A reservoir-conditions coreflood study was undertaken to assist with design of drilling and completion fluids for a Norwegian field. Multiple fluids were tested, and the lowest permeability alterations did not correlate with the lowest drilling fluid filtrate loss volumes. This paper will examine the factors which contributed to alterations in the core samples.

A series of corefloods were carried out using core from 2 formations and different drilling fluids. Separate tests were carried out using drilling fluid alone and the full operational sequence. Filtrate loss and permeability measurements combined with interpretative analyses to understand what happened in the near-wellbore. Micro-CT "change maps" gave 3D visualisations of the thickness of operational fluid cakes and extent of retention/clean-up – valuable insights into factors that influence hydrocarbon recovery.

All drilling fluids tested had "normal" filtrate loss volumes, with one having notably higher losses with a particular formation. Normally this would be considered a bridging issue and "fixed", but those tests showed comparable or slightly lower alterations in permeability. Analysis showed that, despite deeper constituent infiltration, they were not contributing significant extra damage or retention; the nature of the drilling fluid attachment and cake seemed to be more relevant here than depth of invasion. Other examples will illustrate that the impact of drilling fluid infiltration and retention can range widely, and that there are more key factors than simply filtrate loss volume.

Results showed that focusing on the metric of filtrate loss alone may increase risk during drilling fluid selection. Understanding the relationship between filtrate loss, permeability/inflow alteration, retention/clean-up after production is important in selecting fluids as well as giving a better understanding of where improvements can be made. 3D visualisations of the alterations caused by drilling fluid allow conclusions to be drawn when previously there would be speculation.

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