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Title: Analysis of cavern and well stability at the West Hackberry SPR site using a full-dome model.

This report presents computational analyses that simulate the structural response of caverns at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) West Hackberry site. The cavern field comprises 22 caverns. Five caverns (6, 7, 8, 9, 11) were acquired from industry and have unusual shapes and a history dating back to 1946. The other 17 caverns (101-117) were leached according to SPR standards in the mid-1980s and have tall cylindrical shapes. The history of the caverns and their shapes are simulated in a three-dimensional geomechanics model of the site that predicts deformations, strains, and stresses. Future leaching scenarios corresponding to oil drawdowns using fresh water are also simulated by increasing the volume of the caverns. Cavern pressures are varied in the model to capture operational practices in the field. The results of the finite element model are interpreted to provide information on the current and future status of subsidence, well integrity, and cavern stability. The most significant results in this report are relevant to Cavern 6. The cavern is shaped like a bowl with a large ceiling span and is in close proximity to Cavern 9. The analyses predict tensile stresses at the edge of the ceiling during repressurization of Cavern 6 followingmore » workover conditions. During a workover the cavern is at low pressure to service a well. The wellhead pressures are atmospheric. When the workover is complete, the cavern is repressurized. The resulting elastic stresses are sufficient to cause tension around the edge of the large ceiling span. With time, these stresses relax to a compressive state because of salt creep. However, the potential for salt fracture and propagation exists, particularly towards Cavern 9. With only 200 feet of salt between the caverns, the operational consequences must be examined if the two caverns become connected. A critical time may be during a workover of Cavern 9 in part because of the operational vulnerabilities, but also because dilatant damage is predicted under the ledge that forms the lower lobe in the cavern. The remaining caverns have no significant issues regarding cavern stability and may be safely enlarged during subsequent oil drawdowns. Predicted well strains and subsidence are significant and consequently future remedial actions may be necessary. These predicted well strains certainly suggest appropriate monitoring through a well-logging program. Subsidence is currently being monitored.« less
  1. Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
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Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Sandia National Laboratories (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Fossil Energy (FE), Petroleum Reserves (FE-40)
Country of Publication:
United States