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Operations Manual
OPDD _140_revA_0304
Computalog Drilling Services
!6172. \fVes: HS"CY Roac HcGsto:: Texas 77060
ie!e:Jnone: 28!26D.570C Facs,nrie: 281.260.5780
Precision Drilling
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Overview of Computalog
Directional Drilling
Directional Drilling
of Directional Drilling
Directional Drilling Limits
Methods of Deflecting a Wellbore
Special BH.:\'s
Rotating Blade Type
Continue ....
Integral Blade Stabilizer
\Velded Blade Stabilizers
Shrunk on Sleeve Stabilizers
Replaceable Slee,c-Type Stabilizer
Common BfL\ Problems
Dm,nhole :.\Iotors w/ Bent Sub
Downhole Mud Motors
l\Iotor Selection
Dump Sub
Power Section
Drive _\ssembh

Sealed or l\Iud Lubricated Bearin<J Section
1 Gear Reducer
:Kick Pads .
Drilling l\Iotor Operation
Procedure & Surface Check
Prior to Running in Hole
Tripping in Hole
Reactive Torque
Drilling l\Iotor Stall
Bit Conditions
Rotating the Drilling l\Iotor
Tripping Out
Surface Checks Running in Hole
Drilling Fluids
Temperature Limits
Survey Calculations
Balanced Tangential

Radius of Curvature
:\Iinimum Curvature
Planning a Directional Well
Profiles of Directional \V'ells
Information Required
Torque and Drag
Planning a Horizontal Well
Data Collection
Casing Design
Selection of Build Rates
Planning T earn
Magnetic Fields
1\Iagnetic Interference
Drill String :;\lagnetic Interference
External :\lagnetic Interference
Directional Sensor Package Spacing
The Earth's Gravitational Field
of Magnetics & GravitY
Survey Equipment, Selection &
:\Iagnetic Single Shot & 1\Iultishots
1\Iultishot Surve:- Instrument
Evolution of Gnoscopes Used in Surve,-ing
Oil Wells
Survey & Qualin- Control
Gno Errors
1\Ieasurements \'\bile Dr:ilhng
Directional Sensor Package
Operational Considerations
The Problem of Deviation &
Doglegging Rotary Boreholes
Table 1: Surve,- Results from Seminole
Theories of Causes of Deviated Field Holes
Categorizing Crooked Holes
Planning an U nderbalanced Hz Well
Wby Drill Underbalanced
Directional Planning Issues
Operational Issues
Equipment & Dr:ilhng Problems
Downhole Tests Cnder Two
Phase Flow
\\bat this to a Directional Driller
Conclusions & Recommendations
Underbalanced Drilling
To Be Developed
Formation Damage
UBD or CPD Modeling
UBD Equipment
Gas Supply
Corrosion Issues
Computalog is a Canadian company wholly owned by Precision Drilling.
Computalog was started in 1972 as a small perforating company under the name
Perfco. Perfco grew into a small 'WTieline company and with Gearhart Industries
in 197 -t- formed Computalog Services. They continued to grow providing cased
and open logging services through a newly de\'eloped direct digital logging system.
In 1979 Gearhart Industries was developing measurement while drilling (.lvf\\D)
systems in the United States. In 1980 the name was changed to Computalog
Gearhart Ltd. and became a publicly traded company v ~ t h stations in the US and
Canada. In 1983 United Directional Drilling and Trigon Oil well Surveys were
purchased to provide a direct supplier to the oilfield of the latest l\1\\D
technology to the Canadian oil industry. Computalog introduced the first J\.fWD
gamm.a ray tool into Canada in 198-t-.
In 1987 Computalog acquired several more companies including Maxi-Torque, a
manufacturer of downhole positive displacement motors used primarily for
directional drilling operations. Also Computalog continued to expand its presence
in many international areas including China, Africa, Costa Rica and the Middle
In 1989 the name was changed to Computalog Ltd. and developed its own J\.1\\D
system. The \VTieline group was also expanding and developing new technology
rapidly. In 1997, Computalog entered into a joint venture with Geoservices S.A.
of France, the worlds largest supplier of electromagnetic M\\D technology. The
partnership was called United GeoCom Drilling Services. United GeoCom
Drilling Services became the third largest directional drilling company in Canada.
UGC has continued to grow and is now one of the largest directional companies
in Canada ~ t h the most experience at pro\'iding underbalanced drilling sen,ices to
the oil industn'.
In 1999, Precision Drilling purchased Computalog and joined it with several other
sen'ice supply companies to become a very unified and growth oriented company.
\\'e have a significantly improved research and development budget and are now
poised to develop new and improved technology: 1) new generation l\1\\D with a
full suite logging while drilling tools, 2) rotary steerable directional system and 3)
improved multilateral window and tie-back systems for horizontal wells to name a
few. \\' e are also making improvements in the \VTieline division as well.
In the early days of drilling, no one worried about hole deviation. The whole
objective was to get the well drilled down, completed and producing as quickly as
possible. Many drilling personnel assumed the \.Veils were straight - others simply
did not care.
Subsequently, wells were deliberately drilled in some unknown direction. This
began as a remedial operation to solve a d1illing problem - usually a fish or junk
left in the hole. Today, '.Ni.th the advent of tighter legal spacing requirements,
better reservoir engineering modelling and drilling of multiple wells from a single
surface location, it has become very important to both control the \.vellbore
position during drilling and to relate the position of existing wellbores to lease
boundaries, other wells, etc.
The development of the skills and equipment necessary to direct these wellbores is
the science of directional drilling. Directional Drilling is tl1e science of directing a
wellbore along a predetermined path called a trajectory to intersect a pre,iously
designated sub-surface target. Implicit in this definition is the fact that both the
direction and the dev-iation from vertical are controlled bY the directional driller
from tl1e surface.
Directional Drilling Terminology
A short glossary of the more frequently used terms for Directional Drilling is
included here and is intended only as an aid in understanding directional drilling
terminology and is neither a definitive ,,ork in the field nor by any means
complete. Some of the more important and commonly used terms are:
The target, or objective, is the theoretical, subsurface point or points at which the
wellbore is aimed. In the majority of cases it will be defined by someone other
than the directional driller. Usually this will be a geologist, a reservoir engineer or
a production engineer. They '.NW often define the target in terms of a physical
limitation - i.e. a circle witl1 a specified radius centred about a specified subsurface
point. If multiple zones are to be penetrated, the multiple targets should be
selected so that the planned pattern is reasonable and can be achieved '.Ni.thout
excessive drilling problems.
Some care should be taken \vith target definition. Any target can be reached -
given enough time, money and effort but the economics of drilling dictate the use
of as large a target as possible.
Each of the various targets is discussed below:
1. Circular
~ horizontal circle of given radius about a fn;:ed subsurface point.
,., Bounded
~ circular, square or rectangular shape with at least one side fn;:ed by a
physical constraint e.g. a fault, a formation change (salt dome), legal
boundan- etc.
3. Angle at Depth
Targets may be defined as an angle limitation at depth- e. g . .2 or so from
projected trajectory.
\\ben targets are defmed the directional driller must also know the true vertical
depth at \vhich the target applies. In some cases this depth may not be a\ailable
'-V'ithin sewral hundred meters and could be specified as the wellbore intercept of
a given formation top. This top of target would almost certainly preclude the use
of Build and Hold wells and require use of "S" shaped wellbores.
Target Displacement
Target displacement is defmed as the horizontal distance from the surface location
to centre of the target in a straight line. This is also the directional summation of
the departure (the due East or West displacement) and the latitude (the due North
or South displacement).
The target bearings are a measure of the direction in degrees, minutes and seconds
(or decimals) and typically expressed with reference to well centre.
True Vertical Depth
True Vertical Depth (TVD) is the depth of the wellbore at any point measured in
a vertical plane and normally referenced from the horizontal plane of the kelly
bushing of the drilling rig.
Kick Off Point
This is the point at which the flrst deflection tool is utilized and the increase in
angle starts. The selection of both the kick off point and build up rate depend on
many factors including the formation(s), wellbore trajectory, the casing program,
the mud program, the required horizontal displacement, maximum allowable
dogleg and inclination. This Kick Off Point (KOP) is carefully selected so the

maximwn angle is within economical limits. Fewer problems are faced when the
angle of the hole is between 30 and 55. The deeper the KOP is, the more angle
it '.V-ill be necessary to build, possibly at a more aggressi\'e rate of build. The KOP
should be at such a depth "\vhere the maximwn angle to build up would be around
40"; the preferred minimwn is 15".
In practice the well trajectory may be calculated for several choices of KOP and
build up rates and the results compared. The optimwn choice is that which gives
a safe clearance from all existing wells, keeps the maximum inclination within the
desired limits, avoids unnecessarily high dogleg severity's and is the best design
from a cost point of view.
Build Rate
The change in inclination per measured length drilled (typically
/100' or
/30 m).
The build rate is achieved through the use of a deflection tool (positive
displacement motor with a built in adjustable housing or purposefully designed
stabilized bottomhole assembly).
Build Up Section
This is the part of the hole where the vertical angle is increased at a certain rate,
depending on the formations and drilling assembly used. During the Build Up the
drift angle and direction are constantly checked in order to see whether a course
correction or change in build rate is required. This part of the hole is the most
critical to assure the desired wellpath is maintained and the flnal target is reached.
This section, also called the Hold Section, is a straight portion of the hole drilled
with the maximwn angle required to reach the target. Subtle course changes may
be made in this section.
Many extended reach drilling projects have been successfully completed at
inclinations up to 80, exposing much more reservoir surface area and reaching
multiple targets. However, inclination angles over 65 may result in excessive
torque and drag on the drill string and present hole cleaning, logging, casing,
cementing and production problems. These problems can all be overcome with
today's technology, but should be avoided whenever there is an economic
Experience over the years has been that directional control problems are
aggravated when the tangent inclination is less than 15. This is because there is
more of a tendencY for bit walk to occur, i.e., change in azimuth, so more time is
spent keeping the ~ l l on course. To summarise, most run-of-the-mill directional
wells are still planned with inclinations in the range 15- 60 whenever possible.
Drop Section
In S-type holes, the drop section is where the drift angle is dropped dm.vn to a
lower inclination or in some cases vertical at a defmed rate. Once this is
accomplished the well is rotary drilled to TD \vith surveys taken e\ery 50m (150').
The optimum drop rate is between 1 o_ 2 1fz degree per 30m and is selected mainlY
with regard to the ease of rllllning casing and the a\oidance of completion and
production problems.
Course Length
This course length is the actual distance drilled by the well bore from one point to
the next as measured. The summation of all the course lengths is I\Ieasured
Depth of the \veil. The term is usually used as a distance reference beru:een
survey pomts.
The Horizontal Projection (Plan View)
On many well plans, the horizontal projection is just a straight line drawn from
the well centre or slot to the target. On multi-well platforms it is sometimes
necessar; to start the well off in a different direction to avoid other wells. Once
clear of these, the well is turned to aim at the target. The path of the drilled well is
plotted on the horizontal projection by plotting total North/South co-ordinates
(Northings) versus total East/\\'est co-ordinates (Eastings). These co-ordinates
are calculated from surveys.
Vertical Section
The Vertical Section of a well is dependent upon the bearing or azimuth of
interest. It is the horizontal displacement of the well path projected at 90 to the
desired bearing.
Lead Angle
Since roller cone bits used with rotary assemblies tend to "walk to the right", the
wells were generally kicked off in a direction several degrees to the left of the
target direction. In extreme cases the lead angles could be as large as 40.
The greatly increased use of steerable motors, changes in conventional rock bit
design and the \videspread use of PDC bits for rotary drilling have drastically
reduced the need for wells to be given a "lead angle". Most wells todaY are
deliberately kicked off \vith no lead angle, i.e., in the target direction.
Applications of Directional Drilling
Multiple Wells From Offshore Structure
One of toda:)s more common applications of directional drilling techniques is in
offshore drilling. Many oil and gas deposits are situated beyond the reach of land
based rigs. To drill a large number of \'ertical wells from individual platforms is
impractical and would be uneconomical. The conventional approach for a large
oilfield has been to install a fixed platform on the seabed, from which as many as
s i ~ t directional wells rna\' be drilled. The bottomhole locations of these wells can
be carefully spaced for optimum recm'ery. This type of development greatly
improves the economic feasibility of the expensive offshore industry by reducing
the number of platforms required and simplifying the gathering system.
In a conventional development, the wells cannot be drilled until the platform has
been constructed and installed in position. This may mean a delay of 2-S years
before production can begin. This delay can be considerably reduced by pre-
drilling some of the wells through a subsea template while the platform is being
constructed. These wells are directionally drilled from an offshore rig, usually a
semi-submersible, and tied back to the platform once it has been installed.
Relief Wells
Directional techniques are used to drill relief wells in order to "kill" blowout wells.
The relief well is deviated to pass as close as possible in the reservoir to the
uncontrolled well: it is not generally targeted to hit the out of control well as costs
to do this would be prohibitive. Heavy mud is pumped into the resen'oir to
overcome the pressure and bring the wild well under control.
Controlling Vertical Wells
Directional techniques are used to "straighten crooked holes". In other words,
when deviation occurs in a well which is supposed to be vertical, various
techniques are used to bring the well back to vertical. This was one of the earliest
applications of directional drilling.
Sidetracking out of an eX1stmg wellbore is another application of directional
drilling. This sidetracking may be done to bypass an obstruction (a "fish") in the
original wellbore or to explore the extent of the producing zone in a certain sector
of a field.
Inaccessible Locations
Directional wells are often drilled because the surface location directk abm'e the
rese1Toir is inaccessible, either because of natural or man-made obstacles.
Examples include reservoirs under cities, mountains, lakes, etc.
Other Applications
Directional wells are also drilled to avoid drilling a vertical well through a steeply
inclined fault plane, which could slip and shear the casing.
Directional \\'ells ma;., also be used to 0\'ercome the problems of salt dome
drilling. Instead of drilling through the salt, the well is drilled at one side of the
dome and is then de,""iated around and underneath the 0\'erhanging cap.
Directional wells may also be used where a reservoir lies offshore but quite close
to land, the most economical ,,ay to exploit the reservoir may be to drill
directional wells from a land rig on the coast.
Reservoir Optimization
Horizontal drilling is the fastest growing branch of directional drilling. Horizontal
wells allow increased reservoir penetration, especially in thinner reservoirs, allow
increased exposure of the pay zone and allow higher production rates at
equivalent drawdowns. Numerous specific applications for horizontal drilling are
being developed with major ad"\'ances occurring in the tools and techniques used.
Multilateral Wells
Within the science of horizontal drilling, multilateral hole drilling is rapidly
becoming a common occurrence. \\.ells are drilled horizontally to total depth and
laterals drilled from them in various directions. These laterals remain essentially
horizontal and are directionally controlled to ensure maxinmm pay zone exposure.
Inaccessible locar.i:ons
1\!ultiple wells from a single \\ell
l" nder lakes

Salt dome drilling
Fault controlling
Offshore multi-well drilling
Multiple sands trom a single wdlbore
Drilling relief wells
Speciality Applications
In addition to exploration for oil and gas, controlled directional drilling practices
are used in other industries such as construction and mining. The follm:1.:ing
examples are applications in common use:
Conduit holes - Holes drilled to accommodate pipelines, cables or other
transmission mediums. These holes are generally drilled to traverse obstacles
in a proposed right of way which present problems to conventional trenching
methods such as:
- Ri1.er crossings
- Steep or unstable terrain presenting backfill and future erosion problems
- Shore approaches
- Emnonmentall1. sensitive areas.
Storage Ca,erns
Solution 1\fining- Extraction of water-soluble minerals (e.g. salt, potash) can be
attained through solution mining technologies. In this practice, ''paired" wells
are drilled to predetermined targets and water is circulated through the holes
until communication is established. \X'ater is then forced down one hole and
allowed to exit through the other carrying \vith it the mineral in solution. At
surface the minerals are removed through various methods and the \Vater re-
circulated in a continuous procedure.
Grout Holes - Proper placement and control of grout holes (to stabilize
unconsolidated formations or isolate water-bearing formations) result in
reduced overall costs and greater technical efficiencies for the procedure.
Evacuation Holes - Methane and water drainage holes have been common in
the mining industry for years. Similar technologies are now being employed in
the environmental area for in-site evacuation of toxic contaminants left in
industrial and waste disposal sites.
Directional Drilling Limits
Any drilling limit described in a textbook written today would be simply broken
tomorrow by some operator. \v'e have drilled horizontal wells with laterals m'er
6,1 OOm long; extended reach wells with over 1 O,OOOm of horizontal reach
(horizontal to \'ertical ratio of 6 or 7 to 1); multi-lateral horizontal wells '.v:ith 10
legs; purposefully turned horizontal wells 180 in bearing; drilled 27 wells off a
single land based pad location; re-entered just about every wellbore configuration
to drill to a new target and are now drilling stacked well pairs '.Vi.thin 3m (10') of
each other. Coiled tubing drilled wells are also setting ne\v records 'Wi.th lateral
sections in excess of 1,100m. Just about anything can be drilled prm,ided you
have the fmancial support. It is better to know the potential equipment or
wellbore limitations. The following is a list of some of the factors considered
when planning a directional \veil that will be further discussed in a later section:
1.) Through experience many operators have established their own maximum
inclination and/ or dogleg severity limits to minimize rod and casing wear.
2.) Open-hole and cased hole logging equipment have linuts on dogleg
se\'erity the tools can safely pass through that depends upon the tool OD,
hole OD and tool length.
3.) It may be impossible to get sufficient weight on bit (\\'OB) to drill the well
depending upon factors such as drag, drill string assembly design, mud
type and hole geometry to name a few.
4-.) Kn seat and differential sticking potentials.
5.) Maximum dogleg directional equipment can be rotated or slid through
(bending stresses).
6.) \\'ellbore stability (tectonic conditions, sloughing, boulders)
7.) The ability to steer the BHA along the required course (reactive torque).
8.) Ability for equipment to build inclination at the required rates
As directional drilling technologies continue to develop, new applications 'Wi.ll
emerge. Although oil and gas drilling applications will continue to dominate the
future of the directional industry, environmental and econon1ic considerations will
force other industries to consider directional drilling alternatives to conventional
There are several methods of deflecting a 'vellbore. BY deflecting '-'Ve mean
changing the inclination and/ or direction of a wellbore. The most common
methods used todaY are:
1. Bottomhole
') J .
- etung
3. \\bipstocks
4. Downhole Motors -most common
Bottomhole assemblies are the least method of deflecting a well and
should be used whenever possible. Cnfortunately, the exact response of a
bottomhole assembly is very difficult to predict and, left or right hand walk is
almost impossible to control. \\'hen refinements of the wellbore course are
necessatT usually the latter method is used.
. .
Bottomhole Assemblies
Before the invention of measurement while drilling (1\1\\D) tools and steerable
motors, rotary bottomhole assemblies (BHA) were used to deflect wellbore.
bottomhole assembly is the arrangement of the bit, stabilizer, reamers, drill collars,
subs and special tools used at the bottom of the drill string. Anything that is run
in the hole to drill, ream or circulate is a bottomhole assembly. The simplest
assembly is a bit, collars and drill pipe and is often termed a slick assembly. The
use of this assembly in directional drilling is very limited and usually confmed to
the section of the hole where deviation is not a problem.
In order to understand why an assembly \Vill deviate a hole, let's consider the slick
assembly which is the simplest and easiest to understand. The deYiation tendency
in this assembly is a result of the flexibility of the drill collars and the forces acting
on the assembly causing the collars to bend. Even though drill collars seem to be
very rigid, they will bend enough to cause deviation.
The point at which the collars contact the low side of the hole is called the
tangency point. The distance L from the bit to the tangency point is dependent
upon collar size, hole size, applied bit weight, hole inclination, and hole curvature.
Generally, the distance Lis less than SOm (150 feet).
~ \ b m e the tangency point of the slick assembly, the remainder of the drill string
generally has no effect on dev'iation. As weight is applied to the bit, the tangency
point vvill move closer to the bit (Figure 4-1).
Because of the bending of the drill collars, the resultant force applied to the
formation is not in the direction of the hole axis but is in the direction of the drill
collar axis. As bit weight is applied, the tangency point moves toward the bit
increasing the angle. It can readily be seen that an increase in bit weight leads to
an increase in dev':iation tendencY.
Figure +- 1 Effect of increased bit weight
Unfortunately, the direction of the resultant force is not the only force involved.
The resultant force can be broken up into its components. The primary force
would be the drilling force in line with the axis of the borehole. The bit side force
is caused by the bending of the collars and is perpendicular to the axis of the
borehole. The force due to gravity (acting on the unsupported section of drill
collars) is in the opposite direction and counteracts the side force. The net
deviation force is then equal to the summation of the bit side force and the force
due to gravity. If the force due to gra-v':ity is greater than the bit side force the
angle will drop.
The dev':iation tendency can be controlled by changing the bit weight. Increasing
the bit weight will lower the tangency point increasing the angle. Since resultant
force is proportional to the sine of angle, an increase in bit weight increases the bit
side force and ultimately the deviation tendency. Of course, a decrease in bit
weight will decrease the deviation tendency.
Another factor affecting deviation tendency is the stiffness of the drill collars.
Stiffer collars will bend less, which increases the height to the tangency point. If
the tangency point moves up the hole, then the de\'"i.ation tendency will be
reduced. The relative stiffness of a drill collar is proportional to the collar radius
to the fourth power.
Relative Stiffness Coefficient = E X I
E = Young's Modulus
I = Moment of Inertia
As an example, assume the relatiw stiffness of a 6" drill collar is one and the ID
of all drill collars is 2 inches. An 9" and 11" collar would be five and eleven times
stiffer respectively (Table 4-1).
Table 4-1 Relative Stiffness of Drill Collars
Drill Collar Diameter Relative Stiffness
Inches (mm)
11 (279) 11.4
9 (229) 5.1
7 (178) 1.9
6 (152) 1.0
4 (121) 0.4
Therefore, small diameter drill collars \VW enhance the deviation tendency. Table
4-1 shows the relative stiffness of \-arious drill collars when the stiffness of a 6" bY
2" ID drill collar is assumed to be one.
The addition of a stabilizer above the bit significantly affects the deviation
tendency of a bottomhole assemblY. The stabilizer acts as a fulcnun around which
. .
the unsupported section of the bottomhole assembly reacts. The addition of the
moment arm between the bit and stabilizer increases the bit side force. In fact,
the single stabilizer assembly is a very strong building assembly.
The addition of multiple stabilizers to an assembly makes the determination of
side forces at the bit much more complicated. The analysis of these types of
bottomhole assemblies is best suited for a computer and is beyond the scope of
this manual.
Assuming the formation is uniform and the bit can drill in any direction, the
bottomhole assemblY would drill in the direction of the vector sum of the forces
at the bit. Unfortunately, the bit side-cutting and forward-cutting ability are not
equal. Also, the anisotropic failure of the rock can cause a deviation in a direction
other than the vector sum of the forces at the bit.
The side cutting a b i l i t ~ of a bit is proportional to the side force exerted at the bit.
L"nder static conditions, the side force on the bit can be calculated using a
computer program. \\ben the entire bottomhole assembly is considered, it can
also be shown the stabilizers in the assemblY exert a side force. The stabilizers
have a side-cutting a b i l i t ~ too. One would think the dev"l.ation tendency could
then be calculated. Unfortunately, the side forces vvill. change under dynamic
conditions. Both the bit and the stabilizers cut sideways reducing the side force
on each until an equilibrium is reached.
L'nder dynamic conditions, the relative side-cutting of the bit and stabilizers
becomes complicated which, in turn, makes the deviation tendency very difficult
to calculate. The relationship between the bit and stabilizer side-cutting is
dependent upon the t:"Pe of bit, t:"Pe of stabilizer, penetration rate, rotary speed,
lithology, hole size, and bottomhole assembly t:1Je.

Figure 4-2 Stabilizer Forces
The side-cutting a b i l i t ~ of soft formation bits is generally considered better than
for hard formation bits. Diamond bits have a greater side-cutting a b i l i t ~ because
they are designed vvith more of a cutting structure along the lateral face of the bit.
The second factor affecting the tendency is the anisotropic failure
characteristics of the formation. In isotropic formations, equal chip Yolumes are
formed on each side of the bit tooth and the bit will drill straight ahead (Figure 4 -
Figure 4-3 Illustration of Isotropic and Anisotropic Formations
But formations are not isotropic because the rock contains bedding planes. Also,
the hardness of the formation changes with vertical depth. In an
anisotropic formation, relatively large chip are formed on one side of the
bit tooth causing the bit to deviate (Figure 4-3).
The magnitude and direction of the formation deviation tendency \Vill depend
upon bed dip. Generally, the bit "\\rill walk up dip when beds are dipping 0 to 45
and down dip when beds are dipping 65 to 90. Bed dips between 45 and 65
can cause either an up dip or down dip walk. Bed strike can cause the bit to walk
left or right.
There are three basic types of assemblies used in directional drilling, they are:
1.) Building Assemblies,
2.) Dropping Assemblies
3.) Holding Assemblies
A building assembly is intended to increase hole inclination; a dropping assembly
is intended to decrease hole inclination; and a holding assembly is intended to
maintain hole inclination. It should be noted that a building assembly might not
ahvays build angle. Formation tendencies may cause the assembly to drop or hold
angle. The building assembly is intended to build angle. The same is true for the
dropping and holding assemblies.
Building Assemblies
As previously stated, the building assembly uses a stabilizer acting as a fulcrum to
apply side forces to the bit. The magnitude of that force is a fw:1ction of the
distance from the bit to the tangency point. An increase in bit weight and/ or
decrease in drill collar stiffness ,-vill increase the side force at the bit increasing the
rate of build.
The strongest building assembly consists of one stabilizer placed 3 to 6 feet above
the bit face with drill collars and drill pipe above the stabilizer. This assembly will
build under the majority of conditions. Of course, the rate of build will be
controlled by formation tendencies, bit and stabilizer types, lithology, bit weights,
drill collar stiffness, drill string rpm's, penetration rate, and hole geometry.
Figure -+--+ Building Assemblies
.4,nother strong to moderate building assembly consists of a bottomhole stabilizer
placed 3 to 6 feet from the bit face, 60 feet of drill collars, stabilizer, collars, and
drill pipe. This is the most common assembly used to build angle. The second
stabilizer tends to dampen the building tendencY. This assemblY can be used
. .
when the previous assembly builds at an excessi\Te rate. Other building assemblies
can be seen in Figure 4-4.
Dropping Assemblies
A dropping assembly is sometimes referred to as a pendulum assembly. In this
assembly, a stabilizer is placed at 30, 45, or 60 feet from the bit. The stabilizer
produces a plumb bob or pendulum effect; hence the name pendulum assembly.
The purpose of the stabilizer is to prevent the collar from touching the wall of the
hole causing a tangency point the bit and stabilizer.
An increase in the length of the bottomhole assembly (the length below the
tangency point) results in an increase in the weight. Since the force is determined
by that weight, the force is also increased exceeding the force due to bending. The
net result is a side force on the bit causing the hole to drop angle.
Additions of bit weight \\W decrease the dropping tendency of this assembly
because it increases the force due to bending. Should enough bit weight be
applied to the assembly to cause the collars to contact the borehole wall (between
the stabilizer and the bit), the assembly will act as a slick assembly. Only the
section of the assembly below the tangency point affects the bit side force.
If an increase in dropping tendency is required, larger diameter or denser collars
should be used below the stabilizer. Tlus increases the weight of the assembly,
wruch results in an increase in dropping tendency. As an example, suppose a
dropping assembly with 7" (178mm) drill collars was being used in a ~
(311mm) hole. By substituting 9" (229mm) collars for the 7" collars, an increase
in dropping tendency can be acrunTed.
Dropping assemblies will have a higher rate of drop as hole inclination increases.
The force wruch causes the dropping tendency is calculated using the following
F = 0.5 X W X Sin (I)
F = Side force at the bit caused by the weight of the unsupported section of the
bottomhole assembly, lbs (daN).
\\' = Buoyant weight of the unsupported section of the bottomhole assemblY, lbs
I = Hole inclination, degrees.
An increase in hole angle will result in an increase in F, resulting in an increase in
dropping tendency.
Figure 4-6 Drop Assemblies
Holding the inclination in a hole is much more difficult than building or dropping
angle. Cnder ideal conditions, most assemblies either have a building or dropping
tendency. Most straight hole sections of a directional well will have alternating
build and drop tendencies. When holding inclination, these build and drop
sections should be minimized and spread out over a large interval. The most
common assemblies are indicated in Figure 4-6 indicating their strength at holding
Figure ..:J.-6 Hold Assemblies
\\ben selecting a hold assembly, research the well records in the area to flnd out
which assembly works best for the types of formations being drilled. If no
formation is available, use a medium strength assembly and adjust it as necessary.
These build and drop assemblies are still used on directional wells but generally
limited to slant hole drilling. The hold assemblies are very commonly used on
deep \'ertical wells to minimize the amount of directional drilling required.
Although their use is being minimized the rotary assembly still sees common use
in certain fields. The follo-wing assemblies were successfully used in an area of
shallow well drilling (500m) in Alberta. Note the subtle changes in BR\ and their
effect on build/ drop rates. Their use has been severely curtailed due to the
inev-itable trip to change the BHA and loss time incurred.
3 degree /30
"IdA mBUI b ssem lv
Tool Description OD (mm)
Length (m)
Bit 222
Near Bit Stabilizer 222 ' 1.50
3 -NMDC's
I 171
2 degree/30m Build Assemblv
Tool Description OD (mm)
Length (m)
Bit 22.2 0.25
Near Bit Stabilizer I
.2- N.tviDC's i 171 18.00
NM Stabilizer
1-NMDC 171
1 degree m Ul sem
/30 B "ld As bl
Tool Description OD (mm) l Lengtl1 (m)
0 . .25 -.:...-
Near Bit Stabilizer .222 1.50
NM Stabilizer 216 1.50
1-NMDC 171
NM Stabilizer 2.2.2
171 9
Hold Assembly
Tool Description OD (mm) Lengtl1 (m)
Bit .22.2
0 . .25
Near Bit Stabilizer 222 1.50
ShortNMDC* 171 I
NM Stabilizer .222 1.50
1-NMDC 171 9.00
NM Stabilizer 222 1.50
1-NMDC 171 9
*change to full length NMDC and had less turn
3d egree /30 D m rop A bl ssem ly
Tool Description
OD (nun) Length (m)

Bit Sub
NMDC 171 9.00
NM Stabilizer 222 1.50
1-NMDC 171
NM Stabilizer

1-NMDC 171
2d egree /30 D m rop A bl ssem ly
Tool Description OD (mm) Length (m)
Bit 222
Bit Sub
Short NJ\IDC 171
NM Stabilizer

1-NMDC I 171 9.00
NM Stabilizer
.... __
1 degree/30m Drop Assembly
Tool Description OD (nun)
Length (m)
Bit 222
Near Bit Stabilizer
216 I 1.50
Short NMDC
171 3.50
Stabilizer 222
1-NMDC 171
9.00 I
NM Stabilizer
222 1.50
171 9.00
The jet bit method of deflecting a well at one time was the most conunon method
used in soft formations. Jetting has been successfully used to depths of 8,000 feet
(2,400m); however the economics of this method and the availability of other
directional drilling tools limit its use.
A formation suitable for jetting must be selected. There must be sufficient
hydraulic horsepower available and the formation must be soft enough to be
eroded by a mud stream through a jet nozzle.
There are special bits made for jetting including those with two cones and an
elongated jet nozzle replacing the third cone. The elongated nozzle prm"i.des the
means to jet the formation while the t\vo cones provide the mechanism for
drilling. Other tri-cone deflection bits are available with an enlarged fluid entrance
to one of the jets. This allmvs a greater amount of fluid to be pumped through
one of the jets during jetting operations.
To deflect a well using the jet method, the assembly is run to the bottom of the
hole, and the large jet is oriented in the desired direction. The kelly should be high
to allow rotary drilling after the deflection is started. The centre of the large
nozzle represents the tool face and is oriented in the desired direction. I\faximum
circulation rate is used while jetting. Jet velocity for jetting should be 150 m/ sec
(500' /sec).
The drill string is set on bottom and if the formation is sufficientk soft, the \X-OB
drills off. A pocket is washed into the formation opposite the large nozzle. The
bit and near-bit stabilizer work their way into the pocket (path of least resistance).
Enough hole should be jetted to "bury" the near-bit stabilizer. If required, the bit
can be pulled off bottom and the pocket spudded. The technique is to lift the
string about 1.5m (5') off bottom and then let it fail, catching it ,vith the brake so
that the stretch of the string (rather than the full weight of the string) causes it to
spud on bottom. Spudding can be severe on drill string, drilling line and derrick
and should be kept to a minimum. Another technique that may help is to 'rock'
the rotary table a little (15) right and left of the orientation mark while jetting.
After a fe,v feet have been jetted, the pumps are cut back to about 50% of tl1.at
used for jetting and the drill string is rotated. It may be necessary to pull off
bottom momentarily due to high torque (near-bit stabilizer wedged in the pocket).
High \'\70B and low RPM are used to try to bend the collars above the near-bit
stabilizer and force the BHA to follow through the trend established while jetting.
The remaining length on the kelly is drilled down. Deflection is produced in the
direction of the pocket i.e. the direction in which the large jet nozzle was originally
To clean tl1e hole prior to connection/survey, the jet should be oriented in the
direction of deviation. After surveying, this orientation setting (tool face setting)
is adjusted as required, depending on the results achieved '.\rith the previous
setting. Dogleg severity has to be watched carefully and reaming performed as
The operation is repeated as often as is necessary until sufficient inclination has
been achieved and the well is heading in the desired direction. The hole
inclination can then be built up to maximum angle using 100% rotary drilling and
an appropriate angle build assemble.
a.nd Jettmg
Figure -1--7 Jetting Assembly
Tandem Stabilizers
Steo '3
It's fairly common to run a string stabilizer directly abm-e the near-bit stabilizer.
This is normally for directional control purposes. An alternative is to run a near-
bit '\Vith a longer gauge area for greater wall contact. High rotary torque may result
in either case. It is dangerous to run tandem stabilizers directly after a more
limber BHA due to the reaming required and potential sticking.
Roller Reamers
In medium/hard formations where rotary torque is excessive, it may be necessalT
to dispense with some to all of the stabilization. Roller reamers are a good
alternative however theY behave different then stabilizers. As a rule theY tend to
0 0
drop angle.
Consider the performance of two slick BHAs:
1) 200.0 mm Bit
2) 222.3 mm Bit
158.8 mm (6.25 inch) DC
158.8 mm (6.25 inch) DC
\\'hich of the two assemblies ha,e shown better perfonnance?
#1 had better performance because of better stabilization within the borehole
during drilling. Comparatively, the service life of bit #2 is shortened because of a
misaligned axis of rotation. This misalignment may be of a parallel or angular
Parallel misalignment is caused by the use of a small drill collar in relation to the
hole size and no stabilization. The bit can move off centre until the drill collar
OD contacts the wall of the hole. This results in an offset due to drilling off
centre (bottom of the hole shifts in a parallel manner and is called parallel
Angular misalignment is caused by the use of small drill collars in relation to the
hole size and no stabilization. Most or all of the bit load is applied to one cone at
a time, causing rapid breakdown and failure of both the cutting structure and
bearing structure of the bit.
Arthur Lubinski and Henry \voods (research engineers for Hughes Tool Co.)
were among the first to apply mathematics to drilling. They stated in the early 50s
that the size of the bottom drill collars would be the limiting factor for lateral
movement of the bit, and the 1-1inimum Effective Hole Diameter (MEHD) could
be calculated by the follmving equation:
MEHD Bit Size + Drill Collar OD
Robert S. Hoch (engineer for Phillips Petroleum Comp.) theorized that, while
drilling with an unstable bit, an abrupt change can occur if hard ledges are
encountered. He pointed out that a dogleg of this nature would cause an
undersized hole, making it difficult or maybe impossible to run casing. Hoch
rewrote Lubinski's equation to solve for the Minimum Permissible Bottom-Hole
Drill Collar Outside Diameter (MPBHDCOD), as follows:
MPBHDCOD = 2 x (casing coupling OD) - Bit OD
Example: 311.2 mm bit
24-1-.5 mm casing (coupling OD 269.9 nun)
Minimum Drill Collar Size
x (269.9 mm) - 311.2 nun
= 228.6 mmOD
Bit misalignment can be controlled through use of appropriate size drill collars.
An alternate method of control is through the use of stabilized bottom hole
assemblies, particularly when drilling \vith diamond bits, journal bearing or sealed
bearing bits.
Reasons for Using Stabilizers
1. The placement and gauge of stabilizers are used as the fundamental method of
controlling the directional behavior of most bottom hole assemblies.
2. Stabilizers help concentrate the weight of the BHA on the drill bit.
3. Stabilizers resist loading the bit in any direction other than the hole axis.
4. Stabilizers minimize bending and vibrations, which cause tool joint wear and
damage to BHA components such as, 1,1\\'D tools.
5. Stabilizers reduce drilling torque by preventing collar contact \Vith the side of
the hole and by keeping the collars concentric in the hole but also add torque
due to their side-loading.
6. Stabilizers help prevent differential sticking and key seating.
Available Types of Stabilizers
1. Integral blade stabilizers
2. \\'elded blade stabilizers
3. Replaceable sleeve stabilizers
4. Non-rotating rubber sleeve stabilizers
5. Replaceable wear pad stabilizers
6. Roller reamers
7. Combination reamers/stabilizers
Types of Stabilizers
There are three basic types of stabilizing tools with some \'anauons of each
a) Rotating Blade Type
b) Non-Rotating l e e \ ~ e Type
c) Roller Reamer Type
Rotating Blade Type
Can be a straight blade or a spiral blade (short or long blade) configuration.
Rotating blade stabilizers are available in two types - shop repairable - ng
"\re Integral Blade, \\'elded Blade or Shrunk on sleeve construction.
Integral Blade Stabilizer
They are made from one piece of material rolled and machined to provide the
blades and are more expensive then welded-blade stabilizers.
The leading edge may be ronnded off to reduce wall damage and provide a greater
wall contact area in soft formations.
They can have either three or four blades.
They normally have tnngsten carbide inserts (TCI). Pressed in TCI are
recommended in abrasive formations i.e. hard limestone, dolomites, sandy shales,
chert, quartzite, and quartzitic sands since they tend to stay in gauge longer than
welded blade stabilizers.
Two main designs are available - spiral blade configuration for maximum wall
contact and cloverleaf (straight blades) for less drag when not rotating.
Integral blade stabilizers have longer blades and larger wall contact surface areas
and are therefore good for maintaining angle and direction. They can be used as a
near-bit stabilizer when angle build is required and a good rate of build \VW be
Welded Blade Stabilizers
The blades are welded onto the body in a high quality process that invokes pre-
heating and post-heating all components and the assembled unit to ensure
stabilizer integrity and minimize the possibility of blade failure. Blades can be
straight, straight-offset, or spiral design.
They aren't recommended in hard formations because of the danger of blade
failure. They are best suited to large hole sizes where the formation is softer
because they allow maximum flo-w rates to be used. They are less expensi,-e to
build than integral blade stabilizers and the blades can be built up 'vvhen they are
The,- aren't recommended for use as the near-bit stabilizer in formations where bit
walk is a problem because of the smaller area of blade/wall contact. The,- aren't
as good as other stabilizer types for locking up an assembly so more walk (azimuth
change) tends to occur.
Shrunk On Sleeve Stabilizers
~ \ sleeve type integral blade stabilizer is constructed with the ribs integral ' - ~ t h a
slee,-e. The slee\-e is attached to the body with a shrink fit. \\ben ribs wear out,
the old sleeve is removed with a cutting torch and a new sleeve shrunk on ' ~ t h
proper heating equipment.
Spiral or Straight Blade type
Either have a replaceable metal sleeve (i.e. Eze Change Stabilizer) or replaceable
metal wear pads. They were originally developed for remote location use.
Non-Rotating Rubber Sleeve Stabilizers also fall into this area.
Non-Rotating Rubber Sleeve Stabilizers
Used somewhere above the top conventional stabilizer in the BHA, especially in
abrasive formations. The rubber slen-e doesn't rotate while drilling and since the
sleeve is stationary, it acts like a drill bushing and therefore will not dig into and
damage the wall of the hole. The sleeve life may be shortened in holes ' ~ t h rough
walls. Special elastomer sleeves may be used for high temperature wells. Newer
polymer design sleeves have been developed that may extend their use.
Replaceable Wear Pad Stabilizer
Has four long blades 90 apart composed of replaceable pads containing pressed-
in tungsten carbide insert compacts. They are good for directional control and/ or
in abrasive formations but may provide excessive torque.
Replaceable Sleeve-Type Stabilizer
Tvw main designs of slee\e-n-pe stabilizer:
1. Two-Piece Stabilizer (mandrel and sleeve).
Sleeve is screwed onto the coarse threads on the outside of the mandrel and
torqued to recommended value. Sleeve makeup torque is low and there is no
pressure seal at the sleeve.
Convenient to change slee\es on the rig floor.
Hard-facing or tungsten carbide inserts protect the blade surfaces from wear.
One bodv can accommodate several sleeve sizes. Therefore are more
economical than Integral Blade Stabilizers (easier to transport also).
Three-Piece Stabilizer (mandrel, sleeve and saver sub).
The sleeve is screwed onto the mandrel by hand initiallY. The saver sub is then
screwed into the mandrel and this connection is torqued up to the required
value. A mud pressure seal is situated at the mandrel/ saver sub connection.
Proper makeup torque is required to minimize downhole washing.
Since it can be time-consuming to change/service the sleeve, this t;.-pe of
stabilizer is not as \v'.ideh- used today.
. .
Clamp-On Stabilizer
Several designs are available and allow more flexibilir;. in B I L ~ designs. They can
be positioned on NMDCs, :M\\D tools, and PDM at required spacing for
directional controL Nonmagnetic clamp-on stabilizers are also available. Risk
exists of clamp-on mmmg position do\NTihole during drilling.
For any of the sleeve stabilizers one of the major disadvantages \\'.ith there use is
the restrictions in circulation rates in smaller hole diameters - 8.5" (216 mm) or
less because of the reduced clearance between the stabilizer bodv and the wall of
the hole.
Roller Reamers
They are designed to maintain hole gauge, reduce torque and stabilize the drill
string. They can be 3-point or 6-point design and both near-bit and string roller
reamers are available. They are particularly useful in abrasive formations.
Near-bit roller reamers help prolong bit life and are normally bored out to accept
a float valve. A near-bit roller reamer is sometimes used in place of a near-bit
stabilizer where rotary torque is excessi,e. The disadvantage to this is that more
bit walk is experienced since a smaller area of wall contact exists compared to
other types of stabilizers. Also, lower build rates are obtainable \Vith roller
reamers used as near bit stabilizers "'i.th building assemblies.
Selection of Stabilizer
Geology is an important consideration when choosing appropriate stabilizer for
the well i.e. how hard is the formation? Cost and convenience also influence the
selection of one stabilizer type over another. Stabilizer gauge influences the
performance of the BHA, i.e. "'i.ll it build or drop angle as predicted? Or will the
stabilizer wear prematurely in the formation being drilled?
Type of Stabilizer
Integral Blade
\X.elded Blade
Replaceable Sleeve
Non-Rotating Rubber
Roller Reamers
Ivfaximum durability for toughest applications
Large hole size in soft formation. Top hole section
of directional well (above KOP)
Valuable v:here logistics are a problem. Economic
Very hard and/ or abrasive formations.
Straight holes.
Hard formations.
Common BHA Problems
Formation Effects
It often happens that when a certain TVD is reached, BI-LA. behavior changes
significantly. A BI-LA., which held inclination down is now starting to drop angle.
\\11.y? Assuming that the near-bit has not gone under-gauge, it's probably due to
formation effects (change in formation, change in dip or strike of the formation
etc). It's vital to keep a good database and try to anticipate the problem for the
following well.
Abrasive formations pose problems for the directional driller. Ensure the bit has
good gauge protection and use stabilizers with good abrasion resistance. Check
the gauge of the stabilizers when out of the hole and watch out for a groove cut
on the leading edge of stabilizers (indication of need to change out the stabilizer).
\\11en it's difficult to drop inclination, sometimes a larger O.D. drill collar is used
as the lower part of the pendulum. Another possibility is the use of a tungsten
short collar; higher concentration of the same into a much shorter element should
prov-ide a more effective pendulum force.
Worn Bits
In a long hole section in soft formation inter-bedded '.-Vith hard stringers, the long-
toothed bit may get worn. ROP \Vill fall sharply and net side force ""'-ill decrease
due to stabilizers undercutting the hole.
Thus, a BH.A. which had been holding inclination up to that point will start to
drop angle. However, if the survey point is significantly behind the bit, this
decrease in angle \\-ill not be seen in time. If the worn teeth are misinterpreted as
a balled-up bit and continued lengthy efforts made to drill further, serious damage
may be done to the hole. It has happened that a drop in inclination of 6 (\vith a
severe dogleg se\erity) has happened in this situation. In addition, a bit having
worn teeth has a tendency to lose direction. Thus, it is important to pull out of
the hole when a worn bit situation develops.
Accidental Sidetrack
In soft formation, where a multi-stabilizer BHA (either Buildup or Loch.-up) is run
inunediately after a mud motor/bent sub kickoff run, great care must he taken.
Circulation should be broken just before the kickoff point. The BI-L-\ should be
\Vashed/worked down, using full flow rate. The directional driller must be on the
drill floor while this is happening. Try to work through tight spots. If string
rotation is absolutely necessary, keep the RPM low and cut rotating time to the
absolute minimum. The risk of sidetracking the well (with subsequent expensive
plug-back andre-drill) is high. Several kickoffs have been lost in various parts of
tl1e world b\ carelessness.
\\bere tl1e kickoff is done in a pilot hole in soft formation, an under-reamer or
hole opener is used to open the hole prior to running casing. Again, to avoid an
unwanted sidetrack, a bull-nose (not a bit) and possibly an extension sub/short
collar should be run below the under-reamer/hole opener.
Pinched Bit
In hard formations, it is especially important to check each bit for gauge wear etc.
when it's pulled out of the hole. \\ben running in the hole \vith a new bit and/ or
BHA, it's imperative that the driller starts reaming at the first sign of under-gauge
hole (string taking weight). If he tries to "cram" the bit to bottom, it will become
"pinched". Bit life will be very short.
Differential Sticking
\\bere differential sticking is a problem, more than three stabilizers may be run in
an effort to minimize wall contact with the drill collars. However, the distance
between these "extra" stabilizers normally has to be such that theY little
effect. They only lead to increased rotary torque. It is \'"ital to mirumize ume
taken for surveys (even "I.V,j_th l\1\\'D) in a potential differential sticking area.
Drilling Parameters
High rotary/ top drive RPM acts to stiffen the string. Thus for directional control,
if possible, high RPJ\I should be used during the rotar: buildup phase, when the
BHA is most limber. However, it's vital to check with the l\1\XD engineer for an
acceptable range of RPM (to resonance). On a new job, tl1e rig
specifications (particularly mud pumps and draW\vorks) should be checked "",j_th
the toolpusher.
Typical values in 17-1/ 2" ( -+-+-+mm) hole during rotar: build/lockup phases "",j_tl1 a
milled-tooth bit would be 160-170 RPJ\I. The rotary transmission would normally
. .
have to be put into high gear. In 12-1/4" (311mm) hole, RPJ\I is normally less
(e.g. 100-14-0), due to bit life and other factors.
Conversely, to induce right-hand walk, it's recommended to slow the RPM (if the
hole direction allows). \\'eight on bit may be simultaneously increased, if the hole
inclination allows.
PDC bits normallY have a tendency to walk left. This should be allowed for when
. .
planning the lead angle at the pre-kickoff stage. Again, experience in the area and
"I.V,j_th the bit has to be used in making this decision.
To increase rate of buildup, increase the weight on bit. Tlus is normallY tl1e case.
However, when the \\'OB reaches a certain value, reverse bending may occur
when using a flexible buildup BHA (e.g. 90' between near-bit and bottom string
stabilizers). Suggested maximum value of\X'OB for 17 1/2" hole is 55,000 lbs. If
inclination is not building enough at this \VOB, it's unlikely that increasing
the \\"OB "",j_ll improve the situation. Look to hydraulics or possibly pull out of
the hole for a more limber hook-up.
It's \'"ital that the directional driller observes the buildup rate carefully. Drilling
parameters normally have to be changed ver: often (typically after every survey).
\\'itl1 l\1\\'D, there's no excuse for not keeping close control of buildup rate. Most
operators will not complain about taking too many surveys if they know the risk
but get rather upset if the well goes off course due to insufficient control.
BHA Equipment and Tools
It's the joint responsibility of the directional driller and operator to ensure that
everything needed (within reason) for future BI-L,;.'s is anilable on the rig. ",;_ll the
directional equipment must be checked thoroughly on arrival at the rig-site.
For rotary BHA's, following are some suggestions:
A selection of stabilizers (normally a combination of sleeve- type and integral
blade design for 17-1 / .2" and smaller hole sizes) v\i.th 360 wall cm-erage
should be av-ailable.
Short drill collars are a vital component of a lockup BI-L,;.. If possible, a
selection of short collars (e.g. 5', 10, and 15) should be available. In addition,
in a well where magnetic interference from the drill string (mud motor) is
expected to be a problem during the buildup phase, non-magnetic (rather than
steel) short collars should be pro-v-ided.
Check that the rig has sufficient drill collars and H\\'DP av-ailable.
Check that sufficient bit nozzles of each size (including what's needed when
running a mud motor) are av-ailable.
Have at least one spare non-magnetic drill collar of each size. As NMDC's are
more prone to galling, damaged collars should be returned to the shop for re-
cutting/ re-facing when replacements arrive.
Any crossover subs, float subs, bit subs etc. required later must be on the rig.
It's a good idea to be thinking at least one BI-L,;_ ahead!
To build inclination, always use a full-gauge near-bit stabilizer.
The more limber the bottom collar, the greater the buildup rate achievable.
Take frequent surveys (e.g. every single with l'vf\X'D) during the buildup phase
(all wells) and the drop-off phase ('S"-type wells) in order to react quickly to
unexpected trends.
A jetting BHA is a modified buildup BHA. Don't jet too far! \\'atch the
~ 0 B available for jetting/ spudding.

To drop inclination, either use an under-gauge near-bit (semi-drop BfL\, for
low drop-off rate) or no near-bit (pendulum BHA, for sharp drop-off rate).
A locked BfLA.., which is holding inclination \vith an under-gauge stabilizer
above the short collar, "\Vill start to drop inclination if this stabilizer is made
In an "S"-type well, try to start the drop-off early using a semi-drop BHA.
Change to a pendulum BHA at around an inclination of 15.
Try not to have to build inclination into the target; it is better to drop slowly
into the target.
Three stabilizers are normallY sufficient in a BHA. In pendulum BfL \'s, two
stabilizers should suffice.
Cse as few drill collars as possible. Cse heavyweight drill pipe as remaining
anilable weight on bit.
Try to use a fairly standard (reasonably predictable) BHA. Do not try any
"fancy" BHA's in a nev: area. Get some experience in the field first!
Directional driller should be on the drill floor when washing/working rotary
BHA through kickoff section in soft formation. Avoid sidetracking the well!
After a kickoff or correction run in medium and hard formations, ream
carefully through the motor run \vith the following rotary BHA until hole drag
is normal.
In hard and/ or abrasive formations, gauge stabilizers carefully when POOH .
Replace stabilizers as required. Check the bit and if it is under-gauge, reaming
\vill be required! Do not let the driller "pinch" the bit in hard formation.
Check all directional equipment before and after the job. It's good practice to
caliper all the tools and leave list on drill floor for drillers. \\'atch out for
galled shoulders!
In potential differential sticking areas, minimize survey time. If using single-
shot surveys, reciprocate pipe. Leave pipe still only for minimum time
A BHA that behaves perfectly in one area, may act very differently in another
area. Local experience is essential in 'fme-tuning" the BfLA..'s.

In the tangent section of a well, a BHc\ change may simply entail changing the
sleeve on the stabilizer directly abm-e the short collar. The trick is by hmv
much should you change the gauge? Sometirnes a change in gauge of 1/16"
may lead to a significant change in BR\ behavior!
High RPM 'stiffens" the BHA and helps to stop walk due to formation
It's usuallY easier to build inclination \vith lower RPM. However, high RP.t\I
during the buildup phase may be required for directional control. \\-OB is tl1e
major drilling parameter influencing buildup rate.
To help initiate right-hand walk, it's ad\-isable to use higher WOB and lo\\er
In soft formation, it may be nece"sary to reduce mud flow rate to get
sufficient \\"OB and reduce hole washout. Be careful! \\'ash each joint/ stand
at normal flow rate before making the connection.
Reaming is effective in controlling buildup rate in soft formation. It becomes
less effective as formation gets harder. Howe\er, even in hard formation,
reaming before each connection helps keep hole drag low.
Lower dogleg severity = smoother wellbore = lower friction = lower rotary
torque = less keyseat problems = less wear on tubulars = less problems on
The retrie\able open-hole whipstock is an old directional drilling tool, which is
seldom used in open-hole deflections today. The whipstock is pinned to a lin1ber
BHc\ which includes a small bit. A typical BHc\ would be as follows:
Whipstock - pilot bit - stabilizer - shearpin sub - 1 joint of drill pipe - CBHO
(to single shot survey) -non-magnetic drill collar
The hole must be clean before running the whipstock. Upon reaching bottom the
tool is pulled up slightly off-bottom and the concave face of the whipstock is
oriented in the desired direction. The tool is then oriented in the desired direction
and set on bottom. The toe of the wedge is anchored firmly in place by
sufficient weight to shear the pin. The bit is lowered down the whipstock face
and rotation is started. About 15 to 20 feet ( 4.5 to 6m) of rathole is drilled at a
controlled rate. The whipstock is then retrieved and the rathole is opened \vith a
pilot bit and hole-opener. Another trip with a full-gauge bit, near-bit stabilizer and
limber f L ~ is made to drill another 30' (9m). ~ ~ full gauge directional f L ~ is
then run and standard drilling is resumed.
This is a very time consuming method of open-hole deflection and creates an
abrupt change in inclination or dogleg (typically l-i
to 20 per 100 feet or 30
meters) . A permanent whipstock could also be run but the risks of the whipstock
falling over or shifting after time is generally thought to be too large.
The use of downhole bent subs has been severelY reduced with the invention of
steerable motors but is still used in some areas with turbodrill and positi\'e
displacement motors, in conjunction to achieve higher build rates and '.vhen other
choices are not available.
Turbodrills were first used in the 1800's with limited success due to their high
RPM (SOO to 1200). The use of turbodrills were limited as a deflection tool as well
due to their low torque output. The rotation of a turbodrill is derived from the
interaction of the drilling fluid and the multiple stages of turbine blades. The
rpm's are directly related to the fluid velocity and torque. One disadvantage of the
turbodrill is that the efficiency is lower than the positive displacement motor.
Therefore, it requires more horsepower at tl1e surface. Many rigs do not have
enough hydraulic horsepower to run a turbodrill. The hydraulics should always be
checked prior to running a turbodrill.
The positive displacement motor uses the Moyna principle. This tool has found
'.vide application in directional drilling and even straight hole performance drilling.
The basic design and components of a positi'.'e displacement motor "\Vill be
discussed in a later section.
The best application of the pos1t1ve displacement motor is in moderately soft
formations. \\ben the formation is too soft, the motor is not as effective as
jetting. In hard formations, the motor is slow and expensive to use.
Both the positive displacement motor and the turbodrill exhibit reverse torque
(reactive torque) when placed on the bottom of the hole. This must be taken into
account when orienting the motor. Experience in the area is the best method of
predicting the reverse torque. If no other information is available, a rule of thumb
can be used. That is allow 10 of left torque per 1,000 feet (3 per lOOm) of depth
in soft formations and so /1,000 feet (1.5 per lOOm) of depth in hard formations.
If the change in well course is critical, steerable motors with J\.1\\TI equipment
should be used.
The downhole motor has a distinct advantage over jetting and whipstocks.
Doglegs created by jetting and whipstocks are more severe than tl1ose created by a
downhole motor. Jetting and -.,.vhipstocks create abrupt changes in angle and
direction. On the other hand, downhole motors produce a smooth arc m"er an
extended length of the wellbore, and the dogleg severity can be controlled by the
angle of the bent sub used.
The basic drilling assembly for using a downhole motor consists of a full gauge
bit, motor, bent sub, mule shoe sub (some bent subs incorporate a mule shoe
sleen:), and non-magnetic drill collars. The bent sub has one of the connecting
threads machined at an angle to the axis of the body of the sub. It imparts the
bending force in the assembly as drilling progresses, thus producing a change in
hole direction. Under dynamic conditions, the side force at the bit is relati-.,."ely
constant. This is the reason the downhole motor produces a continuous change
in the wellbore course along a smooth arc of a circle. Because of the high bit
offset '-"'ith this assemble it is advisable to not rotate this type of BHA.
Csing downhole motors to deflect deep wells can minimize some of the problems
associated \\>'ith shallow, severe doglegs. These problems are drill pipe fatigue, drill
string wear, casing wear, keyseats, torque, drag, and production problems. \\11en
drilling directional wells, changes in the dogleg severity should be minimized to
prevent problems but it depends on the depth of the dogleg. All changes should
be as gradual as possible and still accomplish the objectives.
A steerable assemblY is deflned as a bottomhole assemblY whose directional
. .
behavior can be modified by adjustment of surface controllable drilling parameters
including rotary speed and weight on bit. The ability to modify behavior in this
way enables the assembly to be steered toward a desired objecti\"e \N'ithout its
removal from the wellbore. To some extent, rotary assemblies are steerable if the
build m drop tendency is weight sensitive. However, the ability to control a rotar:r
assembly is limited especially controlling walk.
The most common steerable assembly consists of a PDl\I that incorporates a fLxed
or adjustable bent housing on top of the bearing housing below the stator. With
the smaller displacement of the bit as compared to using a bent sub, the motor
can be safely rotated at RPM's up to 50 depending upon the bend setting and
formation. The motor housing may also incorporate an 3mm (1/8") undergauge
stabilizer. \\lith the bent housing, the stabilizer is not required but the hold
tendency of the assembly in the rotar: mode is improved.
The steerable system operates in two modes; sliding and rotar: drilling. In the
slide mode, the motor acts like a typical motor run. The motor is miented in the
desired direction (tool face), and drilling progresses without drill pipe rotation.
The change in inclination and or direction is derived from the bit tilt from the
bent housing and the side force created from the stabilizer or the wall contact \vith
the motor.
In the rotary drilling mode, the assembly is rotated per normal but at lower
(30 to SO RPJ\1) and d1e side force is cancelled by this rotary action. In some
formations the assembly 'W111 change inclination/ direction even in the rotary mode.
Because of d1e bit offset or the side force associated \v'ith a steerable system, d1e
assembly 'W111 drill an overgauge hole in the rotary mode.
Advances in downhole motor reliabilitY have made the steerable system
economical in many applications. Typically, the mean time between failure is in
excess of 2000 hours for the motor and excess of 800 hours for the measurement
while drilling equipment thereby exceeding d1e life of a tri-cone bit. \\bere
feasible, the tri-cone bit has been replaced with a PDC or diamond bit. \\ben
properly matched to the formation and motor torque output, a PDC bit can last
much longer than a tri-cone bit; however, a PDC bit can not always be used. They
are applicable to soft and medium hardness formations with consistent lithology.
In areas where formation hardness changes a lot, PDC bits do not perform as well
as tri-cone bits. Also the ability or ease of controlling build and turn rates of a
PDC considerablY.
. .
In some cases, the penetration rate of a steerable system \\W out perform d1at of a
rotary assembly. The majority of the time, it is used in soft formations. As
formation hardness increases, rotary assemblies 'vvW drill faster than a steerable
system unless special high torque performance motors are used. Harder
formations are less sensitive to rotary speed, and bit weight is the predominant
drilling parameter. In hard formations, the penetration rate for a motor can be
half that of a rotary assembly. In soft to medium hard formations, the penetration
rate for a downhole motor has been t'W'ice that of a rotarY
. .
"\s the torque and drag in a directional well increases, the rate of penetration for a
steerable system while sliding can be considerably less than while rotating. In
some cases it will be half d1e rate seen while rotating. Therefore, it is
advantageous to rotate a steerable sntem as much as possible especially when
approaching TD.
The directional plan can be followed much more closely with a steerable system.
Since trips are not required, corrections in the slide mode are made much more
frequently. The frequent corrections \NW keep the wellbore closer to the planned
path. In the hold section, the directional driller will often rotate for a portion of a
connection and slide for the remainder of ilie connection. He must first get a feel
for how much ilie assembly is walking and building or dropping while in the
rotary mode. Once he gets a feel for iliat then he can determine how much he
needs to slide per connection and what ilie tool face orientation must be.
This does not mean that the dogleg severi0 is very low. It only means that the
changes are small and frequent. StuTeys at 20m to 30m inteJTals vvillnot pick up
the actual dogleg severi0 in the v\ell. \X'hereas with rotaty assemblies and motor
corrections, the dogleg severi0 is picked up by the surveys. Frequent motor
corrections (short dogleg intervals) will minimize problems associated \\'"i.th
keyseats. The doglegs are not long enough for keyseats to form easily.
The steerable system should be designed to generate a dogleg severi0 25 percent
greater than that required to accomplish the objectives of the directional plan (a
more aggressive bent housing setting). Formation tendencies can cause the dogleg
severi0 of a steerable system to change. If it decreases the dogleg severitv
generated by the system, then a trip may be require to pick up a more aggressive
assembly. However if the assembly is designed to be more aggressive, then the
assembly will still be able to produce a dogleg severi0 sufficient to keep the
wellbore on course and less slide drilling is required resulting in a higher average
ROP. Reducing the dogleg severi0 of a steerable system is not a problem.
Alternately sliding and rotating the assembly \\'ill reduce the overall dogleg
The most significant advantage of the steerable system is that a trip does not have
to be made in order to make a course correction. \X11en a correction is required,
the motor is oriented and drilling continues in the slide mode until the correction
is complete. Then drilling in the rotary mode continues until the next correction
is required. If a steerable system is not used, a trip would be required to pick up a
motor assembly before making the correction. After the correction is made,
another trip would be required to pick up the rotary assembly.
Another advantage of the steerable system is that it prov'ides the abilitv to hit
smaller targets at a reasonable cost. Because a trip is not required to make a
course correction, the steerable system can hit a smaller target vv'ith less cost. It's
not that a small target can not be hit using rotary assemblies and motor
corrections; its that the costs increase significantly as the target gets smaller.
Steerable systems are 0-pically used in drilling multi-target directional and
horizontal wells. Drilling through a cluster of wells is another good application
for a steerable system. Drilling out from under a crowded platform may require
building, dropping and turning at various rates over a relatively short distance in
order to avoid other wellbores. A steerable system is capable of making all the
corrections without tripping. In an emnonment where the daily operating costs
are high, the steerable system can result in significant savings.
Just because the industry has the capability to hit smaller targets
does not mean that the targets should be undulv restricted. The
smaller the target, the more expensive it can be to hit. \X'ith a
steerable system, the cost differential isn't as high as it 'Nould be
using rotary assemblies and making motor corrections.
There are two major types of downhole motors powered by mud flow; 1) the
turbine, which is basically a centrifugal or axial pump and 2) the
displacement mud motor (PDJ\1). The principles of operation are shown in Figure
7.1 and the design of the tool are totally different. Turbines were in wide use a
number of years ago and are seeing some increased use lately but the PDM is the
main workhorse for directional drilling.
Turbine Motor
Positive Displacement Motor
Figure 7-1 Motor Types
Motor Selection
Four configurations of drilling motors prm,ide the broad range of bit speeds and
torque outputs required satisfying a multitude of drilling applications. These
configurations include:
High Speed I Low Torque
Medium Speed I Medium Torque
Low Speed I High Torque
Low Speed I High Torque -Gear Reduced
The high speed drilling motor utilizes a 1:2 lobe power section to produce high
speeds and luw torque outputs. They are popular choices when drilling with a
diamond bit, tri-cone bit drilling in soft formations and directional applications
where single shot orientations are being used.
The medium speed drilling motor typically utilizes a -t-:5 lobe power secnon to
produce medium speeds and medium torque outputs. They are commonly used in
most conventional directional and horizontal wells, in diamond bit and coring
applications, as well as sidetracking.
The low speed drilling motor typically utilizes a 7:8 lobe power section to produce
low speeds and high torque outputs. They are used in directional and horizontal
wells, medium to hard formation drilling, and PDC bit drilling applications.
The gear reduced drilling motor combines a patented gear reduction system with a
1:2 lobe high speed po"\ver section. This system reduces the output speed of the
1:2 lobe power section by a factor of three, and increases the output torque by a
factor of three. The result is a drilling motor \V"ith similar performance outputs as
a low speed drilling motor, but \V"ith some signitlcant benetlts. The 1:2 lobe power
section is more efticient at converting hydraulic power to mechanical power than a
multi-lobe power section and also maintains more consistent bit speed as weight
on bit is applied. This motor can be used in directional and horizontal wells, hard
formation drilling, and PDC bit drilling applications.
Some other motor selections are also available including a tandem and moditled
motor. These are described belo"\v.
Tandem Drilling Motor- The drilling motor utilizes two linked power sections for
increased torque capacity.
:tvloditied Drilling Motor - The bearing section of the drilling motor has been
moditled to different drilling characteristics (ie. change bit to bend
distance, etc.).
All drilling motors consist of tlve major assemblies:
1. Dump Sub Assembly
2. Power Section
3. Drive Assembb:
-t-. Adjustable Assembly
5. Sealed or l\Iud Lubricated Bearing Section.
The gear reduced drilling motor contains an additional section, the gear reducer
assembly located within the sealed bearing section. Some other motor
manufacturers have bearing sections that are lubricated by the drilling tluid.
Dump Sub Assembly
~ s a result of the power section (described below), the drilling motor will seal off
the drill string ID from the annulus. In order to prevent wet trips and pressure
problems, a dump sub assembly is utilized. The dump sub assembly is a
hydraulically actuated vah'e located at the top of the drilling motor that allm\'S the
drill string to till "\vhen running in hole, and drain when tripping out of hole.
\\ben the pumps are engaged, the valve automatically closes and directs all drilling
tluid tlow through the motor.
In the e\'ent that the dump sub assembly is not required, such as in underbalanced
drilling using nitrogen gas or air, it's effect can be negated by simply replacing the
discharge plugs with blank plugs. This allows the motor to be adjusted as
necessary, even in the field. Drilling motors 95 mm (3 3/ 4") and smaller require
the dump sub assembly to be replaced with a special blank sub.
Power Section
The drilling motor power section is an adaptation of the Moineau type positive
displacement hydraulic pump in a reversed application. It essentially converts
hydraulic power from the drilling tluid into mechanical power to drive the bit.
The po"\ver section is comprised of two components; the stator and the rotor. The
stator consists of a steel tube that contains a bonded elastomer insert with a lobed,
helical pattern bore through the centre. The rotor is a lobed, helical steel rod.
\\ben the rotor is installed into the stator, the combination of the helical shapes
and lobes form sealed cavities between the two components. \\ben drilling tluid
is forced through the power section, the pressure drop across the cavities will
cause the rotor to turn inside the stator. This is how the drilling motor is
It is the pattern of the lobes and the length of the heli.x that dictate what output
characteristics will be developed by the power section. By the nature of the
design, the stator always has one more lobe than the rotor. The illustrations in
Figure 7-2 show a 1:2 lobe cross-section, a 4:5 lobe cross-section and a 7:8 lobe
cross-section. Generally, as the lobe ratio is increased, the speed of rotation is
Figure 7-'2: Cross-sections of the most common power section lobe configurations
The second control on power section output characteristics is length. ~ A stage is
defined as a full helical rotation of the lobed stator. Therefore, power sections
may be classified in stages. A four stage power section contains one more full
rotation to the stator elastomer, when compared to a three stage. \\'ith more
stages, the power section is capable of greater m-erall pressure differential, which
in turn provides more torque to the rotor.
As mentioned above, these two design characteristics can be used to control the
output characteristics of any size power section. This allows for the modular
design of drilling motors making it possible to simply replace power sections when
different output characteristics are required.
In addition, the variation of dimensions and materials \Vill allow for specialized
drilling conditions. \\'ith increased temperatures, or certain drilling fluids, the
stator elastomer will expand and form a tighter seal onto the rotor and create
more of an interference fit, which may result in stator elastomer damage. Special
stator materials or interference fit can be requested for these conditions.
Drive Assembly
Due to the design nature of the power section, there is an eccentric rotation of the
rotor inside of the stator. To compensate for this eccentric motion and convert it
to a purely concentric rotation drilling motors utilize a high strength jointed drive
assembk The drive assemblY consists of a drive shaft with a sealed and lubricated
. .
drive joint located at each end. The drive joints are designed to 'Wi.thstand the high
torque values delivered by the power section while creating minimal stress through
the drive assembly components for extended life and increased reliability. The
drive assembly also provides a point in the drive line that 'Wi.ll compensate for the
bend in the drilling motor required for directional control.
Adjustable Assembly
Most drilling motors today are supplied with a surface adjustable assembh-. The
adjustable assembly can be set from zero to three degrees in \'arying in
the field. Tlus durable design results in "\vide range of potential build rates used in
directional, horizontal and re-entry wells. Also, to mininUze the wear to the
adjustable components, wear pads are normally located directly abm-e and below
the adjustable bend.
Sealed or Mud Lubricated Bearing Section
The bearing section contains tl1e radial and thrust bearings and busl-llngs. They
transmit the axial and radial loads from the bit to the drill string while providing a
drive line that allows the power section to rotate the bit. The bearing section may
utilize sealed, oil filled, and pressure compensated or mud lubricated assemblies.
\\'ith a sealed assembly the bearings are not subjected to drilling fluid and should
provide extended, reliable operation with minimal wear. As no drilling fluid is
used to lubricate tl1e drilling motor bearings, all fluid can be directed to the bit for
maximized hydraulic efficiency. This provides for improved bottom-hole
cleaning, resulting in increased penetration rates and longer bit life. The mud
lubricated designs typically use tungsten carbide-coated sleeves to provide the
radial support. Usually ..J.% to 10% of the drilling fluid is diverted pass tlus
assembly to cool and lubricate tl1e shaft, radial and thrust bearings. The fluid then
exits to the annulus directly above tl1e bit/ drive sub.
Gear Reducer Assembly
An alternative to the type low speed drilling motor is the gear reduced design. It
utilizes a gear reduction assembly \\1.thin the sealed bearing section in combination
\"\1.th a 1:2 lobe power section. This patented design reduces the speed of rotation
by a factor of three while increasing the torque by the same multiple. The benefit
with this design is increased stability in the bit speed for different differential
pressures, and improved hydraulic efficiency out of tl1e power section.
Kick Pads
Most drilling motors can incorporate wear pads directly above and below the
adjustable bend for imprm-ed wear resistance. Eccentric kick pads can also be
used on most motors ranging from 121 mm (4 3/4') to 24.5 mm (9 5/8") in size.
This kick pad is adjustable to match the low side of the motor to increase build
rate capabilities. It will also allow lower adjustable settings for similar build rates,
thereby reducing radial stresses applied to the bearing assembly, and permit safer
rotation of the motor. They can be installed in the field by screwing them onto
specially adapted bearing housings.
Figure 7-3 General motor component layout
Bearing housings are also available with two stabilization styles, integral blade and
screw-on. The integral blade style is built directly onto the bearing housing and
thus cannot be removed in the field. The screw-on style provides the option of
installing a threaded stabilizer sleeve onto the drilling motor on the rig floor in a
matter of minutes. The drilling motor has a thread on the bottom end that is
\Vith a thread protector slee\Te when not required. Both of these stvles are
optional to a standard bladed bearing housing. .
Drilling Motor Operation
In order to get the best performance and optimum life of drilling motors, the
following standard procedures should be followed during operation. Slight
variations may be required with changes in drilling conditions and drilling
equipment, but attempts should be made to follow these procedures as closely as
Assembly Procedure & Surface Check Prior to
Running in Hole
Most motors are shipped from the shop thoroughly inspected and tested, but
some initial checks should be completed prior to running in hole. TI1ese surface
check procedures should only be used \vith mud drilling systems. To avoid
potential bit, motor, and BOP damage, these preliminary checks should be
completed \vithout a bit attached. A thread protector should be installed in the bit
box whenever moving the motor, but must be removed before flow testing.
1. The correct lift sub must always be installed and used for moving the tool
on or off the rig floor, and for lifting the tool into position for make-up.
be sure the connection between the lift sub and the drilling motor is
tight. To lift the drilling motor to the rig floor, use a tugger line secured
around the lift sub. Pick up the drilling motor "vith the elevators and set it
into the slips of the rotary table. Install the dog collar/ safety clamps. The
lift sub supplied "\vith the drilling motor should only be used for lifting the
drilling motor. The capacity of the lift sub is restricted to the weight of
the drilling motor and should not be used for any other purpose. Only
apply rig tongs on the identified areas of the drilling motor. All
connections marked "NO TONGS" of the drilling motor are torqued in
the service shop. Further make-up on the rig floor is not necessary, and if
attempted may cause damage.
2. Remove the lift sub and connect the kelly to the drilling motor, remove
the safety clamp, and lift the drilling motor out of the slips. Remove the
thread protector from the bit box and inspect the threads for damage.
3. Lower the drilling motor until the dump sub ports are below the rotary
table, wt still visible. CAUTION: The dump sub valve "",j_J} remain open
until there is enough fluid pressure to close it. Therefore, the drilling
motor should be lowered until the potts are below the rotary table. This
"\veill prevent the initial flow of drilling fluid from spraying on the rig floor.
-1-. Slowly stan the pumps and ensure drilling fluid is fluwing out of the dump
sub potts. Increase the flow tate until the dump sub potts close, and
drilling t1uid stops flowing out. Make note of the circulation tate and
standpipe pressure. CACTION: Do not exceed the maximum
recommended flow tate for this test.
::>. Lift the drilling motor until the bit box becomes "\"isible. It should be
rotating at a slow, constant speed. Listen to the bearing section of the
drilling motor for excessive beating noise, especially if the tool has been
used pte\"iously \vithout being sen"iced.
6. Before stopping the pumps, the drilling motor should be lowered belo"\\
the rotary table. Ensure that drilling fluid flows out of the dump sub potts
after shutting down the pumps. It is possible that the dump sub valve
remains closed after this test due to a pressure lock If this occurs, no
drilling fluid will flow out of the potts. To remove the pressure lock,
bleed off some stand pipe pressure and the valve 'Weill open. The surface
check should be as short as possible; since it is merely to ensure that the
drilling motor is rotating.
7. After this surface check, the bit should be attached to the motor using a
bit-breaker, while holding the bit box stationary with a rotary tong. Be
sure to a\oid contacting the end cap directly above the bit box with the
tong dies. It is recommended that you never hold the bit box stationary
and rotate the drilling motor countet-cloch.\vise, or hold the drilling motor
stationary and rotate the bit box clockwise. This could possibly cause the
internal drilling motor connections to back off and damage it. Although
rotating in the opposite direction 'Weill result in drilling fluid to be pushed
out the top end, the internal connections will not be at risk of
disconnecting. Get wet or damage motor.
8. If the drilling motor has been used prev-iously, an overall inspection should
be completed. Inspect for seal integrity by cleaning the area above the bit
box and \"isually checking for lubricating oil leakage or seal extrusion.
General v-isual inspection of tl1e entire drilling motor should be carried out
to check for missing oil plugs, housing damage, or loose connections.
9. Set tl1e adjustable assembly to the desired bend. The instructions for this
procedure depend upon the motor manufacturer and should be adhered
to. Ensure the rig tongs can generate the requited make-up torque the
10. If a float sub is used, it should be placed immediately above the drilling
Tripping In Hole
Generally, a drill string \vith a drilling motor can be run into the hole like a
standard bottom hole assembly. The drilling motor is rugged, but care should be
taken to control travel speed while tripping into the hole. The drill string should
be tripped \\-i.th the blocks unlocked and special care must be taken when passing
the B.O.P., casing shoe, liner hanger, bridges and nearing bottom. Tight spots
should be traversed by starting the pumps and slowly reaming the drilling motor
through. \\ben reaming, the drill string should be periodically rotated to prevent
sidetracking. Great care should be taken during these operations.
\\ben tripping to extreme depths, or when hole temperatures are high, periodic
stops are recommended to break circulation. This prevents bit plugging and aids
in cooling the drilling motor, prewnting high temperature damage.
Fluid should not be circulated through a drilling motor inside casing if a PDC or
diamond bit is being used, as this may damage the bit cutters.
If a dump sub assembly is not used and the pipe is not being filled while tripping
in, the back pressure on the power section \\-ill cause the rotor to turn in reverse.
This could cause internal connections of the drilling motor to unscrew. Stop and
break circulation before putting drilling motor on-bottom. Failure to do so could
plug jets and/ or damage the drilling motor.
After the assembly has been tripped to the bottom of the hole, drilling motors
should be operated in the following manner:
1. \'\'ith the bit 1-2 meters (3-6 feet) off bottom, start the pumps and slowly
increase the flow rate to that desired for drilling. Do not exceed the
maximum rated flow rate for the drilling motor.
2. Make a note of the flow rate and the total pump pressure. Note that the
pressure may exceed the calculated off bottom pressure due to some side
load effects between the bit and the hole diameter.
3. After a short cleaning interval, lower the bit carefully to bottom and slowly
increase the weight. Torque can be affected by a dirty, uncirculated hole
and the hole should be adequately cleaned prior to orienting the tool. Fill
maybe cleaned out of the wellbore by slowly rotating the drilling motor or
by staging the drilling motor full circle 30 to 4-So at a time. This prevents
ledge buildup and side tracking.
4-. Orient the drill string as desired and slowly apply further weight onto the
bit. Pump pressure v.rill rise as the weight on bit is increased. Record the
change in system pressure between the off bottom and on bottom
This v.rill be the differential pressure. Try to drill with steady pump
pressure by keeping a steady flow rate and constant weight on bit.
Adding weight on bit \\W cause both the differential pressure and torque
to increase. Similarly, reducing weight on bit will reduce both the
differential pressure and the torque. Therefore, the rig pressure gauge
enables the operator to monitor how the drilling motor is performing, as
well as a weight on bit indicator.
Applying excessive weight on bit may cause damage to the on-bottom
thrust bearings. SimilarlY, applving excessive tension while stuck may
cause damage to the off-bottom thrust bearings. Refer to the manufacturer
specifications for the recommended maximum loads for these conditions.
Optimum differential pressure can be determined by monitoring motor
performance, penetration rate, and drilling requirements. Also,
maintaining a constant weight on bit and differential pressure assists in
controlling orientation of the drill string.
Reactive Torque
Drilling motors drive the bit \vith a right-hand (clockwise) rotation. weight is
added to the bit, reactive torque acting on the drilling motor housing is dewloped.
This left-hand (counter-clockwise) torque is transferred to the drill string and may
cause the joints above the motor to tighten. Reactions of this type increase with
larger weight on bit values and reach a maximum when the motor stalls. This
reactive torque also affects the orientation of the motor when it is used in
directional drilling applications. Therefore, this reactive torque must be taken into
account when orienting the drilling motor from the surface in the desired
direction. As a rule-of-thumb 4
'z" drill pipe will turn 10 for every 300m (1,000').
Determining the amount of torque generated by the motor and using drill pipe
twist tables can also produce a rough determination of the torsional angle of the
drill string. By measuring the on-bottom and off-bottom pressure, the differential
pressure can be determined. \X'ith this value use the torque performance charts
for the motor to determine the approximate downhole torque generated. "Ctilizing
the follO\ving drill string twist table -v.w estimate the amount of reactive torque.
/z" - 13.30 lb I ft drill pipe
19 degrees per 100 N.m torque per 1000m of hole
2 degrees per 1 00 ft -lb torque per 1000 ft of hole
z"- 15.50 lblft drill pipe
17 degrees per 100 N .m torque per 1 OOOm of hole
z degrees per 100 ft-lb torque per 1000 ft of hole
2"- 16.60 lblft drill pipe
7 Lz degrees per 100 N.m torque per 1000m of hole
3 113 degrees per 100 ft-lb torque per 1000 ft of hole
5" 19.50 lb I ft drill pipe
6 degrees per 100 N .m torque per 1 OOOm of hole
2 518 degrees per 100 ft-lb torque per 1000 ft of hole
Example: 159mm high speed motor with an applied differential pressure of ::2000
KPa produces a torque of 720 N-m. \\'e are drilling at a depth of 800m with 4
drill pipe. Potential reactive torque is 800 I 1000 x 720 I 100 x 7 = 40 degrees
Critical Rotary Speed
I\fotor sections are a\'ailable in a number of configurations. These different
designs are identified by the number of lobes on the rotor and ca,'ities in the
stator. For example a 415 power section has 4 lobes and 5 cavities. \\'ith even
rotation made by the rotor, there are eccentric motions about the radius of the
rotor equal to the number of lobes. So a -+15 power section would go through 4
eccentric movements for every rotation. In all multi-lobed tools, regardless of size
or configuration, the critical tolerance for this eccentric mo\'ement is 1000 cycles
per nunute. Exceeding this critical tolerance sets up three degenerative cycles in
the tool:
The high oscillation factor combined '.Vi.th the inherent friction of the rotor
contacting the stator results in excessive heat generation in the stator molding.
Oscillations above 1000 cycles per minute may result in temperatures
sufficient to cause hysteretic failure of the stator molding (elastomer doesn't
return to original shape).
Vibration frequencies are introduced by the high oscillation rates that can
contribute to mechanical failures in motor components other than the rotor
and stator. It is not known if these vibrations are harmonic or random
however, it is logical to assume that some degree of resonance would be
present in the frequency.
The centrifugal force of the rotor in an "over-speed" condition combined '..Vith
the diminished compressive strength of a stator in hysteretic failure,
accentuate the eccentric motion (run out) of the rotor. The result is an
expontenial increase in the degenerative effects of the condition.
Drilling Motor Stall
Stalling usually occurs when the application of excessive weight on bit or hole
sloughing stops the bit from rotating and the power section of the drilling motor
is not capable of prm-iding enough torque to power through. This is indicated by
a sudden sharp increase in pump pressure. This pressure increase is de,-eloped
because the rotor is no longer able to rotate inside the stator, forming a long seal
between the two. If circulation is continued, the drilling fluid forces it's way
through the power section by deflecting the stator rubber. Drilling fluid will still
circulate through the motor, but the bit '..VW not tum. Operating in this state ,,;n
erode and possibly chunk the stator in a very short period of time, resulting in
extensiw damage. It is very important to avoid this operating condition.
\\11en stalling occurs, corrective action must be taken inlmediately. Any rotary
application should be stopped and built up drill string torque released. Then the
weight on bit can be reduced allowing the drill bit to come loose and the drilling
motor to turn freely. If the pump pressure is still high, the pumps should then be
turned off. Once again, failure to do this '..VW result in the stator eroding until the
drilling motor is inoperable.
Other conditions can be occurring downhole that indicate the motor is stalling.
On underbalanced wells when the motor is being supplied with too low a
combined equivalent flow rate '..VW not drill (see later discussion on two-phase
flow tests). Under gauge bits or a badly worn heel row of cutters on the bit can
also make the motor stall.
Bit Conditions
The bit speeds developed '..vhen drilling with a drilling motor are normally higher
than in conventional rotary drilling. This application tends to accelerate bit wear.
\\ben drilling with a drilling motor and simultaneously rotating the drill string, it is
important to avoid locking up the bit and over running the drilling motor '..vith the
rotary table. A locked bit will impart a sudden torque increase in the drilling
motor which can be detected by a sudden, sharp increase in standpipe pressure.
Small pressure fluctuations can also indicate the onset of bit failure.
Rotating the Drilling Motor
For directional control, we often rotate a drilling motor which has the adjustable
assembly set for a deviation angle. It has been found that rotating the drilling
motor set at bends greater than 1.8 degrees may fatigue the housings of the
drilling motor to a point where a fatigue crack is initiated, and fracture occurs.
Additionally, rotation of motors with settings greater than 1.83 degrees place high
radial stresses on the bearing section which may initiate premature failure. :tYiost
motor manufacturers have a policy that drilling motors set at greater than 1.83
degrees not be rotated. The extent of the damage is very dependent upon the
drilling conditions and formations being drilled. Although fractures from fatigue
due to rotating over 1.83 degrees are a relatively rare occurrence, a risk is still
being taken when it is done. The operator of the drilling motor must be aware of
this risk.
It is also recommended that the speed of rotation not exceed SO RPM. If this
is exceede._:_ excessive cyclic loads would occur to the drilling motor
housings and possibly causing pre-mature fatigue problems.
Tripping Out
Prior to tripping out when drilling with conventional mud, it is recommended that
the fluid be circulated for at least one "bottoms-up' time to ensure that the
wellbore has been cleaned thoroughly.
The tripping out procedures for a drilling motor is basically the same as those for
tripping in. Taking care when pulling the drilling motor through tight spots, liner
hangers, casing, casing shoes, and the B.O.P. is necessary to minimize possible
damage to both the drilling motor and the wellhead components. Rotating may
also be done to assist with the removal of the drill string. The dump sub valve vvill
allow the drill string to be emptied automatically when tripping.
the drill string will drain when tripping out, the drilling motor itself may
not. Once the drilling motor is at surface, rotating the bit box in a counter-
clockwise direction vvill naturally drain the drilling motor through the top. This is
recommended before laying down the motor since aggressive drilling fluids can
deteriorate the elastomer stator and seals. \\'hen possibly, fresh water should also
be flushed through to ensure thorough cleaning of the drilling motor. Also, clean
the bit box area with clean water and install a thread protector into the box
Rotating the bit box in a clockwise direction vvill naturally drain the drilling motor
through the bottom, but one of the internal connections could break and unscrew.
For this reason, it is not recommended to rotate it in this manner.
Surface Checks After Running in Hole
Before laying down a drilling motor, it should be inspected in the ev:ent that it is
required again before servicing. Listen for indications of internal damage when
draining the drilling motor. Inspect the seal area between the bit box and the
bearing section for lubricating oil leakage, and check the entire drilling motor for
loose or missing pressure plugs. If there are any concerns \vith the drilling motor,
it should be laid down for sen'icing.
Drilling Fluids
Most drilling motors are designed to operate effectively \vith practically all types of
drilling fluids. In fact, the stator or pO\ver-section of most PD.I'v1's are supplied by
the same one or two manufacturers \vith the same general elastomer type.
Successful runs hav:e been achieved with fresh or salt water, oil based fluids, fluids
\vith additi\'es for \'iscosity control or lost circulation, and \Vith nitrogen gas.
However, some consideration should be taken when selecting a drilling fluid, as
elastomer components of the drilling motor are susceptible to pre-mature wear
when exposed to certain fluids especially under higher temperatures.
Hydrocarbon based drilling fluids can be v:ery harmful to elastomers. A measure
of this aggressiveness is called the Aniline Point. The Aniline Point is the
temperature at which equal amounts of the hydrocarbon and aniline become
miscible. This temperature is an indication of the percent of light ends (aromatics)
present in the hydrocarbon. It is recommended that the aniline point of any
drilling fluid not be lower than 70 to 94.5 C (158 to 200 F), depending upon
stator manufacturer. The lower the aniline point the higher the percentage of
elastomer damaging "high-ends" in the hydrocarbon fluid. Also, the operating
temperature of the drilling fluid should be lower than the aniline point. Operating
outside these parameters tends to excessively swell elastomers and cause
premature wear, thus reducing the performance of the motor. In cases where
hv:drocarbon based fluids are used it is recommended that stators material or
designs that account for the elastomer swelling be used (HSN or changed
interference of stator/rotor.
Drilling fluids with high chloride content can cause significant damage to internal
components (chrome plated rotors). \\ben these components become damaged,
the drilling motor's performance is dramatically reduced.
Lost circulation materials can be used safely with drilling motors but care must be
taken to add the material slowly to avoid plugging the system. (Good rule of
thumb is no more than 2.5 lbs/barrel). If coarse lost circulation material is
required a circulating sub should be installed above the motor assembly to by-pass
the motor.
The percentage of solids should be kept to a nurumwn. Large amounts of
abrasive solids in the drilling fluid will dramatically increase the wear on a stator.
It is recommended that the sand content be kept below 2% for an acceptable
operational life. A solids content greater than 5'o will shorten rotor and stator life
For the above reasons, it is extremely important to flush the drilling motor '.vith
fresh water before laying it dmm, especially when working ' ~ t h the types of
drilling fluids described abo,e. Failure to do so ' ~ allow the drilling fluid to
further seriously deteriorate components to the drilling motor long after it has
been operated. The solids can also settle out in tl1e motor and in the worse case
lock the motor up.
Temperature Limits
The temperature limits of drilling motors again depend on the effect of different
fluids and temperatures on the components made of elastomers. Generally,
standard drilling motors are rated for temperatures up to 105 C (219 F). At
temperatures abme this, the performance characteristics of elastomers are
changed, resulting in reduced life expectancy. \\'hen exposed to higher
temperatures, the elastomers swell, creating more interference than desired,
wearing the parts out prematurely. The strength of the elastomers is also affected.
\\'hen drilling in wells Mth temperatures greater than 121 o C (250 F) it is
important to maintain circulation to minimize the temperature the stator liner is
subjected to.
To compensate for these elastomer changes, special materials and special sizes of
components are used. This results in drilling motors that are specifically
assembled for high temperatures. These special order drilling motors may be
operated in temperatures up to 150 C (300 F) and higher. The rubber in the
stator is specially selected for more clearance at higher temperatures to minimize
interference. Therefore, at lower temperatures, the stator elastomer ' ~ not seal
adequately on the rotor and fluid bypass ' ~ occur. Therefore, it is important that
the drilling motor be used in the conditions it is designed for in order to operate
as required.
The use of a PDM in the drill string changes the hydraulic calculations and should
be considered. Various factors have to be taken into account. These are:
1. Range of flow rates allowable: Each size and type of PDM is designed to take a
certain range of volwnes of fluid.
2. No-load Pressure Loss: \\ben mud is pumped through a mud motor which is
turning freely off-bottom (i.e. doing no \Vork) a certain pressure loss is needed to
overcome the rotor/stator friction forces and cause the motor to turn. This
pressure loss and motor RPM are proportional to flow rate. Their \-alues are
known for each size and type of PDJ\L The no-load pressure loss is usually no
greater than 100 psi.
3. Pressure Drop across the Motor: As the bit touches bottom and effective \\'OB
is applied, pump pressure increases. This increase in pressure is normally called
the motor differential pressure. l\lotor torque increases in direct proportion to the
increase in differential pressure. This differential pressure is required to pump a
given volume of mud through the motor to perform useful work. For a multi-
lobe motor, it can be 500 psi or even more.
-t Stall-out Pressure: There is a maximwn recommended value of motor
differential pressure. ~ t this point, the optimum torque is produced by the motor.
If the effective \\'OB is increased beyond this point, pump pressure increases
further. The pressure across the motor increases to a point \Vhere the lining of the
stator is deformed. The rotor/stator seal is broken and the mud flows straight
through without turning the bit (blow-by or slippage). The pump pressure reading
jumps sharply and does not nry as additional \\.OB is applied. This is known as
stall-out condition.
Studies have shown that the power output curve is a parabola and not a smooth
upward curn, as originally thought. If the PDM is operated at 50%)-60 o of the
maximum allowable motor differential pressure, the same performance should be
achie\-ed as when operating at 90
o of differential. The former situation is much
better howe\-er, there is a much larger 'cushion' available before stall-out. This
should result in significantly longer motor life.
The greater the wear on the motor bearings, the easier it is to stall-out the motor.
It is useful to deliberately stall out the PDM briefly on reaching bottom. It tells
the directional driller what the stall-out pressure is. He may \Vant to operate the
motor at about 50% of stall-out differential pressure. In any case, he must stay
\V'ithin the PDM design specifications.
It is obvious that, if the pump pressure while drilling normally \V'ith a mud motor
is close to the rig's maximum, stalling of the PDM may lead to tripping of the
'pop-off valve'. This should be taken into account in designing the hydraulics
Rotor Nozzle: Most multi-lobe motors have a hollow rotor. This can be blanked
off or jetted with a jet nozzle. \\'hen the standard performance range for the
motor matches the drilling requirements, a blanking plug is normally fitted.
The selection of the rotor nozzle is critical. Excessive bypass will lead to a
substantial drop in motor performance and, consequently, drilling efficiency. If a
rotor nozzle is used at lower flow rates, the power of the motor '"ill be greatly
From the above, it is clear that careful planning of the PDM hydraulics program is
171 mm I
Computalog CommanderTM I
1:2 Lobe, 4.0 Stage
'78 rnm
270 mrn
6750 :n
;:oo io:
S. 000 of\ 480.000 ID'
40,000 rJi\ 202,000 Ia'
l 2.97
M 3
i3.600 N<n 10Jl00
I,A AX itT: UfT!
Ma>-irr:urn P { ~ ~ N e f
Figure 7-3 Example of a typical motor performance chart for a 1:2 lobe motor.
500 gorn
Compmlog 11
Lobe, Stage
0 &4 rn
1>98 rn
I D): m
192 mrn
PI: in:
90>000 dN
35,000 dN
78 iC
93 1r
?_l}{l <n
Figure 7-4 Example of a typical motor performance chart for a 4:5lobe motor.
Directional surveys are taken at specific intelTals to determine the position of the
wellbore relative to its surface location. The surveys are converted into a North-
South, East-\\"est and true vertical depth using one of se\eral calculation methods.
The co-ordinates are then plotted in both a vertical and horizontal plane. By
plotting the survey data, the directional personnel can then compare the progress
of the well to the planned wellpath and make changes as required to reach the
desired target.
There are several methods that can be used to calculate the survey data, however,
some are more accurate than others. Some of the most common methods are:


Balanced Tangential

Average Angle

Radius of Curvature and

The tangential method is the least accurate with the radius of curvature and
minimum curvature methods being the most accurate. The industry typically uses
!l1lll11num curvature for these calculations but may use radius of cunature for
At one time the tangential method was the most widely used because it was the
easiest. The equations are relatively simple, and the calculations can be performed
easily in the field. Unfortunately, the tangential method is the least accurate
method and results in errors greater than all the other methods. The tangential
method should not be used to calculate directional surveys. It is only presented
here to prove a point.
The tangential method assumes the wellbore course is tangential to the lower
survey station, and the wellbore course is a straight line. Because of the straight-
line assumption, the tangential method yields a larger value of horizontal departure
and a smaller \alue of vertical displacement when the inclination is increasing.
This is graphically represented in Figure 3-1. Line is the assumed wellbore
course. The dashed line AB is the change in true vertical depth and the dashed
line is the departure in the horizontal direction. The opposite is true when the
inclination is decreasing. \\.ith the tangential method, the greater the build or
drop rate, the greater the error. Also, the distance between surveYs has an effect
on the quantity of the error. If survey intervals were 10 feet o; less, the error
would be acceptable. The added expense of swTeying e\ery 10 feet prohibits
using the tangential method for calculating the wellbore course especially when
more accurate methods are available.
Tangential Equations
X Cos!,
X Sin!, X CosA.
- -
= MfD X Sin!, X SinA,
- -
Figure 3-1: Illustration of Tangential Calculation Method
Balanced Tangential
The balanced tangential method is similar to the tangential method in that the
tangent to the angle determines the wellbore course. The difference between the
t\vo methods is the balanced tangential uses both the upper and lower surveys
stations. The top half of the wellbore course is approximated by the upper
inclination line I
A in Figure 3-:2 and the lower half of the wellbore course is
approximated by the lower inclination line AI
. The azimuth is approximated in
the same manner.
Both the upper and lower portions of the assumed wellbore course are in error,
but the errors are opposite and '-V-il.l nearly cancel each other. Therefore, the
balanced tangential method is accurate enough for field applications. The
balanced tangential equations are more difficult to perform and are more likely to
result in an error because of mechanical mistakes while making the calculations.
The North-South, East-\\'est coordinates are determined by assuming the
horizontal departure of the course length is in the same direction as the azimuth
recorded at the lower survey station, but this assumption is wrong. The actual
\.vellbore course "vill be a function of the upper and lower survey stations.
Therefore, the tangential method results in an additional error because an error
already exists due to the method used to calculate the horizontal departure. The
error is compounded \.vhen the North-South, East-\\'est coordinates are
Figure 3-2: Illustration of Balanced Tangential Calculation Method
Balanced Tangential Equations
X (Cosl
= X [(Sinl
X CosA
) + (Sinl
X CosA
= X [(Sinl
X Sirvi
) + (Sinl
X Sirvi
Average Angle
\\'hen using the average angle method, the inclination and azimuth at the lower
and upper survey stations are mathematically averaged, and then the wellbore
course is assumed to be tangential to the average inclination and azimuth. The
calculations are verv similar to the tangential method and the results are as
accurate as the balanced tangential method. Since the anrage angle method is
both fairly accurate and easy to calculate, it is the method that can be used in the
field if a programmable calculator or computer is not available. The error 'WW be
small and well within the accuracy needed in the field provided the distance
between surve,s is not too great. The average angle method is graphically
illustrated in Figure 3-3.
Figure 3-3: Illustration of the Average Angle Calculation Method
A,erage Angle Equations
X Cos[(l
+ J.:,)/.2]
X Sin[(J
+ l_,)/.2] X Cos[(A
+ A
X Sin[(I
+ J_,)/2] X Sin[(A
+ A_,)/2]
Radius of Curvature
The radius of curvature method is currently considered to be one of the most
accurate methods available. The method assumes the wellbore course is a smooth
curve between the upper and lower survey stations. The curvature of the arc is
determined by the survey inclinations and azimutl1s at the upper and lower survey
stations as shown in Figure 3-4. The length of the arc between I
and I.: is the
measured depth between surveys. In the previous methods, the wellbore course
was assumed to be one or two straight lines between the upper and lower survey
points. The curvature of the wellbore course assumed by the radius of curvature
method will more closely approximate the actual well; therefore, it is more
accurate. Unfortunately, the equations are complicated and are not easily
calculated in the field without a programmable calculator or computer.

ACTU.!.L, WE::..L
Figure 3-4: Illustration of Radius of Curnture Calculation Method.
A closer inspection of the radius of cw-vature equations show that if the
inclination or azimuth are equal for both survey points, a division by zero will
result in an error. In this case, the minimum cwYature or average angle methods
can be used to make the calculations. It is also possible to add a small number
(such as 1 x 10
) to either sm-vey point. The resulting error will be insignificant.
Generally, the radius of curvature calculations is used when planning a well. C sing
one of the three previous methods to plan a well will result in substantial errors
when calculating over long intervals
Radius of Curvature Equations
6 TVD = (180) X (6MD) X (Sin!" +Sini
rr X (1:,- 1
6North = (180)
X (6MD) X (CosJ
- Cosf:,) X (SirvL- SinA
]'[:'.X (I:!- II) X (/i_,- AI)
6East = (180)" X (6MD1 X (CosJ
- CosJ,) X (CosA
- CosA,.l]_
X (I:!- II) X (A:!- AI)
Minimum Curvature
The minimum curvature method is similar to the radius of curvature method in
that it assumes that the wellbore is a curved path between the two survey points.
The minimum curvature method uses the same equations as the balanced
tangential multiplied by a ratio factor, which is defined by the curvature of the
wellbore. Therefore, the minimum curvature provides a more accurate method of
determining the position of the wellbore. Like the radius of curvature, the
equations are more complicated and not easily calculated in the field without the
aid of a programmable calculator or computer.
Figure 3-S: Illustration of the Minimum Curvature Calculations.
The balanced tangential calculations assume the wellbore course is along the line
A +AI", see Figure 3-S. The calculation of the ratio factor changes the wellbore
course to I
B + BI" which is the arc of the angle B. This is mathematically
equivalent to the radius of cwTature for a change in inclination only.
So long as there are no changes in the wellbore azimuth, the radius of cWTature
and minimum curvature equations \\1ll. yield the same results. If there is a change
in the azimuth, there can be a difference in the calculations. The minimum
cWTature calculations assume a cwTature that is the shortest path for the "\vellbore
to incorporate both suneys. At low inclinations with large changes in azimuth,
the shortest path may also involve dropping inclination as well as turning. The
minimum cun-ature equations do not treat the change in inclination and azimuth
The tangential and average angle methods treat the inclination and azimuth
separately. Therefore, larger horizontal displacements \\W be calculated. The
radius of cunature method assumes the well must stay within the sWTeY
. .
inclinations and will also yield a larger horizontal displacement though not as large
as the tangential and average angle.
The minimum cunature equations are more complex than the radius of cWTature
equations but are more tolerant. Minitnum cWTature has no problem with the
change in azimuth or inclination being equal to zero. \"X'hen the wellbore changes
from the northeast quadrant to the northwest quadrant, no adjustments have to be
made. The radius of cWTature method requires adjustments. If the previous
sWTey azimuth is 10" and the next sWTey is 355, the well walked left 15. The
radius of cunature equations assume the well walked right 345 which is not true.
One of the two sWTeY azimuths must be changed. The lower sWTe\ can be
changed from 355o to -5, then the radius of will calculate the correct
l\linimurn CruTature Equations
6TVD = 6MD X [(Cosl
+CosT,) X FC]
6North = Mv1D X [(SinJ-" X CosA:>) + (SinJ
X CosA
)] X FC
6East = 6MD X [(Sini.: X SinAl) + (Sin!, X Si.n./1
)] X FC
D2 = Tan-1 X SQRT [(1/Df) -1]
FC = 2/D.2 X Tan (D2/2)
Note: Inclination and azimuth must be in radians onlY.
Table 3-1 shows survey data used to illustrate the difference in the calculation
methods. Table 3-2 and 3-3 is a summary of the results.
T bl 3 1 S a e
urveYs f c or om pans on
c 1 ul .
ac auons
MD (ft) Inclination Azimuth MD (ft) Inclination Azimuth
(degrees) (degrees) (degrees) (degrees)
0 0 0 30.60
1000 0 0 3000 30.50 22.50
1100 3.00 3100 30.-1-0
6.00 30.00
1300 9.00 23.30 3300 30.20 24.90
1400 12.00 20.30 3400 31.00 25.70
1500 15.00 23.30 3500 31.10 25.50
1600 18.00 23.90 3600 32.00 24.40
1700 21.00 24.40 3700 30.80 24.00
1800 24.00 23.40 3800 30.60 22.30
1900 2'.00 23."'0 3900 31.20 21.70
2000 30.00 23.30 4000 30.80 20.80
2100 30.20 22.80 4100 30.00 20.80
2200 30.40 22.50 4200 29.70 19.80
2300 30.30 22.10 4300 29.80 20.80
2400 30.60 22.40 4400 29.50 21.10
2500 31.00 22.50 4500 29.20 20.80
2600 31.20 21.60 4600 29.00 20.60
2700 30.70 20.80 4700 28./0 21.40
2800 31.40 20.90 4800 28.50 21.20
T bl 3 "C fS
c 1 1 .
a e -
ompanson o UlTeY a cu atwn Methods At Total Depth
Method TVD (ft) North (ft) East (ft)
Tangential 4364.40 1565 . .23 648.+0
Balanced Tangential 4370.46
1542.98 639.77
A vera,ge _\ngle 4370.80 1543.28 639.32
Radius of CwYature 4370.69
1543.22 639.30
l\1inimum Curvature 4370.70 ! 1543.05 639.80
T bl '"' 3 R 1 ti D. f
. s
a e ..)- e a ve 1 erence m ut\'e\ Clul. l\Ithd
ac at1on e o sat T lD ota ept1
fl. North fl. East
-6.30 +22.18 +8.60
Balanced Tangential -0.24 -0.07 -0.03
A ''erage Angle +0.10 +0.23 -0.48
Radius of CWYature -0.01 +0.17 -0.50
l\1inimum CWYature +0.00
+0.00 +0.00
Closure And Direction
The line of closure is defmed as a straight line, in a horizontal plane containing the
last station of the sunTey, drawn from the projected location to the last sun'ey
station of the sunTey. Simply stated, the closure is the shortest distance between
the surface location and the horizontal projection of the last sunTey point. The
closure is always a straight line since that represents the shortest distance between
two points.
\\ben defming closure, the dl!ection or azimuth must also be given. \\'ithout
indicating dlrection, the bottom hole location projected in a horizontal plane could
be anywhere along the circumference of a circle defmed by a radius equal to the
closure distance. The azimuth and closure distance accurately specifies the
bottom hole location relation to the surface location.
Closure Direction = Tan-
Closure Distance = SQRT [(North): + (Easti'J
Vertical Section
The vertical section is the horizontal length of a projection of the borehole onto a
specific vertical plane (Azvs) and scaled with vertical depth. When the path of a
well bore is plotted, the vertical section is plotted versus TVD. The closure
distance cannot be plotted accurately because the plane of closure (closure
direction - Azc0 can change benveen smTeys. The vertical plot of a wellbore is in
one specitlc plane. The closure distance and vertical section are only equal when
the closure direction is the same as the plane of the vertical section.
Vertical Section= Cos(Az,,- Azc0 X (Closure Distance)
Figure 3-6 Graphical representation of Closure and Vertical Section
\\'hen preparing to drill a vertical or directional well, all operational components
of the process are re-.."i.ewed, optimized and included into a drilling program. The
surface location is scouted to determine the best site that "\"I.W allow for m ~ natural
drift, prm,ide suitable access for drilling rig, sen""ice rig, production facilities and
can be constructed for a reasonable cost. "\ casing program is prepared to provide
1) adequate well control, .2) prevent water table contamination, 3) maintain
wellbore integrity, 4) plan for varying formation fracture gradients, and 5) provide
hydraulic isolation of various producing zones.
:i\Iud programs are developed to provide good wellbore cleaning, reasonable filter
cake development and minimal formation damage. Cement programs are required
to prmTide good hydraulic isolation and casing support given the bottom hole
temperature and pressure.
Since the highest possible rate of penetration possible is desired, considerable time
is spent preparing an effecti-..'e bit program to optimally drill the well. Pre-..,ious
wells drilled in the area are re-.."i.ewed, to determine any potential drilling problems.
Finally a proper BHA and drill string design is prepared to provide sufficient
design safety parameters.
A directional drilling company "-'W review most of these same components or ask
the operator what he is selecting and apply it to the well profile and equipment
limitations. For example the drilling fluid needs to be compatible with the
Measurement \Xbile Drilling (l\1\\D) equipment and motors. \\'ith their area
knowledge it will also be re-.."i.ewed for hole cleaning capability for high inclination
wells. A drilling motor is selected that "-'w prov""ide optimum performance for the
planned hydraulics or modifications are recommended.
A bottom hole assembly (BHA) and drill string design is suggested that will allow
the best ROP for the different drilling conditions (rotating versus orient or slide
drilling). In some cases the desired well path cannot be optimally drilled -..vith the
drill string currently available on the rig and changes are recommended.
Bit selection for a standard vertical well may not be suitable for the planned
directional well path. Although a particular PDC bit provides the best ROP for
the area, it may not pro-.."i.de the directional control needed. Also special drilling
motors may be required to provide sufficient horsepower. If the project involves
sidetracking of the horizontal legs special diamond sidetrack bits may be required.
Area formation integrity knmdedge while it is being directional drilled through
(sloughing, loss of inclination, inability to control direction, potential for
differential sticking to name a few ) is extremely important to minimize drilling
time or potential problems. Let's assume a directional plan \V-ith a tight target
size is prepared that kicks off very low in a formation that has a history of erratic
build rates. Several things could happen in this scenario:
Planned build rates are attained and target reached
Very aggressin oriented drilling operations are required (full single
slides) and the ROP is half of normal
Trips are required to change the motor setting (increase or decrease
the adjustable housing setting)
Erratic doglegs are created that cause problems later '':hen
. .
runrung casmg
Target is missed and '.Veil must be plugged back and sidetracked
\\11en permitted, a directional company also reviews the well pad layout and
provides their recommendations to reduce directional costs for multiple well pads.
\\ben they are involved with a project from the start and are aware of future re-
entries, multi-laterals, sidetracks and production requirements a more optimally
tuned well path can be designed.
Profiles of Directional Wells
In order to reach the required downhole target co-ordinates there are se1'eral main
profiles used; 1) slant, 2) build and hold, 3) s-cun'e, 4) extended reach and 5)
horizontal. These profiles may also combined as required to reach the target or
Specialized drilling and completion rigs are used on these profiles. The well is
spudded at an angle greater than 0 and less than or equal to 4S'. This profile is
typically used on shallow wells when trying to reach a target with a horizontal
displacement that is 50% or more of the TVD. It is also used on multiple well
pad sites to drain a large area with several wells radiating out from a central site.
The most common pattern is the Star shaped layout that has let as many as 27
wells be drilled from one site. The savings on reduced lease requirements and
production facilities can be quite substantial.
Build and hold
This is the main profile for most directional wells. It includes a build section to a
predetermined terminal angle that is then held through the target and in some
cases to total depth. In most cases once the target has been reached or there is no
risk of missing the target the directional tools are released and the remainder of
the hole is rotary drilled allowing the well path to follow a natural direction. The
inclination is usually 15 or better
The S-cwTe has a build, hold and drop section that may or may not drop the
inclination down to 0 degrees. This shape is for the follo'-"mg reasons:
Hit multiple targets at the same horizontal displacement
Reach a desired horizontal displacement but allow drilling through
severelY faulted or troublesome formations in a near vertical mode
A void local faulted regions
l'v1inimize the inclination through a zone that will be frac'd during the
completion phase.
Extended Reach
A modified or complex build and hold that typically has an inclination between 60
and 80 degrees with a reach that is magnitudes of the TVD (between .f and 7
times the vertical depth). Most common location for these wells is off-shore from
a central drilling platform.
Horizontal with Single or Multiple Legs
A profile that consists of a build section to 90 + /- with a horizontal section
through the same reservoir. Additional laterals can be drilled from the first lateral
into different regions or into different zones.
Information Required
In order to plan a directional well that can be drilled safely and be cost effective, a
great deal of information is needed by the directional company. By review-ing the
information and requirements the best plan can be selected that will meet
everyone's needs and produce a usable wellbore. The planning of a directional
well can involve multiple disciplines and their needs must be successfully
combined into the wellpath proposal. Qb,:iously not all wells require input from
each division but the more complex the \Veil is the more important a synergy is
developed \\rithin the departments and with the directional drilling company.
Interaction with the geologists is of prime importance to understand any
limitations in the particular zone of interest. Although all information collected is
important to the dt-illing operation communication at this stage can be the make
or break point of the well.
Lithology being drilled through (sand, shales, sloughing tendencies,
coals, salt, medium hard formations with hard or soft stringers, marker
Location of water or gas top
Level of geological control
Type of target the geologist is expecting (channel sand, pinnacle reef, a
seismic irregularity, exploration or infill drill)
Geological structures that will be drilled through or into (dip, faults,
unconsolidated shales)
Regulatory issues (oil or gas target boundaries, wellbore clearance from
existing wells, location of fmal total depth)
Type of Well (Oil or Gas)
Future sidetrack or re-entry potentials
Completion and Production
This group is often missed and may result in a costly error if their needs
are not considered in the planning phase. They usually share some of the
planning responsibility \vith the geology department.
Location of surface facilities or abilitv to move existing when infill
drilling on an existing pad
Type of completion required (frac, pump rods)

l'viay specify maximum inclination and dogleg limits based upon log
and production requirements
Enhanced e m ~ e r y completion requirements
\\'ellbore positioning requirements for future drainage/production
Do\vnhole temperature and pressure
This group usually has control over the main operation and tries to pull all parties
together. The overall cost estimation and economic feasibility may also rest in
their hands. Consequently, the directional representative usually spends most of
their time consulting with tl1e members in this group. Even though the other
groups have just as important information, the drilling group typically controls
how the well is drilled and will make the final decision on any operational issues
that occur.
Selection of surface location and well centre(s) layout
Casing size and depths
Hole size
Required drilling fluid
Drilling rig equipment and capability
Length of time directional services are utilized
Influences the type of survey equipment and wellpath
Previous area drilling knowledge and identifies particular problematic
Once the information has been collected from the various departments, a
directional plan is prepared that meets all the requirements (if possible). A good
well planner also tries to incorporate operational issues tl1at contribute to the
success of the well and can have a dramatic impact on the length of time required
for directional equipment. This can be very important on pad layouts for multiple
directional wells and can save the operator considerable expenses if properly
~ n y o n e can plan a well to be drilled from point 'A' to 'B' but it requires
operational knowledge to plan a profile that can physically be drilled without
unnecessary trips to change assemblies given the hole size and area. The follO\v:ing
are few of the general rules-of-thumb when well paths are being prepared:
Build rates kept at 2 to 3 o /30m for pumping oil wells. In fact most oil
"\Veils are planned at this rate unless the horizontal displacement
requires higher build rates to reach the target. Typically most
operators prefer to keep the actual doglegs less than 8 or 9 o /30m,
therefore the plan should be less than 7 o /30m to allow for operational
The hold portion for build and hold profiles should be at least 50m
(150') to allow for operational adjustments should they have trouble
achieving build rates.
The drop rate for S-curve wells is preferably planned at 1.5 o /30m but
can go as high as 2.5. A key-seat or differential sticking risk could
occur with aggressive drop rates in softer formations. Also a
minimum 30m (1 00') tangent section should be planned in the middle
of an S-curve profile to allow for drilling problems or changes in target
Keep the KOP as low as possible to reduce directional costs and on
pumping oil wells to reduce potential rod/ casing wear. KOP must be
selected in a competent formation.
Pick a KOP that has a competent enough formation that "\\W allow the
planned build rate to be achieved.
On long or extended reach well profiles keep the KOP low to pro'.""i.de
a larger vertical portion for appl:mg weight on bit but also keep the
build rate low (less than 4 o /30m).
\X'hen planning a well that will use single shot survey equipment make
sure at least two thirds of the build section is completed before drilling
into any problem zone. If it cannot be accomplished use higher build
rates or place KOP as low as possible in the problem zone an insure a
sufficient hold section after terminal angle is reached (lOOm).
In build sections of horizontal wells, plan a soft landing section 0ower
build rate) for casing point if the required motor setting is greater than
1.8 or Se\'ere geological uncertainty exists (target TVD changes
greater than 2m).
Plan for a terminal angle of a minimum 15 since it is easier to hold
inclination and direction.
Avoid high inclinations through seYerely faulted, dipping or sloughing
On horizontal wells be sure to clearly identify any gas or water contact
points and keep sufficient clearance below or above to pre'."ent
Turn rates in the lateral sections of horizontal wells should be kept at
less than 8 o /30m, especially if the proposed lateral length is long.
Know what build rates are achie\"able for the motors being used in a
specific hole size. The following rates are for most standard motors.
311mm hole
.2:22mm hole
159mm hole
12lmm hole
-up to 10+ o /30m (motonvith kick pad)
- up to 14 o /30m
-up to 25 /30m
-up to 35 /30m
Keep subsequent sidetracks on horizontal legs at least 20m (60') apart.
\\'here possible don't start a sidetrack until at least 20m out from
casing point.
Be sure to identify what profiles will require trips to set motor down
before any rotation should occur.
"'\ssume a dogleg of approximately 14 o /30m will occur coming off a
Identify all wells \N':ithin 30m of proposed well path and conduct anti-
o l l i s i o ~ check On long horizontal sections this should be extended
to 1OOm awaY.
\\11ere possible design a wellpath that \Vill minimize the percentage of
hole drilled in the oriented mode. Typically the ROP of these sections
are one half or less of the rotan ROP.
Torque And Drag
One of the most significant problems associated "'rith extended reach or
horizontal drilling is torque and drag which is caused by the friction between the
drill string and the hole. The magnitude of the torque and drag is determined by
the magnitude '.\rith which the pipe contacts the hole wall and the friction
coefficient between the wall and pipe. Figure 8-1 shows the forces associated mth
an object on an incline. The weight component along the axis of the incline (w
Sin<D) would be the force required to move the object in a frictionless
N = w cos e
F:::: W sin 8
Figure 8-1 Forces on an inclined plane
l.Jnfortunately, friction is always present and will contribute to the force required
to move the object. The friction force is equal to the normal force times the
friction coefficient. Therefore, the force required to pull the pipe from the hole
T= -W Sin<D + ll WCos<D
\\'here: T =Axial Tension
W =Buoyed Weight of Pipe
)..t = Friction coefficient
<D =Angle of incline
The force required to push the pipe from the hole is:
T= -\\' Sin<D- )..t WCoscD
The friction coefficient depends upon the type of drilling fluid in the wellbore and
the roughness of the wellbore walls. Cased hole should have a lower friction
coefficient than open hole. Untreated water based muds '\v"ill hav'e a higher
friction coefficient than oil based muds. Friction coefficients hav'e been reported
to range from 0.1 to 0.3 for oil based muds and 0.2 to 0.4 for water based muds.
\\'hen hole curv'ature is considered, an additional force is added to the normal
force. Pipe placed in a curv'ed wellbore under tension will exert a force
proportional to the tension and rate of Cut\'ature change.
Buckling of the drill string while tripping into the wellbore causes an additional
drag force. The critical buckling load is a function of the inclination, pipe size and
radial clearance. Once the compressive forces in the drill string exceed the critical
buckling load, an additional normal force is imposed on the drill string increasing
the drag force in sections of the wellbore.
The torque in the drill string is determined by the normal force times the friction
coefficient and is the force resisting rotation of the drill string. The torque and
drag will increase as the tension and dogleg severity increases. In normal
directional wells, the drag is the main concern but as depth, inclination, build rate
and length of hold section increase the torque can become a major concern.
Torque will also limit the tension capability of drill pipe when combined vvith
tensile loads.
There are three main ways to reduce the drag in the well; 1) change friction
coefficient by changing mud system, 2) change the directional profile or 3) change
the string weight or tension. Since the drag is proportional to the coefficient of
friction, frnding a way to reduce this value by half will hake the drag.
Changing the directional profile can hav'e significant benefits but if you've already
drilled a good portion of the profile \\riper/ reamer trips to smooth out any ledges
or doglegs in the build section can have significant benefit.
Replacing drill collars with hevi-weight or regular drill pipe can have a significant
effect on reducing the tension and normal forces thus drag.
There are excellent torque and drag models in the market that \'ery accurately
predict values for a chosen wellpath. It must be remembered this is just a model
and one of its better design uses is for comparison of different proflles with all
other factors the same. Another very helpful place to utilize this tool, is while
drilling horizontal wells. Large changes between predicted and actual drag nlues
can indicate the hole is not cleaning. These models are also used to effectively
design the drill string from the bottom of the well to surface.
Planning a horizontal wellbore is different from planning a normal directional
well. In a normal directional wellbore, the target is usually described in terms of a
departure at a certain TVD. The target has tolerances in the horizontal plane
(North and East). Gnless drilled from a platform or pad, a horizontal wellbore
seldom has a target described by the departure. The target is most commonly
described by the TVD plus or minus a tolerance.
For example, a formation top may be at a true vertical depth of 1200m (3936 feet)
and the formation is 6m (19.7') thick. The placement of a horizontal well in tlus
formation "\Vill require the wellbore to be horizontal at a TVD of 1203m (3946
feet), plus or minus 3m. There have been some horizontal wells drilled with a
T\lD target tolerance of plus or minus O.Sm (1.6 feet) requiring the wellbore to
stay within a 1m vertical zone. These tight tolerances can be very expensive to
maintain since the ROP 'WWlikelY have to be controlled and more sun'ey stations
. .
"\"\W be required to meet these objectives. As you can see, target tolerances for
horizontal wellbores are much smaller than typical directional wells. Consequently,
they are a little harder to rut and greater care must be exercised in drilling a
horizontal wellbore.
Data Collection
The first step in planning a horizontal wellbore is to gather all the information
possible about the well and the formation to be drilled. Available data from offset
wells, even vertical wells should be collected. Items of interest are well logs, bit
records, mud logs, directional data, daily reports and any other data that might be
helpful. Even vertical offset wells can provide valuable information for drilling a
horizontal well including target depths. There are few if any horizontal
exploratory wells therefore, offset well information is always available.
The reason for drilling the horizontal wellbore must be defmed. Is the horizontal
well being drilled to prevent water or gas coning or to intersect vertical fractures.
Many times the reason for drilling the horizontal well drives the completion wruch
in turn, drives the drilling program. The type of completion must always be
considered in horizontal well planning.
The geology of the target is very important. Remember, TVD targets can be very
small and bed dip is a major consideration. A bed dip of only two or three
degrees can cause the horizontal wellbore to fall outside the target interval in only
a short distance. Also, the geology of a formation can be slightly more
complicated than originally expected. Figure 9-1 is an example of what can
happen in a horizontal well. The left side of the figure was the planned wellbore
path and geology but the right side is the actual wellbore path and geology. The
actual conditions in the formation did not match the predicted conditions. As a
result, the operator ended up vv""ith a poor horizontal well. Knovvmg the exact
geology of the formation is extremely important.
Figure 9-1 Geological uncertainty
Planning a horizontal wellbore's path must take into consideration all the geologic
constraints. It must also take into consideration the reason for drilling the
horizontal well. If the "\\'ell is being drilled to prevent water coning, then the
wellbore vvill be placed near the top of the producing interval away from the
water. Gas coning would require that the well be placed near the bottom of the
producing interval. If the well is being drilled to intersect natural fractures, the
wellbore may be drilled from the top of the reservoir at the end of the build curw
to the bottom of the formation at the end of the horizontal section as shown in
Figure 9-2.
Figure 9-.2 Horizontal wellpath through a fractured formation
It may also be that the geology of the formations is not precisely known. The
planning may require that the formation be drilled vertically and logged and/ or
cored before drilling horizontally. The vertical well defmes the target TVD and
also prm'ides information about the lithology changes 'vvithin the formation.
Then, the wellbore is plugged back, sidetracked and drilled horizontallY in a
favourable position. Remember, a lot of money is being spent to drill the well
horizontally and if the geologic data is inadequate, the chances of a conunercially
'v'iable horizontal wellbore decrease significantly. .
Casing Design
Once the target constraints have been defined, the wellbore must be planned.
Re'v'iew the offset data to determine where casing must be set. Decide what bit
size will be required to drill the horizontal section. In many horizontal wells,
casing is set through the build nmTe to eliminate any potential problems with
formations above the pay zone. However, casing set through the build curve is
not a requirement. It depends upon the stability of the formations above tl1e pay
zone and the completion method. The horizontal well takes longer to drill than a
vertical well and formations above the pay zone may deteriorate '\\"ith time. Even
though these formations may not be a problem in a vertical well, they may start to
be a problem due to the longer drilling time in a horizontal well. Each well must
be considered individually.
If tl1e horizontal well is to be completed open hole or '\\"ith a slotted liner, water
producing formations above the pay zone may have to be cased. They can be
cased before drilling tl1e horizontal or after the horizontal section is drilled.
Casing the build section after the horizontal portion has been drilled '\\W require
running an external casing packer for isolation and cementing above tl1e packer.
In open hole completions, the formation abme the pay zone may not be stable
over a long period of time. For example, a horizontal "\veil is to be drilled in a
limestone formation. The limestone is sufficiently stable to allow an open hole
completion but the shale section in1mediately above the limestone maY not be
stable and '\\W ha'.e to be cased.
The type of casing connection used in the build section should be checked to
confirm it can handle the bending stresses it will be subjected to both during
running and its producing life. An ST & C connection is not recommended for
any casing in the build section. It may be able to handle the bending stresses but
its lower tensile capability makes it a poor choice of connection for an expensive
horizontal well. The operator must consider if the casing """ill be also rotated
during the cementing operation and special connections should be in\estigated for
these jobs.
Selection of Build Rate
Planning the build rate has to take a number of considerations into account. First
the preferred build rate Qong, medium or short radius) must be decided. Long
radius builds are time consU111ing and more expensive to drill. Medium radius
build rates are more common but require higher build rates resulting in a smaller
TVD tolerance if the formation tops come in at different depths than planned.
Short radius build rates definitely require the most accurate geological information
and because of their specialization and special equipment needs the directional
costs are higher. Also the bending stresses produced by these build rates require
different tubulars (2 7 /8" high strength tubing). Typically a short radius build rate
is used on re-entry wells and where the geology changes tapidly as the distance
from the surface location increases. \\'hen determining the build rate the result of
an error in achieved build rate should be considered. Figure 9-3 shows how the
T\ TI of the well bore when the build rate is 1 0/o.
Long Radius = less than 6 o /30m
Medium Radius = less than 40 o /30m but greater than 6 o /30m
Short Radius = greater than 40 o /30m, quite often build rates of 100 o /30m
The abow classifications should be applied to hole size versus a generic build
but are suitable for purposes of this manual.
> ,_
Figure 9-3 T\TD variance with an error in achieved build rate
The actual build rate is usually based on preference or available kick off points.
Typically, higher build rates are used in smaller diameter holes and lO\ver build
rates are used in larger diameter holes. The dogleg severity limit for 4
z" drill
pipe is about 18 /30m whereas, the limit for 3
z" drill pipe is 24 /30m. Above
these limits, fatigue can be a problem. Also, the tools used to build inclination
cannot build as fast in a large diameter hole as a small diameter hole. An 8
hole is limited to about 15 to 18 o /30m build rates depending upon who's motor
configuration is being used. A 6 inch hole is limited to about a 25 o /30m build
rate though some short radius tools are now available for higher build rates.
The operator must decide upon what build rate to use. Generally, the higher build
rates 'Will yield less time drilling and, therefore, less cost. The build rate may also
be determined by hole problems or casing setting depths. If the kick off point is
selected, the build rate is calculated and vise versa.
\\:ben the target requirements are small, it may be necessalT to make some
. .
adjustments to the build curve to hit the intended target. The build rate of most
motor assemblies is somewhat predictable to within ten to fifteen percent. \\'ith
previous experience in a specific area, the build rates are even more predictable.
In areas with little experience drilling horizontal wells, it is not uncommon to plan
the well with either a tangent section or a soft landing. A tangent section is a
short portion of the build cwTe drilled at a relativeh constant inclination. For
example, the wellbore may build inclination at 12 o /30m to 45, then a 30m
section is drilled at 4S before continuing to build inclination at 12 o /30m.
The tangent section allows for differences between planned and actual build rates.
If the actual build rate is less than tl1e planned build rate, the well reaches 90 too
deep. If it is greater than the planned rate, the wellbore 'Will reach 90 too shallow.
The tangent section can be used to compensate for the differences. If the build
rate is greater than anticipated, the tangent section can be lengthened to conswne
more TVD. Conversely, if the build rate is less than anticipated, the tangent
section is shortened providing more T\lD to work '.N-ith. At one time, it was \'ery
common to plan a tangent section for a horizontal well, but they are not as
common as they use to be. Tangent sections are not needed for wells '.N-ith large
TVD targets. Tangent sections cost money, and should be avoided if possible.
The other option is to plan tl1e build section with a "soft land". This refers to a
reduced build rate for tl1e last 3 to 10m of TVD. This section again "\\Wallow for
slight changes in casing landing depth to be made. Typically the difference
between the f1tst and second build rate is 2 or 3 o /30m. It is important to be
aware of the motor setting required for these different build rates. The operator
would rather not make a special trip to change the motor setting. In both cases it
is important to know if the motor can be safely rotated or if a trip is required to
reduce the setting. This can be very costly and should be a\oided where possible
or timed '.N-ith a bit trip.
Planning Team
As should be evident by now, horizontal well planning 1s a multi-disciplined
project. Horizontal planning must include personnel from
Production and
Service Companies
The effect of geology on the horizontal well has already been discussed. The
reservoir and production personnel should be involved in the planning. There
may be certain portions of the reservoir ~ v h e r e the horizontal wellbore '-"111 be
more effecti\T. \'\11at are the pressures v.rithin the section that v.w be penetrated
by the horizontal well? \\bat kind of formation damage can be expected from the
drilling fluid? Will the horizontal wellbore require stimulation to produce
effectively? \\"ill the well have to be produced using artificial lift and what
volumes can be expected? There are many questions to be answered before the
drilling plan can be finalized and the reservoir and production groups will han to
help answer these questions.
SerYice company personnel must be involved in the planning phase. They have
more experience with their equipment than anyone and can help the operator
during the planning phase. It is best to know the limits of the equipment before
the drilling operations begin. This includes the equipment used to drill the well
and the equipment used in the completion of the horizontal well. It has been said
many times that "failing to plan is the same as planning to fail". In horizontal
drilling, this is certainly true. Planning is one of the most important steps in
drilling a horizontal well.
In planning any directional well profile, certain information is required.
Horizontal chilling is no different. As stated earlier, the target for a horizontal well
is usually a T\TI target and the departure is seldom a consideration unless drilled
from a platform or pad. \\"ith a platform or pad, the wellbore must flrst reach the
portion of the reservoir where the horizontal well is to be placed. In that case, the
upper portion of the well is drilled like a normal directional well and the lower
portion is drilled like a normal horizontal well. Generally, planning the directional
drilling proflle is a trial and error process.
Once you have selected either the build rate or horizontal displacement to casing
point, quick estimates can be made to determine the KOP. Assuming no tangent
and a constant build rate to casing point set at 90 degrees is used the follo'Xring
equation will determine either build rate or horizontal displacement and thereby
the KOP.
Build Rate = 5729.578/Horizontal Displacement (degrees per 100 feet)
Build Rate= 1718.8734/Horizontal Displacement (degrees per 30 meters)
Example: Horizontal Displacement to casing point is 500 feet
Build Rate = 5729.578/500 = 11.46 o /100'
but Desired Build Rate = 9 0/1 00'
Horizontal Displacement= 5729.578/9 = 636.62'
KOP = TVD- Horizontal Displacement (casing at 90 degrees)
TVD = 12000' KOP = 12000-636.62 = 11363.38'
i\lthough this is a \'er:, sirnplified approach it immediately establishes a potential
kick off point which can then be checked against the expected formations to
determine the suitability of this depth. All directional companies have computer
programs to aid in planning the best trajectory for your well path and can adjust
for many requirements as dictated by the "planning team".
\\'hen bed dips are taken into consideration, planning the horizontal well can be
more complicated. The inclination of the horizontal section will be a function of
the apparent bed dip in the plane the well is being drilled not the bed dip
perpendicular to the bed strike. Generally the apparent dip can be obtained from
the geology department. The inclination of the horizontal section also depends
upon the position of the horizontal section within the producing formation.
Qb,'iously this is starting to get complicated and as it is important \vith all
horizontal wells a diagram is very important.
............. , /
' .....
Figure 9--t Illustration of dipping beds for a horizontal well
The following formula can be used to determine the inclination of the angle of the
horizontal section (ItJ of the "\veil in the target plane:
hr = 90- arcTan[ Tan(Idip) x Cos(AZdip- -degrees
Idip = dip of the target plane - degrees
AZdip = target plane dip azimuth - degrees
"\Z\\'ELL = planned azimuth of the horizontal well - degrees
The follmving equation is used to determine the TVD at the end of the build
section in the target plane:
TVDEoc = TVDTP + DISPL[Tan(Idip) x Cos(AZdip- AZ\X'Eu)]
= TVD at end of curve in the target plane - ft or m
= TVTI of target plane under the surface location - ft or m
= horizontal displacement length from surface to EOC - ft or m
= dip of target plane - degrees
= target plane dip azimuth - degrees
= azimuth of horizontal well - degrees
= arcTan (East/North)
Dip angle equals 5, Idip
Dip azimuth= 135, AZdip
TVD of target under surface is 9000', T\'DTr
a) well direction is due East = 90 AZ\'\'ELL
b) well direction is due West= 270 AZ\X'ELL
If well direction is due East
IH = 90- arcTan[TanS x Cos(135- 90)]
= 90 - (3.54) = 86.-1-6
If well direction is due \\'est
IH = 90- arcTan[TanS x Cos(135- 270)]
= 90- (-3.54) = 93.54
If the EOC is 800' due East of surface location the target TVD is
T\'DEoc = TVDTr + DISPL[Tan(Idip) x Cos(AZdip-
= 9000 + 800[Tan(S) x Cos(135-90)]
= 9000 + 49.41
= 9049.41 feet
Summary -land curve at 9049.41 feet TVD, at an inclination of 86.46.
The radius of curvature equations can also be used to provide quick estimates of
KOP and build rates proYided you know at least two of the unknowns.
6TVD = 180 X [(!,- Ill/(BR/100)] X (Sinl2- Sinil)
IT x (I
- I
Example 1: \\'hat is the KOP for well using a 14 o I 1 00' build rate \v:ith a target
TVD of 5000' and an inclination of 85?
6TVD = 180 x [(85-0)1(141100)] x (Sin85- SinO) I (n x (85- 0))
= 180 X 607.14 X 0.9962 I (267.035)
= 407.70 feet, therefore KOP = 5000- 407.7 = 4592.3 feet
Example 2: \\'hat is the required build rate for the same well if the expected
target TVD suddenly came up to 4990' and you are already at 50 degrees and a
TVD of 4905.8 feet and still want to land at 85?
Rearrange the formula to:
BR = 180 X [(12- Ill X (Sini2- Sinil) X 100
6TVD x (rr x I : ~ 1
BR = [180 x (85-50) x (Sin85- Sin50) x 100] I [(4990- 4905.8) x (rr x (85-50))]
= 144,994.66 I 9258.27 = 15.7 o 1100'
As the parameters change while drilling a horizontal well haYing the use of a
computer program to re-plan the well becomes of utmost importance. l\1istakes
in hand calculations can be yery expensiYe.
Geosteering is defined as "the drilling of a horizontal, or other de\""i.ated well,
\Vhere decisions on well path adjustment are made based on real time geologic and
reservoir data". In com'entional de,""i.ated drilling, the well path is steered
according to a predetermined geometric plan. The objective is to follow the line
as closely as possible. Geosteering is a departure from this convention. It is
required when the geological marker is ill defmed, target tolerances tight, or the
geology so complicated as to make conventional deviated drilling impractical.
Logging while drilling (L \\D) data can be used to help place the horizontal
wellbore in the proper position. The most common L \XD data is gamma ray and
therefore, the directional path of the wellbore can be adjusted based on real time
logging data.
One of the major problems when drilling horizontal wells in thin formations is to
establish the well as horizontal in the objectiYe formation. It is often the case that
despite the best efforts of the wellsite personnel, the well becomes horizontal
immediately above or below the target in the reservoir. Productive hole can be
lost in establishing the well in the reservoir. As illustrated in Figure 9-Sa,
geosteering enables the geological marker above the reset-:oir to be recognized
and the fmal build to horizontal to be adjusted accordingly. Typically, gamma tay
and resistivity tools are used to identify marker formations above the producing
As illustrated in Figure 9-Sb, when the reservoir thickness is very small, drilling
horizontally within such tight tolerances and approaching geological boundaries
must be recognized early and appropriate directional drilling corrections taken.
and gamma ray logs are frequently affected by formations over and
underl;mg the reselToir, thereby allmving the position of a boundary to be
determined \\rithout exiting the reservoir. Varying formation dip angle, nr;mg
thickness of the reservoir and the presence of small faults invariably complicates
drilling of the formations.
Although the reservoir may be thick, it may be desirable to remain a fixed distance
above and oil water contact or below a gas oil contact \\i.thin the reservoir to
maximize production as illustrated in Figure 9-Sc. In the case of an oil water
contact the resistivity log would be the most useful. In the case of a gas oil
contact the density reading would the key.
Figure 9-5 Reasons for geosteering horizontal wells
In highly faulted reservoirs such as Figure 9-Sd, several hydrocarbon blocks may
be connected in one wellbore. The success of this operation depends on
recognizing the departure from one block and taking appropriate steering action
to enter the next block. Geosteering is fundamental to this and to maximizing
productivity. Of course, you must kno"\v whether to drill up or down.
A significant disad\antage that has arisen when steering within tight tolerances is
the distance of the various data sensors behind the bit. This distance \aries from
10 to 15m (30 to SO feet) in a connntional L \\D geosteering assembly. The data
lag means that changes in formation are established after significant further hole
has been drilled. "\lso, the directional results of the steered section are seen late.
In critical applications these disad\antages can mean the difference between
maintaining the well within the objective and losing valuable productive hole.
Fortunately, there are some tools no\\ available that places the data sensors at the
Not all horizontal wells have to use L\\'D to be placed in the proper position. If
the depth of the formation is well known and the target interval is large enough,
geosteering is not required. Sometimes there is no distinct gamma signature of
marker formations close to the reservoir. Other forms of geosteering are a\ailable
for considerably less expense. They are drilling parameters and mud logging. The
combination can be used to determine the depth of the target zone.
To determine the entry point, geologic makers can sometimes be found due to
penetration rate changes and formation identification. The mud logger can be
looking for a change in penetration rate and then look at samples to determine if
the geologic marker has been penetrated which is the same as using a gamma ray
or resistivitY tool.
Penetration rate along with sample identification is commonly used to keep the
wellbore within the producing zone. Many times the porosity of the producing
zone allows the well to be drilled with higher penetration rates than the
formations above and belov> the zone. If the penetration rate starts to slow down
and samples indicate the wellbore is exiting the zone, the TVD can be adjusted to
keep it in the zone.
It is difficult to staY above an oil water contact or below a gas oil contact when
using drilling and mud logging data. The only way to tell if the wellbore has exited
the oil section is to look at the samples. Penetration rates should remain fairly
constant and does not help. Unfortunately, the wellbore must already be out of
zone before samples can be used to determine the position of the wellbore. The
intent of the horizontal well is to stay well away from the water and gas. If the
wellbore is already out of the oil, then the purpose of drilling the wellbore
horizontallY has been defeated.
L \\D data is not necessary where drilling data and mud logging data can be used
to effectively find and keep the wellbore in the zone of interest. Larger targets are
easier to hit and stay in. As the target size decreases, L \)V'D data can be used more
effectively especially where the geology is not fully understood.
\\bile measurement while drilling (1\1\\'D) tools are in \vide use todaY many other
types of surveying equipment is still in use on \'arious directional pro]ects .. Before
describing the different types of surveying equipment it is important to have a
basic understanding of magnetics.
Magnetic Fields
Our understanding of earth magnetism is based on ideas about how magnets
interact with one another and about how magnetism is produced. The eighteenth
century French physicist Charles Coulomb described the interaction of magnets in
terms of forces acting at points called magnetic poles. Every magnet possesses a
positi\'e pole and a negative pole, so named because of their opposite effects on
the poles of another magnet i.e. like poles of two magnets exert a repelling force
on one another, whereas unlike poles exert a force of attraction.
Coulomb's law expresses the force, F, acting on two poles ha\mg values of pole
strength Pl and P2 and separated by a distance r:
F = (1/u) x (Pl xP2)/r
Where u = magnetic permeability, property of the medium where the
magnets are located. In a vacuum, u = 1.0, which is very close to its value
in the earth's atmosphere.
The two poles of a magnet act oppositely but with equal pole strength. It is not
possible to separate or extract either of these poles. To break a magnet is to
immediately create two new magnets, each \vith a positive pole and a negative
pole. For tlus reason, we commonly use the word dipole to describe a magnet.
Metals that are strongly attracted by magnets are said to be ferromagnetic. Such
materials have magnetism induced in them when they are near a magnet. If a
piece of iron is brought near the south pole of a magnet, the part of the iron
nearest the magnet has a north pole induced in it, and the part farthest away has a
south pole induced in it. Once the iron is removed from the vicinity of the
magnet, it loses most of the induced magnetism. Some ferromagnetic metals
actually retain the magnetism induce in them, that is they become permanent
magnets. Regular magnets and compass needles are made of such metals.
Ferromagnetism is also the basis of magnetic tape recording.
It is useful to employ the concept of a field to represent the effect of a magnet on
the space around it. A magnetic t1eld is produced by a magnet and acts as the
agent of the magnetic force. The poles of a second magnet experience forces
when in the magnetic field: its north pole has a force in the same direction as the
magnetic field, while its south pole has a force in the opposite direction. ~
compass can be though of as a magnetic field detector because its needle \\;n align
itself "\vith a magnetic tleld. The shape of the magnetic ileld produced by a magnet
can be mapped by noting the orientation of a compass at various places nearby.
Magnetic t1eld lines can be drawn to show the shape of the t1eld. The direction of
a field line at a particular place is the direction that the North Pole of a compass
needle will point.
There are several theories to explain the Earth's magnetic field:
Theory #1: Rotation of the Earth's solid exterior relati"\e to its liquid iron core is
believed to induce a slow rotation of the core. A magnetic t1eld results from the
electrical currents generated by the relative motion between the liquid core and the
Figure 5-1 Illustration of Theory #1
Theory #2: Similar to theon- #1. The centre portion of the Earth is largely
composed of iron and has tl1e mechanical properties of a fluid. These fluids are
subjected to internal circulation currents similar to phenomena observed at the
periphery of the sun. The internal circulation of these fluids acts as the source of
the Earth's magnetic.
In any event it appears that some mechanism is stirring up the core and causing
fluid motion. These motions combine in a particular pattern to give rise to the
dipole field, which is observed at tl1e earth's surface.
The total magnetic field is the sum of two fields of different origins:
The principal field which originates within the fluid nucleus of the Earth and
The transitory field which is generated outside the Earth. This field is caused
bT the rotation of the Earth relati\'e to the Sun and by the cycles of the Sun's
Aspects Of The Transitory Field
The transitory field is responsible for the following variations of the magneuc
tiel d.
Secular variations of approximately 15 gammas per year- a minor effect.
Diurnal solar variation on the order of 30 to 40 gammas per day - a minor
The cYclical "Eleven Years" variation - a minor effect.
Magnetic storms which mav reach several hundreds of gammas - a maJor
The Earth's own magnetic field extends out to approximately 8 times the radius of
the planet. Beyond this prevails the Magneto Pause, a region in space where the
Earth's magnetic field contacts the solar \vind. On its sunward side, the Earth's
magnetosphere is compressed by high energy particles from the solar \vind (figure
- '))
::>-- .
These particles collide \Vith the Earth's magnetic field at a speed of 640 miles per
second and are slowed down at the shock front to 400 miles per second.
Variations in the solar \vind produce changes in the Earth's magnetic field. Solar
flare particles reach the Earth in approximately two days. The shock wave
preceding the cloud of plasma from the solar flare compresses the magnetosphere
and rapidly intensifies the geomagnetic field at ground level.
Figure S-2 Fluctuations in the Earth's magnetic field
This compression takes place over a fe"\v minutes and is called the Sudden Storm
Commencement. It is followed by the Initial Phase which lasts from 30 minutes
to a few hours. The ~ a i n Phase produces a drop in the magnetic field strength
due to an opposing field generated by the energized particles in the
magnetosphere. This is normally not a problem for locations in the Gulf of
Mexico and at lower latitudes. In Alaska and some parts of the North Sea,
hown'er, this has serious effects.
Magnetic Field Strength
The total magnetic field strength may be referred to as the H Yalue, HFH,
magnetic field strength or TTL field. The Geological Society Electromagnetic
Units are used for measuring the strength of the Earth's magnetic tl.eld and are
called Gammas. Some useful conversions:
1 gamma 1 Nanotesla 1 x 10
1 microtesla 1 x 10
Tesla = 1000 gammas
1 tesla = 1 x 10
1 gauss= 1 X 10
1 gauss=
1 x 10-l Tesla
1 gauss= 1 oersted
1 tesla = 1 ne""Wi:on / ampere * meter
The magnetic field intensity recorded at ground le,el is of a much smaller
magnitude than that pre\Tailing around the Earth's core. At the periphery of the
core (approximately 3500 kilometers oururard from the centre of the Earth), the
field strength reaches 800,000 gammas. Extreme total field \"alues at the surface
which you are unlikely to see range from 63,000 gammas close to the North Pole
to 27.000 gammas near the equator (magnetic field intensity is greater at the North
Pole then the equator).
The total magnetic field intensity is the vector sum of its horizontal component
and its vertical component. The vertical component of the magnetic field points
toward the ground and therefore contributes nothing to the determination of the
direction of magnetic north.
The horizontal component of the magnetic field strength can be calculated from
the follmving equation:
Horizontal Component = Magnetic Field Strength (HFH) x COS(l\1agnetic Dip
Some common values of total magnetic field strength are:
Gulf of Mexico = 50,000 gammas
Eastern Canada = 54,000 gammas
Beaufort Sea = 58,500 gammas
North Sea = 50,000 gammas
The Magnetic Dip Angle is equal to the angle between tangent to Earth's surface
and magnetic field vector (magnetic North). Extreme values which you are not
likely to see for Dip Angle range from 90 degrees close to the North Pole to
almost 0 degrees at the equator. There are also several other points on the Earth's
surface where the dip is equal to 90 degrees. These are due to local anomalies and
are called dip holes. Some common relative values for dip angle:
Gulf of l\1exico = 59 degrees
Eastern Canada = 70 degrees
Beaufort sea = 84 degrees
North Sea= 70 degrees
Example horizontal component calculations:
For Alaska:
57,510 gammas x COS(80.6) = 9392 gammas
For Gulf of .1\Iexico:
50,450 ganunas x COS(59.70) = 25,250 ganunas
.1\J\\D instruments measure the three components of the magnetic field vector, H.
The expected \'alue can be obtained from a previous acceptable survey or from a
Geomagnetic sofnvare program. Differences observed between the measured
magnetic field strength value and the value from the Geomagnetic software
program may be due to:
Cncertainties in drill string magnetism.
Uncertainties induced by temporal variations in the magnetic field.
Uncertainty in the measured value of the magnetic field.
Temperature sensitivity of the magnetometers.
Errors from the tool electronics.
Magnetic Declination Angle
The Earth can be thought of as having a magnetic dipole running through its
centre \vith north and south poles at either end. This dipole does not correspond
with the Earth's rotational axis (tilted approximately 12 relative to earth's axis of
rotation). The angle between magnetic north and geographic north (True North)
is defined as the magnetic declination or the angle of declination (refer to
illustration). The magnetic declination is dependent upon the location (latitude
and longitude) and may vary in areas of high magnetic activity (such as Alaska).
"\11 magnetic surveys require a conversion to geographic direction by adding or
subtracting this angle. Knowing magnetic declination, the direction of the Earth's
magnetic field to True North can be calculated.
Figure 5-3 Magnetic declination angle
Magnetic declination can vary and the total magnetic field strength may vary
greatly during extreme sun spot acti,...ity. Also, the closer to the equator:
the lower the total field strength
the higher the horizontal component
the less the dip angle
All survey systems/plots are measured relative to True North (geographic north).
SmTey tool measurements are made relative to Magnetic North (necessary to
adjust for magnetic declination).
Magnetic Declination Correction: EAST + Correction to Azimuth
\\EST - Correction to Azimuth
\\'hen dealing with magnetic survey bearing or azimuth values expressed between
0 and 360 degrees, the magnetic declination is always added since the East or \\'est
for the declination '-"111 adjust itself. For example survey reads 120 and the
magnetic declination is 20 corrected bearing is 120 + (-20) = 1000.
Magnetic Interference
There are two types of magnetic interference; drill string and external magnetic
interference which can include; 1) interference from a fish left in the hole; 2)
nearby casing; 3) a magnetic "hot spot" in the drill collar; 4) fluctuation in the
Earth's magnetic field; and 5) certain formations (iron pyrite, hematite and
possibly hematite mud).
Any de\...iation from the expected magnetic field value can indicate magnetic
interference. External magnetic interference can occur as the drill string
away from the casing shoe or from the casing window. It can also occur as
another cased hole is approached. All surveying instruments using magnetometers
will be affected in accuracy by any magnetic interference. In such a case,
g:Toscopic (gyro) measurements "111 have to be used. There are certain instances
where a g:To survey may need to be used if the well requires steering out of casing
or if a possible collision exists with another well. There are also cases where
magnetic interference may be corrected or at least taken into account until a
different BHA. is used.
Drill String Magnetic Interference
The drill string can be compared to a long slender magnet with its lower end
comprising one of the magnetic poles. Even if the components of a drilling
assembly have been demagnetized after inspection, the steel section of the drill
string \Vill become magnetized by the presence of the Earth's field.
Drill string magnetism can be a source of error in calculations made from the
supplied magnetometer data. This may happen as the angle builds from vertical
(Figure S-4) or as the azimuth moves away from a north/south axis. Also,
changing the composition of the BHA .. between runs may change the effects of the
drill string. Correction programs for magnetism of the drill string exist.
Figure S-4 Changes in horizontal component of magnetic field \vith inclination
It is because of drill string magnetism that non-magnetic drill collars are needed.
Non-magnetic drill collars are used to position the compass or direction sensors
out of the magnetic influence of the drill string. The magnetometers are
measuring the resultant vector of the Earth's magnetic tl.eld and the drill string.
Since this is in effect one long dipole magnet \vith its flux lines parallel to the drill
string, only the Z-axis of the magnetometer package (Z-axis is usually the axis of
the surveying tool) is affected, normally creating a greater magnetic tl.eld effect
along this axis. The magnitude of this error is dependant on the pole strength of
the magnetized drill string components and their distance from the tool.
The error \\,W normally appear in the calculated survey as an increased total HFH
value (higher total tl.eld strength than the Earth alone). This increase is due to the
larger value of the Z-axis magnetometer. The total H value should remain
constant regardless of the tool face orientation or depth as long as the hole
inclination, azimuth and BHA remain relatively constant.
Wben drill string magnetism is causing an error on the Z-axis magnetometer, only
the horizontal component of that error can interfere with the measurement of the
Earth's magnetic tleld (see Magnetic Field Strength section). The horizontal
component of the Z-axis error is equal to the Z-axis error multiplied by the sine of
the hole deviation. This is why experience has shown that the magnetic survey
accuracy \vorsens as the hole angle increases (especially with drill string magnetic
Since the horizontal component of the Earth's magnetic tleld is
smaller on the Alaskan Slope, the error from a magnetized drill string is
greater than that experienced in lower latitudes. Thus, a 50 gammas error has a
larger affect on a smaller horizontal component 0.53S'o error in Alaska compared
to only 0 . .20;o in the Gulf of Mexico.
The increased value of the Z-axis due to drill string magnetism \\rill normally cause
all calculated azimuths to lie closer to north. This error \Vill shmv up \vhen a gyro
is run in the well. Usually all l'vf\\D surveys will be positioned (magnetically)
north of the gyro surveY stations. (Some gyros deriw True North from tl;e
Earth's rotation.)
Minimizing Errors
One way to minimize the error caused by tl1.e drill string is to eliminate as much of
tl1.e magnetism as possible. Tlus is done by isolating the magnetometer package
witl1. as many non-magnetic drill collars as possible. The lengtl1. of the non-
magnetic collars implies a uniform and non-interrupted non-magnetic
emnonment. This, however, is not true in practice. Each connection in a drill
string, whether magnetic or not, is magnetic due to the effects of the mechanical
torque of the pin in the box. This mechanical stress causes the local metal around
the connection to change its magnetic properties and can actually cause a survey
azimuth reading error in the tens of degrees in some cases. Therefore,
space within .2 feet of a connection. Additionally, do not space exactly in the
centre of a non- magnetic collar. \\'hen a collar has been bored from both ends,
there is a very slight ridge at the point where the two bores come together. Tills
becomes magnetically hot due to the cyclic rotation stresses to which the collar is
subjected during rotary drilling. Usually, tllls effect can be remo\ed by trepanning
the collar bore. As much as 40 of azimuth error has been seen due to tllls effect.
Obviously the presence of a steel stabilizer or steel component between two non-
magnetic collars results on a pinching of the lines of force (Figure 5-S). This is
detrimental to the accuracY of the surveY. A steel stabilizer may be satisfactorv on
. . .
tl1.e Equator, but not as far north as Alaska. In Alaska all stabilizers used in the
BHA are non-magnetic, since a conventional steel stabilizer located between two
non-magnetic collars results in an interfering field which may reach .250 gammas.
Even non-magnetic stabilizers are actually magnetic near the blades. At a
minimum, hard metal facing and matrix used on stabilizers can be very magnetic.
Never space inside a non-magnetic stabilizer.
The follo'vving are circumstances where more non-magnetic drill collars are
necessary to counter drill string magnetism effects. These are also examples in
which the azimuth accuracy will likely decrease.
. .
The further away from the Equator (in latitude).
The larger the hole inclination.
The further away from a north/ south hole azimuth.
Note that even "\v--ith 40m (120 feet) of non-magnetic material abO\-e the
magnetometer package the effects of drill string magnetism in places like Alaska
may still be seen.
Noo MagnetiC CnJiars
,moue-.o a u01form. flOn-.nterrupred
mnmagneliC erwironrnecnt.
Figure S-5 Effect of steel stabilizer
I u

Special Notes
lf magnetic interference is encountered from the drill string, the total H
value should remain constant regardless of tool face orientation or depth
as long as the hole inclination, azimuth and BHA remain fairly constant.
The horizontal component of the Z-axis error is equal to (Z-axis error) x
Sin(l). This is why a magnetic SWYey declines as the hole angle increases
(especially \vith drill string magnetic interference).
Drill string interference is more pronounced in areas of high dip angle.
External Magnetic Interference
\\ben magnetic interference from external sources is encountered (such as from a
tl.sh in the hole or from nearby casing), all three axis of the directional sensor
package \Vill be affected. Therefore, the total magnetic field will vary. The total H
nlue \Vill also vary when the sensor package is close to casing joints. If a hot spot
occurs on a non-magnetic collar, the total H value \VW change \\;_th \'a0mg tool
face settings, but \VW be repeatable when d1e BHA is placed in the same
orientation. In places such as Alaska, total field strength can routinely va0 by 100
Do not mistakenly interpret change in total H value as a failed
magnetometer sensor. It may be caused by magnetic interference.
Do not mistakenly interpret a change in a sWYey \\;.th a failed
magnetometer or inclinometer; it may be due to a tool face dependency.
Directional Sensor Package Spacing
In order to a\oid magnetic interference, non-magnetic drill collars must be used
and empirical charts are used to estimate the length of non-magnetic material
needed. Experiments have shown that mud motors can produce a magnetic field
from 3 to 10 times greater than components such as steel stabilizers and short drill
collars. As a rule of thumb, an:-time a mud motor is run, a non-magnetic short
drill collar (of 3m to Sm) should be placed between the motor and sensor package.
It may even be necessan to use a non-magnetic orienting sub in some areas of the
. .
The follo\\mg formula can be used to accurately predict errors in azimuth due to
magnetic interference from the drilling assembly.
l\:on-magnetic directional DC
LP LP IF= 770
(14 +X}::
,- + b + c\-'
. )
= 57,300 x IF x SinJ x Sin(Az- MD)
H x Cos(dip)
IF = calculated interfering field
AE = Azimuth Error

X= Length of non-magnetic collar above l\f\\D, note the dimension 14 feet is an
assumed \-alue for the distance from the sensor package to the bottom of the
NMDC and the actual value should be used for the respecti\-e tool configuration.
b =Length of non-magnetic collar belo-w I\f\\'D
c =Length of magnetic material below I\f\\'D
H = Total magnetic tleld strength in gammas
Az = of the well
I = Inclination of the well
MD= Magnetic declination
Dip = Dip angle
This formula is relatively easy to use and interpret. The absolute \-alue of the
predicted azimuth error (AE) should be less than 0.5 degrees. If it is not, continue
adding lengths of drill collars both above and below the I\f\\D
collar until the AE value is below 0.5 degrees. Other equations ha\-e been
prepared by other directional companies.
For horizontal drilling, and especially for well paths \vith a medium radius of
curYature, it may be impractical to achieve a predicted azimuth error of less than
0.5 degree. Some operators may prefer to drill with a predicted error of one
degree during the build up phase of the well and then correct for it later. If a mud
motor is used to correct the well azimuth (on a slant hole) and a change in the
magnetic field is observed, due to magnetic interference from the motor, the
change may not be problem as long as the operator and directional driller are
aware of the change and take it into account. A simple way would be to
the corrected path with a different spacing or a different BHA.
The Earth's Gravitational Field
According to Ne\\1:on's Law of Gravitation; every particle of matter in the
universe attracts every other particle with a force which is directly proportional to
the product of the masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance
between them.
Mathematic ally:
g G x m x Me/ r
attractive force
Cniversal Gravitational Constant
mass of the Earth
radius between centres
The gravitational field (G) is primarily a function of:
Latitude (main factor).
Depth/ Altitude: referenced to mean sea l e ~ e l (l\ISL)
Regional fluctuations in the density of the Earth's crust.
Some of the changes in the measured ~ a l u e of G over the Earth are attributed to
the Earth's rotation. The rotation has given the Earth a slightly flattened shape.
Therefore, the equatorial radius is larger than the polar radius. The G value
changes from 0.997 at 0 degree latitude (Equator) to approximately 1.003 at 90
degree latitude (a 0.006 change).
A decrease in G can also be seen \vith increasing hole depth. The rate of change is
approximately 0.0005 per 10,000 feet. You would have to be at 20,000 feet to see
0.001. Regional fluctuations in the density of the Earth's crust are practically
Other reasons for discrepancies in the 1neasured G value are due to
instrumentation errors in the inclinometer. These can be attributed to:
Temperature sensitivity.
Errors due to bad axis alignment.
Errors due to electronic circuitn.
Shifts in the sensor operating parameters, '>Vhich occur when the
inclinometer is exposed to the shocks and vibrations of the drilling
Applications of Magnetics and Gravity
In the .M\\D sensor package, two sets of sensors are used. One set
(magnetometers) uses an A'YZ system to measure orientation with respect to the
earth's magnetic field (H" H,, HJ The other set (accelerometers) uses an Ar or
ArZ system to measure orientation with respect to the earth's gra,itational field
(G,, G,, GJ
From the magnetic sensors we can learn inclination, azimuth, and tool face angles.
From the gra\'i.ty sensors we can learn inclination and tool face angle .
. Magnetic T oolface, l\1TF
For hole inclinations of 0 to 5 degrees use magnetics to determine hole
i.e. N 65
i.e. MTF = Magnetic "\zimuth + /- Declination + T oolface Offset
(\\') (270)
(90) (E)
Gravity Toolface, GTF
For hole :inclinations of 5+ degrees use gravity to determine the hole direction.
i.e. 65 or 65 R
i.e.GTF= Tool Highside Angle +/-Declination + Toolface Offset
Left (90)
Highs ide
Right (90)
This sheet is possibly the most important form that must be
filled out correctly. All other work and activity performed by the
M\'CD Operator means naught if the well must be plugged back with
cement because of an incorrect OTF calculation (or the correct
OTF not being entered into the TL\X' 2.1.2 software). Ensure that
the OTF calculation is correct, entered into TLW 2.12 correctly
and verified by the Directional Driller.
The procedure for measuring the OTF is as follows:
1. 1\Ieasure in a clockwise direction the distance from the l\1\X.D
high side scribe to the motor high side scribe. Record this length
into the OTF work sheet as the OTF distance. In the following
example, this value is 3.51 mm.
" l\1easure the circumference of the tubular at the same location
where the OTF distance is being measured. Record this length into
the OTF work sheet as the Circumference of Collar.
3. Calculate the OTF angle using the following formula:
OTF Angle= OTF Distance x 360
Collar Cirumference
From the abo,e example, if the collar circumference 1s 500 mm,
OTF Angle= (351/500) x 360
= 0.702 X 360
= 252.72
A sample form is as follows:
Well Name: Enter in the Well Name here Date: Enter in date OTF taken
LSD: Enter in the LSD here Time: Enter in time OTF taken
Job#: Enter in the MWD job number here Run #: Enter in the run number
O.T.F D1st:mce (.\nchor Bolts to Collar Scribe): 351 mm
Circumference of Coll:Jr: 500 mm
O.T.F. "\ngle (Disunce /Circumference) x 360:
~ ~ ..... degrees
O.T.F .\ngie entered into Computer as:
252.-2 degrees
O.T.F. Distance measured b,-,
Both ;\1\\D Operator l\iames
O.T.F. Calculated b,-,
Both 1\I\\D Operator ]\i ames
O.T.F Entered into computer b'c
Both 1\I\\D Operator Names
O.T.F. 1\Ieasurement and calculation \\"itnessed b,-:
Directional Driller(s) Name(s)
Iool Face Offset
Magnetic Declination J22 80

Mag. -> Grav. If Inc > 3.00

Grav. ->Mag. If Inc< __ _
Driller Displays
P" Deyelco w Small LED
Operator Display
r OFF r. M\JVD r ROP
CCB Formats
Basic IJ
Note: For the positive pulse M\v'D, the OTF is zero. Ensure that a zero OTF
has been entered into TL\\' 2.12. The positive Tool Face Offset (TFO) sheet
entries are as follows:
1. Positive Pulse Pulser Set to High Side / Directional Driller: Enter the names
of the "tvf\\D Operator and Directional Driller respectively.
2.Positive Pulse T.F.O. from PROGTJ\1: Enter the T.F.O. value reported from
the high side tool face calibration from TLW 2.12.
TFO internal toolface offset
2.12- MWD for Windows [Basic) !lliiEJ
8 Rx pump?;
8 Tx pump 0 .OOOOOOE+OO;
1 F:x tfo?;
1 Tx tfo 2 289000E+02;
:TLWstatus Messages
Toolface Calibration is Complete.
Measured gravitational tooliace after calibration 228.9 degrees
Tooliace Calibration is Complete
Measured gr<witatJonal tooliace after calibration: O.IJ :iegrees
Reading Tool Parameters ..
SIC survey format detectecl as: Bas1c
Reading Tool Parameters.
SIC survev format detected as: Basic
Well Name: Enter in the Well Name here Date: Enter in date OTF taken
LSD: Enter in the LSD here
Job#: Enter in the MWD job number here
Time: Enter in time OTF taken
Run #: Enter in the run number
Positiw Pulse Pulser Set to Hign Side:
Directional Driller:
PositiYc Pulse T.F.O. from PROGT.'\1:
Grmit\ Tool Face (gtiace) Should Equal Zero:
l\[oror /1diusunent:
:'\:arne ofl\1\\D hand \\'imess
:'\:arne of Directional h:md \\'imess
2.12 G degrees /setting
c\lignment of Mule Shoe Slee,e KeY to :\[oror Scribe: l\iame of 2nd 1\1\\D hand \\"imess
O.T.F.=O, Entered into Computer b,:
All Calculations \\'imessed b,-:
Name ofl\1\\D hand
Signature of Directional Driller
C\1\\D - PosiciYe Pulse
OTF- Extcmol Drill C:olhr Offset
Mognecic Dcchnacion
Toolfacc switch OYer
MWD Software Settings f3
Iool Face Offset
Magnetic Declination [22.80
Mag. -> Grav. If Inc > {3.00
Grav. -> Mag. If Inc < 12.8[1
Driller Displays
Small LED
- Operator Display
CCB Formats
Basic II
Basic Calc
EM MWD T oolface Offset
:Magnetic Declination
Company name
Well type

Field r========!


Rig name

Rig type
Toolfacc Offset
r Size is millimeter
True North
Convergence from True North
Ground elevation m
RT elevation m
Seabed to MSL
Spud-in date
Completion date
Abandonment date
1--------l m
1--------l m

G.R., .,..,....., coefl.
[ .E_xit
Check TF offset indicates that nothing is entered for toolface offset.

.S.etup Qontrol Qepth Display E.dit .Erinter Su!}Leys Bemote 'vV'indow .t:!elp
: 111 ..
G.Ray Cnt.
G.Ray Cnt. (-1)
G.Ray Cnt. (-2)
G.Ray Cnt. (-3)
G.Ray Cnt. (-4)
G.Ray Cnt. (-5)
G.Ray Cnt. (-6)
Drift (-1)
--- deg
--- deg
--- U.G.
--- U.G.
--- U.G.
--- U.G.
--- U.G_
--- U.G.
--- U.G.
9 Ma.v 2oo1
Bit c:::::=J
Total c:::::=J
Precision Drilling
Drilling Services
Precision LWD Tool Face Offset
The Tool Face Offset is an external (drill collar) offset and must be measured
clockwise, looking downward toward the bit from the HEL tool scribeline to the mud
motor scribeline. This is one of the most important measurements that the LWD
Engineer makes and MUST be done correctly. All other work and activity performed
by the LWD Engineer means naught if the well must be plugged back with cement
because of an incorrect TFO calculation (or the correct TFO not being entered into
the Spectrum software). Ensure that the TFO calculation is correct, entered into
Spectrum correctly and verified by the Directional Driller.
The procedure for measuring the TFO is as follows:
1. Measure in a clockwise direction the distance from the HEL tool's
high side scribe to the motor high side scribe. Record this length into
the TFO work sheet as the TFO distance. In the following example,
this value is 351 mm.
2. Measure the circumference of the tubular at the same location where
the TFO distance is being measured. Record this length into the TFO
work sheet as the Circumference of Collar.
3. Calculate the TFO angle using the following formula:
TFO Angle= TFO Distance *
Collar Circuniference
From the above example, if the collar circumference is 500 mm,
TFO Angle=
* 360 = 0.702 * 360 = 252. 72o
A sample form is as follows:
Computa!og USA, In<> This document contains Company proprietary infom-.ation \\hich is the confidential propeny ofComputalog
Drilling Services and shall not be copied. reproduced. disclosed to others. or used in "hole or in part for any other putpose or reason except for the
one it 'MIS tssued \\itbout \\rinen pennission.
Precision Drilling
Drilling Services

Well Name; H arnrnon ,A, [
JO 14 Date; 2E,-Oct-O::
Location: Starr County, Texas Time;
:'3 DO
MWDJobll; 50-571 Run 1/;
T.F Cl. 0 rstanc e (h1N
/[1 to Motor Scnbe) ______ ______ mrn or feet
C11cumference of co liar ______ mrn or feet
T FCI =(Distance/ Circumference) X 361] ______ ______ degrees
T F I) anctle entered tnto computer as -------==';::_5-:::_j ______ degrees
T F Cr measured by ___ _
T F L' calculated by ___ _
T F 0 entered rnro computer by ____ _:_hr_ors"'tt"'n:::_e_::Gc:u:c:eccrr::_ec:ro____:___ _
T F Cr_ measurement and calcu latton wttnessed b\' tvlartrn Alonzo
Computa!og USA, inc. This doclUllent contains Company proprietary information v.hich is the confidential property of Computalog
Drilling Services and shall not be copied_ reproduce<i disclosed to others_ or used in whole or in part for any other purpose or reason except for the
one it was issued w1thout v..ritten pernnssion_
Magnetic Single Shots and Multishots
Directional surveying permits 1) the determination of bottom hole location
relative to the surface location or another reference system; 2) the location of
possible dog legs or excessive hole cwTatures; 3) monitoring of the azimuth and
inclination during the drilling process; and 4) the orientation of deflection tools.
The inclination and azimuth of the well bore at specific depths can be determined
by one t;:pe of survey called the "single shot survey", while "multiple shot"
SU1Teys are used to record several indiv-idual readings at required depth intetTals.
These magnetic survey instruments must be run inside non-magnetic drill collars
or open hole.
Magnetic Single Shot
The magnetic single shot instrument is used to simultaneously record the magnetic
direction of the course of an uncased well bore and its inclination from vertical. It
is also used, in some cases, to determine the tool-face of a deflection dev-ice when
deviating the well (usually a gyro is used).
The instruments consist of four basic units; 1) a power pack or battery tube; 2) a
timing de,-i.ce or sensor; 3) a camera unit and 4) a compass- inclinometer unit.
These four elements are assembled together and usually inserted into a carefully
spaced protective barrel (running gear) before being lowered or dropped, inside
the drill pipe, to bottom. The protective casing can be thermally insulated for wells
where the downhole temperature exceeds the tolerance of the photographic film
used or batterY.
Power Pack
The size and munber of batteries required varies with the instrument, as does their
polarity. Care should be taken to identify the correct polarity prior to loading
batteries into the battery tube. Failure to do so can lead to a "mis-run" sun-ey,
causing lost time while the sun-ey is re-nm. The battery tube may have a snubber
for use with top landing running gear.
Timer or Sensor
The timing deY-ice is used to operate the camera at a predetermined time. The
Survevor must estimate the time it '>Vill take for the insttument to fall to bottom
. '
whether lowered on wire line or dropped (go devilled). The timers available todav
are either mechanical, or electronic. In the past, mechanical timers have been
considered more robust, although less accurate than the electronic timers. \\'ith
modern solid state electronics this is no longer true and mechanical timers are now
rarely used. Electronic timers allow the operator to preset the time delay on the
instrwnent before loading it into the running gear.
Problems arise when using either type of timer and are not necessarily due to
instrument malfunction. The most common problem results from timer
miscalculation. If the time delay expires before the instrument has seated inside
the non-magnetic drill collar, the resulting survey '>V1ll. be innlid, affected by
motion and magnetic interference from the drill string. Since it is quite difficult to
accurately predict the time in ..mlved in lowering the instrument to bottom, and
anticipate problems with \\ire-line units or other surface equipment, the usual
solution to this problem is for the operator to overestimate the time required,
"just to be safe". This then results in time lost waiting for the timer to expire with
the instrument in place, as well as unnecessary risk of stuck pipe resulting from
not moving the drill string. The benefit of the timer is that it can be used when
dropping or "go dev .. illing" the survey; the operator knows exactly when the lights
'>v111 come on and can minimize d1e length of time that the pipe is still.
For Magnetic single shot sun'eys taken on \Nireline, timing devices are being
replaced with electronic sensors which detect either the lack of movement as with
a motion sensor or more commonly, the presence of non magnetic materials, as
witl1 a "monel" sensor.
The motion sensor detects when all motion has stopped for a given time (usually
about thirty seconds), before activating the camera unit. This system has several
drawbacks; if the descent of the survey instrument is interrupted for any reason
below surface, a wireline problem for example, the motion sensor will detect the
loss of movement and fire the camera resulting in a mis-run. The motion sensor
is to some extent mechanical: it employs a movable element to detect motion and
this may stick or lose sensitivity again resulting in a mis-run. From a floating rig,
the downhole movement of the drill pipe imparted by the heave of the ocean, may
affect a motion sensor, particularly at shallow depths.
A "monel", or non-magnetic collar sensor, is not subject to these limitations. It
senses the change in the surrounding magnetic field as it enters the non-magnetic
drill collar. Most monel sensors must be in a non-magnetic environment for a set
time, as a safety factor, usually from thirty seconds to one minute before firing the
camera unit. This serves to ensure that the instrument is actually seated in the
non-magnetic collar and allo\vs the compass card and inclinometer in the angle
unit to settle before the picture is taken.
Timers and sensors should alwan be surface tested before use.
The magnetic single shot camera has three main components: the film disk seat,
tl1e lens assembly, and the lamp assembly. Unlike normal cameras, the single shot
camera unit has no shutter mechanism, the exposure of the film is controlled
instead by tl1e timing of the light illumination. In most instruments, the lens
assembly comes pre-focussed and no field adjustments are necessary.
Angle Unit or Compass
This is the measurement dev""ice. The inclinometer measures the inclination of tl1e
wellbore, and the compass measures tl1e direction or azimuth of the well. These
de-v""ices are normally designed for a specific application and vary in design and
principle. They may measure inclination only, high side (for use \vith mud
motors), a combination of inclination and direction, they may use pendulums,
weighted floats or air bubbles.
Perhaps the simplest inclinometer is one which that is used for measuring very
low inclinations, the bubble inclinometer. Somewhat like a round carpenter's
level, it is very sensitivT to low inclinations and is often used to survey vertical
holes such as those drilled for conductor pipe where absolute verticality can be
critical. Just as simple, and using the same principle, is the "low ball" type
inclinometer, used not to measure inclination, but to identify the "low side" of tl1e
hole \vith a small metal ball enabling the grav""i.ty tool-face of a deflection tool, such
as a mud motor, to be measured in an env'ironment where magnetic interference
precludes ilie use of conventional angle units. These are ilie simplest but least
used inclinometers as tl1ey apply only to special cases. The more commonly used
angle units fall into three basic categories:
Cross-Hair Pendulum - Compass
One of ilie most common types of angle units, for inclination and direction up to
twenty degrees. The compass card is free to rotate inside ilie housing and
maintain a reference to magnetic norili. The inclinometer is an independent and
free swinging pendulum cross-hair. The compass card is printed in reverse in
order for the pendulum, which naturally falls to ilie low side, to depict the
direction as it should be on ilie high side. The survey disk is read as correct. Care
should be taken when interpreting grav""i.ty tool face using iliis type of angle unit.
Scale Inclinometer- Compass
Similar in principle to the pendulum cross-hair, this angle unit has an independent
weighted inclinometer which appears as a scale superimposed onto the compass
card on the survey photo disc. This type of angle unit is normally used for higher
inclinations ( above twenty degrees). Depending on the manufacturer, gravity
toolface is interpreted either "as read" or is reversed. Care should be taken to
establish the correct method of determining gravity toolface, before using the
single shot for do-.vnhole orientation.
Floating Ball Inclinometer- Compass
This type of angle unit utilizes a compass ball floating in fluid. The ball is
inscribed with both azimuth and inclination. The cross hair sight is centered in
the instrument and does not move, rather the compass ball tilts and rotates
beneath it. Because the inclination and azimuth are not read independently, the
angle units must be manufactured Geographically specific for the area or zone in
\vhich they will be used. This is normally identified by a stamp on the angle unit
Magnetic Multishot Survey Instrument
The magnetic multishot survey tool differs from the single shot tool in that the
timer is programmed to take a series of readings separated by a preset time
inten'al, and the camera unit is designed to take a series of recordings instead of
just one as in the single shot. The battery tube is often lengthened in order to
accommodate a greater number of batteries. The running gear used is normally
the same for botl1 types of survey, and the compass units are usually
The Multishot Timer
Depending on tl1e manufacturer, some tools allow the operator to specify the
interval between shots, while others are fixed. This interval is commonly in the
one to three shots per minute range, and in normal applications, is adequate. As
the instrument is dropped or "go devilled" inside the drill pipe, and the surveys
taken when the pipe is placed in the slips on tripping put of the hole, in most
cases, one survey per minute would be acceptable. The capacity of the l\lultishot
to store data depends upon the amount of photographic film that can be stored in
the camera unit. In the case where the pipe is pulled extremely slowly, or
reciprocated for long periods, and where the hole depth dictates a lengthy trip out
of the hole, longer periods between shots can extend the running time of the
instrument and allow a full survey in one run.
The Multishot Camera
These also vary ~ t h manufacture!, but do not differ much in principal. Basically
the camera consists of a film magazine spool, which is loaded by the operator and
installed in the tool, a guide spool which passes the film across the focus of the
camera lens, and the take-up spool which stores the exposed film. The
photographic film is, of course, light sensitive and must be handled either in a
darkroom, or a portable developer bag (often supplied \vith the tool ) prior to
development. In some types of tools, the film spools fit into separate cartridge-
type magazines which can be preloaded and interchanged outside the darkroom
\ \ ~ t h o u t fear of exposure.
The other feature of the multi-shot camera is the drive mechanism, which turns
the film spools in synchronization \v1.th the exposure-timer. The drive
mechanisms are usually simple worm-dri,Te devices or solenoid plunger-ratchet
The film, when developed, shows as a series of shots spaced along it. The
operator, by carefully recording bit depth against time, can match individual shots
\\1.th given depths, and calculate the survey using this data. Because the multi-shot
takes continual sunTeys, some are unreadable due to pipe movement. The \Talid
sunTeys are found at the points where the pipe was set in the slips for a connection
and the compass was still. Because of this, the common interval between surveys
is equivalent to the length of a stand of drill pipe.
Possible Problems With Reading Single Shot Records
Problem Probable Cause
Record is very light Disc was improperly exposed; check
An irregular shaped pink or black space An air bubble \vas trapped below the
on the record film. Shake the tank when developing.
The entire record is black Disc was exposed to light before
loading, while loading or while
Crosshair is clear but background lS Instrument was moving while record
dark or onlY faint images appear. was being taken.
Crosshairs are not on readable scale Drift angle is greater than maX11llum
limit of the comgass being used.
To protect the magnetic single shot instrument when lowered or dropped into the
wellbore a protective casing is used. This protective casing protects the
instrument while being retrieved or lowered and it also prevents chWing fluid from
contaminating the tool.
The industry began de\"eloping what is now most commonly referred to as "rate-
gyro surveying systems" in the late 1970's. The goal of the overall development
was to adapt modem aerospace guidance techniques for oil industry applications
with the following objectiws:
1. Provide a significant enhancement in survey accuracy.
2. Provide a means of quality assurance.
The existing surveying methods could not provide a reliable
assurance for the level of accuracy wanted by the industry.
0 0 0
technology can be classified into four groups, as follows:
1. Inclination Only Device (T otco)
means of quality
\X'ellbore surve1
2. Magnetic-Based (f:tlm-based / electronic, single I multi-shot, l\1\XD, steering
tools, dip-meter)
3. Free-Gyro Systems (fum-based/electronic)
-t. Rate-Gyro SYstems
The Gyroscope
A Gyroscope is basically a balanced, spinning mass, which is free to rotate on one
or more axis. The basic operation of a gyroscope can be compared to a spinning
top. As long as the top spins fast enough, it attempts to hold its vertical
orientation. If the top were propelled by a spin motor at a particular speed
designated by its mass, it would stay vertical for as long as the motor ran, that is, if
no external forces acted on it. This is the simple basis of all gyroscopes used in
navigation, a spinning mass that through its momentum becomes resistant to
external forces and attempts to maintain an orientation like the top in space. The
term "resistant to external forces" is important, for a perfect gyro cannot be built,
that \Vill not be upon by external force and react by movement.
The classic example of a natural occurring gyroscope is the planet Earth - a
spinning mass attempting to hold a particular orientation in space established long
ago. Even the Earth is not a perfect gyro. It reacts to external forces with some
movement, or drift, off its orientation. Fortunately, the drift is very small.
The next step in basic gyro understanding is the two-degree-of-freedom
gyroscope, the same kind used in the oil. Free-gyros have been used in wellbore
surveying since the 1930's.
The frames supporting the gyroscope, and allO\ving this freedom of rotation are
referred to as Gimbals. Because gyroscopes can be extremely complicated, we \Vill
look at simplified gyroscopes initially, in order to understand the forces \vorking
upon them.
The gimbals isolate the gyro from the base so the spinning mass can attempt to
maintain its original orientation no matter how the bass mO\'es. As the probe
moves downhole through different directions and inclinations, the gimballing
allows the gyro to attempt to maintain a horizontal orientation in space.
In performing a wellbore suryey, the gyro is pointed in a known direction prior to
nmning in the well, so throughout the survey the spin axis attempts to hold its
surface orientation. Note that a compass card is aligned with the horizontal spin
axis of the gyro. SurYey data is collected downhole by affixing a plwnb-bob
assembly over the compass.
Figure 6-1 Simplified drawing of a gyro
At each survey station a picture is taken of the plumb-bob direction with respect
to the compass card, resulting in readings of wellbore azimuth and inclination.
The plumb-bob always, as a pendulwn, points down toward the Earth's centre.
\Xben the tool is inclined off verticaL it points out the inclination of the well on
the concentric rings and the azimuth by correlation \vith the known direction of
the gyro spin axis established at surface. There are also electronic, surface read-
out free-gyro systems which eliminate the plumb-bob.
A gyroscope is a spinning wheel whose spin axis can move relatil.-e to some
reference mount. For the sake of simplicir:.-, the major components of the gyro
are comprised of:
The Spin Motor, the main characteristic of which is "angular momentum".
The Gno Case which is the outer enclosure.
The Gimballing System which is the structure carrying the spin motor. The
gimballing system isolates the spinning rotor from the gyro-case if the gyro-case
turns around the outer gimbal axis or if the gyro-case turns around d1e inner
gimbal axis.
The Gimbal suspension, which includes:
the ball bearings (or gimbal bearings) between the gyro-case and the
outer gimbal, and between the outer gimbal and the inner gimbal;
the rotor bearings holding d1e spinning rotor in the inner gimbal.
an Angular Pick-off which senses relative angular displacements
between d1e gyro gimbal and the case.
a Torquer which enables compensation for certain types
of errors and precessing the gyro at desired rates.
Evolution of Gyroscopes Used in Surveying Oil-
The First Generation of gyro survey instruments used a conventional two degree
of freedom gyro to set a directional reference point. \\l'ith this type of gyro the
inclination is given by a plumb bob located inside an Angle-Unit and a camera
records the survey data. Reliable directional data depends on two things:
The gyro must be accurately aligned to some known direction before
being run do\NTI hole.
The gyro must maintain this heading throughout the survey.
Downhole a small camera regulated by a timer and powered by a battery pack
takes pictures of the plumb-bob superimposed on the gyro compass card. These
sutTeys supply accurate readings when carefully operated by an experienced
The second generation "Surface Readout Gyro" provides progress in the
recording of survey data. ~ \ down-hole electronics package replaces the camera
angle-unit and timer. A \vire line supplies power and connects the probe "\vith a
surface computer that monitors probe performance and prints survey data as it is
gathered. Accelerometers instead of Angle-Units are used to measure hole
inclination. Ho\ve,er the system still relies on conventional two degrees of
freedom gyros for directional data. Problems with battery powered mechanical
cameras are eliminated and survey data is supplied in real time. The surface
computer can monitor probe performance, therefore time "\Vasted by mis-runs is
North Seeking G'roscopes are comprised of a rate integrating gyroscope and an
accelerometer. Sensiti\e axes of the rate integrating gyro and the accelerometer
scan components of the earth's rotation and earth's gravity. Survey data is read by
a downhole electronics package and transmitted to the surface computer \'i.a a
single conductor \\'i.reline. The computer calculates azimuth, inclination, tool-face
and monitors probe temperature. The system requires no surface orientation and
is not subject to such problems as gimbal lock and gyro tumbling sometin1es
encountered with conventional gyros.
The rate-gyro, meanwhile, measures the Earth spin rate \ector. \\11en the tool is
stopped at a survey station, one of the forces acting on it is the spinning Earth
force. In the case of the free-gyro S)'Stem, the spin force causes the gyro to moye
or drift (gyro precession) off the surface orientation. Since the rate-gyro instead
measures the Earth-rate force, for a given latitude, the system can also calculate
the true-north force component (TN) due the relationship of the vectors. The
purpose of the rate-gyro is at each SU1Tey station to calculate the true north
direction '.V'ith respect to the wellbore azimuth, which is aligned with the tool axis.
Once the gyro is set spinning and becomes free in space, pick-off and torque coils
measure the forces acting on the g)TO and keep it aligned with the case. Prior to a
survey, the rate-gyro tool is calibrated in a highly precise test stand at the service
company's facility. Just as the force-components of gra\'i.ty vary to resolve
wellbore inclination, the values for the Earth rate and true north vectors vary with
latitude, inclination and the direction of the tool. When the tool is placed in the
test stand, it is turned in a range of directions while its measurements of Earth
forces are modeled with respect to a known reference. \\nen the rate-gyro is
pointed in different directions in the stand it measures va0mg component values
for earth spin-rate on its sensitive axes.
\\ben the tool is at a survey station in a wellbore, vvith latitude and inclination
known, the rate-gyro reading of the component of earth spin-rate "\\:ill correspond
to a particular true north reference as modeled in the test stand. A survey point
can be calculated utilizing the combined readings of the rate-gyro and
accelerometer. Once the accelerometer measures gravity to calculate wellbore
inclination, tool high-side is also known. Combining the true north reading from
the gyro, provides wellbore azimuth as the angle between true north and high-side.
Systems of the type described require an electric '-"-ireline and provide real-time
data at surface. Depth is derived from \Vneline measurement and the system can
perform single or multi-shot surveys. During a multi-shot run, the tool is stopped
at periodic stations and a mathematical formula is applied for the overall survey
Survey Accuracy and Quality Control
To achieve a high range of accuracy and devise a means of assuring it, is a
significant, difficult, and expensive task. For simplicity's sake, let's say the
accuracy goal is one foot per 1,000 feet of hole. This means that in a 10,000 foot
wellbore survey, the operator is to be assured of bottom-hole location by plus or
minus 10 feet.
Although other survey technologies (magnetic and free-gyro) may achieve this
range of accuracy some percentage of the time, they have no available means of
quality control to assure it. In the case of magnetics, although the technology has
seen much improvement, error variables such as magnetic interference,
declination corrections, northern latitudes, even sun spot activ-ity pose difficult
quality control problems. The free-gyro's major error sources are surface
orientation, gyro drift and tool misalignment.
No fihn-based sun-ey device has an opportunity to achieve this level of accuracy
with assurance because the flim cannot be read to the accuracy required. To get in
the range of one foot per 1,000 feet requires azimuth and inclination accuracy's in
the range of 0.1 and 0.05 degrees, respectively. Very often, the terms accuracy and
resolution of readings are confused. A sunrey system may be able to read survey
data to 0.1 degree - that's resolution, but providing that level of precision is a
completely different matter.
Modern aerospace guidance techniques employing rate-gyros and accelerometers
pro-v-ide the only current means of both providing this range of sun-ey accuracy
and qualifying the information. These systems can accomplish this through
extensive quality control procedures because rate-gyros and accelerometers can be
calibrated for a level of performance and monitored and checked for data quality.
Hmvever, the accuracy of a\'ailable systems \'aries. Reviewing a service company's
procedures for quality control and data verification is important to assigning a
specification to a particular system. Rate-gyro and accelerometer quality also
varies in its ability to achieve accuracy, and running procedures can also degrade
swyey quality. For example, if a sm-yey probe is misaligned in the well, accurate
readings degrade in the overall survey calculation. Rate-gyro system accuracy's can
also vary according to inclination and latitude. Some systems degrade, for
example, above 75 degrees of latitude because the Earth and gravlty vectors
become smaller and more difficult to resolve.
Gyro Errors
External Forces
In the case of a free-gyro survey system, forces causing the gyro to drift off its
surface orientation lead to azimuth error. Typical causes for drift include system
shocks, bearing wear and the one inescapable force - Earth rotation. During a
free-gyro survey, attempts are made to monitor drift and correct for it.
The apparent drift of a gyro is caused by the int1uence of the Earth's rotation. If a
perfectly balanced gyro were located at the North Pole in a horizontal position, so
that its axis of rotation would be at right angles to the eartl1 axis, the rotation of
the earth would indicate an apparent 360 turn of the axis in 24 hours, or an
apparent drift of 15 per hour. At the South Pole, the same would be observed
but in reversed direction.
At the Equator, the gyro axis would be parallel to the earth axis and the gyro
would not show any apparent drift. The apparent drift caused by the rotation of
the eartl1 is corrected by applying a special force to the inner gimbal ring. An
adjustable weight in the form of a screw is attached to the inner gimbal ring and
has the effect of a vertical power on the gyro axis. Due to the phenomenon of
precession, this force turns the outer gimbal ring. By adjustment of the screw, it
can be set to offset the apparent drift at any geographic latitude by an identical
counter acting force, to the effect that the gyro turns simultaneously '.vith the
rotation of the eartl1. The screw is set for tl1e particular latitude where the gyro is
\'\'arming of the gyro can cause slight dislocations of the centre of gravity due to
the varying expansion coefficients of the different materials, such as copper and
steel. Possible errors caused by rising temperature are compensated by a piece of
bimetal '.Vhich is mounted on the inner gimbal frame and offsets sufficienth- the
unbalance caused by temperature through a bending effect.
lntercardinal Tilt Error or Gimbal Error
The gimballing error encountered in a directional gyro is also known as
intercardinal tilt error. Gimbal errors occur when the angular motions of gimbals
do not correspond to the actual motion occurring about their reference axes.
\\11en a gimbal axis transducer is used, its output measures relative motion
between gimbals, which is not necessarily the actual angular motion of the base.
The gimbal error depends upon borehole inclination and the hole direction related
to the reference direction.
In order to minimize such errors, when the surface orientation is carried out, the
spin rotor axis should eventually be positioned in a plane parallel to the overall
well direction anticipated, so as to result in a difference as little as possible.
Measurements While Drilling (MWD)
I\lost commercial M\\'D Systems use mud pulse or electromagnetic telemetry to
transmit survey data during tool operation. In Mud Pulse the mud pressure in the
drill string is modulated to carry information in digital form. Pressure pulses are
converted to electric voltages by a transducer installed in the pwnp discharge
circuit (standpipe). Then this information is decoded by the surface equipment.
Tool measurements (toolface, inclination, azimuth etc.) are digitized downhole
and then the measured \'alues are transmitted to the surface as a series of zeroes
and ones. The surface pulse decoders recognize these as representations of tool
measurements. Many \'ariations on the signal decoding exist and manufacturer
should be contacted to determine their method, although this can be proprietary
information. The electromagnetic system is more complicated and "';n be
discussed later but it essentially it measures the voltage potential difference at
surface, that is generated by the electromagnetic waves sent from the tool through
the formation to surface, into zeros and ones as well.
\\'ith mud pulse telemetry there are generally three main systems in common use
today. The positive pulse telemetry uses a flo'.V restrictor which when activated
increases the stand pipe pressure. Negative pulse tools have a diverter valve that
vents a small amount of mudflow to the annulus when energized. This decreases
standpipe pressure momentarily. The third method is by standing (or
continuous) wave pulsers that use baffled plates, which temporarily interrupt mud
flow creating a pressure wave in the standpipe. Changes in relative rotation speed
of the plates changes the wave phasing. These phase changes are identified aat
surface and decoded.
Positive pulse telemetry creates pressure pulses \\1.th a poppet type flow restrictor
or a rotatlng \ake. Unlike the negati\e system, flow is nevet interrupted. The
system is much more tolerant of LCM and mud solids than either of the others,
making its downhole reliability very good. It is also the least affected by pump
and mud motor noise. The tool can have its valve gap modified if pulse heights
are insufficient, or if too much pressure drop occurs in the tool during \alve
closure. Because of the large pulse amplitudes, positi\T pulse is generally thought
to be the most reliable for decoding.
Figure 6-2 Schematic of positive and negative pulse valves
\\1<en the negative pulse system is activated, a diverter \alve channels mud f1ow to
the annulus, decreasing standpipe pressure. The timing of these pulses is decoded
into a series of l's and O's, effectively transmitting tool data. Advantages of the
system include low power consumption, and ease of decoding. The completeness
of the valve opening/ closing create ;;ery clean waveform - pulses downhole. This
tends to reduce effects of pump noise by making the pulser signal easier to
decipher. Negative pulse systems must maintain a pressure differential between
the drill pipe and the annulus in order to create a pressure drop when the diverter
vake is opened. This may limit allowable jet or nozzle selection at the bit. This is
the main disadvantage of the negative pulse system.
All of these systems use surface transducers to record standpipe pressure. It is
recommended to pro\1.de a mounting dn1.ce to allow the transducer to be
vertically mounted above the mud 1ow (threads down) to avoid mud solids
settling out on the transducer element. This condition would create decoding
problems by reducing transducer efficiency.
Hydraulic Considerations
The drilling fluid system introduces noise during pump opetation -uhich can make
l\1\\'D surface equipment struggle to decode the tool signal from down-hole.
l\1\X'D performance can be improved by careful attention to the mud system.

Keep the pump rate as high as possible for the required flmv rates. Mud
pump pressure pulses at increased pump frequency are filtered out by l\1\X'D
surface gear. This reduces the effect of pump noise on the ]\;1\\D signal.
l'vfake sure the pump liners are in good condition. Damaged liners cause so
much noise they may even have an identifiable signature on the surface
pressure record. If the M\X'D engineer mentions a bad liner signature- at least
check it out.
Keep the pulsation dampeners fully charged. The ideal mud flow would be at
constant pressure, the only changes in system ptessure being those of the
l'vf\X'D pulser. Properly charged dampeners go a long way towards this ideal
Maintain as constant weight on bit as possible, particularly when drilling '-.v'ith
mud motots. Changes in motor torque will themselves cause changes in
standpipe pressure. By keeping these to a minimum, reliability of signal
decoding will be improved.
Mud additives should be mi.xed as uniformly as possible. Changes in v'iscosity
and suspended solids concentration can attenuate the :tvf\XD signal more than
usual. Slugged additives can also clog the tools.
Avoid duplex mud pumps if possible. Their noise is particularly difficult to
The mud column is the mud pulse M\XD tool communication line to the surface.
Keeping this system clean, uniform and as free as possible of induced noise can
materially improve the quality of the M\X'D job.
Electromagnetic MWD
Directional surve:mg \V'ith the EM M\XD tool has become a reliable and cost
effective means for both directional and horizontal wells. Advances made
over the past years have significantly improved tool reliability when drilling in harsh
underbalanced air/mist environments, and have also overcome some of the earlier
obstacles associated with operational depth. Additionally since the rig pumps do
not have to be cycled to recelVe a survey, the overall survey cycle time can be
reduced and can add up to a significant length of time on high ROP wells. The El\I
M\\D is a viable and reliable method to survey underbalanced wells '.\'here
conventional mud pulse sun'ey tools cannot work.
Geoservices began research into electromagnetic type transmission in 1982 with the
first successful field test achieved in 1983. Commercial operations commenced in
1984 when the technology was applied to a pressure and temperature gauge and this
\\'as followed in 1987 b,- an M\\D tool.
Electromagnetic telemetry consists of the injection and transrmss1on of a low
frequency electromagnetic carrier wave into the ground. The phase of this carrier
wave is specially modulated to carry the raw directional and formation evaluation
parameters. Electromagnetic transmission in an oil well can be approximated to the
way ordinary coaxial cable can act as a \Vave guide for signal propagation. The
casing string and drill string can be considered as the main coaxial cable conductor,
while the formations situated at infinity can be considered the shielding or external
conductor. Formations close to the wellbore, between the two conductors, can be
considered as the insulation.
The electromagnetic wave travels (radially) through the formation to surface, guided
along the electrically conductive drill string. The electromagnetic luw-voltage signal
is then detected, amplified and decoded at surface. The low frequency of the
electromagnetic wave is chosen to optimize the data transmission rate while
minimizing signal attenuation and to give the longest possible transmission range.
Dry air or gas drilling provides results that are similar to a non conductive mud.
Nitrogen, air, or methane are excellent insulators therefore adding a mist or foam to
these gases will improve transmission efficiency.
One important consideration, when using the EM 1\'I\\D, is the operational depth.
The average depth of operations today is 2315 m (7600 feet) TVD. The standard
tool has been successfully run to 3750 m (12,300 feet) TVD, utilizing a single point
of transmission. An extended cable and the latest extended range EM I\1\\D tools
have extended this operational depth limit.
Since the dependence on drilling fluid properties is minimal all hydraulic concerns
or pump issues can be ignored with EM systems. They also have no mov-ing parts
which increases their reliability over mud pulse systems.
Directional Sensor Package
The directional sensor package of any M\\D tool consists of a set of triaxial
inclinometers and triaxial magnetometers to measure respectively hole inclination
(drift) and hole direction (azimuth). The triaxial inclinometer measures the 3
orthogonal axes components of the earth gravity vector 'G'. The triaxial
magnetometer measures the three orthogonal axes components of the earth
rnagnetic field vector 'H'. The reference axes for rneasurem.ents are usuallY as
follows but each vendor's tools can have different reference convention. .
"Z axis' along the tool axis and positive toward surface.
"Y axis' in a plane perpendicular to the tool axis and used as reference for angular
tool face measurements. Usually passing through the scribe mark of the collar
(reference for angular tool face).
"X axis" orthogonal to both Y and X axis.
Both set of otthogonal axes fot inclinometers and magnetometers ate aligned
between each others at manufacturing and assembling. Nevertheless, these
mechanical alignments are not 100% accurate and a calibration (in town) of the
sensor package must be perfotmed by the .1\f\v'D vendor. All sensors are subject
to drift, both in tempetature and due to possible internal magnetic interference.
All drill collat materials must be non-magnetic to avoid drill string magnetism
interfetence \vith magnetometer measurements. The calibration process is best
achieved in a controlled magnetic emrironment and using "toll test ptocedures"
which output cotrection coefficients which are entered into the software for
computation of inclination, azimuth and tool face. Incorrect entry of these
coefficients have caused latge enors in surveying and could have catastrophic
consequences. The same applies for local magnetic declination entering to the
surface system.
Tool Face
Tool face (TF) is an angular measurement of the orientation of the BHA. versus
the top of the hole (gravity tool face) or magnetic north (magnetic tool face).
Refetence for tool face is usually the "Scribe mark" on the non-magnetic drill
collar. Computation for tool face angles are made from magnetometers.
Accuracy requirement for tool face (typically + /- 1 to :2 degrees is not at all the
same as the one for Azimuth (typically +1- 0.5 degrees).
None of the ditectional sensors in common use have any mo-v'ing parts other than
the pulser system and they are all very reliable. Several vendors have retrievable
systems which can be replaced \v:ithout pulling the drill pipe by using slickline.
All M\X'D sensors must be calibrated in special facilities free of magnetic
interference. Correction coefficients are entered bY software in surface
Compass & Grid Corrections
Magnetic survey tools do not reference to geographic north but to the earth's
north magnetic pole. Since geographic and magnetic north differ an error is
introduced in the swyey called magnetic declination. However these \'alues are
well known at most places on earth and are easily added to sun,ey calculations.
The grid correction is a smTey error caused by differences in map orientation.
l\Iost maps are drafted to have true north be vertical. Because the maps are on
rectangular coordinates and the earth is spherical, errors occur at \'arious surface
locations. These errors are not added to the raw data display on M\\D or any
other type of sun,ey, but are used in map plotting of the sWYey.
Finally, M\\D tools ha\'e an internal correction caused by misalignment of the
sensor with the drill collar during assembly. It only affects toolface readings and is
added in by the l\1\XD engineer during display set up. \\1llle the correction does
not affect the drillers operation, be aware that it exists and is a possible source of
Sur\'e\' error if entered incorrectly.
. .
Power Supplies
Tool power is supplied by battery, a downhole alternator or both. Batteries allow
tool operation mud flow. However their energy is limited. This means
that the operating time is limited, and the sensor power output is limited. \\1llle
not normally a problem on directional - only sen,ices, the addition of
formation e\'aluation sensors, the problem becomes more obvious. In addition,
batteries have limitations in temperature. Alternators solw the energy limit
problem but introduce some of their O\VTI. Mud pumps must be above a 'drop-
out" minitnum rate for them to work, the turbines necessary to drive them can
clog, and they limit the flow rate range in which an indi\'idual tool can operate.
"\lternator tools must be tailored for the pumping system in use on the rig.
Turbine stages are configured for the expected mud flow rates. Expected flow
rates are important information to set up the job alternator tools. The
drilling engineer should be sure the l\1\\D vendor has this information well before
the job is to begin. The alternator tools have an internal over-voltage protection
de\'i.ce which stops the tools should the alternator output exceed its limit.
Transmission Trigger
All l\1\\D tools have a signal mechanism to tell the tool to begin data
transmission. In this way the surface equipment be synchronized tl1e
downhole tool's data pulses allowing decoding.
Surface Equipment
The surface equipment performs the pressure pulse decoding and survey
computations. All vendors use an operator console "\vhich is electrically connected
to the transducer and rig power, and a remote driller's or rig floor display. The
operator's console has digital readouts for azimuth, inclination and toolface.
The driller's dial, or rig floor display, has indicators for azimuth and inclination.
They also ha"\Te a display for toolface orientation.
Data Transmission Formats
l\1\XD tool data are sent to the surface as a series of O's and 1 's. The pulse tools
are programmed to begin a data sequence "\vith a distinct marker recognizable by
the surface decoder. El\1 :M\XD tools have a data on demand format. Data are
then transmitted in order, ""oith a certain number of O's and l's representing a
'word" or frame of information. Transmission formats are programmable at the
surface to send data in different styles. For example, toolface becomes very
important while slide drilling with a mud motor. Since an entire sequence may
take 3 to 5 minutes to transmit, it would be "\"\oise to use a format that sends several
toolfaces per sequence, particularly during rapid drilling. Conversely, for pore
pressure detection, high rates of gamma ray and resistivity are needed. The tool
programming needs to be planned according to the objective of the bit run.
Tools often detect rotation by measuring the x and y (normal to tool axis)
magnetic fields. If change exceeds 240 degrees over a 10 second period, the tool
S"\"\oitches to rotating mode. Rotating mode data ""1.11 be sent uphole if the tool is
programmed to do so.
Sn1chronization of data bits is important! If the surface equipment loses
communication with the downhole tool for even a short time, whole tinling
sequences of data ""1.11 be lost, as the surface equipment cannot re-establish which
bits represent which downhole data. A program has been written into the tool
logic to recognize these events and produce warning error codes.
Sometimes the existing rig hydraulics and necessary drilling program makes
detection at higher data rates difficult. Several of the MWD tools can be
reprogrammed to transmit at lower speeds. \\'hile this will increase the time
between surface readings, it certainly is better than no surface readout at all!
MWD Information
In addition to the directional information today's M\\'D equipment also prov--ides
other information depending upon the tool type and sophistication. New
generation logging equipment is being developed as we speak to reduce or
eliminate the need for open hole logging. Although the cost of tllis serYice can
may be double the directional package the ability to get information quicker
reducing the time the hole is unsupported "\vlth casing can be invaluable.
Unfortunately with tills extra cost also comes the increased "lost-in-hole" charges
should the tools become stuck down hole.
Gamma Ray
All .tvf\\D tools are capable of providing tills sernce and tills tool is frequently
used while drilling horizontal wells. The term commonly referred to is
"geosteering". The probe measures natural gamma radiation and has a depth of
investigation between 8 to 15 inches depending upon your trust in the technology.
Recentlv nvo variations in tills tool have been made available to the One
. .
type is called "focussed" gamma ray and the other is called "dynamic oriented"
gamma ray and both are used to help reduce geological uncertainty. The focussed
tool uses a shielded gamma probe "\vith a kno\NTI orientation to the high side of tl1e
motor. If the vendor is smart, the shleld is oriented directly to high side of the
motor. The data can only be interpreted into high side or lmv side readings if the
tool is not rotating. By positioning the motor high side, a gamma reading of the
hlgh side of the hole can be obtained. The tool is generally oriented and then
dragged bach.\Vards to provide a section view of the high side gamma readings.
Cnfortunately the drill string typically turns while being dragged backwards so true
hlgh side readings may not be obtained. Using this information the geologist can
compare the gamma readings to other vertical logs and determine if he is still in
the sand.
The "dynamic oriented" gamma ray tool has an accelerometer tied into the shleld
orientation so e\'ery time a gamma count is taken the tool face is also recorded to
determine what portion of the hole the reading came from. This data is then
stored into separate banks of lllgh side and low side data that is sent to surface so
the changes in gamma counts on the high side and low side of the hole are knov.TI
while rotating. Static checks can be made similar to the focussed gamma ray tool.
It is important to remember that if you are slide drilling tills data is only being
collected from the hlgh side of the motor and not necessarily from the hlgh side
of the wellbore. The oriented gamma ray tool had excellent success in horizontal
wells and reduced the number of sidetracks required since they were able to stay in
"the zone" better. One project recorded an average of 2 sidetracks per lateral
'.vithout the tool and one sidetrack per 50 wells with the tool.
Downhole Pressure
Several companies have developed pressure gauges that read annular and drill pipe
pressure. This is a ~ e r y important tool for underbalanced drilling and enables
appropriate decisions to made while drilling (see Planning and Underbalanced
Horizontal \\"ell).
Temperature Surveys
Temperature surveys are also taken from the inside of the drill string to monitor
downhole circulating temperatures. Tllis is important to protect the lvf\\D tools
that have lower temperature limitations. The main risk \\i.th lligh temperatures
besides damaging the probes is a dangerous battery explosion potential ,,hen the
tools are brought back to surface.
Other Sensors
Currently a limited number of logging while drilling tools (resistivity, density,
neutron porosity and acoustic porosity) are readily available. Also \i.bration,
bending moment, torque, bit RPM and weight on bit sensors are available on
some products. Limited quantity and sizes are currently available for these sensors
and many are sensitive to the dogleg severity they are either slide or rotated
through. In tills decade look for some remarkable changes in the available sensors
of M\\'D and L \\D equipment.
Specfic Features of the Computalog MWD System
The Computalog M\\D system consists of s Secondary Acquisition Module
(SAM) which controls downhole data transmission, a Computalog Interface
Display (CID), a Rig Floor Display (RFD) for remote display of data, and a pulser
which generates the signal. A personal computer is used by the operator for
configuration, displa)i.ng and logging of data.
The standard system drill string orientation and temperature information
as measured downhole by the SAI\L The is initially programmed through
the CID at surface to operate in a user specified mode downhole. This mode
determines how and in what order the data \\W be acquired from its own sensors
and from other sub-assemblies (gamma ray).
The SAM is cued by a mud flow sensor to begin a transrmss10n sequence; this
consists of a s;:nchronization pulse followed by frames of data. The typical frame
pattern consists of a long frame containing survey data (typically 120 sec) followed
by repeated short update frames (12 sec) of one or more critical data items. All
data is transmitted using a patented encryption algorithm \vhich ensures data
integrity. The data transmission will shut dmvn when the mud flow stops, or
earlier, depending on the mode of operation. Typical modes include survey,
steering, raw, calculated etc.
On surface, pressure samples are digitally filtered and correlated to extract the
average pressure, the position of the synchronizing pulses and the position of the
data pulses. C sing a combinatory algorithm, the pulse positions are decoded to
Yield the values in the exact format and resolution in which they were transmitted.
. .
MWD Surface System
The I\1\\D surface system consists of an interface display for data reception, a rig
floor display for remote display of data, a PC which logs the data and a printer.
The mud signal is digitally filtered within the interface display and five integrity
checks are completed on all data. These checks enable the system to recognize
pulses of 9 psi amplitude in a system operating at 4300 psi. these filters are
programmable for various applications.
The data can be plotted on screen or on the plotter on an ongoing basis during
M\\D transmission. The software also evaluates the data transmission to aid the
operator for troubleshooting.
Rig sensors are easily installed and connect to one cable on the rig floor. This
cable transmits sensor information from the hazardous location to the interface
display in the operations wellsite shack. Additional readouts can be connected to
provide data to other locations around the rig.
MWD Downhole Components
The dovm.hole components are housed in a non-magnetic drill collar. The M\\D
probe is bolted to the pulser sub (in the case of the negative pulse system) and
screwed into the top of the I\1\\TD NMDC or bottom landed into a sleeve
(positive pulse system). The gamma sensor for the positive pulse system is at the
top of the M\\D NMDC whereas the on the negative pulse it is at the bottom.
The secondary acquisition module is a programmable microprocessor-based
subsystem. It acts as a master module downhole, sampling seven sensors,
collecting and transmitting data from other modules \V":ithin the downhole
assembly. Pulse format is generated and transmitted to the pulser for the data
transfer to surface. Data is collected from:
Three axis magnetometers and accelerometers
Calibrated temperature correction for sensors
Mud flmv determination bv sensor or s\V"itch
Generation of error bits for high temperature, magnetic anomaly and
accelerometer failure.
The gamma ray sensor is a digital acquisition system utilizing a scintillation
detector. It is field programmable for sample time and rates (typically every 24
seconds) and stored in non-volatile memory. As previously discussed a focussed
or dynamic oriented gamma ray options area available.
The operator can program the tool (on surface) for the parameters needed for a
specific well. Some programmable features include:
1. Data rate
"' Order in which data is sent to surface
3. Length of time in which sensors are sampled for acquiring data.
4. Angle at which tool changes from magnetic updates to gravitational updates
::l. Type of data sent to surface (raw or calculated)
6. Threshold at which the magnetic anomaly or \1.bration flag is set
7 \\1uch integrity checks are sent to surface after transnlission of data
8. Resolution of rapid tool-face updates (normally 2.0 degree every 12 seconds)
9. Threshold for rotary mode. Tool-faces are not sent during rotary mode to
conserve power consumption
Transmit Times for Various M\VD Configurations
Directional Pressure Static surve\
-raw data up delay Temp, angle, azimuth, TF
~ ~
"' "'
-1-S sec 139 sec
"0 "0
"R c:.. u
u u
232 sec
"' "'
'f. 'f. 'f.
("j ("j ("j
Directional Pressure Calculated surveY
-calc data up delay .\ngle, azimuth
~ ~ ~
"' "' "' "'
4S sec -1-8 sec
"':) -:;
u c:.. u u
- ~
153 sec
'f. 'f. 'f.
("J ("J
("J ("j ("J
- -
Directional Pressure Static surve\
I TF update
TF update
and up dela\ Temp, angle, azimuth, TF gamma ra\ gamma raY
gamma- 4S sec 139 sec 1 reading
rea cling
raw data 2-t sec 24 sec
232 sec
Directional Pressure Calculated survey
TF update TF update
and up delay .\ngle, azimuth gamma ray gamma raY
gamma- 4S sec 48 sec reading reading
calc data 2-1- sec 2-1- sec
141 sec
During the static survey continuous temperature, drift angle, azimuth and tool
face updates are pro-vided by the tool.
Selection of Survey Equipment
Now that we have discussed the different survey systems how does one select the
correct system for the job? Many factors are included in this selection and the
following are the most common:
Target Size
Small targets of Sm radius (15') can be very difficult to reach with single shot (SS)
equipment although many wells "'1.th targets of this size have been drilled with SS.
The main concern lies within the estimation of the PDM's reactive torque. An
error made in this estimation can have a significant affect on the azimuth of the
well and result in nlissing the target to the left or right. \\ben slide drilling the
tool face can change and nnlike when drilling \vith l'vf\\D would not be known
nntil the next surveY.
Well Depth
This is ve:ry a:re dependent but typically in Canada once the depth exceeds l,OOOm
(3,000') the ability to adjust fo:r :reactive to:rque is too difficult.
Drilling Motor Type
Fo:r single shot ope:rations a high speed low to:rque moto:r is used. D:rilling with
medium o:r high to:rque moto:rs and SS equipment is a c:rooked well path ,vaiting
to happen.
Drilling Fluid
\\'ith nnde:rbalanced drilling ope:rations the mud pulse survey equipment can not
be used since they depend upon accu:rate p:ressu:re pulses :read at su:rface. The
signal in two-phase fluids can not be :read due to the fluid comp:ression and noise.
This can be the same p:roblem in ae:rated o:r poo:rly maintained d:rilling fluids.
Eithe:r the EM M\\D o:r stee:ring tools a:re used in these cases.
Rig Equipment
Sometimes the only :rig fo:r the job has 3

o:r smalle:r drill pipe

(sometimes completion :rigs a:re used). Although SS equipment has been used to
drill di:rectional wells \vith this limbe:r of equipment, it is impo:rtant to have a ve:ry
experienced SS di:rectional hand (few a:ronnd anymo:re) who can accu:rately
estimate the to:rque. Duplex pumps can also c:reate many signal detection
p:roblems ,,-ith the mud pulse l'vf\\D equipment due to pump noise.
Build Rate and Dogleg
\\ben build :rates exceed 5 o:r 6 o /30m, achieving these build :rates can be ve:ry
c:ritical to :reaching the ta:rget. With M\\D equipment a spot check in the middle
of a single can quickly be made to ve:rify the build :rate and tool-face ea:rly and
modify the pe:rcentage of single slid and adjust tool-face if :requi:red. Some of the
M\\TD and specialty logging while drilling equipment have limits on the doglegs
they can be :rotated th:rough due to bending stresses.
Terminal Angle
As the inclination inc:reases the time it takes to drop a SS survey inc:reases.
Typically "'-ith inclinations g:reate:r than 40 it becomes mo:re cost effective to look
at l'vf\\D equipment. Typically fo:r a well that is at 40 and 300m (1,000') deep the
swTey time for SS is in excess of 30 to -1-5 minutes. This can have a significant
impact on the average ROP for the day.
Well Profile
It is not recommended to use single shot eqwpment on the follm.ving well
S-cutYe \vl.th very short tangent sections
Horizontal wells
Extended reach wells
Complex profiles with build and turn sections
In e\'ery geographical area of the world, there are certain problem formations that
either don't build as expected or will collapse if left open too long. These are not
good places to use single shot equipment due to higher potential for severe
doglegs and the extra time taken for surveys '\vith the drill string in a static mode.
Required Survey Accuracy
As the required sWTey accuracy increases (very tight TVD or azimuth control) the
equipment selection shifts from SS to .tvf\\D to Gyro to Magnetic Ranging.
Proximity of Existing Wells or Magnetic Interference
\\'hen drilling re-entry wells out of casing or passing by eXlstmg cased wells,
magnetic interference becomes an important factor in equipment selection. The
azimuth accuracy becomes doubtful \Vl.th all sWTey tools except gyros. Typically
magnetic interference can occur within 15m (49') of steel but both high and low
Yariations have been \Vl.tnessed.
High Rate Drilling Horizontal Wells
In \\'estern Canada many horizontal projects in the oil sands can drill as fast as
lOOm/hr (300 ft/hr). At these rates using the EM J\f\v'D system can reduce the
sWTey cycle time. One operator estimated he saved one day per well on his
horizontal well project. The horizontal wells had a TVD of 500m (1,500') and a
total measured length of 2,500m (8,200').
Survey Accuracy
The first paper that successfully dealt "\Vith this subject was prepared by \\-olf and
de Wardt, " Borehole Position Uncertainty- Analysis of Measuring Methods and
Deri,Tation of Systematic Error Model". The latest paper released is a summary of
work completed by a small joint-industry group and a steering committee on
"\Vellbore swTey accuracY - "AccuracY Prediction for Directional l'vf\\'D" SPE
. . . '
#56702. This section swmnaries some of the main points from these papers on
sources of error \\rith examples.
The photographic single shot instrwnent is the least accurate tool. The inclination
error can be as great as 0.5 degrees and 2.0 degrees in azimuth and is very
susceptible to hwnan reading error. The electronic single shots have essentially
the same accuracy as all other l'vf\\D equipment 0.2 degrees on inclination and 1.0
to 1.5 degrees in azimuth. The gyro tools have a significantly improved azimuth
error of approximately 0.2 degrees but similar accuracy for inclination.
\\ben considering survey accuracy for lvf\\D tools there are several sources of
error. In general all directional sensor packages ha,-e the same resolution but their
accuracy is dependent upon their calibration and shift between calibrations. \\-e
have already discussed magnetic interference from BfL:\ components or local area
interference. Tool misalignment is the error caused by the tool being out-of-
parallel \vith the wellbore axis. The value asswned for magnetic declination affects
the computed azimuth, which comes from estimates on the magnetic dip and field
strength. The last main source of error is drill pipe depth measurements.
Mathematical models have been generated to calculate the position uncertainty of
wells based these sources of error and the type of survey tool. The nwnbers
calculated generate an "ellipse of uncertainty" for a 2 standard de,-i.ation error.
Essentially what it provides is a 3D volwne that the wellbore could be within (a
95% confidence level that the actual wellbore path resides inside this ellipse).
Typical errors seen when comparing lvf\X'D to rate gyro surveys.
Case 1:
Horizontal well
TVD of 500m (1,600')
Measured Depth to Casing Point of 700m (2,300')
Case 2:
Horizontal well
TVD of 1,450m (4,750')
Measured depth to casing point of 1537m (5,000')
1 6.6' (2m) -l-6' (14m)
.2 4.9' (l.Sm)
ObYiouslY errors of this magnitude can ha,e pronounced effects on "\vellbore
There are many operational decisions made between the directional driller and the
operator's representative. To cover all aspects of these considerations would be a
book in itself. As with any drilling operation, the most important item on a
directional well is TK\J\1 COOPERATION. The biggest hurtle to overcome in
any multi-disciplined operation is the egos tl1at come together on-site. It is tills
human characteristic that if not properly controlled or utilized in a positive
manner can be tl1e downfall on a directional project. :i'vfany oil field workers are
very good working \vith equipment and getting the job down but have a difficult
time dealing \vith the various personalities on-site. Sometimes the school of hard
knocks becomes a tough learning environment known as "Employment Survival-
101". A group of team players that share their knowledge, communicate well and
mutually arrive at the best solution will always produce the record well.
In order to address some of the operational considerations that directional
company representatives must consider, the following sections are prepared to
address what affects the equipment and performance of a directional operation or
what could go wrong. These items may be discussed in tl1e field \Vith the
operator's representative and it is important to realize the impact. As technologies
are developed so "'11l the potential problem areas increase.
Rig Mud Pumps
Too small of a mud pump can restrict the performance of tl1e PDM and drilling
rate. The PDM has an optimum flow rate operating range. Insufficient a\'ailable
flow rate clue to pressure restrictions and/ or liner sizing can result in poor hole
cleaning in high angle wells. The pressure restrictions can also affect the I\1\\D
system utilized. As discussed earlier the negative pulse system requires a pressure
differential between the :i'vf\\D and bit of 4000 KPa. If smaller nozzles are
required in tl1e bit but the pump cannot handle the pressure the I\f\\D system
may not work or you may have to cycle the pumps more often just to get a signal.
This can lead to hole washes and lost time.
Duplex pumps produce more noise than a triplex pump and it can be very difficult
to filter these noise out with an I\1\\D S\'Stem to allow decoding of the pulses
received on surface.
A low pre-charge can also decrease the efficiency of decoding pulse signals.
Solids Control Equipment
This is a keY area that affects all equipment performance. Poor solids control can
plug up l'vf\\1) systems, create aggressive wear on all equipment, reduce
penetration rates, create potential do"\vnhole sticking situations and increase
formation damage.
In many cases poor solids control affects the mud properties and limits its ability
to suspend solids. \\'e have witnessed cases where circulation of the drill string
after running to bottom was impossible because the solids settled out in the motor
causing it to pack off.
On horizontal wells drill solids are pul,,erized into smaller particles due to a
grinding action. If the best attempt to remove solids is not made on the first
circulation, these fme solids are left in the system and tend to increase formation
Rotary Equipment
\\ben directionally drilling, it is imperati..,:e tl1at all rotary equipment is in good
condition. \\'hen table locks do not work it is extremely difficult to control the
tool-face when slide drilling. \\'rapping tugger lines around the kelly bushing to
control tool-face is a very dangerous situation.
Tong lines that are out of calibration can result in incorrect torque applied to
critical connections that may result in motors backing off downhole.
Automatic diggers that do not allow subtle increases in \\'OB can result in motors
frequently stalling when trying to initiate drilling after each connection. This
affects the ayerage ROP and time spent drilling.
Smaller diameter drill pipe will nvist more due to torque than larger diameter.
Single shot operations \vith 3
z" drill pipe can become very difficult if not
impossible as the depth increase beyond SOOm (1500 feet).
Insufficient hevi-wate drill pipe will quickly limit the depth you can drill to and still
make any slide corrections.
Drilling vertical hole to KOP with too small of drill collars can result in having to
pick-up directional tools earlier than planned due to deviation.
Grounding Of Electrical Equipment
l\f\\D systems use computers and special algorithms to decode pulse or
electromagnetic signals. In some cases poorly grounded light plants and
generators have created sufficient interference to prevent clear reception of these
signals. In some cases the signal noise is too large to filter out.
Communication and Data Collection Equipment
an extra cost to the job, a phone system between the drill floor and the
command center can save considerable time and relay drilling concerns much
quicker. Remote recording instruments that provide all drilling data to the
command center also allows a more educated decision when drilling problems
arise. They also allow others to review the overall operation from a different
point of \Tie\v than the driller. In some cases small pressure fluctuations noted on
the standpipe pressure graph was all that indicated a failing bit. The performance
trends are much easier to detect when a graphical display is a\Tailable.
Bit Selection and Life
PDC bits have come a long way in their development they still ha\Te
some restrictions in their directional applications. A very careful review of the
formations being drilled through, especially in the build section, must be made.
Their use in horizontal sections has seen dramatic imprmTement mTer the years. It
is \Tery important the correct motor be selected for these runs otherwise their
design cannot be fully utilized.
\\ben building inclination or trying to turn the wellbore, the outer row of teeth on
the bit has the biggest influence. \\ben erratic build or turn rates are noted, or
you can't build or drop inclination, it may be the teeth are worn down too far to
"get a good bite" on the formation.
The effecti\Te life of bits used on directional wells is usuallY lower than normal due
to the different loading applied to the bit. Remember when rotary drilling \vith a
motor to add the table RPM to the motor RPM and select the bit based upon this.
Motor Problems
High temperature holes (greater than 100 C) can severely limit the performance
life of motors. The temperature tends to cause the elastomer in the stators to
swell and cause premature stalling.
Hydrocarbon based drilling fluids can cause the stator lining to swell, loose
strength and chunk out.
Abrasi\Te fme solids left in the drilling fluid may cause aggressi\Te '\Vear of the stator
that will result in loss of power and reduced ROP.
Excessive back reaming can cause motor connections to back-off.
Rotating motors at RPM's greater than 50 is very hard on the bearing and dri\Te
sections. Also rotating motors with adjustable housing settings greater than 1.8"
can cause premature bearing failures.
\\ben drilling underbalanced the motor is typically not lubricated to the same
degree as overbalanced wells. Consequently, some very strange wear pattems
haYe been seen on tl1ese motors and they may not last as long.
Unique "pressuring up" situations haYe been noted on small hole size (12lmm)
underbalanced wells. Not fully understood at this time but appears to be pressure
and temperature related. :Motors have pressured up within 12 hours of drilling but
show no probletns on surface when disassembled.
Stators are vary susceptible to aggressi\e wear on underbalanced wells \\rith solids
contents greater than 5%. Some motors only lasted 12 hours.
MWD Systems
Most are susceptible to solids plugging and have a flow rate limit through the
J\1\\D NMDC.
Most have a percent solids limit that they can function in.
Not all systems can handle lubra beads (or similar additives) before plugging.
Each type of system has its own limit to the type and concentration of lost
circulation material before plugging. It is always better to discuss \N1.th directional
company the potential of lost circulation and possible mud additives that may be
Jarring with J\1\\D systems in the hole can result in damaging the electronic
components. If hole problems are a significant problem in the area consider a
retrievable system. The only problem here is most retrievable sYstems have a
lower reliabilitY value (mean time between failure).
On whipstock operations never mill out casing '.N1.th an J\fWD system in the drill
string. Excessive damage occurs to the J\1\\D system that the operator \NW be
required to pay for.
Pumping acid or bleach through J\1\\D systems prior to tripping out at the end of
a well can be ~ e r : ~ damaging to the equipment. In some cases operators ha\'e had
to buy complete strings of tubulars due to internal cracking and probe damage just
because they didn't want to make another trip to flush the hole.
A unique problem noted \\1.th electromagnetic systems is the interference between
two rigs working close together. In one case the rigs were 50m apart and each rig
could read the signal from the other. There are methods in place to avoid this
1\fost electromagnetic systems require some conductive fluid in the \vellbore. In
some cases the entire signal has been lost when drilling \\1.th diesel due to its poor
Most standard electromagnetic systems have a limit to the depth they can drill to
due to the resistivitY of the formations between the bit and surface. ResistivitY
. .
logs must be carefully reviewed and modeled before selecting this tool for service.
Failure of Z-axis accelerometer results in incorrect inclination measurements. The
variation of these values is very subtle in a horizontal well and must be closely
. .
monitored at all times but especially when there are TVD concerns. Most times
when tl1e value remains tl1e same for three surveys the tool should be pulled and
Build Sections
Typically a directional driller \\1.11 r r : ~ to get kicked off slightly above the planned
point. They should ne\'er get to far abm'e the line unless there is a long tangent or
hold section to the target. On build and tum profiles for a horizontal well, the
driller should r r : ~ to stay on the line as much as possible since getting behind or to
far ahead can result in sharp doglegs later in the well patl1.
If the current motor setting is not achieving the desired build rate do not wait too
long before tripping to change the setting. Unless the area build performance is
v e r : ~ well known waiting too long can result in missing the target or sharp doglegs.
Large hole sizes (greater tl1an 311mm) that require high build rates (greater than 3
o /30m in some cases) may be drilled faster with a smaller assembly and then
opened up. This is especially true for deviated surface hole where the formations
are too unconsolidated to achieve the build rates.
On long reach wells "1.th the build section left open, it is prudent to make a
couple of wiper trips (maybe a reamer trip) through the build section to smooth
out any ledges. This will reduce the hole torque and drag \'alues as tl1e hold
section continues to be drilled.
Never ream a build section 1.1.:ithout l'vf\\D equipment since this is when most new
holes are started. .Always mient through the build section with a reaming
assembly, watching the tool-face behaviour.
Hold Sections
Depending upon the inclination this is when correction for azimuth is ,-ery
important. The Erst 60m of hole drilled should be surveyed every 10m (single) to
ensure the hole is maintaining the desired path.
Some operators released the directional company too early in these sections
and when trying to makeup some time they apply too much 'v?OB and push the
wellpath off target.
Stabilized bottomhole assemblies work well in this section but will require reaming
all the way to bottom since the directional assembly typically drills a smaller
hole size.
Frequent \viper trips or pumping viscous mud sweeps are highly reconunended
when the hold section inclination is greater than 60 degrees.
Horizontal Sections
Most common problem in the horizontal section is getting too aggressive in
changing the TVD. Abrupt changes may get you back into the zone quicker but
can limit the horizontal length. In some cases when requested to climb in TVD
very quickly the directional driller was unable to come back dmvn and leYel off in
the zone.
}(now the hard boundaries in TVD before attempting any TVD changes.
Determine what could happen to the well productivity if it suddenly climbs too
high or drops too low.
Beds of cuttings typically build up in the horizontal section like sand dunes. This
can be noticed if the drag or torque begins to increase over what a torque/ drag
program predicts. Routine short \viper trips to stir up these beds helps clean the
hole and prevent sticking.
Never make quick changes in inclination or azimuth at the heel of a hmizontal
well, as this quickly limit the maximum length you can drill.
Open Hole Sidetracks
Biggest mistake made in this operation is pushing too hard and fast. It is
im.perative a good ledge is built before increasing the differential pressure on the
motor. Do not rush the directional driller and have him drill faster once a ledge is
Never test the ledge by placing weight onto it. This is the quickest way to break
off the ledge. Once a good ledge is established slowly increase weight on bit in
stages and drill by differential pressure (control drill).
Use densified cement plugs whenever possible when planning to sidetrack a well
off of cement. Remember the bit will take the path of least resistance so if the
cement is softer than the formation the bit will drill up the cement.
Plan to have at least 75m of hard cement below sidetrack point.
\\ben entering a sidetracked leg always orient through to rninimize the chance of
breaking off ledges or starting a hole.
Have a sidetrack plan in place and stick to it. Allow the directional driller to shov:
his experience at telling \vhen a good sidetrack has been created.
Biggest problem on these operations is getting the well started in the right
direction. \\ben there is angle in the well and it has an established direction you
can not just point the whipstock where you want to go. All drilling must be down
by tool-face.
\\ben high build rates are required (greater than 20 o /30m) it is very easy to get
behind the curve. Due to magnetic interference and/ or position of directional
sensors you may have to drill 30 or 40m of hole before you know if you are
achieving the required build rates. If you only needed a change of 30 degrees you
be behind the curve.
. .
Always survey more often in the first 2 to 4 singles to check build rates (every
meter in some cases) once the sensors are in new hole.
Many times the whipstock is plus or minus 25 degrees from where you planned it
to be.
Some whipstocks can fall in on themselves when set at tool-faces greater than 90
degrees left or right when the inclination is greater than 45 degrees.
Magnetic Interference
\\11ether it is from hot tools, solar flare activ-ity or proximity to steel this can be a
~ e r y bothersome concern. It takes requires careful attention by both the
directional driller and the l\1.\XD operator to find these problems.
Solar activity has produced local magnetic declination errors of up to 7 degrees in
the northern latitudes. Imagine what 7 degree shift in azimuth would do to a
lOOOm laterals planned end point (122m offset).
N\\DCs and motors shipped with casing or drill pipe can in some cases develop
magnetic hot spots.
It is also easy to record false readings depending upon where the tools are checked
(on racks surrounded by drill pipe ~ e r s u s on the catwalk).
l\Iagnetic checks should always be taken at multiple spots along the eqwpment
and averaged out.
The preceding sections have captured some of the problems that can occur in the
field. It is through good team work and communication that their effects can be
Since 1992 there has been a steady grmvth in the number of underbalanced drilled
(LBD) horizontal wells in \\'estero Canada and the world. The actual number is
hard to determine since there seems to be no regulatory office that maintains a
record of these wells and the definition of UBD wells varies with individuals. The
US Department of Energy has predicted that by the year 2000, 25 o of all wells
drilled \\-W use some form of liBD technology. The use of liBD techniques to
drill deeper and more complex wells has also increased. Unfortunately our
understanding of all the technical aspects of drilling underbalanced is not
complete. In particular, the drilling fluid phase beha,:1.or and drilling motor
performance requires additional work. This paper serves as a brief oven'iew of
some directional drilling planning basics that are required to drill an underbalanced
horizontal well. Equipment and drilling problems are discussed and a procedure
used to test positive displacement motors (PDJ\1) under two phase flo\\
conditions along with a summary of the practical knowledge gained has been
For purposes of this paper, an CBD well is detmed as a well drilled while
maintaining an annular hydrostatic pressure less than the resenToir pressure,
allowing the well to flow. This may involve the use of single or two phase flow.
Most indi-v'iduals assume an UBD well utilizes two phase flow however, at least an
equal number of wells have been drilled with single phase fluids in a near balanced
condition. The most common gas of choice in two phase flow is nitrogen from
either bulk supplies or generating systems, although air, compressed exhaust gases
and natural gas may also be utilized. This paper does not deal with coiled tubing
drilling (CTD) but the author recognizes its use and the fact it is an excellent
method to consistentlY maintain an underbalanced condition. Underbalanced
drilling with CT units is increasing in frequency and equipment improvements
have pro,'i.ded more opportunities. The use of conventional drilling equipment is
still the most common with readily available equipment for these operations. The
following sections re,'i.ew the purpose and limitations of drilling underbalanced,
planning and operational issues, potential equipment and drilling problems and
concludes with a discussion on two phase testing of PDM's.
Why Drill Underbalanced
There are several reasons "\VhY wells should be drilled underbalanced but the
primary reason in most cases is to increase production rates through reduced
formation damage. There are several forms of formation damage including fluid
incompatibility and pore throat plugging with drilled solids. The degree of
formation damage and its effect on potential production rate varies with the
producing formation characteristics. In some regions wells may not be drilled
economically unless UBD techniques are employed. Production rate increases of
3 to 10 times the regional average have been seen.
Due to reservoir aging and depletion, many \\.estero Canadian resen,oirs have
experienced significant pressure reduction. Lost circulation and fluid loss damage
has become a primary concern while drilling. Also, the probability of becoming
differentially stuck can be too high to risk drilling in an overbalanced or
conventional condition. In an underbalanced drilling condition, these concerns
can be minimized.
\\'hen a well is drilled underbalanced, the formation can be easier to drill due to
lower chip hold down force and significant imprm'ements in rate of penetration
(ROP) can be achieved. In some cases the improvement in ROP alone can justify
the extra expense to drill underbalanced. Imprm,ements in ROP of 3 to 5 times
the regional average are common.
In many cases operators ha\'e allowed the well to flow from different sections
along the lateral to prm-ide real time production test information. Although the
daily drilling cost of these wells varies from $50,000 to $80,000 Cdn, the
production test information has proven extremely useful for defining reservoir
limitations. In some cases it could reduce the nwnber of delineation wells
required to define reservoir boundaries.
Substantial savings in stimulation costs can also be realized by drilling
underbalanced provided the subsequent completion activities do not damage the
well. If none of the aforementioned reasons are applicable to your well, do not
drill underbalanced. These are expensive wells to drill and significant gains in
production or reduced drilling time must be realized to economically justify the
additional costs.
As '.V1.th any specialized drilling operation, there are certain limitations related to
the formation, equipment and personnel safety. Extremely under-pressured
formations may not be good candidates for UBD unless you are willing to accept
that certain sections of the wellbore may not be drilled underbalanced. The gas
injection rates may be so high as too severely limit the directional equipment
performance and friction losses may control the degree of underbalanced
attainable. The use of concentric or parasite casing strings can pt<Y\""ide a method
to effectively remain underbalanced at all times while drilling but requires
additional cost and can be operationally complex.
Although borehole stability is not easy to predict, significant progress has been
made in understanding its failure mechanisms. In some cases, portions of the
build sections are left open as the lateral section is drilled underbalanced. In these
cases, recommendations on a formation's sensitivity to CBD operations and
whether it would be suitable for drilling in this manner should be obtained. If this
information is not a\'ailable, it may be advisable to set casing in the target
formation as insurance against potential future problems.
If the well can be drilled underbalanced with single phase drilling fluids, standard
mud pulse measurement while drilling (J\1\\D) equipment can be utilized. \\ben
drilling 'Wl.th a two phase flow medium, the standard l\1\\D equipment may not
generate clear signals (pulses) on surface for transmitting directional or logging
information. Some companies have reported adequate signals \vl.th up to 20% (by
volume) of the two phase medium being gas. Generally, the wells drilled in
\\'estern Canada 'Wl.th two phase mediums utilize either electromagnetic (EM)
l\1\\D or a \VTieline steering tool to obtain the directional and logging information.
The standard EM l'vf\\D tool has formation resistivin limitations and thus
measured depth limitations that may require the use of a modified EM M\X'D tool.
This moditl.cation has been successful on a number of wells, to true vertical
depths of 3500m and measured depths of 4-lOOm. The depth limitation for this
new tool has Yet to be determined.
Steering tools are also used in UBD wells. The main concern mth the use of
steering tools is the increased potential of fluid slugging in the annulus due to the
longer time taken on drill pipe connections. Fluid slugging is a result of the gas
portion separating from the liquid portion of the two phase fluid. The liquid
portion drops in the annulus while making a connection, resulting in an increase in
the bottom hole pressure to circulate this additional liquid out when drilling
commences. Although this also occurs while using the El\1.1\1\\D, the effect is
smaller due to shorter connection time. Circulating nitrogen before making a
connection can reduce fluid slugging concerns.
In some cases, the required gas/liquid ratio to remain underbalanced is too high to
enable drilling the well and still prov""ide sufficient liquid cushion for the directional
tools. This can result in systematic failure of the equipment due to vibration
damage, leading to down time and/ or costly repairs. The limit has not been
clearly defined at this time but as more empirical data is collected the limits \Vill
e c o ~ e known. Additional probe centralization, improved circuit board
mounting techniques and tougher components vvill nnprme the equipment's
Hydrogen sulfide (H
S) and other corrosion concen1s need to be considered from
an equipment performance, damage and safety point of view when revie-.ving
candidate wells for "CBD. Several wells have been successfully drilled
underbalanced '.V1.th high H
S content (up to 15%) but the potential for failure is
high, especially on gas wells v-v1.th water production. At this time there is no
guaranteed method of protecting the drill string from H
S. External pipe coatings
would be removed with the rotating action of the string. In severe cases it may be
necessary to budget for the purchase of a drill string damaged by H
S. Oxygen
has been the other main corrosion catalyst and its presence with varying water
makeup quality has caused considerable corrosion problems. However, the failure
of downhole components can be considered minor if a portion of the surface
blowout prevention control system fails. These concerns have resulted in an
imposed moratorium against underbalanced drilling critical sour wells. The work
conducted by the Drilling and Completions Committee (DACC) presents a
number of equipment requirements and potential failure scenarios that must be
reviewed prior to drilling these types of wells.
Drilling a reservoir underbalanced that normally requires hydraulic fracturing to
produce is generally not a good idea since CBD operations "\VW not prm"'ide
additional permeability. A poor well doesn't necessarily become a great or even
good well if drilled underbalanced.
Directional Planning Issues
Directional drilling contractors can be of significant help in the initial planning
stages. It can be very beneficial to all parties if the directional contractor is
involved in the early stages thus ensuring an optimum well path is planned. There
are five main areas where they can provide significant input.
Geological/Reservoir Factors
Geological factors can have significant impact on the drilling and planning of
underbalanced horizontal wells. Issues such as wellbore stability, confidence in
the reservoirs' trajectory and different pressures along the lateral length can affect
the best way to plan and drill the well.
Regulatory Issues
Regulatory issues can also affect how the well path is planned. Drainage,
boundaries and required setback distance issues must be considered to develop the
best well path to minimize the time spent drilling in an oriented mode (sliding
versus rotating the bottom hole assembly). The ROP while sliding is typically one
half that of rotan drilling and on underbalanced wells it can sometimes be
impossible to orient drill due to the increased friction when high gas/liquid ratios
are required to maintain an underbalanced condition. In \\-estern Canada, certain
regions ha,-e a specified distance the mid-point of the lateral must be from unit or
section boundaries. If worst case drilling is not considered (i.e. what will happen
if you are unable to drill the lateral as far as planned), producing and or royalty
issues and penalty fees can be significant.
Data Requirements
In addition to the standard directional information, real time or memory gamma
and annular pressure data is available \v:ith most .1\f\\D systems. Additionally, the
choice of standard, focussed or dynamic oriented gamma ray and resistiYity has
been made available. A focussed gamma reading provides a real time method of
determining if the wellbore is closer to the roof or floor of the reservoir. Some
gamma tools (focussed) record the high or low side ,-alues in a static mode while
others (oriented) have a dynamic readout while rotating. Gamma and pressure
readings can also be stored in memory for download and a secondary quality
check on surface. The real time annular pressure gauge is almost indispensable to
determine whether or not the wellbore is in an underbalanced condition and the
amount of reservoir pressure draw down. Although not yet proven, the resisti,-ity
tool may become a valuable instrument to determine lithology changes in the
lateral sections. Real time drill string pressure gauges near the motor, inclination
and G-force values at the bit are additional tools available 'Ni.th some M\\D
systems. The usual surface pressure changes are masked in two phase flow,
therefore motor stalling or bit problems can be difficult to detect and these
additional features can be ,-en- beneficial.
Hole Size
IVIany laterals are being drilled underbalanced with 156mm or 159mm bits. This
hole size has been more predominate for production and drill string design
reasons. \\'ith the increase in re-entry horizontal wells, an increasing percentage of
wells are being drilled with 121mm bits. The main drawbacks to this hole size are
the requirements for smaller completion tools and the increased percentage of drill
string buckling. Additionally, the smaller downhole motors pro\":ide lower
throughput and less power. Some of these issues can be o\ercome through the
use of PDC bits and 4:5 or 5:6 multi-lobe power sections, providing higher RPM
and volume throughput. PDM's "\\-i.th tandem or extended power sections can also
help derive the best benefit from using PDC bits. Frictional losses in smaller hole
sizes are also higher in underbalanced operations and need to be numerically
Rig Equipment
The most commonly used drill string is 1 Olmm OD drill pipe with 60 to 80 joints
of heavy weight drill pipe for wells "\Yith a 222/ 159mm build/lateral configuration.
The stiffer and heavier 114mm OD drill pipe is preferred for the build section,
especially for deeper wells and has shown an increase in ROP of 20/o to 40%.
Use of this larger drill pipe will require additional rig time to lay it down and
pickup either a 1 01mm or 89mm drill string prior to drilling the lateral section.
Drill collars have also been used in place of H\\DP "\Vith good success in the build
and lateral sections. One drawback to the use of drill collars is handling time
"\vhen reconfiguring the drill string (shuffling) as the lateral distance increases.
At this time the authors have not "\vitnessed a major difference in ROP \vith the
use of 89mm \ersus 10lmm drill pipe in the laterals. Nine to 15 drill collars are
also picked up for wells 2000m and deeper when needed to apply the required
\\.OB. Another concern when using only drill collars is the potential buckling of
the push pipe especially if 89mm drill pipe is used. This can mean frequent trips
to shuffle the drill collars and in some cases the more flexible 89mm drill pipe
buckles early in the lateral making drilling in the oriented mode difficult or
Top drives have also been used on CBD horizontal wells to overcome some of
the higher drag forces produced while drilling underbalanced. Drilling stands "\Vith
top drives also reduces the amount of liquid slugging the wellbore is subjected to
because of the reduced m.unber of connections. Many operators have claimed the
longer reach laterals could not have been drilled underbalanced 'W'ithout using a
top drive. The importance of all drilling equipment operating efficiency 1s
enhanced in underbalanced drilling operations.
Operational Issues
Prior to starting the job there are a number of operational issues that can affect
the optimum well path. Information such as 1) the required lateral length; 2) the
need for an underbalanced condition and 3) the consequences if the well goes
overbalanced, help the directional contractor design an optimum well path. From
a reservoir drainage and volume estimation point of view, a minimum lateral
length may be required. If there are a number of planned depth or azimuth
changes, the chances of obtaining the desired length can be reduced due to hole
drag. Should drag become an issue, it will be necessary to minimize turns and
depth changes to achie\e the required length. t a ~ m g in the producing zone is
crucial but if small local dips in the formation are occurring and the general trend
is constant (allowing the zone to be penetrated 30 to 80 metres later), do you need
to follow every formation dip change? The use of a focussed or dynamic oriented
gamma ray probe can be very helpful. It is also beneficial to be aware of
operational problems that may occur.
\\ben wells are drilled underbalanced to reduce formation damage, the need to
maintain this condition is in1portant. Other wells are drilled underbalanced
due to low reservoir pressures. Sometimes these wells can be drilled safely at or
near a balanced condition \vith no detrimental consequences. It is important for
the directional driller to understand these requirements should problems occur
trying to maintain an underbalanced condition.
Flow Tests
The possibility of flow tests and their number should be discussed. Flow tests
provide production information but on gas wells, they can dry out the
wellbore creating increased friction and drag. The requirement of multiple flow
tests may affect the well path design or the ability to drill farther especially if
conducted where a directional change is to occur. After a flow test, a short period
of circulating may be required to lubricate the hole prior to attempting any
directional changes by oriented drilling. Introducing a torque-reducing
may be required to enable these directional changes. Any torque reducing agent's
compatibility \vith the formation, produced fluids and drilling fluids should be
checked prior to implementation.
Vibration Damage
The dampening benefits of a single phase liquid is not available under two phase
flo"v conditions and this can have detrimental effects on the directional equipment
due to vibration damage. The drilling action of the bit and drilling motor creates
the majority of drilling "-ibration specifically when drilling through transition
zones. Additionally, the drill string and hole may be blown down utilizing straight
gas injection, to start or continue underbalanced drilling after a trip. Drilling out
the casing shoe in an underbalanced state can also shorten the life of the
directional equipment and in particular the pressure gauge and gamma sensor.
Centralizer design modifications and better quality control in the manufacture of
electronic components has aided the integrity of this equipment. The gas rate
used for blow down operations should not exceed the planned gas injection rate
while drilling and the duration of this operation should be minimized. Also
drilling out the casing shoe in an underbalanced condition is not recommended.
As 'Xrith any vibration-related failure, they are time and stress dependent and occur
. .
sinlliar to fatigue cracks in drill pipe.
Downhole Motor Damage
Blowing down the drill string can also shorten the life of the PDM. Motor
performance on CBD wells is reduced significantly in two phase flow and the
change in lubrication may cause a motor to "burn out" prematurely after these
operations. With no load (differential pressure) on the motor there is also the risk
of over running the motor. As additional empirical knowledge is gained
modifications in PDJ\f design or operation "\Vill become available.
Torque and Drag
Theoretical sensitivity studies conducted utilizing torque and drag models, indicate
a sudden transition from sinusoidal buckling to lock-up conditions can occur as
the \X'OB is increased. The studies also revealed that it could require 60 o to 80%
more applied drill string weight (slack-off) to achieve the desired \\'OB. As
expected, the drill string begins to buckle at or above the kick off point, if it is in
compression but, drill pipe in the curve can also be in a buckled mode reducing
the ability to apply weight on bit. A. proper bottom hole assembly (BHA.) design
must take this into account and try to keep the H\\TIP through the ';ertical and
into the build section.
Drilling until the bottom of the H\\DP reaches approximately 45 appears to be
an optimum position before considering tripping and moving the H\\DP further
up in the drill string. As \Vith any horizontal drilling operation, a sacrifice in ROP
may be made to enable drilling farther before H\\DP shuffling occurs. The
importance of ~ A design and correct H\\'DP positioning is magnified in LBD
wells due to higher friction factors, especially at greater depths and when
substantial oriented drilling is required.
Finally, pre-job modeling prov...ides information that is very important to the
equipment selection and how to react as drilling progresses. Besides just
equipment selection and sizing, the modeling provides valuable information \vith
respect to gas/liquid injection parameter changes should wellbore cleaning or
downhole annular pressures become problematic. This is a key component to
enable the successful completion of an underbalanced drilled well.
Equipment and Drilling Problems
In any drilling operation, equipment and drilling problems can and will occur.
\\'ells drilled in an underbalanced condition are subjected to a higher probability
of lost time incidents occurring due to the harsh drilling conditions and additional
amount of equipment on site. Although no contractor wishes this to occur, it is
advisable for the operator to ask or know what could happen before starting the
Equipment Problems
As with any drilling operation, there are potential equipment and drilling problems
to be aware of before starting an underbalanced project. Inaccurate and var:mg
flow rates, whether they are gas or liquid, have occurred in UBD operations.
These changes can have dramatic effects on the underbalanced condition and the
ability to clean the wellbore. There have been substantial improwments in the
suring equipment as well as the method of controlling injection quantities on
stated earlier some El'vi l'vf\vD tools are sensitive to bulk formation resistivitY
changes. If the total resistivity becomes too high or too low the tool may
difficulty establishing a conductive loop and the signal is lost to the formation.
This can happen if you drill into a salt or anhydrite stringer or in some cases
develop a large cuttings bed preventing good contact 1.vith the surrounding
formation. Once the EM l\f\\D tool exits this section or the cuttings are cleaned
out by a short \viper trip, the conductive loop can in most cases be reestablished
and communication to surface is restored. The development of the extended
range EM l\1\\D has solved this problem and is currently used on underbalanced
wells where the standard tool was unsuccessful.
Steering tool electronics are also sensitive to vibration and introduce potential
\\<Tieline problems. As with any wireline set or retrievable tool, the latching
mechanism into the orienting sub can create potential problems. If the tool is not
correctly latched into the orienting sub or it becomes unseated while drilling, false
tool face readings can occur. If the anticipated tool face readings are not seen, the
tool should be tripped to check the latch. This is not a common problem but
mentioned since it has occurred in the past. The time taken for connections with
a steering tool is also greater than an electromagnetic l\1\X'D tool and a well
trained rig crew is essential. Additionally, when using a steering tool, drill string
t1oats can not be strategically placed to minimize bleed off and pressure up time
thereby increasing the t1uid slugging problems on connections.
Stator performance of positive displacement motors (PDM) used on CBD
operations can also be \Tariable depending upon the t1ow rate, t1uid type and
lubrication provided by the drilling t1uid. Stator wear has been abnormal on some
wells, changing the interference of the rotor/ stator by up to 2.5mm in 25 hours or
less of drilling. The wear has been indic3.tive of an abrasive type with ribbing of
the stator and more aggressive wear noted on the bottom. Motor performance on
multiple runs with the same motor has also been inconsistent. Some motors have
performed satisfactorily for up to three bit runs while others have only lasted one
run. There may be a pressure/temperatme/t1uid condition tl1at allows the motor
to provide acceptable performance even with long term usage.
On some wells the drill string is recorded as "pressuring up" and tl1e motor is the
main suspect. Sometimes when the motor is later checked on a dynamometer and
disassembled, nothing is found wrong except that the torque in a number of cases
was slightly higher after use then before. In fact the stator on one 95mm motor
was sectioned and inspected for any delaminating or blistering but no fault or
explanation for the pressure increase could be found. Some indiYiduals have
conjectured nitrogen absorption into the elastomer thus swelling, is the cause of
the increased circulating pressure. This theory assumes the nitrogen gas escapes
once sufficient pressure is removed from the elastomer and also explains why it
has not been duplicated on subsequent surface tests.
Others suggest that it may be a rheological change occurring \\-ithin the drill string
as the foam quality changes. Another cause could be an insuHicient or
inconsistent liquid injection rate causing the motor to stall at lower weight on bit
and differential pressures. If swelling of the elastomer is occurring hmv does that
explain satisfactmy operation once the string is bled off and drilling resumed? Is
it possible for the elastomer to relax that quickly? It is likely a combination of all
points discussed in the last two paragraphs and requires additional testing and
empirical data.
This "pressuring up" phenomenon has been more prevalent with smaller tools
(89mm drill pipe or coiled tubing with 95mm or smaller PDM's) but has also been
recorded on the 1.21mm motors. Positive displacement drilling motors typically
have a minimum lubrication requirement that is dependent upon the manufacturer
and particular motor design. To try and extend its operational life, some
manufacturers have modified the rotor/ stator interference.
Another topic for discussion is the potential swelling effect when hydrocarbon
liquids are used for the liquid portion. Permanent swelling and chunking of the
stator can occU1 and special elastomers have been developed to combat this
problem. In some cases oversized stators (less interference between rotor and
stator) are suggested. This does not solve the problem in all cases or prevent
s-.velling or the pressuring up phenomenon. In some cases a standard
hydrocarbon analysis has shown significant differences in the percentage of
\'arious aromatic components. Unfortunately additional data collection is required
to address these problems.
Drill string floats (as required by the Alberta Recommended Practices for lJBD
ID 94-3) have also been problematic on some wells. There are different types
available for use including flapper, spring-loaded plungers and \\Tieline set models.
The use of spring-loaded plungers should provide better performance than a
flapper style but they create a major restriction to free-point operations if required.
The main problem with any float is the loss of sealing integrity during
_Although the top drive can allow underbalanced wells to be drilled to depths not
likely attainable otherwise, they have been sources of significant downtime.
Properly maintained and designed equipment should reduce these problems but
cold weather drilling is tough on these units.
Drilling Problems
The main drilling problems deal \v'ith torque and drag or wellbore cleaning. As
discussed earlier, BHA design is ~ e r y important, especially if formation depth or
directional changes are contemplated. The drag issue becomes more enhanced at
greater depths with the inability to pro-vide sufficient \'\'OB to drill or to move the
drill string. Tapered drill strings, additional H\'\DP and drill collars, along \Vl.th
timely H\\DP repositioning improves the ability to drill further. The use of a
torque and drag model \vhile drilling and the annular pressure gauge can be very
helpful to determine the onset of wellbore cleaning problems. In some cases the
ROP is limited due to hole cleaning issues and \vl.per trips after e \ ~ e r y 50m to
1OOm drilled are recommended.
In some areas open hole sidetracking \Vl.th tricone bits has been impossible or
consumed a considerable amount of drilling time. The outer row of teeth on the
bit could have been too dull hindering the process. Sidetracking in lateral sections
that are relatively flat, through a dense cap rock at a high inclination or tr:l.ng to
sidetrack \V'ithout increasing the true vertical depth can also be difficult. The use
of a purposefully designed diamond sidetrack bit can be advantageous in these
cases. In any sidetrack operation a good competent ledge must first be time-
drilled. A PDM with a 4:5 or 1:2 lobe configured power section is recommended
to build the ledge in harder formations. Be aware that sidetracking \V'ith a
diamond bit can create a high dogleg at that point. Patience and a good
understanding of what is causing the problem are a prerequisite to a successful
The other phenomenon that becomes very evident on UBD wells is the "stick
slip" condition. Although typically discussed as a rotating phenomenon, it can
also be used to discuss erratic \'\'OB when slide drilling. When weight is slacked-
off on surface (\\'OB increased), an additional length of the drill string is placed
into compression to pass the weight to the bit. The drill string can become stuck
due to friction/buckling and not allow the additional weight to pass smoothly to
the bit. As a slight amount of weight is drilled o1, the drill string suddenly moves
and/ or slips and additional weight is quickly placed onto the bit. In some cases
this weight transfer occurs too quickly and the motor stalls. As discussed in the
following section, two phase flow can significantly alter the performance of
PD.l\f's and theY will stall at much lower differential pressures. In two phase flow,
monitoring and controlling standpipe pressure and therefore differential pressure
through the PDM is not practical and ROP is the only performance indicator.
The use of an internal pressure gauge near the motor may allow the operator to
adjust WOB as stall is occurring and minimize the damage done to the motor in a
prolonged stalled condition.
Downhole Motor Tests Under Two Phase Flow
Several performance tests ha\'e been conducted on drilling motors under t\vo
phase flow conditions revealing some interesting

Papers ha\'e been

published presenting ideas on how to choose motors through performance
or bench testing. These tests and discussions are useful in
understanding limitations with PDM's in two phase flow conditions. However,
relaying this information to a directional driller on what to expect and how to deal
\Vith the problem is more important. The explanation of why motors perform
differently is somewhat understood but there are still certain problems that occur
that can not be completely explained. The follmving sections outline test
procedures, results and what this means to a directional driller.
Test Procedure and Setup
Prior to discussing the test results, the procedure used should be understood.
Some tests have been conducted maintaining a constant back-pressure on the
motor, similar to a constant bottom hole pressure, throughout the test. Other
tests have been conducted by first establishing a maximum RPM of the motor
under the desired two phase flow conditions through the use of a down stream
choke. \\'hen the motor is being loaded (applied resistive torque) no changes are
made to the choke setting in the latter test but continual changes are made in the
former test procedure. Although the procedures sound different they both
produced similar results and trends. The benefit of applying a constant back-
pressure allows you to experiment with its effect on motor performance and
simulate higher downhole pressure situations.
Once you've established the procedure to follow, dependent upon your equipment
pressure limitations, it is imperative to have accurate sensors installed in key
positions as suggested below:
Temperature - at the inlet and outlet of flow loop
(optionally on motor power section)
Pressure - at inlet of flow loop, before and after motor
and after downstream choke
- consider pressure sensor after power section
Flow monitor - on gas injection and liquid injection
RPJ\1 counter - most important to confirm equivalent
flow rates and amount of slippage
These sensors need to be connected to a data acquisition system that records and
correlates data for later evaluation. The use of a real time display for RP:M and
torque versus differential pressure would better assist determining the onset of
stall or slippage. The onset of motor stall is depicted by a sharp change in slope of
the torque versus differential pressure curve. A drop in RPM indicates the onset
of slippage as differential pressure increases.
The motor should tlrst be tested under straight liquid injection. Testing \\1.th a
liquid only, at maximum and minimum flmv rates, will establish base-line
performance curves for later comparison. \\ben starting the two phase portion of
testing, the liquid injection rate should first be established followed by gas
injection. Since the motor can be easily overrun at this stage, the choke should be
adjusted to limit the maximum RP.i\1 of the motor that matches that \\1.messed on
the base-line tests.
To establish the effect of back-pressure, the torque loading should be removed
and system allowed to stabilize back at the same RPM and injection rates. Then
apply the desired additional back-pressure and repeat the test.
Once the two phase flow testing is completed, the motor should be subjected to a
straight liquid test to compare to previous base-line tests.
Test Results
Both 86mm and 121mm 7:8 configured motors were tested using the two
prev""iously discussed test procedures. Although the combined equivalent rate did
vary during some of the tests, the trends were identical. Also air was used as the
gas medium for the 121mm motor testing versus nitrogen on the 86mm motors.
Figures 11-1 through 11-3 illustrate the results from these tests under different
fluw conditions but approximately equal combined equivalent flm;v- rates. ~ s has
been discussed in a previous paper\ the performances of PDM's are reduced
considerably in two phase flow conditions. Figure 1 illustrates that as the liquid
rate decreases but the combined equivalent flow remains the same, the torque
output before stall can decrease substantially. It is interesting to note that all tests
under different flow conditions prov""i.ded the same torque output for a given
differential pressure. This is valid since the torque is derived by vector addition of
pressure forces along the rotor lobes and therefore not affected by different flow
conditions (assuming no slippage and 100% motor efficiency). Of signiilcance is
the dramatic reduction in maximum torque output before the curve deviates from
the base curve indicating the motor is approaching a stall condition.
The graphs illustrated in Figures 11-2 and 11-3 are trend lines and indicate another
performance change. These curves plot the RPM changes for different flow
conditions while still maintaining the same combined equivalent flow rate. The
curves were drawn based upon best-fit polynomial equations and the R-squared
value was 0.95 or better (95% of data tits the equation). The initial \'alues (at zero
differential pressure) may start at unusual values but this is strictly due to curve
fitting and should be ignored. After a differential pressure of 0.7 MPa the data
generally matches extremely "\Veil to the data points. Sufficient back-pressure was
applied at the start of testing to have a similar starting RPM thus combined flmv
rate. Note the dramatic drop in RP1-1 for the same differential pressure as the
liquid rate is decreased. \\ben the RPM values under t"\vo phase flow conditions
and similar differential pressures were compared to the base-line results, a drop of
up to 50;o was seen. A Torque ,-ersus RPM curve for the 86mm PDM testing is
illustrated in Figure 11-4. Note the substantial drop in RPM for the same torque
value at the different flow combinations. This performance change alone could
have a significant affect on d1e rate of penetration.
Cpon conclusion of d1e t"\vo phase testing, the motors were tested with straight
liquid. In every case, when these results were compared to the initial base-line
results, the torque curves were slightly higher. This may imply that some swelling
of the stator elastomer has occurred. In fact a number of post field use
dynamometer results (witnessed by these authors) from dus "\vinters
underbalanced drilling, has repeated this occurrence. Additionally some of the
motors required a higher than normal load to remove the rotor.
Calculated Combined Flow Rate Versus c t u a l
There are a number of software programs available that calculate the combined
equivalent flow rate for t"\vo phase flow conditions. Table 11-1 compares the
results of t"\vo methods for a specific combined flow at various applied differential
pressures on the motor. Note the difference in calculated results.
Since the model calculations do not adjust for motor efficiency under load, a
relationship between RPM and flow rate was established. By assuming 100%
motor efficiency during the base-line test and RP.l\1 is directly proportional to flow
rate the following relationship can be established:
Base Case For 86mm Motor: 145 RPM at 404lpm
Q[EQUIVALENTJ =combined equivalent flow rate (lpm)
Q[BASE] =base case liquid flow rate (lpm)
RPM[ACT] = recorded RPM under two phase flow
RPM[BASEJ =recorded RPM under base case liquid flow
Csing this equation and the recorded RPM values under various differential
pressures, the actual combined equivalent flow rate has been calculated as shown
in the last colwnn in Table 11-1. As pressure is increased the equi\alent liquid
portion due to nitrogen is reduced. Although there is additional pressure applied
to the nitrogen as the motor is loaded, the reduction in the theoretical combined
equivalent flow rate, predicted by the two models, does not completely explain the
RPM drop. The drop in flow rate must be a result of gas and possibly liquid
slippage past the stator and this Table illustrates the degree of motor inefficienc,-
under two phase flow conditions. .
Flow Rates Pressure RPM Combined Flow

Gas Inlet Outlet Delta Method_\ B Qe{
/min) (KPa) (KPa) (KPa) (lpm) (lpm) (lpm)
8300 7100 1200 390 367 340
21.0.:2 8640
450 1190 109 369 349 304
20.73 9040 7100 1940 8"' 363
20.86 9620 6970 2650 6"' 354
31- 18
10260 "'010 3250 55 34
305 153
*Qeq is the combined equiYalent flow rate calculated using ratio of base case
liquid RPM and flow rate to actual RP:t\1.
This test data was selected since the initial combined equi,alent flow was
Yer-r similar for all tests.
What this Means to a Directional Driller
A number of concerns and unique drilling or equipment problems in
underbalanced drilling conditions have been identified in the previous sections.
Most directional drillers are quite aware of these and the drag concerns created
"1.th erratic doglegs and poor positioning of H\\DP. They are also aware of
proper pre-planning for long lateral sections. Various conjectures and test results
have also been described, but what does this mean to a directional driller? \vben
you're on site and drilling, you only haYe the equipment that was sent out and
you've got to make it work. Besides the integrity of the directional and
underbalanced equipment, the performance of positive displacement motors may
at times be a frustrating component.
It is important for a directional driller to understand how the performance of a
PD:t\1 is affected by two phase flow and make small changes in operating
parameters when trying to imprmTe performance. The follmvmg is a list of points
to consider when suspected drilling motor problems occur:
The higher the gas/liquid ratio (lower liquid rates) the easier it is to stall the
motor even though the combined equivalent flo\v rate is at maxim.um
motor rating
Lower liquid rates may cause poor lubrication resulting in faster wear rates
The motor is likely being over run while circulating the drill string off
"\llow the weight on bit to "drill off' before pulling up off bottom
Slippage or blow-by (onset of stalling) occurs sooner and at lower
differential pressures in two phase flow than single phase flow. If an
internal drill pipe pressure gauge is available, watch for an increasing
pressure trend.
Drill string pressure increases ha\e occurred early in a motor's life \Vith no
fault found so try nrying the liquid portion slightly before tripping out to
change tl1e motor
\\'ork closely \\1.t11. the operator and underbalanced drilling engineer, to
make small parameter changes as problems appear before laying the motor
\X'hen describing a motor problem don't fall back on "weak motor". Too often
tlus phrase is used to describe motor problems and it is insufficient detail for any
motor manufacturer when trying to determine a cause for incident. Describe how
it reacts under \Tarious conditions, what parameter changes \Vere tried and note
control or lack of. when appl:mg bit weight. Not all CBD wells ha\e tl1ese
problems but be prepared \vith options should they occur.
Conclusions and Recommendations
1. In all UBD operations there are a large number of multiple disciplir1ed
indi\-i.duals that have experience to lend and team \vork is a key component of
a successful job.
Vnderbalanced drilling operations are \'ery dynamic, so effective
communication with all service providers and the operator is a
ke, issue.
3. Directional contractors can provide better well path designs and
operational suggestions if involved at the start of a VBD
4. The performance of posltn'e displacement motors under two
phase flow conditions is becoming better understood but still
requires more work and e\'aluation.
5. In addition to increasing the downhole vibration and poor motor
lubrication concerns, low fluid rates substantially reduce the
performance potential of the positive displacement motor under
two phase flow conditions.
1. Bennion, D.B., 1998. Using Underbalanced Drilling to Reduce Invasive Formation
Damage and Improve \v'ell Productivity- .-\n Update. 49th _-\nnual Technical
Meeting of The Petroleum Society in Calgary, #98-58
:2. Bennion, D.B., 1993. Formation Damage Control and Research in Horizontal \V'ells .
.Jrh International Conference on Horizontal \\'ell Technology, Houston.
3. Li,J., Tudor, R.,Sonego, G., Yarcoe, B., 1997. Performance of Positive Displacement
:\Iotors Under Two-phase Flow. 48'
_-\nnual Technical2\feeting of The Petroleum
Socien in Calgar;, #97-73
in drilling operations is not a new problem. The diamond core drill was
invented in 1865 and \v"idely used as a cable tool drill in mining operations. The
first evidence of concern about hole deviation was the b,- Nolten in
Germany in 1874 of the use of hydrofluoric acid to etch and predict hole
Later a South African miner named MacGeorge invented the clinostat
to predict both deviation and direction. The clinostat consisting of a magnetic
needle and a plumb immersed in gelatin was lowered into the hole and the gelatin
was allowed to set. The instrument was then brought to the surface and
and direction were read directly. At a meeting of mining engineers in London in
1885 1-IacGeorge presented data illustrating de\riations of 75 feet in 100 foot mine
The Petroleum Industry did not become aware of the problem until the Seminole,
Oklahoma, boom of tl1e middle 1920's. Town lot spacing was tl1e primary factor
contributing to the experience of the industry. There are actual recorded incidents
of offset wells drilling into each other, drilling into producing wells, t\\"O rigs
drilling the same hole, and the wells in the geometric centre of the structure
coming in lm\ or missing the field completely.
It was common drilling practice at that time to use only large drill pipe vv"i.th no
drill collars and all a';ailable weight since weight indicators were not available.
Engineers and the industry in general made a concentrated effort to solve the
crooked hole problem. As a result. most of the practices commonly used today in
an effort to correct and control dnriation were conceived, experimented \v"i.th and
adopted in the 1920's, SO years ago.
The most effective practices adopted and still used today were the use of drill
collars for weight and rigidity, tl1e use of stabilizers at various points in the string
to control de\riation and prmride rigidity, and the practice of fanning bottom to
reduce angle. The first two have made the industry millions of dollars; the
practice of fanning bottom has cost the industry millions of dollars.
For whatever reason, early researchers were successful in their efforts. \X"ells
surveyed in the greater Seminole, Oklahoma area with and vv"ithout straight hole
practices produced the results in Table 1.
Table 1: Survey Results from Seminole Field
\\.ithout Straight-Hole Practices With Straight-Hole Practices
Number of\\.ells 216 58
Total Feet Surveyed 910,232 233,341
Average Depth 4,214ft (1285m) 4,023ft (1227m)
Average Angle lY
l'vfaximum Angle 46 19
The data would indicate that the engineers of the 1920's didn't solve the problem
of deviation, but the practices introduced are fundamental to the practices today.
Very little research was performed in the area of deviation until Arthur Lubinski
performed his work in the earlY 1950's, and real interest resulted from the advent
and popularity of directional drilling. In the last few years considerable field
experience has been reported which has contributed significantly to the total
knowledge of this particular aspect of oil well drilling technology.
In many areas of the world, drilling contracts are written in the same manner, as
they were 15 years or 50 years ago. That is, hole deviation is limited to 1/1,000
feet. This is truly an area where most operators and drilling people merely do
what has been done for the last 15 years thereby impeding progress by not doing
anything. The potential for advanced tlllilking in this area is unlimited. This
problem has cost the drilling industry too much money for too many years.
\\'ith drilling costs what they are today, a lackadaisical attitude toward any phase of
Drilling Technology, and particularly one so costly, should not be tolerated. Our
industry can no longer afford to pay the prices that ha-..e been paid in the past for
de-..iated holes. \\e can no longer afford to take n-v-ice as long to finish our work
simply because we're afraid the hole might get crooked.
Theories of Causes of Deviated Field Holes
The anisotropic formation theory is widely accepted (Figure 2-lA). Past
theoretical studies have assumed that the bit drills in the direction of the resultant
force on the bit in uniform or isotropic formations. This implies that the bit does
not display a preferential direction of drilling. Stratified or anisotropic formations
are assumed to possess different drillability parallel and normal to the bedding
plane with the result that the bit does not drill in the direction of resultant force.
Each formation is characterized by its anisotropic index and dip angle. The
anisotropic index does not depend upon specific rock properties but is an
empirical constant determined from drilling measurements. This theory has been
applied to the computation of the equilibrium hole inclination angle for straight
inclined holes.
Figure 2-1 Illustrations of various drillability theories
The formation drillability theory seeks to explain hole angle change in terms of the
difference in drilling rates in hard and soft dipping formations (Figure 2-lB).
Presumably angle in the hole changes because the bit drills slower in that portion
of the hole in the hard formation. Inherent in this theory is the underlying
assumption that the bit weight is distributed uniformly m.-er the bottom of the
hole. It predicts up-dip deviation when drilling into softer rock and down-dip into
harder rock
The miniature whipstock theory is based on drilling experiments made by Hughes
Tool Company (Figure 2-lC) in which an artificial formation composed of glass
plates has been drilled with the hole inclined to the laminations. In these tests the
plates fractured perpendicular to the bedding plane, creating miniature whipstocks.
If such whipstocks are created when laminated rock fractures perpendicular to
bedding planes, this could cause updip drilling. This theory offers a possible
qualitative explanation to hole deYiation in slightly dipping formations; however, it
does not explain the dmvn-dip which occurs in steeply dipping formations.
The drill collar moment theory suggests tl1at (Figure 2-lD) when a bit drills from a
soft to a hard formation, the weight on bit is not distributed evenlY along the
bottom of the hole. Since more of the weight on bit is taken by the hard
formation, a moment is generated at the bit. Such a moment changes the
pendulum length to the point of tangency as well as the side force at the bit. The
variation of side force is not the same when drilling from soft to hard formations
as when drilling from hard to soft and, therefore, can effect a change of hole
Raymond Knapp suggests that deviation results in dipping formations which vary
in hardness and is directly related to the inability of the bit to drill a full gauge hole
(Figure 2-lE). All bits ream a small portion of the hole to gauge "'i.th the heel
rows. Mr. Knapp contends that in going from a soft to a hard formation the bit
would be unable to ream the hard formation to gauge as fast as it could drill the
soft formation; therefore, the bit would be deflected toward the softer formation.
Random deviation would result.
Experience has shown that deviation occurs more often in laminated beds then
thick, homogeneous deposits. is almost always associated "\v:ith areas of
steeply dipping formations. Faulting or perhaps the stresses associated
faulting influence
In the final analysis there is no one saustactory explanation for It
appears to be related to geology. Deviation is never greater than bed dip. All
theory and practice indicates that the maximum deviation is perpendicular to or
parallel to the formation dip. In fact, Lubinski's model, which is the most widely
accepted, suggests that total "\"\i.ll always be less than formation dip.
Categorizing Crooked Holes
If we are to fight a problem, we must decide when the problem is a problem and
when the problem is only a potential problem. \\ben we talk of hole deYiation,
we cover a multitude of therefore, it becomes necessary to dissect the
agglomeration into its component parts and evaluate the problems associated with
each and the techniques normally associated with coping with those problems.
First then, let's consider holes that from vertical uniformly in one plane
and the "doglegs" or changes in direction "';_u be considered. A rotary borehole
that is not vertical is A large percentage of the instruments commonly
used in the industry today measure only deviation from vertical with no regard for
direction or changes in direction. The assumption is made, then, that the borehole
is anywhere '-"1.thin a calculated conical area. Figure 2-2A.
Figure 2-2 Target area for deviated wells
\"X'ith this type of deviation many reasons are given which brand this type hole as
undesirable and necessitate the e11..'Penditure of multitudes of money to eliminate
the problem. The more common anticipated problems are:
Inadequate and misleading subsurface information.
Insignificance of surface location '-"1.th respect to well spacing (drilling
into the same target with 2 wells).
Inadequate drainage of production zones.
Crossing lease lines.
production problems.
Excessive drilling problems.
Depending upon the area, these points may not be considered a problem thus
controlling inclination is not a concern.
Doglegs or sudden changes in hole angle or hole direction were recognized as a
major potential problem by the pioneers of the drilling business. \V'hen it was
possible to determine that a rapid change in angle had occurred, their solution was
automatic-plug back and start over. Perhaps it is well that detection procedures
were not highly defined or else a hole may never have reached total depth.
Modern surveying techniques indicate that no hole is perfectly vertical. Any hole
has a tendency to spiral. In fact, some holes surveyed made three complete circles
in 30m (100 feet). Spiraling is reduced as the deviation from vertical increases.
The maximum spiraling occurs at angles less than 30 from vertical. At angles
greater than 50 from vertical, the hole may move in a wide arc, but spiraling is
almost non-existent.
Doglegs are a major factor in many of our more severe drilling problems.
Doglegging should be suspected when the follo\\ring problems are encountered:
(1) unable to log, (2) unable to run pipe, (3) key seating, (4) excessive casing wear,
(S) excessive wear on drill pipe and collars, (6) excessive drag, (7) fatigue failures
of drill pipe and collars, and or (8) excessive wear on production equipment.
\\ll1en drill pipe in a dogleg is in tension it is pulled to the inside of the bend with
substantial force. The lateral force will increase the wear of the pipe and the tool
joints. \\'hen abrasion is a problem it is desirable to linUt the amount of lateral
force to less than 2000 pounds on the tool joints by controlling the rate of change
of hole angle. Figure 2-3 taken from API Spec RP 7G illustrates the effect of
dogleg severity and tension on the tool joint and drill pipe. The broken lines
indicate the combination of tension below the dogleg and the dogleg severity that
will produce a constant lateral force on the tool joints. Likewise the solid lines
indicate the combinations for lateral loads on the drill pipe. For example if we
have 100,000 lbs below the dogleg and a 5 o /1 00' dogleg the graph indicates a
lateral force of less than 3,000 pounds on the tool joints and 0 on the drill pipe. If
however the dogleg severity was 10 o /1 00' the lateral tool joint force would be
just less than 5,000 pounds and the drill pipe would also h a ~ e a lateral force of just
less than 500 pounds.
Figure 2-3 Lateral Forces on Tool Joints and Range 2--1-
'/' Drill Pipe, 6
4" Tool Joints
The major problem facing the industry was to define a severe dogleg within the
industry's ability to survey doglegs. Arthur Lubinski made the first efforts to
defme a severe dogleg in his paper entitled ":tvfaximum Permissible Doglegs in
Rotary Boreholes" published in 1961. Lubinski recognized that se,-ere doglegs
created major drilling problems and proposed that a dogleg was too severe if any
one of the following conditions existed.
1. The stress reversals when rotating in the dogleg were sufficient to fatigue the
drill pipe.
:2. The thrust force on the drill pipe tool joint in the dogleg was sufticient to cause
the tool joint to dig into the formation and cause a key seat or produce casing
3. The stress r e ~ e r s a l s when rotating in the dogleg were suHicient to fatigue the
drill collars.
Lubinski concluded that these conditions should be avoided and each section of
the hole should be evaluated in view of the limiting conditions in order to
determine the maximum permissible dogleg at any given depth.
First, let's consider drill pipe fatigue. Figure 2-4 illustrates the maximum
permissible doglegs to avoid drill pipe fatigue as a fw1ction of tension on the drill
pipe or depth for 4 1/2 inch Grade E drill pipe. From Figure 2-4, for example,
"\Vith 300,000 pounds of tension on the drill string which is comparable to
approximately 20,000 feet of pipe, a dogleg in excess of 1
lz degree per 100 feet
at/ or near the surface would place the drill pipe into a region of fatigue damage.
At approximately 6,800 feet from the bottom of the 20,000 foot hole, the tension
would be only 100,000 pounds, and a S
/100' dogleg would be required to
produce drill pipe fatigue. Thus potential drill pipe fatigue constitutes a limiting
condition in determining a maximum permissible dogleg, and the tension or load
on the drill pipe is the major factor affecting fatigue. Ob-viously, a much larger
change in angle can be tolerated at total depth, whereas only very small changes
can be tolerated at the surface in very deep holes.
Another consideration is the force caused by the drill string at a dogleg in the hole
or casing. In order to determine the maximum permissible thrust force, Lubinski
assumed that a dogleg of 1
'z o /1 00' never caused any trouble. The deepest holes
of that time were 16,000 to 18,000 feet in depth. At 17,000 feet, the drill pipe load
in a 1 Vz o /1 00' dogleg results in a 2000 pound thrust force on the formation or
casing in the dogleg. Based on this experience then, it was assumed that a 2000
pound or less thrust force would never create a drilling problem. The dashed
curve in Figure 2-3 labelled 2000 lbs, represents the maximum permissible dogleg
to prevent excessi\-e thrust forces as a function of tension on the drill string.
Obviously, casing wear and key seats associated with excessive thrust forces are
more critical near the surface in deep wells. Larger doglegs can be tolerated nearer
total depth without danger to hole and casing.
The fmallimiting condition, according to Lubinski, is drill collar fatigue. Lubinski
studied various conditions for different collar sizes, and calculations were made of
the abrupt dogleg angle for which the connections would be subjected to a
bending moment sufficient to produce fatigue failure. It was concluded that the
critical angle is a function of collar-to-hole clearance, the amount of tension or
compression to which the collars are subjected in the dogleg, hole inclination, and
whether the inclination is increasing or decreasing.
Figure 2--1- Dogleg severity limits for fatigue of Grade E drill pipe
The maximum permissible dogleg to be in a region of no fatigue damage, can be
calculated from equations presented in API RP 7G as follows:
C = -1-32,000 x BS x Tan-\K x L)
n x ExDxKxL
K = SQRT (T I (EX I))
C maximum permissible dogleg severity, degrees per 100 feet
E = Young's modulus, psi (30 x 1 Oc, for steel)
D = drill pipe OD, inches
L = one half the distance between tool joints, inches or 180" for
range 2
T = buoyant weight (including tool joints) suspended belo'vv the
dogleg, pounds
I = drill pipe Moment of Inertia = n:/64 x (OD
- ID
BS = permissible bending stress, psi
cr, = buoyant tensile stress, psi, in the dogleg = T /A
A = cross-sectional area, square inches
BS = 19500- 0.1493 x cr, 1.3366 x 10
x (cr,- 33Soor' for
Grade E. Another equation is available for Grade S drill pipe.
The abo'v"e equation is 'v"alid for \"alues of cr, up to 67,000 psi
Previous philosophies concluded the maximum permissible dogleg for the middle
of the drill string to the top of the drill collars was determined by the potential
drill pipe fatigue. Potential drill collar failure will dictate the maximum dogleg at
both the bottom of the hole and from surface to total depth. Rotating off bottom
through severe doglegs is not a good practice since additional tensile load results
from the suspended drill collars. Horizontal wells use drill collars on top of drill
pipe, have a reverse drill string cross-sectional transition design and ha\"e drill pipe
in compression. The drill pipe is also being rotated through doglegs as high as 20
o /30m. failures do occur, their frequency has not detracted from
successfully drilling Yery complex well paths that would ha\"e never been tried by
maintaining conventional thought.
Other practices designed to merely cope \\;.th severe doglegs are as follows:
1. Increase frequency of drill collar inspection.
"' Use non-hard-banded drill pipe through the dogleg to avoid excessive
3. Reduce rotary speed while drilling through the dogleg to reduce the
number of stress reversals.
4. l\1inimize off-bottom rotation to reduce unnecessary stress reversals
maximum tensile stress .
.J. Use packed hole assemblies to reduce dogleg severity.
6. Keep the kick-off point in a directional well as deep as practical.
7. Use heavier casing through working doglegs.
8. String reamers \Xrill often reduce dogleg severity and prevent key seats.
In summary, dogleg severity is a serious drilling problem. Dogleg is a
function of collar clearance. The best tool to control dogleg severity is
the square drill collar. In reports from around the globe over one million
feet of hole, the square drill collar has been credited with imprm;ng hole
conditions, reducing fishing jobs, imprm;ng penetration rates, imprmmg bit runs,
decreasing survey frequency, and decreasing dogleg severity. Fanning bottom is of
no benefit in controlling dogleg severity and in fact, it is detrimental to the drill
Dogleg Severity
The pre\1.ous sections have talked about some of the problems \Ni.th doglegs but
how do we define and calculate the \'alue. Dogleg is a measure of the amount of
change in inclination, and/ or azimuth of a wellbore, usually expressed in degrees
per 30m (or 1 00') of course length. All directional wells have changes in the
wellbore course and therefore ha\'e some doglegs. The dogleg se\'erity is low if
the changes in inclination and/ or azimuth are small or occur O\'er a long interval
of course length. The severitY is high when the inclination and/ or azimuth
changes quickly or occur over a short interval of course length.
The effect on dogleg \vith a change in azimuth is not easy to understand
or calculate. A 3 o change in azimuth over 30 meters will not a 3 o /30m
dogleg severity unless the inclination is at 90. At low inclinations a change in
azimuth \Ni.ll ha\'e a small dogleg As the inclination increases, the dogleg
severity for the small azimuth change will increase. The follo\Nmg equation is used
to calculate dogleg severity using both inclination and azimuth:
DLS = 30 Cos-
( (Sin! SinlJ [(SinL:l X SinA:) + (Cos.A:, Cos.A:J] +(Cosl

= course length between points
I, = inclination at previous survey station
I,= inclination at current surveY station
- .
A, = azimuth at pre\'ious station
A" = azimuth at current survey station
For english calculations use 100 instead of 30
The follmving table compares the dogleg seventy at different inclinations for
similar changes in azimuth:
Table 2-1: Comparison Of Dogleg Severity
Survey Measured Depth Inclination Azimuth Dogleg
Station (m) (deg/30m)
1 100 2 100
130 2 1.23 I 0.8
1 100
1 -
~ . 100
2 130 15 1.23 6.0
1 100 45 100
2 130 45 1:23 16.0
If 1200
Figure 11-1
I ~
: ~
, Motor Approaching
Stall Condition
~ ~
"""''''"'''' ";;:v
,,, ..,:#'',
'A', 400 lpm
-s, 400 lpm @ 7 MPa BP
-c, 250 lpm 17 m3 @ 7 MPa BP
'0', 100 lpm 20m3@ 7 MPa BP
0 ~ -- - - r-- - -- -+ -. -t - -i --, I ---
0 0.7 1.4 2.1 2.8 3.5 4.2 4.9 5.6 6.3
~ 80
Figure 11-2
-'A', 400 lpm
""'""'''8', 400 lpm @ 7 MPa BP
-c, 250 lpm 17m3@ 7 MPa BP
-o, 100 lpm 20m3@ 7 MPa BP
~ - - ~ - - ~ - - - . - - - r ~
1.4 2.1
2.8 3.5 4.2 4.9 5.6 6.3 7
Figure 11-3
160 - - - -
~ 80
40 [_ ---
20 ._,
~ - -,
-'A', 946 lpm
' - ' ~ ' B ' , 342 lpm 35m3
-c, 342 lpm 20 m3
'0', 171 lpm 35m3@ 1.4 MPa BP
-'E', 171 lpm 20m3
0 + -----r---- ' ----+ -1
0 0.35 0.7 1.05 1.4 1. 75 2.1 2.45 2.8
86mm 7:8 lobe PDM (BP = 7000 KPa )
2500 ,------ ---,-----
e 15oo
I C = 440 lpm I
I D = 370 lpm I
-+-'A' Base Flow 400 lpm
---'B' Base Flow 400 lpm + BP
'C' 250 lpm +17m3+ BP
'D' 100 lpm +20m3+ BP
0 -----+-- . -1
0 20 40 60 80
100 120 140 160
To be Developed
Formation Damage
CBD or CPD Modeling
UBD Equipment
Gas Supply Alternatives
Corrosion Issues