DOI: 10.2118/218376-pa ISSN: 1086-055X

A New Methodology to Evaluate the Sealing Process Based on Pressure Drop and Fluid Loss in Fractures during the Drilling Operation

Moacyr Nogueira Borges Filho, Andréia Silveira Freire Soares, Filipe Arantes Furtado, Claudia Miriam Scheid, Luis Américo Calçada
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


Natural or artificial fractures are common in the wellbore during drilling operations. These fractures allow the flow of drilling fluid into the rock formation. The loss of circulation increases the operation’s cost and nonproductive time, which may threaten the well’s structural integrity. To overcome this problem, it is necessary to understand the flow of fluids through fractures and develop methods to mitigate the loss of circulation. This work’s main contributions are expanding the knowledge on the flow of drilling fluids through fractured channels, conducting an experimental study on the flow of suspensions of lost circulation materials (LCM) in fractures, and performing a theoretical analysis to obtain mathematical models describing fractured channels’ sealing. This work proposes a correlation between the pressure drop and the volumetric flow rate of fluid through fractures. To validate the model, a physical simulator collected fluid flow data and pressure drop in fractures with 2-mm, 5-mm, and 10-mm apertures and 1.02-m length. A blend of polymers and calcium borate was used in suspension in water viscosified with xanthan gum (XG). Density and rheological behavior tests were performed to characterize the studied fluids. The LCM had a bimodal particle-size distribution, and the formulated fluids had a Herschel-Bulkley rheological behavior. Pressure drop, flow rate, and rheological data were used to propose a correlation between pressure drop and volumetric flow rate through the fracture. The proposed correlation was used to monitor the sealing of fractures by calculating their hydraulic diameter throughout the sealing process. The LCM suspensions underwent filtration tests to observe the effects of sealing particles on the mudcake and filtrate volume. The proposed correlation fitted the experimental data with less than 10% deviation. The fracture hydraulic diameter was estimated using experimental data of volumetric flow rate and pressure drop, which made it possible to monitor the sealing process of fractures through time. The sealing and filtration tests showed that the borate and polymer blends are effective as filtration control agents and LCM.

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