A detailed visualization of borehole size and shape, both while drilling and prior to running casing, completions, or wireline logging equipment, is an essential requirement to minimize non-productive time (NPT) associated with poor borehole quality or wellbore stability issues. The required visualization is made possible using logging-while-drilling (LWD) high-resolution ultrasonic imaging technology, suitable for both water-based mud (WBM) and oil-based mud (OBM) systems.

This paper provides borehole size and shape assessment from field deployments of a 4¾-in. ultrasonic calliper and imaging tool, illustrating the impact on borehole quality of various bottom-hole assembly (BHA) designs, including positive displacement mud motors (PDMs) and rotary steerable systems (RSS). The visualization of borehole quality enables features such as borehole spiralling and enlargement to be assessed and used as input into optimizing completions planning and formation-evaluation programs. In addition, the combination of high-resolution travel-time and reflection-amplitude images enables artefacts induced by drilling equipment, including RSS, to be identified and understood.

High-resolution travel-time and reflection-amplitude images and 3D borehole profile plots are presented from multiple wells, showing how different drilling systems and logging parameters, including drillstring rotation and logging speeds, impact borehole quality. The relationship between the angular bend in the PDM and the impact it has on borehole spiralling is discussed.

The LWD logs presented illustrate the factors that influence borehole quality and the methodology used to ensure that high-resolution images are available in both vertical and high-inclination wellbores, leading to the ability to reduce the NPT associated with wellbore stability issues. The observation and assessment of drilling artefacts and irregular borehole size and shape act as inputs into optimizing completion and logging programs, evaluating the optimal placement of packers and other completion equipment, and the design of the drill bit and BHA.

The ability to collect high-resolution travel-time and reflection-amplitude ultrasonic images in both WBM and OBM, in wellbores ranging from 5¾ to 7¼-in., leads to significant improvements in the understanding of wellbore quality. Borehole size and shape can now be visualized in real time in either water or oil-based drilling fluids at a resolution capable of identifying all significant drilling-induced geometric artifacts. This allows the adjustment of drilling parameters to minimize NPT associated with common drilling hazards, the optimization of completion programs and wireline logging programs.

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