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Lecture 9: Well Control An Introduction to Oilfield Pressures & d-exponent

Arun S Chandel
Assistant Professor aschandel@ddn upes ac in aschandel@ddn.upes.ac.in 09997200339

Wellbore Pressures
In the wellbore, there will be pressure (Pw) ..... If the well is shut in, the pressure seen will be the h d hydrostatic i pressure (PH) In this case the bottom hole pressure (BHP) will be equal to the hydrostatic pressure (PH)

BHP = PH BHP = gTVD BHP = 0.052 x x TVD (psi for API units) Where = Mud Density in ppg, & TVD = True Vertical Depth

Wellbore pressure p essu e Pw


Formation pressure

There are 3 well pressure scenarios to take account of ....

Wellbore pressure being greater than the pore/formation pressure, and is the general scenario used in the oil and gas industry today when drilling wells


Pw = Pf + POB Where: Pw = Wellbore Pressure POB = Margin of Overbalance PF = Formation Pressure PW is interchangeable with PH (i.e. hydrostatic pressure) if the well is shut in

P w > Pf

In Balance
P w = Pf
This scenario involves the pore pressure for the formation being exactly the same as the wellbore pressure This is not a common scenario when drilling in wells

Most conventional wells are drilled overbalance but recent developments in d illi drilling technology h l h have meant that h underbalance drilling is being increasingly used to improve well productivity. This is a specialised drilling technique in which the influx of formation fluid into the wellbore can is controlled. This minimises or avoids certain borehole problems such as formation damage


Pw < Pf
The regulation of the relationships b t between these th pressures is i crucial i l to a successful drilling operation, as is the effect of mixing formation and drilling g fluids as drilling gp progresses g This is a less common scenario when drilling wells

... can be defined as the force exerted on a unit crosssectional area. Pressure gradient is the pressure exerted per unit length. length Some of the key objectives of pressure evaluation are: gain an accurate knowledge of formation pressure in order to ensure effective well control; estimate formation fracture pressure in order to set the limits of working pressures; reduce the risk of kicks through the anticipation of pressure t transitions, iti etc; t wellbore pressure analysis / hydraulics optimisation

K Key types t of f operating ti pressures ...

hydrostatic pressure bottom hole circulating pressure (BHCP) pump pressure overburden pressure formation pressure fracture pressure

Hydrostatic pressure (HP)

...is the pressure due to the unit weight and vertical height of a static column of fluid. It is expressed mathematically in field units as: HP = 0.052 x x D
Where: = Fluid Density D = True Vertical Depth This relationship is for true vertical depth (TVD) and is therefore independent of hole angle and measured depth (MD)

Bottom o o Hole o Circulating u g Pressure (BHCP)

Once circulation is established in the wellbore, pressure losses will occur in the annulus due to friction For F circulation i l i to b be maintained i i d these h losses l must be b overcome by the pumps BHCP can also be expressed as an equivalent ... this leads to an increase in the bottom hole pressure to circulating density or pounds per gallon pure hydrostatic y (ECD)pressure: p above that of p

(ppg) BHCPequivalent = P + P



PANN = Annular Pressure Losses (psi)

The annular pressure losses are determined from standard equations for both drill pipe and drill collar annuli, and are dependent on flow rate, flow type and fluid rheology

Bottom o o Hole o Circulating u g Pressure (BHCP)

Once circulation is established in the wellbore, pressure losses will occur in the annulus due to friction For F circulation i l i to b be maintained i i d these h losses l must be b overcome by the pumps ... this leads to an increase in the bottom hole pressure to pure hydrostatic y pressure: p above that of p BHCP = PH + PANN
Where: PANN = Annular Pressure Losses (psi)

The annular pressure losses are determined from standard equations for both drill pipe and drill collar annuli, and are dependent on flow rate, flow type and fluid rheology


Differential Pressure (P)

...is the difference between the bottom hole circulating pressure and the formation pressure. Thus P = BHCP PF
There are three possible scenarios that can occur if the differential pressure is either negative (well is underbalanced), d b l d) equal l to zero ( (in b balance), l ) or positive (overbalanced)...


Scenario 1
If P is negative: Gas seepage from formation; Increased penetration rate (ROP); Caving of impermeable formations- spalling and sloughing shales; Fluid influx (kick) from permeable zones p of borehole Possible collapse wall in incompetent formations eg, unconsolidated sands


Scenario 2
If P is at or near zero:
Good expression of gasses liberated from cuttings;
Connection and trip gas expression due to mud column pressure reduction from circulation stoppage and pipe movement


Scenario 3
If P is positive: Reduction in ROP; Poor expression of gasses from pe meable formations permeable fo mations due d e to drilling d illing fluids flushing of formation; Poor electric log response; Formation damage g with solids invasion; ; Possible lost circulation

Under normal normal drilling conditions conditions, overbalance is essential and usually set between 200 - 300psi. This makes penetration t ti less l th than optimum ti but b t makes k kick less likely during drilling. More importantly, small positive differential pressure compensates t for f swab b pressure reduction during trips and connections

The U U-Tube Tube Analogy


Pump Pressure must overcome all the pressure losses in the mud path
surface equipment (eg. rotary (eg o a y hose, ose, swivel, kelly or topdrive) drill p pipe p bottom hole assemblies (BHA) bit BHA annulus drill pipe annulus
Surface Equipment

Shakers Mud Pumps Mud Pits

Drill Pipe Drill Pipe Annulus

Drill Collars Drill Collar Annulus Bit


Overburden pressure

Overburden pressure is the pressure exerted by the total weight of solids and fluids in the formation and is caused by the weight of rock above the area of interest


Overburden pressure
Knowledge of overburden pressure at each point in a well is essential for formation p pressure and fracture pressure estimation. The relationship can be expressed mathematically as: ob = z + PF
Where: ob = Overburden Wh O b d stress t or pressure z = Matrix stress (rock in this case) PF = Formation pressure


Formation pressure
... the pressure exerted by the fluids contained in the pore space of a rock p normally y on the fluid column density y and vertical depends depth for a normal formation, it is equivalent to the pressure supported by a column of the formation fluid at that depth (ie the hydrostatic pressure) for this normal formation, the true pore pressure at a given depth is equal to the fluid column pressure plus pressure losses from fluid movement and temperature effects


Formation pressure
Just to be sure ... again ....
PF = Formation pressure in psi f = Formation fluid density in ppg D = TVD in feet

PF = 0.052 0 052 x f x D


Normal & Abnormal Pressures

Because saline water is the most os co common o fluid u d in the e porous rock, the formation pressure is given as a function of the formation water density. Depending on salinity, the pressure ranges from 0.433 psi/ft (f (fresh h water) t ) to t 0.465 0 465 psi/ft Examples of Formation (Pore) ( o e) Pressures: essu es Niger Delta 0.433 psi/ft Southern North Sea 0.442 psi/ft US Gulf Coast 0.463 psi/ft


Abnormal Formation Pressures

Where the formation pressure is less than 0 433 psi/ft 0.433 i/ft or greater t than th 0.465psi/ft 0 465 i/ft the pressure is abnormal a PF < 0.433 0 433 psi/ft is termed Subnormal while a PF >0.465 psi/ft is termed GeoPressured or Over Pressured Over-Pressured Pressured


P Possible ibl causes of f abnormal b l pressure..

Pressure Seals - Combination of effects that restrict migration of formation fluids from higher to lower pressures Compaction effects - The phenomenon occurs in all sediments especially clay based marine sediments Tectonic Effect - The result of uplift of normally compacted formations, stress field changes Diagenetic Effects - This is the process of chemical alteration of mine als by minerals b geological p processes ocesses Differential density effects - When the pore fluid present in any non-horizontal structure has a density significantly less than the normal p pore fluid density y for the area Osmotic Process involving the movement of water through a semipermeable membrane

... And many more ...


Estimation during drilling

As drilling progresses into a transition zone of normal and abnormal formation formation, variations in the rock properties and bit performance usually provides many indirect indications of changes in f formation pressure. To detect d these h changes, h drilling parameters related to bit performance are monitored continuously y and recorded by y surface instruments


P Parameters t t to keep k a careful f l eye on ...

Penetration rate Shale caving increase Shale density/Shale factor changes; Mud density/conductivity changes; Flowline mud temperature p changes; g ; d exponent (DCS) changes (more about this later...); Increase in drilled/swabbed gas; Torque / Overpull and Drag; Mud pit volume / Flow increase while drilling Changes in hole fill during trip


The d-Exponent d Exponent

... basically used to predict the possibility of abnormally pressured formations. It gives a non-dimensional number which is based upon the relationship between the penetration rate and formation pressure. It can be used to identify the transition from normal to abnormal formation pressure for a given drilling fluid density density. It can also be used to calculate: The formation pressure; The fracture gradient in abnormally pressured zones
Mathematically it looks like this...


The d-exponent
The d exponent technique for detection of overpressures is based on a normalised drilling rate equation developed by Bingham g (1964) ( ). Bingham g proposed p p the following g g generalised drilling rate equation:


The d-exponent
Jordan and Shirley (1966) re-organised this equation to be explicit in d. This equation was then simplified by assuming that the rock which was being drilled did not change (a = 1) and that the rotary speed exponent (e) was equal to one. The rotary speed d exponent t has h b been found f d experimentally to be very close to one. This removed the variables which were dependent on lithology and rotary speed. This means however that the resulting equation can only be applied to one type of lithology and theoretically at a single rotary speed. The latter is not too restrictive since the value of e is generally close to 1(one). On the basis of these assumptions and accepting these limitations the following equation was produced:

R log N 60 d= 12W log 1000 D bit

R = Penetratio P t ti n rate t (ft/hr) (ft/h ) N = Rotary speed (rpm) W = We Weight g o on b bit ( (kilo o - lbf) b) D bit = Bit diameter (inches)


The d-exponent
This equation is known as the R log d-exponent equation. 60 N d= Since the values of R, N, W 12W log and B are either known or 1000 D bit can be measured at surface the value of the d-exponent R = Penetratio P t ti n rate t (ft/hr) (ft/h ) can be b determined d t i d and d plotted against depth for the N = Rotary speed (rpm) entire well. Values of d can W = We Weight g o on b bit ( (kilo o - lbf) b) be found by using the D bit = Bit diameter (inches) nomograph in the Figure.



The d-exponent
Notice that the value of the d-exponent varies inversely with the drilling g rate. As the bit drills into an overpressured p zone the compaction and differential pressure will decrease, the ROP will increase, and so the d-exponent p should decrease. An overpressured zone will therefore be identified by plotting d-exponent against depth and seeing where the d-exponent d exponent reduces. reduces Any departure from this trend is an indication of the transition to abnormal pressure conditions. This may be in the form of reverse trend with negative gradient or that the trend increases less rapidly with depth.

The d-exponent
It should be realised that this equation takes into account variations in the major drilling parameters, parameters but for accurate results the following conditions should be maintained: N No abrupt b t changes h i WOB or RPM should in h ld occur, i.e. i keep WOB and RPM as constant as possible. To reduce the dependence on lithology the equation should be applied. over small depth increments only (plot every 10'). A good thick shale is required to establish a reliable trend line.

dc Exponent
It can be seen that the d-exponent equation takes no account of mudweight. Since mudweight determines the pressure on the bottom of the hole the g p greater the mudweight the greater the chip hold-down effect and therefore the lower the ROP. A modified d-exponent (dc) which accounts for variations in mudweight has therefore b been d i d derived:




The d exponent is generally used to simply identify the top of the overpressured zone. The value of the formation pressure can however be derived from the modified d-exponent, using a method th d proposed d by b Eaton E t (1976):


Whilst Whil t drilling d illi th 12 1/4" h the hole l section ti of f a well ll the th mudloggers were recording the data as shown in the table below:


a) Plot the d and dc exponent and determine whether there are any indications of an overpressured zone. b) If an overpressured zone exists, what is the depth of the top of the transition zone. zone c) Use the Eaton equation to formation pressure at 8600 ft. estimate the

Assume a normal formation pressure of 0.465 psi/ft, an overburden gradient of 1.0 psi/ft and a normal mud weight for this area of 9.5 ppg.



Figure 1

Figure 2

Whilst drilling this section of 12 1/4 hole the mudloggers were also recording data which would allow them to plot the d and dc exponents for this shale section. This data is compiled and the d and dc exponents calculated l l d as shown h in Table. bl A plot l of f the h d and d dc exponents in Figure 1 and 2 confirms that the top of the overpressured zone is at 8000 ft.