Horizontal wells are designed to have smooth (straight), curved, and lateral sections. However, the actual drilled path usually suffers from unwanted undulations from the planned well trajectory known as wellbore tortuosity. Wellbore tortuosity can slow the drilling penetration rate, aggravate drillstring vibration and buckling, complicate the casing and cement job, and lead to inaccurate wellbore position. This paper presents a validated computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model to investigate the impact of wellbore tortuosity on hole cleaning. The Eulerian-Eulerian approach is used to simulate solid-liquid laminar flow in annular geometry using polyhedral mesh. Then, the impact of wellbore tortuosity on cuttings accumulation, annular pressure loss, and fluid velocity was investigated and compared with the flow behavior in a straight horizontal well. A parametric analysis of spiral period length, spiral amplitude, drillstring rotation, flow rate, annular eccentricity, drilling rate of penetration (ROP), and cuttings size was conducted to assess their influence on cuttings transport in spiral tortuous holes and their relative magnitude to other design or operating factors.

Simulation results show that polyhedral mesh is an optimum meshing technique for spiral profile geometry. Wellbore tortuosity aggravates hole cleaning in lateral sections based on the length of the spiral period and/or the spiral amplitude. Reduction in cuttings velocity was observed in the top part of the spiral geometry (crest), causing large deposition of cuttings in this area compared to the spiral lower part (trough). Drillstring rotation from 0 to 200 rev/min is the critical range for efficient hole cleaning in spiral geometry. Cuttings size can improve cuttings accumulation if the particle size is larger than the viscous layer located near the bed velocity profile. The drilling ROP and annular eccentricity aggravate cuttings accumulation and bed deposition in a spiral hole, similar to what is normally observed in straight horizontal wells.

You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.