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Well Blueprint TM Drilling Conditions

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SOP Code: DSK
Revision Date: 02/10/97

Depleted Sands/Differential Sticking

Introduction
Many incidents of stuck pipe are caused by differential pressure effects. Excessive differential
pressures across lower-pressure permeable zones can cause the drill string, or casing, to push into
the filter cake and wellbore where it becomes stuck.

Differential Sticking should be properly addressed in the pre-planning stage and proper
preventive measures should be taken to avoid substantial cost penalties. Preventive measures
include pre-treatment to prevent sticking, and a pre-agreed action plan should sticking occur.
Experience has shown that differential sticking can occur with a minimum overbalance and
should always be considered a hazard when drilling permeable formations such as sandstone.

Causes of Differential Sticking


A major cause of differential sticking is excessive overbalance in a permeable zone. The
overbalance may be necessary because of an open hole section containing reactive, pressurized
shales that require a high mud weight to impart stability. This may be further complicated where
wells are deviated, requiring higher mud weights (compared to vertical wells) to stabilize the
shales combined with an increase in equivalent circulating density (ECD) and in most cases a
lower fracture gradient. Differential sticking may result when the specific requirements for
casing design expose sands to excessive overbalance, e.g. deep high temperature - high pressure
(HTHP) wells or development wells where the formation changes from shales to reservoir sands.
A pressure reversal or depleted zones may cause differential sticking. Excessive overbalance can
be a result of poor hole cleaning and/or excessive rates of penetration (ROP) resulting in an
increase of annular mud weight. Other causes include poor quality filter cake, excessive fluid
loss, poor hydraulics and rheology resulting in high ECDs. Bad drilling practices, such as leaving
drill string stationary in a permeable zone and excessive ROPs that lead to high annular mud
weights can lead to differential sticking.

Preventing and Curing Differential Sticking

Bridging Materials
Using a high quality properly sized bridging material will effectively bridge across porous sands
minimizing filtrate and whole mud invasion, filter cake build up, seepage loss, differential
sticking and formation damage.
Bridging material type and optimum concentration should be determined through testing with the
Particle Plugging Apparatus and FANN 90 to determine the combination of products that will
provide the lowest spurt and fluid loss. It is important to bridge and seal pore spaces with the
initial loss of filtrate. This minimizes filtrate loss and filter cake build up.

Dynamic filtration can be evaluated in the laboratory under a variety of conditions. These
include various shear rates, pressures, temperatures and filter medium permeability. The lab
requires details about the size and permeability of sand to be drilled. Ideally, the tests should be
completed far enough in advance so the treatment can be implemented and the active system
tested to confirm the lab results prior to drilling the sands.

Filter Cake Quality

To minimize undergauge hole, the filter cake must be thin and to help in avoiding stuck pipe it
must have some lubricity. In addition, the cake must be erodible as the filtration process is
converted from static back to dynamic. These properties require that the filtration products be
properly sized, deformable, lubricious and shearable. Hydrated solids such as commercial
bentonite and polymers meet these requirements; however drilled solids do not and should be
minimized at all times.

Reducing Overbalance
Mud weights, fluid rheologies and pump rates can be manipulated to reduce any overbalance.
Measures to minimize cuttings in the wellbore and keep the weight in the annulus to a minimum
include pumping and circulating sweeps prior to drilling sands. Seepage losses are an indication
of overbalance in a permeable formation.

Drilling Practices
Good drilling and tripping practices are vital in avoiding differential sticking. It is very important
not to allow the drill pipe to remain motionless for any period of time and to ream any
undergauge sections. Communication between all drilling personnel is very important while
drilling overbalanced in a permeable zone. A drilling jar and spiral drill collars should be
included in the bottom hole assembly.

Materials and Systems

Preventing Differentially Stuck Pipe


BARACARB, acid soluble, pure ground marble (calcium carbonate) is a superior bridging agent
compared to normal limestone. The marble grains resist attrition from shear/dynamic conditions
downhole and are available for bridging against the wellbore instead of breaking into smaller
particles and penetrating the formation, making removal and acidizing more difficult.
BARACARB is available in many grades giving excellent flexibility in particle size distribution.
Extensive research on differential sticking has shown that BARACARB can reduce the force
required to free differentially stuck pipe by 30%, and reduce filter cake thickness by 33%.

BAROFIBRE can also be used to help prevent differential sticking when drilling through
reservoir sections which exhibit low formation pressure. Additions of BAROFIBRE can reduce
the permeability of the formation at the wellbore face, minimizing the cake build up and the
potential for differential sticking. Spotting a pill containing BAROFIBRE prior to coming out to
run casing will aid in the prevention of stuck casing in depleted sands. Some starches such as
IMPERMEX, DEXTRID and FILTER-CHEK have proven very effective at bridging.
STEELSEAL, BXR, BXR-L, BARO-TROL and in non reservoir sections MICATEX may be
used in conjunction with BARACARB and BAROFIBRE for some applications. Cloud point
glycols such as GEM GP and GEM CP have also been used successfully in the field.

STICK-LESS glass beads can be used to reduce the chances of sticking and increase filter cake
lubricity.

Due to their inherent lubricity, oil or synthetic muds are the best choice for drilling significantly
overbalanced through depleted sands, however due to environmental regulations they are not
always acceptable. Whenever the differential pressure is greater than 2000 psi, an invert
emulsion mud should always be considered.

CMO 568 has been proven to be beneficial in increasing filter cake lubricity in oil and synthetic
muds in the North Sea.

Freeing Differentially Stuck Pipe


When differentially stuck pipe cannot be worked or pulled free within the safe allowable tension
limits, there are two techniques that are commonly used to free differentially stuck pipe.
• Reduction of Differential Pressure/U-Tubing
• Spotting Fluids

Reduction of Differential Pressure


The reduction of differential pressure by mud weight reduction or U-Tubing techniques has been
used to free differentially stuck pipe. It can, however, cause further problems and all factors
should be considered before using these techniques. Reducing hydrostatic pressure can cause
certain formations, usually shales, to become unstable. Often this leads to packing off and further
stuck pipe problems. Reduction of hydrostatic pressure can lead to well control problems. For
these reasons many operators will use spotting fluids as their first option to free stuck pipe.

Spotting Fluids
When differential sticking occurs, spotting fluids can be used to free the pipe.
Note: It is critical to have the fluid readily available on the rig and apply it within six hours of
the stuck pipe occurrence. Spotting fluids are designed to penetrate and break up the filter cake.
ENVIRO-SPOT is a good all purpose, oil-based spotting fluid, suitable for use in many different
regions.
DUAL PHASE is a spotting system developed for freeing pipe in water base muds in
environmentally sensitive areas where oil-based spotting fluids cannot be used. It is highly
effective and has a success rate of over 86%.
Mutual solvent pills have been successfully applied in invert emulsion fluids that contain
BARACARB in the North Sea. These pills are built in calcium chloride brine and contain
EGMBE an organic solvent and acetic acid. The solvent removes the oil coating from the
BARACARB, allowing the acetic acid to breakdown the filter cake.