Is zonal isolation provided by cement? Cementing is central to the discussion of zonal isolation and well integrity because cement typically provides at least one barrier in a well and is a component of the barrier envelope or barrier system during well construction and the operational phases of the well. Cement parameters are typically included in regulations and included as part of the permanent-abandonment requirements for oil and gas wells.
As an industry, installing and maintaining the cement barrier and well integrity are part of our social license to operate. Since the first use of cement in oil wells in 1906, we as an industry have been proud that we have established and continuously improved cementing practices.
There is a long history of industry standards for cementing, with the American Petroleum Institute establishing the first cementing standard in 1948. SPE has also included cementing sessions at technical conferences for the last half-century. A quick search on the word “cement” in the SPE OnePetro database yields 21,133 results, dating back to 1945.
In the last several years, regulations have been updated and rewritten worldwide. In every jurisdiction, we can point to a regulation or industry standard that affects drilling and cementing operations. This regulatory attention compels us to double-check our practices, continue effective techniques, and develop technology where improvements are needed.
Technology is also focused on improving verification of cement placement and barrier achievement. Cement evaluation, including wellsite observations during cement placement, pressure tests, and logging techniques, are part of the well-integrity equation. These enhanced evaluation methods provide confidence that zonal isolation and well integrity are achieved.
As an industry and as SPE professionals, we work to provide energy from wells that use cement as a key component in providing zonal isolation and well integrity. We comply with regulations, industry standards, and industry best practices and continually update technology that instills confidence in zonal isolation and well integrity for our industry, stakeholders, and society.
This Month's Technical Papers
Recommended Additional Reading
SPE 172937 Achieving Cementing Improvement in Horizontal Tight-Gasfield Development by Pungki Ariyanto, BP, et al.
SPE/IADC 167922 Intermixing of Cementing Fluids: Understanding Mud Displacement and Cement Placement by Zhongming Chen, Baker Hughes, et al.
SPE 175237 A Decade of Self-Sealing-Cement Technology Application To Ensure Long-Term Well Integrity by Arash Shadravan, ReservoirFocus, et al.
Gunnar DeBruijn, SPE, Standards and Knowledge Development Manager, Schlumberger
01 May 2016
Activating Shale Can Create Well Barriers
This paper discusses shale creep and other shale-deformation mechanisms and how an understanding of these can be used to activate shale that has not contacted the casing yet to form a well barrier.
Cementing and Zonal Isolation
I am encouraged that we, as an industy, continue to refine and tweak our practices to solve zonal-isolation and cementing challenges in every well environment in which we work. As cementing techniques are improved, so, too, are the cement-evaluation methods and work flows.
Well-Abandonment Solutions Use Bismuth and Thermite Effectively and Safely
This paper demonstrates a new way to create gas-tight seals during well abandonment, overcoming the limitations of traditional methods and reducing the operator’s liability and potential environmental impact after decommissioning has been completed.
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