This paper documents the development, qualification and field test deployment of an electrically powered and wired drill pipe system for use by operators, drillers and service companies in oil & gas drilling operations. Deployment of the technology has the potential for users to power downhole tools from surface and thus reduce or remove downhole batteries / turbines. High-speed bi-directional telemetry over the wired drill pipe can improve realtime communications and downhole measurement quality, while enabling high frequency, surface and downhole data sharing / integration.

The development of the system is centered around:

  • a braided conductor and an insulating material

  • a robust field replaceable pipe connector system

  • transceivers optimized for the transmission characteristics of the system

The novelty of the new drill pipe design is the ability to supply downhole tools with power in addition to bi-directional high-speed data communication telemetry from surface over the same braided and insulated conductor, manufactured into the ID profile of the drillstring. Due to power regulation at surface and matched transceivers, the need for in-string communications repeaters is avoided. In addition, special attention has been paid to the design, robustness and field maintainability of the connector system at each end of the drill pipe.

Qualification of the system in a laboratory environment applied downhole drilling conditions using simulators, highly accelerated life tests ("HALT"), and physical testing on discrete samples, joints and short strings of drill pipe. Transceiver performance, connector make/break cycles and testing of the conductor and insulating layer under tension, bending, torque, pressure, temperature and erosion were all performed. Parallel "real life" runs on testing and commercial drilling rig operations have yielded encouraging early results to validate the qualification laboratory testing. Minimal damage was observed during handling and downhole use on several drilling rigs, indicating that the system has the potential to be handled as regular drillpipe and can be simply integrated into rig operations.

Several iterations in design and testing of the braid and insulating material have proven the viability of new manufacturing techniques and given valuable insight as to the ability of the design to withstand normal drilling conditions of flow, torque, tension, pressure, temperature etc. gained through commercial drilling rig testing. System trials on rig operations have shown that stable downhole power can be delivered whilst communicating with a minimum bit rate of 56Kbit/sec during drilling. A top drive slip-ring assembly at surface and a crossover to a service company BHA downhole have been developed and were used for the drilling trials.

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