Pressure Evaluation

The basic pressure-determination data plotted on formation logs are generally derived from physical measurements made at the wellsite. These include such parameters as ROP, shale and mud densities, and connection gas fluctuations. When mud-logging programs lock in more detail at pressure evaluation, they generally emphasize two aspects — mathematical treatment of drilling data for quantifying the effects of downhole pressure changes and integrated trend evaluation, in which a variety of surface and down hole parameters are mutually considered to obtain a "best fit" interpretation of true formation pressure conditions. Mathematical Treatment The common mathematical approach used by mud-logging companies in advanced pressure-evaluation programs is to remove the effects of such variables as rock type and bit condition from penetration rate so that anomalous drilling responses can be recognized and equated to pore pressure. This may be thought of as normalizing ROP to quantify overpressure in much the same manner that cuttings gas is normalized to quantify the magnitude of a show. Through usage, the mathematical variable obtained following such a normalization, or modeling, generally is referred to as the "d-exponent" (d, dexp). The d-exponent was first applied by Bingham (1965) to the empirical definition of the relationship between rock strength, work done by the drill bit, and ROP. This can be expressed in the general form

(1) where: R = penetration rate, ft/min N = rotary speed, rpm W = weight on bit, lb D = diameter of bit, ft K = matrix strength constant, dimensionless d = bit weight exponent, dimensionless Drillability of rock at the bottom of the borehole is related to two factors, (1) rock strength and (2) confining stress supplied by drilling mud density — the overbalance. Jordan and Shirley (1966) approximated a solution to Bingham's equation for a single unknown, the d-exponent, by eliminating variable K (assuming it to be constant as in a uniform shale). They also inserted constants in the equation to in-corporate American oilfield units of measurement.

the d-exponent will increase with increasing depth — that is. Overall. lb D = diameter of bit. . rpm W = weight on bit. drill depth. A break or reversal in slope of this increasing d-exponent trend will be seen when overpressured zones are entered (Figure 1. inches Other modifications or variations have been made by individual logging companies to the d-exponent for specific uses. with constant bit type and mud overbalance. it will have an inverse relation with ROP. ft/hr N = rotary speed. with increasing compaction or rock strength. General relationships between d-exponent. mud column length and ROP while drilling through a uniform lithology with both normally pressured and overpressured intervals). In a uniform lithology.(2) where: R = penetration rate.

(3) where: dxc = mud density corrected d-exponent d = d-exponent (gnormal) = normal pore fluid pressure gradient. dc) to the d-exponent that removes the effect of mud-density changes. Although without theoretical basis. as in a drilling optimization program.Figure 1 Unfortunately. Rehm and McClendon (1971) proposed a correction (dxc. lb/gal . dcs. This can be encountered routinely where mud density is very accurately controlled. there is much empirical evidence for the utility of this correction. Conversely. a deviation in d-exponent caused by a change in pore pressure will be exactly reversed if mud density is increased sufficiently to restore the original overbalance. d-exponent deviations will also result whenever overbalance is changed by varying mud density.

0 lb/gal. It is also at this point in advanced pressure-evaluation programs that the dxcexponent is normally used to determine mud density requirements to regain mud overbalance. Example of graphic determination of downhole pore pressure and appropriate mud weights). If the mud system is in good condition. Figure 2 . Therefore. the approximation reads (4) After correction for mud weight. Determination of down hole pore pressure is made by use of a graphic plot (Figure 2. ECD is generally considered equivalent to mud weight (MW). the dxc-exponent will respond predictably to pore pressure gradient.(ECD) = actual drilling fluid effective circulating density. lbs/gal (which is dependent both on mud density and mud resistance to flow in the annulus) The general value used in mud logging for gnormal is 9.

such as ROP or shale density curves. lag time. it is practical to recognize excessive mud density by cross plotting both d-exponents and dxc-exponents. Different bit types. or where data prove to be contradictory. system volume. connection and trip gas values. this is because it has been derived from the d-exponent (Eq. depth. it is easy to see from equation 3 that an overly high pore pressure will be predicted because the denominator in the fraction is higher than should be. As has been stated. circulating pressure. changes in such variables as lithology will be accompanied by changes in rock strength. Remember that the dxc-exponent adjusts only for mud overbalance under one set of conditions. Integrated Trend Evaluation Recognition of overpressure conditions by wellsite geologists and engineers can prove to be difficult in many situations where only a few measurements are available for evaluation. such as hole sloughing or mud surges. resistivity. bit conditions. flow rate. pump strokes. temperature. and weighing one variable against another to determine the most probable conditions at depth. pit volume and level. or bit hydraulics will change drill bit efficiency. Advanced mud-logging pressure-evaluation programs improve this situation by gathering more data. shale density. 2). The task is further complicated by the need to make comparisons between continuous plots. These variables will produce offsets to dxc-exponent plots ( Figure 2 ) unless they are continually incorporated in d-exponent normalization calculations as the bit extends the drillhole. However. mud weight. A set of parameters integrated into a pressure trend evaluation is generally selected from: • Formation Log Data — ROP. • Mud System Data — mud properties. A comparably erroneous high pressure also will be predicted using mud with poor flow properties because of a large annular pressure loss. . lithology.or by mathematical calculations. applying the formula (5) where: Ppa = actual pore pressure (or pore pressure gradient) at depth of interest Ppn = normal formation pore pressure (or pore pressure gradient) at the same depth dxcn = normal dxc value at the same depth dxco = observed dxc value at the depth of interest It is essential to point out that any mathematical treatment of subsurface pressure is relatively imprecise unless consistent balanced-drilling practices are used throughout the drilling phase. rotary speed and torque. weight and time on bit. mud gas concentration and composition. If excessive mud density is used. as an example. and isolated events. and chloride content in and out. storing them for ready reference and trend projection.

such as pore pressure. They can be used to project the hydrostatic head that will be needed during trips and to control kicks. Working logs typically include selections from such first-generation parameters as ROP. Comprehensive logs are broader in nature and prepared intermittently as wider ranges of data become available. laboratory analysis. sonic. flowline temperature or in-and-out differential. such as ROP. pore pressure profile. fault location). Mud-logging companies providing advanced pressure-evaluation services commonly select from these data and present them on specialized logs. total combustible. permeability. calculated data. density response increases with compaction. plus outside information. presentations are of two types. and regional studies. hole fillup on trips. estimated pore pressure based on shale density or dxc-exponent. lithology factor. plots.• Analytical and Observation Data — cation exchange capacity. The primary emphasis of working logs is to provide the operator with immediate indications of formation pressure conditions at bottomhole and. . These logs find direct use in the selection of casing points and in determining the mud weights needed to maintain overbalance while still avoiding formation fracture damage. or tables. drag on drill pipe. Stylized pressure evaluation comprehensive log used to plan an offset well). • Generated Data — d-exponent. mud weight and viscosity. rock drill strength. to provide warning when overbalance is being lost and a well kick is possible.g. cuttings size. Typically included in this presentation will be selected parameters from the formation or working log. areal over-pressure characterization. emissions increase with compaction. shape. sonic.. and "next hole" planning (Figure 3. and volume over shaker. if necessary. such as drilling porosity or pseudo-density. and drill rig operating conditions. resistivity. or conductivity logs. calcimetry. MWD or adjoining well wireline log trends (gamma ray. and trip gas. connection. shale density and shale factor. pseudoresistivity. resistance increases with compaction. • Outside Data — regional fracture gradient. The working log also can be used to determine if the well is drilling as projected from comprehensive logs based on adjoining wells and to decide when a deviation from the planned drilling program should be made. and cuttings gas. shale density. Typically. mud conductivity or in-and-out differential. (1) working logs prepared continuously at the wellsite for quick recognition and response to changing downhole pressure conditions and (2) comprehensive logs prepared intermittently as wireline and other data become available for thorough formation pressure characterization. Primary use of this more encompassing pressure log is for overall hole evaluation (e. and fracture gradient from offset logs. transit time decreases with compaction).

Figure 3 .

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