Abstract

Oil wells are often abandoned when they become uneconomic. Normally, several cement plugs should be placed along cased wells to seal the producing formations. Proper placement protocols, especially for off-bottom plugs, are therefore required to prevent the seepage of oil. Often, heavy cement slurry is injected into wells filled with lighter wellbore fluids, through a centralised tube. To form the cement plug successfully, the injected cement slurry should accumulate at the target zone, over wellbore fluids that typically have a lower density. Therefore, the current practices involve a major hydrodynamic challenge that can result in failing plugs.

In a previous work, we had shown that injecting cement slurry in wellbore fluids can result in developing a cement finger that advects downstream the well. The finger then breaks and aids the formation of a mixed layer below the injection point. Consequently, the injected cement slurry starts accumulating to form the plug. These flow events were observed in a symmetrical flow domain. In this study, we consider different configurations of the injection process to investigate how the previously observed dynamics change. To that end, we consider different sizes and positions of the injector inside the well. We conduct numerical simulations based on representative hydrodynamic models using OpenFOAM, an open source CFD software.

The preliminary results reveal broadly similar dynamics for symmetrical flow domains of different injector sizes. However, marked differences are observed when the injector is not centralized in the well. The injected fluid diverts directly into the gap between the injector and casing walls, with preference to flow through the wider gap side.

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