Types of drilling fluids

Drilling fluids are classified according to the type of fluids and other primary ingredients

1.Gaseous:Air, nitrogen
2.Aqueous: Gasified–foam, energized(including aphrons)clay, polymer, emulsion
3.Nonaqueous:Oil or synthetic–all oil, invert emulsion

True foams contain at least 70% gas(usually N2,CO2,or air)at surface of the hole,while energized fluids, including aphrons, contain lesser amounts of gas.Aphrons are specially stabilized bubbles that function as a bridging or lost circulation material(LCM)to reduce mud losses to permeable and microfractured formation.Aqueous drilling fluids are generally dubbed water-based muds (WBMs), while nonaqueous drilling fluids (NAFs) are often referred to as oil-based muds (OBMs) or synthetic-based muds (SBMs). OBMs are based on NAFs that are distilled from crude oil; they include diesel, mineral oils, and refined linear paraffins (LPs). SBMs, which are also known as pseudo– oil-based muds, are based on chemical reaction products of common feedstock materials like ethylene; they include olefins, esters, and synthetic LPs.

Detailed classification schemes for liquid drilling fluids are employed that describe the composition of the fluids more precisely. One such classification scheme is shown in Figures 2.1 and 2.2. An even more precise classification scheme is described in Table 2.1, which includesthe mud systems most commonly used today, along with their principal components and general characteristics.

Functions of Drilling Fluids

A drilling fluid, or mud, is any fluid that is used in a drilling operation in which that fluid is circulated or pumped from the surface, down the drill string, through the bit, and back to the surface via the annulus.
Drilling fluids satisfy many needs in their capacity to do the following
[M-I llc]:
. Suspend cuttings (drilled solids), remove them from the bottom of the    hole and the well bore, and release them at the surface
. Control formation pressure and maintain well-bore stability
. Seal permeable formations
. Cool, lubricate, and support the drilling assembly
. Transmit hydraulic energy to tools and bit
. Minimize reservoir damage
. Permit adequate formation evaluation
. Control corrosion
. Facilitate cementing and completion
. Minimize impact on the environment
. Inhibit gas hydrate formation
The most critical function that a drilling fluid performs is to minimizethe concentration of cuttings around the drill bit and throughout the well bore. Of course, in so doing, the fluid itself assumes this cuttings burden, and if the cuttings are not removed from the fluid, it very quickly loses its ability to clean the hole and creates thick filter cakes. To enable on-site recycling and reuse of the drilling fluid, cuttings must be continually and efficiently removed.


Polymer drilling fluids, synthetic oil–based drilling fluids, and other fluids with expensive additives provide a great incentive to use good solids-control procedures. However, minimizing the waste products from these expensive systems will also have a great impact on drilling costs. Most drilling operations have a targeted drilled-solids concentration. Failure to remove drilled solids with solids-control equipment leads to solids control with dilution. This creates excessive quantities of fluid that
must be handled as a waste product. If this fluid must be hauled from the location, the excess fluid becomes a large additional expense. Even if the fluid can be handled at the location, larger quantities of fluid frequently increase cost. This is discussed in depth in Chapter 15 on Dilution. Smaller quantities of waste products can significantly decrease the cost of a well. Decreasing the quantity of drilling fluid discarded with the drilled solids will decrease the cost of rig-site cleanup. Dilution
techniques for controlling drilled-solids concentrations greatly increase the quantity of waste products generated at a rig. This results in an additional expense that adds to the total cost of drilling.

Solids-control Equipment Comments

One word of caution is appropriate here. Neophytes in drilling have a tendency to try to minimize the cost of each category of expense on the basis of the misconception that this will minimize the cost of the well. Minimizing individual items will only minimize a total if there is no dependence of variables on other costs. For example, increasing mud weight with drilled solids is cheaper than using barite. The cost savings from not purchasing barite is easy to calculate. The cost of all of the problems that ensue is much more difficult to predict. This is the insidious nature of drilled solids.
Decreasing individual costs to decrease the total cost is somewhat analogous to the accountant with appendicitis who decides to save money by renting a room at a cheap motel and calling a doctor friend rather than going to a hospital for an appendectomy. Room and board might be cheaper, but the net cost of improper care will probably make the decision very costly. Extra costs can be incurred because of inadvisable decisions to cut costs in easily monitored expenses while drilling wells. When line items are independent of each other, minimization of each line item will result in the lowest possible cost. When line items are interconnected, minimization of each line item may be very expensive. Drilled-solids concentrations and trouble costs (or costs of unscheduled events) are very closely intertwined.
One common mistake, usually made with the misconception that the well will be less expensive, is to allow the initial increase in mud weight to occur with drilled solids. Clearly, less money will be spent on the drilling fluid if no weighting agents are added to it. These savings are easily documented. Less revealing, however, will be the additional expenses because of the excessive drilled solids in the drilling fluid. Many of these problems will increase the well cost and have been discussed in the preceding sections.
Another common mistake, usually made while drilling with weighted drilling fluid, is to relate the cost of the weighting agent discarded with the drilled-solids discard. The cost of discarded weighted agents (barite or hematite) can be relatively small compared with the tragedies associated with drilled solids. This is particularly true in the expensive offshore environment. Even in cheaper land drilling, a comparison normally tilts in favor of discarding weighting agents.
Solids-control equipment, properly used, with the correct drilling-fluid selection, will usually result in lower drilling costs. Decisions made for various wells are very dependent on the well depth and drilling-fluid density. Shallow, large-diameter, low-mud-weight wells can tolerate more drilled solids than can deeper, more complicated wells. Each well must be evaluated individually with careful consideration of the risk of problems associated with drilled solids. As a general practice, however, since rigs drill a variety of wells during the course of a year, investing in a proper mud tank arrangement with adequate equipment is wise and frugal.
Yet another common mistake is to believe that different types of drilling-fluid systems will require different mud tank arrangements for solids removal. This is FALSE. Following the guidelines presented in this book will result in a system that will properly remove drilled solids from water-based, oil-based, synthetic-based drilling fluids. The waterbased drilling fluids could be dispersed or nondispersed, with or without polymers, or of low or high density or mud weight.