Aluminium drillpipe (ADP) is being recognized by major drilling companies as an instrument for reducing drillstring weight and consequently torque and drag. This product has been used in Russia since the 1960s. The combination of the low-capacity drilling rigs, ADP, and turbodrills provided a unique opportunity for development of remote Western Siberia deposits, using cluster directional-drilling technology. The modified aluminium alloy drillpipe known as LAIDP (light-alloy improved dependability pipe) was later introduced for ultradeep wells. This design allowed high-torque application, resulting in the achievement of a world record in drilling 12,262 m in the Kola SG-3 well in 1993. Though LAIDP was initially designed for ultradeep drilling, it has been successfully applied in deep oil and gas exploratory and development drilling, especially in horizontal boreholes, since the early 2000s. The untapped potential of LAIDP is significant. Its successful application in the Arctic and other extreme environments can use this potential and become a catalyst for industry growth.
Rough weather, extremely low temperatures, ice, and lack of infrastructure have always made drilling in the Arctic extremely difficult, especially for offshore fields. One of the solutions, in this case, is reaching the target from shore or from an artificial island, using extended-reach drilling (ERD). Existing ERD technology provides wells with horizontal extensions up to 11.5 km. The record ERD well, completed in 2011 at Odoptu field, Sakhalin-1, has reached 12,345 m length. In spite of these amazing results, the industry needs longer wells. LAIDP and similar technologies could advance borehole length for an additional 5 km, as shown by analyses conducted in the past few years. Extensive laboratory tests and field trials would provide more confidence in a 15-km to 20-km well as a target in the near future. Such a possibility may be crucial for development of a number of oil and gas fields in the Arctic.
Light alloy pipes would provide other benefits as well, among them, easier transportation and resistance to cold environments.
Other important properties of ADP may be found useful, such as corrosion resistance to hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and carbon dioxide (CO2), nonmagnetic properties, and good flexibility.