Cap Rock Restoration in Plug and Abandonment Operations; Possible Utilization of Aplite-Based Geopolymers for Permanent Zonal Isolation and Well Plugging

Khalifeh, Mahmoud (University of Stavanger) | Saasen, Arild (Det Norske Oljeselskap and University of Stavanger) | Vrålstad, Torbjørn (SINTEF) | Larsen, Helge B. (University of Stavanger) | Hodne, Helge (University of Stavanger)

OnePetro 

Abstract

When a well reaches the end of its life-cycle, it is permanently plugged and abandoned. Since the first discovery in 1966 on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS) till October 2014 nearly 5496 wells have been drilled. Of these wells, 3978 are development and 1518 are exploration wells. Of the development wells, 699 have permanently been abandoned and 279 are in temporary abandonment status. It is estimated that 3279 development wells need to be plugged and abandoned in the future. Besides, the number of wells which will be drilled in future should be added for plug and abandonment.

The costs of these P&A operations will be substantial. Hence, there is a need for technology development that will reduce the costs of all these operations. This development involves both techniques, tools and materials. The current work describes different plugging materials and important characteristics of permanent barriers with respect to long-term integrity. In addition, different roots of failure modes of permanent barriers have been discussed. Geopolymers are suggested as possible permanent plugging materials. Geopolymers are aluminosilicate materials, which solidify. A new geopolymeric material is introduced for the permanent zonal isolation and well plugging; an aplite-based geopolymer. Its placeability was studied by investigating the rheological behavior of the geopolymer slurries. The Bingham and Casson models selected to simulate the slurries' viscosities. Both models were fitted to the measured data. Strength development of the produced geopolymers showed sufficient compressive strength. X-ray powder diffraction was used to characterize the microstructure of the produced geopolymers. X-ray patterns showed formation of an amorphous phase. The measured permeability was in the range of nano Darcy. The initial result shows that the aplite-based geopolymer has the potential to be utilized as a permanent plugging material for well plugging and zonal isolation.