Experimental Investigation on Wellbore Strengthening Mechanism and Tight Fracture Plugging Drilling Fluid Based on Granular Matter Mechanics

Liu, Junyi (Shengli Petroleum Engineering Corporation Limited of SINOPEC) | Guo, Baoyu (Shengli Petroleum Engineering Corporation Limited of SINOPEC) | Qiu, Zhengsong (China University of Petroleum)


With the promotion of oil and gas development around the world, the exploration scope has been gradually extended to complicated geological reservoirs, such as deep or ultra-deep, unconventional, deep-water reservoirs, and lost circulation and wellbore instability have been becoming the most serious problems, which puts forward higher requirements on the drilling fluid technology. In order to solve these technical problems, the wellbore strengthening mechanism, tight fracture plugging methods and simulation experimental method for drilling fluids were studied respectively in this paper. Firstly, the wellbore strengthening mechanism of the stress cage method that improves wellbore pressure containment was firstly investigated based on ABAQUS finite element modeling analysis. It was found that wellbore pressure containment could be improved by enhancing plugging performance of drilling fluids to plug and prop natural or induced fractures to eliminate fracture propagation and increase hoop stress. The key performance of loss prevention materials has been proved to play a prominent role to achieve wellbore strengthening effect and strengthen the wellbore. According to the basic principle of "force-chain" in granular matter mechanics, the key fine technical indices were proposed to evaluate the particle strength, particle resiliency and surface friction of loss prevention materials. Meanwhile, the corresponding physical model of tight fracture plugging zones was established to reveal the tight fracture plugging mechanism at micro scale and the optimization method of tight plugging drilling fluids was also put forward, and it was concluded that using reasonable particle type, particle size distribution and concentration control, rigid particles, resilient particles and fibers were synergized to plug fractures, so as to form tight pressure containment plugging zones with a strong force chain network and greatly improve the wellbore pressure containment. The novel experimental apparatus for evaluation and dynamic simulation on the plugging characteristics of drilling fluids was developed, which could simulate the loss and plugging process of fractures with different openings under different formation pressures and temperatures.