It is known that the plastic Bingham model is inadequate to represent some types of drilling fluids1,2 , such as low solids and emulsions, especially at medium and low shear rates. Previous experiments on carrying capacity concluded that the average annular velocity and rheological properties affect the fluid transport more significantly than other parameters. Many of these experiments3,4,8,9  refer to the yield point of the Bingham model, calculated at high shear rate, as the most important parameter.

This experiment studies how the initial gel strength and plastic yield point affect the carrying capacity of the drilling fluids, employing the transport ratio concept. For this purpose the terminal settling velocity of the drilled solids through quiescent fluids was experimentally determined. The results showed a better correlation with the initial gel strength than with the yield point. Also, the analysis of the results demonstrated that a gel strength of about 1.92 Pa (4.0 lbf/100 ft2) is necessary and substantial to obtain a transport ratio higher than 0.50 when the annular velocity is in the range of 0.41 m/s (80 ft/min) to 0.66 m/s (130 ft/min), using low solids and polymer drilling fluids.

For any type of water based drilling fluids, a gel strength in the range of 3.35 Pa (7 lbf/100 ft2) to 4.79 Pa (9.0 lbf/100 ft2) is sufficient to remove the cuttings at more than 0.50 of transport ratio, even when the annular velocity is about 0.25 m/s (50 ft/min).

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