A comprehensive rheological study for a flowing polymer-based drilling fluid used for wellbore strengthening
Loss circulation encountered in highly fractured formations, depleted reservoir, or HP/HT intervals is the root cause of many problems plaguing the oil and gas sector for many years. High pore pressure narrows the window of safe drilling, while in depleted reservoir fracture pressure is remarkably reduced, which may lead to a lower pressure-bearing capacity. Therefore, a proper predrill wellbore strengthening strategy is needed to anticipate wellbore issues and design drilling fluids that strengthen unstable formations. This study benefits from the successful applications of polymers in water shut-off. Whereas polymers are used to entirely plugs high water productive zones, the flowing polymer-based mud (PBM) is proposed and evaluated to enhance wellbore strengthening. Based on the API drilling fluids testing procedures, varied polyacrylamide/polyethyleneimine PAM/PEI systems were tested and ammonium chloride (NH4Cl) is added as a retarder to control gelling time as need. Base fluid formulated with PAM/PEI was optimized to attain the desired rheological properties. Weighting and other commercial essential additives were also added, and the formula is tested for rheology, stability, and sealing efficacy. Our proposed PBM formula with proper concentration of polymer in water and optimized PAM to PEI ratio is found to be highly competitive in comparison with the conventional methods of loss circulation prevention and wellbore strengthening techniques. This paper introduces an innovative design for a flowing polymer-based mud (PBM) for wellbore strengthening and provides wide-range of assessment. Moreover, the essential rheological characteristics revealed in this study for several PAM/PEI mud systems under various conditions can set the stage for wide application of these muds globally where tremendous reduction in drilling non-productive time (NPT) can be achieved.