Study of borehole stability of Marcellus shale wells in longwall mining areas

Yi Wang, Robert Watson, Jamal Rostami, John Yilin Wang, Mark Limbruner, Zhong He

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


With the widespread drilling of gas wells in Marcellus shale, there are high potentials for wellbore instability problems when wells are located in longwall mining areas, which in many areas such as southwest Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and eastern Ohio are being used for extraction of the coal seam overlaying the gas reserves. The ground deformation, caused by coal mining, could generate large horizontal displacement and complex stress change in subsurface rock. This in turn triggers ground movement which can cause casing failure, and thus interruption in the operation of the well that raises safety and environmental concerns. This could result in shutting down the well for repair, or permanent abandonment. Thus, it is critical to characterize the parameters related to the longwall mining process and to propose a general casing design guideline in such areas. In this paper, numerical modeling was utilized to simulate the complex ground conditions and resulting stresses and strains in longwall mining areas. A casing design spreadsheet was then constructed for design of appropriate selection of casings, based on the results of the numerical modeling. Our results were validated with field practices of wellbore design in southwest Pennsylvania. This paper also provides a methodology for investigating potential ground deformations, resulting stress/strain changes, and wellbore stability issues for oil and gas wells drilled in longwall mining areas in Marcellus shale or similar formations worldwide with active coal mining activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-71
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Petroleum Exploration and Production Technology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • General Energy


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