Geoenergy Science and Engineering
School of Engineering / Centre for Sustainable Energy and Resources
National Natural Science Foundation of China / Sichuan Province Youth Science and technology innovation team project / Sichuan Province Science and Technology Project
The geological conditions of shale reservoir present several unique challenges. These include the extensive development of multi-scale fractures, frequent losses during horizontal drilling, low success rates in plugging, and a tendency for the fracture plugging zone to experience repeated failures. Extensive analysis suggests that the weakening of the mechanical properties of shale fracture surfaces is the primary factor responsible for reducing the bearing capacity of the fracture plugging zone. To assess the influence of oil-based environments on the degradation of mechanical properties in shale fracture surfaces, rigorous mechanical property tests were conducted on shale samples subsequent to their exposure to various substances, including white oil, lye, and the filtrate of oil-based drilling fluid. The experimental results demonstrate that the average values of the elastic modulus and indwelling hardness of dry shale are 24.30 GPa and 0.64 GPa, respectively. Upon immersion in white oil, these values decrease to 22.42 GPa and 0.63 GPa, respectively. Additionally, the depth loss rates of dry shale and white oil-soaked shale are determined to be 57.12% and 61.96%, respectively, indicating an increased degree of fracturing on the shale surface. White oil, lye, and the filtrate of oil-based drilling fluid have demonstrated their capacity to reduce the friction coefficient of the shale surface. The average friction coefficients measured for white oil, lye, and oil-based drilling fluid are 0.80, 0.72, and 0.76, respectively, reflecting their individual weakening effects. Furthermore, it should be noted that the contact mode between the plugging materials and the fracture surface can also lead to a reduction in the friction coefficient between them. To enhance the bearing capacity of the plugging zone, a series of plugging experiments were conducted utilizing high-strength materials, high-friction materials, and nanomaterials. The selection of these materials was based on the understanding of the weakened mechanical properties of the fracture surface. The experimental results demonstrate that the reduced mechanical properties of the fracture surface can diminish the pressure-bearing capacity of the plugging zone. However, the implementation of high-strength materials, high-friction materials, and nanomaterials effectively enhances the pressure-bearing capacity of the plugging zone. The research findings offer valuable insights and guidance towards improving the sealing pressure capacity of shale fractures and effectively increasing the success rate of leakage control measures during shale drilling and completion. © 2023 The Authors
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