The need for advances in the robustness and versatility of downhole tools is increasing as well geometries become more complex. With more challenging wells being drilled everyday even the most advanced tools need to be improved upon. This is typically where research and development (R&D) engineers play a vital role. They work closely with operations personnel to create and constantly improve downhole tools. As service companies typically are the R&D arm of the oilfield, tools and improved designs are primarily market driven. This paper will explore the development of a mechanical friction reduction tool (MFRT), which is sometimes necessary in ERD and complex geometry wells to overcome torque and drag limitations.

A tool starts as a concept that will overcome an obstacle when drilling or completing a well or ensure the safety and cost effectiveness of an operation. The R&D engineers take this idea and develop it into a first generation tool. They then meet with their managers, fellow engineers and operations managers to discuss the concept, the functionality, and the technical and financial viability of the tool. The engineers then go back and refine the design of the tool, after which is scheduled another design review meeting. This process undergoes several iterations, with more technical and managerial personnel involved each meeting, until a final design is agreed upon. This design review process is intended to manage the progress of the design, keeping check on the financial, functional, and implementation aspects of the tool.

Once the first articles have been manufactured and field trials run, these tools are run commercially. Close watch is kept on the use of the tools and any issue and need for improvement are addressed by the design team. Constant assessments of the tool’s performance are carried out. This paper describes the development of a tool over a ten year period using the MFRT as a case study. We look at specific changes made to the tool, why these changes were implemented, and field trial results for the different modifications.

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