An interactive program has been constructed that allows a student or engineer to simulate the drilling of an oil well, and to optimize the drilling process by comparing different drilling plans.
The program operates in a very user-friendly way, with emphasis on menu and button-driven commands. The simulator may be run either as a training program, with exercises that illustrate various features of the drilling process, as a game, in which a student is set a challenge to drill a well with minimum cost or time under constraints set by an instructor, or as a simulator of a real situation to investigate the merit of different drilling strategies.
It has three main parts, a Lithology Editor, a Settings Editor and the simulation program itself. The Lithology Editor allows the student, instructor or engineer to build a real or imaginary sequence of rock layers, each characterized by its mineralogy, drilling and log responses. The Settings Editor allows the definition of all the operational parameters, ranging from the drilling and wear rates of particular bits in specified rocks to the costs of different procedures. The simulator itself contains an algorithm that determines rate of penetration and rate of wear of the bit as drilling continues. It also determines whether the well kicks or fractures, and assigns various other "accident" conditions. During operation, a depth vs. time curve is displayed, together with a "mud log" showing the rock layers penetrated. If desired, the well may be "logged", casings may be set and pore and fracture pressure gradients may be displayed. During drilling, the total time and cost are shown, together with cost per foot in total and for the current bit run.
A demonstration version of the program is available on the World Wide Web at the Berkeley Petroleum Engineering Page. Its current address is: msel6.mse.berkeley.edu