Chemo-Mechanical Behavior for UAE Shales and Mud Design for Wellbore Stability | Schlumberger
Tech Paper
Middle East, United Arab Emirates, Asia, Offshore
Shinichi Kokubo and Kazuhiro Yahata, JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration Corporation; Shimpei Egawa, Takeru Okuzawa, and Aurifullah Vantala, ADNOC; Surej Kumar Subbiah, Magdalena Povstyanova, Chee Phuat Tan, Gaisoni Nasreldin, Joel Wesley Martin, Mohammad Husien, and Nantha Kumar Rajaiah, Schlumberger
Paper Number
Presentation Date
12–15 November 2018
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Chemo-Mechanical Behavior for UAE Shales and Mud Design for Wellbore Stability


In a recently drilled deviated well in an offshore field in UAE, severe cavings have been produced which led to difficulty in tripping out and stuck pipe events. A comprehensive study has been conducted to understand the chemical and mechanical behavior of the shales in the overburden.

This paper focuses on how we approached optimization of drilling design and practices where well construction was concerned (namely casing design and mud formulation). This approach minimized mechanical and time-dependent chemical instabilities in the Fiqa, Laffan and Nahr-Umr shales. After the initial implementation of the optimized drilling practices, a complex multi-discipline study including time-dependent shale stability analysis provided recommendations for the problematic shales should they be kept open for long durations (to reach section TD, log and case).

The time-dependent shale stability analysis included three major phases. The first phase was conducted based on the data for several selected existing wells. This phase resulted in obtaining so called field-based mud design criteria together with customized laboratory measurements. The second phase is to conduct a comprehensive geomechanical model to understand the mechanical behavior of the formations. In this study both 1D and 3D geomechanical models have been constructed honoring the anisotropic nature of the shales. The third phase was focused on selecting best mud system and optimizing the mud designs to prevent/minimize both mechanical and time-dependent chemical instabilities for shales layers with long exposure time.

The problematic shales were penetrated at relatively high angles, requiring high mud weights and therefore leading to relatively high overbalance pressures which can cause high pore pressure increase in the shales with time. However, it is still feasible to select an optimum drilling fluid design for the desired mud system by optimizing salinity for the required high mud weights to avoid time-dependent instability. The Nahr-Umr shale, in general, was deemed to be more susceptible to mechanical and time-dependent chemical instabilities due to higher required mud weights and overbalance pressures.

The Fiqa, Laffan and Nahr-Umr shale formations could be drilled using the recommended mud weights together with best mud formulations to avoid both mechanical and chemical time-dependent wellbore instability problems in the planned wells. The outcome of the study helps in keeping the shales open for longer period in highly deviated wells without any wellbore instability before casing runs.

The workflow utilized for the shale stability analysis for Fiqa, Laffan and Nahr-Umr included an approach innovative for UAE to understand mechanical and chemical (osmosis-related) behavior of the problematic shales to develop recommendations for cases when the shales needed be kept open for long durations.

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