Silica and Graphene Oxide Nanoparticle Formulation to Improve Thermal Stability and Inhibition Capabilities of Water-Based Drilling Fluid Applied to Woodford Shale


Drilling fluid design for shale plays aims to prevent wellbore instability problems associated with fluid invasion, shale swelling, and cuttings dispersion. Although oil-based mud (OBM) can be used to achieve these goals, environmental and economic concerns limit its application. This research evaluates the potential of using silica nanoparticles (SiO2-NPs) and graphene nanoplatelets (GNPs) as drilling fluid additives in a single formulation to improve shale inhibition and long-term stability of water-based mud (WBM) against temperature effects. The design of the nanoparticle water-based mud (NPWBM) followed a customized approach that selects the additives according to the characteristics of the reservoir. Characterization of Woodford shale was completed with X-ray diffraction (XRD), cation exchange capacity (CEC), and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The aqueous stability test and zeta-potential measurements were used to assess the stability of the NPs. NP-WBM characterization included the analysis of the rheological properties measured with a rotational viscometer and the evaluation of the filtration trends at low-temperature/low-pressure (LTLP) and high-temperature/high-pressure (HTHP) conditions. Additionally, dynamic aging was performed at temperatures up to 250°F for thermal stability evaluation. Finally, chemical-interaction tests such as cutting dispersion and bulk swelling helped to analyze the effect of introducing NPs on the inhibition capabilities of the WBM. Conventional KCl/PHPA fluid was used for comparison purposes. The results of this investigation revealed that SiO2-NPs and GNPs acted synergistically with other additives to improve the filtration characteristics of the WBM with only minor effects on the rheological properties. NPs exhibited a high colloidal stability with ζ-potential values below-30 mV, which warrants their dispersion within the WBM at an optimal concentration of 0.75 wt.%. The high thermal conductivity of NPs played a key role in promoting an almost flat trend in the cumulative filtrate for the NP-WBM at aged conditions, whereas KCl/PHPA suffered a drastic increase. Also, NPWBM preserved 43.97% of its initial cutting carrying capacity, while KCl/PHPA experienced a severe reduction of 95.24% at extreme conditions (250°F). Despite the high illite content of the Woodford shale, the NP-WBM exhibited superior inhibition properties that reduced cutting erosion and swelling effect by 24.48% and 35.24%, respectively, compared to the KCl/PHPA fluid. Overall, this investigation supports the potential use of nanomaterials to enhance the inhibition capabilities and the long-term stability of WBM for unconventional shales, presenting an eco-friendly alternative for harsher environments.

Meeting Name

SPE International Conference on Oilfield Chemistry 2019 (2019: Apr. 8-9, Galveston, TX)


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Additives; Chemical analysis; Dispersions; Drilling fluids; Graphene oxide; Infill drilling; Nanoparticles; Oil fields; Oil wells; Oilfield chemistry; Petroleum reservoir evaluation; Potassium compounds; Rheology; Scanning electron microscopy; Silica; Silica nanoparticles; SiO2 nanoparticles; Stability; Temperature; Thermal conductivity; Thermodynamic stability; Zeta potential, Cation exchange capacities; Chemical interactions; Drilling fluid additives; Filtration characteristics; Graphene nanoplatelets; High thermal conductivity; Water based drilling fluids; Zeta potential measurements, Shale

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Article - Conference proceedings

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© 2019 Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Apr 2019

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