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SPE 38177

Characterization of Conductive Fractures While Drilling


F. Sanfillippo, M. Brignoli and F.J. Santarelli, Agip S.p.A., and C. Bezzola, Geolog s.r.l.

Copyright 1997, Society of Petroleum Engineers, Inc.


1. in the field of drilling, the muds, the lost circulation
This paper was prepared for presentation at the 1997 SPE European Formation Damage materials (LCM) and the cement plugs can be selected
Conference held in The Hague, The Netherlands, 2–3 June 1997.
properly in order to avoid massive circulation losses and to
This paper was selected for presentation by an SPE Program Committee following review of
information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents of the paper, as
minimize the damage due to mud invasion;
presented, have not been reviewed by the Society of Petroleum Engineers and are subject to 2. in the field of production engineering, the completion
correction by the author(s). The material, as presented, does not necessarily reflect any
position of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, its officers, or members. Papers presented at schemes and the stimulation operations can be optimized
SPE meetings are subject to publication review by Editorial Committees of the Society of
Petroleum Engineers. Electronic reproduction, distribution, or storage of any part of this paper
through the knowledge of the most conductive intervals;
for commercial purposes without the written consent of the Society of Petroleum Engineers is 3. in the field of reservoir engineering, a better modeling can
prohibited. Permission to reproduce in print is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300
words; illustrations may not be copied. The abstract must contain conspicuous be performed and a better exploitation of the naturally
acknowledgment of where and by whom the paper was presented. Write Librarian, SPE, P.O.
Box 833836, Richardson, TX 75083-3836, U.S.A., fax 01-972-952-9435.
fractured reservoirs can be achieved.

Introduction
Abstract
Detecting mud gains and losses is a standard practice during
When dealing with naturally fractured formations, the
drilling, as it provides the quickest warning sign of dangers
knowledge of the location and the permeability of the
due either to kicks or to massive circulation losses. Moreover,
fractures intersecting the wellbore has a strong technical and
when drilling naturally fractured reservoirs, mud loss data
economical impact upon drilling, production and reservoir
provide one of the most effective means to assess the
management strategies.
existence of conductive fractures intercepting the wellbore
This paper presents a methodology which allows to
and therefore to identify potentially producing intervals1.
perform a real time characterization of the conductive
The most used technique is monitoring the level of the
fractures intercepted by the bit while drilling. Such fractures
mud tanks with floating sensors or acoustic reflectors and
are detected by monitoring continuously the mud losses at the
measuring the cumulative volume of mud lost over a period of
rig-site using flow-meters measuring both the ingoing and the
time. In terms of formation characterization, the analysis of
outgoing mud flow. The accuracy of such measurements is
such measurements is generally restricted to the detection of
very high (mud losses as small as 20 liters can be monitored),
the presence of natural conductive fractures within a certain
and therefore also the smallest conductive fractures can be
interval and to the qualitative estimation of their conductivity
pinpointed.
on the basis of the cumulative volume of mud lost. However,
A simple analytical model describing the mud invasion
they are not accurate enough to be inverted in order to
into a single fracture is used to invert the mud loss data in
characterize the hydraulic properties of the fractures causing
order to estimate the aperture and permeability of each
the losses, in fact:
fracture. This model has been validated with core
• these measurements cannot discriminate the contribution
measurements, and it is used in real time to perform a quick
of each single fracture;
but sufficiently precise analysis.
The application of this technique to several field cases is • they measure the cumulative volume lost within a certain
also illustrated and discussed in terms of: interval, which depends not only on the conductivity of
the intercepted fractures, but also on other factors, such
1. interpretation of the process of fracture plugging; as the rheological properties of the mud, the fracture
2. real time evaluation of the hydraulic aperture of the density, the overbalance pressure, the plugging capacity
conductive fractures; of the mud, etc.;
3. generation of a “secondary permeability log”. • in the very best situations their accuracy is about 0.5
bbls, and smaller losses (and, consequently, smaller
Moreover some operative implications are discussed, such fractures) cannot be detected.
as: A better accuracy and a quicker response in detecting
kicks and losses can be achieved by monitoring the changes of
the mud flow rate by using flow meters measuring the inflow
2 F. SANFILIPPO, M. BRIGNOLI, F.J. SANTARELLI, C.BEZZOLA SPE 38177

and the outflow mud rate, respectively2. components of electromagnetic flowmeters available on the
Actually, the most accurate devices on the market are market were modified in order to perform high frequency
electromagnetic flowmeters. Their measuring principle is measurements (up to 100 Hz), which are less affected by
based on the Faraday’s law, that is the measure of the eventual anomalies of the flow.
magnetic field created by an electrically conductive fluid in Preliminary tests performed by the Mud Logging
movement. For this reason, when installed on drilling rigs, Company showed that the flowmeters used on rig are able to
they can work only when water-based muds are used, as the measure the mud rate with an accuracy of ±12 litres/min at the
small percentage of water contained in the oil-based muds best operating conditions, that is when only water-based fluids
provides a too low signal for the devices currently available. flow inside the measuring chamber. However, their accuracy
Such sensors have been installed while drilling in several is lowered by the presence of gas bubbles or solids, because
Agip wells where naturally fractured formations were they can alter the flow pattern inside the sensors.
expected. This paper presents the methodology developed to During drilling it was observed that flowmeters measuring
interpret such flow rate measurements in order to perform a the inlet mud flow rate always provided a stable signal. In
more precise characterization of the naturally fractured fact, air bubbles (if any) are very small because of the pressure
formations around the wellbore. The results, obtained during applied by the pumps and suspended solids are prevented to
the first two field applications of the technique, will be settle down and to be blocked inside the sensors, because they
presented. It was possible to demonstrate that the new can be easily installed in the standpipe in vertical position.
methodology was able to provide: Sensors measuring the outlet mud flow rate have generally
• an accurate localization of the conductive fractures a higher background noise. This is due to two factors: (1) the
intercepting the wellbore wall; poorer quality of the mud, which can dirt the electrodes and
• an estimate of the hydraulic aperture (and, consequently lower the intensity of the measured signal; and (2) the
also of the permeability) of each fracture; presence of drill cuttings, which can settle down inside the
• a qualitative description of the process of plugging of the sensors, as it was unavoidable to install them in horizontal
natural fractures by the mud filtrate. position just before the shakers, due to the rig normal
configuration (fig. 1).
Real-time mud losses monitoring This has two consequences: to lower the accuracy of the
Description of the studied formations. Two electromagnetic second sensor (up to a worst accuracy of circa ±50 litres/min)
flowmeters, measuring the inlet (Qin) and the outlet (Qout) mud and to affect the measurements of the absolute value of the
flow rates have been installed during the exploration and outflow rate by slowly drifting the signal. The sensor
appraisal phase of several Agip fields in the same measures an apparent higher rate if settled solids are present
geographical zone in order to quickly detect kicks and losses. or, more often, an apparent lower rate if the electrodes have
Oil-bearing formations are tight and naturally fractured been dirted. For these reasons the two sensors can measure
limestones all along the pay zones. Because primary porosity apparently different flow rates even in absence of mud losses
and permeability can be considered as negligible, the and, when analyzing their data, a manual recalibration has to
detection and the characterization of the most conductive be performed.
intervals is compulsory in order to optimize the exploitation of Flow data were recorded during drilling with an average
such fields. Furthermore, because of the presence of numerous sampling rate of one measurement every 5 seconds. All the
faults due to the high tectonic activity in this area, reservoir other drilling parameters (bottom hole depth, bit position,
modeling is very difficult and such analysis must be hook load, rotary speed, torque, weigth-on-bit, standpipe
performed on a well-by-well basis. pressure, etc.) were recorded with the same frequency and
Mud losses data appear to be the only way to detect and their analysis allowed to reconstruct precisely every event
characterize the conductive fractures in these reservoirs. In sequence. Moreover, it was possible to transmit these data in
fact, the cores show that almost all the natural fractures are real time to central offices in Milan via a network connection
cemented and only a few partially open fractures can be seen. with the rig-site.
When coring operations are not fully successful, it is difficult
to assess if poor recovery was due to the presence of open Individuation of conductive fractures around the wellbore.
fractures or to other causes. The discovering of open natural fractures produces a sudden
Furthermore, it is impossible to use image logs in order to decrease of the outlet mud flow rate (fig. 2), and each event
individuate potentially producing intervals, as they cannot can be identified by plotting the mud flow rate difference vs.
discriminate between open and closed fractures. Comparisons time or vs. the bottom hole depth.
between the cumulative volume of mud lost within a certain Apparent losses due, e.g., to a temporary blockage of the
interval and the fracture density computed from image logs annulus by drill cuttings, short trips, etc., can be also
were attempted, but no significative results were obtained. identified by analizing the other recorded drilling parameters.
Furthermore, losses caused by hydraulically induced
Field evaluation of the sensors’ accuracy. The electronic fractures - e.g. because of a packed annulus - can be
SPE 38177 CHARACTERIZATION OF CONDUCTIVE FRACTURES WHILE DRILLING 3

individuated by performing a double check: • the squeezing of the mud is a process having a radial
• by computing the bottom hole pressure and verifying if it symmetry; in case of an inclined fracture an equivalent
was or not around the estimated fracturing pressure; geometry was considered;
• by verifying if the value of the standpipe pressure • matrix conductivity is negligible with respect to fracture
decreased or not while the loss was occurring. conductivity;
Because of the adopted high sampling frequency, each • the effects of the plugging of the fracture by the mud
single loss, caused by the discovering of natural conductive filtrate can be considered as negligible in the first stages
fractures, can be identified and pinpointed. Furthermore, of the loss;
because of the high accuracy of the flowmeters used, losses as • the fluid is Newtonian;
small as 20 liters could be detected. Each event was associated • the flux is laminar;
with a single conductive fracture. In the cases which have • the Poiseuille law is valid; therefore the hydraulic
been analyzed, this is a reasonable assumption because the aperture of the fracture is linked with its permeability via
instantaneous ROP is low, and therefore the position of the bit the following equation:
can be measured with a precision of a few millimeters. There
were only a few cases of two or more merging signals due to h2
the presence of closely spaced fractures. k= .......................................................................(1)
12
Characterization of conductive fractures The output of the model is the hydraulic aperture of the
Description of the model estimating the aperture of the fracture. Its detailed description is given in appendix A.
fractures. The hydraulic aperture of the natural fractures,
which caused the circulation losses, has been estimated by Field applications of the technique.
developing a model which describes the process of mud Real-time estimations of the hydraulic aperture of the
squeezing into each fracture, after its discovering by the conductive fractures intercepted by the wellbore are currently
drilling bit. performed during drilling the reservoir section of each well of
This problem has been tackled renouncing to make a interest.
description which takes into consideration all the governing The values of the input parameters are choosen according
factors. Instead, it was decided to develop a model based on to the following criteria:
simple assumptions, thus allowing to solve its equations • mud flow rate into the fracture is:
analytically or with simple numerical techniques. This
decision was dictated by several considerations, such as: Qloss = Qin - Qout..........................................................(2)
• the real physical process is extremely complex and not
known in all the details: it deals with a non-Newtonian • bottom hole pressure is computed as the algebraic sum of
fluid squeezed into a system having an irregular and non- the hydrostatic mud column, the standpipe pressure and
symmetric geometry; the friction losses within the drillstring;
• most parameters necessary for a complete modelling are • fracture pressure is provided by RFT’s performed on
not measured or available with the required precision; adjacent wells or calculated;
• the scope of this work is to develop a versatile and quick • viscosity is given by the value of the plastic viscosity,
tool in order to be able to perform the analysis of measured several times per day on the rig according to
characterization of the fractures within times consistent API standards;
with the operative requirements, in particular from a • mud compressibility is assumed to be the same of water;
drilling perspective.
• having assumed the rock matrix as impermeable, the
Therefore, the results obtained are affected by these
value of porosity is put equal to unity;
intrinsic simplifications and they have significance only in
• the inclination of the fractures with respect to the
relative terms. As it will described below, it was possible to
wellbore axis is provided by core observations or, later,
perform a calibration in only one case, where a circulation
by image logs.
loss occurred during a coring operation.
Only the ascending part of the curve Qloss vs. time (that is
The simplifying assumptions can be summarized as
the part not yet influenced by the mechanisms of plugging) is
follows:
used as input into the model.
• every circulation loss has been associated with the
The hydraulic aperture of all the conductive natural
discovering of a single conductive fracture by the
fractures around two wells, A and B, has been estimated as
drilling bit;
first two field applications of this technique. Tables 1 and 2
• the fracture is plane and of uniform aperture; therefore it and fig. 3a and 4a summarize the results of such analysis in
forms on the internal wellbore wall a circular profile (if it the two wells. It should be noted that, except in a few cases,
is perpendicular with respect to the well axis) or an conductive fractures were identified by measuring very small
elliptical one (if it is inclined);
4 F. SANFILIPPO, M. BRIGNOLI, F.J. SANTARELLI, C.BEZZOLA SPE 38177

losses, not detectable with any other technique. Furthermore, • the plugging started almost immediately, because the
it is evident from fig. 4a that a faulty zone was reached during radius of invasion increased rapidly and therefore the
drilling of well B and it must be mentionned that the last event particles started to be blocked very soon;
recorded is the only case experienced of a total circulation • the mud loss rate decreased despite the fact that the bit
loss. In this case the estimated value of the aperture (0.8mm) moved forward, thus increasing the section of flow at the
is only an approximation by defect. wellbore wall. This is because the plugged zone was far
These estimations have been validated in the case of well away in the fracture and therefore it was not removed by
A, where two close losses were measured during a coring the action of the bit;
operation while the bit was moved circa 4cm forward. While • the first stages of the plugging are governed by the laws
the corresponding fractures were estimated to have an of static filtration, that is the cumulative volume of mud
hydraulic aperture of 0.32mm and 0.35mm respectively, on lost in the fracture was proportional to the square root of
the core a 4cm thick band of parallel, partially cemented time (fig. 6):
fractures, whose mechanical aperture was comprised between
0.2mm and 0.8mm, have been seen.
Vcum ( t ) = V0 + C t ...................................................(3)
Then, using the estimated value of the hydraulic aperture
of each fracture, the fracture permeability can be estimated
This confirms that in the plugged zone the moving fluid
through the Poiseuille’s law. Fig. 3b and 4b show the derived
could not erode away the blocked particles.
“secondary permeability logs” for both cases, where the
Moreover it could be observed that the coefficient of
average permeability per meter is plotted. These values are in
proportionality C depends on the differential pressure
agreement with the estimated permeability of the producing
between the wellbore and the interior of the fracture
intervals in the reservoir models as obtained from well testing
(Table 4), as it happens typically in the process of static
and early production data.
filtration.
Interpretation of the process of fracture plugging • The plugging process was very effective in the first
Data, concerning a massive circulation loss occurred during stages, but the loss was stopped very late. In fact, the
drilling of well A, have been used to analize the mechanism of solid particles could be easily blocked in the asperities
plugging of the natural open fractures by the invading mud. within the fracture, and therefore they reduced its
The main observations are summarized in Table 3 and in fig. aperture in the initial stages of the loss. However, being
5. This loss occurred into a single natural fracture, which, the solids 12 times smaller than the hydraulic aperture of
according to the image logs interpretation, has an inclination the fracture (and probably, even less in comparison with
with respect to the wellbore axis of about 70° and an the mechanical aperture), they were not coarse enough to
estimated hydraulic aperture of 0.62mm. block the biggest channels.
According to the drilling daily reports, no specific According to this interpretation, it should be concluded
plugging solids were used and therefore only standard that the granulometric distribution of the suspended solids in
weighting solids, having an average diameter of circa 50 the mud is the most important factor which determines the
microns, were suspended in the mud. The total amount of ability of controlling losses into natural fractures. Therefore in
fluid which entered into the fracture was between 14 and 18m3 order to prevent drilling problems and an unrecovable damage
and the loss was stopped only the day after. It is difficult to be of the most conductive fractures due to large volumes of
more precise because, at the end, the loss was monitored in squeezed mud, it should be recommended to use coarser
static conditions, and therefore the flowmeters were not particles than standard weighting materials while drilling
working anymore. fractured formations, thus allowing the solids to be blocked
The analysis of these data led to define an important within the fracture as near as possible from the wellbore.
feature of the mechanism of plugging natural fractures: that is However, as already pointed out by Lietard et al.3, the
the plugging occurs several meters away from the wellbore. process of fracture plugging can be interpreted also as an
In fact this loss reached its peak value of 1270 effect of the rheological properties of the mud, which
liters/minute after 20 seconds and then the mechanism of increases its viscosity when its velocity inside the natural
plugging began to be effective. At the end of this period of channels is reduced.
time circa 300 liters of mud were lost into the fracture: Both mechanisms explain qualitatively the field
assuming no leak-off through the fracture walls, the radius of measurements and in the authors’ opinion only by analyzing
invasion can be estimated to be circa 10m. At this distance the more field data about massive losses into natural fractures and
velocity of the mud was around 15cm/sec, that is low enough of the remedial operations done in order to cope with them it
to allow the suspended solid particles to be blocked within the could be possible to discriminate which mechanism is more
asperities in the interior of the fracture, while near the effective.
wellbore they were much more likely to be eroded away.
Having in mind this mechanism, four observations can be Conclusions
made: This paper showed that high accuracy flowmeters provide an
SPE 38177 CHARACTERIZATION OF CONDUCTIVE FRACTURES WHILE DRILLING 5

effective mean to characterize naturally fractured reservoirs. Conference, Cannes, France, 16-18 Nov. 1992.
From an economical point of view, such analysis has a 2. Shafer, D.M., Loeppke, G.E., Glowka, D.A., Scott, D.D.: “An
strong impact; due to the fact that: Evaluation of Flowmeters for the Detection of Kicks and Lost
Circulation During Drilling”, paper IADC/SPE 23935, presented
• the productivity impairment of natural fractures due to
at the IADC/SPE Drilling Conference, New Orleans, USA, 18-
the mud invasion can be prevented or reduced; 21 Feb. 1992.
• mud volumes lost during drilling can be reduced; 3. Lietard, O., Unwin, T., Guillot, D., Hodder, M.: “Fracture Width
• the completion strategy can be optimized; LWD and Drilling Mud / LCM Selection Guidelines in
• a more precise reservoir modeling can be performed, Naturally Fractured Reservoirs”, paper SPE 36832, presented at
thus allowing a better field management. the European Petroleum Conference 1996, Milan, Italy, 22-24
For these reasons the installation of the electromagnetic Oct. 1996.
4. Craft, B.C. and Hawkins, M.: Applied Petroleum Reservoir
flowmeters has became a standard for every Agip well in
Engineering, Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 212.
naturally fractured formations.

Nomenclature
Appendix A - Analytical model for the estimation of
the the hydraulic aperture of the natural fractures.
a= mayor semiaxis
b= minor semiaxis
Introduction. The process of squeezing the mud within a
c= coefficient defined in eq. A-14
single fracture has been described through the diffusion
ct= total compressibility
equation in radial coordinates as follows:
D= distance between the extreme points of the
elliptical profile already discovered
h= fracture aperture ∂2 p 1 ∂p µφ ct ∂p
+ = ..............................................(A-1)
k= permeability ∂ r 2 r ∂r k ∂t
l= length of the arc of ellipse already discovered
p= pressure A fracture inclined with respect to the wellbore axis
Qin= inlet mud flow rate describes an elliptic profile on the internal wall. Therefore, in
Qloss= mud loss flow rate (= Qin-Qout) order to use the above equation, an equivalent geometry was
Qout= outlet mud flow rate assumed by considering a system composed by a wellbore
r= radial coordinate intercepted by a perpendicular fracture (thus describing a
Rw= wellbore radius circle on the internal wall). The equivalent radius of the
req= equivalent radius wellbore is such that the length of the profile of the fracture is
t= time the same in the two systems.
tD= adimensional time
VD= adimensional volume Computation of the equivalent radius. The equation of the
xb= abscissa described in eq. A-4 ellipse described by an inclined fracture can be written in the
α= term defined in eq. A-17 standard canonical form:
β= term defined in eq. A-18 x2 y
2
+ 2 = 1 ...............................................................(A-2)
γ= wellbore inclination a 2
b
∆P= pressure difference
ε= eccentricity where the semiaxes a and b are function of the inclination
µ= mud viscosity angle γ and the wellbore radius Rw:
ξ= angle defined in eq. A-4
φ= porosity Rw
a=
cos γ ..................................................................(A-3)
Acknowledgements
b = Rw
The authors would like to thank Agip S.p.A. for permission to
publish this paper. Geolog s.r.l. engineers are particularly
acknowledged for the work done in order to modify and test The position of the bit when it has partially discovered the
the electromagnetic flowmeters, and for the acquisition of the fracture can be described by the abscissa xb and the angle ξ
field data. (see fig. 7):

References ξ = a 2 − x2b .............................................................(A-4)


1. Dyke, C.G., Wu, B., Milton-Taylor, D.: “Advances in
Characterizing Natural Fracture Permeability From Mud Log
Data”, paper SPE 25022 presented at the European Petroleum The length l of the arc of ellipse already discovered is
6 F. SANFILIPPO, M. BRIGNOLI, F.J. SANTARELLI, C.BEZZOLA SPE 38177

therefore:
h2 t
  π  tD = .......................................................(A-13)
12φµ ct r 2eq
l = 2a  E ε;  − E( ε; ξ)  ..........................................(A-5)
  2  
The tabulated values have been interpolated with the
where E(ε;θ) is the elliptic integral of second kind: following analytical function (obtained correlation coefficient:
r2 = 0.99):
θ
E( ε; θ) = ∫ 1 − ε2 sin2 ϕ dϕ .........................................(A-6) tD
0 VD = c ............................................................(A-14)
ln t D
withε being the eccentricity of the ellipse.
The length of the profile described by the fracture below with c = 2.01.
the bit depends on the shape of the bit itself. In the cases And finally, the following equation was obtained:
considered in this paper it was assumed to be equal to the
distance D between the extreme points of the already h2 t
discovered arc of ellipse: 12φµ c t r 2eq Vcum
a − = 0 .....................(A-15)
 h2 t  2 πφ ct r 2eq h∆P
x2b ln 
D = 2b 1 − .........................................................(A-7)  12φµ ct r 2eq 
a2

The total length of the profile of the fracture already which can be reduced in terms of the aperture of the
discovered is l + D. So, in order to compute the equivalent fracture as below:
radius of the wellbore, it must be:
h2 β
aα − = 0 .................................................(A-16)
2πreq = l + D ............................................................(A-8) ln(α h2 ) h

and therefore: where:

l+D t
req = ................................................................(A-9) α= ........................................................(A-17)
2π 12φµ ct r 2eq
Vcum
Particular solution of the diffusivity equation. The β= .....................................................(A-18)
2 πφ ct r 2eq ∆P
diffusivity equation was solved by considering the solution in
the case of transitory flux and by applying a constant pressure
difference as boundary condition. In this case the solution For every measurement of circulation loss, the root of eq.
cannot be given analytically and it can be found in literature4 A-16 was computed through a numerical iteration using the
in tabulated form in terms of adimensional time (tD) and Newton-Raphson formula.
adimensional volume of fluid entered (VD):

kt
tD = ...........................................................(A-10)
φµ ct r 2eq
Vcum
VD = .................................................(A-11)
2 πφ ct r 2eq h∆P

The fracture permeability was considered as a function of


its aperture according to the Poiseuille law:

h2
k= ...................................................................(A-12)
12

and therefore the adimensional time can be rewritten as


below:
TABLE 1 - WELL A: LIST OF MUD LOSSES TABLE 2 - WELL B: LIST OF MUD
AND ESTIMATION OF THE HYDRAULIC LOSSES AND ESTIMATION OF THE
APERTURE OF THE CORRESPONDING HYDRAULIC APERTURE OF THE
FRACTURES CORRESPONDING FRACTURES
Depth (m) Total mud lost Aperture of the fracture Depth (m) Total mud lost Aperture of the
3 3
(m ) (mm) (m ) fracture (mm)
3621.4 18 0.62 2896.1 0.03 0.29
3892.8 0.018 0.32 2930.6 0.04 0.34
3892.85 0.042 0.35 2934.6 0.15 0.29
3979.8 0.4 0.28 3027.3 0.55 0.34
3981.1 0.4 0.32 3028.3 0.27 0.29
4009.7 0.02 0.22 3028.6 0.28 0.31
4009.9 0.028 0.22 3029.2 0.42 0.30
4010.1 0.018 0.21 3032.1 0.13 0.37
4029.9 0.022 0.21 3032.3 0.03 0.30
4048.75 0.038 0.21 3032.5 0.24 0.72
4049.3 0.06 0.21 3032.6 0.09 0.46
4065.3 0.029 0.25 3032.9 0.09 0.44
4096.8 0.038 0.19 3033.1 0.21 0.38
4097.8 0.05 0.20 3033.8 0.42 0.48
4098.6 0.053 0.19 3034.1 0.44 0.55
4098.7 0.03 0.18 3034.8 0.10 0.36
4098.9 0.031 0.18 3035.5 0.26 0.43
4101.7 0.022 0.21 3035.7 0.18 0.44
4101.8 0.019 0.17 3036.1 0.48 0.45
4102.3 0.035 0.20 3036.4 0.18 0.37
4102.4 0.025 0.23 3036.5 0.37 0.37
4103.8 0.055 0.22 3037.9 0.07 0.33
4104.2 0.057 0.23 3038.8 1.33 0.50
3039.2 0.30 0.42
3039.3 0.04 0.35
3039.7 1.56 0.49
3040.1 0.08 0.36
3041.0 0.33 0.40
3044.3 1.13 0.46
3045.8 total circ. loss >0.80

TABLE 3 - SUMMARY OF THE EVENTS OCCURRED DURING THE MASSIVE MUD LOSS IN WELL A
EVENT # BOTTOM STANDPIPE MUD RATE IN MUD LOSS RATE
TIME HOLE DEPTH PRESSURE (L/min) (L/min) NOTES
(m) (Kg/cm2)
Sudden loss increasing within 20
1 8:23 3621.44 92 1700 0 - 1270 seconds, then progressive decline.
2 8:25 3621.57 92 to 0 1700 to 0 200 (while Short trip and static survey.
circulating)
3 8:31 3621.57 28 860 180 End of static survey and beginning of
dynamic survey.
4 8:48 3621.57 50 750 120 Attempt of drilling, mud loss slightly
increases.
5 8:53 3621.73 28 860 100 Stop drilling, then dynamic survey.
Dynamic survey goes on. Since this
6 9:27 3621.73 28 860 90 time the flowmeters were re-
calibrated, and therefore their
measurements cannot be used from
now on.
7 10:00 3621.73 0 0 ? Beginning of the static survey.
8 F. SANFILIPPO, M. BRIGNOLI, F.J. SANTARELLI, C.BEZZOLA SPE 38177

TABLE 4 - DECREASE OF COEFFICIENT C (eq. 3) WITH


DECREASING DIFFERENTIAL PRESSURE DURING THE MASSIVE
MUD LOSS OCCURRED IN WELL A (see also figure 6).
3 -1/2
Time Standpipe pressure Estimated differential Coefficient C (m /s )
2 2
(kg/cm ) pressure (kg/cm )
8:23 - 8:25 92 103 180
(events 1 - 2)
8:53 - 9:27 28 39 161
(events 3 -6)

Figure 1: Installation of the flowmeter measuring the outlet mud flow rate.

900
Qin
800

700
Mud flow rates (L/min)

600

500

400
Qout

300

200

100

0
0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 7000
Time (sec)
Figure 2: Example of detection of mud losses using the electromagnetic flowmeters.
SPE 38177 CHARACTERIZATION OF CONDUCTIVE FRACTURES WHILE DRILLING 9

Hydraulic Aperture (mm) Average Permeability (D/m)


0 0.5 0 10 20
3600 3600

3700 3700

3800 3800

Depth (m)

Depth (m)
3900 3900

4000 4000

a 4100 b 4100

Figures 3a and 3b: Well A: localization of all conductive fractures and estimation
of their hydraulic aperture and permeability.

Hydraulic Aperture (mm) Average permeability (D/m)


0 0.5 1 0 20 40 60
2890 2890

2910 2910

2930 2930

2950 2950
Depth (m)
Depth (m)

2970 2970

2990 2990

3010 3010

3030 3030
a b
3050 3050

Figures 4a and 4b: Well B: localization of all conductive fractures and estimation
of their hydraulic aperture and permeability.

1400

1200

1000
Qloss (L/min)

800

600 2

400
3
4 5
200 6
1 7

0
0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 7000
Time (s)

Figure 5: Massive loss occurred in well A (numbered events are described in Table 3).
10 F. SANFILIPPO, M. BRIGNOLI, F.J. SANTARELLI, C.BEZZOLA SPE 38177

12000

6
10000

Cumulative Lost Volume (L)


8000
5
4
6000

3
4000 2

2000
1
0
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80
time (s1/2)

Figure 6: Linear trend between the cumulative mud lost volume and the square root of
time observed during the massive loss occurred in well A. It can be explained with a
mechanism of static filtration (numbered events are described in Table 3).

Moving bit

P
ξ

D 2b

P’

PP’ = l
xb PP’ = D
2a
Figure 7: Parameters used to describe the geometry of the profile of a fracture intercepted by the bit.