Water as a drilling fluid does not qualify as a mud. If there are no hole (formation) problems that prevent its being the most economical drilling fluid; if neither the geologist, palentologist, nor production supervisor have valid objections; and if it is available, water is seldom if ever surpassed. When the formation requires, or a supervisor demands , filtrate control and / or viscosity and /or gels in the drilling fluid, a “mud” is built. Or if the fluid density required is too high for salt water alone , mud properties are required to suspend barites.
Much of the drilling in unconventional resource plays occurs in unstable shales, which are usually fractured and can be easily destabilized. Successful drilling through them can be difficult at best, and many high-angled holes in these plays are often lost due to mechanical instability. This paper looks at the drilling problems of shale gas drilling from the theoretical perspective of Wellbore Pressure Management, (WPM) and keys in on the effects of Equivalent Circulating Density (ECD) while drilling and on the effects of Equivalent Static Density (ESD) when there is no circulation.