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Payzone "drill-in" and completion fluid design should be based on a complete study of the reservoir
rock characteristics at downhole conditions. The rock minerals and the chemical composition of the
reservoir fluids should be determined. To maximize well productivity and insure proper reservoir
protection, the casing should be set prior to drilling the payzone section. conventional mud is then
displaced by a specially designed completion fluid which will cause minimum damage and yet
maintain the necessary drilling fluid properties. This fluid must be tested in the laboratory to verify
fluid/rock and fluid/fluid interaction, and residual damage caused and to devise the best treatment
to remove such damage. Field problems s·uch as scale precipitation while completing wells withhigh
density brines, damage caused by oil-based mud when followed by brine completion fluid, and fluid
loss in the payzone can be eliminated by the timely use of available techniques. Also, one should be
aware of the current technological weaknesses such as long term scale inhibition for high density
brines, iron solubility control and wellbore preparation and cleaning methods.


Completion fluids are those that are exposed to the producing formation. This contact of fluid-to-
reservoir rock cannot be eliminated during the drilling and well servicing operations. Therefore,

References and figures at end of paper. less of the reservoir type, we must insure that the f 1 u i d
used w i 11 not cause destruction of the rock permeability around the wellbore. 1 • 2 • 3 Many
papers have been written about how formation damage occurs, how it can be diagnosed and the
relative importance of formation damage control. 4•5 Applying these concepts, many operators
have been able to drill and successfully complete minimally damaged wells. However, when
downhole reservoir conditions were not accurately determined or were not considered, some of
the expensive completion brines have caused seJ;"ious formation damage problems, despite the
fact that these same brines proved to be ideal for different reservoirs or under different conditions.

A joint effort between geological, petrophysical, reservoir and drilling engineering to define the
downhole reservoir characteristics6 and conditions is crucial. Possible reservoir rock and completion
fluid reactions can then be defined and formation damage problems can be prevented. A
completion engineer should be assigned to communicate between these departments, gather the
information, conduct the necessary laboratory tests, and based on the data obtained be able to
select the proper fluid system.

Many oil companies that are aware of the potential economic impact of applying the proper
formation damage control techniques to their business have formed well management teams that
consist of a representative from each department. They plan well completions· and implement
proper procedures in the field to achieve a common goal - "production optimization and reservoir
protection". Understanding of hhe physical and chemical reservoir characteristics by.all personnel
involved in tbe,weli pompletion will insure good planning, help in identifying problems and improve
field practices. ·


For a s~bsurf~ce formation to be an effective. reservoir, it must be porous and permeable.. Clastic
and carbonate rocks are the common types of rocks2•3 that retain permeability and intrinsically
can transmit and contain petroleum. Clastic reservoirs are sandstone and conglomerate which are
quartz and feldspar grains with other fragments of.pre-existing rocks and organic materials. Clastic
rock grains are usually cemented with silica, clay minerals, or carbonate. Clastic carbdnates are
composed of cemented fragments of shells or corals. Carbonate rocks are limestone and dolomite,
which are biologically deposited or precipitated as calcium carbonate from fresh or sea water.
Dolomi tization2•3 is a solutionmotivated ion exchange involving calcium carbonate and
magnesium chloride. This natural process usually increases limestone ·porosity.

2Caco3 + MgC12 ~· CaMg(C03) 2 + CaC12

Shales and igneous rocks can be suitable reservoir rocks under special conditions. Sandstone
reservoirs vary in texture and "mineral composition and are usually interbedded with shale and'
siltstone. such sediments were deposited in ancient oceans, lakes or rivers and were brought down
the rivers and streams with flocculated or aggregated colloidal clay material (Fig. 1). Clay minerals6
are also present in carbonate rocks as partings at the bedding planes or as thin shale laminae.
Volcanic ash2 is sometimes found in producing sands. Its effect, like that of clay minerals, is to
reduce permeability when contacted with water. Clay minerals are physically unstable due to their
crystal lattice and molecular structures, which permits the entry of water between the lattices and
greatly change their volume.As these rocks are buried by succeeding sediments, 1•2•3 water is
squeezed out and they become corisolidated by compaction and diagenesis.

When planning oil and. gas' well completions, the following limitations of water and oil-based fluids
should always be remembered.


Drilling cilastic reservoirs with water_based fluids provides similar conditions to the depositional2•3
environment of these rocks. Upon exposing them to aqu~ous fluid, they tend to pull some of the
water back.which was lost during the compaction process. Also, because the fluid is usually
pressured· into the formation, water will continue to filter through the internal cake .. formed by
the fine· mud·· and dr i 11 e d so 1 ids . · The water f i 1 t rate introduced will . increase the .reservoir
water saturation4-around the wellbore and reduce the relative permeability of· the oil (Fig. 2). ·

Clay mineral have different chemical composition and morphology (Table 1). Thus, they react
differently. with fluids. Adding water soluble salts .(KCl, NaCl, NH4cl, Ca(OH) ..•• ·etc.) to the fluid
will slow the reaction rate,· but will not completely stop the water adsorption (Fig. 3 & 4). The longer
the rock is exposedto the fluid, the more water it will adsorb.

Theoretically, .in order to avoid disturbing the clays, the prepared make-up brine should match the
reservoir water in cation type and concentration for maintaining the ionic equilibrium. In practice,
higher concentrations are used, which may cause clay flocculation and shrinkage, The clay may then
become mobile and could cause plugging and other problems

High pH filtrate will disperse formation clays and could precipitate scale by mixing with the .connate
wa The presence of co2 will accelerate the scale precipitation. Allowing mud filtrate with high
pH (>7) to mix with acidic connate water (<7) results in precipitation of salts.

Acid + Base + Salt ' + Water

Complete removal of all such precipitates may be difficult.

Oil-based or invert emulsions are usually less damaging to water-sensitive formations. However,
they may be unsuitable for dry gas reservoirs. 1 Oil is the continuous phase and the mud filtrate
should be all-oil under bottom hole conditions. Drilling with oil-based mud eliminates the clay
swelling1•4 and dispersion problems that could be·created by the water-based systems.

Conventional invert emulsion systems contain strong chemical emulsifiers, which may oil-wet the
invaded zone and cause a drastic reduction in the effective reservoir permeability4 to oil. The filtrate
could also form in situ emulsion blockage as it mixes with the connate water.Low salinity'connate
water'can cause more severe emulsion blodkage problems than high salinity connate water.

An all-oil sYstem, without liquid emulsifiers, has recently been introduced and used successfully by
several operators worldwide. Drilling-in and coring of a 3500 foot section in the stevensen Sand,

California, was carried. out for five wells without any problems The maximum water contamination
from the formation was less than 1% by volume. This system relies on a small amount of water-
emulsifying agent, which will only function in the presence of water. Itcan emulsify up to 5% water
contamination without changing the fluid characteristics and maintain water-free fi+trate. The all-
oil filtrate will slightly change the wettability characteristics of the rock, but it should not oil~wet a
naturally water-wet reservoir. A contact angle b~tween the all-oil filtrate and·quartz of 43• to 55•
and an Amott oil in4ex of zero indicates waterwet conditions. The suspended solids size distribution
is controlled to avoid deep whole mud invasion and maintain very low filtrate. Mud densities up to
16.7 lb/gal have been successfully used in South Texas.

This all-oil system provides solutions to the emulsion blockage problems created by conventional
invert emulsion muds.

When drilling and completing field development wells, the following plan is sl,lggested:

A. Safely, drill fast, stable hole with minimum possible cost.

B. Stop at a point near the top of the payzone and set casing.

c. Thoroughly clean the surface system (mud tanks, pumps, manifolds, flowline etc.).

D. Drill residual cement and clean the wellbore.

E. Displace the conventional mud with a specially designed fluid that can provide reservoir

F. Drill-in while maintaining optimal fluid characteristics and do not allow fluid losses into the
payzone. G. Use the same type of fluid for completion, i.e. if the zone is drilled with an oil-based
fluid, it should ~e completed with an oil-based fluid. In case a water-based or brine fluid has to be
used, the oilbase Q fluid residue should be cleaned out properly without disturbing the clay

The followinq information is necessary to design fluid tormulation and to study fluid sensitivity
(Table 2).

A. Reservoir rock description3•4 and thickness.

B. Lithology of the payzone section.

c. Maximum reservoir pressure and static temperature expected.

D. Minimum over balance pressure required ( •p) .

E. Maximum permeability, porosity and porosity description (i.e. intergranular, fracture ... etc.).

F. Reservoir water chemical analysis (downhole sample is preferred).

G. Any C02, H2S expected

H. Completion type, procedure and reservoir stimulation plan

I. . Anticipated pr6ductiori rate and whether it is oil, oil and gas or dry gas

J. Reservoir rock mineralogy (Table 3) data such as x-ray diffradtion, SEM/EDS5•6 and thin section
petrography to identify

 Clay ·content and clay minerals.

 Minerals that can react with fluids and may form precipitate.
 Minerals that can be released and may move· to plug pore throats.
 Pore size distribution.
k. Defined formation damage triggering mechanisms.
 Chemical compatibility between reservoir connate water and fluid.
 Clay stabilization.
 Emulsion or water blockaqe.
 Solids invasion.
 Change in reservoir wettability characteristics.


A sandstone gas reservoir was drilled with an invert emulsion mud in order to stabilize a
troublesome shale section above. The well was later completed with calcium chloride brine and a
large volume was lost in the payzone. The well's initial production rate was much less than expected
and declined fast. The formation core sample and the reservoir water analysis were examined.

x-ray diffraction analysis

quartz 73%

dolomite 1%

siderite 2%

kaolinite 12%

illite 12%

SEM analysis (Fig 5) indicated that the sandstone was fairly consolidated and composed primarily of
quartz with kaolinite and illite. The sand grains were fairly well sorted (100-300 microns).

Clay was the only cementing material, coating the sand grains and filling the pore spaces. The pore
size distribution (Fig. 6) indicated that maximum pore diameter found was 200 microns and the
median pore diameter was less than 20 microns. The reservoir water analysis (Table 4) indicated
that calcium carbonate and strontium sulfate were possible precipitates at the reservoir
temperature 257•F (125•c). To reali~e the effect of the calcium chloride b;rine, which was lost into
the zone during completion, we assumed an increase in calcium ions from 26,930 mg/lit to 50,000
mg/lit and a change in the pH from 3.7 to 5.0. The scaling tendency index for caco3 increased from
2.95 to 5.03 (Table 6), and the calcium sulfate (anhydrite) index of 1.28 indica ted that it was possible
to precipitate. The strontium index also increased from 6. 2 9 to 9. 7 8. Based on this data, return
permeability tests were conducted to verify the residual damage caused by the field mud (Fig. 7)
and field mud filtrate followed by CaCl (Fig. 8). The gas return permeability obiained were
surprisingly high; however, the data showed 8% additional damage caused by the CaCl . A low pH
potassium brine-based fluia with sized calcium carbonate was then_selected for the following

 The invert emulsion may have caused permeability impairments and a waterbased fluid
should be evaluated.
 Kaolinite and illite clays present in the formulation were not water sensitive and could be
inhibited for sufficient time with KCl. A low pH KCl brine might not accelerate the scaling
 Sized bridging material was required to minimiz~ fluid losses into the zone.

A low pH KCl brine-base fluid was prepared as follows:

 21% KCl in fresh clean water

 Non-ionic defoamer
 Viscosifier/ suspending polymer Filtrate control polymer
 pH buffer
 Calcium carbonate
(median particle 5 micron)
 Calcium carbonate
(median particle 50 micron)

Fluid properties:

Plastic viscosity, cp : 10

Yield point, lb/100 sq ft: 8

10 sec gel, lb/100 sq ft : 3

10 min gel, lb/100 sq ft : 4

API filtrate, cc/30 min : 5.5

pH : 8.2

Return permeability test for the fluid (Fig. 9) was 100%. The selected particle size distribution
seemed to be effective in establishing a seal, which was easily removed in one hour by back-flowing
with nitrogen. This fluid has been used to drill-in and complete several wells, and satisfactory initial
flow and decline rates have been achieved.

High density CaC12~ CaBr2 and ZnBr2 brines

Commercial solutions of these brine blends are now widely used as completion/packer fluids. The
preparation, maintenance, and reclamation of these expensive brines require special skills and
knowledge of the nature of these so 1 uti on s . Many successful applications help justify their cost,
9 especially in fields where well flow capacities were increased severalfold as a result of utilizing
clear solids-free brines. In the last twd years few applications of CaCl,CaBr2 have caused formation
damage probiems related to incompatibility with the reservoir water. Precipitation of calcium
carbonate and calcium sulfate7•8 in deep hot wells hasbeen reported in Europe and in the Gulf of
Mexico. Acid treatments with Na EDTA8 was f 1 . . 4 success u 1n remov1ng the caso 4 scale.

The problem was mainly due to co andjor formation water contamination 2 which changed the ionic
equilibrium. Extensive laboratory tests have been conducted simulating well conditions (Table 6).
Many industry experts in scaling tried to find a permanent solution for this problem. ·

Labo:atory tests for CaBr 2

/ ZnBr2 and calc1um free NaBr/ ZnBr 2 blends were conducted at 300°F. with and without C0 2
partial pressures (Table 6 7,8). Scale precipitation was also observed. These blends were tested with
and without the inorganic corrosion inhibitors. Under pressure precipitation occurred after 22
hours. Extensive screening of all the available scale inhibitors on the market was carried out; ~nly
one inorganic, ac1d1c compound was found to prevent precipitation of the scale for only 69 hours
at 3 0 o o F . (Tab 1 e 9 ) serious attempts have been made in the last two years to develop an
additive or a technique to stop this phenomenon. Unfortunately, there is very little hope and many
of the researchers have given up.

Iron solubility in the acidic brine blends CaBr,ZnBr2 is another problem which is not totaily solved.
The inorganic corrosion inhibitor proved to be capable of reducing iron solubility at high
temperatures up to 550° F (273°C) to approximately 50% compared to a brine blend without the
inhibitor (Fig. 10). currently iron solubility in Cabr2/ZnBr brines causes . 1 t. 2 ser1ous rec ama 1on
problems and expensive hazardous treatments.


1. Drill-in and completion fluid design should be based on a detailed study of the reservoir
characteristics at the downhole conditions.

2. Fluid sensitivity study ~ust be conducted to insure fluid/fluid and fluid/rock minerals

3. There is no standard fluid formulation available that can be applied for every reservoir.

4. Several products and techniques are available and should be utilized to avoid completion
problems. Proper knowledge of·the limitations of each system will be helpful in making decisions.

5. High density Cacl,, CaBr2 , ZnBr2 and NaBr brine complet1on fluids are very useful and effective
when applied correctly. Solids-free brines proved to be good packer fluids and well service fluids.
What is badly needed now is a more effective scale inhibitor for high temperature wells and a
method or a chemical to minimize iron solubility.


1. Gray, George, R., and Darley, H.C.H.: "Composition and properties of oil well drilling fluids", fourth
edition, Gulf Publishing Co., Houston (1980). 438,476,477,482,483,498.

2. Levorsen, A. I.: "Geology of Petroleum", Freeman W. H. & Company, San Francisco, 1954. 49-86.

3. Link, Peter K.,: "Basic Petroleum Geology", Oil & Gas Consultants International, Inc., Tulsa (1982).

4. Allen, Thomas o. and Roberts, Alan P.,: "Production Operations", second edition, Oil & Gas
Consultants International, Inc., Tulsa (1982)

5. Krueger, Roland F.,: "An overview of formation damage and well productivity in oilfield
operations", J.P.T. (February 1986). 134,135.

6. Porter, Kenneth E.,: formation damage", 1989). "An overview of J.P.T. (August 1989) 780-786.
7. Morgenthaler, L.N.,: "Formation damage tests of high density brine completion fluids", SPE
Production Engineering, November 1986.

8. Cikes, M., Vranjesevic, B., Tomic, M. and Jamnicky, o.,: "A successful treatment of formation
damage caused by high density brine", SPE 18383, . London, October 16-19, 1988.

9. Tillis, William J., Webb, M.,: Confidential Laboratory Report No. STP12218 "Scale inhibition in
heavy completion brines", Houston, January 7, 1987.

10. Goode, D.L., Berry, S.D. and Stacy, A. L.,: "Aqueous-based remedial treatments for reservoirs
damaged by oil phase drilling muds ", Bakersfield, CA., SPE 12501, February 1314, 1984.


The author wishes to thank Baroid Drilling Fluids, Inc. management for permission to publish this
paper. Special thanks are expressed to Steve Blattel, Roy Wilcox, Jim Fisk, John Augsberger and other
Baroid Technical Service and Research personnel for their valuable input and assistance in data
development and Sharon Roach for typing this manuscript.