This paper provides an explanation of the concept of the AG-itator, presents field performance results and examines the potential use of the tool in CT (Coiled Tubing) drilling and workover operations. The tool has been widely used as a solution to the major problems associated with slide or oriented drilling. The concept of the tool is based on reducing friction and providing accurate weight transfer to the bit. Typical applications include; sliding with a PDM-PDC combination where previously difficult or impossible; overcoming motor stalling problems; increasing ROP and extending the length of oriented intervals. The technology is to be developed as a CT tool and is expected to be particularly useful, as CT operations are characterised by constant non-rotation and high levels of friction. These two factors ultimately lead to helical buckling which can limit the effective reach of CT drilling or workover operations.

The fluid action of the tool creates pressure pulses that generate an axial force of approximately 15,000lb at a frequency of 16Hz (refer to Fig 1). These pulses gently oscillate the bottom hole assembly (BHA), reducing friction and improving weight transfer. In this way, weight is transferred to the bit, continuously and accurately without harsh impact forces. It has been demonstrated that the tools’ fluid action is benign, as it has not damaged the bit, tubulars or more sensitive equipment such as MWD/LWD. Consequently, standard downhole equipment can be used with the tool.

It is argued that accurate weight transfer improves drilling performance in several ways (1) PDC bit life can be extended as the bit is prevented from constantly spudding into the formation. Additionally, both roller cone and PDC bits can be run without the risk of damage to bit teeth or bearings; post run bit characteristics have shown that no damage to the bit occurred as a result of impact forces. (2) Higher levels of WOB can be achieved using lower off hook weight. (3) There is reduced drill pipe compression as weight is transferred effectively and not dissipated at points where the BHA or drillstring hangs up. (4) Tool face control is enhanced. (5) Gross rates of penetration are increased.

Applications for the technology exist in all modes of drilling but usage appears particularly beneficial in non-rotating drillstrings and BHAs. Such applications are increasingly common as well profiles become more tortuous and the limits of extended reach and directional drilling are reached. Run data shows that the tool is a simple way of extending the reach and capability of conventional steerable assemblies. Accurate weight transfer and exceptional tool face control have been logged using PDC bits, even in significantly depleted formations after large azimuth changes. Intervals have been extended and drilled with higher ROPs while problems associated with setting and maintaining tool face have been minimised. The technology is compatible with MWD systems and is a viable means of extending targets whilst improving ROP, reducing rock bit runs and lowering the risk of differential sticking. Before assessing the use of the technology to extend the reach of CT BHAs, it is worth looking at field performance.

Extending the reach of Conventional Steerable Assemblies - A Case History in the Dutch sector of the North Sea

The 5 7/8" section of a development well was to be drilled in the Silverpit, Lower Slochteren and Westphalian formations in the Dutch Sector of the North Sea. The drilling objectives for this section were to build inclination from 42° to 84° at the top of the Lower Slochteren, and then to maintain a tangent before dropping angle to TD. The measured depths were recorded as 3,645 and 4,373 metres respectively. Subsequently, a sub-horizontal drain of 85° was to be drilled by a BHA incorporating the AG-itator (Refer to Fig 4). The purpose of using the technology was to provide accurate weight transfer to the bit during slide drilling, thereby minimising motor stalling, the BHA hanging up and to make tool face orientation easier.

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