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Depth Resolution of Mud Logging

Shigemi Naganawa, The University of Tokyo; Manabu Suzuki, Kenji Ikeda, Norihito Inada, and Ryosuke Sato,

Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation

This paper was prepared for presentation at the IADC/SPE Drilling Conference and Exhibition held in Fort Worth, Texas, 6–8 March 2018.

This paper was selected for presentation by an IADC/SPE program committee following review of information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s).

Contents of the paper have not been reviewed by the International Association of Drilling Contractors or the Society of Petroleum Engineers and are subject to correction

by the author(s). The material does not necessarily reflect any position of the International Association of Drilling Contractors or the Society of Petroleum Engineers,

its officers, or members. Electronic reproduction, distribution, or storage of any part of this paper without the written consent of the International Association of Drilling

Contractors or the Society of Petroleum Engineers is 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 acknowledgment of IADC/SPE copyright.

Abstract

Dispersion of cuttings transport velocity limits the depth resolution in mud logging. An attempt to model the

cuttings lag depth distribution caused by the dispersion of cuttings transport velocity in directional drilling

is presented. The depth resolution of mud logging in directional and horizontal wells is evaluated based on

the cuttings lag experiments and lag depth simulations using the developed model. The approach of cuttings

lag calculation is based on the previously developed complete physical model of transient cuttings transport

behavior in directional drilling. The lag distribution is modeled using the lognormal distribution probability

density function. The parameters of the distribution function are determined by lag time measurement

experiments for various hole inclination angles using a large-scale cuttings transport flow loop apparatus.

The implementation of lag depth calculation can be generally achieved by convolving the lag distribution

functions determined for each hole section with different inclination angles. In this study, however, the

linear combination of distribution functions is mathematically considered for simplicity.

Lag depth simulation studies are presented for a realistic model directional well based on a field data

with consideration of variation in rate of penetration. The significant finding is that cuttings sampled at

the surface can be contaminated by cuttings originated from other unintended depths to the extent being

not negligible compared to the typical sampling interval of 30 ft or 10 m. This tendency of smearing in

the formations and depths from which the sampled cuttings are originated would be significant if the high

inclination or horizontal hole section exceeds a certain length depending on the rate of penetration. The

presented approach has the ability to quantitatively evaluate the uncertainty in the depth resolution of mud

logging that is crucial for improving the lateral quality of reservoir characterization which can be beneficial

such as in shale oil and gas projects.

Introduction

Drill cuttings analysis in mud logging service provides actual information in real-time about the formation

being drilled. Recently, cuttings analysis has been used for improvement of reservoir characterization and

design of hydraulic-fracturing jobs in shale oil and gas projects (Ortega and Aguilera 2012, 2014; Carugo

2 IADC/SPE-189615-MS

et al. 2013). Other application of drill-cuttings analysis is for real-time problem diagnosis and drilling

performance optimization (Karimi 2013).

However, cuttings moving up the wellbore annulus are generally dispersed because of the dependence

of cuttings transport velocity on particle size (e.g. small particles are easily transported and large particles

may be transported at a small fraction of the drilling fluid velocity) and the existence of radial distribution

in drilling fluid velocity (Georgi et al. 1993). This dispersion of cuttings transport velocity limits the

depth resolution in mud logging. To minimize the dispersion of cuttings lag time or lag depth, it has been

acknowledged to be best to collect and analyze small cuttings. The quality of mud logging data has been

dependent on the wellsite personnel and their experience since the mud logging service was commercialized.

At the same time, the dispersion of cuttings transport velocity due to the radial distribution of drilling fluid

velocity is independent of particle size and cannot be eliminated from the collected cuttings.

An effort to estimate the difference in the lag time between drilling fluid and drill cuttings by modeling

the cuttings transport behaviors in directional wells was presented by Garcia-Hernandez et al. (2007). They

tried to experimentally determine the cuttings lag or slip velocity in horizontal and high-angle borehole

configurations. They also provided a lag diagram concept which correlates the location of cuttings source

and current bit position during drilling.

In this paper, an attempt to model the cuttings lag depth distribution caused by the dispersion of cuttings

transport velocity in directional drilling is presented. The depth resolution of mud logging in directional

and horizontal wells is evaluated based on the cuttings lag experiments and cuttings lag depth simulations

using the developed model. The approach of cuttings lag calculation is based on the previously developed

complete physical model of transient cuttings transport behavior in directional drilling. The lag distribution

is modeled using the lognormal distribution probability density function. The parameters of the distribution

function are determined by lag time measurement experiments for various hole inclination angles using

a large-scale cuttings transport flow loop apparatus. The implementation of lag depth calculation can be

generally achieved by convolving the lag distribution functions determined for each hole section with

different inclination angles. In this study, however, the linear combination of distribution functions is

mathematically considered for simplicity.

Definition of Lag Depth and Basic Equations

Lag time is defined as the time required for drilling fluid, gas or cuttings traveling from the bottomhole

up to the surface through the wellbore annulus. Here we assume that the time when the cuttings was being

drilled at a certain depth is t1, and that the time when the cuttings was transported and reached to the surface

is t2, then the lag time is generally expressed by use of the total annular volume Va and drilling fluid flow

rate qm as follows (Dunn 1993; Dria 2007).

(1)

Lag depth is defined as the formation depth in which the cuttings sampled or collected at the surface

originally existed. The drilling depth increases depending on the rate of penetration during the cuttings

drilled at the lag depth are transported to the surface as shown in Fig. 1. Thus, the relationship between

current bit depth and lag depth is expressed as follows.

(2)

IADC/SPE-189615-MS 3

Figure 1—Schematic description of relationship between lag time and lag depth.

Because cuttings transport velocity is different from drilling fluid velocity, instead of Eq. 1, the cuttings

lag time is more accurately expressed by use of cuttings transport velocity as

(3)

By substituting the above relationship into Eq. 2, the following equation is obtained.

(4)

This is the same equation that Gracia-Hernandez et al. (2007) derived previously.

The cross sectional areas of wellbore annulus varies with depth in an actual well. If we assume that the total

well length can be divided in sections with uniform cross sectional area and that the length and the cuttings

transport velocity of each section are ΔDlag,i and vt,i respectively, then the average cuttings transport velocity

for the entire well depth is expressed as

(5)

(6)

4 IADC/SPE-189615-MS

(7)

The lag depth equation in consideration of cuttings transport velocity variation is expressed by use of

harmonic average of cuttings transport velocities which is the same form as Eq. 4.

(8)

Experimental Method and Apparatus

Cuttings lag experiments using the Cuttings Transport Flow Loop System (CTFLS) apparatus (Naganawa

et al. 2017) were performed. A modification was made to the original apparatus so that cuttings colored in

red can be separately fed into the flow line from a newly equipped small cuttings hopper as shown in Fig.

2. The experimental procedures were as follows.

1. Sufficient amount of standard white ceramic balls (white cuttings) and consequently 4 L of red colored

ceramic balls (red cuttings, corresponds to about 31 cm thickness of formation) are fed into the flow

line.

2. White cuttings are fed at the rate corresponding to penetration rate of 20 m/h.

3. After flow in the test section reaches steady state, cuttings feed is changed to red ones from white ones.

4. After all the 4 L of red cuttings are fed (confirm by visual observation through transparent pipe

installed at the upstream of the feeder), cuttings are changed to white ones again.

5. Sampling of cuttings starts when red cuttings are observed to return to the shale shaker.

6. Sampling finishes if almost all red cuttings returned.

Experimental conditions were determined based on a typical shale development projects so as to simulate

actual drilling situations. Rate of penetration was set to 20 m/h, drill pipe ration was set to 45 rpm, and

pump rates were set to 40, 50 and 60 m3/h. Two types of drilling fluids, water and PHPA mud (0.15% PHPA

solution), were used and annulus inclination angles were set to four cases, 0, 30, 60 and 90°. In total, 24

cases of experiments were performed.

IADC/SPE-189615-MS 5

Figure 2—Schematics of cuttings transport flow loop system and modification for cuttings lag experiments.

Figure 3—Modification of the apparatus (left) and observed cuttings flow behavior in the test section (right).

It is not easy to model the time distribution of cuttings amount returned at the surface or the distribution

of lag depth in purely physical manner. In this study, we assumed that the distribution of cuttings can

be approximately expressed by some kind of distribution function. Although the most typical distribution

function may be the normal distribution function, it is said that there are few natural phenomena that exactly

follow the normal distribution.

As an example result for PHPA mud case shown in Fig. 4, it can be estimated that the time distribution

of collected cuttings has a shape that a peak is located at an early time and cuttings return continues, then

gradually decreases for a long period after the peak. To describe this kind of distribution, the lognormal

distribution function in which the variable x in a normal distribution function is converted to its logarithm,y

= In x is the representative. The lognormal distribution probability density function (pdf) is expressed as

(9)

6 IADC/SPE-189615-MS

Figure 4—Typical behavior of time distribution of collected cuttings obtained from lag experiments.

The two parameters μ and σ for the lognormal distribution probability density function were obtained by

curve fitting. The relationships between the obtained parameters and hole inclination angle are summarized

in Fig. 5. In these curve fittings, elapsed time was normalized by dividing by the annular velocity of drilling

fluid where all the experimental results are summarized in Appendix A.

Figure 5—Experimentally obtained parameters μ and σ for the lognormal distribution probability density function.

IADC/SPE-189615-MS 7

The experimentally obtained distribution function is for the flow through a 10 m long constant geometry

annulus. To obtain cuttings lag distribution for an entire well depth, distribution functions need to be

convoluted as shown in Fig. 6.

Figure 6—Conceptual explanation of cuttings lag multiplication operation to produce cuttings lag for an entire well depth.

The most convenient method for convolution operation is to use the Fourier transform. However,

here we take the characteristic lognormal distribution probability density function into account that the

multiplication of the functions also forms the lognormal probability density function. The cuttings lag time

distribution probability density function for the entire well depth is expressed as

(10)

(11)

and

(12)

It can be easily shown that the distribution of lag depth is also expressed by lognormal distribution

probability density function through transformation of variable. By substituting Eq. 2 into Eq. 10, the lag

depth distribution function is obtained as follows.

8 IADC/SPE-189615-MS

(13)

The relationship of parameters for distribution functions between lag depth and lag time are derived as

follows. Because the mean value should be equal to the average lag depth,

(14)

Then,

(15)

and

(16)

Thus, the final form of the lag depth distribution probability density function can be expressed as

(17)

Experimental Results

The 68.2% and 95% confidential intervals of the lognormal distribution probability density function are

graphically expressed as shown in Fig. 7. These confidential intervals for the cuttings lag time distribution

obtained from cuttings lag experiments are plotted in Figs. 8 and 9. As shown in these figures, cuttings lag

time is not significantly distributed at hole inclination angles less than 30°. However, the cuttings lag time

is widely distributed at high hole inclination angles and low drilling fluid flow rates. It is interesting that

the tendency of degree of cuttings lag time distribution is similar to that of difficulty of cuttings transport

or minimum fluid flow rate.

IADC/SPE-189615-MS 9

Figure 7—68.2% and 95% confidential intervals of the lognormal distribution probability density function.

Figure 8—Estimated lag time distribution with 68.2% confidential interval from cuttings lag experiments.

Figure 9—Estimated lag time distribution with 95% confidential interval from cuttings lag experiments.

From Eqs. 10 and 17, it can be also explained that the lag depth could be much widely distributed for the

well containing long high inclination angle hole sections.

10 IADC/SPE-189615-MS

A model directional was set up based on an actual field data (Naganawa et al. 2017) as shown in Fig. 10 to

perform further evaluation of lag depth distribution for an entire well depth. The model well has two kick

off points at depths of approximately 1200 m and 3000 m and reaches TD of 4500 m. The well is a highly

inclined well with maximum hole inclination angle of approximately 70° below second build-up section.

The simulation conditions are summarized in Table 1 and drilling rate histories were reproduced based on

the field operation condition as shown in Fig. 11.

Figure 10—Profile of model well 8 1/2-in. hole section (Naganawa et al. 2017).

IADC/SPE-189615-MS 11

Drilling Fluid Flow Rate 1918 L/min

Annular Velocity 1.37 m/s

Drilling Fluid Density 1.43 SG

Drilling Fluid Rheology PV/YP/Gel 43 / 24 / 8

Drill Pipe Rotation 120 rpm

Fig. 12 shows an example result of lag depth simulation which is plotted in a similar manner to the

Garcia-Hernandez et al. (2007) lag diagram. The behavior that the lag depth remains constant after making

connection in which drilling is stopped is well simulated. Although the parameters of lognormal distribution

probability density function are not yet exactly determined at this moment, the result shows almost worst

case. In this case, lag depth is distributed in a range of approximately 50 m.

Conclusions

The lag depth distribution is modeled using the lognormal distribution probability density function. Lag

depth simulation studies are also presented for a realistic model directional well based on a field data with

consideration of variation in rate of penetration.

The significant finding is that cuttings sampled at the surface can be contaminated by cuttings originated

from other unintended depths to the extent being not negligible compared to the typical sampling interval

of 30 ft or 10 m. This tendency of smearing in the formations and depths from which the sampled cuttings

are originated would be significant if the high inclination or horizontal hole section exceeds a certain length

depending on the rate of penetration.

The presented approach has the ability to quantitatively evaluate the uncertainty in the depth resolution

of mud logging that is crucial for improving the lateral quality of reservoir characterization which can be

beneficial such as in shale oil and gas projects.

12 IADC/SPE-189615-MS

Acknowledgments

The simulator used in this study has been developed as a part of the collaborative research project between

the University of Tokyo and Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC). The model well

setup was based on the field data provided by INPEX Corporation. The authors gratefully acknowledge

JOGMEC and INPEX for their technical and financial support.

References

Dria, D. E. 2007. Mud Logging. In Petroleum Engineering Handbook: Volume V Reservoir Engineering and Petrophysics,

ed. LakeL. W. and Holstein,E. D. Chap. 3F, V-357–V-377. Society of Petroleum Engineers.

Dunn, C. 1993. Wellsite Methods: Wellsite Math. In Development Geology Reference Manual, ed. Morton-ThompsonD.

and Woods,A. M. Part 3, 93–97. American Association of Petroleum Geologists.

Carugo, C., Malossi, A., Balossino, P. et al. 2013. Advanced Cuttings Analysis Improves Reservoir Characterisation

and Reduces Operating Times in Shale Gas Drilling Project. Presented at the International Petroleum Technology

Conference, Beijing, China, 26–28 March. IPTC-17186-MS.

Garcia-Hernandez, A. J., Miska, S. Z., Yu, M., Takach, N. E., and Zettner, C. M. 2007. Determination of Cuttings Lag

in Horizontal and Deviated Wells. Presented at the SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, Anaheim,

California, 11–14 November. SPE-109630-MS.

Georgi, D. T., Harville, D. G., and Robertson, H. A. 1993. Advances in Cuttings Collection and Analysis. Presented at

the SPWLA Annual Logging Symposium, Calgary, Alberta, 13–16 January. SPWLA-1993-B.

Karimi, M. 2013. Drill-Cuttings Analysis for Real-Time Problem Diagnosis and Drilling Performance Optimization.

Presented at the SPE Asia Pacific Oil and Gas Conference and Exhibition, Jakarta, Indonesia, 22–24 October.

SPE-165919-MS.

Naganawa, S., Sato, R., Ikeda, K., and Shoda, S. 2015. Study on Cuttings Lag Calculation Method in Highly Directional

and Horizontal Wells. Journal of Japanese Association for Petroleum Technology, 80 (5): 366–374.

Naganawa, S., Sato, R., and Ishikawa, M. 2017. Cuttings-Transport Simulation Combined With Large-Scale-Flow-Loop

Experimental Results and Logging-While-Drilling Data for Hole-Cleaning Evaluation in Directional Drilling. SPE

Drilling & Completion 32 (3): 194–207.

Ortega, C., and Aguilera, R. 2012. Use of Drill Cuttings for Improved Design of Hydraulic Fracturing Jobs in

Horizontal Wells. Presented at the Americas Unconventional Resources Conference, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 5–7

June. SPE-155746-MS.

Ortega, C. and Aguilera, R. 2014. Quantitative Properties From Drill Cuttings to Improve the Design of Hydraulic-

Fracturing Jobs in Horizontal Wells. Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology 53 (1): 55–68. SPE-155746-PA.

Whittaker, A. H. 1987. Mud Logging. In Petroleum Engineering Handbook, ed. Bradley,H. B. Chap. 52, 52-1–52-31.

Society of Petroleum Engineers.

IADC/SPE-189615-MS 13

Appendix A

Summary of Cuttings Lag Experiment Results

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