Development of a Reproducible Method of Formulating and Testing Drilling Fluids
- B.K. Sinha (IMC Drilling Mud Corp.) | Harvey T. Kennedy (Texas A and M U.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Society of Petroleum Engineers Journal
- Publication Date
- December 1969
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 403 - 411
- 1969. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 1.6 Drilling Operations, 1.11.2 Drilling Fluid Selection and Formulation (Chemistry, Properties), 4.3.4 Scale, 1.11 Drilling Fluids and Materials, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 4.3.1 Hydrates
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Recommendations are made for obtaining consistent and reproducible test data on drilling fluids having identical composition. Previously, such a procedure has been difficult to accomplish even when the fluids were mixed in similar equipment.
A survey of work in this area indicates that previous methods have been unsatisfactory because previous methods have been unsatisfactory because (1) the muds are extremely sensitive to the duration and violence of agitation during a normal mixing routine, and (2) gelling of the muds occurs before the properties can reach constant values. This gelling is caused by water evaporation resulting from the increase in temperature associated with the agitation.
The work shows that these problems largely can be overcome by (1) agitating the constituents of the drilling fluid more vigorously, (2) maintaining a fairly constant temperature, and (3) Protecting the fluid from evaporation. When these steps are followed, the fluid properties approach asymptotic values that do not change by prolonged or accelerated agitation or by aging for a month. The time required to reach asymptotic values or a stabilized state is from 2 to 6 hours and is a function of the mud composition.
Preparation of drilling fluids in the laboratory to determine their suitability to meet specific drilling requirements or to serve as a base fluid to evaluate the effectiveness of thinners, dispersants or other additives normally begins with combining measured quantities of the constituents and stirring them for a short time in a low-speed mixer. This is done to obtain a uniform mixture and to hydrate clays. Then the fluid is further agitated in a higher-speed device (Hamilton Beach mixer or Waring blender) to disperse more thoroughly and clay particles
The biggest obstacle in the laboratory investigation of drilling fluids has been the lack of a method of producing a mixture by which reproducible results of the measured properties could be obtained. Numerous investigators have encountered this difficulty.
Prior to 1929, density was the only property of mud that customarily was measured. The use of Wyoming bentonite on a large scale after 1929 was mainly responsible for the development of more elaborate testing procedures and for the application of the principles of colloid chemistry to the drilling fluids. Ambrose and Loomis in 1931 were among the first to recognize the plastic flow characteristics of drilling fluids, although Bingham in 1916 had observed The same phenomenon with dilute clay suspensions. Marsh introduced the Marsh funnel for field testing in 1931. By this time, non-Newtonian characteristics of drilling fluids were established. The Stormer and MacMichael viscometers were used to study the rheological properties of the fluids. In the 1930's and early 1940's, the work conducted by several investigators contributed toward a better understanding of drilling fluids.
In the mid 1930's, fluid-loss and the associated mud-cake-forming properties of drilling fluids were recognized as important to the behavior of these fluids. The other properties of drilling fluids, including gel strength, pH, and sand content soon were recognized. In 1937, API published its first recommended procedure for test methods. Since that time, these procedures have been revised periodically. The latest edition, RP-13B, was published in 1961
However, in spite of the recognized need for a method of mixing that provides drilling fluids with stabilized properties, no such method previously has been described.
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