This paper studies the helical buckling of pipes (drillstring and tubing) in extended reach and horizontal wells, theoretically and experimentally, resulting in new equations to correctly predict and effectively prevent the helical buckling of pipes in such wells. The theoretical study shows that the so-called helical buckling load that appears in the current literature is only the average axial load in the helical buckling development process. The laboratory experiments confirm the theoretical analysis. The new helical buckling load equations are formulated by combining the theoretical analysis and the experimental results, thereby resolving the existing assumption-and result inconsistency in the current literature. The new equation predicts the true helical buckling load to be about 1.3 times the so-called helical buckling load in the current literature, and about 1.8 times the critical buckling load that predicts the onset of sinusoidal buckling. Consequently, larger bit weights or packer setting loads can be applied to increase the drilling rate or to ensure a proper seal, before the helical buckling of the pipes can occur.

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