Ultrahigh-temperature/ultrahigh-pressure (uHT/uHP) conditions have a different definition, depending on the region, the operator, and the service company. In this paper, the definition used for uHT/uHP fluid performance is that the fluid be able to perform above 500°F and 30,000 psi. This paper describes the development of innovative drilling fluids that are specific to these well conditions.
When bottomhole temperatures exceed 400°F, the design and engineering of drilling fluids can be challenging. Drilling fluids that destabilize can cause a variety of fluid-control problems that could lead to drilling and completion issues. With invert-emulsion fluids, the major challenges encountered with these conditions are related to the thermal degradation of the emulsifier and wetting package that can lead to gelation and syneresis. Another challenge is fluid loss that is related to the emulsion stability and to the degradation of the fluid-loss-control additives. Finally, efficient control of the rheological properties—critical to the success of any well—also can be challenging when effects from emulsion instability, filtration-control degradation, and rheology-control-additive degradation are coupled with increases in drilled solids, rapidly leading to rheological instability. This can manifest itself as high-fluctuating rheologies and gelation or the loss of rheological properties that can give rise to sag of weight material, both potentially leading to associated well-control problems.
The paper describes the development of the new fluid system designed for such uHT/uHP environments (highlighting the chemical differences) and compares the test data of the system with more-conventional high-temperature/high-pressure (HT/HP) invert-emulsion fluids. Data are presented that show the stability and performance of the new fluid with extended exposure to temperature >500°F, demonstrating a tolerance to various contaminations and showing the rheological behavior and stability to 600°F and 40,000 psi.