Deviating the Wellbore by Positive Displacement Motor (Directional Drilling)

A positive displacement motor (PDM) is one of the most popular tool for drilling a directional well. It works by boring downwards and pumping mud through the motor itself. As shown in figure 1, the bottom section of the motor has an adjustable bend housing.

Figure 1 – Positive Displacement Motor (Courtesy of Schlumberger)

Before the motor is run into the hole, a set-up process needs to be carried out

  1. The bend will be adjusted according to the directional performance that the motor needs to achieve. This bend is only very slight, usually being under 2°.
  1. The motor is hooked up to navigational tools, which are then calibrated, in order for the driller to see where the bend is pointing when drilling. These tools are known as measurement while drilling, or MWD, and are described in detail later in this document.
  1. The other parts of the system will be adjusted to account for the required directional performance- the severity of this will depend on the drill design.

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Deviating the Wellbore by Jetting and Whipstock (Directional Drilling)

To deviate a well from a vertical path, and get it to follow an intended well trajectory , it is necessary to put some side force onto the bit. The amount of this, as well as its direction, are vital in order to keep the bit to its intended path. Other factors will also have an influence, including the hardness of the rock which is being drilled, as well as bedding plane angles. There are numerous different ways of developing a controlled side force on the bit. Two of the earliest developed methods are whipstock and jetting which will be discussed in this article.

Jetting as the Directional Drilling Tool

A tricone drill bit possesses three drilling cones, with a nozzle in between each one. Should a large nozzle be set into a single nozzle pocket, and two smaller nozzles used alongside it, then the majority of the mud flow would pass through the larger nozzle. Drilling fluid will be ejected from the drill bit with a significant amount of force, and so long as the formation is not overly hard, will erode the rock in its path. As the large nozzle directs the majority of the flow to a single point, a pocket will be carved into the rock in this direction. The well may be deviated simply by aligning the bit in the necessary direction, and then circulating without rotation.

Once between 5-6 feet have been washed away, the bit is then rotated, and drilling continues as normal. This process can be repeated continuously until an angle of around 12° is produced, or until rock is reached which is too solid to jet through. Figure 1 to 3 illustrate a jetting operation by a rotary drilling assembly, which is used to allow the well to keep building an angle while drilling and rotating take place.

Figure 1 – Jet a well to desired direction

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Directional Well Planning and Well Profile

The well planning process starts from geologists and reservoir engineers who decide the best place for the wellbore. They may only need to determine a single target, which will often be a tolerance of about 330 ft (100 m) around a certain target point. In this case, the angle at which the well enters the target can have various degree of deviation from the plan since a plan requires to hit only one target. On the other hand, it might be necessary for the well to penetrate multiple targets, with the final target being increasingly complex. This requires what is known as “geosteering”, a process which will be discussed later in the directional drilling series. The drilling engineer therefore needs to examine potential surface locations (if more than one is available) and design a well path which meets all necessary target requirements at the lowest possible cost. Cost can be minimized most effectively when there is a certain degree of flexibility when it comes to the surface location.

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Benefits of Casing while Drilling

Casing while drilling provides immediate benefits, saving both time and money by altering the steps needed for the drilling process. On top of this, the CwD system also provides a whole host of additional benefits. The benefits of casing while drilling can be summarized below;

benefits-of-casing-while-drilling-cover

Save Time and Cost

As mentioned in the introduction part, Basic Knowledge of Casing while Drilling (CwD), CwD is able to save operation time by cutting down flat time and reducing operational risk. When compared to conventional drilling, CwD can provide a time saving of between up to 37.5% of time spent on a well based on historical data from a field in Oman (136107-PA SPE Journal Paper – 2012). Continue reading

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Basic Knowledge of Casing while Drilling (CwD)

Casing while drilling (CwD) has been around for many years and it is one of proven technologies that can save both time and money. CwD is a process where a well is simultaneously drilled and cased; the casing is used for the drill string, and is rotated to the drill and cemented into the well at TD. One of the main benefits of this process is that it greatly cuts down on the tripping time needed to pull out the bottom hole assembly (BHA) and run the case- if not removing this need entirely. Therefore, the flat time is reduced, and the process is made more economically viable.

Figure 1- Casing while Drilling Operation (Courtesy of Weatherford)

Figure 1- Casing while Drilling Operation (Courtesy of Weatherford)

As shown in Figure 2 below, which is an example of Casing while Drilling utilized in one of oilfields in Oman for drilling surface section; this process can save up to 37.5% of time spent on a well based on historical data.

Figure 2 – A comparison between conventional drilling and casing while drilling of one field in Oman (136107-PA SPE Journal Paper - 2012).

Figure 2 – A comparison between conventional drilling and casing while drilling of one field in Oman (SPE 136107-PA ,SPE Journal Paper – 2012).

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