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Número de publicaciónUS2812161 A
Tipo de publicaciónConcesión
Fecha de publicación5 Nov 1957
Fecha de presentación14 Sep 1954
Fecha de prioridad14 Sep 1954
Número de publicaciónUS 2812161 A, US 2812161A, US-A-2812161, US2812161 A, US2812161A
InventoresEldon J Mayhew
Cesionario originalEldon J Mayhew
Exportar citaBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
Enlaces externos: USPTO, Cesión de USPTO, Espacenet
Method and composition for controlling lost circulation in well drilling operations
US 2812161 A
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United States Patent Ofifice 2,812,161 Patented Nov. 5,1957

IVIETHOD AND COMPOSITION FOR CONTROL- LING LOST CIRCULATION IN WELL DRILL- ING, OPERATIONS Eldon J. Mayhew, Aztec, N. Mex.

No Drawing. ApplicationSepternber 14, 1954, Serial N0. 456,075

8 Claims. (Cl. 2551.8)

This invention relates to a method and composition for controlling lost circulation in deep well drilling operations, i. e., for preventing or stopping losses of the circulated drilling fluid into strata openings encountered in a well formation.

In the drilling of oil Wells, gas Wells, and the like, the process of pumping a drilling fluid through the well hole to and from the bottom is referred to as circulation. The maintenance of circulation of the drilling fluid is essential to successful drilling by the rotary method. The drilling fluid or mud is supplied at the surface of the well in large earthern pits or metal tanks and is pumped from these into the bore hole through the drill pipe and the drill bit to the bottom of the hole. 'The mud returns to the surface between the drill pipe and the bore hole wall, bringing with it the drill cuttings. The circulation of the mud serves not only to carry the cuttings to the surface but also to cool and lubricate the drill bit, thus making possible the further effective penetration of the bit into deeper geological strata. l a

The formation in which the well is being drilled often contains cracks, fissures, cavities orstrata of high velocity. When the drill enters strata containing such, crevices, the mud flows away through the crevices to create the condition called lost circulation. Drilling cannot continue under conditions of lost circulation because the cuttings soon pile up around the bit and lock the bit and drill stem in the hole. Severe cases of lost circulation may require complete abandonment of the Well or so increase the cost of drilling that the well becomes uneconomical.

In conventional drilling operations, an aqueous bentonite drilling mud is used until a condition of lost circulation occurs, whereupon a filling material is mixed with the mud and carried by it into the crevices to, seal of leaks in the formation. The filling materials known to be useful for this purpose include cotton-and other,

textile fibers, cane fiber, ground corn cob s, mica, expanded perlite, synthetic resins, peat. moss, cottonseed hulls, ground walnut hulls, shredded cellophane, sawdust, ground feathers, and various combinations of't-hese and other materials that can be suspended in the drilling fluid.

The use of each of theseknown materials, however, presents important practical problems or shortcomings,

and none of them has proved to be entirely satisfactory.

Many of them are compressible and occupy only a small fraction of their normal volume under the hydrostatic pressure in the well. Compressible materials are likely to fail under the pressure changes produced by differential pump pressures or by moving the drill stem into or out of the well hole. Many of the known materials are organic materials that take up water or hydrate orare chemically decomposed under the conditions encountered in the formation, so that they soften and fail in time and make it necessary to add more material in order to recover circulation; moreover, the reaction products of such organic materials often contaminate the mud and necessitate expensive chemical treatmentsof the mud. The solid organic materials used are difficult to keep suspended in the drilling fluid, being of a higher specific gravity than the fluid, While materials such as expanded perlite, though easily to suspend, become compressed to a specific gravity higher than that of the fluid under the pressure in the bore hole. Furthermore, the commonly used materials lack adhesive power and are insoluble, and they have been known to become lodged in the wall of the bore hole so as to obstruct or seal off a producing oil or gas zone, thus causing a costly or even a complete loss of production.

The object of the present invention is to provide methods and compositions which will overcome the disadvantages above mentioned and by the use of which losses of circulation can be prevented or stopped much more effec-v tively than in the use of techniques heretofore known.

I have discovered that this object can be achieved by providing gilsonite in a suitable granular form and, whenever a condition of lost circulation occurs in the course of well drilling operations, forcing the granular solid gilsonite into leaking crevices in the well formation.

Gilsonite is a naturally occurring solid hydrocarbon that has a brownish black color, is soluble in hydrocarbon solvents and is mined in various grades having various degrees of toughness and elasticity and various softening temperatures. All the common varieties are substantially incompressible and have a specific gravity sufliciently near to that of water that properly sized granules of the gilsonite can be readily suspended in aqueous liquid carriers. p v

The gilsonite to be used in any particular case is selected from among the several available varieties so as to possess desired degrees of toughness and elasticity and a desired softening temperature, and then his crushed and screened or otherwise preformed so as to obtain it in the form of solid granules having various sizes and size distributions suitable both for sealing the crevices occurring in the well formationand for being easily placed and kept in suspension in an aqueous liquid carrier used to carry it into the bore hole and force it into the crevices therein. In general, the gilsonite here used consists nearly entirely of granulesof sizes retained on a mesh screen, not more than about 10% of the particles being of any smaller size, and a major proportion of the granules have sizes in the range of minus 4 to plus 50 screen mesh. The coarsest particles present in the gilsonite-added to a drilling mud must be capable of passing through the mud pump used at the Well.

Having thus provided a suitable granular form of gilsonite, losses of circulation can be stopped pursuant hereto by simply mixing the granules of gilsonite with a portion of the aqueous drilling mud usually circulated through the bore hole and pumping the resulting suspension into the hole so that the mud will carry the gilsonite granules to the leaking strata and force them into the crevices therein. aqueous cement slurry or even clear water can be used as the liquid carrier, instead of the usual drilling mud.

It is necessary, however, that the carrier be an aqueous 50 pounds per barrel of the mixture or suspension. For

severe conditions, this concentration may be increased to as much as 100 pounds per barrel.

In some cases of lost circulation the use of a liquid l carrier is not necessary; for example, where circulation is lost by reason of cavities in the formation at a rela- If desired, a conventional tively'shallow drilling level. In such cases, the granular gilsonite may be simply poured into the bore hole in a loose or dry form and then forced into the cavities and connecting cracks by subjecting it to hydraulic pressure from-a conventional drilling mud or other liquid pumped over it.

According to a further feature of this invention, I carry out the described operations by the use of a selected variety of gilsonite that softens at a temperature above the temperature of the well formation but is quite tough and pressure resistant at the temperature of the formation. The softening temperatures of different natural varieties of gilsonite range from as low as about 75 F. to asv high as about 760 F., while the melting temperatures range from about 118 F. up to about 800 F. In general the varieties useful pursuant hereto are those which soften at temperatures between 170 and .610 F., and those most commonly used-soften at temperatures between 300 and 350 F. v 7

According. to another feature of this invention, the granular gilsonite may be applied by forcing it into the formation crevices while it is in a softened condition. Softened gilsonite granules will readily enter various forms of cracks or crevices in the formation, and they adhere well to. the cavity surfaces. The softening of the granules can be easily brought about by heating them. When the well formation itself has a relatively high temperature, the gilsonite used can be selected so that it will soften at the temperature of the formation; and such gilsonite can be poured into the formation, held in place until it softens, and then forced into the crevices. In other cases, the gilsonite to be used is selected with a softening temperature not exceeding 212 F. and a suspension of this granular gilsonite in an aqueous liquid carrier, for example, in the usual bentonite drilling mud, is heated to the softening temperature of the gilsonite before being introduced into the well formation.

When the gilsonite used issoftened by heating it, the temperature of the formation strata can be utilized to cool and harden it in situ after it is forced into the strata cavities, so as to restore its desired toughness and pressure resistance and give it a permanent sealing effect.

The following tables illustrate the preferred particle size distribution of granular gilsonite used according to this invention under different conditions of lost circulation:

A. Particle'size distribution of granular gilsonite preferably used in average crises of lost circulation in oil wells Dryysiex'ra Analysis Percentages Retained by Weight U. 8. Screen No.

Maximum Minimum Typical B. Particle size distribution of granular gilsonite preferably used in severe cases 0') lost circulatibn'in oil wells C. Particle size distribution of granular gilsonite preferably used in worst cases of lost circulation in oil wells Dry Sieve Analysis Percentages Retained by Weight U. S. Screen N0.

Maximum Minimum Typical 4 (4,760 microns)- 35 10 20 8 (2,380 microus)- 75 16 (1,190 microns) 95 EXAMPLE I While drilling a 6,000 foot test well with the use of a conventional bentonite drilling mud, several cavities and cracks were penetrated in the formation strata, and a complete loss of circulation occurred.- During a twoweek period all available types of known lost circulation materials were used in efforts to restore circulation, and 9 cement blocks were set in the formation, but circulation was not restored.

After the failure of those efforts, cubic feet of granular gilsonite having a melting point of 270 F. was mixed with about 400 barrels of the aqueous bentonite mud. The mixture was heated to about F., the softening point of the gilsonite, by means of steam pipes in the mud pit. The mixture was then pumped into the zone of lost circulation and allowed to stand for 2 hours. The formation temperature was 58 P. which hardened and set the gilsonite. Circulation was immediately and permanently restored by these steps.

The granular gilsonite used in this example had a screen analysis of the type indicated in Table C above.

EXAMPLE 11 While drilling at a depth of 9,200 feet circulation was l'ost,-and efforts to restore it by the use of common materialswere unsuccessful. Granular gilsonite having a screen analysis of the type indicated in Table C above was thenv mixed into the aqueous bentonite drilling mud to a concentration of 22 pounds of the gilsonite per barrel (611 pounds) of the mud. AboutSO barrels of this mixture were pumped into the bore hole and allowed to stand for about 1V2 hours, until the. hydrostatic pressure of the materialhad forced the gilsonite granules into theformation cavities. The result was a permanent restoration of circulation. p q

The granular gilsonite used in this example had a softening temperature ofabout 200 F.

EXAMPLE III While drilling a'ta depth of 970 feet, a 5 foot cavity was penetrated, and no fluid would stand in the bore hole. A total of lOO'cubic feet of granular gilsonite was poured into the open hole, and an aqueous bentonite mud of usual composition was pumped in :ontop of the gilsonite to weight it down and force it back into cracks communicatingwith the cavity. By this procedure full circulation wasrestored, and no further loss of circulation occurred at the same location.

The gilsonite used according tothis example had a softening temperature of 320 F. and a screen analysis of the type indicated in Table B above.

While I haveset forth numerous details in the foregoing description and examples of this invention, it will be understood that the invention maybe practiced in various ways without limitation to such details except'as may be required by a fair construction of the appended claims.

1. In Well drilling operations in which a drilling fluid is circulated within the drill hole, a method of overcoming loss of the fluid to earth formations through which the hole is drilled, comprising circulating as the drilling fluid an aqueous drilling mud having suspended therein solid granules of gilsonite in the proportion of from 10 to 100 pounds of the gilsonite per barrel of the drilling mud.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein the gilsonite has a softening temperature between 170 and 610 Fahrenheit.

3. The method of claim 2, wherein the softening temperature of the gilsonite does not exceed 212 Fahrenheit.

4. The method of claim 1, wherein the granules of gilsonite are of various sizes, with the major proportion ranging from minus 4 to plus 50 screen mesh in size.

5. A well drilling fluid, comprising an aqueous drilling mud having suspended therein solid granules of gilsonite in the proportion of form 10 to 100 pounds of the gilsonite per barrel of the drilling mud.

6. The well drilling fluid of claim 5, wherein the gilsonite has a softening temperature between 160 and 610 Fahrenheit.

References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,327,268 Christians Jan. 6, 1920 2,573,690 Cardwell et al Nov. 6, 1951 2,597,085 Larsen May 20, 1952 2,634,098 Armentrout Apr. 7, 1953 2,683,690 Armentrout July 13, 1954 OTHER REFERENCES Abraham: Asphalts, fourth edition, 1938, published by 20 Van Nostrand, New York, pp. 227 to 236.

Citas de patentes
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Clasificaciones
Clasificación de EE.UU.507/126, 106/DIG.300, 166/292, 175/72, 106/816, 106/669, 166/295, 166/294
Clasificación internacionalE21B21/00, C09K8/22
Clasificación cooperativaC09K8/22, E21B21/003, Y10S106/03
Clasificación europeaC09K8/22, E21B21/00M