Low matrix permeability and significant damage mechanisms are the main signatures of tight gas reservoirs. During drilling and fracturing of tight formations, the wellbore liquid invades the tight formation, increases liquid saturation around wellbore and eventually reduces permeability at near wellbore. The liquid invasion damage is mainly controlled by capillary pressure and relative permeability curves.
Water blocking and phase trapping damage is one of the main concerns in use of water based drilling fluid in tight gas reservoirs, since due to high critical water saturation, relative permeability effects and strong capillary pressure, tight formations are sensitive to water invasion damage. Therefore, use of oil based mud may be preferred in drilling or fracturing of tight formation. However invasion of oil filtrate into tight formations may result in introduction of an immiscible liquid hydrocarbon drilling or completion fluid around wellbore, causing entrapment of an additional third phase in the porous media that would exacerbate formation damage effects.
This study focuses on phase trapping damage caused by liquid invasion using water-based drilling fluid in comparison with use of oil-based drilling fluid in water sensitive tight gas sand reservoirs. Reservoir simulation approach is used to study the effect of relative permeability curves on phase trap damage, and results of laboratory experiments core flooding tests in a West Australian tight gas reservoir are shown in which the effect of water injection and oil injection on the damage of core permeability are studied. The results highlights benefits of using oil-based fluids in drilling and fracturing of tight gas reservoirs in term of reducing skin factor and improving well productivity.