Evaluation of the potential for gas leakage along wellbores in the St. Lawrence Lowlands basin, Quebec, Canada

  • A. NowamoozEmail author
  • F.-A. Comeau
  • J.-M. Lemieux
Original Article


Wellbore attributes (i.e., deviation, casings and plugging characteristics) for 85 wells in the St. Lawrence Lowlands basin of southern Quebec were compiled from drilling reports and abandonment programs to provide an overview of the abandoned well characteristics and to establish a diagnosis on the long-term reliability of the completion and abandonment practices carried out by the companies since the beginning of oil and gas exploration. Using these data, the conventional and unconventional wells were divided into four categories: (1) conventional wells drilled before 1950, (2) conventional wells drilled between 1950 and 1970, (3) conventional wells drilled after 1970 and shale gas wells (all drilled after 2000). Very little information was available for wells drilled before 1950. More information was available for the wells drilled from 1950 to 1970 which is considered a transition period between old and modern technology. Conventional and unconventional wells drilled after 1970 were generally well documented and their attributes corresponded to API standards. A decision tree, inspired from the methodology proposed by Watson and Bachu (SPE Drill Complet 24(1):115–126, 2009., was then created to assess the potential of leakage of each of the conventional and unconventional wells using the compiled attributes. The factors defining the probability of well leakage were wellbore deviation, height of cement in casing annuli (partially or fully cemented), type of abandonment plugs (cement or mechanical plugs) and drilling date (before or after 1970). Among the 85 wells assessed by this tree, the probability of leakage was higher than 50% for 55 wells (65% of wells). Wellbore deviation and lack of information on the construction and abandonment methods were respectively the primary and secondary causes of high probability of leakage of these wells.


Well leakage St. Lawrence Lowlands Risk assessment Shale gas Conventional wells 



The geological map of southern Quebec (Fig. 1) was reproduced from Lavoie et al. (2014), with kind permission from Elsevier. Surface casing vent flows (SCVFs) of shale gas wells in Quebec, Canada were provided by Charles Lamontagne (personal communication; of the Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques (MDDELCC), Quebec, Canada. The authors thank John Molson and Charles Lamontagne for their collaboration and constructive comments and suggestions on this paper. The authors also thank the Strategic Environmental Evaluation Committee on Shale Gas (CEES) and Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles du Québec (MERN) for commissioning this study and for their financial support.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Département de Géologie et de Génie GéologiqueUniversité LavalQuebecCanada
  2. 2.Centre Eau, Terre et EnvironnementInstitut national de la recherche scientifiqueQuebecCanada

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