Fluid Migration Mechanisms Due to Faulty Well Design and/or Construction: An Overview and Recent Experiences in the Pennsylvania Marcellus Play

PSE
January 2013
Anthony R. Ingraffea. Ph.D. P.E.

Updated 18 February 2013

 

This PSE brief introduces the mechanisms leading to loss of well structural integrity and examines the prevalence of fluid migration from faulty wells in the natural gas industry and potential impacts for the Marcellus region.

 

Summary:

The most recent experience with shale gas wells in the Pennsylvania Marcellus play reflects long term, world-wide industry data with respect to new wells with compromised structural integrity. Operator-wide statistics in Pennsylvania show that about 6-7% of new wells drilled in each of the past three years have compromised structural integrity. This apparently low failure rate should be seen in the context of a full buildout in the Pennsylvania Marcellus of at least 100,000 wells, and in the entire Marcellus, including New York, of twice that number. Therefore, based on recent statistical evidence, one could expect at least 10,000 new wells with compromised structural integrity. It is too early to discern whether the other industry experience with this technical problem, an increase in loss of integrity with well age, will also be reflected. However, at play in modern shale gas development are many of the key factors identified by industry researchers as having a negative influence on well structural integrity: the need for deviated wells, rapid development of a field, presence of "shallow" high-pressure gas horizons, and disturbance of young cement due to adjacent drilling activities on the same pad.

 

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Archived version (Oct 2012)

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