Analyzing the Risk of Well Plug Failure after Abandonment

Abstract : All oil and gas wells will have to be plugged and abandoned at some time. The plugging and abandonment procedure must provide an effective isolation of the well fluids all along the well to reduce environmental risks of contamination and prevent from costly remedial jobs. Previous works have analyzed the plug behavior when submitted to local pressure or thermal changes but no work has looked to the effects of external pressure, thermal and stress changes resulting from a global equilibrium restoration in a hydrocarbon reservoir once production has stopped. This work estimates those changes after abandonment on a reservoir field case using a reservoir simulator in conjunction with a geomechanical simulator. Such simulations provide the pressure and thermal changes and the maximum effective stress changes in the reservoir cap rock where critical plugs are put in place for isolating the production intervals. These changes are used as loads in a well bore stress model that explicitly models an injector well and predict stress rearrangements in the plug after abandonment. Results obtained with the well bore stress model for a conventional class G cement plug show that the main risk of failure is tensile failure because of the low tensile strength of the cement. Actually, soft sealing materials or initially pre-stressed plug appears to be more adapted to the downhole conditions changes that may occurs after well plugging and abandonment.
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M. Mainguy, P. Longuemare, A. Audibert, E. Lécolier. Analyzing the Risk of Well Plug Failure after Abandonment. Oil & Gas Science and Technology - Revue d'IFP Energies nouvelles, Institut Français du Pétrole, 2007, 62 (3), pp.311-324. ⟨10.2516/ogst:2007026⟩. ⟨hal-02005702⟩

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