Novel approach to improving efficiency

In a novel approach to address the challenge of losing drilling fluids and mud in drilling operations, we are exploring the potential of local date tree seeds and fibers as loss circulation materials.

Our researched have examined the waste components of local date trees, such as seeds, leaves and trunks, and determined that they effectively seal rock formations in oil and gas wells while drilling, and prevent seepage.

When a well is being drilled, drilling fluid is used to lift drilled 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.

To prevent this, loss circulation materials (LCMs) are typically added to drilling fluids to seal and plug these ‘thief’ zones and restore the full circulation of drilling mud. 

According to our research, between 120,000 and 135,000 tons of date seeds are available annually from various sources (e.g., cookie factories, date processing plants, etc.). It is estimated that more than a half a million tons of LCMs can be developed by pruning waste and old, damaged and non-productive date trees.

Experimental results indicate the date tree waste-based fibrous LCMs have similar or better performance than other conventional products in sealing and blocking permeable and small fractured loss zones. This makes locally developed, organic, biodegradable and non-toxic LCMs similar to imported material.

In 2016, we filed patents for three LCMs and conducted field trials of the seed-based solution. The new products, designed to replace expensive imported material, could significantly reduce drilling costs while creating jobs in local communities.