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SPE 62517

Lightweight Cement Evaluation Using Ultrasonic Measurements

C.W. Morris, SPE, S.L. Zanutto, and W.G. Dacres Jr., Schlumberger

Copyright 2000, Society of Petroleum Engineers Inc.

This paper was prepared for presentation at the 2000 SPE/AAPG Western Regional Meeting Cement bond logging tools have been used successfully for
held in Long Beach, California, 19–23 June 2000.
many years to evaluate casing and cement conditions in
This paper was selected for presentation by an SPE Program Committee following review of production and injection wells. These tools use either sonic or
information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents of the paper, as
presented, have not been reviewed by the Society of Petroleum Engineers and are subject to ultrasonic measurement techniques designed for the
correction by the author(s). The material, as presented, does not necessarily reflect any
position of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, its officers, or members. Papers presented at conventional steel casing and cement environment.
SPE meetings are subject to publication review by Editorial Committees of the Society of
Petroleum Engineers. Electronic reproduction, distribution, or storage of any part of this paper
The Ultra Sonic Imager (USI∗) tool, a second generation
for commercial purposes without the written consent of the Society of Petroleum Engineers is logging device, provides full azimuthal coverage for casing
prohibited. Permission to reproduce in print is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300
words; illustrations may not be copied. The abstract must contain conspicuous and cement sheath evaluation. It uses a single rotating
acknowledgment of where and by whom the paper was presented. Write Librarian, SPE, P.O. transducer measurement system and a novel full waveform
Box 833836, Richardson, TX 75083-3836, U.S.A., fax 01-972-952-9435.
processing technique that employs a three-dimensional
physical model. Cement quality and casing condition are
Abstract determined using ultrahigh-frequency acoustic pulses. The
Hydraulic isolation of wellbore casing and cement is critical actual acoustic properties (velocity of sound and acoustic
for the completion of petroleum wells. Zonal isolation impedance) of the borehole fluids are measured versus depth
prevents contamination of groundwater by fluids in the so that an accurate model can be developed. The results are
wellbore and allows conformance control of1,2the injected presented as high-resolution color images. The acoustic
fluids. New lightweight cement formulations have been impedance color image along and around the casing are then
developed to allow more efficient completion operations interpreted in terms of cement distribution and hardness.
especially in low-strength formations. These cements, The principle of measurement of the USI tool was
although less dense (<13 lbm/gal) than conventional cements, 3
described by Hayman, et al. The transducer emits high-
actually provide higher acoustic impedance, lower porosity, frequency ultrasonic pulses that travel through the liquid and
and lower permeability material properties. into the casing wall, resonating the casing. The returning
Cement evaluation is routinely performed in wells using waveform is the summation of the echo waveform from the
sonic and ultrasonic tools. The latest generation of ultrasonic original burst and an exponentially decaying waveform from
cement evaluation tools can provide high quality the resonant energy trapped between the inner and outer
measurements of casing dimensions and cement acoustic casing walls. The initial acoustic response consists of a large
impedance properties. To investigate the ultrasonic tool reflection from the internal surface of the casing. The time of
response to lightweight cement compositions, experiments arrival of the initial reflection depends on the standoff distance
were run in 5 ½-in. casing sections to measure the acoustic from the transducer to casing and the mud acoustic velocity.
characteristics of many of the new cement compositions. The time separation of the train of negative impulses is equal
Depending on the density of the composition, the measured to the travel time inside the casing and is a function of the
acoustic impedance values ranged from 3 to 7 MRayls. For casing thickness and acoustic velocity in the casing material.
completeness, other cement compositions tested in this project The casing radius is determined from the measured time for
included standard neat cements, foam cements, and high- the first echo to return. The process window selects the initial
density cement mixtures. Additional experiments confirmed reflection and the early part of the resonance for analysis. The
the importance of the preflush fluid in removing drilling mud usual process window length (peak to end of window) is
from the casing surface (especially for oil-base mud systems). between 6 and 8 periods of resonance. Casing thickness is
The results from this project are compared to the sonic and determined from the value of the fundamental frequency in the
ultrasonic data acquired from actual wellbore completions exponentially decaying part of the waveform.
using the new lightweight cements. Although lightweight and
foam cements have generally lower acoustic impedance
properties, they can be evaluated with current logging tools.

Mark of Schlumberger

Finally, cement acoustic impedance is determined from the 6.7 MRayls. The free pipe channel, located near the center of
rate at which this fundamental frequency decays. Variations in the acoustic impedance image, shows up as a small band of
the rate of decay of this waveform represent changes in the contaminated cement because solid material did leak into the
acoustic impedance contrast at the casing/annulus interface, interval. On both sides of the channel the high acoustic
with harder annular material producing a faster decay. A impedance values are characteristic of the cement system used
three-dimensional model is applied to the full waveform data and, therefore, it can be concluded that this cement is well
set to determine the radius, thickness, and acoustic impedance. bonded to the casing.
Gas, liquid, or cement at the outer surface of the casing are Figs. 2 and 3 show the cement interpretation for two high-
then differentiated using an impedance threshold cutoff on the performance lightweight cement (10 and 12 lbm/gal) systems.
measured acoustic impedance. The acoustic impedance These new lightweight cements use the specially sized
measurement is relatively insensitive to a small liquid annulus aggregates to achieve a cement matrix with low permeability
at the outer surface but is affected detrimentally by a dry gas and good compressive strength. As seen on the ultrasonic log
annulus.4 outputs, these systems show an acoustic impedance (3 to
5 MRayls) typical of what is expected from laboratory
Discussion of Results measurements. A good cement bond was obtained with these
Experiments were performed in different fluid environments cements with the manufactured channel clearly visible.
and with different casing/cement sheath materials, including An 18.5-lbm/gal high performance cement system is
new lightweight cements, to determine the practical operating shown in Fig. 4. A good cement bond is shown with acoustic
limits of ultrasonic tools. The acoustic attenuation limits of the impedance values in the 5 to 7 MRayls range. The free pipe
tool were investigated in both heavy oil-base and water-base channel is clearly shown near the center of the acoustic
drilling mud systems. These tests were performed in a special impedance image and in the cement map. This cement mixture
test apparatus at ambient temperature and pressure conditions. has acoustic impedance characteristics very similar to those of
The logs presented later represent a single depth measurement conventional cement.
in the test chamber. Fig. 5 shows the results for a 12.5-lbm/gal conventional
cement system. A good cement bond was obtained on the test
New Cement Systems. In recent years, the industry has casing with the acoustic impedance values in the range of 2 to
introduced several new formulations for conventional and 5 MRayls. The water-filled channel is located near the center
lightweight cement used in petroleum wells. These new of the cement map.
lightweight cements exhibit outstanding performance at A 12.0-lbm/gal foamed cement system, shown in Fig. 6,
densities as low as 10 lbm/gal. By proportionately mixing was also created for these tests. This cement sample was
carefully graded aggregates, the resulting system achieves a prepared and tested under ambient conditions only. The results
lower porosity blend for a similar cement density. Table 1 do show the acoustic impedance ranging from 2 to 4 MRayls,
gives a brief comparison of the properties of different types of which is also close to the expected value. Therefore, this solid
cement. Table 2 gives a comparison of the common acoustic cement material is also well bonded to the casing.
impedance values for many materials. Reference 5 provides an
empirical conversion from acoustic impedance to compressive Casing Surface Conditions. Three additional tests were
strength for conventional cements.† The lightweight cements performed using a 14.8-lbm/gal Type C neat cement system.
have generally higher compressive strengths for the same These tests investigated the cement bond effects caused by
conditions of density and acoustic impedance. Therefore this inadequate removal of the drilling mud from the outer casing
correlation cannot be used for these high performance cement surface. To this effect, the casing sections were deliberately
systems. soaked in drilling fluids before casting the cement. The layer
Table 3 describes the specific composition of the cements of mud left on the wall of the casing was on purpose not
investigated in this project. The cement evaluation tests were removed, as it was the objective of these tests to measure its
performed using 5 ½-in., 17-lbm/ft casing with water as the effect.
wellbore fluid. A small water channel of about 40° was Figs. 7a-7c show the results for a clean casing surface, a
deliberately created in the cement along the outer casing wall heavy water-base mud coating, and a heavy oil-base mud
to provide a measurement contrast between good cement bond coating, respectively.
and free pipe. For a clean casing surface, in Fig. 7a, the Type C cement
Fig. 1 shows the results obtained for the conventional shows a good bond, with an acoustic impedance range from
18.5-lbm/gal cement. Good acoustic signals were obtained. about 4 to 8 MRayls. The free pipe channel can be seen near
The cement acoustic impedance ranged from about 4 to 8 the left edge of the acoustic impedance image.
MRayls with an average cement acoustic impedance of A coating of heavy water-base mud (Fig. 7b) on the casing
outer surface does not provide the same results. The water

This empirical correlation was derived for cementing channel is still distinguishable, but the cement sheath material
materials that have reached their ultimate strength. Therefore appears to have lower acoustic impedance values than
it is not valid for the period of strength development. expected. This is the consequence of the mud residue that

prevented a clean metal surface contact with the cement giving publication4, but improved from its original interpretation,
a poor bonding of the cement to the casing. shows such areas of variable low-acoustic impedance as
Although oil-wetting mud properties may be beneficial for weakly-bonded solids. The algorithm uses the magnitude and
drilling operations, they are detrimental to well completion variance of the acoustic impedance in a small area around
operations. Oil-base muds leave a strong oil-wet surface on each pixel. Results of the advanced processing are discussed
the casing and formation, which reduces the cement bond below.
strength. A coating of the casing surface with oil-base mud In the first interval, the cement achieved very good bond
residue (Fig. 7c) appears to reduce the measured acoustic above X000 ft. Below this depth, there are many patches of
impedance of the cement even further than in the previous gas/gas microannulus indicated. Traditionally, this would be
case (water-base mud). The 2-in.-thick cement sheath was interpreted as gas-cut cement (cement invaded by gas from the
easily removed from the casing. formation), but it is more likely that the cement is partially
The test results show that the interpretation of the debonded from the casing, producing patches of dry
ultrasonic measurement should be done with caution because microannulus. The advanced processing results (the green area
the presence of a thick mud layer on the surface of the casing shading shown in Tracks 7 and 9 of Fig. 8) indicate that
can significantly reduce the measured acoustic impedance cement is present all around the casing and weakly bonded to
even though good, strong cement occupies most of the it. Hence, it can be concluded that there is still good zonal
annulus. isolation across the interval, and a cement squeeze operation
would not be recommended.
Consequence for cement operations. Without efficient mud A second interval at X800-X900 ft seems to have less
displacement from the annulus and effective removal of the well-bonded cement, as displayed in Fig. 9. The ultrasonic log
mud layer from the casing wall, cement evaluation logs are on this interval measures low acoustic impedance material,
difficult to interpret in terms of cement quality and bonding to which is traditionally interpreted as poor cement. The CBT*
the casing. Mud removal is therefore an essential process in Cement Bond Tool log shows relatively low attenuation but
the cementing operation. Casing centralizers, preflush fluid the VDL* Variable Density Log shows some good attenuation
volume, fluid chemistry, and fluid contact time are all part of of the complete waveform. The new advanced interpretation
the cement job parameters designed to give the cement processing shown by the green shading in Tracks 7 and 9
material a clean surface on which to bond. This volume of again confirms the presence all around the casing of solid set
clean, unweighted or weighted preflush fluid is usually cement, which is not well bonded to the casing.
designed for at least 700 ft of annular length when displacing Example 2 in Fig. 10 shows the cement log results from a
mud in effective laminar flow or 10 minutes of contact time, 12.5-lbm/gal lightweight cement job. The USI and CBT
when using turbulent flow mud displacement. results are in good agreement as to the poor cement conditions
In addition for oil-base mud, the preflush spacer fluid must seen in the 100-ft interval of Fig. 10. The CBT (not run under
de-emulsify the mud into an aqueous phase (primarily with pressure) shows very low attenuation. The USI shows the
surfactant additives), displace the mud layer, and water-wet cement tended to channel by the noncentralized casing to a
the casing and formation surfaces to achieve a good cement low-strength formation interval located about 2,000 ft higher.
bond. These tests clearly illustrate the importance of the When the lead cement slurry was pumped, the well bridged
preflush pad in efficiently displacing the drilling mud from the over and high pressure was required to breakdown the
annulus area and cleaning the exterior casing surface. blockage. No cement returns were seen at the surface. Several
gas-bearing formations also caused gas contamination of the
Lightweight Cement Jobs. Rather than just present examples cement sheath. Nevertheless, the deeper main production zone
of good lightweight cement jobs, the following examples show was found to be isolated.
cement evaluation data from wells where less-than-perfect
conditions were achieved. These conditions better illustrate Conclusions
the range and accuracy of the cement evaluation techniques. 1. The quantitative evaluation of lightweight cement sheath
A USI/cement bond log combination was successfully run conditions can be made using standard ultrasonic logging
in a well cemented with a 12.0-lbm/gal high performance procedures.
lightweight cement. The drilling mud system in the wellbore 2. The cleanup of the drilling mud on the exterior casing
was a 10-lbm/gal brine. The acoustic impedance of the cement surface is critical to achieving good cement bond.
solids are in the range of 3 to 7 Mrayls. 3. The sonic log measurements complement the ultrasonic
The results across two depth intervals are shown in Figs. 8 log results but provide less quantification of the cement
and 9. The conventional USI interpretation using acoustic bond conditions. When possible, sonic logs should be run
impedance thresholds identifies solid, liquid, and gas or gas under pressure.
microannulus behind casing, as shown on the left tracks. But 4. For ultrasonic logs the new interpretation based both on
this process sometimes shows cement maps that are very the magnitude and variance of the acoustic impedance
difficult to interpret; for example, in part of Figs. 8 and 9, gas provides a clearer picture of the material behind the pipe
coexists with liquid in a patchy way that is difficult to justify in the annulus, even though the bonding condition might
physically. An advanced processing based on an earlier be weak.

5. This interpretation is necessary with lightweight materials SI Metric Conversion Factors

when the acoustic impedance of both the fluids and solids F (0F-32)/1.8 = 0C
behind the casing are low. ft x 3.048* E –01 = m
gal x 3.785 412 E –03 = m3
Acknowledgments in x 2.54* E +00 = cm
The authors thank the many people who helped with these kg m-2 sec-1 x 10 E +06 = MRayl
tests at the Schlumberger Wireline & Testing Liberty District lbm x 4.535 924 E –01 = kg
and the Dowell Technology Applications Center of the psi x 6.894 757 E +00 = kPa
Americas. We especially thank Terry Woods, John Crawford,
Art Milne, Alan Gilmore, and Jack Maberry. *Conversion factor is exact

1. Moulin, E., Revil, P. and Jain , B.: “Using Concrete Technology
to Improve the Performance of Lightweight Cements,” paper
SPE/IADC 39276, SPE/IADC Middle East Drilling Technology
Conference, Bahrain, November 23-25, 1997.
2. Toukam, E.: “New Cement Improves Costs, Operations in
Northern Africa,” Petroleum Engineer International (March 99).
3. Hayman, A.J., Hutin, R., and Wright, P.V.: "High-Resolution
Cementation and Corrosion Imaging By Ultrasound", SPWLA
32nd Annual Logging Symposium, June 16-19, 1991, paper KK.
4. Butsch, R.J.: “Overcoming Interpretation Problems of Gas-
Contaminated Cement Using Ultrasonic Cement Logs,” SPE
paper 30509, SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition,
Dallas, Texas, October 22-25, 1995.
5. API: “Cement Sheath Evaluation,” American Petroleum
Institute, Technical Report 10TR1, First Edition, June 1996.

Table 1—Cement Properties

Properties High Conventional Conventional High

Performance performance
12.0 lbm/gal 12.0 lbm/gal 15.8 lbm/gal 17.5 lbm/gal

Permeability (mD) 0.0069 0.2 0.1 0.007

Porosity (%) 18-24 - 32-34 18-24

API FL (mL/30 min) 80 150 110 50

24-hr CS (psi @185 oF) 3232 1170 3550 3800

Table 2—Common Acoustic Impedance Values

Material Acoustic Impedance

______________________ ________________________

Fresh water 1.5

Free gas 0.1
Steel 46.0
12 lbm/gal drilling mud 2.16
15 lbm/gal drilling mud 2.70
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 (500 psi) 4.38
16.5 lbm/gal cement (2000 psi) 5.62

Table 3—Cement Sample Properties

1. Mud test casing: Type C cement neat at 14.5 lbm/gal.

2. Conventional lightweight (extended with sodium silicate) cement at 12.5 lbm/gal.

3. Conventional heavyweight (with hematite) slurry at 18.5 lbm/gal.

4. High performance heavyweight slurry at 18.5 lbm/gal.

5. High performance lightweight slurry at 12.0 lbm/gal

6. High performance lightweight slurry at 10.0 lbm/gal

7. Foamed cement at 12.0 lbm/gal: base slurry prepared using Type C cement.

8. Coated pipe tests: Type C cement neat at 14.8 lbm/gal.

All slurries mixed with fresh water and cured at room temperature (78 oF).
SPE 62517


Cement Map
CementMap Cement Map
Cement Map

Fig. 11—Conventional
– Conventionalheavyweight
18.5 lbm/gal cement Fig. 2—High performance lightweight cement Fig. 3—High performance lightweight cement
(18.5 lbm/gal). (10.0 lbm/gal). (12.0 lbm/gal).



Cement Map Cement Map
Cement Map

Fig. 4—High performance heavyweight cement Fig. 5—Conventional lightweight cement Fig. 6—Foamed cement (12.0 lbm/gal).
(18.5 lbm/gal). (12.5 lbm/gal).
SPE 62517
SPE 62517


Cement Map
Cement Map Cement Map

Fig. 7a—Type C 14.8-lbm/gal neat cement. Fig. 7b—Type C 14.8-lbm/gal neat cement with Fig. 7c—Type C 14.8-lbm/gal neat cement with
WBM coating. OBM coating.



Acoustic BI Cement map VDL Debonded cement processing


Fig. 8—Example 1; 12.0-lbm/gal lightweight cement job with partially debonded cement zones overlain by well-bonded cement.
SPE 62517
SPE 62517



Acoustic BI Cement map VDL Debonded cement processing


Fig. 9—Example 1; 12.0-lbm/gal lightweight cement job with debonded cement.





Acoustic BI Cement map VDL


Fig. 10—Example 2; 12.5-lbm/gal lightweight cement job with fluid loss zones.
SPE 62517