Finite Element Analysis of Thermally Induced Stresses in the Near-Wellbore Region during Mud Invasion into Fractures

[+] Author and Article Information
Ze Wang

Louisiana State University

Yuanhang Chen

Louisiana State University

1Corresponding author.

ASME doi:10.1115/1.4038783 History: Received August 31, 2017; Revised November 20, 2017


A severe lost circulation event is usually associated with emanation and propagation of pre-existing or drilling induced fractures from the wellbore. To successfully prevent further fracture propagation and combat lost circulation, a thorough understanding of the stress state in the near-wellbore region with fractures is imperative. However, it is not yet fully understood how temperature variation during mud invasion affects pre-existing or newly initiated fractures. To address this problem, a 3D finite element analysis was conducted to simulate the transport processes and stress state in the near-wellbore region during mud invasion into fractures. To take the thermal effects into account, a thermo-poro-elasticity model was coupled with flow and heat transfer models pre-existing fractures or newly initiated. This study included a series of sensitivity analyses based on different formation properties and mud loss conditions to delineate the relative importance of different parameters on induced thermal stresses. The results demonstrate how the stresses redistribute as mud invasion takes place. It shows that a temperature difference between the formation rock and the circulating muds can facilitate fracture propagation during mud invasion. The thermal effect can also diminish the enhanced hoop stresses provided by Wellbore Strengthening. Such information is important to successful management of lost circulation by taking into account thermal effects. The conclusions of this study are particularly relevant when a large temperature difference exists between circulating fluids and surrounding rock as commonly seen in high-pressure high temperature (HPHT) and deepwater wells.

Copyright (c) 2017 by ASME
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