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A major Middle East operator faced many challenges in mitigating lost circulation while drilling the 8 ½-in. carbonate formation (gas cap) section of a field. The troublesome loss zone consists of vugs linked by networks of fracture channels.

Typically, the operator would pump a series of lost circulation material (LCM) pills to attempt to cure losses. If the losses persisted, cement plugs, side tracking and setting packers were all used to stop the losses − all costly and time-consuming methods for eliminating downhole losses.

Although this type of loss zone can be mitigated with the methods mentioned, offset well data showed a high probability for the losses to increase once drilling resumed and/or the LCM pill was circulated out or sidetrack started.

Baker Hughes, a GE company (BHGE), designed the MAX-LOCK™ lost circulation material for this very type of fractured, vugular formation. The MAX-LOCK LCM can be squeezed into the vugs and travel through the fractures to fill other vugs in the loss zone network that might have been encountered once drilling resumes. The thixotropic behavior prevents further flow through the loss zone after squeezing.

Download the PDF to read the full case study.

Challenges & Results


  • Severe to total loss circulation in fractured vugular carbonate formation/reservoir
  • Potential gas migration
  • Mechanical instability


  • Successfully isolated troublesome loss zone, allowing drilling operations to continue
  • Eliminated downhole losses after application
  • Eliminated time and need for multiple cement plugs, side tracking and setting packers
  • Drilled section to TD with no losses from targeted section due to high-compressive strength of MAX-LOCK LCM