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Open AccessArticle

Prevention of Barite Sag in Oil-Based Drilling Fluids Using a Mixture of Barite and Ilmenite as Weighting Material

College of Petroleum Engineering and Geosciences, King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals, 31261 Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
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Sustainability 2019, 11(20), 5617; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11205617
Received: 16 September 2019 / Revised: 8 October 2019 / Accepted: 10 October 2019 / Published: 12 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Drilling Technologies and Process Safety)
Drilling high-pressure high-temperature (HPHT) wells requires a special fluid formulation that is capable of controlling the high pressure and is stable under the high downhole temperature. Barite-weighted fluids are common for such purpose because of the good properties of barite, its low cost, and its availability. However, solids settlement is a major problem encountered with this type of fluids, especially at elevated downhole temperatures. This phenomenon is known as barite sag, and it is encountered in vertical and directional wells under static or dynamic conditions leading to serious well control issues. This study aims to evaluate the use of barite-ilmenite mixture as a weighting agent to prevent solids sag in oil-based muds at elevated temperatures. Sag test was conducted under static conditions (vertical and inclined) at 350 °F and under dynamic conditions at 120 °F to determine the optimum ilmenite concentration. Afterward, a complete evaluation of the drilling fluid was performed by monitoring density, electrical stability, rheological and viscoelastic properties, and filtration performance to study the impact of adding ilmenite on drilling fluid performance. The results of this study showed that adding ilmenite reduces sag tendency, and only 40 wt.% ilmenite (from the total weighting material) was adequate to eliminate barite sag under both static and dynamic conditions with a sag factor of around 0.51. Adding ilmenite enhanced the rheological and viscoelastic properties and the suspension of solid particles in the drilling fluid, which confirmed sag test results. Adding ilmenite slightly increased the density of the drilling fluid, with a slight decrease in the electrical stability within the acceptable range of field applications. Moreover, a minor improvement in the filtration performance of the drilling fluid and filter cake sealing properties was observed with the combined weighting agent. The findings of this study provide a practical solution to the barite sag issue in oil-based fluids using a combination of barite and ilmenite powder as a weighting agent to drill HPHT oil and gas wells safely and efficiently with such type of fluids. View Full-Text
Keywords: weighting materials; barite; ilmenite; barite sag; oil-based drilling fluids; HPHT wells weighting materials; barite; ilmenite; barite sag; oil-based drilling fluids; HPHT wells
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Mohamed, A.; Basfar, S.; Elkatatny, S.; Al-Majed, A. Prevention of Barite Sag in Oil-Based Drilling Fluids Using a Mixture of Barite and Ilmenite as Weighting Material. Sustainability 2019, 11, 5617.

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