Resolving Torsional Vibration in Horizontal Limestone Reservoirs Prevents Severe Equipment Damages

Busaidi, Adil Zahran Al (Schlumberger) | Hawy, Ahmed El (Schlumberger) | Omara, Ahmed (Schlumberger) | Lawati, Ali Baqir Al (Schlumberger) | Vasquez Bautista, Ramiro Oswaldo (Schlumberger) | Awadalla, Muhannad (Schlumberger) | Al Ghaithi, Ghaida Abdullah Salim (Schlumberger) | Chibani, Zied (Petroleum Development Oman) | Al Jamaei, Suroor (Petroleum Development Oman)



Torsional vibration (also known as stick and slip) is a major contributor to equipment failures and severe damage when drilling the 6 1/8-in. lateral limestone Shuaiba reservoir section in PDO North Oil fields. This paper examines multiple factors that can affect the severity of stick and slip and measures their actual impact. These factors include bit/bottomhole assembly (BHA) design and formation/mud properties. The effect of a software plugin to an automated drilling system that was designed to mitigate the effects of stick and slip was also examined.

Initially, drilling dynamics data available for the lateral Shuaiba reservoir were analyzed to evaluate the levels of torsional vibration. Several proposed design changes to reduce the torsional vibration were then modeled separately using finite element analysis (FEA) to predict their dynamic behavior. Trials were conducted, and the impact of independently changing each factor in the overall torsional vibration was assessed. Data were collected from over 40 horizontal wells drilled in the same reservoir. In each set of trials, identical drilling conditions were maintained while changing a single factor.

The analyzed legacy set of well data showed high levels of torsional vibration (stick and slip) in the lateral section for different fields that share nearly the same reservoir characteristics and bit/BHA design. Using a similar formation profile, the FEA modeling results suggested that stiffening the drillstring and using heavier sets of PDC bits would greatly reduce the torsional vibrations while maintaining a good rate of penetration. When these changes were applied, actual data were analyzed to measure the improvement. Additionally, the analysis found that specific formation characteristics such as formation density highly contribute the severity of torsional vibration.

Modeling also suggested that applying higher torque to the bit reduces its RPM fluctuations and allows for lower surface parameters. This, in return, reduces the amplitude of the torsional vibration. Over eight trials were analyzed, and significant reductions in both the measured torsional vibrations levels and equipment failures and damages were seen.

Finally, the effect of utilizing a software plugin to an automated drilling system to mitigate stick and slip when drilling the 6.125-in. lateral limestone reservoir was examined. Like the other proposed solutions, the remaining factors were kept constant.

The paper offers a rare case study specific to lateral limestones reservoirs, where interbedded layers are a common contributor to the severity of torsional vibrations. The results and conclusions are based on downhole high-resolution data to calibrate finite element models to provide fit-for-purpose solutions. The results eliminate much of the theoretical explanations about root causes of torsional vibrations in limestone reservoirs.