Composition and Properties of Drilling and Completion Fluids

  • Caenn R
  • Darley H
  • Gray G
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The petroleum industry in general has been dominated by engineers and production specialists. The upstream segment of the industry is dominated by drilling/completion engineers. Usually, neither of those disciplines have a great deal of training in the chemistry aspects of drilling and completing a well prior to its going on production. The chemistry of drilling fluids and completion fluids have a profound effect on the success of a well. For example, historically the drilling fluid costs to drill a well have averaged around 7% of the overall cost of the well, before completion. The successful delivery of up to 100% of that wellbore, in many cases may be attributable to the fluid used. The textbook used by universities, petroleum industry fluid technologists and chemical manufacturers is the Composition and Properties of Drilling and Completion Fluids, first written by Walter Rogers in 1948 and is considered the "bible" of the industry. Since then, Gulf Publishing Company has updated the book on a regular basis, the last being by H.C.H Darley in 1988. In the 21+ years since those books were updated a number of technology, economic, and political issues have impacted the use of fluids to drill and complete oil and gas wells. The following are my suggestions for updating the book, in order of priority: New Chapters: 1 - Completion Fluids and Reservoir Drilling Fluids Some of the current Completion Fluids chapter (#10) can be reused. Starting with the economic downturn of the petroleum industry in the 1980s, industry operators have placed more emphasis on cooperation between drilling and completion operations. Prior to that, the drilling department tended to drill wells as quickly and cheaply as they could, turning over the wellbore to a separate completion engineering group. Many times there was little communication between those two groups. In the 1990s, operators merged their drilling and completion groups to save money. This resulted in the development of a a new type of fluid used to drill though the production zone. This fluid was originally called a drill-in fluid (DIF) and is now also called a reservoir dilling fluid (RDF) depending on the service company involved. The Comp and Prop book predated these efforts so there is no mention of these fluids. In addition, regular completion fluids have undergone a paradigm shift in that a new base fluid has emerged based of organic "brines" from formates and acetates. 2 - Health, Safety & Environment The 1980s and 90s brought a dramatic change to the drilling and completion industry in the form of intense political oversight and action as to the HS & E aspects of the chemicals in use. This has resulted in the abandonment or reduced usage of many traditional products and systems. The most dramatic changes have been in non-aqueous fluids for use offshore. One glaring lack in the Comp and Prop book has to do with waste management. The single largest volume of waste generated while drilling a well is the drilled cuttings. These cuttings are always covered with drilling fluids. The second largest waste stream is excess mud mixed due to dilution of the system for solids control. All the major drilling fluids service companies now have divisions solely devoted to waste management. The selection and use of the proper drilling fluid is extremely important in waste management. Update Priorities 1 - Combine Chapter 2, The Development of Drilling Fluids Technology, with Chapter 11, Drilling Fluids Components, and rename to Drilling Fluid Systems and Products. The intervening 21+ years have brought forth a myriad of new products and fluid systems, as well as different chemistries that were not thought of when the book was last updated. A section on the API/SI standards process needs to be added. 2 - Update Chapter 9, Drilling Problems Related to Drilling, adding the effects from new fluid systems and additives. Research and development has better characterized the non-productive time drilling that is effected by drilling fluids. There are both chemical and engineering aspects to solving these problems. 3 - Update Chapter 8, Wellbore Stability, adding the new R & D on water-based muds. One of the outstanding developments in the 1990s, and still continuing, is the increased understanding of Wellbore Stability, especially when using water-based muds. 4 - Update Chapter 3, Equipment and Procedures for Evaluating Drilling Fluid Performance. The advent of digital technology and better manufacturing techniques have resulted in a number of new testing devices. This section would best be updated by the two mud equipment manufactures, Fann Instruments (Halliburton) and OFI Testing Equipment. 5 - The whole book needs to be converted to API and SI accepted units. Explains a myriad of new products and fluid systems Cover the newest API/SI standards New R & D on water-based muds New emphases on Health, Safety & Environment New Chapter on waste management and disposal. © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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  • Ryen Caenn

  • H. C.H. Darley

  • George R. Gray

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