National Energy Technology Laboratory - Extreme Drilling Laboratory
A brochure announcing the launch of the NETL Extreme Drilling Laboratory (XDL), with an impressive piece of technology called the Ultra-Deep Single-Cutter Drilling Simulator (UDS). As of early 2013 the NETL still does not have an industry partner to fund research at the XDL. MDN theorizes that's because since the founding of the XDL in January 2009, the shale revolution took off, making extreme drilling (of depths over 15,000 feet) unnecessary at this point in time.
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Transcripts - National Energy Technology Laboratory - Extreme Drilling Laboratory
Project SummaryExtreme Drilling Laboratory (XDL)Goal The XDL is designed to investigate rock mechanics, cutter technology, drilling fluid behavior, andThe oil and natural gas industry’s search for materials performance. It can also carry out proof-of-resources must turn increasingly to environments that concept studies and perform modeling verificationare more challenging from geological and operating studies for a variety of physical processes, all atstandpoints. These include complex subsurface HPHT conditions.formations with low permeability (a measure of howeasily fluids can pass through rock formations) andthe extremely high pressures and temperaturesencountered in ultra-deep wells, both onshore andoffshore. Industry requires innovative exploration andproduction technologies in order to access theseresources in an economic and environmentallybenign way. Over the last decade, the drillingindustry has advanced its ability to drill wells moreefficiently; however, further efficiency improvementsare needed to reach increasingly deep formations.NETL’s Extreme Drilling Laboratory (XDL) researchprogram focuses on improving the economic viabilityof drilling for domestic oil and natural gas located indeep (>15,000 feet) and ultra-deep (>25,000 feet)formations at high-pressure, high-temperature(HPHT) conditions. The XDL will provide a uniqueplatform for investigating drilling dynamics at thecutter/rock interface between the drill bit’s cutting tooland the subsurface rock formation under suchextreme conditions. The goal is to develop newmaterials, such as improved fluids used to supportthe drilling process, and to optimize drilling methods Figure 1. Ultra-Deep Single-Cutter Drilling Simulator.that reduce the cost of deep drilling.Performer The investigations are expected to provide important new information on how to test the performance ofNETL/ORD new cutter/bit applications, design new drilling fluids, and develop and validate rock mechanics models.Background The XDL is equipped with a suite of supporting equipment that allows detailed preparation andNETL’s XDL was specifically designed, in characterization of sophisticated rock and drilling fluidcollaboration with industry, to enhance the samples. Among the unique features of the UDS arefundamental understanding of how the cutting tool, its ability to precisely measure cutter forces, itsrock, and drilling fluids interact at high pressures and capability to operate with “real-world” drilling fluids,temperatures. The goal is to optimize the drilling and its integration of an X-ray system that producesprocess by increasing the rate of penetration, the key real-time images of the cutting process (Figure 2).measure of the drill bit efficiency. The XDL primaryresearch apparatus is the Ultra-Deep Single-Cutter Although the primary focus of the XDL is to enhanceDrilling Simulator (UDS, Figure 1). This prototype technologies for the exploration and production ofresearch device can operate at sustained pressures deep and ultra-deep fossil fuel resources, it is alsoup to 30,000 psi and temperatures up to 250 ºC capable of investigating HPHT problems related to(~500 °F). These operating conditions are well drilling geothermal wells and injection wells neededbeyond the limits of any other existing drilling for the subsurface injection and storage ofsimulator. greenhouse gases or carbon sequestration. DOE/NETL Complementary Research Program under Subtitle J, Section 999 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005
To complement UDS experiments, NETL is evolution of well bore geometry and solidsdeveloping computational tools that can be validated production potential, andusing the UDS observations. These tools can beused to predict the factors that control drilling • Performance testing of measurement-while-dynamics under various conditions, e.g., the failure drilling (MWD) instrumentation.mode for various rock types, drilling fluid dynamicsfor various muds, and the formation of filter cake thatcan cause pipe to get stuck during the cuttingprocess.The XDL’s Drilling Fluids Laboratory (Mud Lab)sustains the equipment needed to prepare andanalyze drilling fluids and conduct experiments withprototype drilling fluids. For the most part, drillingfluids used in the UDS are identical to those used byindustry. Besides performing their normal functions, Figure 2. UDS photo showing the cutter/rock interfacethe drilling fluids will be used to pressurize the during drilling.containment vessel. One particularly important pieceof equipment in this lab is the Chandler Model 7600HPHT viscometer, which can measure fluid viscosityat actual UDS test conditions. AccomplishmentsThe XDL’s Mineralogy, Modeling, and Materials Lab • UDS was installed at NETL in January 2009.(Rock Lab) will serve multiple functions, from simple Supporting research facilities are nearlysample preparation to detailed analysis. From an complete: The integration of X-ray videoanalytical perspective, the primary equipment is the equipment is complete; the confocal microscope,Laser Scanning Confocal Microscope, which will water jet, and the Chandler Viscometer haveallow three-dimensional images of a sample surface. been tested; and the Mud Lab has beenThe Rock Lab will contain an array of analytical tools incorporated.to assess typical rock properties, such as hardness • The facility shakedown is to be initiatedand petrophysical properties September 2009, with the baseline tests to beThere will also be a substantial modeling capability completed by December 2009.co-located in the Rock Lab to support all aspects of • There are encouraging preliminary results for twothe experimental facilities of the XDL. The modeling nanoparticle routes for controlling drilling-fluidlab will be used to advance the science of rock viscosity; additional experiments will investigatemechanics, cutter design, and drilling fluids further.technology through the extension and developmentof computer-based mathematical models. The Contact Informationresearch is expected to include, but not be limited to,examination of: George Guthrie (412) 386-6571• Filter cake formation and interaction with the rock surface, including its impact on reducing friction email@example.com and impeding the flow of fluids through rock pore Jamie Brown spaces, (304) 285-5428• The effect of fluids between rock and wellbore firstname.lastname@example.org during cutting on rate-of-penetration of the William Ayers transfer mechanism, (304) 285-4125• The relationship between rock properties and email@example.com cutter/rock interactions,• The importance of particle size distribution with respect to dissolved solids in drilling fluid,• The role of geo-mechanics models in estimating fluid flow-induced stress, rock failure mode, and DOE/NETL Complementary Research Program under Subtitle J, Section 999 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005