Sodium Silicate were first used in water-based drilling fluids to stabilize claystone formations in the 1930's, but found favour in the 1990's in high performance, non dispersed water based systems for drilling problematic claystone formations as an alternative to oil-based drilling fluids. In Bongkot South field, Gulf of Thailand, sodium silicate-based drilling fluid (SSBDF) were used with mixed success in shallow gas drilling. Typically, platform WP-33, the claystone formation of the 12¼" section were drilled with 5% v/v Sodium Silicate in the water based drilling fluid together with excessive circulation as intention to improve hole cleaning frequently result in a wellbore that was overgauge by upto 18.9% in some case. This led to further hole cleaning problem that also compromised cement job quality.

A further 6 well campaign on WPS-16 required a re-evaulation of the SSBDF coupled to an understanding of the wellbore instability mechanisms that leads to hole enlargement. To overcome better wellbore stability, sodium silicate has been designed by increased concentration to 8% v/v sodium silicate treated drilling fluid showed optimal design for application base on application of SSBDF has been used on platform WP-11 in 2002. Rheology, hydraulic and flow regime was adjusted for laminar flow that reduced the erosion of fragile claystone formation in the wellbore.

The revised SSBDF formulation at WPS-16 result in a significant reduction of hole enlargement to 3.2% in the claystone section through a combination of chemicals and mechanical inhibition that contribute improved hole cleaning. The addition of wellbore strengthening material also provide an effective seal to minimize gas invasion. This paper describes the field trials in the Gulf of Thailand drilled with revised sodium sodium silicate based drilling fluid, the use of wellbore strengthening materials to manage gas influxes, better drilling practice and hydraclic simulation concluded that high performance water based drilling fluid of this nature have wider application where oil-base drilling fluid have traditionally been used.

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