You are on page 1of 9


PAPER 2004-020
New Drilling Optimization Technologies Make
Drilling More Efficient
Halliburton Sperry-Sun
This paper is to be presented at the Petroleum Society’s 5
Canadian International Petroleum Conference (55
Annual Technical
Meeting), Calgary, Alberta, Canada, June 8 – 10, 2004. Discussion of this paper is invited and may be presented at the meeting if
filed in writing with the technical program chairman prior to the conclusion of the meeting. This paper and any discussion filed will
be considered for publication in Petroleum Society journals. Publication rights are reserved. This is a pre-print and subject to

Drilling optimization is designed to reduce drilling trouble
time and optimize drilling practices through the use of critical
data interpretation based on a variety of downhole and surface
sensors and specialized applications. A recent study for drilling
in shallow water shelf in the Gulf of Mexico shows that trouble
time accounts for 25% of rig time. In dollar terms, it is about
U.S. $1.5 MM per well. Thus, a small reduction of trouble time
could result in tremendous cost saving for the industry. In
general, a comprehensive drilling optimization should include
solutions for: drillstring integrity (such as bit/BHA vibrations),
hydraulic management (such as ECD and hole cleaning), and
wellbore integrity (such as PP/FG and wellbore collapse
modeling). Over the past years, new technologies have made
significant progress in making drilling more efficient,
particularly in improving real-time decision making. The
process starts with real-time modeling, then proceeds to the
integration of the real-time modeling and data, and passes
finally to the real-time operation centers.
A case study on vibration prevention is presented to
illustrate the evolution of new technologies and their impacts to
the drilling industry.
Why Drilling Optimization?
Drilling costs are a critical factor in determining the financial
returns from an oil and gas investment. Their critical nature is
particularly true when operating costs are high and when
drilling problems may be likely to occur. Drilling optimization
is the key to reduce Non-Productive-Time (NPT) such as stuck
pipe, MWD/BHA failures, lost circulation, hole cleaning, and
wellbore stability, etc. NPT accounts for approximately 20% of
all rig time and can be much higher in difficult fields. A recent
NPT study
on drilling in shallow water shelf in the Gulf of
Mexico shows that NPT accounts for 25% of rig time. In dollar
terms, NPT is about $1.5 MM per well. Thus, a small reduction
of NPT could result in major cost saving for the E&P industry.

In addition to cost reduction, drilling optimization is also a
key factor in improving drilling efficiency and safety and in
protecting the environment. In some challenging drilling
environments (for example, when pore pressure and fracture
gradient are close), the wells cannot be drilled without drilling

For such reasons, therefore, over the last two decades, the
E&P industry has adopted many new technologies to enhance
drilling optimization. Notable are the use of computer-based
instrumentation and data acquisition systems, integrated rig site
systems and networks, and Measurement-While-Drilling and
Logging-While Drilling (MWD/LWD)
What is Drilling Optimization?
Drilling optimization is a process that employs downhole
and surface sensors, computer software, Measurement-While-
Drilling (MWD), and experienced expert personnel — all
dedicated to reduce trouble time and increase drilling efficiency.
Fig. 1 illustrates the traditional optimization process consisting
of: (i) pre-run modeling, (ii) real-time data measurement and
monitoring, and (iii) post-run analyses and knowledge
management. At the center of this process are the personnel
who are expert in these technologies and who can make
recommendations to avoid trouble and improve drilling

In general, a comprehensive drilling optimization should
include solutions for: 1. drillstring integrity, 2. hydraulics
management, and 3. wellbore integrity (see Fig. 2).
1. Drillstring Integrity
Drillsting integrity focuses on the prevention or reduction of
destructive downhole mechanical forces. The most important
issues are downhole vibrations (BHA/bit whirl, stick-slip and
bit bounce), BHA buckling, and torque and drag. The system
should include:
- MWD measurements: downhole using vibration
- Surface data logging
- Computer software: dynamics BHA modeling (for
critical rotary speeds), static BHA modeling, and
torque and drag modeling software
- Integrated rig site information systems
2. Hydraulics Management
Hydraulics management focuses on maintaining the
hydrostatic and dynamic, drilling mud pressures between
critical upper and lower operating limits and on optimizing hole
cleaning. The system includes:
- MWD measurements: downhole of annular and bore
- Surface data logging
- Computer software: hydraulics modeling and hole
cleaning modeling software
- Integrated rig-site information system
3. Wellbore Integrity
Wellbore integrity focuses on the determination of the upper
and lower circulating limits through the prediction of pore
pressure, borehole collapse pressure, and fracture pressure. The
system includes:

- MWD measurements: downhole annular and bore
pressure measurements
- LWD measurements: sonic, density, and resistivity
and perhaps new sensors such as Formation Testing
While Drilling (FTWD) sensors.
Also, LWD
imaging tools
, and Seismic While Drilling (SWD)
which have significantly improved the quality of the
optimization services.

- Surface data logging

- Computer software: pore pressure/fracture gradient
modeling, and wellbore stability modeling software

- Integrated rig-site information systems
New Drilling Optimization Technologies
New drilling optimization technologies emphasize
information management and real-time decision making. As
shown in Fig. 1, the traditional three-step optimization process
will not fit the real-time process and has had to be changed.
First, pre-run modeling needs to be changed to “real-time
modeling”. This change is required because the input
parameters for pre-run models have typically been out-dated
and incorrect. Thus, modeling results were often of little use for
real-time decision making.
Second, integrated real-time modeling and data are required
to allow detailed diagnoses on the downhole environment.
Third, a rig-to-office integration is best so the optimization
process can be monitored 24/7 by an asset team. These three
new technologies can be summarized as (1) real-time modeling,
(2) integrated real-time modeling and data, and (3) a Real-Time
Operation Center (RTOC).
1. Real-Time Modeling
Conventional modeling is usually run during well planning
to provide a set of predicted data. As drilling progresses, the
input parameters may change intentionally or unintentionally.
As a result, conventional, stand-alone computer software
requires constant manual updating to produce pertinent results.
Such a procedure, however, has proven to be impractical.
In contrast, real-time modeling is automatically updated
using “correct” input data, which is no doubt more accurate. In
addition, real-time modeling is always “on”, allowing
continuous monitoring to prevent drilling accidents. Real-time
modeling also allows integration with real-time data to enable
real-time decision making (see the next section).

To date, several real-time drilling optimization-related
modeling programs have been or are being developed by

- BHA dynamics
- Torque and drag
- Pore pressure/fracture gradient prediction
- Hydraulics
- Hole cleaning (in field testing)
- Wellbore stability (in field testing)
2. Integrated Real-Time Modeling and Data
Although real-time modeling produces better results than the
conventional, stand-alone modeling, the delivery of “useful”
information in a “useful” form and the diagnosis of a problem
requires an integration of modeling with downhole data. For
example, the integration of the following models and data is
always beneficial

- BHA dynamics model with downhole vibration data
- Pore pressure model with PWD and FTWD data
- Hydraulic model with PWD data
- Hole cleaning model with PWD and solids in mud
- Wellbore stability model with LWD imaging data

The first RTOC (Real-Time Operation Center)
was set-up
by Shell E&P in New Orleans in early 2002. Since then, several
other RTOCs for different operators have been developed
particularly for offshore rigs.

There are many reasons to set-up RTOCs. First, wells drilled
offshore are very expensive. They clearly require full attention
by the best staff available. Second, critical decisions are always
multidisciplinary; and multidisciplinary decision making with
expert staff is impractical to arrange at a rig. Third, a
permanent, common ground needs to be identified for office
and offshore staff throughout planning and execution; and
ROTCs readily satisfy this element. Lastly, full time (24/7) real-
time drilling optimization monitoring and information
management is required to avoid hazards; and 24/7 monitoring
available to key personnel is best done at an RTOC.

As a result, RTOCs should and do have a significant role in
drilling optimization. Real-time MWD data such as vibration,
PWD, etc. are commonly monitored 24/7 at RTOCs. Drilling
optimization specialists, usually the most experienced field
staff, will contact a senior drilling foreman to deviate the
drilling plan prior to an anticipated event. Intervention has been
shown to be one of the most important values facilitated by
Case Study - Vibration Prevention
1. Real-Time Vibration Modeling
In mid 1990’s Sperry-Sun developed a BHA dynamics
program, WHIRL™, for predicting critical rotary speeds. The
program consists of three parts: (i) a BHA static analysis using a
semi-analytical method to predict an upper boundary restraint,
(ii) a finite element based program to calculate the natural
frequencies, and (iii) proprietary methods to calculate critical
rotary speeds.

The WHIRL software has been upgraded to run in “real-
time” mode using the data supplied from mud logging and
MWD data. Conventional mud logging data used in the model
are BHA configuration, WOB, RPM, and mud weight. These
data can be obtained from an integrated surface system via
WITS (Wellsite Information Transfer Standard) transfer from
third party mud logging or via other digital rig monitoring
systems commonly employed by drilling contractors. MWD
data used for the modeling are hole inclination, DLS (Dogleg
Severity), and hole size (if the AcoustiCaliper is run). Fig. 5
shows the flow chart of the WHIRL program, and Fig. 6 shows
a display of real-time WHIRL information derived from the
MWD and surface drilling data.

To investigate the error that could occur from using incorrect
input data, a sensitivity study has been conducted for different
WOBs, inclinations and hole sizes. The BHA used for the study
is a steerable assembly with a near-bit stabilizer. The results
indicated, among other things, that critical rotary speeds are
particularly sensitive to WOB and inclination where small data
variations could result in sizeable errors. For example, changing
inclination from 1 to 3 degrees in the modeling would produce
an 18% error in critical RPM. Changing the WOB from 8 to 10
klbs would cause a 16% error in the critical RPM prediction.

2. MWD Vibration Data
Real-time downhole vibration data are supplied by Sperry-
Sun’s DDS (Drillstring Dynamics Sensor) developed in the
early 90’s
The DDS is located in existing MWD tools such as
the Gamma Ray sub (see Fig. 7). Three mutually orthogonal
accelerometers are used to measure three axes of accelerations:
X, Y, and Z. The X-axis is used to measure both lateral and
radial accelerations. The Y-axis is used to measure both lateral
and tangential accelerations, and the Z-axis is used to measure
axial accelerations.

The signal from each axis is conditioned using three different
methods: average, peak, and instantaneous (burst). The average
measurement range of 0 to 45 g’s represents the average
acceleration over the sampled period. The peak measurements
ranged from 0 to 200 g’s and represent the highest acceleration
which has occurred over the sampled period. The instantaneous
(burst) measurement records high frequency data for frequency

Using three different accelerations and measurements,
various modes of downhole dynamics (e.g. bit and BHA whirl,
bit bounce, stick-slip, etc.) can be detected using proprietary
methods. Indications of destructive vibration mode(s) are then
transmitted to the surface. A traffic light display is used to
indicate the vibration severity: green for low, yellow for
medium, red for high, and flashing red for severe.
Recommendations are made to correct the various modes of
downhole vibration that can be identified by the tool
3. Integrated Real-Time Vibration Modeling
and Data
The integration of the real-time modeling and downhole
vibration data is not possible without a rig site information
system such as the INSITE® rig information management
system software
. INSITE software is used to acquire mud
logging and downhole data, run the engineering software, and
process and display the data in real-time. The integrated
information is derived by “intelligent” combination of the
various data into useable information and is displayed in an
informative manner such as shown in Fig. 8. This information
may be viewed by any workstation on the network, which may
include locations such as the drilling office, rig floor,
geologist’s and company man’s workstations. Real-time
satellite or network links can make the displays available in the
operator’s shore based office as well. Fig. 9 shows the network
of the INSITE system that allows the rig information to be
shared in any place in the world.

The integrated, real-time vibration modeling and data system
discussed in this paper was first field tested in Gulf of Mexico

in 2002. Since the success of the field trials, it has been run in
more than 20 wells in Gulf of Mexico, East offshore Canada,
Norway, and the North Sea. One of the positive feedbacks
received from the customers is that the real-time integrity
system provides clear and pertinent information that has greatly
facilitated real-time decision making.
4. Integrated System at RTOC
The integrated vibration modeling and data system has been
further “integrated” with other systems at RTOCs and has
become an important drilling optimization service. The service
has been well received by customers and has been run 24/7.

Fig. 10 shows the integrated system running at Shell RTOC
in New Orleans.

Since the integrated system was installed at RTOCs in 2003,
no vibration related BHA or MWD failures have been reported
from the wells using the systems. Such a record demonstrates
that a real-time integrated system can significantly improve
drilling performance and efficiency. Because of its great
success, development of other integrated systems at RTOC has
been discussed.

Statistics shows that NPT(non-productive time) such as stuck
pipe, MWD/BHA failures, lost circulation, hole cleaning and
wellbore stability, etc., account for approximately 25% of rig
time and can be much higher in difficult-to-drill fields. Drilling
optimization appears as the key to reduce the NPT and therefore
drilling costs in the E&P industry.

A comprehensive drilling optimization should consider drill
string integrity, hydraulics management, and wellbore integrity.
The traditional drilling process consists of: (i) pre-run modeling,
(ii) real-time measurements, and (iii) post-well analyses and
knowledge management. New technologies have been
developed to integrate these three processes into one process on
a real-time basis. The goal of real-time integration has been to
assist real-time decision making to identify hazardous drilling
environments and to reduce NPT.

A case study about the prevention of drilling vibration has
illustrated the transformation of the traditional optimization
process into a real-time process. The results were very
encouraging. Since the installation of the system at a RTOC in
2003, no vibration related MWD and BHA failures have been
reported. Because of this success, development for other
integrated systems has been discussed.

New drilling optimization technologies like the real-time
modeling, integrated real-time modeling and data, and RTOC
discussed in this paper will continue to evolve to meet ever
challenging drilling conditions. These conditions include harder
rock, deeper water, deeper wells, higher temperatures and
pressures, and regimes where pore pressure and fracture
pressures are so close as to leave little room for a bad decision.
The author would like to thank Halliburton Energy Services
for support and for permission to publish this paper.


1. Dodson, J and Schmidt, V., ”Gulf of Mexico ‘Trouble
Time’ Creates Major Drilling Expenses” Offshore,
January 2004, pp. 46-48.
2. ”Harding Field: A North Sea Success Story”, six-article
series in the 1998 March, April, May, June, and July
issues of World Oil.
3. Mazzoni, R. et. al., ”Real-Time Pore and Fracture
Pressure Prediction with FEWD in the Nile Delta”,
SPE/IADC paper #37669 presented at the 1997
SPE/IADC Drilling Conference in Amsterdam
4. Robnett, E. W., et. al.,”Real-Time Downhole Drilling
Process Data Complement Surface Data in Drilling
Optimization”, SPE/IADC paper #77248 presented at
the 2002 SPE/IADC Asia Pacific Drilling (APDT)
Technology Conference in Jakarta, Indonesia.
5. Prortt, M., et. al.,”Formation Testing While Drilling, a
New Era in Formation Testing”, SPE paper #84087
presented at the 2003 SPE Technical Annual Conference
and Exhibition in Denver, Colorado.
6. Edwards, S. et. al.,”Imaging Unstable Wellbores While
Drilling”, SPE/IADC paper #79846 presented at the
2003 SPE/IADC Drilling Conference in Amsterdam.
7. Jakob, B. U., et. al.,”Optimizing the Well Construction
Process: Full-Waveform Data From While-Drilling
Seismic Measurements in the South Caspian Sea”,
SPE/IADC paper #79844 presented at the 2003
SPE/IADC Drilling Conference in Amsterdam.
8. Leendert-Jan, U. et. al., ”Real Time Operations Centers;
The People Aspects of Drilling Decision Making”, SPE
IADC paper #79893 presented at the 2003 SPE/IADC
Drilling Conference in Amsterdam.
9. Kaminski D. E., et. al., ”A New Data Integration and
Work Process System for Providing Online Real-Time
Drilling Collaboration”, SPE paper #78343 presented at
the SPE 13
European Petroleum Conference in
Aberdeen, Scotland, 2002.
10. Zannoni, S. A., et. al., ”Development and Field Testing
of a New Downhole MWD Drillstring Dynamics
Sensor”, SPE paper #26341 presented at the 1993 2003
SPE Technical Annual Conference and Exhibition in
Houston, Texas.
11. Dykstra, M. W., et. al.,”Drillstring Component Mass
Imbalance: A Major Source of Downhole Vibrations”,
SPE/IADC paper #29350 presented at the 1995
SPE/IADC Drilling Conference in Amsterdam.
12. Hudson, P., et. al.,”A New Model for Integrity in
Management Systems”, SPE paper #46694, presented at
the 1998 SPE International Conference on Health,
Safety and Environment in Oil and Gas Exploration and
Production in Caracas, Venezuela.
13. Chen, D. C-K., et. al.,”Integrated Drilling Dynamics
System Closes the Model-Measure-Optimize Loop in
Real Time”, SPE/IADC paper #79888 presented at the
2003 SPE/IADC Drilling Conference in Amsterdam.


Fig. 1. The center of a drilling optimization process is the personnel who can make recommendations
to avoid hazard and improve drilling practice. Traditional drilling optimization does these separately.
New technologies allow to do all three together on real-time.

Fig. 2. Contents of a comprehensive drilling optimization system.

and Monitoring
Pre - Run



Fig. 3. Picture 1 from RTOC showing the real-time data display in a 24/7 monitoring room.

Fig. 4. Picture 2 from RTOC showing 3D earth model being updated from real-time MWD/LWD


Fig. 6. Real-time WHIRL display shows the real-time input data and results. The program
automatically reruns every 30 sec to 3 mins (selected by the user) using the updated data. The main
screen shows the critical RPM (red lines) to be avoided and the operating rotary speed (yellow line).

Mud Logging Data
(WOB, RPM Mud Wt.)
MWD Data (Inc., DLS,
hole size, etc.)
Real-Time WHIRL Module:

(1) Static BHA analysis to calculate
the upper boundary condition.
(2) Finite element based program to
calculate the natural frequencies and
mode shapes
(3) Proprietary methods to calculate
the critical rotary speeds
Drillstring Data
Display input
data and the
current RPM
with the
Fig. 5 . Flow Chart of Real-Time WHIRL program.

Fig. 7. Real-time vibration data are supplied by the Drillstring Dynamics Sensor (DDS™) located at
the MWD tool like the Gamma Ray sub. Three accelerometers (X, Y, and Z) are used to measure
lateral, axial, and torsional vibrations.

Fig. 8. The display of the integrated drillstring dynamics system. The “intelligent” information is
derived from raw data and is displayed in an informative manner. It includes the real-time critical
RPMs vs. the operating RPM, the downhole vibration data (severity and mechanisms) with remedy
recommendations, and time and depth based vibration log.


Fig. 9. Layout of the integrated rig site information system such as the INSITE™ system. The INSITE
system can be used to link information between rig floor and offices outside the rig using Internet,
satellite, or direct connections.

Fig. 10. Integrated vibration modeling and data has been further “integrated” with other systems at
RTOC. The system has become an important part of drilling optimization at RTOC and has been well
received by the customers.