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A squeeze job is a term that refers to a repair made to an oil well. A cement slurry, which is typically a mix of cement, water, and fine sand, is pumped into a casing or pipe that has been cracked or otherwise damaged. The slurry plugs the holes, effectively repairing the damage and allowing the well to continue being used.
Another name for a squeeze job is the bradenhead squeeze; to accomplish the repair the bradenhead, another name for the casinghead, must be closed. If it is not, the cement will come out the top of the pipe instead of plugging the holes. The process to repair a cracked oil pipe using a squeeze job involves several steps, beginning with pumping the cement slurry down into the pipe. It is important to pump enough down to plug the holes, but not so much that the extra can’t be removed from the system before it sets. The bradenhead is then closed.
After the initial preparations have been made, the pumps that are used to bring oil out of the well are started. This causes them to pump the contents of the pipe, which now consists of a large amount of cement slurry, to the surface. Since the pipe is capped, the contents cannot leave the pipe.
Pressure from the pumps forces the slurry out through any available holes, which at this point can only be the damaged areas of the pipe. As the pressure continues, the sand and cement particles get lodged in the cracks while the water and oil are squeezed out, giving rise to the term “squeeze job.” Ultimately, this repairs the pipe by creating a seal at any place that had a crack or hole.
Once the pressure within the pipe rises, indicating that the holes have been plugged, it is important to remove any excess cement before it sets in the bottom of the pipe. This is done by stopping the pumps and opening the bradenhead. The pumps are started again, and all of the water, oil, and cement slurry from inside the pipe is pumped out.
After the pipe is cleared of the excess cement, the patches are allowed to cure so that the squeeze job repair becomes permanent. Pipe can then be reconnected to the delivery pipe that takes the oil from the well and delivers it to the storage area. The pumps are restarted and the job resumes, usually after a minimal amount of downtime and expense.