Properties of Drilling Fluids

Density of mud:
Density is defined as weight per unit volume. It is expressed either in pounds per gallon (lb/gal) or pounds per cubic foot (lb/ft"), or in kilograms per cubic meter (kg/m³), or compared to the weight of an equal volume of water, as specific gravity (SG). The pressure exerted by a static mud column depends on both the density and the depth; therefore, it is convenient to express density in terms of pounds per square inch per foot (psi/ft), or kilograms per square centimeter per meter (kg/cm/m). In order to prevent the inflow of formation fluids and to lay down a thin, low-permeability filter cake on the walls of the hole, the pressure of the mud column must exceed the pore pressure-the pressure exerted by the fluids in the pores of the formation-by at least 200 psi (14 kg/ern'). The pore pressure depends on the depth of the porous formation, the density of the formation fluids, and the geological conditions.

normally pressured formations, which have a self-supporting structure of solid particles (so the pore pressure depends only on the weight of the overlying pore fluids), and abnormally pressured or geopressured formations, which are not fully compacted into a self-supporting structure (so the pore fluids must bear the weight of some of the overlying sediments as well as the weight of the overlying fluids). The hydrostatic pressure gradient of formation fluids varies from 0.43 psi/ft to over 0.52 psi/ft (0.1 to 0.12 kg/cm/m), depending on the salinity of the water.

mud is lost into the fracture so formed. helping transport them in the annulus. .O. but an average (SG) of 2. Another disadvantage of excessive mud densities is their influence on drilling rate (rate of penetration R. the pressure of the mud is crucial. so that the overburden (or geostatic or litholostatic) pressure gradient is about 1 psi/ft (0. and the pore pressure of geopressured formations is somewhere between the normal and the overburden pressure gradients. This failure is known as induced fracturing. depending on the degree of compaction.' Knowledge of the expected pore pressure and fracture gradients. Under these circumstances.P). In induced fracturing. Besides controlling pore fluids. there is a natural tendency to carry a mud density well above that actually needed to control the formation fluids. Several methods have been developed for predicting the occurrence of geopressures.3 is usually accepted. such as rock salt and unconsolidated clays. The problem of maintaining mud density high enough to control formation fluids. it i generally necessary to set a string of casing to separate the two zones. excessive mud density may increase the pressure on the borehole walls so much that the hole fails in tension. In the first place. In the case of plastic formations. The buoyant effect of the mud on the drill cuttings increases with its density. and the level in the annulus falls until equilibrium conditions are reached. the pressure of the mud column on the walls of the hole helps maintain borehole stability.23 kg/cm2/m). Laboratory experiments and field experience have shown that the rate of penetration is reduced by mud overbalance pressure (the differential between the mud pressure and the pore pressure when drilling in permeable rocks) and by the absolute pressure of the mud column when drilling rocks of very low permeability. but this policy has several major disadvantages. In the interest of well safety. Very rarely is an increase in mud density justified as a means of improving cutting-carrying capacity.The bulk density of partially compacted sediments increases with depth. but not so high as to induce a fracture becomes acute when normally pressured and geopressured formations are exposed at the same time. but retarding settling at the surface.

reduced penetration rate. Unsatisfactory performance can lead to such serious problems as bridging the hole. G ray-1983) Flow Properties: The flow properties of the drilling fluid playa vital role in the success of the drilling operation. Lastly. These properties are primarily responsible for removal of the drill cuttings. the viscosity continuously increases as drilling proceeds. There are two such flow regimes.A high overbalance pressure also increases the risk of sticking the drill pipe. Higher densities are obtained with barite which has a specific gravity of about 4. and to a greater extent.25. so that much less of solids by volume is required to obtain a given density. and must be reduced from time to time by the addition of water and more barite to restore the density. Pressure increases with velocity increase much more rapidly when flow is turbulent than when it is laminar. which prevails at low flow velocities and is a function of the viscous properties of the fluid. as compared to about (2.6) for formation solids. and turbulent flow. Mud densities greater than about I lb/gal (1. The flow behavior of fluids is governed by flow regimes. particularly flow properties.32 SG) cannot be obtained with formation solids because the increase in viscosity is too great. namely laminar flow. but influence drilling progress in many other ways. Mud costs are not a very important consideration when drilling in normally pressured formations. stuck pipe. (G eorge R. hole enlargement. . the relationships between pressure and velocity. excessive mud densities are a disadvantage because they unnecessarily increase mud costs. and even a blowout. Mud costs are increased not only by the initial cost of the barite. by the increased cost of maintaining suitable properties. filling the bottom of the hole with drill cuttings. loss of circulation. but also. because adequate densities are automatically obtained from the formation solids that are dispersed into the mud by the action of the bit. which is governed by the inertial properties of the fluid and is only indirectly influenced by the viscosity. Because of the incorporation of drilled solids.

And is a measure of the resistance to flow of the fluid. which is a function of the Reynolds number and the roughness of the pipe wall. The velocity of the cylinders increases from zero at the pipe wall to a maximum at the axis of the pipe. Instead of layers of water sliding smoothly over each other. and turbulent flow to flow over rapids where interaction with irregularities on the bottom causes vortices and eddies. The ratio of shear stress to shear rate is called the viscosity. The axial force divided by the surface area. which is one hundredth of a poise.divided by the shear rate in reciprocal seconds gives the viscosity in poises. The difference in velocity between any two such cylinders. Laminar flow may be compared to a river flowing smoothly over a plain. flow changes locally in velocity and direction. (G eorge R . The unit employed in mud viscometry is the centipoises (cp). The unit of viscosity is the (poise) the shear stress in dynes/m. divided by the distance between them. Friction factor. Of a cylinder defines the shear stress. while maintaining an overall direction parallel to the axis of the pipe. G ray-1983) . Defines the shear rate. Turbulent Flow: Flow in a pipe changes from laminar to turbulent when the flow velocity exceeds a certain critical value.Laminar Flow: Laminar flow in a round pipe may be visualized as infinitely thin cylinders sliding over each other.

Figure. Schematic diagram of laminar and turbulent flow regimes (G eorge R. Gray-1983) .

but an electrometric method employing the glass electrode can be used to give reliable results in most mud's. For example. G ray-1983) . other reasons for pH control include maintenance of lime-treated mud's. the hydroxyl-ion concentration at pH 11 is ten times that at pH 10 (hydrogen ion concentration is one tenth. the hydrogen ion concentration of a solution having a pH of 3 is ten times that of a solution of pH 4. as with pure water. the colorimetric method is not satisfactory. the hydrogen-ion concentration is equal to the hydroxyl-ion concentration and the liquid is neutral. (G eorge R . or is deeply colored (such as by tannins and lignite). thus. and effective use of thinners. If the liquid has a high concentration of dissolved salts. mitigation of corrosion. If the sodium-ion concentration is very high. Defined as the negative logarithm (to the base 10) of the hydrogen-ion concentration. Above pH 7. Contamination by cement will raise the pH to 10 to 11. ( The optimum control of some mud systems is based on pH. a special glass electrode may be needed. the hydroxyl-ion concentration increases by a factor of 10 with each pH unit. as is the detection and treatment of certain contaminants. for example.PH: The relative acidity or alkalinity of a liquid is conveniently expressed as pH. pH units decrease with increasing acidity by a factor of 10. and treatment with an acidic poly phosphate will bring the pH back to 8 or 9. A mud made with bentonite and fresh water. will have a pH of 8 to 9. At pH of 7. Measurement of pH is routinely made by comparing the color developed on immersing a paper strip impregnated with certain dyes (indicators) with the color of reference standards.

The mud is titrated to determine the total amount of lime. and of filtrates of very lightly chemically treated mud's. based on an exchange capacity of 75 mill equivalents per 100 grams of dry bentonite. the bentonite content can be estimated. G ray-1983) . (G eorge R . can be used to calculate the concentration of hydroxyl (OH). The methylene blue test serves to indicate the amount of active clay in a mud system or a sample of shale. as shown by the appearance of a blue color in the water in which the sample is suspended. The amount of undissolved lime is calculated from Pm Pt. If other adsorptive materials are not present in significant amounts. Measurements of the alkalinity of water samples. shale cuttings can be characterized and some estimations can be made regarding mud-making properties and possible effects on hole stability. Similarly. The test measures the total cation exchange capacity of the clays present and is useful in conjunction with the determination of solids content as an indication of the colloidal characteristics of the clay minerals. in the system (Pm) The filtrate is titrated to determine the amount of lime in solution (Pt). carbonate (C03). The sample is titrated with standard methylene blue solution until the adsorptive capacity is satisfied. if present in the sample. Organic materials. and bicarbonate (HC03) ions in solution. (G eorge R. are destroyed by oxidation with hydrogen peroxide. soluble and insoluble.Alkalinity: Alkalinity measurements are made to determine the amount of lime in lime" treated mud's. G ray-1983) Cation Exchange Capacity: Methylene Blue Test.

In other words. The viscosity of the liquid phase is increased by addition of any soluble material. which is commonly used as the liquid phase of oil-base mud's. high plastic viscosity is never desirable and should be maintained as low as practical. and agitation tend to disperse and allow hydration of the individual clay platelets. This makes the hydration and dispersion of shale particles particularly detrimental. The plastic viscosity is primarily a function of the viscosity of the liquid phase and the volume of solids contained in a mud. Consequently. will further increase the plastic viscosity as their volume is increased by hydration. the "inhibitive" mud's were designed. In general. The water of hydration actually becomes a part of the solid so far as its effect on viscosity is concerned. However. . is the dry volume of solids plus the increase in volume due to hydration. but if the inhibited particles are not removed from the system. time. Both salt water mud's and oil mud's tend to have high plastic viscosities. it tells us something about the expected behavior of the mud at the bit. and polymers are added to inhibit the rate of dispersion and hydration. Diesel oil. A decrease in plastic viscosity should signal a corresponding decrease in the viscosity at the bit. These materials do cause inhibition. resulting in higher penetration rate. Saturated salt water has twice the viscosity of fresh water. the solids content will continue to build. we should minimize the plastic viscosity. Materials such as lime. In time. the increase in pressure drop down the drill string. To accomplish this. In order to combat the tendency of shale particles to disperse and hydrate.Viscosity: Although calculated from measurements at relatively low shear rates. In fact. but solids such as clays. their effect on viscosity is small. One of our design criteria was to minimize the high shear rate viscosity. the plastic viscosity is an indicator of high shear rate viscosities. temperature. gypsum. caused by an increase in PV. which results in increased viscosities. the plastic viscosity is increased by addition of any type of solid. has three times the viscosity of fresh water. Increasing the plastic viscosity is not a desirable means of increasing the hole-cleaning ability of a mud. The volume of solids in a mud. lignosulfonate. Many of the water-soluble polymers used for fluid-loss control are quite effective in increasing the plastic viscosity. the plastic viscosity will be as high or higher than before and other mud properties such as filter cake thickness will suffer. would reduce the available flow rate and tend to offset any increase in lifting ability. which hydrate. As long as these particles are large and relatively unhydrated.

if it is checked at 110°F. it will be about 10 percent higher. The lower curve represents mud's that contain only barite and sufficient bentonite to suspend the barite. due to thinning of water. If the mud is checked at 130°F.Minimum plastic viscosities can be achieved only to the degree that the mud is kept free of drilled solids. (Figure) shows guidelines for plastic viscosity of water-base mud's at various mud weights. all mud tests should be made at the same temperature. The upper curve is an average for many field mud's that have been checked. 1996) . Plastic viscosity decreases with increasing temperature. the PV will be about 10 percent lower than at 120°F. 120°F (EXXON. This curve should represent minimum plastic viscosities for good mud performance. For this reason.


Increasing the percentage by volume of solids in the mud can increase the plastic viscosity. VI. III. Hole size. The solids present in the mud can be considered either active or . The plastic viscosity depends on the concentration and size of solids present. In the field the reduction is usually made by dilution with water or separation with mechanical solids removal. The plastic viscosity is a measure of the internal resistance to flow due to the amount. either the solid concentration can be reduced or a flocculant can be added to increase the size of the particles thereby reducing the available surface area. II. Drilling rate. type and size of solids present in the mud. II. Pump rate. An example of an inactive solid would be drilled solids incorporated in the mud while drilling. then reducing the size of the solid would also increase the plastic viscosity due to the increased surface area exposed. Inter-particle forces (yield point). including: IV. Viscosity of the base liquid or continuous phase. This increased surface area allows for more frictional contact. If the volume percent solids remain constant. It is due to mechanical friction of the solids in the mud as they come in contact with Each other and with the liquid phase of the mud. V.adgtech. pressure. The size shapes and number of solids particles in the mud (plastic viscosity). Hole condition. The viscosity of a mud is a function of three components: I. III.The desired viscosity of a mud is influenced by several Plastic viscosity: Is that part of the resistance to flow in mud caused by the friction between suspended particles and the viscosity of the base liquid. Mud density. (www. To reduce the plastic (www.

au) .com. (www. The values obtained are called “apparent viscosity”. which measures a timed rate of flow.Funnel viscosity: Routine field measurements of drilling mud viscosity are made with a Marsh Funnel.adgtech.