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SHALE

PREPARED BY :

WAEL EL ESSAWY
August , 1996

wher e the activities of the mud aqueo u s phas e and form a ti o n fluids are match e d ) which will prev e n t this reaction taking place. water is there f o r e draw n into the shale and this can caus e insta bility. (Osmosis is the spont a n e o u s move m e n t of water from a low conce n t r a ti o n salt solution to a more conce n t r a t e d one throu g h a semiper m e a b l e mem b r a n e . Ther e is still consid er a b l e deb at e on how shales react (particularly with wate r bas e d mud). Since shale pore fluids are often more saline than the drilling fluid. The BP wellbor e stability guidelin e s of Addis. wate r molecul e s will move from the low wate r activities are balanc e d . Mclean and Rob ert s discus the mec h a ni c al aspe ct s of shale instability. for many years . It is vary obvious that first step in the reactio n betw e e n shales and WBM is that wate r pen et r a t e s the rock once it is expos e d during drilling. If the salt conc e n t r a ti o n s (or more corre ctly the wate r activities ) of the mud aque o u s phas e and form a ti o n fluids differ. If geological and drilling conditions allow. an argu m e n t agains t osmosis being an import a n t mec h a ni s m is support e d for the following reas o n s : . How does water get into shale ? The classical explan a ti o n for how wate r mov es from the mud into the shale is that osmosis occurs . wate r is able to invad e and promo t e the reaction s that caus e swelling. stres s build.up and /or softe ni n g . Althou g h well sorte d and comp a c t e d shales have very low per m e a b iliti es .mech a ni c al) proc es s e s involved it is often not possible to give a simple. ) This require s that the shale.SHALE 1. The conc e p t of osmosis has. Wher e ther e are che mi c al (or linked che mic al -. thes e situatio ns can be man a g e d by using an appro pri a t ely high mud weig ht.g. given rise to the sugg e s t e d use of balanc e d activity mud (e. Howev e r . acts as a mem b r a n e throug h which water can pass but not anions or cations . or the interf a c e betw e e n the drilling fluid and bulk form a ti o n . what drives shale reactio ns S ome wellbor e failures in shales can be put dow n to purely mech a ni c al origins such as high tectonic stres s e s or overpr e s s u r e d form a tio n . clear reaction mech a ni s m that explains the proces s e s that take place in the wellbor e. 2.

the addition of 30 ppb NACL or KCL still caus e s swelling. If osmosis is not a valid mech a ni s m for explaining the trans p o r t of wate r into shales . If osmotic proce s s e s were opera ti n g thes e shales should shrink. in fact. No welldocu m e n t e d eviden c e exists to support this and.e. too high a KCL level should caus e thes e shales to shrink and henc e possibly dest a bilis e. A study of water trans p o r t in shales carried out by AEA techn olo g y in Dorset show e d that diffusion is not affec t e d by salinity. Diffusion rates for water in shales will depe n d on the per m e a b ility. resulting in a chan g e in the physical prope r ti e s of the rock. wides p r e a d industry experi e n c e show s that mud with salinity ’ s much higher than thos e of the pore fluids are gen er ally the more succe s s f ul. shale reactions can occur. thes e ions should be exclud e d from the shale and water diffusion rates should be affec t e d by salinity chang e s . it is a key mech a ni s m in OBM wher e labora t o r y experi m e n t s have show n that shale can be mad e to swell or shrink simply by changi n g the activity of the emulsified brine phas e. Wate r diffusion and fluid pene tr a ti o n studies by shell suppo rt the AEA work.Sever al rece n t piece s of labora t o r y work disprov e the occurr e n c e of osmosis in WBM. Furth e r m o r e . 10 ppb) conce n t r a ti o n s of KCL should be more effec ti v e than high conce n t r a ti o n s for drilling shallow Tertia ry shales (which tend to have low pore wate r salinity). While osmosis does not occur in WBM. how does shales hydrat e in WBM? Wate r will diffus e betw e e n the shale and the mud and grad u al mixing of the two fluids will there f o r e take place. . This work also show e d that anions and cations diffus e throug h the shale at simpler rates to water molec ul e s . the use of WBM contai nin g low (i. If osmosis was occurrin g . If the osmosis was import a n t .per m e a b l e mem b r a n e on the shale surfac e . In BP Sunb u r n ’ s experi m e n t s using shales with pore fluid compo si tions close to fres h wate r. If the che mic al composition and/or conce n t r a ti o n of the two fluids is significa n tly differ e n t . Work at BP Sunb ur n has show n that the combin a ti o n of surfac t a n t s and oil in the OBM combin e to form a true semi.

90 500 3.2-1. CLASS TEXTURE MBT WATER CONTENT CLAYS A SOFT 20-40 25-70 B FIRM 10-20 15-25 C FIRM 10-20 2-10 smectite + illite illite + mixed layer illite + WT DENSIT % Y CLAY 20-30 1. SHALE RATE LONDON CLAY OXFORD CLAY PROSITY % by DIFFUSION WATER.0 1.70 --------------- 35.Perm e a b iliti es for sever al shales have been meas u r e d AEA tech nolog y (table1 ).5 20-30 1. This is a convenient approach since it also offers some correlation with burial depth and compacting and swelling clay contents. Although it is impossible to force shale into a particular group and then expect them to behave in a way identical to a classic member of the group.5-2.2 20-30 2. offset well data and focused laboratory work will then provide the detail to make the necessary refinements. Many schemes draw on local experiences and make interpretations that indicate a poor understanding of shale reactions and mud chemistry. A detailed study using shale samples. A classification of mudrock types is given in table 2.7 .3-2.0 1. SHALE TYPES AND TYPICAL DRILLING PROBLEMS Attempts have been made to classify shales to reflect the way they behave during drilling. M²/S PERMEABILITY NANODARCIES 46. The best mud type and drilling practices will be strongly influenced by the expected type of shale. the use of a system forms a good starting point in the early stages of the well planing and mud selection. Note this scheme uses shale hardness as the main classification criterion. None of these classifications are perfect since there are too many variables to allow an unambiguous description of behaviour.

ledges will form to give problems while tripping. giving permeabilities significantly higher than usually expected. These shales do not always contain high amount of swelling clay and those which is present can be smectites and/ or mixed layer. . this shales can range from highly swelling to non-swelling. high wate r cont e n t . low density . high clay These shales are typically young.5 poss. HARD HARD I. large washout can develop which can make the hole cleaning. Pumping out of the hole will generally make tripe easier. logging and running casing.5-2. smect. Frequent and often lengthy sections of tight hole are encountered when tripping out of the hole and when making connections. directional control and effective cement jobs difficult. E BRITTLE 0-3 2-5 illite 5-30 2.2-2.mixed layer D 3-10 5-15 illite + 20-30 2. some statements can be made about likely wellbore problems in each shale type and the implications for design of the drilling and drilling and mud programmes. Because these shales are soft and easily eroded. conte n t . If the washouts become sever. rapidly deposited and not deeply buried. Hole enlargement. Because of the variable clay mineralogy. the formations may be poorly sorted and therefore will be appreciably silty. Because of the rapid deposition of many of these sediments. chlorite Using the table 2 classification scheme. Examples include many of the tertiary shales of the North Sea and Gulf of Mexico. Excessive dispersion will increase mud maintenance costs.7 kaolinite. Drilling probl e m s that can occur in clas s A shale s are: Hole closure. If more competent formations are interbedded with the shales. Class A shales : Soft. The clay composition will be that which was transported into the sedimentary basin since burial temperatures will rarely be high enough to promote mineral transformations (diagnosis). hole collapse is possible and if the shale is dispersive. cuttings will break down in the mud causing an increase in viscosity. Significant time can be spent working and reaming the string that can become mechanically stuck if care is not taken.

Sever bit balling can be experienced in the class B shales and appears to depend on moisture content. Calcium shales seem much more prone to balling than sodium rich varieties. The shale also be competent enough to swell and stress the wellbore to the extent where cavings will be produced. There are also suggestions that the ion exchange form of the swelling minerals in the shale can have a large influence. water is squeezed out to form a more consolidated material. if smectite was present in the original sediment. this is slowly converted to mixed layer clays and ultimately illite. Problems will be similar to class A except that the increased hardness of the formation makes the shale less prone to plastic flow. mineralogy. hydraulics and bit type. These are often just deeper-buried versions of the class A shales but their different behaviour merits placing them in a different group.100 c. however. Class B shales : firm. instability can be observed even in shales with low (5 %) amounts of swelling minerals. II. Reaction with WBM can soften the shale to the extent where it is easily washed out. Drilling probl e m s that can occur in clas s B shale s are : Hole closure. The burial depth increases. often plastic nature of these shales gives them the potential to cue's problems such as bit balling. however. Smectites gradually transform into non-swelling illites. although this can be limited by use of the correct mud formulation. Hole enlargement. Bit balling. There do. found extensively in the North Sea at depths in excess of 2. With the wrong mud system.sticky cuttings The wet. A typical example is the smectite rich balder clay formation. mud rings and blocked flow lines. the class A shales are gradually transformed into the firmer class B formations and. since this transition is not abrupt. mode r a t e/ high water cont e n t . .5 km. mud type. appear to be a number of exceptions to the smectite to illite transformation that means that the occurrence of more or less pure smectite at depths greater than 2 km should not be ruled out. high clay cont e n t . it is common to find an appreciable amount of swelling mixed layered illite/smectite at depths to 3 km. Therefore with depth. Temperature also increase with depth and as it reaches 60 . poor hole cleaning.

some shales may disperse into the mud as cuttings often although problems are unlikely to be severe. and the development of cementitious minerals (carbonates. Class C shales : firm. Caving (and cutting) from some class C shales can soften and partially disperse in the mud en route to the surface.III. result in the hole packing off. . Similarly. low/mediu m water conte n t . Shales in this category tend to contain predominantly illite or mixed illite/smectite. Aggressive reaming and high tripping speeds through tight regions may disturb the wellbore and produce caving. With these more compacteated usually older shales. high clay conte n t . cavings Characteristic thin fragments with curved faces can be produced. in the extreme. high clay conte n t . The subsequent hole enlargement can add to hole cleaning problems as well as making logging. mud rings will be rare in these shales. the fabric (arrangement of minerals within the structure of the shale). Bit balling may occur but becomes less likely than with class A and B. quartz overgrowths. Excessive cavings can make hole cleaning difficult and can. authigenic clay minerals) will exert a much greater influence on reactivity than in class A and B shales. IV. Problems are unlikely to be as sever as in class A and B shales. These may generally remain hard and so can be easily recognised at the shale shakers. pore pressure)and compositional variations such as the presence and concentration of smectite. For example the Jurassic Cambridge clay in the North Sea and Cretaceous Pierre shale from Utah.hard. producing a degree of rounding which can make caving events difficult to detect at the shakers. mode r a t e water conte n t . Drilling problems will depend both physical factors (stress. Dispersion It is already noted. Class D shales : hard. The hardness of these shales combined with an appreciable swelling clay content make them prone to caving although hole closure (swelling without caving) IS known. USA. Drilling probl e m s that can occur in clas s c shale s are : hole closure. running casing and cementing difficult.

hole cleaning. directional control and cementing difficult. Class E shales : brittle. Drilling probl e m s that can occur in clas s D shale are : cavings These shales will produce characteristically hard. . V. these events will generally occur without warning some time (hours or days) after the unstable zone has been drilled and can quickly pack off the drillpipe. Drilling problems include the formation of cutting's beds with the associated risk of packing off and the productions of large amounts of hole fill on trips.The high salinity of pore fluids within these rocks may contrast sharply with that of the mud filtrate and that can be a major cause of wellbore stability. low to high clay conte n t . low water cont e n t . efficient cementing and logging and casing problems will be common. hole collapse small caving similar to those seen in class D shales can occur but the mode of failure in these shales is more typically a sudden and often catastrophic collapse which produces large blocky or angular shale pieces. dry curved cavings that are only slightly to moderately dispersive in any water based mud. Hole enlargement that results from extensive caving can make hole cleaning.