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LEGENDS OF DRILLING
LEGENDS OF DRILLING

JOURNAL OF PETROLEUM TECHNOLOGY SPECIAL SECTION

Marvin Gearhart

Bill Rehm

Martin Chenevert

Bill Maurer

Leon Robinson

Bill Rehm Martin Chenevert Bill Maurer Leon Robinson D uring SPE’s Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition
Bill Rehm Martin Chenevert Bill Maurer Leon Robinson D uring SPE’s Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition

D uring SPE’s Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition in Denver, JPT honored five pioneers

in the drilling industry with its first Legends of Drilling Award. The reception, held on 23

September, honored Leon Robinson, Martin E. Chenevert, Marvin Gearhart, William A. Rehm,

and William C. Maurer, and was sponsored by Schlumberger.

Although the pioneering achievements of the early days of drilling are well known and documented, little attention has been given to the achievements of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The people this award honors have been instrumental in the creation and development of these more recent drilling accomplishments.

Robinson has contributed greatly to the industry’s technical literature, and has made many notable technological contributions in the areas of mud cleaners, explosive drilling, and drilling data telemetry. He has received 24 international patents, 34 US patents, and many service and achievement awards.

Chenevert is considered a legend in the world of oil and gas drilling. In addition to 100 published works and three books, he has developed petroleum engineering software applications and holds nine US patents. He has earned international recognition for his work in the area of wellbore stability and drilling fluids, has received numerous industry awards and recognitions, and has been active in SPE and many other associations.

Gearhart has had a long track record for creating companies that specialize in high-performing technologies. During the 1970s, his company developed a major advance in openhole logging equipment and became

a forerunner in measurement-while-drilling technology. His Gearhart Company is currently putting together

an integrated line of drilling tools and systems designed for vertical and horizontal drilling in the Barnett

Shale play.

Rehm helped develop well control and pressure measurement from electric logs and wrote the first manual on well control accepted by the US Minerals Management Service. He has contributed to some of the most significant technological advancements in recent history, including the development of directional drilling, coiled tubing, underbalanced drilling, and high-pressure drilling operations. He is a recognized expert in underbalanced drilling and conducts schools and management seminars internationally and has written several books and manuals on the technology.

Maurer’s work has contributed to pioneering changes in the industry, including extensive research into novel drilling techniques, drilling mechanics, rock mechanics, drill bit design, downhole drilling motors, high- pressure jet drilling, horizontal drilling, and advanced drilling tools. His Maurer Engineering was instrumental in the development of measurement-while-drilling technology. During the 1980s, he organized an effort to develop tools to economically and reliably drill horizontal wells, and was instrumental in the development of the then-revolutionary PDC bit.

It is my hope that reading about the remarkable achievements of these extraordinary people will inspire

others to create and contribute to new technologies and solutions that will benefit the oil and gas industry in the years to come.

Ford Brett

President of PetroSkills and SPE Technical Director for Drilling and Completions

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Marvin Gearhart: GOING AND GOING
Marvin Gearhart:
GOING AND GOING

Marvin Gearhart has a long track record of creating companies that specialize in high-performing technolo- gies that support the oil and gas drilling sector. He has been at it for more than half a decade, and, at a time of life when most people are retired, Gearhart keeps going and going.

He graduated from Kansas State University in 1949 with a BS degree in mechanical engineering, concentrating in petroleum. He started his oilfield career shortly thereafter as a wireline logging engineer with Welex Jet Services in Fort Worth, Texas. In 1955, Gearhart and Harrold Owen formed Gearhart- Owen Industries, a wireline and perforation service provider, as well as a manufacturer of logging trucks and tools for the global industry. This company was operating in 27 countries around the world and had more than 13,600 employees at its peak in 1984. In addition to operating its own equipment, the company helped set up and supply equipment to more than 300 independent wireline service companies over 33 years before it was sold to Halliburton in 1988. The company also operated a division known as Mineral Logging Systems to supply equipment to the mineral logging industry. Mineral Logging Systems specialized in building small portable logging units for the shallow hole industry, usually less than 3,000 ft, for use where conventional logging services were not available. The company supplied more than 2,300 units, many of which are still in use today. During the 1970s, Gearhart’s company developed a major advance in openhole logging equipment, with the first successful application of digital technology in this area. Within only 14 months after the project started, the company completed and tested a new series of openhole tools and a computer system to analyze the findings. The new product line, known as Direct Digital Logging, significantly reduced the lead that the major oilfield service and supply companies had once enjoyed in openhole logging. Also during the 1970s, Gearhart’s company became a forerunner in measurement-while-drilling (MWD) technology, which enabled controlled directional drilling by beaming accurate measurements to the surface without a wireline. Gearhart describes his company’s involvement in the de- velopment of MWD equipment as a high point in his career be-

LEGENDS OF DRILLING

as a high point in his career be- LEGENDS OF DRILLING cause of the visible impact

cause of the visible impact it has had on the exploration and production world ever since. As an example, Gearhart noted how MWD enabled directional drilling in the artificial is- lands called THUMS (named after original operators Texaco, Humble, Union Oil, Mobil, and Shell) in the harbor at Long Beach, California. The highly deviated wells at THUMS were the proving grounds for the first MWD systems built by Gearhart. The eco- nomic benefits by using this new technology, with its time sav- ings over conventional surveying methods, were identifiable and quickly recognized. As a result, operators were soon asking for other sensors and measurements to be added, resulting in the development of full logging-while-drilling systems. The directional drilling furthered by MWD gave new life to the giant Wilmington oil fields. THUMS, originally a roughly 8 billion bbl oil field discovered in the early 1930s, was at risk of having large amounts of oil off limits unless better drilling methods became feasible. Today, current operator Oxy notes that greater than 60% of the more than 2,000 wells drilled from THUMS’ four, 10-acre islands deviate from conventional vertical wells for expanded reach into different parts of the field, with less environmental and virtually no visual impact. The oil price crash of 1986 and competitive forces in the glutted market made Gerhart’s company a takeover target. Af- ter Halliburton acquired Gearhart Industries in 1988, Gearhart formed Rockbit International and specialized in building drilling bits and tools for the next 17 years. This company also stayed ac- tive in MWD systems. The present Gearhart Company was initiated after the non- compete provision with Halliburton expired in the early 1990s. This company is putting together an integrated line of drilling tools and systems designed for vertical and horizontal drilling focusing on the needs of the Barnett Shale play in north Texas. The Barnett Shale came into serious play during the last decade, as water fracs proved more economic than previously used gel fracs in the extremely tight formations. Horizontal drilling fur- ther enhanced the feasibility of developing the giant play, which is now the US’ second-largest natural gas field, after Kansas’ Hugoton field. In addition to serving as an SPE Distinguished Lecturer in 1981, Gearhart was awarded the Legends Medal Award by the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers in 2008.

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Rehm

Bill Rehm:

FROM THE SHOULDERS

OF GIANTS

A famous quotation by Sir Isaac Newton goes: “If I have seen further than others, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.”

This essentially characterizes how Bill Rehm set about his career in improving the understanding of the Earth’s pressures and further- ing the safety of oil and gas drill- ing well control. “I really did very little original work,” he insists, yet the reams of Rehm’s publications and his five US patents sug- gest otherwise. “I have been fascinated by the effect of wellbore pressures on the drilling process and spent most of my career studying and dealing with that phenomenon.” Being observant and a good listener often gave Rehm ideas for new developments. For instance, once a staff engineer told him that he had noticed pressure trends occurring in electric well logs, so Rehm went to the log library and then hung well logs over a 9 ft office door to see if those trends really existed. They

did and it was a real revelation. “That’s fairly typical of how I got into these things,” Rehm said. Rehm graduated from the Missouri School of Mines with

a BS degree in geological engineering and went to work for Dresser Industries from 1955 to 1975. It was at Dresser that he developed well control and pressure measurements from electric logs for internal use and spent 2 years traveling around the world teaching the original training schools for Macobar on well control. His assignments included serving as mud en- gineer in three states, then in management roles in air drilling, drilling mud services, and engineering. He was the manager of technical services for Dresser’s Magcobar/SWACO unit when it worked on shallow gas-kick problems in the Gulf of Mexico. Rehm then went to work for Maurer Engineering Co. be- tween 1975 and 1979 as an associate and vice president, where he performed consulting and supervisory work in drilling and was a project manager in the development of directional drilling. Rehm wrote the first manual accepted by the US Miner- als Management Service (MMS) on well control for drillers and supervisors, with a follow-up manual on well control for derrick men and roughnecks. He also wrote five manuals on well con- trol for drilling contractors that were accepted by the US Geo- logical Survey. In addition, Rehm taught well control courses for many operators and drilling contractors and conducted the first introductory well control school for the MMS. For the next 10 years, Rehm worked for different compa- nies in a variety of capacities, where he was able to contribute

to some of the most significant technological advancements in

recent history. As a consultant with Louden Rehm Resource De-

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1981, for instance 1981, for instance, Rehm e (geopressured) drilling o ith special emphasis on
1981, for instance
1981, for instance, Rehm
e (geopressured) drilling o
ith special emphasis on lon
n became cofounder and v
ervice Co. between 1981 a
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a supervisory system for
send-
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velopment Corp. between 1979 and

worked in the area of high-pressure (geopressured) drilling op-

erations and directional drilling, with special emphasis on long-

reach marine operations. He then became cofounder and vice e

president of Drilling Information Service Co. between 1981 and

1984, a company that developed

ing offshore drilling information via satellite to the operator’s

office through an automated unmanned system.

After the company was sold to Gearhart Industries, Rehm became general manager of BecField Horizontal Drilling Ser- vices between 1985 and 1990, and took the company from research to a USD 15 million commercial venture that special- ized in slimhole and slick (nonstabilized) horizontal drilling tools. While with BedField, Rehm developed math models for the turn- ing radius and performance of the tools, as well as bits and techniques for horizontal underbalanced drilling. Rehm then organized, funded, and managed Horizontal Drillers (HDI), an independent directional drilling company, where he served as president between 1990 and 1992. He de- veloped some of the original plans for underbalanced drilling in the Austin Chalk, new drilling motors, and other mechani- cal equipment and software. Between 1992 and 1995, Rehm became product director of drilling equipment for ICT, where he held responsibility for specifications and purchase of drilling equipment for export to China and was in charge of technology transfer, on-site demonstrations, and operating manuals for ex- port equipment. Rehm then became vice president of engineer- ing for Enlink, a coiled tubing drilling installation company that specializes in drilling and completing small-diameter shallow holes for heat exchanger systems. The Enlink drilling and com- pletion rigs are special purpose, portable coiled tubing rigs. Since 1995, Rehm has made his mark on his own, forming Rehm Consulting to focus on underbalanced drilling and com- pletions, as well as reservoir protection projects. His accomplish- ments include writing the Petroleum Energy Technology Services (PETS Canada) Offshore Well Control Manual, Practical Under- balanced Drilling and Workovers published by the University of Texas Petroleum Technology Service, and chapters in the Drilling Fluids Processing Manual. With associates, Rehm wrote the Drill- ing Engineering Association Manual for Maurer Engineering on underbalanced drilling. A recognized expert on underbalanced drilling, Rehm con- ducts underbalanced drilling and completion schools and man- agement seminars internationally. He served as session chair- man on underbalanced drilling for the American Association of Drilling Engineers’ year 2000 technical conference. For a portion of this time, Rehm served as principal and consulting engineer for ProTreat, between 2001 and 2003. The company utilizes foam units with proprietary products to avoid corrosion while working over or cleaning out wells in areas where sensitive sands and corrosion are a dominant problem. ProTreat also plans and executes scale and hydrate squeezes to improve production economics. Today, in addition to his activities in the underbalanced drilling arena, Rehm consults as technical adviser to Far East Energy Corp., a role in which he has been active since 2005. In this capacity, he advises on underbalanced drilling processes for previously undeveloped coalbed methane resources in China. His present project involves completing a two-volume series on managed-pressure drilling and underbalanced drilling.

JPT SPECIAL SECTION

Martin Chenevert: A PASSION FOR RESEARCH
Martin Chenevert:
A PASSION
FOR RESEARCH

Martin Chenevert is now considered a legend in the world of oil and gas drilling, but his career actually got off to a rather rocky start—if not in the way he would have liked— and then he deliberately muddied the rest of it.

He was laid off his first job in 1958 after only one day amid a recessionary, oil-glutted economy when petroleum industry jobs were scarce for new graduates (he had just earned his BS degree in petroleum engineering from Louisiana State University). Undaunted, Chenevert continued his studies, earning an MS and then doctorate in petroleum engineering at the University of Texas (UT) at Austin. Chenevert’s career began at what is now Exxon Production Research Co. (then Humble) between 1964 and 1975, before launching and running his own company, Chenevert Engineer- ing, between 1977 and 1984. Over the years, he has also consulted for a host of companies, including Amoco, Arco, Fina Petroleum, Oryx, Petrobras, and Saga Petroleum. He has also made quite a mark in the “publish or perish” world of academia, publishing more than 100 papers and three books. Chenevert also has developed software applications for use in petroleum engineering and holds nine US patents, in- cluding ones for drilling with low water content in oil emulsion fluids, a method for determining clay reactivity, water-based well fluids for shale stability, and treating subsurface water- sensitive shale formations. “I have felt privileged to spend my career investigating and researching,” says Chenevert, who serves as senior lecturer for UT’s petroleum engineering program and director of the drilling research program at the university’s Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering Department. Other academic posts he held prior to UT were adjunct professor at the University of Houston and as- sociate professor at Oklahoma University. Chenevert earned international recognition for his work in the area of wellbore stability and drilling fluids. At Exxon, he was fascinated with troubleshooting the causes of wellbore instability and began developing drilling muds that could solve the prob- lems. “I could not believe I was getting paid to do research,” Chenevert said. “I like being able to make designer muds. Drill- ing muds are always in demand,” he continued, noting that “if the mud stops, the drilling stops.” Chenevert has been active in that area for about half a century now and is currently involved in four primary areas of research: the petrophysical properties of shales, wellbore stability in shale formations, the dynamic filtration of drilling muds, and properties of synthetic muds. One project he has led involves assessing water-based muds that show promise for alleviating shale hydration prob- lems. About 75% of the problems in drilling operations are related to shales, which are vulnerable to phenomena such as

LEGENDS OF DRILLING

are vulnerable to phenomena such as LEGENDS OF DRILLING swelling, shrinking, hydration, strength reduction, and

swelling, shrinking, hydration, strength reduction, and failure. Stimulating the water flow out of the shale and into the well- bore can strengthen the shale, thus avoiding wellbore instabil- ity. However, a shale and drilling fluid system must produce

a high osmotic-pressure gradient in the wellbore and exhibit

high membrane efficiency. Therefore, this project is examining

a variety of water-based drilling fluids that have proven to be

effective in improving shale inhibition, to determine muds that might help resolve shale hydration. Another area of Chenevert’s current research assesses the interaction between oil-based muds and shales. Even though the oil filtrate of oil-based muds does not hydrate the shale, it pene- trates and flows through it. The research is aimed at determining the breakthrough pressure that needs to be overcome by an oil- based mud over a shale, and how the emulsifiers’ concentration and the water activity of the shale affects this pressure. In 2006, Chenevert was inducted into the Drilling Fluid Hall of Fame by the American Association of Drilling Engineers (AADE). The association established the Hall of Fame to recog- nize key individuals who have contributed to the understanding and knowledge of drilling and completion fluids and the down- hole conditions that drilling companies encounter. Chenevert was one of eight inductees that AADE selected from 47 candidates. Membership in the Hall of Fame recognizes his work in develop- ing chemical and mechanical concepts of wellbore stability and balanced activity oil-based drilling fluids. Chenevert also received SPE Distinguished Member recog- nition and the 1994 SPE Drilling Engineering Award, an Ameri- can Petroleum Institute (API) recognition award, a most outstand- ing faculty member and faculty excellence award from UT, and he was the Sylvain Pirson Centennial Lecturer in Petroleum Engi- neering at the school from 1984 to 1992. As has anyone who has been in the industry this long, Chenevert has seen sweeping technological changes over the years. Among those that have left the biggest impression on him have been the use of diamond cutters for longer bit runs, the application of horizontal drilling for extended-reach wells that have “opened up tremendous new reserves,” and the clean up and restoration of well sites. “What we have now is a very ef- fective industry,” he said. Chenevert has been very active in SPE, serving on several committees and as a textbook and technical editor. He is also a member of a number of other professional associations, includ- ing API, AADE, American Filtration Society, American Society for Engineering Education, American Society of Mechanical Engi- neers, International Society for Rock Mechanics, and the North American Rock Mechanics Society.

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Maurer

Bill Maurer:

SEEING THINGS DIFFERENTLY

Bill Maurer is a classic example of the term “thinking outside the box.”

Or, to put it more accurately, he is a pro at thinking out- side the borehole about what is needed to deliver better oil and gas drilling results in all types of reser- voirs. “To invent things, you have to see things differ- ently,” Maurer said. “I like to change things.” That is an understatement where Maurer is concerned. Maurer’s ability to “see things differently” resulted in pio- neering changes for the industry, including his extensive research into novel drilling techniques, drilling mechanics, rock mechan- ics, drill bit design, downhole drilling motors, high-pressure jet drilling, horizontal drilling, and advanced drilling tools. He holds 38 patents on oilfield downhole drilling and com- pletion tools. An entrepreneur as well as an inventor, Maurer also started 18 successful oilfield service companies, including ones that first marketed polycrystalline diamond compact (PDC) bits, slimhole drills, horizontal drills, resin-coated sand, jet drills, high-temperature turbo drills, and other innovative products. Maurer started his career in 1962 at Jersey Production Re- search (JPR) in Tulsa after graduating from the Colorado School of Mines with a master’s degree and PhD in mining engineer- ing. In 1964, JPR merged with Exxon Production Research in Houston. By 1974, Maurer was a senior research specialist with Exxon when he decided to break into business for himself and launched Maurer Engineering. “Each decade, I was working on something new and excit- ing,” Maurer recalls. The 1960s were significant for advances in the reliability of motors used in downhole drilling, he noted. By the time he was out on his own in the 1970s, Maurer En- gineering was instrumental in development of measurement- while-drilling technology, which transmits data from the well bit to the surface in real time. This, in turn, enabled horizontal (or directional) drilling to proceed. The first horizontal well was drilled back in 1929, but for many decades, there was no feasible or economic way to ap- ply the technology. Eager to overcome some of the remaining obstacles, Maurer organized an effort, funded by the Drilling Engineering Association, to develop tools that would drill hori- zontal wells. More than 50 companies participated jointly in this effort over a period of 10 years, which led to the development of reliable horizontal drilling techniques that changed the oil in- dustry. According to the American Petroleum Institute, only a few

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horizontal wells were drilled during the 1980s, compared with about 2,700 per year today. During the 1980s, Maurer also was instrumental in the development of the then-revolutionary PDC bit, which is now used for about half of all drilling operations. The 1990s brought advances in slimhole drilling and high-powered mo- tors, with Maurer involved in the development of both. Since the turn of the new century, Maurer has been interested in advances in expanded tubulars and radial jet drilling, a new stimulation technique. “I keep going into new fields,” he ad- mits. “It’s more interesting.” Maurer, a big proponent of collaborative efforts to ad- vance technology, believes that there would be great benefit from a more shared approach to research and development (R&D), rather than companies over-protecting their knowl- edge. “Two engineers are four times as smart as one engi- neer,” says Maurer. Unconventional natural gas technology is an area that would make great strides from shared R&D, Maurer believes. “With a joint industry project on unconventional gas technology, we could do in 2 or 3 years what will take individual companies 10 to 15 years to accomplish.” In another example of his belief in a collaborative ap- proach to industry challenges, Maurer applied himself—or rather, teams of engineers—to developing software to solve wide-ranging problems in horizontal drilling. “In the 1980s, there was no software for horizontal drilling, so on our joint industry project we developed 20 to 30 programs to help overcome problems that companies were encountering in drilling horizontal wells.” For example, the programs ad- dressed well path planning and projections, torque and drag, coiled tubing design, casing stress, and wellbore cementing, among other things. Notably, the software (now owned and marketed by Petris Technology) was developed in four lan- guages: English, Spanish, Russian, and Chinese. In 2000, Maurer Engineering was sold to Noble Drilling, which retained all the employees, including Maurer and the company’s cofounder, William McDonald. Over the years, Maurer has authored more than 60 pub- lished works, including two books on drilling technology. He has also won numerous awards, among them the 2001 SPE Drilling Engineering Award, the 1987 ASME Engineering Achievement Award, the 1984 Houston District Small Business Innovation Award, and, in 1981, the Distinguished Alumnus Award from his undergraduate alma mater, the University of Wisconsin in Platteville. He was inducted into the US National Academy of Engineering in 1992 and in 1987 became a fellow of the Ameri- can Society of Mechanical Engineers.

JPT SPECIAL SECTION

Leon Robinson: L obi A NOTABLY LY “ROCKY” O KY CAREER C IN N HYDROCARBON
Leon Robinson: L obi A NOTABLY LY “ROCKY” O KY CAREER C IN N HYDROCARBON
Leon Robinson:
L
obi
A NOTABLY
LY
“ROCKY”
O
KY
CAREER
C
IN
N
HYDROCARBON PHYSICS RESEARCH
DROC ARBO ON
PHYS
SICS RESE EARCH

It is hard to imagine cow pastures amid the modernistic landscape that is now called Greenway Plaza in Houston, but that is exactly what Leon Robinson recalls as surround- ing Humble Oil and Refining Co.’s then-new production research facility in 1954.

Co.’s then-new production research facility in 1954. Robinson was then a young PhD research physicist who

Robinson was then a young PhD research physicist who was enamored—as he still is—with the science of improving the way rocks are drilled for hydrocarbons. But Robinson’s career has hardly been rocky in any other sense of the word. Among the many honors in his career, Robinson has been awarded 24 international patents, 34 US patents, an Exxon Dis- tinguished Lecturer Award, three Exxon Outstanding Instructor Awards, the 1984 International Association of Drilling Con- tractors Special Recognition Award, the 1999 American Asso- ciation Drilling Engineering (AADE) Meritorious Service Award, the 1985 SPE Drilling Engineering Award, the 2006 American Petroleum Institute (API) Service Award, and in 2006, was in- ducted into the AADE Hall of Fame, and in 2007, acquired the API Emeritus designation. Robinson, who spent his entire career at Humble (now ExxonMobil) formally retired in 1992, yet has hardly stopped working. In fact, he might just qualify for a listing as one of the world’s busiest retirees. Among other things, in the past 5 years, he has added nine technical papers to an already formidable list of publications, has contributed to several books and one encyclopedia on drill- ing technology, and consults on drilling activities with several operating and service companies. He has also been a member of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology steering committee for rapid drilling and excavation, the drilling advisory panel for Houston’s Weiss Energy Museum exhibit, and chaired the AADE shale shaker handbook rewrite committee, the AADE waste man- agement committee, the American Society of Mechanical Engi- neers’ drilling-fluid processing textbook committee, and served as an adviser to Sandia National Laboratory’s diagnostics-while- drilling project. In his “spare” time one would not know he had, he has also been a volunteer docent for the “Ocean Star” jackup rig museum in Galveston, Texas. Today, he is on API Subcommittee 13 (Drilling and Comple- tion Fluids), Chairman of the API task group editing the solids control standard, a member of API’s task groups on hydraulics and drilling fluids, and serves on the planning committee for AADE’s technical conference. Robinson’s original aspiration was to become an electrical engineer. After spending more than 2 years in the US Army, he enrolled at Clemson Agricultural College in engineering, and was persuaded by a professor to switch his major to physics. In 1949, he graduated with a degree in industrial physics and

LEGENDS OF DRILLING

earned his master’s degree in physics from Clemson in 1950. He then received a doctorate in engineering physics from North Carolina State University in 1954. As a graduate student, he was an instructor of physics at Clemson, the University of Chattanoo- ga, Tennessee, and at North Carolina State. He joined Humble in 1953, as he finished his thesis on electrets. Robinson’s career has provided him the opportunity to make contributions in many technology areas. These include mud cleaners, explosive drilling, drilling data telemetry, subsurface rock mechanics, drilling and hydraulic optimization techniques, and tertiary oil recovery, as well as conducting on-site drilling workshops, global drilling fluid seminars, and rigsite consulta- tions. Research projects were tested in the field offering an op- portunity to not only test current research, but also to try new things and test many “accepted” theories, he says. Drilling rigs provided a rare opportunity to evaluate new ideas and concepts. Jointly working on research projects, testing new concepts, and solving daily drilling problems benefited both the research di- vision and drilling operations. Solutions developed on the rig generally were practical and had immediate application. Two projects that Robinson finds particularly memorable were explosive drilling work that spanned about 4 years, and de- veloping a means to store wire inside a drillstring for data telem- etry. In another project, the mud cleaner went from patent memo to commercial use in less than a year, Robinson recalls. He also spent about 4 years working on rock mechanics, or “squeezing” rocks under pressures up to about 15,000 psi. Throughout his career and to this day, Robinson has always derived enormous satisfaction from teaching. He formerly taught about drilling fluids, solids control, hydraulics, lost circulation, and other topics around the world for Exxon for the better part of two decades. At present, he is a drilling instructor with Petroskills for about 8–10 weeks a year. Robinson reflects on his career: “I joined Humble Produc- tion Research because of all of the fascinating physics involved in drilling for and producing hydrocarbons. In South and North Carolina, we had very little opportunity to be exposed to the en- gineering and science involved in producing hydrocarbons. The scientific challenges were, and still are, wonderful to explore. We are currently drilling horizontal wells that are over 7 miles long and hitting geological targets less than a half acre in size. Many new technologies have been developed even during the past 5 years. It is so mentally intriguing that I do not see how anyone can actually retire from the fun.”

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SPE Papers authored by the LEGENDS OF DRILLING

SPE Papers authored by the LEGENDS OF DRILLING Maurer William C. Maurer Fractures and Craters Produced

Maurer

William C. Maurer

Fractures and Craters Produced in Sandstone by High-Velocity Projectiles, 1961. Coauthor: John S. Rinehart

The “Perfect–Cleaning” Theory of Rotary Drilling, 1962.

Shear Failure of Rock Under Compression, 1965.

Bit-Tooth Penetration Under Simulated Borehole Conditions, 1965.

Hydraulic Jet Drilling, 1969. Coauthor: Joe K. Heilhecker.

High-Pressure Drilling, 1973. Coauthors: Joe K. Heilhecker and William W. Love.

An Analysis of Relative Costs in Drilling Deep Wells, 1991. Coauthors: E.E. Andersen, G.A. Cooper, and P.A. Westcott.

Use of Hollow Glass Spheres for Underbalanced Drilling Fluids, 1995. Coauthors: George H. Medley Jr. and Ali Y. Garkasi.

High-Power Slim-Hole Drilling System, 1995. Coauthors: John H. Cohen and Curtis E. Leitko.

Field Testing of Advanced Turbodrill,

2000. Coauthors: John H. Cohen, Roy

C. Long, Orren Johnson, Baudelio Ernesto Prieto De La Rocha, and Nicolas Rodriguez Saucedo.

Laboratory Testing of High-Pressure Coiled-Tubing Drilling System, 2001. Coauthors: J.H. Cohen, C.C. Leitko, and W.J. Gwilliam.

Analytical Model for Casing Expansion,

2005.

Coauthor: Colin G. Ruan.

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Martin Chenevert

Mechanical Anisotropies of Laminated Sedimentary Rocks, 1965. Coauthor:

C. Gatlin.

Shale Control with Balanced-Activity Oil-Continuous Muds, 1970.

Shale Alteration by Water Adsorption, 1970.

Stabilizing Sensitive Shales With Inhibited, Potassium-Based Drilling Fluids, 1973. Coauthor: Dennis E. O’Brien.

A New Approach to Preventing Lost

Returns, 1974. Coauthor: L.A. Carlton.

Perforation Stability in Low-Permeability Gas Reservoirs, 1985. Coauthor:

T.W. Thompson.

Stability of Highly Inclined Boreholes, 1987. Coauthor: B.S. Aadnoy.

Model for Predicting Wellbore Pressures

in Cement Columns, 1989. Coauthor:

Liang Jin.

Shale/Mud Inhibition Defined With Rig-Site Methods, 1989. Coauthor:

S.O. Osisanya.

Stability of Boreholes Drilled Through Salt Formations Displaying Plastic Behavior, 1989. Coauthor: E.F. Infante.

A Model for Predicting the Density of

Oil-Base Muds at High Pressures and Temperatures, 1990. Coauthors: Ekwere J. Peters and Chunhal Zhang.

Wellbore Stress Distribution Produced by Moisture Adsorption, 1990. Coauthors: Ching H. Yew, Chein L.Wang, and Samuel Osisanya.

Filter Cake Structure Analysis Using the Scanning Electron Microscope, 1991. Coauthor: John Huycke.

Chemical Shrinkage Properties of Oilfield Cements, 1991. Coauthor: B.K. Shrestha.

On the Stability of Shales and Its Consequences in Terms of Swelling and Wellbore Stability, 1992. Coauthors: F.J. Santarelli, Elf Aquitaine, and S.O. Osisanya.

Permeability and Effective Pore Pressure

of Shales, 1993. Coauthor: A.K. Sharma.

Time Lapse Resistivity and Water- Content Changes in Shale, 1996. Coauthors: S.L. Morriss and M.I. Javalagi.

Shale Preservation and Testing Techniques for Borehole Stability Studies, 1997. Coauthor: M. Amanullah.

Diffusion of Gas in Oil Based Drilling Fluids, 1997. Coauthor: S.V. Bodwadkar.

Control of Shale Swelling Pressures Using Inhibitive Water-Base Muds,

1998. Coauthor: Vincent Pernot.

The Role of Taylor Vortices in the Transport of Drill Cuttings, 1998. Coauthors: Zeno Philip and Mukul M. Sharma.

Shale Preservation and Testing Techniques for Borehole-Stability Studies, 2001. Coauthor: M. Amanullah.

Chemical and Thermal Effects on

Wellbore Stability of Shale Formations,

2001. Coauthors: M. Yu, G. Chen, and

M.M. Sharma.

A New Gravimetric-Swelling Test for

Evaluating Water and Ion Uptake in Shales, 2004. Coauthors: Jianguo Zhang, Talal AL-Bazali, and M.M. Sharma.

Measurement of the Sealing Capacity

of Shale Caprocks, 2005. Coauthors:

T.M. AL-Bazali, J. Zhang, and

M.M. Sharma.

A Rapid, Rigsite-Deployable

Electrochemical Test for Evaluating the Membrane Potential of Shales,

2005. Coauthors: T.M. AL-Bazali,

J. Zhang, and M.M. Sharma.

Factors Controlling the Membrane

Efficiency of Shales When Interacting With Water-Based and Oil-Based Muds,

2006. Coauthors: Talal M. Al-Bazali,

Jianguo Zhang, and Mukul M. Sharma.

Maintaining the Stability of Deviated and Horizontal Wells: Effects of Mechanical, Chemical and Thermal Phenomena on Well Designs, 2006. Coauthors: Jianguo Zhang, Mengjiao Yu, T.M. Al-Bazali, Seehong Ong, M.M. Sharma, and D.E. Clark.

A Rapid, Rigsite-Deployable,

Electrochemical Test for Evaluating

the Membrane Potential of Shales,

2007. Coauthors: Talal Al-Bazali,

Jianguo Zhang, and Mukul M. Sharma.

Factors Controlling the Membrane Efficiency of Shales When Interacting

with Water-Based and Oil-Based Muds,

2008. Coauthors: Jianguo Zhang,

Talal M. Al-Bazali, and Mukul M. Sharma.

JPT SPECIAL SECTION

SPE Papers authored by the LEGENDS OF DRILLING

SPE Papers authored by the LEGENDS OF DRILLING Robinson Leon Robinson Effects of Pore and Confining

Robinson

Leon Robinson

Effects of Pore and Confining Pressures on Failure Characteristics of Sedimentary Rocks, 1959.

Experimental Tests of a Method for Drilling With Explosives, 1965.

Effect of Hardness Reducers on

Failure Characteristics of Rock,

1967.

Solids Control in Weighted Drilling Fluids, 1975. Coauthor: J.K. Heilhecker.

Improve Drilling Efficiency with Two Nozzles and More Weight-On-Bit, 1983. Coauthor: C.R. Tsai.

Hydraulic Wellbore Erosion While Drilling, 1995. Coauthor: Bill Chemerinski.

Modernization of the API Recommended Practice on Rheology and Hydraulics: Creating Easy Access to Integrated Wellbore Fluids Engineering, 2007. Coauthors:

P.A. Bern, E.K. Morton, M. Zamora, R. May, D. Moran, T. Hemphill, I. Cooper, S. Shah, and D.V. Flores.

D. Moran, T. Hemphill, I. Cooper, S. Shah, and D.V. Flores. Rehm William Rehm Abnormal Pressure

Rehm

William Rehm

Abnormal Pressure Control Maximum Casing Pressure from Gas Kicks, 1967.

Measurement of Formation Pressure from Drilling Data, 1971. Coauthor: Ray McClendon.

Worldwide Occurrence of Abnormal Pressures, Part II, 1972.

Horizontal Drilling in Mature Oil Fields, 1989. Coauthor: A. Garcia.

Drilling in Mature Oil Fields, 1989. Coauthor: A. Garcia. Gearhart Marvin Gearhart Well Site Digitizing Equipment

Gearhart

Marvin Gearhart

Well Site Digitizing Equipment for Mineral Exploration, 1970. Coauthors: James K. Hallenburg and Robert S. Foote.

Wellsite Formation Analysis Using the DDL Computer, 1977. Coauthor:

Mickey P. Head.

Mud Pulse MWD Systems Report, 1981. Coauthors: Kelly A. Ziemer and Orien M. Knight.

Current State of the Art of MWD and Its Application in Exploration and Development Drilling, 1986. Coauthors: L.M. Moseley and M. Foste.

Effect of Borehole Size, Mudcake, and Standoff on the Photoelectric Absorption Index Measurement, 1989.

LEGENDS OF DRILLING

49

Drilling Achievements: Past, Present, and Future

The pioneering achievements of oil and gas drilling in its early days are well known, but less atten- tion has been given to the drill- ing achievements of the late 20th century and this decade. While not perceived as having the same ex- citement as earlier achievements, the industry’s more recent drill- ing accomplishments have nev- ertheless produced equal or even greater economic returns for oil and gas producers.

“All the boundaries of well engi- neering have been pushed far beyond where things were 20 years ago,” says John Mason, Lead Completion Engi- neer for BP in Aberdeen. “In two de- cades, new geological challenges and relentless commercial business driv- ers have pushed technology and in- novation to achieve the development of whole new hydrocarbon provinces. Over [the last] 20 years, we have not achieved the headline accomplish- ments of the computer industry, but oilwell drilling did start long before the first personal computers were on sale to the public.”

Operator Expectations For operators, the advancement of oil and gas drilling has never been just about making hole using newer

technology and techniques. Rather, it has been about strategy, risk manage- ment, safety, environmental protec- tion, and experience. Mostly it has been about economics In an SPE paper written by J.B. Cheatham Jr. of Rice University al- most two decades ago, he stated that, “The primary parameters pertaining to drilling technology revolve around safety and economics; the hole must be safe and it is desired to mini- mize the drilling cost (the total cost, not just one phase of the activity).” Cheatham pinpointed the key issues that operators expect from drilling operations—drilling and all the other aspects of well construction must ei- ther reduce nonproductive time or in- crease efficiency, or preferably, achieve both when “making hole.” Many industry experts believe that drilling achievements are driven by a risk-adjusted philosophy that evaluates drilling decision-making and the use of new technologies and techniques as directly related to the rewards gained from the economic risk taken. History has shown that operators have always preferred to hold on to existing technologies until the newer technologies have proven they can deliver an even bigger reward for the

cost and risk involved in using them. By reviewing the evolution of past and current technological achievements, valuable insight can be gained about what might be expected for drilling in the future.

Past Drilling Achievements Horizontal Drilling. When it comes to the most important drilling achieve- ment of the past 25 years, the devel- opment and application of horizontal drilling techniques and technologies is the overwhelming choice of industry experts. The ability to drill horizon- tally has impacted the economics of oil and gas production tremendously because it places the wellbore in much greater contact with the pay zone than does a vertical well. This allows great- er quantities of hydrocarbons to be produced and enables more efficient drainage of the reservoir. Horizontal well costs can be as much as two or three times that of a vertical well. However, the produc- tion factor may be enhanced by as much as 15–20 times, making them very attractive to producers. In fact, this factor alone accounts for the ex- plosive growth in the number of hor- izontal wells that have been drilled since the technology proved com- mercially viable.

drilled since the technology proved com- mercially viable. 50 1977 1974 + Horizontal drilling techniques used

50

1977

1974

+ Horizontal drilling techniques used

in the US.

+Inertial weld for tool joints developed.

1976

+

+

+ First commercially viable PDC bit

introduced.

1959

+ First self-lubricated, sealed-

1981

Scoop-shaped tungsten-carbide chisel developed.

First thermally stable diamond bit.

bearing rock bit.

1970

+ First tungsten-carbide-tooth

1984

bit with O-ring sealed journal

bearing.

+

Steerable drilling system introduced.

1972

+ Polycrystalline-diamond-compact (PDC) drill bit developed.

+ Mud-pulse telemetry introduced, enabling accurate determination of bit location while drilling.

1973

+ First downhole motor.

50

1985

+ First full-scale simulator capable of testing bits up to 12¼ in. developed.

+ Advances in CAD, cutting structures,

compensation and lube systems, and

1977

+First smooth hard-metal hardfacing introduced for protecting tool joints.

1987

precision journal bearings.

1987

+

First metal-sealed rock-bit bearing.

+

Cutter bits with large-diameter

cutters introduced.

JPT SPECIAL SECTION

1978

+ Measurement-While-Drilling

technology introduced.

1979

+ First eccentric diamond bit.

“The importance of horizon- tal drilling to the oil and gas indus- try is underscored by the fact that it enabled the successful economi- cal development of many fields that would not otherwise have been de- veloped and led to other complex wellbore architectures, for example, extended-reach drilling,” says Curtis Cheatham, Consulting Drilling Engi- neer for Weatherford. “Additionally, it provided the need for new technologies such as measurement-while-drilling (MWD) and logging-while-drilling (LWD) and helped transition from lowest- cost-per-foot in horizontally drilled wells to lowest-cost-per-barrel be- cause the drilling and completion cost is higher for horizontal wells—a fundamental change in field develop- ment thinking.” Mike Williams, Schlumberger’s Drilling and Measurements Global Sales Manager, traces the evolution of this technology. “In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the majority of wells were still vertical,” he says. “Then in the late 1980s and early 1990s is when directional drilling boomed. It was purely because of the cost of infrastructure—the cost of putting the rig, or the production facilities, directly over the reservoir was too

production facilities, directly over the reservoir was too Fig. 1—Directional drilling applications in Alaska.

Fig. 1—Directional drilling applications in Alaska.

expensive. The need to access reser- voirs that were inaccessible by verti- cal means because of environmental concerns is one of the reasons that di- rectional drilling grew up. And if you look at what enabled that, MWD was the big breakout. Very few wells are drilled without MWD now, horizontal or vertical.” “The industry has gone from just drilling a geometric well to actually

looking at what part of the reservoir you want to be in for best produc- tion,” Williams says. “That has driven the LWD business, which really start- ed in the late 1980s with simple resis- tivity and has moved to a whole range of services.” Geosteering with Rotary Steer- able Systems. Geosteering technolo- gy also received a lot of expert votes as one of the most significant accom-

a lot of expert votes as one of the most significant accom- 1997 2000 + Ream-While-Drilling
a lot of expert votes as one of the most significant accom- 1997 2000 + Ream-While-Drilling

1997

2000

+ Ream-While-Drilling tool introduced.

2002

2004

+

+ First post-on blade, impregnated bit

+

configuration.

Extended-reach well at 31,000 ft

measured depth in Hibernia field is

world’s longest completed at its true vertical depth of 13,000 ft.

1990

+ First anti-whirl PDC bit.

+ Coiled-tubing drilling developed.

High-performance water-based mud introduced.

1991

+ First large-diameter, high-rev/min

2006

+

Pyramid-shaped teeth for fast drilling developed.

2007

+ Extended-reach well at 37,000 ft on

Sakhalin Island sets world record

motor bit with metal face seal and

anti-friction roller bearings.

1995

+ First polished cutters.

1997

+ Rotary Closed Loop Drilling System inaugurated.

1998

+ Extended-reach well drilled beyond

10 km on Wytch Farm in UK.

LEGENDS OF DRILLING

2003

+ Depth-of-Cut control technology

2007

51

51

introduced.

+ World drilling water-depth record set

by 10,111-ft Toledo well at Alaminos

Canyon block 951 in US Gulf of

Mexico.

Fig. 2—Varel PDC bit designed for hard rock applications. plishments in the recent history of

Fig. 2—Varel PDC bit designed for hard rock applications.

plishments in the recent history of drilling. “This drilling achievement has transformed our ability to drill extend- ed-reach wells and long horizontals,” says BP’s Mason. “In 1988, North Sea horizontal wells were unproven and technically risky. They cost at least twice that of conventional wells. A 500 m horizontal section might have taken 20 days with four or five bit trips. “By 1996, rotary steerable systems were being tried but were notoriously unreliable. They had achieved a few stunning drilling results, but lacked the reliability needed to gain cus- tomer support. By 1998, the reliability problems were better understood and suddenly the service company phones were ringing off the hook. Operators clamored for the drilling performance delivered by rotary steerables and the industry has not looked back since.” “I believe this is probably the most important drilling achievement of the 1990s,” states Curtis Cheatham. “Now these technologies can be cou- pled with geosteering technology sup- ported by real-time LWD/MWD data telemetry to guide the bit to the target with a high degree of confidence.” The use of rotary steerables has led to drilling wells more efficiently, says Williams of Schlumberger. “LWD enabled us to know where the best part of the reservoir is, however it was still painful to get there with traditional motor technology. Rotary steerable is

52

with traditional motor technology. Rotary steerable is 52 Fig. 3—Schlumberger EcoScope LWD tool. the missing piece

Fig. 3—Schlumberger EcoScope LWD tool.

the missing piece of the puzzle. It gives you the capability to get to where you found out you should be, and that has been a big change,” he says. Directional Drilling. During the last three decades, numerous tech- nologies have emerged that enhanced drilling, with directional drilling con- sidered one of the most significant. For example, the ability to deviate the wellbore from vertical to reach a distant target enabled the drilling of multiple wells from slots located on a single strategically placed platform on an offshore lease (Fig. 1). “Since its first use in the oil field, directional drilling technologies and methods have gone through a mas- sive evolution and eventually enabled horizontal drilling to become a real- ity,” says Cheatham. According to the American Pe- troleum Institute, the impact of direc- tional drilling has been immense. “In the past, oil and natural gas wells were drilled vertically at depths ranging from a few thousand feet to as deep as five miles. But new direc- tional drilling and horizontal drilling technologies allow drills to deviate from the vertical plane and go hori- zontal—or beyond. For oil and natu- ral gas producers, this means reaching reservoirs that are not located directly beneath the drilling rig, and avoiding sensitive surface and subsurface envi- ronmental features. Advances in direc- tional drilling now permit multilateral drilling, where multiple offshoots of a

single wellbore radiate in different di- rections and can contact resources at different depths. Development of this technology is recent and rapid, and promotes the use of one site instead of many sites.” Polycrystalline Diamond Cut- ters. Introduced in the 1970s by General Electric Company, the PDC bit (Fig. 2) uses thin, diamond lay- ers bonded to tungsten carbide-cobalt studs or blades. The extreme resis- tance of diamond to abrasive wear makes it a good choice as a medium to prolong the life of cutters on bits that shear rock formations during oil and gas well drilling. PDC bits are inher- ently more efficient than roller cone bits, which depend on a crushing mo- tion to penetrate rock formations. Following their introduction, studies indicated that PDC-equipped bits could effectively drill soft forma- tions faster and last longer than con- ventional roller bits. In recent years, continued progress has been made in PDC bit design that has broadened the range of formation strength that can be economically drilled. Today, PDC bits account for more than one third of the total footage drilled worldwide, with annual sales by US manufacturers exceeding USD 260 million. Over the useful lifetime of a bit, a single PDC bit will save more than USD100,000 compared with drilling with roller- cone bits (US DOE). Extended-Reach Drilling. The importance of extended-reach drill-

JPT SPECIAL SECTION

ing in advancing extremely long well- bores was summarized in an article in a 1997 issue of the Schlumberger Oil- field Review (Allen et al. 1997). “The limits of directional drill- ing continue to be pushed back… to tap reserves at extreme distances from surface wellsites. What was once considered the envelope of extended- reach drilling now merely indicates the difference between standard and advanced technology. That envelope continuously enlarges as companies push technology to the limit.” During the 1990s, ever-increasing production targets posed challenges to operators who sought to maximize the full potential of their maturing fields. This encouraged the initiation of extended-reach drilling efforts in many worldwide locations. Once con- sidered a high-cost, high-risk option, the global demand for more hydrocar- bons necessitated a change in operator thinking about how extended-reach wells and projects were evaluated. The ability to drill more than 10 km horizontal displacement became an industry goal following the contin- ued success of horizontal drilling ef- forts. Operators reasoned that two- or even threefold production increases could result if more of the wellbore could be exposed to the pay zone. Thus, it was just a matter of time un- til extended-reach drilling techniques overcame the 10-km barrier. That major industry drilling milestone oc- curred in 1998 during the drilling of a long extended-reach well at BP’s Wytch Farm field development in southern England. The importance of the technology was summed up by the Oilfield Review article. “The success of this well [BP’s Wytch Farm well] has opened up even more targets and the potential to access reserves that would have re- mained out of reach or required huge capital outlays just a few years ago.” Borehole Telemetry. Steady ad- vancement has been made in this technology, with operators now push- ing telemetry systems to transmit real-time data quickly in lieu of using wired pipe or wireline (Wassermann et al. 2008). Mud-pulse telemetry is now the most common method of transmitting MWD and LWD data, and mud-pulse telemetry rates have

LEGENDS OF DRILLING

and mud-pulse telemetry rates have LEGENDS OF DRILLING Fig. 4—Expandable tubulars reduce the tapering effect of

Fig. 4—Expandable tubulars reduce the tapering effect of conventional casing programs.

increased to more than 20 bits/sec

(bps) at depths shallower than 20,000

ft,

and in excess of 3 bps from depths

of

more than 36,000 ft. That compares

to

a typical data rate of 0.4 bps 30

years ago (Fig. 3). “By mixing telemetry, MWD/ LWD tools, and steerable systems,

we can enable real-time analysis and real-time changes in well design,” says João Carlos Ribeiro Plácido,

a drilling engineer for Petrobras.

“This is an amazing drilling achieve- ment when compared to past drill- ing methodologies.”

Present-Day Achievements A snapshot of today’s drilling activity re- veals the application of numerous tech- nologies that most experts believe are leading to major drilling achievements. Invert-Emulsion Drilling Fluids. One important advancement currently under development is synthetic-based, high-performance, invert-emulsion drilling fluids, says Carl Themlitz, Southern Region Technical Manager for Halliburton’s Baroid Fluid Ser- vices. “Development of these fluids has been under way for some time, but they are becoming much more ac- cepted now because they offer a step- change in the technology of drilling fluids,” he says.

change in the technology of drilling fluids,” he says. Fig. 5—Instrumented drillpipe. These clay-free

Fig. 5—Instrumented drillpipe.

These clay-free invert-emulsion fluids are formulated without the use of commercial organophilic clays or lignites. Instead, rheological proper- ties are managed through the appli- cation of powerful emulsifiers and polymers. The interaction of the com- ponents in these clay-free systems is the key to providing a robust gel structure that eliminates the need for excessive thickening of the mud, helps save conditioning time, and prevents over-treatment. Also, the absence of commercial clay and lignite naturally reduces the solids content and helps operators achieve faster rates of pen- etration (ROP). Expandable Tubulars. This tech- nical advancement is considered one of the most important currently be- ing applied (Fig. 4). “This technolo- gy allows the drilling of any trouble- some zone without worrying about the diameter reduction,” says Plácido of Petrobras. “The development of expand- able tubing and casing has been un- der way since the early 1990s,” adds Weatherford’s Cheatham. “It is very useful today for mitigating drill- ing hazards such as lost-circulation zones or unstable wellbores, but it is just beginning to be programmed into well plans to deliberately reduce conventional reverse telescoping. So far, their most common use has been to bail out wells that have encoun- tered problems.” Instrumented Drillpipe. Tech- nology that builds high-speed data transmission capabilities directly into drillpipe is opening up new possibili- ties and transforming the drillstring from simply a drilling tool into a high-technology information tool, state the authors of a recent paper on instrumented drillpipe (Jellison et al.

53

Fig. 6—Kongsberg Maritime real-time operations center. 2004) (Fig. 5). “The system can pro- vide information

Fig. 6—Kongsberg Maritime real-time operations center.

2004) (Fig. 5). “The system can pro- vide information about the operator’s most valuable asset: hydrocarbons in the reservoir. Using electrical cable, the intelli-

gent drill pipe system transmits data from typical downhole sensors: MWD, LWD, and rotary steerable tools, with speeds on the order of 1 million bps,

in contrast to conventional mud-pulse

MWD technology that transmits data

at rates up to 12 bps. Electromagnetic

technology provides data rates of up to 100 bps, but suffers from depth and

formation related limitations. The bi- directional drillpipe system can trans- mit real time MWD/LWD data, as well

as send commands or signals from the

surface to operate downhole tools and sensors. The system is virtually trans- parent to standard rig procedures and offers robust, reliable operation.” BP’s Mason agrees, adding, “In

a world of superlatives, I think the most exciting advancement today is instrumented drillpipe. We are now

just starting to understand how far our drilling operations could be trans- formed by using a drillstring that can transmit 1 million bps of data to sur- face. Today, mud-pulse transmission

is maxed out at 12 bps. Tomorrow, we

will be at 1 million bps. This feels like

54

a revolutionary change, not just an

evolutionary improvement.” Computer Technology and Real- Time Operations. Effective drilling decision-making consists of having the most recent information available and timely access to that information. This is the goal of real-time drilling operations centers (Fig. 6). “Computers, the Internet, and related information technology is cur- rently giving rise to huge advances in productivity, as well as the ability to research and manage large volumes of information,” says Mason. “This com- puter technology, when coupled with real-time decision-making, is opening great opportunities for the advance- ment of drilling operations in which closed-loop systems allow well trajec- tories to be modified in real time as data from the drill bit is fed back to remotely located asset teams.”

Future Challenges

If we could take a peek into the fu-

ture, we might see drilling technolo- gies in use that look a lot like those of

today. That is what John Thorogood, SPE’s Technical Director for Drilling and Completions during 2001–04 and retired BP Chief Drilling Engi- neer, predicted in a special issue of

JPT last year that celebrated SPE’s 50th anniversary (Thorogood 2007). Thorogood’s premise is that drilling technology evolves slowly rather than in giant leaps. “Looking back on how innova- tions happened, one sees that many of the key components already existed,” Thorogood wrote. “We cannot pre- dict what drilling in 2032 will look like. What we can say though, is that progress toward it will be orderly, will be incremental, and will involve technologies that are already proven outside the oil industry. When we get there, it will not seem radical, but the difference will be huge.” The industry is already in the in- fancy of what is going to come next, says Schlumberger’s Williams. “LWD measurements traditionally were very shallow. They looked out a couple of inches to 2 ft from the wellbore. With technologies such as PeriScope, which has only been around a year to 18 months in a commercial form, you now can look beyond that and see as far, in the best cases, 25 ft away from the wellbore,” Williams says. “Is there going to be a time when we can see 100 ft out from the wellbore? Yes, ab- solutely, there will be. Is there going to be a time when we can see in front of

JPT SPECIAL SECTION

the bit before we even drill it? Abso- lutely, yes. That is going to come, too, and that is going to give a whole new lease of life to wellbore positioning. “This is where the industry is headed: we need a bigger information highway downhole. MWD continues to advance to some fairly astounding data rates from what we had even 5 years ago. And the advent of wired drillpipe potentially opens that infor- mation highway further. Potentially, the two coupled together make that information highway very big.” Many technologies hold huge promise as potential milestone achievements. Advanced Drilling Software. “We are going to see drilling software that can intelligently handle, orga- nize, distill, and integrate terabytes of subsurface and drilling data to add real value to our business,” Ma- son says. “We are also going to see geological data from offset wells and analog fields that are presented in the doghouse telling the driller when losses and kicks, washouts, and low ROP are to be expected. We will also see mud loggers’ and LWD data that are presented to the subsurface team to tell them where their reservoir models should be improved.” Environmentally Driven Tech- nologies. Thaemlitz of Halliburton believes this is a certainty. “Every year the industry is becoming more aware of the increasing demand for technology that advances the drilling function yet does not harm the envi- ronment. Therefore, we are going to have to take today’s environmentally friendly drilling fluids and make them even more environmentally friendly. That is what the world is going to de- mand in exchange for the ability to drill for oil and gas.” Monobore Wells. Today, ex- pandable tubulars are providing the foundation for the development of the future technology that over- comes the remaining barriers to deepwater and ultradeepwater de- velopment. That technology is the monobore and near-monobore well. Some experts believe the industry is close to the monodiameter well and that a well consisting of a single casing diameter from the surface tree to total depth could have enor-

LEGENDS OF DRILLING

mous savings in steel while produc- ing less cuttings. Casing and Liner Drilling. Drill- ing with casing has traditionally been seen as a means to combine the cas- ing and drilling in one operation, thus saving on tripping time. But the appli- cation range has extended to combat problems caused by depleted sands and tight pore pressure gradients as well as to minimize unscheduled drill- ing events (Davies et al. 2006).

In the future, experts see current casing- and liner-drilling efforts evolv- ing to provide the ability to drill from casing point to casing point with full formation evaluation capability using LWD. Combining expandable tubu- lars technology and managed pressure drilling with casing and liner drilling

is also viewed as a future application

for this technology. Two of the biggest challenges in the future appear to be access to re-

sources and the availability of techni- cal talent, both areas where technol- ogy holds promise. “There is very little easy oil and gas left,” says Williams. “There is a top end, the industry-leading tech- nology, that is dragging along a whole traditional market. For instance, if you look at US land, there are roughly 1,800 rigs drilling wells. The majority

of them still are drilling vertical wells

today. But the switch from vertical to

deviated to horizontal is happening

at an amazing pace now, on land in

a lower-technology market—a more

cost-sensitive market. One of the sur- prising things is rotary steerables—we are running them on US land, in west- ern China, and in the middle of Siberia. You would never have put money on that 5 years ago. The whole industry is moving forward.” Another big change may have as much to do with personnel as technol- ogy. “I don’t think the industry ever will fill the talent gap so we have to use our people more smartly. We are in the infancy of taking people off rigs and putting them in remote lo- cations where the same people can manage more than one rig to make better use of our people. We are looking at what we can automate, although I don’t like the term auto- mated systems, but semismart sys- tems. In the next 5 to 10 years, the

biggest change in the industry will be the way we use our manpower.” Drilling achievements have al- ways been dependent on drivers to make them a reality. Business strategy, risk, safety, and environmental protec- tion are among the important drivers. However, all drilling achievements ultimately depend on the two most important drivers of all: operator ne- cessity and oilfield economics.

References

1. Cheatham, J.B. Jr. 1983.

Drilling Technology: Present Trends and Future Prospects. SPE Paper 12358 presented

at the Production Technology

Symposium, Lubbock, Texas, 14–15 November.

2. US Department of Energy.

Diamond Cutter Drill Bits. Success Stories, 1, www.nrel.gov/

docs/fy00osti/23692.pdf.

3. Allen, F., Tooms, P., Conran, G., Lesso, B., and Van de Slijke, P. 1997. Extended Reach Drilling:

Breaking the 10-km Barrier. Oilfield Review, winter, 32, Schlumberger.

4. Wassermann, I., Hahn, D., Reckmann, H., Nguyen, D.H., and Macpherson, J. 2008. Mud-pulse Telemetry Sees Step-change Improvement with Oscillating Shear Valves. Oil & Gas J., ( June 23).

5. Jellison, M.J., Reeves, M., Urbanowski, R., and Sporker,

H. 2004. Intelligent Drill Pipe

Improves Drilling Efficiency, Enhances Well Safety and Provides Added Value. Paper presented at the IADC World Drilling Conference, Dubrovnik, Croatia, 1–2 July, 1.

6. Thorogood, J. 2007. Drilling in 2032—Back to the Future. JPT, 59 (10): 108.

7. Davies, M., Clark, L., McClain,

E., and Thomas, J. 2006.

A Staged Approach to the

Introduction of Casing and Liner Drilling. Paper 17845 presented

at the Offshore Technology

Conference, Houston, Texas, 1–4 May, 1.

JPT

55

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