1. n. [Enhanced Oil Recovery]
A type of damage in which formation permeability is reduced because of the alteration of clay equilibrium. Clay swelling occurs when water-base filtrates from drilling, completion, workover or stimulation fluids enter the formation. Clay swelling can be caused by ion exchange or changes in salinity. However, only clays that are directly contacted by the fluid moving in the rock will react; these include authigenic clays, some detrital clays on the pore boundaries and unprotected clay cement. The nature of the reaction depends on the structure of the clays and their chemical state at the moment of contact. The most common swelling clays are smectite and smectite mixtures that create an almost impermeable barrier for fluid flow when they are located in the larger pores of a reservoir rock. In some cases, brines such as potassium chloride [KCl] are used in completion or workover operations to avoid clay swelling.