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When Rocks Stop Leaks: Geological Barriers In Well Integrity

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Course Credit: 0.15 CEU, 1.5 PDH

Annular isolation is a fundamental aspect of well integrity, the discipline that aims to keep well fluids under control. This is particularly true when wells are abandoned and we need to prevent leaks for a very long time: requirements to log and fix defects clash with time and budget constraints.

Flow from permeable formations is prevented (and mitigated) through the use of barriers. Traditionally the separation of roles between natural and man-made barriers has been clear cut: once the original impermeable caprock has been pierced by drilling, the annulus must be isolated by pumping cement.

However this simple picture has evolved through the recognition that some rocks can also act as annular barriers. Creeping formations such as halides, mudstones and possibly ice can seal uncemented sections and large defects in the cement sheath. More importantly, the radial stress they exert reduces debonding and the barrier heals itself again and again, making it robust.

If creeping formations are to become a fundamental element in well design and evaluation, they need to be properly understood and modeled. From an engineering point of view, we need answers to three questions: how can we recognize a geological barrier? How hard it will grip casing and cement, and how fast can it bridge a gap? How will it fail, and how much can leak past it? This presentation will review what we know and try to answer these questions so we can truly “engineer” geological barriers and achieve effective and robust well integrity.

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Course Chapters

  • 1When Rocks Stop Leaks: Geological Barriers In Well Integrity - Chapter 1
    Media Type: Video


Earn credits by completing this course0.15 CEU credit1.5 PDH credits


Matteo LoizzoConsultantMatteo Loizzo has been an international consultant in well integrity and CO2 storage for 12
years. His previous career with Schlumberger spanned field operations, research & development,
QHSE and carbon dioxide geological storage (CCUS). His current research interests include
harnessing creeping formations (such as salt and shales) to help control well leaks, modeling
leaks through cement, inverting geophysical measurements and quantifying methane emissions
from oil & gas wells. He also provides technical training in the field of CCUS, plug &
abandonment, well integrity, management systems, and process safety.
Matteo holds an Master’s degree in aerospace engineering from Rome university “La Sapienza”,
Italy, has authored or coauthored 31 technical papers as well as a book chapter on CO2 storage,
and he’s the Program Chair of the SPE Well Integrity Technical Section.