El-Mallawany, Ibrahim Ismail (2011-05). An Experimental Setup to Study the Settling Behavior of Epoxy Based Fluids. Master's Thesis.
This thesis is part of a project funded by the Minerals Management Service (MMS) (now Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE)) to study the use of epoxy to plug hurricane damaged wells. Some of the wells destroyed by hurricanes are damaged to an extent that vertical intervention from the original wellhead is not possible. These wells have to be plugged to prevent future flows through the well to protect the environment. Cement is usually the preferred plugging material because it is very cheap compared to other materials like epoxy. However, cement can easily get contaminated by sea water or brines present in wells as completion fluids. Therefore, to be able to use cement it has to be placed at the bottom of the well by drilling an offset well all the way to the bottom of the original well. Epoxy, on the other hand, being much more chemically stable can be placed at the very top of the well and let to settle by gravity without fearing contamination. Therefore, in wells described above, epoxy can be much more economical than cement. Placing epoxy at the top of a well and letting it settle by gravity can also be more economical than using cement in other situations such as in a leaking annulus of a well where circulation in that annulus is not possible, or if a well that has been previously plugged starts leaking again after the rig has been removed. Placing epoxy in the manner described can be achieved without using a rig and therefore, would be much more economical than cement.
One of the most important factors in this process is to be able to predict the settling velocity of the epoxy to be able to determine the required setting time of the epoxy so that the epoxy does not set prematurely. In addition, it is important to evaluate whether the epoxy can successfully settle to the bottom and how much of it will adhere to the pipe walls while freefalling. This thesis aims to design, build and run an experimental setup that would help study the settling velocity of epoxy. Some experiments were conducted to assess the effect of different parameters that might affect the settling velocity of the epoxy such as the epoxy's density, the annulus size and the inclination angle. The results show that the settling velocity was proportional to the epoxy's density. Also the settling speed was almost double in experiments done at an angle compared to experiments done at vertical position. The annulus size did not have any clear effect on the settling speed. The adhesion to the pipe walls was found to be proportional to the epoxy's viscosity and angle of inclination and was inversely proportional to the annulus size.