Characterization of the Microstructure of the Cement-Rock Interface Using Environmental Scanning Electron Microscopy and Micro-Computed Tomography Scan

Yang, Xinxiang (University of Alberta (Corresponding author) | Kuru, Ergun (email: | Gingras, Murray (University of Alberta) | Biddle, Sara (University of Alberta) | Lin, Zichao (University of Alberta) | Iremonger, Simon (University of Alberta)


Summary Cement-rock interface is a major component of the wellbore barrier system. Leakage may result from the poor bonding between cement and rock interface. In this paper we investigate possible factors that may affect the cement-rock interface bonding. More specifically, integrity of the cement-rock interface was characterized using micro-computed tomography (CT) and environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM). Hollow cylinder rock samples were prepared by using rock samples (e.g., Banff dolostone, Pekisko limestone, Doig sandstone, Notikewin siltstone, Montney siltstone, and Wilrich siltstone) collected from different Alberta wells at various depths. Two abandonment cement blends were injected into the rock open hole. By using ESEM (0.05-mm resolution) and micro-CT (11.92-mm resolution) techniques, the 2D and 3D models of the cement-rock interface were developed. Energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) was conducted to analyze chemical characteristic of the cement-rock samples. Using the CT images, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models were built to simulate fluid flow through the cement-rock samples. For both cement and rock, there is a nonuniform porosity distribution in radial and axial directions. For most of the cement-rock samples, the highest porosity region in the cement column was found at the cement-rock interface. Optimizing the chemistry of the cement system enhances the cement-rock interface bond by effectively reducing the gap between cement and rock observed in ESEM images. Although cement migration was observed in the rough rock surface in porous rocks, the rock interface and matrix zones have almost identical element concentrations. For the investigated samples, the chance for significant chemical reaction at the cement-rock interface is minimal. CFD simulation based on digital cement models showed that the cement-rock interface has more chance to act as the main flow pathway when intact (low permeability) caprock exists. The sample preparation, image analysis and simulation methods used in this study can be also applied to other cement interface studies (e.g., cement-casing, casing-cement-rock). From the practical field application point of view, the results presented here would help to have a better understanding of the requirements for designing optimum cement formulations to establish effective zonal isolation and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas wells. Introduction Wellbore cement is the most important barrier element because it provides zonal isolation to prevent uncontrolled flow of formation fluid to the surface as well as crossflow among various underground formations.

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