A Novel Approach to Investigating Transport of Lost Circulation Materials in Rough Fracture

B. Guo, G. Li, Y. Feng, Y. Meng
CFD-DEM, drilling fluid loss, fracture plugging, fracture surface scanning, lost circulation materials

The drilling fluid loss or lost circulation via fractures is one of the critical engineering problems in the development of deep oil and gas resources. The conventional treatment is to introduce granular lost circulation material (LCM) into the drilling fluid system to plug fractures. In this work, a method incorporating the fracture surface scanning technique and coupled Computational Fluid Dynamics-Discrete Element Method (CFD-DEM) numerical simulation is proposed for the first time to investigate how the LCM particles plug rough fractures. The rough fracture model is built utilizing a high resolution and high precision measurement system. The LCM particle transport and plugging process in rough fractures are captured in the CFD-DEM numerical simulations. The results show that the local fracture aperture has a significant influence on LCM particle transport and the distribution of the plugging zone. The drilling fluid loss rate will decrease, and the drilling fluid pressure will redistribute during the accumulation of LCM particles in the fracture. The fracture plugging efficiency of nonspherical LCM is improved as a result of formation of multi-particle bridges. This study provides a novel approach and important theoretical guidance to the investigation of LCM particle transport in rough fractures.

Keywords: drilling fluid loss, fracture plugging, lost circulation materials, CFD-DEM, fracture surface scanning

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