Industry advances continue to enable pursuit of more challenging drilling targets with complex well bore trajectories. Many of these targets are in costly deepwater and/or remote operating areas. Demand for a practical, field-proven drill pipe fatigue management system has grown as drill string failures due to fatigue contribute to a significant amount of non-productive time and cost. The response to this demand has been the development of an engineered approach that combines pipe section positioning and inspection scheduling based on estimated fatigue damage rather than rotating hours or footage drilled. Successful real-time field implementation with ongoing drilling programs demonstrates that the cumulative fatigue damage technique is a valuable and proven tool for risk mitigation and cost reduction.
The cumulative fatigue damage technique and its implementation have been introduced in previous literature [1,3,8,10]. This method of monitoring fatigue damage due to rotary operations allows the pipe to be evaluated under real-time operating conditions along a specific section or the entire length of the drill pipe. Monitoring begins at spud and is performed on each joint of drill pipe as it traverses along the well path to total depth (TD). This not only allows a quantitative measure of the relative fatigue damage accumulated joint by joint for the drill pipe, but also provides the opportunity to manage logistics, forecast pipe inspections and position pipe sections to minimize cumulative drill string fatigue damage.
The cumulative fatigue damage technique has been successfully applied in the field[1,10]. Hind casting, pre-drill planning and real-time analyses have been utilized for assessing drill string design as well as pipe management. The current case study further demonstrates the methodology introduced in the previous literature and illustrates the modeling and management of fatigue damage over a three well project. The subject operator originally anticipated that pipe inspection may be required before each well to mitigate costly historical drill pipe failures. However, the cost and logistical challenges of mid-program pipe inspection in remote operations could not be ignored. Described is the pipe management strategy employed to complete the drilling program without drill pipe failures and without the need for any mid-program inspections. In addition, the inspection results post TD of the third programmed well have been evaluated and correlated back to expected pipe damage, making this an excellent case study for the further deployment of this technology.