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Title: AREA 2: Novel Materials for Robust Repair of Leaky Wellbores in CO2 Storage Formations

The potential leakage of hydrocarbon fluids or CO2 out of subsurface formations through wells with fractured cement or debonded microannuli is a primary concern in oil and gas production and CO2 storage. The presence of fractures in a cement annulus with apertures on the order of 10–300 microns can pose a significant leakage danger with effective permeability in the range of 0.1–1 mD (millidarcy). Leakage pathways with small apertures are often difficult to repair using conventional oilfield cement, thus a low-viscosity sealant that can be easily placed into these fractures while providing an effective seal is desired. The development of a novel application using pH-triggered polymeric sealants could potentially be the solution to plugging these fractures and that was the research aim of this study. The application is based on the transport and reaction of a low-pH poly(acrylic acid) polymer through fractures in strongly alkaline cement. The pH-sensitive microgels viscosify upon neutralization with cement to become highly swollen gels with substantial yield stress that can block fluid flow. Experiments in a cement fracture determined the effects of the viscosification and gel deposition via real-time visual observation and measurements of pressure gradient and effluent pH. While the pH-triggered gelling mechanism andmore » rheology measurements of the neutralized polymer gel show promising results, the polymer solution in contact with cement undergoes an undesirable reaction known as polymer syneresis. Syneresis is caused by the release of calcium cation from cement that collapses the polymer network. Syneresis produces an unstable calcium-precipitation byproduct that is detrimental to the strength and stability of the gel in place. As a result, gel-sealed leakage pathways that subjected to various degrees of syneresis often failed to hold back pressures. Several chemicals were studied to inhibit polymer syneresis and tested for pretreatment of cement cores to remove calcium and prevent syneresis during polymer placement. A chelating agent, sodium triphosphate (Na5P3O10), was found to successfully eliminate syneresis without compromising the injectivity of polymer solution during placement. Polymer gel strength is determined by recording the maximum holdback pressure gradients during liquid breakthrough tests after various periods of pretreatment and polymer shut-in time. Cores pretreated with Na5P3O10 successfully held up to an average of 80 psi/ft, which is significantly greater than the expected threshold value of about 0.1-5 psi/ft required to prevent flow in a typical CO2 leakage scenario. The use of such inexpensive, pH-triggered poly-acrylic acid polymer allows long-term robust seal of leaky wellbores under high pH conditions.« less
Authors:
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [1]
  1. Univ. of Texas, Austin, TX (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
1261637
DOE Contract Number:
FE0009299
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Univ. of Texas, Austin, TX (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
01 COAL, LIGNITE, AND PEAT; 02 PETROLEUM; 03 NATURAL GAS; 20 FOSSIL-FUELED POWER PLANTS; 54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; 58 GEOSCIENCES