Techbits: Drilling Technology Advances Reviewed in Workshop
- _ JPT staff (_)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- November 2010
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 30 - 31
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In response to the fact that drilling engineers are constantly challenged to reduce well costs regardless of the economic climate, SPE held an Applied Technology Workshop (ATW) titled “Advances in Drilling Technology and Performance: Drilling the Limit” in Abu Dhabi earlier this year. The 2-day ATW brought more than 117 professionals from 39 international companies together to discuss the tools and techniques that have successfully reduced drilling capital expenditure and the gaps that still need to be addressed.
Improving Drilling Performance
Two technical sessions reviewed the industry’s progress in implementing the techniques and tools that enable full optimization of the drilling process. An ultimate aim of optimization—being able to drill all sections with one bit run—affords economic advantages as well as positive impacts on health, safety, and environment. The sessions provided several examples of where drilling optimization has been achieved.
Fred Florence of National Oilwell Varco discussed the new generation of drilling rigs powered by alternating current (AC). Florence said that new build trends are showing a shift to AC rigs, both on- and offshore, thanks to benefits that include increased top-drive motor speed and greater torque advantages over direct-current drives. In addition, AC rigs are inherently simpler machines, having lower weight and requiring less maintenance. They also lend themselves to easier automation, which improves performance and safety and gives process consistency with less risk.
A challenge Florence highlighted was that AC drives and automation add new components such as sensors, multiplexed signals, computers, networks, and variable-frequency drives, which require suitably trained and competent people. Those drilling contractors that are embracing AC rigs into their portfolios are seeing increased value due to reduced well costs and drilling time. Operators are also recognizing their value and are rewarding it through more contracts for AC rigs.
Tarek Mourad of Halliburton next reviewed the limitations of radioactive sources for various measurement-while-drilling technologies. Mourad cited telemetry limitations of current sources, which prevents a vast amount of data from being pulsed to the surface while drilling and limits a driller’s ability to make decisions that can optimize well placement and maximize the wellbore’s contact with the reservoir. He acknowledged that progress has been made in the areas of downhole analysis and computation, such as pressure sampling and imaging, and noted that work is progressing in the areas of increasing the speed of telemetry codes, electromagnetic-telemetry development, and wired drill pipe.
Other limitations include battery depletion, which is tied to the number of hours that the pumps are off and mud is not pumping, and limited memory size, which is based mainly on high sampling rates. Both of these limitations may necessitate extra trips downhole, which increases costs and safety risks.
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