Recent studies highlight the significant role of drilling fluid elasticity in particle suspension and hole cleaning during drilling operations. Traditional methods to quantify fluid elasticity require the use of advanced rheometers not suitable for field application. The main objectives of the study were to develop a generalized model for determining viscoelasticity of a drilling fluid using standard field-testing equipment, investigate the factors influencing drilling fluid viscoelasticity in the field, and provide an understanding of the viscoelasticity concept.
Over 80 fluid formulations used in this study included field samples of oil-based drilling fluids as well as laboratory samples formulated with bentonite and other polymers such as partially-hydrolyzed polyacrylamide, synthesized xanthan gum, and polyacrylic acid. Detailed rheological characterizations of these fluids used a funnel viscometer and a rotational viscometer. Elastic properties of the drilling fluids (quantified in terms of the energy required to cause an irreversible deformation in the fluid's structure) were obtained from oscillatory tests conducted using a cone-and-plate type rheometer. Using an empirical approach, a non-iterative model for quantifying elasticity correlated test results from a funnel viscometer and a rotational viscometer.
The generalized model was able to predict the elasticity of drilling fluids with a mean absolute error of 5.75%. In addition, the model offers practical versatility by requiring only standard drilling fluid testing equipment to predict viscoelasticity. Experimental results showed that non-aqueous fluid (NAF) viscoelasticity is inversely proportional to the oil-water ratio and the presence of clay greatly debilitates the elasticity of the samples while enhancing their viscosity.
The work efforts present a model for estimating drilling fluid elasticity using standard drilling fluid field-testing equipment. Furthermore, a revised approach helps to describe the viscoelastic property of a fluid that involves quantifying the amount of energy required to irreversibly deform a unit volume of viscoelastic fluid. The methodology, combined with the explanation of the viscoelasticity concept, provides a practical tool for optimizing drilling operations based on the viscoelasticity of drilling fluids.