Minimising filtrate loss into the formation by forming a filter cake with low porosity and permeability near the wellbore region is the key to managing formation damage problem. Visualising and understanding the structure of a filter cake can help formulate a drilling fluid system that provide an effective caking process with reduced water loss.

In this study, a technique that identifies the appropriate mud caking process is suggested. It can be applicable to relevant sandstone formations within 2 inches from the wellbore. This identification technique is based on the measurement of filtrate loss, the measurement of the return permeability of cores exposed to selected muds and the visual observation on the micro-level of cake structures of these muds in order to describe them and highlight their merits. A good mud system is the one which have a low filtrate loss, a low return permeability and a filter cake structure close to that of the ideal internal and external filter cake. This study also provides an investigative and comparative look at the internal and external filter cake structures of different muds using the Scanning Electron Microscopy.

This technique verified that the glycol and petrofree drilling fluids possess the characteristics and filtration properties of good mud systems. The glycol filter cake structure was superior to those of the solid free /low solid KCl-polymer muds. Scanning Electron Microscopy provided clear and descriptive images of the structures of internal and external filter cakes.

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