Understanding Hydraulics and Friction Loss in Extremely Narrow Annuli for Deepwater MPD Operations

Patil, Harshad (Weatherford) | Deshpande, Kedar (Weatherford) | Smelker, Keith (Shell) | Naphade, Pravin (Weatherford)



Estimating hydraulic frictional loss in narrow annuli is challenging, especially for deepwater offshore wells with extremely narrow drilling margins. The challenge arises from annuli that are formed by big bore packers like Gravel Pack Packers, where the annular clearance isextremely small. In cases where open hole completions are run with MPD (Managed Pressure Drilling), the well typically would be displaced to heavier weight fluids before the packer is set and MPD is isolated. This paper illustrates the complications and limitations for estimating friction loss due to the narrow annuli when using drilling hydraulic programs.

Accurate estimation of hydraulic friction loss is extremely essential when using MPD system to maintain BHP(bottomhole pressure) while drilling, tripping, cementing etc. While drilling, the hydraulic models would typically be calibrated to PWD (pressure while drilling) in the BHA (bottomhole assembly), but when running liners, casings or completion systems, the lack of PWD complicates hydraulics and friction loss estimations. This phenomenon is accentuated when displacing the well from lighter drilling fluids to heaviercompletion fluids,especially when the completion fluid reaches the narrow annuli and displays sudden increase in frictional loss value due to the hydraulic model limitations.

This paper focuses on the limitations of estimating the frictional loss in narrow annulus created by the Gravel Pack Packers,when predicted using the drillinghydraulicmodels, and proposes a solution for mitigating such anomalies in calculations. To assess the sudden changes in the pressure loss estimations, the paper further utilizes CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) and the frictional loss estimations in these narrow annuli. As an outcome of the study, the paper proposes unique solutions to estimate the frictional pressure loss due to narrow annuli.