Research Papers: Petroleum Engineering

Experimental Study of Hydraulics and Cuttings Transport in Circular and Noncircular Wellbores

[+] Author and Article Information
Ali Taghipour

SINTEF Petroleum Research,
PO Box 7465,
Trondheim, Norway
e-mail: ali.taghipour@sintef.no

Bjørnar Lund

Senior Researcher
SINTEF Petroleum Research,
PO Box 7465,
Trondheim, Norway
e-mail: bjørnar.lund@sintef.no

Jan David Ytrehus

SINTEF Petroleum Research,
PO Box 7465,
Trondheim, Norway
e-mail: jandavid.ytrehus@sintef.no

Pål Skalle

Norwegian University
of Science and Technology,
Institute of Petroleum and Geophysics,
PO Box 7465,
NTNU Trondheim, Norway
e-mail: pal.skalle@ntnu.no

Arild Saasen

University of Stavanger,
Det Norske oljeselskap,
PO Box 2070,
Oslo, Norway
e-mail: arild.saasen@detnor.no

Angel Reyes

BG Group,
London RG6 1PT, UK
e-mail: angel.reyes@bg-group.com

Jafar Abdollahi

Principal Researcher
PO Box 7041,
Trondheim, Norway
e-mail: jabd.statoil.com

Contributed by the Petroleum Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF ENERGY RESOURCES TECHNOLOGY. Manuscript received August 29, 2013; final manuscript received March 28, 2014; published online April 28, 2014. Assoc. Editor: Andrew K. Wojtanowicz.

J. Energy Resour. Technol 136(2), 022904 (Apr 28, 2014) (8 pages) Paper No: JERT-13-1252; doi: 10.1115/1.4027452 History: Received August 29, 2013; Revised March 28, 2014

Cuttings transport is one of the most important aspects to control during drilling operations, but the effect of wellbore geometry on hole cleaning is not fully understood. This paper presents results from experimental laboratory tests where hydraulics and hole cleaning have been investigated for two different wellbore geometries; circular and a noncircular, where spiral grooves have been deliberately added to the wellbore wall in order to improve cuttings transport. Improving hole cleaning will improve drilling efficiency in general, and will, in particular, enable longer reach for extended reach drilling (ERD) wells. The experiments have been conducted as part of a research project, where friction and hydraulics in noncircular wellbores for more efficient drilling and well construction are the aim. The experiments have been performed under realistic conditions. The flow loop includes a 12 m long test section with 2" diameter freely rotating drillstring inside a 4" diameter wellbore made of concrete. Sand particles were injected while circulating the drilling fluid through the test section in horizontal and 30 deg inclined positions. The test results show that borehole hydraulics and cuttings transport can be significantly improved in a noncircular wellbore relative to a circular wellbore. Investigating the cutting transport in noncircular wellbores with available models is even more complex than for circular wellbores. Most drilling models assume circular wellbores, but in reality the situation is often different. Also, it may be possible to create noncircular wellbores on purpose, as in the present study. Such a comparative, experimental study of hole cleaning in different wellbore geometries has to our knowledge previously never been performed, and the results were obtained in a custom-made and unique experimental flow loop. The results and the experimental approach could therefore be of value for any one working with drilling.

Copyright © 2014 by ASME
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Fig. 1

Medium scale flow loop experiments with water and sand in plastic tubes

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Fig. 2

Large scale flow loop experiments with replaceable concrete boreholes

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Fig. 3

Fann viscometer data from laboratory and loop samples using default formulation and matched Herschel-Bulkley model

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Fig. 4

Fann viscometer reading at 600 rpm versus time of laboratory batch of drilling fluid

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Fig. 5

Large scale flow loop schematics

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Fig. 6

Noncircular wellbore geometry used in flow loop experiments

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Fig. 7

Measured and calculated pressure gradient (numerical model for concentric circular annulus) for flow of water

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Fig. 8

Pressure gradient versus flow rate for circular and noncircular geometries without pipe rotation from first campaign (black symbols) and second campaign (red symbols)

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Fig. 9

Pressure gradient versus flow rate for circular and noncircular geometries with 150 rpm pipe rotation. Results from campaigns I and II.

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Fig. 10

Effect of string rotation on pressure gradient for circular wellbore. Results from campaign I. Data for 150 rpm, also shown in Fig. 7.

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Fig. 11

Effect of string rotation on pressure gradient for noncircular wellbore. Results from campaign I. Data for 150 rpm, also shown in Fig. 7.

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Fig. 12

Measured sand bed height versus flow rate with constant sand injection and nonrotating drillstring for circular and noncircular geometry. Results shown for two different campaigns (I and II).

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Fig. 13

Measured pressure gradient versus flow rate with constant sand injection. Same experiments as in Fig. 12.

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Fig. 14

Measured sand bed height versus flow rate with constant sand injection with string rotation for circular and noncircular geometry

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Fig. 15

Measured pressure gradient versus flow rate with constant sand injection and string rotation. Same experiments as in Fig. 14.

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Fig. 16

Effective viscosity of drilling fluid and effective axial Reynolds number RePL, according to Eq. (8) for circular geometry



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