1

PETE 411

Well Drilling
Lesson 23
Gas Cut Mud
2
What is Gas Cut Mud?
After drilling through a
formation containing
gas, this “drilled gas”
will show up in the mud
returns at the surface.

Gas cut mud is mud
containing some gas -
from any source.
3
Lesson 23 - Gas Cut Mud
 Effect of Drilling Rate
 Effect of Circulation Rate
 Mud/Gas Ratio at the bottom of the Hole
 Mud/Gas Ratio at the Surface
 Density of Gas Cut Mud
 Reduction of Bottom Hole Pressure
due to Gas Cut Mud
 Safe Drilling Practices
4
Read:
Applied Drilling Engineering, Ch. 6
HW #12 – Csg. Design - due Nov. 1
HW #13 – d
c
- Exponent - due Nov. 6
5
How Critical is Gas Cut Mud?
(1) Most people tend to overreact when
gas reaches the surface.

It is at this time one should be calm and
determine where the gas units came
from.
Monitor the gas units response before
reacting.
6
How Critical is Gas Cut Mud? cont’d
(2) It is true that gas at the surface will
tend to cut the mud weight substantially.
This cut can be as much as 5 to 7 PPG.
But, it should be further realized that
these cuts occur mainly in the top 200
feet of the hole with the worst cuts
occurring in the top 50 feet.
Therefore, the overall hydrostatic head is
only reduced by a small margin.
7
How Critical is Gas Cut Mud? cont’d
(3) Many times when large volumes of
gas reach the surface the well will
appear to be flowing.
This is not necessarily due to a
formation flowing or a kick, but may
represent the extreme expansion of
the gas near and at the surface.
8
How Critical is Gas Cut Mud? cont’d
(4) The following example problem
gives an indication of the effect of
reduction of mud weight at the
surface
on
the reduction of hydrostatic head
at the botton of the hole.
9
How Critical is Gas Cut Mud?
Example Problem
Well depth = 15,000 ft
Hole size = 7 7/8”
Drill pipe size = 4 1/2”
Mud weight = 15 ppg
Drilling Rate = 20 ft/hr
Circ. rate = 7.0 bbl/min
10
How Critical is Gas Cut Mud?
Formation Properties
F 100 T
F 250 T
1.35 Z
1 Z
25% Porosity Sand
70% saturation gas Sand
S
B
B
S


11
Bottom-Hole
Ratio of Mud Volume to Gas Volume:
This indicates there are
1990 volumes of mud to
1 volume of gas at the
bottom of the hole.
1990
hr
bbl
0.2110
hr
bbl
420

gs 0.7 * porosity 25 . 0 *
cu.ft 61 . 5
bbl
*
hr
ft 20
in/ft 12
in
8
7
7
4
hr
min 60
*
min
bbl 7
Gas
Mud
2
= =
|
.
|

\
|
|
.
|

\
|
|
|
|
|
.
|

\
|
|
.
|

\
|
=
t
Mud
Gas
12
Ratio of surface volume of gas to
bottom-hole volume of gas:
This shows there are 465 volumes of gas at the
surface per volume of gas at the bottom of the hole
465
) R (710 psi)(1.35) 7 . 14 (
) R 0 psi)(1)(56 (11,700
law) (gas
T
T
Z
Z
P
P
V
V
B
S
B
S
S
B
B
S
= =
=


(PV = ZnRT)
13
Mud/gas Volume Ratio at the Surface:
279 . 4
465
1990
Volume Gas
Volume Mud
: surface At = =
990 , 1
Volume Gas
Volume Mud
: Bottom At =
465
Bottom at Gas
Surface at Gas
: Expansion =
14
Mud Density at the Surface:
So the mud weight has been cut 2.84 ppg
(from 15 to 12.16) ppg
ppg 16 . 12
1 279 . 4
ppg 0) * 1 ( ppg 15 * (4.279)

Volume
Density) ud surface)(M @ vol vol/gas (
=
+
+
=
=
Total
Mud
surf
µ
15
It should be noted that in actual situations the
mud cut would probably be less because we
have assumed all gas stays in the mud-gas
mixture. A certain amount of gas will break out.

The effects of gas cut mud on the hydrostatic
head:
( )
|
|
.
|

\
|
+
÷
=
S
S B
S S
A A S
red.gas
P
P P
ln
T C)Z (100
T Z CP
ΔP
Mud Density at the Surface:
16
R re, temperatu Surface - T
factor ility compressib Surface - Z
R re, temperatu Average - T
factor ility compressib Average - Z
psi pressure, Surface - P
surface at the fluid total of % Gas - C
well of bottom at pressure c Hydrostati - P
S
S
A
A
S
B


( )
|
|
.
|

\
|
+
÷
=
S
S B
S S
A A S
red.gas
P
P P
ln
T C)Z (100
T Z CP
ΔP
17
( )
18.94%
4.279 1
100% * 1



mud of vol. gas of Vol.
100% * gas of Vol.
C

psi 11,700 ft 15000 * ppg 15 * 0.052 P
B
=
+
=
+
=
= =
Hydrostatic Pressure and C
18
Average T and Z
175 . 1
2
35 . 1 1
Z

635
2
560 710
T
A
A
=
+
=
=
+
= R

19
Reduction in BHP
psi 30.57 ΔP


14.7
14.7 11,700
ln
560) 18.94)(1)( (100
(635) .7)(1.175) (18.94)(14
ΔP
red.gas
red.gas
=
|
.
|

\
|
+
÷
=
( )
|
|
.
|

\
|
+
÷
=
S
S B
S S
A A S
red.gas
P
P P
ln
T C)Z (100
T Z CP
ΔP
20
The resulting bottom hole pressure
will be
p = 11,700 - 30.57

BHP = 11,669 psi

This means the gas reduced the hydrostatic
head by only 30.57 psi!
Reduction in BHP
21
Conclusion
It can be seen that the surface gas cut of
approx. 3 PPG resulted in a bottom hole
pressure reduction of less than 31 psi.

There is one other factor that reduces the
effect of gas cut mud even further and that
is the effect of drilled solids in the mud.
Drilled solids will tend to raise the overall
density of the mud.
22
Drilled Cuttings Effect on Hydrostatic head:
factors conversion * fraction solid * ROP *
4
D π
unit time per cut solids of Vol.
2
=
gpm 0.632 generation solids drilled of Rate

in 144
ft 1
*
ft
gal
7.481 * 0.75 *
min/hr 60
ft/hr 20
*
4
π(7.875)

2
3
3
2
=
=
23
Drilled Cuttings Effect on Hydrostatic head:
ppg 15.015
gpm 294 gpm 632 . 0
ppg 15 * gpm 294 ppg 22.1 * gpm 632 . 0

volume total
mud of weight solids of weight
wt. mud Average
AVG
=
+
+
=
+
=
µ
ABHP = 12 psi
24
Drilled Cuttings Effect on Hydrostatic head:
In this problem, the cuttings had very little
effect on the hydrostatic head.

But, if the rate of penetration were higher,
the additional density added due to the drill
solids could become significant.
25
Summary of Gas-Cut Mud Problem
At bottom:



Gas expansion:


990 , 1
rate generation gas
rate n circulatio mud
=
465
bottom at volume
surface at volume
=
26
Summary of Gas-Cut Mud Problem
At surface:




i.e. At the surface, the mud mix contains one part
of gas (by volume) for each 4.279 parts of good
mud.
279 . 4
465
990 , 1
rate n circulatio gas
n circulatio mud
= =
27
Summary of Gas-Cut Mud Problem
Density of mix
1 279 . 4
) 0 * 1 ( ) 15 * 279 . 4 (
volume total
weight total
+
+
=
=
Density of Mud at surface = 12.16 #/gal

(-2.84 lb/gal)
28
Summary of Gas-Cut Mud Problem
psi 31
P
P P
ln
T Z ) C 100 (
T Z CP
p
S
S B
S S
A A S
~
|
|
.
|

\
|
+
÷
= A
A reduction in the mud
density at the surface by 2.84
lb/gal resulted in a reduction
in BHP of:
29
Note:
 It is very important in any drilling
operation:

 To recognize the symptoms of
increasing pore pressure
 To be able to estimate the magnitude
of the pore pressure
30
Note cont’d:
 To know the fracture gradients of the
exposed formations
 To maintain the drilling practices within
controllable limits
 To keep in mind that any one symptom of
increasing pore pressure may not be
sufficient to provide the basis for
precise conclusions

 Look at all the indicators...
31
ROP F.L.Temp ACl

-
µ
MUD
At
d Gas Units µ
SH
YP
32
What should be done when gas
cut mud is encountered?
(1) Establish if there is any fire hazard.
If there is a fire hazard, divert flow
through mud-gas separation facilities.

(a) Notify any welder in area
(b) Notify all rig personnel of the
pending danger
33
What should be done when gas
cut mud is encountered?
(2) Determine where the gas came from.
If the casing seat fracture gradient is being
approached, and there is some concern about
raising the mud weight:

Stop drilling and circulate, and observe the
gas response. If source is drilled gas, the gas
rate will decrease.
34
What should be done when gas
cut mud is encountered?
(a) If the gas units completely return to
the original background gas, it
would probably be safe to resume
drilling.
35
What should be done when gas
cut mud is encountered?
(b) If there has been ample circulation
time and the gas units do not drop
back to the original background level,
but stay at a higher value, this
indicates that the mud weight is
approaching the pore pressure and
consideration should be given to
increasing the mud weight.
36
What should be done when gas
cut mud is encountered?
Establish Where did the gas
come from?

(a) Drilled gas - no increase in mud
weight is required
(b) Increasing pore pressure
- (abnormal pore pressure)
- May have to increase mud weight
37
Drilling Techniques
I. Balanced Drilling
 Balanced drilling by definition is when
the hydrostatic head is equal to the
pore pressure in the formation being
drilled
 In the Gulf Coast area, if the
hydrostatic head is 0 - 0.4 ppg over the
actual pore pressure it is usually
considered to be balanced drilling.
38
Drilling Techniques - Balanced Drilling
Advantages to balanced drilling conditions

 Optimizes the drilling rate
 Lithology changes can be detected
immediately from the ROP curve

 Transition zones can be detected
sooner
39
Drilling Techniques - Balanced Drilling
Disadvantages

 There is no room for error

 The wellbore must be carefully and
continuously monitored for the
first sign of formation pressure
increase
40
Drilling Techniques - Balanced Drilling
 Application of balanced drilling

 Balanced drilling is generally used
for wildcat or exploratory drilling

 It is often used in hard rock formation
drilling to optimize the rate of
penetration
41
Drilling Techniques
II. Overbalanced drilling
 Overbalanced drilling by definition is
when the pressure exerted by the
hydrostatic head exceeds the formation
pore pressure

 In the Gulf Coast region, if the mud
weight is 0.4 ppg or more above the
pore pressure, it is considered
overbalanced drilling
42
Drilling Techniques - Overbalanced
 Advantages to drilling overbalanced

 Reduces the chance of swabbing a
well in or taking a kick
 Disadvantages
 Overbalanced drilling reduces
the rate of penetration
substantially
43
Drilling Techniques - Overbalanced
Disadvantages to drilling overbalanced -
cont’d
 Drilling too far overbalanced can
disguise lithology changes and
transition zones
 Differential sticking can be caused by
the excessive pressure differential
between the mud hydrostatic and the
pore pressure
44
Drilling Technique - Overbalanced
Application of overbalanced drilling
 This is most often used in areas of
development drilling. In such
areas, the pore pressures are
generally known and the mud weights
are maintained high enough to ensure
~ never taking a kick or swabbing a
well in. But, at the same time the mud
weights are maintained low enough so
as not to cause differential sticking
45
Drilling Techniques - Underbalanced
III. Underbalanced drilling

 Underbalanced drilling by definition is
when the pressure exerted by the
hydrostatic head of the mud is less than
the pore pressure
46
Drilling Techniques - Underbalanced
 Advantages of underbalanced drilling

 Increased rate of penetration

 Less formation damage due to
mud filtrate or whole mud loss
47
Drilling Techniques - Underbalanced
Disadvantages of underbalanced drilling

 Possible kicks

 Wells can be swabbed in more
readily

 Wellbore formation cave-ins
(wellbore stability)
48
Drilling Techniques - Underbalanced
 Application of underbalanced drilling

 Underbalanced drilling is applied in
areas that are very hard to drill such as
some areas in West Texas. This is done
to increase the rate of penetration.
Note that this technique is used in areas
that have very tight and competent
formations. The tight formations reduce
the chance of taking a kick...
49
Drilling Techniques - Underbalanced
Application of underbalanced drilling
cont’d
 Competent formations have less
tendency to slough or cave-in to
the wellbore due to the absence
of a sufficient hydrostatic head to
hold it back.

 Horizontal wells in the Austin Chalk
50
Drilling Techniques - Controlled
IV. Controlled Drilling

 Controlled drilling, by definition, is
when a constant rate of penetration is
maintained by fluctuating the weight
on bit
51
Drilling Techniques - Controlled
 Advantages of controlled drilling

 Control of gumbo problems
 Reduces cuttings generation rate
 Reduces drilled gas problems
52
Drilling Techniques - Controlled
Disadvantages of controlled drilling

 This drilling technique disguises
lithology changes

 Furthermore, and most importantly,
it disguises transition zones and
makes it almost impossible to
detect these from the penetration
rate curve.
53
Drilling Techniques - Controlled
Application of controlled drilling

 This should only be used when
necessary and prudent, such as in
troublesome gumbo sections where
the pore pressures are well known
Note: This drilling technique should never be
used when drilling in wildcat areas or areas
where the pore pressures are not known.

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