A survey program is designed for every well drilled to meet the well objective of penetrating the target reservoir and to avoid colliding with other offset wells. The selection of the wellbore survey tools within the survey program are limited to the current accuracy available to the industry. A newly developed wellbore survey technique has proven to have superior accuracy compared to the current standard measurement-while-drilling (MWD) surveys with in-field referencing and multi-station analysis (MSA).

In almost every drilling bottom hole assembly (BHA), there is an MWD survey tool to survey the wellbore while drilling. Accuracy of the MWD surveys has been improved over the years by correcting potential error sources such as misalignment of the survey package from the borehole, drillstring magnetic interference, limited global geomagnetic reference, and gravity model accuracy. This new positioning technique takes the accuracy of MWD surveys to the next level by combining surveys from two independent survey packages. The second survey package is installed inside the rotary steerable system (RSS). Surveys from both packages are retrieved while drilling.

Results have been obtained from multiple runs worldwide, enabling comparisons between the new technique and standard MWD surveys from both an enhanced accuracy and true wellbore placement point of view. A proposed error model is based on both the theoretical improvements in accuracy and the empirical proof from the data analyzed. The improved accuracy while drilling assures higher confidence that the well placement will maximize reservoir production and avoid collision with nearby offset wells.

In reservoir sections, the wellbore survey accuracy limits the lateral spacing, and this constrains the reservoir production. In top and intermediate sections, wellbore survey accuracy limits the well plan, and this affects how close the well can be drilled in proximity to other offset wells. This directly impacts the complexity of the directional work and the cost per drilled foot. The new technique unlocks the potential to significantly improve the wellbore positioning accuracy.

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