Rock Geomechanics Research

​The activities of RockGem address rock- and geomechanical behavior of fractured reservoir rocks (both carbonates and clastics) under drilling, completion, and production conditions – in particular in response to pore pressure changes and how they impact reservoir fluid flow and production. Results from these research activities – conducted mainly in our state of the art rock mechanics laboratory – provide disruptive insights into rock’s constitutive behavior and associated fluid flow models.

During drilling, mud circulates in the well to cool the drill bit, stabilize the well, and transport rock cuttings to the surface. Unfortunately, certain rock formations have open natural fracture systems, into which the mud can be lost—risking time, money and safety. Current industry practices can plug fractures only up to 5mm wide, but reservoirs in the Middle East (and elsewhere) often have wider fractures. KAUST researchers built an experimental apparatus that mimics mud loss and tests new solutions for fractures of up to 50mm wide. 

Prof. Carlos Santamarina and Dr. Thomas Finkbeiner are the lead investigators on this unique research project.