Primary cementing is an important well construction process that should establish well control barriers and zonal isolation. Critical for primary cementing is the successful displacement of drilling fluid from the annulus between casing and formation by a sequence of spacer fluids and cement slurry. Failure to displace the drilling fluid may compromise the annular cement integrity and result in contaminated cement with degraded mechanical properties. Issues such as eccentricity, washouts and other geometric irregularities in the wellbore can complicate the displacement processes, and their effect on the quality of the cementing job and the final result is linked to uncertainty.
We present numerical simulations of the displacement process between two viscoplastic fluids in the vicinity of a symmetric local hole enlargement. The study is limited to laminar flow regimes in the regular part of the annulus, and we focus on a near-horizontal section with significant eccentricity and small annular clearance. We vary the volumetric flow rate and the mass density difference between the fluids, and study how the irregularity affects the displacement efficiency and the presence of residual fluid in and after the irregularity.
In the regular part of the geometry, eccentricity favors flow in the wider, upper part of the annulus, while density difference leads to azimuthal flow from the top to the low side of the annulus. The results support the assumption that increasing the mass density difference improves the displacement efficiency. In the laminar regime, lower flow rates can be favorable over higher ones in terms of efficiency measured as a function of volume that is pumped into the enlarged section.
Displacement of drilling fluids for primary cementing is a rich flow problem involving different non-Newtonian fluids and possibly irregular geometry. Simulations of the displacement process can aid in optimizing fluid properties and injection rates for primary cementing operations, and assist cement log interpretation after the operation.