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Accuracy limitations of FOG-based continuous measurement-while-drilling surveying instruments for horizontal wells

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3 Author(s)
A. Noureldin ; Dept. of Electr. & Comput. Eng., Univ. of Calgary, Alta., Canada ; D. Irvine-Halliday ; M. P. Mintchev

Horizontal drilling processes in the oil industry utilize directional measurement-while-drilling (MWD) instruments to provide real-time monitoring of the position and the orientation of the bottom hole assembly (BHA). It has been reported that a single fiber optic gyroscope (FOG) can be incorporated with three-axis accelerometers to provide real-time MWD surveying of horizontal wells. However, the long-term performance and the accuracy limitations of this FOG-based instrumentation system have not been discussed. This article aims at describing a methodology for quantitative long-term analysis of the various surveying errors while drilling the near-vertical sections of the well. It also offers some techniques to enhance the long-term surveying accuracy in an experimental model of the FOG-based downhole-surveying instrument. The surveying errors are optimally estimated by the Kalman filtering techniques, and their long-term analysis is based on studying the corresponding mean square estimation errors. In order to limit the long-term growth of the surveying errors, we suggest improving the velocity computation provided by the FOG-based system either by continuous velocity update or by zero velocity update at some predetermined surveying stations. These techniques have significantly limited the long-term growth of the position errors (less than 100 m over a more than 2-h experiment). Moreover, the errors associated with the BHA orientation components were kept at less than 1°. Suggested methodology significantly improved the surveying accuracy in an experimental model of the FOG-based MWD surveying system.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Instrumentation and Measurement  (Volume:51 ,  Issue: 6 )