Advanced drill-collar connections have been developed with 10 times extended fatigue life compared with the corresponding replaced connections. More than 4,000 advanced connections have been run in North America. Although these connections have demonstrated substantial fatigue-strength improvement in operation, some failures have occurred. Multiple failed connection samples have been retrieved and analyzed for their failure modes and the root causes.
In the failure analyses, manufacturing data were reviewed to identify any possible discrepancies between design specifications and manufactured components. The field run data were analyzed for the loading histories of the connections. The downhole fluid properties were also reviewed to identify their possible effects on the connection performances. The bottomhole assemblies (BHAs) were numerically analyzed to determine the loading distributions. The failed connection samples were physically processed and inspected in a metallurgical laboratory. Based on the combined numerical and testing analyses, the conclusions on the failure modes and the root causes were drawn.
It was found that the primary failure mode for these connections was fatigue. The root causes for the fatigue failures can be divided into two categories: manufacturing causes and operational causes. Among the manufacturing failure causes, incorrect cold rolling is the primary one. The operation-related failures were mainly caused by overloading.
Through failure mode and root-cause analyses, the manufacturing and operational related risks for the advanced drill-collar connections were mitigated accordingly. It therefore greatly improved the quality assurance of the advanced connections.