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By Danny Boyd

and Corinne Westeman


Drilling fluid vendors continue the in-
dustrys quest to provide cutting-edge
water-based drilling fluids that perform
on par with nonaqueous drilling fluids
(NADFs, or oil-based muds) to attempt
to save operators drilling costs and waste
management expenses.
With regulators continuing to push
for more environmentally friendly drilling
fluids, leading fluid system manufacturers
are offering operators the latest water-
based systems capable of aiding drilling
through reactive shales and high-angle,
long-reach intervals in unconventional
plays throughout the world.
But NADFs continue to be in demand,
with fluid companies introducing systems
that are more personnel and environmen-
tally friendly. On-site treatment solutions
that reduce the cost, complexity and en-
vironmental issues traditionally associated
with NADF cuttings have been devel-
oped.
Shale-Inhibiting WBM
Baroid continues to advance its
SHALEDRIL

family of water-based,
shale-inhibiting fluids to cut drilling costs
and improve drilling performance in un-
conventional plays throughout North
America, says Ryan Ezell, global product
manager for Halliburton.
Operators using customized SHALE -
DRIL system solutions have lowered
drilling fluid costs through reductions in
cuttings disposal and rig cleanup time
and costs, while experiencing improved
well bore stability, CO
2
tolerance, and
fracture sealing, he says.
The water-based fluid solution can be
customized based on mineralogy, mor-
phology and other characteristics of a
shales DNA, Ezell explains. Detailed
laboratory analysis, including X-ray dif-
fraction, is used to determine shale com-
ponent makeup, reactivity, and whether
the shale is susceptible to osmotic swelling
and/or surface hydration that could desta-
bilize the well bore, he explains. We
have used the SHALEDRIL system ef-
fectively in most major U.S. shale plays,
including the Haynesville, Barnett, Fayet-
teville, Marcellus and Eagle Ford. We
have customized fluids for each one.
In the Haynesville, the SHALEDRIL
system has proven more than capable of
overcoming acid gas and bottom-hole
temperatures up to 420 degrees F, he
elaborates. Elsewhere, the fluid solution
is helping operators facing tight well eco-
nomics and stiffer environmental com-
pliance requirements, Ezell notes.
A highly reactive Morrowian shale
above the Fayetteville is prone to fracturing
and delamination; an operator used a
customized SHALEDRIL fluid instead
of an oil-based fluid to inhibit the clays
and drill horizontally and achieved similar
lubricity of an OBM while keeping costs
in check.
The SHALEDRIL system inhibited the
Morrowian shale and compared well with
other fluid systems during tests on core
and cutting samples, Ezell recalls. Using
water-based fluid does not work for all ar-
eas, he observes. But we can customize
Solutions Advance Both WBMs, OBMs
Baroids SHALEDRIL water-based, shale-inhibiting fluids are
helping operators reduce drilling costs and improve performance
in North American unconventional plays. These images are of the
Fayetteville Shale, where mixed smectite and chlorite layers re-
quire a highly inhibitive fluid to prevent delamination and slough-
ing. At left is the initial Fayetteville/Morrow Shale, while the center
image shows the shale after soaking for 24 hours in a conven-
tional inhibitive WBM. The image at right shows the shale after
soaking for 24 hours in SHALEDRIL, illustrating how the clay-free
formulation seals the microfractures that lead to delamination.
Reproduced in part for Halliburton with permission from The American Oil & Gas Reporter www.aogr.com
The Better Business Publication Serving the Exploration / Drilling / Production Industry
NOVEMBER 2012
to get the right inhibition. We can get
equivalent lubricity, and we can get equiv-
alent, if not better, penetration rates than
what some invert emulsion fluids can
achieve in some of these shale plays. If
you can get similar performance while
delivering a more environmentally com-
pliant fluid, you can reduce a lot of the
ancillary costs in disposing and handling
oil-based mud that account for 40-50 per-
cent of the fluid bill.
Transportation costs in South Texas can
include expenses to ship cuttings up to
100 miles one way for disposal, an expense
in addition to fluid storage and diesel costs
used in oil-based solutions, he says.
Still, given the reliability of oil-based
mud, operators continue to prefer it in
most cases, Ezell says. But if you could
deliver the same performance in terms of
inhibition, well bore stability, ROP, and
lubricity, why would you not switch? he
asks. It can help reduce your environmental
liability and also can help reduce costs in
terms of disposal and waste management.
Achieving that is why we customize the
fluid formulations for each shale.
Baroid has been able to achieve com-
parable ROP (in some cases, superior
ROP) in troublesome shales with
SHALEDRIL systems, compared with
conventional invert emulsion fluids, Ezell
claims. Obviously, if you are going to
be drilling a long lateral section, you
have to take optimal lubricity into con-
sideration, he says. We can make ad-
justments during drilling to minimize
pore pressure transmission and maximize
inhibition, because you can have a highly
inhibitive fluid but pore pressure trans-
mission that can result in well bore desta-
bilization. We can attain the right balance
using the customized chemical formulation
and fluid density.
Adjustments are made using Baroids
DFG drilling fluids graphics software
and additional real-time tools to monitor
and enhance hydraulics and hole cleaning,
Ezell says. Baroids software also can
determine fracture width and depth, and
helps identify well bore strengthening
solutions, Ezell goes on.
We have real-time density and real-
time viscosity monitoring to get transient
data in real time to make sure the predicted
hydraulics of the mud program match what
we are seeing down hole, he says. That
is a powerful tool, allowing us to combine
proper chemical and fluid design with the
right data acquisition at the drill site.
All of these capabilities are an out-
growth of Halliburtons ongoing focus
on advancing fluids technology for un-
conventional plays and in deepwater en-
vironments with ECD management. These
wells have narrow pore pressure and frac
pressure gradient windows or extremely
narrow well bore designs, and require a
thin fluid capable of staying within the
fracture gradient and pore pressure gradient
window, suspending barite when drilling
ceases, and providing proper suspension
for hole cleaning, Ezell elaborates.
We have been very successful using
Low ECD Enhancement Package tech-
nology in high-performance oil-based
fluids in difficult, narrow-margin drilling
in deep water and elsewhere, he states.
SpecialReport: Drilling Fluids Update