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Cement is used to hold casing in place and to prevent fluid migration between subsurface formations. Cementing operations can be divided into two broad categories: primary cementing and remedial cementing. The objective of primary cementing is to provide zonal isolation. Cementing is the process of mixing a slurry of cement, cement additives and water and pumping it down through casing to critical points in the annulus around the casing or in the open hole below the casing string. Zonal isolation is not directly related to production; however, this necessary task must be performed effectively to allow production or stimulation operations to be conducted.
In overbalanced drillng (OBD), a mud weight is selected that provides a hydrostatic pressure of 200 to 1,000 psi above the reservoir pressure. In UBD, we select a fluid that provides a hydrostatic pressure of around 200 psi below the initial reservoir pressure. This provides a good starting point for the selection of a fluid system. During the feasibility study, this drawdown is normally further refined, depending on the expected reservoir inflow and other drilling parameters. This first look provides an indication if the fluid should be foam or gasified or if the well is drilling with a single-phase fluid (Figure 1).
The first fracture treatments were pumped just to see if a fracture could be created and if sand could be pumped into the fracture. In 1955, Howard and Fast published the first mathematical model that an engineer could use to design a fracture treatment. The Howard and Fast model assumed the fracture width was constant everywhere, allowing the engineer to compute fracture area on the basis of fracture fluid leakoff characteristics of the formation and the fracturing fluid. Modeling of fracture propagation has improved significantly with computing technology and a greater understanding of subsurface data. The Howard and Fast model was a 2D model.
In many operations worldwide, surface waters are injected into producing formations to enhance oil recovery. The types of surface waters used range from seawater (salt water) to lake water (brackish) to river water (fresh water). Surface water must be treated to remove undesirable components before injection. Treatment of surface water for injection requires a specially designed system made up of various components to remove or control any contaminants in the water. The system is engineered to perform the required treatment in the most cost-effective and environmentally sensitive manner. A typical system is shown in Figure 1. Commonly used methods for removal or control of these contaminants are discussed in this section. Surface waters normally contain suspended solids particles that, if injected into the producing formation, will plug the injection well. The type, concentration, and particle-size distribution of suspended solids in water will vary depending on the source of the surface water.
Loss of circulation is the uncontrolled flow of whole mud into a formation, sometimes referred to as a "thief zone." This article discusses causes, prevention, and remedial measures for lost circulation. Figure 1 shows partial and total lost-circulation zones. In partial lost circulation, mud continues to flow to surface with some loss to the formation. Total lost circulation, however, occurs when all the mud flows into a formation with no return to surface.
Hole cleaning is the ability of a drilling fluid to transport and suspend drilled cuttings. Throughout the last decade, many studies have been conducted to gain understanding on hole cleaning in directional-well drilling. Laboratory work has demonstrated that drilling at an inclination angle greater than approximately 30 from vertical poses problems in cuttings removal that are not encountered in vertical wells. Figure 1 illustrates that the formation of a moving or stationary cuttings bed becomes an apparent problem, if the flow rate for a given mud rheology is below a certain critical value. The most prevalent problem is excessive torque and drag, which often leads to the inability of reaching the target in high-angle/extended-reach drilling.
Produced water typically enters the water-treatment system from either a two or three phase separator, a free water knockout, a gun barrel, a heater treater, or other primary separation unit process. It probably includes small amounts of free or dissolved hydrocarbons and solids that must be removed before the water can be re-used, injected or discharged. The level of removal (particularly for hydrocarbons) and disposal options are typically specified by state, province, or national regulations. This article discusses techniques for the removal of free and dissolved hydrocarbons. See Removing solids from water for information on solids removal. Produced water contains small concentrations (100 to 2000 mg/L) of dispersed hydrocarbons in the form of oil droplets. In applying these concepts, one must keep in mind the dispersion of large oil droplets to smaller ones and the coalescence of small droplets into larger ones, which takes place if energy is added to the system. The amount of energy added per unit time and the way in which it is added will determine whether dispersion or coalescence will take place. Stokes' law, shown in Eq. 1, is valid for the buoyant rise velocity of an oil droplet in a water-continuous phase. Several immediate conclusions can be drawn from this equation.
Chemical treatment with demulsifiers is used to counteract the natural surfactants present, and wetting agents or other chemicals sometimes are used to carry the suspended solids into the water layer. The presence of a band of emulsion in centrifuged samples indicates that further chemical treatment might be needed.
Contamination of drilling fluids with drilled cuttings is an unavoidable consequence of successful drilling operations. If the drilling fluid does not carry cuttings and cavings to the surface, the rig either is not "making hole" or soon will be stuck in the hole it is making. The drill cuttings that are separated from the drilling fluid on the surface by the soldis control equipment and some quantity of unrecoverable or economically unwanted drilling fluid are a major source of drilling waste. Drilled and formation solids that are sized smaller than can be removed by the solids control equipment are often reported as drill solids. Some quantitiy of drill solids will accumulate in the drilling fluid and must be removed by the solids control equipment or reduced in concentration by dilution.