Abstract

Shale drilling for both natural gas and hydrocarbon liquids has increased dramatically in North America over the last several years. Shale oil and gas deposits are known to exist all over the globe including Australia and the rest of the Asia Pacific. This paper discusses the requirements for drillpipe in shale drilling applications along with a review of some of the challenges and problems associated with the drillstring in these critical applications. Most wells are horizontal with long departures. Typical wells in the Balkan Shale are 17,000 ft MD, 11,000 ft TVD with a 6,000 ft horizontal reach. Drilling these wells puts huge demands on the drillpipe and rotary shoulder connections and pushes the drilling equipment and rig crews beyond the requirements of typical onshore well construction projects. Many, if not most, of the shale wells require advanced design, double shoulder connections (DSC) on the drillstring to provide the enhanced torsional strength and streamlined connection dimensions required to effectively drill these prospects. The paper presents connection design solutions along with considerations for safe and efficient running procedures. Although, the advanced DSCs are designed to be transparent to normal drilling operations, compared to standard API connections, some problems have been encountered. The paper addresses these running and handling issues and provides guidelines to mitigate these problems. Excessive tool joint and drillpipe body wear have also been encountered in several shale plays. This is discussed, along with recommendations to limit wear. Stick-slip has created drillstring problems on several wells. Stick-slip can cause damage to the drillpipe and, in the extreme, downhole connection back-offs have occurred. The paper looks at aspects of case histories to illustrate these issues and provides lessons learned to improve shale drilling operations in North America, the Asia Pacific and other regions of the world.

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