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Cement Evaluation Tool:

A New Approach to Cement Evaluation


Benoit Froelich, Etudes et Production Schlumberger
A. Dumont, Etudes et Production Schlumberger
Dennis Pittman, Etudes et Production Schlumberger
Bruno Seeman, SPE, Etudes et Production Schlumberger

Summary
A new generation of cement and casing evaluation tools casing deformation and have identified casing corrosion
is being introduced with construction permitting detailed and wear.
examination of cement behind casing. Classical cement
bond logging systems measure amplitude or attenuation Introduction
of plate waves propagating axially along the casing. The Conventional cement bond logs (CBL's) are run in cased
design described in this paper exploits the principle of hole using a sonic logging tool in a single receiver mode
casing thickness resonance to overcome previous tool (or a simplified sonde specially designed for CBL). The
limitations. Applications and results from field tests il- transmitter and receiver are more or less omnidirec-
lustrate the advantages of this approach. tional, with an operating frequency around 20 kHz. The
Cement bond logging achieves its greatest utility when most rapid wave path from transmitter to receiver is a
it provides the production engineer with precise indica- plate-type mode in the casing with a compressional wave
tions of cement strength and distribution around the cas- in the mud path from transmitter to casing and casing to
ing. Zone isolation is of critical importance in produc- receiver. At this frequency, the casing is very thin with
tion. Previous logging systems have yielded measures of respect to the wavelength, and the velocity is close to the
cement bond that were circumferential averages of ce- compressional velocity in steel. I Attenuation of this
ment quality. These were difficult to interpret. Addi- wave depends mainly on loss of energy to the materials
tionally, they were sensitive to the degree of shear cou- on either side of the casing (mud, cement) and since the
pling between pipe, cement, and formation and thus particle movement at the surfaces of the casing is
were affected by microannulus. The cement evaluation predominantly parallel to the casing axis, 2 more loss oc-
tool (CET) described here overcomes these difficulties. curs through shear coupling to a solid medium (cement)
It provides a measurement of cement presence and than to a liquid (mud).
strength, which is largely insensitive to microannulus. Thus, the amplitude of the first ~rrival at the receiver is
Its log output is interpreted easily. Tool design allows indicative of the presence of cement around the casing:
examination of the casing circumferentially at each low amplitude indicates cement, and high amplitude in-
depth. Impedance behind casing is measured. dicates free pipe.
Laboratory calibration measurements allow this to be There are several drawbacks to this system.
presented in terms of cement compressive strength. Ce- 1. The omnidirectional characteristics imply good cen-
ment channels are distinguished easily, and a zone isola- tralization to ensure simultaneous first arrivals from all
tion indicator can be presented. Additionally, casing in- azimuths.
ternal diameter and distortion are displayed. 2. The omnidirectional characteristics make it difficult
European and North American field tests have been to distinguish high-strength cement with a channel
completed, and performance for a variety of well condi- (hydraulic communication) from an even distribution of
tions is discussed. The ability of the tool to identify low-strength cement (no communication) because the
channels is confirmed. Sequential runs with and without amplitude may be the same in both cases.
excess pressure demonstrate immunity to microannulus 3. The necessity for good shear coupling to the cement
in cases where CBL is affected but where microannulus implies practically free pipe amplitude in the case of a
is small enough to prohibit hydraulic communication. microannulus.
Geometrical measurements have been good indicators of 4. In hard formations where the compressional veloci-
ty is higher than the plate mode velocity in steel, the first
arrival is no longer the casing wave, and the calibration
0149-2136/82/0081-0207$00.25
Copyright 1982 Society of Petroleum Engineers of AIME is no longer valid.
AUGUST 1982 1835
A
FREE PIPE

A B
r---------

50 T sec

TRANSDUCER A
CEMENTED PIPE

...
.~
'E

50 100 T JI C

Fig. 1-Ultrasonic wave propagation with an incident wave Fig. 2-lmpulse response for a free and a cemented pipe,
normal to the steel wall. 0.47 in. (12 mm) thick .

The transit time measurement enables identification of .distance of each transducer from the casing to be
poor centralization or fast formations, and the addition of calculated; therefore, four casing ID measurements can
a variable density log improves the interpretation of be displayed, and the sonde position is known
channels, fast formations, and microannulus from a accurately.
qualitative point of view. Also, some newer, specialized
multitransducer CBL tools give a better quality attenua- .Principle
tion measurement, but the drawbacks resulting from the The basic idea is to make the casing resonate in its
type of wave propagation used are not eliminated. thickness mode. The presence of cement behind the cas-
The CET is an entirely new approach to cement quali- ing is detected as a rapid damping of this resonance,
ty evaluation, designed to overcome the drawbacks of while a lack of cement gives a long resonance decay.
the CBL. It is a high-frequency ultrasonic device with The geometric configuration is shown in Fig. I. The
eight focused transducers examining different azimuths . ultrasonic transducer, both emitter and receiver, is ap-
of the casing with very fine vertical resolution, thus proximately 2 in. (5 cm) from the casing wall and sends
enabling a channel to be identified clearly. The repeatedly a short ultrasonic pulse toward the casing; the
transducers act as transmitters and receivers, each ultrasonic wave front can be considered as plane and
transducer emitting a short pulse of acoustic energy and parallel to the steel interface.
then receiving the echo from the casing. The short, light,
rigid sonde is centralized easily. The type of wave prop- Impulse Response
agation used in a compressional wave normal to the cas- Let us first consider that this pulse is infinitely short.
ing surfaces thus is not affected by a microannulus that is After traveling through the fluid, the main part of this
small with respect to the wavelength, and reflections pulse is reflected back to the transducer by the first inter-
from the formation arrive later than from the cement and face, A, but a small fraction of the energy enters the cas-
thus can be distinguished. ing wall and is reflected back and forth inside it with part
The response of the tool is dependent on the acoustic . of the energy transmitted outside at each reflection on A
impedance of the cement (product of density and or B.
acoustic velocity), and an empirical relationship has The impulse response displayed on Fig. 2 is thus a
been established experimentally between this elastic succession of impulses separated by twice the travel time
parameter and the compressive strength for oil well ce- through the steel wall; each impulse amplitude is a func-
ment. Thus, the log can be calibrated directly in cement tion of the acoustic impedances in the three media (inside
compressive strength, and the azimuthal separation of fluid, steel, and outside medium). The first peak is ap-
the transducers enables a pictorial representation of ce- proximately 10 times larger than the others. The follow-
ment distribution around the casing. In addition, the time ing impulses are of opposite sign, and their amplitudes
between firing and reception of the first echo, associated form an exponential decay. In the case of free pipe, with
with a measurement of mud transit time, enables the water on both sides, the decay is slow. With cement the
1836 JOURNAL OF PETROLEUM TECHNOLOGY
decay is fast because the acoustic coupling between steel
and the outside medium is better.
THIN PLATE
For typical casing thickness, the impulse response
lasts for approximately 50 /1-S, which corresponds to the
2-in. (5-cm) standoff for the transducer.

500-kHz Excitation ~~ a
The impulse response would be obtained with a high- 1
frequency transducer and excitation. However, the tool
must operate in fluids, such as drilling muds, that are
very attenuative for high-frequency ultrasound, and most
of the energy would be lost. The transducers are better
operated at the lowest possible frequency, which is the
casing thickness resonance frequency with period LI.
CEMENTED CASING 9 mm THICK
The usual casing thickness range is from 0.2 to 0.6 in.
(5 to 15 mm). The thinnest casing corresponds to the
highest resonance frequency, 600 kHz. When the casing
wall thickness increases, this frequency decreases; b
however, the casing also can vibrate on the harmonics or
multiples of the fundamental. This means that the
ultrasonic pulse emitted by the transducer must have a
frequency bandwidth extending from 600 kHz to half-
this value, 300 kHz, so that any casing encountered will
resonate on its fundamental or its harmonics.
Fig. 3a shows such a pulse as reflected from a single
interface; its length is approximately 6 /1-S, its 6-dB band-
width 270 to 630 kHz. The reflection from a casing is the FREE CASING 9 mm THICK
convolution of this pulse shape with the casing impulse
response (Fig. 3b and 3c).

Measurement and Calibration


To measure the properties of the material behind the cas- .
ing, the received waveform is rectified and integrated
within a gate that covers part of the resonance decay .. '
This gate is set so that the contrast between free and
cemented pipe is maximum. The output voltage, R, of
the gate is a function of the acoustic impedance of the Fig. 3-Typical ultrasonic waveform.
medium behind the casing. This function is represented
in Fig. 4 as calculated for a 0.35-in (9-mm) casing. R is R
normalized to one when water is also outside the pipe. It
can be seen that the response is roughly 50% higher
when gas is behind the casing (very low acoustic im-
pedance). This is enough to allow gas detection. When
the acoustic impedance, z, increases above 70x 10 6
Ibm/ft-sec (lOx 10 6 kgm 2 /s), the slope of the curve
and the sensitivity become very small, but this is outside
the usual range of cement acoustic impedances.
The output can be transformed from acoustic im-
pedance into cement compressive strength, defined as
the maximum weight supported by a cubic sample before -
breaking. An empirical relationship (Fig. 5) has been
established for this with samples made of Class G ce-
ment mixed with various proportions of water and ad-'
ditives such as bentonite. The relation between acoustic
impedance and compressive strength is approximately
linear from 0 to 10,000 psi (0 to 69 MPa). Thus, it is . 1;
possible to convert the response, R, from acoustic im-
pedance to compressive strength of cement in front of the
transducer.
5 15 z
10' kg-m2 /s
Samples with significantly different compositions also ~.
were measured, such as pozzolan cement and Fig. 4-Tool response vs. acoustic impedance of the medium
lightweight cement filled with glass microspheres. It was behind casing. Curve normalized to one for water
found that these samples depart from the curve of Fig. 5, behind casing.

AUGUST 1982 1837


COMPRESSIVE STRENGTH
10' PSI

+ R

1 FREE PIPE ~~~~_


/
/

II
'.t(

ACOUSTIC IMPEDANCE
10 kg m'/s
Ot=========~ __~__~O.~2________~__
o 5 10 o mm

Fig. 5-Experimental relation between acoustic impedance Fig. 6-Experimental and computed effect of microannulus
and compressive strength of cement. on tool response.

so different relationships should be used for unusual the reading, R, is increased, leading to an apparent
slurry compositions. decrease in cement quality.
This problem is not very common because cement is
Spurious Effects usually attenuative. Laboratory results show that at-
In the discussion so far, it has been assumed that the tenuation is correlated with compressive strength-the
medium behind casing is infinite. In an actual well, finite better the cement, the lower the attenuation. However, a
thickness layers must be considered. solution has been worked out to detect such formation
The microannulus is a small water gap between pipe reflections: In addition to the regular Gate G 1, a second
and cement, which occurs when the pressure inside the gate, G2, is set with a short delay (Fig. 3) after the main
pipe is released after cement setting. From mechanical echo. The outputs from the two gates, R I and R 2 , are
data of casings and possible pressure changes, the compared and enable the detection of a nonexponential
microannulus can be estimated to be less than 0.004 in. decay, characteristic of formation reflections. Knowing
(0.1 mm); such a thickness is thought to prevent any that formation reflections mean low attenuation cement,
communication. The theoretical and experimental effect it can be deduced that the cement quality is high, and a
of this water gap is shown in Fig. 6. It is seen to be default value of 1,000 psi (6.9 MPa) can be set for the
negligible below 0.004 in. (0.1 mm), such a length being compressive strength at that point.
only a small fraction (~/30) of the ultrasonic wavelength The effect of tool eccentering has been studied in the
in water. This lack of sensitivity to water microannulus laboratory with different casing diameters. When the
is confirmed by actual logs run in wells where microan- transducer is moved away from the center, the ultrasonic
nulus is detected with conventional CBL as a large beam is not normal to the casing wall and is reflected
amplitude change between logs recorded with and away from the transducer. Fig. 7 shows the effect of
without overpressure inside the casing. On the contrary, transducer eccentering on the gate output, R, in a typical
this pressure has no effect on the CET response, which casing. The maximum eccentering not detrimental to log
thus requires only one pass in the well instead of two. quality ranges from 0.2 in (5 mm) in 5-in. (12.7-cm) cas-
Typical thickness for the cement sheet is around 1 in. ing to 0.4 in. (10 mm) in 9%-in. (24-cm) casing. This ac-
(2.5 cm). As shown in Fig. 1, part of the acoustic energy curacy is achieved easily with the new sonde design.
is transmitted through the steel wall to this cement sheet.
If the cement is nonattenuative and if the medium behind Tool and Log Description
provides an acoustic impedance contrast with the cement Eight transducers are positioned on the sonde at 45 0

and a smooth interface, part of the energy will be from one another in a helical path. These transducers are
reflected back to the transducer. Such a situation may oc- about 1 in. (2.54 cm) in diameter; this size is also the
cur in fast formations or double casing strings. For a size of the illuminated spot on the casing because the
typical value of cement velocity, the time delay with ultrasonic beam is almost cylindrical for the frequency of
respect to the main echo is only about 20 J.ts. Thus, this interest. These transducers are fired in sequence and
energy interferes with the normal resonance decay and multiplexed in reception; all data are put on depth by the
1838 JOURNAL OF PETROLEUM TECHNOLOGY
TOOL RESPONSE R

BULK HEAD-----F"'!~
FIXED TRANSDUCER _--r::"'EtJ

-fiiiilt=l=t=---- MOVABLE TRANSDUCER

ADJUSTING SCREW

FREE I CASING
TRANSDUCER
, ['

I
I
I
I,
NTRALIZER
I
CEMENTjED CASING 003%/1

-10 -8 -6 -4 -2 0 2 4 6 8 10mm
COMPENSATION
TRANSDUCER EXCENTERING

Fig. 7-Effect of transducer eccentering on its response, R, in Fig.8-Tool.


7-in. (17.8-cm) casing, 20 Ibf (89 N).

surface equipment. A ninth transducer is in the axial diameters and gives a sensitive indication of casing cor-
direction (Fig. 8), with a mirror fixed at a known rosion, wear, or collapse. The third output is the tool
distance in front of it; its transit time measurement is centering inside the casing to check proper
used to monitor continuously the velocity of sound in centralization.
the fluid. The right track can be viewed as a map of the cement
Two different mandrels are available: a 3o/s-in behind casing. At each depth the shading is proportional
(8.6-cm) diameter for casings from 4V2 to 5Vz in. (11.4 to cement compressive strength from white (free pipe) to
to 14 cm) and a 4-in. (lO-cm) diameter for casings from black [good cement, with compressive strength typically
5 1h to 9% in. (14 to 24 cm). On this last sonde, the posi- above 3,500 psi (24 MPa)]. The compressive strength is
tion of the transducers can be adjusted so that the stand- interpolated linearly between two transducers that are
off remains 2 in. (5 cm), even in large-diameter pipe; supposed to make point measurements on the cir-
this reduces the effect of ultrasonic attenuation in high- cumference. At the far right, an optional display is used
density mud. The sonde body is supported at each end by to identify formation reflections or gas detection; eight
springs and roller centralizers, which provide efficient lines represent the eight transducers, and each line is nor-
centering up to 75 deviation without damage to the cas- mally narrow. Formation reflection is shown as a heavy
ing surface. The electronic signal processing and line and gas behind casing by two parallel narrow lines.
telemetry cartridge is located above the sonde and is The middle track shows two compressive strength
mechanically decoupled from it by flex joints in the case curves, the best and the worst. These curves are com-
of deviated wells. puted from the transducer outputs after vertical averag-
The log is divided into three tracks; the left track is ing over 4 ft (1.2 m) and an azimuthal averaging over
devoted to distance measurements from conversion of 45 or two transducers. The computation uses the em-
transit times into distances with the mud velocity given pirical relationship described earliet. When the
by the ninth transducer. One output is the mean diameter minimum compressive strength is above 0 psi (kPa) , a
as computed from the average of the eight transit times, shading can be added to flag good zone isolation. One
with a resolution close to 0.004 in. (0.1 mm). The casing output is optional; the tool relative bearing with respect
ovality is the difference between largest and smallest to the deviation (when the well is deviated to show the
AUGUST 1982 1839
Ir

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I',.
~
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~~~:~ ~

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f
~

t- MDIA
t
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\
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t
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I~
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OVAL

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t 700

pal
10000. 0.0
0-:0 . __ ~_'.:~~_<.ltt -~o-:~i)OO .........,;l\~L~!.)........ .
10000. 0.0 10000. 0.0
( N 1---. _____ O_I1~LP_~f__ ~ __ ...... 1'-' ...(~.8.) ......

Fig. 9-CET log with acoustic caliper showing different cas- Fig. 10-CET showing cement top and channel.
ing weights.

orientation of cement defects, such as in a mud channel). cement top, a vertical water channel is evident on the
Another presentation can display four diameters as right track; as a consequence, the minimum compressive
computed by adding the transit times of opposite strength is zero most of the time, pointing out the lack of
transducers. These four calipers are useful in case of cas- zone isolation despite a good cement quality over most
ing deformation or wear. of the pipe circumference.
Fig. II is an example of reflection from outside the ce-
Log Examples ment sheath. In this particular case, reflection is provid-
Fig. 9 shows a section of log with zones of good cement ed by a 9%-in. (24-cm) casing outside the 7-in (17.8-cm)
with a minimum compressive strength in excess of 2,000 pipe. The formation reflection flags are scarce below the
psi (13.7 MPa). In the left track, the acoustic caliper 9%-in. (24-cm) shoe and are displayed suddenly above
demonstrates its resolution with three heavier casing for all transducers. A channel also is demonstrated below
joints; one is apparently 26 Ibm/ft (38.7 kg/m), and two the casing shoe, slowly rotating around the casing (con-
others are 23 Ibm/ft (34.2 kg/m)-as opposed to 20 stant relative bearing reading means that the tool is not
Ibm/ft (29.7 kg/m) for the rest of the well. rotating).
Casing ovality remains very low, as in the following Fig. 12 shows an unusual channel. First, it can be seen
examples where casings are not damaged. that the tool is rotating very slowly, with less than one
Fig. 10 shows a cement top with maximum com- tum for 328 ft (100 m). The channel displayed not only
pressive strength gradually decreasing to zero. Below the turns around the casing in approximately 33 ft (10 m),
1840 JOURNAL OF PETROLEUM TECHNOLOGY
9~"
casing
shoe

MOIA

MOIA

II. I----F~--......

II
10000. 0.0 10000. 0.0
____ _. .I:lyflJ.. sm .. ) ________ _
0.0 0.5000
-~-cioo-o :,.s_I1t1_(~_'_i_. ~. -'0-:0' ......... t~.,t!.\~ ... 1........ .
0.0 D.SOOO
.........,;~.~\.~~.I. )........ .
10000. 0.0
\________ .I!'._.LC!'.a-,__ ... PJl ...<.~~.e.I.. ...... .

Fig. 11-CET with reflections from outer casing string. Fig. 12-CET with channel.

but reverses its rotation in the central section. However, References


this channel is not continuous, and the minimum com-
1. Krautkramer, J.H.: Ultrasonic Testing of Materials, Springer-
pressive strength curve shows zone isolation at several Verlag New York Inc., New York City (1977), 618.
spots, especially at the channel rotation reversal. 2. Viktorov, l.A.: Rayleigh and Lamb Waves, Plenum Publishing
Corp., New York City (1967), 76.
Conclusions
The CET measurement principle demonstrates clear ad- SI Metric Conversion Factors
vantages over a regular CBL in the case of channeling or
microannulus. Log interpretation is very simple, with in. x 2.54* E+Ol mm
quantitative evaluation of cement quality and an easily psi x 6.894 757 E+OO kPa
readable display of cement distribution around the pipe.
The casing internal geometry measurements are a "Conversion factor is exact. JPT
useful bonus, and their high resolution would make
repeated runs useful for evaluating progressive casing Original manuscript received in Society of Petroleum Engineers office July 20, 1981.
damage, such as driUpipe wear of conductor pipe, before Paper accepted for publication Jan. 28, 1982. Revised manuscript received May 10,
1982. Paper (SPE 10207) first presented at the SPE 56th Annual Technical Con-
running a liner. ference and EXhibition held in San Antonio Oct. 5-7,1981.

AUGUST 1982
1841