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CHEVRON DRILLING FLUIDS MANUAL

SECTION I INTRODUCTION

Table of Contents

1.0 Drilling Fluid Classifications ............................................................ 2-1-3

1.1 Pneumatic Fluids .................................................................. 2-1-4


1.2 Oil-Based Fluids ................................................................... 2-1-5
1.3 Water-Based Fluids .............................................................. 2-1-5

2.0 Functions of Drilling Fluids .............................................................. 2-1-6


2.1 Major Functions .................................................................... 2-1-6

2.2 Minor Functions .................................................................... 2-1-7


2.3 Additional Benefits ................................................................ 2-1-9

3.0 Drilling Fluids Selection Criteria ....................................................... 2-1-13


3.1 Cost ................................................................................ 2-1-13
3.2 Appreciation and Performance ................................................ 2-1-13
3.3 Production Concerns .............................................................. 2-1-13
3.4 Logistics ................................................................................ 2-1-14
3.5 Exploration Concerns ............................................................. 2-1-14
3.6 Environmental Impact and Safety ............................................ 2-1-14

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SECTION I INTRODUCTION

1.0 DRILLING FLUID CLASSIFICATIONS

Drilling fluids are separated into three major classifications (Figure 1):

• Pneumatic
• Oil-Based
• Water-Based

Figure 1
Drilling Fluids Classification

DRILLING FLUIDS

Oil-Based Water-Based Pneumatic


Fluids Fluids Fluids

Diesel Non-Inhibitive Dry Gas

Mineral Inhibitive Mist

Non-Petroleum Polymer Foam


Hydrocarbon

Gasified Mud

1.1 Pneumatic Fluids — Pneumatic (air/gas based) fluids are used for drilling depleted
zones or areas where abnormally low formation pressures may be encountered. Another
advantage of pneumatic fluids over liquid mud systems can be seen in increased
penetration rates. Cuttings are literally blown off the cutting surface ahead of the bit as
a result of the considerable pressure differential. The high pressure differential also allows
formation fluids from permeable zones to flow into the wellbore.

Air/gas based fluids are ineffective in areas where large volumes of formation fluids are
encountered. A large influx of formation fluids requires converting the pneumatic fluid to
a liquid-based system. As a result, the chances of losing circulation or damaging a
productive zone are greatly increased. Another consideration when selecting pneumatic
fluids is well depth. They are not recommended for wells below about 10,000 feet because
the volume of air required to lift cuttings from the bottom of the hole can become greater
than the surface equipment can deliver.

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1.2 Oil-Based Fluids — A primary use of oil-based fluids is to drill troublesome shales and
to improve hole stability. They are also applicable in drilling highly deviated holes
because of their high degree of lubricity and ability to prevent hydration of clays. They
may also be selected for special applications such as high temperature/high pressure
wells, minimizing formation damage, and native-state coring. Another reason for
choosing oil-based fluids is that they are resistant to contaminants such as anhydrite,
salt, and CO2 and H2S acid gases.

Cost is a major concern when selecting oil-based muds. Initially, the cost per barrel of
an oil-based mud is very high compared to a conventional water-based mud system.
However, because oil muds can be reconditioned and reused, the costs on a multi-well
program may be comparable to using water-based fluids. Also, buy-back policies for
used oil-based muds can make them an attractive alternative in situations where the use
of water-based muds prohibit the successful drilling and/or completion of a well.

Today, with increasing environmental concerns, the use of oil-based muds is either
prohibited or severely restricted in many areas. In some areas, drilling with oil-based
fluids requires mud and cuttings to be contained and hauled to an approved disposal site.
The costs of containment, hauling, and disposal can greatly increase the cost of using
oil-based fluids.

Figure 2
Water-Based Fluids

WATER-BASED FLUIDS

Non-Inhibitive Inhibitive Polymer

Clear Water Calcium Based Non-Dispersed

Native Salt-Water Based High


Temperature
Deflocculated
Bentonite/
Potassium Based
Water

Lignite/Ligno-
Sulfonate
(Deflocculated)

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1.3 Water-Based Fluids — Water based fluids are the most extensively used drilling fluids.
They are generally easy to build, inexpensive to maintain, and can be formulated to
overcome most drilling problems. In order to better understand the broad spectrum of
water-based fluids, they are divided into three major subclassifications:

• Inhibitive
• Non-inhibitive
• Polymer

1.3.1 NON-INHIBITIVE FLUIDS — Those which do not significantly suppress clay swell-
ing, are generally comprised of native clays or commercial bentonites with some
caustic soda or lime. They may also contain deflocculants and/or dispersants
such as: lignites, lignosulfonates, or phosphates. Non-inhibitive fluids are
generally used as spud muds. Native solids are allowed to disperse into the
system until rheological properties can no longer be controlled by water dilution.

1.3.2 INHIBITIVE FLUIDS — Those which appreciably retard clay swelling and, achieve
inhibition through the presence of cations; typically, Sodium (Na+), Calcium
(Ca++) and Potassium (K+). Generally, K+ or Ca++, or a combination of the two,
provide the greatest inhibition to clay dispersion. These systems are generally
used for drilling hydratable clays and sands containing hydratable clays.
Because the source of the cation is generally a salt, disposal can become a
major portion of the cost of using an inhibitive fluid.

1.3.3 POLYMER FLUIDS — Those which rely on macromolecules, either with or without
clay interactions to provide mud properties, and are very diversified in their
application. These fluids can be inhibitive or non-inhibitive depending upon
whether an inhibitive cation is used. Polymers can be used to viscosify fluids,
control filtration properties, deflocculate solids, or encapsulate solids. The
thermal stability of polymer systems can range upwards to 400°F. In spite of their
diversity, polymer fluids have limitations. Solids are a major threat to success-
fully running a cost-effective polymer mud system.

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2.0 FUNCTIONS OF DRILLING FLUIDS

A properly designed drilling fluid will enable an operator to reach the desired geologic objective at
the lowest overall cost. A fluid should enhance penetration rates, reduce hole problems and
minimize formation damage.

2.1 Major Functions — Drilling fluids are designed and formulated to perform three major
functions:

• Control Subsurface Pressure


• Transport Cuttings
• Support and Stabilize the Wellbore

2.1.1 CONTROL SUBSURFACE PRESSURE — A drilling fluid controls the subsurface


pressure by its hydrostatic pressure. Hydrostatic pressure is the force exerted
by a fluid column and depends on the mud density and true vertical depth (TVD).

Ph = (k)(MW)(d)
Ph = Hydrostatic Pressure k = Conversion Constant
MW = Mud Density d = Depth TVD
k = .052 when d = Feet, MW = lb/gal, Ph = Psi
k = .00695 when d = Feet, MW = lb/ft3, Ph = Psi
k = .098 when d = Meters, MW = g/cm3, Ph = Atmosphere

The 0.052 conversion factor is derived in the following manner:

( Water Density,lb
ft3
) ( 1 ft2
Area, in2
) ( 1 gal
Water Density, lb ) = Conversion
Factor

( 62.30 lb
ft3
) ( 1 ft2
144 in2
) ( 1 gal
8.33 lb ) = .0519 gal
ft in2

Note: 62.30 pounds is the weight of one cubic foot of water at 60°F and 8.33 pounds
is the weight of one gallon of water at 60°F.

2.1.2 TRANSPORT CUTTINGS — Fluid flowing from the bit nozzles exerts a jetting action
to clear cuttings from the bottom of the hole and the bit, and carries these
cuttings to the surface. Several factors influence cuttings transport.

VELOCITY — Increasing annular velocity generally improves cuttings transport.


Variables include pump output, borehole size and drill string size.

DENSITY — Increasing mud density increases the carrying capacity through the
buoyant effect on cuttings.
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VISCOSITY — Increasing viscosity often improves cuttings removal.

PIPE ROTATION — Rotation tends to throw cuttings into areas of high fluid
velocity from low velocity areas next to the borehole wall and drill string.

HOLE ANGLE — Increasing hole angle generally makes cuttings transport more
difficult.

2.1.3 SUPPORT AND STABILIZE WELLBORE — Fluid hydrostatic pressure acts as a


confining force on the wellbore. This confining force acting across a filter cake
will assist in physically stabilizing a formation.

FILTER CAKE — A layer of concentrated solids from the drilling mud which forms
on the walls of the borehole opposite permeable formations.

FILTRATE — The liquid portion of the mud which passes through the filter cake
into the formation.

2.2 Minor Functions — Minor functions of a drilling fluid include:

• Support Weight of Tubulars


• Maintain Cuttings in Suspension
• Transmit Hydraulic Horsepower to Bit
• Provide Medium for Wireline Logging
• Clean Bottom of Hole

2.2.1 SUPPORT WEIGHT OF TUBULARS — Drilling fluid buoyancy supports part of the
weight of the drill string or casing. The buoyancy factor is used to relate the
density of the mud displaced to the density of the material in the tubulars;
therefore, any increase in mud density results in an increase in buoyancy. The
equation below gives the buoyancy factor for steel.

Buoyancy Factor = 65.4 - ( MW, lb/gal)


65.4

Multiply the buoyancy factor by the tubular’s air weight to obtain the buoyed
weight (hook load). For example, a drillstring with an air weight of 250,000 pounds
will show a hook load of 218,000 pounds in an 8.33 lb/gal fluid and 192,700
pounds in a 15.0 lb/gal fluid.

2.2.2 MAINTAIN CUTTINGS IN SUSPENSION — Drilling fluids should remain liquid while
circulating and develop a gel structure (thixotropy) when circulation is stopped.
This gel structure suspends cuttings, thus preventing annular bridges and fill
which will occur if cuttings slip down the wellbore (see Figure 3).

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Figure 3
Maintain Cuttings in Suspension

2.2.3 TRANSMIT HYDRAULIC HORSEPOWER TO BIT — Hydraulic horsepower generated at


the bit is the result of flow volume and pressure drop through the bit nozzles. This
energy is converted into mechanical energy which removes cuttings from the
bottom of the hole and improves the rate of penetration.

2.2.4 PROVIDE MEDIUM FOR WIRELINE LOGGING — Air/gas-based, water-based, and oil-
based fluids have differing physical characteristics which influence log suite
selection. Log response may be enhanced through selection of specific fluids
and conversely, use of a given fluid may eliminate a log from use. Drilling fluids
must be evaluated to assure compatibility with the logging program.

2.2.5 CLEAN BOTTOM OF HOLE — A sufficient volume of fluid must be available to


prevent cuttings buildup and maintain a clean bit and cutting surface.

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2.3 Additional Benefits — In addition to the essential functions of a drilling fluid, there are
other benefits to be gained from proper selection and control, such as to:

• Minimize Formation Damage


• Reduce Corrosion
• Minimize Lost Circulation
• Reduce Stuck Pipe
• Reduce Pressure Losses
• Improve Penetration Rates
• Reduce Environmental Impact
• Improve Safety

2.3.1 MINIMIZE FORMATION DAMAGE — A producing formation can be damaged by a


poor drilling fluid. Damage mechanisms include formation fines migration, solids
invasion, and wettability alterations. Identification of potential damage mecha-
nisms and careful selection of a drilling fluid can minimize damage.

2.3.2 REDUCE CORROSION — Corrosion control can reduce drill string failure through
removal or neutralization of contaminating substances. Specific corrosion
control products may be added to a drilling fluid; or the drilling fluid itself may be
selected on the basis of its inherent corrosion protection (see Figure 4).

2.3.3 MINIMIZE LOST CIRCULATION — Extensive loss of whole mud to a cavernous,


vugular, fissured, or coarsely permeable formation is expensive and may lead to
a blowout, stuck pipe, or formation damage. Selection of a low density drilling
fluid and/or addition of sized bridging agents can reduce lost circulation (see
Figure 5).

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Figure 4
Electrochemical Corrosion Cell
(Development in a Fatigue Stress Crack)

Figure 5
Types of Lost Circulation Zones
Found in Soft and Hard Rock Formations

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2.3.4 REDUCE STUCK PIPE — Pipe sticking can be caused by several factors:

• Poor Cuttings Removal


• Hole Sloughing
• Lost Circulation
• Differential Pressure Sticking
• Keyseating

Two common types of pipe sticking are illustrated in Figures 6 and 7.

Figure 6
Differential Pressure Sticking

WALL CAKE

STICKING
FORCE
LOW PRESSURE
FORMATION

Figure 7
Keyseating

Dog-Leg Resulting in the Formation of a Keyseat

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2.3.5 REDUCE PRESSURE LOSSES — Surface equipment pressure demands can be


reduced by designing a fluid to minimize pressure losses. The reduction in
pressure losses also permits greater hydraulic efficiency at the bit and lower
equivalent circulating density (ECD)(see Figure 8).

Figure 8
Pressure Losses in a Circulating Mud System

2.3.6 IMPROVE PENETRATION RATES — Proper fluid selection and control can improve
the rate of penetration (ROP). Benefits of improved penetration rates are reduced
drilling time and fewer hole problems because of shorter open-hole exposure
time. Generally, improved penetration rates result in reduced costs. Operations
such as cementing, completion, and logging must be factored in to determine
true cost effectiveness of improved penetration rates.

2.3.7 REDUCE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT — Fluid selection and engineering can reduce
the potential environmental impact of a drilling fluid. In the event of a spill,
reclamation and disposal costs, as well as pollution associated problems are
greatly reduced by proper fluid selection and control.

2.3.8 IMPROVE SAFETY — A drilling fluid should be engineered for safety. It should have
sufficient density to control the flow of formation fluids and when circumstances
merit, be able to tolerate toxic contaminants such as hydrogen sulfide (H2S).

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3.0 DRILLING FLUIDS SELECTION CRITERIA

Drilling fluids are selected on the basis of one or more of the following criteria:

• Cost
• Application and Performance
• Production Concerns
• Logistics, Application and Performance
• Exploration Concerns
• Environmental Impact and Safety

3.1 Cost — A traditional focus for drilling fluids selection is cost. However, there are other
equally important factors such as total well cost and the fluid’s effect on well productivity.

3.2 Application and Performance — Drilling fluid systems should be selected to provide
the best overall performance for each specific well. Historical data should be reviewed
and pilot testing performed to assure the greatest hole stability and lowest total well cost
are achievable.

3.3 Production Concerns — Production personnel are primarily concerned with minimiz-
ing formation damage. Drilling fluid/formation interactions and other processes which
alter in situ formation characteristics must be considered in the selection of additives and
fluid systems. Production zones can be partially or totally lost depending upon fluids
selected to drill and/or complete a well (see Figure 9).

Figure 9
Types of Formation Damage

Formation clays around sand grains in Formation clays swollen and dislodged
equilibirum with water (maximum per- by low salinity filtrate. Blocking of pore
meability). throats causes loss of permeability.

Ž Undamaged

Fines Migration Ž

Oil flow restricted by water block (oil wet Oil flow restricted by waterblock (wet
sandstone). water sandstone).

Ž Wettability
Alteration Ž

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3.4 Logistics — Logistics is a major consideration in well planning and mud program
development when operating in remote areas. Product efficiency, shelf life, packing,
transportation costs, warehousing, and inventory volumes should also be considered.

3.5 Exploration Concerns — The geologist’s concern with drilling fluids and additives is
centered on the effect of the drilling fluid on cuttings analysis and log interpretation.
Extended gas chromatography and pyrolysis provide geological personnel with distinct
fingerprints of hydrocarbons present and a means of isolating and identifying source
rocks and oil migration paths. Unfortunately, trace amounts of drilling fluid may remain
on the residue extracted from the cuttings and exert a masking effect that makes it
difficult to accurately characterize (fingerprint) the formation hydrocarbons. Therefore,
characterizing and cataloging drilling fluid additives and fluid systems can greatly
enhance the geologist’s interpretation of reservoir potential.

3.6 Environmental Impact and Safety — Minimizing the environmental impact of a


drilling operation as well as safety considerations both directly affect the choice of drilling
fluid additives and drilling fluid systems. Products that have been used in the past may
no longer be acceptable. As more environmental laws are enacted and new safety rules
applied, the choices of additives and fluid systems must also be reevaluated. To meet
the challenge of a changing environment, product knowledge and product testing
become essential tools for selecting suitable additives and drilling fluid systems.

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