Ranked among North America’s most significant shale plays, the Fort Worth Basin’s Barnett shale poses several significant challenges to water-based drilling fluid performance—including sometimes severe lost circulation and stubbornly low penetration rates resulting from the deficient lubricity capabilities of conventional water-based formulations.
Breaking with Convention Unlocks Hard-to-Reach Rewards
Conventional clay-based formulations have long been the fluid of choice in the Barnett Shale. But when it came to addressing operational efficiency goals in the Barnett’s unique geology, one operator turned to Newpark Drilling Fluids to devise an innovative new water-based solution that would outperform the archaic fluid standards.
Customized for Success
Newpark Drilling Fluids delivered a customized water-based drilling fluid system designed to reduce the total days per well and resultant total well cost. The formulation could accomplish this by providing improved wellbore lubricity and stability and by fostering significantly improved ROP. Ultimately, the operator was able to drill deeper, faster, and at a cost-per-foot competitive to previous methods.
The enhanced ability to recycle and reuse this water-based fluid and to transfer fluid from well to well, or even from location to location, progressively lowered per-well fluid cost; while also providing reserve fluid on location if needed for lost circulation.
In instances like these, the added efficiencies and reduced time on well can deliver a return on investment (ROI) ranging from 200 to 500 percent. Ultimately, operators will increase their profitability through improved net present value (NPV) from additional lateral footage increasing production.
Solving Unique Challenges
The main challenges to drilling performance in the Fort Worth Basin include the troublesome inhibition of the Atoka formation and the application of effective solutions to combat fluid losses in lost circulation zones prevalent in many areas of the play.
To meet these challenges head-on, Newpark offered a water-based formulation of a proprietary clay-free polymer system that was specifically customized for the Barnett’s unique geology.
This fluid system was an integral part of the operator’s overall efficiency improvement efforts in several critical well planning and operational techniques. These efforts resulted in lower total drilling costs by reducing total days from spud to rig release, drilling days, and days running casing. Rates of penetration were significantly enhanced, tripping times were reduced, and lateral lengths were extended.
The Bottom Line
Facing the unique challenges of the Fort Worth Basin’s Barnett shale, this operator worked with Newpark to devise an all-inclusive approach to continuous operational improvement that included innovative fluid management.
As a result, the production interval for the introductory well was completed successfully in just 13 days. As subsequent wells were drilled with NDF’s water-based polymer fluid in the Barnett shale, well results continued to improve. The per-well cost associated with the fluid also decreased as fluid volume was re-conditioned and used on multiple wells. Initial built fluid was used on as many as four wells before being partially disposed of and diluted with new fluid additions.