Deep Illustration for Loss of Circulation While Drilling

Salaheldin Elkatatny, Abdulmalek Ahmed, Mahmoud Abughaban, Shirish Patil

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


One of the most severe, costly, and time-consuming problems in the drilling operation is the loss of circulation. The drilling fluid accounts for 25–40% of the total cost of the drilling operation. Loss of the drilling fluid will increase the total cost of the drilling operation. Uncontrolled lost circulation of the drilling fluid may result in dangerous well control problem and in some cases the loss of the well. Fluid losses can occur in different formations such as natural fracture, induced fracture, unconsolidated, and cavernous and vugular. The objective of this paper is to deeply understand and illustrate different types of loss of circulation, techniques used to determine the loss rate, and detection of loss zones. In addition, losses mitigation techniques, different lost circulation materials (LCM), and the apparatus used to evaluate the available LCM will be explained in detail. The deep literature review illustrated that lost circulation costs 10–20% of the cost of drilling high-pressure high-temperature wells and 90% of these losses occur in fractured formations. The loss rate depends on the drilling fluid types, and it is generally higher in the case of water-based drilling fluid than in the case of oil-based drilling fluid. It is important to utilize an advanced measurement for losses with high frequency to detect the occurrences of lost circulation quickly and correctly. The measurements of flow rate (flow in and flow out) should be supported by additional data such as logging data, lost circulation information (loss rate and depth), mud properties, and surface drilling parameters. The preventive approach is the most efficient to mitigate the loss of circulation since the use of conventional LCM is not successful in most of the cases because of their limitations. It is vital to consider the size of different fractures encountered while drilling and modify the laboratory equipment to simulate this problem. Loss of circulation is affected by many parameters that are related to formation characterization, drilling parameters, fluid properties, and a lot of other known and unknown factors. Therefore, it is a challenge to predict the loss of circulation. To overcome such challenge, it is recommended to develop a new technique such as artificial intelligence to predict the thief zones and the loss rate by capturing the changes in the drilling mechanical parameters and the fluid properties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-499
Number of pages17
JournalArabian Journal for Science and Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2020


  • Drilling cost
  • Drilling fluid
  • Loss of circulation
  • Lost circulation material


Dive into the research topics of 'Deep Illustration for Loss of Circulation While Drilling'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this