Measurement While Drilling
The evaluation of physical properties, usually including pressure, temperature and wellbore trajectory in three-dimensional space, while extending a wellbore. MWD is now standard practice in offshore directional wells, where the tool cost is offset by rig time and wellbore stability considerations if other tools are used. The measurements are made downhole, stored in solid-state memory for some time and later transmitted to the surface. Data transmission methods vary from company to company, but usually involve digitally encoding data and transmitting to the surface as pressure pulses in the mud system. These pressures may be positive, negative or continuous sine waves. Some MWD tools have the ability to store the measurements for later retrieval with wireline or when the tool is tripped out of the hole if the data transmission link fails. MWD tools that measure formation parameters (resistivity, porosity, sonic velocity, gamma ray) are referred to as logging-while-drilling (LWD) tools. LWD tools use similar data storage and transmission systems, with some having more solid-state memory to provide higher resolution logs after the tool is tripped out than is possible with the relatively low bandwidth, mud-pulse data transmission system.