Drilling and Completion Fluids-2022
Significant reserves additions may be realized if the risks associated with drilling in such harsh conditions can be managed effectively. Design and development of a new generation of drilling fluids able to fulfill all of the attributed functions under extreme pressure and temperature conditions is one of the key requirements for unlocking these resources.
As the oil and gas drilling industry moves into more technically challenging environments [e.g., drilling ultradeep onshore/offshore wells under extremely high temperature (above 300°F) and pressure (mud specific gravity above 2.0)], companies increasingly come under pressure to stretch technology and improve drilling performance while continuously striving to reduce costs and meet the requirements of stricter environmental regulations. Significant reserves additions may be realized if the risks associated with drilling in such harsh conditions (e.g., pressure control, wellbore instability, lost-circulation, sour gas) can be managed effectively. Design and development of a new generation of drilling fluids able to fulfill all of the attributed functions (e.g., stabilize the wellbore, control formation pressure, transport the drilled cuttings, minimize the fluid loss, and not reduce formation productivity) under such extreme pressure and temperature conditions is one of the key requirements for unlocking these resources.
Drilling fluids used under ultrahigh pressures and temperatures need to be thermally stable and able to retain their rheological properties. Traditionally, nonaqueous drilling fluids (NADFs) have been used under these extreme conditions. NADFs, however, have significantly high operational costs with an associated health, safety, and environmental risk. As a result, there has been an increasing demand from operators to use aqueous drilling fluids [water-based muds (WBMs)], which are known to be environmentally benign and relatively less expensive. The use of WBMs under extreme temperatures and pressures, however, faces several challenges, including the breakdown of polymers and other additives used as fluid-loss preventers and rheological stabilizers. Therefore, recent research has focused on design and development of WBM systems meeting the following specifications:
- Use of sodium chloride (for barite-laden formulation) and sodium bromide (for barite-free formulation) as base brines to reduce the total solids content for optimal fluid properties and to maximize the quality of wireline logs
- Ensure inhibition of reactive shale formations to maintain wellbore stability while drilling intermediate sections
- Provide optimal and stable rheological properties for excellent hole cleaning and drilling performance
The newly developed ultrahigh-temperature water-based systems used custom-made branched synthetic polymers that exhibit superior rheological properties and fluid-loss control as well as long-term stability above 400°F. These branched synthetic polymers are compatible with most oilfield brines and maintain excellent low-end rheology.
Other formulations proposed the use of β-cyclodextrin polymer microspheres (β-CPMs) as an environmentally friendly ultrahigh-temperature filtration reducer. When the temperature rose above 160°C, a hydrothermal reaction occurred for β-CPMs, and, as a result, numerous micro- and nanosized carbon spheres formed, which bridged across micro- and nanopores within the filter cake and reduced the filter cake permeability effectively.
Bentonite-hydrothermal carbon nanocomposites also are proposed as nonpolymer additives to solve the ultrahigh-temperature/-pressure challenge in water-based drilling fluid. The nanocomposites are synthesized by a simple hydrothermal reaction in which biomass starch and sodium bentonite are used as the precursor and template, respectively. Such formulations have shown favorable rheology and filtration properties after hot rolling at temperatures as high as 460°F.
This section presents selected papers showing examples of design, development, and field applications of the new generation of WBM fluid technologies.
Recommended Additional Reading
This Month’s Technical Papers
SPE 206444 Successful Application of a New Generation of Clay-Inhibitor Polymers While Drilling a Deep Exploration Well in the Astrakhan Region by Petr Leonidovich Ryabtsev, Akros, et al.
SPE 205539 Improvement of Rheological and Filtration Properties of Water-Based Drilling Fluids Using Bentonite-Hydrothermal Carbon Nanocomposites Under Ultrahigh-Temperature and High-Pressure Conditions by Hanyi Zhong, China University of Petroleum East China, et al.
SPE 209805 The Utilization of Self-Crosslinkable Nanoparticles as a High-Temperature Plugging Agent in Water-Based Drilling Fluid by Ming Lei, University of Alberta, et al.
Ergun Kuru, SPE, is a professor and the director of petroleum engineering in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department of the University of Alberta. He holds a BS degree from Middle East Technical University and MS and PhD degrees from Louisiana State University, all in petroleum engineering. Previously, Kuru worked as a faculty member at the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey, and the Petroleum Institute in Abu Dhabi. For more than 30 years, he has been teaching courses and conducting research on subjects related to drilling and well-completion engineering. Kuru has authored or coauthored more than 190 technical papers. He has served on several SPE committees, including the Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition Drilling Engineering Program Committee, the Global Training Committee, and the Education and Accreditation Committee. He received the 2017 SPE Canada Region Distinguished Achievement Award for Petroleum Engineering Faculty and was named an SPE Distinguished Member in 2021.