Real-time downhole estimation of inclination and azimuth is desirable for improved wellbore quality, better management of the drilling process with regard to wellbore hydraulics and drilling dynamics, and is a prerequisite for advanced directional drilling services such as downhole azimuthal hold mode and surface-based automated trajectory control. However, reliable estimation of azimuth while drilling remains a challenging problem, particularly in certain orientations in harsh drilling environments. We present a detailed problem description and describe the approach used to develop a new algorithm to estimate azimuth while drilling, which offers significant improvements over existing algorithms. Such an algorithm will form the foundation for advanced drilling system automation services, such as automated trajectory drilling.
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