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North American Society for Trenchless Technology (NASTT) No-Dig Show 2011 ______________________________________________________ Washington, D.C.

March 27-31, 2011

Paper E-1-02

Ren Albert1

Trenchless Pipeline Division, Vermeer Corporation, Pella Iowa

ABSTRACT: Pipeline installation by means of horizontal directional drilling (HDD) is becoming a well accepted installation method globally. Large pipeline projects are ongoing, and currently steel products with diameters up to 58 are scheduled to be installed over distances up to 8500ft. During the planning stages, an assessment will need to be made with respect to the tensile, bending and hoop stresses occurring during the pulling phase of the project. Specific attention will be needed for the bore profile, hole diameter and jobsite setup to control, and as such limit, installation forces and product stresses. This paper will include an overview on the different stresses (supported by formulas) and provide tips on jobsite requirements that need to be considered during the preparation stage of a large pipeline installation. Awareness of the possibilities and limitations of large steel pipe will help utility companies, engineering firms, and HDD contractors in being more successful and better prepared for future large HDD pipeline projects. In this paper we will just focus on the installation stresses on steel pipelines. The theory and some of the conclusions can be used when considering HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) or other materials.



HDD is an installation technology where a product pipe is pulled over a certain distance at a certain depth into a fluid-stabilized open bore hole. The bore hole follows a pre-determined drill path and generally runs from surface to surface, though not necessarily at the same elevation. The drill path consists of vertical, horizontal and or combined curves. Evaluating the above definition it is obvious that the product will be subject to a combination of forces; Figure 1 below shows the product at the end of the installation. The rig provides pulling force to overcome down-hole friction, resulting in tensile stress on the product. The pipe is forced to follow the curves of the hole/bore-path, which means bending stresses will be induced. Last but not least there is the hoop stress resulting from the down-hole fluid pressure. The total stress on the product will be the combination of all the individual stresses.

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Tensile stress Hoop stress

Bending stress
Figure 1. Product stresses during the pulling phase Tensile stress is proportional to the pulling force (and bending) and not necessarily highest at the end of the pull. The bending stress is proportional to the radius of curvature which can differ throughout the bore, and the hoop stress is proportional to the down-hole fluid pressure (combination of static and dynamic pressure) which again can vary throughout the bore. The chances of all stresses being maximum at the same time/location is very low, however it is common practice to assume a worst case where all stresses are at maximum values at the same time.



Before going in-depth on how to calculate/estimate the stresses we need to understand how the stresses can influence the integrity of the pipe; Figure 2 visualizes the effect of each stress.

Figure 2. Product deformation as a result various stresses The left side of Figure 2 shows the product in a pure bending situation; the material on top of the pipe is squeezed while the material on the bottom is stretched, explaining the ellipticity. The center of Figure 2 shows the product experiencing internal and external pressures. Mud pressure in the annular space between the hole and the pipe is traditionally higher than the pressure on the inside of the pipe meaning a potential for pipe collapse. It should be noted that the critical pressure difference for pipe collapse is also dependent on the ellipticity of the original pipe in combination with the ellipticity due to bending. It is obvious that the combination of bending and differential pressures need to be considered when assessing the minimum pipe strength against collapse. The right portion of Figure 2 shows the product under a pure longitudinal force. At a certain stress the product will stretch, resulting in a reduced wall thickness. Increasing the force even more will finally result in material failure. Pipe failure due to high longitudinal forces is more common for HDPE than for large diameter steel pipe because of the material strength and the size of large steel pipes.

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It is obvious that the stresses on the product need to be kept low during the installation. To understand the drilling, technical and operational requirements it is important to understand the factors that are driving the levels of the tensile, bending and hoop stresses. Tensile or normal stress

The tensile stress is proportional to the tensile/pulling force and inversely proportional to the cross-sectional surface area of the product. Bending stress

The bending stress is proportional to the E-modulus and product outside diameter, and inversely proportional to the radius of curvature of the hole. Hoop stress
[3] [4]

The hoop stress is proportional to the differential pressure on the product and pipe outside diameter, and inversely proportional to the wall thickness of the product. The pipe dimensions and material are, in most cases, defined by the operational requirements, meaning that we can only limit the stress by controlling the pullback force, differential pressure on the product and the design radius of the bore. Pulling forces, down-hole pressures and the design radius are themselves dependent on multiple factors and an additional study will help us in understanding what needs to be done to limit pipe stresses.



The force needed to pull a product by means of HDD is the sum of the force needed to drag the product over the surface plus the force needed to pull the product through the hole; and this for every position throughout the bore.

Figure 3. Situation before pullback in a non pre-reamed hole External pullback force

An important factor in the formula is the friction coefficient which ranges from 0.3 to 0.8 when the product is dragged across the ground and 0.1 to 0.2 when the product is supported by pipe rollers or floated. The external force is highest at the beginning of the pull, decreasing to zero at the end of the pull.

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Figure 4. Example of a large pipeline supported on rollers at pipe side The force needed to pull a product down-hole is the sum of the force needed to overcome pipe to soil drag and the force needed to overcome pipe to mud drag (so-called fluid drag). Pipe to soil drag refers to the friction developed when the product is pushing with a certain force (normal force) to the top (or side) of the hole. The friction between the soil and the product will require a certain pulling force to overcome. The formula to calculate the required force is similar to the formula used to assess the external forces.

Normal force

e Pullforc

Figure 5. Pipe to soil drag, normal force Pull force as a function of the normal force: [6] In equation [6], ps is a friction coefficient and for horizontal drilling a factor between 0.21 and 0.3 (Maidla, 1987) is generally considered. The above formula assumes that the normal force remains identical over the full length of the bore; another approach could be to calculate the pulling force for different zones throughout the bore and to add all of them together for a final result. The normal force is the result of different forces working together; the main force is a result of pipe buoyancy. The pipe is buoyant because we assume the ideal situation which is pulling the product in a fluid-filled borehole. The buoyancy force is proportional to the outside diameter of the product and the density of the fluid displaced (Law of Archimedes), regardless of the type of material or the installation depth.

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Buoyancy (lb/ft)

Return fluid Air or fluid or .... Product

Weight (lb/ft)
Figure 6. Net buoyancy The net buoyancy is the difference between the buoyancy force and the weight of the product. A simple formula to calculate the buoyancy force is: Buoyancy force [7] The fluid density when using a bentonite-based drilling fluid can vary and should be limited between 8.6ppg and 10.8ppg. This range in density provides a 25% variation in the buoyancy force, and this means that the buoyancy force can be controlled by monitoring the mud weight. Net buoyancy [8] Controlling the net buoyancy can be done by controlling the fluid density (25% variation) but also with controlling the weight of the product. A common practice called balancing or ballasting is used where an additional weight is inserted in the pipe to increase the weight limiting the net buoyancy. The additional weight can be created by filling the product with water or filling the product with another product, for instance steel. Another option could be to select a product with a different wall thickness.



A large steel pipe has the tendency to resist bending, Figure 7 shows a situation when a steel pipe is pulled into a curved hole. The product will be in contact with three points in the hole creating additional force on the formation at each point. The amount of force will depend on the dimensions and properties of the pipe, the radius of curvature and the diameter of the hole. This additional force should be added to the net buoyancy, but only in the regions of the bore where bending occurs. As per the figure it is also clear that the resistance to bending might create enough side force on the reamer for it to cut a new hole during the pulling phase, something that should be avoided at all costs.

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Steel pipe

Barrel reamer

Load on the formation

Figure 7. Load on the formation from a steel pipe in a curved hole The European DCA (Drillers Contractors Association) has developed a guideline on what the design radius of a bore should be, taking product dimensions and soil properties (type and hardness) into consideration. Recommended design radius (DCA) [9a] [9b] The soil factor (C) should be chosen between 8500 and 12500 for different soil types, as suggested in Table 1. Both cohesive and non-cohesive soils are considered, for soft, medium dense and dense conditions. Table 1. Soil factor C as a function of soil type and condition

The formula has been developed to keep the load/force on the formation low, therefore limiting the total normal force.



Another effect that needs to be considered is the Capstan effect (Figure 8). This is the effect where additional drag is created when a flexible product is pulled through a curve. The equation shown in Figure 9 confirms that the Capstan force is related to the curvature (amount of degrees); the higher the angle variation the higher the drag. The design radius for large steel pipe is high and the angle variations are minor meaning that Capstan has a very limited impact on the final pullback force for large steel pipelines.


Figure 8. Capstan force

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Figure 9. Pulleys, Capstans



The pipe to mud drag (fluid drag) is a drag resulting from the friction between the drilling mud (returns) and the pipe.

g Fluid dra n directio Pulling ment move

Figure 10. Fluid drag Fluid drag [10] [11]

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The fluid drag is proportional to the outside surface of the pipe and a fluid drag coefficient. A fluid drag of 0.05 psi is typically taken in the above simplified formulas. Summarizing the above confirms that the pullback force is mainly driven by the net buoyancy force and the fluid drag; resistance to bending and capstan forces play a minor role when a proper design radius is considered and used. In the stresses section was mentioned that the size of the hole contributes to the bending load. The larger the hole and/or the longer the distance between the three points of contact, the lower the bending load on the formation. To support this theory it would be helpful if we could make the hole as large as possible. This is however not recommended since it is more difficult to stabilize and control a large hole, not to mention the extra time and additional high costs.



The size of the hole is not just there to limit the bending load on the formation, but also to limit the hydraulic load on the formation and the pipe; Figure 11 shows the situation in the middle of a pullback. The arrows on the bottom drawing of Figure 11 show the zones where the fluid pressure is acting. The arrows pointing outwards show the pressure on the formation while the red arrows pointing inwards toward the product are acting on the on the external surface of the pipe. The down-hole pressure should be kept low to prevent frac-out and collapse of the pipe.
Distance (m)

Depth (m)

Flow (liters/minute)


Figure 11. Fluid pressure on the formation and the product during pullback The fluid pressure down-hole consists of two parameters: the static fluid pressure and the dynamic fluid pressure. The static fluid pressure is the pressure resulting from the column of drilling fluid; the dynamic fluid pressure results from the pressure needed to pump drilling fluid with certain properties over a certain distance through the annular space. The static fluid pressure is proportional to the fluid column height (bore depth) and the density of the fluid. The volume of fluid has no influence, meaning that there is no impact of the size of the annular space between the hole and the product. In a paper titled Evaluation of Rheological Properties of Fluid Returns from Horizontal Directional Drilling (Ariaratnam, et. al, 2003), the influence of drilling fluid properties on the down-hole mud pressure is examined. Formulas to calculate dynamic fluid pressures are clearly explained and the theory is supported by some field tests to prove the influence of the various parameters. Dynamic fluid pressure

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Figure 12. Formulas used in Evaluation of Rheological Properties of Fluid Returns from Horizontal Directional Drilling (Ariaratnam, et. al, 2003) The formulas prove the impact of the size of the annular space; doubling the annular space area can reduce the fluid pressure by a factor of 4. Controlling the rheological properties of the drilling can have a mayor impact as well, as shown in Figure 13.

Figure 13. Down-hole fluid pressure as a function of hole dimensions and fluid properties In Sections 1 and 2 of this paper the hoop stress was explained as a stress that is dependent on the differential pressure (external pressure minus internal pressure) on the product. The above theory helps in estimating the external pressure on the product. The differential pressure in the same conditions is highest when the product is pulled empty (filled with air); the balancing as explained in Section 3 of this paper can help in limiting the differential pressure by filling the entire product with water or the drilling fluid returns.



Steel pipe installed by means of horizontal directional drilling will be subject to tensile, bending and hoop stresses. The bending stress should be limited by selecting the right design radius which will help in keeping the down-hole drag low. The tensile stress is proportional to the pullback force, which consists of a net buoyancy component and fluid drag. Net buoyancy can be controlled by balancing, or ballasting, the pipe. Load on the formation due to bending forces and Capstan effects have minor impact due to the large radius and limited angle change. The hoop stress is dependent on the differential pressure between the pressure in the annular space (between the hole and the pipe) and the product. The pressure in the annular space is controlled by the dimension of the annular space and the rheological properties of the mud. Balancing can help in keeping the differential pressure down, reducing the risk for pipe collapse.

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Drillers Contractors Association, (2009) Information and recommendations for the planning, construction and documentation of HDD-Projects, booklet. Maidla EE. (1987) Borehole friction assessment and application to oilfield casing design in directional wells. Average coefficient of friction between pipe and soil David P. Huey (1995) No-Dig engineering, Installation loads in Horizontally Drilled (HDD) projects Dr Sam T Ariaratnam , Mr. Richard M Stauber, Mr. Jason Bell, Mr. Frank Canon. (2003) Paper Evaluation of Rheological properties of fluid returns from Horizontal Directional Drilling

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