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SPE 53963

New Directions in Foam and Aerated Mud Research and Development

E.Kuru, SPE, S.Miska, SPE, M.Pickell,SPE, N.Takach,SPE, M.Volk,SPE, The University of Tulsa

Copyright 1999, Society of Petroleum Engineers Inc.

case of underbalanced drilling);
This paper was prepared for presentation at the 1999 SPE Latin American and Caribbean 6. reduced stimulation requirements; and
Petroleum Engineering Conference held in Caracas, Venezuela, 21–23 April 1999.
7. earlier production (in the case of underbalanced
This paper was selected for presentation by an SPE Program Committee following review of drilling).
information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents of the paper, as
presented, have not been reviewed by the Society of Petroleum Engineers and are subject to The annual cost of worldwide drilling operations in 1998 was
correction by the author(s). The material, as presented, does not necessarily reflect any
position of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, its officers, or members. Papers presented at about 36 billion dollars, nearly half of which was spent in the
SPE meetings are subject to publication review by Editorial Committees of the Society of
Petroleum Engineers. Electronic reproduction, distribution, or storage of any part of this paper
USA. A recent DOE research study by Medley, et al.28
for commercial purposes without the written consent of the Society of Petroleum Engineers is forecasted that by the year 2005, underbalanced drilling
prohibited. Permission to reproduce in print is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300
words; illustrations may not be copied. The abstract must contain conspicuous (UBD) in the United States will account for 10,000 to 12,000
acknowledgment of where and by whom the paper was presented. Write Librarian, SPE, P.O. wells per year (e.g. up to 37 % of all wells). This would
Box 833836, Richardson, TX 75083-3836, U.S.A., fax 01-972-952-9435.
increase the annual cost of UBD operations to about 6 billion
U.S. dollars. The projected growth is primarily driven by an
Abstract increasing concern with formation damage, potential for
A review of foam and aerated drilling fluid technology is increased rates of penetration, and the ability to reduce lost
presented. The review includes an analysis of foam and circulation in depleted reservoirs.
aerated fluid rheology and flow-pressure loss models. Although the use of compressible drilling fluids is
Problems associated with the applications of current models experiencing growth at an increasing rate, many problems
are discussed. Suggestions for possible model modifications associated with field applications exist and need to be
and needs for future research are offered. addressed scientifically.
Recently, a new research initiative has been undertaken
by the University of Tulsa to build an Advanced Cuttings Statement of the Problem
Transport Facility (ACTF). Development and utilization of the The performance of compressible drilling fluids is rather
ACTF will offer the industry an insight into the complex unpredictable. This is mainly because, compared to
processes that govern fluid flow during drilling and production conventional (incompressible) drilling fluids, very little is
phases. The basic construction of the facility is in progress. known about the hydraulic and rheological properties of
The facility will eventually allow investigation of cuttings compressible drilling fluids, and even less is known about
transport with incompressible and compressible drilling fluids their cuttings transport capabilities. The complex flow
at elevated temperature (200 °F) and elevated pressure (2000 mechanisms involved in compressible drilling fluid circulation
psi). The design aspects of the ACTF and the scope of the make the optimum combination of liquid and gas injection
project are discussed in the present paper. rates very difficult to determine. Other questions remain, such
as how to predict the bottom-hole pressure and how to
Introduction combine different controllable variables in order to obtain
One of the first uses of compressible fluids in oil-well optimum cutting transport performance and bit hydraulics.
drilling was in 1950 when gas systems were first employed in Hole cleaning (cuttings transport) is one of the major
the San Juan Basin of the Western U.S.A.1 Since then, factors affecting cost, time and quality of directional,
compressible drilling fluids have been used in many fields and horizontal, extended reach, and multilateral oil/gas wells.
their performance results are available in the literature.2-27 Inadequate hole cleaning can result in expensive drilling
Drilling with compressible fluids has been shown to problems such as pipe sticking, premature bit wear, slow
provide significant benefits, including: drilling, formation fracturing, and high torque and drag.
1. increased drilling rate (rate of drill bit penetration); In designing a mud program, the engineer relies on a good
2. minimization or elimination of lost circulation while understanding of the mechanics of cutting transport as an
drilling; integral component of hole cleaning. Cuttings transport is
3. reduction or elimination of differential pipe sticking; controlled by a vast number of variables, such as the well
4. increased productivity by reducing formation damage; inclination, hole and drillpipe diameters, rotational speed of
5. improved formation evaluation while drilling (in the

the drillpipe, drillpipe eccentricity, rate of penetration, cuttings variables affect cuttings transport will significantly advance a
characteristics (size, porosity), flow rate, fluid velocity, flow more widespread use of compressible drilling fluids.
regime, mud type, and complex non-Newtonian mud A new research initiative has, therefore, been undertaken
rheology. at the University of Tulsa to investigate multiphase (gas,
In principle, the problem relies on the “operating liquid and solids) drilling fluid systems for overbalanced and
envelope” concept. Figure 1 shows the elements of an underbalanced drilling operations under elevated temperature
operating envelope for drilling with conventional and elevated pressure conditions. The ACTF project functions
(incompressible) fluids. Here, the boundary conditions define in parallel to and cooperation with Tulsa University Drilling
operational limits. For example, fracture pressure determines Research Projects (TUDRP). The purpose of the Advanced
the upper limit of the flowing bottomhole pressure (or shear Cuttings Transport Facility (ACTF) is to determine non-
stress). The lower limit is defined by either the formation pore Newtonian fluid characteristics and cuttings transport
pressure or the borehole collapse pressure, whichever is performance of compressible fluids (aerated mud and foam) as
higher. The operational range from the low side of the flow well as conventional (incompressible) and synthetic drilling
rate is determined by the minimum flow rate required to lift fluids under elevated temperature and pressure in a large-scale
the cuttings. The upper limit of the flow rate is defined by the experimental facility.
critical flow rate causing borehole wall erosion. The key As an initial step in this research program, a review of the
problem is to determine drilling fluid properties, which will compressible drilling fluids was carried out and the major
allow drillers to stay in the operating window during drilling. findings are presented in the following section. Following the
The “operating envelope” is defined differently when literature review a detailed description of the research program
drilling with compressible fluids (Figure 2). In this case, the and ACTF research facility are presented.
operating envelope is defined in terms of flowing bottomhole
pressure (FBHP) and gas injection rate. The upper limit of Foamed Drilling Fluids
FBHP is defined by the reservoir pressure and the lower limit Foamed fluids have unique rheological characteristics, making
is defined by the borehole collapse pressure. The operating it difficult to accurately predict their flow behavior and the
envelope allows the drilling engineer to determine, at a associated circulating pressure profile. The following section
particular gas injection rate, whether the flow is dominated by is a discussion of foam characteristics, rheology, and the
hydrostatic or frictional pressure loss. Points on the prediction of circulating pressure losses during foam flow.
performance curve with a negative slope are dominated by
hydrostatic pressure losses and correspond to large pressure Characterization of Foams
changes with small changes in the gas flow rate. In this region, Foams consist of an aggregate of gas bubbles in a continuous
increasing the gas flow rate will cause a decrease in the liquid matrix (Sebba29). A surfactant, or foaming agent, in the
bottom-hole pressure. Points on the performance curve with a liquid phase stabilizes the films that form the bubble walls of
positive slope are dominated by the frictional pressure losses. the foam structure.
These points correspond to increasing bottom-hole pressure Foams can be characterized as compressible and as
with an increasing gas flow rate. This information can be used Newtonian or non-Newtonian fluids depending on their
in several ways. If a reduction in bottom-hole pressure is volumetric gas/liquid composition.
required, and the flow is hydrostatically dominated, then an Foams are often classified according to the shape of the
increase in gas injection will lead to a decrease in bottom-hole bubbles they contain (Sebba29, Mc Lennan, et al.30). In freshly
flowing pressure. However, if the drilling operation is generated foam or foam containing very small bubbles, the
frictionally dominated, an increase in gas injection rate will bubbles will be spherical. These are called sphere foams.
not only increase flowing bottom-hole pressure, but may Conversely, polyhedron foams contain polyhedral bubbles.
dramatically increase the cost and the risk of corrosion. Generally, sphere foams have higher liquid volume fractions
The important advantages inherent to drilling with than polyhedron foams. In practice, a number of factors
energized fluids (increased rate of penetration, decreased prevent foams from containing equally sized and shaped
formation damage, reduced environmental impact, and bubbles.
minimized lost circulation) can be hindered by inefficient Two other terms used to characterize foams are quality and
cutting transport to the surface. That is, these advantages texture. A foam quality is its gas volume fraction, expressed in
depend on understanding the interaction between fluids and percent;
the drill cuttings. Currently, the understanding of this complex
interaction is limited. Compressible fluids introduce new Vg
variables that impact many of the parameters mentioned Γ= 100 (1)
previously. For example, in the case of foams, foam quality Vg +Vl
(wet, dry), texture (fine, coarse), and type (stable, stiff) must
be considered. In the case of aerated fluids, optimum gas and Where; Γ : Foam quality, %
liquid injection rates, optimum surface back pressure, and Vg : Gas Volume
choke size for the given wellbore and pipe diameter are some VL : Liquid Volume
of the important variables. Understanding of how these

A low quality foam (wet foam) contains more liquid than bubbles so that a non-zero yield stress is required before
a high quality foam (dry foam). Texture describes the size and continuous shearing motion can occur. By evaluating the
distribution of the bubbles. Fine foam has small bubbles and critical yield stress, they noted that it is possible to relate the
coarse foam has large bubbles. Combining these various measured apparent viscosity of foams in large channels to a
terms, sphere foam tends to be low quality, fine foam and usually unmeasured boundary effect. They also found that
polyhedron foam tends to be a high quality, coarse foam. thickness of the film and bubble size of the foam cells had
large influences on flow resistance.
Foam Viscosity Models Based on experimental investigation of the behavior of
Earlier studies on foam rheology were mostly based on the foam flow in a large-scale vertical tube, Valko and
assumption that foam flow behavior is a strong function of Economides51 proposed one new variable and two new
foam quality. The two-phase viscosity models presented by constitutive equations. The new variable is the specific volume
Einstein31, Hatschek32,33, and Mitchell34 have the same form expansion ratio, which is defined as the ratio of specific
with slight differences in the values of coefficients. volume of foam to specific volume of base liquid and is
General forms of the two-phase viscosity model can be obtained as follows:
illustrated as follows:
For low quality foams ( Γ < Γc ) ε s
L (4)

µ F = µ L (1.0 + a Γ) (2) εs : Specific volume expansion ratio
ρL : Base liquid density
ρF : Foam density
For high quality foams ( Γ > Γc )
Using the specific volume expansion ratio, they developed the
µ F = µ L (1.0 / (1 − Γ b
)) (3) volume equalized power law model and the volume equalized
Bingham plastic model. With this new variable, the two
equations take simple forms and obey the principle of volume
equalizing. The volume equalized power law model is defined
( )γ
n −1
a,b : Correlation coefficients τ = K ε 1s− n γ (5)
µF : Foam Viscosity
µL : Base Liquid Viscosity Where the parameters K and n are constants for foams of
Γ : Foam quality given gas-liquid mass flow rates at a given temperature. The
Γc : Critical Foam Quality volume equalized Bingham plastic constitutive equation is
given as follows:
The value of critical foam quality, Γc ,where the foam
flow behavior changes from Newtonian to non-Newtonian is τ yεs 
also different (varying between 45% and 75%) in the above- τ =  + µ p  γ ( 6)
mentioned models.  γ 
The apparent viscosity of foam is a strong function of the
foam quality and the shear rate as shown by Sibree35 , Grove
et al.36 , and Khan37. γ =0 , τ 〉 τ y εs
Several models have been proposed to describe the non-
Newtonian behavior of high quality foams. Wise38, Raza and Where;
Marsden39, David and Marsden40, Wendorff and Ainley41, and
Sanghani and Ikoku42 suggested that foams behave as pure τ : Shear stress
pseudoplastic (power law) fluids. Mitchell43, Krug and γ : Shear rate
Mitchell44, Beyer et al.45, Blauer et al.46 and Burley and K : Consistency index
Shakarin47 concluded that foam could be described as a n : Power law exponent
Bingham plastic. Cawiezel and Niles48 and Reidenbach et al.49 τy : Yield stress
reported that the rheological behavior of a foamed fluid is µp : Plastic viscosity
primarily that of a yield-pseudoplastic fluid and can best be
described by a Herschel-Bulkley model. Parameters τy and µp are constant for a given gas-liquid
Heller and Kuntamukkula50 reported that a high volume pair at constant temperature. Reynolds number is constant
fraction of the discontinuous phase causes crowding of the

with respect to velocity changes caused by density changes in variables, foam quality, flowing density, yield stress, and
a pipe of constant cross-section if the flow is isothermal. The plastic viscosity, were averaged for each pressure increment.
practical consequence of this invariance is that for isothermal In this case, the frictional pressure gradient for flow of foam in
friction pressure loss calculations, a constant friction factor pipe was estimated by using the following relationship:
can be used for the whole pipe.
 dP  16 τ yi 32 µ pi V i
Winkler52 and Enzendorfer et al.53 extended the work done
by Valko and Economides51 by conducting more pipe flow   = + (8)
 dL  f
experiments to investigate foam rheology. Their results 3D D
seemed to be in agreement that the “Volume Equalized Power
Law Model” is capable of describing isothermal horizontal Where;
pipe flow of foams. D : Pipe diameter
A general conclusion from the analysis of the previous V : Average fluid velocity
research results would be that there is an apparent
disagreement among the investigators to select the best model The equation for the frictional pressure gradient for laminar
describing the non-Newtonian flow behavior of foam. foam flow in annuli was developed by using the slot flow
approximation and is given as follows:
Prediction of Circulating Bottomhole Pressure
In arriving at a method for predicting frictional pressure losses
during foam flow in pipes and annuli, a general iterative  dP  6 τ yi 48 µ pi V i
  = + (9)
 dL  f (Do − Di ) (D o − D i )
solution approach has been used in earlier 2
investigations.44,45,46,55 Usually, the flow path is divided into
small increments of equal pressure drop, and the foam quality
and rheology are assumed constant over each increment. The Where;
two-step method requires selection of a constant pressure Do : Inside diameter of the outer pipe
differential and calculation of the corresponding incremental Di : Outside diameter of the inner pipe
length by using the following general formulation:
Beyer et al.45 also assumed that foam behaved like a
Bingham Plastic and incorporated the effect of wall slip in
Pi +1 − Pi their model. The general formulation for the pressure loss in
LT = ∑ Li = ( 7)
i =1  dP   dP  this case is:
  + 
 dL  f  dL h  dP 
  = Ψ [V T (T , P ), LVF (T , P ), D ] (10)
 dL  f
By using laboratory and pilot-scale field experimental data,
LT : Total length of the circulation path
they defined the function Ψ explicitly in terms of total
Li : The length of the i th increment in the circulation
velocity, VT, liquid volume fraction, LVF, and pipe diameter,
D. Their approach also required an iterative solution of a
P : Pressure
finite-difference equation (eqn. 7) that described the flow path
 dP  length in terms of pressure changes and properties of the foam.
  : Pressure gradient due to friction Blauer et al.46 presented an approximate method to avoid
 dL  f
an iterative procedure for predicting pressure losses and
injection pressures. The model assumes that the density of the
 dP  gaseous phase is negligible throughout the well, irrespective of
  : Pressure gradient due to hydrostatic head the prevailing pressure and temperature.
 dL h Okpobiri and Ikoku55 developed a semi-empirical method
for prediction of frictional losses caused by the flow of
The iteration process is continued until the sum of the cuttings/foam slurry. Flowing foam is mathematically
incremental lengths equals the length of the pipe. modeled as a Power Law fluid. For pressure drop calculations,
Different models have been proposed for the estimation of the pipe/annulus arrangement was segmented and solutions
the frictional pressure gradient in equation (7). Krug and were obtained by iterating along the length.
Mitchell44, assumed that foam behaves as a Bingham Plastic Guo et al.56 presented a method to estimate flowing
and using the Buckingham-Reiner solution,54 developed a bottom hole pressure, velocity, density, and quality profile
model for laminar flow of foam in pipes and annuli. Foam during the flow of a stable foam in an annulus. Friction
temperature was assumed to be equal to the formation pressure was calculated by treating foam as a power law fluid.
temperature at the depth of interest. The pressure-dependent The influence between the frictional and hydrostatic pressure

components is determined using a simple iteration scheme to flow hydraulics associated with aerated mud drilling in order
obtain the total pressure at depth. to achieve a cost effective operation.
A more sophisticated approach for predicting pressure Frictional pressure losses during multi-phase flow is a
losses during foam flow in pipes and annuli has been complicated function of the flow regime, fluid rates,
developed by Lord57 , Spoerker, et al.58 and Liu and Medley.59 volumetric fractions, fluid properties, flow geometry, and
They suggested that an explicit relationship for predicting other factors. Many investigators have discussed two-phase,
pressure losses can be obtained by solving the differential gas-liquid flow through pipes at different inclinations.
mechanical energy balance equation, which is given as However, very few have studied two-phase flow in annular
follows: geometry.
The following section presents a brief review of previous
research on multi-phase flow in annular spaces. Following this
2 fF 2  literature review, a discussion of the available models for
vdp + udu = −  u − g  dz (11) bottomhole pressure prediction during flow of aerated drilling
 D  fluids is offered.

where v is the specific volume, p is the external pressure; u is Two Phase Flow in Annuli
the linear velocity of the foam; fF is the Fanning friction Sadatomi et. al.62 studied vertical two-phase flow of air-water
factor; D is the pipe diameter; z is the axial distance; and g is mixtures through several non-circular channels. They
the gravitational acceleration. measured frictional pressure drop, mean void fraction, and
The mechanical energy balance can be solved if the rising velocity of gas bubbles, and developed flow pattern
volumetric behavior of the foam is specified. In order to maps. They observed three primary patterns; bubble flow, slug
describe the volumetric behavior of compressible fluids an flow, and annular flow. From the flow pattern maps, they
equation of state describing volume as a function of pressure concluded that channel geometry has no influence on the flow
and temperature is needed. Once an equation of state for foam pattern transitions. Their work was restricted to vertical flow
has been developed, it can be used with an isothermal, steady- and the diameters in their study were smaller (30 mm. x 15
state mechanical energy balance equation to obtain an explicit mm.) than those used in drilling operations.
relationship for pressure losses during foam flow. Kelessidis and Dukler63 examined factors affecting the
Lord57 used the real gas law and mass balance flow pattern transition during flow of air-water mixtures in
considerations to develop an equation of state for foam with vertical concentric and eccentric (50%) annuli. They identified
solids. He solved the differential mechanical energy balance four flow patterns as bubble flow, slug flow, churn flow, and
equation to obtain a relationship for pressure loss prediction annular flow. They developed flow pattern maps for both
during foam flow. His final equation was complex and concentric and eccentric annuli. Using various factors
required the use of a numerical solution method for prediction affecting the flow pattern transition such as gas, liquid flow
of flowing pressures. rates, void fraction, etc., mathematical models were developed
Spoerker, et al.58 modified Lord’s solution and presented a for flow pattern transitions based on the ideas presented by
new two-phase flow equation. They used the virial equation60 Taitel et al.64 Their models were based on the physical
instead of the real gas equation of state. They also solved the mechanism suggested for each flow pattern transition and
differential mechanical energy equation to obtain an explicit predict the flow rates at which the transitions take place in the
expression for pressure loss prediction during foam flow. concentric annulus. Modifying the theory used to develop the
Liu and Medley59 solved the mechanical energy balance model for concentric annuli, models for eccentric annuli were
equation and also incorporated influx of gas, liquid, and oil. developed. Kelessidis and Dukler concluded that the degree of
The pressure profile, foam quality, and density are predicted. eccentricity has only a minor effect on flow pattern
Recently, Gardiner et al.61 presented an alternative transitions.
approach for predicting pressure losses during laminar flow of Hasan et al.65 investigated vertical flow of air and water in
foam in pipes. They have combined the “Volume Equalized an annulus. They developed a hydrodynamic model for
Power Law” model and Hagen-Poiseuille equation54 to derive estimating gas void fraction in bubbly and slug flow regimes.
an explicit expression relating foam flow rate and pressure They concluded that the gas void fraction in a circular channel
losses. is similar to that of an annular channel, especially for a small
ratio of casing to tubing diameters.
Aerated Drilling Fluids In a later study, Hasan and Kabir66 recognized four major
Aerated drilling fluid applications have been increasing flow regimes as bubbly, slug, churn, and annular. In the case
worldwide. Recently, the technology of drilling with aerated of bubbly flow, the terminal rise velocity is not affected
muds has reached the offshore operations.24,27 significantly by either the variation in the inner tube diameter
Based on operational experience, the industry has realized or the channel deviation from the vertical. Similarly, in this
that there is a need for a better understanding of multiphase regime, pipe inclination have no effect on the void fraction.
For slug flow, they observed significant variation in the
terminal rise velocity of the Taylor bubble with deviation of

the annulus from the vertical. They observed that as the obtained in eccentric annuli inclined at various angles. Two-
annulus deviates from the vertical, the nose of the Taylor phase mixtures of air-water and air-clay mud (two different
bubble becomes sharp, causing a reduction in the drag force, bentonite concentrations) were used. Data regarding gas slip
which increases the rise velocity. However, when the annulus velocities and liquid holdup was compared to the respective
is highly deviated from the vertical, the reduction in the values calculated from the published correlations. This model
buoyancy force offsets the reduction in the drag force, causing worked very well with the air-water mixtures but gave poor
a decrease in the rise velocity compared to rise velocity in a results with the air-mud mixtures. They concluded that the
vertical column. inclusion of bubble size in the model would lead to more
Hasan and Kabir also investigated the transition from one accurate results only if experimental data on single bubble
flow regime to another. They considered the relative motion velocity as a function of bubble size were available for drilling
between the gas and liquid phases caused by the density fluids.
difference between the phases and the tendency of the gas Johnson and White72 carried out a comprehensive study of
phase to flow through the central portion of the channel. two-phase flow in large annular geometry using non-
Caetano et al.67,68 carried out experimental and theoretical Newtonian fluids in order to ensure the accurate modeling of
studies of upward gas-liquid flow through vertical concentric gas behavior during gas kicks in wells. The main parameters
and eccentric annuli ( 76.2 mm. by 42.2 mm. with 16 m. governing the gas velocities are the wellbore geometry
length) with air-water and air-kerosene mixtures. The (typically large annulus), the well inclination, volumetric flow
experimental part included flow pattern identification, rates, gas fraction, and fluid rheology. Air was used as the gas
determination of transition boundaries, development of flow phase while water and aqueous xanthum gum solutions were
pattern maps and measurement of average volumetric liquid used as the liquid phase. The results for the vertical conditions
holdup and average pressure gradient for each existing flow showed that the air-water flows could be characterized as
pattern. In addition, the theoretical part included development bubbly flow up to a void fraction of 15%, slug flow over 30%,
of a flow pattern prediction model and for each flow pattern, and transitional in between these values. For the viscous muds
prediction of average volumetric liquid holdup and pressure the transition occurred below a void fraction of about 7.5%.
drop. These results pointed out that for most flow conditions the gas
Caetano et al. also developed mechanistic models for each would rise through the more viscous mud faster than it would
of the existing flow patterns in an annulus; viz., bubble flow, in water.
dispersed bubble flow, slug flow and annular flow. These In another study, Johnson and Cooper73 examined the
models were based on the two-phase flow physical effects of deviation and geometry on gas migration
phenomena and incorporated annulus characteristics such as characteristics. A comprehensive study of two-phase flow
casing and tubing diameters, and degree of eccentricity. This characteristics observed during deviated well drilling was
enabled the prediction of the flow pattern for a given set of undertaken. They reported significant differences between the
flow conditions. These models were also used for predicting effect of deviation on gas migration characteristics in pipe
average volumetric liquid holdup and average total pressure versus annular flow. They carried out tests in pipes and
gradient for a given flow pattern. Model predictions were eccentric annuli with a polymer mud, which permitted
compared to experimental data and found to be in good observation of flow patterns. It was reported that in pipe flow
agreement, except for annular flow. They attributed this poor the gas slip velocity was enhanced by small deviations from
model performance for annular flow to the extremely low the vertical.
overall holdup values, which are the characteristic of annular Luo et al.74 conducted two-phase flow experiments to
flow. study gas kick behavior in a deviated well with the hole angle
A group of researchers has studied the flow behavior of changing from vertical up to 950. They reported that for a gas-
drilling fluids contaminated by gas influx from the formation. water system the flow patterns were observed to be similar to
These studies have also revealed some useful results for better small circular pipes. They found that mud viscosity affected
understanding of multi-phase flow in annular spaces. flow pattern transitions: as the viscosity increased, the flow
Nakagawa and Bourgoyne69 experimentally studied the gas patterns tended to consist of more stable, regular shaped
slip velocities during well control operations in vertical and bubbles. They also reported that the annular flow pattern was
inclined annuli. The main objective of their study was to not observed due to insufficient gas flow rates. Effects of
investigate the gas slip velocities to assist in development of a major drilling variables such as hole angle, mud rheology,
computational model for gas kicks in highly deviated wells. and drillpipe eccentricity, were complex and interdependent.
Their experimental facility contained a flow loop that could With their limited data sets they could not separate this
simulate two-phase flow in the annulus. The experimental complex interdependence and reach a definite quantitative
results were compared with the computational model conclusion regarding the effect of each variable.
presented by Bourgoyne and Casariego.70 The model predicted
gas fraction and gas velocity for vertical flow through annular Bottomhole Pressure Prediction
sections. When drilling with aerated muds, it is important to have safe
In another study, Nakagawa and Bourgoyne71 reported and accurate control of the bottomhole pressure. Monitoring
experimental gas slip velocities, and liquid holdup data downhole pressures and gas-liquid flow rates is essential to

ensure that formations are being drilled without formation the “drilling section” will include a rotating drillpipe that will
damage. be coupled to an articulated mast. This will make it possible
Caetano75 developed a simulation tool that predicts to transport simulated cuttings through an annular space at any
pressures along the depth of the wellbore. Flow pattern wellbore inclination angle with variable drillpipe rotational
transition models were developed for vertical flow through speeds.
annuli and, depending upon the flow pattern existing at a Construction of the ACTF facility is currently planned
particular depth, the pressure drop was calculated. He reported through in six phases. Basic design of the new facility has
that annular pressure losses calculated using available been completed. Phase I construction (single phase flow at
correlations were consistently lower than the measured values. high pressure ) is in progress. Operational parameters for this
Skalle et al.76 investigated the flow of aerated drilling phase are pressures up to 2000 psi at ambient temperature
fluids using a full-scale vertical well (5.43” by 2.5” annular utilizing water and various drilling fluids. Key areas of the
geometry by 500 ft. length). They calculated pressure losses loop include a “pipe flow section” consisting of 2- and 3-inch
using 7 different published correlations including Poetmann pipes, and a “drilling section” consisting of a 6-inch casing
and Carpenter77, Baxendell and Thomas78, Fancher and and 3 ½-inch drill pipe.
Brown79, Hagedorn and Brown80, Duns and Ros81, High temperature (up to approximately 200 °F) capability
Orkiszewski82, Beggs and Brill83. All the correlations is planned to be added to the basic flow loop in Phase-II. The
underestimated the flowing bottom hole pressure to varying ability to operate at temperatures higher than 200 °F may be
extents. Skalle et al. also presented a modified correlation, attempted in the future if requested by industry.
which included the effect of higher pressure losses due to the Aeration facilities at elevated temperature and pressure is
presence of tool joints. The results were more favorable with planned to be added to the flow loop as Phase-III.
this modification. The cuttings transport capacity is planned for Phase IV.
Ross84 developed a simulator to determine pressures in the The introduction of cuttings will require some novel
drillstring, including standpipe and bottomhole pressures in approaches with a pressurized loop.
vertical wellbores. The model simulates slug flow, bubble Phase V plans include drillpipe rotation capability. This
flow, and homogeneous flow. A flow regime transition will be a significant enhancement following the introduction
criterion was used to define the regime. It was reported that of cuttings into the flow loop to study the effect of drillpipe
the model calculations always underpredicted the measured rotation on cuttings transport.
pressures. However, calculations using different flow regimes Current plans extend through Phase VI with the addition
gave better approximations of estimated pressures than those of the loop elevation (from horizontal to vertical including
based on a homogeneous flow regime alone. intermediate angles) capability. Elevation of the flow loop will
Rommetweit et al.85 investigated the flow of aerated have its biggest impact on cuttings transport studies.
drilling fluids in a horizontal well. They developed a new Completion of the sixth phase will make it possible to
pressure loss correlation by combining no-slip pressure loss study the flow of compressible drilling fluids and cuttings
and pressure losses that occur when there is only gas or liquid transport in a full-scale flow loop at pressures up to about
in the annulus. Although the model expressions were not 2000 psi and temperatures up to 200 °F; with inclination
detailed sufficiently in their paper, they were able to present angles anywhere from 0° to 90°; with and without drillpipe
some data showing that their model predicted the flowing rotation. Figure 3 shows the general configuration of the
bottomhole pressure reasonably well. ACTF. The process and instrumentation diagram of the ACTF
Recently, Smith et al.86 compared the accuracy of various is given in Figure 4.
correlations81,83,87,88,89 used to calculate the bottomhole
pressure in horizontal underbalanced drilling by using data Scope of the ACTF Research Program
from four different drilled wells. They reported that all the The specific goals of the proposed project are:
available correlations gave significant errors in the calculated 1. Provide the design for and construct Phases II through VI,
pressures and concluded that there new correlations are and operate the cuttings transport facility;
needed to predict bottomhole pressures accurately. 2. Conduct studies that will lead to the development of
instrumentation to quantitatively determine cuttings
Development of the Advanced Cuttings Transport location, height, and concentration in the annulus of the
Facility drilling section and to measure the bubble size,
To offer industry new insights into the complex processes that distribution, and shape during the cuttings transport
govern multi-phase fluid flow during drilling, the University experiments;
of Tulsa proposed to develop and construct a large-scale 3. Conduct experiments and develop an experimental data-
experimental facility. The new facility is located next to the base for cuttings transport under elevated temperature and
conventional (low pressure-ambient temperature) TUDRP pressure conditions;
flow loop. The Advanced Cuttings Transport Facility (ACTF) 4. Develop models and computer programs for optimization
will allow investigation of the hydraulics and cuttings of cuttings transport phenomena at elevated temperatures
transport properties of both compressible and incompressible and pressures.
fluids at elevated temperatures and pressures. Furthermore,

Concluding Remarks Conference and Exhibition held in Houston, Texas,

Based on the analysis of past work the following general September 16-19, 1984.
remarks can be made on the status of foamed and aerated 5.Fraser I.M. and Moore R. H. : “Guidelines For Stable Foam
drilling fluid technology, and future needs. Drilling Through Permafrost,” SPE/IADC 16055, paper was
presented at the SPE/IADC Drilling Conference, New-
Foamed Drilling Fluids: Orleans, LA, March 15-18, 1987.
Although several models attempted to explain foam 6.Clator, S.B., Manning. K.J., Schmalzried, D.L. : “ Drilling a
rheological behavior, there is no general agreement on which Medium-Radius Horizontal Well with Aerated Drilling
rheological model should be used. Very little is known about Fluid: A Case Study,” SPE 21988, paper presented at the
the influence of high temperature and pressure on foam flow 1991 SPE/IADC Drilling Conference held in Amsterdam,
behavior. Analysis of the reported work reveals the need for Netherlands, March 11-13, 1991.
future research in the following areas: 7.Russell. B.A : “How Surface Hole Drilling Performance
1.Use of field-scale flow loops to obtain improved foam was Improved 65%,” SPE/IADC 25766, paper was
rheology models; presented SPE/IADC Drilling Conference, Amsterdam, The
2. Investigation of the effect of high pressure and high Netherlands, February 23-25, 1993.
temperature on foam rheology; 8.Shale, L. and Curry, D. : “Drilling A Horizontal Well Using
3. Investigation of foam rheology under high shear rate Air/Foam Techniques,” OTC-7355 presented at the 25th
conditions (e.g. flow through nozzles) and under very low Annual Offshore Technology Conference, Houston, TX,
shear rate (e.g. simulating wall slip) conditions; May 5-6, 1993.
4. A comparative study of existing foam flow models for 9.Shale, L. T. : “Underbalanced Drilling: Formation Damage
their accuracy of pressure loss estimation; and Control During High-Angle Or Horizontal Drilling,” Proc.
5. Use of experimental data to improve existing foam flow SPE Formation Damage Symposium, Lafayette, La,
models and/or develop new models for accurate estimation of February 9- 10, 1994.
friction pressure losses. 10.Kitsios, E. et al.: “Underbalanced Drilling Through Oil
Production Zones With Stable Foam In Oman,” IADC/SPE
Aerated Drilling Fluids Drilling Conference Dallas, TX, February 15-18, 1994.
There is a need to carry out experimental analysis using 11.Wodka, P., Tirsgaard, H. Adamsen, C.J., Damgaard,
realistic borehole geometries simulating actual flow in the A.P.,and Maersk, O. : “Underbalanced Coiled Tubing
field. Drilled Horizontal Well in the North Sea,” SPE 29359,
Available correlations for bottomhole pressure prediction paper was presented at the 1995 SPE/IADC Drilling
during aerated mud drilling, in many cases, give significant Conference held in Amsterdam, 28 February-2 March
errors in the calculated pressures. Thus, new correlations to 1995.
predict the bottomhole pressures are needed. 12.Frik, H. : “Horizontal Drilling In Low Pressure Reservoirs
Finally, there is also a need to conduct research on two- With A Foam Mud System (Horizontales Bohren In
phase flow in annuli with possible implementation of the Druckschwachen Lagerstaetten Mit Einem
results in aerated drilling fluid applications. Schaumspuelungs system) ,” DGMK Spring Conf., Celle,
Germany, April 27-28, 1995, pp.177-185.
Acknowledgments 13.Falk, K. and McDonald, C. : “An Overview of
Authors wish to thank the U.S. Department of Energy for Underbalanced Drilling Applications in Canada,” SPE
permission to publish this paper. 30129, paper was presented at the SPE European
Formation Damage Conference held in The Hague, The
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SI Metric Conversion Factors

cp x 1.0* E-03 = Pa.s
ft x 3.048* E-01 = m
ft2 x 9.290 304* E-02 = m2
ft3 x 2.831 685 E-02 = m3
in. x 2.54* E+00 = cm
lbf x 4.448 222 E+00 = N
md x 9.869 233 E-04 = µ m2 Figure 2 Operating Envelope for Compressible Drilling
psi x 6.894 757 E-04 = kPa Fluids
• Conversion factor is exact

Figure 4 Process and Instrumentation Diagram of the

Figure 3 General Configuration of the Advanced Cuttings Advanced Cuttings Transport Facility
Transport Facility