The drilling of clay-rich formations, such as shale, is an extremely demanding technical and technological process. Shale consists of mixed clay minerals in different ratios and in contact with water from drilling mud. It tends to swell and cause different wellbore instability problems. Usually, the petroleum industry uses various types of salt and/or polymers as shale hydration inhibitors. The aim of this research was to determine whether nanoparticles can be used as shale swelling inhibitors because due to their small size they can enter the shale nanopores, plug them and stop further penetration of mud filtrate into the shale formation. Swelling of bentonite-calcium carbonate pellets after 2 and 24 h in water and drilling mud (water, bentonite, PAC and NaOH) without nanoparticles and with addition of TiO2
(0.5, 1 and 1.5 wt%) and SiO2
(0.5, 1 and 1.5 wt%) nanoparticles was measured using a linear swell meter. Additionally, granulometric analyses of bentonite as well as the zeta potential of tested muds containing nanoparticles were performed. Based on the laboratory research, it can generally be concluded that the addition of SiO2
nanoparticles in water and base drilling mud reduces the swelling of pellets up to 40.06%.
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