Peter Buckley, Petron Industries
INFORMATION CRITICAL TO
effi-cient, safe and cost-effective drilling hasnot, in times past, been easy to accessand analyze. Vital information, key toboth the identification of drilling prob-lems and ways of improving drilling per-formance, can be difficult to find. Dis-persed and often well hidden among routine data collected in morning reports, tour reports, mud reports, bitrecords, drill recorder charts, circularcharts, and the mud log, this informa-tion is tedious and time-consuming toidentify and assemble together in ameaningful form.But things have changed. A rapid evolu-tion in drilling instrumentation, thanksto innovations in sensing technology and improved computer designs, hasbrought to the drilling operation a pow-erful tool with great potential. Now, atthe same instant that the driller is watching the drilling parameters at theconsole in front of him, a complete andaccurate record of the entire drilling process from spud to TD is being storedautomatically. These valuable data fromroutine, significant, and extraordinary events recorded on a foot-by-foot andtime basis have become easy to accessand review, both during and afterdrilling, providing valuable insight intothe causes of equipment failures andhole problems. The accuracy of the datadocumented usually leaves little roomfor doubt or conjecture as to exactly what events took place and when.Engineers learn early on that inaccu-rate data leads to incorrect conclusionsand poor decisions. It is not necessary to work with rough estimates andapproximations of drilling data, whenaccurate information is available froman instrumentation system, the cost of which will probably be dwarfed by itscontribution to savings in time, materi-als and effort. Not all instrumentationsystems perform in the same way, how-ever. Selecting the best system compo-nents to match the user’s needs and therig’s intended operating environment, while taking full advantage of thenumerous advances in sensor display,computing power and communicationstechnology, can be a challenge for eventhe most technologically competent.
Accuracy in measurement of drilling parameters begins at the sensors. Thesensors are the most important andfundamental part of any rig instru-mentation system. Most drilling rigscarry as original equipment electro-mechanical and hydraulic sensors. While it would be difficult to operate arig without them, subtle changes indrilling parameter behavior which areimportant in identifying developing drilling situations are often masked.These types of sensors have built-ininaccuracies that produce non-linearresponses and, in addition, tend to show variations in readings with temperaturechanges. A new generation of highly accuratesensors has become available in recent years which makesuse of solid-statemeasuring tech-niques. Compensa-tion for sensordrift over a wideoperating temper-ature range is pre-cise and reliable,and ultra-stablecalibration characteristics mean thattime-consuming calibration proceduresat the rig site are eliminated. The sen-sors’ small size and weight make logis-tics and installation much easier.It is extremely important that the sen-sor’s accuracy is fully utilized and thatit measures the drilling parameter asdirectly as possible. Electronic sensorspiggy-backed onto the rig’s existing hydraulic or electro-mechanical sensorsinherit the limitations of the originaldevices. The response, reliability andaccuracy of the measurement may beseverely compromised. The accuracy of such hybrid instrumentation systems istherefore significantly limited.
The design of the front-end data acqui-sition system is equally important. Itsconstruction must withstand punish-ment from the rig environment, weather,and drill-floor personnel. The mission of the data acquisition system is to guar-antee a continuous, accurate flow of data under the drilling unit’s tremen-dous variety of operational difficulties.
As the success of a drilling operation very much depends on what takes placeat the brake, the display presenting information to the driller is critical. Analarmable alphanumeric display givesthe driller tight control of importantdrilling parameters. Digits need to belarge enough to be seen clearly from adistance, while the complete display should be easily comprehensible at aglance. As this display may be subject tosevere punishment from time to time , itmust be very rugged.
D R I L L I N G
C O N T R A C T O R
Rig instrumentation technology: Facilitatingdrilling operations and reducing cost
Data-acquisition equipment must be able to with-stand punishment in the rig environment. This sin-gle-board data-acquisition computer is cased inmetal, combining ruggedness and miniaturization,as the comparison to a US penny above shows.Driller’s display: An alarmable alphanumericdisplay gives the driller tight control of keydrilling parameters. Digits should be largeenough to see from a distance. Inset: Optionalgraphical and gauge displays driven from thedriller’s console are useful supplements.