Nanomaterials are the new additives for drilling fluids that can improve its properties and eliminate problems due to increased downtime and well costs. The objective of this research is to select the optimum concentration of nanoparticles that enhance drilling fluid properties and hydraulics. This study investigates the effects of commercially available nanoparticles on the rheological and filtration properties and optimizes the hydraulics of water-based drilling fluids.

In this study, the samples were prepared as water-based muds with and without various concentrations of 5.7 nm colloidal silica dioxide nanoparticles. Series of laboratory experiments were carried out for all samples using standard API Low Pressure Low Temperature (LPLT) filtration and rheological tests. Two mud systems at different pH conditions were used to evaluate the impact of nanoparticles. A commercial software was used to evaluate the impact of the nanoparticles on the Equivalent Circulation Density (ECD) and the circulation pressure loss in a deviated wellbore.

Results show enhancements in the rheological and filtration properties for water-based muds treated by the nanoparticles used in this study with concentrations below 0.7% by weight. Furthermore, the results show the ability of these nanoparticles to make the filter cake consistent, compacted, and thin. The results reflect the negative impact of the nanoparticles with concentrations above 0.7% by weight on some of the rheological properties. The optimum nanomaterial concentrations with the best properties were observed as (0.1%-0.3%) by weight. Furthermore, the concentration of 0.1% by weight reflected the significant reduction in the ECD and the circulating pressure loss.

Nanoparticles used in this research can play a vital role in reducing drilling problems. Multilateral wells, slim holes and deep horizontal wells can be drilled by using water-based mud with the addition of proper nanoparticles and eliminating the need for oil-based muds that are expensive and environmentally unacceptable. However, it is critical to select the proper size and concentration of nanoparticles in order to eliminate its negative impact on the drilling fluid properties.

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