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IADC/SPE 81644

Using Fuzzy Logic for UBD Candidate Selection
Ali A. Garrouch and Haitham M.S. Labbabidi, Kuwait University
Copyright 2003, IADC/SPE Underbalanced Technology Conference and Exhibition
This paper was prepared for presentation at the IADC/SPE Underbalanced Technology
Conference and Exhibition held in Houston, Texas, U.S.A., 25–26 March 2003.
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paper was selected for presentation by an IADC/SPE Program Committee following review of
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This paper describes the development of an expert system
for deciding whether to drill underbalanced or overbalanced.
The expert system screens rock parameters that favor the
design of an effective underbalanced drilling program. Once
it is concluded that a particular reservoir presents a good
candidate for underbalanced drilling technology (UBD), a
screening procedure is then followed to select the optimal
UBD technique. The following list of underbalanced
techniques is considered in our expert system: liquid drilling
(flow drilling), dry air drilling, nitrogen drilling, mist
drilling, nitrified mud, aerated mud, and stiff foam drilling.
The system screening procedure is put in an interactive
advisor system that accounts for subsurface and surface
safety, minimum rock formation damage, and wellbore
stability. The expert uses a set of known facts and heuristics
to measure the reservoir susceptibility for damage caused by
clay swelling, fines migration, lost circulation and wellbore
A knowledge base development tool (Resolver) that
consists of various utilities for developing and maintaining the
rules, and implementing inference mechanisms was used in
developing the expert system for selecting a candidate UBD
technique. The principal attractive feature of ReSolver is that
it supports fuzzy logic among other confidence modes.
Membership functions were defined to assist the expert system
in making decisions when the decision variables fall in a “gray
area”. Membership functions were constructed for variables
such as lost circulation, clay swelling, fines migration, hard
drilling potentials, cost benefit, gas influx and water influx
potentials, fire potential, and stuck pipe potential. When the
final outcome consists of a set of drilling fluids rather than a
single one, these drilling fluids options were even screened
further by the expert system to assure that the UBD fluid
density is adequate within the pressure window. If the expert

system still recommends more than a single drilling fluid
option, a confidence level is given with each option.
Drilling underbalanced offers several benefits compared
to conventional drilling techniques. These include, increased
penetration rate and bit life, reduced probability of sticking the
drillstring downhole, minimized lost circulation, improved
formation evaluation, increased well productivity, and the
reduction of stimulation treatments. The extent to which it is
possible to achieve any of these benefits is generally controlled
by the properties of the target reservoir and the overlying
formations, and in some instances even by the specific
characteristics of the well being drilled. The need for a fuzzy
expert system that guides the user to optimally drill a well
underbalanced becomes evident when we consider the delicate
balance between the numerous coupled factors affecting the
success of this operation.
Recently, underbalanced drilling (UBD) has been used
with increasing frequency. The purpose of using UBD is to
minimize problems associated with invasive formation
damage which often greatly reduces the productivity of oil and
gas reservoirs.1 When properly designed and executed, UBD
minimizes problems associated with the invasion of particulate
matter into the formation as well as a number of other
problems such as adverse clay reactions, phase trapping,
organic and inorganic precipitation, and emulsification.2
These effects may be caused by the invasion of incompatible
mud filtrates in an overbalanced condition. Benefits of UBD
result from the reduction in drilling time, greater rates of
penetration, increased bit life, a rapid indication of productive
reservoir zones, and the potential for dynamic flow testing
while drilling. However, UBD is not a solution for all
formation damage problems. Indeed, damage caused by poorly
designed and/or executed UBD programs can exceed that
which may occur with a well-designed conventional
overbalanced drilling program. Potential downsides and
damage mechanisms associated with UBD include increased
cost and safety concerns, difficulty in maintaining a
continuously underbalanced condition, spontaneous imbibition
and countercurrent imbibition effects, glazing, mashing, and
mechanically induced wellbore damage.3
This study presents an expert system that can screen rock
parameters required to design an effective underbalanced
drilling program. Once it is concluded that a particular
reservoir presents a good candidate for UBD technology, the
system goes through another screening procedure to select

The flow of water into a well being drilled with dry air can cause problems that are significant enough to exc1ude dry air drilling. and rule-based modules. For this reason. downhole fires. prevent downhole fires. Other wellbore and reservoir characteristics are also considered. Evaluating rock potential for lost circulation. System Design Expert system framework The overall architecture of the expert system is depicted in Figs. Hard drilling conditions are experienced when drilling through dense formations with low permeability and low porosity. 1. and Illite. The principal limitation on the use of nitrogen for drilling operations is its cost. The planned diameter of the wellbore. and still maintain acceptable hole cleaning efficiency. Garrouch and Haitham M. Assessing rock potential for formation damage such as clay swelling. and assure wellbore stability.5 The opinion about hard drilling likelihood is also provided by the user as a value between zero and one. Stiff foams tend to be more stable than unstiffened foams. we take nitrified mud. it is possible to drill while having even lower annular velocities. Drilling fluids selection In designing the decision trees shown in Figs. and wellbore instability. c. Drilling fluids are in general selected according to their ability to clean the well.S.7 Stiff foams can give better wellbore stability through poorly consolidated formations than other lightened drilling fluids. The planned wellbore geometry. account for lost circulation possibilities. they are more resistant to the gravity segregation that can lead to downhole combustion in long. Chlorite. As a consequence. including unstiffened foams.6 This makes stiff foams suitable for drilling large diameter holes. This means that high-viscosity drilling fluids such as stiffened foams can become more attractive as the hole diameter increases. mathematical modeling. For instance. f. Since stiff foams tend to be used at higher qualities. c. and Vermiculite. In screening wells for UBD.5 inches and larger7 with anticipated water influx. Assessing the well potential for stuck pipe. 2 and 3. Assessing rock potential for hard drilling. This removes the potential of downhole fires. Assessing the potential for downhole fire occurrence. An increase in penetration rates of up to ten-fold has been reported in these formations when drilling underbalanced. the efficiency of cuttings transport is in general at its lowest close to the top of the bottom-hole-assembly because of low annular-velocities. Evaluating the potential for penetrating water producing zones. Clay swelling takes place particularly when drilling with fresh mud in the presence of some clays such as Montmorillonite. Fines migration. The main limitations of dry air drilling consist of water inflow. b. Assessing the potential for sour gas production. Labbabidi optimal UBD fluids. These include: a. These are fines migration and clay swelling. The expert performs two consecutive tasks. Gas inflows can pose a problem for stiffened foams. Assessing the potential for natural gas production. The first one consists of analyzing geomechanical and petrophysical data to determine whether a particular well is a potential UBD candidate or not. the candidate UBD technique is selected according to the rules derived from the decision-trees summarized in Figs.4 A stable rock is defined in our analysis as a rock that can sustain a drilling fluid density less than the pore fluid density without collapse. In our study. stiff foams are preferred over unstiffened foams in our design. stiffened foams are the preferred fluids for drilling holes with diameters of 17. or aerated mud as an alternative. Once it has been determined that a particular well is a potential UBD candidate.. In foam drilling. These include: a. there is more chance for the foam structure to collapse downhole in the presence of gas influx. These screening procedures assess formation damage potential. d. and ability to carry produced fluids to the surface. the IADC/SPE 81644 following considerations were taken into account. We have accounted for two types of formation damage associated with drilling operations. and minimizes serious problems such as lost circulation and formation damage. where the gas injection rates required for other lightened drilling fluids may not be economically feasible. vertical or horizontal trajectory. 1. The use of dry air has been limited to vertical wellbores that are small in diameter with no sour gas. a controlling factor is the minimum drilling density at which the wellbore integrity is maintained.e. The ability of clays to cause permeability impairment in a reservoir has been . occurs in the presence of a variety of clay types such as Montmorillonite. Other wellbore and fluid specifics are then considered. e.2 Ali A. i. and fines migration. d. the expert continues with the second task which consists of screening the most suitable UBD technique. 1 through 3. The decision tree for this task is presented in Fig. the user is left to decide the mud makeup that best fits particular rock properties. the annular velocity of the collapsed foam will be too low for efficient cuttings transport. b. Assessing rock potential for impairment Formation impairment is the term used to denote reduction in the permeability of the porous medium being drilled. 2 and 3.7 Nitrogen is used for the same conditions suitable for air. especially under highly overbalanced conditions. Since the effective viscosity of a stiff foam is higher than that of an unstiffened foam. but no significant gas influx. Kaolonite. and with no downhole fires anticipated. The major advantage over air is that mixtures of nitrogen and hydrocarbon gases are not flammable. Once these questions are answered through inherent information from offset wells. In case the UBD option was not selected. Circulating nitrogen lifts cuttings and liquid inflows the same way that air does. Under these circumstances. horizontal sections.

Similarly. These losses can occur in unconsolidated or highly permeable formations. and their distribution correction factors. pending on the user judgment. Table 3 gives a summary of extreme cases studied with known lost circulation outcomes. or by their release and migration as fines in the porous medium.ISi . Use fuzzy logic to decide on lost circulation severity. calculated as follows: SI = ∑ f i . in which goal-driven rules were automatically tested to see if there were another rule in the knowledge base that would supply necessary information. its origin (authigenic or detrial). and φ is a fraction. Clays can cause impairment by swelling. The principal attractive feature of ReSolver is that it supports fuzzy logic among other confidence modes. only displaying options that are valid at that time. We. rules established by Vitthal et al. Assessing lost circulation potential Lost circulation is defined as the partial or tota1 loss of drilling fluids to the formation being penetrated. therefore. the presence of vugs is assigned an index (VI) that takes the value of 10 for vuggy rocks. we assume that the user has a quantitative estimates of both permeability (k) and porosity (φ). each clay index is multiplied by its corresponding weight coefficient and its volume fraction. The following paragraph presents the methodology used for implementing fuzzy logic into the expert system. To determine the potential permeability impairment caused by clay swelling and fines migration. 2. Based on these results. and implementing inference mechanisms. The potential for permeability impairment in a reservoir depends. and Thin-Section analysis. and 3.4  10   10  Here.IFi . and the value of one for unfractured formations. LCI < 0. the lost circulation index (LCI). The finesmigration potential (in percent) is given by F PF = 100 I 10 (4) The two indices PF and Ps vary between 0% and 100% and are equivalent to probability values for the occurrence of fines migration and clay swelling events. The indices are assigned to each clay on the basis of its distribution in the rock. formulate the lost circulation index as follows:  k   φ   FI   VI  LCI =  (5)  4000   0. volume fractions. respectively. Tables 1 and 2 present a summary of the damage indices for various clay types. ReSolver (previously known as Exsys) is a knowledge base development tool that consists of various utilities for developing and maintaining the rules. on the clay's morphology.IADC/SPE 81644 Using Fuzzy Logic for UBD Candidate Selection determined by Vitthal et al. is defined in our study as the product of the likelihood of the independent occurrence of these events. Extracted knowledge was then arranged in hierarchical (tree) forms as shown in Figs. The severity of these losses varies from minor seepage losses to a complete loss of returns. refined and structured so that it could be used by the reasoning process. its volume fraction. The overall damage potential is the sum of these products. therefore.1 % ≤ LCI < 5% Have some loss. this was built up progressively through a series of consultation sessions between the expert and the artificial intelligence specialist. The LCI index is calculated based on a maximum permeability value of 4000 md encountered in oil and gas fields. and when the pressure applied by the mud column exceeds formation pore pressure. presence of vugs and fractures are considered in this analysis to be independent events. the knowledge engineer. porosity. The main inference mechanism adopted for this work was backward chaining. it is assumed that the clay types. the following guidelines are considered by the expert system: LCI ≥ 5% Have severe lost circulation problems. In this work. in naturally fractured formations.CSi (1) The swelling potential (in percent) is given by S Ps = 100 I 10 (2) Similarly. Such information on clays is obtained from SEM photomicrographs. The presence of fractures is assigned an index (FI) that takes the value of 10 for highly fractured formations. and in cavernous formations.8 for estimating potential for clay swelling and fines migration are used. the overall fines-migration index is given by FI = ∑ f i . To calculate the overall damage potential of the rock. which is the resultant effect of these four variables. 1.CFi (3) Here fi is the volume fraction of the particular clay. Discussion System implementation ReSolver9 was used in developing the expert system for selecting a candidate UBD technique.8 It has been widely known that a variety of clays are sensitive to changes in the fluid pH and to the concentration of certain ions. The next step before converting the elicited knowledge to the IF- . and the clay's accessibility to invading fluids. and a maximum porosity value of 40%. all menus being context-dependent. Two damage indices are particularly used to estimate the potential reduction to rock permeability as a result of clay swelling (swelling index) and fines migration (fines-migration index). The geological events that resulted in the makeup of the rock petrographic properties such as permeability. A number between 1 and 10 for both indices may be selected. therefore. In practice.1 % No lost circulation problems encountered. k is in md. or formations with induced fractures. The overall swelling index is. and distribution are known. It occurs when natural. As a consequence. 0. The first stage in constructing the current expert system was knowledge acquisition in which domain knowledge was extracted. or induced formation openings are large enough to allow mud to pass through. The expert system is menudriven. To determine the lost circulation potential. and its composition. and a qualitative petrographic description of the reservoir being drilled such as the presence of natural or 3 induced fractures and the presence of vugs. and the value of one for rocks that do not display any vugs.

Due to this underbalanced condition. and with an azimuth angle with respect to north of 35 degrees. During this process uncertainties associated with variables and rules are . If the ratio of pore fluid density to the minimum drilling fluid density. These variables are used in deciding the type of drilling fluid. After cleaning the well. a stabilized gas production rate of 42 MMscf/day was obtained. Pressure restoration tests showed skin factors between 60 and 100. Since natural gas was produced from the reservoir itself. The Arun field has been producing a slightly sour gas/condensate blend since 1978 with a current pore pressure of 930 psi corresponding to an equivalent density of 1.10 Even though the formation was highly depleted with 4. Garrouch and Haitham M. is displayed in Fig.4 System testing The expert performance is tested here with a couple of field cases. clay swelling. Based on this data. Similar membership functions were defined for the potentials of fire.10 Although the reservoir was 8 feet thick.S. 2 and 3.4 A horizontal well was decided to be drilled in a thin sandstone layer. An average rate of penetration of 20 ft/hr was attained while drilling this horizontal section. This effect reduced the productivity of these wells drilled overbalanced. with an azimuth angle with respect to the maximum horizontal stress axis of 270 degrees. with a confidence level of 100%. Membership functions were defined to assist the expert system in making decisions when the decision variables fall in a "gray area". in Acema-200 field in Eastern Venezuela.trees shown in Figs. an average permeability value of 700 md for this field which is known to be highly fractured and vuggy. cost benefit and stuck pipe potential. This is 7 times higher than previous penetration rates experienced while drilling horizontal sections in the same sand using conventional IADC/SPE 81644 drilling techniques. and hole cleaning was adequate since no stuck pipe situations were reported. Using the geomechanical data for this field4 . In case UBD options were selected. a 5 7/8" hole was maintained inside the proposed window of this long horizontal section without leaving the sand. This rate was twice the predicted rate.067 ft horizontal section in the R3 sandstone of a well that is 11765 ft deep in the Oficina formation. 4 displays a snap-shot of the stuck-pipe membership function as used by the expert system. lost circulation was not detected. Another type of membership functions was built such that the user is allowed to use his/her own judgment in specifying the likelihood of hard drilling. and with an azimuth angle with respect to north of 90 degrees. Labbabidi THEN format was to formulate the fuzzy model that would be used in the reasoning process. the operator considered injecting nitrified brine. This well also yielded a condensation rate of 57 bbls per MMscf of gas which was the highest rate reported in this field.2 ppg. and the linguistic terms and membership functions for each of these variables were then formulated. The rock stability variable is allowed crisp (Yes/No) values. For flexibility. the user is given the option to bypass the lost circulation calculations and enter the likelihood of this event. The decision variables were first selected.balanced drilling technique increased considerably the rate of penetration and the effective bit life. A comprehensive geomechanical study was performed to estimate the principal stresses magnitude and directions. The injection of gasified brine resulted in a bottom hole pressure of 925 psi which is little less than the pore pressure value of 930 psi. The minimum fluid density to prevent collapse is calculated using an advanced geomechanical model. required to prevent collapse. No wellbore instability problems were reported. Significant formation damage has therefore resulted as a consequence of mud invasion. hard drilling potentials. A snap-shot of the expert-system results.4 ppg. the produced fluids contain 15% CO2. implying severe formation damage. conventional overbalanced drilling in this reservoir resulted in large fluid losses. we obtained a lost circulation index value of approximately 11 % which implied severe lost circulation. Fig. Membership functions were defined for variables such as lost circulation. In addition.4 The lost circulation index is fuzzified using two linguistic terms "severe" and "not severe". regarding UBD/no UBD options. The expert system responses were systematically consistent with the final decisions shown in Fig.4 Ali A. 1. Decisions made by the expert system are the results of an inference process. for a particular case. Presented with this information. Only two Polycrystalline Diamond bits were used to drill the whole section in a sand known for its high abrasivity and high unconfined compressive strength. Indeed. and the inability to achieve desired horizontal length. The application of this near. This horizontal section was ultimately drilled with nitrified mud with a density of 4. or gasified brine. 2 and 3. In agreement with the expert-system decision. and sour gas production. only one trip was needed compared to eight trips needed in the past. and water. 5. It is important to clarify the meaning of the confidence levels and how they may be used in analyzing the outcomes of the expert system. The first one is the drilling of a 1. Productivity of vertical and directional wells in this reservoir was low. Using an average porosity value of 25%.000 ft in the Arun field in Indonesia11 with an azimuth angle with respect to the maximum horizontal stress axis of 90 degrees. otherwise the rock is considered unstable.0 ppg pore fluid density. The second field case consists of drilling a 1000 ft horizontal section in a fractured and vuggy limestone reservoir at a depth of 10. compressive strength.4 The expert system was provided with this data and recommended the use of nitrified mud. is greater than one. 1. Clay swelling and fines migration indices were fuzzified using the linguistic terms "significant' and "insignificant'. or stuck pipe. the expert system recommended the use of "nitrified mud" with a confidence level of 100%. water and gas influx.8 ppg. it was used instead because of its abundance only. it contained large volumes of recoverable oil. We have tested the expert system with a number of hypothetical cases. increased risk of pipe sticking caused by inefficient hole cleaning. the stability model predicted a collapse density of 1. the rock is considered stable. These cases were generated by exploring the combinations of all branches of the decision. This is probably due to the elimination of formation damage caused by the underbalanced conditions. the expert system resumed the reasoning process to conclude the drilling fluid options following the paths of the decision trees shown in Figs. fines migration.3 ppg. cost benefit. Poisson's ratio and the MohrCoulomb failure envelope parameters. the stability model resulted in a collapse density of 1.

. and Shanna. October 27-28. R. and for making a preliminary selection of adequate UBD fluids. 621-626. and Formation Damage in Reservoir Rocks. The expert system decision for these cases comes as a drilling fluid option associated with a confidence level. Report No. C.. 1. Brand. the system reasoning leads to the best decision.: “Underbalanced Drilling Manual. P. Wooten.C. Vitthal.M. F. 11. Amsterdam.E. R. E. 2..C. The Netherlands.e. February 23-25. 9. Hence.V.” Gas Research Institute (1997). The Hague.S. H. S.: “Underbalanced Drilling: Praises and Perils. Vieira. Morphology.W. No. McGowen. 31. The Hague.F. D. . 2.” SPE Formation Evaluation (December 1989). Gupta. Curry. The Netherlands. D. McLennan. : 1993.. This reasoning procedure is put in an interactive advisor system that accounts for rock formation damage. D. Decisions in our analysis are ranked according to their confidence level. Once it is concluded that a particular reservoir presents a good candidate for underbalanced drilling technology (UBD). R.” SPE Drilling & Completion (1999). P. and wellbore stability.. Baldwin. Rudhal1. A.. Russel. 23-39. We developed a lost circulation index that was adopted by the expert system to study the rock potential for fluid losses.S. Jiao.IADC/SPE 81644 Using Fuzzy Logic for UBD Candidate Selection accumulated to yield the final confidence assigned to the reasoning outcome. Blanco.. G. R.. Negrao. C.: “Mud-Induced Formation Damage in Fractured Reservoirs. A. October 27-28. Carden. Bennion..: “A Rule-Based System for Estimating Clay Distribution.” SPE Drilling & Completion (1996).” Presented at the 1999 IADC Underbalanced Drilling Conference. 1. and so forth. The expert system features the use of fuzzy logic which is implemented to handle the concept of partial truth associated with some of the rules. 3. No... Houston.. Celis. second best decision. D. 11-16.. Hence.” IADC Underbalanced Drilling Conference.B. Texas. Thomas. and Diaz....” Journal of Petroleum Sciences & Engineering (2001). B.A. G. and Cunha. MultiLogic. 11. i. As a consequence.: ReSolver: User Manual (1997). The expert system screens rock parameters required to design an effective underbalanced or overbalanced drilling program. A. References 1.M.. P.. M. D. 109-114.. 4.” paper SPE/IADC 25766 presented at the 1993 SPE/IADC Drilling Conference. 10. Stone. 4. 2000. August 28-29. Wyman. 8. The Netherlands.: “Development of 5 An Expert System for Underbalanced Drilling Using Fuzzy Logic. confidence levels are specific to the decisions and do not add up to 100%.. 6. J.. H. “How Surface Hole Drilling Was Improved 65 Percent.M.: “An Overview of Air/Gas/Foam Drilling in Brazil. and Orb ell. Inc. and Shanna. Illinois. 214.: “Application of Near Balanced Drilling Technology in Eastern Venezuela. a reasoning procedure is then followed to select optimal UBD techniques.A. Bietz. a confidence level of 63% means that the ambiguity and vagueness in deriving this decision is 37%. Chicago. and Lababidi. 7. M. this expert system enables the user to decide on an infinite number of cases that may be ambiguous for a human expert. Frink.” Presented at the 1999 IADC Underbalanced Drilling Conference. and Bennion. A. A. Lage.F. Conclusions This paper presents the development of an expert system for deciding whether to drill underbalanced or overbalanced. M. 14. Acknowledgments The authors wish to thank Kuwait University for funding project EP 03/00. and Medley. Garrouch. GRI-97/0236.. J. 5.: “A Case Study: Drilling underbalanced in Mobil Indonesia's Arun field.. 13.B.” SPE Drilling & Completion (1998). No. “Applicability of Underbalanced Drilling to Multilateral Junctions. No.221. J.

1989). Garrouch and Haitham M. φ FI VI LCI (%) 4000 0.Distribution correction factors (Vitthal et al . Clay Component Swelling Index (IS) Fine-Migration Index Montmorillonite 10 10 Chlorite 1 6 Kaolinite 1 6 Illite 2 8 Vermiculite 5 2 Table 2.25 some loss 200 0. Clay Distribution Swelling factor (CS) Fine-Migration factor Pore Lining 1.5 1..0 (CF) 0.0 Discrete particles 0.S.2 1 1 0.0 Table 3.5 0.0 0.General lost circulation case studies. Labbabidi IADC/SPE 81644 Table 1.4 10 1 10 severe loss 100 0.2 10 1 0.7 Pore filling 1.9 Thin lenses 0..0125 no loss 200 0.0 Pore Bridging 0.6 Ali A.3 1 1 0.0375 no loss k (md) Outcome . 1989).Damage indices for pure clays (Vitthal et al .4 10 10 100 severe loss 4000 0.0 1.

1. .Decision tree for underbalanced candidate selection.IADC/SPE 81644 NO Using Fuzzy Logic for UBD Candidate Selection S ta ble Rock Anticipa te d NO NO UBD 7 YES Los t Circula tion YES Re s e rvoir Da m a ge S tuck P ipe YES NO YES UBD NO Ha rd Drilling YES Cos t Be ne fits YES UBD NO NO NO UBD NO UBD Fig.

Drilling fluid selection tree for vertical wells.Ae ra te d mud .8 Ali A.S tiff Foa m 2. 1. Labbabidi IADC/SPE 81644 Ve rtica l We ll S ma ll Hole YES Wa te r Influx NO NO NO NO FIRE H2 S Ga s YES YES YES YES Ga s NO 1.Nitroge n 2.S. 2.Ae ra te d Mud NO Nutrifie d Mud Fig.Nitrifie d mud YES Nutrifie d Mud 1.Dry Air 2.Mist 3. Garrouch and Haitham M.

IADC/SPE 81644 Using Fuzzy Logic for UBD Candidate Selection Fig. 9 . 3.Drilling fluid selection tree for horizontal wells.

A snap-shot of the expert-system results. 4. Labbabidi Fig. Fig.10 Ali A.A snap-shot of the stuck-pipe membership function as built into the expert system. Garrouch and Haitham M.S. IADC/SPE 81644 . 5.