In order to improve drilling mud design to cater for specific well situations, a more comprehensive knowledge and understanding of filter cake failure is needed. This paper describes experimental techniques aimed at directly probing the mechanical properties of filter cakes, without having to take into account artefacts due to fluid flow in the substrate. The use of rheometers allows us to determine shear yield stress and dynamic shear modulii of cakes grown on filter paper. A new scraping technique measures the strength and moisture profiles of typical filter cakes with a 0.1 mm resolution. This technique also allows us to probe the adhesion between the filter cake and its rock substrate. In addition, μdometer drained consolidation and unloading of a filter cake give us compression parameters useful for Cam Clay modelling. These independent measurements give similar results as to the elastic modulus of different filter cakes, showing an order of magnitude difference between water based and oil based cakes. We find that these standard cakes behave predominantly as purely elastic materials, with a sharp transition into plastic flow, allowing for the determination of a well-defined yield stress. The effect of solids loading on a given type of mud is also studied.

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