An investigation of fatigue response of well cement under cyclic loading and impact on zonal isolation performance

Alexander Anya, Hossein Emadi, Marshall Watson, Oladoyin Kolawole, Faisal Altawati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cyclic bottomhole pressure fluctuation is very prevalent in modern well construction and enhanced petroleum recovery applications and poses a great challenge to annular seal integrity and successful zonal isolation, even in cases where the cement seal exhibits excellent initial quality. Thus, annular sealants must be designed to mitigate or minimize the deleterious effects of cyclic pressure fluctuations on the annular seal. Optimal cement designs for this purpose require a proper understanding of damage modes and mechanisms associated with a cyclic pressure regime, as well as the impact of the cement mechanical integrity evolution on the leakage of the cemented annulus. Using four cement formulations with distinct mechanical and microstructural properties, we investigated the mechanical integrity evolution and leakage characteristics of cemented pipe specimens subjected to confinement pressure fluctuations. Via microscopic inspection of the cement/pipe interface after pressure cycling and permeability measurements during pressure cycling, we attempted to correlate cement properties with leakage and suggest a recommendation for optimal cement design and successful zonal isolation in wellbores subjected to cyclic pressure. Test data indicate that under high enough pressure variation, interfacial cracking at the cement pipe interface is unavoidable and the cement seal's ability to maintain zonal isolation will be dependent on the microstructural morphology and microscale mechanical resilience of the cement formulation. Stiffer conventional cements also appear to have a higher chance of leakage through non-interfacial fractures than their more flexible counterparts. Latex cements show great promise for effective zonal isolation under cyclic bottomhole pressure conditions and should be studied in more detail.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number212172
JournalGeoenergy Science and Engineering
StatePublished - Nov 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Energy (miscellaneous)
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


  • Cyclic pressure
  • Flexible cement
  • Latex cement
  • Well integrity
  • Zonal isolation


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