Case Study: Pennsylvania: Drilling Fluid Costs Dramatically Reduced in Saturated Salt Systems

Challenge: The Operator was drilling Marcellus Shale horizontal wells with salt-saturated mud and observing good success. API fluid loss values were maintained at 4.0 cm3/30min or less, and chloride levels in the range of 155,000 mg/l.

To obtain the requested fluid loss, a white starch was utilized in conjunction with polyanionic cellulose. The starch exhibited a high level of bacterial degradation that resulted in large treatments of biocides and products to control contamination from carbon dioxide released during the bacterial degradation. The carbon dioxide initiated carbonate/bicarbonate contamination and large additions of caustic soda, lime, and dispersants were needed to maintain the desired fluid properties.

As a result of the chemical treatments to maintain fluid properties, mud costs were much higher than necessary.

Solution: M-I SWACO recommended the use of EMI-2144, a modified natural starch that exhibited no bacterial degradation in fermentation testing.

Result: Average mud costs were reduced by 45% through the elimination of severe bacterial degradation resulting from the utilization of unmodified starch. Drilling performance remained high and target mud properties were maintained while reducing costs on a consistent well-to-well basis.

As EMI-2144 was introduced into the mud system, fluid loss and bacteria control product usage began to drop immediately. As the old starch degraded and was replaced in the system with EMI 2144, product use and overall cost reductions continued dramatically from well to well.

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Total Mud Cost Per Well, Greene Co. PA

Total Mud Cost Per Well Greene Co. PA
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“ The replacement of the existing starch with EMI-2144 has significantly reduced our mud costs without hindering performance. The resulting system is more resistant to bacterial degradation and requires less treatment in order to maintain our desired fluid properties.”
Callum Streeter
Drilling Manager
Energy Corporation of America