Wellbore irregularities can cause excessive mechanical friction forces while attempting to land casing strings, and unfavorable conditions for primary cementing of casing strings. In an eccentric annulus, the fluid velocity is largest in the wide section of the annulus. The drilling fluid on the narrow side of the annulus may be immobilized due to the lower wall shear stress in this section of the annulus. A direct consequence for the primary cementing operation is the potential for having residual drilling fluid between casing and formation, and thereby failing to achieve zonal isolation and adequate mechanical support for the casing.

Casing strings are usually fitted with centralizers at predetermined intervals in order to achieve a minimum degree of centralization in the wellbore and efficient fluid displacement during primary cementing. Centralizer distribution and design are based on assumptions of regular wellbore geometries and often analytical models for estimating lateral casing string displacement in the well. The latter assumption implies that bending moments are not transmitted across centralizers, and may lead to nonconservative centralizer designs. To investigate the effect of irregularity and casing string stiffness, we consider a stiff string model that approximates the casing string as finite beam elements with bending and axial degrees of freedom at each end, thereby accounting for transmission of both axial and bending stresses between elements. In this work, we evaluate wellbore irregularity by inspecting a six-arm caliper log and estimate the cross-sectional shape of the wellbore by cubic spline interpolation between the arms of the caliper tool.

Analyses of the caliper logs indicate that long, continuous strecthes conform to the nominal wellbore size, and that local hole enlargements may be significant. Irregularities are found to be largely symmetric about the wellbore axis, although some examples exhibit elliptic or oval shapes that may conform with local in-situ stress directions. We detail the stiff string model assumptions and implementation for evaluating casing centralization, and demonstrate the approach on model irregularities and on selected caliper log sections. Calculations suggest that bow spring centralizers result in better casing centralization in vertical parts of the wellbore, while large bow spring compression favour rigid centralizers in more inclined parts of the well. Axial compression close to the bottom of the wellbore section leads to a geometric softening effect of the casing, which affects transverse displacement and centralization between centralizers. Higher in the well where the casing is in tension, a geometric stiffening effect reduces transverse displacement. In proximity of washed out and irregular sections, centralization is affected both by placement of the centralizers and a reduction in the restoring capability of bow spring centralizers.

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