You don’t have to have decades of experience in the oil industry to understand that a loss in circulation can be one of the most catastrophic problems to hinder a project. In some cases it might just result in a minor loss of drilling fluid, but it also hasn’t been unheard of to cause fatalities. As such, this is something that is always taken seriously – and professionals are paid huge sums of money to ensure that the correct measures are taken.
Admittedly, you’re not immediately going to become one of the said professionals after deciphering this article. However, we’re now going to take a look at just some of the considerations that need to be taken into account when a loss of circulation occurs. These are the steps that the professionals cipher through when disaster strikes, which allows them to acquire an appropriate loss circulation material to resolve the issue.
What type of drilling fluid is being used?
This is probably one of the easiest factors to consider, as it all relates to compatibility. Certain types of drilling fluid just won’t be able to be used with additives and this immediately discounts them.
How deep is the well?
This is also an important consideration, with the depth of the well affecting the general geological stability of the area. It goes without saying that the deeper wells have to be treated with much more caution, and an over-zealous approach to the product and treatment selection can cause horrendous consequences to the structure of the surrounding area.
What is the size of the hole where the loss circulation material is required?
Some additives are of a much different concentration than others, and this means that the size of the hole that is being drilled is important as well. Some products will be able to “plug” the losses, and at this point we should mention that these are comprised of a whole host of materials including sawdust and even broken golf balls. However, others will just look to increase the viscosity and for larger holes, it goes without saying that this approach is usually preferred as it’s much harder to seal them.
What size is the drill piece?
Similarly, the concentration of the additive will be taken into consideration when it is compared against the drill piece. Some additives are just too thick, or bulky in the case of the broken golf ball example again, to be processed through certain drill nozzles. As such, more viscous solutions are required which pass through more comfortably.
How close is the production zone?
Finally, if the loss of circulation has occurred near a production zone, a “plugging” additive is hardly going to be the answer to the problem. This will prove to be counter-productive, and make the whole oil extraction process considerably less efficient. Less oil will be extracted as parts of the area will have been plugged, meaning that again an additive that is more viscous will need to be chosen to deal with the problem.