The potential to confidently apply water-based drilling fluids in unconventional shale formations has been studied using engineered nanoparticles to minimize shale permeability through physically plugging the nanometer-sized pores. This talk discusses the development of nanoparticle technology and testing protocols developed using Marcellus and Mancos as shale candidates. In addition, new methods to better understand the plugging mechanism are currently under evaluation.
Nanoparticles in this study are specifically designed to physically plug the nanometer-sized shale pores, thereby reducing pressure transmission in the shale. Silica nanoparticles are commercially available and can be engineered to meet all specifications needed for this purpose. The particle size can vary between 5 and 100 nanometers. The properly sized nanoparticles for a given formation can be selected in combination with a correct fluid loss package to minimize the fluid rock interaction. Surface treatment on the nanosilica particle has a major influence on the final performance. It was revealed that appropriately sized nanoparticles with surface treatments compatible with ions present in drilling and formation fluids is required for effective plugging.
Marcellus and Mancos shales were used in the development phase due to their wide industry interest and geological similarity. The authors examined an in-house method, still under development, using the Shale Membrane Test that is intended to provide quantitative plugging and filter cake measurements using various shale samples.
Katherine Price Hoelscher is a research scientist for M-I SWACO in Houston working on nanotechnology projects for drilling fluid applications and collaborating with academic partners to pursue cutting edge technology. She has worked with many different platforms in nanotechnology including carbon nanotubes, gold nanoparticles, palladium nanowires and graphene. Katherine’s two year tenure at
M-I SWACO started after she received her doctorate from Rice University under Professor James Tour on carbon-based nanotechnology and a postdoctoral position at Imperial College London. Katherine has 17 technical publications related to nanotechnology and is a member of the SPE, AADE and ACS.