is a problem. For
most applications, a fluid loss of 200 ml is adequate.

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Drilling Practices
Primary Cementing

FREE WATER
Free water is caused by the separation of the mix water and cement solids. All neat cement will
have some free water which can contribute to annular gas flows.3 In deviated and horizontal
wells, the separated mix water will migrate to the high side of the hole and cause a channel. In
directional wells or wells with annular gas flow problems, the free water content should be equal
to zero. Recommended free water content for most vertical casing jobs is less than one
percent.6 Addition of fluid loss additives or 0.1% to 0.2% bentonite will reduce the free water
content to near zero.

COMPRESSIVE STRENGTH
When cement sets, it develops a compressive strength over time. The compressive strength it
develops is a function of time, temperature, and pressure. Figure 11-3 is a graph of the 24 hour
compressive strength for various cements versus pressure at 200F.2 Above 3,000 psi, there is
very little change in compressive strength as the pressure increases. All API compressive
strength tests are run at 3,000 psi when the depth is below 4,000 feet since there is little change
in the expected compressive strength. The API Spec 10 has pressure and temperature
schedules for compressive strength tests based upon depth and anticipated temperature
gradient.

Figure 11-3. Twenty-Four Hour Compressive Strength versus Pressures Cured at 200oF

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11-7

Drilling Practices
Chapter 11

Neat cements will attain the highest compressive strengths. Usually, the compressive strength
will be near the maximum within 72 hours. Extenders and using more mix water will decrease
the ultimate compressive strength. By the same token, densifying a slurry by using the
minimum mix water will increase the ultimate compressive strength. At the same temperature,
accelerated cements will attain a higher compressive strength quicker than neat cements and
retarded cements.
For most oil field applications, a compressive strength of 500 psi is sufficient. A lot of filler
cements have compressive strengths of 500 psi with relatively low densities and higher yields.
Filler cements are less expensive than neat slurries. In most applications, neat cement is
placed across the producing formations and behind the shoe joint. Filler cement is used to fill
the remainder of the annular space that requires cement.
All compressive strength tests should be run by the service company prior to the actual
cementing job. In critical situations, the actual cement composition and mix water should be
used at simulated downhole conditions to determine compressive strength. In development
areas, compressive strength can be spot checked where the same cementing mixture is being
used on similar wells. There is no need to run lab tests for each well. In the field, dry cement
samples should be collected in the advent a cementing problem occurs. Lab tests with the dry
samples can be used to investigate the problem.
At high temperatures, cement can suffer from strength retrogression which is a loss in
compressive strength with time. It has been reported that above 230F there is a pronounced
decrease in compressive strength and increase in permeability of many commonly used
cementing materials. In general, additives which are not chemically reactive with the cement
and which require a high water to cement ratio produce a cement of poor temperature stability.
(Bentonite is probably the worst offender and should not be used in any composition in excess
of 4% by weight of the cement when temperatures are expected to exceed 230F.)
Addition of 35 to 40 percent silica flour will inhibit strength retrogression. Table 11-4 shows the
increased strength of Class "B" and 50-50 Poz with 30 and 40 percent silica flour. Neat
cements without silica flour would have compressive strengths less than 1,000 psi depending
upon the bottomhole temperature. Silica mix with portland cement can be used to temperatures
around 750F. As with any critical cementing operation, the properties of the proposed cement
mixture should be checked in the lab at downhole conditions. For very high temperatures,
strength retrogression should be added to the list of properties to check.
Table 11-4. Effects of Temperature on Compressive Strength

CEMENT

SILICA FLOUR
(%)

CURED 7 DAYS
(F)

HEATED 7 DAYS
(F)

80

100

400

500

600

Class "B"

30

1,400

1,985

6,600

4,450

2,600

Class "B"

40

1,215

1,810

6,550

6,300

5,920

POZ

30

560

1,225

4,200

4,850

6,000

POZ

40

775

1,240

3,400

4,200

5,850

11-8

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Drilling Practices
Primary Cementing

Table 11-5 shows how the compressive strength will change with addition of silica flour for class
G cement. The samples were cured at 440F for three and seven days, and then cured at
725F for 3 days.
Calcium aluminate cement (commonly termed ciment fondu or lumnite) can be used in
applications where the temperature is expected to exceed 700F such as in-situ combustion
wells where the temperature may reach 2,000F. Calcium aluminate cement is manufactured
from limestone and bauxite ore. Neat cement will have a density of 14.7 to 15.8 ppg and will
attain a compressive strength of as much as 12,000 psi in 24 hours.
Table 11-5. Effects of Temperature on Class G Cement with Silica Flour

SILICA FLOUR

COMPRESSIVE STRENGTH

COMPRESSIVE STRENGTH

(%)

(3 days)

(7 days)

545

425

40

11,025

10,010

CEMENT ADDITIVES
Additives are used to tailor cement to a specific application. Additives are available to adjust:
density, thickening time, viscosity, control filtration, cost per unit volume, bridging for lost
circulation, and special applications.
Additives should not be used indiscriminately, because an additive usually affects more than
one physical property of the cement. Adding an extender to the cement can increase yield, but
it can also increase viscosity and thickening time and reduce density, filtration and compressive
strength. When specifying an additive, you should know how the cement properties will be
affected. By the same token, do not run anything in the cement if you don't know what it is.
Find out what the additive is and why it is being used.

DENSITY CONTROL
Normal slurry density for neat cement ranges from 14.8 ppg to 16.4 ppg as can be seen in
Table 11-3. Density control additives are used to increase or decrease the density of the
cement mixture. Decreasing the density may be required when lost circulation is a problem.
High pore pressures may require increasing the density of the cement.
Lightweight additives or extenders reduce the slurry density. Excess mix water can be used to
reduce slurry density to a limited extent. The excess water increases thickening time and free
water and decreases compressive strength.
The most common lightweight additive is bentonite. Due to the large surface area, bentonite
requires considerable water to be pumped. Increasing the overall water content of the slurry
reduces the weight. Bentonite requires about 1.3 gallons of water for ever 2% bentonite in a
sack of cement.

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Drilling Practices
Chapter 11

In addition to reducing slurry density, bentonite increases yield and reduces cost per unit
volume of cement. As can be seen in Figure 11-4 cost of one cubic foot of neat class A cement
is $1.34. With 12% bentonite, the cost per cubic foot reduces to $0.89; however, the
compressive strength reduces from 2,917 psi for neat cement to 500 psi for 12% bentonite.

1.4

CLASS A

LITEPOZ3
50:50

LITEWATE

CLASS A
W/ DIACEL

1.2

Cost ($/ft3)

2
0.8
1.5
0.6
1
0.4

Compressive Strength (1000 psi)

2.5

0.5

0.2

0
Neat
15.6#

4%
Gel
2%
Gel
14 8#

8%
Gel
6%
Gel

12% Gel
12.6#

Neat
15.2#

10% Gel
12.9#

Cost per cubic foot

4%
Gel

8K Lite
12.4#

2%
Gel

10%
13.2#
4%
Gel

30%
11.7#
20%
12.4#

40%
11.0#

Compressive Strength

Figure 11-4. Comparison of Slurry Cost and Compressive Strength for Several Common and Premium Portland
o
Slurries with Admixes. (Note: Compressive Strengths are Cured 24 hours at 120 F)

Almost all additives will have an effect on other properties. Bentonite will reduce free water
separation, fluid loss and thickening time (at higher concentrations). It will increase slurry
viscosity; and above a concentration of 10% by weight, dispersants must be added to the slurry.
Bentonite will promote strength retrogression above 230F. Cements containing bentonite will
be more permeable and have a lower sulfate resistance.
Another material used to reduce density is pozzolan. Pozzolans are siliceous materials which
will react with lime and water to form a compound having the ability to act as a cementing
material. When portland cement hydrates, free lime, Ca(OH)2 is liberated. This compound
contributes nothing to strength and is easily leached out by free water contacting the cement
which attributes to strength retrogression at high temperatures. Silica combines with the free
lime to form Calcium Monosilicate, a cementitious compound. The result is cement with less
tendency to retrogress in strength.
11-10

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Drilling Practices
Primary Cementing

There are two types of pozzolans - natural and artificial. Natural pozzolans are of volcanic
origin and are commonly termed volcanic ash. Artificial Pozzolans include glass, furnace slag,
and a residue collected from chimneys of coal burning power plants called "fly ash".
Pozzolans will increase slurry volumes, decrease slurry density and provides resistance to
attack by corrosive fluids. It will also help to counteract strength retrogression but will not
eliminate it. Additions of silica flour are still required.
Pozzolans have a specific gravity of 2.06 to 2.46 depending upon the origin. The lower specific
gravity contributes to the reduction in density. Pozzolans can be mixed with portland cement in
varying ratios. The typical mixture is 50% (absolute volume) of portland cement and pozzolan.
Figure 11-4 shows some slurry weights, costs and compressive strengths for litepoz3 which is a
Dowell trade name. Pozzolan is compatible with most cement additives.
Another lightweight additive is diatomaceous earth. The most common is diacel D mined at
Lompoc, California and ground to the fineness of cement. It is a siliceous rock of sedimentary
origin which consists mainly of fossilized remains of microscopic algae (diatoms) along with clay
and shale or silt stone. The silica substance of the diatom shell is the beneficial material.
Diatomaceous earth has a specific gravity of 2.10 compared to bentonite with a specific gravity
of 2.65. Figure 11-4 shows some unit costs, densities and compressive strengths for class A
cement with diacel D. Note that 10% gel costs less and has a higher compressive strength than
10% diacel D. The bentonite slurry weighs less because bentonite requires more mix water.
Diacel D can be mixed in much higher quantities than bentonite to achieve lower densities.
Diatomaceous earth experiences severe strength retrogression at temperatures above 220F. It
reduces the compressive strength to a greater degree than pozzolan and bentonite.
Perlite is a volcanic glass which will expand 4 to 20 times when heated due to combined water
which turns to steam and blows glass bubbles, making artificial pumice. Expanded perlite has a
bulk density of four pounds per cubic foot. The principal source is called Strata Crete and is
mined at Socorro, New Mexico by the Great Lakes Carbon Corporation. It is not competitive as
an extender. Perlite is sometimes used as an insulating material for geothermal or steam wells.
It will reduce the heat conductivity of the cement.
Gilsonite and Kolite can be used for
density reduction, though they are more
often used for lost circulation material in
cement.
Gilsonite is black lustrous
asphalt with a specific gravity of 1.07.
Kolite is crushed coal with a specific
gravity of 1.30. Table 11-6 shows how
the density and yield of class G cement
changes with various concentrations of
gilsonite.

Table 11-6. API Class G Cement with Gilsonite

GILSONITE

WATER

DENSITY

YIELD

(lbs/sk)
(gals/sk)
(lbs/gal)
(cu ft/sk)
0
5.0
15.8
1.15
10
5.4
14.7
1.36
15
5.6
14.3
1.46
25
6.0
13.6
1.66
50
7.0
12.4
2.17
Nitrogen can be used to reduce slurry density in foamed cement. Common slurry densities
range from 4 to 11 ppg. The amount of nitrogen (or other gas) added to the cement to achieve
a certain density will be a function of the density of the surface slurry and the pressure at which
the cement will be placed. Higher placement pressures require larger volumes of nitrogen since

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11-11

Drilling Practices
Chapter 11

nitrogen is a compressible fluid.


section entitled special cements.

More information on foamed cement is presented in the

At times, the density of cement must be increased above that of neat cement to control
formation pressures. The density can be increased by using weight material such as barite,
ilmenite, hematite, sand and salt. Possible densities and mix water requirements are shown in
Table 11-7. The weight material selected will ultimately depend upon the desired slurry weight.
The properties of all high density slurries should be checked in the lab at anticipated downhole
conditions.
Table 11-7. Weight Material for Cement5

SPECIFIC
MATERIAL GRAVITY

GRIND

MAXIMUM
DENSITY

(mesh)

(ppg)

EXTRA
WATER
NEEDED

EFFECT ON EFFECT ON
COMPRESSIVE PUMPING
STRENGTH
TIME

Ottawa Sand

2.63

20-100

18.0

None

None

None

Barite

4.25

325

19.0

20%

Reduce

Reduce

Coarse Barite

4.00

16-80

20.0

None

None

None

Hematite

5.02

40-200

20.0

2%

None

None

Ilmenite

4.45

30-200

20.0

None

None

None

Dispersant

----

----

17.5

None

Increase

Increase

Salt

----

----

18.0

----

Reduce

Varies

Ilmenite ore is an iron-titanium oxide with a specific gravity of 4.45. Because of the course
grind, it does not require additional mix water up to 20 ppg. Ilmenite is an inert material and has
very little effect on cement properties. Some ilmenite ore is radioactive and can interfere with
subsequent log interpretation.
Hematite has the highest specific gravity of 5.02. If friction reducers are used, slurry densities
as high as 22 ppg can be achieved. Only a small amount of additional mix water is required for
hematite. The biggest drawback to hematite is that it is very expensive.
Barite (barium sulfate) is a common weighting material used in drilling mud and was one of the
first weight materials to be used with cement. The specific gravity of barite is 4.25. Because of
the lower specific gravity, it takes larger quantities of barite to produce the desired slurry
density. Fine grid barite requires additional mix water to control viscosity which means even
more barite is required to achieve the desired weight. Barite also reduces the thickening time
and compressive strength.
Sand can be used as a weighting material for cement. Due to its low cost, sand is one of the
most economical weighting materials available; however, the low specific gravity limits its use to
less than 18 ppg. Little or no mix water is required for sand. Therefore, it will increase the
density of the slurry, even though the specific gravity of sand is less than portland cement.
Depending upon the concentration, sand may increase the compressive strength slightly.

11-12

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Drilling Practices
Primary Cementing

Cement slurry can be densified by using less mix water and adding a dispersant to the slurry.
The dispersant will thin the slurry keeping it pumpable with less than normal mix water. Slurry
densities as high as 17.5 ppg can be achieved. With the lower than normal cement to water
ratio, any filtrate loss to the formation could make the slurry unpumpable, so a fluid loss additive
should be added. Densifying the slurry will increase the compressive strength and reduce the
thickening time which makes it ideal for sidetrack plugs.
Salt can be used to increase the slurry density. Adding salt to the mix water increases the
density of the mix water which, in turn, increases the density of the slurry. A maximum slurry
density of 18 ppg can be achieved. Salt will reduce the compressive strength and has variable
effects on thickening time depending upon the concentration.

ACCELERATORS
Accelerators are used to shorten thickening time. At lower temperatures, cement takes a long
time to derive the desired compressive strength. Neat cement slurry is relatively unreactive at
temperatures below 40F.
A good rule of thumb to remember is that most inorganic materials are accelerators and organic
materials are retarders. The inorganic materials must be able to react with the slurry to be an
accelerator. Inert inorganic materials will have no effect on the slurry.
Calcium Chloride is the most popular accelerator. Normal concentrations are 2 to 4%. A
simple rule of thumb is that 3% calcium chloride will cut the thickening time by one half and
double the 24 hour compressive strength. Ten percent calcium chloride will flash set any
cement. Calcium chloride will reduce the ultimate compressive strength of cement at
concentrations of 6% or more. Calcium chloride is not compatible with most organic polymers
used to reduce fluid loss.
Sodium Chloride is inconsistent in its application. At low concentrations, salt is an accelerator;
whereas at high concentrations, it is a retarder. In the mid range, it depends upon the
temperature and the class of cement used. At temperatures less than 110F and at
concentrations below 120,000 ppm, it is always an accelerator. As can be seen in Figure 11-5,
the thickening time and compressive strength will vary with concentration and temperature.
Sea water has a sodium chloride content of 20,000 to 30,000 ppm. Salt is always an
accelerator in sea water. Salt also stabilizes the flow properties of gel cement at high
temperatures.
Other accelerators are ammonium chloride, gypsum, and sodium silicate. Where CMHEC
is used as a fluid loss additive, sodium silicate must be used as an accelerator. Calcium
chloride and salt will not work effectively.

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11-13

Drilling Practices
Chapter 11

Figure 11-5. Effects of Salt on Cement Properties. Sea Water is 20,000 to 30,000 ppm8

RETARDERS
Retarders increase the thickening time of cement slurries. One common retarder is CMHEC
(carboxymethyl hydroxyethyl cellulose) which is made by altering a polymer of anhydro-glucose
or cellulose by reacting it with ethylene oxide and mono-chloroacetic acid. It is available in
different forms with the difference being the degree to which these compounds have altered the
structure of the basic cellulose polymer. The effect on cement is dependent on the degree of
substitution and the ratio of carboxymethyl to hydroxyethyl. The molecular weight of the
CMHEC is dependent on the degree of polymerization (the number of anhydro-glucose units in
the molecule). The molecular weight affects the tendency to increase viscosity. The higher the

11-14

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved

Drilling Practices
Primary Cementing

molecular weight, the larger the molecule and the better fluid loss is controlled. In addition, the
larger molecule takes longer to degrade and causes more retardation. The large molecule also
causes a high initial viscosity and is the type used in drilling muds. The low viscosity grade
(smaller molecule) is used in oil well cements and is called Diacel LWL by Drilling Specialties
Company.
CMHEC is always a retarder and never an accelerator. It is effective to temperatures up to at
least 450F. The degree of retardation is directly proportional to the amount used, but it is not
compatible with some accelerators. CMHEC should not be used in high gel slurries or slurries
with normally high viscosity because it causes excess viscosity.
Calcium Lignosulfonate is a retarder that is available in various grades. Some grades are only
effective to 165F; whereas, other grades are effective to 300F. The higher temperature
grades are modified with organic acids.
Lignosulfonates are common dispersants used in drilling mud to reduce viscosity.
accomplish the same thing in gel cement slurries.

They

When used in low concentrations, lignosulfonates are effective retarders; however in high
concentrations, they will act as accelerators depending upon the grade. They are more
economical than CMHEC.
Sodium chloride in high concentrations (above 120,000 ppm) is a retarder as can be seen in
Figure 11-5. Other retarders are borax and most fluid loss additives.

FLUID LOSS ADDITIVES


All companies use long chain polymers as fluid loss agents such as FLAC, CMHEC, and
CHEMAD-1. The compatibility of the fluid loss additives with other additives should be checked.
Calcium chloride in combination with most fluid loss additives can cause the cement to flash set.
Sodium chloride adversely affects the fluid loss properties of cement slurries. Good fluid loss
additives should not affect the density, yield, water requirements, or compressive strength of the
cement.
Fluid loss additives will loose their effectiveness with increasing temperature. It is difficult if not
impractical to control fluid loss of slurries with high percentages of perlite, diatomaceous earth
or pozzolans.
Bentonite also acts to control fluid loss but is not as effective as the long chain polymers.

FRICTION REDUCERS
Friction reducers are dispersants used to lower the yield point of the slurry allowing the cement
to go into turbulent flow at a lower velocity. Typical friction reducers are organic acids,
lignosulfonate, alkyl aryl sulfonate, polyphosphate, and salt. Many friction reducers act as
retarders.

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved.

11-15

Drilling Practices
Chapter 11

LOST CIRCULATION MATERIAL


Lost circulation material can be classified as granular, laminated, or fibrous material. Gilsonite,
kolite, perlite and walnut hulls are granular materials. Granular materials are best for bridging
across fractures. Granular materials are inert to the cement system, so they do not effect the
thickening time of the slurry. They will, however, affect the slurry density. Since they have a
lower specific gravity than portland cement, granular lost circulation materials will reduce the
density of the slurry. In most cases, they will reduce the compressive strength of the cement.
The laminated material used mostly in cement is cellophane flake (Halliburton flocele). The
flakes are supposed to form a mat on the face of the formation or bridge off in a fracture.
Cellophane flakes have very little effect on cement properties except to reduce compressive
strength.
Fibrous materials used for lost circulation in drilling mud contain organic chemicals which can
severely retard cement slurries. Therefore, they are seldom used with cement.

SPECIAL CEMENTS
Salt cements have been used in the oil industry since the 1940's and were used to cement
through salt domes. Since then, highly salted cement slurries have been used extensively. Salt
cements are credited for:3,8
1. Bonds well to salt formations. Fresh water cements will dissolve the salt next to the
cement leaving a channel.
2. Salt cements expand more than fresh water cements which will improve the bonding.
3. Inhibits bentonitic sands and shale.
4. Increases the density of the slurry.
5. Will retard the slurry at higher concentrations.
6. Prevents acceleration of a fresh water slurry that dissolves salt while being pumped
past a salt zone. Smaller quantities of salt will accelerate cement.
7. The freezing point is lowered in arctic environments.
Field experience shows that the expansion characteristics of salt cement has little or no effect
on casing bond log quality, and casing failures are still experienced opposite salt zones even
with saturated salt cement. The difference in salinity between shale and highly salted cement
creates a large osmotic pressure imbalance. Beach9 showed how that imbalance can induce
fractures in the cement. As far as arctic environments are concerned, highly salted cements are
destroyed by cyclic freezing and thawing. At the present time, highly salted cements are not
used as extensively as they once were.
Cementing at low temperatures in permafrost is a problem. Portland cement will not set up at
temperatures below 40F in a reasonable period of time even when accelerators are used.10
Permafrost is a permanently frozen formation where the temperature never exceeds 32F;

11-16

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved

Drilling Practices
Primary Cementing

therefore, portland cement must be mixed with something to make it set up before it freezes.
Permafrost can be anywhere from a few feet thick to 2,000 feet thick on the North Slope.
In consolidated formations, the hole can be warmed with drilling fluid and cemented with heated
cement slurry. The accelerated slurry will realize the necessary compressive strengths before
the hole cools. High calcium aluminate cements which have a high heat of hydration will also
work well.
Cementing in unconsolidated permafrost is more difficult. The higher temperatures required for
portland cement will melt the ice in the permafrost causing the formation to slough. Some
permafrost formations are even drilled with refrigerated salt water, polymer muds to prevent
thawing.
In unconsolidated permafrost, high calcium aluminate cements can be used, but their high heat
of hydration will thaw the permafrost. To reduce the heat of hydration, aluminate cement has
been blended with pozzolan (fly ash), but the heat of hydration is still 92 BTU/lb.
Gypsum-portland cement blends have been used in permafrost and at low temperatures.
With selection of the proper retarder concentration, the thickening time can be varied from 30
minutes to 4 hours with adequate compressive strength to allow drilling to continue after 8 to 16
hours. The blend contains enough salt to lower the freezing point to 20F. The blend will set up
at temperatures of 15 to 20F, and the heat of hydration is 15 BTU/lb which is lower than high
calcium aluminate cement. They are stable under freeze-thaw cycling, and are used more often
than the aluminate cements.
Gypsum cement is characterized by a fast set. The setting time is generally one hour. The
maximum temperature it can be run to is 180F but is not recommended above 120 to 130F.
Gypsum cement can realize a compressive strength of 2,500 psi within one hour after setting.
They are normally used for remedial cementing work such as squeezing and lost circulation
plugs.
Thixotropic cement is thin while being mixed and pump then form a rapid gel structure when
pumping ceases. Addition of 5 to 10 percent gypsum to portland cement will give the blend
thixotropic properties.
Thixotropic cements are used in areas where cement fall back is a problem. Fall back occurs
when the fluid level of the cement drops due to loss of cement to the formation. The rapidly
developed gel strengths will support the weight of the cement column reducing or eliminating fall
back. Another application is in setting cement plugs for lost circulation.
Foamed cement uses nitrogen or other gases to lower the density of the cement. Typical
densities range from 4 to 11 ppg. As with most cement, decreasing density will reduce the
compressive strength and the permeability will increase. However, the compressive strength
and permeability properties for foam cement are more desirable than other lightweight slurries.
Table 11-8 compares the compressive strength and permeabilities of some conventional
lightweight cements and foamed cements.

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved.

11-17

Drilling Practices
Chapter 11
Table 11-8. Physical Properties of Lightweight Cement Slurries11

CONVENTIONAL
Class H + 16 % bentonite:
w/c = 1.23
Class H + 43% fly ash +
8% bentonite: w/c = 1.49
FOAM CEMENT
Class H + 2% CaCl2:
w/c = 0.40
Class H + 0.25% polymer
+ 1% complexer*:
w/c = 0.40
*

THREE DAY
COMPRESSIVE STRENGTH
(psi)

THREE DAY
PERMEABILITY TO AIR
(md)

SLURRY
DENSITY
(lb/gal)

Cured @ 100F

Cured @ 140F

Cured @ 140F

12.4

325

363

3.36

12.4

213

475

11.6

9.0

888

605

3.28

8.0

1000

653

0.31

* foamed thixotropic cement slurry

To produce foam cements with adequate compressive strength and low permeability, the
nitrogen must be dispersed in the cement in fine foam bubbles. If the gas bubbles are not
discrete and within a certain size range, the set cement can have high permeability and low
compressive strengths. The foaming surfactant is crucial in determining the stability of the foam
cement.
The properties of foam cement are a function of the density of the cement prior to adding
nitrogen and the amount of nitrogen added. Figure 11-6 illustrates how the compressive
strength of 8 ppg foamed cement will vary with the density and water to cement ratio (w/c) of the
cement prior to adding nitrogen. The cement used in Figure 11-6 is class H with three percent
calcium chloride. The class H cement mixed at the normal density yields the higher
compressive strengths.
Of course, the density of the foamed cement will have an effect on the compressive strength of
the cement. For instance, foamed cement with a density of 6 ppg (mix slurry 16.4 ppg with a
w/c of 0.38) will have a 24 hour compressive strength of 235 psi as opposed to the 825 psi
compressive strength for the 8 ppg foamed cement in Figure 11-6.
The lightweight additive in foamed cement is a compressible gas; therefore, the volume
occupied by the gas will be a function of the hydrostatic pressure. At low pressures, very little
nitrogen is required to reduce the density of the slurry to the desired value. At high pressures, it
takes far more nitrogen. Figure 11-7 reflects the approximate volumes of nitrogen required to
obtain a specific density at numerous pressures.
When the nitrogen to cement ratio remains constant, the density of the cement in the wellbore
will vary with depth. The constantly changing density makes it much more difficult to design a
cement job with foamed cement particularly if a long column of cement is required. The
pressures at discrete depths will have to be calculated to make sure the pressure does not
exceed the frac gradient or fall below the pore pressure. If a program is not available in house,
the service company providing the foamed cement will have a computer program to aid in
designing the cement job.

11-18

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved

Compressive Strength, psi

Drilling Practices
Primary Cementing

2000
1800
1600
1400
1200
1000
800
600
400
200
0

72 hours
24 hours

13.6 ppg
and 0.72

14.5 ppg
and 0.60

15.6 ppg
and 0.46

16.4 ppg
and 0.38

Slurry Density and Water Ratio

Figure 11-6. Compressive Strength Development for 8 ppg Foam Cement based upon the Density of Slurry without
Nitrogen, and the Water to Cement Ratio

Figure 11-7. Nitrogen Required (in Standard Cubic Feet per Barrel of Cement) to obtain a Specific Density at
12
Various Hydrostatic Pressures

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved.

11-19

Drilling Practices
Chapter 11

Three options are available for a foamed cement design. They are:
1. Use a constant gas to cement ratio and allow the density of the slurry to vary in the
annulus.
2. Adjust the gas to cement ratio in the wellbore to maintain a relatively constant
density.
3. Use technique 1 or 2 and place a mud or cement cap on top of the foamed cement.
Using a higher density mud or cement cap on top of the foamed cement will keep the
cement from getting too light near the surface where the pressure is very low.
Designing a foamed cement job with constant nitrogen to cement ratio allows mixing to be easily
accomplished. Unfortunately, the downhole slurry density will change with depth. The change
will be most dramatic at lower pressures or more shallow depths. Figure 11-8 illustrates how
the density of foamed cement will change with depth when using constant nitrogen to cement
ratio. It can be easily seen where the density could be low enough to allow fluid entry in
shallows portions of the hole, yet the pressure could exceed the frac gradient in the deeper
portions of the hole.

Figure 11-8. Slurry Density versus Depth for Three Cases


(1) Constant Nitrogen ratio with 2,000' Mud Cap
(2) Constant Nitrogen Ratio with 4,000' Mud Cap
(3) Variable Nitrogen Ratio with 2,000' Mud Cap.
The Nitrogen varies from 360 scfb at 2,000' to 1,980 scfb at 10,000

11-20

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved

Drilling Practices
Primary Cementing

Typically, a mud or cement cap is used above the foamed cement especially when cementing to
shallow depths. Foamed cements can have densities less than one pound per gallon at the
surface, because there is no pressure on the nitrogen. The mud or cement cap will keep a
minimal pressure on the foamed cement so it will have some realistic density.
Figure 11-8 also shows how foamed slurry can be placed by varying the cement to nitrogen
ratio. The slurry density is maintained at an average of approximately 9.0 ppg by adjusting the
ratio at 1,000 foot intervals. Ideally, the nitrogen ratio could be adjusted continuously resulting
in a constant density within the wellbore. With computer controlled equipment, nitrogen rates
can be ramped to provide a relatively constant density.

THE CEMENT JOB


Casing is cemented by pumping cement down
the inside of the casing and up the annulus
from the bottom. Figure 11-9 illustrates some
of the typical equipment used for cementing a
casing string. The first piece of equipment is
the float shoe or guide shoe. The float shoe
has a check valve that allows the fluid to be
pumped through it but will not allow fluid to
come back up. A guide shoe does not have a
check valve. A guide shoe is less expensive
and is commonly used on shallower casing
strings. The guide shoe and float shoe are
rounded at the bottom to help get the casing in
the hole. It does not have sharp edges to hang
up on ledges.
The float collar is typically run one to two joints
above the shoe. As the setting depth of the
casing gets deeper, it will typically be two joints.
The float collar performs several functions. It
contains a check valve that will allow the
cement to be pump through it but will not allow
the cement to flow back into the casing. The
density of the cement is higher than the mud
weight or displacement fluid. Without a float
valve, cement would flow back into the casing
or pressure would have to be maintained at the
surface to prevent flow. Holding pressure at the
surface may cause a micro annulus and it may
increase the waiting on cement (WOC) time.
The float collar provides a place for the wiper
plug to land. When the plug bumps, it has
landed on the float collar and fluid can no
longer be pumped through the casing. The
volume of casing below the float collar is called
shoe joint or shoe track. The volume between
the shoe and the float collar will be filled with

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved.

Cement Head

Rig Floor
Ground Level

Drilling Fluid

Cement
Casing

Centralizer

Float Collar
Float Shoe

Figure 11-9. Typical Cementing Equipment

11-21

Drilling Practices
Chapter 11

cement when the plug is bumped. Good cement around the bottom of the casing is much more
likely if some good cement is left inside casing. It is difficult to calculate and pump the exact
displacement.
Centralizers are run on the outside of the casing to keep the casing in the center of the hole.
The number of centralizers depends upon the depth and the cementing program. It can be as
little as three for a shallow casing string to over a hundred for a deeper directional well. There
are many different types of centralizers. Figure 11-9 shows a bow spring centralizer, which is
the most common. Infrequently, scratchers may be run on the outside of the casing.
Scratchers are used to help remove the mud filter cake from the formation.

Top
Plug

Cement

Top
Plug

Bottom
Plug

Displacement
Fluid

Spacer
Fluid

Drilling
Fluid
Plug
Bumped
Bottom
Plug
Ruptured

Float
Collar

Shoe
Joint

Float
Shoe
A

Figure 11-10. Sequence of Events while Cementing a Casing String

Figure 11-10 shows a normal, one stage cement job. After running casing and circulating to
condition the hole, a spacer fluid is pumped ahead of the cement. If a bottom plug is used, it is
inserted into the casing between the spacer fluid and cement as shown in Figure 11-10(A). The
cement slurry is mixed and pumped into the casing. Once all the cement has been mixed and

11-22

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved

Drilling Practices
Primary Cementing

pumped, top plug is released as shown in Figure 11-10(B). Displacement fluid is pumped after
the top plug. The displacement fluid can be water, drilling fluid or completion fluid.
The volume of the casing from the cementing head to the float collar is called the displacement
volume. The volume of the displacement fluid is measured in tanks on the cement pump. Most
operators do not pump more than the displacement volume plus half the volume of the shoe
joint before shutting down the pumps. The plug may not bump before all the displacement
volume is pumped. Fluid does have some compressibility especially if air is trapped in a
viscous fluid at the surface. However, it is better to drill out a little extra cement inside the
casing rather than pump displacement fluid past the shoe. Theoretically, it is not possible to
pump past the top plug when it lands on the float collar, but it has happened in the past.
Many cement jobs contain a lead and tail slurry. The lead slurry is the first slurry mixed and
pumped down the casing. Generally, it is a lower density, higher yield slurry designed to fill the
annular space between the casing and hole wall. Since it is a higher yield, it is less expensive
cement. The tail slurry will be mixed and pumped next. It is usually a higher density, higher
compressive strength cement. On production casing, the higher compressive strength cement
may be displaced across the producing interval. On conductor, surface or intermediate casing,
the tail slurry is left around the bottom of the casing to help support the bottom of the casing.
The bottom joint or two of casing may come unscrewed while drilling and fall down the hole.
The higher compressive strength cement may help to keep the casing from coming unscrewed.
Even with neat cement (higher compressive strength); the bottom joint has come unscrewed.
Some operators will tack-weld the bottom few joints of casing if it is H-40, J-55 or K-55. It is not
a good idea to weld on higher strength casing. Usually the connections from the float collar
down are thread locked using an epoxy for a thread compound such as Halliburton Weld-A or
Baker-Lok. However, the other end of the coupling (put on by the pipe threader) is not thread
locked and can still come unscrewed.
Sometimes it is not possible to bring cement far enough up the wellbore without causing lost
circulation. As can be seen in Table 11-3, normal cement densities are 14.8 to 16.4 ppg. As
shown in Figure 11-4, the cement density can be reduced but at the expense of compressive
strength. Without foam cement, densities of less than 12 ppg are not practical. Foam cement
has limitations and is more expensive. An alternative is to use a two or three stage cement job.
A stage collar, illustrated in Figure 11-11(A), is run as an integral part of the casing some
distance above the bottom of the hole. The first stage is cemented normally but the wiper plugs
are designed to go through the stage collar. After the plug bumps and the float equipment
holds, an opening bomb is dropped and falls to the opening sleeve in the stage collar, Figure
11-11(B). The pressure on the casing is increased and the opening bomb will shift the sleeve
exposing the ports, Figure 11-11(C).
While the cement sets up in the lower portion of the hole, drilling fluid is circulated through the
stage collar. After the cement sets up, the cement can no longer transmit hydrostatic pressure.
The portions of the wellbore covered by the first stage cement job will not see the additional
hydrostatic pressure from the second stage.

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved.

11-23

Drilling Practices
Chapter 11

The second stage is pumped through the


stage collar and the top plug dropped
behind the cement. The plug is displaced
to the stage collar and lands on the upper
closing sleeve. The casing pressure is
increased and the closing sleeve will shift
and blocks off the ports in the stage collar.
The opening and closing sleeves will be
drilled out along with the opening bomb
and top plug. The stage collar will have a
drift diameter at least equal to the drift
diameter of the casing.

Opening Bomb

In the final analysis, cement has a function


to support pipe and isolate zones. If done
in a laboratory any of the slurries
discussed would perform the cement
function. The important thing in cementing
is to get the cement where it is supposed
to be - around the pipe, and to do it as
economically as possible.
A

Sleeve shifted
to open ports

Sleeve shifted
to close ports

An understanding of cement flow


properties is required prior to discussing
placement mechanics. As is drilling mud,
cement slurries are non-Newtonian fluids
and can be mathematically modeled using
the Bingham Plastic model or sometimes
the power-law model.
A complete
discussion on Newtonian and nonNewtonian fluids along with the Bingham
plastic and power-law models can be
found in Chapter 4 on Drilling Mud and will
not be repeated here. The one important
point to remember about cement is that it
starts out as a non-Newtonian fluid but
eventually becomes a solid. Therefore,
the flow properties of a cement slurry
continually change with time.

The flow properties measured in the


laboratory should not be used without
reservation. Due to mixing techniques and
differences in slurries, field cements will
almost never exhibit the same properties.
C
D
But, the laboratory data are something to
work with in determining cement behavior.
Figure 11-11. Operation of a Stage Collar for a TwoIn the work by Brice and Holmes13
Stage Cement Job
concerning contact time and turbulent
flow, one of their biggest problems was
determining the rate necessary for turbulent flow prior to the job in order to have adequate

11-24

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved

Drilling Practices
Primary Cementing

horsepower available.
Table 11-9
illustrates this point. Laboratory data was
used to calculate the required flow rate to
induce turbulent flow, and then field data
was used to calculate the flow rate for
turbulent flow. Most of the time, there was
a significant difference. Since the cement
properties change with time, there will
also be a difference depending upon
when the flow properties are measured.

Table 11-9. Flow Rates Required to Produce Turbulent


Flow from Laboratory and Field Data

FLOW RATE PER


JOB DESIGN
(BPM)

FLOW RATE BASED


ON FIELD RHEOLOGY
(BPM)

8.6

24.9

9.9

20.5

9.1

28.2

7.0

14.2

5.8

22.3

CEMENT SHEATH REQUIREMENTS

The cement sheath in the annulus has


4.3
13.4
two requirements: (1) it must be strong
enough to support the pipe and (2) it must hydraulically isolate zones. Farris14 related the
tensile strength of the cement to the anchoring strength of the annular cement (shear bond). In
his experiments, he cemented four feet of 5 inch pipe inside 9" pipe with 15.6 ppg neat
portland cement slurry. The force required to produce movement between the two pieces of
pipe was measured along with the tensile strength of the cement. The results of the experiment
can be found in Table 11-10. Essentially, little or no cement strength is required to support
casing; therefore, almost any cement composition will support the casing.
One psi of tensile strength is equal to approximately 8 to 10 psi of compressive strength. In
Table 11-10, eight psi tensile strength will support 268 feet of pipe which is equivalent to a
compressive strength of 80 psi. Field work drilling out plugs with 100 psi compressive strength
substantiates this work. The industry generally assumes a minimum compressive strength
required before drilling out is 500 psi. Davis and Faulk15 concluded that a compressive strength
of 500 psi has a safety factor from two to five.
Table 11-10. Force Required to Break Cement to Casing Bond (after Farris14)

CEMENT AGE
(hour)

FORCE TO BREAK TENSILE


LENGTH OF 5",
BOND OF 1' CMT STRENGTH 17# PIPE 1' OF CMT
(lb)
(psi)
WILL SUPPORT

1.83
2.33
3.08

100
137
325

0
0
0

5.8
8.0
19.1

3.66

1,000

58.8

4.42

4,550

267.7

5.50

5,000

12

----

6.50

5,000

20

----

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved.

REMARKS
Soft cement
Soft cement
Initial set
Cement
stiffening
Final set
Could not
break bond
Could not
break bond

11-25

Drilling Practices
Chapter 11

As can be seen in Table 11-10, the force required to break the bond between the cement and
the pipe is a function of the compressive strength. It is also a function of the pipe finish. New
pipe with a mill varnish finish will have the lowest shear bond strength and resin coated pipe will
have the highest. Table 11-11 shows the results of some tests with different types of pipe
finish. In addition to the pipe finish, the type of fluid wetting the surface of the casing makes a
difference as can be seen in Table 11-12. The resin/sand coated pipe exhibits the highest
bonding strength. In most cases, bonding to new, mill varnished pipe is adequate.
Table 11-11. Cement to Pipe Bond Strength Based on Type of Pipe Finish16

TYPE OF FINISH

BOND STRENGTH
HYDRAULIC
WATER
GAS
(psi)
(psi)

SHEAR
(psi)

New-Mil Varnish

74

200-250

15

New-Varnish Chemically

104

300-400

70

New-Sandblasted

123

500-700

150

Used - Rusty

141

500-700

150

2,400

1,100-1,200

400+

Removed

New - Resin/Sand Coated

Class A cement with 5.2 gallons per sack cured at 80 F for 24 hours. Pipe was 2 inch inside 4 inch.

Cement to casing bonding is influenced by pipe


contraction. Leaving pressure on the casing during
waiting on cement time is harmful to the bond and
causes a micro annulus. Whenever possible, float
equipment should be used to keep cement from
flowing back rather than shutting the casing in with
pressure at the surface.

Table 11-12. Cement to Casing Bonding


based on the Fluid Wetting the Surface of
the Pipe16

TYPE OF MUD

SHEAR BOND
(psi)

None
141
As stated earlier, the cement sheath must also
97
hydraulically isolate zones. Loss of a hydraulic seal Water Base
can be between the casing and cement or between Invert Oil Emulsion
66
the cement and formation. Studies measuring the Oil Base
63
hydraulic bond between casing and cement have Class A cement with 5.2 gallons per sack cured at
been performed and some of the results are shown 80oF for 24 hrs. Pipe was 2 in. inside 4 in. and
in Table 11-11. The hydraulic bond tests were was used (rusty).
performed with water and gas.
Bond strength
ranged from 200 to 1,200 psi with water and 15 to over 400 psi with gas. The hydraulic bond
varies with the roughness of the pipe as did the shear bond. It is also a function of the viscosity
of the fluid with higher viscosities yielding higher bond strengths. There was no consistent
correlation between hydraulic bond and compressive strength of the cement. It should be noted
here that zone isolation is consistently obtained in the field at much higher pressure differentials
than those presented in Table 11-11.
The cement to formation bond provides isolation at the formation face. Tests show the bond
strength can exceed the formation strength when there is no mud cake. The mud cake will

11-26

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved

Drilling Practices
Primary Cementing

significantly reduce the bond strength, and a hard mud cake will produce higher bond strengths
than soft mud cakes. Higher bond strengths are obtained with permeable formations because
filtrate is lost to the formation. Again, zone isolation is routinely achieved in the field at values
greater than the tests would indicate possible.
To effectively isolate producing zones, cement must also have a relatively low permeability.
Tests show that most cements will have a permeability between 0.01 and 0.1 md. Gas
reservoirs with a permeability of 0.1 md are produced, but they require extensive fracturing
treatment. Clark17 measured flow through cement cores and concluded that the optimum tensile
strength for formation segregation is 50 psi (400 to 500 psi compressive strength). No
significant improvement was seen above a tensile strength of 50 psi; therefore, almost any
cement with a compressive strength of 500 psi will isolate a zone.
In summary, under normal oil field circumstances, the pipe is adequately supported and nothing
can pass around or through the cement sheath. Almost any cement slurry will suffice.
Therefore, it remains for us to get the cement around the pipe. That is, displace the mud with
cement and let it set up. If a cement job fails, the failure is almost always due to inadequate
placement of the cement around the pipe. One exception is with gas migration in the annulus.
Gas migration can still occur even if the cement occupies the entire annular area.

DISPLACEMENT MECHANICS IN PRIMARY CEMENTING


Displacement mechanics refers to the displacement of drilling fluid from the annulus, and the
subsequent placement of the cement slurry. Factors that affect the removal of drilling fluid from
the annulus are:
1. Centralization of the casing.
2. Pipe movement - rotation and/or reciprocation.
3. Drilling fluid condition.
4. Hole conditions.
5. Displacement velocity.
6. Spacer fluids.
7. Mud - cement density differences.
8. Contact time.

Centralization
The benefits of centralizing the casing have been known for many years.18 It is much harder to
remove mud from an eccentric annulus than an annulus with centered casing. For a nonNewtonian fluid, the velocity on the narrow side of an eccentric annulus is slower than the
velocity on the wide side of the annulus.19 Therefore, an eccentric annulus promotes
channeling. The more eccentric the annulus is; the greater the difference in the velocities.
Almost any study conducted shows the mud displacement is improved with centralization.5,7,19,20

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved.

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Drilling Practices
Chapter 11

Since mud is a non-Newtonian fluid and pressure is required to break the gel strength, the mud
on the wide side of the annulus will move with a lower pressure. Once the mud on the wide side
of the casing is moving, sufficient pressure will never be applied to start the mud moving on the
thin side and promotes channeling. As the annular area decreases, centralization becomes
more and more important.
That does not mean the pipe has to be perfectly centralized in order to place cement all the way
around the pipe. In practice, perfect centralization can not be achieved. The degree of
centralization required will depend upon many factors including the mud viscosity, cement
viscosity, hole conditions, displacement rate and the distance between the bottom of the hole
and the zone to be isolated.
The degree of centralization is commonly termed percent standoff. If the casing is perfectly
centralized, the standoff would be 100%; conversely, the standoff would be 0% if the casing
was touching the wall of the hole. The following equation can be used to calculate percent
standoff and is illustrated in Figure 11-12.

% Standoff =

R b Rc C D
x100
R b Rc

Equation 11-1

API Spec 10D21 gives the equations for calculating the


lateral force on a centralizer and calculating the
deflection between the centralizers. The equations
are cumbersome and are best suited for a computer.
The deflection of the centralizer can be obtained from
a chart similar to Figure 11-13 which can be provided
by the manufacturer of the centralizer.
The restoring force is the force exerted by a
centralizer against the casing to keep it away from the
bore hole wall. The API specifies the minimum
restoring force at a standoff ratio of 67%. So long as
the curve in Figure 11-13 stays above the minimum
restoring force, it meets API specifications. The API
also specifies the maximum starting force and running
force. The starting force is the maximum force
required to start a centralizer into the previously run
casing string. The maximum starting force will be less
than the weight of 40 feet of medium weight casing
being used to push the centralizer into the previous
casing string. The maximum running force is the
maximum force required to move a centralizer
Figure 11-12. Definition of Casing and
through the previously run casing and is always equal
Centralizer Deflection
to or less than the starting force. It is a practical value
which gives the maximum running drag produced by a centralizer in the smallest hole size
specified.

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Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved

Drilling Practices
Primary Cementing

Figure 11-13. Load Deflection Curve for a Centralizer21

The equations in API Spec 10D are difficult to follow; however, Mitchell22 gives a good example
showing how the equations are used. Dowell23 also shows an example of how to make a
centralizer calculation, but the equation for calculating the deflection between centralizers does
not include dogleg severity and will therefore be optimistic.
There are some rules of thumb that the industry uses.5,7 Hartog et. al. states, "As a rule of
thumb, these result in one centralizer per two joints and one on each joint at top and bottom of
the cemented interval if hole deviations do not exceed 25 degrees. Otherwise, more
centralizers should be fitted."
Often field personnel complain that the use of centralizers can cause the casing to become
stuck or harder to run. These fears are generally not founded. Teplitz18 actually found it easier
to run casing with centralizers. The centralizers also help to prevent differential pressure
sticking because they keep the casing away from the wall of the hole.
Adequately centralizing the casing is one of the least expensive methods used to improve the
placement of cement around the casing. It is also one of the most effective. If the centralizer
program being used now is providing good cement jobs, then there is no reason to change the
program. However, if cement jobs are not adequate, then the centralizer program should be
examined more closely.

Pipe Movement
The displacement efficiency of the cement can be greatly improved by pipe movement.5-7,20,24
The advantage of pipe movement is so great that it should be employed on all wells whenever
possible.
The two types of pipe movement are rotation and reciprocation. Rotation will have a more
pronounced effect on displacement efficiency than reciprocation, but specialized equipment is
required for rotation. As shown in Figure 11-14, the drag forces associated with rotation will

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved.

11-29

Drilling Practices
Chapter 11

have a tendency to pull the cement into the narrow side of the annulus while displacing the mud
to the wider side. In critical situations, rotation should be considered. There are even
specialized liner hangers available designed for rotation.25 Rotation should begin while
conditioning the mud prior to cementing to aid in removing gelled mud from the wellbore. The
pipe movement will help break the gel strengths of the mud and get it moving.

No Rotation

Rotation

Flowing Cement

Gelled Mud

Figure 11-14. The Drag Forces Associated with Pipe Rotation Aid in Mud Displacement23

Pipe rotation is generally done with a power swivel at 15 to 20 rpm's. The power swivel is used
to closely monitor torque. The torque should be maintained below optimum make up torque of
the casing. In highly deviated wells, that is sometimes difficult to do. With a liner, the torque at
the surface is not the same as the torque within the liner especially in directional wells. A torque
and drag program will be required to estimate the torque in the liner in directional wells.
Due to the requirement of specialized equipment for rotation, reciprocation is the pipe
movement most commonly used. Reciprocating the casing while circulating and cementing
changes the flow pattern in wellbore and aids in breaking the gel strength of bypassed mud.
Reciprocation is easily accomplished, costs nothing and should be used whenever possible.
Reciprocation of the casing should begin while circulating and conditioning the mud prior to
cementing. With reciprocation, it will be easier to remove gelled mud in washouts and in an
eccentric annulus. Reciprocation should continue during the cement job until the plug is
bumped. Normally, the pipe is reciprocated 15 to 20 feet (5m).
Some operators will not reciprocate pipe because they are afraid the pipe will stuck in bottom. It
is surprising how many operators do not reciprocate casing even though the benefits are so well
known. That fear should not preclude reciprocation while conditioning the mud.
It is normal for the pipe weight to change while cementing the well. As the cement is being
pumped down the casing, the casing weight will increase due to the weight of the cement inside
the casing and frictional pressure losses through the cementing equipment. As the cement
enters the annulus, the weight of the casing will decrease because the cement inside the casing
is being displaced with a lighter fluid. The increased buoyancy due to cement in the annulus will
also decrease the string weight. If someone is not aware of the normal changes in string
weight, he might think the casing is tending to stick.

11-30

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved

Drilling Practices
Primary Cementing

The difference between the hook load-up and hook load-down is a better way to determine
whether the casing is tending to stick. If the difference between the hook loads is 20,000 lbs,
then it should remain near 20,000 lbs even though the actual casing weight is changing. In
directional wells, it is more difficult to determine the sticking tendency. The drag in the well
should increase with increasing tension in the casing: therefore, the difference between the two
hook loads will increase. The higher the initial drag, the more pronounced the effect will be. In
any event, the casing should be landed in the proper position when conditions at the rig indicate
that the casing is sticking.
Many operators in an offshore environment do not reciprocate the casing when using a subsea
wellhead or mud line suspension hanger. If the pipe sticks off bottom on a land operation, it is
not a problem unless the coupling is in the wellhead. If the pipe sticks off bottom with a subsea
wellhead, it is a very expensive problem to fix.
One potential problem with pipe reciprocation is surge and swab pressures. The maximum
casing running and reciprocating speed should be calculated prior to running the casing in
areas where pressure balance is critical. Rotation does not cause surge or swab pressures.

Drilling Fluid Condition


The condition of the drilling fluid makes a difference in how easy it is to displace the mud by the
spacer and cement. The thicker the mud, the harder it will be to displace it from the well. It is
difficult to get mud with high gel strengths moving especially in an eccentric annulus. That is
why it is important to condition the mud prior to cementing.
Usually, the viscosity (and gel strength) of the mud is increased before logging to prevent
bridges and fill. After the casing is run, the well should be circulated to condition the mud and
hole. Conditioning the mud means to reduce the viscosity making it easier for the cement to
displace the mud. The viscosity can be reduced by adding water to an unweighted mud system
or by chemical thinning in weighted mud systems. Water can also be used to thin weighted
mud systems provided the mud weight does not fall below that required to keep the well under
control. Remember to take swab pressures into consideration when reciprocating the casing.
The mud should not be thinned to the point where weighting material will fall out of the mud or
the mud will not have enough lifting capacity to clean the hole.
Conditioning the hole means to get all the mud that has been sitting in the hole during the trip to
move. Gelled mud can become trapped in an eccentric annulus and washouts. Pipe movement
and circulating for extended periods of time will help to break the gel strength of the trapped
mud and get it moving.
The question often arises as to how long should one condition the hole prior to beginning the
cement job. That depends upon the condition of the hole and mud. The minimum volume
circulated should be equal to the volume of the casing or annular volume whichever the higher
value is. The volume necessary to circulate bottoms up should be pumped to remove any trip
gas from the well before cementing. The volume equivalent to the capacity of the casing should
be circulated to make sure there is nothing in the casing that will plug off the float equipment.
Sauer24 recommends pumping until a carbide lag or some other material indicates that 95% of
the hole volume is being circulated. The hole volume would be calculated based upon a multiarm caliper log. Circulation times based upon this method would be longer.

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved.

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Drilling Practices
Chapter 11

When drilling with water, the minimum volume would be sufficient. The circulation volume when
drilling with a high density, viscous mud should be longer. When in doubt, circulate a little
longer. A few hours of rig time will cost a lot less than a remedial squeeze job.

Hole Conditions
The condition of the hole is important from a cementing standpoint. First, the hole should be
relatively clean to allow running the casing without much problem. Trouble running the casing
could cause damage to some of the centralizers or other casing accessories.
Second, a hole that has a lot of washouts is hard to cement. In a large washout the annular
velocity is much lower than the rest of the annulus. The mud and cuttings will be left in the
washout in a gelled state making it harder to displace with cement. Washouts promote cement
channeling. Scratchers or centralizers can be placed in the washout areas to change the flow
pattern of fluid moving through the washout. Pipe movement is very important in wells with
large washouts.
Preventing washouts is something that needs to be considered during the drilling phase, but not
all washouts are preventable. Water sensitive clays can wash out when drilling with a water
based mud. Using an inhibited mud will reduce the amount of washout seen. Shales that
slough due to tectonics will not be helped by using an inhibited water based mud. If you are
already getting good cement jobs even though the hole has washouts, there is no reason to
spend extra money in the drilling process to prevent the washouts. If you are not getting
adequate cement jobs and you have tried everything else, then attempting to prevent the
washouts during the drilling process may be necessary.

Displacement Velocity
The displacement velocity is the annular velocity at which the cement and spacers are pumped
into the well. The type of flow depends upon the annular flow rates. The three types of flow
profiles are plug, laminar and turbulent flow. Plug flow is the slowest flow rate (30 to 90 ft/min).
As can be seen in Figure 11-15, the velocity profile for plug flow is relatively flat. The next flow
rate is laminar flow which has a much more rounded velocity profile. The greater velocity in the
center of the laminar flow profile can promote channeling. Once the flow moves into the
turbulent range, the velocity profile again flattens out.
Many studies have been conducted to determine the best displacement velocity. Unfortunately,
the displacement efficiency is a function of the fluid rheology of the mud and cement, so it
makes it difficult to make comparisons between studies.
A summary of the different studies conducted was best expressed by Hartog et. al.7 The best
displacement efficiencies were obtained with highly thinned slurries pumped at high rates as
shown in Figure 11-16. He also showed that there is no sudden increase in displacement
efficiency when the displacement velocity increases to such an extent that the flow "suddenly"
becomes turbulent. The displacement velocity is the governing factor.

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Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved

Drilling Practices
Primary Cementing

Turbulent Flow

Laminar Flow

Plug Flow

Figure 11-15. Velocity Profiles of Various Flow Regimes

Figure 11-16. Displacement Efficiency versus Displacement Velocity (after Hartog et al.7)

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved.

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Drilling Practices
Chapter 11

They recommend that the displacement velocity be at least 250 ft/min and preferably as much
as 350 ft/min to achieve isolation across the producing zone. When pipe movement is not
employed, the higher flow rate will be required. Thin slurries should be used in order to
minimize pressure losses and maximize displacement efficiency.
In some instances it may not be possible to pump at the higher rates without breaking down the
formation. Then, a plug flow type cement job should be considered but only as a last resort. As
is evidenced in Figure 11-16, plug flow or low flow rates will never achieve the displacement
efficiencies realized with higher flow rates.
Another problem with plug flow is the fact that annular flow rates are not easily predicted. In
most instances, the cement being pumped into the casing has a significantly higher density than
the mud. This causes the well to U-tube while mixing and pumping the cement. The result is
that the flow rate into the well is less than the flow rate out of the well while mixing. The
opposite can be true while displacing the cement depending upon the density of the
displacement fluid.
Figure 11-17 is a plot of a typical cement job where the density of the cement is greater than the
mud density. Because of the U-tube effect, it is sometimes difficult to maintain an annular
velocity in the plug flow region. It is much easier to maintain high displacement rates because
of the increased frictional pressure losses. In this figure, the cement job had following events:
1-2

Mixing and Pumping Spacer

2-3

Mixing and Pumping Slurry

3-4

Pumping Stopped to Drop Top Plug. Circulation Stopped.

4-5

Dropping Top Plug. Prepare for Displacement.

5-6

Start Displacement

6-7

Bottom Plug Reaches the Collar. Does Not Break.

7-8

Filling Casing

8-9

Bottom Plug Breaks. Differential Pressure Makes Flow Rate Increase


Sharply

9 - 10

11-34

Spacer Starts Rounding the Shoe.

10 - 11

Spacer Rounding the Shoe. Flow Rate is Constant.

11 - 12

Slurry Starts Rounding the Shoe.

12 - 13

Slurry Rounding the Shoe. Flow Rate Constant.

13 - 14

Fluid Level Reaches Surface. Continuous Flow Takes Place.

14 - 15

Continuous Flow, QOut = QIn

15 - 16

End of Job.

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved

Drilling Practices
Primary Cementing

Figure 11-17. Flow Rates versus Time for a Typical Cement Job where the Density of the Spacer and Cement are
Greater than the Mud

Computer programs have been developed to calculate the flow rates while cementing.26,27
These programs can be used to design the cement job pump rates so that displacement
velocities can be maintained within the optimum range. Usually, the flow into and out of the well
have to be monitored. During critical cementing operations, it may be advisable to monitor flow,
but in most instances it is not required.

Spacer Fluids
Spacer fluids or preflushes are used to separate the drilling mud from the cement and to aid in
displacing the mud from the annulus. Drilling mud and cement are incompatible and should not
mix in the annulus or casing. Drilling muds contain both organic and inorganic materials which
may accelerate or retard the cement slurry. Also, excessive thickening occurs at the
mud/cement interface. Oil base muds and cement are even more incompatible, and the
mud/cement interface may become an unpumpable mass. The thickening of the mud/cement
interface will cause channeling. One function of the spacer is to separate the cement and mud
which will minimize contamination.
Since the rheology of a fluid makes a difference in the displacement efficiency, the spacer
should be a highly thinned fluid. For water based muds, water is an ideal spacer. It is

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved.

11-35

Drilling Practices
Chapter 11

compatible with both cement and mud. The fact that it is a Newtonian fluid makes it the thinnest
possible fluid. It is also very cheap.
The length of the spacer should be at least 500 feet (150m) in the annulus to allow for adequate
separation. The calculated length of the spacer should be based upon the hole volume
obtained from the caliper log.
It may not always be possible to pump water as a spacer in weighted mud systems. The
reduction in hydrostatic pressure may be enough to cause the well to flow. To prevent a loss in
hydrostatic pressure, a heavy pill can be pumped before the water or a weighted spacer fluid
can be used. A weighted spacer should still be thin at high flow rates but able to suspend the
weighting material at the surface. Polymers are used to viscosify the weighted spacers and the
compatibility with the cement and mud should be checked.
Water cannot be used as a spacer for oil based muds since water and oil-based muds are
incompatible. To compensate, a base oil spacer is pumped followed by the water spacer. An
invert oil emulsion mud results in the casing and formation being oil wet. The base oil and
water spacer must contain a water wetting surfactant to change the wetability. Otherwise, the
cement will have negligible bond to the formation and casing.
It is not uncommon for operators to use scavenger slurry ahead of the cement slurry. The
pumping order would be spacer, scavenger slurry, lead slurry and tail slurry. The scavenger
slurry is highly thinned cement that has a flow consistency index near 1.0, which is n for a
power-law fluid.7 The volume of the scavenger slurry should not be included in the cement
volume calculations.

Mud-Cement Density Differences


It seems logical to assume that heavier fluids will fall to the bottom of a well and lighter fluids will
rise to the top. Therefore, the cement should always have a greater density than the mud being
displaced. This will keep the cement in place after the pumping has stopped. The density
difference should be no less than 0.5 ppg.
There is no correlation between displacement efficiency and mud-cement density difference,7,20
so no emphasis should be placed on having higher density cements than required.

Contact Time
Contact time is defined as the time during which cement flows past a given point in the annulus.
As the contact time increases, there is a greater chance of displacing the mud from the annulus.
Brice and Holmes13 showed that contact times in excess of ten minutes resulted in the best
cement jobs when pumped at low flow rates. Clark and Carter20 indicated that a contact time of
at least four minutes was needed while pumping at high rates, but contact time did not affect
displacement efficiency in laminar flow.
At high displacement rates, the contact time does not need to be as long. The contact time
needs to be increased as the displacement rates are slowed down. The contact time is
measured across the zone of interest or past the shoe on intermediate strings.

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Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved

Drilling Practices
Primary Cementing

SUMMARY
In summary, almost any cement will support the pipe and isolate the zone provided the annulus
is filled with cement. All that remains is to get the cement in place. The following steps can be
taken in order to ensure an adequate cement job.
1. If cementing is a potential problem, try to minimize the size of the washouts during
the drilling process especially across the intervals to be isolated. Unfortunately, that
may not always be possible.
2. Centralize the casing. Take into account dogleg severity and hole inclination in
centralizer placement.
3. Circulate the hole and condition the mud prior to cementing. The mud should be
thinned as much as possible while still maintaining adequate lifting capacity and
density.
4. Reciprocate (or rotate in critical situations) the casing while circulating and
cementing. Unless the casing starts to stick, the casing should be reciprocated until
the plug bumps.
5. Pump a thin spacer fluid in front of the cement. The spacer should be compatible
with both the drilling fluid and the cement.
6. Pump a thin cement slurry at high displacement rates. Use plug flow techniques
only when high rate displacement is not possible.
7. Use the most economical slurry possessing satisfactory properties.
8. Do not hold pressure on the casing after the plug has bumped unless the float
equipment does not hold. While the cement sets, pressure on the casing can cause
a micro annulus.
Do what has to be done to get a good cement job. In some areas it is easy to get a good
cement job while other areas can be more difficult. Do not do more than has to be done to get a
good cement job. Doing more can cost money needlessly. For instance, there is no reason to
spend money on the equipment necessary to rotate the casing when simple, inexpensive
reciprocation has proven to be effective in the past. The same is true of high priced additives.
If the cement jobs are adequate, do not do more. Consider doing less but do not do more.

GAS MIGRATION
Gas migration is the only problem that can still exist even if the annulus is completely filled with
cement. The gas flow occurs after the cement has been placed behind the casing, and the plug
has been bumped. Gas will enter the cement because of a loss of hydrostatic head. That gas
will then channel through the cement and enters into another zone or return to the surface.
During hydration, cements go through a state in which they do not behave as either a solid or a
liquid. This is called the transition state. During the transition state, cement slurries are
incapable of transmitting full hydrostatic pressure, and the volume of the cement slurry
decreases due to chemical hydration and fluid loss. This decrease in volume (along with the

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved.

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Drilling Practices
Chapter 11

cements inability to transmit hydrostatic pressure) leads to a decrease in annulus pressure


allowing gas to enter the wellbore. A very small reduction in cement volume can result in a
large reduction in annulus pressure. The cement has attained enough gel strength to support
itself and hydrostatic pressure can no longer be transmitted through the cement column. For
this reason, holding pressure on the annulus will not significantly affect the problem of gas
channeling.
Controlling the fluid loss will reduce the volume of filtrate lost to the formation thereby reducing
the shrinkage and attendant pressure loss within the transition state cement. It will not prevent
the pressure loss completely. The initial hydration reactions of cement particles leads to a 0.1
to 0.5% reduction in volume.7 Since the cement has enough gel strength to support itself, a
reduction in pressure will occur.
If the pressure falls below the formation pore pressure, formation fluids will migrate into the
cement. Water or oil entering the cement from the formation will reduce or stop the pressure
loss in the cement column. The viscosity of the water or oil is high enough to prevent significant
vertical migration through the cement column. However, gas is different. It has a low enough
viscosity to allow vertical migration through the cement. As it approaches the surface, the gas
expands causing it to migrate even faster.
If gas migration is a problem, there are number of things that can be done to reduce or eliminate
it. First of all, every effort should be made to displace the mud from the annulus and replace it
with a good cement sheath.
The slurry used should have a low fluid loss to prevent loss of filtrate from the slurry.
Depending upon the author, the recommended fluid loss ranges from less than 20 cc to 100 cc
per 30 minutes to prevent gas migration.3,6,7,28 All fluid loss measurements are conducted at
1,000 psi and bottomhole circulating temperature.
Additives can be mixed in the cement to help prevent gas migration. Some additives will
generate gas while the cement is curing. The gas being generated will compensate for the
volume reduction due to hydration and keep the pressure within the cement column above
formation pressure. These additives have been tested in the field with good success.
Some of the gas generating additives will form hydrogen gas which is explosive. Precautions
should be taken if this type of additive is used.
Another method used to prevent gas migration is to use a delayed gel strength slurry.3,29
Cement that is characterized by a gel set has a slow gain in consistency until the final pumping
time is reached. A right angle set is exhibited by a delayed gel strength slurry. The slurry
remains liquid for a period of time, and the gain in consistency is rapid at the end. Figure 11-18
represents a consistometer chart for both a gel set slurry and a right angle set slurry.
Remember that cement shrinks as it sets which allows the pressure to fall within the cement
column. The gel strength developed by the cement prevents the annular pressure from being
transmitted through the cement. By using delayed gel slurry, the cement stays thin for a longer
period of time. That allows the hydrostatic pressure to be transmitted for a longer period of
time. Once gel strength starts to develop, it does so rapidly. Therefore, there is less time for
gas to enter the cement and channel before the cement sets up enough to prevent gas
migration.

11-38

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved

Drilling Practices
Primary Cementing

Figure 11-18. Consistometer Data for a Gel Set and a Delayed Gel Set Slurry3

Another method used recently involves rotating the pipe during the static gelation period. Pipe
rotation allows the hydrostatic pressure to be transmitted along the casing even after the
cement has started to gel. After rotation is stopped, restriction to flow or migration in the
cement filled annulus develops very rapidly. Tests conducted using this method30 showed that
rotation continued to high static gel strength values resulted in increased shear bond and
hydraulic bond for normal cement water ratios. Bond strength for high cement to water ratios
(1.6 w/c) was reduced.

CEMENT PROGRAM EVALUATION


A well is to be drilled to 4,300 feet. There will be three strings of casing set in the well as shown
in Table 11-13. The well is an acid gas injection well so each casing string must be cemented
back to surface. The 7 casing at 3,725 feet will cover a low pressure zone with potential lost
circulation. A two stage cement job will be required because of lost circulation. The surface
hole also has lost circulation problems though they are not as severe as the intermediate hole.
The cement on the 4 inch casing will have to be cemented with a sulfate resistant cement or
Class C. Open hole logs will not be run on the surface and intermediate hole so no casing

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved.

11-39

Drilling Practices
Chapter 11

caliper will be available. Excess cement volumes will have to be based on experience in the
area. No bond log will be run on the surface and intermediate casing. It is not uncommon to
have cement fall back on the surface casing.
Table 11-13. Casing Program for 4,399 ft Well

HOLE
SIZE

SET
FROM

SET TO

LENGTH

9, 36.00#/ft, J-55, STC surface casing

12

0 ft

1,300 ft

1,300 ft

7, 20.00#/ft, K-55 (J55), STC intermediate casing

0 ft

3,725 ft

3,725 ft

4, 10.50#/ft, K-55 (J55), STC production casing

0 ft

4,300 ft

4,300 ft

DESCRIPTION

The recommended cement program from the cementing company is as follows:


9 Surface Casing: Pump 20 bbls of fresh water as a spacer ahead of the cement. Cement
the surface casing with 339 sacks of (15:85) Poz (fly ash): Class C cement containing 8%
bentonite, 2% CaCl2 and pps (pound per sack) cellophane flake followed by 75 sacks Class C
with 2% CaCl2 and pps cellophane flake. Cement volume is based on theoretical volume
plus 100% excess. The lead cement will be mixed at 12.7 ppg with a yield of 2.04 ft3 per sack.
The tail cement will be mixed at 14.8 ppg with a yield of 1.35 ft3 per sack. In the event cement
fails to circulate to the surface or falls back more than 15 feet, re-cement top of casing using 1
inch tubing and the tail cement slurry containing 3% CaCl2.
Pump 15 barrels of fresh water ahead as a spacer fluid. Cement
7 Intermediate Casing:
the intermediate casing in two stages. The first stage will be cemented from 3,725 feet to the
stage collar at approximately 2,000 feet. Cement the first stage with 135 sacks of (15:85) Poz
(fly ash): Class C cement containing 8% bentonite and 1% CaCl2 followed by 100 sacks Class C
with 1% CaCl2. Cement volume is based on theoretical volume plus 50% excess. The lead
cement will be mixed at 12.7 ppg with a yield of 2.03 ft3 per sack. The tail cement will be mixed
at 14.8 ppg with a yield of 1.34 ft3 per sack. Displace with mud. Open DV tool and circulate
four hours.
Pump 15 barrels of fresh water ahead as a spacer fluid. Cement second stage to surface with
147 sacks of (15:85) Poz (fly ash): Class C cement containing 8% bentonite and 2% CaCl2
followed by 100 sacks Class C with 2% CaCl2. Cement volume is based on theoretical volume
plus 100% excess. The lead cement will be mixed at 12.7 ppg with a yield of 2.04 ft3 per sack.
The tail cement will be mixed at 14.8 ppg with a yield of 1.34 ft3 per sack. Displace with water
and close the DV tool.
Pump 10 barrels of fresh water ahead as a spacer fluid. Cement
4" Production Casing:
the production casing to 3,000 feet. Cement with 110 sacks of Class C cement. The cement
will be mixed at 14.8 ppg with a yield of 1.33 ft3 per sack. Displace with 2% KCl water. The
actual cement volume will be caliper volume plus 15%.

11-40

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved

Drilling Practices
Primary Cementing

REVIEW OF CEMENT PROGRAM


The cement for the surface casing consists of filler cement followed by neat cement with higher
compressive strength around the shoe. The filler cement is 15:85 Poz:Class C or 15%
pozzolan and 85% Class C. The 500 psi compressive strength within 12 hours is sufficient to
support the surface casing. Since lost circulation is a potential problem, the lead and tail
slurries contain cellophane flakes. The shallow depth requires that the cement be accelerated
with calcium chloride. Two percent gives a pump time of approximately three hours which is
more than adequate.
Since a caliper log will not be run on the surface hole, the excess cement has to be estimated.
The 12 inch hole section has a lot of salt stringers and washouts are expected since the well
will not be drilled with a salt saturated mud. The chlorides will be allowed to increase naturally.
Experience in the area indicates that 100% excess cement should be sufficient to get cement to
the surface.
After cementing the surface casing, it is common in the area to have cement fall back. If the
cement falls back below fifteen feet, one inch diameter tubing will be run down the annulus as
far as possible. The casing will be cemented to the surface with Class C cement containing
three percent calcium chloride. The higher concentration of calcium chloride is to minimize
waiting on cement time before cutting off the surface casing.
Additionally, the operator wanted to thread lock all connections from the insert float valve to the
guide shoe. Place one centralizer five feet above the shoe with a stop collar and one centralizer
on the first connection above the shoe. Place one centralizer on every fourth connection to the
surface for a total of approximately 10 centralizers.
Since the well is vertical, centralizers are only required every three to four joints to surface. The
cement recommendation was accepted as presented by the cementing contractor.
The intermediate hole is to be drilled through a depleted zone at 2,700 feet. The depleted zone
is a naturally fracture, high permeability dolomite and lost circulation is anticipated. Because of
the zone, it will not be possible to get cement to the surface in a single stage without causing
lost circulation. Therefore, a two stage cement job will be performed. The first stage must rise
above the lost zone in order to seal it before the second stage is pumped. The stage collar will
be set at 2,000 feet with 500 feet of cement above the loss zone.
The cementing company recommended pumping water ahead of the cement as a spacer fluid
followed by a light lead slurry and tail slurry. The purpose of the lead slurry is to fill the annulus
up to the stage collar and a minimum compressive strength of 500 psi is sufficient. The higher
compressive strength tail slurry is to help support the bottom of the casing since drilling will
continue below the 7 inch casing.
In this area, only the surface casing strings are cemented back to the surface. There is no
information available as to how much excess cement is required. The cementing company
recommended using 50% excess on the first stage and 100% excess on the second stage. It
would be better to have too much cement rather than too little as long as the excess on the first
stage does not cause lost circulation.
Lost circulation in the first stage is a real possibility. Therefore, the first stage cement will also
contain pps cellophane flakes. There is no possibility of lost circulation on the second stage
so no cellophane flakes will be used in the second stage. In order to minimize the possibility of

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved.

11-41

Drilling Practices
Chapter 11

lost circulation, the operator decided to use 25 sacks of the 15:85 Poz:Class C cement as a
scavenger slurry. The slurry would be mixed at 10 ppg. The operator was worried that the
water spacer might remove some of the LCM from the face of the loss zone causing lost
circulation.
The first stage has only 1% calcium chloride since temperatures are higher on bottom. The
second stage contains 2% calcium chloride. The operator decided that the tail slurry on the
second stage was not required and elected to increase the lead slurry to 210 sacks. The lead
slurry had more than enough compressive strength to support the pipe and isolate zones up the
hole.
Additionally, the operator wanted to thread lock the connections on the float collar and all
connections below the float collar. Place one centralizer five feet above the shoe with a stop
collar and one centralizer above the float collar with a stop collar. Place one centralizer on
every other connection to 2,600 feet. Then place one centralizer on every fourth collar to the
surface for approximately 28 centralizers. Reciprocate the casing while circulating and while
cementing.
The 4 in. production casing will be set through the injection interval. The top of the injection
interval will be approximately 100 feet below the bottom of the 7 inch casing. The cement
recommendation calls for pumping Class C with no additives. It is deep enough that an
accelerator is not required plus there will be no waiting on cement time. Once the plug is
bumped, the casing will be landed in the wellhead slips.
The top of the cement will be inside the 7 inch intermediate casing at approximately 3,000 feet.
The 4 inch by 7 inch annulus will be monitored for any potential leaks during the life of the
well. The annular volume in a 6 inch by 4 inch hole is relatively small so lead slurry is not
required. The calculated cement volume is only 110 sacks. Actual volume will be caliper log
plus 15% excess. The displacement fluid will be 2% KCl water so that the well can be
perforated before a workover rig arrives on location.
The operator also wanted to thread lock all the connections from the float collar to the shoe.
Place one centralizer five feet above the shoe with a stop ring. Place one centralizer on every
other connection to the top of cement at 3,000 feet for a total of approximately 16 centralizers.
Reciprocate the casing while circulating and cementing. The centralizer placement was
designed to be one centralizer per two joints across the injection interval.
No changes were made to the cementing companys recommendation.
The actual casing and cementing reports are displayed in Figure 11-19 through Figure 11-24.
The cement jobs were pumped as expected without complications. No lost circulation was
experienced on the first stage of the 7 inch intermediate casing.
The hole volumes for the surface and intermediate casing were smaller than expected. Figure
11-19 shows that 65 bbls of good cement were circulated to the surface on the 9 inch surface
casing, which is equivalent to 170 sacks of the 15:85 Poz:Class C cement. Excess volume was
only about 10%. It would be possible on the next job in the immediate area to reduce the
excess volume to 50%.

11-42

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved

Drilling Practices
Primary Cementing

CASING & CEMENTING REPORT


WELL NAME:

WELL #1

Casing Joints

OD (in)

DATE:

WT (#/ft)

Grade

Threads

Length (ft)

Shoe

0.98

9 5/8"

36.00

J55

STC

45.05

Insert Collar

0.00

28

9 5/8"

36.00

J55

STC

1,258.00

SET ABOVE KB

-2.00

RKB to Shoe

1,302.03

RKB to FC

1,256.00

RKB to DV
RKB to TOL
RKB to BHF

11.50

Bouyed weight of string

45,000

Weight hung on slips


Centralizers:

NA

Numbers Used

11 @ 1297', 1256', 1211', 1077', 941', 806',

671', 536', 402', 267', 88'


Scratchers:

Numbers Used

0@

Cement Baskets: Numbers Used

0@

REMARKS:

PLUG BUMPED, FLOAT HELD. 100% RETURNS.


CIRCULATED 62 BBLS GOOD CEMENT TO SURFACE.

Figure 11-19. Casing Report for 9 in. Surface Casing

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved.

11-43

Drilling Practices
Chapter 11

9 5/8" SURFACE CEMENTING REPORT

WELL #1

Stage 1:
Sacks
339

Type
15:85 POZ

Weight

Yield

(ppg)

(cu ft/sk)

12.7

2.04

Additives
8% Gel, 2% CaCl2,
1/4 pps Celloflake

75

CLASS C

14.8

1.35

2% CaCl2, 1/4 pps


Celloflake

Spacer Ahead:

10

bbls of

Spacer Behind:

bbls of

Bottom Plug:

Yes

Top Plug Bumped:

Dispaced with

WATER

97.3

8.33

ppg

ppg

No Sheared @

Yes

No With

bbls of

8.33

Calculated over displacement

psi
1200
ppg

psi
WATER

0.2

bbls

Amount Circulated Prior to Cementing

987

% Returns While Circulating

100

bbls of

10

ppg mud

% Cementing

100

Bomb Sheared With

%
psi

Stage 2:
Sacks

Type

Weight

Yield

(ppg)

(cu ft/sk)

Additives

Spacer Ahead:

bbls of

ppg

Spacer Behind:

bbls of

ppg

Bottom Plug:

Yes

No Sheared @

Top Plug Bumped:

Yes

Dispaced with

bbls of

psi

No With

psi
ppg

Calculated over displacement

bbls

Amount Circulated Prior to Cementing


% Returns While Circulating

bbls of
% Cementing

Bomb Sheared With

ppg mud
%
psi

Leak off Test


Depth

NA

Ft, Pressure

psi with

ppg mud

Figure 11-20. Cementing Report for 9 in. Surface Casing

11-44

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved

Drilling Practices
Primary Cementing

CASING & CEMENTING REPORT


WELL NAME:

WELL #1

Casing Joints

OD (in)

DATE:

WT (#/ft)

Grade

Threads

Length (ft)

Float Shoe

0.70

7"

20.00

J55

STC

Float Collar

43.40
1.04

40

7"

20.00

J55

STC

Stage Collar

1,703.17
2.25

49

7"

20.00

J55

STC

SET ABOVE KB

2,024.84
-2.00

RKB to Shoe

3,773.40

RKB to FC

3,729.30

RKB to DV

2,022.84

RKB to TOL
RKB to BHF

11.50

Bouyed weight of string

60,000

Weight hung on slips

60,000

Centralizers:

Numbers Used

30 @ 3769', 3729', 3645', 3561', 3479', 3400', 3314', 3236', 3149',

3063', 2976', 2889', 2803', 2716', 2630', 2451', 2284', 2111', 1936', 1778', 1607', 1434', 1268', 1111', 948', 788', 631', 462', 296', 125'

Scratchers:

Numbers Used

0@

Cement Baskets: Numbers Used

0@

REMARKS:

CIRCULATED 25 BBLS GOOD CEMENT TO SURFACE ON SECOND


STAGE.

Figure 11-21. Casing Report for 7 in. Intermediate Casing

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved.

11-45

Drilling Practices
Chapter 11

7" INTERMEDIATE CEMENTING REPORT

WELL #1

Stage 1:
Sacks
135

Weight

Yield

(ppg)

(cu ft/sk)

12.7

2.03

Type
15:85 POZ

Additives
8% Gel, 1% CaCl2
1/4 pps Celloflake

100

CLASS C

14.8

1.34

1% CaCl2

SCAVENGER
Spacer Ahead:

18

bbls of

Spacer Behind:

bbls of

Bottom Plug:

Yes

Top Plug Bumped:

Dispaced with

SLURRY

149

10.0

(25 SXS 15:85 POZ)

@
No With

bbls of

9.0

psi
1400
ppg

psi
MUD

ZERO

Amount Circulated Prior to Cementing

4700

% Returns While Circulating

100

Bomb Sheared With

450

ppg
ppg

No Sheared @

Yes

Calculated over displacement

1/4 pps Celloflake

bbls
bbls of

9.0

ppg mud

% Cementing

100

%
psi

Stage 2:
Sacks
210

Weight

Yield

(ppg)

(cu ft/sk)

12.7

2.04

Type
15:85 POZ

Spacer Ahead:

15

bbls of

Spacer Behind:

WATER

bbls of

Bottom Plug:

Yes

Top Plug Bumped:

Dispaced with

82

8% Gel, 2% CaCl2

8.33

ppg

ppg

No Sheared @

psi

Yes

No With

1600

bbls of

9.0

ppg

Calculated over displacement

psi
MUD

ZERO

Amount Circulated Prior to Cementing


% Returns While Circulating

Additives

1700
100

bbls
bbls of
% Cementing

9.0

ppg mud
100

Bomb Sheared With

%
psi

Leak off Test


Depth

NA

Ft, Pressure

psi with

ppg mud

Figure 11-22. Cementing Report for 7 in. Intermediate Casing

11-46

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved

Drilling Practices
Primary Cementing

#REF!
CASING & CEMENTING REPORT
WELL NAME:

WELL #1

Casing Joints

OD (in)

DATE:

WT (#/ft)

Grade

Threads

Length (ft)

Float Shoe

0.75

4.5"

10.50

J55

STC

45.08

Float Collar

0.58

14

4.5"

10.50

J55

STC

630.88

4.5"

10.50

J55

STC

21.95

81

4.5"

10.50

J55

STC

3,650.70

SET ABOVE KB

-2.00

RKB to Shoe

4,347.94

RKB to FC

4,302.11

RKB to DV
RKB to TOP OF MARKER JOINT

3,648.70

RKB to BHF

11.50

Bouyed weight of string

35,000

Weight hung on slips

35,000

Centralizers:

Numbers Used

16 @ 4342', 4252', 4161', 4071', 3981', 3891', 3801'

3711', 3644', 3554', 3463', 3373', 3283', 3193', 3102', 3012'


Scratchers:

Numbers Used

0@

Cement Baskets: Numbers Used

0@

REMARKS:

100% CIRCULATION THROUGHOUT JOB

Figure 11-23. Casing Report for 4 in. Production Casing

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved.

11-47

Drilling Practices
Chapter 11

4 1/2" PRODUCTION CASING CEMENTING REPORT

WELL #1

Stage 1:
Weight

Yield

Type

(ppg)

(cu ft/sk)

CLASS C

14.8

1.34

Sacks
125

Spacer Ahead:

10

bbls of

Spacer Behind:

bbls of

Bottom Plug:

Yes

Top Plug Bumped:

Dispaced with

WATER

68.5

8.33

ppg

ppg

No Sheared @

Yes

psi

No With

bbls of

Calculated over displacement

Additives

1400

8.4

ppg

psi
2% KCL WATER

ZERO

Amount Circulated Prior to Cementing

357

% Returns While Circulating

100

bbls
bbls of

9.1

ppg mud

% Cementing

100

Bomb Sheared With

%
psi

Stage 2:
Sacks

Type

Weight

Yield

(ppg)

(cu ft/sk)

Additives

Spacer Ahead:

bbls of

ppg

Spacer Behind:

bbls of

ppg

Bottom Plug:

Yes

No Sheared @

Top Plug Bumped:

Yes

Dispaced with

bbls of

psi

No With

psi
ppg

Calculated over displacement

bbls

Amount Circulated Prior to Cementing


% Returns While Circulating

bbls of
% Cementing

Bomb Sheared With

ppg mud
%
psi

Leak off Test


Depth

NA

Ft, Pressure

psi with

ppg mud

Figure 11-24. Cementing Report for 4 in. Production Casing

11-48

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved

Drilling Practices
Primary Cementing

In Figure 11-21, the report shows that 25 barrels of good cement was circulated to the surface
on the second stage of the 7 inch intermediate casing. The excess hole volume calculates to
be 35%. It would be possible to reduce the excess to 50 to 75%
The 6 inch hole was near gage with some undergage sections due to filter cake on permeable
formations. The actual cement volume used was a gage hole plus 15% extra or 125 sacks. A
bond log was run on the 4 inch casing and showed very good bonding from the float collar to
intermediate casing shoe. Actual top of cement was at approximately 2,700 feet.

CEMENT EVALUATION
The purpose of cementing is to support casing in the wellbore and to hydraulically isolate the
zone of interest in production wells and injection wells. The zonal isolation prevents flow of
hydrocarbons to water reservoirs or flow into different zones within the same reservoir. This
prevents contamination of reservoirs and corrosion of casing, and increases well life during the
production or injection stages. The increasing cost of well completion has made it necessary to
accurately determine cement quality to prevent costly recompletion or squeeze cementing jobs.
There can be number of reasons that a cementing job is not successful. These reasons relate
to either poor design of the cement slurry or poor execution of the cementing program. The
cement can degrade during curing due to insufficient or excessive water-cement ratio, poor
mixing, unacceptable slurry shrinkage, presence of mud or drilled solids, or improper pressure
differential between cement slurry and formation resulting in water loss into formation or intake
of formation fluids into cement slurry. The cementing operation might not have gone properly
due to poor pipe centralization, wash-out holes, deviated holes, incorrect pre-flush or simply,
pumping problems.31
The cement will support the casing if it has sufficient compressive strength. It will isolate a zone
if it does not allow fluid to migrate through it. Thus, a success of a cementing operation would
need information on compressive strength and height of cement distributed in the annulus
behind casing. Ataya and Youssef32 suggested that in Class G cement, a compressive
strength of 1500 psi over 20 ft interval was sufficient to prevent communication behind 7 in.
casing, while a strength of 700 psi over 20 ft interval behind 9 in. casing was enough for good
cementing and hydraulic sealing. Of course, rate and extent of compressive strength
development depends on time, temperature, cement slurry composition and degree of
contamination of the slurry. Thus, the cement evaluation methods should have means to
estimate cement compressive strength and cement distribution behind casing. The lessons
learned from cement evaluation in each well must be understood so that mistakes are not
repeated in subsequent wells.
The earliest methods of cement evaluation identified the top of the cement using either
temperature logs or gamma ray tools. Currently, the cement evaluation is performed with
acoustic logging tools which provide cement compressive strength and cement distribution
behind casing. Pilkington33 provides a good history and summary of various cement evaluation
methods. In this chapter, we will briefly describe temperature logs and radioactive tracers, and
spend more time understanding acoustic logging tools.
Pilkington discusses several
classification of the acoustic tools such as attenuation rate tools, pulse echo logs, gravel pack
log, segmented bond tool, micro cement bond log etc. But, we will concentrate on sonic tool
called cement bond log and ultrasonic tool given different names by different service
companies.

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved.

11-49

Drilling Practices
Chapter 11

TEMPERATURE LOGS
The temperature logs have been in use for several decades. They are the most economical
and effective way to determine the top of cement and annulus interval containing cement. They
detect cement top based on the exothermic nature of the cement set process. As cement sets,
it dissipates heat. Any sudden change in thermal gradient in the wellbore is the result of setting
of cement. An annulus having cement set can be at several degrees higher temperature than
an empty annulus, thereby locating the cement top.
A temperature log is a function of timing of the survey. The temperature profile during
cementing depends on the thermal gradient of the wellbore, time for curing, and thermal
dissipation through heat transfer to the surrounding formations in contact with cement. A
temperature log of the wellbore prior to cementing can provide a base reading for the formation
temperature variation with depth. This log can then be compared with the temperature profile
taken after the cementing operation. The comparison can clearly distinguish the top of the
cement.
Pilkington33 recommended that temperature logs could be run with cement bond log (CBL,
measures cement strength) for foam cement evaluation and in conventional cement jobs in
fractured formation areas. The two logs might be run several hours apart. Since the
development of the compressive strength of a cement lags behind the exothermic reaction
during the cement setting process, the temperature logs might be run much earlier than the
CBL.

RADIOACTIVE TRACERS
This technique was introduced in late 1930s to detect the top of the cement using the gamma
ray tools popular at that time. A base log was run to ascertain the radioactivity of the
uncemented wellbore. Then, radioactive tracers were added to the first mix of the cement
pumped. The radioactivity from these tracers would be picked by the gamma ray tool
delineating the top of the cement.
The advent of acoustic logging tools have eliminated the use of radioactive tracers for cement
evaluation.

ACOUSTIC LOGGING TOOLS


Acoustic logging tools send acoustic waves from the wellbore towards the casing, and measure
the waves returned from the casing, cement and formation. Each wave has four measurable
properties: velocity, amplitude, attenuation and frequency. These wave properties are
correlated to the properties of the cement placed behind casing to evaluate cement quality. The
acoustic log displays the borehole acoustic wave train at successive depths to determine the
cement strength and distribution across the cemented interval.
Acoustic logs propagate compressional and shear waves.
The compressional waves
correspond to particles vibration parallel, and the shear waves correspond to the vibration
perpendicular to the direction of the wave travel. The compressional waves travel from the
transmitter to the casing through the borehole mud, refract at the casing, travel in the casing at
compressional wave velocity of the casing, and travel back to the receiver in the wellbore as
fluid pressure waves. The shear waves travel from the transmitter to the casing as fluid
pressure waves, travel in the casing at shear wave velocity in the casing, and travel back to the

11-50

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved

Drilling Practices
Primary Cementing

receiver as a fluid pressure wave. The fluid waves travel directly from the transmitter to the
receiver with the velocity of the compressional wave in the borehole fluid. The waves sent by a
transmitter return to a receiver at different times depending on the travel time through different
medium. The acoustic logs measure the transit time of these waves from transmission to
reception. The first wave returning to the receiver is the one arriving from the mud-casing
interface. A preset period must be allowed before making acoustic logging measurements.
The sound velocity through a cement increases as it changes from a slurry to a solid, and
increases as its compressive strength develops. Since the compressive strength development
is a function of duration and temperature of cement setting, the sound velocity will change
accordingly. The sound velocity is also affected by the mud present in the casing and thickness
of the casing. A saturated calcium chloride brine will be acoustically faster than an oil-based
mud. The amplitude within a brine mud will be greater and in the oil base mud will be less than
the value based on fresh water mud, which is used to calibrate the tools. Thus, the acoustic
logging parameters must be compensated for the actual well conditions prior to cement
evaluation.
There are few terms that are important in order to understand the cement evaluation with
acoustic logs. The logging tool is set to record after the first wave amplitude is greater than a
preset trigger value called bias. The wave amplitude is recorded in an electronic gate which
is set to open and close at a fixed time. Figure 11-25 shows two of the several ways of using
the bias X and gate YZ settings and measuring the corresponding amplitude W. It has
been observed that a considerable variation in the recorded amplitude can be obtained in
cement evaluation due to different gate and bias settings used in the logging systems.34

W
X

X
Y

(a)

(b)

Figure 11-25. Two Examples of Bias and Gate Settings Used in Acoustic Logs

The acoustic tools are affected by wave reflection from the formation, especially fast formations
in which the acoustic velocity is of the same order as that in steel. Similarly, the tool response
is affected by a casing outside the cement in dual casing completions. The reflection can result
in an echo back to the receiver, causing a longer delay in the decay of the acoustic energy. The
delay will mask the amplitude response of the cement indicating a weak cement strength. This
artifact is normally overcome by setting a second shorter gate very close to the time when the
first echo arrives from the mud-casing interface.
There are two types of acoustic tools most widely used today in cement evaluation. The first is
cement bond log which operates with sonic waves having frequency around 20 KHz. The
second type is cement evaluation tool which operate with ultrasonic waves at a bandwidth from
200 to 600 KHz.35 Both of these logs have unique advantages and disadvantages. These logs
are discussed in detail below.

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved.

11-51

Drilling Practices
Chapter 11

Cement Bond Log


Cement bond log (CBL) measures the amplitude or attenuation of waves propagating axially
along a casing. The attenuation of the wave depends upon the materials on both sides of the
casing: muds inside the casing and cement in the annular space. The effect is more
pronounced on casing-cement interface than on the mud-casing interface. The amplitude of the
first arrival wave at the receiver indicates presence of cement around the casing. A low
amplitude indicate cement, and a high amplitude indicates free pipe. This log indicates the
compressive strength and cement distribution around the casing.
The distribution of cement around casing is reported by bond index. The index correlates the
amplitude of the casing arrival time to the relative degree of cement bond to the casing. Simply,
it gives the % of the pipe circumference cemented. The bond index is given by36

BI =

Attenuation in zone of interest (db/ft )


Attenuatio n in 100% cemented zone (db/ft )

Equation 11-2

BI =

Am
AC

Equation 11-3

where attenuations Am and Ac are


Am =

20 Amplitude measured in zone of interest

log
d
Amplitude in " free pipe"

Equation 11-4

Ac =

20 Amplitude measured in 100% cemented sheath

log
d
Amplitude in " free pipe"

Equation 11-5

where d is the distance between the transmitter and receiver on the tool. The bond index
when combined with the height of the cement zone can give an indication of success of zonal
isolation. Pilkington reported the amount of footage required for vertical isolation was 5 ft of
cement of 80% bond index for a 5 in. OD casing and 15 ft of 80% bond index for 9 in. OD
casing.33 The height values for a 60% bond index will be slightly higher.
Few responses of cement bond logging from a tool having an axial transmitter and a receiver
are shown in Figure 11-26.37 Figure 11-26 (a) shows the response in a free pipe i.e. a casing
which is not cemented. The first arrival in the response is the casing travel time which is the
sum of the travel time in the mud between the tool and the casing, and the travel time in casing
between the transmitter and the receiver. Since the casing is free, the waveform has high
amplitude and lasts a long time or takes longer to attenuate. In a free pipe, the energy from the
sonic wave is confined to mud and the casing. Figure 11-26 (b) shows the response when
cement bonds well with both casing and formation. The wave shows very little signal at the
casing arrival time and very small amplitude in the cement. The only distinct response is the
formation arrival time. Most of the wave energy is transferred from the casing to the formation
through cement. Figure 11-26 (c) shows the response in a high-velocity formation. The sonic
velocity in the formation is comparable to that in the casing. As a result, the signals from the
formation and casing are overlapping making it difficult to evaluate cement bonding.

11-52

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved

Drilling Practices
Primary Cementing

Figure 11-26 (d) shows the response when the cement is bonded to casing only, not to the
formation. In this case, the acoustic energy is attenuated in the cement sheath. There is no
acoustic coupling between the cement and formation and so, no signals is observed from the
formation. Figure 11-26 (e) shows a partially bonded cement. The waveform signals are
complicated because a part of the energy is from the free pipe and another from bonded pipe.
Similarly, moderate signals are observed from the formation arrival time. This partial bonding
indicates either a channel or a microannulus.
Increasing Transit Time

(a)
Casing Arrival Time
Increasing Transit Time

(b)

(d)

(c)

(e)

Casing Arrival Time

Casing Arrival Time

Figure 11-26. Acoustic Response for Different Casing-Cement-Formation Conditions 37

Since the use of CBL tool began, there had been several different improvements in the tool.38
But the physics of the measurement has remained the same. The different versions provide
the amplitude in different sectors around the casing.
The main advantage of the CBL tool is that it is little affected by borehole fluids. Hence it can
be run in heavy drilling muds.
Shortcomings of the CBL Tool

The amplitude of a high strength cement having channels may be similar to a low strength
cement with no channels. So a clear distinction in the cement evaluation may be difficult.

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved.

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Drilling Practices
Chapter 11

Microannulus is a small water gap created behind casing when the pressure inside the casing is
released after the cement set. A seven inch. 23 lbm/ft casing expands 0.004 in. when it is
subjected to 1000 psi pressure. When pressure is released after cementing, a microannulus of
1/10th mm thickness might be created between casing and cement sheath. A high amplitude in
a CBL response may indicate free pipe while it may actually be microannulus. So the CBL log
must be run under pressure to prevent microannulus formation.
The CBL has poor response in thin cement sheath. It is reported that a cement sheath less
than in. will not provide complete attenuation for the acoustic signal and hence will not give
correct cement evaluation. A mud cake of in. thickness in a in. annulus will cause cement
attenuation to be 70% of that without the mud cake.33
The interpretation of the CBL response with bond index requires correct knowledge of the
amplitude of 100% cemented sheath and of free pipe used in the cementing operations. These
amplitudes are a function of drilling mud, cement acoustic properties, casing size and thickness.
In high velocity formations, hard formations, the wave from the formation may mask the cement
signals. A combination of CBL with VDL (variable density log) might improve the problem
associated with signal emanating from formation, but it will provide only qualitative
measurements. This combination can not eliminate the drawback from the type of wave
propagation.

Ultrasonic Logging Tool


This tool emits high frequency ultrasonic waves thereby providing higher resolution cement
evaluation. The acoustic wave from the tool causes casing to resonate in its thickness. The
presence of cement behind casing dampens the resonance. As a result, a cemented casing
exhibits fast decay while the lack of cement gives a long resonance and a slow pulse decay.
The transducer in the ultrasonic tool emits short pulses of acoustic energy in a frequency band
width of 200 to 600 KHz. The transmitter then becomes the receiver and receives the echo
from the casing. The returning waveform is a summation of the echo from the original pulse and
an exponentially decaying waveform from the resonant energy trapped between the inner and
outer casing walls. The initial response is a large reflection from the internal surface of the
casing. The wave arrival time depends on the distance of the transducer from the casing and
on the mud density. The received waveform is rectified and integrated within a gate covering
the resonance delay period. The gate is set to provide maximum contrast between a free pipe
and a cemented pipe.
The initial design of the ultrasonic tool had 8 transducers acting as transmitters and receivers.35
These transducers were positioned at 45o to each other in a helical pattern to examine different
casing azimuths with very fine vertical resolution. The earlier tools lacked full radial coverage of
the casing circumference. The present day tools have a single rotating transducer, which is
able to cover the full circumference of casing and able to log in all but the heaviest mud.38,39,40
The ultrasonic tool measures acoustic impedance of the cement and map the cement
distribution behind casing. The impedance is determined from the rate at which the
fundamental frequency decays. Service companies have developed empirical correlations that
relate the acoustic impedance to the cement compressive strength. The acoustic impedance is
the product of density and acoustic velocity in the medium. It is measured in MRayls (Mega
Rayles) which is 106-Kg/m2/sec. The acoustic impedance of a mud depends upon on its density

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Drilling Practices
Primary Cementing

and that of cement depends on density and developed compressive strength. Acoustic
impedance of various materials: cements, muds, water and gas are given in Table 11-14.
Table 11-14. Few Acoustic Impedance Values 38,41

Acoustic Impedance
(MRayl)

Material

Fresh Water

1.5

Free Gas

0.1

Steel

46.0

12 lbm/gal Drilling Mud

2.16

17 lbm/gal Drilling Mud

3.06

9 lbm/gal Foamed Class C (250 psi)

2.19

9 lbm/gal Foamed Class C (1000 psi)

2.69

13 lbm/gal Cement (500 psi)

3.37

13 lbm/gal Cement (2000 psi)

4.42

16.5 lbm/gal Cement (2000 psi)

5.62

Gas cut cement

0.5 to 1.0

The ultrasonic tool is considered to have an accuracy of 0.5 MRayl; i.e. it needs a difference of
0.5 MRayl between the impedance of the fluid and the cement to interpret presence of
contaminants in cement.40 The tool can distinguish acceptable cement bonding, unset cement
slurry, free gas in cement slurry and gaseous cement. Because of its accuracy, the ultrasonic
tool provides better vertical and radial resolution, and gives better image of cement distribution
behind casing.
The ultrasonic tool provides several useful information: casing radius, ovality of casing,
indication of casing wear and corrosion, casing thickness, cement distribution behind casing
and cement compressive strength. When the cement compressive strength is greater than a
minimum value, a good zonal isolation might be indicated. The tool provides quantitative
evaluation of the cement quality in an easily readable display of cement distribution around the
casing. In case the tool indicates poor cementing, the remedial cementing work can be better
planned from the cement distribution map. If it is difficult to prevent annular leaks, the cement
distribution information can help to plan an alternative cementing technique in the nearby well
development.
The ultrasonic wave frequencies allow penetration into casing of thickness up to 15 mm. These
waves are not affected by the microannulus which is small with respect to the ultrasonic
wavelength in water.
Thus, the ultrasonic tool allows identification of channels and
microannulus in cement annulus.

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved.

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Drilling Practices
Chapter 11

Shortcomings of the Ultrasonic Tool

A separate relationship between acoustic impedance and cement compressive strength is


needed for a normal cement and for a light cement containing foam, glass, or microspheres.
The interpretation of cement bond is performed by selecting a liquid/cement threshold for
acoustic impedance. If the measured impedance is more than this threshold then the casing is
cemented. If less, the casing annulus has some fluid. The selection of this threshold is critical
to correct cement evaluation using the ultrasonic tool. The liquid/cement threshold is affected
by drilling mud inside casing and fluids outside the casing: liquid, free gas or dissolved gas.

Cement Map

Bond
Index A

Bond
Index B

VDL

Figure 11-27. Cement Evaluation with Ultrasonic and CBL/VDL Combination showing Microannulus 38

The muds in the casing attenuate the high frequency ultrasound. The thicker the muds and
higher the solid content, the faster is the attenuation. The operating limit of the ultrasonic tools
in heavy drilling mud depends on the absolute attenuation of the mud. The upper limit has been

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Drilling Practices
Primary Cementing

reported to be 15.9 lbm/gal in water base and 11.6 lbm/gal in oil base muds. However, mud
weight is not a definitive parameter of acoustic attenuation of a fluid.40
The ultrasonic tool does not evaluate bonding between cement and formation, nor provide
information on thickness of cement in the annulus. A variable density log (VDL) contains
information about the formation, so a CBL-VDL combination can identify bonding between
cement and the formation.

Ultrasonic-CBL/VDL Tools Combination


The combination of ultrasonic and CBL/VDL tools provides much better insight into cement
evaluation.31 These tools complement each other. When the CBL tool indicates less than
perfect cement bond, additional data are needed to determine the reason for the poor
cementing. This additional data is obtained with ultrasonic tool, which identify whether zonal
isolation was achieved or not. The logs are run without wellhead pressure and with 800-1000
psi wellhead pressure to identify microannulus.

Gamma
Ray

VDL

Acoustic
Impedance
Image

Bond
Index

Cement
Map

Figure 11-28. Cement Evaluation in a Sheath Containing Gas 38

Figure 11-27 shows responses from the ultrasonic and CBL/VDL logs run in a well cemented
with a 12 lbm/gal cement. The logs were run at two well head pressures: zero and 2000 psi.
The cement bond index at these pressures are not similar indicating presence of microannulus
in the cement. The acoustic impedance of the cement solids is between 3-5 MRayls. The
cement map from the ultrasonic tool shows dark regions with good cement and light regions
having poor cement.

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved.

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Drilling Practices
Chapter 11

Figure 11-28 shows logging results from a well with 7 in. 33.7 lbm/ft casing cemented with an
anti-gas migration agent. The formation has a 10 ft gas cap above the oil interval. The bond
index is nearly 100% except across the gas cap where there is gas migration into the cement.
The ultrasonic tool shows a good cementing across the most of the section except in the gas
zone where there is limited gas contamination. The acoustic impedance of the cement is from
4-7 MRayl.

Figure 11-29. Cement Evaluation with CBL and Ultrasonic Logging Tool 39

Figure 11-29 compares the results from CBL and ultrasonic tools. At depths below Y060 ft, the
acoustic impedance is low and the CBL log shows high amplitude and high casing signal
indicating free pipe. Thus, the cement bonding is poor below Y060 ft. At shallower depths, the
acoustic impedance values are high indicating more cement above Y060 than below. Above
Y060ft, the impedance map shows a channel in the center which is on the low side of the hole,
whereas the cement is wrapped around the top side. The negative acoustic impedance could
be caused by casing contacting the formation. The casing contact with the formation could also
result in some signals returning to the CBL.
These examples shows that the combination of ultrasonic and sonic logging tools can help to
evaluate cement bond quality behind casing, assist in predicting zonal isolation, top of cement,
irregular cement distribution, presence of channels.

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Drilling Practices
Primary Cementing

Challenges to Cement Evaluation


The cement evaluation methods should be able to describe cement properties irrespective of its
density, compressive strength or quality. The acoustic logging devices have to be carefully
used for the evaluation of low density, low compressive strength cements such as foamed
cements, cements with sponge-like microspheres, cement containing hydrogen for control of
annulus flux, or any cement containing gas percolation.41 The compressive strength of the light
weight cement is low. Hence, the acoustic impedance of the light-weight cement is slightly
more than that of the drilling mud. The devices should also be able to work in high mud weights
and thick-walled casings used in ultra-deep sea environment.40 The tool parameters have to be
correctly set for such challenging cement evaluations.
As environmental concerns continue to become more dominant, the use of more sophisticated
cement evaluation tools will become important.

NOMENCLATURE
Am

Attenuation in zone of interest for cement evaluation, db/ft

Ac

Attenuation in 100% cemented sheath, db/ft

Compression of Centralizers due to the lateral load, inches

Distance between transmitter and receiver on a CBL tool, ft

Deflection or sagging of the casing string between centralizers, inches

Rb

Radius of borehole, inches

Rc

Radius of casing outside diameter, inches

REFERENCES
1

API Spec 10, Specification for Materials and Testing for Well Cements, Third Edition, API,
Dallas, July 1, 1986.

Mid-Continent District Study Committee on Cementing Practices and Testing of Oil-Well


Cements, "Effects of High Pressures and Temperature on Strength of Oil-Well Cements," API
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Grant, W.H., Dodd, E.L., and Gardner, C.A.; "Simplified Slurry Design Increases Wellsite
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Buchan, B. and Little, M.T.S.; "Advanced Techniques Improve Liner Cementation in North Sea
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Suman, G.O. and Ellis, R.C.; "Cementing Oil and Gas Wells," (eight part series) World Oil,
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Smith, R.C.; "Use This Checklist to Improve Primary Cementing Operations," World Oil, March,
1986, pp 59-66.

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Drilling Practices
Chapter 11

Hartog, J.J., Davies, D.R., and Stewart, R.B.; "An Integrated Approach for Successful Primary
Cementations," Journal of Petroleum Technology, Sept., 1983, pp 1600-1610.

Slagle, K.A. and Smith, D.K.; Salt Cement for Shale and Bentonitic Sands, Journal of
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Beach, H.J.; Consequences of Salting Well Cements, SPE paper 10032 presented at 1982
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10

Maier, et. al.; Cementing Practices in Cold Environments, SPE paper 2825 presented at the
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11

Bozich, M.P., Montman, R.C., and Harms, W.M.; Application of Foamed Portland Cement to
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12

Montman, R., Sutton, D., Harms, W., and Mody, B.; "Low Density Foam Cements Solve Many
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13

Brice, J.W. and Holmes, B.C.; "Engineered Casing Cementing Programs using Turbulent Flow
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14

Farris, R.F.; "Method for Determining Minimum Waiting-on-Cement Time," Trans. AIME, 1946,
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15

Davis, S.H. and Faulk, J.H.; "How to Reduce WOC Time," Oil and Gas Journal, 55, No. 14.
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16

Halliburton sales literature, "Oil Well Cementing," January, 1970.

17

Clark, R.C. Jr.; "Requirements of Casing Cement for Segregating Fluid Bearing Formations,"
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18

Teplitz, A.J. and Hassebroek, W.E.; "An Investigation of Oil Well Cementing," Drilling and
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19

Lockyear, C.F.,Daniel, F.R. and Gunningham, M.M.; "Cement Channeling: How to Predict and
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20

Clark, R.C. and Carter, L.G.; "Mud Displacement with Cement Slurries," Journal of Petroleum
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21

API Specification 10 D for Casing Centralizers, third edition, API, Washington D.C., February
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22

Mitchell, B.; Advanced Oilwell Drilling Engineering Handbook, 1991, pp 123-127.

23

Dowell Schlumberger; Cementing Technology, 1984, Chapter 9, pp 2-4.

24

Sauer, C.W.; "Mud Displacement During Cementing: A State of the Art," Journal of Petroleum
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25

Bowman, G.R. and Sherer, B.; "How to Run and Cement Liners," World Oil, March, 1988, pp
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26

Beirute, R.M.; "The Phenomenon of Free Fall During Primary Cementing," SPE paper 13045
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27

Wahlmeier, M. and Lam, S.; "Mathematical Algorithm Aid Analysis of 'U-tubing' during Slurry
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28

Stewart, R.B. and Schouten F.C.; "Gas Invasion and Migration in Cemented Annuli: Causes
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29

Sykes, R.L. and Logan, J.L.; "New Technology in Gas Migration Control," SPE paper 16653
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Drilling Practices
Primary Cementing

30

Sutton, D.L. and Ravi, K.M.; "Low-Rate Pipe Movement During Cement Gelation to Control
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31

Catala, G.N., Stowe, I.D., and Henry, D.J.; A Combination of Acoustic Measurements to
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32

Ataya, A.A. and Youssef, F.Z.; Cement Evaluation Tool and its Applications to
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33

Pilkington, P.E.; Cement Evaluation-Past, Present, and Future, JPT, February 1992, 132140.

34

Pickett, G.R.; Acoustic Character Logs and their Applications in Formation Evaluation, JPT,
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35

Froelich, B., Pittman, D., and Seeman, B.; Cement Evaluation Tool-A New Approach to
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36

Gai, H. and Lockyear, C.; Cement Bond Logs A New Analysis to Improve Reliability, paper
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37

Petroleum Engineering Handbook, Edited by Bradley, H.B., SPE, Richardson, TX, June 1989,
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38

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39

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40

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41

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Engineering, August 1992, 280-284.

Copyright 2004 OGCI/PetroSkills. All rights reserved.

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