A Mechanistic Model for Wellbore Cleanout in Horizontal and Inclined Wells
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The accumulation of rock cuttings, proppant, and other solid debris in the wellbore caused by inadequate cleanout remarkably impedes field operations. The cuttings removal process becomes a more challenging task as the coiled-tubing techniques are used during drilling and fracturing operations. This article presents a new hole cleaning model, which calculates the critical transport velocity (CTV) in conventional and fibrous water-based fluids. The study is aimed to establish an accurate mechanistic model for optimizing wellbore cleanout in horizontal and inclined wells. The new CTV model is established to predict the initiation of bed particle movement during cleanout operations. The model is formulated considering the impact of fiber using a special drag coefficient (i.e., fiber drag coefficient), which represents the mechanical and hydrodynamic actions of suspended fiber particles and their network. The dominant forces acting on a single bed particle are considered to develop the model. Furthermore, to enhance the precision of the model, recently developed hydraulic correlations are used to compute the average bed shear stress, which is required to determine the CTV. In horizontal and highly deviated wells, the wellbore geometry is often eccentric, resulting in the formation of flow stagnant zones that are difficult to clean. The bed shear stress in these zones is sensitive to the bed thickness. The existing wellbore cleanout models do not account for the variation in bed shear stress. Thus, their accuracy is limited when stagnant zones are formed. The new model addresses this problem by incorporating hydraulic correlations to account for bed shear stress variation with bed height. The accuracy of the new model is validated with published measurements and compared with the precision of an existing model. The use of fiber drag and bed shear stress correlations has improved model accuracy and aided in capturing the contribution of fiber in improving wellbore cleanout. As a result, for fibrous and conventional water-based fluids, the predictions of the new model have demonstrated good agreement with experimental measurements and provided better predictions than the existing model. Model predictions show a noticeable reduction in fluid circulation rate caused by the addition of a small quantity of fiber (0.04% w/w) in the fluid. In addition, results show that the existing model overpredicts the cleaning performance of both conventional and fibrous water-based muds. Copyright 2021 Society of Petroleum Engineers.