Study on Attapulgite as Drilling Fluid Clay Additive in Persian Gulf Seawater

Document Type : Original Article


Faculty of Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering, Sahand University of Technology, Tabriz, Iran


Drilling fluids are a vital part of every successful well construction operation. Water based fluids are used commonly due to better environmental compatibility, lower cost and easier preparation. In offshore drilling, seawater can be used as the basis of water based fluids. Salinity of seawater restricts application of some additives. For example, bentonite settles in saline environments. In this study, a synthetic water is prepared based on Persian Gulf seawater. Bentonite, pre-hydrated bentonite and attapulgite suspensions were developed based on fresh water and prepared synthetic water. Rheological and filtration properties of fluids were tested to check their performance in synthetic seawater. Results of filtration measurements showed a thick mud cake and high filtration volume in pre-hydrated bentonite fluids. In the case of attapulgite, filtration volume of suspensions in synthetic water increased comparing to suspensions in fresh water. However, filtration properties were acceptable. Study on rheological properties revealed that Herschel-Bulkley model can predict rheological properties with a good accuracy. This is the case for suspensions in both fresh and seawaters. Also it was seen that all suspension had a flow behavior index less than 1, showing their shear thinning character. By increasing clay concentrations, higher consistency index, yield stress and gel strength values were reported. At higher clay concentration a stronger three-dimensional network of clay particles in aqueous environment and consequently a stronger gel structure were formed.  Overall, it can be concluded that attapulgite can be used in the saline environment of Persian Gulf seawater.


Main Subjects

  1. Vipulanandan, C., Mohammed, A., “Effect of drilling mud bentonite contents on the fluid loss and filter cake formation on a field clay soil formation compared to the API fluid loss method and characterized using Vipulanandan models”, Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, 189, (2020), 107029. doi:
  2. Dvoynikov, M.V., Nutskova, M.V., Blinov, P.A., “Developments Made in the Field of Drilling Fluids by Saint Petersburg Mining University”, International Journal of Engineering, Transactions A: Basics, 33, (2020), 702-711. doi: 10.5829/ije.2020.33.04a.22
  3. Lijuan, P., Xiaoping, L., Wu, L., Fuhao, Z., Tongliang, W., Huang, W., Fuwei, W., “Study on Rheological Property Control Method of “Three High” Water Based Drilling Fluid”, International Journal of Engineering, Transactions B: Applications, 33, (2020), 1687-1695. doi: 5829/ije.2020.33.08b.28
  4. Leusheva, E, Morenov, V., Tabatabaee Moradi, S.Sh., “Effect of Carbonate Additives on Dynamic Filtration Index of Drilling Mud”, International Journal of Engineering, Transactions B: Applications, 33, (2020), 934-939. doi: 10.5829/ije.2020.33.05b.26
  5. Willson, S.M., Driscoll, P., Judzis, A, Black, A., Martin, W., Ehgartner, B., Hinkebein, T., “Drilling Salt Formations Offshore With Seawater Can Significantly Reduce Well Costs”, SPE Drilling & Completion, 19, (2004), 147–155. doi:
  6. Liu, J., Cheng, Y., Zhou, F., Amutenya Evelina, L.M., Long. W., Chen, S., He, L., Yi, X., Yang, X., “Evaluation method of thermal stability of bentonite for water-based drilling fluids”, Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, (2021), 109239. doi:
  7. Temraz, M.G., Hassanien, I., “Mineralogy and rheological properties of some Egyptian bentonite for drilling fluids”, Journal of Natural Gas Science and Engineering, 31, (2016), 791-799. doi:
  8. Gautam, S., Guria, Ch., Rajak, D.K., Pathak, A.K., “Functionalization of fly ash for the substitution of bentonite in drilling fluid”, Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, 166, (2018), 63-72. doi:
  9. Karagüzel, C., Çetinel, T., Boylu, F., Çinku, K., Çelik, M.S., “Activation of (Na, Ca)-bentonites with soda and MgO and their utilization as drilling mud”, Applied Clay Science, 48, (2010), 398-404. doi: 10.1016/j.clay.2010.01.013
  10. Scheid,M., de Carvalho, R.V., de Oliveira, B.R., de Oliveira Borges, R.F., Calçada, L.A., “Evaluation of the dissolution kinetics of NaCl particles in aqueous drilling fluids viscosified with bentonite”, Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, 174, (2019), 563-571. doi:
  11. Zou, Z., Zhou, F., Wang, Q., Zhao, Q., Tian, Y., Liu, W., Chen, L., “Enhanced dispersive stability of bentonite suspension in saline water-based mud”, Colloids and Surfaces A, 579, (2019), 123589. doi:
  12. Li, M., Wu, Q., Han, J., Mei, Ch., Lei, T., Lee, S., Gwon, J., “Overcoming Salt Contamination of Bentonite Water-Based Drilling Fluids with Blended Dual-Functionalized Cellulose Nanocrystals”, ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering 8, (2008), 11569-11578. doi:
  13. Kelessidis, V.C., Tsamantaki, C., Dalamarinis, P., “Effect of pH and electrolyte on the rheology of aqueous Wyoming bentonite dispersions”, Applied Clay Science, 38, (2007), 86-96. doi: 10.1016/j.clay.2007.01.011
  14. Duman, O., Tunç, S., “Electrokinetic and rheological properties of Na-bentonite in some electrolyte solutions”, Microporous and Mesoporous Materials, 117, (2009), 331-338. doi: 10.1016/j.micromeso.2008.07.007
  15. Abu-Jdayil, B., “Rheology of sodium and calcium bentonite–water dispersions: Effect of electrolytes and aging time”, International Journal of Mineral Processing, 98, (2011), 208-213. doi: 10.1016/j.minpro.2011.01.001
  16. Ren, J., Deshun, Y., Zhai, R., “Rheological behavior of bentonite-water suspension at various temperatures: Effect of solution salinity”, Engineering Geology, 295, (2021), 106435. doi:
  17. Mirarab Razi, M., Mirarab Razi, F., “An Experimental Study of Influence of Salt Concentration, Mixing Time, and pH on the Rheological Properties of Pre-Hydrated Bentonite Slurries Treated by Polymers”, Journal of Dispersion Science and Technology, 34, (2013), 764-770. doi:
  18. Altun, G., Ettehadi Osgouei, A., “Investigation and remediation of active-clay contaminated sepiolite drilling muds”, Applied Clay Science, 102, (2014), 238-245. doi:
  19. Ettehadi, A., Ulker, C., Altun, G., “Nonlinear viscoelastic rheological behavior of bentonite and sepiolite drilling fluids under large amplitude oscillatory shear”, Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, 208, (2022), 109210, doi:
  20. Asghari, I., Esmaeilzadeh, F., “Manipulation of key parameters in RESS process for attapulgite particles utilizing in drilling mud and investigation on its rheological characteristics”, Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, 112, (2013), 359-369. doi:
  21. American Petroleum Institute Specifications 13I, “Recommended Practice Standard Procedure for Laboratory Testing of Drilling Fluids”, (2009).
  22. Rabbani, A., Salehi, S., “Dynamic modeling of the formation damage and mud cake deposition using filtration theories coupled with SEM image processing”, Journal of Natural Gas Science and Engineering, 42, (2017), 157-168. doi:
  1. Fattah, K.A., Lashin A., “Investigation of mud density and weighting materials effect on drilling fluid filter cake properties and formation damage”, Journal of African Earth Sciences, 117, (2016), 345-357. doi:
  2. Tran, M.H., Abousleiman, Y.N., Vinh, X.N., “The Effects of Low-Permeability Mud cake on Time-Dependent Wellbore Failure Analyses”, in IADC/SPE Asia Pacific Drilling Technology Conference and Exhibition, (2010). doi:
  3. Gudarzifar, H., Sabbaghi, S., Rezvani, A., Saboori, R., “Experimental investigation of rheological & filtration properties and thermal conductivity of water-based drilling fluid enhanced”, Powder Technology, 368, (2020), 323-341. doi:
  4. Mohamed, A., Salehi, S., Ahmed, R., “Significance and complications of drilling fluid rheology in geothermal drilling: A review”, Geothermics, 93, (2021), 102066. doi:
  5. Ochoa, M.V., “Analysis of drilling fluid rheology and tool joint effect to reduce errors in hydraulics calculations”, PhD Dissertation, Texas A&M University, (2006).
  6. Ramsey, M.S., “Practical Wellbore Hydraulics and Hole Cleaning”, Gulf Professional Publishing, (2019). doi:
  7. Kamali, F., Saboori, R., Sabbaghi, S., “Fe3O4-CMC nanocomposite performance evaluation as rheology modifier and fluid loss control characteristic additives in water-based drilling fluid”, Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, 205, (2021), 108912. doi:
  8. Nabati, A., Bahrainian, S.S., Haji Dolu, E., “Improved Rheological Model of Oil-Based Drilling Fluid for Southwestern Iranian Oilfields”, Journal of Petroleum Science and Technology, 8, (2018), 53-71. doi: 10.22078/jpst.2017.2706.1459
  9. H., Gareche, M.,  Rooki, R., “Rheological studies and optimization of Herschel–Bulkley parameters of an environmentally friendly drilling fluid using genetic algorithm”, Rheologica Acta, 57, (2018), 693-704. doi:
  10. Kelessidis, V.C., Dalamarinis, P., Maglione, R., “Experimental study and predictions of pressure losses of fluids modeled as Herschel–Bulkley in concentric and eccentric annuli in laminar, transitional and turbulent flows”, Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, 77, (2011), 305-312. doi:
  11. Kelessidis, V.C., Maglione, R., Tsamantaki, C., Aspirtakis, Y., “Optimal determination of rheological parameters for Herschel–Bulkley drilling fluids and impact on pressure drop, velocity profiles and penetration rates during drilling”, Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, 53, (2006), 203-224. doi: