When the well has been drilled, it must be completed. Completing a well consists of a number of steps; installing the well casing, completing the well, installing the wellhead, and installing lifting equipment or treating the formation should that be required.
Installing well casing is an important part of the drilling and completion process. Well casing consists of a series of metal tubes installed in the freshly drilled hole. Casing serves to strengthen the sides of the well hole, ensure that no oil or natural gas seeps out of the well hole as it is brought to the surface, and to keep other fluids or gases from seeping into the formation through the well. A good deal of planning is necessary to ensure that the proper casing for each well is installed. Types of casing used depend on the subsurface characteristics of the well, including the diameter of the well (which is dependent on the size of the drill bit used) and the pressures and temperatures experienced throughout the well. In most wells, the diameter of the well hole decreases the deeper it is drilled, leading to a type of conical shape that must be taken into account when installing casing. The casing is normally cemented in place. Ill: wikipedia.org
There are five different types of well casing. They include:
· Conductor casing, which is usually no more than 20 to 50 feet long, is installed before main drilling to prevent the top of the well from caving in and to help in the process of circulating the drilling fluid up from the bottom of the well.
· Surface casing is the next type of casing to be installed. It can be anywhere from 100 to 400 meters long, and is smaller in diameter than the conductor casing and fits inside the conductor casing. The primary purpose of surface casing is to protect fresh water deposits near the surface of the well from being contaminated by leaking hydrocarbons or salt water from deeper underground. It also serves as a conduit for drilling mud returning to the surface, and helps protect the drill hole from being damaged during drilling.
· Intermediate casing is usually the longest section of casing found in a well. The primary purpose of intermediate casing is to minimize the hazards that come along with subsurface formations that may affect the well. These include abnormal underground pressure zones, underground shales, and formations that might otherwise contaminate the well, such as underground salt-water deposits. Liner strings are sometimes used instead of intermediate casing. Liner strings are usually just attached to the previous casing with ‘hangers’, instead of being cemented into place and is thus less permanent
· Production casing, alternatively called the ‘oil string’ or ‘long string’, is installed last and is the deepest section of casing in a well. This is the casing that provides a conduit from the surface of the well to the petroleum producing formation. The size of the production casing depends on a number of considerations, including the lifting equipment to be used, the 26 number of completions required, and the possibility of deepening the well at a later time. For example, if it is expected that the well will be deepened at a later date, then the production casing must be wide enough to allow the passage of a drill bit later on. It is also instrumental in preventing blowouts, allowing the formation to be ‘sealed’ from the top should dangerous pressure levels be reached.
Once the casing is installed, tubing is inserted inside the casing, from the opening well at the top, to the formation at the bottom. The hydrocarbons that are extracted run up this tubing to the surface. The production casing is typically 5 to 28 cm (2 -11 in) with most production wells being 6 in or more. Production depends on reservoir, bore, pressure etc. and could be less than 100 barrels a day to several thousand barrels per day. (5000 bpd is about 555 liters/minute). A packer is used between casing and tubing at the bottom of the well.