Borehole measurements are often subject to uncertainty resulting from the effects of mud-filtrate invasion. Accurate interpretation of these measurements relies on properly understanding and incorporating mud-filtrate invasion effects in the calculation of petrophysical properties. Although attempts to experimentally investigate mud-filtrate invasion and mudcake deposition have been numerous, the majority of published laboratory data are from experiments performed using linear rather than radial geometry, homogeneous rock properties, and water-based (WBM) rather than oil- or synthetic oil-based drilling mud (OBM or SOBM).
We introduce a new experimental method to accurately reproduce conditions in the borehole and near-wellbore region during, and shortly after the drilling process, when the majority of wellbore measurements are acquired. Rather than using a linear-flow apparatus, the experiments are performed using cylindrical rock cores with a hole drilled axially through the center. Radial mud-filtrate invasion takes place while injecting pressurized drilling mud into the hole at the center of the core while the outside of the core is maintained at a lower pressure. During the experiments, the core sample is rapidly and repeatedly scanned using high-resolution X-ray microcomputed tomography (micro-CT), allowing for visualization and quantification of the time-space distribution of mud filtrate and mudcake thickness. Because of the size of the core sample, the developed experimental method allows for accurate evaluation of the influence of various rock properties, such as the presence of spatial heterogeneity and fluid properties, including WBM versus OBM, on the processes of mud-filtrate invasion and mudcake deposition. Results indicate that our experimental procedure reliably captures the interplay between the spatial distributions of fluid properties and rock heterogeneities during the process of mud-filtrate invasion.