Experimental investigation of shale membrane behavior under tri-axial condition

M. M. Rahman, Z. Chen, S. S. Rahman

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    35 Scopus citations


    Wellbore instability in shale formations is one of the primary problems in oil and gas well drilling. The problem has been traditionally tackled by using oil-based drilling mud. However, this technique is costly and restricted by the environmental regulatory bodies. Recent studies have shown that borehole instability in shales can be managed by controlling the chemical potential of drilling mud. One of the critical issues in this approach is that shales are not ideal membranes. It is essential to understand the nonideal behavior of shale before the wellbore instability problem can be managed by the chemical potential approach. The nonideality of a shale membrane is, in general, a function of the type of the shale being drilled, composition of the formation water in the shale, burial depth of the shale, and chemical composition of the drilling mud used. In this paper, the theory on nonideal membrane was reviewed and identified for the purpose. The mathematical model was validated by experimental results obtained using a real field shale specimen from the Northwest Shelf of Australia. An example is also given to show how the model can be used to manage wellbore instability in shale by controlling the chemical composition of mud. The results of this study can be used as a useful guideline for formulating proper mud to drill troublesome shaly formations.

    Original languageBritish English
    Pages (from-to)1265-1282
    Number of pages18
    JournalPetroleum Science and Technology
    Issue number9-10
    StatePublished - Sep 2005


    • Chemical potential
    • Osmosis
    • Shale membrane
    • Wellbore stability


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