Formation Induced Well Deformation

Skomedal, Eiliv (Norwegian Geotechnical Institute) | Park, Joonsang (Norwegian Geotechnical Institute) | Huynh, Dat Vu Khoa (Norwegian Geotechnical Institute) | Choi, Jung Chan (Norwegian Geotechnical Institute)



There are a lot of reports of formation induced damage of wells world-wide. Despite extensive literature on the subject, formation induced damage is not a standardized part of well design. One reason may be that the associated fundamental mechanism is not yet fully understood, which makes it difficult to implement in design rules. As a step towards practical design, this paper aims at improving the understanding of characteristic mechanisms of well formation interaction by analytical solutions to two simple cases. The first case considered is a vertical well in a compacting reservoir and is solved by elasticity theory. An elastic length parameter is derived, which is function of the axial stiffness of well and shear stiffness of formation. The well is then shown to follow the deformation of the compacting reservoir, with exception of a transient zone around the boundary to the overburden. The elastic length determines the size of this transient zone. Through the transient zone, the axial force reduces towards zero in the overburden. A learning is that in many cases it is sufficient to instrument the well casing or liner to measure reservoir compaction. The result also supports the finding that the high number of well damage in the deep overburden is due to another mechanism: shear deformation or slip of a weak plane crossing the well. This second case is also studied analytically yet based on plasticity theory. Input parameters to this model are shear and moment capacity of the well, shear strength of the formation and a load displacement characteristic of the formation. A general finding is that during such slip, the well is normally not able to resist, and it fails by exceeding the moment capacity at a distance from the shear plane.

The final and third case studied is ovalization of the cross section of a horizontal well due to pressure from the formation. This is a phenomenon occurring in salt and weak shale. It is a more complex interaction problem and a numerical simulation by finite element is used to solve it. A workflow is developed for an uncemented part of a horizontal well in a shale formation. Input parameters are in-situ stress, pore pressure and stiffness and strength of well and formation. Since the vertical stress is larger than the horizontal, the shear mobilization is largest to the side of the casing and shear failure starts there, initiating plastic deformation until contact and start of ovalization by reducing the lateral diameter of the well. By reduction of the mud pressure in the outer annulus, the contact area grows. Finally, the structural capacity of an ovalized casing with full formation contact is calculated. The formation is found to have some supporting effect and the resulting capacity is higher than the capacity of an ovalized casing without formation support.