High-temperature water-based drilling fluid systems hold several advantages over synthetic based systems from financial and environmental viewpoints. However, most conventional water-based systems start to become unstable at temperatures above 300 degF. This paper details the design and implementation of A Novel Water-Based Drilling Fluid that meet these temperature stability requirements.

The newly developed high-temperature water-based system discussed in this paper utilizes a custom-made branched synthetic polymer that exhibits superior rheological properties and fluid loss control as well as long term stability above 400 degF. The branched synthetic polymer is compatible with most oilfield brines and maintains excellent low-end rheology necessary for hole cleaning and solids suspension under high-temperatures and pressures. Under static conditions, the high-temperature fluid shows no gelation resulting in lower swab surge pressures while the stability of the highly branched synthetic polymer and enhanced rheological profile minimize sag.

To drill a challenging exploration well, a Middle East client required a cost-effective drilling fluid system which remains stable under static temperatures expected to exceed 375 degF. The long-term stability of the system was critical for successful wireline logging operations. In addition, the system was required to provide shale inhibition, hydrogen sulfide suppression and sufficient density (above 16.5 lbm/galUS) to maintain well integrity while drilling through anticipated high-pressure zones. The challenging intermediate (12.25-in and 8.375-in) and reservoir (6-in) sections were successfully drilled and evaluated using this new branched synthetic polymer-based system. Fluid property trends and system treatments will be detailed alongside thermal stability data for extended periods required for wireline logging (up to 9 days static).

This paper will discuss how proper laboratory design of the high-temperature water-based system was translated to excellent field performance and will indicate how this technology can be utilized for future campaigns in the region and worldwide.

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