Due to progressively decreasing trend in finding easy oil and gas, the industry is constantly shifting to high risk and extremely challenging drilling environments to meet global energy demands. This is reflected by increasingly higher drilling activities in complex geological areas, deep water environments, extreme-HTHP conditions, etc. The increasing shift from vertical to deviated, horizontal or extended reach drilling, single lateral to multilateral drilling, conventional to coiled tubing or casing while drilling, rotary drilling to downhole motor drilling, etc., also dictate the development of highly reliable tools and equipment for trouble free drilling operation. Moreover, critical issues such as high temperature, high pressure, complex geology, high water depth, and high rig rental and operating costs make oil and gas exploration and exploitation highly risky and extremely costly. Therefore, extreme-environment drilling operations need reliable, chemically resistive and mechanically stable, short- and long-term fail-safe surface and subsurface tools and equipment to overcome the technical limitations of conventional tools.
Nanotechnology has demonstrated that nanostructured materials with special mechanical, chemical, thermal, electrical and tribological properties can exhibit significantly higher strength, hardness, material toughness, corrosion resistance, ductility, elastic properties, thermal stability, and heat conductivity, etc., compared to conventional materials in spite of having the same chemical and material compositions. As these materials exhibit very low density and high mechanical strength and superior chemical resistance and excellent thermal stability, tailor made nanomaterials or nanocomposites either alone or in combination with other macro, micro and nano materials can provide much lighter equipment with significantly higher mechanical, thermal, chemical and tribological properties for challenging drilling environments. This paper describes the application of nanomaterials and nanotechnology in the development of superior nano-enhanced tools and equipment that can overcome critical operational issues found in extreme drilling and production environments.