Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Craft & Hawkins Department of Petroleum Engineering

Document Type



Foam is one of the most common used multiphase fluid in Underbalanced Drilling (UBD) and Managed Pressure Drilling (MPD). Because of its low density, high capacity of lifting and carrying cuttings, low cost and compatibility with formations, foam has become more superior than the conventional drilling mud when depleted reservoir pressure, severe lost circulation, or unstable borehole are encountered. In general, the success of foam applications rely on the understanding of the fundamentals of foam rheology in downhole conditions.

Foam rheology has been studied for decades. Conventional foam rheological models such as Power Law, Bingham Plastic, Herschel-Bulkley to explain foam behavior usually fail to interpret the monitored circulating pressure changes in operation, not to mention foam behaviors in downhole. Understanding bubble size and foam texture impacts at different foam quality ranges in the foam model development become very significant.

A new foam rheological model based on Low-Quality Regime (LQR) and High-Quality Regime (HQR) behaviors is developed. This new model, which originally came from comprehensive foam flow experiments, together with the visualization of foam texture and bubble distribution, is proved to be easily and conveniently implemented for industry use in this study. The model requires nine model parameters – three (uwRef, ugRef,DPRef) to define the transition region, four to capture Power-Law rheology in both HQR and LQR (KH, nH, KL, nL), and two to describe the sensitivity of steady-state pressure drops as a function of gas and liquid velocities in both regimes (mH, mL). With the newly developed foam model, we apply it in the following two foam applications in petroleum industry, in which the foam rheology and foam handling are the main concerns for successes.

First of all, a foam drilling and wellbore clean-up application with foam is investigated. These scenarios consider foam circulation into 10000 ft long wells at different inclination angles with a long vertical, inclined, or horizontal trajectory. The results are compared with two existing foam modeling techniques, so-called Chen et al.’s model (based on the correlations for wet foams only) and Edrisi and Kam’s model (based on wet- and dry-foam rheological properties with five model parameters). The conclusions show that, with or without formation fluid influx, the new foam model demonstrates the robustness of the new modeling technique in all scenarios capturing foam flow characteristics better, whenever the situation forms stable fine-textured foams or unstable coarse-textured foams.

Second, foam-assisted mud cap drilling for gas migration situation, which simulatesthe process with accurate foam characteristics when foams are used to suppress gas kicks under certain well and fluid conditions, is presented. The new foam model with Two Flow Regimes is used throughout the simulation process. The results show how mud-cap drilling parameters (such as pressure, foam density (or equivalent mud weight), foam velocity, and foam quality) change at different operating conditions and scenarios. Moreover, a set of field data from a wellbore clean-up with foam operation is demonstrated and the circulating pressure changes provide the evidence of Two Flow Regimes.



Committee Chair

Kam, Seung