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OTC- 24830-MS

Ultra-HPHT Drilling Fluid Design for Frontier Deep Gas Exploration in South
Malay Basin
Anuradee Witthayapanyanon, Baker Hughes, Kathi Chandramouleeswaran, Baker Hughes, Ahmad Bin Dollah,
Baker Hughes, Dennis Clapper, Baker Hughes, Ronald Bland, Baker Hughes, Akachai Kongsawast, Baker
Hughes, Michael Pepple, PETRONAS Carigali Sdn Bhd, Khairul Anwar Nasrudin, PETRONAS Carigali Sdn Bhd,
and M Abshar, PETRONAS Carigali Sdn Bhd

Copyright 2014, Offshore Technology Conference

This paper was prepared for presentation at the Offshore Technology Conference Asia held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 25–28 March 2014.

This paper was selected for presentation by an OTC program committee following review of information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents of the paper have not been
reviewed by the Offshore Technology Conference and are subject to correction by the author(s). The material does not necessarily reflect any position of the Offshore Technology Conference, its
officers, or members. Electronic reproduction, distribution, or storage of any part of this paper without the written consent of the Offshore Technology Conference is 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 acknowledgment of OTC copyright.

Global energy demand has driven the oil and gas industry to search for hydrocarbons in increasingly challenging
reservoirs including high pressure and temperature (HPHT) reservoirs found in the South Malay Basin of Malaysia.
Competent well designs and enabling HPHT technologies such as advanced drilling fluid designs that are stable at HPHT
conditions are critical to drill and complete these wells successfully.
This paper discusses the laboratory evaluation of potential HPHT drilling fluid designs that were considered for a deep
gas exploration well in one of recent gas field development in Malaysia. The well is located in the South Malay basin of
Malaysia, expected to reach 455o F (235o C) and 13,683 psi. Laboratory testing included evaluation of rheological properties,
fluid loss, sag, electrical stability and chemical analysis. Properties were measured before and after extended dynamic and
static aging, up to the expected bottomhole temperature and pressure. Results were compared to desired properties to identify
strengths and weaknesses of the fluid design. The formulations were adjusted as needed and re-tested until acceptable results
were achieved. The highest-performing drilling fluid formulations were also evaluated in state-of-the-art hydraulic
simulation software to ensure optimum downhole pore pressure control, wellbore stability, hole cleaning and rate of
penetration (ROP). As a result, suitable drilling fluid formulations for the ultra-HPHT gas well were successfully formulated
with a maximum density of 18 ppg and thermal stability of 455o F. The selected drilling mud design was stable and
maintained desirable rheological properties including shear strength less than 200 lb/100 ft 2 at static BHT for 16 and 48

Hydrocarbon production from conventional and shallow reservoirs no longer meets the growing demand for energy.
Continued growth in hydrocarbon consumption is driving the oil and gas industry to explore unconventional reservoirs
including high-pressure, high-temperature (HPHT) fields. The industry defines an HPHT operation as those where pressure
and temperature exceed 10,000 psi and 300o F (149o C), respectively. Recently, Amani et al. [1] further expanded classified
HPHT operations into three tiers.
 Tier I: HPHT - 10,000 to 20,000 psi reservoir pressures and /or temperature of 300 to 400 o F
 Tier II: Ultra-HPHT - 20,000 to 30,000 psi reservoir pressures and /or temperature of 400 to 500 o F
 Tier III: Extreme HPHT – 30,000 to 40, 000 psi and/or temperature of 500 to 600 o F
These wells are usually deep and drilled with an extremely slow rate of penetration (ROP) that increases drilling time of
HPHT wells by an average of about 30% [1]. The prolonged exposure of the drilling fluid to the high temperatures makes
thermal stability a critical requirement of HPHT drilling fluids. The success of HPHT exploration depends on the well
programs prepared by properly trained, experienced personnel. Well programs take into account formation and fracture
pressure evaluation, bit selection, casing design, drilling fluid formulation and completion design.
Drilling fluid is one of the critical components required for safe drilling in HPHT exploration. High subsurface pressures
are controlled by the elevated density of the drilling fluid achieved with high concentrations of weighting agents. However,
high-density muds often possess high rheological properties, as a result, exhibiting high equivalent circulating densities
(ECDs), lost circulation and low ROP [1 - 3]. Formulating thermally stable fluid for extremly high temperatures is a
challenging task because conventional oil-based mud additives thermally degrade at approximately 400 o F [4], requiring more
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advanced fit-for-purpose additives for suitable formulations able to survive the high temperatures. Lastly, maintaining
constant fluid density in extreme borehole conditions is essential for well control. Monitoring and mitigating the barite sag of
HPHT fluid is frequently part of HPHT drilling fluid design evaluations.

Well background and drilling objectives

The well was one of the first ultra-HPHT exploratory wells planned for the South Malay Basin. It was planned to drill
from a 15K jack-up rig located offshore from the Malaysia peninsula with a water depth of 251 ft (76.5 m). The well was
planned as a vertical hole with a projected total depth of 14,370 feet TVD (4,380 meters). It was expected that the well could
reach pressures of 13,683 psi and a bottomhole temperature (BHT) of 455° F (235 oC). According to the published
classification scheme [1], this well was considered an ultra-HPHT well. The operational goal was to test, permanently plug
and abandon after obtaining necessary information on drilling performance, cost, and target HS&E goals.
The objectives of the drilling fluid design for this well were:
 No Non-Productive Time (NPT) associated with drilling mud
 Stable drilling fluid with low shear strength at static bottom hole temperature (SBHT) for 16 and 48 hours
 Stable rheological properties on Fann 75 at SBHT
 No excessive equivalent circulating density (ECD) associated with drilling fluid at bottomhole circulating
 Controlled HPHT fluid loss as per program and wellbore conditions
 Controlled salinity (Aw) of water phase to balance formation

This paper discusses the laboratory evaluation of a HPHT drilling fluid designed for a deep gas, ultra-HPHT well in the
South Malay basin of Malaysia. The objective was to select a high-density, thermally stable HPHT fluid formulation with
low rheological properties (low Plastic Viscosity, low ECD and ESD (equivalent static density)) and minimal barite

Drilling Fluid Design for Ultra-HPHT Deep Gas Well

The surface and upperr hole section drilling fluid plan for this well mainly consisted of high-viscosity sweeps saltwater
gel and Potassium Chloride (KCl ) water-based drill mud (WBM). The invert emulsion drilling muds were used in the lower
sections of the well. This paper focuses on the design and laboratory evaluation of the invert emulsion drilling fluid design.

Selection of base oil

Temperature and pressure negatively affect the rheological property of fluid, so the type of base oil used in mud
formulations can be a key contributor for obtaining desirable rheological results downhole in ultra-HPHT wells. In this
paper, various types of base oils were evaluated with a final selection based primarily on physical and thermal properties,
although operational, logistic and economic issues were also considered. Table 1 shows physical properties and aromatic
content of base oils commonly used in extreme HPHT environments. The synthetic paraffin is noteworthy because of the
relatively low density and kinematic viscosity. Furthermore, it has no aromatic content and a high flash point. The low
density and viscosity of the synthetic paraffin were desirable because it could provide minimum plastic viscosity (PV) in the
final mud formulation, resulting in low equivalent circulation density (ECD) and equivalent static density (ESD).
Furthermore, the oil was locally available in Malaysia and has established proven performance as an HPHT drilling fluid in
this area.

Table 1. Comparison of base oil properties

Properties Diesel C16-C18 Low toxicity Low toxicity Synthetic
Iso-olefin mineral oil 1 mineral oil 2 paraffin
Density @ 60° F 0.840 0.792 0.814 0.790 0.790
Viscosity @ 104° F, cst 3.4 < 3.6 3.5 1.6 2.8
Aromatic content, %v/v 25 0 0 < 0.5 0
Flash point (Method) 149° F 311° F > 239° F 169° F 248° F

Evaluation of drilling fluid design

Table 2 summarizes target fluid properties by interval for the well. Based on the temperature gradient variation between
intervals, two synthetic-based muds (SBM) were proposed for the intermediate and final hole sections to minimize cost. The
same synthetic paraffin base oil was utilized for both SBM systems, thereby enabling a smooth transition from one to another
without a requirement for a full displacement.
Multiple mud formulations were formulated and evaluated in a series of tests to ensure thermal stability and desirable
fluid properties. The evaluation process began with testing fluid properties before and after 16 hours of dynamic aging at
BHT and after extended 48 hours of static aging. Fluids were then evaluated for stable rheological properties under HPHT
conditions as well as static and dynamic sag properties. The best formulations were evaluated with state-of-the-art hydraulic
modeling software to estimate ECD/ESD and hole-cleaning efficiency. Adjustments were made to formulations that did not
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yield satisfactory results, the formulation were re-tested and hydraulics modeling repeated until acceptable results were
obtained. This paper focuses on the laboratory fluid design and formulation. Detailed results of the hydraulic simulation will
be published in a later paper. The following sections discuss the fluid formulation design by interval.

Table 2. Proposed drilling fluid system and target fluid specification for Ultra-HPHT well
Hole section 12 ¼ in. x 17 ½ in. 12 ¼ in. x 14 ¾ in. 10 5/8 in. x 12 ¼ in. 8 ½ in. x 9 ½ in.
Interval (m) 1,300 – 2,215 2,215 – 2,388 2,388 – 3,350 3,350 – 4,380
Interval (ft) 4,265 – 7,267 7,267 – 7,835 7,835 – 10,991 10,991 – 14,370
Estimated BHT (o F) 240 280 360 455
Estimated BHT (o C) 116 138 182 235
Mud weight @ 120° F (ppg) 10.0 -12.0 13.0 – 14.0 14.0 – 16.0 16.0 – 18.0
ES (volts) >600 >600 >600 >1,000
OWR (%v/v) 75/25 75/25 – 80/20 80/20 90/10
Plastic viscosity @ 120° F (cP) 24 - 35 < 45 < 50 < 70
Yield point (lb/100 ft2) 20 – 32 @ 120° F 20 – 32 @ 120° F 22 – 28 @ 150° F 22 – 28 @ 150° F
6 rpm reading 12 – 17 @ 120° F 12 – 16 @ 120° F 10 – 13 @ 150° F 10 – 12 @ 150° F
3 rpm reading 10 – 13 @ 120° F 10 – 14 @ 120° F 8 – 11 @ 150° F 8 – 10 @ 150° F
10-sec gel strength (lbf/100 ft2) 10 -15 10 - 15 14 - 17 14 - 17
10-min gel strength (lbf/100 ft2) 17 - 28 22 - 30 22 - 35 25 – 40
HPHT Fluid loss @ 500 psi
< 6.0 @ 250° F < 6.0 @ 250° F < 6.0 @ 350° F < 4.0 @ 350° F
(cc/30 min)
LGS (%v) ≤5 ≤5 ≤5 ≤5
WPS (mg/L) 200,000 200,000 180,000 180,000

The 12 ¼ in. x 17 ½ in. and the 12 ¼ in. x 14 ¾ in. sections

According to Table 2, the wellbore temperatures for the 17 ½ in. and 14 ¾ in. sections were projected to be 240 and 280 o
F, respectively. Below 300o F, adequate rheological and filtration control properties were obtained with conventional
additives and differences in density requirements between intervals easily achieved by additions of weight material or
unweighted pre-mix as needed. The 12 ppg formulation for the 17 ½ in. section was considered sufficiently non-challenging
so only the 14 ppg formulation for the 14 ¾ in. interval was tested. Table 3 summarizes three SBM formulations evaluated
for the 14 ¾ in. interval. Simulated drilled solids were added to simulate the drilled solids contamination and on the operator
requested that heat aging be performed at 250o F rather than the estimated BHT of 280o F.

Table 3. The 14 ppg, 75/25 OWR SBM formulation for the 12 ¼ in. x 14 ¾ in. section
Products PS1i PS1j PS1k

Base oil, bbls 0.48 0.47 0.48

Emulsifier 1, lb/bbl 16.00 16.00 20.00
Organophilic clays 1, lb/bbl 1.00 1.00 1.00
Emulsifier 2, lb/bbl 4.00 4.00 -
Organophilic clay 2, lb/bbl 3.00 3.00 3.00
Lime, lb/bbl 10.00 10.00 10.00
Water, bbls 0.18 0.18 0.18
95% CaCl2, lb/bbl 18.58 18.39 18.58
Fluid loss control additive 1, lb/bbl 5.00 4.00 5.00
HT polymeric fluid loss control 2, lb/bbl - 3.00 -
API 4.2 SG Barite, lb/bbl 305.04 305.34 305.24
Simulated drilled solids, lb/bbl 35.00 35.00 35.00

Table 4 shows fluid properties before and after 16-hr dynamic aging at 250° F. Rheological properties were measured at
120° F. HPHT filtration tests were conducted at 250° F. Fig. 1 recaps the properties of the 14-ppg SBM candidates in
comparison to the target specification. The blue bar indicates desirable fluid properties targeted for the interval. The PS1j
system is the first formulation eliminated because it shows the highest 600 rpm reading, thus resulting in PV value greater
than the desirable PV range. Moreover, there is a substantial increase of gel strength between 10 sec and 10 min, illustrating
a tendency of forming progressive gel with the PS1j formulation. Comparing the PS1i and PS1k formulations, both systems
exhibit similar rheological properties. However, the PS1i system shows slightly lower HPHT fluid loss. As a result, the PS1i
design was, by far, a leading candidate. To further confirm the stability of design fluid formulation downhole, the PS1i
system went through a sequential HPHT rheology measurement using an HPHT viscometer (Fann model 75). HPHT YP and
low shear rate viscosity (6 rpm reading) were used as an indicator for stability of drilling fluid under wellbore conditions.
Table 5 and Fig. 2 report HPHT YP and 6 rpm reading of the PS1i fluid. The arrow in Fig. 2 indicates an increase in
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pressures, while holding measuring temperature constant. The PS1i system shows relatively constant YP and 6 rpm values
across the board and meets the target specification indicated in Table 2.
Table 4. The 14 ppg, 75/25 OWR SBM fluid rheological properties before and after dynamic aging at
250° F, properties measured at 120° F
PS1i PS1j PS1k
Mud properties
Initial HR @ 250° F Initial HR @ 250° F Initial HR @ 250° F
Mud weight, lb/gal 14.0 14.0 14.0 14.0 14.0 14.0
ES 905 614 867 644 1139 756
OWR 75/25 75/25 75/25 75/25 75/25 75/25
Rheological properties measured @ 120° F
PV, cP 37 43 38 46 37 41
YP, lbf/100 ft 30 20 30 21 32 17
6 rpm 15 10 16 12 17 10
3 rpm 14 8 14 10 15 8
10-sec, 10-min gel strength ,
15/23 12/18 14/23 13/21 15/20 11/16
lbf/100 ft2
Excess lime, ppb 5.9 2.3 5.7 2.3 5.7 2.2
HPHT FL @ BHT, cc./30 min - 1.0 - <1 - 2.0

Fig. 1. Major fluid properties before and after 16-hr dynamic aging at BHT - the 14 ppg, 75/25 OWR SBM formulations

Table 5. HPHT Viscometer data (YP and 6-rpm reading) of the PS1i SBM after 16-hour hot-roll at 250 F
PS1i – AHR
Temp (°F) Pressure (psi)
Yield point (lb/100 ft²) 6 rpm reading
75 0 32 18
120 0 20 12
120 2,000 41 21
135 2,000 33 18
240 5,300 23 13
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Fig. 2. YP and 6 rpm data of the PS1i formulation as a function of temperature and pressure

The 10 5/8 in. x 12 ¼ in. section

Unlike the previous sections, the 12¼ in. section was projected to be the HPHT zone with the BHT and maximum
wellbore pressure of 360° F and 9,144 psi, respectively. Most invert emulsion mud products do not tolerate this high
temperature environment well. Several formulation strategies were investigated including adjusting of the O/W ratios,
additive chemical compositions and concentrations, and alternative weighting materials. A dual-weighting material approach
was investigated as a strategy to achieve low rheological properties for high-density fluids. In this work, we evaluated three
types of weighting agents (API 4.2 sg barite, 4.4 sg barite, and manganese tetraoxide). Moreover, it is important to
emphasize that the 15.8 ppg fluid was not a freshly formulated mud. The 15.8 ppg fluid was obtained by weighting up and
reconditioning the 14 ppg lab-formulated mud used in the 14¾ in. section. Therefore, the volume of base oil reported in
Table 6 was a mixture of 14 ppg lab-formulated mud and virgin synthetic paraffin.

Table 6. The 15.8 ppg SBM formulations for the 12¼ in. section, weighted from the 14 ppg fluid (PS1i-14¾
PS2e finish formulation PS2f finish formulation
(75/25 OWR) (80/20 OWR)
Base oil, bbls 0.42 0.47
Emulsifier 1, lb/bbl 13.80 11.30
Emulsifier 2, lb/bbl 8.50 7.80
Emulsifier 3, lb/bbl 0.90 0.70
Organophilic clays 2, lb/bbl 2.10 2.10
Lime, lb/bbl 8.64 7.00
Water, bbls 0.16 0.13
95% CaCl2, lb/bbl 16.56 13.48
Fluid loss control additive 1, lb/bbl 4.30 3.50
HT polymeric fluid loss control additive 1, lb/bbl 5.00 5.00
HT polymeric fluid loss control additive 2, lb/bbl 5.00 5.00
API 4.2 SG Barite, lb/bbl 263.60 215.00
Manganese tetraoxide, lb/bbl 136.80 197.70
Simulated drilled solids, lb/bbl 30.20 24.70
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Table 7. Fluid rheological properties before and after 16-hr dynamic aging at 360° F, properties measured
at 120° F – the 15.8 ppg SBM formulations, weighted up from 14 ppg lab-formulated mud

PS2e SBM formulation PS2f SBM formulation

Mud properties
Initial HR 16 hr @ 360° F Initial HR 16 hr @ 360° F
Mud weight, lb/gal 15.8 15.8 15.8 15.8
ES 1424 888 1388 1226
OWR 75/25 75/25 80/20 80/20
Rheological properties measured @ 120° F
PV, cP 69 76 40 52
YP, lbf/100 ft 48 63 28 31
6 rpm 24 31 14 17
3 rpm 21 28 13 15
10-sec, 10-min gel strength, lbf/100 ft 23/40 29/32 16/25 19/28
Excess lime (ppb) 3.51 1.95 3.12 1.56
HPHT FL @ 360° F, (cc/30 min) - 1.0 - 1.0

Table 6 shows the two best SBM formulations for the 12¼ in. section. The PS2e system was formulated with a 75/25
OWR, while the PS2f formulated with a 80/20 OWR. All formulations were prepared and then dynamically aged at 360° F
for 16 hours. Simulated drilled solids were added to the formulations to emulate low-gravity solids (LGS). The weighting
materials were a blend of API 4.2 sg barite and manganese tetraoxide. Table 7 shows the fluid properties before and after
dynamic aging. Rheological properties listed in Table 7 were measured using a standard viscometer (Fann 35) at 120° F.

Fig. 3. Rheological properties of the 15.8 SBM formulations after 16-hr dynamic aging at 360° F, properties measured at 120° F
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Figure 5. Rheological properties of the selected 15.8 ppg sample (PS2f) after 16-hr dynamic aging and 48-hr static aging at 360° F

Fig. 3 summarizes key rheological properties (listed in Table 7) of the formulations, PS2e vs. PS2f, after 16 hours hot
roll at 360o F. The PS2f fluid exhibits more desirable rheological characteristics (low PV, YP, constant viscosity at low shear
rate and lower gel strength) compared to the PS2e formulation. As the weight material sag was a major concern for this fluid,
viscometer sag shoe tests (VSST) were performed on the PS2f sample after hot roll. VSST is a quantitative method to
determine weighting material settling in a dynamic drilling fluid [5]. Testing indicated the VSST of PS2f sample was 0.19
ppg, less than 0.5, implying a small sag tendency. The improved VSST result was accomplished with mixed weighting
Usually, there is a substantial difference between circulating and downhole static temperatures for HPHT zones.
Extended operations downtime can expose the drilling fluid to high temperatures under static conditions. To address this
concern, static aging tests were performed on the PS2f formulation to assess its stability under long-term static aging. Fig. 4
compares rheological properties of the PS2f system subjected to circulating temperature (16-hr dynamic age) and bottomhole
static temperature (BHST, 48-hr static age). The blue bar in the graph represents desired fluid properties for the 12¼ in.
section. Test results reveal that the PS2f sample under the 16-hr dynamic aging yields favorably lower PV and YP values,
but exhibits slightly higher 6 and 3 rpm reading as compared to the target specification. The static-aged sample for 48 hours
leads to an increase in fluid viscosity; however, the fluid remained stable and showed good solid suspension capability
without a visual phase separation. Static sag testing reports the sag index of 0.529 and a shear strength of 284 lb/100 ft 2.
Based on the result, it suggests the PS2f formulation maintains acceptable fluid rheological properties, good thermal stability
with a small barite settling tendency, even during prolonged static aging.
Next, YP and 6 rpm reading values for the PS2f sample after 16 hour hot-roll at 360° F were measured as a function of
temperature and pressure and illustrated in Fig. 5. The arrow in Fig. 5 indicates an increase in pressures, while holding
measuring temperature constant. Table 8 reports actual data and a range of temperatures and pressures studied. According
to the testing, it shows that the PS2f formulation is a stable fluid with acceptable YP (33 to 54 lb/100ft 2) and low shear rate
viscosity (20 to 41) up to the maximum temperature and pressure of 400° F and 9,500 psi.

Table 8. HPHT Viscometer data (YP and 6-rpm reading) of the selected 15.8 ppg SBM (PS2f) after 16-hr
hot-roll at 360° F
Temp, Pressure, PS2f RPT - AHR
°F psi Yield point, lb/100 ft² 6 rpm reading
75 0 54 27
120 0 39 21
120 2,000 51 28
135 2,000 49 26
240 5,300 33 20
400 9,500 54 41
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Fig. 5. YP and 6 rpm data of the selected 15.8 ppg SBM (PS2f) as a function of temperature and pressure

The 8½ in. x 9½ in. section

Drilling mud design for the 9½ in. interval was the most-challenging task in overall fluid planning. With an estimated
BHT of 455o F and a projected vertical depth of 14,370 ft (13,683 psi), this interval was considered the ultra-HPHT tier.
Based on the predicted density profile, the objective was to formulate the 18 ppg HPHT SBM system with HT fluid rheology
and stability to 455° F.
The most cost-effective approach would be to build the 18 ppg SBM fluid for the 9½ in. section by weighting up the 15.8
ppg SBM from the previous 12¼ in. section. The weight-up approach was investigated in the laboratory by various changes
in OWR, product composition and concentrations, and combined weighting materials. However, this strategy did not provide
acceptable HT fluid properties and stability at 455° F. Poor HT results were somewhat foreseen based on the LGS and mud
rheology anticipated from the previous section. Furthermore, considering that the 18 ppg fluid must withstand the BHT in a
static condition for an extended period of time due to planned logging activity, the operator chose to build a fresh mud for use
in this section. Table 9 lists product compositions and concentrations of four fluid formulations - 18 ppg HPHT fluid with
90/10 OWR for the 9½ in. interval. Weighting materials used in these formulations were a blend of API 4.2 sg barite and
manganese tetraoxide. Simulated drilled solids were added to duplicate the effect of LGS on the formulations. All samples
were prepared and dynamically aged at 455o F for 16 hours.

Table 9. The 18 ppg fresh SBM formulations for the 8½ in. x 9½ in. section
Proposed 18 ppg, 90/10 OWR SBM formulations
PS4r PS4s PS4t PS4u
Base oil, bbls 0.49 0.44 0.44 0.43
Emulsifier 5, lb/bbl 3.00 16.00 16.00 16.00
Emulsifier 2, lb/bbl 5.00 14.00 14.00 14.00
Organophilic clays 2, lb/bbl 1.00 1.00 2.00 2.00
Organophilic clays 3, lb/bbl 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00
LIME, lb/bbl 10.00 10.00 10.00 10.00
Water, bbls 0.06 0.06 0.06 0.06
95%wt CaCl2, lb/bbl 5.88 6.04 6.04 5.92
Fluid loss control additive 1, lb/bbl 5.00 3.00 6.00 3.00
HT polymeric fluid loss control additive 1, lb/bbl 2.00 - - 2.00
HT polymeric fluid loss control additive 2, lb/bbl 5.00 3.00 3.00 5.00
API 4.2 SG Barite, lb/bbl 446.61 444.20 444.20 442.53
Manganese tetraoxide, lb/bbl 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00
Simulated drilled solids, lb/bbl 20.00 20.00 20.00 20.00
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Fig. 6. Comparison of 18 ppg, 90/10 OWR SBM formulations, rheological property measured at 150° F

Fig. 7. HPHT YP data of the selected 18 ppg SBM formulations after 16-hr dynamic aging
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Fig. 8. Fluid rheological properties at 150° F for 18 ppg mud samples after 48-hr static aging

Table 10. Static sag test results of the 18 ppg, 90/10 OWR SBM systems after 48 hours aging at 455° F.
SA @ 455° F PS4r PS4s PS4t PS4u
Free oil, % vol 5% 1% 0% 1%
Shear strength, lbf/100 ft2 408 328.3 395 677.9
Sag index 0.525 0.520 0.526 0.515

Fig. 6 displays the rheological properties at 150o F of the 18 ppg SBM sample after 16 hours dynamic aging at 455o F.
The blue bar represents the desirable fluid range for this hole section. All four formulations meet the target PV value of less
than 70 cP. The PS4u fluid exhibits the highest PV, YP and relatively higher shear rate properties, but it has the lowest fluid
loss compared to others (5.8 cc vs. ≥ 7.4 cc per 30 mins). The high viscosity of the PS4u fluid is a result of the addition of
HT polymeric filtration control additives 1 and 2 that were added to reduce fluid loss at 455 o F. Along with the high PV
value, the PS4u fluid has the highest YP value of 79 lb/100 ft2 at 455o F and 12,000 psi (see Fig. 7). Fig. 8 details the
rheological behavior of each formulation after 48 hours of static age. The PS4u system still shows relatively high PV
compared to the other fluids although the sag index (0.515) of the PS4u sample is good. Additional adjustments are needed
for the PS4u formulation.

Table 11. The fine-tune 18 ppg fresh SBM formulations for the 8½ in. x 9½ in. section
PS4u - PS4Vi - 90/10
90/10 OWR OWR
Base oil, bbls 0.43 0.44
Emulsifier 5, lb/bbl 16.00 16.00
Emulsifier 2, lb/bbl 14.00 14.00
Organophilic clays 2, lb/bbl 2.00 3.00
Organophilic clays 3, lb/bbl 1.00 1.00
LIME, lb/bbl 10.00 10.00
Water, bbls 0.06 0.06
96%wt CaCl2, lb/bbl 5.92 6.08
Fluid loss control additive 1, lb/bbl 3.00 3.00
HT polymeric fluid loss control additive 1, lb/bbl 2.00 1.00
HT polymeric fluid loss control additive 2, lb/bbl 5.00 2.00
API 4.2 SG Barite, lb/bbl 442.53 443.35
Manganese tetraoxide, lb/bbl 100.00 100.00
API Base Evaluation Clay, lb/bbl 20.00 20.00
OTC 24830 11

Fig. 9. The 18 ppg SBM varied OWR, rheological properties measured at 150° F

Table 11 lists the final fine-tune formulation of the 18 ppg, 90/10 OWR SBM (PS4vi) compared to the starting
formulation (PS4u). As HT polymeric filtration control additives are the main contributors to high PV and YP values, a
decrease in their concentrations should lead to lower PV and YP. Two fluids were prepared and dynamically aged at 455 o F
for 16 hours. Fig. 9 shows fluid rheological properties measured at 150o F after hot rolling. The blue bar represents the target
fluid specification for the 9½ in. section. Except for the 10-min gel strength, the PS4vi formulation meets all specifications
for the 9½ in. hole. Compared to the PS4u formulation, the PS4vi formulation exhibits lower PV, YP and low-shear-rate
viscosity, while the HPHT filtration properties are similar (6.4 cc for the PS4vi and 5.8 cc per 30 mins for PS4u at 350 o F). A
dynamic shoe sag test (VSST) result for the PS4vi sample after hot roll for 16 hours was 0.09 ppg. The HPHT rheological
properties of the PS4u and PS4vi samples are illustrated in Fig. 10. Results indicate that the fine- tune formulation (PS4vi)
shows relatively low YP values across a range of temperatures and pressures (455° F and 12,000 psi).

Fig. 10. HPHT YP data of the fine-tuned 18 ppg SBM formulations after 16-hr dynamic aging

It was expected that the 18 ppg drilling mud would stay downhole under static condition for approximately four
days of logging. Therefore, the fine-tuned PS4vi system underwent 96 hours static aging. Table 12 reports the rheological
properties of the PS4vi formulation before aging, after 16 hours dynamic and after 96 hours static aging at 455 o F. The PS4vi
fluid remained stable with an ES of 1,284 volts and acceptable PV, YP and low-shear-rate viscosities after long-term static
condition. HPHT filtration tests were conducted on the 96-hour statically aged sample. The fluid loss for this formulation
was 9.2 cc per 30 min at 350o F. Finally, static sag testing for 96 hours produced a sag index of 0.519 with 3% free oil.
12 OTC 24830

Table 12. Initial rheological properties at 150° F for the PS4vi fluid after 16-hr dynamic, and 96-hr static
aging at 455° F
PS4vi - 18 ppg , 90/10 OWR SBM
Mud properties HR 16 hr @ 455° SA96 hr @
F 455° F
Mud weight, lb/gal 18 18 18
ES, volts 1887 1792 1284
OWR 90/10 90/10 90/10
Rheological properties measured @ 150° F
PV, cP 44 50 67
YP, lbf/100 ft2 36 21 30
6 rpm 18 12 12
3 rpm 17 11 10
10-sec/ 10-min gel strength, lbf/ 100ft2 24/38 14/19 14/27

In this work we discussed the laboratory design and evaluation of ultra-HPHT drilling fluid for deep gas exploratory
well. Challenges in the formulation design were to formulate high-density muds up to 18 ppg that provide low rheological
properties, good thermal stability up to 455° F with minimal barite sag. The locally manufactured synthetic paraffin was
chosen as the base oil for the HPHT fluid due to its attractive physical properties, proven HPHT performance, and local
availability. To achieve target fluid properties while keeping the fluid cost down, the drilling fluid program consisted of
conventional SBM formulations for the 17½ in. and 14¾ in. sections, where wellbore temperatures were less than 300 o F, and
HPHT SBM systems for the 12½ in. and 9½ in. intervals, where the BHTs exceeded 300 o F. Drilling muds were formulated
according to the calculated density profile, and underwent a series of tests to assess the fluid rheological properties, thermal
stability and potential for barite sag in both dynamic and extended static aging conditions at anticipated borehole conditions.
Simulated drilled solids were added to all formulations to emulate the effect of LGS contamination downhole. Because the
temperatures for the 17½ in. and 13¾ in. sections were both below 300° F, one mud formulation type was selected for
laboratory evaluation for both intervals. During drilling of these sections, the density would be adjusted as required by the
addition of weighting materials. The highest anticipated density for these intervals was 14 ppg. Therefore, a 14 ppg
formulation for the 14¾ in. was the only density evaluated. The PS1i formulation (14 ppg, 75/25 OWR SBM) was selected
as a preferred mud system for the 14¾ in. sections due to its relatively low fluid loss and desirable PV, YP and low-shear-rate
viscosity at tested conditions. Next, the 14 ppg fluid (PS1i -for 14¾ in. section) was weighted up and reconditioned with
fresh base oil and special HPHT mud additives to build the 15.8 ppg HPHT SBM fluid for the 12¼ in. interval. The
recommended fluid formulation for the 12¼ in. interval was the 15.8 ppg, 80/20 OWR PS2f system. The selected PS2f
formulation demonstrated acceptable fluid performance and good thermal stability after 16 hour dynamic and 48 hour static
aging. Furthermore, while maintain the low shear strength of 284 lb/ 100 ft 2, the selected 15.8 ppg formulation showed a
small sag tendency with the VSST value of 0.19 ppg and static sag index of 0.529. It was believed that reduced barite sag
was a result of utilizing alternative weighting materials (a blend of API barite and manganese tetraoxide). A similar weight-
up approach was used to build the 18 ppg fluid for the 9½ in. section. While a number of weighted-up 18 ppg fluid designs
were formulated, none of them provided desirable rheological results and stability. Furthermore, with four days of logging
activity planned after TD, the operator and service company decided that a fresh HPHT SBM would be used for the final
interval. An 18 ppg, 90/10 OWR SBM (PS4vi) was formulated for extreme conditions and exhibited relatively low HPHT
rheological properties, and improved filtration control. This fluid was demonstrated to be thermally stable at BHST of 455 o F
after 96 hours static aging.

The authors would like to thank Baker Hughes and PETRONAS Carigali Sdn. Bhd. for the permission to publish this
paper. Specially thank also goes to Rozali Sidek, Teguh Supriyanto and BHDF technical services and operation teams in
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for their contribution and continuing support in writing this paper.

HPHT = High pressure, high temperature
SG = Specific gravity
SBM = Synthetic-based mud
HS&E = Health safety and environmental
OWR = Oil-water ratio
LGS = Low gravity solids
VSST = Viscometer sag shoe test
OTC 24830 13

ECD = Equivalent circulating density

ESD = Equivalent static density
BHST = Bottomhole static temperature
ROP = Rate of penetration
TD = Total depth
WPS = Water Phase Salinity
ES = Electrical Stability

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