Optimization of the Curve and Horizontal Sections of ERD Multi-Lateral Wells

Verma, Chandresh (Saudi Aramco) | ElKawass, Amir A. (Saudi Aramco) | Mehrdad, Nadem (Saudi Aramco) | ElDeeb, Tarek (Saudi Aramco) | Qazi, Muhammad Q. (Saudi Aramco) | Galaby, Amir (Schlumberger) | Salaheldin, Ahmed (Schlumberger) | Fakih, Abdulqawi Al (Schlumberger) | Osman, Ahmed (Schlumberger) | Hammoutene, Cherif (Schlumberger)



While ERD multi-lateral wells in a large Middle East field are typically drilled in six to seven well bore sections, drilling the 8.5-in curve and the 6.125-in lateral sections represents more than 50 % of the total time spent drilling the well. Challenges while drilling the curve section with a motor include difficulty transferring weight to the bit while sliding and differential sticking in the highly poros zones of gas cap. The laterals, which can extend up to 12,500 ft of reservoir contact, are characterized by medium to hard compacted carbonate formations with high stick and slip tendency. This represents several challenges for drill-bit design engineers given that aggressive cutting structures are preferred to generate good rate of penetration even though this often leads to high bottom-hole assembly vibration. Trajectory control, hole cleaning and long circulating hours also represent significant challenges.

This paper will present details of the engineering analysis performed to optimize both 8.5-in and 6.125-in wellbore sections.

For the curve section, the first step was to change the drill string from 5 in to 4 in which considerably reduced the time taken to change the string prior to drilling the laterals. This change of drill string was accompanied by the use of a rotary steerable system and a PDC bit. This was a combination that had never been implemented since the field discovery in 1968. These changes resulted in performance improvements in excess of 50 %.

For the laterals, the engineering analysis resulted in the need of a completely new bit design. The cutting structure was modified to provide a more aggressive bit to formation interaction, and the gauge contact with the formation was enhanced to maintain the bit and BHA stability. The resulting design broke the field rotary steerable ROP record by 28 %. The bit drilled the highest single run footage in the field (12,698 ft) at the highest ROP (96.93 ft/hr) with a rotary steerable system. This was further complemented by optimizing the drilling practices and well bore cleaning practices allowing the elimination of several conditioning trips within the long laterals which resulted in three days of savings in a three lateral well.

The paper will conclude with a discussion regarding the reduced injury exposure that resulted from changing the drill string earlier within the well and a review of further improvement opportunities.