Inaccurate calculation of settling and slip velocities of cuttings leads to inaccurate determination of cuttings concentration and, hence, borehole pressure, as well as inaccurate lag times. To minimize these problems, an understanding of the relation between drilling fluid characteristics and the cuttings transport process is essential. It is desirable for drilling fluids to form a gel structure to help cuttings transportation and suspension of solids. The gel structure development is proportional to increase in aging time. The increase in aging time yields higher shear stress responses at a constant rate of deformation to the drilling fluid sample. The gel structure development helps keep cuttings in suspension and shows a viscoelastic response to small deformations. Understanding these viscoelastic responses is important in rheological characterization and settling velocity prediction. Thus, viscoelastic drilling fluid characteristics should be investigated in depth to better estimate settling and slip velocities of cuttings and to increase cutting transport efficiency.

The main focus of this project is to work on viscoelastic and time-dependent fluid characterization to identify the relation between rheological properties and settling velocities of cuttings. Rheological experiments were conducted using an Anton Paar Physica MCR 301 Rheometer. Three different drilling fluids, Water Based Mud (WBM), Oil Based Mud (OBM) and Synthetic Based Mud (SBM), are used for rheological and settling velocity experiments. Stress Overshoot Tests (SOTs) and Steady-Shear experiments were performed to investigate viscoelastic properties and gel structure of the fluids, and to examine time and temperature dependence of WBM, OBM and SBM. Information obtained from the viscoelastic and time-dependent fluid characterization tests was coupled with settling velocity data using both arbitrary shape of cuttings and spherical particles. A mathematical model that considers viscoelastic properties and time dependency of drilling fluids was developed to estimate settling and slip velocities of the cuttings. Comparisons between the proposed models and existing models based on standard rheological measurements were also done. The results show that the proposed model has good agreement with the experimental data.

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