Preventing and curing of fracture related drilling fluid losses

Request Number N584737
Author Jos Cenens
Need details

We are looking for solutions, methods and/or technologies that can prevent fracture related losses:

  • enable faster detection and isolation of fracture related losses
  • enable fast plugging / curing of fracture related losses 



The main challenge to drill in a depleted reservoir is to avoid the loss of drilling fluid to the surrounding formation. The drill operators see a ‘lost circulation’ situation when there is less drilling fluid coming up the annulus of the borehole than is pumped through the drill-string.


Lost circulation often occurs in wells with weak points that can be present in a depleted reservoir such as in transitions zones between shale and sandstone layers or when drilling mechanically weak or naturally fractured formations (e.g. paleosols/coals). When the new borehole reaches such a zone there can be an unexpected drop in pore pressure (and thus lower “fracturing” pressures) or the lithology transition itself represents a weak point where fluid loss can occur as a result of either induced fracturing or loss into existing fissures/channels (see Figure 1). 


Figure 1


When lost circulation occurs, sealing the loss zone is necessary. Sealing normally involves adding a blend of carbonate particles with a broad particle size distribution to the drilling fluid, either in small volumes as a preventive measure or as a massive “pill” to cure losses by sealing off fractures and other openings in the formation. In addition to carbonate a variety of other materials exists including mica, cellophane, cement or  bentonite based plugs.


Experience shows that being able to arrest incipient fractures/loss incidents early and limit additional losses gives a better chance for being able to cure/heal losses successfully and continue drilling without requiring methods that can lead to loss of the well and sidetracking. In general there is a greater potential for serious consequences with bigger loss rates and larger loss volumes/time on losses.


Statoil is therefore looking for innovative solutions that can quickly cure a lost circulation incident and allowing the operator to resume drilling.  


Key Success Criteria
  • Be fast to apply and seal off the affected zone
    • Preferably no need to shut in the well or limit the downtime (to max 4 hrs)
    • Ideally applied via drilling mud during drilling operation
  • Able to work in a high temperature and pressure environment (80 to 150°C, pressures up to 10,000 psi)
  • Solutions should stop the losses without affecting the capacity of the well to produce oil and gas
    • Can be a temporary barrier
  • Not pose HSE hazards to operators e.g. not make use of hazardous chemicals, explosives


Possible Approaches
  • Inducing surrounding argillaceous shale to collapse and form a barrier
  • Innovative use of settable materials like mica, sized calcium carbonate
  • Hydratable and rapid-set materials
  • High performance thermosetting resins
  • Deformable graphitic materials




Approaches not of interest
  • Reactive chemistries such as “Thermite Plugs” as these will seal off the borehole completely
  • Methods that will need too much time (>4hrs)


Preferred Collaboration types
  • Joint Development
  • Contract Research
  • Technology Licensing
  • Technology Acquisition
  • Supply Agreement
Items to be submitted
  • Non-Confidential description of technology, method or equipment
    • Working principle
    • Availability of technical data on performance in high pressure and temperature environments
    • Supporting data or technical rationale for conceptual approaches
    • Technology maturity (concept, lab-scale, ready to scale up, suitable for practical use)
  • Estimated developments requirements e.g. modelling, prototype testing, field trials… including timing and estimated budget
  • Intellectual property status
  • Expertise of proposer in this or related fields


Point of Contact
Jos Cenens
Area of Interest
  • Building & Construction
  • Chemical Manufacturing
  • Materials Processing
  • Medical Products & Services
  • Medical Equipment & Supplies
  • Research Organizations
  • Universities & Colleges
Due Date
March 16, 2018
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