Lost circulation is the partial or complete loss of drilling fluid and/or cement slurry to the formation during drilling or cementing operations or both. This can be brought on by natural or induced causes.
Natural causes include situations such as naturally fractured formations or unconsolidated zones. Induced losses occur when the hydrostatic fluid column pressure exceeds the fracture gradient of the formation and the formation pores break down enough to receive rather than resist the fluid. When lost circulation occurs, it can provoke new requirements of time and mud or cement – and add substantially to the overall cost of a well.