Experimental Investigation of Coiled Tubing Buckling Effect on Annular Frictional Pressure Losses


Coiled tubing (CT) technology has been widely used in oilfield operations, including workover applications. This technology has achieved considerable economic benefits; however, it also raises new challenges. One of the main challenges that were encountered while using this technology is the buckling of the CT string. It can occur when the axial compressive load acting on the CT string exceeds the critical buckling loads, especially in highly deviated/horizontal and extended reach wells. Moreover, this issue becomes more critical when using non-Newtonian fluids. Therefore, the major focus of this study is to identify the frictional pressure loss of non-Newtonian fluids in an annulus with a buckled inner tubing string. In the present study, a laboratory-scale flow loop was used to investigate the influence of various buckling configurations (i.e., sinusoidal, transitional, and helically) of the inner pipe on the annular frictional pressure losses while circulating non-Newtonian drilling fluids. The experiments were conducted on a horizontal well setup with a non-rotating buckled inner pipe string, considering the impact of steady-state isothermal of laminar, transition, and turbulent flow regions on frictional pressure losses. Six different Herschel-Bulkley fluids were utilized to examine the dependence of pressure losses on fluid rheological properties (i.e., yield stress, consistency index, and flow behavior index). Experiments showed potential to significantly decrease the frictional pressure losses as the axial compressive load acting on the inner pipe increases. The effect of buckling was more pronounced when fluids with higher yield stress and higher shear-thinning ability were used. In addition, by comparing the non-compressed and the compressed inner pipe, an additional reduction in frictional pressure losses occurred as the axial compressive load increased. However, the effect of the compressed inner pipe was insignificant for fluids with a low yield stress, consistency index, and high-flow-behavior index, especially in the laminar region. The information obtained from this study will contribute toward providing a more comprehensive and meaningful interpretation of fluid flow in the vicinity of a buckled coiled tubing string. In the same manner, accurate knowledge of the predicted friction pressure will improve safety and enhance the optimization of coiled tubing operations.

Meeting Name

SPE/ICoTA Well Intervention Conference and Exhibition 2020, CTWI 2020 (2020: Mar. 24-25, The Woodlands, TX)


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

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Article - Conference proceedings

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© 2020 Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Mar 2020