A very important aspect in highly inclined wellbores is the mechanical friction. For extended reach drilling (ERD) and through tubing extended reach drilling (TTERD) this can be a limiting factor. Friction caused by the contact between the drill string and the well casing or borehole is dependent to the drilling weight and fluid properties. Drilling fluids play an important role on mechanical friction and using oil based drilling fluids with higher lubricity can reduce torque and drag behavior and minimize stick and slip. Reducing mechanical friction will improve drilling efficiency in general, and will in particular enable longer reach for ERD wells.

This paper presents results from experimental laboratory tests where mechanical friction has been investigated. The experiments have been conducted as part of a project in the Tribolab at Luleå University of Technology in cooperation with Det norske Oljeselskap.

Friction behavior has been investigated for different drilling fluids; water based and oil based drilling fluids both with and without solid particles. A pin on disc setup was used for these experiments where a spherical steel pin was sliding on a rotational disc made of granite. Friction force has been measured in constant sliding speed and in presence of particles in wet condition. The test results show that mechanical friction in general is smaller with oil based than water based drilling fluids in the presence of solid particles. In addition, the friction coefficient increases when solid particles were added to the lubricants.

Such experiments in a tribology laboratory are important to identify the effect of drilling fluids on mechanical friction from a basic point of view and isolated from all other wellbore parameters. It is interesting to monitor if the results from this setup can have quantitative relevance also for field situations and such comparison should be done as follow up. Test results and the experimental approach could therefore be of value for any one working with drilling and well construction.

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