Field Verification: Invert Mud Performance from Water-Based Mud in Gulf of Mexico Shelf
- Aaron L. Klein (BP America) | Catalin Aldea (M-I SWACO) | James R. Bruton (M-I Drilling Fluids Co.) | William R. Dobbs (M-I LLC)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Drilling & Completion
- Publication Date
- March 2005
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 37 - 43
- 2005. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 1.6.1 Drilling Operation Management, 2 Well Completion, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 1.2.1 Wellbore integrity, 1.11 Drilling Fluids and Materials, 2.2.3 Fluid Loss Control, 4.3.1 Hydrates, 1.10.1 Drill string components and drilling tools (tubulars, jars, subs, stabilisers, reamers, etc), 4.2.3 Materials and Corrosion, 1.2.2 Geomechanics, 6.5.3 Waste Management, 4.2 Pipelines, Flowlines and Risers, 1.5 Drill Bits, 1.10 Drilling Equipment, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 1.11.2 Drilling Fluid Selection and Formulation (Chemistry, Properties), 1.14 Casing and Cementing, 2.7.1 Completion Fluids
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A uniquely designed water-based mud (WBM) was used in two shelf areas of theGulf of Mexico to drill highly reactive gumbo sections. The drillingperformance and inhibition in these shale intervals resembled that ofsynthetic-based muds (SBMs) previously used in offset wells. Owing to newenvironmental regulations, obtaining the drilling-performance characteristicsof a synthetic-based fluid and the stability of a water-based fluid is a highpriority for Gulf of Mexico operators.
A special characteristic of the WBM fluid is its ability to deliver SBM-likeshale inhibition without use of any salts, through an ideal combination of apolyamine shale inhibitor, a polymeric encapsulator, and an antiaccretionadditive.
This paper presents field data comparing the drilling performance and theinhibition in gumbo-shale sections of the new WBM and the previously used SBM.The combination of this inhibitive WBM and the rotary-steerable tool producedan 85% higher rate of penetration (ROP) than in similar wells in the areadrilled with SBM and mud motors.No accretion or bit balling was noted onbottomhole assemblies (BHAs) during bit runs, and the cuttings drilled werewell encapsulated and protected from hydration. Economic savings were realizedby reducing the drilling time and by not requiring the essentialwaste-management equipment and engineering associated with SBM-cuttingsdischarge. Furthermore, the new high-performance WBM was easily prepared at thewellsite with seawater, which also translated into cost savings by reducing thevolumes handled by the workboats.
These field applications demonstrate that this uniquely designed WBM caneffectively replace invert-emulsion fluids in many highly reactive shalesections without sacrificing drilling performance or increasing environmentalrisk.
Drilling the gumbo-shale sections in the Gulf of Mexico has always beenchallenging.When a WBM is used to drill this section, problems such assevere bit balling, stuck pipe, and plugging of the flowline with large piecesof soft shale are not uncommon. The severe washout associated with the lack ofshale inhibition may also lead to ineffective cementing of the casingstrings.
In the past 5 years, the drilling problems encountered prompted more andmore operators to drill these sections with synthetic-based drilling fluids.However, recent changes in environmental regulations impose a limit of 6.9%retention-of-oil-on-cuttings (ROC) for olefin SBM and 9.4% for ester SBM. Thistranslates into the use of cuttings dryers before discharging the cuttings intothe ocean and also running daily compliance testing and reporting. The holesize of the intermediate gumbo sections may vary from 14 to 17 in., generatinga significant amount of cuttings to be processed.
A highly inhibitive water-based mud (HIWBM) was designed to provide near-SBMdrilling performance without the limiting aspects of environmentalcompliance.1-5 This fluid has a very simple formulation and can be mixedin fresh water, seawater, or NaCl brine, up to saturation. A seawater-basedHIWBM was used in two shelf applications in the Gulf of Mexico with very gooddrilling performance and wellbore stability, comparable to offset wells drilledwith SBM.
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1. Friedheim, J.E. and Sartor, G.: "WBM with Triple-Inhibition MechanismDemonstrates Near-OBM Performance in Deepwater Gulf of Mexico," paper 61presented at the 2003 6th Offshore Mediterranean Conference, Ravenna, Italy,26-28 March.
2. Lee, J. et al.: "New Fluid System Good in Deep Water,"American Oil& Gas Reporter (August 2002) 92.
3. Friedheim, J.E. and Sartor, G.:"New Water-Based Drilling FluidMakes Mark in GOM," Drilling Contractor (May/June 2002) 32.
4. Patel, A. et al.: "Designing for the Future—A Review of the Design,Development, and Testing of a Novel, Inhibitive Water-Based Drilling Fluid,"paper AADE 02-DFWM-HO-33 presented at the 2002 American Assoc. of DrillingEngineers Annual Technology Conference on Drilling & Completion Fluids andWaste Management, Houston, 2-3 April.
5. Patel, A. et al.: "Highly Inhibitive Water-Based Fluid System ProvidesSuperior Chemical Stabilization of Reactive Shale Formations," paper AADE01-NC-HO-55 presented at the 2001 American Assoc. of Drilling EngineersNational Drilling Conference, Houston, 27-29 March.
6. Friedheim, J.E., Candler, J.E., and Rabke, S.P.:"New Testing Protocols andRegulatory Guidelines To Promote Further Development of Synthetic-Based FluidTechnology," paper SPE 71435 presented at the 2001 SPE Annual TechnicalConference and Exhibition, New Orleans, 30 September-3 October.