JIP Testing 'Smart Cement' to Address Well Safety, Environmental Issues

Oil and gas companies are testing the potential of talking cement to address safety and environmental issues that surround cementing issues in wells.

Oceanit, which is headquartered in Honolulu, Hawaii and has offices in Washington, D.C., Houston and El Granada, Calif., has formed a joint industry program (JIP) with major oil and gas companies and the U.S. Department of Energy to explore the potential for an additive mixture, developed through nanotechnology research, to address wellbore integrity and zonal isolation in wells.

This technology is expected to significantly impact well economics by preventing catastrophic well blowouts and addressing environmental barriers by safeguarding aquifers, said Vinod P. Veedu, director of strategic initiatives at Oceanit, in an at interview with Rigzone at the 2014 Offshore Technology Conference last week in Houston.

To create the sensing cement, Oceanit blends with cement an additive mixture comprised of nanomaterials. In the mixing process, the nanomaterials are uniformly dispersed through the cement, forming a network of reliable materials that can be externally pinged and get some signal out, whether it’s under 100 or 10,000 pounds of pressure. The big value of the sensing cement, Nanite, is that the material itself becomes the sensor, whether it’s for 100 pounds or 10,000 pounds of pressure.

Information can be derived from the cement through electrical, acoustic or electromagnetic approaches. With an electric approach, the change in the bulk electrical properties based on an external trigger is measure, such as when pressure from a load isapplied. Currently, Oceanit is customizing Nanite for oil and gas operations so that existing acoustic logging tools canping the cement and gain similar information as Oceanit using the electrical mode.

“This path is possible only due to the fact that the nanomaterials that we use in the additive are also acoustically responsive,” Veedu explained. “One key benefit to the acoustic-based approach is that, this way, the technology development period will be significantly reduced since the industry could potentially use the same tools that they are used to.”

The smart, sensing and durable Nanite material will revolutionize oil drilling operations by addressing safety and environmental concerns, said Veedu.


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