Agro-Waste as Fluid Loss Control in Oil and Gas Drilling Fluids



Maral Khanjani   Rahmatallah Saboori   Azim Kalantariasl

Expensive chemical additives for controlling properties of water /oil-based drilling fluids are used in drilling of oil/gas wells. In addition to many advantages, these chemical additives have some huge drawbacks as environment hazardous. Due to the global concern about the environment, most industries are interested in using environmental friendly and cheap materials such as agro-wastes. Iran has 28th global place in production of rice in the year 2020 which produce about 3 million tons rice husk per a year. Using this material instead of common chemical additives, the cost of drilling, environment hazardous and rig’s personnel safety threat will decrease significantly. This paper compares the effect of rice husk natural agro-waste and chemical additive on controlling fluid loss of water-based drilling fluid. The results represent that the natural agro-waste material is successfully effective in controlling the fluid loss in comparison to other chemical additive.

Keywords: Rice husk, Drilling fluid, Filtration

  1. Introduction

Drilling fluid plays many important roles in drilling of oil, gas, geothermal and waste disposal wells. Water and oil-based fluids are two major types of drilling fluids [1]. While oil-based fluid has some advantages in challenging formations, due to environmental and cost issues, water-based drilling fluid is usually used during drilling operations [2,4,5]. Usually, it contains water as base fluid, bentonite clay and many other additives including reactive/ inert solids and chemicals to perform several key roles for safe and efficient drilling of subsurface formations [8]. Most drilling problems are directly or indirectly related to drilling fluids, and appropriate design of drilling fluid additives improves drilling efficiency and reduce drilling time and cost [1,3,6,7]. Drilling fluid are used for many purposes including: cutting suspension and transport to the surface, cooling and lubricating the bit, exerting pressure on the drilled formations for prevention of blow out and cleaning the bottom hole plastering wellbore with thin low permeable cake layer on the well wall to enhance well strength; minimize fluid loss into the adjacent formation and subsequently reduce formation damage. Thus, it has complex physio-chemical behavior which must be studied and designed properly [1,4,5,9].

Ekeinde et al. (2018) used green material like Xanthan gum, Gaur gum powder and Detarium microcarpum in order to do some investigations on rheology parameters, besides the effect of different temperature on rheology. They compared the impact of green materials on rheology parameters with PAC, which was added to drilling fluid. In the result, green materials had better control in rheology parameters in comparison to PAC [10]. Idress (2019) used corn cob and nut plug in effort to control and improve rheology and filtration. The impact of the combination of aforementioned materials to reduce the filtration was significantly bigger than their single usage. Although, they had not dramatic impact on rheology [11]. Idress et al. (2020) used agro-waste as sun flower seed, orange hull to control LCM, which it was supreme successful [12]. Igwilo et al. (2019) used the hull, pulp and stone of Avocado to control the HPHT filtration, which it was successful [13]. Nasiri et al. (2018) used a plant which it was located in Zagros mountain to control filter loss with heavy oil-based drilling mud, which it had acceptable results [14]. Amanullah et al. (2017) used date seed to control filtration at HPHT and achieved good result in reducing the loss [3]. Seteyeobot et al. (2017) used plantain peelings and rice husk to improve rheology and filtration at HPHT with oil-based drilling fluid. Finally, rheology and filtration got improved, but the mud thickness got raised, which it wasn’t successful [15]. Amanullah et al. (2018) used coconut tree shell to control filter loss. They received that it has better improvement in comparison to chemical industrial materials [16]. Amadi et al. (2018) used agro-waste such banana peel, potato peel and Arabic gum in water-based drilling mud. These materials were impressive to improve drilling mud properties as mud weight, rheology and filtration. Potato peel were successful to control the LCM. Banana peel could control the filtration. Potato peel and Arabic gum were successful to reduce the mud weight [17]. Onuh et al. (2017) used coconut hull and corn cob to control drilling mud properties. They understood that corn cob can control the filtration better than the coconut hull material, besides they got that the combination of these two materials had better impact on filtration in comparison to their single usage [18].

According to USDA official statistics, about 500-million-ton rice husk have been produced globally in the year 2021, which Asia continent have had a significant role in producing rice husk among other continents. Due to lower price of rice husk 170 $/ton in comparison to other chemical additive, for instance Low-molecular weight polyanionic cellulose polymer (PAC LV) 1900 $/ton, more accessibility than other chemical additives and the decrease in environmental hazardous. It can be a proper replacement for drilling fluid additive, which is needed for controlling and preventing water loss during drilling the oil and gas wells [20].

In this work, the effect of rice husk as an additive on water-based drilling fluid was investigated. Rice husk was added to water-based drilling fluid and its filtration test were measured and with different concentration of rice husk. The results were compared with connectional drilling fluid properties. Also, the effects of pH, different concentrations of rice husk and PAC LV were investigated.

  1. Experimental

2.1. Materials and method

Bentonite and low-molecular weight polyanionic cellulose polymer (PAC LV) and NaOH were supplied from National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC). Rice husk was supplied by North of Iran. Deionized water was purchased from Zolal Company. Nitrogen gas (purity>99.9%) was purchased from Aboughadare Company.

2.2. Preparation of rice husk

In order to clean rice husk from dust and gravels, remove any impurity and larger size particles, the mesh with 74-micron size (U.S.MESH 200) was used. Then for uniformity of size distribution of cleaned rice husk, the ball milling at 500 rpm and ambient temperature was used. Finally, the rice was placed in the oven at 80 ℃ for 2 hours to eliminate its moisture.

2.3. Preparation of Drilling Fluid

2.3.1. Water-Based Drilling Fluid

In order to prepare the water-based drilling fluid, 10 gr bentonite was gradually added to 350 ml deionized water and mixed by Hamilton beach mixer with high speed for 20 min at room temperature.

2.3.2. Water-Based Drilling Fluid with Rice Husk Additive

Bentonite (10 gr) was gradually added to 250 ml deionized water and mixed by Hamilton beach mixer with high speed for about 10 min at room temperature (solution 1).

the rice husk with different concentration (0.5-4 wt./vol.%) was added to 100 ml deionized water and mixed with vigorous stirring for 20 min at room temperature. (solution 2). The process pH was fixed 10 by the material NaOH.

Finally, Solution 2 was slowly added to solution 1 and mixed by Hamilton beach mixer by high speed for 20 min at room temperature.

2.3.3. Preparation of Water-Based Drilling Fluid with Rice Husk and Chemical Additive

Bentonite (10 gr( and deionized water (250 ml) were mixed by Hamilton beach mixer with 36000 rpm for 20 min. Then chemical additive (PAC LV) with different concentration (0.15-0.3 wt./vol.%) was added to mixture and mixed for 15 min (solution 1). The different concentration of rice husk (0.5-4 wt./vol.%) was added to 100 ml deionized water and mixed with vigorous stirring for 20 min at room temperature and pH was fixed 10 (solution 2). Finally, the solution 1 was added to solution 2 and mixed by Hamilton beach mixer for 20 min. Table 1 lists the experiments of drilling fluid with and without rice husk and chemical additive in this study. 

Table 1: List of experiments


Bentonite (gr)

Water (ml)

Rice husk (wt./vol.%)






































2.4. Characterization of Water-Based Drilling Fluid Properties

To measure the filtration properties of water-based drilling fluid, the filter press apparatus was used. The filtration test was included fluid loss. The filter press apparatus is a simulation of the wellbore. In addition, the amount of the fluid loss is equal to the water, which is lost into the drilling layers.

The standard for measuring of filtration took a place at 25 ℃ and 100 psi to the duration of 30 min. Then, the amount of water loss was recorded with time. Figure 1 shows the schematic of filter press apparatus [19].

Figure 1. Schematic of filter press device [19]

To investigate confirmation of rice husk presence on the surface of mud cake, scanning electron microscope (SEM) apparatus (TESCAN Company, the Czechia republic) and a high-resolution camera (Dino-Lite Digital Microscope) were used. The amount of water loss and the morphology of the surface for all water-based fluid samples (only bentonite water-based drilling fluid, rice husk and chemical additive) were measured and the effect of rice husk additives was investigated.

  1. Results and Discussion

3.1. Fluid loss

-Effect of Rice husk Concentration

Figure 2 demonstrate the effect of rice husk concentration on fluid loss of water-based drilling fluid at pH=7 and ambient temperature. It is obvious that by increasing of rice husk concentration, the fluid loss was decreased. So that, rising concentration from 0.5 to 4 wt.%, the water loss decreased from 35.29 to 50% (from 22 to 17 ml). Actually, the presence of the rice husk might cause sealing the pores in drilling fluids, which was effectively successful in reducing the fluid loss.   

-Effect of pH

The effect of pH on fluid loss of water-based drilling fluid was showed in Figure 3. By changing the pH of drilling fluid, the dispersion rate of rice husk in the drilling fluid got raised.

By changing the pH from 7 to 10, it can be seen that the amount of water loss improved in all concentrations of rice husk. For pH=7, 1.4 wt.% of rice husk, the water loss decreased about 41.17%. Whereas, for pH=10, 1.4 wt.% of rice husk, the water loss decreased about 47.05%. The amount of decreasing can be illustrated in all concentrations.

-Effect of PAC-LV

Figures 4 show the effect of mixed of rice husk and PAC-LV on fluid loss of water-based drilling fluid, respectively. By combining rice husk (at optimum concentration=1.4 wt.% and pH=10) with different concentration of PAC-LV (0.14 and 0.28 wt.%), fluid loss was reduced compare to PAC-LV and rice husk. So that, combining 1.4 wt.% of rice husk with 0.28 wt.% of PAC-LV, the water loss was decreased 47.05 % compare with base drilling fluid.

Figure 5 represent the comparing of the rate of the fluid loss in 30 minutes. Apparently, by increasing the rice husk concentration, fluid loss was reduced to 50%. On the other hand, by combining the lower amount of rice husk (1.4 wt.%) with different amount of PAC LV (0.14-0.28 wt.%), fluid loss was successfully controlled, which was about 47%.

Figure 2. The effect of rice husk on fluid loss of water-based drilling fluid at pH=7

Figure 3.  The effect of rice husk on fluid loss of water-based drilling fluid at pH=10

Figure 4. The effect of PAC LV on fluid loss of water-based drilling fluid at optimum condition (pH=10, rice husk concentration=1.4 wt.%)

Figure 5. Comparison of the rate of decrease of fluid loss in 30 minutes

  1. Conclusion

In this work, rice husk and low-molecular weight polyanionic cellulose polymer (PAC LV) were used as additives in water-based drilling fluid and their effects of fluid loss was investigated using filtration test. The results illustrated that:

  • Rice husk is about 3% more effective than PAC LV in controlling fluid loss.
  • Rice husk can reduce environment hazardous.
  • Rice husk can save rig’s human resources safety and health in comparison to PAC LV.
  • Rice husk is more cost effective (about 91% cheaper) than PAC LV in petroleum industry.
  1. References

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[3] Amanullah, M., et al. (2017). Date Seed-based Particulate LCM “ARC Plug”–Its Development, Laboratory Testing and Trial Test Results. SPE Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Annual Technical Symposium and Exhibition, Society of Petroleum Engineers.

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[7] Ramasamy, J. and M. Amanullah (2017). Novel fibrous lost circulation materials derived from deceased date tree waste. SPE Kingdom of Saudi Arabia annual technical symposium and exhibition, Society of Petroleum Engineers.

[8] Ramasamy, J. and M. Amanullah (2019). Converting Waste Vegetable Oil to Emulsifier for Invert-Emulsion Oil Based Mud. International Petroleum Technology Conference, International Petroleum Technology Conference.

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[10] Okoro, E. E., et al. (2018). “Data on shale-water based drilling fluid interaction for drilling operation.” Data in brief 19: 1620-1626.

[11] Idress, M., et al. (2019). “Performance Evaluation of Commercial Lost Circulation Materials.” Materials Today: Proceedings 19: 1136-1144.

[12] Idress, M. and M. L. Hasan (2020). Investigation of different environmental-friendly waste materials as lost circulation additive in drilling fluids, Springer.

[13] Igwilo, K. C., et al. (2019). Experimental analysis of Persea Americana as filtration loss control additive for non-aqueous drilling fluid. International Journal of Engineering Research in Africa, Trans Tech Publ.

[14] Nasiri, A., et al. (2018). “Application of new eco-friendly LCMs for combating the lost circulation in heavy-weight and oil-based mud.” RSC advances 8(18): 9685-9696.

[15] Seteyeobot, I., et al. (2017). Experimental Study of the Possible use of Locally Derived Plantain Peelings and Rice Husk as Additives for Oil Based Mud at High Temperature-High Pressure Conditions. SPE Nigeria Annual International Conference and Exhibition, Society of Petroleum Engineers.

[16] Amanullah, M. and M. K. Arfaj (2018). Date Palm Tree-Based Fibrous LCM “ARC Eco-Fiber”-A Better Alternative to Equivalent Imported Products. SPE Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Annual Technical Symposium and Exhibition, Society of Petroleum Engineers.

[17] Al-Hameedi, A. T. T., et al. (2019). Insights into eco-friendly and conventional drilling additives: applications, cost analysis, health, safety, and environmental considerations. SPE Symposium: Asia Pacific Health, Safety, Security, Environment and Social Responsibility, Society of Petroleum Engineers.

[18] Agwu, O. E. and J. U. Akpabio (2018). “Using agro-waste materials as possible filter loss control agents in drilling muds: a review.” Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering 163: 185-198.

[19] Saboori, R., et al. (2019). “Improvement of rheological, filtration and thermal conductivity of bentonite drilling fluid using copper oxide/polyacrylamide nanocomposite.” Powder Technology 353: 257-266.


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