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Operational Decision Making for

Stuck.Pipe Incidents in the Gulf of

Mexico: A Risk Economics Approach
R.M. Shivers III, SPE, and R.J. Domangue, * SPE, Texaco U.S.A.

Summary. The purpose of this study was to identify the most effective methods to free stuck pipe and to quantify the success rates
of these methods under various wellbore conditions on the basis of historical data. This information has been integrated into a decision-
making flow chart based on risk economics to determine when to begin and terminate operations to free stuck pipe.

The Offshore Producing Div. at Texaco U.S.A. has developed a The data were grouped into two periods. Period 1 includes wells
standard operational procedure for handling stuck pipe. The proce- drilled from 1981 to 1986; Period 2 represents wells drilled from
dure involves spotting a diesel-based pill (DBP) if the pipe cannot 1987 to 1990. Before 1987 (Period 1) 83 sticking incidents occurred
be worked or jarred free in the first few hours after sticking. If in 278 total wells drilled (30% sticking frequency). After 1986 (Peri-
the DBP fails to free the pipe after about 24 hours, the pipe usually od 2), 22 incidents occurred in 105 total wells drilled (21 % sticking
is backed off above the free point and we try to free the pipe with frequency). The reported average pipe-sticking frequency report-
fishing jars. ed by the drilling industry for the Gulf of Mexico for 1983 through
Until now, we made these decisions without supporting data to 1986 was 23. 1 %. I
indicate whether the benefits of operations to free stuck pipe justi- The decline from 30 % to 21 % in sticking frequency after 1986
fied the cost. Although the costs of pipe-freeing procedures usually may be attributed to a combination of (1) using measurement-while-
are small compared with sidetracking costs, they are significant. drilling (MWD) logs to optimize casing points, (2) using fewer drill
Attempts to free stuck pipe by spotting pills or jarring usually re- collars, (3) avoiding or minimizing use of small-diameter direc-
quire several rig days and can cost hundreds of thousands of dol- tional holes, and (4) having better mud properties, particularly
lars. These operations should be implemented only if their potential filtrate and solids control.
benefits outweigh their costs.
The primary objectives of this study were to quantify the proba- Important Wellbore Parameters. Hole angle, hole size, and mud
bilities of success for various methods of freeing stuck pipe and weight all were found to affect the chances of freeing stuck pipe
to formulate a generic stuck-pipe decision-making process based significantly.
on risk economics. When fishing operations begin, a certain cost Hole angle. As Fig. 1 shows, low-angle holes had the best suc-
is associated with freeing the pipe successfully, and a higher cost cess rates for freeing stuck pipe. Success rates decrease steadily
is associated with an unsuccessful fishing attempt that leads to plug- as inclination increases.
back and sidetrack. This situation (two possible outcomes with Hole size. Fig. 2 shows that the success rate for freeing stuck
known costs and known probabilities) lends itself well to expected- pipe was slightly higher for larger (9.875- and 12.25-in.) than for
value analysis. In this study, the expected cost of attempts to free smaller holes.
stuck pipe is called risked fishing cost (RFC). The ability to quan- Mud weight. The chance of freeing the pipe is higher in wells
tify the probability of success, <P s' for freeing stuck pipe as a sim- with lighter mud weights, as shown in Fig. 3. The apparent in-
ple function of mud weight, hole size, and inclination, made RFC creased success for muds> 151bmlgal is caused by a higher propor-
evaluation possible. tion of low-angle holes in this particular range compared with muds
<P s is highest when the pipe sticks and declines rapidly as time in the 13- to 15-lbm/gal range. If only directional wells are com-
elapses after sticking. Attempts to free the pipe should be begun pared, the success rates are about the same for 13- to 15- and > 15-
only if <P s is high enough that the RFC is less than the alternative Ibm/gal muds (12.5% and 16%, respectively).
cost (plugback and abandon or sidetrack). If the pipe fails to come As Fig. 4 shows, the openhole length did not consistently affect
free as soaking and fishing operations progress, <P s declines. The the success rate for freeing the pipe. Except for openhole length,
RFC should be re-evaluated at certain discrete points in the fishing 'this information confirms what many operators have believed for
process in response to a decline in <P s' Soaking and fishing opera- years.
tions should be terminated when <P s declines so much that the RFC
is higher than the alternative cost (plugback and abandon or Texaco Freeing Index. The primary objective of this study was
sidetrack) . to develop a generic operational decision-making process based on
risk economics pertaining to attempts to free stuck pipe. The cen-
Discussion terpiece of this analysis is the ability to quantify the probability of
Database and General Statistics. Between 1981 and 1990, we freeing the pipe under various wellbore conditions.
drilled 383 wells in the Gulf of Mexico, where 105 incidents of Love 2 described a method to predict the probability of freeing
stuck pipe were experienced on 65 wells. This is a 27.4% overall stuck pipe by use of basic drilling parameters. Efforts ~ere made
sticking frequency (incidents per well). This figure excludes stuck to develop a predictive equation suited to Texaco's drilling data
pipe owing to human error, equipment failure, and well-control and philosophy. As Figs. 1 through 3 show, strong correlations
problems. Only pipes stuck as a result of routine drilling and drilling- exist among three basic well parameters and the success of freeing
related operations were considered. stuck pipe. Through trial and error, a simple equation was con-
Straight wells «6°) accounted for only 8.6% (9) and directional trived to combine the effects of hole angle, hole size, and mud
wells accounted for 91.4 % (96) of the 105 incidents. The total cost weight on freeing stuck pipe:
of all stuck-pipe incidents from 1981 to 1990 was approximately I 1F =25(5i",+3i w +idH )-45.8, ...................... (1)
$65.8 million. The total rig time consumed by fishing or sidetracking
as a result of stuck pipe was 1,122 days (3.1 years). where I 1F =Texaco freeing index, i", = success rates for freeing
stuck pipe for various hole angles in Fig. 1 [e.g., a well with a
'Now with Texaco North Sea U.K. 20° hole angle has a 52.4% (0.524) chance of freeing the pipe],
Copyright 1993 Society of Petroleum Engineers id = success rates for various hole sizes in Fig. 2, and iw=success

SPE Drilling & Completion, June 1993 125

Pipe Freed "" Of The Time (Succe.. Rate)
Pipe Freed "" Of The TIme (Succeaa Rate)
100 r---------------------------------------~
100 r-------------------------------------~
OSlO 10:>25 25$40 4OS80 80+ o
Hole Angle (Degrees) 8 th 9'11
Hole Size (Inches)

Fig. 1-Effect of hole angie on freeing stuck pipe, 105 cases.

Arrow: of 32 stuck pipes in holes with angles of 25:::; 40 0 , 13 Fig. 2-Effect of hole size on freeing pipe, 105 cases. Arrow:
(40.6%) came free. of 24 stuck pipes in 9%-ln. holes, 14 (58.3%) came free.

rates for various mud weights in Fig. 3. To cancel out the influence Multiple Pills. In some stuck-pipe cases, more than one DBP was
of additional straight holes in the;?; 15-lbm/gal mud, factors 0.222 spotted. In all but one (21 out of 22) of the incidents where multi-
and 0.200 are applied arbitrarily for 13- to 15- and for> 15-lbm/gal ple DBP's were spotted, I TF <45. Only 14% (3 out of21) of the
muds, respectively. stuck pipes where ITF <45 were freed when a second pill was
1TF is a number ranging from 0 to > 100. The chance of freeing used. Neither of the two pipes where a third spotting pill was used
the pipe after sticking increases as the ITF increases. Fig. 5 shows became free. Multiple pills have seldom freed pipe when 1TF was
the results of this method applied in 72 stuck-pipe incidents when low, and generally have not been required when 1TF was high.
DBP's were spotted. Effect of Spotting Time. We analyzed how the time between when
The initial probability of freeing stuck pipe can be determined the pipe stuck to when the pill was spotted affected the chances
according to I TF : probability is low (5.4%) when ITF=O to 45, in- of freeing the pipe. The literature 1,3 has stated that the quicker the
termediate (50%) when ITF=45 to 55, and high (92.6%) when pill is spotted, the higher the chance of success.
I TF =55+. Figs. 6 and 7 show the success rates for straight and directional
For the 72 incidents where DBP's were spotted, 90.3% overall wells as a function of the time between sticking and spotting the
pill. On straight holes, success rates are insensitive to spotting time
accuracy was achieved with I TF =47. In this case, accuracy is de-
up to 48 hours after sticking. On directional wells, however,
fined as the percentage of correct predictions made if we assumed
spotting-pill success depends on spotting time. Success rates as a
that in cases where ITF exceeds the reference value, the pipes come function of spotting time on the 61 total directional wells is sum-
free and in cases where 1TF is below the reference value, the pipes marized as follows. For 0 to 6 hours after sticking, pipe was freed
remain permanently stuck. If the intermediate ITF values (45 to 55) 57% of the time (in four out of seven cases). The success rate de-
are excluded, the 1TF method is 93 % accurate (nearly 90% of the creased to 39% (18 out of 46 cases) after 6 to 18 hours had passed,
total incidents in the database are in the highest or lowest 1TF and decreased further to 25% (two out of eight cases) after 18 or
group). more hours.
Sticking Incidents Where no Pill Was Spotted. As mentioned
Spotting Fluids. General Statistics. Spotting fluids were used in previously, in 82 of the 105 total stuck-pipe incidents in the data-
78% (82) of the total 105 stuck-pipe incidents. DBP's accounted base, we spotted pills. Of the remaining 23 incidents, in 61 % (14
for 76 of the 82 pills. The DBP success rate is 46% (35 out of 76 out of23), the pipes came free. Nearly 80% (11 out of 14) of these
incidents). This is comparable to the reported drilling industry aver- pipes came free within 3 hours after sticking, and all but one came
age success rate with DBP's, 50.8%, for 1983 through 1986. 1 free within 8 hours.
Drilling industry success rates with rnineral-oil-based pills have been Although spotting a pill as quickly as possible is recommended,
reported at 33 %. 1 we also recommend using the first 3 hours after sticking to free

Pipe Freed "" Of The Time (Succeaa Rate) _ DlrecUOIIIIIs Only

100 r---------------------~----------------~ Pipe Freed "" Of The TIme (Succe.. Rate)
90 100 r---------------------------------------,
80 90

70 80

60 70

SO 60

40 SO

30 40

20 30

10 20

o 10
S10 10,,11.5 11.5$13.0 13$15 15.0+ o
Mud Weight (ppg) <2,000' 2-5,000' 5-10,000 10,000+
Open Hole Length (feat)
Fig. 3-Effect of mud weight on freeing pipe, 105 incidents.
Arrow 1: of 11 stuck pipes where 11.5· to < 13.0-lbm/gal muds
were used, 5 (45.5%) came free. Arrow 2: for 13· to 15·lbm/gal Fig. 4-Effect of open hole length on freeing pipe, 105 inci·
muds, i w = 0.222. Arrow 3: for muds that are 15 + Ibm/gal, dents, Arrow: of 32 stuck pipes in 2,000· to 5,000-ft open
iw =0.200. holes, 18 (56.3%) came free.

126 SPE Drilling & Completion, June 1993

Number Ollncldenls
Pipe Freeing Succe.. Rate %
1" r-------------------------... ~;_--------,
10 r----------------------------------------,
80 8

70 7

60 6

50 5

40 4
30 3
20 2


o 10 20

30 40 50 60 70 80 90 1" 110 120

0 6 12 18 24 36 48
Time (Hrs.)

Fig. 5-I TF after first DBP was spotted (see Eq. 1),72 inci- Fig. 6-Effect of delay before spotting first DBP for freeing
dents. Where ITF =47, the success rate was 90.3%. Four of stuck pipe, seven straight holes. Arrow: in two incidents
the total 76 stuck-pipe cases where one DBP was used were where DBP's were spotted 12 to 18 hours after the pipe stuck,
excluded because of insufficient data. one pipe (50%) came free.

the pipe by working or jarring before spotting a DBP, which con- can be used to justify decisions to discontinue soaking because of
taminates the mud system. poor future success rates.
Effective-Soaking-Time Limit. The effective-soaking-time limit This same probability chart was constructed for directional holes
(ESTL) is the time after spotting a DBP when the majority of stuck and for each of the three ITF ranges. The ITF ranges compare
pipe comes free. Few pipes that remained stuck after the ESTL stuck-pipe incidents of the same relative difficulty. As expected,
came free. Figs. 8 and 9 show the ESTL's for straight and direc- success increases as ITF increases. Fig. 11 is a composite of all
tional holes, respectively. After the ESTL, the probability of freeing five probability charts, showing the remaining future soaking suc-
stuck pipe drops sharply. For six pipes freed in straight wells, five cess at any given soak time for straight or directional holes and
(83 %) became free within 30 hours after soaking. For 25 pipes in for each of the three I TF ranges. The curves for the three I TF ranges
directional wells, 21 (84 %) came free within 24 hours after soak- are used to determine (» s in conjunction with the decision-making
ing. Thus, the ESTL is about 30 hours for straight holes and 24 flow chart in Fig. 12.
hours for directional holes.
Fishing. General Statistics. In 43 stuck-pipe incidents, fishing was
DBP Probability of Success. Figs. 8 and 9 can be used to con-
attempted after spotting a DBP failed to free the pipe. Fishing is
struct a chart to predict the future probability of freeing pipe at any
an attempt to free stuck pipe with fishing jars. Fishing operations
given soaking time after spotting a pill. 3 For example, from past
typically are begun after spotting the pills fails to free stuck pipe.
experience, the initial probability of freeing stuck pipe by spotting On some of these 43 incidents, multiple fishing attempts were
a pill in a straight hole is 86 %. This means that in six out of seven made. A fishing attempt is a single round trip with jars. In total,
incidents where pills were spotted and allowed to soak, the pipes 68 fishing attempts were made on the 43 incidents where fishing
eventually came free. As time elapses after sticking, the chances was done.
of freeing the pipes decrease. The overall success rate of fishing operations has been poor. While
Fig. 10 was constructed from Fig. 8 to illustrate the future prob- our overall success rate offreeing pipe by soaking DBP's was 46%,
ability of freeing pipe at any given time during soaking for straight- the overall success rate of freeing stuck pipe by jarring after spot-
hole incidents. For example, if a pill has soaked 13 hours, the prob- ting a DBP failed was 33 % (14 out of 43). Fishing attempts are
ability of freeing the pipe initially drops from 86 % to 83 % (from unsuccessful most of the time. Therefore, attempts to free stuck
six out of seven to five out of six). This occurs because one of the pipe by fishing should be applied selectively.
seven stuck pipes in Fig. 8 came free during the first 12 hours after Fig. 13 shows the distribution of fishing attempts and successes
sticking. Past 12 hours, only five of six total pipes were freed. This vs. time after becoming stuck. Note that no pipe was freed from
analogy can be continued for each discrete time interval. Fig. 10 sticking after 96 hours, although 18 fishing attempts were made

Number Ollncldenls Number Ollncldenls

36 r----------------------------------------, 3 r-----------------------------------------,
24 2
21 8/19
Time To Spot Success Rate
15 006 Hr•• 57% (417)
6-18 Hrs. 39% (18146)
12 18+ Hrs. 25% (218)
3 1/1 0/2
6 12 18 24 36 48+ o 6 12 18 24 30 48+
Time (Hrs.) 1s1 DB Pili Soaking Times (Hrs.)
TOlal: 617
Fig. 7-Effect of delay before spotting first DBP for freeing
stuck pipe, 61 directional holes. Arrow: in 19 incidents where Fig. 8-Soak times for first DBP, seven straight holes (may
DBP's were spotted 12 to 18 hours after the pipe stuck, 8 include fishing incidents). Arrow: in two incidents where the
pipes (42.1%) came free. DBP soaked 12 to 18 hours, both pipes (100%) came free.

SPE Drilling & Completion, June 1993 127

Number 01 Incidents Future Success Rate (%) 01 Freeing The Pipe AI Any Given Soak TIme
22 , - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - , l00r---------~~==~~----------~
20 1/19 90

18 80
16 70
IESTl = 24 Hrs.
14 7/13 60
12 50
10 40
8 30
o 6 12 18 24 30 48+
6 12 18 24 36 48+ lsI DB Pili Soaking Time (Hrs.)
1st DB Pili Soaking Times (Hrs.)

Fig. 10-Future success of freeing stuck pipe by soaking a

Fig. 9-Soak times for first DBP, 65 directional holes (may DBP, seven straight holes. Arrow: after a DBP soaks 12 hours,
include fishing incidents). Arrow: in seven incidents where the chance of freeing the pipe is 83.3% (five of the six re-
the DBP soaked 6 to 12 hours, five pipes (71.4%) came free. maining stuck pipes were freed after 12 hours).

after this time. Therefore, 96 hours should be considered an abso- ways are practical alternatives to freeing stuck pipe. Therefore, the
lute limit for continuing or beginning attempts to free stuck pipe decision to implement or continue attempts to free stuck pipe by
either by spotting and soaking pills or by running fishing jars. spotting and soaking pills or by running fishing jars normally should
Fig. 14 shows the distribution of stuck-pipe incidents and freeing be based solely on economic considerations.
success vs. time after the first backoff was made and fishing oper- Economic analysis of attempts to free stuck pipe yields the fol-
ations began. In 77% (10 out of 13) of the cases, the pipe came lowing items.
free within 24 hours after the first backoff, and all the pipes were Alternative costs. These costs include the cost of securing the
freed within 72 hours after backoff. stuck drillstring with cement plugs, the cost of the bottomhole as-
We may infer from Fig. 14 that very little chance of freeing the sembly and drill pipe lost in hole, and the cost of placing the well
pipe remains ifthe first jarring attempt is unsuccessful. This is shown in a condition to proceed with plugback and abandon or sidetrack
clearly in Fig. 15, which plots the number of jarring attempts made operations. If the well is to be sidetracked, the costs ofiaying side-
vs. successes. Note that all but one of the pipes freed with fishing track plugs, sidetracking, and redrilling the hole are included.
jars came free on the first jarring attempt. The success rate was Successful fishing costs. These costs include the cost of mixing,
only 7% (lout 14) on second attempts and was 0% where three spotting, and soaking a DBP or backing off and running fishing
or more attempts were made. Except in extraordinary circumstances, jars. They also include the costs of any planned conditioning trips
fishing operations should be terminated if the first attempt with jars made before drilling is resumed.
is unsuccessful.
Hole angle, hole size, and mud weight were investigated in the
43 cases where fishing was done to determine whether these fac-
tors affected the chances of freeing the pipe with fishing jars. By ,
Plpo Stick.

sorting incidents according to ITF, a consistent pattern of jarring Attempt To Work/Jar Free (Up To 3 Hro.)

success emerged. The probability of freeing pipe by fishing was RulH:

1) Stop Continue Operation.
4 % (lout of 27) where I TF = 0 to 45, 25 % (one out of four) where
ITF=45 to 55, and 83% (10 out of 12) where ITF<?55. This pat- ~ra.
tern shows that ITF is a strong predictor of fishing-jar success.
These statistics represent cases where fishing jars were run after Jor Altompt
the pipe failed to come free after spotting and soaking a DBP.
No _Speclllc
Info. Avallllblll
RFC. In general, no operational, safety, or regulatory reasons ex- To Chongo
ist to attempt to free stuck pipe in the Gulf of Mexico. The options
of plugging back and sidetracking or abandoning a hole almost al-
Mix And Spot DB Pili ASAP Book For ESTl AI Foil..... :
Straight· 30 H..... Directional· 24 H....
Future Suc:cesa Rate (%) 01 Freeing The Pipe AI Any Given Soaking TIme
100 Conlin... Dporotlon.
90 =
80 ~
1 I ITF >55

~ Slrai9h~
70 ~
No _Specmc
60 ~ I TF 45·55
In'o. Avalleble
50 Doctllon

30 Dlrec1ional Holes
20 ~
10 ~ ITF <45 Continue Oper8tlonl
o 12 24 36 48 Proceed WIth P&A, PB Or SIr
1111 DB PIli Soaking TIme (Hr••)

Fig. 11-Composite future success of freeing stuck pipe af- Fig. 12-Stuck-pipe decision flow chart (PB = plug back,
ter soaking one DBP. P&A = plugback and abandon, and Str = sidetrack).

128 SPE Drilling & Completion, June 1993

Fishing Attempts Number Of Incidents
33 ~r----------------------------------,
30 Maximum Allowable I 18
Fishing Time. I
27 16
I 14
21 6/19 3/20 12
0/18 10/10
3/9 6
6 012
3 1/1
0 24 72 96+ 24 48 72 96+
TIme (Hrs.) Time (Hrs.)

Fig. 13-Fishing attempts as a function of time, 67 cases Fig. 14-Effect oftime after backing off, spotting the first DBP,
where DBP's were used. Arrow: in 20 fishing attempts with- and after fishing began, 42 incidents. Arrow: in nine cases
in 48 to 72 hours after sticking, 3 pipes (15%) came free. Af- where fishing began 48 to 72 hours after the first backoff,
ter 96 hours, <p. =0%. two pipes (22.2%) came free.

Unsuccessful fishing costs. These costs include the fishing costs jars may not be warranted. In some cases, proceeding with a side-
described above plus the alternative costs of sidetracking or aban- track may be more economical than beginning fishing. An actual
doning necessary if the pipe continues to stick. stuck-pipe incident from the database has been selected to illustrate
Probability of success offreeing stuck pipe. Although we cannot how the flow chart can save money by reducing the rig time spent
predict whether the pipe will come free in any individual case, we trying to free the pipe.
can estimate the probability that the pipe can be freed by soaking East Breaks Block 172, Well No.2. A 7.625-in. drilling liner
or fishing by calculating the I TF and referring to the pertinent was set at 9,525-ft measured depth (MD), and a 6.5-in. hole was
figures. drilled to 13,715-ft MD. The well was logged and a density-neutron
The fishing cost has two possible values depending on whether logging tool was stuck at 13,163 ft. Drillpipe was stripped over
the pipe is freed. The two outcomes can be analyzed with expected- the logging wireline. The drillpipe became stuck at 13,083 ft while
value analysis by defining an RFC4: pulling out of the rope socket. The mud was 16.8 Ibm/gal and the
CRF=<P sCsF +(I-<P s)C UF ' . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (2) maximum openhole angle was 22 o.
The decision-making process outlined in the chart may be ap-
Attempts to free stuck pipe should be begun only if CRF < CA plied with the following steps.
(where CA =the costs to plugback and abandon or sidetrack). If 1. Calculate I TF and initial <P s'
CA < CSF ' no further analysis is required. In most cases, however,
CSF < CA' As noted before, <Psis highest when the pipe first sticks, ITF=25[(5 xO.523)+(3 xO.2oo)+0.385] -45.8=44.2
and as time elapses, <P s decreases (Fig. 11) and CRF increases. and <P s=0.054 (from Fig. 5 or 11 at 0 hours), where cx=22° and
Fishing operations should be continued only for as long as i",=0.523 (from Fig. 1), d H =6.5 in. and id =0.385 (from Fig.
CRF < CA- CRF should be re-evaluated periodically to determine 2), and W= 16.8 Ibm/gal and iw=0.2oo (fr{jm Fig. 3).
whether continuing attempts to free the pipe are economically 2. Calculate CSF and CUF for spotting a DBP. For CSF , add
feasible. these costs: (1) cost to mix, spot, and soak the DBP for 24 hours
($85,000), (2) cost of washing and disposing of cuttings ($15,000),
Stuck-Pipe Decision Flow Chart. General Guidelines. To pro- and (3) cost of the conditioning trip before logging ($45,000). The
vide a framework for stuck-pipe decision-making, a flow chart was total CsF =$145,000.
constructed (Fig. 12) incorporating <P s from the relevant figures The alternative costs in this case were to sidetrack and redrill
and CRF . These rules circumscribe the general decision-making
the well. To estimate sidetrack (alternative) costs, add the lost-in-
hole charge for the logging tools and drillstring ($369,000) to the
1. Do not try to free stuck pipe if CRF> CA' Attempts to free
costs to plugback, sidetrack, redrill, and log the well ($901,000).
stuck pipe should be terminated when <P s declines to the point
The total sidetrack cost is $1,270,000.
where CRF > CA' This is the central principle of the risk econom-
ics aspect of the study.
2. Allow 3 hours after sticking to work or jar the pipe free. If Number or Incidents
the pipe does not come free in 3 hours, spot a DBP as soon as pos- .r-------------------------------------~
sible (Fig. 7).
3. Do not make more than one fishing attempt to free pipe (Fig. "

15). 45
4. Do not begin or continue attempts to free stuck pipe 96 hours 40
after the time of sticking. In 18 stuck-pipe incidents where DBP's
were spotted that occurred over 10 years, no stuck pipes have been
freed after 96 hours (Fig. 13). 20
15 1114
Application. General. Significant cost savings can be achieved by 10
implementing the recommendations in this study. The main con- 5
cept used to save money is to reduce the amount of time spent try- o
ing to free stuck pipe. Experience has shown that the chances of 2 3 4 5 6 7
Number or fishing Attempts
freeing stuck pipe decline with time. In the past, we have spent
too much time fishing with little or no chance of success on many
Fig. 15-Flshing attempts with jars and DBP, 68 cases. Ar-
wells. row: in 43 cases where only one fishing attempt was made,
From the flow chart in Fig. 12, it may be shown that, in a 13 pipes (30.2%) came free.
particular incident, spotting a pill or spending any time fishing with

SPE Drilling & Completion, June 1993 129

Authors 2. Do not spot mUltiple pills on wells where the first DBP was
allowed to soak for the ESTL. Multiple pills have proved unneces-
R.M. Shivers III Is sary in straight holes and have a low success rate for freeing pipe
manager of the in directional or low lIF wells.
Drilling Engineer- 3. The success rates of DBP's differ greatly on the basis of lIF
ing Dept. for Texa- and range from 5% for lIF <45 to 93% for /YF>55.
co North Sea, U.K., 4. The probability of freeing stuck pipe by spotting a DBP is
In Aberdeen. He highest immediately after the pill is spotted and declines rapidly
joined Getty 011 Co. over time in all cases.
in 1981 and spent 9
years in various
Gulf of Mexico op- Fishing.
erations and drill- I. The chances of freeing stuck pipe with fishing jars after spot-
Shivers Domangue Ing engineering ting a DBP fails to free the pipe differ greatly on the basis of lIF
assignments with and range from 4% for lIF<45 to 83% for lIF>55.
Getty and Texaco U.S.A. He holds BS, MEng, and DEng 2. Most stuck pipes that came free after fishing did so within 24
degrees in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M U. R.... hours after backoff and during the first jarring run. Do not attempt
Domangue is a petroleum engineer with Texaco U.S.A. in to free stuck pipe with fishing jars a second time if the first attempt
New Orleans, where he has worked on various Gulf of Mexi-
co operations assignments since 1983. He holds a BS degree
is unsuccessful after spotting a DBP.
in petroleum engineering from Louisiana State U.
Applications and Economics. Decisions regarding attempts to free
stuck pipe generally should be based on economics only. Attempts
Then determine CUF=CF+CA , where CF =$85,000+$15,000 to free stuck pipe by spotting pills or running fishing jars should
and CA =$1,270,000. C uF =$1,370,000. be begun if CRF < CA (plugback and abandon or sidetrack). Once
3. Calculate CRF' implemented, such operations should be terminated when
CRF=(J' sCsF +(I-(J's)CUF =(0.054x 145,0(0)+(0.946 x CRF>CA-

1,370,000) = I ,304,000. References

The total CRF , $1,304,000, exceeds the total sidetrack costs, 1. Ayers, R.C. and O'Reily, J.E.: "Offshore Operators Committee Gulf
$1,270,000. of Mexico Spotting Fluid Survey," paper SPE 18683 presented at the
1989 SPE/lADC Drilling Conference, New Orleans, Feb. 28-March 3.
4. Use of the pill is not economically justifiable because of its 2. Love, T.: "Stickiness Factor: A New Way of Looking at Stuck Pipe,"
low success rate (CRF > CA ). At this point, plugback and sidetrack Oil & Gas J. (Oct. 3, 1983).
operations should have begun. Instead, 139.5 hours and approxi- 3. Keller, P.D., Brinkman, P.E., and Taneja, P.K.: "Economic and Statisti-
mately $350,000 were spent spotting two pills and making two at- cal Analysis of Time Limitations for Spotting Fluids and Fishing Oper-
tempts to jar the pipe free, both unsuccessfully. This amount would ations," paper OTC 4792 presented at the 1984 Annual Offshore
have been saved if the decision flow chart had been followed. The Technology Conference, Houston, May 7-9.
4. Harrison, C.G.: "Fishing Decisions Under Uncertainty," JPT (Feb.
result would have been the same (i.e., the well still would have 1982) 299-300.
been sidetracked).
Conclusions CA = alternative costs, M, U.S. dollars
General. CF = fishing costs, M, U.S. dollars
I. Straight wells should be selected instead of directional wells CRF = RFC, M, U.S. dollars
whenever possible because only 8.6% of the total stuck-pipe inci- CSF = successful fishing cost, M, U.S. dollars
dents occurred in straight wells. The probability of freeing stuck C UF = unsuccessful fishing cost, M, U.S. dollars
pipe is higher in straight wells than in directional wells (66.7% vs. dB = hole diameter, L, in.
2. The lIF has been developed as a function of mud weight, hole
size, and inclination to predict the probability of freeing stuck pipe.
id = hole size success rate, dimensionless
= mud weight success rate, dimensionless
i", = hole angle success rate, dimensionless
The lIF is 90% accurate in incidents where DBP's were spotted. lIF = Texaco freeing index, dimensionless
3. Efforts to free stuck pipe should be made as soon as possible (J's = probability of success, dimensionless
after sticking because the probability of freeing stuck pipe declines W = mud weight, m/L3, Ibm/gal
rapidly over time. The longer the pipe is stuck, the less chance there IX = hole angle, degrees
is of freeing it. In 18 stuck-pipe incidents where DBP's were spot-
ted that occurred over 10 years, no pipe was ever freed 96 hours SI Metric Conversion Factors
after sticking. Ninety-six hours should be considered an absolute ft x 3.048* E-Ol m
cutoff point for fishing operations. in. X 2.54* E+OO cm
gal x 3.785412 E-03 m3
Spotting Fluids. Ibm x 4.535 924 E-Ol kg
I. Allow 3 hours to work or jar the pipe free after sticking, then
spot a DBP as soon as possible. DBP's are relatively insensitive • Conversion factor is exact. SPEDC
Original SPE manuscript received lor review March 11, 1991. Revised manuscript received
to time delays up to 48 hours in straight holes, but their effective- Nov. 13, 1992. Paper accepted for publication March 10, 1992. Paper (SPE 21998) first
ness declines rapidly over time in directional holes. presented at the 1991 SPEIIADC Drilling Conference held in Amsterdam, March 11-14.

130 SPE Drilling & Completion, June 1993

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