Summary

As drilling sections become deeper and longer, transferring more weight downhole to improve rate of penetration is the primary concern for the operator. Drillstring dynamics and buckling are some primary limiters for drilling efficiency. Aggressive drilling parameters may lead to severe downhole dynamics, which leads to cutter breakage and tool damage. When axial compression exceeds a certain threshold, the drillstring buckles sinusoidally inside the wellbore first, followed by helical buckling. Buckling leads to accelerated joint wear, tool fatigue failures, and lower drilling efficiency. To better manage drillstring dynamics and buckling, we propose a method of simulating drillstring dynamics motion and postbuckling state using an advanced transient dynamics model.

An analysis methodology was developed on the basis of the finite element transient dynamics model. The model captures the enriched physics of drillstring dynamics and loading: the large deformation of buckled drillstring, the strong nonlinearity of contact and friction forces, and the dynamically triggered instability caused by drilling rotation. Transient dynamics simulations are conducted for drillstring with the actual well trajectory and rotation speed. The weight on bit (WOB) is ramped up gradually, and the drillstring deformation is monitored to detect the onset of buckling or dynamics instability.

To conduct the model validation, the buckling inception loads predicted by the model are compared against the analytical equation of critical buckling loads. A field extended reach drilling (ERD) job was simulated by the model. The downhole weight and torque data from the measurement-while-drilling (MWD) tool was used to validate the weight transfer prediction by the model. Most existing buckling theories use the analytical equations of critical buckling load, which were normally derived on the basis of the idealized assumptions, such as perfect wellbore shape and uniform tubular geometry. The proposed method simulates the drillstring behaviors in the field drilling conditions and aims to capture effects of wellbore friction and string rotation. The transient dynamics model is capable of simulating drillstring dynamics movement (whirling and snaking) and weight lockup under severe helical buckling. An automatic method is proposed to interpret the drillstring behaviors from the simulation results. Using the transient dynamics model, the procedure presented in this article can simulate the dynamics and buckling behaviors of drillstring and help mitigate associated risks in well-planning and execution phases.

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