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SPE 22542

Reliable Deepwater Structural Casing Installation Using

Controlled Jetting
A.D. Beck and C.W. Jackson,* Amoco Production Co., and T.K. Hamilton,
Fugro-McCleliand Marine Geosciences Inc.
*SPE Member

Copyright 1991, Society of Petroleum Engineers Inc.

This paper was prepared for presentation at the 66th Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition of the Society of Petroleum Engineers held in Dallas, TX, October 6-9, 1991.
This paper was selected for presentation by an SPE Program Committee following review of 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 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 SPE meetings are subject to publication review by Editorial Committees of the Society
of Petroleum Engineers. Permission to copy is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300 words. Illustrations may not be copied. The abstract should contain conspicuous acknowledgment
of where and by whom the paper is presented. Write Publications Manager, SPE, P.O. Box 833836, Richardson, TX 75083-3836 U.S.A. Telex, 730989 SPEDAL.



This paper present.s a method for installing structural casing from floating drilling vessels in a manner
such that the casing is proof loaded and will not settle
when other casing is landed later. The method borrows
from geotechnical principles and pile installation observations. In addition to structural casing installation,
this method can be used to install lightly loaded piles
(e.g., anchor piles) in clay soils.

An overall view of deep water drilling which defines

structuml (initial) casing as used in this paper is shown
in Figure 1. A schematic of the structural casing and
jet string is shown in Figure 2.
Also shown in
Figure 2 are the permanent guide base (PGB) which
provides anchorage for the guidelines, the temporary
guide base (TGB) which may have a mudmat attached to
the bottom, and the casing running tool. During installation, the structural casing must overcome the friction
of the soil as shown in Figure 3. The jet head may be
placed inside the structural casing as is shown in
Figure 3 or outside the structural casing as shown in
Figure 4. The procedure recommended by the writers
places the jet head inside the structural casing.

This paper presents the results of an interactive
effort during 1984-1986 on the parts of the writers' companies in developing a reliable method for installing
structural casing from a floating drilling vessel using
controlled jetting. This method is limited to clay soils
since very few significant sand deposits have been
encountered in water depths greater than 700 ft.

Prior to the development of the method for structural casing installation which is presented in this paper,
the selection of the required structural casing was based
on judgement combined with past experience and was
somewhat arbitrary. The placement of the jet head
within the structural casing was, likewise, empirically
selected without benefit of soils information.
If the
casing could not be installed to design penetration,
including remedial measures (e.g., drilling a pilot hole
below the casing shoe and reinstalling the jetting string),
the casing was either cut with a casing cutter (leaving
the bottom section of casing in the soil) or pulled out in
its entirety. The drilling rig was moved over and the
installation was started again.
Also, the jet head
location relative to the structural casing shoe was genet'ally altered.

Previously, these structural casings were installed

using trial and error, using historical information on
installation methods and depths.
Within a given
geographical area, field personnel learned, empirically,
how (and the minimum depth) to install the structural
casing. However, as the area was broadened, by moving
to deeper water, and with turnover of personnel, the
ability to successfully plan for the structural casing
installation was diminished because personnel were
always at the start of the learning curve. This diminished ability contributed to two structural casing failures: one had to be cut and reinstalled at a shallower
penetration and one experienced "sinking" due to inadequat.e penetration to support the necessary weight.

When the jet head was placed outside the structural

casing, the typical result was liquification of the soil
around the jet head to a radius at least equal to that of
the structural casing and possibly greater than one
diameter (Figure 5). After the casing was installed using
this method (with circulation outside of the structural
casing), it would not be uncommon to have the structural
casing settle when the 20 in. casing was landed or when
the subsea blowout preventer (BOP) was landed. Sometimes this settlement would be great enough that either
high tensions were required of the rig tensioning system

The writers' companies saw an opportunity and a

need to adapt soil mechanics principles to the planning
for structural casing installation. The soil resistance to
casing installation was correlated to measurable soil
parameters. Both the correlation and the ddlling practice for installing the casing are presented in this paper.
References and illustrations at end of paper.




correlat.ed to various fractions of the strengths (e.g.,

MV/3, MV/4, RV/4, UU/4).

or the well had to be abandoned. This settlement could

also lead to high wellhead angles, causing crit.ical wearing of the wellhead and BOP~

To develop the procedure which is discussed in the

Installation Procedure section of t.his paper, the writers
worked together on several structural casing installat.ions to determine t.he best predictive method for estimating t.he required lengt.h of structural casing and
internal weight as well as the preferred installation
The locat.ions of these installations are
shown in Figure 13. For the first two inst.allations, t.he
st.ructural casing was butt welded 30 in. diameter by
1 in. wall pipe. For all t.he other installat.ions, t.he casings were 30 in. pipe, wit.h either 1 in. or
1-1/2 in. wall thickness, joined using squnch joint connectors (Figure 14). The resistance to penetration for
the squnch joint casings was significantly lower than for
the bare pipe. This reduction in resist.ance is believed
to be a result of t.he squnch joint.s, which are run
pin-up - box-down, acting as series of ext.ernal driving
shoes, increasing t.he soil dist.urbance and t.hereby lowering the frictional soil resistance during the installation

Using observations of pile self-weight penetration in

clay soils and after witnessing some structural casing
installat.ions, the writers suggested that geotechnical
engineering principles [1,2] could be utilized to improve
the planning and installation processes for structural
casing. The field personnel agreed to pursue the use of
geotechnical principles in the planning for st.ructural
casing installation after reviewing the comparison
between a calculated estimat.e of resistance to penetration and the actual measured resistance to penetration for one casing inst.allat.ion.

The theory for developing resistance t.o penet.rat.ion
is that the frictional resist.ance from a clay soil is a
function of its shear strength. The total resist.ance for
a structural casing which has neit.her internal friction
nor end bearing (a jet.ted casing) is given by

= 1!' fa

f(z) D dz

SPE 22542

For the bare pipe cases (Locations A and B), the

resistance was close to one-half of the ultimate resistance of the pipe (curve labeled MV/2) prior to reciprocating the pipe (moving the pipe up and down) as is
shown in Figures 15 and 16. The unit. frictional resistance which corresponds to the one-half ultimate curves
is approximately equal to one-half of t.he miniat.ure vane
shear strengt.h.


where R is the t.otal resistance in kips, f(z) is the frict.ion

distribution in kips/sq ft, D is t.he outside diameter of the
casing in feet., and L is t.he lengt.h (in feet) of casing
which has penetrat.ed the soil. The writ.ers noticed t.hat
self-weight penetration of piles was resisted by a friction
value along the pile shaft which would range between
one-third and one-fourth of the undisturbed shear
strength of the soil. The early structural casing installations also showed similar soil resistances as will be

The inst.allat.ion of st.ruct.ural casing at. Locat.ion C

was planned using the above information as a guide.
The actual resistance during the installation (shown in
Figure 17) was one-fourt.h of the ultimate capacity (MV/4
curve). There was no reciprocation of the pipe and the
video of the seafloor where the casing penetrated showed
no signs of jetting fluid circulating around t.he pipe.
Since t.he squnch joint.s were the only geomet.ric change,
it was concluded t.hat they were the primary cause of the
difference bet.ween this installation and t.he previous

The miniature vane t.est correlated reasonably well

with inst.allat.ion resistance. This test is performed by
inserting a 4-bladed vane int.o an undisturbed soil sample
and applying a torque to t.he vane's shaft. This t.orque
is resisted by a shear stress on the cylinder formed by
the vane blades and t.he soil (Figure 6). The shear stress
corresponding to the peak torque is t.aken as t.he shear
strength of the soil and is called the miniat.ure vane
shear strength (MV). The vane may be allowed to turn
further until a limiting, or residual, value of torque is
reached. The shear stress associated wit.h the limiting
value of torque is called the residual miniat.ure vane
shear strengt.h (RMV) (Figure 7). An example of a miniature vane test being performed is shown in Figure 8.

To achieve the weight of struct.ural casing for

Location C, "donut" weights were installed around the
9 in. drill collars which were placed inside the structural
casing. These donut weights are shown schematically in
the jetting assembly in Figure 18 and pictured in
Figure 19. At the end of installation, the t.otal weight
of the the casing plus the portion of t.he jetting assembly
below t.he casing running tool is carried by the soil
through skin friction. As a result of t.he added weight
of the donuts used during installation, the structural
casing was proof-loaded to a load which was approximately equal to the weight of the 20 in. casing which
would be landed in the casing later. This proof-loading
in combination with the expected capacity gain associated with soil "set-up," leads to a reliable casing installation.

Other shear st.rength t.ests which were considered

were the remot.e vane (RV) and t.he unconsolidated-undrained (UU) t.riaxial test.. The remote vane works similarly to t.he miniature vane with t.he exception that it. is
deployed down the borehole and tests the soil in situ.
Three remot.e vane sizes are shown in Figure 9. The
unconsolidated-undrained triaxial test is a compression
test where an undist.urbed soil sample is placed in a
membrane so that confining pressure can be applied.
The water wit.hin the sample cannot escape through the
membrane or the loading platens (Figures 10 and 11).
After applying the confining pressure, the sample is
compressed axially. The shear strength is taken as onehalf of the difference between the axial stress and the
confining stress (maximum shear st.ress in the sample,
ala Mohr's circle, Figure 12).

Post-installation analyses of the Location Ceasing

inst.allation led to t.he development of the recommended
method for estimating the required length and weight of
structural casing to be installed at a site. An upper
bound of resistance to penetration of structural casing
with squnch joints can be computed using MV/4 as t.he
unit friction, while a lower bound on the resistance can
be determined using a unit friction equal to 0.4 times the
RMV shear strength value. This approach has been
validated by use at several ot.her sites (Figures 20-22).
As a result, remote vane and UU triaxial testing have
been deleted from the specifications for soil borings
which are for structural casing installation only.

Since the three tests (miniature vane, remote vane,

and UU triaxial) give slightly different values for the
shear strength of the soil, correlation studies were
undertaken. In these studies, all three measurements of
soil shear st.rength were made on the soils at the various
drilling locations. The resist.ance to installation was


SPE 22542


Installation Procedure
To determine the required casing lengt.h and weight,
the frictional resistance must be estimated using the
results of a soil boring. If no boring is available from
the area a boring specifically for the structural casing
installadon must. be performed. This b~ring will co.n~ist
of drilling, using an open center drag bit, and obtammg
"undisturbed" soil samples from just below where the bit
has drilled. These samples will be classified and the
cohesive (clay) samples will have their miniature yane
and residual miniature vane shear strengths determmed.
The sampling tool is deployed through the drill pipe;
therefore, the pipe must be drifted to ensure that the
sampling tool will pass.


Measure structural casing and jetting assembly

such that the jet head is 12 in. to 18 in. inside the
bottom of the structural casing.


Pick up assembly and tag seafl~or (use of an ROY

to monitor returns and bull s-eye on PGB IS


Slowly turn on pumps and use a combination of

pump pressure and available WOB (weight on bit)
to install structural casing.


Plot WOB on t.he plot of MV/4 resistance which

was generated during the soil boring.
should be less than 10-20% above the MV/4
values; otherwise, pump pressure should be
increased. (Reciprocat.ion may be required once
maximum pump pressure is reached.)

Samples, approximately two feet long, should be

obtained at the mudline and at 10 ft intervals thereafter,
normally until the calculated minimum resistance to
structural casing installation exceeds 165 kips
(165000 lbs), or 150 ft of penetration, whichever is
(To date, the writers' company's structural
casings have not been required to penetrate greater than
150 ft. nor have they penetrated less than 100 ft.) Th~
165 kip resistance. is approximately. eq'!al to the !fIaxImum weight provided by the co"!bmatlOn of .avalla~le
donuts, drill collars, permanent gUide base, 30 m. casmg
plus wellhead housing, and mudmat. (The mudmat was
used as an additional safet.y factor and has since been

The procedure present.ed in this paper has,
to date, led to reliable structural casing installations. By reliable, the writers mean that the
casing can be installed quickly and will have been
proof-loaded to a load cC?mparable to tha.t which
will be placed on the casmg later. By usmg geotechnical principles, a match can be made
between the total required weight and the
expected formation resistance. Since the jet head
is kept inside the structural casing, t.he chances
for washout around the casing during installation
are minimized. In fact, none of the video tapes
of structural casing installations shows circulation of jetting fluid up past the c.asing. at t~e
mudline when the procedure described m thiS
paper was followed.

Curves showing both upper and lower bound soil

resistance to structural casing installation, such as
Figure 23 are developed using MV/4 as the unit friction
for the upper bound and O.4*RMV as the unit friction for
the lower bound. The combined submer~ed weig~t of the
jet. string which will be below the casmg runmng tool
plus casing for various casing len~ths should be plot~ed
on the curve (Figure 23). The maximum length of casmg
which falls above both curves should be chosen as the
length of casing to be. i,?stalled (e.g., 120 ft. casing in
Figure 23). In t.he maJol'ltl of ~ases, t.he 'Yelght ?f the
drill collars and donuts which will be used m the mstallat.ion will either equal or exceed the weight of the
20 in. casing which will be landed on the structural
casing later.

Use of the procedure reduces the time

required to install the structural casing from
approximately 8 hours (or several days) to
approximately 1 hour from contact of the str.uctural casing with the mudline to the completIOn
of the jettinf, installation. All installatio~s h.ave
resulted in ess than one-half degree of mclination as indicated by the bull's-eye bubble located
on the permanent guide base.
Moreover, no
wellhead has settled appreciably, nor has a well
been abandoned because of an unreliable structural casing.

The following is an example procedure:


Take soil boring, sampling at the mudline and

every 10 ft down to approximately 150 ft of penetration or when the soil resistance using MV/4
is greater than or equal t.o 165 kips, whichever is
the greater depth.


Plot resistance to penetrat.ion of the ;structural

casing (MV/4) in kIps versus penetration below
the seafloor in feet.


Calculate the minimum jet string (donut.s and d~ill

collars) weight. required to simulate the 20 m.
casing weight.


The writers would like to thank the following
people for their contributions to the development
and implementation of t.he pl'Ocedure presented
hel'e: Amoco Employees - J. M. Reed, J. T. Reed,
R. L. Warren, M. Y. Berman, R. B. Manley, Jr.,
B. S.
Employees - S. A. Ashford and B. Remmes.

Bowles, .J. E.: Foundation Analysis and Design,
McGraw-Hili Book Co., Inc., New York (1968).

Calculate the total submerged weight of jetting

assembly (JAW) (includes donuts, drill collars,
casing, and PGB) which will be than the
calculated soil resistances using bot.h MV/4 and
O.4*RMV (flowchart given in Figure 24).



Spangler, M. G. an~ Handy, R.. L.: Soil Engineering, Intext. Educational Publishers, New York

Permanent Gulcle
Base (PGB)

I-Ir---~r-----r-l~ Roatlng Drilling

Casing Running





Structural Casing

Jet Head

Figure 1 - Overall View of Deep Water Drilling

Figure 2 - Structural Casing & Jet String

~.J ~

lit lJ][



I( ~

Figure 4 - Jet Head Placement Outside of

Structural Casing

Figure 3 - Friction on the Structural Casing

(Jet Head Inside Casing)




26.0 N :.:-:-:-: ....

100.0 W


Figure 13 - Locations from Which Installation

Procedure was Developed

Figure 14 - Squnch Joint



Skin Friction on 30" Structural Casing (kips)


Skin Friction on 30" Structural Casing (kips)

. . . . L _ - . . . . L - -........r-L....

o +-_.......__







o M~;~;;;;;d_..

ED Reciprocation



ED Reciprocation











o +--.......




150 ........- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - '

Figure 16 - Soil Resistance at Location B

Figure 15 - Soil Resistance at Location A

Skin Friction on 30" Structural Casing (kips)

!!IJ!I! __

0.4 RMV







150 .......- - -


Figure 17 - Soil Resistance at Location C


Skin Friction on 30" Structural Casing (kips)

Weight of or Friction on 30" Structural Casing (kips)


0;----1--.....L..--1-r--L._ _.L-_-;


0.4 RMV












150 ......- - - - -


Figure 22 - 5011 Resistance at Location F


Figure 23 Casing Length Determination Example

select New Depth




JAW ~ 0.4 RMV ?


Jet String Weight ~ 20" Casing Weight?

Figure 24 Flowchart for Determining Structural

Casing Length