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Importance of Drilling Fluids’

Rheological and Volumetric

Characterization to Plan and Optimize
Managed Pressure Drilling Operations

B. Demirdal, J.C. Cunha
University of Alberta

depleted. The conventional overbalanced drilling technique cre-

Abstract ates a major drawback to drilling in ultra-deep and depleted reser-
Managed Pressure Drilling (MPD) is an alternative to overbal- voirs. In ultra-deep offshore locations, pore pressure and fracture
anced and underbalanced drilling in conditions where pore pres- pressure gradients are very close to each other, and with conven-
sures and fracture gradients are so close to each other (depleted tional drilling, it is hard (sometimes impossible) to drill a hole up
reservoirs, deep and ultra-deep offshore reservoirs) that it is not to the target depth(1). In the case of depleted reservoirs, pore pres-
possible to drill significant depths without setting a casing. While sure is so low that it is not possible to drill without damaging the
MPD enables an operator to drill longer footages without setting formation.
a casing, it requires precise estimation of equivalent circulating These challenges create the need for a new technology to drill
density (ECD) during drilling and static bottomhole pressure in such hostile environments. Managed Pressure Drilling allows
(SBHP) during non-drilling times. drilling of longer intervals by drilling overbalanced while main-
General practice in the drilling industry is to use rheological taining near constant bottomhole pressure, using a combination
and volumetric properties of drilling fluids measured at surface of drilling fluid density, equivalent circulating density (ECD) and
to estimate ECD and SBHP. Consequently, ECD and SBHP mea- casing back pressure in a closed system(2, 3). While MPD will en-
sured using MWD and LWD tools in the field do not match the able operators to drill longer sections and use light drilling fluids, it
theoretical calculations. does require better wellbore pressure management. Only by man-
This study shows the importance of introducing the effect of aging the wellbore pressure, will it be possible to decide on which
downhole conditions to hydraulic equations in order to estimate type of drilling fluid to use and how deep it can be used.
ECD’s and SBHP’s accurately. Paraffin-based synthetic drilling The major challenge in MPD is to keep the ECD equal or
fluid is used for this purpose. The effect of pressure and temper- slightly higher than the pore pressure along the borehole. In order
ature on density of fluid is determined using PVT cell experi- to achieve that, the effect of downhole conditions, such as pres-
ments. An equation relating the density of the fluid to pressure sure and temperature, on rheological and volumetric properties of
and temperature is determined using linear and non-linear regres- drilling fluids should be characterized precisely. In addition, pres-
sion techniques. Rheological characterization of the fluid was sure losses in the annulus for non-Newtonian fluid flow should be
obtained on a Fann 75 HPHT rotational viscometer. A Bingham determined precisely. Only after that, correct drilling fluid formu-
plastic model was used to define shear stress – shear rate rela- lations can be used and MPD might be achieved efficiently.
tion of the fluid in all pressures and temperatures. The effect of In this study, the effect of downhole conditions on rheology
pressure and temperature on plastic viscosity and yield point are and density of a particular mud system (n-paraffin-based syn-
determined using linear and non-linear regression techniques, thetic drilling fluid) has been analyzed and its associated outcome
similar to the ones used in PVT analysis. Both onshore and off- on ECDs in offshore and onshore operations is discussed. In addi-
shore cases are investigated and the effect of incorporating down- tion, the possibility of using a light weighted drilling fluid instead
hole effects to density and rheological parameters on ECD are of standard weighted fluid using back pressure in the annulus is
analyzed. analyzed.

Introduction Background Information

As a result of the depletion of most of the known reservoirs For each fluid, there is a relation between the shear rate (γ) and
around the globe, companies are searching for oil and gas in more shear stress (τ). In order to model the shear stress-shear rate be-
challenging areas such as deep and ultra-deep offshore locations. haviour of fluids, mathematical relations known as ‘rheological
In addition, high oil prices motivate the industry to produce the models’ are used. These rheological models provide assistance in
last measure of oil from mature oil fields where the pressure is characterizing fluid flow. When determining the fluid flow regime

8 Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology

and predicting friction coefficients and parasitic pressure losses, temperature. The relation between μP and temperature at isobaric
rheological parameters, such as viscosity (μ, μp and μeff), consis- conditions is shown in Figure 1.
tency index (K), fluid behaviour index (n) and yield stress/point As seen from the figure, regardless of pressure, plastic viscosity
(τo, YP) control the fluid flow regimen under consideration. decreases with increasing temperature. Hence, the relation be-
These parameters are subject to change under high pressure and tween temperature and μP can be shown as follows:
high temperature conditions for non-Newtonian fluid systems. For
this reason, it is important to determine the response of the rheo- (µ P ) P=constant = αT −β ............................................................................. (2)
logical parameters to wellbore conditions in order to fully under-
stand the fluid performance and estimate parasitic pressure losses Regression analysis shows that, coefficients α and β are expo-
along the wellbore. Several investigators have attempted to model nential functions of pressure. As a result, the plastic viscosity of
the effect of temperature and pressure on drilling fluid rheology the fluid can be expressed as a function of pressure and tempera-
through the shear rate history of the fluid(4-12). ture as follows:
Another parameter, which is important to accurately determine
the pressure profile in the annulus, is the density of the drilling
(µ P )T ,P = 2, 750 exp1.9*10 P
fluid. While general practice assumes that water-based drilling *

fluids are incompressible with downhole conditions having min-
−(1.04 exp( 2.0*10 P) −5
imal effect on these fluids, for oil-based and synthetic oil-based T
drilling fluids, the effect of pressure and temperature on density . ............................................................ (3)
might play a major role. In order to determine static bottomhole
pressure (SBHP), which is an important part of equivalent circu- The plastic viscosities calculated with the proposed correla-
lating density, and parasitic pressure losses, the density variation tion are in agreement with the actual values, with an average error
of a drilling fluid along the wellbore should be modelled carefully. of 5%.
Several investigators analyzed the effect of pressure and temper- Similar analysis is conducted to relate yield point to varying
ature on drilling fluids and concluded that these effects should pressure and temperature conditions. As seen in Figure 2, yield
be accounted for using precise hydraulic calculations(12-14). Syn- point decreases with increasing temperature. However, at temper-
thetic-based drilling fluids, increasingly being used in offshore atures higher than 65 – 95°C, the yield point tends to increase,
operations, have rheological properties that are more sensitive to probably due to a gellation effect. Since the rate of change in yield
pressure and temperature conditions(15-17). stress is minimal at high temperatures, the relation between yield
Most of the time, properties measured under surface conditions stress and temperature is also expressed using a power function as
are used to estimate pressure losses and ECDs; hence, the ECDs follows:
and pressure losses calculated do not match field data. In order to
reduce the gap between actual and measured pressure losses, rheo-
logical and volumetric properties should be modelled as a function ( τY ) P=constant = δT −φ .............................................................................. (4)
of pressure and temperature. Only after that, accurate predictions
related to actual pressure profiles and ECDs can be made.
90 101 kPa
Plastic Viscosity (cP)

3,447 kPa
13,790 kPa
n-Paraffin-based synthetic drilling fluid is used to determine the 27,579 kPa
60 55,158 kPa
effect of pressure and temperature on rheological and volumetric
50 82,737 kPa
properties of the fluid. The first part of the study is focused on de-
termining the rheological model of the fluid under various pres- 40
sures and temperatures and determining empirical models that will 30
relate rheological and volumetric properties as functions of pres- 20
sure and temperature. 10
0 50 100 150
Rheological Characterization Temperature (˚C)
HPHT rotational viscometer tests were conducted for the fluid
under investigation. The test matrix of the experiments is given in FIGURE 1: Effect of temperature on plastic viscosity under isobaric
Table 1. It is found that Bingham plastic relation can be used to conditions.
relate shear stress – shear rate relation of the fluid in all pressures
and temperatures.
τ = µ P + τY γ 101 kPa
........................................................................................... (1) 160
3,447 kPa
140 13,790 kPa
Yield Point (kPa)

27,579 kPa
Linear and non-linear regression analysis methods are used to 120
55,158 kPa
relate Bingham plastic model parameters μP and τY to pressure and 100 82,737 kPa

Table 1: HPHT rotational viscometer test matrix.
Temp. Pressure (kPa) 40
(oC) 3,450 13,790 27,580 55,160 83,737 20
4.5 θ600-θ3* θ600-θ3 θ600-θ3 θ600-θ3 θ600-θ3 0
27.0 θ600-θ3 θ600-θ3 θ600-θ3 θ600-θ3 θ600-θ3 0 50 100 150
49.0 θ600-θ3 θ600-θ3 θ600-θ3 θ600-θ3 θ600-θ3 Temperature (˚C)
93.5 θ600-θ3 θ600-θ3 θ600-θ3 θ600-θ3 θ600-θ3
138.0 θ600-θ3 θ600-θ3 θ600-θ3 θ600-θ3 θ600-θ3 FIGURE 2: Effect of temperature on yield point under isobaric
* Shear rates: 600 rpm, 300 rpm, 200 rpm, 100 rpm, 6 rpm, 3 rpm conditions.

February 2009, Volume 48, No. 2 9

Table 2: Mercury-free PVT cell experiments test






Temperature (oC)

Change in Density (g/cc)

(kPa) 26.5 49.0 71.0 93.5 115.5 137.8 0.02

207 ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C
1,724 ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C Ρ, C -0.01
3,448 ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C
6,895 ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C -0.04
10,342 ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C 26.67˚C
13,790 ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C -0.07 48.89˚C
17,237 ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C 71.11˚C
20,684 ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C -0.1 115.56˚C
24,132 ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C 137.78˚C
27,579 ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C
31,026 ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C
34,474 ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C ρ, C FIGURE 3: Effect of pressure and temperature on density of
paraffin-based synthetic drilling fluid.
Similar to plastic viscosity, coefficients δ and φ are dependent
on operating pressure conditions. A closer look at Figure 2 shows Similar analysis is conducted for the coefficient X. As a result of
that the fluid under investigation has a higher yield point at 101 regression analysis, the relation between X and temperature is de-
kPa compared to yield point values at other operating pressures. termined as a second degree polynomial.
The effect of pressure on coefficients is hard to model and poly-
nomial relations were used to relate coefficients to pressure. As a
result, yield point is shown as a function of pressure and tempera-
( ) (
X (T ) = 9.452 * 10−11 * T 2 + −1.530 * 10−8 * T + 4.192 * 10−6 ) ( ) .......... (8)
ture as follows:
Analysis shows that the accuracy of the equation in estimating
−1.494 * 10−13 P5 + 2.751* 10−9 P 4 − coefficient X is relatively precise and the error between the calcu-
  lated and actual X is always less than 5%.
( τY )T ,P = 1.315 * 10−5 P3 + 2.075 * 10−2 P 2

 By substituting these two Equations (7) and (8), into Equation
−6 .511P + 797 .8
 (6), an empirical relation that relates density of paraffin-based syn-
thetic drilling fluid to downhole conditions is obtained.
− −2.234*10−8 P2 +3.660*10−4 P+0.882 ) The empirical equation is accurate in estimating experimental
.................................... (5)
results. The average error between the calculated and measured
Yield points determined from the correlation agree with the ac- densities is always less than 0.25% for all pressure and temperature
tual yield points with errors smaller than 10%. conditions under which the drilling fluid was tested.

Volumetric Characterization ECD Determination Modelling

As mentioned earlier, the density of drilling fluids are also af- Equivalent circulating density as a function of downhole condi-
fected due to downhole conditions. In order to estimate pressure tions can be expressed as follows:
losses, static pressures and ECDs accurately, density change with
respect to pressure and temperature should be modelled. Pstatic (T , P) + Pannular (T , P) + Pcasing
A mercury-free PVT cell is used as an experimental apparatus. ECD (T , P) =
0.052 * D ................................. (9)
The test matrix used for volumetric characterization is given in
Table 2.
For each pressure and temperature condition in the test matrix, In this equation, Pstatic represents the hydrostatic pressure ex-
density and compressibility of the n-paraffin drilling fluid were de- erted by the fluid column in the annulus and can be calculated as
termined. The effect of pressure on density of the drilling fluid is follows:
shown in Figure 3.
As can be seen from the figure, density of the fluid is increasing
as pressure is increasing under isothermal conditions. The defini- Pstatic = 0.052 * D * ρ mud (T , P )
.............................................................. (10)
tion derived to relate density behaviour of slightly compressible
fluids with pressure, under isothermal conditions, is applied to the
Pannular represents the friction losses due to flow. In the case of
experimental data with precise agreement. As a result, the fluid
laminar flow, the following equation is used:
under investigation is classified as ‘slightly compressible fluid’
and the density-pressure relation is represented as follows:
 
µ P (T , P) v τ (T , P) 
Pannular (T , P) =  + Y
(ρ)T =constant = ρi exp ( X * P) ................................................................... (6) * L
1, 000 ( d2 − d1 ) 200 ( d2 − d1 ) 


The coefficients given in Equation (6) are a function of temper-

ature. Regression analysis shows that the relation between ri and In the case of turbulent flow, Pannular is determined from the fol-
temperature can be expressed by a second-degree polynomial for lowing equation:
the fluid under investigation.
f ρ (T , P) v 2
Pannular (T , P) =
( ) (
ρi (T ) = −5.357 * 10−6 * T 2 + −1.267 * 10−3 * T + 8.717 ) ...................... (7)
21.1( d2 − d1 )
............................................................... (12)

Estimations of coefficient ri using Equation (7) are accurate and The flow regime is determined using the Reynolds number
the error between the calculated and measured data is always less (NRe) and the Hedstrom number (NHe). Determination of flow re-
than 0.08%. gime using NHe and NRe is shown in Appendix A.
10 Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology
Table 3: Comparison of ECDs and BHPs using
Equivalent Circulating Density (ECD) (g/cc) constant parameter and variable parameter models
0.90 0.95 1.00 1.05 1.10 1.15 1.20 1.25 (at 2,540 m).
1.03 g/cc Drilling Fluid
Constant Variable    
Depth (m)

1,600 Q BHP BHP Error ∆ Pres.
2,000 (l/sec) (kPa) (kPa) (%) (kPa)
2,400 0 24,794 24,449 1.39 -345
Casing Setting Depth: 1,670 m
2,800 37.85 26,628 26,028 2.25 -600
Constant Parameters - 37.85 l/sec Constant Parameters - 56.78 l/sec 56.78 28,303 27,455 3.00 -848
Constant Parameters - 75.71 l/sec
Varying Parameters - 56.78 l/sec
Varying Parameters - 37.85 l/sec
Varying Parameters - 75.71 l/sec
75.71 30,558 29,441 3.66 -1,117
Constant Parameters- Static Conditions Varying Parameters - Static Conditions
Constant Variable    
FIGURE 4: ECD vs. depth in the onshore well while drilling at (l/sec) (g/cc) (g/cc) (%) (g/cc)
2,540 m.
0 1.03 1.02 0.97 -0.01
37.85 1.10 1.08 1.82 -0.02
Pcasing is 101 kPa in the case of regular overbalanced drilling op- 56.78 1.17 1.14 2.56 -0.03
erations, since the return line of the annulus is open to the atmo- 75.71 1.27 1.22 3.94 -0.05
sphere. However, in the case of MPD, the Pcasing could be higher
than 101 kPa in order to establish the required bottomhole pressure point and density measured at surface conditions. After that, pres-
in the hole without changing mud weight. sure and temperature effects were induced on rheological and vol-
umetric parameters and ECDs and pressures were calculated under
downhole conditions using the same three different flow rates. As
Simulation Model seen from Figure 4, ECDs determined by constant surface proper-
ties are higher than ECDs determined using varied properties for
While developing the model to determine pressures and ECDs the same flow rate conditions. Similarly, static and circulating bot-
along the wellbore, several assumptions have been made. Those tomhole pressures calculated using variable parameters are lower
assumptions are: than the constant parameter ones. This is due to the fact that the
1. There are no cuttings in the annulus, hence, contribution of varied ECD model takes into account the thinning effect of temper-
cuttings to frictional losses and density is neglected. ature, which is dominant on plastic viscosity, and yield point, when
2. Drilling fluid temperature at a certain depth is the same as the temperature is between 24 and 52°C. Discrepancy is higher at
the earth’s temperature at the same depth (isothermal low flow rates and shallower depths since laminar flow conditions
conditions). prevail under these conditions as a result of having higher plastic
3. Drill pipe string and drill collar strings are continuous and viscosities, higher yield points and a bigger annular gap. It is pos-
tool joints are ignored. sible to have some well control problems if surface properties are
4. Drill string is concentrically placed on the wellbore and used to estimate ECD since the actual ECD would be lower than
wellbore diameter is circular and constant. the one calculated.
The annular section is divided into 9.144 m (30 ft) length inter- As seen in Table 3, while calculating ESD, not accounting for
vals. The model requires an iterative procedure to estimate pres- changes in rheological parameters and drilling fluid density due to
sures and ECDs at the end of each interval. The iterative procedure downhole conditions for ECDs and static and circulating bottom-
starts at the surface where the pressure (Pcasing) is known. Then, hole pressures, the errors range between 1% and 4% depending on
the pressure at the bottom of the interval is assumed and mid-point flowrates.
pressure and temperature are calculated. Based on the calculated The second part of the analysis was intended to investigate the
mid-point pressure and temperature, the volumetric and rheolog- possibility of using light drilling fluid instead of a weighted one
ical properties are calculated and Pstatic and Pannular are determined. by applying back pressure in the return of the annulus. In actual
The pressure at the bottom of the interval is determined using these cases, drilling practice around the area suggests the use of 1.378
two pressures and compared with the assumed pressure. The itera- gr/cc drilling fluid at a flow rate of 56.78 l/sec to drill the forma-
tion continues until assumed pressures converge with calculated tion avoiding fluid losses and well control problems. The possi-
pressures. For the next interval, the pressure at the bottom of the bility of using 1.031 gr/cc light weighted drilling fluid with some
interval is used as the pressure at the top of the interval and the pro- back pressure was analyzed. ECD and the circulating pressure pro-
cedure continues until the bottom of the well is reached. file in the annulus for the analysis are shown in Figures 5 and 6,
While determining the ECD profile for both 1.378 gr/cc and
Simulation Results and Discussion 1.031 gr/cc drilling fluid cases, varied rheological and volumetric
properties approaches were used. As it can be seen from Figures
A program was used to simulate two cases: an onshore well 5 and 6, it is possible to use 1.031 gr/cc drilling fluid with a back
in Western Canada and a deepwater offshore well in the Gulf of pressure of 6,895 kPa and have a similar ECD profile as in the case
Mexico. First, it is intended to determine how ECDs and circu- of a 1.378 gr/cc weighted mud. Back pressure on the annulus re-
lating bottomhole pressures are changing when pressure and tem- sulted in high ECD’s close to the surface, but this is not a big con-
perature effects are introduced to rheological and volumetric cern since this section of the wellbore is already cased.
properties. Secondly, it is intended to analyze whether the use of
back pressure in the annulus return line would enable the use of a Offshore Well @ 8,534 m
lighter drilling fluid or not.
In the second part of the analysis, a deepwater offshore well
Onshore Well @ 2,450 m case was analyzed. The offshore well’s total depth was 8,534 m,
with 2,438 m of it being in the ocean depth. A 1.749 gr/cc mud
The ECD and circulating bottomhole pressure, when drilling at weight was used in this well.
a depth of 2,450 m, was analyzed for three different flow rates in Similar to the onshore case, ECDs and circulating pressures
addition to static conditions (Figure 4 and Table 3). were determined using constant surface properties and varying
First of all, ECDs and pressures along the annulus were cal- properties. ECD profile and circulating bottomhole pressure while
culated for three different flow rates using plastic viscosity, yield drilling at a depth of 8,534 m are shown in Figure 7 and Table 4.
February 2009, Volume 48, No. 2 11
Table 4: Comparison of ECDs and BHPs using
Pressure in the Annulus (Pa) constant parameter and variable parameter models
0 4,000 8,000 12,000 16,000 20,000 24,000 28,000 32,000 36,000 40,000 (at 8,534 m).

1.75 g/cc Drilling Fluid
Casing Setting Depth: 1,670 m Constant Variable    
Depth (m)

Q BHP BHP Error ∆ Pres.
1,500 (l/sec) (kPa) (kPa) (%) (kPa)
101 kPa - 1.38 g/cc 0 146,569 153,684 4.85 7,115
2,000 1,724 kPa - 1.03 g/cc
3,447 kPa - 1.03 g/cc 31.55 150,947 159,676 5.78 8,729
6,895 kPa - 1.03 g/cc 63.09 157,621 166,584 5.69 8,963
94.64 168,660 178,085 5.59 9,425
FIGURE 5: ECD vs. depth in the onshore well (overbalanced Constant Variable
drilling vs. managed pressure drilling). Q ECD ECD Error ∆ ECD
(l/sec) (g/cc) (g/cc) (%) g/cc

Equivalent Circulating Density (ECD) (g/cc) 0 1.75 1.83 4.57 0.08

31.55 1.80 1.91 6.11 0.11
1.5 1.7 1.9 2.1 2.3
0 63.09 1.88 1.99 5.85 0.11
1,000 94.64 2.01 2.12 5.47 0.11
Sea Bed Depth = 2,440 m
Depth (ft)

4,000 Pressure in the Annulus (kPa)
Casing Setting Depth: 7,358 m
5,000 0 25,000 50,000 75,000 100,000 125,000 150,000 175,000
6,000 0
1,000 Sea Bed Depth = 2,440 m
8,000 2,000

Depth (m)
Constant Parameter - 31.55 l/sec Constant Parameter - 63.09 l/sec
Constant Parameters - 94.64 l/sec Varying Parameters - 31.55 l/sec 4,000
Varying Parameters - 63.09 l/sec Varying Parameters - 94.64 l/sec Casing Setting Depth: 7,358 m
Costant Parameters - 0 l/sec Varying Parameters - 0 l/sec 101 kPa - 1.75 g/cc
1,724 kPa - 1.39 g/cc
7,000 3,447 kPa - 1.39 g/cc
FIGURE 6: CBHP vs. depth in the onshore well (overbalanced 8,000
6,895 kPa - 1.39 g/cc
drilling vs. managed pressure drilling). 13,790 kPa - 1.51 g/cc

FIGURE 8: ECD vs. depth in the offshore well (overbalanced

Equivalent Circulating Density (ECD) (g/cc) drilling vs. managed pressure drilling).
1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5
Sea Bed Depth = 2,440 m
1,000 Equivalent Circulating Density (ECD) (g/cc)
2,000 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 2.0
3,000 Casing Setting Depth:
Depth (m)

1,670 m
4,000 500

Depth (m)

101 kPa - 1.75 g/cc 1,000

6,000 Casing Setting Depth: 1,724 kPa - 1.39 g/cc
7,358 m 1,500 101 kPa - 1.38 g/cc
3,447 kPa - 1.39 g/cc
7,000 101 kPa - 1.03 g/cc
6,895 kPa - 1.39 g/cc
8,000 13,790 kPa- 1.51 g/cc 2,000 1,724 kPa - 1.03 g/cc
3,447 kPa - 1.03 g/cc
9,000 6,895 kPa - 1.03 g/cc

FIGURE 7: ECD vs. depth in the offshore well while drilling at FIGURE 9: CBHP vs. depth in the offshore well overbalanced
8,534 m. drilling vs. managed pressure drilling).

First of all, the effect of flow rate is negligible in the riser for both As mentioned above, the suggested practice to drill this well
constant parameter and varied parameter cases, since it is a large at a depth of 8,534 m is to use a mud weight of 1.749 gr/cc and
conduit where the flow is taking place. As temperatures in the riser a flow rate of 63.09 l/sec. The possibility of using lighter mud by
are very low, the rheological properties tend to increase and re- applying pressure on the return line of the annulus was analyzed.
sulted in higher ECDs. As a result of higher pressures and lower ECD and the circulating pressure profile along the wellbore for
temperatures, ECDs determined using varying parameters are the analysis are given in Figures 8 and 9. First, the possibility of
higher than constant parameter models. For example, while using using 1.378 gr/cc with back pressure was analyzed. It was found
1.749 gr/cc mud weight at a flow rate of 63.09 l/sec, it seemed ad- that the effect of back pressure on ECD is minimal in a way that,
equate to drill a section of the well. In the actual case, due to higher
when back pressure increased from 1,724 kPa to 6,895 kPa, the
rheological properties, formation fracture may occur.
ECD only increases from 1.572 gr/cc to 1.645 gr/cc, both of which
As seen from Table 4, at a depth of 8,534 m, the ESD, ECD, are not enough in terms of well control issues. As a result, it was
static and circulating pressures determined using constant surface decided to use 1.510 gr/cc mud, which is still 0.240 g/cc lighter
properties are 5 to 6% less than the ones calculated by including than the original mud weight. If 13,789 kPa back pressure is ap-
downhole effects. Compared with the onshore case, the differences plied to the system together with 1.510 gr/cc mud weight, it is pos-
between ECDs for varied and constant cases are more severe due to
sible to have an ECD profile similar to the one attained with a
temperature fluctuations and higher pressures experienced in such
1.749 gr/cc fluid.
a deep well. This clearly indicates that modelling downhole condi-
tions, with density and rheological properties measured at surface, As can be seen, the dynamics of offshore wells are very dif-
do not represent actual field conditions and may contribute to op- ferent than onshore wells since very low temperatures and higher
erational failure in offshore locations. pressures are experienced along the riser.
12 Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology
Conclusions Greek letters

HPHT rotational viscometer tests have shown that plastic vis- α = regression coefficient in Equation (2)
cosity and yield point are very sensitive to downhole conditions. β = regression coefficient in Equation (2)
The effect of temperature on those rheological properties is more δ = regression coefficient in Equation (4)
significant than the effect of pressure, especially at temperatures φ = regression coefficient in Equation (4)
lower than 65°C. γ = shear rate, sec-1
µP = plastic viscosity, mPa•s
PVT experiments have shown that the effect of pressure and
ρ = density of drilling fluid, gr/cc
temperature on density is also an important factor that should not
ρi = regression coefficient in Equation (6)
be omitted. An empirical model that relates density to pressure and
τ = shear stress
temperature is developed.
τW = wall shear stress, g/cc
The analysis shows that excluding downhole effects on rheo- τY = yield point, g/cc
logical and volumetric properties results in inaccurate estimations
of ECDs and circulating pressures. In the case of onshore wells,
this might result in having ECDs lower than calculated and well References
control problems might arise. In deep offshore wells, due to low 1. SANTOS, H.M., SHAYEGI, S. and LEUCHTENBERG, C., Micro-
temperatures in the riser, the ECDs calculated using constant pa- flux Control: The Next Generation in Drilling Process for Ultradeep
rameters are lower than the actual ones. In case downhole effects Water; paper OTC 15062 presented at the 2003 Offshore Technology
are not introduced, one can have fluid loss problems in offshore Conference, Houston, TX, 5-8 May 2003.
wells. As a conclusion, for both cases onshore and offshore, using 2. MALLOY, K., A Probabilistic Approach to Risk Assessment of
Managed Pressure Drilling Offshore; Technology Assessment and
surface properties to estimate ECDs and circulating pressures give Research Study 582, Contract 0106CT39728, Quarterly Update,
erroneous results. February 2004.
The analysis also showed that it is possible to drill zones using 3. BERN, P.A., ARMAGOST, W.K. and BANSAL, R.K., Managed
light weighted drilling fluids by applying pressure from the return Pressure Drilling with the ECD Reduction Tool; paper SPE 89737
line of the annulus. MPD enables savings of time and money by presented at the SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition,
promoting the use of light weighted muds and allowing longer in- Houston, TX, 26-29 September 2004.
tervals to be drilled without setting a casing. 4. GARVIN, T.R. and MOORE, P.L., A Rheometer for Evaluating
Drilling Fluids at Elevated Temperatures; paper SPE 3062 presented
An improved simulator, accounting for cuttings transport, di- at the Fall Meeting of the Society of Petroleum Engineers of AIME,
rectional and horizontal well trajectories and heat transfer issues Houston, TX, 4-7 October 1970.
will be developed in the near future. Flow and characterization 5. MCMORDIE, JR., W.C., BENNET, R.B. and BLAND, R.G., The Ef-
of other rheological models such as Power Law and Yield Power fect of Temperature and Pressure on the Viscosity of Oil-Base Muds;
Law will also be included in the program for a broader range of Journal of Petroleum Technology, Vol. 27, No. 7, pp. 884-886, July
applicability. 1975.
6. DE WOLFE, R.C., COFFIN, G.B. and BYRD, R.V., Effects of
Temperature and Pressure on Rheology of Less Toxic Oil Muds;
paper SPE11892 presented at Offshore Europe, Aberdeen, UK,
Acknowledgements 6-9 September 1983.
7. HOUWEN, O.H. and GEEHAN, T., Rheology of Oil-Base Muds;
The authors would like to thank Petrobras for donating the syn- paper SPE 15416 presented at the SPE Annual Technical Conference
thetic-based drilling fluid, the U.S. Department of Energy and and Exhibition, New Orleans, LA, 5-8 October 1986.
the University of Tulsa for sponsoring the experimental phase of 8. MINTON, R.C. and BERN, P.A., Field Measurement and Analysis
the study and Baker Hughes for the HPHT rotational viscometer of Circulating System Pressure Drops With Low-Toxicity Oil-Based
tests. The authors would like to extend their gratitude to Dr. Stefan Drilling Fluids; paper SPE 17242 presented at the SPE/IADC Drilling
Miska for his guidance and valuable comments. His expertise al- Conference, Dallas, TX, 28 February-2 March 1988.
9. STIFF, JR., H.A., Interpolating or Extrapolating Drilling Fluid
ways moves us in the right direction.
Viscosities to Reference Temperatures; Journal of Petroleum Tech-
The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of nology, Vol. 22, No. 10, pp. 1247-1248, October 1970.
Canada (NSERC) has been a major sponsor of research and edu- 10. JOHNSTON, W.G., A Method to Calculate the Pressure Viscosity
cation in engineering for 26 years. Particularly, NSERC has con- Coefficient from Bulk Properties of Lubricants; ASLE Transactions,
tributed to a number of research projects at the School of Mining Vol. 24, No. 2, pp. 232-238, 1980.
and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Alberta, including 11. AMERICAN PETROLEUM INSTITUTE, Recommended Practice
this one. NSERC’s continuous support is acknowledged by the on the Rheology and Hydraulics of Oil-Well Drilling Fluids; API RP
authors. 13D, 3rd Edition, Washington, DC, June 1995.
12. DEMIRDAL, B., Study of Flow of Paraffin Based Drilling Fluids at
Elevated Pressure and Elevated Temperature (EPET); M.Sc. thesis,
Nomenclature University of Tulsa, Tulsa, OK, May 2001.
13. METHVEN, N.E. and Baumann, R., Performance of Oil Muds at
This is the nomenclature and units for the equations presented in High Temperatures; paper SPE 3743 presented at the SPE European
the text. Those equations appear in their original format as it can be Spring Meeting, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 16-18 May 1972.
found in most petroleum engineering books. However, the results 14. MCMORDIE, JR., W.C., BLAND, R.G. and HAUSER, J.M., Effect
obtained from those equations were all converted to SI units as re- of Temperature and Pressure on the Density of Drilling Fluids; paper
quired by Petroleum Society’s standard literature format. SPE 11114 presented at the SPE Annual Technical Conference and
d1 = outer diameter of inner conduit Exhibition, New Orleans, LA, 26-29 September 1982.
15. HEMPHILL, T., Prediction of Rheological Behavior of Ester-Based
d2 = inner diameter of outer conduit Drilling Fluids Under Downhole Conditions; paper SPE 35330 pre-
D = depth, m sented at the International Petroleum Conference and Exhibition of
f = friction factor, dimensionless Mexico, Villahermosa, Mexico, 5-7 March 1996.
L = interval length, m 16. GROWCOCK, F.B., ANDREWS, S.L. and FREDERICK, T.P.,
Physicochemical Properties of Synthetic Drilling Fluids; paper SPE
NHe = Hedstrom number, dimensionless 27450 presented at the SPE/IADC Drilling Conference, Dallas, TX,
NRe = Reynolds number, dimensionless 15-18 February 1994.
NRe,crit. = Critical Reynolds number, dimensionless 17. GROWCOCK, F.B. and FREDERICK, T.P., Operational Limits of
P = pressure, kPa Synthetic Drilling Fluids; SPE Drilling & Completion, Vol. 11, No. 3,
pp. 132-136, September 1996.
T = temperature, °C 18. HANKS, R.W., On the Flow of Bingham Plastic Slurries in Pipes
v = velocity of the fluid, l/sec and Between Parallel Plates; SPE Journal, Vol. 7, No. 4, pp. 342-346,
X = regression coeffcient in Equation (6) December 1967.
February 2009, Volume 48, No. 2 13
19. COLEBROOK, C.F., Turbulent Flow in Pipes, with Particular Refer- Provenance—Original Petroleum Society manuscript, Importance of
ence to the Transition Region Between the Smooth and Rough Pipe Drilling Fluids’ Rheological and Volumetric Characterization to Plan
Laws; Journal of the Institution of Civil Engineering London, Vol. 11, and Optimize Managed Pressure Drilling Operations (2006-188TB),
pp. 133-156, 1939. first presented at the 7th Canadian International Petroleum Conference
(the 57th Annual Technical Meeting of the Petroleum Society), June 13-
15, 2006, in Calgary, Alberta. Abstract submitted for review December 16,
2005; editorial comments sent to the author(s) August 13, 2008; revised
Appendix A – Flow Regime Determination manuscript received November 26, 2008; paper approved for pre-press No-
vember 26, 2008; final approval December 22, 2008.
Hanks’ turbulence criterion(18) is used in this study to determine
the flow regime of the fluid. He included plastic viscosity and yield
point in the dimensionless analysis and found that two independent
groups of dimensionless numbers are determined. One of them is
the Reynolds Number, NRe. The other one is called the Hedstrom
Authors’ Biographies
number, which can be shown as: Barkim Demirdal has been a Technical Ad-
visor at Marquis Fluids since 2007. Prior to
24, 700ρ (T , P) τ Y (T , P) ( d2 − d1 )
that, he was a Research Assistant/Sessional
N He (T , P) = Instructor at the University of Alberta in the
µ 2P (T , P) Petroleum Engineering Department. Before
.................................. (A-1)
that, he worked as a Reservoir Engineer in
Hanks determined a relation between NHe and the critical Turkey and Wireline Engineer for Schlum-
Reynold number (NRe,cri.). He related the critical Reynolds number berger in the USA and Egypt. Barkim holds
to the Hedstrom number and the Hedstrom number to the ratio of a B.Sc. degree in petroleum and natural gas
(τY/τW). In order to determine the critical Reynolds number, NHe is engineering from the Middle East Technical
determined using Equation (A-1) and (τY/τW) is determined using University, Turkey and an M.Sc. degree in
the relation shown below: petroleum engineering from the University of Tulsa. His research
interests include non-Newtonian fluid flow in pipes and annuli,
 τ (T , P) 
cutting transport in directional and horizontal wells, rheological
 Y  and volumetric characterization of invert emulsions under HPHT
 τW (T , P)  N He (T , P) conditions. He has published several technical papers and reports.
= He is a member of SPE, the Petroleum Society and the Canadian
 τ (T , P)  3 16.800
1 − Y  Association of Drilling Engineers. He has also been a technical ed-
 τW (T , P)  itor for SPE’s journal, SPE Drilling & Completion, since 2005.
............................................................. (A-2)
J.C. Cunha, Ph.D., P.Eng., is a Senior
A successive iteration technique is used to determine (τY/τW) Technical Advisor for Petrobras America
in the above equation. Once the ratio is determined, the critical in Houston and an Adjunct Professor at the
Reynolds number can be determined using the second relation that University of Alberta. He has published a
Hanks found as follows: number of papers on offshore deepwater
drilling, underbalanced and managed pres-
sure drilling, drillstring mechanics and risk
4  τ (T , P )  1  τ Y (T , P) 

1−  Y + analysis applications for petroleum engi-

3  τW (T , P )  3  τW (T , P)  neering processes. A member of the Pe-
N Re,cri. (T , P) =
 τ (T , P)  troleum Society, SPE, ASME and the
8 Y  American Society for Engineering Educa-
 τW (T , P) 
.............................. (A-3) tion, Cunha serves on the editorial committees of the Journal of
Petroleum Technology and SPE Drilling & Completion. In 2005,
Newtonian relations are used for the case of Bingham plastic he received the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Engineering Un-
fluid flow in turbulent flow conditions. Only Newtonian viscosity dergraduate Teaching Award.
is replaced with plastic viscosity. As a result, the Reynolds number
(NRe) of the fluid flowing through annuli is determined as:

757ρ (T , P) v ( d2 − d1 )
N Re (T , P) =
µ P (T , P)
.................................................... (A-4)

If the Reynolds number is smaller than the critical Reynolds

number, the laminar flow equation shown in Equation (11) is
used. If the Reynolds number is higher than the critical Reynolds
number, the flow is assumed to be turbulent and a turbulent fric-
tion factor should be determined. In this case, the Colebrook equa-
tion(19) is used to calculate a turbulent friction factor for Bingham
plastic fluids since, at high flow rates, the effect of yield point di-
minishes and the fluid acts as if it is Newtonian.

= 4 log  N Re (T , P) f (T , P) − 0.395
f (T , P)  
................................ (A-5)

Using the method of successive iterations, the friction factor can

be found from this equation. After the friction factor is determined,
frictional pressure losses in the annulus with turbulent flow are de-
termined using Equation (12).
14 Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology