Formation damage by the drill-in fluid has been identified as a major risk for the Dvalin HT gas field. To ensure the long-term stability and mobility of the mud even after an extended suspension time between drill-in and clean-up of the wells, a novel static aging test under downhole temperature and high pressure was conducted. Experiments have shown that the downhole stability is commonly underestimated when the surrounding pressure is lower than in the field. Thus, a high-pressure cylinder was used in vertical orientation in a heating oven with a pressure pump regulating the pressure up to 200 bar.

The reservoir section was drilled with the optimized organo-clay-free oil-based drilling fluid (OCFOBDF) specified in the qualification phase. Tracers in the lower completion were used to identify clean-up from the upper high-permeability streak and the deeper (relatively lower) high-permeability streak. Due to extended wait on weather after drilling and completion of the first of the four wells, the lag time until clean-up was almost 11 weeks (74 days).

It could be experimentally shown that the qualified OCFOBDF system weighted with micron sized barite remains mobile without phase separation even after static aging at 160 °C and 200 bar for the maximum estimated lag time between drilling and clean-up of 3 months. The absence of a gas cap in the set-up also better represents downhole conditions in the reservoir section and has shown that it improves the fluid´s stability. The clean-up of the well was successful with a maximum flowrate of 3.0 MM Sm3/d. Analysis of the tracers has proven that clean-up was successful for the entire reservoir section, including the deeper part.

It could be concluded that in alignment with the lab tests that the mud fulfilled its requirement to be mobile even up to three months. Because of the superior properties, settling of solids (bridging and weighting material) could be avoided, resulting in no blockage of the (lower part of the) reservoir.

The use HPHT aging has been the key to proving the long-term stability and mobility of the combined Drill-In and Completion Fluid. This technique falls outside of current API RP testing practices but is believed to be highly beneficial for qualification of fluids that will be left in the lower completion for long periods, especially in open hole completions under high temperature and pressure.

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