Dealing with lost circulation in HDD applications
Jun 08, 2007
Lost circulation can result in costly and unnecessary delays for HDD projects, the selection of proper drilling fluid, additives, reamers, and the application of good drilling practices can help the operator achieve success and profitability.
The use of bentonite as a viscosifier is definitely advantageous. Bentonite usually provides the backbone of the drilling fluid and is the first line of defense against lost circulation problems. As formation permeability increases, however, so does strain on the wallcake-building ability of the bentonite. Adding more bentonite to provide more wallcake-building bentonite platelets is an option, but the additional bentonite increases the mud weight. This in turn increases the circulating pressure. There is a better alternative.
Preventive treatment is by far the most efficient and cost-effective approach to dealing with the potential for lost circulation. However, lost circulation is typically only dealt with after it has become a problem. Addressing lost circulation as soon as it is observed is critical to success in curing the problem. Adding lost circulation material (LCM) promptly can minimize the chances of escalating to larger problems. Preventing the erosion of smaller particles within the matrix of the formation can lead to much higher success ratios because the LCM has a greater chance of sealing smaller openings, rather than enlarged, eroded openings
The selection of lost circulation treatment products should be based on several factors: environmental impact; appropriate sizing to pass through HDD pumps, valves and bit orifices; correct particle size distribution to ensure the range of formation pore throat sizes is addressed; sequence and timing of multi-product treatments; and determining the right combination of products for a specific formation.
Preventing lost circulation is the best option, but if it is suspected or observed, it should be dealt with promptly. Otherwise it will likely become more difficult and expensive in terms of time on the bore to fix. The selection of proper drilling fluid bentonite, additives, reamers, and the application of good drilling practices can help the operator achieve success and profitability.
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