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Downhole Measurement and Monitoring

Lead to an Enhanced Understanding of

Drilling Vibrations and Polycrystalline
Diamond Compact Bit Damage
L.W. Ledgerwood III, SPE, Jayesh R. Jain, SPE, Olivier J. Hoffmann, SPE, and Reed W. Spencer, SPE, Baker Hughes

Summary vertical conventional-rotary wells. The authors chose to focus on

Since backward whirl was discovered as a severe cause of poly- vertical, conventional-rotary wells and partnered with an operator
crystalline diamond compact (PDC) bit failure, the oil and gas that uses packed BHAs and good drilling practices. The team con-
industry has made great strides toward creating whirl-resistant ducted tests in two target areas—one west of Oklahoma City,
bits and operating practices. But is whirl still the major cause of Oklahoma and the other in the vicinity of Fort Worth, Texas—by
PDC bit damage in conventional rotary applications? This paper use of a new in-bit vibration sensor to quantify the vibrations
reports on a recent field study in which downhole vibrations were experienced downhole (Pastusek et al. 2007). The team also con-
measured by use of a newly available in-bit vibration-monitoring ducted tests in four research wells drilled by a drilling rig dedi-
device. The focus of this study was to understand the primary cated to research (Sinor et al. 2001). In these research wells, the
source of bit damage. In addition, four wells were also drilled by in-bit vibration sensor was used in tandem with a commercial
use of a research drilling rig in Oklahoma. In these tests, the PDC MWD vibration-monitoring system (Heisig et al. 1998). The team
bits, bottomhole assemblies (BHAs), and operating parameters chose drilling parameters that caused a variety of downhole
were varied to document their effect on downhole vibrations. In dynamic dysfunctions in the research wells to create stability
these four wells, vibration measurements from the new in-bit maps showing the realms of stick/slip, smooth drilling, and back-
measuring device were validated against a commercially available ward whirl.
and industry-proven measurement-while-drilling (MWD) vibra- This investigation shows that stick/slip is a common downhole
tion-monitoring service. vibration in vertical conventional-rotary wells and demonstrates
The results of this study indicate that the most common field that stick/slip can cause serious damage to PDC bits. The analysis
vibration in hard-rock vertical conventional rotary drilling is of the dull condition and the measured vibrations led to the under-
stick/slip, not whirl. In field tests, stick/slip was observed almost standing that lateral vibrations occurring during the slip phase
exclusively. For typical field applications with a surface rotary damage the bits. The nature of these coupled vibrations is dis-
speed of approximately 70 rpm, the team measured a peak down- cussed in light of measured downhole data. It is suggested that the
hole rpm as high as 500 during the slip phase. Stick/slip was iden- most effective way to minimize the damage is to mitigate stick/
tified as the primary cause of bit damage in these applications. slip. Several stick/slip-mitigation strategies have been reported in
Lateral vibration occurring during the slip phase correlated well the literature, including some in recent papers (Chesher et al.
with the observed damage and is proposed as a new mode of dam- 2010; Dykstra et al. 2011; Jain et al. 2011). One such strategy is
age during stick/slip. The characterization of the lateral vibrations to introduce a motor in the BHA. Fortunately, recent develop-
coupled with stick/slip is presented on the basis of downhole ments in the field and the need for more power at the bit have led
measurements. to an increasing usage of motor drilling. Nevertheless, motors do
not eliminate stick/slip completely, and can still experience high
lateral vibrations in the BHA during slip phase, as is evident from
Introduction the examples reported in this paper.
Analysts have long recognized that drillstrings vibrate, and these
vibrations damage bits and BHA components. Early studies (Cun-
ningham 1967; Daering and Livesay 1968; Deily et al. 1968; Downhole Vibration Sensors
Denison 1979) focused on axial and torsional vibrations of the The in-bit vibration sensor (Pastusek et al. 2007) fits in the shank
drillstring. In 1989, researchers at Amoco identified backward of the bit, as shown in Fig. 1. The device has a special set of
whirl as a common vibration experienced by PDC bits. Backward accelerometers from which the axial, lateral, and torsional vibra-
whirl can catastrophically damage a PDC bit in a matter of sec- tions and bit angular velocity are computed. It stores 5-second-
onds (Brett 1992; Warren et al. 1990). From that time to today, long samples of high-frequency data, called “burst files,” at regu-
PDC bit designers have focused on developing strategies for lar intervals. The device also calculates and stores average values
creating PDC bits that resist backward whirl (Cooley et al. including axial and lateral accelerations and maximal, minimal,
1992; Sinor and Warren 1993; Johnson 2006; Fuselier et al. and average rotary speeds. The user can control how frequently
2010). Meanwhile, cutter-technology improvements have enabled the burst files and average values are stored in the memory. It is
drillers to apply more bit weight to increase drilling efficiency. easy to identify the presence of stick/slip from a plot of bit rotary
High bit weight can cause stick/slip, and, therefore, PDC bits are speed vs. time, which will become evident in the following sec-
now more susceptible to stick/slip than when they were first tions. The existence of backward whirl is detected from the accel-
introduced. erometers’ measurements processed in a proprietary manner.
The research reported in this paper was conducted to deter- The team validated the in-bit sensor in two different ways.
mine the predominant vibration mode that damages PDC bits in Tests were conducted in a full-scale drilling laboratory that uses
laser proximity sensors to measure the lateral motion of the bit.
Results of these tests, shown in Fig. 2, indicate that the whirl rates
Copyright V
C 2013 Society of Petroleum Engineers
(or whirl frequency) calculated from accelerations measured by
This paper (SPE 134488) was accepted for presentation at the SPE Annual Technical the in-bit device agree very well with the whirl rates calculated
Conference and Exhibition, Florence, Italy, 19–22 September 2010, and revised for
publication. Original manuscript received for review 1 February 2013. Revised manuscript from the lasers. The team also compared angular velocities and
received for review 9 May 2013. Paper peer approved 16 May 2013. lateral vibrations, measured by the in-bit device, with the

254 September 2013 SPE Drilling & Completion



In-Bit Device Ω (Hz)

–50 –30 –10 10




Laser Ω (Hz)

Fig. 2—Whirl rate (X) measured with the in-bit device compared
with kinematic measurements with laser probes.
Fig. 1—In-bit dynamics sensor.
To characterize the damage caused by stick/slip, a 121=4-in. bit
was run in the research well under conditions that exposed the bit
commercial MWD vibration monitor in the research wells. This is to stick/slip exclusively. This bit was run on 5 successive days,
discussed in the following section. tripping in and out of the hole each day to quantify vibrations and
to document the progress of bit damage. Over a 5-day period, the
Tests Conducted in the Research Wells bit drilled a total of 471 ft in the Wilcox sandstone, McLish shale,
The team conducted several tests in the research wells at the test Oil Creek sandstone, and Arbuckle dolomite. Fig. 4 shows typical
facility in Oklahoma (Sinor et al. 2001) to validate the in-bit sen- worn cutters from the bit at the end of the 5-day period. The flat
sor and to study downhole vibrations. The in-bit vibration sensor surfaces in Cutters 77, 79, 81, and 83 are ground surfaces; they
was programmed to acquire a high-frequency burst file every 2 are not bit wear. The cutter damage on this bit began with spalling
minutes. The team used the MWD vibration monitor to obtain on the ground flats, such as that evident in Cutter 83. Then, as the
real-time feedback while conducting the tests to help choose damage evolved, it spread from the ground flat to the cutter face,
appropriate operating parameters for the tests. After completing as is evident in Cutter 81. Damage to the primary cutters, such as
the tests each day, the bit was pulled out of the hole and the data is evident on Cutters 20 and 43, began after the damage to the
in the in-bit sensor were downloaded for detailed analysis. ground flats.

Stick/Slip Backward Whirl

The term “stick/slip” refers to torsional oscillations in which the Fig. 5a shows the lateral accelerations during backward whirl
bit comes to a complete stop. Fig. 3a shows bit angular velocity measured by the in-bit device, and Fig. 5b shows the same event
measured during stick/slip by the in-bit sensor and the commer- measured by the MWD tool. Despite being approximately 50 ft
cial MWD vibration monitor. The measurements show excellent apart, the two devices measured very similar lateral vibration. The
agreement. Fig. 3b shows the downhole rotary speed from a typi- backward whirl probably originated at the bit and propagated into
cal stick/slip event measured during the tests. Note that the rotary the BHA. The bending moments measured by the MWD tool, not
speed reaches a maximum of approximately 210 rpm, and the shown here, support this claim. As expected, these vibrations are
length of the “stuck” phase is approximately 1.5 seconds. In this damped in the BHA as is evident from the lower amplitudes in
case, the surface rotary speed was 70 rpm and the depth was Fig. 5b. Bit damage because of backward whirl is well-known and
2,900 ft. was also experienced in these tests.
The MWD tool uses readings from magnetometers to deter-
mine the angular velocity, whereas the in-bit device derives it
from centripetal acceleration. Each of these methods has advan- Torsional Resonance of Drill Collars
tages and limitations. The magnetometers provide very accurate Another vibration that was frequently observed in the research
measurements even at very low velocities, and have less noise wells was torsional drill-collar resonance. As shown in Fig. 6, the
(see Fig. 3). On the other hand, accelerometers do not need non- bit angular velocities measured by the in-bit sensors and the
magnetic subs, and they more accurately capture very-high-fre- MWD tool during an episode of torsional resonance are in good
quency variations in angular velocity. agreement. Warren identified this vibration in 1998 (Warren and

250 250
MWD Tool
200 In-bit Device 200
150 Surface


35 40 45 50 55 0
0 1 2 3 4 5
Time (s)
Time (s)

Fig. 3—Downhole measurement of rotational speed during stick/slip.

September 2013 SPE Drilling & Completion 255

19 20 21 22


41 43 45 47

77 79 81 83

Fig. 4—Damage to PDC bit that experienced stick/slip for 471 ft of drilling.

10 300 36.4 Hz
10 40

36.4 Hz
ax (g)

ax (g)
0 0 20
–10 0 –10 00
0 2.5 5 0 50 100 80 82 84 50 100
10 Time (s) 300 Frequency (Hz) Time (s) Frequency (Hz)
10 40

36.4 Hz

200 36.6 Hz
ay (g)

ay (g)

0 0
100 20
–10 0
0 2.5 5 0 50 100 –10 00
80 82 84 50 100
Time (s) Frequency (Hz) Frequency (Hz)
Time (s)
(a) (b)

Fig. 5—Comparison of in-bit-device and commercial-MWD-tool accelerations during backward whirl.

Oster 1998). Warren and Oster used BHA modeling to show that Stability Maps
the frequencies at which this oscillation occurred were the tor- The team conducted several tests in the research well to define
sional natural frequencies of the BHA. Our data from the 83=4-in. stability maps. The testing included two bit sizes, at least two dif-
research wells also show that this vibration occurs at discrete fre- ferent bit designs for each bit size, and multiple formations in two
quencies of 4, 8, and 9 Hz, which BHA modeling reveals to be wells. A stability map is plotted in bit weight vs. rotary-speed
natural torsional frequencies of the packed BHA that we used in space, as shown in Fig. 7. The colored disks in this space repre-
the 83=4-in. wells. Warren and Oster thought that short instances of sent bit-weight/rotary-speed combinations at which a test was
reverse rotation could occur during torsional drill-collar reso- conducted to acquire a “data point.” The procedure to acquire
nance, and these instances of reverse rotation might damage bits. each data point involved going to the bottom, establishing the
None of our data suggest that the torsional resonance of the drill desired bit weight and rotary speed, and then drilling at those pa-
collars was damaging PDC bits or that any significant reverse rameters for 5 to 6 minutes to collect data. The in-bit vibration
rotation was occurring. sensor was programmed to acquire a high-frequency burst file

200 MED Tool

In-the-bit Device
150 Surface



360 361 362 363 364 365 366 367 368 369 370
Time (s)

Fig. 6—Bit rpm measured by in-bit-device and commercial MWD tool during drill-collar torsional resonance.

256 September 2013 SPE Drilling & Completion

30 30

25 25

20 20
WOB (kips)

WOB (kips)
15 15

10 10

5 5

0 0
0 50 100 150 200 0 50 100 150 200
(a) (b)

Fig. 7—The 121=4-in. PDC bits drilling in Wilcox sandstone: (a) stable bit and (b) unstable bit.

every 2 minutes. This process captured vibration information in at two bits showed that the stable bit stabilized at 0.04 in./rev, and
least 2 burst files for each data point. The team chose thick, homo- the unstable bit was unstable even at 0.96 in./rev. Fig. 7 shows the
geneous formations to conduct stability-map tests. All data points stability maps for these two bits drilling in the research well. Both
in any one stability map come from one formation in an interval bits were run on the same packed BHA in the Wilcox sandstone at
of approximately 50 ft of drilling. The team used the MWD vibra- a depth of approximately 2,700 ft. Note that the backward-whirl
tion monitor to obtain real-time feedback while constructing the region for the stable bit is much smaller than the backward-whirl
stability map to choose optimal coordinates for the data points. region of the unstable bit. The unstable bit exhibits significantly
After completing all data points in the stability map, the bit was more backward whirl, which becomes more severe at lower bit
pulled out of the hole, and the data in the in-bit sensor were down- weight and higher rotary speed as is evident from higher lateral
loaded. The stability maps shown in this paper were constructed vibrations in that zone in Fig. 7b. Stability maps for these two bits
on the basis of high-frequency data from the in-bit sensor. Data were also created in the Arbuckle Dolomite with the same result.
points in the stability maps with a blue disk indicate data points at The team also tested the packed and slick BHAs to confirm
which stick/slip occurred. Data points in red indicate data points their effect on downhole vibrations. Figs. 8a and 8b show the
in which backward whirl occurred. Green disks represent data MWD whirl diagnostic plotted in the bit-weight/rotary-speed
points in which neither stick-slip nor backward whirl occurred. space of the stability map for packed and slick BHAs, respec-
The size of the disk is proportional to the severity of lateral tively. Both tests were conducted with the same 83=4-in. PDC bit
vibrations. at approximately 3,100-ft depth in the Arbuckle dolomite. The
We compared the stability maps of two different 121=4-in. bits. significant difference in lateral stability is evident from the plots;
One of the bits, called the “stable bit,” is designed to resist back- the slick BHA experienced much higher whirl instability com-
ward whirl. The other bit, called the “unstable bit,” is not. The pared with the packed BHA. In-bit measurements, not shown
team conducted laboratory tests to quantify the backward-whirl here, indicated a stable region between the stick/slip and back-
tendency of these two bits. In this test, the depth of cut is ward-whirl regions for the packed BHA. When the stabilizers
increased in steps at a constant rotary speed. Most bits whirl at the were removed, the stable region was almost nonexistent. The slick
lowest depth of cut, and then stop whirling at some higher depth BHA also exhibited a few episodes of severe lateral vibrations at
of cut. The depth of cut at which the bit stops whirling is taken as the bit. It is interesting to note that the effect of stabilization was
a measure of its stability. Bits that stabilize at low depths of cut more significant on the BHA whirl than on the bit whirl.
have fewer tendencies to whirl backward than bits that stabilize at The stability maps that we measured contradict the claims
higher depths of cut (Cooley et al. 1992). Laboratory tests of these made in Xianping et al. (2010). Several figures in that paper are

MWD Whirl Diagnostic MWD Whirl Diagnostic

25 7 25 7

6 6
20 20
5 5
WOB (kips)

WOB (kips)

15 4 15 4

10 3 10 3

2 2
5 5
1 1

0 0 0 0
0 50 100 150 200 0 50 100 150 200
(a) (b)

Fig. 8—Whirl severity for 83=4-in. PDC bit on packed BHA and slick BHA.

September 2013 SPE Drilling & Completion 257

stability maps generated by use of drillstring-dynamics simula- The image in Fig. 10 shows the dull condition of a bit that was
tions. Their simulation-based stability maps indicate that stick/ damaged in one of the field wells. Industry analysts have specu-
slip occurs in the upper-left portion of the stability map. This is in lated why stick/slip damages bits. One theory is that reverse rota-
agreement with the team’s findings. Their simulation-based stabil- tion, which can occur just after the bit decelerates to zero rpm,
ity maps, however, indicate that backward whirl occurs at a high might be the cause of the damage to PDC bits during stick/slip.
rotary speed and high bit weight. They show a forward-whirl Although it is certainly true that the reverse rotation of the bit can
region in the lower-right portion of the stability-map space, sug- catastrophically damage PDC bits, the team saw little evidence of
gesting that one way to get out of the backward-whirl region is to the reverse rotation in the data. Only one of the 263 burst files
drop the bit weight. Contrary to this, the team’s measurements acquired in the field tests showed reverse rotation, indicating it is
indicate that backward whirl becomes more intense and more a rare phenomenon. Nevertheless, bits were damaged by stick/slip
likely as the operating parameters move to lower bit weight and in the field. This suggests looking elsewhere for the primary-dam-
higher rotary speed. These measurements agree with the recom- age mechanism.
mended industry practices for eliminating backward whirl (Brett Field measurements of stick/slip suggest that lateral vibrations
et al. 1989; Warren et al. 1990). that occur during the high-rpm portion of the stick/slip cycle are
responsible for damaging bits. Fig. 11 shows the rotary speed of a
Field Evaluation bit in combination with the lateral accelerations measured at the
same time. Note that the lateral vibrations are highest during the
The team ran field tests in a total of nine field wells. Four of the
high-rpm portion of stick/slip. The form of damage (chipping/
wells were 83=4 in. and five were 121=4 in. The field wells varied in
breakage) in the dull condition corroborates this hypothesis. The
depth from approximately 6,000 to 11,000 ft. From all these field
formation was not particularly abrasive; therefore, wear is not
tests together, the team collected 263 high-frequency burst files of
considered as the primary-damage mechanism. However, it is
vibrations with in-bit vibration sensors. Table 1 shows the inci-
possible that these lateral vibrations started/caused the cutter dam-
dence of vibrations measured from these 263 cases. Stick/slip
age and also led to the accelerated wear of the cutters.
was, by far, the most predominant vibration measured, occurring
In five of the field tests, the bits experienced only stick/slip.
in 64% of the 83=4-in. burst files and in 78% of the 121=4-in. burst
That is, there was no indication of drill-collar torsional resonance
files. Incidents of backward whirl were recorded in none of the
or whirl that might have damaged the bit. Comparing the damage
83=4-in. wells and in only 6% of the burst files in 121=4-in. wells.
on these bits to the peak values of the lateral accelerations that
Torsional drill-collar resonance occurred only in one 83=4-in. field
occurred during the high-rpm portion of stick/slip indicates that
well. In this well, torsional resonance was strong right after the
there is a relationship between the two. Fig. 12a shows the dam-
drilling out of surface casing at 1,024 ft. As the bit drilled deeper,
age to the outer cutting structure, quantified in International Asso-
the magnitude of torsional resonance decreased, and the lower
ciation of Drilling Contractors dull grades of 0 to 8, plotted
fundamental frequency of the drillstring predominated.
against the average over the bit run of the peak lateral accelera-
Fig. 9 shows examples of the bit rotary speed measured during
tions experienced during the high-rpm portion of stick/slip. Fig.
stick/slip in the field. Fig. 9a is for a 6,000-ft well near Fort
12b shows the dull condition plotted against the highest of the
Worth, Texas. The surface rotary speed was 70 rpm. The burst file
peak average accelerations experienced during the bit run. Both
shows the bit speed increasing to 200 rpm at the beginning of the
quantifications of vibration indicate that the bit damage is a func-
5-second window then dropping to zero at approximately 1.6 sec-
tion of the lateral vibrations experienced during the high-rpm por-
onds, remaining “stuck” for more than 2 seconds, and then accel-
tion of stick/slip. Figs. 12c and 12d show the dull condition
erating to more than 200 rpm. Fig. 9b is for a well in western
plotted against drilling hours and footage, respectively. In the ab-
Oklahoma at 10,400 ft. The surface rotary speed was 60 rpm. At
sence of vibrations, one would expect a trend indicating increased
this depth, the period of stick/slip is so long that it cannot all be
bit wear with increasing footage and drilling hours as shown in
captured in the 5-second window (models show that the period is
the green arrow superimposed on the graph. However, these data
approximately 8 seconds). The bit accelerated to 400 rpm at the
do not follow that trend. The fact that the dull condition is not a
beginning of the run, and then dropped to zero at approximately
function of drilling hours or footage drilled, but is a function of
2.4 seconds and remained “stuck” for the remainder of the burst
the lateral-vibration level, is strong evidence that lateral vibrations
that occur during stick/slip are damaging to bits. These results
agree with recent observations made by another research team
(Craig et al. 2010).
Lateral Vibrations Occurring During the Slip
83=4-in. Wells 121=4-in. Wells Phase
No dynamic dysfunction 14% 16% It is important to understand the nature of the lateral vibrations
Stick/slip 64% 78% occurring during the slip phase. It is well-known that backward
Drill-collar torsional resonance 22% 0%
whirl occurs at higher rotational speeds. Therefore, a possible
mechanism causing higher lateral vibrations is the coupling of
Backward whirl 0% 6%
backward whirl with the slip phase. As an example of such a

250 400

50 100

0 0
0 1 2 3 4 5 0 1 2 3 4 5
Time (s) Time (s)
(a) (b)

Fig. 9—In-bit measurements of stick/slip in field wells.

258 September 2013 SPE Drilling & Completion

consistent with theoretical results reported in Leine et al. (2002).
The team would like to clarify that the model of Leine et al.
(2002), which concludes that a combination of stick/slip and whirl
motion is rare or nonexisting, assumed the fluid forces to be the
cause of the phenomena they observed in the measurements.
Although insightful, their model did not include effects such as
mass imbalance, interaction with the nonperfect wall, and bit/rock
interaction. Therefore, such a coupling of stick/slip and backward
whirl cannot be ruled out on the basis of their model. A similar
coupling was recently reported in the literature in which backward
whirl was seen at a higher angular velocity during the slip phase
(Lesso et al. 2011).
If backward whirl were the only phenomenon causing lateral
vibrations during stick/slip, then such vibrations could be miti-
gated by using antiwhirl bit designs. However, these vibrations
are not necessarily a result of coupled backward whirl. In fact, the
majority of downhole measurements of such vibrations showed
no indication of backward whirl. For example, Fig. 13b shows
Fig. 10—A typical dull condition of the bit. time history measured by the in-bit device in which high lateral
vibrations were recorded in the field while the system was experi-
coupling, Fig. 13a displays the time history of angular velocity encing extreme stick/slip. For a surface rpm of 60, the peak rpm
and lateral vibrations measured downhole by the in-bit device measured downhole was more than 500. The whirl diagnostics did
during stick/slip when the rotational speed at the surface was 60 not show backward whirl, and instead detected nonsynchronous
rpm. The corresponding calculated whirl diagnostics are also forward whirl.
shown. At the end of the stick phase (approximately 3 seconds), Because motors are being increasingly used in the field, an
the lateral vibrations increased with the rotational speed. The high example of stick/slip with a motor BHA in horizontal drilling is
lateral vibrations were a result of backward whirl, which occurred presented. Fig. 14a shows the time history of rotational speed and
at a frequency proportional to the rotational speed in this case. A lateral vibrations measured below the motor, while the system
recent paper (Raap et al. 2011) reported that such coupling was was experiencing stick/slip. The BHA exhibited high lateral
not observed in their measurements and that the observation was vibrations during the slip phase. In this case, there were no

alat (g)


1 100
0 0
0 1 2 3 4 5 0 1 2 3 4 5
Time (s) Time (s)
(a) (b)

Fig. 11—Lateral vibrations during the high-rpm portion of stick/slip.

Outer Dull Condition vs. Average of Peak Lateral g’s Outer Dull Condition vs. Highest of Peak Lateral g’s
Experienced During Stick Slip Experienced During Stick Slip
5 5
Outer Dull Condition

Outer Dull Condition

4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
0 0
0 0.5 1 1.5 2 0 5 10 15
Average of Peak Lateral g’s Highest Instance of Peak Lateral g’s
(a) (b)
Outer Dull Condition vs. Hours Drilled Outer Dull Condition vs. Footage Drilled
5 5
Outer Dull Condition

Outer Dull Condition

4 4
Tr T
end 3
d d nrden
2 pec
2 dT
te d
x petce
1 E 1
Ex pEex c
0 0
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400
Hours Drilled Footage Drilled
(c) (d)

Fig. 12—Relationships between bit damage and various parameters.

September 2013 SPE Drilling & Completion 259

500 1000



0 0
0 1 2 3 4 5 0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5
Time (s) Time (s)
10 20
Lateral Accel. (g)

Lateral Accel. (g)

5 10

0 0
0 1 2 3 4 5 0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5
Time (s) Time (s)

100 100
Whirl Rate (Hz)

Whirl Rate (Hz)

0 0

–100 –100
0 1 2 3 4 5 0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5
Time (s) Time (s)
(a) (b)

Fig. 13—Downhole measurements showing the coupling of whirl with stick/slip.

500 500


0 0
0 1 2 3 4 5 0 1 2 3 4 5
Time (s) Time (s)
Lateral Accel. (g)

Lateral Accel. (g)



0 0
0 1 2 3 4 5 0 1 2 3 4 5
Time (s) Time (s)
(a) (b)

Fig. 14—Examples of stick/slip without whirl.

indications of well-defined motion such as forward or backward tion/deceleration of the BHA while the strain energy stored during
whirl. Although this example is not intended to show a typical the stick phase is being released. It can be envisaged that such
motor drilling scenario, it serves as evidence that high lateral vibrations would depend on the formation, wellbore quality, bit
vibrations during the slip phase are not limited to bit dynamics or design, BHA design, and several other factors that can be difficult
conventional rotary drilling. They can occur with any system to predict and control. These observations have important impli-
experiencing stick/slip, and can lead to bit/BHA damage. cations. Although antiwhirl bits and stabilized BHAs may allevi-
Finally, though the team did find that high lateral vibrations ate the problem, they would not mitigate lateral vibrations in all
were more likely to occur during more severe stick/slip, severe stick/slip cases. The most effective strategy would be to mitigate
stick/slip does not always cause high lateral vibrations. The team stick/slip through design and operating guidelines, in combination
measured severe stick/slip with moderate to low lateral vibrations with a laterally stable bit/BHA design.
in the same run in which high lateral vibrations during the slip
phase were measured. Fig. 14b plots the time history of bit rpm
and lateral vibrations measured downhole. Despite the peak rpm Conclusions
reaching 400, the drilling is remarkably smooth. The team The oil and gas industry has not invested enough effort into
believes that lateral vibrations during the slip phase are a result of understanding the synergy between PDC bits and stick/slip of the
the complex interaction of BHA elements with the borehole. Such drillstring. The effect of stick/slip on PDC bit damage has not
interaction likely involves impacts because of sudden accelera- been thoroughly investigated either. A few papers suggest that

260 September 2013 SPE Drilling & Completion

PDC bit design features affect the genesis of stick/slip, and some at the SPE/IADC Drilling Conference, Amsterdam, The Netherlands,
discuss the damage caused to PDC bits by stick/slip (Brett 1992; 4–6 March. http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/37639-MS.
Fear et al. 1997; Abbassian and Dunayevesky 1998; Richard 2001; Fuselier, D.M., Vempati, C.R., Oldham, J.T. et al. 2010. Understanding
Richard et al. 2002). This paper argues that stick/slip is more wide- the Contribution of Primary Stability to Build Aggressive and Efficient
spread than previously believed, warranting more focus on stick/ PDC Bits. Paper SPE 128575 presented at the IADC/SPE Drilling
slip for PDC bit development. A companion paper focuses on Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana, 2–4 February. http://dx.doi.org/
the mitigation of stick/slip through PDC bit design (Jain et al. 10.2118/128575-MS.
2011). Heisig, G., Sancho, J., and Macpherson, J.D. 1998. Downhole Diagnosis
In vertical conventional-rotary drilling applications, stick/slip of Drilling Dynamics Data Provides New Level Drilling Process Con-
is a common downhole vibration. Stick/slip is a primary cause of trol to Driller. Paper SPE 49206 presented at the 1998 ATCE Meeting,
PDC bit damage in these applications. The occurrence of high lat- New Orleans, Louisiana, 27–30 September. http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/
eral vibrations during the high-rpm portion of stick/slip is identi- 49206-MS.
fied as a new mechanism for bit damage during stick/slip. It is Jain, J.R., Ledgerwood III, L.W., Hoffmann, O.J. et al. 2011. Mitigation
demonstrated through measured examples that the lateral vibra- of Torsional Stick-Slip Vibrations in Oil Well Drilling Through PDC
tions in some cases are backward whirl, whereas, in many other Bit Design: Putting Theories to the Test. Paper SPE 146561 presented
cases, they are not. In all cases, stick/slip is the root cause of dam- at SPE ATCE, Denver, Colorado, 30 October. http://dx.doi.org/
age—if the stick/slip could be eliminated, the lateral vibrations 10.2118/146561-MS.
would be eliminated. Johnson, S. 2006. A New Method of Producing Laterally Stable PDC Drill
Bits. Paper SPE 98986 presented at the IADC/SPE Drilling Conference,
Miami, Florida, 21–23 February. http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/98986-MS.
Acknowledgments Leine, R.I., van Campen, D.H., and Keultjes, W.J.G. 2002. Stick-Slip
The authors would like to acknowledge Baker Hughes for permis- Whirl Interaction in Drillstring Dynamics. J. Vibrations and Acoustics
sion to publish this paper. The authors would also like to recog- 124: 209–220.
nize Eric Sullivan, Tu Trinh, Gabriel Teodorescu, Keith Glasgow, Lesso, B., Ignova, M., Zeineddine, F. et al. 2011. Testing the Combination
and Jason Habernal for help with in-bit sensing; Kurtis Schmitz of High Frequency Surface and Downhole Drilling Mechanics and Dy-
and Cara Weinheimer for field support; Hanno Reckmann for namics Data Under a Variety of Drilling Conditions. Paper SPE
help with MWD tools; and Erica Tucci for reviewing the manu- 140347 presented at SPE/IADC Drilling Conference and Exhibition,
script. Special thanks to Sarvesh Tyagi and Lance Endres for their Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 1–3 March. http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/
contributions throughout the project. 140347-MS.
Pastusek, P., Sullivan, E., and Harris, T. 2007. Development and Utiliza-
tion of a Bit-Based Data-Acquisition System in Hard Rock PDC
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years, beginning his career with Hughes Tool Company. Ledg-
Performance Drilling in Hard Rock Environments. Paper SPE 139841 erwood earned a BS degree in mechanical engineering from
presented at SPE/IADC Drilling Conference and Exhibition, Amster- Texas Tech University and an MS degree in mechanical engi-
dam, 1–3 March. http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/139841-MS. neering from Rice University, where he studied with John
Fear, M.J., Abbassian, F., Parfitt, S.H.L. et al. 1997. The Destruction of Cheatham. His research today focuses on the physics of
PDC bits by Severe Stick-Slip Vibration. Paper SPE 37639 presented rock destruction at high pressure and drill-bit vibrations.

September 2013 SPE Drilling & Completion 261

Ledgerwood is the author of 16 engineering publications and Olivier J. Hoffmann worked with Baker Hughes as a research
holds 10 patents. engineer in drilling mechanics for more than 5 years. He
earned an MS degree in applied geology from Université de
Jayesh R. Jain is a research engineer with Baker Hughes. He
Franche-Comté, France, and a PhD degree in civil engineer-
earned a master of technology degree in mechanical engi-
ing from the University of Minnesota, USA. Hoffmann’s areas of
neering from Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, where he was expertise include drilling mechanics, rock characterization,
awarded a DAAD Scholarship for conducting research in rotor and data processing.
dynamics at Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany. Jain’s
doctoral research at The Ohio State University, Columbus, was Reed W. Spencer is a research engineer with the Drilling
in computational mechanics with a focus on the multiscale Mechanics Group at Baker Hughes. He holds a BS degree in
modeling of composites. His current research deals with drilling mechanical engineering from the University of Utah, where he
mechanics and drilling-system dynamics. Jain has coauthored graduated magna cum laude. Spencer leads projects involv-
8 research articles and 6 patent applications. He serves as a ing the development of drilling-simulation software. His
technical editor for SPE Drilling & Completion and as a reviewer research includes the directional drilling behavior of bit/BHA
for several international journals. Jain was the winner of the 2011 drilling systems and the dynamic behavior of bit/BHA drilling
SPE Young Professional Paper Contest in the Drilling category. systems.

262 September 2013 SPE Drilling & Completion