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Advanced Drilling and Completion

In order for deep drilling technologies to continue to evolve, it is important that the industry look at well construction from a total systems perspective. That is, rather than viewing the procedure as a series of separate and distinct steps, effort must be focused on optimizing the entire integrated process by choosing the best combination of technologies for achieving the final goal: a highly productive well. For example, reducing the frequency and magnitude of drilling problems through better monitoring of drilling parameters reduces drilling time and increases overall rate of penetration. It also reduces the likelihood of drilling-related formation damage, thereby improving the chances for a more effective completion. Similarly, reducing the diameter of the near-surface wellbore through the use of advanced small diameter drilling techniques and expandable tubulars, can not only reduce the time it takes to drill a well but also the cost of the completion and the extent of environmental impact (smaller rig footprint, less cuttings). The relatively larger casing size possible at completion depth with the use of expandable casing also permits a higher production rate.

More effective light-weight cement formulations can reduce the number of casing strings required, reducing drilling and completion time and increasing the completion interval wellbore diameter and thus productivity potential. Less damaging drilling and completion fluids can improve the results of stimulation treatments, and more effective stimulation treatments can be achieved if a true understanding of the fracturing behavior of deep formations is achieved. The development of entirely new approaches to the drilling/completion task, such as casing-while-drilling, could significantly decrease the time spent on downhole problems not associated with the actual drilling process (e.g., stuck pipe, lost circulation, and well control situations). This in turn leads to a safer and less expensive drilling operation (fewer people, less pipe handling, fewer trips, and less mud).

New Bit Technology

Rate of penetration (ROP) is a major issue in deep wells. Low ROP (for example, 3 to 5 feet per hour) is primarily a result of the high compressive strength of the highly overburdened formations encountered at greater depths. Initially, the tricone bits with hardened inserts used for drilling hard formations at shallower depths were applied as wells went deeper. However, at greater depths it is more difficult to recognize when a tricone bit's bearings have failed, a situation that can occur with greater frequency when greater weight is applied to the bit in a deep well. This can lead to more frequent failures, lost cones, more frequent trips, higher costs and lower overall Drilling fluids play several crucial roles in th drilling process: Hughes Christensen PDC bi rates of penetration.
and cutter from Baker Hughes

Fixed cutter bits with polycrystalline diamond compact (PDC) cutters were a solution to the problems inheren with tricone bit moving parts. The PDC cutting surface employs synthetic polycrystalline diamonds bonded to a tungsten-carbide stud or blade. First developed in the 1970's, this type of bit now holds the record for single run footage in a well (22,000 feet). PDC bits typically drill several times faster than tricone bits, particularly i softer formations, and PDC bit life has increased dramatically over the past 20 years. But PDC bits have their own set of problems in hard formations. For example, bit whirl is a problem that occurs when a PDC bit's center of rotation shifts away from its geometric center, producing a non-cylindrical hole. This can result from an unbalanced condition brought on by irregularities in the frictional forces between the rock and the bit, analogous to an unbalanced tire causing vibrations that spread throughout a car at higher speeds. PDC bits are more susceptible to this phenomenon as well as to stick slip problems, where the bit hangs up momentarily, allowing its rotation to briefly stop, and then slips free at a high speed. While PDC cutters are very good at shearing rock, they are susceptible to damage from the sharp impacts that these problems can lead to in hard rocks, resulting in reduced bit life and lower overall rates of penetration. New PDC bit designs include features that attempt to address these problems; force balancing, spiraled or asymmetric cutter layouts, gauge rings, and hybrid cutter designs, to name a few. However, PDC bits still have some shortcomings when drilling in extreme environments. Sandia National Laboratories is currently working in cooperation with industry and university partners to improve the hard rock, high pressure, high-temperature drilling capability of PDC bits. After much testing and computer modeling of stresses, high temperatures, hydraulics, and wear mechanisms, a reliable thermally-stable polycrystalline (TSP) diamond bit is being developed.

The next phase of bit-related technological advances for deep drilling may include not only improvements in conventional drill bit efficiency, durability, and longevity, but also advancements in the development of less conventional drilling tools. Such tools might utilize heat, pressure, chemicals, or electrohydraulic discharges to break and remove rock from the well bore, as opposed to the shearing and grinding mechanisms of conventional bits. For example, thermal spalling drills could use heat (700 to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, 370 to 540 degrees Centigrade) to cause rock to spall or split away from the wellbore. Melting and vaporization drill could employ lasers or electron beams to achieve similar results. Chemical drills might employ highly reactiv fluids, such as fluorine, to dissolve the rock, while mechanical stress drills might employ small explosions, implosions, pellets, sparks, ultrasound waves, or turbines to break the rock. Each of these proposed mechanisms will require a careful accounting of energy requirements as well as rock removal efficiency,

before any can be considered as an economic alternative.

Cements Cementing the casing serves several functions: segregating formations behind the pipe to confine production to a specific zone, providing support for the casing and helping to protect the pipe from corrosive formation fluids. As wells are drilled deeper, high pressures, high temperatures and corrosive fluids place demands on the performance of cements that are quite different from those encountered in conventional drilling.

For example, the cement slurry needs to have a low viscosity to enable it to be easily pumped to a greater depth. High pressures and temperatures can alter the setting behavior of the cement, so the slurry must be specially designed for predetermined downhole conditions. If Ultra-light hollow spheres (ULHS) added to the cement sets too quickly the well can be lost; too slowly can mean cement significantly reduces the density. Thi an expensive loss in drilling time and possible communication behind cube of cement containing ULHSs floats in a pipe due to fluid influx. flask of water.

The long-term integrity of the cement under harsh pressure and temperature conditions is also important. Poo cement qualities over time can result in casing corrosion and collapse, fluid migration behind pipe, or loss of support and formation-to-pipe seal. Formation fluids high in carbon dioxide are particularly effective at causing cement to deteriorate; in some cases within five years.

New cements for deep drilling must exhibit high strength and low viscosity; be easy to mix and pump, be impermeable, and able to endure cycling stresses for long periods of time. Newer additives (e.g., ultralight hollow glass spheres) are needed to improve the deep drilling applicability of cements without compromising strength, heat resistance, and permeability.

Drilling and Completion Fluids carrying cuttings out of the hole; cleaning, cooling and lubricating the bit; giving buoyancy to the drill string; controlling formation fluid pressures; preventing formation damage; and providing borehole support and chemical stabilization. There are three types of drilling fluids: water-based, oil-based and synthetic-based. Technical requirements, cost, availability, and environmental concerns can all influence the selection of fluid type. However, as wells penetrate deeper formations, extreme conditions can result in failure of the drilling fluid to perform as needed. For example, the role of the drilling fluid to act as a lubricant to reduce torque and drag on the drill pipe and bit becomes increasingly important in deep drilling. High temperatures encountered at greater depths can cause a direct change in the lubricating capacity of drilling muds. At the same time, the better lubricating qualities of oil-based and synthetic-based drilling fluids may become less available to drillers due to environmental regulations restricting their use. The development of new lubricating materials (e.g., solid beads) is currently being investigated as an effective means of reducing friction.

Also, with deeper wells the weight of the total amount of fluid moving through the drilling system can becom a concern. New technology that can reduce the weight of drilling muds without compromising other characteristics will increase the efficiency of drilling operations. In particular, developing drilling fluids that can control subsurface pressures and maintain the stability of the wellbore without harming the permeability of productive formations is an important area for research. Finally, although oil-based muds can perform better at greater depths, disposing of the used mud and the oilsoaked cuttings can be a challenge. Developing affordable synthetic-based drilling fluids that provide the performance characteristics of oil-based muds without the environmental drawbacks, and developing new techniques for treating or reclaiming mud and cuttings, are additional areas for research.