Rheological Measurements on Clay Suspensions and Drilling Fluids at High Temperatures and Pressures
- K.H. Hiller
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- July 1963
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 779 - 788
- 1963. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 4.2.3 Materials and Corrosion, 1.10 Drilling Equipment, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 4.3.1 Hydrates, 1.11 Drilling Fluids and Materials, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 4.3.4 Scale, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 5.3.2 Multiphase Flow
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HILLER, K.H., CALIFORNIA RESEARCH CORP., LA HABRA, CALIF.
A rotational viscometer has been designed which permits the measurement of the rheological properties of drilling muds and other non-Newtonian fluids under conditions equivalent to those in a deep borehole (350F, 10,000 psi). The important mechanical features of this instrument are described, and its design criteria are discussed. The flow equations for the novel configuration of the viscometer are derived and the calibration procedures are described. The date and their interpretation, resulting from measurement of the flow properties and static gel strengths of homoionic montmorillonite suspensions at high temperatures and pressures, are presented. Data are also presented for the flow behavior of typical drilling fluids at high temperatures and pressures. The pressure losses in the drill pipe and the annulus depend critically upon the flow parameters of the drilling fluid. This work demonstrates the need to measure these parameters under bottom-hole conditions in order to obtain a reliable estimate of the pressure losses in the mud system.
The rheological properties of drilling fluids are affected by temperature and pressure, but the extent of these effects on the dynamic flow properties is not well known. Measurements of changes of the flow properties of clay-water drilling muds with temperature have been reported by Srini-Vasan and Gatlin. The temperatures reported did not exceed 200F, a limitation imposed by the apparatus used by these authors. The rheological properties of clay suspensions were measured at temperatures up to 100C by Gurdzhinian. Neither the nature of the exchange ions in the clay suspensions nor the degree of purity were defined in his work, nor were the measurements extended to currently used drilling fluids. The lack of systematic measurements of dynamic flow properties at high temperatures and pressures seems the more surprising since during the last decade the importance of the control of the hydraulic properties of drilling fluids has come to be widely recognized. Very good mathematical treatments of the friction losses in drill pipe and annulus have been developed. These treatments are based on the assumption that drilling fluids behave as Bingham plastic fluids. Quite often this assumption is justified, while in other cases a power law equation produces better fit than the Bingham model does. For convenience in applying viscometer data to pressure-drop calculations, the Bingham plastic flow equation is preferable and, therefore, has been applied to the data reported in this paper, although other equations may fit these data more accurately. In a Bingham plastic fluid the relationship between the shearing stress and the rate of shear D is given by the following equation:
where is the plastic viscosity and the yield point. If = , the equation for simple Newtonian flow, = , is obtained. Two empirical constants are required for the description of laminar flow of a Bingham plastic fluid, and calculations of the flow behavior at high temperatures and pressures cannot be better than is permitted by the accuracy with which these constants are known. For this reason a high-pressure, high-temperature rheometer has been designed to measure the plastic viscosity , the yield point , and the static gel strength Sg at pressures up to 10,000 psi and temperatures up to 350F. The important features of its design will be described. The results of measurements on homoionic clay slurries will be discussed insofar as they are relevant to an understanding of the general flow behavior of clay-water drilling fluids. The results of measurements on some typical drilling fluids will be presented also, and their practical implications will be briefly discussed.
DESCRIPTION OF EQUIPMENT
A viscometer designed to measure the plastic viscosity, yield point and gel strength of non-Newtonian fluids must permit the measurement of the shearing stress at any given rate of shear D. This is possible only if and D are approximately uniform throughout the entire sheared sample. A Couette apparatus is the most convenient method of realizing this condition, as has been pointed out by Grodde. The "high-pressure, high-temperature rheometer" described in this paper is basically a rotational Couette viscometer that is immersed in a cell in which pressure and temperature can be controlled over the range of interest. Fig. 1 shows schematically the important features of the pressure cell and associated equipment. The heart of the instrument is the rotating cup. It is shown more clearly in Fig. 2, which represents the lower one-third of the pressure cell (below the input drive shaft shown in Fig. 1), and it is shown in detail in Fig. 3.
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