Wellbore stability analysis during drilling through marine gas hydrate-bearing sediments in Shenhu area: A case study Academic Article uri icon


  • 2018 Elsevier B.V. Because of the metastable character of natural gas hydrate-bearing sediments (GHBS), they can be easily affected by drilling operations, thereby inducing the wellbore instability risk. This issue is studied in this paper by means of numerical simulations based on the first exploration well performed in the Shenhu area of the South China Sea in 2007. The corresponding simulated results were compared against the field caliper logging curve. Besides this analysis, the effects of both drilling mud properties (i.e., temperature, density, and salinity) and initial reservoir conditions (i.e., permeability, and saturation) on the wellbore stability were further investigated under the condition of drilling mud invasion into the GHBS. It is anticipated that the coupled multiphysics phenomena triggered under operation conditions can lead to wellbore instability and may also trigger the formation of fractures. The simulation results show that the predicted yield region around the borehole of well SH2 conforms to the borehole enlargement observed in the field. The sensitivity analyses indicate that a local increase in the pore pressure is likely to be generated in the wellbore vicinity, triggered by the large amount of free gas to be released during hydrate dissociation, which is in turn induced by heating (i.e., coming from the drilling-friction effects) and the high salinity of the drilling muds typically used. This study shows that by engineering the salinity of the drilling mud, the amount of free gas to be produced from marine GHBS can be controlled, preventing in this way further wellbore instability issues. This research also shows that an increase in the drilling-mud density not only impact on the development of pore pressures near the borehole, but it also affects the extent of drilling-mud invasion. This effect will extend the hydrate dissociation to a wider area and will also reduce the resistance of the formation, leading to further deformation and potential failure. The analyses also show that the increase in the initial hydrate saturation is associated with a stronger sediment and a more stable wellbore. The model also predicts that GHBS with higher absolute permeability will dissipate faster the excess of pore pressure in the surrounding sediment, contributing to wellbore stability; however, the extent of the hydrate dissociation zone will expand and thereby will increase the yield region.

published proceedings

  • Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering

author list (cited authors)

  • Sun, J., Ning, F., Lei, H., Gai, X., Snchez, M., Lu, J., ... Wu, M.

citation count

  • 75

complete list of authors

  • Sun, Jiaxin||Ning, Fulong||Lei, Hongwu||Gai, Xuerui||S├ínchez, Marcelo||Lu, Jingan||Li, Yanlong||Liu, Lele||Liu, Changling||Wu, Nengyou||He, Yong||Wu, Min

publication date

  • January 2018