Abstract

As explorations advance and drilling techniques become more innovative, complex and challenging trajectories arise. In consequence, cuttings transport has continued to be a subject of interest because, if the drilled cuttings cannot be removed from the wellbore, drilling cannot proceed for long. Therefore, efficient cleaning of highly inclined and horizontal wellbores is still among the most important problems to solve, because these types of wells require specialized fluid formulations and/or specific hole cleaning techniques.

There are numerous studies and methods that focus in cuttings transportation in highly inclined and horizontal wells. One of them is the use of viscosity and density sweeps. Sweep pills have been used in the drilling industry as a tool to improve hole cleaning. This report presents the analysis of the performance of different sweeps pills working independently and in tandem in polymeric, oil and synthetic based systems and the comparison between them.

The main objective of this project is to provide experimental evidence on which types of fluids perform better under certain conditions by studying the effect of viscosity and density in the bed erosion process in highly inclined and horizontal wells. In order to achieve that, several fluid formulations were tested at different inclination angles (90, 75, 60 degrees) in the Small Indoor Flow Loop property of The University of Tulsa’s Drilling Research Projects. The results of the tests are presented in terms of volume of drilled cuttings removed from the test section and measured differential pressures. All the tests were conducted under atmospheric pressure and ambient temperature. Moreover, a 2-Layer model is used for estimating the erosion performance of sweeps for design purposes, and the model estimations are compared with experimental results.

From the experiments, it was identified that polymeric, oil and synthetic based muds with similar density and rheological properties eroded and transported the drilled cuttings similarly under similar test conditions. Furthermore, pumping the sweep pills in tandem demonstrated higher cuttings transport efficiency when compared with the sweep pills applied independently.

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