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Drilling & Well Technology

While-drilling Calliper Images Enhance Rotary-steerable Performance


a report by

Junichi Sugiura
Research and Development Design Engineer, Pathfinder Energy Services, Inc.

Poor hole quality causes tight borehole, packing off, high torque/drag, stickslip, degraded logging-while-drilling (LWD)/wireline log quality, unpredictable directional performance and, consequently, problematic casing runs. There was initial recognition of the crooked hole problem in the early 1950s. This crooked hole was repeatedly observed by drillers for decades in the form of tight hole and very high torque/drag even without the aid of modern LWD tools. Advances in LWD imaging technology now allow engineers to identify 3D borehole oscillation issues and oscillation frequencies while drilling.

different drill-bit performances. The images are also used to improve the rotary-steerable bottomhole assembly (BHA) design for superior steerability, stability, drillability, controllability and borehole quality. The results from extensive drill bit and BHA research using the calliper images are also applied internationally during commercial runs to troubleshoot bit/BHA problems. Currently, the realtime calliper images are available only to qualified R&D personnel for research purposes. Integrated Calliper Imaging Sensors

Borehole Oscillation In 1951, MacDonald and Lubinski first provided a precise definition of the so-called crooked hole or spiral hole and provided a crooked-hole formula for the maximum drift size with a given bit and collar combination. Since their study 58 years ago, significant progress has been made in understanding the oscillating or cyclical nature of persistent borehole problems. Today it is known that the use of an extended-gauge polycrystalline diamond compact (PDC) bit can reduce borehole oscillations and improve borehole quality with specially designed steerable motors and particular point-the-bit rotary-steerable systems (RSS). Mechanical callipers obtained from wireline logs and acoustic stand-off callipers from LWD logs have accelerated this understanding of borehole oscillation problems. The use of such equipment is no longer the only way to detect 3D borehole problems, such as borehole oscillation. Rotary-steerable Systems An RSS with a built-in mechanical calliper has been developed (SPE90482). This integrated mechanical calliper provides realtime and memory-based calliper images while drilling and has become a novel methodology for creating borehole calliper images compared with conventional LWD acoustic stand-off calliper images. With this RSS, calliper images are available in both point-the-bit and push-thebit configurations. These new 2D/3D near-bit calliper images are extensively used in research and development (R&D) departments and help to quantify

Integrating near-bit sensors with the RSS allows consistent measurement of borehole conditions, along with the three principal types of downhole vibration: torsional, lateral and axial. Near-bit sensors also have been used to make comparative analyses of drill bit and BHA performance among different assemblies and wells. The mechanical calliper image while drilling is now a standard, integrated component of all RSS and provides realtime and memorybased calliper images on all runs. The integrated mechanical calliper imaging has the following advantages: calliper images are taken at the same position in a BHA (either point-the-bit or push-the-bit RSS); realtime borehole images are available to R&D engineers for all of the RSS runs; the integrated sensor does not add extra complexity to the RSS, which means the system delivers superior reliability; integrated sensors are more economical and affordable than specialised subs; sensor use is transparent to the RSS operator and requires no extra sensor/battery set-up; and unlike specialised subs, the sensors do not alter the BHAs length or behaviour. Non-commercial Field Testing In one case, realtime mechanical calliper images were used in extensive drill-bit testing for the push-the-bit RSS. Confidential drilling rig test facilities were used to conduct the controlled RSS

Junichi Sugiura is a Research and Development (R&D) Design Engineer with PathFinder Energy Services, Inc., based in Houston, Texas. He began his career as an electrical engineer in Japan. Since joining PathFinder in 2002, he has focused on developing sensor technology and downhole software algorithms for rotary-steerable systems. He is the author of several Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), Offshore Technology Conference (OTC), International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC), American Association of Drilling Engineers (AADE) and Society of Petrophysicists and Well Log Analysts (SPWLA) technical papers, and holds several patents in downhole technology. Mr Sugiura holds a BSc (Hons) in electrical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. E: jsugiura@smith.com

directional test programme: the GTI Catoosa Test Facility near Tulsa, Oklahoma and the Rocky Mountain Oilfield Test Center (RMOTC) near Casper, Wyoming. Both facilities provided adequate geological variations and rig/pump capabilities for the tests in 8.5-inch and 12.25-inch hole sizes. With no directional constraints at either of the facilities, they both offered a perfect test ground for controlled RSS testing. Since 2007, the RSS in push-the-bit modes has been extensively tested with different drill bits at these test sites (SPE115395). An experimental 8-inch push-the-bit tool (for 12.25-inch hole size),

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TOUCH BRIEFINGS 2009

While-drilling Calliper Images Enhance Rotary-steerable Performance


Figure 1: 12.25-inch Hole-size Push-the-bit Rotary-steerable System

shown in Figure 1, was designed exclusively for this systematic testing. The main objective of the controlled tests was to establish the maximum dogleg using various bit gauge configurations and at the same time to evaluate the system for stability, steerability, dynamic light scattering (DLS) consistency and borehole quality. For all tests, similar surface parameters were used: weight on bit (WOB) 1020klbs, rotary speed 110120rpm, flow rate 600gpm. The RSS was set for 91% offset setting. Realtime and memory-based vibration data and calliper images were used to evaluate bit/BHA performance. This analysis was used to understand whether the geometry and drill-bit changes influenced RSS performance and resultant borehole quality. Realtime and memory-based vibration data and calliper images were used to evaluate bit/BHA performance. Test Results In this set of experiments, various PDC bit gauge profiles were tested to evaluate hole quality and hence the knock-on effect of improved steerability and stability in a hard carbonate rock application (limestone). Four different PDC bits and one tricone (insert) bit were tested. The PDC bits tested were tapered gauge, tapered gauge with a ledge-trimmer sub, short parallel passive gauge and long passive gauge with undercut.

Figure 2: The Short Parallel Passive Gauge Bit (MDi616)

The tapered-gauge bit with a ledge trimmer created the highest borehole quality, stability and toolface controllability. There were no signs of borehole ledging or spiralling in the 2D and 3D calliper images in both sandstone and limestone. Due to the added length with the ledgetrimmer sub (about 1ft), the maximum build rate was approximately 3.9/100ft in limestone. In all of the tests conducted, the better-quality borehole was always obtained with the use of a ledge trimmer. Among the different PDC bits without a ledge trimmer, the short parallel passive gauge bit shown in Figure 2 produced the highest build

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While-drilling Calliper Images Enhance Rotary-steerable Performance


Figure 3: The Pure Build-up Testing Results Programmed Offset versus Build Rate with 12.25-inch Hole-size Short Push Rotary-steerable System
8 7 Build rate (/100ft) 5 4 3 2 1 0 0 20 40 No ledge trimmer 60 80 100 Depth (ft): ticks every 0.1ft: 1,7101,765ft MD 6

Figure 4: 2D Calliper Image Short Push (A), 3D Calliper Image Short Push (B) and Calliper Frequency Spectrum Short Push (C)

Mechanical calliper image (minimum 5.7 inches, maximum 6.7 inches)

6.7 inches

Programmed offset (%) With ledge trimmer

rate: approximately 5.7/100ft in limestone. Furthermore, this bit provided the best balance among steerability, lateral/axial stability, toolface controllability and borehole quality.

5.7 inches Gravity toolface (0359)

Borehole Oscillation Observed Obvious borehole oscillation problems were observed in 3D mechanical calliper images and their frequency spectrum plots from the tapered-gauge bit and the tricone bit running without a ledge trimmer. In the 3D images (not shown), borehole oscillation problems, ledges and erratic borehole surfaces were visually confirmed. Rotary-steerable Bottomhole Assembly Optimisation After the above bit gauge test, the 12.25-inch hole-size push-the-bit RSS went through design changes to further shorten the distance from the bit to the steering unit. The objective of this change was to optimise the system to work with off-the-shelf passive gauge bits for superior steerability and borehole quality. Also, shortening the distance is thought to reduce the propensity for borehole spiralling suggested by the test data. A few months later, more testing was conducted with the short passive gauge bit shown in Figure 2. In this test, the experimental short push-the-bit RSS produced 6.57.0/100ft in limestone. This RSS exhibited not only high steerability but also excellent toolface controllability, predictable doglegs from 0 to 7.0/100ft in pure build, drop, turn and compound build and turn applications and highquality borehole. Figure 3 shows the results of the pure build-up
Depth (ft)
4

6.8 inches

6.3 inches

5.8 inches

C
0.15

3D frequency response plot

Magnitude

0.1

Bit to upper stab

Bit to pads

Bit to trimmer

0.05

3.5 3 2.5 2 1.5 1 0.5 0 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40

testing with and without a ledge trimmer. The data reveal that, up to 80% offset, the yielded build rates (up to 6.5/100ft) are linearly proportional to the programmed offset. Also, we confirmed that the use of a ledge trimmer did not affect the resultant build rate with this RSS. The steering consistency of this experimental RSS was excellent. Mechanical Calliper Image The borehole quality, analysed with the 2D and 3D calliper images, was marginally better when running the bit with the ledge trimmer integrated to the RSS. Figures 4a and 4b show 2D/3D calliper images. In the 3D image, the right side of the image is highside of the borehole (gravity toolface 0) and the left side of the image is lowside of the borehole (gravity toolface 180). Figure 4c shows their corresponding frequency spectrum plot. In the 3D frequency spectrum plot, oscillation frequency, measured depth and magnitude are shown on the x-, y- and z-axes, respectively. The height of the plot in the z-axis shows the magnitude of the frequency response. Local minima and

Frequency index (cycles per 25.5ft)

maxima are coloured in blue and red, respectively. In this particular limestone section (drilled to approximately 55ft), the target toolface was set to highside (gravity toolface 0) and the target tool offset was set to 75%. The BHA yielded a 6/100ft build rate while producing high-quality borehole. Frequency Analysis The frequency spectrum of the calliper in Figure 4c shows that the peak of the frequency response is at the distance between the bit and pads, but other peaks are located at higher frequencies. These higherfrequency components are induced by the different semi-contact

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EXPLORATION & PRODUCTION VOLUME 7 ISSUE 1

points created by the parallel passive gauge bit. The period of the highest-frequency response corresponds to the distance between the bit and the ledge-trimmer sub. The strongest frequency response appears at the distance between the bit and pads. It should be noted that the magnitude of all of the oscillation frequencies is extremely small. The resultant borehole surface is very smooth, and it exhibits high quality despite the high DLS yielded by the BHA. Generally, the higher the produced DLS, the lower the hole quality, with ledges and irregular borehole shapes in the case of steerable motors. The spectrum data reveal that adding an undergauge ledge trimmer to the RSS between the bit and the steering unit creates a new very-low-magnitude resonant frequency to the borehole

Test results indicate that this novel mechanical calliper image helps engineers troubleshoot both bit and bottomhole assembly problems.
calliper spectrum. Also, it suppresses the primary oscillation frequency response and provides remarkable borehole quality improvement in problematic drilling conditions and formations. Conclusion An RSS with a built-in mechanical calliper has been developed. This integrated mechanical calliper, while drilling, provides realtime and memory-based calliper images to aid comparative analyses on different drill-bit performances and BHA designs. During the extensive rotary-steerable testing, frequency analysis of the borehole calliper revealed that there are multiple borehole oscillation frequencies that correspond to the distance periods between a bit and other side contact points in the rotary-steerable BHA. It was discovered that borehole quality can be dramatically improved by suppressing the peak frequency response of the borehole calliper. The use of multidimensional calliper analysis resulted in the improved bit-gauge and BHA designs for superior balance among steerability, stability, steering consistency and borehole quality. Test results indicate that this novel mechanical calliper image helps engineers troubleshoot both bit and BHA problems. The effective use of calliper imaging leads to the early detection of borehole oscillation while the BHA is still in-hole and assists in optimising bit and stabiliser selection for subsequent runs. Acknowledgements I would like to thank PathFinder Energy Services for its willingness to provide the data obtained with the 12.25-inch hole-size PathMaker RSS. I am grateful to PathFinder Energy Services for permitting the publication of this work.

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