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3.1 Depth Reference Systems
3.2 Geographical reference Systems
4.1 Parameters Defining the Wellpath
4.2 Defining the Points on the Wellpath
4.2.1 Scaled Diagrams
4.2.2 Geometrical Calculation Technique
6.1 Bent Sub and Mud Motor
6.2 Steerable Drilling Systems
6.2.1 Components
6.2.2 Dogleg Produced by a Steerable System
6.2.3 Operation of a Steerable System
6.3 Rotary Steering System
6.3.1 Downhole System
6.3.2 Surface System
6.4 Directional Bottom Hole Assemblies (BHA)
6.4.1 Paacked Hole Assembly
6.4.2 Pendulum Assembly
6.4.3 Fulcrum Assembly
6.5 Whipstocks
APPENDIX -1: Positive Displacement Motors
(PDMs) and Turbodrills
Solutions to Exercises


Having worked through this chapter the student will be able to:

List and describe the applications of directional drilling techniques

Describe the constraints on the trajectory of a deviated well
Define the terms: KOP;BUR;and tangent section of the well trajectory

Trajectory Design:

Calculate the: along hole depth, TVD and departure of the end of the
build up section and the along hole depth of the bottom of the hole in a
build and hold well profile

Deflection Tools

Describe the principles used in the deflection of a wellbore from a given

List and describe the tools used to initiate changes in wellbore trajectory
Describe the principles associated with the packed hole, pendulum and
fulcrum BHA and when each would be used
Describe the component parts of a steerable and a rotary steerable
drilling system and the mode of operation of such a system
Describe the principles of operation of PDM and Turbodrill

PDMs and Turbodrills:

Describe the principles of operation of a PDM and Turbodrill.


In the early days of land drilling most wells were drilled vertically, straight
down into the reservoir. Although these wells were considered to be vertical,
they rarely were. Some deviation in a wellbore will always occur, due to
formation effects and bending of the drillstring. The first recorded instance of a
well being deliberately drilled along a deviated course was in California in
1930. This well was drilled to exploit a reservoir which was beyond the
shoreline underneath the Pacific Ocean.
It had been the practice to build jetties out into the ocean and build the drilling
rig on the jetty. However, this became prohibitively expensive and the and the
technique of drilling deviated wells was developed. Since then many new
techniques and special tools have been introduced to control the path of the
An operating company usually hires a directional drilling service company to:
provide expertise in planning the well; supply special tools; and to provide
onsite assistance when operating the tools. The operator may also hire a
surveying company to measure the inclination and direction of the well as
drilling proceeds.
In this chapter we will discuss: the applications of directional well drilling: the
design of these wells; and the techniques used to drill a well with controlled
deviation from the vertical. The next chapter will discuss the tools and
techniques used to survey the position of the well (determine the three
dimensional position of all points in the wellbore relative to the wellhead).

There are many reasons for drilling a non-vertical (deviated) well. Some Typical
applications of directionally controlled drilling are shown in figure 1
a) Multi-well Platform Drilling
Multi-well Platform Drilling is widely employed in the north sea. The
development of these fields is only economically feasible if it is possible to drill
a large number of wells (up to 40 or 60) from one location (platform). The
deviated wells are designed to intercept a reservoir over a wide aereal extent.
Many oilfields (both onshore and offshore) would not be economically feasible if
not for this technique.
b) Fault Drilling
If a well is drilled across a fault the casing can be damaged by fault slippage.
The potential for damaging the casing can be minimized by drilling parallel to a

fault and then changing the direction of the well to cross the fault into the
c) Inaccssible Locations
Vertical access to a producing zone is often obstructed by some obstacle at
surface (e.g. river estuary , mountain range, city), In this case the well may be
direccionally drilled into the target from a rig site some distance away from the
point vertically above the required point of entry into the reservoir.

d) Sidetracking and Straightening

It is in fact quite difficult to control the angle of inclination of any well (vertical
or deviated) and it may be necessary to correct the course of the well for many
reasons. For example, it may be necessary in the drillpipe becoming stuck in
the hole to simply drill around the stuckpipe (or fish), or plug back the well to
drill to an alternative target.
e) Salt Dome Drilling
Salt dome ( called Diapirs) often form hydrocarbon traps in what were overlying
reservoir rocks. In this of trap the reservoir is located directly beneath the flank
of the salt dome. To avoid potential drilling problems in the salt (e.g. severe
washouts, moving salt, high pressure blocks of dolomite) a directional well can
be used to drill alongside the diaper (not vertically down through it)and then at
an angle below the salt to reach the reservoir.
f) Relief Wells
If a blow-out occurs and the rig is damaged, or destroyed, it may be possible to
kill the wild well by drilling another directionally well (relief well) to intercept or
pass to within a few feet of the bottom of the wild well. The wild well is killed by
circulating high desinty fluid down the relief well, into and up the wild well.


The trajectory of a deviated well must be carefully planned so that the most
efficient trajectory is used to drill between the rig and the target location and
ensure that the well is drilled for the least amount of money possible. When
planning, and subsequently drilling the well, the position of all points along the
wellpath and therefore the trajectory of the well must be considered in three
dimensions figure 2. This means that the position of all points on the trajectory
must be expressed with respect to a three dimensional reference system. The
three dimensional system that is generally used to define the position of a
particular point along the wellpath is:
The vertical depth of the point below a particular reference point

The horizontal distance traversed from the wellhead in a Northerly

The distance Traversed from the wellhead in an Easterly direction
The depth of a particular point the wellpath is expressed in feet (or meters)
vertically below a reference (datum) point and the northerly and Easterly
displacement of the point is expressed in feet (or meters) horizontally from the
3.1 Depth Reference Systems
There are a number of datum systems used in the depth reference systems.
The datum systems which are most widely used are:
Mean sea level, MSL
Rotary table elevation, RTE
20Wellhead Housing
The Mean sea level, MSL is a permanent, national and well documented datum
whereas datum such as the Rotary Table elevation, RTE only exists when the
drilling rig is on site. The top of the
20Wellhead Housing is only available when the wellhead housing has been
installed and will be removed when the well is abandoned. Hence, since the
only permanent datum is the MSL ( the rig will be removed and the wellhead
may be removed on abandonment) the distance between the MSL and the
rotary table on the drillfloor and the MSL and the wellhead housing must be
measured and recorded carefully on the well survey documents. The elevantion
of the rotary table above the MSL will be measured when the drilling rig is
placed over the drilling location.
The depths of the formations to be penetrated are generally referenced, by the
geologists and reservoir engineers, to MSL since the Rotary Table elevation will
not be known until the drilling rig is in place. In most drilling operations the
rotary table elevation (RTE) is used as the working depth reference since it is
relatively simple, for the driller for instance, to measure depths relative to this
point, The elevation of the RTE is also referred to as Derrick Floor Elevation
DFE. Depths measured from these references are often called depths below
rotary table BRT or below derrick floor BDF. The top of the Kelly bushing is also
used as a datum for depth measurement. In this case the depths are referred
to as below rotary Kelly bushing RKB.