Reduction of breakdown pressure by filter cake removal using thermochemical fluids and solvents: Experimental and numerical studies

Zeeshan Tariq, Murtada Saleh Aljawad, Mohamed Mahmoud, Olalekan Alade, Muhammad Shahzad Kamal, Ayman Al-Nakhli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The process of well cleanup involves the removal of an impermeable layer of filter cake from the face of the formation. The inefficient removal of the filter cake imposes difficulty on fracturing operations. Filter cake’s impermeable features increase the required pressure to fracture the formation. In this study, a novel method is introduced to reduce the required breakdown pressure to fracture the formation containing the water-based drilling fluid filter cake. The breakdown pressure was tested for five samples of similar properties using different solutions. A simulated borehole was drilled in the core samples. An impermeable filter cake using barite-weighted drilling fluid was built on the face of the drilled hole of each sample. The breakdown pressure for the virgin sample without damage (filter cake) was 6.9 MPa. The breakdown pressure increased to 26.7 MPa after the formation of an impermeable filter cake. Partial removal of filter cake by chelating agent reduced the breakdown pressure to 17.9 MPa. Complete dissolution of the filter cake with chelating agents resulted in the breakdown pressure approximately equivalent to the virgin rock breakdown pressure, i.e., 6.8 MPa. The combined thermochemical and chelating agent solution removed the filter cake and reduced the breakdown pressure to 3.8 MPa. Post-treatment analysis was carried out using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and scratch test. NMR showed the pore size redistributions with good communication between different pores after the thermochemical removal of filter cake. At the same time, there was no communication between the different pores due to permeability impairment after filter cake formation. The diffusion coupling through NMR scans confirmed the higher interconnectivity between different pores systems after the combined thermochemical and chelating agent treatment. Compressive strength was measured from the scratch test, confirming that filter cake formation caused added strength to the rock that impacts the rock breakdown pressure. The average compressive strength of the original specimen was 44.5 MPa that increased to 73.5 MPa after the formation of filter cake. When the filter cake was partially removed, the strength was reduced to 61.7 MPa. Complete removal with chelating agents removed the extra strength that was added due to the filter cake presence. Thermochemical and chelating agents resulted in a significantly lower compressive strength of 25.3 MPa. A numerical model was created to observe the reduction in breakdown pressure due to the thermochemical treatment of the filter cake. The result presented in this study showed the engineering applications of thermochemical treatment for filter cake removal.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 1 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry


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