KFUPM has developed a new chemical product that allows oil companies to process different residues produced during oil and gas drilling and production operations. This product is unique in its operation and provides a solution that significantly improves the environmental health and safety. KFUPM has licensed the technology to SAS Environmental Services, a company based in the UK and USA that is renowned for oilfield waste processing products. The company is working to integrate its precision technologies with University technology to provide greater benefits to the sector and set new standards for industrial performance.
Oil and gas wells are drilled using oil and water based drilling fluids. To control the high pressure of oil and gas reservoirs, high density materials are added to the drilling fluids. These high density weighting materials create unwanted residues on the formation face during the drilling process. Oil based drilling fluids are used to drill oil and gas reservoirs which are sensitive to water. After the drilling process is complete some of the weighting material along with some of the oil residue will remain at the face of the reservoir causing skin damage. If these materials are not removed properly, the reservoir will not deliver the expected rates of oil and gas production and this will lead to loss of investment made to drill these reservoirs.
Current industry practices do not have an effective solution to this problem. Different fluid formulations have been introduced in the past to remove the drilling process residue from the reservoir face to allow for oil and gas production but the removal efficiency typically did not exceed 60%. Alternatively, very aggressive and corrosive chemistries are used which leads to corrosion issues and adds to potential HSE risks. Weighting material is used extensively in oil and gas well drilling, therefore, there is a massive need to find a practical, low cost, HSE compliant and technically efficient solution to remove the drilling process residue in this case. Previous solutions were applied in the field in multi-stages which will increase the operational cost and complexity of these operations.
In this research project, led by dr. Mohamed Mahmoud and dr. Salaheldin Elkatatny, the concept of a new type of formulation to remove the unwanted drilling fluid residue in oil base mud (drilling fluid residue) was introduced. Based on previous work, drilling fluid residue removal is very difficult, the novelty in this research is the weighting material conversion process. The new fluid formulation we introduced will convert the sticky oil wet weighting material to a more mobile material that can be removed more easily. The efficiency of the newly developed fluid formulation reached 95% and can be applied in one single stage which will save the time and the cost of operations. The formulation is also completely benign being safe to handle and store and is easy to deploy with no corrosion risks or associated HSE issues as are associated with more traditional acidizing and in situ acidizing techniques.
Actual drilling fluid formulations were used from the field and the drilling fluid residue was formed in the laboratory at similar reservoir conditions of high pressure and high temperatures. The new fluid formulations were used in one single stage to remove and dissolve the drilling fluid residue and the efficiency of removal was up to 95%. This process will enhance the production from oil and gas wells by several folds and in the same time will improve HSE compliance while reducing corrosion risks.
Saudi Aramco is drilling extensively in deep oil and gas wells to meet the requirements of oil and gas production. Weighting material is used extensively in drilling operations because it is cost efficient. Currently, the company does not have a matching efficient solution that can completely remove the drilling fluid residue after finishing the drilling operations and transfer the wells to production. The formulation developed through this research can be use more effectively and safely to remove the drilling fluid residue and to enhance the oil and gas productivity from these reservoirs.
SAS Environmental Services (based in the UK and USA) has licensed the technology from KFUPM and the company has started the process of commercialization. We worked closely with the SAS-ES team to design the fluid formulation for different conditions in different oil and gas fields. The company is working with different proponents in the oil and gas sector to supply them with the solution we developed at KFUPM. The company is expected to execute field scale treatment in the coming few months augmenting the approach with additional in house proprietary products.
Dr.Mohamed Mahmoud, is currently working as an Associate Professor, department of petroleum engineering. Dr. Mahmoud areas of research include; well stimulation, enhanced oil recovery, petrophysics, and multiphase flow in pipes