Mesh Optimization For Finite Element Models of Wellbore Stress Analysis


Numerical modeling methods such as the widely used finite element method provide an excellent opportunity to analyze the wellbore state of stress for a variety of applications such as wellbore integrity, wellbore design or hydraulic fracturing. However,numerical modeling methods introduce errors by nature and may not precisely match the analytical solution if the meshing of the numerical model is not carefully taken care of. This study presents a parametric study of the meshing parameters mesh density, element type,and model size for a 2D vertical wellbore model under three different types of boundary conditions, and a guideline for mesh optimization is provided. The implications of the accuracy of numerical modeling results are shown by calculating the safe mud weight window for different stress regimes for a non-optimized wellbore mesh and an optimized mesh. Utilizing a non-optimized mesh for wellbore stress analysis may lead to a significant misinterpretation of the minimum usable mud weight and borehole collapse may result.

Meeting Name

5th US Rock Mechanics / Geomechanics Symposium (2011: Jun. 26-29, San Francisco, CA)


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering


12 pages

Keywords and Phrases

Analytical solutions; Element type; Finite element models; Mesh density; Mesh optimization; Model size; Mud weight windows; Numerical modeling method; Parametric study; State of stress; Stress regime; Vertical wellbore; Boreholes; Hydraulic fracturing; Numerical methods; Oil field equipment; Optimization; Rock mechanics; Stress analysis

Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


File Type





© 2011 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jun 2011

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