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SPE-172388-MS

Using Robust Torque and Drag Modelling Software For Efficient Well
Planning and Operations Monitoring. Paradigm Sysdrill for OML 126
Wells A Case Study
Okoli Ugochukwu, Addax Petroleum Nigeria; Simon Verity, Paradigm Geophysical Ltd

Copyright 2014, Society of Petroleum Engineers


This paper was prepared for presentation at the SPE Nigeria Annual International Conference and Exhibition held in Lagos, Nigeria, 05 07 August 2014.
This paper was selected for presentation by an SPE program committee following review of information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents
of the paper have not been reviewed by the Society of Petroleum Engineers and are subject to correction by the author(s). The material does not necessarily reflect
any position of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, its officers, or members. Electronic reproduction, distribution, or storage of any part of this paper without the written
consent of the Society of Petroleum Engineers is prohibited. Permission to reproduce in print is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300 words; illustrations may
not be copied. The abstract must contain conspicuous acknowledgment of SPE copyright.

Abstract
The quest to appraise un-stacked reservoir sands and other surface location constraints has given rise to
complex wellbore profiles due to the requirement of building angles and azimuth changes through these
targets. This has increased the length and inclination of the wells drilled in the past decades. There are also
larger departures and more tortuous wellbore. These trajectories can give rise to excessive torque and drag
during the well delivery.
Excessive drill string torque and drag is one of the major limitations of horizontal and extended reach
wells, and when unplanned is a primary limiter. Because of the increased costs and risks in these wells,
torque and drag analyses is recognized as an important part of the risk management process.
Torque and drag models have proven to be very useful in the planning, drilling and post analysis of
these difficult wells. During the planning stage they are used to optimize the trajectory design to minimize
the torque, drag and contact forces between the drill string and the borehole wall. They are used during
operations to monitor the hole conditions while drilling, diagnosing hole cleaning problems, watching out
for impending differential sticking, and monitoring for high torque in planned highly tortuous trajectories.
In post analysis the models help to determine the true causes of the hole problems, which will further be
highlighted, documented and used to optimize operations.
Accurate torque and drag analysis gives an opportunity to build reliable well trajectories, as it will take
into account the capabilities of the rig and the geological complexity of the formation to be traversed.
Ideally the model must be able to predict with minimal error the forces and along the wellbore. Generally
the discrepancy between torque and drag prediction and actual measurements in conventional wells is
within 20% depending on the variables used. This percentage error might increase or decrease depending
on the variables used for these models.
In this paper, a general overview of the torque and drag model is presented. It is then discussed how
the Paradigm Sysdrill software has been able to accurately predict the torque and drag values of a planned
wellbore. The error margin between the predicted and actual values was very minimal. This software has
been able to effectively aid in the planning, monitoring and helped to give a reasonable and concise post
mortem of the subject well that will be used as the case study in this paper.

SPE-172388-MS

Figure 1

Introduction
Drilling extreme and challenging wells is becoming more common, and increased knowledge of Torque
and Drag modelling and interpretation is needed. Due to the complex wellbore profiles currently drilled,
it is required to have a good model for effective wellbore friction analysis. The model must be be a reliable
tool to be able to effectively predict values for Torque and Drag analysis during planning, drilling and
post-operational phases.
A primary key to successfully planning, drilling and completing a well is to first use a program that
forsees possible problem areas and includes all drilling parameters. This program should aslo be able to
effectively investigate the drillability of the well designed. During the planning phase the models are used
to optimize the trajectory design to minimize the torque, drag and contact forces between the drillstring
and borehole wall.
Different models classified under soft string and stiff string models have been used for torque and drag
analysis, however the best way for model evaluations is comparison of the simulated results with the
actual measurements of hookload and torque values. If there is a discrepancy between the model and the
actual hook load or/and torque, this may then simply mean either a problem with the model, some
indication of well problems or external factors having some effect on the actual values of torque and drag

Background
The Alpha-28 well used for this study is a development well drilled in the OML-126 region of the Niger
Delta. This well lies in a water depth of 435ft MSL and was designed and delivered as a horizontal
development producer.
The design of this example is typical of others in the field and is for a recumbent or fish hook
trajectory with a measured depth of approximately 10500 ft., TVD 7650 ft. and total lateral departure of
4700 ft. with a horizontal section of approximately 1100 ft. The Directional Difficulty Index11 (DDI) is
6.05 Fig 2.
The well was drilled through normally and subnormally pressured formation and consists of 30 to 9
5/8 API casings with an 81/2 open hole stand alone screen completions. Sea water and hi-viscosity
sweeps were used for the top hole sections (36 and 26) and a pseudo oil based mud system with mud
weights between 9.4 and 10 ppg was used for the 171/2 section to well TD. Fig 1.
Most of the directional work was performed in the 12- section where the inclination builds from 38
to 90 degrees with a 160 degree change in azimuth. Typical build rates were between 3 and 3.2 deg/100
ft.

SPE-172388-MS

Figure 2

Prior to the drilling operations, planned torque & drag models were developed with the Paradigm
Sysdril software as a guide to BHA design and were subsequently used to monitor the operations during
drilling operations for any major divergence of the curves signifying either insufficient hole cleaning or
wellbore instability.
In this paper results from the models and field measurements for both drilling and running casing are
compared and discussed.

Figure 3

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Theory
The Torque & Drag Model
A soft string model based on one proposed by Johancsik et al1 is used to calculate the torque and tension
profiles of the string for various user selected operating modes. These can be compared against buckling
limits9, 10, pipe and connection yields, make-up torque and surface equipment limitations.
The predicted hookload and surface torque are calculated at various depth intervals and can be
compared against measured values acquired during drilling and tripping operations.
Operating Modes
The operating mode is used to describe the motion or condition of the string and provide the correct inputs
to the model. The modes supported are as follows.

Rotary drilling with weight on bit


Slide drilling with weight on bit
Running into hole (Slack Off)
Pulling out of hole (Pick up)
Rotating off bottom
Rotating into hole
Rotating out of hole (Backreaming)

The axial and rotational velocity, additional weight on bit and circulating paramerers are used as inputs
to the model.
Friction Factors
The model allows the user to assign any number of friction factor intervals to a given wellbore. Each
interval consists of a single friction factor value.
Attribution of friction factors
The single friction factor is decomposed into axial and rotational components. Eq.1 & 2. Since the friction
acts against the direction of motion and the sign of the axial velocity term is changed accordingly for the
chosen operating mode.
1)
2)
Calculation of Side Force Loads
The normal force or side force load is used to calculate the effects of hole drag whilst rotating and or
moving the string axially.
The air weight of the string is multiplied by the buoyancy factor, Eq.3 to account for buoyant effects
of the well bore fluids. This is used in the determination of side force load.
3)
Buoyed weight of a component is determined from Eq.4
4)
The well path is calculated using a minimum curvature interpolation3, 4of the well plan or directional
survey. The build and walk rates experienced by each component are calculated using the inclination and
azimuth at the top and bottom of each component. This is to try and capture any dog legs within the range
of a single component.

Figure 4

SPE-172388-MS

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Figure 5

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The vertical force per component is stated as Eq.5


5)
The lateral force per component is stated as Eq.6
6)
The normal or side force load per component is then calculated using Eq.7
7)
Torque
The incremental torque for each component is determined from Eq.8
8)
Viscous Torque
The effect of viscous torque is included if the user chooses to include hydraulic effects although this effect
is negligible. The effective viscosity is determined from the integrated hydraulics model5, 6
The external viscous torque effect is calculated using Eq.9
9)
The internal effect is calculated using Eq.10
10)
The function for torque then becomes Eq.11
11)
Accumulated torque at component n in the string is calculated using Eq.12
12)
Tension
Tension and torque are summed from the bit to surface. The tension is calculated using the both the piston
force or true tension and the effective tension or buoyancy factor methods.8, 7
True Tension
At the bit and at points in the string where there is a change of cross sectional area or a pressure
discontinuity; the axial load at the given component n is determined from Eq.13
13)
Otherwise the tension is summed using Eq.14
14)
In the drilling and circulating case the internal and external pressure profiles are determined using an
integrated hydraulics model5. The user has the ability to select one of four rheological models and can
define the flow rate and rheological parameters.
If hydraulic effects are not included or no additional surface pressures are applied, the internal and
external pressures are assumed to be hydrostatic. In this case the true tension and effective tension
should be the same at surface7 and can also be expressed as Eq.15

SPE-172388-MS

Figure 6

Figure 7

10

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Figure 8

15)
Hookload
Hookload is calculated by adding on the weight of the travelling block assembly and other equipment such
as the top drive or kelly to the calculated true tension at the topmost component.
Friction Factor Reduction
To enable modelling of friction factor reduction devices such a torque reduction subs or accessories; the
BHA description allows for each component to be assigned either a percentage reduction in axial or
rotational friction or an axial or rotational friction factor to be used in place of the friction factor derived
from the wellbore friction factor interval. Eq.1&2
Traction
The software also allows additional torque and tension to be applied at any given component. In this way
traction can be simulated by adding the effective motive force in place of the axial drag contribution for
the given component. See Eq.13&14
Traction Drilling Tools that provide axial force due to rotational interaction with wellbore can be
simulated by replacing the axial drag contribution in Eq.13&14 with one calculated from Eq.16
(16)
The torque contribution for such a component can be calculated using an appropriate rotational friction
factor.
Swivel or Clutch Tools
Swivel or clutch tools that do not transmit torque and allow part of the string to rotate can be modelled
by applying the appropriate values to Eq.1&2 for the relevant components at a given depth.

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11

Figure 9

Complex Pressure Profiles


Casing floatation or buoyancy assisted running, partially filled casing or cement filled liners can be
simulated by supplying Eq.3 and Eq.13&14 with appropriate values. In the case of buoyancy assisted
casing running a pressure discontinuity exists at the internal packer and Eq.13 must be applied.
Calibration
The friction factor for a given interval can be derived from the measured values for pick up, slack off or
off bottom torque. These operating modes are most suitable as the axial and rotational friction factor
components are equal to the model friction factor. See Eq.1 & 2
The solutions to the Eq.17 & 18 are found numerically by varying the axial or rotational friction
factors.
17)
18)
The calculation requires that the friction factors for each interval are calculated sequentially using
surface values obtained at progressively deeper depths.
Considerations in applying the model
Before using the Torque & Drag model1 in planning and operations monitoring it is important to
appreciate some of the limitations of the model and difficulties in obtaining accurate measurements at rig
site.
One of the most important considerations in Torque & Drag modelling is the friction factor and an
understanding of its meaning and use. It is not a direct measure of a sliding coefficient of friction but
rather a lumped term that encapsulates many physical processes such as contact area, adhesion, micro

12

SPE-172388-MS

Figure 10

doglegs, ledging, cuttings accumulation as well as the frictional effects of the wellbore and lubricity of the
fluid2.
It should also be noted that it is relates to dynamic friction in a steady state system. It does not account
for stiction; overcoming static friction and the model does not consider the inertial effects of accelerating
the string to tripping speed. This should be taken into account when selecting hookload and torque
measurements for comparison to the model.
The standard torque and drag model is generally regarded as being pretty good but has some known
limitations. The main weakness in the standard model relates to the calculation of sideforce in curved
sections. It is less accurate in short radius and complex 3D wells2. Differing friction factors obtained from
pickup, slack off and torque values are indicative of some shortcomings in the model2. However shorter
element lengths used in the calculation will improve the accuracy. The Sysdrill software considers
individual BHA components and calculates a result for each. Typically this would be the length of a single
joint of drill pipe or casing.
The torque and drag model can be applied to a planned well (defined only by turn points) or a
directional survey. (Survey stations typically 95ft/29m) Tortuosity in the form of a helix can be applied
to a planned well to simulate the effect of survey noise. However micro tortuosity below the resolution
of the directional survey is not accounted for in the model and would show as an effect in the overall
friction factor. This should be a consideration when comparing planned and actual well data.
The software does not currently compensate for sheave friction so the overall frictional effect of the
mechanical system of the travelling block and pulley is also lumped in with the friction factor. This would
cause friction factors derived from torque to differ from those derived by tension.
The model allows inclusion of hydraulic forces. This option can improve the accuracy of the predicted
tension but can also introduce additional uncertainty if the hydraulic model is incorrectly calibrated.

SPE-172388-MS

13

Figure 11

The fluid levels in the string and annulus will also influence the tension measured at surface. Although
this can be modelled in the software this should be accounted for when taking measurements
Of more minor consideration is the Torque & Drag model datum is at the rotary table. The un-buoyed
weight of the string plus the weight of the internal fluid above the rotary table is not included. This could
account for a difference of 12 tonnes during drilling & tripping operations. This error is more significant
a shallower depths.
Measurement Issues
Hookload at surface is usually measured using a load cell consisting of a pressure transducer connected
to either a clamp-on sensor or pressure plate. This is placed on the dead line or deadline anchor. The output
from these is usually calibrated to show the entire weight acting on the hook. Since the deadline
experiences a fraction of the true hookload and sensors are often removed for maintenance. Care should
be taken to ensure an accurate calibration. This can be problematic as known hookloads at the high end
of the hookload range are difficult to obtain. Hookload values may need to be adjusted accordingly.
Surface torque values are usually derived from an indirect measurement of the current drawn by the
electric motor powering the top drive or rotary table. The calibration is usually quite stable. However,
changing gearing of the rotating equipment will cause the effective calibration to change.
An understanding of the model and its limitations, consistency in obtaining the measured values and
in inputs and options for the model are required to obtain consistent results that can be used as a predictive
and diagnostic tool.

14

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Figure 12

Implementation
Planning & Modelling for A-28
Initial modelling of the 12 and 8 inch sections for the A-28 well revealed that the expected tension
and torque profiles during a range of drilling a tripping activities were well within the capabilities of the
5 19.5 ppf S-135 drill pipe. Fig 6 & 7.
The planned trajectory and a detailed description of the BHAs Fig 4&5. were used for the modelling
of the various operations. Additional modelling options such as applied tortuosity and hydraulic effects
were not included as safe operating margins were large.
Trip charts for drilling and casing assemblies were produced for a range of friction factors between 0.1
and 0.5. This range was felt to be sufficient to account for any uncertainties in the model and any expected
hole conditions. The trip charts were then incorporated into an excel spreadsheet for use at the rig site. See
Fig 812.

Operations Monitoring and Data Collection.


A connection procedure Fig 1. was established that in addition to good drilling practise also allowed for
collection of the necessary hookload and torque data. Hookload data was acquired with pumps off to
negate the effect of hydraulic lift/weight. Hookload values were taken from the main rig floor indicator
by the drill crew accordingly
The excel spreadsheet allowed for correction to be made to the hookload values to account for
calibration error. The expected rotating weight can be used to check the hookload sensor calibration as the
axial drag effect is minimal.

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15

Figure 13(Full Pipe Condtion)

Figure 14 (Partially Filled to 1000ft)

16

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Observations
The excel spreadsheet was updated in accordance with the procedures. The resulting measurements
compared to the models for drilling the 12 section, running the 9 5/8 casing and drilling the 8
section can be seen in Fig 812. The 12 & 8 analysis were regenerated with updated surveys from
the well.
No adverse conditions were indicated by the measurents and hole cleaning throughout the operation
was good. There was very good agreement between the measurements and models used. The results in Fig
812 have no calibration correction applied. Neither the model or measured hookload values account for
sheave friction.
The pickup and slackoff loads diverge somewhat from the model for running the 9 5/8 casing toward
the landing depth. This can be explained by the fact that the casing was not completely filled due to
approaching the safe operating hookload limit. This can be simulated in the software by defining the
appropriate fluid depths in the inputs for the torque & drag calculation. Fig 13&14 and is explained by
Eq 3, 13&14
The results for the 12 section show relatively low friction factors. This can be explained by the
absence of sheave friction compensation. Correcting the modelled values or the measured values would
result in higher apparent friction factors.

Conclusions
The Sysdrill Torque & Drag software has been proved as an accurate and reliable tool for both design and
operations monitoring puposes.
Measured hookload and torque values have shown good agreement with the model in all sections of
the well including in the 3D build section.
Some factors to ensure success are as follows.

Appropriate inputs to the model


Consistent measurement procedures that take account of the modelling inputs.
Accurate callibration of rig sensors.
Understanding of the measurement errors and sources.
Interpretation of the measurements as compared to the model and a willingness to take corrective
action
Use of actual inputs(trajectories, mud properties, BHA dimensions, etc) if available for the
re-calibration of the torque and drag model.

Recommendations
The procedures followed in the design and execution of the Alpha-28 well are typical of those used in
others in the field. To achieve accurate output for preliminary design and operations monitoring. It is
recommended that all required information (surveys, tensile strength of tubulars and connections,
planned/actual WOB and RPM, connection torque values) should be entered correctly.
The software has since been further developed for operations monitoring including built in linear
calibration tools, sheave friction correction, automated back calculation of friction factors and improved
user interface.
Realtime monitoring using WITSML data acquired at the rig could be used in future to automate the
process.

SPE-172388-MS

17

Acknowledgements
The authors would like to thank Addax Petroleum & Paradigm for permission to publish this paper. Hope
Okwa, Tayo Ajimoko, Bob (C.R.) Anderson and Horace Awi who offered valuable technical and editorial
feedback on content and Gary Lowson at Paradigm for his help in understanding the model implementation in the software.
Nomenclature

18

SPE-172388-MS

API CONVERSION FACTORS

m
m
m2
m/s
rad
rad/m
N
N.m
Pa
Pa.s
*

0.3048*
0.0254*
0.00064516
0.00508
/180*
0.057261
4.448222
1.355818
6894.757
0.001*

ft
in
in2
ft/min
deg
deg/ft
lbf
ft.lbf
psi
cP

Conversion factor is exact.

References
1. Johancsik, C.A., Friesen, D.B., Dawson, R. Torque and Drag in Directional WellsPrediction
and Measurement. (SPE/IADC 11380-PA) June 1984.
2. Mitchell, R.F., Samuel R., How Good Is the Torque/Drag Model? (SPE-105068-PA) 2009
3. Howard L. Taylor (Sun Oil Co.) | Mack C. Mason (Sun Oil Co.) A Systematic Approach to Well
Surveying Calculations (SPE-3362-PA) 1972
4. S. Sawaryn, J. Thorogood. A Compendium of Directional Calculations Based on the Minimum
Curvature Method. (SPE-84246-PA) 2005.
5. A. Merlo, R. Maglione, C. Piatti. An Innovative Model For Drilling Fluid Hydraulics.
(SPE-29259-MS) March 1995.
6. R. Robertson, H. Stiff, An Improved Mathematical Model for Relating Shear Stress to Shear
Rate in Drilling Fluids and Cement Slurries (SPE-5333-PA) February 1976.
7. Aadnoy, B.S., Kaarstad, E. Theory and Application of Buoyancy in Wells. (SPE-101795-MS)
November 2006.
8. R. Samuel, A. Kumar,. Effective Force and True Force: What are They? (SPE-151407-MS)
March 2012.
9. X, He, A, Kyllingstad,. Helical Buckling and Lock-Up Conditions for Coiled Tubing in Curved
Wells,. (SPE-25370-PA) February 1993.
10. Mitchell, R.F. Tubing Buckling State of the Art. (SPE-104267-PA) September 2009
11. Alistair Oag, Mike Williams; The Directional Difficulty Index A New Approach to Performance Benchmarking (SPE/IADC 59196), 2000

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