Improved Methods Aid Understanding and Mitigation of Stick/Slip Torsional Vibrations

Topics: Drilling fluids

Historically, prediction of stick/slip vibrations in advance of drilling has been fraught with challenges. Although the factors influencing stick/slip, and the directional changes required to mitigate it, are known, a need exists for a simple method to determine quantitatively the degree of dysfunction and the effects of redesign parameters. This paper will show how stick/slip vibration distributions can be used to guide drillstring and parameter redesign to mitigate stick/slip in the next well.


Torsional vibrations, also known as stick/slip, occur as the rotational speed of the bit and drillstring vary because of stiffness, inertia, and torsional friction interactions. In some wells, these torsional/rotational fluctuations are not severe and may not reach full stick/slip, which occurs when the bit comes to a full stop in the torsional vibration cycle.

The drilling data obtained in the drilling of a well are displayed typically as time or depth tracks, with different parameters shown on the same or adjacent tracks over the corresponding time or depth interval. Although of interest, this display of data is limited. It does not provide a direct indication of the amount of dysfunction present over the duration of the interval. A histogram is a particularly useful display of the distribution of data values.

In the case of stick/slip vibrations, the torsional-severity estimate (TSE) is a measure of proximity to full stick/slip. A TSE value of 0.0 represents no torsional vibrations, where the entire drillstring is turning at a constant angular velocity. A TSE of 1.0 represents full stick/slip, in which the rotary speed at the surface is constant but the bit speed varies sinusoidally between zero and twice the surface rotary speed. Values of TSE greater than 1.0 indicate time intervals in which the bit comes to a complete stop and then accelerates to more than twice the surface rotational speed. The most severe cases may even involve negative rotation of the bit.

Analytical tools that help assess the degree of torsional vibrations can be useful, especially in those instances where known remediation techniques are not available or may be costly. A variety of methods exists to address torsional vibration problems, and the most-cost-effective method may be the method of choice.

This article, written by Special Publications Editor Adam Wilson, contains highlights of paper SPE 189673, “Improved Methods To Understand and Mitigate Stick/Slip Torsional Vibrations,” by J.R. Bailey, SPE, G.S. Payette, SPE, and L. Wang, SPE, ExxonMobil, prepared for the 2018 IADC/SPE Drilling Technology Conference and Exhibition, Fort Worth, Texas, USA, 6–8 March. The paper has not been peer reviewed.
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Improved Methods Aid Understanding and Mitigation of Stick/Slip Torsional Vibrations

01 December 2018

Volume: 70 | Issue: 12