Aramco may use palm fiber to bolster oil wells

Aramco may use palm fiber to bolster oil wells
Updated 02 October 2015

Aramco may use palm fiber to bolster oil wells

Aramco may use palm fiber to bolster oil wells

DHAHRAN: Saudi Aramco’s EXPEC Advanced Research Center (EXPEC ARC) is testing fiber made from palm trees to reinforce oil wells during drilling, which could potentially be cost-effective and environmentally friendly.
When a well is being drilled, fluid is used to lift rock debris to the surface. Permeable rock formations will frequently experience high mud losses while drilling, which cause instability and the loss of expensive drilling mud, the company said on its website.
To prevent this, loss circulation materials (LCM) are typically added to drilling fluids to seal and plug these “thief” zones and restore the full circulation of drilling mud. Researchers at EXPEC ARC discovered that date tree waste could be used for this purpose instead. The product has been named “ARC Plug.”
Experimental results indicate that date tree waste-based fibrous LCMs have similar or better performance than other conventional LCM products in sealing and blocking permeable and small fractured loss zones. This makes locally developed, organic, biodegradable and non-toxic LCMs similar to imported granular and fibrous LCM materials, the company said.
The palm tree LCMs demonstrated their potential in the laboratory in controlling seepage, moderate and severe loss of circulation. EXPEC ARC is now conducting the final stage of testing on the new LCM product in field trials scheduled for the first quarter of 2016.
Nasser Al-Naimi, deputy head for oil works in the northern area, said: “Drilling fluids play an important role by lifting the rocky waste to the surface as well as facilitating other drilling missions.”
To check out the economic and operational feasibility of the initiative, an Aramco team visited the Palms and Dates Research Center and a plant for manufacturing fibers in Al-Ahsa, Al-Naimi said.
According to the research center in Al-Ahsa, there are approximately 120,000 to 135,000 tons of date kernels available every year from various sources such as biscuit factories and date-processing plants.
Mohammed Amanullah, EXPEC petroleum engineering consultant and projects manager, said: “There are large quantities of palm waste available regularly in the Kingdom which are used for raw materials in many products. More than 500,000 tons of fibrous materials used to reduce the loss of drilling fluids can be produced by pruning palm damaged and fruitless waste.”
Ali Abdullah Al-Mashari, EXPEC director, said: “The manufacturing of substances responsible for reducing the loss of drilling fluids locally is expected to reduce the cost of importing these materials from abroad significantly, as well as add a new economic stream through recycling palm waste and developing national industries.”