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The most important mechanical properties of casing and tubing are burst strength, collapse resistance and tensile strength. These properties are necessary to determine the strength of the pipe and to design a casing string. If casing is subjected to internal pressure higher than external, it is said that casing is exposed to burst pressure loading. Burst pressure loading conditions occur during well control operations, casing pressure integrity tests, pumping operations, and production operations. The MIYP of the pipe body is determined by the internal yield pressure formula found in API Bull. This equation, commonly known as the Barlow equation, calculates the internal pressure at which the tangential (or hoop) stress at the inner wall of the pipe reaches the yield strength (YS) of the material.
When a well is drilled on land, an interface is required between the individual casing strings and the blowout preventer (BOP) stack. When drilling a well on land, a spool wellhead system is traditionally used, as shown in Figure 1. This wellhead is considered a "build as you go" wellhead system that is assembled as the drilling process proceeds. Figure 1--Illustration of a typical land wellhead system and casing program (all figures in this chapter are courtesy of Dril-Quip). The starting casing head (see Figs. 2 and 3) attaches to the surface casing (conductor) by either welding or threading on to the conductor.
The unitized wellhead is very different from the spool wellhead system, because it incorporates different design characteristics and features. The unitized wellhead, shown in Figure 1, is a one-piece body that is typically run on 13 3/8 -in. The casing hangers used are threaded and preassembled with a pup joint. This way, the threaded connection can be pressure tested before leaving the factory, ensuring that the assembly will have pressure-containing competence. Gate valves are installed on the external outlet connections of the unitized wellhead to enable annulus access to each of the intermediate and the production casing strings.
The subsea wellhead system (Figure 1) is a pressure-containing vessel that provides a means to hang off and seal off casing used in drilling the well. The wellhead also provides a profile to latch the subsea blowout preventer (BOP) stack and drilling riser back to the floating drilling rig. In this way, access to the wellbore is secure in a pressure-controlled environment. The subsea wellhead system is located on the ocean floor, and must be installed remotely with running tools and drillpipe. Figure 1--Illustration of a typical subsea wellhead system with temporary abandonment cap installed.
Most primary cement jobs are performed by pumping the slurry down the casing and up the annulus; however, modified techniques can be used for special situations. Conductor, surface, protection, and production strings are usually cemented by the single-stage method, which is performed by pumping cement slurry through the casing shoe and using top and bottom plugs. There are various types of heads for continuous cementing, as well as special adaptors for rotating or reciprocating casing. Stage-cementing tools, or differential valve (DV) tools, are used to cement multiple sections behind the same casing string, or to cement a critical long section in multistages. Stage cementing may reduce mud contamination and lessens the possibility of high filtrate loss or formation breakdown caused by high hydrostatic pressures, which is often a cause for lost circulation.
From a historic point of view, as jackup drilling vessels drilled in deeper water, the need to transfer the weight of the well to the seabed and provide a disconnect-and-reconnect capability became clearly beneficial. This series of hangers, called mudline suspension equipment, provides landing rings and shoulders to transfer the weight of each casing string to the conductor and the sea bed. Each mudline hanger landing shoulder and landing ring centralizes the hanger body, and establishes concentricity around the center line of the well. Concentricity is important when tying the well back to the surface. In addition, each hanger body stacks down relative to the previously installed hanger for washout efficiency.
Bit- and casing-size selection can mean the difference between a well that must be abandoned before completion and a well that is an economic and engineering success. Improper size selection can result in holes so small that the well must be abandoned because of drilling or completion problems. The drilling engineer (and well planner) is responsible for designing the hole geometry to avoid these problems. However, a successful well is not necessarily an economic success. For example, a well design that allows for satisfactory, trouble-free drilling and completion may be an economic failure, because the drilling costs are greater than the expected return on investment.
As installed, casing usually hangs straight down in vertical wells or lays on the low side of the hole in deviated wells. Thermal or pressure loads might produce compressive loads, and if these loads are sufficiently high, the initial configuration will become unstable. However, because the tubing is confined within open hole or casing, the tubing can deform into another stable configuration, usually a helical or coil shape in a vertical wellbore or a lateral S-shaped configuration in a deviated hole. These new equilibrium configurations are what we mean when we talk about buckling in casing design. In contrast, conventional mechanical engineering design considers buckling in terms of stability (i.e., the prediction of the critical load at which the original configuration becomes unstable).
Casing and tubing strings are the main parts of the well construction. All wells drilled for the purpose of oil or gas production (or injecting materials into underground formations) must be cased with material with sufficient strength and functionality. Casing is the major structural component of a well. The cost of casing is a major part of the overall well cost, so selection of casing size, grade, connectors, and setting depth is a primary engineering and economic consideration. Conductor casing is the first string set below the structural casing (i.e., drive pipe or marine conductor run to protect loose near-surface formations and to enable circulation of drilling fluid).
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.