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Halliburton delivers first ultra-lightweight cementing solution for Shell in North Sea


Halliburton has successfully delivered its first lightweight cementing solution for Shell in the North Sea. The 13⅝ inch casing on the South Uist well (214/21a-2) east of Shetland, was cemented using Halliburton’s low density Tuned Light slurry in which an integral part of the formulation was 3M Glass Bubbles.

“Using Tuned Light ultra-light weight cement was determined to be the optimum solution for the 17½ inch sections of this well,” explains David Kulakofsky, Halliburton’s global cementing champion. “For this particular job we needed a lightweight slurry and using the 3M Glass Bubbles provided us the capability to design the low density that the wellbore conditions required.”

Primary cementing is an important operation in the construction of any oil well. The casing is cemented in to the borehole by pumping cement down the inside of the casing and back up the annulus. The main objectives of cementing operations are to provide zonal isolation to prevent fluid migration in the annulus, support the casing and protect the casing from corrosive fluids.

“Cement slurries are often designed with a lead and tail,” explains Kulakofsky. “Typically a lead slurry will be around 12.5 pounds per gallon (ppg), with a 16ppg tail. The 12.5ppg lead provides the required height of fill.  While the slurry has low strength, the weight is light so it doesn’t add too much extra stress on the casing or formation. The tail slurry is typically designed at 16ppg as this gives sufficient strength to tack the shoe in place and support to drill through and enter the next hole section.”

For this South Uist well equivalent circulating density (ECD) calculations showed that conventional 12.5 lead cement was too heavy and could potentially fracture the wellbore.  The ECD calculations suggested that a 10.5ppg cement was required.  If mixing a conventional cement is attempted at 10.5ppg the set properties, if any, would typically be below minimum acceptable ranges.  One benefit of the 3M Glass Bubbles is they allow for the creation of lightweight slurries with the set mechanical properties similar to conventional slurries mixed at their traditional densities.

Moira Peck, a senior technical professional at Halliburton Cementing, says: “The slurries, therefore, needed to be specifically formulated for the downhole conditions in the particular well.” Peck makes the point that these cements (slurries) are, therefore, chemically quite sophisticated.

In fact, the cementing of the 20 inch section of the South Uist well was done using Halliburton’s ZoneSeal isolation process for foam cement, but Peck explains that this technique wasn’t used for the 17½ inch section partly because the logistics for using Tuned Light cement were less complex and required fewer personnel than foam cementing.

“With the foam product we needed an eight-man team and kit on the deck of the rig. With the Tuned Light cement, it was effectively a standard cement job that could be handled by the existing team. As well as easing the pressure on bed space - always an issue offshore - we were able to use a regular crew and less equipment.”

Arthur Evertson, the production chemist - cementing for Shell says: “So for Shell it was a good choice to use the Tuned Light Blend for this section.”

The use of 3M Glass Bubbles had a number of advantages, suggests Darren Hall, 3M’s oil and gas technical sales manager. “Apart from their high strength and low weight, they have very low shrinkage, which enhances the cement formulation. The bubbles are easy to handle and are chemically benign. This makes handling and blending them very easy.

“Our 3M microspheres can be used in cement slurries with densities as low as 7ppg. One of the advantages of using the product is the consistent quality of the bubbles. Because they are a non-porous engineered product they are easy to formulate and therefore produce consistent and stable slurry properties.”

Peck concludes by saying that Shell is always willing to work with contractors to develop the use of new technologies. “Tuned Light cement with the 3M Glass Bubbles was just one of several advanced technologies, including Halliburton’s SSR-II Plug System, that we used to successfully deliver this well,” she says. “With a flow area that is 75 per cent larger than conventional plugs, the SSR-II system improves fluid flow and reduces pressure drop through the plug set – and allows the mechanism to sustain higher flow rates for longer times without damage. They represent a significant advancement in subsea release mechanisms to ensure successful outcomes at offshore cementing jobs.”

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Tuned and ZoneSeal are registered marks of Halliburton
SSR-II is a trademark of Halliburton
3M is a trademark of 3M Company.


About 3M
3M is a $23 billion diversified technology company which, since 1902, has been creating innovative products that help make the world healthier, safer and more productive. Well known 3M brands include Scotch, Post-it, Scotchgard, Thinsulate and Scotch-Brite.

3M employs some 75,000 people worldwide and has operations in more than 60 countries. It produces tens of thousands of innovative products for customers in dozens of diverse markets and its 45 technology platforms touch nearly every aspect of modern life. The company has applied its expertise in RFID (radio frequency identification) technology to map and locate underground utilities; it has used its understanding of the healthcare industry to develop innovations that help the early diagnosis of heart and lung conditions; and its range of pocket projectors are the ultimate presentation devices for business people on the go.

The UK and Ireland is home to one of the largest 3M subsidiaries outside the USA, employing more than 3,500 people across 17 locations, including 10 manufacturing sites.  Products manufactured in the UK include coated abrasives, occupational health and environmental safety equipment, adhesive tapes, industrial microbiology products, drug delivery systems, high-performance coatings, secure documents and passport scanners.

3M’s involvement in the Oil and Gas industry
For more than 50 years, 3M has been meeting the evolving needs of the Oil and Gas industry. Globally, the company supplies some 10,000 products that are used in all aspects of the industry, from exploration, production and refining through to transportation and retail.

In the UK, 3M’s Oil and Gas business has a team of highly experienced specialists, based both in Aberdeen and at our head office in Bracknell, Berkshire. Their role is to focus on the specific requirements of our UK-based customers. However, while our presence is local, our resources are global. 3M employs some 6,500 researchers and, with laboratories in 35 countries, we have the means to meet the industry’s toughest challenges.

3M Centre, Cain Road, Bracknell, Berkshire, RG12 8HT, United Kingdom.

Media contact:
John Farmer
Ambrose Communications
Tel + 44 (0) 1491 412944
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