The Hydroxyl Factor in Shale Control
- W.C. Browning (Milchem, Inc.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- October 1964
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 1,177 - 1,186
- 1964. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 4.3.1 Hydrates, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 4.2.3 Materials and Corrosion, 1.11.2 Drilling Fluid Selection and Formulation (Chemistry, Properties), 6.5.4 Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 1.2.3 Rock properties, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 1.11 Drilling Fluids and Materials
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The influence of the hydroxyl factor is more damaging to formations penetrated and causes greater consumption of drilling mud additives than previously realized. This hydroxyl effect on clays is essentially independent of the cations present in the drilling fluid and thus differs from the base exchange reactions that have preoccupied mud chemistry with sodium and calcium bentonite concepts for nearly two decades. The new organic polyelectrolyte- conditioned muds have made it possible to use materials other than sodium hydroxide to maintain the alkalinity of such muds. The properties of silicates, as indicated by their dissociation characteristics and buffering action, are such that they can control the pH and alkalinity of drilling muds at the desired level and, at the same time, minimize undesirable hydroxyl effects associated with sodium hydroxide. This use of silicate compounds is different and distinct from prior applications of silicates as deflocculants or shale preservers. Laboratory and field data presented in this report show that silicate compositions can be utilized to adjust the alkalinity of drilling muds and, at the same time, minimize hydroxyl-promoted clay cleavage.
Studies for improving the efficiency of rotary drilling techniques must consider the chemistry of drilling fluids and of the formations being penetrated. The chemical aspects of drilling must be studied in conjunction with and in relation to the mechanical factors if, for example, penetration rates are to be optimized. Drilling fluid technology has been largely influenced by chemical reactions of the montmorillonite (bentonite) clay minerals. Most of the literature of mud chemistry concerns the properties of bentonite. Clays of the kaolin or illite type, which are nonswelling, are not generally regarded as sources of drilling mud problems. If these nonswelling shale clays are considered, they are commonly regarded as inert solids. Particularly noteworthy is the fact that the relation of surface and colloid chemistry to massive shale bodies has received only scant attention from drilling technologists. Clay studies reported in the drilling mud literature have dealt, for the most part, with the properties of clays in a finely divided state, and often in very dilute suspensions. Yet frequently during drilling, shale problems not related to the rheology of clay suspensions develop in massive non-bentonitic shale sections of zero or near zero permeability.
This paper is concerned with surface chemical reactions that can influence the behavior of these non-bentonite clay masses in such a manner as to adversely affect drilling operations. Browning and Perricone have pointed out that some of the most troublesome shales to drill, such as the Atoka, contain no montmorillonites. They also pointed out that mud problems can frequently be mitigated by reduction of clay cleavage achieved by using drilling fluids with a minimum of available hydroxyl ions. If pronounced clay cleavage occurs during drilling, the borehole may soften, increasing the possibility of sloughing In addition the resulting increased incorporation of high-surface-area clay solids into the mud system can reduce penetration rates and necessitate greater chemical treatment. This increase of shale, of colloidal or near-colloidal dimensions, into the drilling mud is due to clay aggregate cleavage and not to base exchange or swelling reactions, such as occur with bentonites. Searle and Grimshaw point out the difference between cleavage or slaking reactions of nonswelling clays (such as illite and kaolinite) and the swelling of bentonite. They further state that the speed of slaking is increased with alkaline water. Eitel cites Salmang and Becker, who recognized that clay surface reactions impart plasticity and workability to clay masses. Their results clearly show that all liquids which contain hydroxyl groups in their molecules favor the workability of clays. The ancient technique of aging clays in the moist condition to increase their "workability" is evidence that these clay cleavage phenomena are of considerable importance. The same hydration cleavage that occurs during the aging of nonswelling clays for ceramic use also acts to break up cuttings and soften the borehole during drilling operations. The mechanism of cleavage of the crystalline aggregates of illitic, kaolinitic and other nonswelling clays; and the chemical means of controlling this cleavage are therefore of considerable significance to the drilling mud chemistry. Inasmuch as there is little reference in the drilling mud literature to the cleavage reactions of nonswelling clays, the structure of these clays and certain properties that relate to the mechanism of clay cleavage will be reviewed briefly.
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