Nanotechnology has been successfully applied to a variety of products including electronic circuitry, material composites, medical and even consumer goods. Other than a few crossovers, the utility of nanotechnology in the oilfield is still a subject of discussion as well as debate. Noted efforts by universities and consortiums into such areas as nanosensors, nanomarkers or the more esoteric nanobots to provide valuable data regarding the reservoir are of great focus due to their large potential return on investment, but have yet to yield substantive products. By contrast, efforts into drilling applications of nanotechnology such as drilling fluids are less known.
This paper will review recent works on the application of nanotechnology in shale stabilization, high-temperature tolerance and viscosity modification. This paper will also discuss results from projects which utilize graphene (and graphene derivatives), carbon nanotubes (CNT), nanosilica and other nanochemistries to achieve and enhance the performance of drilling fluids in the applications mentioned above. Further discussion will address some of the concerns and pitfalls of sourcing and using commercial "nano" products as well as review current HS&E perspective on this new area of chemistry for the oilfield.