Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Investigation of Possible Wellbore Cement Failures During Hydraulic Fracturing Operations
- Author(s): Kim, Jihoon
- Moridis, George
- et al.
We model and assess the possibility of shear failure, using the Mohr-Coulomb model ? along the vertical well by employing a rigorous coupled flow-geomechanic analysis. To this end, we vary the values of cohesion between the well casing and the surrounding cement to representing different quality levels of the cementing operation (low cohesion corresponds to low-quality cement and/or incomplete cementing). The simulation results show that there is very little fracturing when the cement is of high quality.. Conversely, incomplete cementing and/or weak cement can causes significant shear failure and the evolution of long fractures/cracks along the vertical well. Specifically, low cohesion between the well and cemented areas can cause significant shear failure along the well, but the same cohesion as the cemented zone does not cause shear failure. When the hydraulic fracturing pressure is high, low cohesion of the cement can causes fast propagation of shear failure and of the resulting fracture/crack, but a high-quality cement with no weak zones exhibits limited shear failure that is concentrated near the bottom of the vertical part of the well. Thus, high-quality cement and complete cementing along the vertical well appears to be the strongest protection against shear failure of the wellbore cement and, consequently, against contamination hazards to drinking water aquifers during hydraulic fracturing operations.