Development and Screening of Additives for Biodiesel Based Drilling Fluids: Principles, Strategies and Experience

Li, Wai (The University of Western Australia) | Liu, Jishan (The University of Western Australia) | Zhao, Xionghu (China University of Petroleum Beijing) | Jiang, Jiwei (China University of Petroleum Beijing) | Peng, Hui (Beijing Oilchemleader Science & Technology Development Co., Ltd.) | Zhang, Min (Shengli Oilfield Exploration and Development Research Institute) | He, Tao (GWDC Drilling Fluid Company, PETROCHINA) | Liu, Guannan (China University of Mining and Technology) | Shen, Peiyuan (The University of Western Australia)



Biodiesel-based drilling fluid (BBDF) draws considerable attention because biodiesel has excellent environmental acceptability and great potential to provide high drilling performance. There are some investigations reported about BBDF both in laboratory and in the field recently, demonstrating its feasibility. In contrast to traditional petrodiesel and mineral oil, biodiesel has some chemical activity which affects the reliability of BBDF in drilling environment. This paper details the principles and strategies for developing and selecting additives of BBDF. A variety of experimental results obtained by laboratory tests were presented to elucidate the importance of suitable additives for an eligible BBDF. Electrical stability test and centrifuge test were conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of emulsifier. A six-speed viscometer and a high-pressure-high-temperature (HPHT) rheometer were used to measure the parameters of BBDF to evaluate organophilic clays and rheological modifiers. Density test was performed to investigate the suspendability of the fluids. Hot rolling treatment was carried out to study the thermal tolerance of the fluids. The laboratory results and the literature showed that both lime content and calcium chloride concentration have significant effects on the stability and rheological parameters of BBDF. Even moderate amount of lime in BBDF will significantly decrease the stability of BBDF. The effect of calcium chloride concentration on BBDF varies according to the type of emulsifier. A compound emulsifier based on fatty alkanolamides and alkyl sulfonates exhibits reliable ability to prepare stable, thermal-tolerate invert biodiesel emulsion. It offers biodiesel emulsion reduced viscosity compared to those given by traditional Span/Tween emulsifier combinations. For another, commercial organophilic clays cannot give satisfactory rheological parameters because the viscosity-temperature profile of BBDF is often steeper than those of traditional oil based drilling fluids (OBDFs). Therefore, rheological modifier should be used to compensate the viscosity loss of BBDF under high-temperature conditions. A condensate of alkoxylated fatty amine and polycarboxylic acid showed good performance to provide a relatively flat rheological profile. Some empirical laws, principles and strategies are summarized for BBDF additive selection. One is that the combinations of non-ionic and anionic emulsifiers have better effectiveness for biodiesel. The other conclusion is that lime content must be strictly controlled. With the boom of the biodiesel industry, it is predicted BBDF will take a place in the family of drilling fluid. However, most previous works show that BBDF may be not satisfactory when the temperature is over 120 Celsius degrees. This work presents valuable experience for further improvement of this promising drilling fluid.