Application of Anhydrous Calcium Sulfate as a Weighting Agent in Oil-Based Drilling Fluids

Mobeen Murtaza, Zeeshan Tariq, Mohamed Mahmoud, Muhammad Shahzad Kamal, Dhafer Al Shehri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The hydrostatic pressure exerted during the drilling operation is controlled by adding a weighting agent into drilling fluids. Various weighting materials such as barite, calcium carbonate, hematite, and ilmenite are used to increase the density of drilling fluids. Some weighting additives can cause serious drilling problems, including particle settling, formation damage, erosion, and insoluble filters. In this study, anhydrite (calcium sulfate) is used as a weighting additive in the oil-based drilling fluid (OBDF). Anhydrite is an abundantly available resource used in the preparation of desiccant, plaster of Paris, and Stucco. Anhydrite application in drilling fluids is discouraged because of its filter cake removal issue. This study investigated anhydrite (anhydrous CaSO4) as a weighting agent and its filter cake removal procedure for OBDFs. The anhydrite performance as a weighting agent in OBDFs was evaluated by conducting several laboratory experiments such as density, rheology, fluid loss, and electrical stability and compared with that of commonly used weighting materials (barite, calcium carbonate, and hematite). The anhydrite was mixed in three different concentrations (62, 124, and 175 ppb) in a base-drilling fluid. The results showed that calcium sulfate enhanced rheological parameters such as plastic viscosity, yield point, apparent viscosity, and gel strength. CaSO4 reduced the fluid loss and provided better control over the fluid loss than other tested weighting materials tested at the same concentration of 124 ppb. Similarly, the emulsion stability was decreased with the increase in the amount of calcium sulfate in the OBDF. The calcium sulfate filter cake can be removed easily from the wellbore with an efficiency of 83 to 91% in single-stage and multistage removal processes, respectively using the newly developed formulation consisting of 20 wt % potassium salt of glutamic acid-N,N-diacetic acid (K4GLDA) as a chelating agent, 6 wt % potassium carbonate, and 10% ethylene glycol monobutyl ether. The introduction of anhydrite as a weighting agent can be more beneficial for both academia and industry.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21690-21701
Number of pages12
Issue number33
StatePublished - Aug 24 2021
Externally publishedYes

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Generated from Scopus record by KAUST IRTS on 2023-09-20


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