Leak Testing and Implications of Operations to Locate Leak Horizons at West Hackberry Well 108 Page: 3 of 57
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Printed June 2002
Leak Testing and Implications of Operations to Locate
Leak Horizons at West Hackberry Well 108
Allan R. Sattler and Brian L. Ehgartner
Sandia National Laboratories
Underground Storage Technology Department
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87185-0706
DynMcDermott Petroleum Operations Company
New Orleans, Louisiana 70123
The Strategic Petroleum Reserve site at West Hackberry, Louisiana has historically experienced
casing leaks. Numerous West Hackberry oil storage caverns have wells exhibiting
communication between the interior 10% x 20-inch (oil) annulus and the "outer cemented" 20 x
26-inch annulus. Well 108 in Cavern 108 exhibits this behavior. It is thought that one, if not the
primary, cause of this communication is casing thread leaks at the 20-inch casing joints combined
with microannuli along the cement casing interfaces and other cracks/flaws in the cemented 20 x
26-inch annulus. An operation consisting of a series of nitrogen leak tests, similar to cavern
integrity tests, was performed on Cavern 108 in an effort to determine the leak horizons and to
see if these leak horizons coincided with those of casing joints. Certain leaky, threaded casing
joints were identified between 400 and 1500 feet. A new leak detection procedure was developed
as a result of this test, and this methodology for identifying and interpreting such casing joint
leaks is presented in this report. Analysis of the test data showed that individual joint leaks could
be successfully identified, but not without some degree of ambiguity. This ambiguity is attributed
to changes in the fluid content of the leak path (nitrogen forcing out oil) and possibly to very
plausible changes in characteristics of the flow path during the test. These changes dominated the
test response and made the identification of individual leak horizons difficult. One consequence
of concern from the testing was a progressive increase in the leak rate measured during testing
due to nitrogen cleaning small amounts of oil out of the leak paths and very likely due to the
changes of the leak path during the flow test. Therefore, careful consideration must be given
before attempting similar tests. Although such leaks have caused no known environmental or
economic problems to date, the leaks may be significant because of the potential for future
problems. To mitigate future problems, some repair scenarios are discussed including injection of
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SATTLER, ALLAN R.; EHGARTNER, BRIAN L. & PIECHOCKI, ALAN. Leak Testing and Implications of Operations to Locate Leak Horizons at West Hackberry Well 108, report, June 1, 2002; Albuquerque, New Mexico. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc742524/m1/3/: accessed April 23, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.