Experimental Analysis of Water Based Drilling Fluid Aging Processes at High Temperature and High Pressure Conditions



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In efforts to render the safest, fastest, and most cost efficient drilling program for a high temperature and high pressure (HT/HP) well the maximization of drilling operational efficiencies is key. Designing an adequate, HT/HP well specific, drilling fluid is of most importance and a technological challenge that can greatly affect the outcome of the overall operational efficiency. It is necessary to have a sound fundamental understanding of the behavior that water-based muds (WBM) exhibit when exposed to HT/HP conditions. Therefore, in order to adequately design and treat a WBM for a HT/HP well specific drilling program, it is essential that the mud be evaluated at HT/HP conditions.

Currently, industry standard techniques used to evaluate WBM characteristics involve aging the fluid sample to a predetermined temperature, based on the anticipated bottom hole temperature (BHT), either statically or dynamically, for a predetermined length, then cooling and mixing the fluid and measuring its rheological properties at a significantly lower temperature. This, along with the fact that the fluid is not subjected to the anticipated bottom hole pressure (BHP) during or after the aging process, brings to question if the properties recorded are those that are truly experienced down-hole. Furthermore, these testing methods do not allow the user to effectively monitor the changes during the aging process.

The research in this thesis is focused on evaluating a high performance WBM and the current test procedures used to evaluate their validity. Experimental static and dynamic aging tests were developed for comparative analysis as well to offer a more accurate and precise method to evaluate the effects experienced by WBM when subjected to HT/HP conditions. The experimental tests developed enable the user to monitor and evaluate, in real-time, the rheological changes that occur during the aging of a WBM while being subjected to true BHT and BHP.

Detailed standard and experimental aging tests were conducted and suggest that the standard industry tests offer false rheological results with respect to true BHT and BHP. Furthermore, the experimental aging tests show that high pressure has a significant effect on the rheological properties of the WBM at elevated temperatures.