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Drilling Services Fundamentals

Training Curriculum
CRCM_130_revA_0204

Computalog Drilling Services


Technology Services Group
16178 West Hardy Road, Houston, Texas 77060
Telephone: 281.260.5700 Facsimile: 281.260.5780
www.computalog.com

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DRILLING SERVICES FUNDAMENTALS


Petroleum Geology Fundamentals .......................................................Chapter 1
Sedimentary Transport & Depositional Environments ................................................ 6
Sedimentary Rock Classifications .......................................................................... 15
Origin of Hydrocarbons .......................................................................................... 20
Hydrocarbon Migration .......................................................................................... 24
Hydrocarbon Accumulation .................................................................................... 27

Directional Surveying Fundamentals....................................................Chapter 2

Survey Accuracy and Quality Control ...................................................Chapter 3

Directional Drilling Fundamentals .......................................................Chapter 4

Optional Topics...................................................................................Chapter 5

State of the Art in MWD......................................................................Chapter 6

April 2002

Table of Contents

April 2002

Table of Contents

PETROLEUM GEOLOGY PRIMER

Spring 2002
Calgary

Rocks and Minerals

Igneous
Sedimentary
Metamorphic

Two Basic Kinds of Texture


Clastic Texture

Crystalline Texture

The Rock Cycle

Igneous Rock
Igneous rocks are formed from magma.
Two principal types of igneous rock
Intrusive (plutonic), those that have solidified below
the surface
Granite

Extrusive (volcanic), those that have formed on the


surface
Lava

Sedimentary Rock
Exposed surface rock is subject to weathering
and erosion
Weathering breaks down the structure
Erosion is the removal of weathered rock

Sedimentary Rock
Sedimentary rocks cover 75% of the land
surface.
Because sedimentary rocks are capable of
containing fluids they are of prime interest to
the petroleum geologists
Shale

Metamorphic Rock
Rock changed by pressure and heat
Shale can become slate
Limestone can become marble

Metamorphism results in a crystalline texture which


has little or no porosity.
About 27% of the earths crust is composed of
metamorphic rocks.

Sedimentary Transport &


Depositional
Environments

Sedimentary Transport
Gravity works through water, wind, or ice
A river flows sediments downstream while
undercutting its banks
Tectonic forces raise lowlands above sea level,
ensuring a continuing supply of exposed rock
for producing sediments
Gravity ultimately pulls sediments to sea level

Mass Movement
In high elevations
Severe weathering
Instability of steep slopes

A large block of bedrock


may separate along deep
fractures or bedding planes
Rockslide or avalanche

Stream Transport
The distance a sedimentary particle can be
carried depends on:

Available stream energy


Size
Shape
Density

Continental Environments
Fluvial deposits
Desert environment

Continental Environments
Glacial deposits
Aeolian deposits

Transitional Environments
Marine deltas

Beaches

Sedimentary Rock Classifications

Sedimentary Rock Classifications


Lithification
Deposited beyond the reach of erosion
Diagenesis (physical and chemical changes)

Compaction
Sediments accumulate over time in the ocean
Weight is increased by thousands of feet of more sediment
layers
Pore space is reduced as water is squeezed out

Cementation
The crystallization or precipitation of soluble minerals in the
pore spaces between clastic particles.

Clastics
Conglomerates

Sandstones

Shales

Evaporites
Gypsum

Halite

Carbonates
Limestone

Coal

Chert

Origin of Hydrocarbons

u talog

Hydrocarbons
Originally oil seemed to come from solid rock deep
beneath the surface
Scientists showed oil-rocks were once loose sediment
piling up in shallow coastal waters
Advances in microscopy revealed fossilized creatures
Chemists discovered certain complex molecules in
petroleum known to occur only in living cells
That source rocks were shown to originate in an
environment rich with life clinched the organic
theory

Chemical Composition of Average


Crude Oil & Natural Gas
Element

Crude Oil

Natural Gas

Carbon

82 87%

65 80%

Hydrogen

12 15%

1 25%

Sulphur

0.1 5.5%

0 0.2%

Nitrogen

0.1 1.5%

1 15%

Oxygen

0.1 4.5%

0%

Chemical Factors
Petroleum is only slightly soluble in salt water
It floats but is often found in an oil-water emulsion
Some petroleum contains hydrocarbon molecules with
60-70 carbon atoms
Molecules with up to four carbon atoms occur as gases
Molecules having five to fifteen carbon atoms are liquids
Heavier molecules occur as solids

Methane, the simplest hydrocarbon, has the chemical


formula CH4.
Four is the maximum number of hydrogen atoms that can
attach to a single carbon atom

Biological Factors
The food chain contributes waste products, and
every organism that is not eaten eventually dies
Bacteria plays an important role in recycling
Aerobic (oxygenated) oxidizes organic matter
Anaerobic (reducing) takes oxygen from dissolved sulfates
and organic fatty acids producing sulfides and hydrocarbons

Aerobic decay liberates certain hydrocarbons that


some small organisms accumulate within their bodies,
the anaerobics are more important in oil formation

Biological Factors
Organic waste materials and dead organisms sink to
the bottom, preserved in an anaerobic environment
Accumulation and compaction help seal the organic
matter off from dissolved oxygen
Transformation into petroleum is accomplished by
the heat and pressure of deeper burial
Examples of where anaerobic environments exist:

Deep offshore
Salt marshes
River deltas
Tidal lagoons

The Petroleum Window


The set of conditions under
which petroleum will form
Temperatures between
100F-350F
The higher the temperature,
the greater the gas proportion
Above 350F almost all of the
hydrocarbon is changed into
methane and graphite
Source beds (or reservoirs)
deeper than about 20,000 feet
usually produce only gas

Source Rocks
Source Rock
Organic material that has been converted into petroleum

Reservoir Rock
Rock in which petroleum accumulates

The best source rocks are shales


Other source beds are limestone, evaporites, and rocks
formed from freshwater sedimentary deposition
Petroleum is found in a variety of forms and chemical
complexities

Hydrocarbon Migration

Migration
Primary migration
Movement of hydrocarbons out of the source rock

Secondary migration
Subsequent movement through porous, permeable
reservoir rock by which oil and gas become
concentrated in one locality

10

Primary Migration
Involves compaction and the flow of water
Petroleum comes from source beds deposited
mostly on the seafloor
As shale gets compressed into less space, it is
not the solid mineral grains that are
compressed but the pore spaces
Interstitial water is squeezed out, carrying
droplets of oil in suspension and other
hydrocarbons in solution

Primary Migration
Effective porosity is the ratio
of the volume of all the
interconnected pores to the
total volume of a rock unit
Only the pores that are
connected with other pores
are capable of accumulating
petroleum
Effective porosity depends
upon how the rock particles
were deposited and cemented

Primary Migration

<1 md

Poor

1-10 md

Fair

10-100 md

Good

100-1000 md

Very Good

A rock's permeability is a
measure of how easily
fluids can pass through it
The basic unit is the
Darcy; l/1000 of a Darcy is
a millidarcy (md)
The permeability of
sandstones commonly
ranges between 0.01 and
10,000 md.

11

Permeability
Permeability can vary with direction of flow
Pore connections may be less numerous, narrower, or less
well aligned in one direction than another
In rocks formed from well-sorted beach sands, grains that
are not spherical are often aligned perpendicular to the
beach
Stream channel sands are aligned in the direction of stream
flow and often contain horizontal sheets or stringers of less
permeable clay
Fluids move more easily through such rocks parallel to grain
alignment or clay stringers than across them

Secondary Migration
Hydrocarbons are moved through permeable
rock by gravity
Compressing pore spaces containing fluid
Causing water containing hydrocarbons to flow
Causing water to displace less dense petroleum
fluids upward

Flow can mean movement of a few inches a


year, which can add up to many miles in a
geologically short time

Hydrocarbon Accumulation

12

Accumulation
Oil collects in places it cannot readily flow out of
a structural high point
a zone of reduced permeability
As accumulation occurs, distinct zones of gas, oil, and
water appear

Effective Permeability
Rock permeability to a given fluid when
another fluid is also present
Water has seven times the ability of oil to cling
to the grains of porous rock
Interstitial water reduces the space available
for oil
narrows the passages between pores
lowers the rock's effective permeability to oil

Relative Permeability
The ratio of effective to absolute permeability
1.0 = rock with oil but no water
0.0 = rock with water but no oil

Encountering higher fluid pressure


may overcome the water's resistance to the passage
of oil
may increase the effective permeability of the
formation by opening tiny fractures

13

Horizontal Movement
Interstitial water with oil droplets moves slowly
through horizontal sandstone beneath a layer of
relatively impermeable shale
The oil droplets tend to concentrate in the upper
levels of the sandstone because of their buoyancy

Diagonal Movement
If the tilt is upward in the direction of flow
The oil tends to rise updip with the flow of water

If the oil rises against the flow of water


The water flows downdip

Movement Within an Anticline


Water flows updip into the anticline, then downdip
Oil rises with the incoming water and moves
preferentially toward the crest
Concentration is near the highest point
To accumulate oil, the anticline must be closed
Plunge in both directions along its axis
Dip toward both flanks

14

Differentiation
Petroleum reservoirs are water-wet
Oil is not in contact with the rock grains because
they are coated with a film of water
Most oil fields have 50-80% maximum oil
saturation
Above 80%, the oil can be produced with very little
water mixed in
Below 10%, the oil is not recoverable

Hydrocarbon Reservoirs

Hydrocarbon reservoirs divide into


two or more zones
With oil and water, oil will occupy
the upper zone
This zone has maximum oil saturation
The oil-water contact is not a sharp line
but a transition zone

Oil saturation increases gradually


from near 0% at the base to
50%-80% at the top

Hydrocarbon Reservoirs

Natural gas is dissolved in the oil


and to some extent in the water
Reservoir conditions sometimes
allow undissolved gas to create a gas
cap above the oil zone
The wetting fluid in a gas cap is
usually water but occasionally oil
The transition zone between oil-gas
is thinner than the oil-water

15

Hydrocarbon Reservoirs
Some reservoirs contain gas but not oil
This gas is called non-associated gas
The transition zone is a gas-water contact
The water contains gas in solution

Free methane remains in a gaseous


state even under great pressure
Ethane, propane, and butane, are gases
at the surface are often found in a
liquid state under reservoir conditions

Types of Traps
The basic requirements for a petroleum reservoir are
A source of hydrocarbons
Porous and permeable rock enabling migration
Something to arrest the migration and cause accumulation

Anticlines are not the only geologic situations for


hydrocarbon accumulation
Two major groups of hydrocarbon traps
structural, the result of deformation of the rock strata
stratigraphic, a direct consequence of depositional variations
*hydrodynamic, trapped by the force of moving water

Most reservoirs have characteristics of multiple types

Structural
Anticline
Structure

Anticlines
Created by tectonic deformation of
flat and parallel rock strata
A short anticline plunging in both
directions along its strike is
classified as a dome

Faults
Impermeable Bed
Sealing
Fault

Most faults trap oil and gas by


interrupting the lateral continuity
of a permeable formation

16

Stratigraphic
Lateral discontinuity or changes in permeability are
difficult to detect
Stratigraphic traps were not studied until after most of the
world's structural oil field discoveries
They still account for only a minor part of the world's
known petroleum reserves

Stratigraphic traps are unrelated to surface features


Many stratigraphic traps have been discovered
accidentally while drilling structural traps

Stratigraphic

Shoestring Sand

Stream
Channel

An overlapping series of coarser stream


sediments buried by clay
A sinuous string of sandstone winding
through impermeable shales
Form complex branching networks
Give no hint of the underlying channel
Tracing the course is difficult
Clues such as direction of greatest
permeability and general slope of the
buried land surface help find the next
productive location

Lens

Isolated body of permeable rock enclosed within less


permeable rock
Edges taper out in all directions
Formed by turbidity underwater slides
Isolated beach or streams sand deposits
Alluvial fans, and other deposits

Lens Traps

17

Pinchout
Occurs where a porous and permeable sand body is
isolated above, below, and at its updip edge
Oil or gas migrates updip to the low-permeability zone
where the reservoir "pinches out"
Pinchout
Traps

Combination Traps

Timing and Preservation of Traps

18

Conclusions
The petroleum geologist's job is finding oil and gas
that can be produced for commercial profit
Most of what he needs to know is hidden beneath the
surface
Powerful tools and techniques exist for revealing the
secrets of the earth's crust
To the geologist's trained eye and mind, the same
rocks that hide the resource also provide subtle clues
about its location

19

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PETROLEUM GEOLOGY
What comes into your mind when you hear the word geology? If youre like most of us, chances are
you get a vivid picture such as the May 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. We tend to think of
geology in terms of landscapes too vast to fully comprehend volcanoes, mountain ranges, and
canyons created by forces beyond our comprehension.
Perhaps, then, you will be surprised to learn that
most geological changes occur so slowly that you
cannot see them happening; that our understanding
of those changes has enabled us to find the fossil
fuels that power our civilization; and that the scope
of our insight into the geological phenomenon of oil
includes both the large and the small mountains
and sand grains, oceans and water droplets, sunlight
and bacteria.
Within this wide range of things and ideas, the story
of how, where, and when petroleum accumulates
underground can be made very complicated or
very simple. A scientist can describe precisely how
heat and pressure affect complex organic
molecules, but he may do so in a language hard to
understand. The average motorist, on the other
hand, may fill up at the gas pump; comfortable with
the notion that oil comes from dinosaur-shaped
caverns. For those curious about the phenomenon
of natures liquid fuels but lacking a rigorous
scientific education, the simple picture does not
satisfy, but the exact answer (insofar as scientists
know it) baffles.
Explaining the occurrence of petroleum in rock formations is very similar to explaining why it rains,
with one fundamental difference we can watch clouds forming and rain falling, but no one has ever
watched oil form and accumulate underground. To figure out what happens, we must first answer
some basic questions: Does oil start out as oil or as something else? Does it change over time? Does it
form where it is found, or does it come from somewhere else? Why is it found in some places but not
in others? These questions can be answered; but to answer them we have to look at petroleum on many
levels global, regional, local, microscopic, and molecular. In the search for petroleum, the area of
greatest interest to us is geology the science of the earth.

Rocks and Minerals


A mineral is a naturally occurring inorganic crystalline element or
compound. Although some rocks, such as rock salt, are made up of
grains of a single mineral, most rocks are assemblages of different
minerals. A mineral has a definite chemical composition and
characteristic physical properties such as crystal shape, melting
point, color, and hardness. However, most minerals, as found in
rocks, are not pure. Quartz, a form of silica, has a definite chemical
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formula (SiO2), but usually contains impurities that give it color. Feldspar, on the other hand, includes
within its chemical range a wide variety of potassium, sodium, and calcium aluminum silicates. One
common variety is orthoclase, which is mostly KAlSi3O8. Varieties of feldspar make up about half the
rocks of the earths surface.
If you examine a typical rock, you will see that it is composed of individual mineral grains of various
types. In some rocks the grains are so small that they can be seen only under a microscope; in others,
they are quite large. Texture, the size and arrangement of these mineral particles, is one of the principal
descriptive properties geologists use to classify rocks.
Two basic kinds of texture are crystalline and clastic. In rocks with clastic texture, the grains, which
are broken fragments of rocks, minerals, or organic debris, may touch each other but are mostly
surrounded and held together by cement such as calcite. Often the spaces between the grains are not
completely filled, leaving openings or voids that can contain water or other fluids. In crystalline
texture, the grains form and grow from the molten rock material as it solidifies, and so they interlock
or touch each other on all faces. Minerals can also crystallize from ground water solutions within
existing rocks. Rocks with crystalline texture usually have very low porosity.

Clastic Texture

Crystalline Texture

Primary rock classification is by origin: igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic. Rock in any one of
these categories can be transformed by natural processes into its counterpart in another category. The
relationships of these rock types and processes are shown as the Rock Cycle

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Igneous Rock
Igneous rocks are those formed directly from molten rock material, or magma. When the planet was
formed, the original crust was entirely igneous; today the percentage is 65%. Two principal types of
igneous rock are intrusive (plutonic), those that have solidified below the surface, and extrusive
(volcanic), those that have formed on the surface. Granite, the most common intrusive igneous rock,
has crystals that are easily seen by the unaided eye. Magma that reaches the surface is called lava;
extrusive igneous rock is hardened lava from volcanic eruptions. Because it has lost its heat rapidly to
the atmosphere, its grains are usually smaller than those of intrusive rock and may be visible only
under magnification.

Cooling
Hardening

Lava

Granite

Some lava cools so rapidly that it does not form crystals at all; the result is a volcanic glass known as
obsidian. Another common extrusive rock is basalt. Since igneous rocks form from a cooling body of
magma or lava, they are usually crystalline and non-porous. However, pyroclastics, composed of
fragments of ash from volcanic explosions, have clastic texture and are porous. Gas-filled lava that has
cooled rapidly may form a vesicular type of obsidian called pumice, the rock that floats on water.

Obsidian

Pumice

Sedimentary Rock
When any type of rock is exposed at the surface, it becomes subject to weathering and erosion.
Weathering processes are those that break down the structure of the rock by chemical and physical
attack. Erosion is the removal of weathered rock or soil particles by flowing water, wind, moving ice,
or other agents. When weathering has proceeded far enough, the erosion process may complete the job
of separating the particles from the parent rock.
The rock and soil particles carried away by erosion eventually come to rest in a sedimentary deposit,
often far from their source. The largest and heaviest particles, requiring the most energy to transport,

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are the first to settle out, followed by particles of decreasing size. As a result, fine silt and clay
particles are carried farthest from their origin and deposited where the moving water loses the last of
its flow energy. Eroded particles may eventually be consolidated as sedimentary rocks.

Although they comprise only 8% of the volume of the earths crust, sedimentary rocks cover 75% of
the land surface. Most sedimentary rocks are porous and therefore capable of containing fluids. The
fact that most petroleum accumulates in sedimentary rocks makes them of prime interest to the
petroleum geologists.

Sedimentary Rocks

Shale

Metamorphic Rock
Any rock that has been changed by pressure and heat while in the solid phase is termed metamorphic.
When shale, a common sedimentary rock, undergoes deep burial, heat and pressure fuse individual
mineral grains into a metamorphic rock known as slate; more intense metamorphism produces schist.
Similarly, limestone becomes marble. One type of low-grade metamorphism, the alteration of
limestone to dolomite, involves chemical replacement of calcium by magnesium in solution.
Metamorphism always results in crystalline texture; either new crystals are formed from the elements
present in the original rock, or the existing grains are deformed and molded into an interlocking
structure. Metamorphic rocks usually have little or no porosity. The final form and appearance of any
metamorphic rock is a product of its original composition and the type and intensity of the
metamorphic forces involved. About 27% of the earths crust is composed of metamorphic rocks.

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Metamorphic Rock

It is the crust, of course, that most concerns us as human beings and as finders and users of oil and gas.
The crust is different from the molten interior of the earth; it is the cool skin where life exists. Its
heights are worn down by the constant wash of weather; its basins are with water and rock particles
and the remains of once-living organisms. In the search for oil, the petroleum geologist concentrates
on these basins, where sediments and organic matter accumulate in a sort of giant pressure cooker.

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SEDIMENTARY TRANSPORT & DEPOSITIONAL ENVIRONMENTS


Sedimentary Transport
Gravity causes sediments to move from high places to low. Sometimes gravity is the only agent
involved, as in a landslide. More often, however, gravity works through another medium - water, wind,
or ice - to transport sedimentary particles from one location to another.
The flow of a river moves the sediments in its bed downstream, but it also undercuts its banks. When
material is continually removed from the lower part of a slope, the slope eventually becomes too steep
to support its own weight. It collapses, either gradually or suddenly, into the streambed and is carried
away. Thus, although the stream acts directly only on the sediments in its bed, the valley becomes
wider at the top because of undercutting.
The inexorable pull of gravity ensures that sediments are carried downhill - ultimately to sea level.
However, tectonic forces often raise lowlands high above sea level, ensuring a continuing supply of
raw material for producing sediments. Thus any type of rock can become source material for future
sedimentary rocks by being uplifted and exposed to weathering and erosion.

Mass Movement
In high mountains, severe weathering and the
instability of steep slopes often result in the
sudden movement of large masses of rock and
sediment. A large block of bedrock may
separate along deep fractures or bedding
planes, causing a rockslide or avalanche. In
seconds, a single rock mass weighing millions
of tons can come crashing down, shattering
itself and everything it hits into boulders and
dust.
Even though gravity is the principal agent in
mass movement, water plays a key part.
Besides the destructive effects of repeated
freezing and thawing, water adds mobility to
weathered rock debris, making it respond
more readily to the pull of gravity. Excess
water makes clay especially unstable. Under
prolonged soaking by rainfall, a clay hillside
may suddenly slump.
Rock & Snow Avalanche, Mt. Huascaran, Peru

Did You Know?


In 1970, an earthquake-induced rock and snow avalanche on Mt. Huascaran, Peru, buried the
towns of Yungay and Ranrahirca. The total death toll was 66,000. The avalanche started as a
sliding mass of glacial ice and rock about 3,000 feet wide and one mile long. The avalanche
swept about 11 miles to the village of Yungay at an average speed of more that 100 miles an
hour. The fast-moving mass picked up glacial deposits and by the time it reached Yungay, it is
estimated to have consisted of about 80 million cubic yards of water, mud, and rocks.

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Stream Transport
Most sediments, even those involved in mass movement, are at some time transported by flowing
water. The distance a sedimentary particle is carried depends both upon the size, shape, and density of
the particle and upon the available stream energy.
The steeper a stream, the more gravitational energy it has - and the faster it flows. If the water flows
smoothly, like a formation of marching soldiers, the flow is said to be laminar. However, if this
orderly, parallel movement is disrupted, the flow becomes turbulent, tumbling and swirling
chaotically. Such a change can be seen where a quiet stretch of river enters a section of shallow,
uneven streambed and breaks into turbulent rapids.
It is this turbulent type of flow that makes available most of the energy a stream uses in transporting
solid particles. Some of the swirling is directed upward with enough energy to pick up and carry rock
particles that are heavier than the water -the same way a high wind can pluck a sheet of tin off a roof.
In general, the turbulence of a stream increases with its velocity and with the narrowness and
roughness of its channel. Steep, narrow mountain streams have a greater proportion of turbulent
energy than sluggish lowland streams, so they are noisier.
Some sedimentary particles are more easily
picked up and carried than others. Density is
important, of course, but less so than size and
shape. All else being equal, a large particle will
settle out of still water faster than a small
particle. The frictional force that resists the
particle's fall (and supports it in moving water)
acts only on the surface of the particle; the
smaller the particle, the greater its ratio of
surface area to volume and weight. The larger
particle, with more weight per unit surface,
needs more force per unit surface to move it.
The shape of a particle also affects ease of transport. A perfect sphere has more volume and weight per
unit surface than any other shape. The less spherical a particle, the more easily a stream can carry it. A
flat pebble of quartz will settle like a leaf; a spherical quartz pebble of equal weight will sink more
quickly. The difference in shape is like the difference between an open umbrella and a closed one.
Opening an umbrella in a high wind does not change its weight, but does make it more likely to be
blown away.
For any given shape and size, a denser particle will settle out faster than a less dense particle because
its weight-to-surface ratio is higher. For this reason, small particles of gold (S.G. 16 to 19) collect on
the bottom of a streambed, while silt (S.G. 2.5 to 3.0) is swept downstream.
Streams move only minor amounts of sediment. High winds can carry clay, silt, and sand much as a
river does. In arid climates, wind may even act as the primary weathering and transporting agent,
carving exposed rock into fantastic shapes by abrading it with airborne particles. A glacier moves
slowly but with great weight, grinding rocks into powder and carrying jumbles of unsorted rock
material to its snout. Both wind-driven and glacial sediments are often reworked and redeposited by
flowing water.

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DEPOSITIONAL ENVIRONMENTS
When sedimentary particles arriving at a location outnumber those being carried away, the location
can be thought of as a depositional environment. Depositional environments are of many different
types. Wind, waves, temperatures, flow patterns, seasonal variations, and biotic communities are a few
of the many factors that influence the character of the sedimentary deposits in a given environment.

Continental Environments
Because most areas above sea level are subject to erosion, depositional conditions tend to be more
localized onshore than offshore. They are also more affected by rapid changes in weather. At certain
places and times a river deposits more sediment in its valley than it carries off. However, the sediments
deposited during months of slack water may be carried downstream in a single day of heavy runoff.

Fluvial Deposits
Sediments deposited by flowing water are called fluvial deposits. Local variations in flow determine
where particular types of sediments accumulate. Stream velocity is greatest on the outside of a bend,
where the stream under- cuts the bank and increases its sedimentary load. On the inside of the bend,
where the water slows and eddies, the stream has less energy. Here is left much of the suspended
sediment - first the sand, which takes the most energy to move; then higher on the sloping bar, silt; and
farthest from the swift main current, clay. Bed load materials such as cobbles and gravel collect in
deeper water near the base of the sand.
A river in flood uses much of its increased energy to augment its
suspended load. Adding silt and clay from its channel to the
materials coming from upstream, the river spreads out over its
floodplain. Here friction absorbs much of the flow energy. Silt
and clay settle out, raising the level of the floodplain (and
enriching the soil for plant life). Some of the heavier sediments
accumulate atop the banks nearest the river, forming natural
levees that help contain the river at lower flow stages.
Sandbars and other stream deposits over- lap one another in
characteristic ways. A cross section of such overlapping deposits
reveals their characteristic lens shape - thick in the middle and
tapering toward either edge. Bar deposits are long and curved in
the direction parallel to the stream but narrow and lens-shaped
in section across the stream. Evidence of flow direction and
volume is preserved in the form of ripple marks, scour marks,
and other structures.
A meandering river creates an even more complex system of
overlapping and undercut deposits. Meandering occurs when a
river with excess energy and a flat flood- plain erodes one of its
banks more than the other and begins shifting in a gentle curve
toward that bank. Since a curved line connecting two points is
longer than a straight line, a meander reduces the river's
gradient: the river travels farther to descend 1 foot in elevation.
As the curve deepens, the opposite bank is eroded at its
beginning and end.
With continued erosion and deposition, the meander takes the
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form of a narrow-necked loop that the river may eventually erode through to form a cutoff. In the
oxbow lake thus formed in the abandoned loop, sediments and life forms differ from those of the river.

Lacustrine Environments
The still waters of a lake absorb all the flow energy of inflowing rivers, causing the rivers to deposit
their sediments near their entry points. In addition to the inflow of mineral sediments, dissolved
nutrients flow in and feed the growth of a biotic community of plants and animals. The remains of
these organisms accumulate in the sediments of the lake bottom rather than being flushed downstream
as in a river. Eventually the lake fills with sediments and ceases to exist, leaving behind a deposit from
which fossil fuels such as coal or oil may be born.

Desert Environments
In arid climates, infrequent downpours and flash floods leave sheets of gravel and sand in large,
sloping deposits at the mouths of canyons. This type of deposit is called an alluvial fan. Such
fanglomerates (some of which are termed molasse) are thin, overlapping, poorly sorted sheets of
angular gravels, boulders, and mud. A line of fans may eventually coalesce into an apron that grows
broader and higher as the slopes above are eroded.
In enclosed desert basins, scarce runoff may
create intermittent playa lakes, also known as
sebkhas (or sabkhas). Coarser sediments are
deposited around the margins of a sebkha in
alluvial fans and aprons; silt and clay are carried
into the central parts, where they settle out more
slowly. When the water evaporates, dissolved salts
crystallize out to form thin crusts of halite (rock
salt), gypsum (hydrous calcium sulfate), or other
evaporites. A sebkha thus develops a
characteristic pattern of alternating thin beds of
mud and evaporites.

Glacial Deposits
Sediments deposited by moving ice sheets are much rarer than
other types, principally because deposits created by
geologically infrequent ice ages are subject to erosion and
reworking by other agents. Retreating glaciers and ice sheets
leave behind accumulations of un- sorted sediments called till.
Glaciers grind bedrock into flour and carry along great
boulders that a river would simply flow around. Glacial till is
thus recognizable by its chaotic jumble of mud, gravel, and
large rocks. When a glacier retreats, meltwater usually
reworks and redistributes the till. Glacial till and outwash
sediments from the last ice advance cover much of the northeastern United States. Buried sediments from older glacial periods can be found worldwide, often in
locations now too far from the poles to have been affected by more recent ice ages.

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Aeolian deposits
Sediments deposited by wind (aeolian deposits) range from loess (thick beds of silt carried by winds
from the outwash plains of glaciers) to sand dunes. Large desert dunes that migrate downwind because
of prevailing winds develop a pattern of cross-bedding that may be preserved beneath younger
sediments. Examples of cross-bedded dune structure can be seen in canyons of the southwestern
United States.

Erosion, Transportation, and Depositional Environments

TRANSITIONAL ENVIRONMENTS
Most of the sediment produced by the weathering of rock is carried by flowing water to the sea. Here
the fresh water of the river quickly becomes dispersed in the much larger volume of salt water-as does
flow energy. Sediments are deposited throughout this transition zone, where the river gradually gives
up its energy; they are sorted by size, shape, and density according to the energy distribution of their
environment, as they were in upstream depositional environments.

Marine deltas
The mouths of rivers fall into two general categories. A river with a low sediment load may reach the
sea in an estuary, where the effect of current, waves, and tides keeps sediment from accumulating. A
heavily laden river, however, usually creates a marine delta, a seaward extension of land at or near sea
level caused by the accumulation of sediments at the river's mouth. A delta is composed mostly of
sediments brought down by the river, but mixed with them are fine wave-borne sediments brought in
by currents and tides.

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A growing (prograding) delta is a complex structure of interbedded sediments with three more or less
distinct zones of deposition. The zone nearest to the shore is occupied by topset beds, complexes of
heavier, coarser particles. Depending upon flow energy and sediment load, these are typically
overlapping sand and gravel bodies forming seaward extensions of the stream's natural channel and
levees. They often show ripple marks, erosion surfaces, and other evidence of flow. Shallow bays
between diverging (distributary) channels contain finer sediments from both the river and the sea, and
often shelter abundant plant and animal life.
Some of the finer sediments carried beyond the topset beds settle out in foreset beds on the steep
seaward face of the delta. In the upper foreset zone, where wave action suspends the finer sediments,
the foreset beds may consist of clean sand; below the wave base, muddy sand and silt; and near the toe
of the delta, thinner beds of silt and mud. As the delta grows seaward, the foreset beds are overlain by
extensions of the topset beds.
Bottomset beds are tapering layers of silt and clay extending seaward from the face of the delta.
Beyond reach of river and waves, these sediments accumulate slowly and sometimes support
considerable seafloor life.

Marine Delta

The delta described above is an idealized model that is rarely found in nature, where conditions vary
widely. Distinct topset, foreset, and bottomset beds are more often seen in lacustrine deltas in sheltered
continental environments.

Beaches
The transition zone also includes beaches, coastal depositional environments unrelated to the mouths
of rivers. Sand and finer sediments are redistributed by longshore currents (the movement of seawater
parallel to the coast). The growth and shrinkage of non-delta coastal deposits are related to the energy
of longshore currents, waves, and tides.
A cross section of a typical beach shows how the sediments brought in by long shore currents are
sorted and redistributed by wave and tidal energy. Differences in energy levels divide the beach profile
into the shoreface (the wave action zone up to the low-tide mark), the foreshore (between low- and
high-tide levels), the backshore (from high tide to storm-flood level), and the dunefield (above storm-

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flood level). Because these zones are continually affected by wind and waves, their sediments are
usually clean, well-sorted mineral grains and shell fragments. A cross section of a beach dune may
show the same excellent sorting and cross-bedding found in desert dunes. Coarser gravels are
deposited in deeper water, and finer sediments are carried seaward by wave action or inland by wind.
As the shoreface slopes upward toward the land, ocean waves begin to "feel" the bottom-that is,
friction retards the movement of water near the bottom of a wave. The top of the wave goes ahead of
the bottom, causing the wave to topple, or "break." While at the seashore you may have noticed a line
of breakers some distance offshore. A breaker line marks an underwater bar where the concentration of
wave and back- wash energy causes an accumulation of coarser sediments, such as gravel and
seashells. One or more bars may form on the shoreface, depending upon the energy of incoming waves
and the availability of sediments.

Beach Profile

Another high-energy zone occurs where the incoming wave laps up onto the foreshore. This action
sorts the beach sediments, washing the sand clean of filler sediments and leaving particles of similar
size together in distinct zones. Sediments fine enough to be suspended in the turbulent waves are
carried offshore and deposited in quiet water beyond the breaker line.
If the beach is on an offshore barrier (spit or island), the transition zone may also include a shallow
lagoon where sediments accumulate in a backbarrier complex. Such depositional environments are
highly variable and may include tidal channels, salt marshes, shell reefs, and mangrove swamps,
among other features.
Deposition in the backshore zone is intermittent. Coarser sediments may be deposited here when storm
waves surge over the highest beach bars and run back into the sea in shallow channels parallel to the
shore. Dry sand in the backshore zone may migrate inland in desert-like dunes driven by onshore
winds.
If the lagoon behind the barrier is relatively isolated from the sea, the
backbarrier complex may include such disparate features as sebkhas,
thin-bedded deposits of salt or other evaporites formed where
intermittent, landlocked pools dry out; peat, formed from heavy
deposition of plant debris (as in mangrove swamps), which may, if
buried deeply, become coal; and organic muds rich in carbonates and
other skeletal debris. On the other hand, strong currents behind the
barrier island or spit may flush out these deposits, leaving sediments
in configurations much like those in stream deposits.

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MARINE ENVIRONMENTS
Marine depositional environments are those seaward of the beach - that is, beyond the zone normally
affected by wave action or fluvial deposition. Associated with low-energy environments, marine
sediments are mostly finer than those in the transition zone.

Shelf Environments
A typical continental shelf is an underwater plain sloping 10 feet per horizontal mile seaward. It
extends from the transition zone (beach or delta) to the edge of the continental mass. Most of the
energy in this zone comes from shallow ocean currents and tides. Sediments are mostly silt and clay
mixed with fecal pellets, skeletal debris, and shell fragments, with local deposits of coarser sediments
brought in by infrequent tidal and flood cur rents. In warm tropical oceans, the clay of the shelf often
grades into carbonate mud made up of undissolved shell and skeletal debris.
An epeiric sea is a broad, shallow arm of the ocean extending well inland upon the continental
platform. An epeiric sea accumulates sediments from the land and organic matter from marine life, like
the continental shelf, but is isolated from oceanic currents and tides. The only known modern
examples, Hudson Bay and the Baltic Sea, are both cold epeiric seas. In the geologic past, however,
great warm, shallow seas covered most of North America. Sediments accumulated to thicknesses of
several miles as their weight gradually depressed the continental bedrock beneath. , Some of these
sediments were later thrust high above sea level, where they are visible today in the Rocky Mountains
and the Grand Canyon.
A reef is a wave-resistant deposit consisting of the calcareous remnants of marine organisms in or near
the locations where they grew. A coral reef is a familiar example; however, the term reef is also applied
to algal and oyster mounds. A reef dissipates wave energy like an offshore sandbar. Calcareous debris
and organic matter may accumulate in the relatively quiet water between the reef and the shore. The
deeper water seaward serves as a basin for detritus broken off the reef by wave action.
Late in the Permian era the
reef was buried beneath
more than a mile of clay,
sand, and evaporites. El
Capitan, in the Guadalupe
Mountains of West Texas,
is an example of such a
reef that has been uplifted
and exposed by erosion.

El Capitan

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Outer continental environments


Beginning at the edge of the continental
shelf, typically in 600 to 800 feet of
water (although, sometimes much more
or much less), is the continental slope.
Unlike the smooth continental shelf, the
continental slope is a zone of steep,
variable topography forming a transition
from the shelf edge to the continental
rise. Its average slope is around 4, a
drop of 350 feet per horizontal mile. It is
also dissected, near the mouths of rivers,
by
rugged
submarine
canyons.
Sediments deposited on the slope, like
the foreset beds of deltas and dunes, are
relatively unstable and tend to migrate
toward its base.
Continental Slope

The transition zone between the continental slope and the oceanic abyss is the continental rise. A
major mover of sediments on the continental rise is the turbidity current - a dense mass of sedimentladen water that flows down the continental slope, typically through a submarine canyon. Fed by a
flooding river, underwater debris slide, or other source, a turbidity current is a sort of underwater flash
flood carrying clay, silt, and gravel rapidly downslope in a narrow tongue. Its energy is quickly
dissipated by friction upon the more gradual slope of the continental rise, where its sediments settle
largest particles first, to form a turbidite - a thick, graded bed topped by clay.

A succession of turbidites forms a flysch


deposit. Submarine debris fans along the
base of the continental slope coalesce into an
apron that is interbedded with a continuous
fallout of fine sediments. Extensive flysch
deposits in a geologic column tell the
geologist that the environment was once the
outer margin of a continent.

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SEDIMENTARY ROCK CLASSIFICATIONS


The sediments deposited in a continuous sheet across a broad area differ from one location to another.
At the edge of an epeiric sea, for instance, the layer being deposited at any given time may grade
continuously from beach sand, through a zone of silt and clay, and into a lime mud and reef complex
some distance offshore. Salt may accumulate on the bottom in restricted areas. These deposits will
form, respectively, sandstone, siltstone, shale, limestone, and halite. The transition from one rock type
to another within the layer is continuous and gradual; a geologist tracing the layer from one area to
another might find it hard to determine where limestone ends and shale begins. These changes in rock
character are called facies changes. Facies changes often occur within a single formation, which is a
lithologically distinctive rock body, with an upper and a lower boundary, that is large enough to be
mapped.
If sea level rises relative to the land, each depositional environment will follow the retreating shoreline
inland. Each type of rock thus formed will grow laterally toward the coast. Instead of a vertical
column, the limestone will form a continuous, near-horizontal sheet stretching shoreward. This layer
might be treated, and even named, as a distinct formation. In reality, however, it is merely one facies
of a larger unit and was formed over a long period of time concurrently with the facies above and
below it. The geologist must distinguish between a rock stratigraphic unit, such as the limestone in
this example, and a time stratigraphic unit, the concurrently deposited layer with all its lateral facies
variations.

Lithification
Rivers flow in only one direction - down to the sea. Unless the land subsides or sea level rises,
sediments deposited in fluvial environments above sea level are eventually carried away by the
unrelenting erosive force of the river. However, sediments that reach the sea eventually come to rest in
a relatively stable environment, beyond the influence of most wind, weather, and current, and become
buried beneath other sediments. For this reason most sedimentary rocks originate in marine
environments.
Once deposited, sediments are not necessarily lithified (transformed into stone). In order for
lithification to occur, unconsolidated sediments must remain beyond the reach of erosion, and they
must be compacted and cemented. The physical and chemical changes that sedimentary deposits
undergo during and after lithification are known collectively as diagenesis. (Diagenesis does not,
however, include the more radical changes associated with the heat and pressure of metamorphosis).

Compaction
If the accumulation of sediments continues over a long period, as it usually does in the ocean, great
thicknesses of material may be placed on top of the original layers. Burial beneath thousands of feet of
other sediments is what begins to turn sediments into rock. The weight of overlying layers squeezes
particles together into the tightest arrangement possible; under extreme conditions, it may crush some
or all of the grains. As the water that originally filled the pore spaces between particles is squeezed
out, the volume occupied by the sediments is reduced. This process is called compaction. Different
clastic materials pack differently.
A dune sand composed entirely of rounded grains of similar size may be compacted very little. In a
poorly sorted sand, however, smaller particles can be rearranged to fill the spaces between the larger
grains, thus reducing the pore space. Plate-like clay particles, however, become aligned with one
another when compacted, fitting together like bricks with very little space between. Some clays
become compacted to less than half their original volume under the pressure of deep burial.

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Cementation
As compaction brings individual particles into closer contact, the process of lithification is completed
by cementation. Minerals in solution - mainly calcite (CaCO3), the basic constituent of limestone crystallize out of solution to coat the grains. Other common cementing agents include silica (SiO2),
which is less soluble and therefore less abundant in groundwater; and iron oxide (Fe2O3), which colors
the rock yellow or red. These coatings grow together and may eventually fill the pore spaces. Clean
sand may be transformed into limey sandstone, losing most of its original pore space. Because of its
low permeability, compacted clay can take on only a small amount of cement in the process of
becoming shale; but wet clay is cohesive to begin with, sticking together by its own internal
electrostatic forces, and so requires less cementing to become rock.
Cementation is the crystallization or precipitation of soluble minerals in the pore spaces between
clastic particles. A defining characteristic of clastic texture is that individual particles touch each other
at various points without conforming to the shape of other particles. In crystalline texture the grain
structure originates in the rock itself as the crystals of various minerals grow in close contact with each
other. Igneous and metamorphic rocks are crystalline and therefore have little or no pore space.
The texture of cemented sedimentary rock is part clastic and part crystalline. Clastic sedimentary rock
can range from lightly cemented porous sandstone to well-cemented limey sandstone. Some sandstone
contains so much calcite that it may be considered a sandy limestone rather than a limey sandstone.
Carbonate sedimentary rocks display an even wider range of textures because calcite particles can be
created in a variety of ways. They can be the products of the mechanical breakdown of corals, shells,
and skeletons, or they can form as oolites, the egg-shaped rounded grains created by the deposition of
layers of calcite on other particles. As they collect in sedimentary basins, these particles can become
cemented together in the same way as other grains- by crystallized calcite. The result is a limestone
consisting of calcite fragments in crystallized calcite. Depending upon the admixture of other particles,
limestone can grade through sandy, silty, or shaly limestone into limey sandstone, siltstone, or shale.
The deposition of sediments occurs in the earth's biosphere - the thin zone of air, water, and soil where
all terrestrial life exists. For this reason, sedimentary rock often contains fossils - animal or plant parts,
entire organisms, or such evidence of their former presence as tracks or burrows. Limestone, in
particular, is formed partly from the remains of calcareous organisms and often contains an abundance
of their shells.
Once an accumulation of sediment has become compacted and cemented into the durable form of true
rock, it can undergo further changes in its chemical and physical environment that alter its structure
and composition. These diagenetic alterations can involve the leaching of soluble minerals (increasing
porosity), the addition of minerals by crystallization (decreasing porosity), or the recrystallization of
the minerals present in the rock itself, as in the formation of chert in siliceous shale.
Diagenesis can also involve the chemical replacement of one element or mineral by another.
Limestone, for example, is changed to dolomite {or more properly, dolomitic limestone) by
replacement of half or more of its calcium with magnesium. Dolomitization may occur when
limestone is saturated with magnesium-rich groundwater, especially at higher temperatures.

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SEDIMENTARY ROCKS
Geologists often divide sedimentary rocks into three main groups: clastics, evaporites, and carbonates.
However, due to the many chemical and physical processes that affect sediments during lithification
and diagenesis, most sedimentary rocks have features of more than one of these types.

CLASTICS
Clastics are rocks such as conglomerates, sandstones, and shales that are composed mostly of
fragments of other rocks. The principal distinction among clastics is grain size.

Conglomerates
Conglomerates are rocks most of whose volume consists of particles more than 2 mm in diameter.
They are formed from the sediments found in alluvial fans, debris flows, glacial out- wash, and other
high-energy depositional environments. Most conglomerates occur in thin, isolated layers; they are not
very abundant.

In common usage, the term conglomerate is restricted to coarse


sedimentary rock with rounded grains; conglomerates made up of sharp,
angular fragments are called breccia. The rounding of fragments usually
indicates transport by flowing water, which tumbles and polishes the
grains and breaks off sharp projections. The rounder a pebble, the farther
it has been transported. Stream gravel deposits often show imbrication the arrangement of pebbles in a flat, overlapping pattern like bricks in a
wall. Conglomerates formed from debris slides and alluvial fans have
more angular fragments and poorer sorting than those in stream deposits.
Tillite, a breccia deposited by glaciers, is a chaotic jumble of grains
ranging from clay particles to angular boulders; it shows little or no
grading or sorting.

Conglomerate

Sandstones
Sandstone is clastic sedimentary rock more than half of whose grains are 1/16 mm to 2 mm in
diameter. About one-fourth of all sedimentary rock is sandstone. The sand particles are of three
principal types: quartz (SiO2); feldspar grains, derived from granite or other rocks; and lithic particles,
each of which is a mixture of various minerals. Sandstones are of particular interest to petroleum
geologists because they "are usually more permeable to formation fluids than other rocks and therefore
able to accumulate oil and gas. Many of the world's richest petroleum deposits are found in sandstone
reservoirs.

Quartz

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Chapter 1

Sandstone can remain mostly open and porous or become filled with cement, silt, or clay. Sandstones
in which less than 15% of the total volume is silt and clay are called arenites. Quartz arenites tend to
develop from deposits of clean sand in high-energy environments such as deserts and beaches. Their
grains are rounded and well-sorted, indicating much reworking by wind and water. Arkose is a
feldspathic arenite derived from granite and lithified in small deposits (granite wash) near its source.
Graywackes are sandstones that contain more than 15% silt and clay. Their grains tend to be angular
and poorly sorted. In some cases, their clay/silt matrix is believed to have been deposited along with
the larger grains, as in the heterogeneous mixture of particles found in turbidity currents; in others,
clay and silt appear to have been added to the rock by physical or chemical alteration of the original
minerals or by infiltration. Most graywackes are thought to be marine in origin.

Shales
An estimated one-half to three-fourths of the world's sedimentary rock is shale - a distinctive, finegrained, evenly bedded rock composed of silt and clay. Silt grains are similar to sand grains, but much
smaller 1/256 mm to 1/16 mm - and mostly invisible to the unaided eye. Clay particles are quite
different in composition and shape; they are microscopic, flat, plate-like crystals less than 1/256 mm
across. During compaction and lithification, these plates tend to become aligned in horizontal sheets.
As a result, most shale splits along well-developed planes parallel to, but not necessarily coinciding
with, bedding planes. One variety, mudstone, is an exception; it breaks into chunks or blocks.

Formed from fine sediments that settle out of suspension in still waters,
shale and mudstone occur in thick deposits over broad areas, often
interbedded with silt- stone, sandstone, or limestone. They vary widely in
color, with the darker colors often indicating higher proportions of organic
materials from the remains of plant and animal life. Petroleum geologists
believe organic shales to be the source of most of the world's petroleum and
natural gas. Shales also make excellent barriers to the migration of fluids
and therefore tend to trap pools of petroleum in adjacent porous rock.
Black & Gray Shale

EVAPORITES
Rocks formed by the precipitation of chemicals from solution are called evaporites. Deposits of
evaporites can form as the result of either the drying up of a body of water, such as a desert playa lake,
or continuous evaporation from a confined body of water that is continually replenished by inflowing
water. In the latter case, dissolved minerals become
supersaturated (so concentrated that they can no longer stay in
solution) and precipitate out to form deposits on the bottom.
Evaporites usually form in a distinct sequence, the least soluble
minerals precipitating first, the most soluble last. A typical
deposit would have gypsum (CaSO4.2H2O) and anhydrite
(CaSO4) at the bottom, followed by halite or rock salt (NaCl),
sodium bromide (NaBr), and potash (KCl).
Gypsum

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Evaporites are indicators of former dry climates or enclosed drainage basins. They comprise only a
small fraction of all sedimentary rocks but play a significant part in the formation of certain types of
petroleum reservoirs - those associated with salt domes.

Halite

Did You Know?


Gypsum, one of the most widely used minerals in the world, literally surrounds us every day.
Most gypsum in the United States is used to make wallboard for homes, offices, and
commercial buildings; a typical new American home contains more than 7 metric tons of
gypsum alone. Moreover, gypsum is used worldwide in concrete for highways, bridges,
buildings, and many other structures that are part of our everyday life. Gypsum also is used
extensively as a soil conditioner on large tracts of land in suburban areas, as well as in
agricultural regions.

CARBONATES
Most carbonate rocks are organically deposited - that is, formed as a direct result of biological activity.
Limestone and dolomite are the most common of these, making up about one-fourth of all sedimentary
rocks. Carbonate rocks are important to the petroleum industry; many of the giant reservoirs in the
Middle East are in limestone.
Limestone forms in warm, shallow seas. Most seawater is nearly saturated with dissolved calcite
(CaCO3); many marine organisms use this calcite to build their shells and skeletons. In shallow
tropical oceans, two factors favor the formation of limestone: (1) as water gets warmer, it loses some
of its ability to hold dissolved carbon dioxide, and (2) photosynthetic algae and other plants remove
CO2 from the water to produce carbohydrates. This loss of CO2 reduces the water's ability to hold
calcite in solution. Thus the calcareous remains of dead organisms do not dissolve as they would in
colder water. Instead, they accumulate in thick layers of lime mud and sand on the bottom, cemented
by additional calcite precipitated from solution. If coral is present, the skeletons of large colonies may
be engulfed in other calcareous debris.
Great sheets of limestone formed in past epeiric seas {most notably those of the Cretaceous period)
now extend across much of the world's land area. Their structures vary from mostly clastic to mostly
crystalline and from very porous (with many large openings) to very tight, depending upon where and
how they were formed and what has happened since. Most of the limestone has undergone extensive
alteration; diagenesis is especially common in limestone because it is more soluble than other
sedimentary rocks.
Some other rocks of biochemical origin are diatomite, an accumulation of the siliceous (glassy shells
of certain microscopic algae, which sometimes recrystallizes as flinty nodules of chert; phosphorite,

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Chapter 1

composed largely of calcium phosphate from bird droppings and vertebrate skeletal remains; coal, the
mildly to strongly metamorphosed remnants of undecayed plants; and oil shale, consisting partly of
unoxidized plant and animal remains. Oil shale and other organic shales are primarily clastic rocks, but
they contain enough preserved organic matter to be of interest to the petroleum geologist.

Limestone

Coal

Chert

ORIGIN OF HYDROCARBONS
For most of their history, oil and natural gas were thought of as minerals, substances formed out of
nonliving rock, just as gold, sulfur, and salt were part of the rock. There was little reason to assume
otherwise. Although petroleum smelled like something that had died, and although natural gas burned
like swamp gas, most of the gas and oil escaping from the ground seemed to come from solid rock
deep beneath the surface, where, as everyone knew, nothing lived.
Beginning two centuries ago, however, the geologic insights of Hutton, Lyell, and other scientists
showed that the rocks in which oil was found were once loose sediment piling up in shallow coastal
waters where fish and algae and plankton and corals lived. Now it seemed possible that oil and gas had
something to do with the decay of dead organisms, just as coal, with its leaf and stem imprints, seemed
to be the fossilized remains of swamp plants.
Later advances in microscopy revealed that oil-producing and oil-bearing rocks often contain
fossilized creatures too small to be seen with the unaided eye. Chemists discovered that the carbonhydrogen ratios in petroleum are much like those in marine organisms and that certain complex
molecules are found in petroleum that are otherwise known to occur only in living cells. But it was the
fact that most source rocks could be shown to have originated in an environment rich with life that
clinched the organic theory of the origin of petroleum.
Unanswered questions about the occurrence of petroleum remain, and men of science still debate the
evidence of its organic origin. Because of the weight of that evidence, however, few scientists doubt
that most petroleum originates in the life and death of living things.

Chemical Factors
Petroleum is both simple and complex. It is composed almost entirely of carbon and hydrogen; but the
number of ways that carbon and hydrogen can combine is astronomical, and most petroleum contains

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hundreds of different kinds of hydrocarbons. It occurs in forms as diverse as thick black asphalt or
pitch, oily black heavy crude, clear yellow light crude, and petroleum gas. These variations are due
mainly to differences in molecular weight - that is, the sizes of the molecules - and the types of
impurities. Despite the differences in molecular weights, however, the proportions of carbon and
hydrogen do not vary appreciably among the different varieties of petroleum; carbon comprises 82 to
87 percent and hydrogen, 12 to 15 percent.

Element

Crude Oil

Natural Gas

Carbon

82 87%

65 80%

Hydrogen

12 15%

1 25%

Sulfur

0.1 5.5%

0 0.2%

Nitrogen

0.1 1.5%

1 15%

Oxygen

0.1 4.5%

0%

Chemical Composition of Average Crude Oil & Natural Gas

Petroleum is almost insoluble in pure water and only slightly soluble in salt water or water containing
other organic substances. It is lighter than, and therefore floats on, water; but it is often found in an oilwater emulsion - that is, dispersed in small droplets suspended in water.
A hydrocarbon molecule is a chain of one or more carbon atoms with hydrogen atoms chemically
bound to them. Some petroleum contains hydrocarbon molecules with up to sixty or seventy carbon
atoms. At room temperature and pressure, molecules with up to four carbon atoms occur as gases;
molecules having five to fifteen carbon atoms are liquids; and heavier molecules occur as solids.
Methane, the simplest hydrocarbon, has the chemical formula CH4. Four is the maximum number of
hydrogen atoms that can attach to a single carbon atom; thus methane is classified as a saturated
hydrocarbon - a paraffin, or alkane. Other paraffins include ethane (C2H6), a chain of two carbon
atoms with six hydrogen atoms; butane (C4H10); and octane (C8H18).

putalog
Hydrocarbon Chains

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Unsaturated hydrocarbons also occur naturally in petroleum. The most common of these are the
aromatics, compounds based on the distinctive benzene ring (C6H6). Other ring-shaped compounds
include the naphthenes, or cycloparaffins, which vary in number of carbon atoms and bonding pattern.
Naphthenic crudes produce less fuel and more lubricating oils than paraffinic crudes. The residue left
when these crudes are refined is high in semisolid or solid asphaltic wastes; therefore, naphthenic oils
are sometimes called asphaltic crudes.

Biological Factors
Petroleum contains solar energy stored as chemical energy. Many steps are involved in the conversion
from the simple radiant energy of the sun to the complex molecules of hydrocarbons. Coastal waters,
rich with nutrients brought in by rivers and upwelling deep-sea currents, support an elaborate
community of organisms ranging from microscopic, single-celled plants and animals to large
predatory fish and mammals. Some of the smallest and simplest of these organisms perform the first
capture and conversion of the sun's radiant energy.
The bulk of the living matter in such biotic communities is in the form of microscopic or nearmicroscopic simple organisms: protozoa (animals) and algae (plants). The algae are photosynthetic:
they can synthesize their own food, simple sugars and starches, out of water and car bon dioxide, using
the energy of sunlight. Other organisms consume the algae and convert the simple carbohydrates into
more complex foods, such as proteins and fats; still larger organisms, in turn, eat these.
Each level of the food chain contributes waste products, and every organism that is not eaten
eventually dies. In recycling this organic material, an important role is played by a diversity of
bacteria. The two principal types are those that live in aerobic (oxygenated) environments and derive
their energy by oxidizing organic matter and those that live in anaerobic (reducing) environments by
taking the oxygen from dissolved sulfates and organic fatty acids to produce sulfides (such as
hydrogen sulfide) and hydrocarbons. Although aerobic decay liberates certain hydrocarbons that some
small organisms accumulate within their bodies, the anaerobics are more important in the formation of
oil.
If the process of aerobic decomposition continues indefinitely, all organic matter, including
hydrocarbons, is converted into heat, water, and carbon dioxide - the raw materials that photosynthetic
plants use to make their carbohydrate food. For an accumulation of petroleum to be formed, the supply
of oxygen must be cut off. Most areas along the coast are well aerated by circulation, wind, and wave
action. In some areas, however, physical barriers such as reefs or shoals hinder aeration; and in deeper
waters far offshore, the water below a certain depth is similarly depleted of oxygen. Here organic
waste materials and dead organisms can sink to the bottom and be preserved in an anaerobic
environment instead of being decomposed by oxidizing bacteria. The accumulation and compaction of
impermeable clay along with the organic matter help seal it off from dissolved oxygen. Thus isolated,
it becomes the raw material that is transformed into petroleum by the heat and pressure of deeper
burial.
Even in areas with appreciable circulation and oxygenation, organic debris can accumulate so fast that
it is quickly buried beyond the reach of aerobic organisms. Locations where this is likely to occur
include salt marshes, tidal lagoons, river deltas, and parts of the continental shelf. Epeiric seas such as
those that covered much of North America during the Permian and other periods offered broad
stretches of warm, shallow water where, unstirred by ocean currents and tides, abundant organic debris
could accumulate in an anaerobic environment.

April 2002

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Chapter 1

Physical Factors
The clay that settles out of suspension in quiet waters is buried and transformed into shale. Organic
matter trapped within is subjected to pressure that increases at slightly less than the geostatic pressure
gradient, which is about 1 pound per square inch (psi) per foot of depth. The temperature increases
gradually, both from compression and by heating from the earth's interior. (Below a thin zone that is
affected by climate, the temperature rises about 1.5F for every 100 feet of depth.)
At 120 to 150F, certain chemical reactions that ordinarily proceed very slowly begin to occur much
more quickly. The organic matter trapped within the rock begins to change. Long-chain molecules are
broken into shorter chains; other molecules are reformed, gaining or losing hydrogen; and some shortchain hydrocarbons are combined into longer chains and rings. The net result is that solid
hydrocarbons are converted into liquid and gas hydrocarbons. Thus the energy of the sun, converted to
chemical energy by plants, redistributed among all the creatures of the food chain, and preserved by
burial, is transformed into petroleum.

The petroleum window - the set of


conditions under which petroleum
will form - includes temperatures
between the extremes of 100F
and 350F. The higher the
temperature, the greater is the
proportion of gas. Above 350F
almost all of the hydrocarbon is
changed into methane and graphite
(pure carbon). Source beds (or
reservoirs) deeper than about
20,000 feet usually produce only
gas.

The Petroleum Window

Source Rocks
Rock in which organic material has been converted into petroleum is called source rock. (Rock in
which petroleum accumulates is called reservoir rock). Generally, the best source rocks are shales rich
in organic matter deposited in an anaerobic marine environment. Often these are dark shales, although
the dark color can be caused by other substances. However, limestone, evaporites, and rocks formed
from freshwater sedimentary deposition also become source beds.
Some petroleum geologists think that heat and pressure alone can convert organic detritus to
petroleum; others disagree on the relative importance of algae, plankton, foraminifera, and larger
organisms in providing source organic material. It seems likely that petroleum is formed by a range of
processes from a supermarket of raw materials under a variety of conditions; this fact would help
account for the great chemical complexity of most petroleum and the variety of forms in which it
occurs.

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Chapter 1

It takes time for petroleum to form and accumulate. Little petroleum has been found in Pleistocene
formations or potential reservoir rocks associated with source beds less than a million years old.

HYDROCARBON MIGRATION
Like other formation fluids, oil and gas migrate. In some situations, they accumulate near where they
originate, sometimes within a few inches or feet of the source bed. In other places, the migration
covers many miles.
Because it is lighter than water and does not readily stay mixed with it, oil tends to separate from
water and float on top. Usually it moves as a diffuse scattering of suspended droplets, but it may reach
higher concentrations when its movement is impeded. Gas is usually present as well, either dissolved
in the oil or as a separate, distinct accumulation.
The term migration is used in two senses. Primary migration is the movement of hydrocarbons out of
the source rock - a journey of a fraction of an inch to several feet, rarely more. Secondary migration is
the subsequent movement through porous, permeable reservoir rock by which oil and gas become
concentrated in one locality.

Primary Migration
How does petroleum leave its source rock? Apparently both compaction and the flow of water are
involved. Petroleum comes from source beds deposited mostly on the seafloor, so it usually begins and
ends its travels in company with interstitial water-water found in the interstices, or pores, of the rock.
(Connate water, a more exact term, is water that was "born with" the rock-present when the rock was
formed.) Much more water than oil and gas is present underground.
As deposition continues at the surface, the growing weight of the overburden compresses the shale
into less and less space. However, it is not the solid mineral grains that are compressed, but the pore
spaces. Interstitial water is squeezed out, carrying droplets of oil in suspension and other hydrocarbons
in solution. Although the solubility of oil in water is negligible compared to that of gas, both are more
soluble under pressure.
Under compression, some rocks maintain their porosity and permeability better than others. Imagine
two adjacent rock layers, a clean arenite sandstone and a silty shale, gradually being buried beneath
thousands of feet of overburden. The sandstone will lose very little of its porosity because its relatively
spherical grains were closely packed when deposited as sediments and its pores are not clogged with
silt or clay. Such a sandstone might have an initial porosity of 35%, which would be reduced to 30% at
depth. Clay particles, on the other hand, are relatively irregular in shape and lithified in a loosely
packed arrangement. Under pressure these particles become better aligned and more closely packed,
like a pile of bricks rearranged to form a brick wall. Under the same compressive force as that on the
sandstone, shale porosity might decrease 60% to 35%. Fluids squeezed out of shale will therefore
collect in the adjacent sandstone, which retains more of its original porosity.

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Chapter 1

Secondary Migration
Hydrocarbons are moved through permeable rock by gravity. This force works in several ways: by
compressing pore spaces containing fluid, by causing water containing hydrocarbons to flow, and by
causing water to displace less dense petroleum fluids upward.
Saying that water flows through formations does not mean that it flows in underground rivers. Flow
can mean movement of a few inches a year, which can add up to many miles in a geologically short
time. What causes water to flow is a difference in fluid potential (which in some cases coincides with
fluid pressure). Just as a difference in electrical potential causes electricity to flow from a high-voltage
region to one of lower voltage, a difference in fluid potential causes water to move from a region of
high fluid potential to one of lower potential.
On the surface, unconfined water moving from a high-potential to a low-potential zone simply flows
downhill. In a municipal water system, however, water flows down from a high water tower, travels
horizontally through a water main, and rises again into hilltop houses and the upper stories of high
buildings. As long as its outlet is below the level of the water tower, water will flow uphill or down.

Potentiometric Example

Water confined in a porous, permeable formation behaves much the same as water in a pipeline. In the
figure below, water enters the formation at point A and exits at point E. A line drawn between these
two points defines the potentiometric surface. (This is not the same as the water table, which is the
upper surface of the underground water). A well drilled into the aquifer at B will fill to point F on the
potentiometric surface; an artesian well drilled to D will seek level H above ground. Water flowing
from A to E is flowing uphill from B to C and from D to E. It is not always flowing from high-pressure
to low-pressure areas. Although it is doing so from B to C, the flow from C to D is toward greater
hydrostatic pressure. The rate and direction of flow are the result of the difference in elevation
between points A and E.
Suspended oil droplets and dissolved gas are carried along in the flowing water. As oil saturation
increases, however, small droplets coalesce into larger ones, and the accumulating oil begins to behave
differently. Because of their buoyancy, large oil droplets tend to rise through water, often against a
moderate flow, and accumulate at the top.
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Chapter 1

In secondary migration, the effective porosity and permeability of the reservoir rock are more
important than total porosity. These factors control how easily the reservoir can accumulate fluids as
well as how much it can hold.

Effective porosity is the ratio of the volume


of all the interconnected pores to the total
volume of a rock unit, expressed as a
percentage. Only the pores that are
connected with other pores (the effective
porosity) are capable of accumulating
petroleum. Effective porosity depends upon
how the rock particles were deposited and
cemented as well as upon later diagenetic
changes. The structure of the rock may
change in such a way that some of the pore
spaces become isolated.

Isolated
Pore
Fluid

Matrix

A rock's permeability is a measure of how


easily fluids can pass through it. The basic
unit of permeability is the Darcy; l/1000 of a
Darcy is a millidarcy (md). Permeability is
difficult to measure in the field because it
varies greatly with pressure, fluid viscosity,
oil saturation (the percentage of oil in the
formation fluids), direction, and other
factors.
Depending
upon
sorting,
compaction, cementation, and diagenesis,
permeability can vary widely within a given
type of rock. The permeability of sandstones
commonly ranges between 0.01 and 10,000
md. Reservoir rock permeability of less than
1 md is considered poor, 1-10 md is fair, 10100 md is good, and 100-1,000 md is very
good. For comparison, a piece of writing
chalk has a permeability of about 1 md.

Matrix

Although often closely related, permeability and effective porosity are not the same. A rock with few
isolated pore spaces may have a very high effective porosity and yet be nearly impermeable because of
the narrowness of the connections between pores. Differences in capillarity (the ability of fluid to cling
to the grains) may make the permeability of a given rock relatively high for gas, lower for water, and
near zero for viscous oils.
Permeability can vary with direction of flow. Pore connections may be less numerous, narrower, or
less well aligned in one direction than another. In rocks formed from well-sorted beach sands, grains
that are not spherical are often aligned perpendicular to the beach. Stream channel sands are aligned in
the direction of stream flow and often contain horizontal sheets or stringers of less permeable clay.
Fluids move more easily through such rocks parallel to grain alignment or clay stringers than across
them (see figure below).

April 2002

26

Chapter 1

Matrix

Preferential Fluid Flow in the Horizontal Direction

HYDROCARBON ACCUMULATION
Like water in a puddle, oil collects in places it cannot readily flow out of. Its movement ceases upon
reaching a structural high point or a zone of reduced permeability. As it accumulates, the mixture of
hydrocarbons and water differentiates into distinct zones of gas, oil, and water.

Fluid Separation by Density

Trapping
The permeability of the formation that seals off a petroleum reservoir is never absolutely zero, but just
low enough to reduce the flow rate effectively to zero under reservoir conditions. Given enough
pressure and fluidity (as opposed to viscosity), hydrocarbons may seep into a tight formation that
under less extreme conditions would totally exclude them.
Effective permeability is the rock's permeability to a given fluid when another fluid is also present.
Water has seven times the ability of oil to cling to the grains of porous rock, so it tends to fill small
pores and keep oil out. In a petroleum reservoir, interstitial water is nearly always present. Clinging to
April 2002

27

Chapter 1

the grains, it reduces the space available for oil and narrows the passages between pores, lowering the
rock's effective permeability to oil.
Relative permeability is the ratio of effective to absolute permeability. A rock that contains oil but no
water has a relative permeability of 1.0 for oil. Relative permeability of 0.0 means that water has filled
enough of the pore space to keep the oil from flowing. Higher fluid pressure may overcome the water's
resistance to the passage of oil and may increase the effective permeability of the formation by opening
tiny fractures across and along bedding planes.
A tight formation may keep fluids from leaving an underlying reservoir bed by preventing their
vertical migration. However, fluids may still migrate horizontally beneath the seal. For an
accumulation to form, petroleum fluids must encounter a trap, a geologic combination of
impermeability and structure that stops any further migration. The basic mechanisms involved can be
illustrated using as an example the anticline, the type of trap from which petroleum was first produced
in commercial quantities and in which most of the world's presently known reserves are located.

IMPERMEABLE SHALE

In the figure above, interstitial water with a small concentration of oil droplets and dissolved
hydrocarbons courses slowly through an undeformed horizontal sandstone beneath a layer of relatively
impermeable shale. The oil droplets, although swept along by the movement of the water, tend to
concentrate in the upper levels of the sandstone because of their buoyancy.
Suppose tectonic forces tilt these horizontal layers. If the tilt is upward in the direction of flow, the
situation is little changed; oil tends to rise updip, the same direction in which the water flows.
However, if the water flows downdip, the oil tends to rise against the flow of water.

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Chapter 1

Now suppose this sedimentary rock assemblage is bent into an anticline. Water flows through the
permeable sandstone as before - updip into the anticline and downdip out of it. Oil rises with the water
entering the anticline - but rises against the flow on the downdip side. If the water is not flowing too
fast, the oil droplets brought in by the flowing water move preferentially toward the crest of the
anticline. They concentrate and coalesce near the highest point. As the water brings in more oil, the
pool grows.
To accumulate oil, the anticline must
be closed: it must dip toward both
flanks and plunge in both directions
along its axis. Otherwise the oil will
continue to migrate updip. An
anticline is like an upside-down
trough (or cup) out of which oil
spills upward rather than downward.
If the cup is tilted too much, the
accumulated hydrocarbons will pour
out of the cup and continue rising.

Differentiation
With few exceptions, petroleum reservoirs are water-wet - that is, the oil is not in contact with the rock
grains because they are coated with a film of water. Most oil fields have 50% to 80% maximum oil
saturation. Above 80% oil saturation, the oil can be produced with very little water mixed in; below
10%, the oil is not recoverable.
A hydrocarbon reservoir is divided into two or more
zones. If only oil and water are present, the oil occupies
the upper zone. Although water still lines the pores, this is
the zone in which maximum oil saturation occurs. The oil
zone is underlain by water along the oil-water contact,
which is not a sharp line but a transition zone usually
many feet thick. Oil saturation increases gradually from
near 0% at the base of this zone to 50% to 80% at the top.
The region of maximum oil saturation extends from the
top of the transition to the top of the reservoir.

Natural gas is present in nearly all hydrocarbon


reservoirs, dissolved in the oil (as solution gas) and
to some extent in the water. In many situations,
however, reservoir conditions and gas saturation
allow undissolved gas (associated free gas) to
accumulate above the oil zone as a gas cap. The
wetting fluid in a gas cap is usually water but
occasionally oil. The transition zone between oil and
gas (the gas-oil contact) is thinner than the oil-water
contact zone because of the greater difference in
density and surface tension between gas and oil.

April 2002

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Chapter 1

Some reservoirs contain gas but not oil. This gas is called
non-associated gas. The transition zone is a gas-water
contact. The water almost always contains gas in solution,
and water lines the pores in the gas zone.
Free methane, the lightest hydrocarbon, remains in a
gaseous state even under great pressure. Ethane, propane,
and butane, which are gases at surface pressure and
temperature, are often found in a liquid state under
reservoir conditions.

TYPES OF TRAPS
The basic requirements for a petroleum reservoir are a source of hydrocarbons, a porous and
permeable rock formation through which hydrocarbons can migrate, and something to arrest the
migration and cause an accumulation. Although most of the known reservoirs are anticlinal, many
other geologic situations can cause hydrocarbons to accumulate.
Petroleum geologists have, for convenience, lumped hydrocarbon traps into two major groups:
structural, in which the trap is primarily the result of deformation of the rock strata; and stratigraphic,
in which the trap is a direct consequence of depositional variations that affect the reservoir formation
itself. Some geologists also include a third type - hydrodynamic traps, in which the major trapping
mechanism is the force of moving water. Most reservoirs have characteristics of more than one type.

STRUCTURAL TRAPS
Anticlines
Anticlinal reservoirs are created by tectonic deformation of flat-lying and parallel rock strata. The
basic anticlinal trap has already been described, and the syncline is not a noteworthy type of trap
because only under rare circumstances does it cause petroleum to accumulate.

Anticline
Structure

April 2002

A short anticline plunging in both directions along its


strike is classified as a dome. A dome is distinguished
on structural maps by its nearly circular shape. Many
domes are the result of diapirism, the penetration of
overlying layers by a rising column of salt or other
light, mineral. Salt domes are common along the U.S.
Gulf Coast and in the Middle East, northern Germany,
and the Caspian Volga area of Russia.

30

Chapter 1

Faults
Impermeable Bed

Sealing
Fault

When deformational forces exceed the breaking strength of


rock, the result is a fault. Faults can affect the migration
and accumulation of petroleum in various ways. They can
act as conduits for and gas, allowing or forcing these fluids
into formations at other levels or even to the surface.
Conversely, the movement of an active fault may grind
rock into a fine-grained substance called gouge, which may
be nearly impermeable to fluids. Shale strata cut by a fault
may be smeared along the fault zone, creating a lowpermeability barrier. A fault containing material of low
permeability is called a sealing fault.

Most faults trap oil and gas by interrupting the lateral


continuity of a permeable formation. Fault displacement places an impermeable formation opposite
the reservoir rock, and updip hydrocarbon migration is stopped as suddenly and effectively as though a
dam had been erected. Faults and folds are often closely associated, and each can affect how the other
causes fluids to accumulate. The upper parts of anticlines are commonly faulted. Such faults, which
often occur as the anticline is forming, may not change the total volume of the reservoir but may
divide it into separate compartments.
Sealing faults may isolate the compartments from
one another; non-sealing faults may allow reservoir
fluids to redistribute themselves or even migrate
out. The dip of a growth fault approaches the
horizontal at depth; deposition is faster on the
downthrown side, which tends to "roll over" or curl
downward. The result is a rollover anticline, where
oil and gas can accumulate. Although not trapped
by the fault itself, the petroleum may be trapped as
an indirect result of it.
Great horizontal stresses, such as those caused by the collision of two continental masses, may be
relieved through overthrust faulting. Blocks of the crust are shoved horizontally, sometimes many
miles, atop their counterparts, creating a double thickness (or more, in complex cases) of sedimentary
strata. The resulting flexures and faults can trap hydrocarbons in several ways. The crest of an
overthrust anticline, sometimes called a drag fold, can become a reservoir, as can the sheared-off
permeable rocks bent upward against the lower side of the fault. The Rocky Mountain Overthrust Belt
contains many such reservoirs.

STRATIGRAPHIC TRAPS
Compared to anticlines and faults, traps that are the result of lateral discontinuity or changes in
permeability are difficult to detect. For this reason, stratigraphic traps were not well represented or
studied until long after many of the world's most productive structural oil fields had been discovered.
The search for stratigraphic traps has intensified in recent decades, but they still account for only a
minor part of the world's known petroleum reserves.

April 2002

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Chapter 1

Many structural traps, especially those near the surface, can be located by careful study of the surface
geology. Stratigraphic traps, however, are usually unrelated to surface features. Their elusiveness has
stimulated the development of more and more sophisticated exploration techniques and devices. Many
stratigraphic traps have been discovered accidentally while drilling structural traps.
Shoestring Sand

A good example of why stratigraphic traps are hard to


find is the shoestring sand. This type of reservoir is often
Stream
an overlapping series of coarser stream sediments that
Channel
were inundated and buried beneath thick deposits of clay.
It appears as a sinuous string of sandstone winding
erratically through impermeable shales. Multiple
shoestring sands sometimes form complex branching
networks. The overlying land surface, whether flat or cut
by deep valleys, gives no hint of the underlying buried
channel. Tracing the course of a shoestring is almost as
mputalog
difficult as finding it. The petroleum geologist uses such
clues as direction of greatest permeability and general
slope of the buried land surface to find the next productive location. Lining up two or three productive
wells helps narrow the search.

Beach sand

Barrier Island

Lagoon

April 2002

32

The linear zone of sediments marking a


former coastline may form a series of
sandstone reservoirs. Unlike river sandbars,
grain orientation and direction of maximum
permeability are across the trend.
Information on facies changes is especially
useful in locating this type of reservoir.
Knowing that limestone and shale usually
form some distance offshore, the geologist
can determine the direction in which the
sediments become coarser and more
permeable. The coarsest, best-sorted, most
permeable sand is found in the shoreline
zone that was affected by wave action. It is
the most likely place to find oil, both because
of its porosity and permeability and because,
if tectonically undeformed, it is structurally
the highest part of the stratigraphic unit.

Chapter 1

Lens
A lens is an isolated body of sandstone or other permeable rock enclosed within shale or other less
permeable rock. Its edges taper out in all directions and can be formed by turbidity underwater slides,
isolated beach or streams sand deposits, alluvial fans, and other deposits. They are tapered in cross
section, like shoestring and beach sand - but not extended in length.

Lens Traps

Bioherm
Another type of stratigraphic trap is the reef. A wave-resistant accumulation of coral or shells serves as
an anchor for calcareous debris that forms limestone. If deeply submerged faster than it can accrete it
may become buried beneath marine shales. Such an isolated reef is called a bioherm. It may be porous
enough to hold large accumulations of hydrocarbons, especially if it has been dolomitized. Limestone
is especially vulnerable to dissolution by groundwater, particularly if raised above the water table.
Leaching by weak solutions of atmospheric carbon dioxide may form vugs (small voids) or caverns
(large voids) capable of containing hydrocarbons. Overlying deposits may be laid down in such a way
as to form a draped anticline, or compaction anticline - a structural feature that may also trap oil and
gas. Atolls (rings of coral islands), coral pinnacles, and other reef features are prolific oil producers.
The Horseshoe Atoll, a buried shell reef system in West Texas, contains one of the world's largest and
most prolific oil reservoirs.

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Chapter 1

Pinchout
A pinchout trap occurs where a porous and permeable sand body is isolated above, below, and at its
up dip edge by shale or other less permeable sediments. Oil or gas enters the sand body and migrates
updip until it reaches the low-permeability zone where the reservoir "pinches out".

Pinchout
Traps

Permeability changes
Diagenetic changes can create traps within formerly permeable rocks or can create reservoir areas
within formerly impermeable rocks. Minerals crystallizing out of circulating water between the grains
of a porous sandstone may reduce local permeability enough to form a barrier to hydrocarbon
migration. Alternatively, circulating water may increase permeability by leaching out cement or by
enlarging fissures and vugs in limestone, thereby increasing the potential for hydrocarbon
accumulation.
Fine-grained rocks such as the Austin Chalk
in Texas may be unsuitable as reservoirs
because of their relative impermeability.
When cut by a fault, however, they may
become locally fractured (brecciated) and
accumulate small but productive pools in
areas that are not structurally high.
Petroleum itself can seal permeable rock. If
exposed to oxygen or altered by bacteria, an
oil seep often loses its more volatile
components and becomes thick and tar-like.
It may plug the rock pores so tightly that no
further migration toward the surface can
occur. Below the affected zone, however,
recoverable petroleum may still accumulate.

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Chapter 1

UNCONFORMITIES
A major subcategory of stratigraphic traps includes those associated with unconformities. Permeable
outcrops overlain by impermeable layers can accumulate hydrocarbons from sources both above and
below the unconformity. A buried anticlinal outcrop may trap petroleum in both flanks, downdip from
the eroded crest. Locations that would have seeps on the former landscape surface become traps
beneath an unconformity. A porous, permeable formation lapping out on an unconformity can also
become a trap. Further subcategories of unconformities are the disconformity, angular unconformity,
and the nonconformity.

Disconformity
An unconformity along which the layers above and below are parallel is called a disconformity. The
disconformity may be parallel to the layers, representing a period during which deposition simply
ceased; or it may be irregular, indicating an episode of erosion. In the former case, the disconformity
may be difficult or impossible to distinguish from an ordinary bedding plane. Unless revealed by
correlation with nearby strata, a gap of thousands or millions of years of deposition may go
undetected.

Angular Unconformity
In an angular unconformity, the upper layers are not parallel
with the lower ones. Older layers have been tilted or folded,
eroded, then submerged for further deposition. An angular
unconformity separates Precambrian sedimentary rocks from
Paleozoic strata in parts of the Grand Canyon.

Nonconformity

Granite

April 2002

A nonconformity is an unconformity in which sediments were


deposited on an eroded surface of igneous or metamorphic rock.
In this situation, the fundamental difference in character of the
rocks above and below is obvious. However, if the formation
below is of banded metamorphic rock, the nonconformity may
superficially resemble an angular unconformity.

35

Chapter 1

HYDRODYNAMIC TRAPS
Movement of water through reservoir rock affects not only the amount but also the distribution of oil.
An oil-water contact is usually tilted downward in the direction of flow. The pool can be displaced so
far that a well drilled into the crest of an anticline might produce only water. The slope of the oil-water
interface, and therefore the location of the pool, is related in a predictable way to the slope of the
potentiometric surface (which is always in the direction of flow) and to the difference in density
between the oil and the water. The denser the oil, the more it is displaced. Gas, the lightest petroleum
fraction, tends to stay near the crest of the anticline.
Oil
may
accumulate
hydrodynamically in a structural
feature that might otherwise not
trap it. The flow of water through
the reservoir bed causes oil to
accumulate in the tilted anticline.
Were water flow to cease, the
buoyancy of the oil would cause
it to migrate up dip.

Tilted
Anticline

Water flows through a confined


permeable layer at a definite
volumetric rate. If the crosssectional area varies, the volumetric flow rate remains constant, but the linear flow rate changes. In
other words, to maintain the same number of gallons per hour, the water must flow faster through a
narrow section than through a broad section.

In this example water flows downdip from a


narrow zone into a broader section. Buoyant
oil droplets can migrate upstream against the
slow flow in the broad section but not against
the rapid flow in the narrows. Oil therefore
backs up in a pool at this bottleneck. A zone
of reduced permeability can have the same
effect because the cross-sectional area of the
interconnected pore space is reduced.

Combination Traps
Many petroleum traps have both stratigraphic and structural features. Some, in which both types of
characteristics are essential in trapping petroleum, are difficult to classify as either primarily structural
or primarily stratigraphic. For instance, originally horizontal formations that now pinch out updip can
trap hydrocarbons that might not otherwise have accumulated. Secondary porosity in a shattered
(brecciated) fault zone or anticlinal crest is a stratigraphic trapping mechanism caused by structural
deformation. Most hydrodynamic trapping depends partly upon formation structural features and often
upon stratigraphic variations within the reservoir formation.

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Chapter 1

Many types of traps can be found near salt domes. Most would be considered structural, although
some could be classified as combination traps. Beneath the U.S. Gulf Coast are thick beds of salt that
were deposited, during the opening of the modern Atlantic Ocean, in sedimentary basins with
restricted circulation and high evaporation rates. Under pressure, this rock salt, light and easily
deformed, is displaced by the weight of accumulating sediments, forming huge mushroom-like
columns that rise toward the surface. In each of these diapirs, the overlying rocks are pushed aside or
bulged upward into a dome. The penetrated layers are dragged upward by the rising salt core and
depressed downward away from it as the overlying layers subside to replace the depleted salt bed.
Leaching by groundwater prevents the salt from breaking through the surface, but leaves atop the
column a residue of less soluble compounds, forming a dense, impermeable caprock. Overlying
sediments break in a complex series of intersecting faults. The base of the salt core may narrow,
creating a mushroom-shaped overhanging column.
Many types of petroleum traps are thus formed: a multi-layered dome on top, cut by faults; upturned
drag folds that terminate against impermeable salt; upturned pinchouts where compression and other
diagenetic changes have reduced permeability; and faults along the flanks. Oil may also collect
beneath the impermeable caprock or beneath the overhanging salt. The multiple possibilities for traps
and the high likelihood of finding petroleum have made salt domes popular places to drill.
Dome

Faults

Upturned
Pinchout
Flank
Trap

Drag Fold

Combination Traps

April 2002

37

Chapter 1

TIMING AND PRESERVATION OF TRAPS


The accumulation of oil underground is a dynamic phenomenon. It is a function not only of the
location and configuration of source and reservoir beds but also of timing - the formation of the trap
and the arrival of the resource. A potential trap may form but remain barren because all the petroleum
has migrated out of the area; or it may form and be destroyed before hydrocarbons are generated. An
accumulation of hydrocarbons in a perfectly suitable reservoir may eventually be lost either because of
deformation and destruction of its trap or by excessive heat and pressure.
As an example of how the amount and character of hydrocarbon accumulation may change over both
time and space, consider the stair-step sequence of anticlines below. Water, with entrained oil and gas,
flows from left to right. At TIME 1, oil and gas are trapped in anticline A while "cleaned" water
continues through B and C. As more oil and gas accumulate, the trap fills and some of the oil spills out
into trap B. The gas, however, continues to accumulate in A until at TIME 2 it has displaced all the oil.
The process continues, as at TIME 3. Thus, the range of fluids produced by a well in any of these
structures depends upon the stage in its history.
An old trap may contain new oil - that is, oil that originated long after the trap was formed.
Conversely, a new trap may contain oil that is older than itself. Suppose that anticline D forms
between TIME 2 and TIME 3. The "old" oil spilling from anticlines A, B, and C can then accumulate
in the new trap, D.

TIME 1

TIME 2

TIME 3

April 2002

38

Chapter 1

Usually there is some correspondence between the age of the trap and the age of the oil, because
source and reservoir rocks tend to be fairly close together and subject to similar stresses. The stress
that deforms a reservoir bed to produce a petroleum trap may also bring about the generation and
primary migration of hydrocarbons from nearby source rocks.
Whether or not an accumulation of hydrocarbons is preserved depends upon many factors. Fissuring
or a sealing formation under bending stress; changes in porosity and permeability of limestone due to
leaching or dolomitization; excessive heat and pressure imposed on a reservoir beneath accumulating
sediments - these are a few of the many circumstances in which petroleum that was generated through
most of the history of the planet has failed to survive to the present. The oil and gas produced today
are only remnants of a much greater resource, most of which has disappeared.
Spared the effects of excessive heat and pressure, bacterial decomposition, diagenetic destruction, and
uplift and erosion, a pool of petroleum may endure for many millions of years. Most of the world's
known oil reserves are found in Mesozoic formations (65 to 225 million years old); smaller amounts
are found in Paleozoic rocks (up to ~ 500 million years old) or Cenozoic rocks (less than 65 million
years old).

Conclusion
The petroleum geologist's job is finding oil and gas that can be produced for commercial profit. Most
of what he needs to know in the performance of his duties is hidden beneath the surface. But he has
access to powerful tools and techniques for revealing the secrets of the earth's crust, and special ways
of analyzing this information that enable him to find the best places to drill exploratory wells and to
help his company make risk decisions. To the geologist's trained eye and mind, the same rocks that
hide the resource also provide subtle clues about its location.

April 2002

39

Chapter 1

April 2002

40

Chapter 1

Directional Surveying Fundamentals

Spring 2002
Calgary

4/2002

Introduction to Well Profiles

4/2002

Vertical Wells
Inclination Below 3o
Degrees

4/2002

Directional Wells
Slant
Build and
Hold
S-Curve
Extended
Reach
Horizontal

4/2002

Purpose of Directional Wells


To obtain production from inaccessible locations,
such as under populated areas, river beds, plants,
and roads.
To sidetrack a vertical well bore, either upup-dip or
downdown-dip, to seek the oil bearing formations after
the original well drilled into water or gas.
To reduce the cost of offshore drilling and
production by drilling a large number of directional
wells from one platform or island.
To provide fault control
To drill a relief well to kill a well blowing out of
control.

4/2002

Surveying Measurements to
Determine Borehole Location
Inclination

Azimuth
Gravity Toolface
Magnetic Toolface

4/2002

Surveying Measurements

4/2002

Surveying Measurements
Measures Local Gravity
Typically TriTri-axial Packaging
ACCELEROMETER
ACCELERATION

CAPACITANCE
PICKOFF

UPPER MAGNET

TORQUER COIL

QUARTZ PROOF
MASS

CHEMICALLY MILLED
HINGE
LEAD SUPPORT POSTS

LOWER MAGNET

4/2002

Surveying Measurements
Measures Local Magnetic Field
Typically TriTri-axial Packaging

4/2002

The Earth
Earths Gravitational Field
The gravitational field (G) is primarily a function of:
Latitude (main factor)
Depth/Altitude: referenced to mean sea level (MSL)
Regional fluctuations in the density of the Earth
Earths crust

Mathematically:
g
=
G x m x Me / r2
g
G
m
Me
r

=
=
=
=
=

attractive force
Universal Gravitational Constant
mass
mass of the Earth
radius between centers

4/2002

Magnetic Fields
The Earth is a
Magnet
Positive &
Negative Poles

4/2002

Magnetic Fields

4/2002

Magnetic Field Strength


1 x 10-9 Tesla

1 gamma

1 Nanotesla

1 microtesla

1 x 10-6 Tesla =

1000 gammas

1 tesla

1 x 109 gammas

1 gauss

1 x 105 gammas

1 gauss

1 x 10-4 Tesla

1 gauss

1 oersted

1 tesla

1 newton / ampere * meter

4/2002

Earth
Earths Magnetic Field
Total Magnetic Field
Horizontal
Vertical

Magnetic Dip Angle

4/2002

Magnetic Declination Angle


Tn = Mn + M Dec
East Dec is +
West Dec is -

4/2002

Magnetic Declination Angle


Zero Declination
Central Meridians

4/2002

Azimuth References
UTM
State Plane
Grid North
Gn = Tn Convergence

4/2002

Grid Systems

4/2002

Geographic Datum

NAD
GRS
WGS
Clarke

4/2002

Transverse Cylindrical Map Projection


UTM
Most commonly
used

4/2002

Map Projections
Lambert

4/2002

UTM Grid Zone

4/2002

Transverse Mercator Projection


Slight Improvement over
UTM Projection
Seldom used in the drilling
industry

4/2002

Lambert Conformal Conic Map


Projection
Used to map regions
with vast east / west
expanse

4/2002

Magnetic Declination Corrections


True North is the fixed
reference
Magnetic Declination
Corrects from Mn to
Tn
East Dec is + value
West Dec is - value

4/2002

Magnetic Declination
Magnetic North
continues to move

4/2002

The Geomagnetic Field

4/2002

The Geomagnetic Field

4/2002

The Geomagnetic Field

4/2002

The Geomagnetic Field

4/2002

10

The Geomagnetic Field

4/2002

Global Models

4/2002

Geomagnetic Software

4/2002

11

Magnetic Pole Movement

4/2002

Surveying Devices

Acid Etch Inclinometer


Compass Single Shot
Totco Inclination
Electronic MWD
Gyroscopes

Inclination
Azimuth
Gravity Toolface
Magnetic Toolface
Temperature

4/2002

Hole Position Calculations


Inputs:
Measured Depth
Inclination
Azimuth

Outputs:

True Vertical Depth


Latitude
Departure
Vertical Section

4/2002

12

Average Angle Calculation Method

4/2002

Radius of Curvature Calculation Method


Applies a best fit
curve between survey
stations
More accurately
reflects the shape of
the borehole than
Average Angle

4/2002

Minimum Curvature Calculations


Uses multiple points
between survey stations
to better reflect the
shape of the borehole
More accurate than the
Radius of Curvature
method

4/2002

13

Comparison of Accuracy
Minimum Curvature most commonly used

4/2002

Vertical Projection

KOP

Build
Section
Locked in
Section

TVD
Tangent
Vertical
Section

4/2002

Horizontal Projection
N
Latitude

Closure
Proposal
Direction
E
Departure
Vertical
Section
Calculated
on Proposal
Direction

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14

Closure and Vertical Section

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15

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DIRECTIONAL SURVEYING FUNDAMENTALS


Introduction to Directional Well Profiles
In the early days of drilling, no one worried about hole deviation. The objective was to get the well
drilled down, completed and producing as quickly as possible. Many drilling personnel assumed the
wells were straight - others simply did not care.
Subsequently, wells were deliberately drilled in some unknown direction. This began as a remedial
operation to solve a drilling problem - usually a fish or junk left in the hole. Today, with the advent of
tighter legal spacing requirements, better reservoir engineering modelling and drilling of multiple
wells from a single surface location, it has become very important to both control the wellbore
position during drilling and to relate the position of existing wellbores to lease boundaries, other wells,
etc.
The development of the skills and equipment necessary to direct these wellbores is the science of
directional drilling. Directional Drilling is the science of directing a wellbore along a predetermined
path called a trajectory to intersect a previously designated sub-surface target. Implicit in this
definition is the fact that both the direction and the deviation from vertical are controlled by the
directional driller from the surface.

Vertical Wells
The term straight hole loosely describes a borehole that a
drilling contractor has drilled vertically, from top to
bottom. In reality, practically all wellbores deviate from
the vertical. It is virtually impossible to drill a perfectly
straight hole. Drilling contracts recognize this fact and
allow a variation from the strict term. A better
description of modern drilling practices is controlled
deviation drilling because industry now accepts a straight
hole as one that meets two qualifications:

The hole stays within the boundary of a cone, as


designated by the operator in the deviation
clause of the contract. The total hole angle is
therefore restricted.

The hole does not change direction rapidly,


usually no more than 3 degrees per 100 ft (30 m)
of hole. The rate of hole angle changes is
therefore restricted.

Staying within these allowable parameters, the


contractors main objective is to deliver a straight and
usable hole to the specified depth. The usable borehole
should be full gauge, smooth, free of doglegs, keyseats,
ledges, offsets, and spirals that permit completion and
production operations that are free of trouble.

April 2002

Chapter 2

DIRECTIONAL WELLS
In order to reach the required downhole target coordinates there are several main profiles used; Slant,
Build and Hold, S-curve, Extended Reach, and Horizontal. These profiles may also be combined as
required to reach the target or targets.

Slant
Specialized drilling and completion rigs are used on these profiles. The well is spudded at an angle
greater than 0o and less than or equal to 45o. This profile is typically used on shallow wells when
trying to reach a target with a horizontal displacement that is 50% or more of the TVD. It is also used
on multiple well pad sites to drain a large area with several wells radiating out from a central site. The
most common pattern is the star-shaped layout, which allows for as many as 27 wells to be drilled
from one site. The savings on reduced lease requirements and production facilities can be quite
substantial.

Build and hold


This is the main profile for most
directional wells. It includes a
build section to a predetermined
terminal angle that is then held
through the target and in some
cases to total depth. In most cases
once the target has been reached
or there is no risk of missing the
target the directional tools are
released and the remainder of the
hole is rotary drilled allowing the
well path to follow a natural
direction. The inclination is
usually 15o or better.

S-Curve
The S-curve has a build, hold and drop section that may or may not drop the inclination down to 0
degrees. This shape is for the following reasons:

Hit multiple targets at the same horizontal displacement

Reach a desired horizontal displacement but allow drilling through


severely faulted or troublesome formations in a near vertical mode

Avoid local faulted regions

Minimize the inclination through a zone that will be fractured during


the completion phase.

April 2002

Chapter 2

Extended Reach
A modified or complex build and hold that typically has an inclination between 60 and 80 degrees
with a reach that is magnitudes of the TVD (between 4 and 7 times the vertical depth). Most common
location for these wells is offshore from a central drilling platform.

Horizontal with Single or Multiple Legs


A profile that consists of a build section to approximately 90o with a horizontal section through the
same reservoir. Additional laterals can be drilled from the first lateral into different regions or into
different zones.

GRAVITATIONAL AND MAGNETIC FIELDS


While measurement while drilling (MWD) tools are in wide use today many other types of surveying
equipment are still in use on various directional projects. Before describing the different types of
surveying equipment it is important to have a basic understanding of magnetics.

The Earths Gravitational Field


According to Newtons Law of Gravitation, every particle of matter in the universe attracts every other
particle with a force which is directly proportional to the product of the masses and inversely
proportional to the square of the distance between them.
Mathematically:
g

G x m x Me / r2

g
G
m
Me
r

=
=
=
=
=

attractive force
Universal Gravitational Constant
mass
mass of the Earth
radius between centres

The gravitational field (G) is primarily a function of:

Latitude (main factor).

Depth/Altitude: referenced to mean sea level (MSL)

Regional fluctuations in the density of the Earths crust.

Some of the changes in the measured value of G over the Earth are attributed to the Earths rotation.
The rotation has given the Earth a slightly flattened shape. Therefore, the equatorial radius is larger
than the polar radius. The G value changes from 0.997 at 0 degree latitude (Equator) to approximately
1.003 at 90 degree latitude (a 0.006 change).
A decrease in G can also be seen with increasing hole depth. The rate of change is approximately
0.0005 per 10,000 feet. You would have to be at 20,000 feet to see 0.001. Regional fluctuations in the
density of the Earths crust are practically negligible.

April 2002

Chapter 2

Magnetic Fields
Our understanding of earth magnetism is based on ideas about how magnets interact with one another
and about how magnetism is produced. The eighteenth century French physicist Charles Coulomb
described the interaction of magnets in terms of forces acting at points called magnetic poles. Every
magnet possesses a positive pole and a negative pole, so named because of their opposite effects on
the poles of another magnet. As the like poles of two magnets exert a repelling force on one another,
the unlike poles exert a force of attraction.
The two poles of a magnet act oppositely but with equal pole strength. It is not possible to separate or
extract either of these poles. To break a magnet is to immediately create two new magnets, each with a
positive pole and a negative pole. For this reason, we commonly use the word dipole to describe a
magnet.
Metals that are strongly attracted by magnets are said to be ferromagnetic. Such materials have
magnetism induced in them when they are near a magnet. If a piece of iron is brought near the south
pole of a magnet, the part of the iron nearest the magnet has a north pole induced in it, and the part
farthest away has a south pole induced in it. Once the iron is removed from the vicinity of the magnet,
it loses most of the induced magnetism. Some ferromagnetic metals actually retain the magnetism
induce in them, that is they become permanent magnets. Regular magnets and compass needles are
made of such metals. Ferromagnetism is also the basis of magnetic tape recording.
It is useful to employ the concept of a field to represent the effect of a magnet on the space around it. A
magnetic field is produced by a magnet and acts as the agent of the magnetic force. The poles of a
second magnet experience forces when in the magnetic field: its north pole has a force in the same
direction as the magnetic field, while its south pole has a force in the opposite direction. A compass
can be though of as a magnetic field detector because its needle will align itself with a magnetic field.
The shape of the magnetic field produced by a magnet can be mapped by noting the orientation of a
compass at various places nearby. Magnetic field lines can be drawn to show the shape of the field.
The direction of a field line at a particular place is the direction that the North Pole of a compass
needle will point.
There are several theories to explain the Earths magnetic field:
Theory #1: Rotation of the Earths solid exterior relative to its liquid iron core is believed to induce a
slow rotation of the core. A magnetic field results from the electrical currents generated by the relative
motion between the liquid core and the mantle.

April 2002

Chapter 2

Theory #2: The center portion of the Earth is largely composed of iron and has the mechanical
properties of a fluid. These fluids are subjected to internal circulation currents similar to phenomena
observed at the periphery of the sun. The internal circulation of these fluids acts as the source of the
Earths magnetic field.
In any event it appears that some mechanism is stirring up the core and causing fluid motion. These
motions combine in a particular pattern to give rise to the dipole field, which is observed at the earths
surface.
The total magnetic field is the sum of two fields of different origins:

The principal field which originates within the fluid nucleus of the Earth
And
The transitory field, which is generated outside the Earth. This field is caused by the rotation
of the Earth relative to the Sun and by the cycles of the Suns activity.

Aspects Of The Transitory Field


The transitory field is responsible for the following variations of the magnetic field.

Secular variations of approximately 15 gammas per year - a minor effect.

Diurnal solar variation on the order of 30 to 40 gammas per day a minor effect.

The cyclical Eleven Years variation a minor effect.

Magnetic storms which may reach several hundreds of gammas - a major effect.

The Earths own magnetic field extends out to approximately 8 times the radius of the planet. Beyond
this prevails the Magneto Pause, a region in space where the Earths magnetic field contacts the solar
wind. On its sunward side, the Earths magnetosphere is compressed by high- energy particles from
the solar wind.
These particles collide with the Earths magnetic field at a speed of 640 miles per second and are
slowed down at the shock front to 400 miles per second. Variations in the solar wind produce changes
in the Earths magnetic field. Solar flare particles reach the Earth in approximately two days. The
shock wave preceding the cloud of plasma from the solar flare compresses the magnetosphere and
rapidly intensifies the geomagnetic field at ground level.

Fluctuations in the Earths magnetic field

April 2002

Chapter 2

This compression takes place over a few minutes and is called the Sudden Storm Commencement. It is
followed by the Initial Phase, which lasts from 30 minutes to a few hours. The Main Phase produces a
drop in the magnetic field strength due to an opposing field generated by the energized particles in the
magnetosphere. This is normally not a problem for locations in the Gulf of Mexico and at lower
latitudes. In Alaska and some parts of the North Sea, however, this has serious effects.

Magnetic Field Strength


The total magnetic field strength may be referred to as the H value, HFH, magnetic field strength or
TTL field. The Geological Society Electromagnetic Units are used for measuring the strength of the
Earths magnetic field and are called Gammas. Some useful conversions:
=

1 x 10-9 Tesla

1 gamma

1 Nanotesla

1 microtesla

1 x 10-6 Tesla = 1000 gammas

1 tesla =

1 x 109 gammas

1 gauss =

1 x 105 gammas

1 gauss =

1 x 10-4 Tesla

1 gauss =

1 oersted

1 tesla =

1 newton / ampere * meter

The magnetic field intensity recorded at ground level is of a much smaller magnitude than that
prevailing around the Earths core. At the periphery of the core (approximately 3500 kilometers
outward from the centre of the Earth), the field strength reaches 800,000 gammas. Extreme total field
values at the surface which you are unlikely to see range from 63,000 gammas close to the North Pole
to 27,000 gammas near the equator (magnetic field intensity is greater at the North Pole then the
equator).
The total magnetic field intensity is the vector sum of its horizontal component and its vertical
component. The vertical component of the magnetic field points toward the ground and therefore
contributes nothing to the determination of the direction of magnetic north.
The horizontal component of the magnetic field strength can be calculated from the following
equation:
Horizontal Component = Magnetic Field Strength (HFH) x COS(Magnetic Dip Angle)
Some common values of total magnetic field strength are:

Gulf of Mexico = 50,000 gammas

Eastern Canada = 54,000 gammas

Beaufort Sea = 58,500 gammas

North Sea = 50,000 gammas

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Chapter 2

The Magnetic Dip Angle is equal to the angle between tangent to Earths surface and magnetic field
vector (magnetic North). Extreme values which you are not likely to see for Dip Angle range from 90
degrees close to the North Pole to almost 0 degrees at the equator. There are also several other points
on the Earths surface where the dip is equal to 90 degrees. These are due to local anomalies and are
called dip holes. Some common relative values for dip angle:
Gulf of Mexico = 59 degrees
Eastern Canada = 70 degrees
Beaufort sea = 84 degrees
North Sea = 70 degrees
Example horizontal component calculations:
For Alaska:

57,510 gammas x COS(80.6o) = 9392 gammas

For Gulf of Mexico:

50,450 gammas x COS(59.70o) = 25,250 gammas

MWD instruments measure the three components of the magnetic field vector, H. The expected value
can be obtained from a previous acceptable survey or from a Geomagnetic software program.
Differences observed between the measured magnetic field strength value and the value from the
Geomagnetic software program may be due to:

Uncertainties in drill string magnetism.

Uncertainties induced by temporal variations in the magnetic field.

Uncertainty in the measured value of the magnetic field.

Temperature sensitivity of the magnetometers.

Errors from the tool electronics.

Magnetic Declination Angle


The Earth can be thought of as having a magnetic dipole running through its center with north and
south poles at either end. This dipole does not correspond with the Earths rotational axis (tilted
approximately 12o relative to earths axis of rotation). The angle between magnetic north and
geographic north (True North) is defined as the magnetic declination or the angle of declination (refer
to illustration). The magnetic declination is dependent upon the location (latitude and longitude) and
may vary in areas of high magnetic activity (such as Alaska). All magnetic surveys require a
conversion to geographic direction by adding or subtracting this angle. Knowing magnetic declination,
the direction of the Earths magnetic field relative to True North can be calculated.

April 2002

Chapter 2

Magnetic declination angle

Magnetic declination can vary and the total magnetic field strength may vary greatly during extreme
sun spot activity. Also, the closer to the equator:

the lower the total field strength

the higher the horizontal component

the less the dip angle

All survey systems/plots are measured relative to True North (geographic north). Survey tool
measurements are made relative to Magnetic North (necessary to adjust for magnetic declination).
Magnetic Declination Correction:

EAST + Correction to Azimuth


WEST - Correction to Azimuth

When dealing with magnetic survey bearing or azimuth values expressed between 0 and 360 degrees,
the magnetic declination is always added since the East or West value for the declination will adjust
itself. For example survey reads 120o and the magnetic declination is 20o West, corrected bearing is
120 + (-20) = 100o.

April 2002

Chapter 2

Directional Drilling Azimuth Reference Systems


This section discusses the primary azimuth reference systems currently used in directional drilling.
This will include True North and Magnetic references with particular detail given to Grid Coordinate
systems (i.e. UTM, Lambert, Geographic, and Local). A simple field-proven method is also presented
to help avoid confusion when converting from one system to another. More than one multi-million
dollar directional drilling project has missed its intended target(s) due to errors and/or
misunderstandings surrounding the azimuth reference system in use.
The confusion arises primarily from the necessity to change from one system to another between the
well planning phase, where most maps are drawn with respect to a local Grid North, and the drilling
phase where surveying is performed with respect to a Magnetic or True North reference. The field
company representative is faced with a confusing array of possible conversions, including declination
corrections from Magnetic North to True North, True North to Grid North, Magnetic to Grid North, or
Grid to Magnetic North. Is the correction to be added or subtracted from the survey measurement? Is
the convergence magnitude and sign correct
for the grid system used?
With all these questions, it is easy to see why
this seemingly simple task is often performed
improperly and the mistake not realized until
the target is missed. The rig foreman often
passes on the responsibility for field
convergence application to the service
company supplying the surveys or to the
directional driller. While this practice may
appear sound in theory, it usually creates
additional confusion as basic information is
often poorly communicated or misconstrued.
It is not uncommon that on projects where
several service companies perform different
surveys (i.e. MWD, single shots, multi-shots,
and gyros) that each supplier comes up with a
different convergence value.

A case in point involved a recent high visibility multimillion dollar directional drilling project. In this
incident, a well known well planning company drew the
well maps with respect to the local grid coordinate
system, with a footnote stipulating that the directional
contractor would be responsible for grid and magnetic
declination convergence. When the operation began, the
rig site was manned by a company representative, two
consulting drilling engineers, and a directional driller all
responsible for deviation control.
The directional company was not accustomed to
deriving grid corrections and solicited help from the

April 2002

Chapter 2

company representative. He assumed the local grid was UTM (later learned to be state plane) and the
appropriate UTM convergence was applied. He then had the directional companys office redraw the
well maps rotated by that UTM correction. The office complied and added in the magnetic declination
as well. The directional driller missed this fact, however, and continued to apply a declination
correction at the rig site as drilling continued. It was not until the project was completed and the target
missed that the errors were realized.
This project was more closely supervised than a normal directional well, yet it serves as a classic
example of how easily the relative relationships between coordinate systems can be poorly
communicated and inappropriately applied. The remainder of this paper will examine methods to
reduce these azimuth convergence errors by utilizing field experience and suggested communication
procedures between all involved parties.

Azimuth References
Azimuth, (AZ) used in directional drilling, may be
defined as the direction of the wellbore (at a given
point) projected into the horizontal plane measured
in a clockwise direction from Magnetic North, True
North or Grid North after applying a North
Reference system.
Azimuth should be expressed as a value on a 0360o compass system. Quadrant or bearing systems
(i.e. N45 20E) may be easier to visualize, but
make the probability of convergence mistakes
higher than in an azimuth system. It is therefore
recommended to have all survey printouts
converted to an azimuth system when making
initial convergence corrections.
For directional drilling and borehole surveying,
there are three primary azimuth references. They
are Magnetic North (MN), True (Geographic)
North (TN), and Grid North (GN).
Magnetic North is the direction of the horizontal
component of the earths magnetic field lines at a
particular point on the earths surface pointing to the magnetic pole. A magnetic compass will align
itself to these lines with the positive pole of the compass indicating North. Magnetic North is usually
symbolized on maps by a half arrowhead or the letters MN.
True or Geographic North is the horizontal direction from a point on the earths surface to the
geographic North Pole, which lien on the earths axis of rotation. The direction is shown on a globe by
meridians of longitude. True North i.e. normally symbolized on maps by a star at the tip of the arrow
or the letters TN.
Grid North is a reference system devised by map markers in the complicated task of transferring the
curved surface of the earth onto a flat sheet. The meridians of longitude on a globe converge toward
the North Pole and therefore do not produce a rectangular grid system. A map can be drawn such that

April 2002

10

Chapter 2

the grid lines are rectangular, for some specified area of the earth, the northerly direction of which is
determined by one specified meridian of longitude. This direction is called Grid North and is identical
to True North only for that specified central meridian. It is normally symbolized on a map by the
letters GN at the tip of the arrow.

Grid Systems
One of the oldest systematic methods of location is based upon the geographic coordinate system.
While this information is basic, a short review is included for reference. By drawing a set of east-west
rings around the globe (parallel to the equator), and a set of north- south rings crossing the equator at
right angles and converging at the poles, a network of reference lines is formed from which any point
on the earths surface can be located.
The distance of a point north or south of the equator is known as latitude. The rings around the earth
parallel to the equator are called parallels of latitude or simply parallels. Lines of latitude run eastwest, with north-south distances measured between them. A second set of rings around the globe at

right angles to lines of latitude and passing through the poles are known as meridians of longitude or
simply meridians. One meridian is designated as the prime meridian. The prime meridian accepted by
the majority of the world runs through Greenwich, England, and is known as the Greenwich meridian.

April 2002

11

Chapter 2

The distance east or west of a prime meridian to a point is known as longitude. Lines of longitude
(meridians) run north-south, with east-west distances measured between them. Geographic coordinates
are expressed angular measurement. Each circle is divided into 360, each degree into 60 minutes, and
each minute into 60 seconds.
The degree is symbolized by (0), the minute by (), and the second by (). Starting with 0 at the
equator, the parallels of latitude are numbered to 90 both north and south. The extremities are the
North Pole at 90 north latitude and the South Pole at 90 south latitude. Latitude can have the same
numerical value north or south of the equator, so the direction N or S must always be given. It can also
be further defined as Geographic/Geodetic or Geocentric Latitude.
Geodetic is the angle that a line perpendicular to the surface of the earth makes with the plane of the
equator. It is slightly greater in magnitude than the Geocentric latitude, except at the equator and poles
where it is the same due to the earths ellipsoidal shape. The Geocentric latitude is the angle made by a
line to the center of the earth at the equatorial plane.
Starting with 0 at the prime meridian, longitude is measured both east and west around the world.
Lines east of the prime meridian are numbered to 0 to +180 and identified as east longitude: lines
west of the prime meridian are numbered to 0 to -180 and identified as west longitude. The direction
E (+) or W (-) must always be given. The line directly opposite the prime meridian, 180, may be
referred to as either east or west longitude.

Geographic Datum
For most atlas maps and any directional drilling map, the
earth may be considered a sphere. Actually it more nearly
resembles an oblate ellipsoid flattened by approximately
one part in three hundred at the poles due to rotation. On
small-scale maps this oblateness is negligible. However,
different ellipsoids will produce slightly different
coordinates for the same point on the earth and therefore
warrant a brief summary.
More than a dozen principal ellipsoids have been measured
in the past two hundred years, which are still in use by one
or more countries. An official shape was designated in 1924
by the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics
(IUGG) and adopted a flattening ratio of exactly one part in
297. This was called the International Ellipsoid and was
based on Hayfords calculations in 1909 giving an
equatorial radius of 6,378,388 meters and a polar radius of 6,356,911,9 meters. Many countries did not
adopt this ellipsoid however, including those in North America. The different dimensions of the other
established ellipsoids are not only the result of varying uncertainties in the Geodetic measurements
that were made, but also are due to a non-uniform curvature of the earths surface due to irregularities
in the gravity field. It is for this reason that a particular ellipsoid will be slightly more accurate in the
areas it was measured, rather than using a generalized ellipsoid for the whole earth. This also includes
satellite-derived ellipsoids such as WGS72. The following table illustrates some of the official
ellipsoids in use today.

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Name
GRS 19802
WGS 723
Australian
Krasovaky
Internat1
Hayford
Clarke
Clarke

Date
1980
1972
1965
1940
1924
1909
1880
1866

Equatorial
Radius,a,
Meters b,
6,378,137
6,378,135
6,378,160
6,378,245
6,378,388
6,378,388
6,378,249.1
6,378,206.4

PolarRadius
metere
6,356,752.3
6,356,750.5
6,356,774.7
6,356,863.0
6,356,911.9
6,356,911.9
6,356,514.9
6,356,583.8

Flattening
f
1/298.257
1/298.26
1/298.25
1/298.25
l/297
1/297
1/293.46
1/294.98

Use
Newly adopted
NASA
Australia
Soviet Union
Remainder of the world
Remainder of the world
Most of Africa; France
NA; Philippines

Map Projections. A map projection is a method of transferring part or all of a round body on to a flat
sheet. Since the surface of a sphere cannot be represented accurately on a flat sheet without distortion
the cartographer must choose characteristics he wishes to display precisely at the expense of others.
There is consequently no best method of projection for map making in general. Different applications
require different projections.
Some characteristics normally considered in choosing a particular projection are: true shape of
physical features, equal area, true scale and size, great circles as straight lines, rhomb (compass point)
lines as straight lines, and correct angular
relationships. A map of relatively small size,
such as a directional well path, will closely
achieve most or all of these characteristics with
any method of projection.
Map projections are generally classified with
respect to their method of construction in
accordance with the developable surface from
which they were devised, the most common
being cylindrical, conical, and planer.

An examination of these projections shows that most


lines of latitude and longitude are curved. The
quadrangles formed by the intersection of these curved
parallels and meridians are of different sizes and shapes,
complicating the location of points and the measurement
of directions. To facilitate these essential operations, a
rectangular grid maybe superimposed upon the
projection.
Universal Transverse Mercator Grid (UTM). The most
common worldwide grid system used in directional
drilling is the UTM. The U.S. Army adopted this system
in 1947 for designating rectangular coordinates on large
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scale military maps of the entire world. The UTM is based on the
Cylindrical Transverse Mercator Conformal Projection, developed
by Johann Lambert in 1772, to which specific parameters have been
applied, such as central meridians.
The UTM divides the world into 60 equal zones (6 wide) between
latitude 84N and latitude 80S. Polar regions are normally covered
by a separate planer projection system known as Universal Polar
Stereo-graphic. Each of the 60 zones has its own origin at the
intersection of its central meridian and the equator. The grid is
identified in all 60 zones. Each grid is numbered, beginning with
zone 1 at the 180th Meridian, International Date Line, with zone
numbers increasing to the east. Most of the North America is
included in Zones 10-19. Each zone is flattened and a square grid
superimposed upon it.
Any point in the zone may be referenced by citing its zone number, its distance in meters from the
equator (northing) and its distance in meters from a north-south reference line (easting). These
three components: the zone number, easting and northing make up the complete UTM Grid Reference
for any point, and distinguish it from any other point on earth. The Figure below shows a zone, its
shape somewhat exaggerated, with its most important features. Note that when drawn on a flat map, its
outer edges are curves, (since they follow meridian lines on the globe), which are farther apart at the
equator than at the poles.
UTM zones are sometimes further divided into grid sectors although this is not essential for point
identification. These sectors are bounded by quadrangles formed every 8 in latitude both north and
south and are designated by letters starting with C at 80 South to X at 72 North, excluding I and O.
Dallas for example is in grid zone 14s
covering a quadrangle from 96 to 102W
and from 32 to 40N. Sectors may be
further divided into grid Squares of
100,000 meters on a side with double
letter designations including partial
squares of 10,000 meters, 1,000 meters
and 100 meters designated by numbers
and letters.
The two most important features of the
zones are the equator, which run east and
west through its center, and the central
meridian.
Easting
and
northing
measurements are based on these two
lines. The easting of a point represents its
distance in meters from the central
meridian of the zone in which it lies. The
northing of a point represents its distance
in meters from the equator.
By common agreement, there are no
negative numbers for the castings of

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points west of the central meridian. Instead of assigning a value of 0 meters to the central meridian of
each zone, each is assigned an arbitrary value of 500,000 meters, increasing to the east.
Since along the equator at their widest points, the zones somewhat exceed 600,000 meters from west
to east, easting values range from approximately 200,000 meters to approximately 800,000 meters at
the equator, with no negative values. The range of possible casting values narrows as the zones narrow
toward the poles. Northings for points north of the equator are measured directly in meters, beginning
with a value of zero at the equator and increasing to the north. To avoid negative northing values for
points south of the equator, the equator is
arbitrarily assigned a value of 10 million
meters, and points are measured with
decreasing, but positive, northing values
heading southward. Some maps, particularly in
the U.S., have converted UTM coordinates from
meters to feet.
In utilizing the Transverse Mercator Projection,
the central UTM meridian has been reduced in
scale by 0.9996 of True to minimize variation in
a given zone. This scale factor (grid
distance/true distance) changes slightly as you
move away from the central meridian and
should be considered if very accurate
measurements are desired. However, this error
is very small in directional drilling maps and is
usually ignored.

Approximately 60 countries use the UTM as the most


authoritative and general use projection within the
world, although some also use secondary local
projections and grid references. The Russia, China
and other European countries use the Transverse
Mercator
(Gauss-Kriiger)
with
6
zones.
Approximately 50 countries use other projections.
Lambert Conformal Conic Projection. The Lambert
System is based on a conformal conic projection and
is particularly useful in mapping regions that have a
predominately east-west expanse. This system has
heavy use in North America and is the official U.S.

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state plane coordinate system for more than half of the 48 contiguous states, including the majority of
those where oil is drilled and produced (i.e. Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, California, Colorado,
Kansas, Utah, and Michigan). The remainder of the states, including Wyoming, uses the Transverse
Mercator with Alaska using a combination.
This projection was first described by Lambert in 1772, but received little use until the First World
War where France revived it for battle maps. The features of this conic projection include:

Parallels of latitude are unequally spaced arcs of concentric circles

Meridians of longitude are equally spaced radii cutting the parallels at right angles

Scale is normally true along two defined parallels, but can be true along one

Pole in same hemisphere is a point, other pole is at infinity

Since there is no distortion at the parallels, it is possible to change the standard parallels to another
pair by changing the scale applied to the existing map and recalculating standards to fit the new scale.
Each state or area has its own standard parallels, or sets of the same depending on its size, to reduce
distortion at the center. For example, Louisiana is divided into three zones as shown in the Table
below.

North
South
Offshore

Long.
31 10* N 32 40t N
29 18 3C 42*
26 10 27 501

Lat.
92 301 w 30 401 N
91 201 28 40
91 201 25 40

The grid origins for most states are measured in feet, with the east-west axis starting at 2,000,000 feet
and the north-south axis set at 0 feet.
Local Grid systems. There are numerous local grid systems in use around the world today. These
systems all have different base line coordinates and projections, covering different sizes of surface
areas, but all serve the same basic purpose as outlined for UTM and Lambert. In the U.S. lease lines
often are used as a convenient grid reference, as well as other privately surveyed grids. Outside the
U.S., local grids are used in Holland, the U.K., Brunei, Australia, and other countries. Several
countries have also shifted the starting of the UTM grid zones to fall inside their own territory.
In some situations when using standard grid coordinates, the wells target location may lie in a
different zone from the surface location. In these cases creating a nonstandard zone normally produces
a special local grid. This is done by either extending the surface location zone by a few miles to
include the target, or shifting the zone center, as sometimes is done with UTM, 3 to the zone
boundary.

Azimuth Reference System Conversions


Most well proposals are generated from rectangular coordinates derived from the UTM or local grid
system. The surface location to target direction will therefore be referenced to Grid North. Since wells
must be surveyed with sensors that reference direction to either Magnetic or True North, it will be
necessary to convert between these references.

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Magnetic Declination Correction


Magnetic declination correction converts
azimuth values between the Magnetic North
and True North systems. The magnetic
declination correction is the angle between
the horizontal component of the earths
magnetic field lines and the lines of
longitude. When Magnetic North lies to the
west of True North, the magnetic declination
is said to be westerly, and if to the east,
easterly.
Values of magnetic declination change with
time and location. Magnetic Declination
models are updated every year. Their values and rates of change can be obtained from Computer
programs like GEOMAG or world magnetic variation charts or isogonic charts which are issued
by all major hydrographic institutes in the world once every five years (1980, 1985, 90, etc.).
Computer programs like GEOMAG use current magnetic models and calculate up-to-date local
declination figures. The most accurate method to determine local declination is to measure the
magnetic field with a magnetic transit.
When magnetic results are recorded, the
declination and the date must be included.
Local values of magnetic declination should
be stated in the well program to plus or
minus 0.1O.
Grid Correction Angle. A grid correction
converts azimuth readings between the True
North systems and the specified grid
system. The angle of correction is the angle
between the meridians of longitude and the
Northings of the grid system at a specified
point. The magnitude of the correction
angle depends upon its location within the grid and its latitude. The closer the point is to the grid
central meridian and to the equator, the smaller the correction.
The computation of the grid correction angle or angle of convergence will require special
mathematical techniques depending on the type of projection of the curved earths surface on to the
flat grid. The directional software packages will at minimum handle UTM and Lambert conformal
conic convergence. The chosen sign convention displays Grid North as x number of degrees east or
west of True North. For example, when you convert the geographic coordinates latitude N 30 00 00
and longitude W 95 00 00 to UTM coordinates (using the Hayford Inter-national - 1924 Ellipsoid),
the computer will display the following results:
UTM Coordinates:
Hemisphere = North
Zone = 15
Northing = 3320517.348
Easting = 307077.096
Grid Convergence = W 1 0 0

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This listing indicates a grid convergence of 1o 00 00. Grid convergence as calculated by the
directional software package is the angular difference in degrees between True North and UTM Grid
North. UTM Grid North is said to be X number of degrees either east or west of True North. When
working with the UTM system, the calculated direction between two UTM coordinates is referenced
to Grid North. To convert this UTM Grid North direction to a True North direction, you must apply the
grid convergence to the calculated UTM Grid North direction. This sign convention is not necessarily
the same for all contractors and should be clearly communicated and understood before drilling
begins.

System Conversions
Once accurate magnetic declination and grid convergence angles are acquired, all that is needed to
change reference systems is to add or subtract these angles from one another. While this seems a
simple task, misunderstandings surrounding the relationship between these references can cause a
target to be missed. To avoid this confusion, declination/grid conversion polar diagrams should be
drawn on all maps and clearly defined on all survey printouts. With this in mind, the following
procedure is suggested:
1. Convert quadrant/bearing readings, including declination and grid convergence, to a 0-360
degrees azimuth system.
2. Draw a polar diagram showing True North at 0 degrees azimuth (12 oclock).
3. Draw an arrow for Magnetic North using an exaggerated angle east or west of True North
showing the declination angle (east declination is east of True North and west is west).
4. Draw an arrow for Grid North using an exaggerated angle east or west of True North showing
the grid convergence angle (be sure of the sign convention of the grid convergence value used,
for example does a west convergence angle put Grid North west of True North or visa versa?).
5. Draw an arrow pointing east (azimuth of 90) for an arbitrary borehole azimuth reference.
6. Label the borehole azimuth with reference to each system.
True North azimuth will equal 90; Magnetic azimuth will equal 90 plus/minus declination; Grid
azimuth will equal 90 plus/minus grid convergence. With these three references it is a simple matter
to determine whether declination and/or convergence need to be added or subtracted to switch from
one system to the other.

Communication
Accurate communication, both written and oral, is the key to avoiding convergence errors. This
function can generally be divided into two or three groups depending on the size of the organization
and the complexity of the project.
The initial group will normally consist of seismic crews, geophysical and geology departments, who
will be responsible for developing structure maps and choosing targets with respect to a common
coordinate system. The next group might be land/hydrographic survey crews, geology, drilling
engineering, and a directional service company who might be responsible for developing well plans to
the proposed targets from selected surface locations. At this point the grid convergence and magnetic
declination angle should be computed, cross checked, and documented on the well prognosis and
directional maps using a polar grid convergence diagram. All groups should be in agreement with
these values before release to operations. The final group might consist of drilling engineering,
operations drilling foremen, and directional drillers who will be responsible for drilling the well to
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Chapter 2

target as planned. This is the stage where most errors and miscommunication are likely to occur. Never
assume the man on the rig will understand your written communications. A meeting should be held, at
the rig site if necessary, to assure that all parties understand the map azimuth reference and the
magnitude and sense of necessary correction angles.

Magnetic Declination
Many people are surprised to learn that a magnetic compass does not normally point to true north. In
fact, over most of the Earth it points at some angle east or west of true (geographic) north. The
direction in which the compass needle points is referred to as magnetic north, and the angle between
magnetic north and the true north direction is called magnetic declination. You will often hear the
terms "variation", "magnetic variation", or "compass variation" used in place of magnetic declination,
especially by mariners.
The magnetic declination does not remain constant in time.
Complex fluid motion in the outer core of the Earth (the
molten metallic region that lies from 2800 to 5000 km
below the Earth's surface) causes the magnetic field to
change slowly with time. This change is known to as
secular variation. An example, the accompanying
diagram shows how the magnetic declination has changed
with time at Halifax. Because of secular variation,
declination values shown on old topographic, marine and
aeronautical charts need to be updated if they are to be
used without large errors. Unfortunately, the annual change
corrections given on most of these maps cannot be applied
reliably if the maps are more than a few years old since the
secular variation also changes with time in an unpredictable manner. If accurate declination values are
needed, and if recent editions of the charts are not available, up-to-date values for Canada may be
obtained from the most recent geomagnetic reference field models produced by the Geological Survey
of Canada.
The elements iron, nickel and cobalt possess electrons in their
outer electron shell but none in the next inner shell. Their
electron "spin" magnetic moments are not canceled, thus they
are known as ferromagnetic.
Earth's core has remained molten due to heat from ongoing
radioactive decay. Convection currents of molten rock
containing ferromagnetic material flow in the earths outer core
generating a magnetic field. The magnetic poles of this field do
not coincide with true north and south poles (the axis of rotation
of the Earth). In mid 1999, the average position of the modeled
magnetic north pole (according to the IGRF-2000 geomagnetic
model) is 79.8 N, and 107.0 W, 75 kilometers (45 miles)
northwest of Ellef Ringnes Island in the Canadian Arctic. This
position is 1140 kilometers (700 miles) from the true
(geographic) north pole.

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Chapter 2

At the magnetic poles, the Earth's magnetic field is perpendicular to the Earth's surface. Consequently,
the magnetic dip, or inclination (the angle between the horizontal and the direction of the earth's
magnetic field), is 90. And since the magnetic field is vertical, there is no force in a horizontal
direction. Therefore, the magnetic declination, the angle between true geographic north and magnetic
north, cannot be determined at the magnetic poles.
The geomagnetic field can be quantified as total intensity, vertical intensity, horizontal intensity,
inclination (dip) and declination. The total intensity is the total magnetic field strength, which ranges
from about 23 microteslas (equivalent to 23000 nanoteslas or gammas, or 0.23 oersteds or gauss)
around Sao Paulo, Brazil to 67 microteslas near the south magnetic pole near Antarctica.

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Chapter 2

Vertical and Horizontal intensity are components of the total intensity.

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Chapter 2

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Chapter 2

The angle of the magnetic field relative to the level ground (tangent to the earth) is the inclination, or
dip, which is 90 at the magnetic north pole and 0 at the magnetic equator.

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Chapter 2

Finally, the angle of the horizontal intensity with respect to the true north (geographic) pole is the
declination, also called variation in mariners' and aviators' jargon. In other words, declination is the
angle between where a compass needle points and the true North Pole.

If the compass needle points west of true north, this offset is designated as west declination. The world
standard, including in the southern hemisphere, is in reference to the magnetic north (MN) declination.
In the context of astronomy or celestial navigation, declination has a different meaning. Along with
right ascension, it describes the celestial coordinates of a star, etc.

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Chapter 2

Do compasses point to the north magnetic pole?


Most people incorrectly believe that a compass needle points to the north magnetic pole. But the
Earth's magnetic field reacts to the effect of complex convection currents in the magma, which must be
described as several dipoles, each with a different intensity and orientation, the compass actually
points to the sum of the effects of these dipoles at your location. In other words, it aligns itself with the
local magnetic field lines of force. Other factors, of local and solar origin, further complicate the
resulting local magnetic field. It may be all right to say that a compass needle points "magnetic north"

If unlike poles attract, then why doesn't the north tip of a compass point magnetic south?
Should we be calling the north magnetic pole, the southern magnetic pole of the Earth, or should we
be referring to the south magnetized needle of the compass as pointing magnetic north? Neither. A
compass needle is a magnet and the north pole of any magnet is defined as the side which points
magnetic north when the magnet is freely suspended; its correct title is "north seeking pole," but it has
unfortunately been shortened to "north pole." Maps label the magnetic pole in the northern hemisphere
as the "North Magnetic Pole".
The cardinal points were defined long before the discovery that freely suspended magnets align to
magnetic north. When some curious person placed lodestone (magnetite) on wood floating on water,
or floated it directly on mercury, it was observed to align in a consistent direction, roughly pointing
north. The side of the lodestone that pointed magnetic north was called, naturally, the "north pole". But
that was before it was realized that like poles of magnets repel. So we must now make the distinction
that the real north pole is the Earth's north magnetic pole, and the poles of all magnets that (roughly)
point to it are north seeking poles.

How do I compensate for declination and inclination?


Since magnetic observations are neither uniformly nor densely distributed over the Earth, and since
the magnetic field is constantly changing in time, it is not possible to obtain up-to-date values of
declination directly from a database of past observations. Instead, the data are analyzed to produce a
mathematical routine called a magnetic
reference field "model", from which
magnetic declination can be calculated.
Global models are produced every one
to five years. These constitute the series
of
International
Geomagnetic
Reference Field (IGRF) models. The
World Magnetic Model Epoch 2000
(WMM-2000), models. The latest
IGRF and WMM model was produced
in 2000, and is valid until 2005. The
Canadian Geomagnetic Reference Field
(CGRF) is a model of the magnetic
field over the Canadian region. It was
produced using denser data over
Canada than were used for the IGRF,
and because the analysis was carried
out over a smaller region, the CGRF
can reproduce smaller spatial variations
in the magnetic field than can the
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Chapter 2

IGRF. The latest CGRF was also produced in 2000 and is valid until 2005. The accompanying
declination chart is based on the CGRF.
Since magnetic field models such as the WMM, IGRF and CGRF are approximations to observed
data, a value of declination computed using either of them is likely to differ somewhat from the "true"
value at that location. It is generally agreed that the WMM and IGRF achieves an overall accuracy of
better than 1 in declination; the accuracy is better than this in densely surveyed areas such as Europe
and North America, and worse in oceanic areas such as the south Pacific. The accuracy of the CGRF,
in southern Canada, is about 0.5. The accuracy of all models decreases in the Arctic near the North
Magnetic Pole.
Magnetic field models are used to calculate magnetic declination by means of computer programs
such as the Magnetic Information Retrieval Program (MIRP), a software package developed by the
Geomagnetism Program of the Geological Survey of Canada. The user inputs the year, latitude and
longitude and MIRP calculates the declination. MIRP is able to compute values for any location on the
Earth in the time period 1960 to 2000. For locations within Canada, MIRP computes values using the
CGRF. Outside Canada, values are calculated using the IGRF.
Below is an example of a Geomagnetic software package used to calculate many magnetic parameters.
Inputs required for this example are Latitude, Longitude, Elevation, Date and Model.
Output we would normally use are Magnetic Field Strength (Incident Field), Magnetic Dip angle (Dip)
and Magnetic Declination (Dec).

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Chapter 2

What factors Influence Declination?


Location
Each position on the Earth has a particular declination. The change in its value as one travels is a
complex function. If a navigator happens to be traveling along a rather straight line of equal
declination, called an isogonic line, it can vary very little over thousands of kilometers. However; for
one crossing isogonic lines at high latitudes, or near magnetic anomalies, the declination can change at
over a degree per kilometer (6/10 mile).

Local magnetic anomalies


Predictive geomagnetic models such as the World Magnetic Model (WMM) and the International
Geomagnetic Reference Field (IGRF) only predict the values of that portion of the field originating in
the deep outer core. In this respect, they are accurate to within one degree for five years into the future,
after which they need to be updated. The Definitive Geomagnetic Reference Field (DGRF) model
describes how the field actually behaved.
Local anomalies originating in the upper mantle, crust, or surface, distort the WMM or IGRF
predictions. Ferromagnetic ore deposits; geological features, particularly of volcanic origin, such as
faults and lava beds; topographical features such as ridges, trenches, seamounts, and mountains;
ground that has been hit by lightning; downhole features such as casing, stuck bottom hole assemblies,
drill string and bottom hole assemblies can induce errors of three to four degrees.
Anomalous declination is the difference between the declination caused by the Earth's outer core and
the declination at the surface. It is illustrated on 1:126,720 scale Canadian topographic maps published
in the 1950's, which included a small inset isogonic map. On this series, it is common to observe a
four-degree declination change over 10 kilometers (6 miles), clearly showing local anomalies. There
exist places on Earth, where the field is completely vertical; where a compass attempts to point
straight up or down. This is the case, by definition, at the magnetic dip poles, but there are other
locations where extreme anomalies create the same effect. Around such a place, the needle on a
standard compass will drag so badly on the top or the bottom of the capsule, that it can never be
steadied; it will drift slowly and stop on inconsistent bearings. While traveling though a severely
anomalous region, the needle will swing to various directions.
A few areas with magnetic anomalies (there are thousands more):

North of Kingston, Ontario; 90 of anomalous declination.

Kingston Harbor, Ontario; 16.3 W to 15.5 E of anomalous declination over two kilometers
(1.2 miles); magnetite and ilmenite deposits.

Near Timmins, Ontario, W of Porcupine.

Savoff, Ontario (50.0 N, 85.0 W). Over 60 of anomalous declination.

Michipicoten Island in Lake Superior (47.7 N, 85.8 W); iron deposits.

Near the summit of Mt. Hale, New Hampshire (4000-foot, near the Zealand Falls hut on the
Appalachian Trail) ; old AMC Guides to the White Mountains used to warn against it.

Around Georgian Bay of Lake Huron.

Ramapo Mountains, N. E. New Jersey; iron ore; compass rendered useless in some areas.

Grants, NM north of Gila Wilderness area; Malpais lava flows; compass rendered useless.

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Chapter 2

The USGS declination chart of the USA (GP-1002-D) shows over a hundred anomalies. The following
table lists the most extreme cases.

Anomalous
(Lat. Long. Location declination degrees)
46.4 W 40.2 106.2 75 km.(45 mi.) W Boulder, Colorado
24.2 E 40.7 75.3 20 km. (12 mi.) NE Allentown, Pennsylvania
16.6 E - 12.0 W 46.7 95.4 250 km. (150 mi.) NW Minneapolis, Minnesota
14.8 E 33.9 92.4 85 km. (50 mi.) S Little Rock, Arkansas
14.2 E 45.5 82.7 In Lake Huron, Ontario
13.8 W 45.7 87.1 Escanaba, on shore of Lake Michigan
13.7 E 48.4 86.6 In Lake Superior, Ontario
13.5 E 48.5 122.5 80 km. (50 mi.) N Seattle, Washington
13.0 W 42.2 118.4 In Alvord Desert, Oregon
12.2 W 38.9 104.9 10 km. (6 mi.) W Colorado Springs, Colorado
11.5 E 47.8 92.3 120 km. (75 mi.) N Duluth, Minnesota
In 1994, the average location of the north magnetic dip pole was located in the field by the Geological
Survey of Canada. This surveyed north magnetic dip pole was at 78.3 N, 104.0 W, and takes local
anomalies into consideration. However; the DGRF-90 modeled magnetic dip pole for 1994 was at
78.7 N, 104.7 W. The 47-kilometer (29 mile) difference illustrates the extent of the anomalous
influence. In addition to surveyed dip poles and modeled dip poles, a simplification of the field yields
geomagnetic dipole poles, which are where the poles would be if the field was a simple Earth-centered
dipole. Solar-terrestrial and magnetospheric scientists use these. In reality, the field is the sum of
several dipoles, each with a different orientation and intensity.
Distortion caused by cultural features is called deviation.

Altitude
(Negligible to 2 degrees)
This factor is normally negligible. According to the IGRF, a
20,000 meter (66,000 foot) climb even at a magnetically
precarious location as Resolute, 500 kilometers (300 miles)
from the north magnetic pole, would result in a two-degree
reduction in declination.

North Magnetic Pole Movement 1945-2000


As convection currents churn in apparent chaos in the Earth's
core, all magnetic values change erratically over the years. The
north magnetic pole has wandered over 1000 kilometers (600
miles) since Sir John Ross first reached it in 1831, as shown on
this map at SARBC (extend the path to north west of Ellef
Ringes Island for 1999), or this map at USGS. Its rate of
displacement has been accelerating in recent years and is
currently moving about 24 kilometers (15 miles) per year,
which is several times faster than the average of 6 kilometers
(4 miles) per year since 1831. The magnetic pole positions can

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be determined more precisely by using a calculator that returns magnetic inclination. Latitudes and
longitudes can be entered by trial and error, until the inclination (I) is as close as possible to 90.

South Magnetic Pole Movement 1945-2000


A given value of declination is only accurate for as long
as it stays within the precision of the compass, preferably
one degree. Typical secular change or variation (do not
confuse with mariners' and aviators' variation) is 2-25
years per degree. A map that states: "annual change
increasing 1.0' " would suggest 60 years per degree, but
that rate of change just happened to be slow on the year
of measurement, and will more than likely accelerate.
The magnetic field has even completely collapsed and
reversed innumerable times, which have been recorded in
the magnetic alignment of lava as it cooled. One theory to
explain magnetic pole reversals is related to large
meteorite impacts, which could trigger ice ages. The
movement of water from the oceans to high latitudes
would accelerate the rotation of the Earth, which would
disrupt magmatic convection cells into chaos. These may
reverse when a new pattern is established. Another theory
is that the reversals are triggered by a slight change the
angular momentum of the earth as a direct result of the
impacts. These theories are challenged by the
controversial Reversing Earth Theory, which proposes that the entire crust could shift and reverse the
true poles in a matter of days, but that the molten core would remain stationary, resulting in apparent
magnetic reversal. The Sun would then rise in the opposite direction.

Diurnal change
(negligible to 9 degrees)
The stream of ionized particles and electrons emanating from the Sun, known as solar wind, distorts
Earth's magnetic field. As it rotates, any location will be subject alternately to the lee side, then the
windward side of this stream of charged particles. This has the effect of moving the magnetic poles
around an ellipse several tens of kilometers in diameter, even during periods of steady solar wind
without gusts. The Geological Survey of Canada shows a map of this daily wander or diurnal motion
in 1994.
The resulting diurnal change in declination is negligible at tropical and temperate latitudes. For
example, Ottawa is subject to plus or minus 0.1 degree of distortion. However; in Resolute, 500
kilometers (300 miles) from the north magnetic pole, the diurnal change cycles through at least plus or
minus nine degrees of declination error. This error could conceivably be corrected, but both the time of
day and the date would have to be considered, as this effect also varies with seasons.

Solar magnetic activity


(negligible to wild)
The solar wind varies throughout an 11-year sunspot cycle, which itself varies from one cycle to the
next. In periods of high solar magnetic activity, bursts of X-rays and charged particles are projected

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chaotically into space, which creates gusts of solar wind. These magnetic storms will interfere with
radio and electric services, and will produce dazzling spectacles of auroras. The varied colors are
caused by oxygen and nitrogen being ionized, and then recapturing electrons at altitudes ranging from
100 to 1000 kilometers (60 to 600 miles). The term "geomagnetic storm" refers to the effect of a solar
magnetic storm on the Earth (geo means Earth.
The influence of solar magnetic activity on the compass can best be described as a probability. The
chance that the declination will be deflected by two degrees in southern Canada over the entire 11-year
cycle is 1% per day. This implies about four disturbed days per year, but in practice these days tend to
be clustered in years of solar maxima. These probabilities drop off rapidly at lower latitudes. During
severe magnetic storms, compass needles at high latitudes have been observed swinging wildly.

"Bermuda Triangle" type anomalies


(very rare)
Legends of compasses spinning wildly in this area of the Atlantic, before sinking a ship, or blowing up
an airplane, may be related to huge pockets of natural gas suddenly escaping from the ocean floor. As
the gas bubbles up, it could induce a static charge or could ionize the gas, which would create erratic
magnetic fields. The gas would cause a ship to lose buoyancy, or a plane flying through a rising pocket
of natural gas could ignite it. The ionized gas may show as an eerie green glow at night. It could make
people feel light headed and confused because the gas replaces the air, but it would not have the
mercaptans that gas companies add to gas to give it its distinctive odor.
At enormous pressures and low temperatures (as at the bottom of the sea), water and gas molecules
form gas hydrates. These compounds resemble ice but, unlike ordinary ice, the water molecules form
cages that trap gas molecules such as methane. The solid hydrates retain their stability until conditions,
such as higher temperatures or lower pressures, cause them to decompose. The gas may remain
trapped under silt, until an earthquake triggers a release.
This phenomenon is not restricted to the "Bermuda Triangle". The insurance statistics at the Lloyds of
London have not revealed an unusual number of sunken ships in the triangle.

How do I determine the Declination diagrams on maps?


Most topographic maps include a small diagram with three arrows: magnetic north, true north and
Universal Transverse Mercator grid north. The given value of declination, corresponding to the center
of the map, does not take local anomalies into account. The value is usually out of date, since it may
have drifted several degrees due to secular change, especially on maps of remote regions with several
decades between updates. Some maps, such as the 1:50,000 scale topographic maps by the Canadian
Department of Energy, Mines and Resources include the rate of annual change, which is useful for
predicting declination, but that rate of change is erratic and reliability of the forecast decreases with
time. A rate of change over five years old is unreliable for one-degree precision. The United States
Geological Survey's 1:24,000 scale maps do not even mention annual change.
For example, the approximate mean declination 1969 on the Trout River, Newfoundland map was 28
33' west with annual change decreasing 3.0'. This implies a recent (1997) value of:
28 33' - ((1997-1969) * 3.0) = 27 93' but IGRF 1995 for 1997 yields 23 44', which is 3 25' less,
showing that the 28-year prediction was in significant error.

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Grid north and declination diagrams


(negligible to 2 degrees)
Grid north is the direction of the north-south lines of the Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) grid,
imposed on topographic maps by the United States and NATO armed forces. UTM Provides a constant
distance relationship anywhere on the map. In angular coordinate systems like latitude and longitude,
the distance covered by a degree of longitude differs as you move towards the poles and only equals
the distance covered by a degree of latitude at the equator. With the advent of inexpensive GPS
receivers, many other map users are adopting the UTM grid system for coordinates that are simpler to
use than latitude and longitude.
The problem with grid north is that is coincident with true north only at the center line of each UTM
zone, known as central meridians. The difference between grid north and true north can be over two
degrees. This might not be so bad if it were not for the different conventions with respect to
declination diagrams adopted by different countries. A declination diagram on a topographic Canadian
map or an Australian map shows magnetic north with respect to grid north, but a US map shows
magnetic north with respect to true north. Therefore, if you use declination from a
Canadian/Australian style declination diagram, be sure to take bearings to and from the map by
making the meridian lines on the compass parallel with the UTM grid (grid north). However, if you
use declination from a USGS style declination diagram or any of the other sources below, you must
make the meridian lines on the compass parallel with the edges of the map (true north). Canadian maps
show a blue fine-lined UTM grid, while some USGS 1:24,000 scale maps show black grid lines, but
the others only show blue grid tick marks on the map margins. The choice of grid lines or tick marks
on the US maps seems inconsistent by year or by region.

Printed Isogonic charts


Isogonic or declination charts are plots of equal magnetic declination on a map, yielding its value by
visually situating a location, and interpolating between isogonic lines. Some isogonic charts include
lines of annual change in the magnetic declination (also called isoporic lines). Again, the older, the less
valid. The world charts illustrate the complexity of the field.
A Brunton 9020 compass included a 1995 isogonic chart of North America, on a sheet copyrighted in
1992
The 1:1,000,000 scale series of World Aeronautical Charts include isogonic lines.
Hydrographic charts include known magnetic anomalies.
The McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology (1992 edition) provides a small world
chart under "geomagnetism."
The best is the 1:39,000,000 Magnetic Variation chart of "The Earth's Magnetic Field" series published
by the Defense Mapping Agency (USA). The 11th edition is based on magnetic epoch 1995.0 and
includes lines of annual change and country borders. Ask for Geophysical Data Chart stock No. 42
(DMA stock No. WOBZC42) at a National (USA) Ocean Service navigation chart sales agent or order
from the NOS Distribution Division, about US$10. Size: 1.26 X 0.9 meters (50" X 35"). It covers from
84 N to 70 S. North and south polar areas are on Geophysical Data Chart stock No. 43 (DMA stock
No. WOBZC43).

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European marine chart distributors may have better availability for the 1:45,000,000 scale "The World
Magnetic Variation 1995 and Annual Rates of Change" chart published by the British Geological
Survey. However; it lacks country borders. Ask for No. 5374, about US$16.
A 1:48,000,000 world declination chart of "The Magnetic Field of Earth" series is published by the
United States Geological Survey's Earth Sciences Information Center. However; the most recent
edition is still based on magnetic epoch 1990.0. It does include lines of annual change and country
borders. Look it up at a university map library or order GP-1004-D from the United States Geological
Survey. Only US$4.00 (+ US$3.50 for shipping and handling). Size 1.22 X 0.86 meters (48" X 34").
Includes polar regions at 1:68,000,000 scale. A United States declination chart is also published. Scale
1:5,000,000 (Alaska and Hawaii 1:3,500,000), epoch 1990.0, GP-1002-D, US$4.00 + US$3.50 S&H,
1.14 X 0.8 meters (45" X 34"), includes over 100 magnetic anomalies.

On-line Isogonic charts


North America 1990, Others 1995: South America, Europe, Middle East, Southeast Asia,
Australia/New Zealand, Global: Ricardo's Geo-Orbit Quick Look satellite dish site
World, small: United States Geological Survey
World, larger, color, 1995: National (USA) Geophysical Data Center or Stanford University in
California

World, slightly more readable, 1995: National (USA) Geophysical Data Center
World, black and white, 1995, seven magnetic parameters, including polar projections: Kyoto
University in Japan

World, color, 1995, five magnetic parameters and their rates of secular change, click to zoom.
USA Department of Defense
Canada, CGRF95: Geological Survey of Canada

Canada, more detailed (caution: outdated--1985): Search and Rescue Society of British Columbia
United States, 1995, small, three magnetic parameters (note: longitudes are in 360 format):
United States Geological Survey
Mexico, IGRF95: Instituto de Geofsica, Universidad Nacional Autnoma de Mxico. The blue lines

are declination, and the red lines are annual change.


Australia, AGRF95 for 1997.5: Australian Geological Survey Organization (AGSO)
Finland, 1998.0: Finnish Meteorological Institute. It has wavy isogones in an attempt to include
magnetic anomalies from the Earth's crust.
Generate your own: Kimmo Korhonen at the Helsinki University of Technology, Finland wrote this
Java applet in which you specify a region and date. Great idea, but the maps lack detail.
On-line and downloadable declination data
Use an atlas to find your latitude and longitude before you can use the links below.
Pangolin in New Zealand features a Java applet that continuously returns magnetic variation
as the pointer is moved over a map of the world. Sorry, no zooms available, but it computes
great circle bearings and distances. http://www.pangolin.co.nz/magvar.html
Geological Survey of Canada: declination http://www.geolab.nrcan.gc.ca/geomag/e_cgrf.html
National (USA) Geophysical Data Center: seven magnetic parameters and their rates of
secular change. http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/seg/gmag/fldsnth1.pl
Interpex Limited: GEOMAGIX freeware can be downloaded.
http://geomag.usgs.gov/Freeware/geomagix.htm

Defense Mapping Agency: GEOMAG freeware can be downloaded.


ftp://ftp.ngdc.noaa.gov/Solid_Earth/Mainfld_Mag/DoD_Model/Basic_Software/dmabasic.exe

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Ed William's Aviation page: Geomagnetic Field and Variation Calculator freeware can be
downloaded in Mac, Linux, and DOS versions and are suitable for batch processing.
http://www.best.com/~williams

CBU Software: MAGDEC shareware (30-day trial) provides a plot of declination vs. years,
latitude or longitude and will transform bearings from one year to another. It covers USA
only, from 1862 to present. http://www.datacache.com/descript.htm
Declinometer/Inclinometer
A declinometer/inclinometer is sophisticated instrument makes precision measurements of declination
and inclination. It is used to calibrate compasses or to periodically calibrate continuously recording
variometers in magnetic observatories. The angle at which its electronic fluxgate magnetometer reads
a minimum value, is compared to a sighting through its optical theodolite. True north is determined by
sighting a true north reference target mounted some distance away, or is derived from celestial
navigation calculations on a sighting of the sun or another star.

DIRECTIONAL SURVEYING MEASUREMENTS AND SENSORS


In order to guide a wellbore to a desired target, the position and direction of the wellbore at any
particular depth must be known. Since the early days of drilling, various tools have been developed to
measure the inclination and azimuth of the wellbore.
To calculate the 3D path of the wellbore, it is necessary to take measurements along the wellbore at
known depths of the inclination (angle from vertical) and azimuth (direction normally relative to true
north). These measurements are called surveys.
To compute the wellpath between two surveys, various mathematical constructions have been
proposed. The most common modern method assumes that the wellpath forms a perfect arc between
two surveys. This model is called minimum curvature. The calculations can then be done to calculate
the position of the second survey if the position of the first survey is known.
There are errors inherent in these calculations-first, survey instruments are only accurate to a certain
degree, and second, though a perfect arc is assumed, this is unlikely to be the case. The calculated
wellpath will be more accurate if surveys are taken close together (every 20' -30') and if the well is not
highly deviated.
One of the earliest tools used to document the wellpath was a bottle of acid that was lowered down the
well. After half an hour, the acid would etch
a mark on a copper cylinder inside the bottle. When the bottle was pulled back to the surface, the
inclination of the well at the depth where the bottle was left could be measured by measuring the angle
of the etched mark.
The acid bottle could be called a type of "single shot" tool because it only takes one measurement each
time it is run in the well. There are two other single shot tools that are still used today, the acid bottle
having been consigned to the history books.
The first of these tools is called a totco tool. It is a mechanical tool that takes a reading showing the
inclination of the wellbore, but not the azimuth. It is used in vertical wells to check that the well is
within a few degrees of vertical. While drilling, the tool can be run on a wire to the BHA and
recovered as soon as the survey is taken. A clockwork timer determines when the survey is taken.
When the drillstring is tripped out, the totco survey tool can be dropped down the drillstring (with the
timer set to give enough time to fall to the bottom) and will be recovered when the BHA is back at the
surface. The survey is recorded by punching a hole in a paper disk.

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The second single shot tool is the magnetic single shot (MSS). This tool measures both inclination and
magnetic azimuth. The azimuth is normally converted to true north before being used in calculating
the well path. For this tool to measure azimuth, it cannot be placed inside a normal steel drill collar.
Normal drill collars have their own magnetic field that renders the azimuth reading magnetic compass
unreliable. A special steel compound called "Monel" is used to make non-magnetic drill collars and
stabilizers, which have to be placed in the BHA to allow the MSS to be used. In a directional well,
MSS surveys will be taken more frequently when the well is being deviated (in the build up sections)
and less frequently when the well direction is not being changed intentionally (in the tangent section)
.The MSS has interchangeable measuring units that allow inclinations up to 90 to be recorded onto a
film that is developed on the surface.
A MSS can also record the orientation of the tool face. When the well is kicked off using a jetting
assembly or a downhole motor, the assembly can be orientated in the correct direction by running a
MSS to see the tool face azimuth, then the drillstring can be turned at the surface to correctly align the
tool face.
The totco and MSS surveys are routinely used while drilling with rotary assemblies. There are also
survey tools that allow surveys to be taken in "real time" and display the data to the driller. These are
called measurement while drilling (MWD) survey tools.

Applications of Magnetics and Gravity


In the MWD sensor package, two sets of sensors are used. One set (magnetometers) uses an XYZ
system to measure orientation with respect to the earths magnetic field (Hx, Hy, Hz). The other set
(accelerometers) uses an XY or XYZ system to measure orientation with respect to the earths
gravitational field (Gx, Gy, Gz).
From the magnetic sensors we can learn inclination, azimuth, and tool face angles. From the gravity
sensors we can learn inclination and tool face angle.

Magnetic Toolface, MTF


For hole inclinations of 0 to 5 degrees use magnetics to determine hole
direction.
i.e. N 65oE
i.e. MTF = Magnetic Azimuth +/- Declination + Toolface Offset

Gravity Toolface, GTF


For hole inclinations of 5+ degrees use gravity to determine the hole
direction.
i.e. 65o or 65 R
i.e.GTF= Tool Highside Angle +/- Declination + Toolface Offset

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Directional surveying permits 1) the determination of bottom hole location relative to the surface
location or another reference system; 2) the location of possible dog legs or excessive hole curvatures;
3) monitoring of the azimuth and inclination during the drilling process; and 4) the orientation of
deflection tools.
The inclination and azimuth of the well bore at specific depths can be determined by one type of
survey called the single shot survey, while multiple shot surveys are used to record several
individual readings at required depth intervals. These magnetic survey instruments must be run inside
non-magnetic drill collars or open hole.

Magnetic Single Shot


The magnetic single shot instrument is used to simultaneously record the magnetic direction of the
course of an uncased well bore and its inclination from vertical. It is also used, in some cases, to
determine the tool-face of a deflection device when deviating the well (usually a gyro is used).
The instruments consist of four basic units; 1) a power pack or battery tube; 2) a timing device or
sensor; 3) a camera unit and 4) a compass - inclinometer unit.
These four elements are assembled together and usually inserted into a carefully spaced protective
barrel (running gear) before being lowered or dropped, inside the drill pipe, to bottom. The protective
casing can be thermally insulated for wells where the downhole temperature exceeds the tolerance of
the photographic film used or battery.

Power Pack
The size and number of batteries required varies with the instrument, as does their polarity. Care
should be taken to identify the correct polarity prior to loading batteries into the battery tube. Failure
to do so can lead to a mis-run survey, causing lost time while the survey is re-run. The battery tube
may have a snubber for use with top landing running gear.

Timer or Sensor
The timing device is used to operate the camera at a predetermined time. The Surveyor must estimate
the time it will take for the instrument to fall to bottom, whether lowered on wire line or dropped (go
devilled). The timers available today are either mechanical, or electronic. In the past, mechanical
timers have been considered more robust, although less accurate than the electronic timers. With
modern solid state electronics this is no longer true and mechanical timers are now rarely used.
Electronic timers allow the operator to preset the time delay on the instrument before loading it into
the running gear.
Problems arise when using either type of timer and are not necessarily due to instrument malfunction.
The most common problem results from timer miscalculation. If the time delay expires before the
instrument has seated inside the non-magnetic drill collar, the resulting survey will be invalid, affected
by motion and magnetic interference from the drill string.
Since it is quite difficult to accurately predict the time involved in lowering the instrument to bottom,
and anticipate problems with wire-line units or other surface equipment, the usual solution to this
problem is for the operator to overestimate the time required, just to be safe. This then results in
time lost waiting for the timer to expire with the instrument in place, as well as unnecessary risk of
stuck pipe resulting from not moving the drill string. The benefit of the timer is that it can be used
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when dropping or go devilling the survey; the operator knows exactly when the lights will come on
and can minimize the length of time that the pipe is still.
For Magnetic single shot surveys taken on wireline, timing devices are being replaced with electronic
sensors which detect either the lack of movement as with a motion sensor or more commonly, the
presence of non magnetic materials, as with a monel sensor.
The motion sensor detects when all motion has stopped for a given time (usually about thirty seconds),
before activating the camera unit. This system has several drawbacks; if the descent of the survey
instrument is interrupted for any reason below surface, a wireline problem for example, the motion
sensor will detect the loss of movement and fire the camera resulting in a mis-run. The motion sensor
is to some extent mechanical: it employs a movable element to detect motion and this may stick or
lose sensitivity again resulting in a mis-run. From a floating rig, the downhole movement of the drill
pipe imparted by the heave of the ocean, may affect a motion sensor, particularly at shallow depths.
A monel, or non-magnetic collar sensor, is not subject to these limitations. It senses the change in
the surrounding magnetic field as it enters the non-magnetic drill collar. Most monel sensors must be
in a non-magnetic environment for a set time, as a safety factor, usually from thirty seconds to one
minute before firing the camera unit. This serves to ensure that the instrument is actually seated in the
non-magnetic collar and allows the compass card and inclinometer in the angle unit to settle before the
picture is taken.
Timers and sensors should always be surface tested before use.

Camera
The magnetic single shot camera has three main components: the film disk seat, the lens assembly, and
the lamp assembly. Unlike normal cameras, the single shot camera unit has no shutter mechanism, the
exposure of the film is controlled instead by the timing of the light illumination. In most instruments,
the lens assembly comes pre-focussed and no field adjustments are necessary.

Angle Unit or Compass


This is the measurement device. The inclinometer measures the inclination of the wellbore, and the
compass measures the direction or azimuth of the well. These devices are normally designed for a
specific application and vary in design and principle. They may measure inclination only, high side
(for use with mud motors), a combination of inclination and direction, they may use pendulums,
weighted floats or air bubbles.
Perhaps the simplest inclinometer is one which that is used for measuring very low inclinations, the
bubble inclinometer. Somewhat like a round carpenters level, it is very sensitive to low inclinations
and is often used to survey vertical holes such as those drilled for conductor pipe where absolute
verticality can be critical. Just as simple, and using the same principle, is the low ball type
inclinometer, used not to measure inclination, but to identify the low side of the hole with a small
metal ball enabling the gravity tool-face of a deflection tool, such as a mud motor, to be measured in
an environment where magnetic interference precludes the use of conventional angle units. These are
the simplest but least used inclinometers as they apply only to special cases. The more commonly used
angle units fall into three basic categories:

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Cross-Hair Pendulum Compass


One of the most common types of angle units, for inclination and direction up to twenty degrees. The
compass card is free to rotate inside the housing and maintain a reference to magnetic north. The
inclinometer is an independent and free swinging pendulum cross-hair. The compass card is printed in
reverse in order for the pendulum, which naturally falls to the low side, to depict the direction as it
should be on the high side. The survey disk is read as correct. Care should be taken when interpreting
gravity tool face using this type of angle unit.

Scale Inclinometer Compass


Similar in principle to the pendulum cross-hair, this angle unit has an independent weighted
inclinometer which appears as a scale superimposed onto the compass card on the survey photo disc.
This type of angle unit is normally used for higher inclinations ( above twenty degrees). Depending on
the manufacturer, gravity toolface is interpreted either as read or is reversed. Care should be taken to
establish the correct method of determining gravity toolface, before using the single shot for downhole
orientation.

Floating Ball Inclinometer Compass


This type of angle unit utilizes a compass ball floating in fluid. The ball is inscribed with both azimuth
and inclination. The cross hair sight is centered in the instrument and does not move, rather the
compass ball tilts and rotates beneath it. Because the inclination and azimuth are not read
independently, the angle units must be manufactured Geographically specific for the area or zone in
which they will be used. This is normally identified by a stamp on the angle unit itself.

Magnetic Multishot Survey Instrument


The magnetic multishot survey tool differs from the single shot tool in that the timer is programmed to
take a series of readings separated by a preset time interval, and the camera unit is designed to take a
series of recordings instead of just one as in the single shot. The battery tube is often lengthened in
order to accommodate a greater number of batteries. The running gear used is normally the same for
both types of survey, and the compass units are usually interchangeable.

The Multishot Timer


Depending on the manufacturer, some tools allow the operator to specify the interval between shots,
while others are fixed. This interval is commonly in the one to three shots per minute range, and in
normal applications, is adequate. As the instrument is dropped or go devilled inside the drill pipe,
and the surveys taken when the pipe is placed in the slips on tripping put of the hole, in most cases,
one survey per minute would be acceptable. The capacity of the Multishot to store data depends upon
the amount of photographic film that can be stored in the camera unit. In the case where the pipe is
pulled extremely slowly, or reciprocated for long periods, and where the hole depth dictates a lengthy
trip out of the hole, longer periods between shots can extend the running time of the instrument and
allow a full survey in one run.

The Multishot Camera


These also vary with manufacturer, but do not differ much in principal. Basically the camera consists
of a film magazine spool, which is loaded by the operator and installed in the tool, a guide spool which
passes the film across the focus of the camera lens, and the take-up spool which stores the exposed
film. The photographic film is, of course, light sensitive and must be handled either in a darkroom, or
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a portable developer bag (often supplied with the tool ) prior to development. In some types of tools,
the film spools fit into separate cartridge-type magazines which can be preloaded and interchanged
outside the darkroom without fear of exposure.
The other feature of the multi-shot camera is the drive mechanism, which turns the film spools in
synchronization with the exposure-timer. The drive mechanisms are usually simple worm-drive
devices or solenoid plunger-ratchet type.
The film, when developed, shows as a series of shots spaced along it. The operator, by carefully
recording bit depth against time, can match individual shots with given depths, and calculate the
survey using this data. Because the multi-shot takes continual surveys, some are unreadable due to
pipe movement. The valid surveys are found at the points where the pipe was set in the slips for a
connection and the compass was still. Because of this, the common interval between surveys is
equivalent to the length of a stand of drill pipe.

Possible Problems With Reading Single Shot Records


Problem
Record is very light
An irregular shaped pink or black space
on the record
The entire record is black
Crosshair is clear but background is dark
or only faint images appear.
Crosshairs are not on readable scale

Probable Cause
Disc was improperly exposed; check
battery
An air bubble was trapped below the film.
Shake the tank when developing.
Disc was exposed to light before loading,
while loading or while unloading.
Instrument was moving while record was
being taken.
Drift angle is greater than maximum limit
of the compass being used.

To protect the magnetic single shot instrument when lowered or dropped into the wellbore a protective
casing is used. This protective casing protects the instrument while being retrieved or lowered and it
also prevents drilling fluid from contaminating the tool.

Gyroscopes
The industry began developing what is now most commonly referred to as rate-gyro surveying
systems in the late 1970s. The goal of the overall development was to adapt modem aerospace
guidance techniques for oil industry applications with the following objectives:
1. Provide a significant enhancement in survey accuracy.
2. Provide a means of quality assurance.
The existing surveying methods could not provide a reliable means of quality assurance for the level
of accuracy wanted by the industry. Wellbore survey technology can be classified into four groups, as
follows:
1. Inclination Only Device (Totco)
2. Magnetic-Based (film-based / electronic, single I multi-shot, MWD, steering tools, dip-meter)
3. Free-Gyro Systems (film-based/electronic)
4. Rate-Gyro Systems

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The Gyroscope
A Gyroscope is basically a balanced, spinning mass, which is free to rotate on one or more axis. The
basic operation of a gyroscope can be compared to a spinning top. As long as the top spins fast
enough, it attempts to hold its vertical orientation. If the top were propelled by a spin motor at a
particular speed designated by its mass, it would stay vertical for as long as the motor ran, that is, if no
external forces acted on it. This is the simple basis of all gyroscopes used in navigation, a spinning
mass that through its momentum becomes resistant to external forces and attempts to maintain an
orientation like the top in space. The term resistant to external forces is important, for a perfect gyro
cannot be built, that will not be upon by external force and react by movement.
The classic example of a natural occurring gyroscope is the planet Earth - a spinning mass attempting
to hold a particular orientation in space established long ago. Even the Earth is not a perfect gyro. It
reacts to external forces with some movement, or drift, off its orientation. Fortunately, the drift is very
small.
The next step in basic gyro understanding is the two-degree-of-freedom gyroscope, the same kind used
in the oil. Free-gyros have been used in wellbore surveying since the 1930s.
The frames supporting the gyroscope, and allowing this freedom of rotation are referred to as Gimbals.
Because gyroscopes can be extremely complicated, we will look at simplified gyroscopes initially, in
order to understand the forces working upon them.
The gimbals isolate the gyro from the base so the spinning mass can attempt to maintain its original
orientation no matter how the bass moves. As the probe moves downhole through different directions
and inclinations, the gimballing allows the gyro to attempt to maintain a horizontal orientation in
space.
In performing a wellbore survey, the gyro is pointed
in a known direction prior to running in the well, so
throughout the survey the spin axis attempts to hold
its surface orientation. Note that a compass card is
aligned with the horizontal spin axis of the gyro.
Survey data is collected downhole by affixing a
plumb-bob assembly over the compass.
At each survey station a picture is taken of the
plumb-bob direction with respect to the compass
card, resulting in readings of wellbore azimuth and
inclination. The plumb-bob always, as a pendulum,
points down toward the Earths centre. When the
tool is inclined off vertical, it points out the
inclination of the well on the concentric rings and
the azimuth by correlation with the known direction
of the gyro spin axis established at surface. There
are also electronic, surface read-out free-gyro
systems which eliminate the plumb-bob.

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Chapter 2

Components
A gyroscope is a spinning wheel whose spin axis can move relative to some reference mount. For the
sake of simplicity, the major components of the gyro are comprised of:
The Spin Motor, the main characteristic of which is angular momentum.
The Gyro Case which is the outer enclosure.
The Gimballing System which is the structure carrying the spin motor. The gimballing system isolates
the spinning rotor from the gyro-case if the gyro-case turns around the outer gimbal axis or if the gyrocase turns around the inner gimbal axis.
The Gimbal suspension, which includes:

the ball bearings (or gimbal bearings) between the gyro-case and the outer gimbal, and
between the outer gimbal and the inner gimbal;

the rotor bearings holding the spinning rotor in the inner gimbal.

an Angular Pick-off which senses relative angular displacements between the gyro gimbal and
the case.

a Torquer which enables compensation for certain types of errors and precessing the gyro at
desired rates.

DIRECTIONAL SENSORS
The Directional Sensor is made up of electronic printed circuit boards, a Tensor Tri-Axial
Magnetometer and a Tensor Tri-Axial Accelerometers, and Temperature sensor. These modules are
configured into a directional probe and are run in the field mounted in a nonmagnetic drill collar. The
Directional Sensor provides measurements which are used to determine the orientation of the drill
string at the location of the sensor assembly.
The Directional Sensor measures three orthogonal axis of magnetic bearing, three orthogonal axis of
inclination and instrument temperature. These measurements are processed and transmitted by the
pulser to the surface. The surface computer then uses this data to calculate parameters such as
inclination, azimuth, high-side toolface, and magnetic toolface.
The sensor axes are not perfectly orthogonal and are not perfectly aligned, therefore, compensation of
the measured values for known misalignments are required in order to provide perfectly orthogonal
values. The exact electronic sensitivity, scale factor and bias, for each sensor axis is uniquely a
function of the local sensor temperature. Therefore, the raw sensor outputs must be adjusted for
thermal effects on bias and scale factor. Orthogonal misalignment angles are used with the thermally
compensated bias and scale factors to determine the compensated sensor values required for
computation of precise directional parameters.

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Chapter 2

Directional Sensor Hardware


The directional sensor probe is mounted to the MWD assembly and keyed into a Non-Magnetic Drill
Collar. The nominal length of the sub is 30 feet. The nonmagnetic collar is usually referred to as
Monel.

Directional Sensor Components


Contained inside the assembly is a Single Port MPU, Triple Power Supply and a Digital Orientation
Module. The Single Port MPU is a modular micro-controller assembly based on the Motorola
MC68HCll microprocessor implementing Honeywell's qMIXTM communications protocol (qMIX/ll
TM). The Triple Power Supply provides regulated power for the complete assembly.
The microprocessor provides the control and timing to interface the logic circuit controls the analog
power switch. With the analog power switch off only the 5 volt circuits are active and the current drain
from the sub bus is approximately 8 milliamps. When the logic board switches on the analog power
switch, battery power is directed to the 12 volt regulator on the analog circuit. The current drain with
the analog power switch on and the sensors off is approximately 80 milliamps. With the
accelerometers powered up the current drain is approximately 120 milliamps. With the magnetometer
powered up the current drain is approximately 140 milliamps.

Analog Circuit
The Analog Circuit provides an interface with the inclinometer, magnetometer, and pressure
transducer sensors. The 16 channel multiplexer on the analog circuit takes input from various sensor
outputs and sends the data to the logic circuit for transmission. A sensor power switch takes power
from the 12 volt regulator and selectively powers up the accelerometers and magnetometers. A 5 volt
excitation supply from the 12 volt regulator is used to power the pressure transducer. The status
voltages appear on the surface probe test and are defined as follows:
1. Sub Bus Voltage - battery voltage on the sub bus.
2. 5 Volt Supply - the 5 volt excitation supply from the 12 volt regulator that powers the pressure
transducer.
3. Accelerometer Power Status - voltage that is currently being supplied to the inclinometer (0 or
12.5v).
4. Magnetometer power Status - voltage that is currently being supplied to the magnetometer (0
or 12.5v).
5. Steering Mode Status - 4.5 volts when steering mode is set.

Tensor Inclinometer
The TENSOR Tri-axial Accelerometer measures three orthogonal axes of inclination (A, B, and C)
and also includes a temperature sensor. The inclinometer has a 1g full scale output in survey mode.
The sensor operates within the following parameters:
1. Input Voltage +/- 12.5 to 15.5 volts
2. Input Current < 80 ma/g
3. Accelerometer Output 3.0 ma/g

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Chapter 2

The inclinometer is made up of three accelerometers. The operation of the accelerometer is based on
the movement of a quartz proof mass during acceleration. The figure above is a diagram of a
accelerometer. The accelerometer consists of two magnets and a quartz disc with a coil attached to it.
The quartz disc is a proof mass with a hinge that has been chemically etched to allow movement in
one direction. A torquer coil is attached to the proof mass which is suspended between the two
permanent magnets. The proof mass position is maintained by applying current to the torquer coil. The
magnets have reference plates which measure the capacitance between the two magnets. When a force
is applied to the accelerometer, movement of the proof mass changes the capacitance. A circuit detects
the change in capacitance and applies current to the torquer coil to restore the proof mass to its original
position.
The amount of current required to restore the proof mass to its original position is a function of the
amount of force applied to the accelerometer. Force is related to acceleration by F = ma. We measure
the acceleration of gravity in g's (gravity units) in three orthogonal directions relative to the
Directional Sensor probe. This allows us to calculate the inclination of the tool relative to vertical.

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Chapter 2

The scaling of the A and B accelerometer channels depends on the operational mode (survey or
steering), while the C channel and the temperature sensor have the same scaling for both modes. The
full scale output voltage sensitivity for each mode is as follows:
CHANNEL

SURVEY

STEERING

1. X Accelerometer

4.5 v/g

642 mv/g

2. Y Accelerometer

4.5 v/g

642 mv/g

3. Z Accelerometer

4.5 v/g

4.5 v/g

4. Temperature

10 mv/deg K

10 mv/deg K

Tensor Magnetometer
The Tensor Tri-axial Magnetometer measures three orthogonal axes of magnetic bearing (Bx, By, and
Bz) as well as temperature. The Tensor Model 7002MK Magnetometer has an output operating range
of plus and minus 100,000 nanotesla (the earth's field is about 50,000 nanotesla) and operates within
these parameters:
1. Input voltage +/- 12 - 18 vdc
2. Input current 25 milliamps
3. Flux Gate Output 1 mv / 20 nanotesla
4. Temperature Output Voltage 10 mv / oK

The Tensor magnetometer is a saturable core device. It consists of two coils with a core between them
which has a certain magnetic permeability. A magnetic field produced by one coil travels through the
core and induces a current in the other coil. The core will only transmit a certain amount of magnetic
field, that is , when the level of magnetic flux gets to a certain point the core will become saturated and

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Chapter 2

greater amounts of flux will not pass through the core. The point at which a substance becomes
saturated is a property of that substance, ie. certain metals will saturate sooner than others. The
magnetometer continually drives the core to saturation. In the presence of an external magnetic field
the point that the core saturates is shifted. The signal shift is detected, amplified, and fed back as a
bucking magnetic field to maintain the core at a balanced around zero magnetizing force. The servo
amplifier offset caused by the signal shift is further amplified and presented as the output of the
magnetometer.
In the tri-axial set of magnetometers, the three flux gate channels and temperature channel are supplied
power conditioned by a common pair of internal regulators. The individual magnetometer transducers
come in biaxial sets. The magnetometer package contains two biaxial magnetometers, of which only
three axes are used. The sub bus around the magnetometer requires particular attention because the
current through the sub bus is alternating current, any change in that current will produce a magnetic
field that can affect the magnetometer.

Gyroscopic Measurement
A gyroscopic compass is used when magnetic surveying instruments cannot be used because of the
magnetic interference of nearby casing or when a borehole with casing already set is being surveyed.
There are various kinds of gyroscopic instruments: single- and multishot gyroscopes, the surfacerecording gyroscope, the rate or north-seeking gyroscope, and the Ferranti tool (a highly precise,
inertial guidance tool similar to that used on modern commercial aircraft). Of the gyroscopic
instruments used for surveying cased bore- holes, the multishot is the most common.
A Cardan gyro is a suspended horizontal gyroscope. A high-frequency AC current drives a squirrelcage rotor at a speed of 20,000 to 40,000 rpm; as long as the rotor runs at its reference speed and there
are no external forces, the gyroscope stays fixed.
In a complete gyroscope assembly, the upper part of the tool holds the batteries, camera assembly, and
multishot clock. The lower part of the tool contains the inclinometer, the Cardan-suspended gyroscope
motor, electronic components for the gyroscope, and the shock absorber.

APPLIED DRILLING ENGINEERING


Even though the gyroscope is not influenced by magnetic interference, its very design introduces
unique problems associated with obtaining accurate survey information. If the gyroscope could be
supported exactly at its center of gravity, it would be free of influences by external forces. However,
such accuracy is practically impossible to achieve. Consequently, a slightly off-center gyroscope will
tend to show a force, caused by gravity, to drift.
The gyroscope compensates for the gravitational and frictional forces caused by the bearings by
rotating about its vertical axis in a direction commensurate with the right or left side of the downward
force on the horizontal gimbal axis. The amount of this rotation determines the accuracy of the
gyroscope. The tilt of the horizontal gimbal is corrected by a sensor that detects any departure of the
gyroscope from the horizontal axis and sends a signal to a servo motor. This corrects the gyroscope by
rotating the vertical axis until the horizontal axis is properly adjusted. The gyroscope is not as rugged
as the magnetic instrument and must be handled more carefully. Unlike the magnetic tools, the
gyroscope must be run on a wireline. When it is run, the survey stations usually are made going into
the hole with a few check shots coming out; this is done mainly to make accounting for drift easier .

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Chapter 2

Drift is caused by the rotation of the earth, varying by latitude. At either pole the drift is at a
maximum, and at the equator there is no apparent drift. When a gyroscopic survey is run, the effects of
drift must always be determined.
The first step in running a gyroscopic survey is to orient the gyroscope. The solid triangle is always
pointed at the stake or reference point. Because the bearing or direction of the reference point is
known, it is relatively easy to determine the direction of the "zero" spin axis on the inner scale.
The reference direction is determined by making a sighting from some point over the wellbore, either
to a stake fixed some distance from the wellbore or to a constant reference point away from the
wellbore, such as a building, another drilling rig, or some other object.
When the gyroscope is referenced initially, one of two procedures, depending on the maximum
inclination that is expected, is followed. If the inclination is to be less than 10, the case index is lined
up with the reference marker-i.e., in the stake direction (Ds). For example, if the stake is N20E or 20,
the gyroscope spin axis-i.e. , index setting (is)-is moved unti120 opposite the case index, thereby
aligning the spin axis with north. Below 10 inclination, the 3D instrument correction is negligible.
Above 10, the 3D correction must be considered. Again, the case index must be aligned with the
reference object, but the index setting is determined by a mathematical equation.
is =Ds -Odr'
where Odr is the assumed hole direction. For example, if the Ds is S17W or 197 and the Odr is N20E
or 20, the index setting is determined as follows:
197-200=177
When the case index is aligned with 177 , the gyroscope north will be aligned with the Odr of 20,
and errors resulting from gyroscope tilt will be minimized. Every survey reading should be adjusted
for the initial offset of 20, as well as for drift correction and the inter- cardinal correction.
After the initial gyroscope orientation, or "gyro orientation" (GO), the tool case is oriented to what is
called a "case orientation" (CO). From these initial checks, an initial drift is estimated. The tool is run
in the wellbore, making stops for survey pictures. At 10-minute intervals, drift is checked by keeping
the tool still for 3 minutes or more. Note that most of the check stops were made going into the
wellbore; only two were made coming out.
Once the data are obtained, the drift correction must be made by the construction of a drift correction
plot. The vertical axis, measured in degrees, is the scale for the correction values that will be applied to
directional data to correct for drift during the survey. The horizontal scale is the surveying time in
minutes.
The range of the vertical axis is determined by taking the correction factor, F c' which is determined
from the following equation,
Fc=Ds-is
and by scaling above and below this factor in 1 increments. For example, if F c is 19.8 (the case was
actually indexed at 177.2 rather than the calculated 177.0), and the scale ranges from + 19.0 to
+26.0. The horizontal scale should cover the entire survey from the gyroscope start to end; for this
survey, the duration was 101.00 minutes.

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Chapter 2

SELECTION OF SURVEY EQUIPMENT


Now that we have discussed the different survey systems how does one select the correct system for
the job? Many factors are included in this selection and the following are the most common:

Target Size
Small targets of 5m radius (15) can be very difficult to reach with single shot (SS) equipment
although many wells with targets of this size have been drilled with SS. The main concern lies within
the estimation of the PDMs reactive torque. An error made in this estimation can have a significant
affect on the azimuth of the well and result in missing the target to the left or right. When slide drilling
the tool face can change and unlike when drilling with MWD would not be known until the next
survey.

Well Depth
This is very are dependent but typically in Canada once the depth exceeds 1,000m (3,000) the ability
to adjust for reactive torque is too difficult.

Drilling Motor Type


For single shot operations a high speed low torque motor is used. Drilling with medium or high torque
motors and SS equipment is a crooked well path waiting to happen.

Drilling Fluid
With underbalanced drilling operations the mud pulse survey equipment can not be used since they
depend upon accurate pressure pulses read at surface. The signal in two-phase fluids can not be read
due to the fluid compression and noise. This can be the same problem in aerated or poorly maintained
drilling fluids. Either the EM MWD or steering tools are used in these cases.

Rig Equipment
Sometimes the only rig available for the job has 3 or smaller drill pipe (sometimes completion rigs
are used). Although SS equipment has been used to drill directional wells with this limber of
equipment, it is important to have a very experienced SS directional hand (few around anymore) who
can accurately estimate the reactive torque. Duplex pumps can also create many signal detection
problems with the mud pulse MWD equipment due to pump noise.

Build Rate and Dogleg


When build rates exceed 5 or 6 o/30m, achieving these build rates can be very critical to reaching the
target. With MWD equipment a spot check in the middle of a single can quickly be made to verify the
build rate and tool-face early and modify the percentage of single slid and adjust tool-face if required.
Some of the MWD and specialty logging while drilling equipment have limits on the doglegs they can
be rotated through due to bending stresses.

Terminal Angle
As the inclination increases the time it takes to drop a SS survey increases. Typically with inclinations
greater than 40o it becomes more cost effective to look at MWD equipment. Typically for a well that is
at 40o and 300m (1,000) deep the survey time for SS is in excess of 30 to 45 minutes. This can have a
significant impact on the average ROP for the day.

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Chapter 2

Well Profile
It is not recommended to use single shot equipment on the following well profiles:

S-curve with very short tangent sections

Horizontal wells

Extended reach wells

Complex profiles with build and turn sections

Formations
In every geographical area of the world, there are certain problem formations that either dont build as
expected or will collapse if left open too long. These are not good places to use single shot equipment
due to higher potential for severe doglegs and the extra time taken for surveys with the drill string in a
static mode.

Required Survey Accuracy


As the required survey accuracy increases (very tight TVD or azimuth control) the equipment
selection shifts from SS to MWD to Gyro to Magnetic Ranging.

Proximity of Existing Wells or Magnetic Interference


When drilling re-entry wells out of casing or passing by existing cased wells, magnetic interference
becomes an important factor in equipment selection. The azimuth accuracy becomes doubtful with all
survey tools except gyros. Typically magnetic interference can occur within 15m (49) of steel but
both high and low variations have been witnessed.

High Rate Drilling Horizontal Wells


In Western Canada many horizontal projects in the oil sands can drill as fast as 100m/hr (300 ft/hr). At
these rates using the EM MWD system can reduce the survey cycle time. One operator estimated he
saved one day per well on his horizontal well project. The horizontal wells had a TVD of 500m
(1,500) and a total measured length of 2,500m (8,200).

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Chapter 2

SURVEY CALCULATIONS
Directional surveys are taken at specific intervals to determine the position of the wellbore relative to
its surface location. The surveys are converted into a North-South, East-West and true vertical depth
using one of several calculation methods. The co-ordinates are then plotted in both a vertical and
horizontal plane. By plotting the survey data, the directional personnel can then compare the progress
of the well to the planned wellpath and make changes as required to reach the desired target.
There are several methods that can be used to calculate the survey data, however, some are more
accurate than others. Some of the most common methods are:

Tangential
Balanced Tangential
Average Angle
Radius of Curvature and
Minimum Curvature

The tangential method is the least accurate with the radius of curvature and minimum curvature
methods being the most accurate. The industry typically uses minimum curvature for these
calculations but may use radius of curvature for planning.

Tangential
At one time the tangential method was the most widely used because it was the easiest. The equations
are relatively simple, and the calculations can be performed easily in the field. Unfortunately, the
tangential method is the least accurate method and results in errors greater than all the other methods.
The tangential method should not be used to calculate directional surveys. It is only presented here to
prove a point.
The tangential method assumes the wellbore course is tangential to the lower survey station, and the
wellbore course is a straight line. Because of the straight-line assumption, the tangential method yields
a larger value of horizontal departure and a smaller value of vertical displacement when the inclination
is increasing. This is graphically represented in the illustration of the Tangential Calculation Method
below. Line AI2 is the assumed wellbore course. The dashed line AB is the change in true vertical
depth and the dashed line BI2 is the departure in the horizontal direction. The opposite is true when the
inclination is decreasing. With the tangential method, the greater the build or drop rate, the greater the
error. Also, the distance between surveys has an effect on the quantity of the error. If survey intervals
were 10 feet or less, the error would be acceptable. The added expense of surveying every 10 feet
prohibits using the tangential method for calculating the wellbore course especially when more
accurate methods are available.
Tangential Equations
TVD = MD X CosI2
North = MD X SinI2 X CosA2
East = MD X SinI2 X SinA2

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Chapter 2

Balanced Tangential
The balanced tangential method is similar to the tangential method in that the tangent to the angle
determines the wellbore course. The difference between the two methods is the balanced tangential
uses both the upper and lower surveys stations. The top half of the wellbore course is approximated by
the upper inclination line I1A in the figure below and the lower half of the wellbore course is
approximated by the lower inclination line AI2. The azimuth is approximated in the same manner.
Both the upper and lower portions of the assumed wellbore course are in error, but the errors are
opposite and will nearly cancel each other. Therefore, the balanced tangential method is accurate
enough for field applications. The balanced tangential equations are more difficult to perform and are
more likely to result in an error because of mechanical mistakes while making the calculations.
The North-South, East-West coordinates are determined by assuming the horizontal departure of the
course length is in the same direction as the azimuth recorded at the lower survey station, but this
assumption is wrong. The actual wellbore course will be a function of the upper and lower survey
stations. Therefore, the tangential
method results in an additional
error because an error already
exists due to the method used to
calculate the horizontal departure.
The error is compounded when
the
North-South,
East-West
coordinates are calculated.
Balanced Tangential Equations
TVD = MD X (CosI1 +CosI2)
2
North = MD X [(SinI1 X CosA1) + (SinI2 X CosA2)]
2
East = MD X [(SinI1 X SinA1) + (SinI2 X SinA2)]
2

Average Angle
When using the average angle method, the inclination and azimuth at the lower and upper survey
stations are mathematically averaged, and then the wellbore course is assumed to be tangential to the
average inclination and azimuth. The calculations are very similar to the tangential method and the
results are as accurate as the balanced tangential method. Since the average angle method is both fairly
accurate and easy to calculate, it is the method that can be used in the field if a programmable
calculator or computer is not available. The error will be small and well within the accuracy needed in
the field provided the distance between surveys is not too great. The average angle method is
graphically illustrated in the following figure.

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Chapter 2

Illustration of the Average Angle Calculation


Method
Average Angle Equations
TVD = MD X Cos[(I1 + I2)/2]
North = MD X Sin[(I1 + I2)/2] X Cos[(A1 + A2)/2]
East = MD X Sin[(I1 + I2)/2] X Sin[(A1 + A2)/2]

Radius of Curvature
The radius of curvature method is currently considered to be one of the most accurate methods
available. The method assumes the wellbore course is a smooth curve between the upper and lower
survey stations. The curvature of the arc is determined by the survey inclinations and azimuths at the
upper and lower survey stations as shown below. The length of the arc between I1 and I2 is the
measured depth between surveys. In the previous methods, the wellbore course was assumed to be one
or two straight lines between the upper and lower survey points. The curvature of the wellbore course
assumed by the radius of curvature method will more closely approximate the actual well; therefore, it
is more accurate. Unfortunately, the equations are complicated and are not easily calculated in the field
without a programmable calculator or computer.

A closer inspection of the radius of curvature equations show that if the inclination or azimuth are
equal for both survey points, a division by zero will result in an error. In this case, the minimum
curvature or average angle methods can be used to make the calculations. It is also possible to add a
small number (such as 1 x 10-4) to either survey point. The resulting error will be insignificant.
Generally, the radius of curvature calculations is used when planning a well. Using one of the three
previous methods to plan a well will result in substantial errors when calculating over long intervals
TVD = (180) X (MD) X (SinI2 +SinI1)
X (I2 I1)
North = (180)2 X (MD) X (CosI1 CosI2) X (SinA2 SinA1)]
2 X (I2 I1) X (A2 A1)
East = (180)2 X (MD) X (CosI1 CosI2) X (CosA1 CosA2)]
2 X (I2 I1) X (A2 A1)

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Chapter 2

Minimum Curvature
The minimum curvature method is similar to the radius of curvature method in that it assumes that the
wellbore is a curved path between the two survey points. The minimum curvature method uses the
same equations as the balanced tangential multiplied by a ratio factor, which is defined by the
curvature of the wellbore. Therefore, the minimum curvature provides a more accurate method of
determining the position of the wellbore. Like the radius of curvature, the equations are more
complicated and not easily calculated in the field without the aid of a programmable calculator or
computer.

The balanced tangential calculations assume the wellbore course is along the line 11A + AI2. The
calculation of the ratio factor changes the wellbore course to I1B + BI2 which is the arc of the angle B.
This is mathematically equivalent to the radius of curvature for a change in inclination only.
So long as there are no changes in the wellbore azimuth, the radius of curvature and minimum
curvature equations will yield the same results. If there is a change in the azimuth, there can be a
difference in the calculations. The minimum curvature calculations assume a curvature that is the
shortest path for the wellbore to incorporate both surveys. At low inclinations with large changes in
azimuth, the shortest path may also involve dropping inclination as well as turning. The minimum
curvature equations do not treat the change in inclination and azimuth separately.
The tangential and average angle methods treat the inclination and azimuth separately. Therefore,
larger horizontal displacements will be calculated. The radius of curvature method assumes the well
must stay within the survey inclinations and will also yield a larger horizontal displacement though not
as large as the tangential and average angle.
The minimum curvature equations are more complex than the radius of curvature equations but are
more tolerant. Minimum curvature has no problem with the change in azimuth or inclination being
equal to zero. When the wellbore changes from the northeast quadrant to the northwest quadrant, no
adjustments have to be made. The radius of curvature method requires adjustments. If the previous
survey azimuth is 10o and the next survey is 355o, the well walked left 15o. The radius of curvature
equations assume the well walked right 345o which is not true. One of the two survey azimuths must
be changed. The lower survey can be changed from 355o to 5o, then the radius of curvature will
calculate the correct coordinates.

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Chapter 2

Minimum Curvature Equations


TVD = MD X [(CosI1 +CosI2) X FC]
2
North = MD X [(SinI2 X CosA2) + (SinI1 X CosA1)] X FC
2
East = MD X [(SinI2 X SinA2) + (SinI1 X SinA1)] X FC
2
D1 = Cos(I2 I1) {SinI2 X SinI1 X [1-Cos(A2 A1)]}
D2 = Tan-1 X SQRT [(1/D12) 1]
FC = 2/D2 X Tan (D2/2)
Note: Inclination and azimuth values must be in radians only.
Table 1 shows survey data used to illustrate the difference in the calculation methods. Table 2 and 3 is
a summary of the results.

Table 1 Surveys for Comparison Calculations


MD (ft)
0
1000
1100
1200
1300
1400
1500
1600
1700
1800
1900
2000
2100
2200
2300
2400
2500
2600
2700
2800

April 2002

Inclination
(degrees)
0
0
3.00
6.00
9.00
12.00
15.00
18.00
21.00
24.00
27.00
30.00
30.20
30.40
30.30
30.60
31.00
31.20
30.70
31.40

Azimuth
(degrees)
0
0
21.70
26.50
23.30
20.30
23.30
23.90
24.40
23.40
23.70
23.30
22.80
22.50
22.10
22.40
22.50
21.60
20.80
20.90

52

MD (ft)
2900
3000
3100
3200
3300
3400
3500
3600
3700
3800
3900
4000
4100
4200
4300
4400
4500
4600
4700
4800

Inclination
(degrees)
30.60
30.50
30.40
30.00
30.20
31.00
31.10
32.00
30.80
30.60
31.20
30.80
30.00
29.70
29.80
29.50
29.20
29.00
28.70
28.50

Azimuth
(degrees)
22.00
22.50
23.90
24.50
24.90
25.70
25.50
24.40
24.00
22.30
21.70
20.80
20.80
19.80
20.80
21.10
20.80
20.60
21.40
21.20

Chapter 2

Table 2 Comparison of Survey Calculation Methods At Total Depth


Method

TVD (ft)

North (ft)

East (ft)

Tangential

4364.40

1565.23

648.40

Balanced Tangential
Average Angle
Radius of Curvature
Minimum Curvature

4370.46
4370.80
4370.69
4370.70

1542.98
1543.28
1543.22
1543.05

639.77
639.32
639.30
639.80

Table 3 Relative Difference in Survey Calculation Methods at Total Depth


Method
Tangential
Balanced Tangential
Average Angle
Radius of Curvature
Minimum Curvature

TVD
-6.30
-0.24
+0.10
-0.01
+0.00

North
+22.18
-0.07
+0.23
+0.17
+0.00

East
+8.60
-0.03
-0.48
-0.50
+0.00

DIRECTIONAL DRILLING TERMINOLOGY


A short glossary of the more frequently used terms for Directional Drilling is included here and is
intended only as an aid in understanding directional drilling terminology and is neither a definitive
work in the field nor by any means complete. The following are some of the more important and
commonly used terms.

Target
The target, or objective, is the theoretical, subsurface point or points at which the wellbore is aimed. In
the majority of cases it will be defined by someone other than the directional driller. Usually this will
be a geologist, a reservoir engineer or a production engineer. They will often define the target in terms

April 2002

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Chapter 2

of a physical limitation - i.e. a circle with a specified radius centred about a specified subsurface point.
If multiple zones are to be penetrated, the multiple targets should be selected so that the planned
pattern is reasonable and can be achieved without excessive drilling problems.
Some care should be taken with target definition. Any target can be reached - given enough time,
money and effort but the economics of drilling dictate the use of as large a target as possible.
Each of the various targets is discussed below:
1.

Circular

A horizontal circle of given radius about a fixed subsurface point.


2.

Bounded

A circular, square or rectangular shape with at least one side fixed by a physical constraint e.g.
a fault, a formation change (salt dome), legal boundary etc.
3.

Angle at Depth

Targets may be defined as an angle limitation at depth - e. g. 2o or 5o from projected trajectory.


When targets are defined the directional driller must also know the true vertical depth at which the
target applies. In some cases this depth may not be available within several hundred meters and could
be specified as the wellbore intercept of a given formation top. This top of target would almost
certainly preclude the use of Build and Hold wells and require use of "S" shaped wellbores.

Target Displacement
Target displacement is defined as the horizontal distance from the surface location to centre of the
target in a straight line. This is also the directional summation of the departure (the due East or West
displacement) and the latitude (the due North or South displacement).
The target bearings are a measure of the direction in degrees, minutes and seconds (or decimals) and
typically expressed with reference to well centre.

True Vertical Depth


True Vertical Depth (TVD) is the depth of the wellbore at any point measured in a vertical plane and
normally referenced from the horizontal plane of the kelly bushing of the drilling rig.

Kick Off Point


This is the point at which the first deflection tool is utilized and the increase in angle starts. The
selection of both the kick off point and build up rate depend on many factors including the
formation(s), wellbore trajectory, the casing program, the mud program, the required horizontal
displacement, maximum allowable dogleg and inclination. This Kick Off Point (KOP) is carefully
selected so the maximum angle is within economical limits. Fewer problems are faced when the angle
of the hole is between 30o and 55o. The deeper the KOP is, the more angle it will be necessary to build,
possibly at a more aggressive rate of build. The KOP should be at such a depth where the maximum
angle to build up would be around 40o; the preferred minimum is 15o.

April 2002

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Chapter 2

In practice the well trajectory may be calculated for several choices of KOP and build up rates and the
results compared. The optimum choice is that which gives a safe clearance from all existing wells,
keeps the maximum inclination within the desired limits, avoids unnecessarily high dogleg severitys
and is the best design from a cost point of view.

Build Rate
The change in inclination per measured length drilled (typically o/100 or o/30 m). The build rate is
achieved through the use of a deflection tool (positive displacement motor with a built in adjustable
housing or purposefully designed stabilized bottomhole assembly).

Build Up Section
This is the part of the hole where the vertical angle is increased at a certain rate, depending on the
formations and drilling assembly used. During the Build Up the drift angle and direction are constantly
checked in order to see whether a course correction or change in build rate is required. This part of the
hole is the most critical to assure the desired wellpath is maintained and the final target is reached.

Tangent
This section, also called the Hold Section, is a straight portion of the hole drilled with the maximum
angle required to reach the target. Subtle course changes may be made in this section.
Many extended reach drilling projects have been successfully completed at inclinations up to 80o,
exposing much more reservoir surface area and reaching multiple targets. However, inclination angles
over 65o may result in excessive torque and drag on the drill string and present hole cleaning, logging,
casing, cementing and production problems. These problems can all be overcome with today's
technology, but should be avoided whenever there is an economic alternative.
Experience over the years has been that directional control problems are aggravated when the tangent
inclination is less than 15o. This is because there is more of a tendency for bit walk to occur, i.e.,
change in azimuth, so more time is spent keeping the well on course. To summarise, most run-of-themill directional wells are still planned with inclinations in the range 15o - 60o whenever possible.

Drop Section
In S-type holes, the drop section is where the drift angle is dropped down to a lower inclination or in
some cases vertical at a defined rate. Once this is accomplished the well is rotary drilled to TD with
surveys taken every 50m (150).
The optimum drop rate is between 1o- 2 degree per 30m and is selected mainly with regard to the
ease of running casing and the avoidance of completion and production problems.

Course Length
This course length is the actual distance drilled by the well bore from one point to the next as
measured. The summation of all the course lengths is Measured Depth of the well. The term is usually
used as a distance reference between survey points.

The Horizontal Projection (Plan View)


On many well plans, the horizontal projection is just a straight line drawn from the well centre or slot
to the target. On multi-well platforms it is sometimes necessary to start the well off in a different
direction to avoid other wells. Once clear of these, the well is turned to aim at the target. The path of

April 2002

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Chapter 2

the drilled well is plotted on the horizontal projection by plotting total North/South co-ordinates
(Northings) versus total East/West co-ordinates (Eastings). These co-ordinates are calculated from
surveys.

Vertical Section
The Vertical Section of a well is dependent upon the bearing or azimuth of interest. It is the horizontal
displacement of the well path projected at 90o to the desired bearing.

Lead Angle
Since roller cone bits used with rotary assemblies tend to "walk to the right", the wells were generally
kicked off in a direction several degrees to the left of the target direction. In extreme cases the lead
angles could be as large as 40o.
The greatly increased use of steerable motors, changes in conventional rock bit design and the
widespread use of PDC bits for rotary drilling have drastically reduced the need for wells to be given a
"lead angle". Most wells today are deliberately kicked off with no lead angle, i.e., in the target
direction.

Doglegs
Doglegs or sudden changes in hole angle or hole direction were recognized as a major potential
problem by the pioneers of the drilling business. When it was possible to determine that a rapid change
in angle had occurred, their solution was automatic-plug back and start over. Perhaps it is well that
detection procedures were not highly defined or else a hole may never have reached total depth.
Modern surveying techniques indicate that no hole is perfectly vertical. Any hole has a tendency to
spiral. In fact, some holes surveyed made three complete circles in 30m (100 feet). Spiraling is
reduced as the deviation from vertical increases. The maximum spiraling occurs at angles less than 30o
from vertical. At angles greater than 50o from vertical, the hole may move in a wide arc, but spiraling
is almost non-existent.
Doglegs are a major factor in many of our more severe drilling problems. Doglegging should be
suspected when the following problems are encountered: (1) unable to log, (2) unable to run pipe, (3)
key seating, (4) excessive casing wear, (5) excessive wear on drill pipe and collars, (6) excessive drag,
(7) fatigue failures of drill pipe and collars, and or (8) excessive wear on production equipment.

Dogleg Severity
The previous sections have talked about some of the problems with doglegs but how do we define and
calculate the value. Dogleg is a measure of the amount of change in inclination, and/or azimuth of a
wellbore, usually expressed in degrees per 30m (or 100) of course length. All directional wells have
changes in the wellbore course and therefore have some doglegs. The dogleg severity is low if the
changes in inclination and/or azimuth are small or occur over a long interval of course length. The
severity is high when the inclination and/or azimuth changes quickly or occur over a short interval of
course length.
The effect on dogleg severity with a change in azimuth is not easy to understand or calculate. A 3o
change in azimuth over 30 meters will not yield a 3 o/30m dogleg severity unless the inclination is at
90o. At low inclinations a change in azimuth will have a small dogleg severity. As the inclination
increases, the dogleg severity for the small azimuth change will increase. The following equation is
used to calculate dogleg severity using both inclination and azimuth:

April 2002

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Chapter 2

DLS = 30 X Cos1{(SinI1 X SinI2) X [(SinA1 X SinA2) + (CosA1 X CosA2)] +(CosI1 X CosI2)}


MD
MD = course length between survey points
I1 = inclination at previous survey station
I2 = inclination at current survey station
A1 = azimuth at previous survey station
A2 = azimuth at current survey station
For english calculations use 100 instead of 30

The following table compares the dogleg severity at different inclinations for similar changes in
azimuth:
Comparison Of Dogleg Severity
Survey
Station
1
2

Measured Depth
(m)
100
130

Inclination

Azimuth

Dogleg
(deg/30m)

2
2

100
123

0.8

1
2

100
130

15
15

100
123

6.0

1
2

100
130

45
45

100
123

16.0

Closure And Direction


The line of closure is defined as a straight line, in a horizontal plane containing the last station of the
survey, drawn from the projected location to the last survey station of the survey. Simply stated, the
closure is the shortest distance between the surface location and the horizontal projection of the last
survey point. The closure is always a straight line since that represents the shortest distance between
two points.
When defining closure, the direction or azimuth must also be given. Without indicating direction, the
bottom hole location projected in a horizontal plane could be anywhere along the circumference of a
circle defined by a radius equal to the closure distance. The azimuth and closure distance accurately
specifies the bottom hole location relation to the surface location.
Closure Direction = Tan1 (East/North)
Closure Distance = SQRT [(North)2 + (East)2]

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Chapter 2

Vertical Section
The vertical section is the horizontal length of a projection of the borehole onto a specific vertical
plane (Azvs) and scaled with vertical depth. When the path of a wellbore is plotted, the vertical section
is plotted versus TVD. The closure distance cannot be plotted accurately because the plane of closure
(closure direction - Azcl) can change between surveys. The vertical plot of a wellbore is in one specific
plane. The closure distance and vertical section are only equal when the closure direction is the same
as the plane of the vertical section.
Vertical Section = Cos(Azvs Azcl) X (Closure Distance)

April 2002

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Chapter 2

Survey Accuracy and Quality Control

Spring 2002
Calgary

4/2002

Assumptions When Taking Surveys

Drillstring is not moving up or down


Drillstring is not rotating
Pumps are off
No Drillstring Interference
No Casing or other Local Magnetic
Interference
Declination, Dip and Btotal are constant

4/2002

Gyro Errors
Drift
Shock
Bearing wear

Drift
North Pole 360o 24/hrs
Equator - 0o 24/hrs

Temperature
Expansion of material

lntercardinal Tilt Error or


Gimbal Error
Angular motion vs. Actual
motion as Inclination
Increases

4/2002

Borehole Measurements

4/2002

Borehole Measurements
HSTF = ATAN (Gy
(Gy / -Gx)
Gx) this does not correct for quadrant
MTF = ATAN (By/ -Bx)
Bx) this does not correct for quadrant

2 1/2

INC = ATAN ((Gx + Gy )

/ Gz)
Gz) this does not work above 90o

Bx Sin (HSTF) + By Cos (HSTF)


AZ = ATAN {---------------------------------------------------------------------}}
{---------------------------------------------------------------------(Bx Cos (HSTF) - By Sin (HSTF)) Cos (Inc) + Bz Sin (Inc)

4/2002

Survey Quality Checks


2

Gtotal = (Gx
(Gx + Gy +Gz )
2

Btotal = (Bx + By +Bz )

1/2

1/2

(Bx * Gx)
Gx) + (By * Gy)
Gy) + (Bz
(Bz * Gz)
Gz)
MDIP = ASIN {---------------------------------------------{----------------------------------------------}}
Gtotal * Btotal

4/2002

Sources of Azimuth Errors

Inclination is incorrect
Highside Toolface is incorrect
Mathematical Error
Magnetic Interference
Sensor Accuracy
Geographic/Directional Small Horizontal
Magnetic Field
Wrong Declination

4/2002

MWD Survey Accuracy


Drill Pipe Acceleration
Drill String Magnetic Interference

4/2002

Effect of Steel Stabilizer


Length of Non
Magnetic Collars
implies a uniform,
nonnon-interrupted nonnonmagnetic
environment

4/2002

Directional Sensor Package Spacing


NonNon-Mag Spacing is used to minimize Drillstring
Magnetic interference

4/2002

Fluctuations
Secular
Variations
Diurnal Solar
Variations
Magnetic Storms

4/2002

Eleven Year Cyclic Variation

4/2002

Solar Activity

4/2002

Azimuth Error - Magnetic

Degrees Azimuth Error

Long Collar AZ Error @ 90 E or W


-5.00
-4.00
-3.00

250 dBz (nT) error


Bt = 59000
Dip = 75

-2.00
-1.00
0.00
1

Inclination (10 - 90 Degrees)

4/2002

Azimuth Error - Magnetic

Degrees Azimuth Error

Long Collar AZ Error @ 90 E or W


-5.00
-4.00
-3.00

500 dBz (nT) error


Bt = 59000
Dip = 75

-2.00
-1.00
0.00
1

Inclination (10 - 90 Degrees)

4/2002

Azimuth Error - Magnetic

Degrees Azimuth Error

Long Collar AZ Error @ 90 E or W


-5.00
-4.00
-3.00

1000 dBz (nT) error


Bt = 59000
Dip = 75

-2.00
-1.00
0.00
1

Inclination (10 - 90 Degrees)

4/2002

Azimuth Error - Magnetic

Degrees Azimuth Error

Long Collar AZ Error @ 90 E or W


-5.00
-4.00
-3.00

2000 dBz (nT) error


Bt = 59000
Dip = 75

-2.00
-1.00
0.00
1

Inclination (10 - 90 Degrees)

4/2002

Declination Error - Magnetic

Bt (total
Field)

450 nT in 2 hours

Dip
(Inc)

0.70 Dip in 2 hours


30.00
29.00
28.00

Declination
from True
North

2.65 degrees in 2
hours

Samples every minute / Major units in hours

4/2002

SURVEY ACCURACY AND QUALITY CONTROL


To achieve a high range of accuracy and devise a means of assuring it, is a significant, difficult, and
expensive task. For simplicitys sake, lets say the accuracy goal is one foot per 1,000 feet of hole.
This means that in a 10,000 foot wellbore survey, the operator is to be assured of bottom-hole location
by plus or minus 10 feet.
Although other survey technologies (magnetic and free-gyro) may achieve this range of accuracy some
percentage of the time, they have no available means of quality control to assure it. In the case of
magnetics, although the technology has seen much improvement, error variables such as magnetic
interference, declination corrections, northern latitudes, even sun spot activity pose difficult quality
control problems. The free-gyros major error sources are surface orientation, gyro drift and tool
misalignment.
No film-based survey device has an opportunity to achieve this level of accuracy with assurance
because the film cannot be read to the accuracy required. To get in the range of one foot per l,000 feet
requires azimuth and inclination accuracys in the range of 0.1 and 0.05 degrees, respectively. Very
often, the terms accuracy and resolution of readings are confused. A survey system may be able to read
survey data to 0.1 degree - thats resolution, but providing that level of precision is a completely
different matter.
Modern aerospace guidance techniques employing rate-gyros and accelerometers provide the only
current means of both providing this range of survey accuracy and qualifying the information. These
systems can accomplish this through extensive quality control procedures because rate-gyros and
accelerometers can be calibrated for a level of performance and monitored and checked for data
quality.
However, the accuracy of available systems varies. Reviewing a service companys procedures for
quality control and data verification is important to assigning a specification to a particular system.
Rate-gyro and accelerometer quality also varies in its ability to achieve accuracy, and running
procedures can also degrade survey quality. For example, if a survey probe is misaligned in the well,
accurate readings degrade in the overall survey calculation. Rate-gyro system accuracys can also vary
according to inclination and latitude. Some systems degrade, for example, above 75 degrees of latitude
because the Earth and gravity vectors become smaller and more difficult to resolve.

GYRO ERRORS
External Forces
In the case of a free-gyro survey system, forces causing the gyro to drift off its surface orientation lead
to azimuth error. Typical causes for drift include system shocks, bearing wear and the one inescapable
force - Earth rotation. During a free-gyro survey, attempts are made to monitor drift and correct for it.

Drift
The apparent drift of a gyro is caused by the influence of the Earths rotation. If a perfectly balanced
gyro were located at the North Pole in a horizontal position, so that its axis of rotation would be at
right angles to the earth axis, the rotation of the earth would indicate an apparent 360o turn of the axis
in 24 hours, or an apparent drift of 15o per hour. At the South Pole, the same would be observed but in
reversed direction.

April 2002

Chapter 3

At the Equator, the gyro axis would be parallel to the earth axis and the gyro would not show any
apparent drift. The apparent drift caused by the rotation of the earth is corrected by applying a special
force to the inner gimbal ring. An adjustable weight in the form of a screw is attached to the inner
gimbal ring and has the effect of a vertical power on the gyro axis. Due to the phenomenon of
precession, this force turns the outer gimbal ring. By adjustment of the screw, it can be set to offset the
apparent drift at any geographic latitude by an identical counter acting force, to the effect that the gyro
turns simultaneously with the rotation of the earth. The screw is set for the particular latitude where
the gyro is used.

Temperature
Warming of the gyro can cause slight dislocations of the centre of gravity due to the varying expansion
coefficients of the different materials, such as copper and steel. Possible errors caused by rising
temperature are compensated by a piece of bimetal which is mounted on the inner gimbal frame and
offsets sufficiently the unbalance caused by temperature through a bending effect.

lntercardinal Tilt Error or Gimbal Error


The gimballing error encountered in a directional gyro is also known as intercardinal tilt error. Gimbal
errors occur when the angular motions of gimbals do not correspond to the actual motion occurring
about their reference axes. When a gimbal axis transducer is used, its output measures relative motion
between gimbals, which is not necessarily the actual angular motion of the base. The gimbal error
depends upon borehole inclination and the hole direction related to the reference direction.
In order to minimize such errors, when the surface orientation is carried out, the spin rotor axis should
eventually be positioned in a plane parallel to the overall well direction anticipated, so as to result in a
difference as little as possible.

SURVEY ACCURACY
The first paper that successfully dealt with this subject was prepared by Wolf and de Wardt, Borehole
Position Uncertainty Analysis of Measuring Methods and Derivation of Systematic Error Model.
The latest paper released is a summary of work completed by a small joint-industry group and a
steering committee on wellbore survey accuracy Accuracy Prediction for Directional MWD, SPE
#56702. This section summaries some of the main points from these papers on sources of error with
examples.
The photographic single shot instrument is the least accurate tool. The inclination error can be as great
as 0.5 degrees and 2.0 degrees in azimuth and is very susceptible to human reading error. The
electronic single shots have essentially the same accuracy as all other MWD equipment 0.2 degrees on
inclination and 1.0 to 1.5 degrees in azimuth. The gyro tools have a significantly improved azimuth
error of approximately 0.2 degrees but similar accuracy for inclination.
When considering survey accuracy for MWD tools there are several sources of error. In general all
directional sensor packages have the same resolution but their accuracy is dependent upon their
calibration and shift between calibrations. We have already discussed magnetic interference from BHA
components or local area interference. Tool misalignment is the error caused by the tool being out-ofparallel with the wellbore axis. The value assumed for magnetic declination affects the computed
azimuth, which comes from estimates on the magnetic dip and field strength. The last main source of
error is drill pipe depth measurements.

April 2002

Chapter 3

Mathematical models have been generated to calculate the position uncertainty of wells based these
sources of error and the type of survey tool. The numbers calculated generate an ellipse of
uncertainty for a 2 standard deviation error. Essentially what it provides is a 3D volume that the
wellbore could be within (a 95% confidence level that the actual wellbore path resides inside this
ellipse).
Typical errors seen when comparing MWD to rate gyro surveys.
Case 1:
Horizontal well
TVD of 500m (1,600)
Measured Depth to Casing Point of 700m (2,300)
Case 2:
Horizontal well
TVD of 1,450m (4,750)
Measured depth to casing point of 1537m (5,000)
CASE

CHANGE IN TVD

LATERAL OFFSET

1
2

6.6 (2m)
4.9 (1.5m)

46 (14m)

Obviously errors of this magnitude can have pronounced effects on wellbore positioning.
Potential sources of survey errors. It is important to understand the potential errors that can arise in the
various surveying instruments and methods of surveying. The main sources of error are summarized
below.
1. Long intervals between surveys. The calculations give some sort of averaging between surveys
and so if the interval is long, the aver- aged path may be significantly different from the actual
path. The more the wellbore path may have changed during the interval, the more significant
the potential error. A deviated well would give rise to more inaccuracy than a vertical well for
the same depth interval between surveys.
2. Inaccurate measured depths for the survey locations. This error can arise from a drillstring
tally mistake, faulty depth counters on wire- line units, or a simple error in writing down the
information.
3. Reading errors. When surveys are recorded on photographic film (single and multi-shot
surveys), there is always the chance that the surveyor may make a mistake. It is good practice
for two people to independently read the film and compare their readings.
4. Instrument calibration errors. All measuring instruments should be calibrated regularly and a
record made of the calibration date and results. The drilling program could include a
cautionary note to check the calibration certificate, which should be kept with the tool. If the
tool has not been recently calibrated or if the data is not available, the tool should be replaced.

April 2002

Chapter 3

5. Forgetting to account for magnetic variation. At most places on the Earth's surface there will
be a difference between true and magnet- ic north. Most survey calculations are done relative
to true north, which does not change. Magnetic north changes with time. To compensate for
this, look at a recent aeronautical or marine chart or other suitable chart containing lines that
join points of equal magnetic variation, called isogonals. The chart will also give a date of
publication and state how quickly the variation changes in the area. It is therefore possible to
assess what the current variation for your location will be. Variation can be east or west and
this will be stated on the chart. If variation is west then the variation should be subtracted from
the compass survey reading; if east it should be added. There is a rhyme which can help you
remember this: "Variation west, com- pass best. Variation east, compass least."
6. Magnetic interference. Even if the correct configuration of Monels is run, magnetic
interference may come from various places. Monels occasionally develop magnetic "hot
spots"; these can be checked by running a compass along the Monel collar. These hot spots
tend to be near the connections. Also, if you run a magnetic single shot on sandline or
wireline, the line itself can develop a strong enough magnetic field to affect the survey tool. To
avoid significant error due to the line, position the survey tool over 4 m away for a line
diameter up to 5 mm and 8 m away for greater sizes. The survey tool could also be dropped
using a timer and then fished on wireline so that the line is not attached to the tool when the
survey is taken. Close proximity to other wells, fish that have been sidetracked past, or casings
are also likely to cause interference.
7. Gyro tools do not suffer from magnetic interference. However, gyro tools have several

potential sources of error. First, the tool has to be aligned on surface with a fixed reference that
is at a known direction from the center of the rotary table. Incorrect initial align- ment will
throw out the entire survey. It may be possible to detect this by checking the recorded
azimuths against a previous survey at the same depths. Gyroscopes also "precess"; that is, the
gyro will slowly wander away from its initial alignment. The rate of precession depends on
several factors, such as friction from the bearings and gimbals, the rotation of the Earth, and
small imperfections in the gyro. The rate of precession is measured by doing regular drift
checks on surface and while surveying. A drift check simply holds the tool on depth for 10 to
15 minutes so that several shots are taken. Examination of these shots will show the rate of
precession so that the survey readings can be corrected for the total drift at the time of the
survey. Laser ring gyros are more accurate than mechanical gyros.

Magnetic Interference
There are two types of magnetic interference; drill string and external magnetic interference which can
include; 1) interference from a fish left in the hole; 2) nearby casing; 3) a magnetic hot spot in the
drill collar; 4) fluctuation in the Earths magnetic field; and 5) certain formations (iron pyrite, hematite
and possibly hematite mud).
Any deviation from the expected magnetic field value can indicate magnetic interference. External
magnetic interference can occur as the drill string moves away from the casing shoe or from the casing
window. It can also occur as another cased hole is approached. All surveying instruments using
magnetometers will be affected in accuracy by any magnetic interference. In such a case, gyroscopic
(gyro) measurements will have to be used. There are certain instances where a gyro survey may need
to be used if the well requires steering out of casing or if a possible collision exists with another well.
There are also cases where magnetic interference may be corrected or at least taken into account until
a different BHA is used.

April 2002

Chapter 3

Drill String Magnetic Interference


The drill string can be compared to a long slender magnet with its lower end comprising one of the
magnetic poles. Even if the components of a drilling assembly have been demagnetized after
inspection, the steel section of the drill string will become magnetized by the presence of the Earths
field.
Drill string magnetism can be a source of error in calculations made from the supplied magnetometer
data. This may happen as the angle builds from vertical (Figure 5-4) or as the azimuth moves away
from a north/south axis. Also, changing the composition of the BHA between runs may change the
effects of the drill string. Correction programs for magnetism of the drill string exist.

Changes in horizontal component of magnetic field with inclination

It is because of drill string magnetism that non-magnetic drill collars are needed. Non-magnetic drill
collars are used to position the compass or direction sensors out of the magnetic influence of the drill
string. The magnetometers are measuring the resultant vector of the Earths magnetic field and the drill
string. Since this is in effect one long dipole magnet with its flux lines parallel to the drill string, only
the Z-axis of the magnetometer package (Z-axis is usually the axis of the surveying tool) is affected,
normally creating a greater magnetic field effect along this axis. The magnitude of this error is
dependant on the pole strength of the magnetized drill string components and their distance from the
MWD tool. The error will normally appear in the calculated survey as an increased total HFH value
(higher total field strength than the Earth alone). This increase is due to the larger value of the Z-axis
magnetometer. The total H value should remain constant regardless of the tool face orientation or
depth as long as the hole inclination, azimuth and BHA remain relatively constant.
When drill string magnetism is causing an error on the Z-axis magnetometer, only the horizontal
component of that error can interfere with the measurement of the Earths magnetic field (see
Magnetic Field Strength section). The horizontal component of the Z-axis error is equal to the Z-axis
error multiplied by the sine of the hole deviation. This is why experience has shown that the magnetic
survey accuracy worsens as the hole angle increases (especially with drill string magnetic
interference). Since the horizontal component of the Earths magnetic field is smaller on the Alaskan
Slope, the error from a magnetized drill string is relatively greater than that experienced in lower
latitudes. Thus, a 50 gammas error has a larger affect on a smaller horizontal component, 0.53% error
in Alaska compared to only 0.20% in the Gulf of Mexico.

April 2002

Chapter 3

The increased value of the Z-axis due to drill string magnetism will normally cause all calculated
azimuths to lie closer to north. This error will show up when a gyro is run in the well. Usually all
MWD surveys will be positioned (magnetically) north of the gyro survey stations. (Some gyros derive
True North from the Earths rotation.)

Minimizing Errors
One way to minimize the error caused by the drill string is to eliminate as much of the magnetism as
possible. This is done by isolating the magnetometer package with as many non-magnetic drill collars
as possible. The length of the non-magnetic collars implies a uniform and non-interrupted nonmagnetic environment. This, however, is not true in practice. Each connection in a drill string, whether
magnetic or not, is magnetic due to the effects of the mechanical torque of the pin in the box. This
mechanical stress causes the local metal around the connection to change its magnetic properties and
can actually cause a survey azimuth reading error in the tens of degrees in some cases. Therefore,
never space within 2 feet of a connection. Additionally, do not space exactly in the centre of a nonmagnetic collar. When a collar has been bored from both ends, there is a very slight ridge at the point
where the two bores come together. This becomes magnetically hot due to the cyclic rotation stresses
to which the collar is subjected during rotary drilling. Usually, this effect can be removed by
trepanning the collar bore. As much as 40o of azimuth error has been seen due to this effect.
Obviously the presence of a steel stabilizer or steel component between two non-magnetic collars
results on a pinching of the lines of force (Figure 5-5). This is detrimental to the accuracy of the
survey. A steel stabilizer may be satisfactory on the Equator, but not as far north as Alaska. In Alaska
all stabilizers used in the BHA are non-magnetic, since a conventional steel stabilizer located between
two non-magnetic collars results in an interfering field which may reach 250 gammas.
Even non-magnetic stabilizers are actually magnetic near the blades. At a minimum, hard metal facing
and matrix used on stabilizers can be very magnetic. Never space inside a non-magnetic stabilizer.
The following are circumstances where more non-magnetic drill collars are necessary to counter drill
string magnetism effects. These are also examples in which the azimuth accuracy will likely decrease.

The further away from the Equator (in latitude).

The larger the hole inclination.

The further away from a north/south hole azimuth.

Note that even with 40m (120 feet) of non-magnetic material above the magnetometer package the
effects of drill string magnetism in places like Alaska may still be seen.

April 2002

Chapter 3

Effect of steel stabilizer

Special Notes

lf magnetic interference is encountered from the drill string, the total H value should remain
constant regardless of tool face orientation or depth as long as the hole inclination, azimuth
and BHA remain fairly constant.

The horizontal component of the Z-axis error is equal to (Z-axis error) x Sin(I). This is why a
magnetic survey declines as the hole angle increases (especially with drill string magnetic
interference).

Drill string interference is more pronounced in areas of high dip angle.

External Magnetic Interference


When magnetic interference from external sources is encountered (such as from a fish in the hole or
from nearby casing), all three axis of the directional sensor package will be affected. Therefore, the
total magnetic field will vary. The total H value will also vary when the sensor package is close to
casing joints. If a hot spot occurs on a non-magnetic collar, the total H value will change with varying
tool face settings, but will be repeatable when the BHA is placed in the same orientation. In places
such as Alaska, total field strength can routinely vary by 100 gammas.

Do not mistakenly interpret change in total H value as a failed magnetometer sensor. It may be
caused by magnetic interference.

Do not mistakenly interpret a change in a survey with a failed magnetometer or inclinometer;


it may be due to a tool face dependency.

April 2002

Chapter 3

Directional Sensor Package Spacing


In order to avoid magnetic interference, non-magnetic drill collars must be used and empirical charts
are used to estimate the length of non-magnetic material needed. Experiments have shown that mud
motors can produce a magnetic field from 3 to 10 times greater than components such as steel
stabilizers and short drill collars. As a rule of thumb, anytime a mud motor is run, a non-magnetic
short drill collar (of 3m to 5m) should be placed between the motor and sensor package. It may even
be necessary to use a non-magnetic orienting sub in some areas of the world.
The following formula can be used to accurately predict errors in azimuth due to magnetic interference
from the drilling assembly.
Non-magnetic directional DC

IF = 770 + LP - LP
(14 + X)2 (y + b)2 (y + b + c)2
AE = 57,300 x IF x SinI x Sin(Az MD)
H x Cos(dip)

IF = calculated interfering field


AE = Azimuth Error
X = Length of non-magnetic collar above MWD, note the dimension 14 feet is an assumed value for
the distance from the sensor package to the bottom of the NMDC and the actual value should be used
for the respective tool configuration.
b = Length of non-magnetic collar below MWD
c = Length of magnetic material below MWD
H = Total magnetic field strength in gammas
Az = Azimuth of the well
I = Inclination of the well
MD = Magnetic declination
Dip = Dip angle
This formula is relatively easy to use and interpret. The absolute value of the predicted azimuth error
(AE) should be less than 0.5 degrees. If it is not, continue adding lengths of non-magnetic drill collars
both above and below the MWD collar until the AE value is below 0.5 degrees. Other equations have
been prepared by other directional companies.
For horizontal drilling, and especially for well paths with a medium radius of curvature, it may be
impractical to achieve a predicted azimuth error of less than 0.5 degree. Some operators may prefer to
drill with a predicted error of one degree during the build up phase of the well and then correct for it
later. If a mud motor is used to correct the well azimuth (on a slant hole) and a change in the magnetic
field is observed, due to magnetic interference from the motor, the change may not be problem as long
as the operator and directional driller are aware of the change and take it into account. A simple way
would be to re-survey the corrected path with a different spacing or a different BHA.

April 2002

Chapter 3

Directional Drilling Fundamentals

Spring 2002
Calgary

4/2002

Introduction to Directional Drilling

Directional drilling is defined as the practice of


controlling the direction and deviation of a well bore
to a predetermined underground target or location.

4/2002

Directional Wells
Slant
Build and
Hold
S-Curve
Extended
Reach
Horizontal

4/2002

Applications of Directional Drilling


Multiple wells from offshore structure
Relief wells
Controlling vertical wells

4/2002

Applications of Directional Drilling


S-Curve

4/2002

Applications of Directional Drilling


ExtendedExtended-Reach Drilling
Replace subsea wells and tap offshore reservoirs from
fewer platforms
Develop near shore fields from onshore, and
Reduce environmental impact by developing fields from
pads

4/2002

Directional Drilling Tools

Steerable motors
Instrumented motors for geosteering applications
Drilling tools
Surveying/orientation services
Surface logging systems
AtAt-bit inclination

4/2002

Applications of Directional Drilling

Sidetracking

Inaccessible locations

4/2002

Applications of Directional Drilling

4/2002

Applications of Directional Drilling


Drilling underbalanced

Minimizes skin damage,


Reduces lost circulation and stuck pipe incidents,
Increases ROP while extending bit life, and
Reduces or eliminates the need for costly stimulation
programs.

4/2002

Directional Drilling Limitations

Doglegs
Reactive Torque
Drag
Hydraulics
Hole Cleaning
Weight on Bit
Wellbore Stability

4/2002

Methods of Deflecting a Wellbore


Whipstock operations
Still used

Jetting
Rarely used today, still valid and inexpensive

Downhole motors
Most commonly used, fast and accurate

4/2002

Whipstock Operations

4/2002

Jetting

4/2002

Effect of Increased Bit Weight


Increase Weight on Bit
Increase Build Rate

4/2002

Effect of Increased Bit Weight


Decrease Inclination Decrease Weight on Bit

4/2002

Reasons for Using Stabilizers

Placement / Gauge of stabilizers control directional


Stabilizers help concentrate weight on bit
Stabilizers minimize bending and vibrations
Stabilizers reduce drilling torque less collar contact
Stabilizers help prevent differential sticking and
key seating

4/2002

Stabilizer Forces

4/2002

Directional Control
BHA types

Design principles

Building assembly
Dropping assembly
Holding assembly

Side force
Bit tilt
Hydraulics
Combination

4/2002

Building Assemblies
Two stabilizer assemblies
increase control of side force
and alleviate other problems

4/2002

Building Assemblies

4/2002

Dropping Assemblies
To increase drop rate:

increase tangency length


increase stiffness
increase drill collar weight
decrease weight on bit
increase rotary speed

Common TL:

30 ft
45 ft
60 ft
90 ft
4/2002

Dropping Assemblies

4/2002

Holding Assemblies
Designed to minimize side force and decrease
sensitivity to axial load

4/2002

Stabilization Principle
Stabilizers are placed at specified points to control
the drill string and to minimize downhole
deviation
The increased stiffness on the BHA from the added
stabilizers keep the drill string from bending or
bowing and force the bit to drill straight ahead
The packed hole assembly is used to maintain
angle
4/2002

Special BHAs
Tandem Stabilizers
Provides greater directional control
Could be trouble in High Doglegs

Roller Reamers
Help keep gauged holes in hard formations
Tendency to drop angle

4/2002

Application of Steerable Assemblies

Straight - Hole
Directional Drilling / Sidetracking
Horizontal Drilling
Re - entry Wells
Underbalanced Wells / Air Drilling
River Crossings

4/2002

Steerable Assemblies

Build
Drop
Hold

4/2002

Mud Motors
Turbine

PDM

4/2002

Commander

TM

PDM Motors

4/2002

10

Motor Selection
These are the three common motor configurations
which provide a broad range of bit speeds and
torque outputs required satisfying a multitude of
drilling applications
High Speed / Low Torque - 1/2 Lobe
Medium Speed / Medium Torque - 4/5 Lobe
Low Speed / High Torque - 7/8 Lobe

4/2002

Components of PDM Motors

Dump Subs
Motor Section
Universal Joint Assembly
Adjustable Assembly
Bearing Assembly

4/2002

Dump Sub Assembly


Hydraulically actuated valve located at the top of
the drilling motor
Allows the drill string to fill when running in hole
Drain when tripping out of hole
When the pumps are engaged, the valve
automatically closes and directs all drilling fluid
flow through the motor

4/2002

11

Dump Sub

Allows Drill String


Filling and Draining
Operation
- Pump Off - Open
- Pump On - Closed

Discharged Ports
Connections

4/2002

Motor Section
Positive
Displacement Motor
( PDM )
Lobe Configurations
Stages

Performance
Characteristics

4/2002

Motor Section
Positive Displacement Motor
PDM

4/2002

12

Universal Joint Assembly


Converts Eccentric Rotor Rotation
in to Concentric Rotation
Universal Joint
Flex Rod

Constant Velocity Joint --

4/2002

Adjustable Assembly
Two Degree and Three
Degree
Field Adjustable in
Varying Increments to
the Maximum Bend
Angle
Used in Conjunction
with Universal Joint
Assembly
H = 1.962

4/2002

Bearing Assembly
Transmits Bit Axial and Radial Loads to the Drill
String
Thrust Bearing
Radial Bearing
Oil Reservoir
Balanced Piston
High Pressure Seal
Bit Box Connection

4/2002

13

Motor Specifications

Motor Specifications
Dimensional Data
Ultimate Load Factors
Performance Charts

4/2002

Motor Specifications

4/2002

Motor Specifications

4/2002

14

Performance Charts

4/2002

Operational Constraints
Servicing
- Hours

Drilling Fluid
-Percentage Sands - 0.5 %
- Percentage Solids - 5 %

Circulation Rate
Full Load ( Differential Pressure)

4/2002

Operational Constraints Contd


Temperature - 200 Degrees F
Motor Stalling
No Spudding

4/2002

15

Disadvantages of PDM
Low Maximum Temperature Capability
Susceptible to Oil Based Mud Damaged

4/2002

Operational Features
Stabilization
Off - set Pad
Rotor Bypass

4/2002

Stabilization
Improves Well - bore Straightness and
Control
Screw - on Stabilizer
Integral Blade Stabilizers

4/2002

16

Offset - Set Pad


Adjustable PAD Located Below Adjustable
Bend
Oriented with Center of Pad on Low Side of
Bend
Provides Lower Point on Drilling Motor to
Increase Build Rate Capacity

4/2002

Rotor Bypass
Used to Increase the Flow Rate Through the
Drilling Motor Beyond the Capacity of the Power
Section
All Multi - lobe Motors from 3 3/8 and
Larger Use Ported Rotors
May be Field Installed if Required

4/2002

Trouble Shooting
Pressure Increases
Pressure Losses
Lack of Penetration

4/2002

17

Pressure Increases
Bearing Pack Seized
Motor or Bit Plugged
Tight Hole

4/2002

Pressure Losses

Twist - off
Dump Sub Inoperable
Stater Worn Out
Washhing

4/2002

Lack of Penetration

Bit Wear
Stator Wear (Weak Motor)
Internal Motor Damage
Incorrect WOB
Formation Change
Stabilizer Hanging Up

4/2002

18

Motor Performance Test

4/2002

Motor History

4/2002

Motor Service Report

4/2002

19

Planning a Directional Well


Geology
Completion and Production
Drilling Constraints

4/2002

Geology

Lithology being drilled through


Geological structures that will be drilled
Type of target the geologist is expecting
Location of water or gas top
Type of Well

4/2002

Completion and Production


Type of completion required (
(frac job
job, pumps
and rods, etc.)
Enhanced recovery completion requirements
Wellbore positioning requirements for future
drainage/production plans
Downhole temperature and pressure

4/2002

20

Drilling
Selection of surface location and well layout
Previous area drilling knowledge and identifies
particular problematic areas

4/2002

Drilling

Casing size and depths


Hole size
Required drilling fluid
Drilling rig equipment and
capability
Length of time directional services
are utilized
Influences the type of survey
equipment and wellpath

4/2002

Planning
Build rates
Build and hold profiles should be
at least 50m
Drop rate for SS-curve wells is
preferably planned at 1.5 o/30m
KOP as deep as possible to
reduce costs and rod/casing wear
In build sections of horizontal
wells, plan a soft landing section

4/2002

21

Planning
Avoid high inclinations
through severely faulted,
dipping or sloughing
formations
On horizontal wells clearly
identify gas / water contact
points
Turn rates in lateral
sections of horizontal
Verify motor build rates

4/2002

Planning
Where possible start a
sidetrack at least 20m
out of casing
Dogleg severity could
approach 14o/30m
coming off a whipstock
Identify all wells within
30m of proposed well
path and conduct antianticollision check

4/2002

22

DIRECTIONAL DRILLING FUNDAMENTALS


Introduction to Directional Drilling
When preparing to drill a vertical or directional well, all operational components of the process are
reviewed, optimized and included in a drilling program. The surface location is scouted to determine
the best site that will allow for any natural drift, provide suitable access for drilling rig, service rig,
production facilities and can be constructed for a reasonable cost. A casing program is prepared to
provide 1) adequate well control, 2) prevent water table contamination, 3) maintain wellbore integrity,
4) plan for varying formation fracture gradients, and 5) provide hydraulic isolation of various
producing zones.
Mud programs are developed to provide good wellbore cleaning, reasonable filter cake development
and minimal formation damage. Cement programs are required to provide good hydraulic isolation
and casing support given the bottom hole temperature and pressure.
Since the highest possible rate of penetration possible is desired, considerable time is spent preparing
an effective bit program to optimally drill the well. Previous wells drilled in the area are reviewed, to
determine any potential drilling problems. Finally a proper BHA and drill string design is prepared to
provide sufficient design safety parameters.
A directional drilling company will review most of these same components or ask the operator what he
is selecting and apply it to the well profile and equipment limitations. For example the drilling fluid
needs to be compatible with the Measurement While Drilling (MWD) equipment and motors. With
their area knowledge it will also be reviewed for hole cleaning capability for high inclination wells. A
drilling motor is selected that will provide optimum performance for the planned hydraulics or
modifications are recommended.
A bottom hole assembly (BHA) and drill string design is suggested that will allow the best ROP for the
different drilling conditions (rotating versus orient or slide drilling). In some cases the desired well
path cannot be optimally drilled with the drill string currently available on the rig and changes are
recommended.
Bit selection for a standard vertical well may not be suitable for the planned directional well path.
Although a particular PDC bit provides the best ROP for the area, it may not provide the directional
control needed. Also special drilling motors may be required to provide sufficient horsepower. If the
project involves sidetracking of the horizontal legs special diamond sidetrack bits may be required.
Area formation integrity knowledge while it is being directional drilled through (sloughing, loss of
inclination, inability to control direction, potential for differential sticking to name a few) is extremely
important to minimize drilling time or potential problems. Lets assume a directional plan with a very
tight target size is prepared that kicks off very low in a formation that has a history of erratic build
rates. Several things could happen in this scenario:

Planned build rates are attained and target reached

Very aggressive oriented drilling operations are required (full single slides) and the ROP is
half of normal

Trips required to change the motor setting (increase or decrease the adjustable housing setting)

April 2002

Chapter 4

Erratic doglegs are created that may cause problems later when running casing

Target is missed and well must be plugged back and sidetracked

When permitted, a directional company also reviews the well pad layout and provides their
recommendations to reduce directional costs for multiple well pads. When they are involved with a
project from the start and are aware of future re-entries, multi-laterals, sidetracks and production
requirements a more optimally tuned well path can be designed.

APPLICATIONS OF DIRECTIONAL DRILLING


Multiple Wells From Offshore Structure
One of today's more common applications of directional drilling techniques is in offshore drilling.
Many oil and gas deposits are situated beyond the reach of land based rigs. To drill a large number of
vertical wells from individual platforms is impractical and would be uneconomical. The conventional
approach for a large oilfield has been to install a fixed platform on the seabed, from which as many as
sixty directional wells may be drilled. The bottomhole locations of these wells can be carefully spaced
for optimum recovery. This type of development greatly improves the economic feasibility of the
expensive offshore industry by reducing the number of platforms required and simplifying the
gathering system.
In a conventional development, the wells cannot be drilled until the platform has been constructed and
installed in position. This may mean a delay of 2 - 5 years before production can begin. Pre-drilling
some of the wells through a subsea template while the platform is being constructed can considerably
reduce this delay. These wells are directionally drilled from an offshore rig, usually a semisubmersible, and tied back to the platform once it has been installed.

Relief Wells
Directional techniques are used to drill relief
wells in order to "kill" blowout wells. The
relief well is deviated to pass as close as
possible in the reservoir to the uncontrolled
well: it is not generally targeted to hit the out
of control well as costs to do this would be
prohibitive. Heavy mud is pumped into the
reservoir to overcome the pressure and bring
the wild well under control.

Controlling Vertical Wells


Directional techniques are used to "straighten crooked holes". In other words, when deviation occurs
in a well which is supposed to be vertical, various techniques are used to bring the well back to
vertical. This was one of the earliest applications of directional drilling.

April 2002

Chapter 4

Sidetracking

Sidetracking out of an existing wellbore is another


application of directional drilling. This sidetracking may be
done to bypass an obstruction (a "fish") in the original
wellbore or to explore the extent of the producing zone in a
certain sector of a field.

Inaccessible Locations

Directional wells are often drilled because the surface


location directly above the reservoir is inaccessible,
either because of natural or man-made obstacles.
Examples include reservoirs under cities, mountains,
lakes, etc.

Other Applications
Directional wells are also drilled to avoid drilling a vertical well through a steeply inclined fault plane,
which could slip and shear the casing.

Potential
Shear Point

April 2002

Chapter 4

Directional Wells may also be used to overcome the


problems of salt dome drilling. Instead of drilling
through the salt, the well is drilled at one side of the
dome and is then deviated around and underneath the
overhanging cap.

Directional wells may also be used where a reservoir


lies offshore but quite close to land, the most
economical way to exploit the reservoir may be to drill
directional wells from a land rig on the coast.

Reservoir Optimization

Horizontal drilling is the fastest growing


branch of directional drilling. Horizontal
wells
allow
increased
reservoir
penetration,
especially
in
thinner
reservoirs, allow increased exposure of the
pay zone and allow higher production
rates at equivalent drawdowns. Numerous
specific applications for horizontal
drilling are being developed with major
advances occurring in the tools and
techniques used.

April 2002

Chapter 4

Multilateral Wells
Within the science of horizontal drilling, multilateral hole drilling is rapidly becoming a common
occurrence. Wells are drilled horizontally to total depth and laterals drilled from them in various
directions. These laterals remain essentially horizontal and are directionally controlled to ensure
maximum pay zone exposure.

DIRECTIONAL DRILLING LIMITATIONS


Any drilling limit described in a textbook written today would be simply broken tomorrow by some
operator. We have drilled horizontal wells with laterals over 6,100m long; extended reach wells with
over 10,000m of horizontal reach (horizontal to vertical ratio of 6 or 7 to 1); multi-lateral horizontal
wells with 10 legs; purposefully turned horizontal wells 180o in bearing; drilled 27 wells off a single
land based pad location; re-entered just about every wellbore configuration to drill to a new target and
are now drilling stacked well pairs within 3m (10) of each other. Coiled tubing drilled wells are also
setting new records with lateral sections in excess of 1,200m. Just about anything can be drilled
provided you have the financial support. It is better to know the potential equipment or wellbore
limitations. The following is a list of some of the factors considered when planning a directional well:
1.)

Through experience many operators have established their own maximum inclination
and/or dogleg severity limits to minimize rod and casing wear.

2.)

Open-hole and cased hole logging equipment have limits on dogleg severity the tools can
safely pass through that depends upon the tool OD, hole OD and tool length.

3.)

It may be impossible to get sufficient weight on bit (WOB) to drill the well depending
upon factors such as drag, drill string assembly design, mud type and hole geometry to
name a few.

4.)

Key seat and differential sticking potentials.

5.)

Maximum dogleg directional equipment can be rotated or slid through (bending stresses).

6.)

Wellbore stability (tectonic conditions, sloughing, boulders)

7.)

Ability to steer the BHA along the required course (reactive torque).

8.)

Ability for equipment to build inclination at the required rates

As directional drilling technologies continue to develop, new applications will emerge. Although oil
and gas drilling applications will continue to dominate the future of the directional industry,
environmental and economic considerations will force other industries to consider directional drilling
alternatives to conventional technologies.

Methods of Deflecting a Wellbore


There are several methods of deflecting a wellbore. Deflecting means changing the inclination and/or
direction of a wellbore. Three common methods of accurately kicking off a well are whipstock
operations, jetting, and downhole motors. The mud motor techniques are most commonly used
because they are fast and accurate, however the whipstock is still used. Jetting is rarely used today, but
it is still a valid and inexpensive technique.
Rotary bottomhole assemblies are the least expensive method of deflecting a well and should be used
whenever possible. Unfortunately, the exact response of a rotary bottomhole assembly is very difficult
to predict and left or right hand walk is almost impossible to control. When refinements of the
wellbore course are critical, a mud motor is typically used.
April 2002

Chapter 4

Openhole Whipstock
The whipstock was the first widely used deflection tool for changing the wellbore trajectory, and is
seldom used in open-hole deflections today. A whipstock is selected according to the wedge needed to
effect the desired deflection. A bit that is small enough to fit in the hole with the whipstock is then
chosen; at the start of the running mode, the bit is locked to the top of the whipstock. When the
whipstock is positioned at the kickoff depth, whether it is the total depth of the wellbore or the top of a
cement plug, it is carefully lowered to bottom, and the centerline of the toe is oriented in the desired
direction by a conventional nonmagnetic collar with a mule-shoe sub and by a single-shot survey. With
the whipstock assembly oriented, enough weight is applied to the toe of the wedge so that it will not
move when rotation begins.
Additional weight is applied to shear the pin that holds the drill collars to the wedge; then rotation can
begin. Forcing the bit to cut sideways as well as forward, the wedge deflects the bit in an arc set by the
curvature of the whipstock. When the bit reaches the end of the wedge, it ordinarily continues in the
arc set by the wedge. Drilling continues until the top of the whipstock assembly reaches the stop.
The whipstock is then retrieved and the hole is opened with a pilot bit and a hole-opener. The wellbore
is enlarged to the original hole size, and the assembly is pulled again. A full gauge directional BHA is
then run and standard drilling is resumed.

Retrievable Whipstock Operations

Jetting
The jet bit method of deflecting a well was, at one time, the most common method used in soft
formations. Jetting has been successfully used to depths of 8,000 feet (2,400m); however the
economics of this method and the availability of other directional drilling tools limit its use.

April 2002

Chapter 4

Geology is the most important influence on where jetting can be used; next in importance is the
amount of hydraulic energy available for jetting. Sandstones and oolitic limestones that are weakly
cemented are the best candidates for jetting. Unconsolidated sandstones and some other types of very
soft rocks can be jetted with some degree of success. Very soft rocks erode too much, making it
difficult to jet in the desired direction; when rotation begins, the stabilizers cut away the curved, jetted
section and return to a nearly vertical well path.
Even though shales may be soft, they are not good candidates for jetting. Most medium-strength rock
is too well cemented to jet with conventional drilling rig pumps, so it limits the depth to which jetting
can be applied. Higher pressures and more hydraulic energy can extend the depth to which jetting is
practical.
A major drawback to jetting is that the formation must be favorable at a shallow depth or in the desired
kickoff interval; otherwise, the technique is no better than the use of a mud motor with a deflecting
device. Another problem is that if jetting is continued too long without conventional drilling being
resumed, large doglegs can be created.

Large
TFA
Nozzle

There are special bits made for jetting including those with two
cones and an elongated jet nozzle replacing the third cone. The
elongated nozzle provides the means to jet the formation while
the two cones provide the mechanism for drilling. Other tri-cone
deflection bits are available with an enlarged fluid entrance to
one of the jets. This allows a greater amount of fluid to be
pumped through one of the jets during jetting operations.
To deflect a well using the jet method, the assembly is run to the
bottom of the hole, and the large jet is oriented in the desired
direction. The kelly should be high to allow rotary drilling after
the deflection is started. The center of the large nozzle represents
the toolface and is oriented in the desired direction. Maximum
circulation rate is used while jetting. Jet velocity for jetting
should be 150 m/sec (500 ft/sec).
Jetting Bit

The drill string is set on bottom and if the formation is sufficiently soft, the WOB drills off. A pocket is
washed into the formation opposite the large nozzle. The bit and near-bit stabilizer work their way into
the pocket (path of least resistance). Enough hole should be jetted to bury the near-bit stabilizer. If
required, the bit can be pulled off bottom and the pocket spudded. The technique is to lift the string
about 1.5m (5) off bottom and then let it fall, catching it with the brake so that the stretch of the string
(rather than the full weight of the string) causes it to spud on bottom. Spudding can be severe on a
drillstring, drilling line and derrick and should be kept to a minimum. Another technique that may help
is to rock the rotary table a little (15o) right and left of the orientation mark while jetting.

April 2002

Chapter 4

Jetting Operations

After a few feet have been jetted, the pumps are cut back to about 50% of that used for jetting and the
drill string is rotated. It may be necessary to pull off bottom momentarily due to high torque (near-bit
stabilizer wedged in the pocket). High WOB and low RPM are used to try to bend the collars above
the near-bit stabilizer and force the BHA to follow through the trend established while jetting. The
remaining length on the kelly is drilled down. Deflection is produced in the direction of the pocket i.e.
the direction in which the large jet nozzle was originally oriented.
To clean the hole prior to connection/survey, the jet should be oriented in the direction of deviation.
After surveying, this orientation setting (toolface setting) is adjusted as required, depending on the
results achieved with the previous setting. Dogleg severity has to be watched carefully and reaming
performed as required.
The operation is repeated as often as is necessary until sufficient inclination has been achieved and the
well is heading in the desired direction. The hole inclination can then be built up to maximum angle
using 100% rotary drilling and an appropriate angle build assemble.

Rotary Bottomhole Assemblies


There are three basic types of rotary bottomhole assemblies used in directional drilling: Building
Assemblies, Dropping Assemblies, and Holding Assemblies
A building assembly is intended to increase hole inclination, a dropping assembly is intended to
decrease hole inclination, and a holding assembly is intended to maintain hole inclination. It should be
noted that a building assembly might not always build angle. Formation tendencies may cause the
assembly to drop or hold angle. The building assembly is intended to build angle. The same is true for
the dropping and holding assemblies.
Before the invention of measurement while drilling (MWD) tools and steerable motors, rotary
bottomhole assemblies (BHA) were used to deflect wellbore. A bottomhole assembly is the
arrangement of the bit, stabilizer, reamers, drill collars, subs and special tools used at the bottom of the
drill string. Anything that is run in the hole to drill, ream or circulate is a bottomhole assembly. The
simplest assembly is a bit, collars and drill pipe and is often termed a slick assembly. The use of this
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assembly in directional drilling is very limited and usually confined to the vertical section of the hole
where deviation is not a problem.
In order to understand why an assembly will deviate a hole, lets consider the slick assembly, which is
the simplest and easiest to understand. The deviation tendency in this assembly is a result of the
flexibility of the drill collars and the forces acting on the assembly causing the collars to bend. Even
though drill collars seem to be very rigid, they will bend enough to cause deviation.
The point at which the collars contact the low side of the hole is called the tangency point. The
distance L from the bit to the tangency point is dependent upon collar size, hole size, applied bit
weight, hole inclination, and hole curvature. Generally, the distance L is less than 50m (150 feet).
Above the tangency point of the slick assembly, the remainder of the drill string generally has no
effect on deviation. As weight is applied to the bit, the tangency point will move closer to the bit.
Because of the bending of the drill collars, the resultant force applied to the formation is not in the
direction of the hole axis but is in the direction of the drill collar axis. As bit weight is applied, the
tangency point moves toward the bit increasing the angle. It can readily be seen that an increase in bit
weight leads to an increase in deviation tendency.

Effect of Increased Bit Weight

Unfortunately, the direction of the resultant force is not the only force involved. The resultant force
can be broken up into its components. The primary force would be the drilling force in line with the
axis of the borehole. The bit side force is caused by the bending of the collars and is perpendicular to
the axis of the borehole. The force due to gravity (acting on the unsupported section of drill collars) is
in the opposite direction and counteracts the side force. The net deviation force is then equal to the
summation of the bit side force and the force due to gravity. If the force due to gravity is greater than
the bit side force the angle will drop.
Changing the weight on bit can control the deviation tendency. Increasing the bit weight will lower the
tangency point increasing the angle. Since resultant force is proportional to the sine of angle, an
increase in bit weight increases the bit side force and ultimately the deviation tendency. Of course, a
decrease in bit weight will decrease the deviation tendency.

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Another factor affecting deviation tendency is the stiffness of the drill collars. Stiffer collars will bend
less, which increases the height to the tangency point. If the tangency point moves up the hole, then
the deviation tendency will be reduced. Therefore, small diameter drill collars will enhance the
deviation tendency.
The addition of a stabilizer above the bit significantly affects the deviation tendency of a bottomhole
assembly. The stabilizer acts as a fulcrum around which the unsupported section of the bottomhole
assembly reacts. The addition of the moment arm between the bit and stabilizer increases the bit side
force. In fact, the single stabilizer assembly is a very strong building assembly.

Reasons for Using Stabilizers


1.)

The placement and gauge of stabilizers are used as the fundamental method of controlling
the directional behavior of most bottom hole assemblies.

2.)

Stabilizers help concentrate the weight of the BHA on the drill bit.

3.)

Stabilizers resist loading the bit in any direction other than the hole axis.

4.)

Stabilizers minimize bending and vibrations, which cause tool joint wear and damage to
BHA components such as, MWD tools.

5.)

Stabilizers reduce drilling torque by preventing collar contact with the side of the hole and
by keeping the collars concentric in the hole but also add torque due to their side-loading.

6.)

Stabilizers help prevent differential sticking and key seating.

The side cutting ability of a bit is proportional to the side force exerted at the bit. Under static
conditions, the side force on the bit can be calculated using a computer program. When the entire
bottomhole assembly is considered, it can also be shown the stabilizers in the assembly exert a side
force. The stabilizers have a side-cutting ability too. One would think the deviation tendency could
then be calculated. Unfortunately, the side forces will change under dynamic conditions. Both the bit
and the stabilizers cut sideways reducing the side force on each until equilibrium is reached.

Under dynamic conditions, the relative


side-cutting of the bit and stabilizers
becomes complicated which, in turn,
makes the deviation tendency very
difficult to calculate. The relationship
between the bit and stabilizer side-cutting
is dependent upon the type of bit, type of
stabilizer, penetration rate, rotary speed,
lithology, hole size, and bottomhole
assembly type.

Stabilizer Forces

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The side-cutting ability of soft formation bits is generally considered better than for hard formation
bits. Diamond bits have a greater side-cutting ability because they are designed with more of a cutting
structure along the lateral face of the bit.
The magnitude and direction of the formation deviation tendency will depend upon bed dip. Generally,
the bit will walk up dip when beds are dipping 0o to 45o and down dip when beds are dipping 65o to
90o. Bed dips between 45o and 65o can cause either an up dip or down dip walk. Bed strike can cause
the bit to walk left or right.

Building Assemblies
As previously stated, the building assembly uses a stabilizer acting as a fulcrum to apply side forces to
the bit. The magnitude of that force is a function of the distance from the bit to the tangency point. An
increase in bit weight and/or decrease in drill collar stiffness will increase the side force at the bit
increasing the rate of build.
The strongest building assembly consists of one stabilizer placed 3 to 6 feet above the bit face with
drill collars and drill pipe above the stabilizer. This assembly will build under the majority of
conditions. Of course, the rate of build will be controlled by formation tendencies, bit and stabilizer
types, lithology, bit weights, drill collar stiffness, Drillstring RPMs, penetration rate, and hole
geometry.

Building Assemblies

Another strong to moderate building assembly consists of a bottomhole stabilizer placed 3 to 6 feet
from the bit face, 60 feet of drill collars, stabilizer, collars, and drill pipe. This is the most common
assembly used to build angle. The second stabilizer tends to dampen the building tendency. This
assembly can be used when the previous assembly builds at an excessive rate. Other building
assemblies can be seen above.

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Chapter 4

Dropping Assemblies
A dropping assembly is sometimes referred to as a pendulum assembly. In this assembly, a stabilizer is
placed at 30, 45, or 60 feet from the bit. The stabilizer produces a plumb bob or pendulum effect;
hence the name pendulum assembly. The purpose of the stabilizer is to prevent the collar from
touching the wall of the hole causing a tangency point between the bit and stabilizer.
An increase in the length of the bottomhole assembly (the length below the tangency point) results in
an increase in the weight. Since the force is determined by that weight, the force is also increased
exceeding the force due to bending. The net result is a side force on the bit causing the hole to drop
angle.
Additional bit weight will decrease the dropping tendency of this assembly because it increases the
force due to bending. Should enough bit weight be applied to the assembly to cause the collars to
contact the borehole wall (between the stabilizer and the bit), the assembly will act as a slick assembly.
Only the section of the assembly below the tangency point affects the bit side force.
If an increase in dropping tendency is required, larger diameter or denser collars should be used below
the stabilizer. This increases the weight of the assembly, which results in an increase in dropping
tendency. As an example, suppose a dropping assembly with 7 (178mm) drill collars was being used
in a 12 (311mm) hole. By substituting 9 (229mm) collars for the 7 collars, an increase in
dropping tendency can be achieved.
Dropping assemblies will have a higher rate of drop as hole inclination increases.

Dropping Assemblies

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Chapter 4

Holding Assemblies
Holding the inclination in a hole is much more difficult than building or dropping angle. Under ideal
conditions, most assemblies either have a building or dropping tendency. Most straight hole sections of
a directional well will have alternating build and drop tendencies. When holding inclination, these
build and drop sections should be minimized and spread out over a large interval. The most common
assemblies are indicated below indicating their strength at holding inclination.

Holding Assemblies

When selecting a hold assembly, research the well records in the area to find out which assembly
works best for the types of formations being drilled. If no formation is available, use a medium
strength assembly and adjust it as necessary.
These build and drop assemblies are still used on directional wells but generally limited to slant hole
drilling. The hold assemblies are very commonly used on deep vertical wells to minimize the amount
of directional drilling required.

SPECIAL BHAS
Tandem Stabilizers
Its fairly common to run a string stabilizer directly above the near-bit stabilizer. This is normally for
directional control purposes. An alternative is to run a near-bit with a longer gauge area for greater
wall contact. High rotary torque may result in either case. It is dangerous to run tandem stabilizers
directly after a more limber BHA due to the reaming required and potential sticking.

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Chapter 4

Roller Reamers
In medium/hard formations where rotary torque is excessive, it may be necessary to dispense with
some to all of the stabilization. Roller reamers are a good alternative however they behave different
then stabilizers. As a rule they tend to drop angle.

APPLICATIONS OF STEERABLE ASSEMBLIES


A steerable assembly is defined as a bottomhole assembly whose directional behavior can be modified
by adjustment of surface controllable drilling parameters including rotary speed and weight on bit. The
ability to modify behavior in this way enables the assembly to be steered toward a desired objective
without its removal from the wellbore. To some extent, rotary assemblies are steerable if the build or
drop tendency is weight sensitive. However, the ability to control a rotary assembly is limited
especially controlling walk.
The most common steerable assembly consists of a Positive Displacement Motor (PDM) that
incorporates a fixed or adjustable bent housing on top of the bearing housing below the stator. With the
smaller displacement of the bit as compared to using a bent sub, the motor can be safely rotated at
RPMs up to 50 depending upon the bend setting and formation. The motor housing may also
incorporate an 3mm (1/8) undergauge stabilizer. With the bent housing, the stabilizer is not required
but the hold tendency of the assembly in the rotary mode is improved.
The steerable system operates in two modes; sliding and rotary drilling. In the slide mode, the motor
acts like a typical motor run. The motor is oriented in the desired direction (tool face), and drilling
progresses without drill pipe rotation. The change in inclination and or direction is derived from the bit
tilt from the bent housing and the side force created from the stabilizer or the wall contact with the
motor.
In the rotary drilling mode, the assembly is rotated per normal but at lower values (30 to 50 RPM) and
the side force is cancelled by this rotary action. In some formations the assembly will change
inclination/direction even in the rotary mode. Because of the bit offset or the side force associated with
a steerable system, the assembly will drill an overgauge hole in the rotary mode.
Advances in downhole motor reliability have made the steerable system economical in many
applications. Typically, the mean time between failures is in excess of 2000 hours for the motor and
excess of 800 hours for the measurement while drilling equipment thereby exceeding the life of a tricone bit. Where feasible, the tri-cone bit has been replaced with a PDC or diamond bit. When properly
matched to the formation and motor torque output, a PDC bit can last much longer than a tri-cone bit;
however, a PDC bit cannot always be used. They are applicable to soft and medium hardness
formations with consistent lithology. In areas where formation hardness changes a lot, PDC bits do not
perform as well as tri-cone bits. Also the ability or ease of controlling build and turn rates of a PDC
vary considerably.
In some cases, the penetration rate of a steerable system will out perform that of a rotary assembly.
The majority of the time, it is used in soft formations. As formation hardness increases, rotary
assemblies will drill faster than a steerable system unless special high torque performance motors are
used. Harder formations are less sensitive to rotary speed, and bit weight is the predominant drilling
parameter. In hard formations, the penetration rate for a motor can be half that of a rotary assembly. In
soft to medium hard formations, the penetration rate for a downhole motor has been twice that of a
rotary assembly.

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Chapter 4

As the torque and drag in a directional well increases, the rate of penetration for a steerable system
while sliding can be considerably less than while rotating. In some cases it will be half the rate seen
while rotating. Therefore, it is advantageous to rotate a steerable system as much as possible especially
when approaching TD.
The directional plan can be followed much more closely with a steerable system. Since trips are not
required, corrections in the slide mode are made much more frequently. The frequent corrections will
keep the wellbore closer to the planned path. In the hold section, the directional driller will often rotate
for a portion of a connection and slide for the remainder of the connection. He must first get a feel for
how much the assembly is walking and building or dropping while in the rotary mode. Once he gets a
feel for that then he can determine how much he needs to slide per connection and what the tool face
orientation must be.
This does not mean that the dogleg severity is very low. It only means that the changes are small and
frequent. Surveys at 20m to 30m intervals will not pick up the actual dogleg severity in the well,
whereas with rotary assemblies and motor corrections, the dogleg severity is picked up by the surveys.
Frequent motor corrections (short dogleg intervals) will minimize problems associated with keyseats.
The doglegs are not long enough for keyseats to form easily.
The steerable system should be designed to generate a dogleg severity 25 percent greater than that
required to accomplish the objectives of the directional plan (a more aggressive bent housing setting).
Formation tendencies can cause the dogleg severity of a steerable system to change. If it decreases the
dogleg severity generated by the system, then a trip may be require to pick up a more aggressive
assembly. However if the assembly is designed to be more aggressive, then the assembly will still be
able to produce a dogleg severity sufficient to keep the wellbore on course and less slide drilling is
required resulting in a higher average ROP. Reducing the dogleg severity of a steerable system is not a
problem. Alternately sliding and rotating the assembly will reduce the overall dogleg severity.
The most significant advantage of the steerable system is that a trip does not have to be made in order
to make a course correction. When a correction is required, the motor is oriented and drilling continues
in the slide mode until the correction is complete. Then drilling in the rotary mode continues until the
next correction is required. If a steerable system is not used, a trip would be required to pick up a
motor assembly before making the correction. After the correction is made, another trip would be
required to pick up the rotary assembly.
Another advantage of the steerable system is that it provides the ability to hit smaller targets at a
reasonable cost. Because a trip is not required to make a course correction, the steerable system can hit
a smaller target with less cost. Its not that a small target can not be hit using rotary assemblies and
motor corrections; its that the costs increase significantly as the target gets smaller.
Steerable systems are typically used in drilling multi-target directional and horizontal wells. Drilling
through a cluster of wells is another good application for a steerable system. Drilling out from under a
crowded platform may require building, dropping and turning at various rates over a relatively short
distance in order to avoid other wellbores. A steerable system is capable of making all the corrections
without tripping. In an environment where the daily operating costs are high, the steerable system can
result in significant savings.
Just because the industry has the capability to hit smaller targets does not mean that the targets should
be unduly restricted. The smaller the target, the more expensive it can be to hit. With a steerable
system, the cost differential isnt as high as it would be using rotary assemblies and making motor
corrections.

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Chapter 4

MUD MOTORS
There are two major types of downhole motors powered by mud flow; 1) the turbine, which is
basically a centrifugal or axial pump and 2) the positive displacement mud motor (PDM). The
principles of operation are shown in Figure 7.1 and the design of the tool are totally different. Turbines
were in wide use a number of years ago and are seeing some increased use lately but the PDM is the
main workhorse for directional drilling.
Turbine Motor

Positive Displacement Motor

Motor Selection
Four configurations of drilling motors provide the broad range of bit speeds and torque outputs
required satisfying a multitude of drilling applications. These configurations include:
1.)

High Speed / Low Torque

2.)

Medium Speed / Medium Torque

3.)

Low Speed / High Torque

4.)

Low Speed / High Torque -Gear Reduced

The high speed drilling motor utilizes a 1:2 lobe power section to produce high speeds and low torque
outputs. They are popular choices when drilling with a diamond bit, tri-cone bit drilling in soft
formations and directional applications where single shot orientations are being used.
The medium speed drilling motor typically utilizes a 4:5 lobe power section to produce medium
speeds and medium torque outputs. They are commonly used in most conventional directional and
horizontal wells, in diamond bit and coring applications, as well as sidetracking.
The low speed drilling motor typically utilizes a 7:8 lobe power section to produce low speeds and
high torque outputs. They are used in directional and horizontal wells, medium to hard formation
drilling, and PDC bit drilling applications.
The gear reduced drilling motor combines a patented gear reduction system with a 1:2 lobe high speed
power section. This system reduces the output speed of the 1:2 lobe power section by a factor of three,
and increases the output torque by a factor of three. The result is a drilling motor with similar

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Chapter 4

performance outputs as a low speed drilling motor, but with some significant benefits. The 1:2 lobe
power section is more efficient at converting hydraulic power to mechanical power than a multi-lobe
power section and also maintains more consistent bit speed as weight on bit is applied. This motor can
be used in directional and horizontal wells, hard formation drilling, and PDC bit drilling applications.
Some other motor selections are also available including a tandem and modified motor. These
variations are described below.
Tandem Drilling Motor - The drilling motor utilizes two linked power sections for increased torque
capacity.
Modified Drilling Motor - The bearing section of the drilling motor has been modified to provide
different drilling characteristics (ie. change bit to bend distance, etc.).

Motor Components
All drilling motors consist of five major assemblies:
1.)

Dump Sub Assembly

2.)

Power Section

3.)

Drive Assembly

4.)

Adjustable Assembly

5.)

Sealed or Mud Lubricated Bearing Section.

The gear reduced drilling motor contains an additional section, the gear reducer assembly located
within the sealed bearing section. Some other motor manufacturers have bearing sections that are
lubricated by the drilling fluid.

Dump Sub Assembly


As a result of the power section (described below), the drilling motor will seal off the drill string ID
from the annulus. In order to prevent wet trips and pressure problems, a dump sub assembly is utilized.
The dump sub assembly is a hydraulically actuated valve located at the top of the drilling motor that
allows the drill string to fill when running in hole, and drain when tripping out of hole. When the
pumps are engaged, the valve automatically closes and directs all drilling fluid flow through the motor.
In the event that the dump sub assembly is not required, such as in underbalanced drilling using
nitrogen gas or air, its effect can be negated by simply replacing the discharge plugs with blank plugs.
This allows the motor to be adjusted as necessary, even in the field. Drilling motors 95 mm (3 3/4)
and smaller require the dump sub assembly to be replaced with a special blank sub.

Power Section
The drilling motor power section is an adaptation of the Moineau type positive displacement hydraulic
pump in a reversed application. It essentially converts hydraulic power from the drilling fluid into
mechanical power to drive the bit.
The power section is comprised of two components; the stator and the rotor. The stator consists of a
steel tube that contains a bonded elastomer insert with a lobed, helical pattern bore through the center.
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Chapter 4

The rotor is a lobed, helical steel rod. When the rotor is installed into the stator, the combination of the
helical shapes and lobes form sealed cavities between the two components. When drilling fluid is
forced through the power section, the pressure drop across the cavities will cause the rotor to turn
inside the stator. This is how the drilling motor is powered.

It is the pattern of the lobes and the length of the helix that dictate what output characteristics will be
developed by the power section. By the nature of the design, the stator always has one more lobe than
the rotor. The illustrations in Figure 7-2 show a 1:2 lobe cross-section, a 4:5 lobe cross-section and a
7:8 lobe cross-section. Generally, as the lobe ratio is increased, the speed of rotation is decreased.

Cross-sections of the most common power section lobe configurations

The second control on power section output characteristics is length. A stage is defined as a full helical
rotation of the lobed stator. Therefore, power sections may be classified in stages. A four-stage power
section contains one more full rotation to the stator elastomer, when compared to a three stage. With
more stages, the power section is capable of greater overall pressure differential, which in turn
provides more torque to the rotor.
As mentioned above, these two design characteristics can be used to control the output characteristics
of any size power section. This allows for the modular design of drilling motors making it possible to
simply replace power sections when different output characteristics are required.
In addition, the variation of dimensions and materials will allow for specialized drilling conditions.
With increased temperatures, or certain drilling fluids, the stator elastomer will expand and form a
tighter seal onto the rotor and create more of an interference fit, which may result in stator elastomer
damage. Special stator materials or interference fit can be requested for these conditions.

Drive Assembly
Due to the design nature of the power section, there is an eccentric rotation of the rotor inside of the
stator. To compensate for this eccentric motion and convert it to a purely concentric rotation drilling
motors utilize a high strength jointed drive assembly. The drive assembly consists of a drive shaft with
a sealed and lubricated drive joint located at each end. The drive joints are designed to withstand the
high torque values delivered by the power section while creating minimal stress through the drive

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Chapter 4

assembly components for extended life and increased reliability. The drive assembly also provides a
point in the drive line that will compensate for the bend in the drilling motor required for directional
control.

Adjustable Assembly
Most drilling motors today are supplied with a surface adjustable assembly. The adjustable assembly
can be set from zero to three degrees in varying increments in the field. This durable design results in
wide range of potential build rates used in directional, horizontal and re-entry wells. Also, to minimize
the wear to the adjustable components, wear pads are normally located directly above and below the
adjustable bend.

Sealed or Mud Lubricated Bearing Section


The bearing section contains the radial and thrust bearings and bushings. They transmit the axial and
radial loads from the bit to the drill string while providing a driveline that allows the power section to
rotate the bit. The bearing section may utilize sealed, oil filled, and pressure compensated or mud
lubricated assemblies. With a sealed assembly the bearings are not subjected to drilling fluid and
should provide extended, reliable operation with minimal wear. As no drilling fluid is used to lubricate
the drilling motor bearings, all fluid can be directed to the bit for maximized hydraulic efficiency. This
provides for improved bottom-hole cleaning, resulting in increased penetration rates and longer bit
life. The mud-lubricated designs typically use tungsten carbide-coated sleeves to provide the radial
support. Usually 4% to 10% of the drilling fluid is diverted pass this assembly to cool and lubricate the
shaft, radial and thrust bearings. The fluid then exits to the annulus directly above the bit/drive sub.

Gear Reducer Assembly


An alternative to the type low speed drilling motor is the gear-reduced design. It utilizes a gear
reduction assembly within the sealed bearing section in combination with a 1:2 lobe power section.
This patented design reduces the speed of rotation by a factor of three while increasing the torque by
the same multiple. The benefit with this design is increased stability in the bit speed for different
differential pressures, and improved hydraulic efficiency out of the power section.

Kick Pads
Most drilling motors can incorporate wear pads directly above and below the adjustable bend for
improved wear resistance. Eccentric kick pads can also be used on most motors ranging from 121 mm
(4 3/4) to 245 mm (9 5/8) in size. This kick pad is adjustable to match the low side of the motor to
increase build rate capabilities. It will also allow lower adjustable settings for similar build rates,
thereby reducing radial stresses applied to the bearing assembly, and permit safer rotation of the motor.
They can be installed in the field by screwing them onto specially adapted bearing housings.

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Chapter 4

G e n e r a l mo t o r c o mp o n e n t l a y o u t

Stabilization
Bearing housings are also available with two stabilization styles, integral blade and screw-on. The
integral blade style is built directly onto the bearing housing and thus cannot be removed in the field.
The screw-on style provides the option of installing a threaded stabilizer sleeve onto the drilling motor
on the rig floor in a matter of minutes. The drilling motor has a thread on the bottom end that is
covered with a thread protector sleeve when not required. Both of these styles are optional to a
standard bladed bearing housing.

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Chapter 4

MOTOR OPERATIONS
In order to get the best performance and optimum life of drilling motors, the following standard
procedures should be followed during operation. Slight variations may be required with changes in
drilling conditions and drilling equipment, but attempts should be made to follow these procedures as
closely as possible.

Assembly Procedure & Surface Check Prior to Running in Hole


Most motors are shipped from the shop thoroughly inspected and tested, but some initial checks
should be completed prior to running in hole. These surface check procedures should only be used
with mud drilling systems. To avoid potential bit, motor, and BOP damage, these preliminary checks
should be completed without a bit attached. A thread protector should be installed in the bit box
whenever moving the motor, but must be removed before flow testing.

Only apply rig tongs on the identified areas of the drilling motor. All connections marked NO
TONGS of the drilling motor are torqued in the service shop. Further make-up on the rig
floor is not necessary, and if attempted may cause damage.

Remove the thread protector from the bit box and inspect the threads for damage.

Lower the drilling motor until the dump sub ports are below the rotary table, yet still visible.
CAUTION: The dump sub valve will remain open until there is enough fluid pressure to close
it. Therefore, the drilling motor should be lowered until the ports are below the rotary table.
This will prevent the initial flow of drilling fluid from spraying on the rig floor.

Slowly start the pumps and ensure drilling fluid is flowing out of the dump sub ports. Increase
the flow rate until the dump sub ports close, and drilling fluid stops flowing out. Make note of
the circulation rate and standpipe pressure. CAUTION: Do not exceed the maximum
recommended flow rate for this test.

Lift the drilling motor until the bit box becomes visible. It should be rotating at a slow,
constant speed. Listen to the bearing section of the drilling motor for excessive bearing noise,
especially if the tool has been used previously without being serviced.

Before stopping the pumps, the drilling motor should be lowered below the rotary table.
Ensure that drilling fluid flows out of the dump sub ports after shutting down the pumps. It is
possible that the dump sub valve remains closed after this test due to a pressure lock. If this
occurs, no drilling fluid will flow out of the ports. To remove the pressure lock, bleed off some
stand pipe pressure and the valve will open. The surface check should be as short as possible;
since it is merely to ensure that the drilling motor is rotating.

After this surface check, the bit should be attached to the motor using a bit-breaker, while
holding the bit box stationary with a rotary tong. Be sure to avoid contacting the end cap
directly above the bit box with the tong dies. It is recommended that you never hold the bit
box stationary and rotate the drilling motor counter-clockwise, or hold the drilling motor
stationary and rotate the bit box clockwise. This could possibly cause the internal drilling
motor connections to back off and damage it. Although rotating in the opposite direction will
result in drilling fluid to be pushed out the top end, the internal connections will not be at risk
of disconnecting.

If the drilling motor has been used previously, an overall inspection should be completed.
Inspect for seal integrity by cleaning the area above the bit box and visually checking for

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Chapter 4

lubricating oil leakage or seal extrusion. General visual inspection of the entire drilling motor
should be carried out to check for missing oil plugs, housing damage, or loose connections.

Set the adjustable assembly to the desired bend. The instructions for this procedure depend
upon the motor manufacturer and should be adhered to. Ensure the rig tongs can generate the
required make-up torque the motor.

If a float sub is used, it should be placed immediately above the drilling motor.

Tripping In Hole
Generally, a drill string with a drilling motor can be run into the hole like a standard bottom hole
assembly. The drilling motor is rugged, but care should be taken to control travel speed while tripping
into the hole. The drill string should be tripped with the blocks unlocked and special care must be
taken when passing the B.O.P., casing shoe, liner hanger, bridges and nearing bottom. Tight spots
should be traversed by starting the pumps and slowly reaming the drilling motor through them. When
reaming, the drill string should be periodically rotated to prevent sidetracking. Great care should be
taken during these operations.
When tripping to extreme depths, or when hole temperatures are high, periodic stops are
recommended to break circulation. This prevents bit plugging and aids in cooling the drilling motor,
preventing high temperature damage.
Fluid should not be circulated through a drilling motor inside casing if a PDC or diamond bit is being
used, as this may damage the bit cutters.
If a dump sub assembly is not used and the pipe is not being filled while tripping in, the back pressure
on the power section will cause the rotor to turn in reverse. This could cause internal connections of
the drilling motor to unscrew. Stop and break circulation before putting drilling motor on-bottom.
Failure to do so could plug jets and/or damage the drilling motor.

Drilling
After the assembly has been tripped to the bottom of the hole, drilling motors should be operated in
the following manner:

With the bit 1-2 meters (3-6 feet) off bottom, start the pumps and slowly increase the flow rate
to that desired for drilling. Do not exceed the maximum rated flow rate for the drilling motor.

Make a note of the flow rate and the total pump pressure. Note that the pressure may exceed
the calculated off bottom pressure due to some side load effects between the bit and the hole
diameter.

After a short cleaning interval, lower the bit carefully to bottom and slowly increase the
weight. Torque can be affected by a dirty, uncirculated hole and the hole should be adequately
cleaned prior to orienting the tool. Fill maybe cleaned out of the wellbore by slowly rotating
the drilling motor or by staging the drilling motor full circle 30o to 45o at a time. This prevents
ledge buildup and side tracking.

Orient the drill string as desired and slowly apply further weight onto the bit. Pump pressure
will rise as the weight on bit is increased. Record the change in system pressure between the
off bottom and on bottom values. This will be the differential pressure. Try to drill with steady
pump pressure by keeping a steady flow rate and constant weight on bit.

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Chapter 4

Adding weight on bit will cause both the differential pressure and torque to increase.
Similarly, reducing weight on bit will reduce both the differential pressure and the torque.
Therefore, the rig pressure gauge enables the operator to monitor how the drilling motor is
performing, as well as a weight on bit indicator.

Applying excessive weight on bit may cause damage to the on-bottom thrust bearings.
Similarly, applying excessive tension while stuck may cause damage to the off-bottom thrust
bearings. Refer to the manufacturer specifications for the recommended maximum loads for
these conditions.

Optimum differential pressure can be determined by monitoring motor performance,


penetration rate, and drilling requirements. Also, maintaining a constant weight on bit and
differential pressure assists in controlling orientation of the drill string.

Reactive Torque
Drilling motors drive the bit with a right-hand (clockwise) rotation. As weight is added to the bit,
reactive torque acting on the drilling motor housing is developed. This left-hand (counter-clockwise)
torque is transferred to the drill string and may cause the joints above the motor to tighten. Reactions
of this type increase with larger weight on bit values and reach a maximum when the motor stalls. This
reactive torque also affects the orientation of the motor when it is used in directional drilling
applications. Therefore, this reactive torque must be taken into account when orienting the drilling
motor from the surface in the desired direction. As a rule-of-thumb 4 drill pipe will turn 10o for
every 300m (1,000).

Critical Rotary Speed


Motor sections are available in a number of configurations. These different designs are identified by
the number of lobes on the rotor and cavities in the stator. For example a 4/5 power section has 4 lobes
and 5 cavities. With every rotation made by the rotor, there are eccentric motions about the radius of
the rotor equal to the number of lobes. So a 4/5 power section would go through 4 eccentric
movements for every rotation. In all multi-lobed tools, regardless of size or configuration, the critical
tolerance for this eccentric movement is 1000 cycles per minute. Exceeding this critical tolerance sets
up three degenerative cycles in the tool:

The high oscillation factor combined with the inherent friction of the rotor contacting the
stator results in excessive heat generation in the stator molding. Oscillations above 1000
cycles per minute may result in temperatures sufficient to cause hysteretic failure of the stator
molding (elastomer doesnt return to original shape).

Vibration frequencies are introduced by the high oscillation rates that can contribute to
mechanical failures in motor components other than the rotor and stator. It is not known if
these vibrations are harmonic or random however, it is logical to assume that some degree of
resonance would be present in the frequency.

The centrifugal force of the rotor in an over-speed condition combined with the diminished
compressive strength of a stator in hysteretic failure, accentuate the eccentric motion (run out)
of the rotor. The result is an expontenial increase in the degenerative effects of the condition.

April 2002

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Chapter 4

Drilling Motor Stall


Stalling usually occurs when the application of excessive weight on bit or hole sloughing stops the bit
from rotating and the power section of the drilling motor is not capable of providing enough torque to
power through. This is indicated by a sudden sharp increase in pump pressure. This pressure increase
is developed because the rotor is no longer able to rotate inside the stator, forming a long seal between
the two. If circulation is continued, the drilling fluid forces its way through the power section by
deflecting the stator rubber. Drilling fluid will still circulate through the motor, but the bit will not turn.
Operating in this state will erode and possibly chunk the stator in a very short period of time, resulting
in extensive damage. It is very important to avoid this operating condition.
When stalling occurs, corrective action must be taken immediately. Any rotary application should be
stopped and built up drill string torque released. Then the weight on bit can be reduced allowing the
drill bit to come loose and the drilling motor to turn freely. If the pump pressure is still high, the
pumps should then be turned off. Once again, failure to do this will result in the stator eroding until the
drilling motor is inoperable.
Other conditions can be occurring downhole that indicate the motor is stalling. On underbalanced
wells when the motor is being supplied with too low a combined equivalent flow rate will not drill (see
later discussion on two-phase flow tests). Under gauge bits or a badly worn heel row of cutters on the
bit can also make the motor stall.

Bit Conditions
The bit speeds developed when drilling with a drilling motor are normally higher than in conventional
rotary drilling. This application tends to accelerate bit wear. When drilling with a drilling motor and
simultaneously rotating the drill string, it is important to avoid locking up the bit and over running the
drilling motor with the rotary table. A locked bit will impart a sudden torque increase in the drilling
motor which can be detected by a sudden, sharp increase in standpipe pressure. Small pressure
fluctuations can also indicate the onset of bit failure.

Rotating the Drilling Motor


For directional control, we often rotate a drilling motor which has the adjustable assembly set for a
deviation angle. It has been found that rotating the drilling motor set at bends greater than 1.8 degrees
may fatigue the housings of the drilling motor to a point where a fatigue crack is initiated, and fracture
occurs. Additionally, rotation of motors with settings greater than 1.83 degrees place high radial
stresses on the bearing section which may initiate premature failure. Most motor manufacturers have a
policy that drilling motors set at greater than 1.83 degrees not be rotated. The extent of the damage is
very dependent upon the drilling conditions and formations being drilled. Although fractures from
fatigue due to rotating over 1.83 degrees are a relatively rare occurrence, a risk is still being taken
when it is done. The operator of the drilling motor must be aware of this risk.
It is also recommended that the speed of rotation not exceed 50 RPM. If this value is exceeded,
excessive cyclic loads would occur to the drilling motor housings and possibly causing pre-mature
fatigue problems.

April 2002

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Chapter 4

Tripping Out
Prior to tripping out when drilling with conventional mud, it is recommended that the fluid be
circulated for at least one bottoms-up time to ensure that the wellbore has been cleaned thoroughly.
The tripping out procedures for a drilling motor is basically the same as those for tripping in. Taking
care when pulling the drilling motor through tight spots, liner hangers, casing, casing shoes, and the
B.O.P. is necessary to minimize possible damage to both the drilling motor and the wellhead
components. Rotating may also be done to assist with the removal of the drill string. The dump sub
valve will allow the drill string to be emptied automatically when tripping.
Although the drill string will drain when tripping out, the drilling motor itself may not. Once the
drilling motor is at surface, rotating the bit box in a counter-clockwise direction will naturally drain the
drilling motor through the top. This is recommended before laying down the motor since aggressive
drilling fluids can deteriorate the elastomer stator and seals. When possibly, fresh water should also be
flushed through to ensure thorough cleaning of the drilling motor. Also, clean the bit box area with
clean water and install a thread protector into the box connection.
Rotating the bit box in a clockwise direction will naturally drain the drilling motor through the bottom,
but one of the internal connections could break and unscrew. For this reason, it is not recommended to
rotate it in this manner.

Surface Checks After Running in Hole


Before laying down a drilling motor, it should be inspected in the event that it is required again before
servicing. Listen for indications of internal damage when draining the drilling motor. Inspect the seal
area between the bit box and the bearing section for lubricating oil leakage, and check the entire
drilling motor for loose or missing pressure plugs. If there are any concerns with the drilling motor, it
should be laid down for servicing.

Drilling Fluids
Most drilling motors are designed to operate effectively with practically all types of drilling fluids. In
fact, the stator or power-section of most PDMs are supplied by the same one or two manufacturers
with the same general elastomer type. Successful runs have been achieved with fresh or salt water, oil
based fluids, fluids with additives for viscosity control or lost circulation, and with nitrogen gas.
However, some consideration should be taken when selecting a drilling fluid, as elastomer components
of the drilling motor are susceptible to pre-mature wear when exposed to certain fluids especially
under higher temperatures.
Hydrocarbon based drilling fluids can be very harmful to elastomers. A measure of this aggressiveness
is called the Aniline Point. The Aniline Point is the temperature at which equal amounts of the
hydrocarbon and aniline become miscible. This temperature is an indication of the percent of light
ends (aromatics) present in the hydrocarbon. It is recommended that the aniline point of any drilling
fluid not be lower than 70 to 94.5o C (158 to 200o F), depending upon stator manufacturer. The lower
the aniline point the higher the percentage of elastomer damaging high-ends in the hydrocarbon
fluid. Also, the operating temperature of the drilling fluid should be lower than the aniline point.
Operating outside these parameters tends to excessively swell elastomers and cause premature wear,
thus reducing the performance of the motor. In cases where hydrocarbon based fluids are used it is
recommended that stators material or designs that account for the elastomer swelling be used (HSN or
changed interference of stator/rotor.

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Chapter 4

Drilling fluids with high chloride content can cause significant damage to internal components
(chrome plated rotors). When these components become damaged, the drilling motors performance is
dramatically reduced.
Lost circulation materials can be used safely with drilling motors but care must be taken to add the
material slowly to avoid plugging the system. (Good rule of thumb is no more than 2.5 lbs/barrel). If
coarse lost circulation material is required a circulating sub should be installed above the motor
assembly to by-pass the motor.
The percentage of solids should be kept to a minimum. Large amounts of abrasive solids in the drilling
fluid will dramatically increase the wear on a stator. It is recommended that the sand content be kept
below 2% for an acceptable operational life. A solids content greater than 5% will shorten rotor and
stator life considerably.
For the above reasons, it is extremely important to flush the drilling motor with fresh water before
laying it down, especially when working with the types of drilling fluids described above. Failure to
do so will allow the drilling fluid to further seriously deteriorate components to the drilling motor long
after it has been operated. The solids can also settle out in the motor and in the worse case lock the
motor up.

Temperature Limits
The temperature limits of drilling motors again depend on the effect of different fluids and
temperatures on the components made of elastomers. Generally, standard drilling motors are rated for
temperatures up to 105o C (219o F). At temperatures above this, the performance characteristics of
elastomers are changed, resulting in reduced life expectancy. When exposed to higher temperatures,
the elastomers swell, creating more interference than desired, wearing the parts out prematurely. The
strength of the elastomers is also affected. When drilling in wells with temperatures greater than 121o
C (250o F) it is important to maintain circulation to minimize the temperature the stator liner is
subjected to.
To compensate for these elastomer changes, special materials and special sizes of components are
used. This results in drilling motors that are specifically assembled for high temperatures. These
special order drilling motors may be operated in temperatures up to 150o C (300o F) and higher. The
rubber in the stator is specially selected for more clearance at higher temperatures to minimize
interference. Therefore, at lower temperatures, the stator elastomer will not seal adequately on the
rotor and fluid bypass will occur. Therefore, it is important that the drilling motor be used in the
conditions it is designed for in order to operate as required.

Hydraulics
The use of a PDM in the drill string changes the hydraulic calculations and should be considered.
Various factors have to be taken into account. These are:
1.)

Range of flow rates allowable: Each size and type of PDM is designed to take a certain
range of volumes of fluid.

2.)

No-load Pressure Loss: When mud is pumped through a mud motor which is turning
freely off-bottom (i.e. doing no work) a certain pressure loss is needed to overcome the
rotor/stator friction forces and cause the motor to turn. This pressure loss and motor RPM

April 2002

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Chapter 4

are proportional to flow rate. Their values are known for each size and type of PDM. The
no-load pressure loss is usually no greater than 100 psi.
3.)

Pressure Drop across the Motor: As the bit touches bottom and effective WOB is applied,
pump pressure increases. This increase in pressure is normally called the motor
differential pressure. Motor torque increases in direct proportion to the increase in
differential pressure. This differential pressure is required to pump a given volume of mud
through the motor to perform useful work. For a multi-lobe motor, it can be 500 psi or
even more.

4.)

Stall-out Pressure: There is a maximum recommended value of motor differential


pressure. At this point, the optimum torque is produced by the motor. If the effective WOB
is increased beyond this point, pump pressure increases further. The pressure across the
motor increases to a point where the lining of the stator is deformed. The rotor/stator seal
is broken and the mud flows straight through without turning the bit (blow-by or
slippage). The pump pressure reading jumps sharply and does not vary as additional WOB
is applied. This is known as stall-out condition.

Studies have shown that the power output curve is a parabola and not a smooth upward curve, as
originally thought. If the PDM is operated at 50%-60% of the maximum allowable motor differential
pressure, the same performance should be achieved as when operating at 90% of differential. The
former situation is much better however, there is a much larger cushion available before stall-out.
This should result in significantly longer motor life.
The greater the wear on the motor bearings, the easier it is to stall-out the motor. It is useful to
deliberately stall out the PDM briefly on reaching bottom. It tells the directional driller what the stallout pressure is. He may want to operate the motor at about 50% of stall-out differential pressure. In
any case, he must stay within the PDM design specifications.
It is obvious that, if the pump pressure while drilling normally with a mud motor is close to the rigs
maximum, stalling of the PDM may lead to tripping of the pop-off valve. This should be taken into
account in designing the hydraulics program.
Rotor Nozzle: Most multi-lobe motors have a hollow rotor. This can be blanked off or jetted with a jet
nozzle. When the standard performance range for the motor matches the drilling requirements, a
blanking plug is normally fitted.
The selection of the rotor nozzle is critical. Excessive bypass will lead to a substantial drop in motor
performance and, consequently, drilling efficiency. If a rotor nozzle is used at lower flow rates, the
power of the motor will be greatly reduced.
From the above, it is clear that careful planning of the PDM hydraulics program is required.

April 2002

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Chapter 4

Example of a typical motor performance chart for a 1:2 lobe motor.

April 2002

28

Chapter 4

Example of a typical motor performance chart for a 4:5 lobe motor.

PLANNING TO DRILL A DIRECTIONAL WELL


In order to plan a directional well that can be drilled safely and be cost effective, a great deal of
information is needed by the directional company. By reviewing the information and requirements the
best plan can be selected that will meet everyones needs and produce a usable wellbore. The planning
of a directional well can involve multiple disciplines and their needs must be successfully combined
into the wellpath proposal. Obviously not all wells require input from each division but the more
complex the well is the more important a synergy is developed within the departments and with the
directional drilling company.

Geology
Interaction with the geologists is of prime importance to understand any limitations in the particular
zone of interest. Although all information collected is important to the drilling operation
communication at this stage can be the make or break point of the well.

April 2002

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Chapter 4

Lithology being drilled through (sand, shales, sloughing tendencies, coals, salt, medium hard
formations with hard or soft stringers, marker zones)

Location of water or gas top

Level of geological control

Type of target the geologist is expecting (channel sand, pinnacle reef, a seismic irregularity,
exploration or infill drill)

Geological structures that will be drilled through or into (dip, faults, unconsolidated shales)

Regulatory issues (oil or gas target boundaries, wellbore clearance from existing wells,
location of final total depth)

Type of Well (Oil or Gas)

Future sidetrack or re-entry potentials

Completion and Production


This group is often missed and may result in a costly error if their needs are not considered in the
planning phase. They usually share some of the planning responsibility with the geology department.

Location of surface facilities or ability to move existing when infill drilling on an existing pad

Type of completion required (frac, pump rods)

May specify maximum inclination and dogleg limits based upon log and production
requirements

Enhanced recovery completion requirements

Wellbore positioning requirements for future drainage/production plans

Downhole temperature and pressure

Drilling
This group usually has control over the main operation and tries to pull all parties together. The overall
cost estimation and economic feasibility may also rest in their hands. Consequently, the directional
representative usually spends most of their time consulting with the members in this group. Even
though the other groups have just as important information, the drilling group typically controls how
the well is drilled and will make the final decision on any operational issues that occur.

Selection of surface location and well center(s) layout

Casing size and depths

Hole size

Required drilling fluid

Drilling rig equipment and capability

Length of time directional services are utilized

Influences the type of survey equipment and wellpath

Previous area drilling knowledge and identifies particular problematic areas

April 2002

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Chapter 4

Planning
Once the information has been collected from the various departments, a directional plan is prepared
that meets all the requirements (if possible). A good well planner also tries to incorporate operational
issues that contribute to the success of the well and can have a dramatic impact on the length of time
required for directional equipment. This can be very important on pad layouts for multiple directional
wells and can save the operator considerable expenses if properly utilized.
Anyone can plan a well to be drilled from point A to B but it requires operational knowledge to plan
a profile that can physically be drilled without unnecessary trips to change assemblies given the hole
size and area. The following are few of the general rules-of-thumb when well paths are being
prepared:

Build rates kept at 2 to 3 o/30m for pumping oil wells. In fact most oil wells are planned at this
rate unless the horizontal displacement requires higher build rates to reach the target. Typically
most operators prefer to keep the actual doglegs less than 8 or 9 o/30m, therefore the plan
should be less than 7 o/30m to allow for operational variances.

The hold portion for build and hold profiles should be at least 50m (150) to allow for
operational adjustments should they have trouble achieving build rates.

The drop rate for S-curve wells is preferably planned at 1.5 o/30m but can go as high as 2.5. A
key-seat or differential sticking risk could occur with aggressive drop rates in softer
formations. Also a minimum 30m (100) tangent section should be planned in the middle of an
S-curve profile to allow for drilling problems or changes in target depths.

Keep the KOP as low as possible to reduce directional costs and on pumping oil wells to
reduce potential rod/casing wear. KOP must be selected in a competent formation.

Pick a KOP that has a competent enough formation that will allow the planned build rate to be
achieved.

On long or extended reach well profiles keep the KOP low to provide a larger vertical portion
for applying weight on bit but also keep the build rate low (less than 4 o/30m).

When planning a well that will use single shot survey equipment make sure at least two thirds
of the build section is completed before drilling into any problem zone. If it cannot be
accomplished use higher build rates or place KOP as low as possible in the problem zone an
insure a sufficient hold section after terminal angle is reached (100m).

In build sections of horizontal wells, plan a soft landing section (lower build rate) for casing
point if the required motor setting is greater than 1.8o or severe geological uncertainty exists
(target TVD changes greater than 2m).

Plan for a terminal angle of a minimum 15o since it is easier to hold inclination and direction.

Avoid high inclinations through severely faulted, dipping or sloughing formations.

On horizontal wells be sure to clearly identify any gas or water contact points and keep
sufficient clearance below or above to prevent breakthrough.

Turn rates in the lateral sections of horizontal wells should be kept at less than 8 o/30m,
especially if the proposed lateral length is long.

April 2002

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Chapter 4

Know what build rates are achievable for the motors being used in a specific hole size. The
following rates are for most standard motors.
311mm hole
- up to 10+ o/30m (motor with kick pad)
222mm hole
up to 14 o/30m
159mm hole
up to 25 o/30m
121mm hole
up to 35 o/30m

Keep subsequent sidetracks on horizontal legs at least 20m (60) apart.

Where possible dont start a sidetrack until at least 20m out from casing point.

Be sure to identify what profiles will require trips to set motor down before any rotation
should occur.

Assume a dogleg of approximately 14 o/30m will occur coming off a whipstock.

Identify all wells within 30m of proposed well path and conduct anti-collision check. On long
horizontal sections this should be extended to 100m away.

Where possible design a wellpath that will minimize the percentage of hole drilled in the
oriented mode. Typically the ROP of these sections are one half or less of the rotary ROP.

Torque And Drag


One of the most significant problems associated with extended reach or horizontal drilling is torque
and drag which is caused by the friction between the drill string and the hole. The magnitude of the
torque and drag is determined by the magnitude with which the pipe contacts the hole wall and the
friction coefficient between the wall and pipe. Figure 8-1 shows the forces associated with an object
on an incline. The weight component along the axis of the incline (w Sin) would be the force
required to move the object in a frictionless environment.

Forces on an inclined plane

April 2002

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Chapter 4

Unfortunately, friction is always present and will contribute to the force required to move the object.
The friction force is equal to the normal force times the friction coefficient. Therefore, the force
required to pull the pipe from the hole is:
T= -W Sin + WCos

Where:

T = Axial Tension
W = Buoyed Weight of Pipe
= Friction coefficient
= Angle of incline

The force required to push the pipe from the hole is:
T= -W Sin - WCos

The friction coefficient depends upon the type of drilling fluid in the wellbore and the roughness of the
wellbore walls. Cased hole should have a lower friction coefficient than open hole. Untreated water
based muds will have a higher friction coefficient than oil based muds. Friction coefficients have been
reported to range from 0.1 to 0.3 for oil based muds and 0.2 to 0.4 for water based muds. When hole
curvature is considered, an additional force is added to the normal force. Pipe placed in a curved
wellbore under tension will exert a force proportional to the tension and rate of curvature change.
Buckling of the drill string while tripping into the wellbore causes an additional drag force. The
critical buckling load is a function of the inclination, pipe size and radial clearance. Once the
compressive forces in the drill string exceed the critical buckling load, an additional normal force is
imposed on the drill string increasing the drag force in sections of the wellbore.
The torque in the drill string is determined by the normal force times the friction coefficient and is the
force resisting rotation of the drill string. The torque and drag will increase as the tension and dogleg
severity increases. In normal directional wells, the drag is the main concern but as depth, inclination,
build rate and length of hold section increase the torque can become a major concern. Torque will also
limit the tension capability of drill pipe when combined with tensile loads.
There are three main ways to reduce the drag in the well; 1) change friction coefficient by changing
mud system, 2) change the directional profile or 3) change the string weight or tension. Since the drag
is proportional to the coefficient of friction, finding a way to reduce this value by half will halve the
drag.
Changing the directional profile can have significant benefits but if youve already drilled a good
portion of the profile, wiper/reamer trips to smooth out any ledges or doglegs in the build section can
have significant benefit.
Replacing drill collars with hevi-weight or regular drill pipe can have a significant effect on reducing
the tension and normal forces thus drag.
There are excellent torque and drag models in the market that very accurately predict values for a
chosen wellpath. It must be remembered this is just a model and one of its better design uses is for
comparison of different profiles with all other factors the same. Another very helpful place to utilize
this tool, is while drilling horizontal wells. Large changes between predicted and actual drag values
can indicate the hole is not cleaning. These models are also used to effectively design the drill string
from the bottom of the well to surface.

April 2002

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Chapter 4

April 2002

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Chapter 4

Optional Topics

Spring 2002
Calgary

4/2002

Measurement While Drilling (MWD)


Telemetry systems:
Mud pulse
Positive pulse
Negative pulse
Standing wave pulsers

Electromagnetic

4/2002

Positive and Negative Pulse Valves

4/2002

Hydraulic Considerations
Keep the pump rate as high as possible for the
required flow rates
Mud pump pressure pulses at increased frequency
are filtered out by MWD surface gear
Make sure the pump liners are in good condition
Keep the pulsation dampeners fully charged
Maintain as constant weight on bit as possible,
particularly when drilling with mud motors
Mud additives should be mixed as uniformly as
possible
Avoid duplex mud pumps if possible
4/2002

Electromagnetic MWD
The electromagnetic wave travels (radially
(radially)) through the
formation to surface, guided along the electrically
conductive drill string
The electromagnetic lowlow-voltage signal is then detected,
amplified and decoded at surface
The low frequency of the electromagnetic wave is chosen to
optimize the data transmission rate while minimizing signal
attenuation and to give the longest possible transmission
range
Dry air or gas drilling provides results that are similar to a
non conductive mud
Nitrogen, air, or methane are excellent insulators therefore
adding a mist or foam to these gases will improve
transmission efficiency
4/2002

Directional Sensor Package


MWD tool directional sensor package
triaxial inclinometers
triaxial magnetometers

Measure hole inclination and hole direction


Drift
Azimuth

The triaxial inclinometer measures the 3


orthogonal axes components of the earth gravity
vector G
The triaxial magnetometer measures the three
orthogonal axes components of the earth magnetic
field vector H
4/2002

Tool Face
Tool face is an angular measurement of the orientation of
the BHA versus the top of the hole or magnetic north
Reference for tool face is usually the Scribe mark
mark on the
nonnon-magnetic drill collar
Computation for tool face angles are made from
magnetometers
Accuracy requirement
Tool face (typically +/+/- 1 to 2 degrees)
Azimuth (typically +1+1- 0.5 degrees)

4/2002

This page intentionally left blank.

OPTIONAL TOPICS
Measurement While Drilling (MWD)
Most commercial MWD Systems use mud pulse or electromagnetic telemetry to transmit survey data
during tool operation. In Mud Pulse the mud pressure in the drill string is modulated to carry
information in digital form. Pressure pulses are converted to electric voltages by a transducer installed
in the pump discharge circuit (standpipe). Then this information is decoded by the surface equipment.
Tool measurements (toolface, inclination, azimuth etc.) are digitized downhole and then the measured
values are transmitted to the surface as a series of zeroes and ones. The surface pulse decoders
recognize these as representations of tool measurements. Many variations on the signal decoding exist
and manufacturer should be contacted to determine their method, although this can be proprietary
information. The electromagnetic system is more complicated and will be discussed later but it
essentially it measures the voltage potential difference at surface, that is generated by the
electromagnetic waves sent from the tool through the formation to surface, into zeros and ones as well.
With mud pulse telemetry there are generally three main systems in common use today. The positive
pulse telemetry uses a flow restrictor which when activated increases the stand pipe pressure.
Negative pulse tools have a diverter valve that vents a small amount of mudflow to the annulus when
energized. This decreases standpipe pressure momentarily. The third method is by standing (or
continuous) wave pulsers that use baffled plates, which temporarily interrupt mud flow creating a
pressure wave in the standpipe. Changes in relative rotation speed of the plates changes the wave
phasing. These phase changes are identified aat surface and decoded.
Positive pulse telemetry creates pressure pulses with a poppet type flow restrictor or a rotatlng valve.
Unlike the negative system, flow is never interrupted. The system is much more tolerant of LCM and
mud solids than either of the others, making its downhole reliability very good. It is also the least
affected by pump and mud motor noise. The tool can have its valve gap modified if pulse heights are
insufficient, or if too much pressure drop occurs in the tool during valve closure. Because of the large
pulse amplitudes, positive pulse is generally thought to be the most reliable for decoding.

Figure 6-2 Schematic of positive and negative pulse valves

April 2002

Chapter 5

When the negative pulse system is activated, a diverter valve channels mud flow to the annulus,
decreasing standpipe pressure. The timing of these pulses is decoded into a series of ls and 0s,
effectively transmitting tool data. Advantages of the system include low power consumption, and ease
of decoding. The completeness of the valve opening/closing create very clean waveform - pulses
downhole. This tends to reduce effects of pump noise by making the pulser signal easier to decipher.
Negative pulse systems must maintain a pressure differential between the drill pipe and the annulus in
order to create a pressure drop when the diverter valve is opened. This may limit allowable jet or
nozzle selection at the bit. This is the main disadvantage of the negative pulse system.
All of these systems use surface transducers to record standpipe pressure. It is recommended to
provide a mounting device to allow the transducer to be vertically mounted above the mud flow
(threads down) to avoid mud solids settling out on the transducer element. This condition would
create decoding problems by reducing transducer efficiency.

HYDRAULIC CONSIDERATIONS
The drilling fluid system introduces noise during pump operation which can make MWD surface
equipment struggle to decode the tool signal from down-hole. MWD performance can be improved by
careful attention to the mud system.

Keep the pump rate as high as possible for the required flow rates. Mud pump pressure pulses at
increased pump frequency are filtered out by MWD surface gear. This reduces the effect of pump
noise on the MWD signal.

Make sure the pump liners are in good condition. Damaged liners cause so much noise they may
even have an identifiable signature on the surface pressure record. If the MWD engineer mentions
a bad liner signature - at least check it out.

Keep the pulsation dampeners fully charged. The ideal mud flow would be at constant pressure,
the only changes in system pressure being those of the MWD pulser. Properly charged dampeners
go a long way towards this ideal condition.

Maintain as constant weight on bit as possible, particularly when drilling with mud motors.
Changes in motor torque will themselves cause changes in standpipe pressure. By keeping these
to a minimum, reliability of signal decoding will be improved.

Mud additives should be mixed as uniformly as possible. Changes in viscosity and suspended
solids concentration can attenuate the MWD signal more than usual. Slugged additives can also
clog the tools.

Avoid duplex mud pumps if possible. Their noise is particularly difficult to filter.

The mud column is the mud pulse MWD tool communication line to the surface. Keeping this system
clean, uniform and as free as possible of induced noise can materially improve the quality of the
MWD job.

April 2002

Chapter 5

ELECTROMAGNETIC MWD
Directional surveying with the EM MWD tool has become a reliable and cost effective means for
surveying both directional and horizontal wells. Advances made over the past years have significantly
improved tool reliability when drilling in harsh underbalanced air/mist environments, and have also
overcome some of the earlier obstacles associated with operational depth. Additionally since the rig
pumps do not have to be cycled to receive a survey, the overall survey cycle time can be reduced and
can add up to a significant length of time on high ROP wells. The EM MWD is a viable and reliable
method to survey underbalanced wells where conventional mud pulse survey tools cannot work.
Geoservices began research into electromagnetic type transmission in 1982 with the first successful
field test achieved in 1983. Commercial operations commenced in 1984 when the technology was
applied to a pressure and temperature gauge and this was followed in 1987 by an MWD tool.
Electromagnetic telemetry consists of the injection and transmission of a low frequency
electromagnetic carrier wave into the ground. The phase of this carrier wave is specially modulated to
carry the raw directional and formation evaluation parameters. Electromagnetic transmission in an oil
well can be approximated to the way ordinary coaxial cable can act as a wave guide for signal
propagation. The casing string and drill string can be considered as the main coaxial cable conductor,
while the formations situated at infinity can be considered the shielding or external conductor.
Formations close to the wellbore, between the two conductors, can be considered as the insulation.
The electromagnetic wave travels (radially) through the formation to surface, guided along the
electrically conductive drill string. The electromagnetic low-voltage signal is then detected, amplified
and decoded at surface. The low frequency of the electromagnetic wave is chosen to optimize the data
transmission rate while minimizing signal attenuation and to give the longest possible transmission
range. Dry air or gas drilling provides results that are similar to a non conductive mud. Nitrogen, air,
or methane are excellent insulators therefore adding a mist or foam to these gases will improve
transmission efficiency.
One important consideration, when using the EM MWD, is the operational depth. The average depth
of operations today is 2315 m (7600 feet) TVD. The standard tool has been successfully run to 3750
m (12,300 feet) TVD, utilizing a single point of transmission. An extended cable and the latest
extended range EM MWD tools have extended this operational depth limit.
Since the dependence on drilling fluid properties is minimal all hydraulic concerns or pump issues can
be ignored with EM systems. They also have no moving parts which increases their reliability over
mud pulse systems.

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Chapter 5

DIRECTIONAL SENSOR PACKAGE


The directional sensor package of any MWD tool consists of a set of triaxial inclinometers and triaxial
magnetometers to measure respectively hole inclination (drift) and hole direction (azimuth). The
triaxial inclinometer measures the 3 orthogonal axes components of the earth gravity vector G. The
triaxial magnetometer measures the three orthogonal axes components of the earth magnetic field
vector H. The reference axes for measurements are usually as follows but each vendors tools can
have different reference convention.
Z axis along the tool axis and positive toward surface.
Y axis in a plane perpendicular to the tool axis and used as reference for angular tool face
measurements. Usually passing through the scribe mark of the collar (reference for angular tool face).
X axis orthogonal to both Y and X axis.
Both set of orthogonal axes for inclinometers and magnetometers are aligned between each others at
manufacturing and assembling. Nevertheless, these mechanical alignments are not 100% accurate and
a calibration (in town) of the sensor package must be performed by the MWD vendor. All sensors are
subject to drift, both in temperature and due to possible internal magnetic interference. All drill collar
materials must be non-magnetic to avoid drill string magnetism interference with magnetometer
measurements. The calibration process is best achieved in a controlled magnetic environment and
using roll test procedures which output correction coefficients which are entered into the software
for computation of inclination, azimuth and tool face. Incorrect entry of these coefficients have caused
large errors in surveying and could have catastrophic consequences. The same applies for local
magnetic declination entering to the surface system.

TOOL FACE
Tool face (TF) is an angular measurement of the orientation of the BHA versus the top of the hole
(gravity tool face) or magnetic north (magnetic tool face). Reference for tool face is usually the
Scribe mark on the non-magnetic drill collar. Computation for tool face angles are made from
magnetometers. Accuracy requirement for tool face (typically +/- 1 to 2 degrees is not at all the same
as the one for Azimuth (typically +1- 0.5 degrees).
None of the directional sensors in common use have any moving parts other than the pulser system
and they are all very reliable. Several vendors have retrievable systems which can be replaced without
pulling the drill pipe by using slickline.
All MWD sensors must be calibrated in special facilities free of magnetic interference. Correction
coefficients are entered by software in surface processing.

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Chapter 5

COMPASS & GRID CORRECTIONS


Magnetic survey tools do not reference to geographic north but to the earths north magnetic pole.
Since geographic and magnetic north differ an error is introduced in the survey called magnetic
declination. However these values are well known at most places on earth and are easily added to
survey calculations.
The grid correction is a survey error caused by differences in map orientation. Most maps are drafted
to have true north be vertical. Because the maps are on rectangular coordinates and the earth is
spherical, errors occur at various surface locations. These errors are not added to the raw data display
on MWD or any other type of survey, but are used in map plotting of the survey.
Finally, MWD tools have an internal correction caused by misalignment of the sensor with the drill
collar during assembly. It only affects toolface readings and is added in by the MWD engineer during
display set up. While the correction does not affect the drillers operation, be aware that it exists and is
a possible source of survey error if entered incorrectly.

POWER SUPPLIES
Tool power is supplied by battery, a downhole alternator or both. Batteries allow tool operation
without mud flow. However their energy is limited. This means that the operating time is limited, and
the sensor power output is limited. While not normally a problem on directional - only services, with
the addition of formation evaluation sensors, the problem becomes more obvious. In addition,
batteries have limitations in temperature. Alternators solve the energy limit problem but introduce
some of their own. Mud pumps must be above a drop-out minimum rate for them to work, the
turbines necessary to drive them can clog, and they limit the flow rate range in which an individual
tool can operate.
Alternator tools must be tailored for the pumping system in use on the rig. Turbine stages are
configured for the expected mud flow rates. Expected flow rates are important information to set up
the job with alternator tools. The drilling engineer should be sure the MWD vendor has this
information well before the job is to begin. The alternator tools have an internal over-voltage
protection device which stops the tools should the alternator output exceed its limit.

TRANSMISSION TRIGGER
All MWD tools have a signal mechanism to tell the tool to begin data transmission. In this way the
surface equipment will be synchronized with the downhole tools data pulses allowing decoding.

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SURFACE EQUIPMENT
The surface equipment performs the pressure pulse decoding and survey computations. All vendors
use an operator console which is electrically connected to the transducer and rig power, and a remote
drillers or rig floor display. The operators console has digital readouts for azimuth, inclination and
toolface.
The drillers dial, or rig floor display, has indicators for azimuth and inclination. They also have a
display for toolface orientation.

DATA TRANSMISSION FORMATS


MWD tool data are sent to the surface as a series of 0s and 1s. The pulse tools are programmed to
begin a data sequence with a distinct marker recognizable by the surface decoder. EM MWD tools
have a data on demand format. Data are then transmitted in order, with a certain number of 0s and 1s
representing a word or frame of information. Transmission formats are programmable at the surface
to send data in different styles. For example, toolface becomes very important while slide drilling
with a mud motor. Since an entire sequence may take 3 to 5 minutes to transmit, it would be wise to
use a format that sends several toolfaces per sequence, particularly during rapid drilling. Conversely,
for pore pressure detection, high rates of gamma ray and resistivity are needed. The tool programming
needs to be planned according to the objective of the bit run.
Tools often detect rotation by measuring the x and y (normal to tool axis) magnetic fields. If change
exceeds 240 degrees over a 10 second period, the tool switches to rotating mode. Rotating mode data
will be sent uphole if the tool is programmed to do so.
Synchronization of data bits is important! If the surface equipment loses communication with the
downhole tool for even a short time, whole timing sequences of data will be lost, as the surface
equipment cannot re-establish which bits represent which downhole data. A program has been written
into the tool logic to recognize these events and produce warning error codes.
Sometimes the existing rig hydraulics and necessary drilling program makes detection at higher data
rates difficult. Several of the MWD tools can be reprogrammed to transmit at lower speeds. While
this will increase the time between surface readings, it certainly is better than no surface readout at all!

MWD INFORMATION
In addition to the directional information todays MWD equipment also provides other information
depending upon the tool type and sophistication. New generation logging equipment is being
developed as we speak to reduce or eliminate the need for open hole logging. Although the cost of this
service can may be double the directional package the ability to get information quicker reducing the
time the hole is unsupported with casing can be invaluable. Unfortunately with this extra cost also
comes the increased lost-in-hole charges should the tools become stuck down hole.

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Chapter 5

GAMMA RAY
All MWD tools are capable of providing this service and this tool is frequently used while drilling
horizontal wells. The term commonly referred to is geosteering. The probe measures natural
gamma radiation and has a depth of investigation between 8 to 15 inches depending upon your trust in
the technology.
Recently two variations in this tool have been made available to the industry. One type is called
focussed gamma ray and the other is called dynamic oriented gamma ray and both are used to help
reduce geological uncertainty. The focussed tool uses a shielded gamma probe with a known
orientation to the high side of the motor. If the vendor is smart, the shield is oriented directly to high
side of the motor. The data can only be interpreted into high side or low side readings if the tool is not
rotating. By positioning the motor high side, a gamma reading of the high side of the hole can be
obtained. The tool is generally oriented and then dragged backwards to provide a section view of the
high side gamma readings. Unfortunately the drill string typically turns while being dragged
backwards so true high side readings may not be obtained. Using this information the geologist can
compare the gamma readings to other vertical logs and determine if he is still in the sand.
The dynamic oriented gamma ray tool has an accelerometer tied into the shield orientation so every
time a gamma count is taken the tool face is also recorded to determine what portion of the hole the
reading came from. This data is then stored into separate banks of high side and low side data that is
sent to surface so the changes in gamma counts on the high side and low side of the hole are known
while rotating. Static checks can be made similar to the focussed gamma ray tool. It is important to
remember that if you are slide drilling this data is only being collected from the high side of the motor
and not necessarily from the high side of the wellbore. The oriented gamma ray tool had excellent
success in horizontal wells and reduced the number of sidetracks required since they were able to stay
in the zone better. One project recorded an average of 2 sidetracks per lateral without the tool and
one sidetrack per 50 wells with the tool.

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Chapter 5

DOWNHOLE PRESSURE
Several companies have developed pressure gauges that read annular and drill pipe pressure. This is a
very important tool for underbalanced drilling and enables appropriate decisions to made while
drilling (see Planning and Underbalanced Horizontal Well).

TEMPERATURE SURVEYS
Temperature surveys are also taken from the inside of the drill string to monitor downhole circulating
temperatures. This is important to protect the MWD tools that have lower temperature limitations.
The main risk with high temperatures besides damaging the probes is a dangerous battery explosion
potential when the tools are brought back to surface.

OTHER SENSORS
Currently a limited number of logging while drilling tools (resistivity, density, neutron porosity and
acoustic porosity) are readily available. Also vibration, bending moment, torque, bit RPM and weight
on bit sensors are available on some products. Limited quantity and sizes are currently available for
these sensors and many are sensitive to the dogleg severity they are either slide or rotated through. In
this decade look for some remarkable changes in the available sensors of MWD and LWD equipment.

SPECFIC FEATURES OF THE COMPUTALOG MWD SYSTEM


The Computalog MWD system consists of s Secondary Acquisition Module (SAM) which controls
downhole data transmission, a Computalog Interface Display (CID), a Rig Floor Display (RFD) for
remote display of data, and a pulser which generates the signal. A personal computer is used by the
operator for configuration, displaying and logging of data.

The standard system provides drill string orientation and temperature information as measured
downhole by the SAM. The SAM is initially programmed through the CID at surface to operate in a
user specified mode downhole. This mode determines how and in what order the data will be acquired
from its own sensors and from other sub-assemblies (gamma ray).

The SAM is cued by a mud flow sensor to begin a transmission sequence; this consists of a
synchronization pulse followed by frames of data. The typical frame pattern consists of a long frame
containing survey data (typically 120 sec) followed by repeated short update frames (12 sec) of one or
more critical data items. All data is transmitted using a patented encryption algorithm which ensures
data integrity. The data transmission will shut down when the mud flow stops, or earlier, depending
on the mode of operation. Typical modes include survey, steering, raw, calculated etc.

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Chapter 5

On surface, pressure samples are digitally filtered and correlated to extract the average pressure, the
position of the synchronizing pulses and the position of the data pulses. Using a combinatory
algorithm, the pulse positions are decoded to yield the values in the exact format and resolution in
which they were transmitted.

MWD SURFACE SYSTEM


The MWD surface system consists of an interface display for data reception, a rig floor display for
remote display of data, a PC which logs the data and a printer. The mud signal is digitally filtered
within the interface display and five integrity checks are completed on all data. These checks enable
the system to recognize pulses of 9 psi amplitude in a system operating at 4300 psi. these filters are
programmable for various applications.
The data can be plotted on screen or on the plotter on an ongoing basis during MWD transmission.
The software also evaluates the data transmission to aid the operator for troubleshooting.
Rig sensors are easily installed and connect to one cable on the rig floor. This cable transmits sensor
information from the hazardous location to the interface display in the operations wellsite shack.
Additional readouts can be connected to provide data to other locations around the rig.

MWD DOWNHOLE COMPONENTS


The downhole components are housed in a non-magnetic drill collar. The MWD probe is bolted to the
pulser sub (in the case of the negative pulse system) and screwed into the top of the MWD NMDC or
bottom landed into a sleeve (positive pulse system). The gamma sensor for the positive pulse system
is at the top of the MWD NMDC whereas the on the negative pulse it is at the bottom.

April 2002

Chapter 5

SENSORS
The secondary acquisition module is a programmable microprocessor-based subsystem. It acts as a
master module downhole, sampling seven sensors, collecting and transmitting data from other
modules within the downhole assembly. Pulse format is generated and transmitted to the pulser for the
data transfer to surface. Data is collected from:

Three axis magnetometers and accelerometers

Calibrated temperature correction for sensors

Mud flow determination by sensor or switch

Generation of error bits for high temperature, magnetic anomaly and accelerometer failure.

The gamma ray sensor is a digital acquisition system utilizing a scintillation detector. It is field
programmable for sample time and rates (typically every 24 seconds) and stored in non-volatile
memory. As previously discussed a focused or dynamic oriented gamma ray options area available.

PROGRAMMABILITY
The operator can program the tool (on surface) for the parameters needed for a specific well. Some
programmable features include:
1. Data rate
2. Order in which data is sent to surface
3. Length of time in which sensors are sampled for acquiring data.
4. Angle at which tool changes from magnetic updates to gravitational updates
5. Type of data sent to surface (raw or calculated)
6. Threshold at which the magnetic anomaly or vibration flag is set
7. Which integrity checks are sent to surface after transmission of data
8. Resolution of rapid tool-face updates (normally 2.0 degree every 12 seconds)
9. Threshold for rotary mode. Tool-faces are not sent during rotary mode to conserve power
consumption

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Chapter 5

153 sec
Directional
and
gamma
raw data
232 sec

Pressure up
delay 45 sec

Directional
and
gamma
calc data
141 sec

Pressure up
delay 45 sec

Calculated
survey
Angle,
azimuth
48 sec

TF update
gamma ray
reading
24 sec

TF
update

TF
update

TF
update

Calculated
survey
Angle,
azimuth
48 sec
Static survey
Temp, angle, azimuth, TF
139 sec

TF update
12 sec

Directional
calc data

TF update
12 sec

Pressure up
delay 45 sec

232 sec

TF update
12 sec

Static survey
Temp, angle, azimuth, TF
139 sec

TF update
12 sec

Pressure up
delay 45 sec

TF update
12 sec

Directional
raw data

TF
update

TRANSMIT TIMES FOR VARIOUS MWD CONFIGURATIONS

TF update
gamma ray
reading
24 sec

TF update
gamma
ray
reading
24 sec

TF update
gamma ray
reading
24 sec

During the static survey continuous temperature, drift angle, azimuth and tool face updates are
provided by the tool.

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