Wellbore integrity assessment with casing-based advanced sensing
Wellbore integrity is of paramount importance to subsurface resource extraction, energy storage 1 and waste disposal. After installation, well casing and cement are subject to mechanical stress due to near-well pressure changes and fluid induced corrosion. This is exacerbated for geothermal wells where produced fluid is at high temperature and corrosive. The current state-of-the-art technologies for wellbore integrity assessments are an array of cased hole logging tools. Wireline deployed acoustic, electromagnetic and mechanical tools are all available to inspect steel casing corrosion and casing-cement bond and these tools can provide high-resolution assessment of borehole conditions. They are intrusive, however, in terms of borehole preparation and interruption to the normal operation of the wells, and not suitable for high temperature or highly deviated well deployments. In addition, these measurements are performed infrequently due to high cost, and are therefore incapable of providing frequent data to better predict borehole degradation trajectory, which can help provide early warning of potential borehole failures. For this project we are developing a suite of novel, non-invasive, casing based tools for wellbore integrity assessment, combining fast/low cost screening with higher-precision investigation. Our approach is based on monitoring the response of the casing when energized at the wellhead, thereby interrogating the casing without well intervention. Lab, field and numerical approaches are used in our study. During the early stage of the research, we focus on numerical simulations, which have shown the sensitivity of the low frequency electromagnetic (EM) signals to changes in borehole depths and have successfully tested the concept at a field site with different length well casings. Initial seismic modeling efforts have also demonstrated our capability to simulate seismic tube wave and seismic field alterations due to borehole breakage and associated fluid leakage. Further numerical, laboratory and field experiments are underway for additional technology sensitivity analysis, particularly the transient EM/Seismic reflectometry methods, data acquisition optimization, and numerical simulation improvements.