In oil and gas drilling, cuttings transport related problems are a major contributor to well downtime and costs. As a result, solutions to these problems have been extensively researched over the years, both experimentally and through simulation. Numerous review articles exist, summarizing not only the research history but also the qualitative effect of individual case parameters such as e.g. pump flow rate, pipe rotation, rate of penetration on cuttings transport. However, comparing different studies is challenging, as there is no common reference basis defined in the form of typical and representative set of case parameters.
In order to develop relevant and accurate cutting transport models, it is critical that both experiments and models are targeting flow cases, which are relevant for respective drilling operations. By developing a clear understanding of the industrial parameter space, as well as establishing critical benchmarks, the development of models and corresponding laboratory experiments will become much easier.
Other industries have established such benchmarks (e.g. the "NREL offshore 5-MW baseline wind turbine" in wind power research), providing a standardized set of case parameters and profiles, readily available for use to researchers worldwide and resulting in straightforward benchmark and validation as well as faster project set-up and definition.
For application to modeling of cuttings transport phenomena, we propose a methodology how to derive a well-defined and standardized set of geometrical, operational, and environmental case parameters describing various working points of actual drilling operations and procedures as well as simplified problems. The relevance and application of standard parameters is briefly discussed in the light of modeling, both experimentally and through simulations.