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Expanding the Operating Envelope of Open-hole Memory Logging

Introduction

‘Between wireline and LWD is a grey area we don’t know much about.’ This far from uncommon
reaction to logging conveyance methods is in part due to the great diversity that have been developed
thus far this century. Nor is a great deal of light thrown on the subject by the literature, it remains a
much neglected area. Yet several thousand wells have been memory logged with open hole (OH)
‘wireline’ tools, and all of the major service companies have embraced these types of services.

In the past the choice was arguably clear-cut, even stark: acquire data post-drilling, keeping it as cost-
conscious and time-efficient as possible, with a pass on wireline; or commit to the expense of Logging
While Drilling (LWD) but justify it by reaping the benefits. The scales of the balance are tipped with
well deviation, because wireline rapidly runs out of gravity above 50º deviation and only devotees of
Pipe Conveyed Logging (PCL) would claim it was a popular option. Previously most well geometries
and conditions that have prevented the straightforward acquisition of logs by wireline have resulted in
no log data. The unprecedented rise in the number of horizontal wells being drilled over the last
fifteen years, along with recognition of the value of logs in horizontal wells, such as enabling
optimised stimulation plans, puts the alternatives centre stage (fig. 1).

Figure 1 A spread of conveyance options, but what about the probability of reaching TD?
All conveyance methods have their strengths and weaknesses, and all have made great advances.
Wireline breaking strains, approximately 8 tonnes for 7/16” wireline commonplace a few years ago,
have more than doubled. Tractors have been gaining traction in the cased hole market and are
venturing into the much more difficult open hole environment. Coiled tubing provides some good OH
memory conveyance opportunities, where it is used. Drillpipe conveyance offers the highest

78th EAGE Conference & Exhibition 2016
Vienna, Austria, 30 May – 2 June 2016
probability of reaching Total Depth (TD), and without wireline is well suited to Managed Pressure
Drilling. The most appropriate choice for the well is a decision that requires a good understanding of
the data requirements (geologist), well conditions (driller) and the conveyance methods (service
companies).

Memory logging, at its most mature, takes OH wireline tools that are fully characterized and have
been run on hundreds of thousands of wells, and replaces the wireline. This requires a battery as a
power supply and a memory sub to record data against time and to act as the logging robot, being
capable of issuing caliper open commands etc. It also requires a conveyance method. The focus of this
discussion falls on the memory logging methods known as Drop-Off and Garaged.

Methods
In the drop-off method, the Bottom Hole Assembly (BHA) contains a landing ring sub, typically of
reduced Internal Diameter (ID). Below this can be run a mule shoe, reamer shoe or open-ended bit.
The drillstring is tripped into hole and can be used to ream or work its way to TD. After circulation,
the drillstring is pulled back a short interval off bottom. The memory tools are rigged-up into the top
of the drillstring and are then run through drillpipe on slick line or wireline, and pumped through
high-angle sections, to arrive at the no-go landing ring sub which acts as the hang-off point for the
toolstring. The tools come to a halt with the measurement tools all in open hole and the top of the
toolstring retained in the BHA pre-fished. The tools are released, or dropped-off from the line and this
is pulled out of the pipe. Now the drillpipe can be pulled steadily out of hole whilst data are time-
logged to memory. At surface the drawworks and hookload are recorded to make a drillers depth
timelog, and when the tools are recovered the two timelogs (depth and log data) can be time-matched
to make the depth log. At any time the tools can be retrieved with the line. This method uses the
drillstring as a conduit, so that the tools are effectively conveyed in cased hole and log in open hole.
However the tools must be smaller in diameter than the drillpipe connections.

The garaged method makes the tools up inside the BHA before it is run in hole. Therefore the
drillstring cannot be used for reaming, but tools of larger diameter can be run because the BHA need
not be of the same tubular as the regular stands. For example an eight-pad 176-electrode resistivity
imager can give 100% coverage in a 6” well and still be conveyed safely garaged in a 5” Outside
Diameter (OD) washpipe (fig. 2). After circulation at TD, the drillstring is pulled back the required
space-out and a release commanded by dart or pressure pulse communications to unlatch the tools.
These slide out of the BHA garage so that the measurements are in open hole and the top of the
toolstring is retained in a landing ring, thereby arriving at the same situation as with the drop-off
method. The pipe is tripped out and data acquired. Garages as small as 3.5” OD, for 4⅛” bit size, are
used.

Figure 2 Imager (arms still closed) emerging from a 5” OD garage
These techniques, foremost among others, have been very successful and have sometimes proved to
be the only solution for many horizontal, small diameter and problem wells.

78th EAGE Conference & Exhibition 2016
Vienna, Austria, 30 May – 2 June 2016
Eye of the Needle
Memory logging has made considerable progress with technical and operational innovations and
pushed the boundaries of what can be achieved without a wire. However the challenges of drillstring
conveyance are also on the rise due to contemporaneous reductions in bit size, and increase in
drillstring torque ratings that together reduce Inside Diameter (ID); as well as the demand for further
data, such as from resistivity imagers that are of larger Outside Diameter (OD).

As described, drillpipe conveyed memory logging methods provide a highly reliable path to TD, the
principal difference between the two, and between logging and ‘no log’, being the tool diameters that
can be conveyed. A drop-off memory toolstring requires a larger diameter landing ring around it, to
engage in the BHA as the male part of the no-go. This makes the tool larger, and the required drift
size larger too (fig. 3).

Figure 3 Inside and Outside Diameters (IDs & ODs) with increasing make-up torque, example 2.25”
OD tools with a landing ring are ‘pinched’ in some 4” FH and XT-39 drillpipe
To keep the tool OD to a minimum, a retracting ring (fig. 4) was introduced in 2014. This allows the
tools to stay as skinny as possible running through drillpipe, and to open up at the landing ring sub to
secure the toolstring. A positioning sub was included, with PIP tags, to accurately control the opening
depth. To this has been added a cablehead anchor (fig. 4), to halt the tools in the drillstring in the
event of them being accidentally pumped off the end of the wireline.

78th EAGE Conference & Exhibition 2016
Vienna, Austria, 30 May – 2 June 2016
Figure 4 A motored ‘retracting ring’ shown closed and open; and an open spring-loaded anchor
The retracting ring permits a range of tools to be run when, say poor-drifting 4” Full Hole drillpipe
would have frustrated an attempt. During the course of 2015, nine operations were successfully
conveyed by this method for Paramount Resources Ltd in Canada. The 4” FH heavyweight drillpipe
(HWDP) gave a tight clearance on a fixed landing ring and so the retracting ring was employed. The
jobs had maximum deviations of 80-90º and depths in the approximate range of 2500- 4500m MD.
All conveyance options are being advanced to make them more capable, more efficient and more
reliable. The envelope is being pushed in terms of temperature, pressure, measurements and coverage,
proper orientation and centralisation, maximum dog-leg severity, minimum bit size, tolerance to
faults, debris and LCM as well as ever extending reach. In apparent opposition to this is a reduction in
hole size and increase in drillstring torque values, making the drillstring a smaller conduit and making
fractions of an inch increasingly important. A simple idea such as a retracting ring makes more wells
loggable, and can help free up the decision point between the main open hole memory logging
conveyance options: drop-off and garaged.

Conclusions

Once a niche, memory logging has expanded to become a significant part of data acquisition for
formation evaluation. Openhole memory logging acquires data, after the drilling of a well section, by
employing wireline tools with a downhole battery for power and memory for the logic and data
recording. Lying between conventional wireline and logging while drilling (LWD) it seeks to
capitalise on the cost-effectiveness of the former to bring operator savings, and the drillstring
conveyed access to total depth (TD) shared with the latter, whilst attempting to avoid some of the
disadvantages of both. Memory logging acquires wireline type logs in, for example, highly deviated
and horizontal wells or those under- or over-gauge, mitigating risks and avoiding the wire in the well
that bedevils pipe conveyed logging (PCL).

Some of the constraints may be as solid as the drillpipe dimensions or as balanced as an assessment of
the risks, costs and time involved to the well (perceived, predicted and realised), versus the
requirement for data. A particular example described has been overcoming the limitations of running
a ‘no-go’ type landing ring through drillstrings of small internal diameter. This has opened up a
further part of the memory logging market.

Drillstring conveyance for well access requires small diameter tools and novel solutions to provide the
full range of measurements from challenging wells. Memory logging is a fast-growing sector,
acquiring data in many previously unlogged well types.

78th EAGE Conference & Exhibition 2016
Vienna, Austria, 30 May – 2 June 2016

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