One of the most critical operations during well construction is the cementing procedure. Due to the curing nature of the cement slurry there will be only one opportunity to cement the well properly. Although one for top hole cases can fill cement in from the top in a remedial operation, this possibility cannot fully compensate for a non-optimal initial cement job. Furthermore, it cannot be applied to other well sections. In those sections, complex squeeze cementing operations may be necessary. Consequences of improper annular cement can be leakage during production phase and extensive costs when the well is to be plugged for abandonment after the production phase. To ensure that the risk of poor cement is minimised it is important to use the best procedures to place the cement properly. To be able to select the optimum procedures, it is necessary to improve the understanding of the displacement in the wellbore annulus. All wells will be cemented in several sections. Findings and improvements that can reduce risk of poor cementing results are thus highly relevant for a large number of operations every year.
The article is based on analysing experimental results that illustrates a drilling fluid being displaced by a cement slurry. These fluids are represented by realistic model fluids and circulated through a transparent annular section. The geometry used is a 6,5″outer diameter with an inner string of 5″that also can rotate. The selected pipe sizes may normally be found in the lower parts of a well and often in deviated sections where the inner pipe cannot be assumed concentric at all times. Both concentric and eccentric inner pipe positions have therefore been selected. The test section was run both in horizontal and in inclined position. The test section was 10 meters long and instrumented with conductivity probes in an array around the perimeter at 4 separate positions along the pipe. Together with cameras along the test section the fluid interphases was observed along the test section.
Results presented in the article show that inner string rotation provides a steeper displacement front, On the other hand such rotation will also cause more mixing at the interphase. Results also show that the displacement front in a concentric annulus is significantly affected by gravity. While for an eccentric annulus, with the low side at the bottom, the narrow gap is poorly displaced when realistic fluids are applied. It was also observed that the displacement front in concentric annulus was more stable when the test section was inclined than in horizontal position.