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Evaluating Drilling Practice in

Deviated Wells With Torque


and Weight Data
M. Lesage, SPE, Anadrill/Schlumberger
I.G. Falconer, SPE, Anadrili/Schlumberger

C.J. Wick, Anadrili/Schlumberger


Summary. This paper shows how to estimate two friction coefficients on Ii foot-by-foot basis at the well site with both
measurement-while-drilling (MWD) and surface values of weight on bit (WOB) and torque. A log of the coefficients with depth
can be used to diagnose drilling problems in directional wells. Field examples are given that show how the technique detects
incipient sticking and hanging stabilizers. Data are also used to evaluate the time spent on wiper trips and in circulating before
making connections.
Introduction
Torque and drag have always been major concerns in the planning
and drilling of a well. Deep, highly deviated wells are becoming
commonplace, and the ability to minimize torque losses and drag
is often critical for a successful well completion.
An accurate estimate of the friction factor(s) during drilling is
possible with both downhole and surface torque and WOB sensors.
Monitoring the friction factor on a foot-by-foot basis allows such
drilling problems as severe doglegs and sticking zones to be diagnosed as they occur. This gives the driller sufficient time to take
remedial action-e.g., reaming, adjusting the mud weight, or cleaning the hole before becoming stuck. The technique also allows us
to evaluate the benefits of bottoms-up circulations or wiper trips,
and to estimate the side forces on the pipe (for both pipe fatigue
and wear and casing wear) and the position of the neutral point (to
prevent pipe buckling).
Technique
The equations that we use were originally proposed by 10hancsik
et at. I and have since been used by Sheppard et at. 2 to compare
catenary and undersection trajectories. Two kinds of friction are
defined: rotating friction in conventional drilling and sliding friction in turbine/downhole-motor drilling or tripping. Threshold forces
that might be needed to start the motion are not investigated here.
The stiffness of the tubular is neglected in the computation. This
is justified as long as the drill collars are subject to only a small
degree of bending. In a curved hole, the side forces on the collars
are greatly underestimated. These forces can be computed in real
time with a simplified version of a model used for the prediction
of bottornhole assembly (BRA) tendency. The accuracy of such a
computation, however, depends critically on the value of the dogleg
severity (hence, the MWD should be located close to the bit) and
such unknowns as stabilizers/hole clearances and rock anisotropy.
A future measurement of bending moments in the BRA will soon
help determine some of these parameters.
Values ofthe friction factor between 0.25 and 0.4 are generally
accepted, I and most of our field measurements fall within this
range. We did not notice large changes in the friction factor with
commonly used rotary speeds. But recently published papers stress
the importance of rubber protectors 3 and solids content and mud
lubricant 4 ,5 on the pipe/casing friction factor, and present a fan
of contradictory laboratory values from 0.05 to 0.5.
Monitoring Friction at the Wellslte
Over the past few years, considerable interest has been shown in
obtaining a reliable friction factor at the wellsite. The tripping hook
loads have been compared with the rotating hook load at selected
depths. The torque losses have been computed from surface torque
Copyright 1988 Society of Petroleum Engineers

248

measurements with the assumption of a constant drilling torque.


A more accurate value of the mean friction factor during rotation
can be obtained, however, by measuring torque and WOB both at
the surface and downhole.
Because certain sections of a well may be drilled with no surface
rotation of the drillstring, a sliding friction factor ("drag") was
defined. Its use was then extended to rotating drillstrings. Drag is
sensitive to differences in surface and downhole WOB and is normalized for changes in WOB, hole geometry, and mud weight. The
term can therefore be used to compare the severity of drilling problems at widely different depths and inclinations.
The instantaneous (Le., foot-by-foot) friction factors are rich in
information about the hole conditions, as the examples given here
prove. They do not, however, monitor the whole well. The friction factor is computed between the two measurement points, the
MWD tool and the surface, not between the bit and the surface.
Another parameter, the dimensionless torque, Tv (the downhole
torque divided by the downhole WOB and bit diameter), watches
over the hole between the bit and the MWD tool. Variations in Tv
have been shown to lead to an accurate computation of bit tooth
wear, as well as detection of bearing failure. 6, 7 . We use Tv to
monitor the excess torque created between the bit and the MWD
by stabilizers digging or the string traversing a severe dogleg. Tv
is not required for friction analysis if the MWD tool is placed close
to the bit.
Computation of the Friction Factors. As shown in Refs. 1 and
2, the rotating friction factor is proportional to the torque losses.
Because the side forces and tension profile are not independent,
an iterative procedure is used to compute the sliding friction factor. The program stops iterating when the computed surface WOB
falls within 100 Ibf [445 N] of the measured one. About six iterations are normally required. The computation time is on the order
of 1,000 ft/min [305 m/min] on a mainframe system.

Field Examples
This section discusses four field examples that were used to develop the interpretation technique. None of the interpretations were
performed in real time.
Rotating-Friction-Factor Field Example. Track 5 of Fig. 1 is a
log of the rotating friction factor ("fric") for the 12.25-in.
[31.12-cm] hole section of a well drilled onshore in the U.K. Surface and downhole measurements of WOB and torque are plotted
in Tracks 1 through 4. The log shows data from sections of the
hole where rotary BRA's were used and values of surface torque
were available. Over the interval from 2,632 to 3,652 ft [802 to
1113 m], fric was not calculated because downhole motors were
used and the drillstring was not rotated (no surface torque).
SPE Drilling Engineering, September 1988

10000

75.00

STOR (10 3 lbf-ft)

.,

"

DTOR (10' lbf-ft)

(
,

TOOLFACE
MODE

I
1'3-

~
{

\
~
~

(10~

lbf) OWOS (10 3 lbf) FAIC (%)

II

I
,

"

!,

--+

r~

,
,

22.1
D

J-t

""
S

95

0.00

I
'-

-2500

LOST

2500

2"

-41.4

CIRCULATION

-5000

!
~

-7500

LICOAL

+-....::..D..;..P;,-.--,_.---_-.-_H_._W,-.D_.P_.----,.-_..-_--',_D._C_,-,
00

500 0

1000.0

1500.0

79.3

10.2

Fig. 1-Field example of rotating friction factor (fric).

Fric is relatively constant over the 12.25-in. [31. 12-cm] hole section with the exception of two anomalies at 2,572 and 3,900 ft [784
and 1189 m]. At 2,572 ft [784 m], fric becomes erratic and increases to 0.5. This increase in friction is associated with drilling
a permeable sandstone section. Circulation was lost in this sandstone because of a high differential pressure between the wellbore
and the formation that caused an increase in friction both below
(high downhole torque) and above the MWD (high fric). One possible explanation for the high and erratic fric values is a stick/slip
phenomenon, which occurs when the string is differentially stuck
and is then freed by a high torque.
At 3,900 ft [1189 m], the friction factor increased to 0.5. This
increase was associated with drilling a coal seam. The surface WOB
in the coal was increased from 50,000 to more than 70,000 Ibf [222
to 311 leN] to try to maintain the build rate. The high friction factor
over this section corresponds with this marked increase in WOB.
Fig. 2 plots the tension profiles for the drillstring at 3,842 and 3,902
ft [1171 and 1189 m]. The tension profile at 3,842 ft [1171 m] indicates that the neutral point is located near the bottom of the
heavyweight drillpipe. The tension at the bottom of the heavyweight
pipe is -9,500 Ibf [-42.3 leN]. At 3,902 ft [1189 m], the neutral
point is much higher up the heavyweight pipe because of the large
increase in WOB. The tension at the bottom of the heavyweight
pipe is -41,400 Ibf [184 leN]. With the equations published by
Dawson and Paslay, 8 the buckling load of heavyweight pipe in
these particular conditions was computed to be 39,000 Ibf [173 leN].
The marked increase in drillstring friction at 3,900 ft [1189 m] is
therefore attributed to buckling of the pipe as a result of excessive
WOB.
This example clearly shows that fric is insensitive to changes in
hole angle, lithology, BRA design, and normal changes in WOB.
A sharp increase in fric is a warning sign of a drilling problem.
In this example, potential differential sticking and pipe failure caused
by excessive buckling could be detected.
Sliding-Friction-Factor Field Example. Fig. 3 is a log of drag
for a section of the 12.25-in. [31.12-cm] hole for a well drilled
offshore Spain. The scale is larger than in the preceding example
because we are interested in drilling details. The sliding friction
during drilling is a normalization of the WOB losses with respect
to hole geometry, WOB, and BRA design. Drag is < 10% when
the string is rotating (WOB transmission is facilitated by the rotation)
and larger (20 to 40%) when a turbine or downhole motor is used
without rotation.
SPE Drilling Engineering, September 1988

50 00

22.0

INCL(de;l

~ ~
J\
\ ~

r '~

SWOB

2000.0

2500.0

3000 0

3500.0

4000 C

DEPTH (tt)

[!]
~

BIT DEPTH= 3902 FT.


BIT DEPTH~ 3842 FT

Fig. 2-Tension profile for a drillstring at depths of 3,842 and


3,902 ft with different WOB's.

Over this section of the well, the hole inclination decreased from
55 to 52 0 [0.96 to 0.91 rad]. A top-drive system was used to rotate
the drillstring, and connections were made at about every 93 ft
[28 m]. The friction factor decreased after connections, probably
as a result of the BRA' 'wiping clean" the hole while connections.
At 5,690 ft [1734 m], a wiper trip was made to the casing shoe.
As the entire openhole section was' 'wiped clean," the sliding friction was halved. This effect was more pronounced at 6,104 ft [1860
m], where the string was pulled out of the hole. On returning to
bottom, the sliding friction was nearly zero-i.e., all the weight
applied at the surface reached the bit. The log also shows the effect
of removing cuttings from the annulus on the sliding friction. At
5,464 and 5,708 ft [1665 and 1740 m], the hole was circulated clean
while the bit was off-bottom. In both of these cases, drag showed
a marked decrease.
The example shows how to quantify the benefits of a circulation
or wiper trip. The wiper trip halved the friction factor, but its effect
was lost after three connections. A factor of 0.05 corresponds to
a loss of 4,000 Ibf [17.8 leN] from a total of 25,000 Ibf [111 leN]
in this particular case. The rotating friction (not shown) has a profile similar to that of the sliding friction, but changes were less
pronounced. At this stage, we do not have sufficient expertise to
know whether the level of sliding friction was abnormal or what
level is considered safe.
Dimensionless-Torque Field Example. Track 4 of Fig. 4 is a log
of dimensionless MWD torque, TD , for two sequential 12.25-in.
[31. 12-cm] polycrystalline-diamond-compact (PDC) bit runs drilled
offshore Spain. Downhole measurements of WOB and torque are
plotted in Tracks 1 and 2, respectively. The apparent formation
strength [FORS(f)] is plotted in Track 3. FORS(f) is proportional
to downhole weight on bit (DWOB) times rotary rate divided by
rate of penetration (ROP) and is expressed in units of stress.
Over the interval from 6,200 to 6,415 ft [1890 to 1955 m], TD
is relatively constant, ranging from 0.18 to 0.23. At 6,350 ft [1935
m] the WOB is increased to try to maintain the ROP [the ROP was
low, as shown by a high FORS(f)]. This increase in WOB is not
accompanied by an equivalent increase in torque (TD decreases)
or ROP [FORS(f) stays the same]. This is attributed to stabilizers
below the MWD tool rotating on ledges, thus preventing transfer
of weight to the bit (this would only be seen in the friction factors
if a stabilizer above the MWD happens to dig at the same point).
At 6,415 ft [1955 m], the BRA was changed. The next bit run
was drilled with the same kind of PDC bit and a steerable downhole
249

DRAG (%)
a

(J1

~ONNECTION

~.~

S-

;:

(-,
r~

~
~

(J1
~

>

r
'~
,

lIT/FACE
MODE

1:

,~-~

~~

2~

!~

"

~~-

"''-."

'"-- _c"

'?

en
en

:<;:

:~~

l,

~~
(J1
(J1

;.

gL

!CIRCULATE
OFF BOTTOM

='

"?-

~.

'::.:=-

01

:::g;

"
g

t,

,~

?"'-.

g;

>.

en
en

en
en

DCS

FOHS(l) pO" psI)

'!-~

II

en
en

(J1

DTOR(10' Ib!)

IbI)

(degi100')

(:)

en
en

(10~

DWOB

RJo

(J1

{L

'~!TIF"'CE
______
MODE
~_

_I
T~~

=--- v=--~

3.7

COrSellO"-'-

-~STUCK

.._ _ _ _

rn
I
I

__. _ _ _ J

Fig. 4-Field example of TD'

I
(J1

en
en
en

(J1

lJ

en
en

-.,
'"'"
i"'1
~
'-"

DRAG (%)

GR(CPS)

~r--~",,=~---' r--=~--rb~~--'r--_~-;;:o~~--,

CIRCULATE
OFF BOTTOM

i"'1

FRIC (%)

'I'WIPER TRIP
TO SHOE

SANDSTON

'-J
CLAVSTON

(J1

CD

en
en,

(J1

t.O

en
en

'

SALTI

ANHYDAI'T

ICONNECTION
SAl.T

~ONN.CTION

SALT

en
a
en
en

,CIRCULATE ..
IpULL OUT OF HOLE

en
en
en

Fig. 5-0il-based mud example of fric and drag.

Fig. 3-Field example of sliding friction factor (drag).

250

motor. This enabled both rotary and toolface drilling with the same
BRA. When changes in hole direction were required, surface rotation of the pipe was stopped, the BHA oriented, and drilling resumed with only the downhole motor.
Over this bit run, values of TD vary widely from very small
(0.01,0.05) without string rotation to very large (0.7,0.9) when rotation resumes. High peaks in FORS(f) correspond with low values
of TD' A likely explanation is that some hindrance below the
MWD prevents the WOB measured at the sub to be transmitted
to the bit. Thus, both the normalized torque and ROP [inverse of
FORS(f)] are small when the string is not rotating. When the string
SPE Drilling Engineering, September 1988

-~---~

--"

- ---

~-

TABLE 1-DRILLSTRING DESCRIPTION USED


TO COMPARE THREE WELL PLANS

Number

--1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12

Name

-BIT
STB
DC
STB
MWD
STB
DC
STB
DC
HW
DP
DP

Grade

Length
(tt)

Body 00
(in.)

Weight
(Ibm/tt)

S
E

1.00
4.00
10.00
5.00
45.00
4.00
30.00
3.50
150.00
150.00
2,000.00
2,000.00

12.25
8.00
8.00
8.00
8.00
8.00
8.00
8.00
8.00
5.00
5.00
5.00

147.00
147.00
147.00
104.00
147.00
147.00
147.00
147.00
42.77
19.5
19.5

--

Body 10

~
3.00
3.00
3.00
5.00
3.00
3.00
3.00
3.00
3.00
4.28
4.28

Overall 00
(in.)
12.25
12.25
8.00
12.25
8.00
12.20
8.00
12.25
8.00
5.00
6.63
6.37

TABLE 2-DRILLSTRING DESCRIPTION FOR HOLE SECTION 6,200 to 6,450 ft,


FIELD EXAMPLE 3

Number

--1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10

Name

-BIT
STB
DC
STB
MWD
STB
DC
DC
HW
DP

Grade

Length
(tt)

Body 00
(in.)

Weight
(Ibmlft)

2.45
5.93
7.15
5.93
43.56
5.93
7.15
7.15
451.65
5,000.00

12.25
8.00
8.06
8.00
8.00
8.00
8.06
8.06
5.00
5.00

149.00
151.70
149.00
104.00
149.00
151.70
151.70
38.60
19.50

--

Body 10

~
2.88
2.88
2.88
5.00
2.88
2.88
2.88
3.25
4.28

Overall 00
(in.)
12.25
12.25
8.06
12.25
8.00
12.25
8.06
8.06
5.50
6.37

TABLE 3-DRILLSTRING DESCRIPTION FOR HOLE SECTION 6,415 to 6,652 ft,


FIELD EXAMPLE 3

Grade

(tt)

Body 00
(in.)

Weight
(Ibmlft)

1.57
34.57
6.75
8.95
34.57
43.13
5.41
91.21
34.57
150.00
5,000.00

12.25
9.50
9.00
8.06
9.50
8.00
8.25
8.00
9.50
5.00
5.00

219.10
183.80
151.70
219.10
104.20
161.90
149.00
219.10
42.77
38.60

2.88
3.50
2.88
2.88
5.00
2.75
2.88
2.88
3.25
4.28

Length
Number

Name

---

--

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11

BIT
SDM
STB
DC
DC
MWD
STB
DC
DC
HW
DP

--

rotates, however, weight transfer is increased and whatever impeded


the transmission of WOB now creates additional torque seen as high
TD values. These results can be interpreted as a problem near the
bit that can be alleviated by reaming, because TD decreases sharply
at each connection. When back in tool face mode at 6,620 ft [2018
m], TD drops dramatically to almost zero and FORS(f) shows a
marked increase (the driller kept increasing the WOB to try to keep
making hole). This anomaly is repeated at 6,649 ft [2027 m] but
with a peak in FORS(f) well above the track scale. The string became stuck at this point and 175,000-lbf [778-kN] overpull was
needed to pull free. Survey data, which were lagged by about 50
ft [15 m], reveal that the hindrance was caused by a 5 [0.09-rad]
dogleg, essentially caused by bit walking.
Rotating and Sliding Friction in Oil-Based Mud. Fig. 5 is a log
of the rotating and sliding friction factors for a section of 12.25-in.
[31.12-cm] hole drilled in the southern North Sea. The inclination
of the hole was 42 [0.73 rad]. This example illustrates how drag
can be used to detect the onset of pipe sticking and how both the
friction factors are affected by an invert-oil-mud system.
Over the interval from 8,750 to 8,920 ft [2667 to 2719 m], fric
was relatively constant at about 20 %. Drag was generally < 2 %,
implying good transfer of weight to the MWD tool. These friction
SPE Drilling Engineering, September 1988

Body 10

Overall 00
(in.)
12.25
9.50
12.00
8.06
9.50
8.00
12.09
8.00
9.50
5.00
6.50

factors are low compared with water-based-mud field examples.


This is in accordance with work done by White and Dawson,4 who
found from laboratory studies that the friction in casing was reduced by a factor of six when oil-based mud was used. The last
casing point in this well was at 4,964 ft [1513 m].
At 8,920 ft [2719 m], the formation changed from a claystone
to salt and anhydrite. Through this section, drag gradually increased
and became erratic. At 9,030 ft [2752 m], a connection was made
and the pipe became stuck. Overpull of 200,000 Ibf [890 kN] was
required to pull free. The peak in drag at 9,020 ft [2749 m] is a
good indication of the potential problem before sticking. Throughout this salt section, the pipe became stuck at each connection. Over
the interval from 9,200 to 9,300 ft [2804 to 2835 m], severe sticking problems were encountered and continuous jarring was required
to pull free.
Through the salt section, fric gradually decreased. The reason
for this is not clearly understood. Just before drilling into the salt,
however, the mud was reconditioned. The mud weight was increased
by 0.5 Ibm/gal [60 kg/m3] and the viscosity decreased by 17 seconds (22 %). These results imply that the field friction factors are
sensitive to changes in mud properties, at least in oil-based muds.
It is difficult to interpret these changes without more experience
and field data.
251

Conclusions
Real-time monitoring of friction can be used to detect the onset of
drilling problems in sufficient time to take remedial action and to
avoid getting stuck.
Three logs are used to monitor friction.
1. The rotating friction factor, fric, is used to evaluate the transfer of torque between the surface and the MWD tool.
2. The sliding friction factor, drag, is used to evaluate the transfer of WOB between the surface and the MWD tool.
3. The dimensionless torque, TD , monitors the section of drillstring below the MWD tool.
The logs quantify the benefits of such commonly used holeconditioning techniques as circulating and wiper trips.
Understanding of the effects of mud properties on the friction
factors is poor (especially in oil-based muds). More laboratory work
and field data analysis are required before values of' 'normal" friction and threshold values for abnormal friction can be determined.
Relative changes in the friction factors can be used to interpret drilling problems until then.
Future enhancements of the technique presented will take into
account the stiffness of the BHA when the MWD is close to the
bit. A two-pronged approach will be adopted: a simplified method
to compute the side forces on the bit, stabilizers, and other BHA
elements touching the wellbore has already been developed, and
a measurement of bending moments in the MWD will soon be commercial. This measurement will help determine such unknown parameters as hole size and rock anisotropy.
Acknowledgments
We thank BP Exploration Co. Ltd., Britoil, and Hispanoil, who
allowed us the use of the data presented in this paper.
References
Jo.han~sik,

C.A., Friesen, D.B., Dawson, R.: "Torque and Drag in


DlfectJonal Wells-Prediction and Measurement," JPT (1984) 987-92.
2. Sheppard, M.C., Wick, C. and Burgess, T.B.: "Designing Well Paths
To Reduce Drag and Torque," SPEDE (Dec. 1987) 344-50; Trans.,
AIME,291.
3. Corbett, K.T. and Dawson, R.: "Rubber Drillpipe Protectors Reduce
Rotary Torque," SPEDE (Sept. 1988) 269-74.
4. White, J.P. and Dawson, R.: "Casing Wear: Laboratory Measurements
and Field Predictions," SPEDE (March 1987) 56-62' Trans. AIME
291.
'
,
,
I.

5. Bol, G.M.: "Effect of Mud Composition on Wear and Friction of Casing


and Tool Joints," SPEDE (Oct. 1986) 369-76; Trans., AIME, 285.
6. Falconer, I.G., Burgess, T.M., and Wolfenberger, E.: "MWD Interpretation Tracks Bit Wear," Oil & Gas J. (Feb. 10, 1986).

252

7. Lesage, M.L.G. et at.: "An Analysis of Bit Bearing Failures With Field
and Laboratory Data," paper SPE 17187 presented at the 1988
IADC/SPE Drilling Conference, Dallas, Feb. 28-March 2.
8. Dawson, R. and Paslay, P.R.: "Drillpipe Buckling in Inclined Holes,"
JPT (Oct. 1984) 1734-38.

Appendix
For the purpose of this paper, no distinction is made between the
pipe and the BHA.
The same equations are applied to successive elements of the drillstring. An element is defined as a length of string where the follo~ing are constant: pipe cross-sectional area, steel-pipe grading,
build. a~d turn rates, and hole type (either open or cased). An upper lImIt to the element length (100 ft [30 m]) is imposed. Field
data force an element change at every survey, at the casing shoe,
and at changes in pipe OD and grade. The number of elements varies
typically between 50 and 300.
Care must be taken in entering the surveys: two surveys 10 ft
[3 m] apart, obtained within an accuracy of 0.1 [0.0017 rad] on
each measurement in a 45 [0.79-rad] well, can create an anomalous
dogleg of 1.2/100 ft [0.02 x 10- 3 rad/m]. Two friction factors
computed for the same well, one with surveys every 10 ft [3 m],
the other one every 30 ft [9 m], can differ by a factor of >2. To
solve the problem associated with survey accuracy, we use only
surveys that are > 20 ft [> 6 m] apart. This effect also makes it
difficult to compare planning friction coefficients to field-measured
ones. The number of kickoff points, buildups, etc., in a planned
well rarely exceeds 10, so a routine to generate random numbers
within the accuracy of the direction and inclination tool is required. *
'Personal communication with A.D. Beckett, Amoco Production Co. (1986).

51 Metric Conversion Factors


degrees x 1.745329
E-02
ft x 3.048*
E-01
in. x 2.54*
E+OO
lbf x 4.448222
E+OO
lbf-ft x 1.355 818
E+OO
lbm/ft x 1.488 164
E+OO
psi x 6.894757
E+OO
Conversion factor is exact.

rad
m
cm
N
Nm
kg/m
kPa

SPEDE

Original SPE manuscript received for review March 15, 1987. Paper accepted for publication
Feb. 12, 1986. Revised manuscript received May 9,1988. Paper (SPE 16114) first presented
at the 1987 SPElIADC Drilling Conference held in New Orleans, March 15-18.

SPE Drilling Engineering, September 1988