LEGENDS OF DRILLING
JOURNAL OF PETROLEUM TECHNOLOGY SPECIAL SECTION
Marvin Gearhart 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.
Bill Rehm 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
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.
Bill Maurer 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.
Leon Robinson 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
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.
President of PetroSkills and SPE Technical Director for Drilling and Completions
GOING AND GOING
Marvin Gearhart has a long track record of creating cause of the visible impact it has had on the exploration and
companies that specialize in high-performing technolo- production world ever since. As an example, Gearhart noted
gies that support the oil and gas drilling sector. He has how MWD enabled directional drilling in the artificial is-
been at it for more than half a decade, and, at a time of lands called THUMS (named after original operators Texaco,
life when most people are retired, Gearhart keeps going Humble, Union Oil, Mobil, and Shell) in the harbor at Long
and going. Beach, California.
The highly deviated wells at THUMS were the proving
He graduated from Kansas State University in 1949 with a BS grounds for the ﬁrst MWD systems built by Gearhart. The eco-
degree in mechanical engineering, concentrating in petroleum. nomic beneﬁts by using this new technology, with its time sav-
He started his oilﬁeld career shortly thereafter as a wireline ings over conventional surveying methods, were identiﬁable and
logging engineer with Welex Jet Services in Fort Worth, Texas. quickly recognized. As a result, operators were soon asking for
In 1955, Gearhart and Harrold Owen formed Gearhart- other sensors and measurements to be added, resulting in the
Owen Industries, a wireline and perforation service provider, as development of full logging-while-drilling systems.
well as a manufacturer of logging trucks and tools for the global The directional drilling furthered by MWD gave new life to
industry. This company was operating in 27 countries around the the giant Wilmington oil ﬁelds. THUMS, originally a roughly 8
world and had more than 13,600 employees at its peak in 1984. billion bbl oil ﬁeld discovered in the early 1930s, was at risk
In addition to operating its own equipment, the company helped of having large amounts of oil off limits unless better drilling
set up and supply equipment to more than 300 independent methods became feasible. Today, current operator Oxy notes
wireline service companies over 33 years before it was sold to that greater than 60% of the more than 2,000 wells drilled from
Halliburton in 1988. THUMS’ four, 10-acre islands deviate from conventional vertical
The company also operated a division known as Mineral wells for expanded reach into different parts of the ﬁeld, with less
Logging Systems to supply equipment to the mineral logging environmental and virtually no visual impact.
industry. Mineral Logging Systems specialized in building small The oil price crash of 1986 and competitive forces in the
portable logging units for the shallow hole industry, usually less glutted market made Gerhart’s company a takeover target. Af-
than 3,000 ft, for use where conventional logging services were ter Halliburton acquired Gearhart Industries in 1988, Gearhart
not available. The company supplied more than 2,300 units, formed Rockbit International and specialized in building drilling
many of which are still in use today. bits and tools for the next 17 years. This company also stayed ac-
During the 1970s, Gearhart’s company developed a major tive in MWD systems.
advance in openhole logging equipment, with the ﬁrst successful The present Gearhart Company was initiated after the non-
application of digital technology in this area. Within only 14 compete provision with Halliburton expired in the early 1990s.
months after the project started, the company completed and This company is putting together an integrated line of drilling
tested a new series of openhole tools and a computer system tools and systems designed for vertical and horizontal drilling
to analyze the ﬁndings. The new product line, known as Direct focusing on the needs of the Barnett Shale play in north Texas.
Digital Logging, signiﬁcantly reduced the lead that the major The Barnett Shale came into serious play during the last decade,
oilﬁeld service and supply companies had once enjoyed in as water fracs proved more economic than previously used gel
openhole logging. fracs in the extremely tight formations. Horizontal drilling fur-
Also during the 1970s, Gearhart’s company became a ther enhanced the feasibility of developing the giant play, which
forerunner in measurement-while-drilling (MWD) technology, is now the US’ second-largest natural gas ﬁeld, after Kansas’
which enabled controlled directional drilling by beaming Hugoton ﬁeld.
accurate measurements to the surface without a wireline. In addition to serving as an SPE Distinguished Lecturer in
Gearhart describes his company’s involvement in the de- 1981, Gearhart was awarded the Legends Medal Award by the
velopment of MWD equipment as a high point in his career be- Texas Alliance of Energy Producers in 2008.
LEGENDS OF DRILLING 43
FROM THE SHOULDERS
A famous quotation by Sir
velopment Corp. between 1979 and 1981, for instance Rehm
worked in the area of high-pressure (geopressured) drilling o
erations and directional drilling, with special emphasis on long-
reach marine operations. He then became cofounder and v e
president of Drilling Information Service Co. between 1981 and
1984, a company that developed a supervisory system for send-
ing offshore drilling information via satellite to the operato
ofﬁce through an automated unmanned system.
After the company was sold to Gearhart Industries, Rehm
became general manager of BecField Horizontal Drilling Ser-
Isaac Newton goes: “If I have
vices between 1985 and 1990, and took the company from
seen further than others, it is
research to a USD 15 million commercial venture that special-
because I have stood on the
ized in slimhole and slick (nonstabilized) horizontal drilling tools.
shoulders of giants.”
While with BedField, Rehm developed math models for the turn-
ing radius and performance of the tools, as well as bits and
This essentially characterizes how techniques for horizontal underbalanced drilling.
Bill Rehm set about his career in Rehm then organized, funded, and managed Horizontal
improving the understanding of Drillers (HDI), an independent directional drilling company,
the Earth’s pressures and further- where he served as president between 1990 and 1992. He de-
ing the safety of oil and gas drill- veloped some of the original plans for underbalanced drilling
ing well control. “I really did very in the Austin Chalk, new drilling motors, and other mechani-
little original work,” he insists, yet cal equipment and software. Between 1992 and 1995, Rehm
the reams of Rehm’s publications and his ﬁve US patents sug- became product director of drilling equipment for ICT, where
gest otherwise. “I have been fascinated by the effect of wellbore he held responsibility for speciﬁcations and purchase of drilling
pressures on the drilling process and spent most of my career equipment for export to China and was in charge of technology
studying and dealing with that phenomenon.” transfer, on-site demonstrations, and operating manuals for ex-
Being observant and a good listener often gave Rehm ideas port equipment. Rehm then became vice president of engineer-
for new developments. For instance, once a staff engineer told ing for Enlink, a coiled tubing drilling installation company that
him that he had noticed pressure trends occurring in electric well specializes in drilling and completing small-diameter shallow
logs, so Rehm went to the log library and then hung well logs holes for heat exchanger systems. The Enlink drilling and com-
over a 9 ft ofﬁce door to see if those trends really existed. They pletion rigs are special purpose, portable coiled tubing rigs.
did and it was a real revelation. “That’s fairly typical of how I got Since 1995, Rehm has made his mark on his own, forming
into these things,” Rehm said. Rehm Consulting to focus on underbalanced drilling and com-
Rehm graduated from the Missouri School of Mines with pletions, as well as reservoir protection projects. His accomplish-
a BS degree in geological engineering and went to work for ments include writing the Petroleum Energy Technology Services
Dresser Industries from 1955 to 1975. It was at Dresser that (PETS Canada) Offshore Well Control Manual, Practical Under-
he developed well control and pressure measurements from balanced Drilling and Workovers published by the University of
electric logs for internal use and spent 2 years traveling around Texas Petroleum Technology Service, and chapters in the Drilling
the world teaching the original training schools for Macobar Fluids Processing Manual. With associates, Rehm wrote the Drill-
on well control. His assignments included serving as mud en- ing Engineering Association Manual for Maurer Engineering on
gineer in three states, then in management roles in air drilling, underbalanced drilling.
drilling mud services, and engineering. He was the manager of A recognized expert on underbalanced drilling, Rehm con-
technical services for Dresser’s Magcobar/SWACO unit when it ducts underbalanced drilling and completion schools and man-
worked on shallow gas-kick problems in the Gulf of Mexico. agement seminars internationally. He served as session chair-
Rehm then went to work for Maurer Engineering Co. be- man on underbalanced drilling for the American Association of
tween 1975 and 1979 as an associate and vice president, Drilling Engineers’ year 2000 technical conference.
where he performed consulting and supervisory work in drilling For a portion of this time, Rehm served as principal and
and was a project manager in the development of directional consulting engineer for ProTreat, between 2001 and 2003. The
drilling. Rehm wrote the ﬁrst manual accepted by the US Miner- company utilizes foam units with proprietary products to avoid
als Management Service (MMS) on well control for drillers and corrosion while working over or cleaning out wells in areas
supervisors, with a follow-up manual on well control for derrick where sensitive sands and corrosion are a dominant problem.
men and roughnecks. He also wrote ﬁve manuals on well con- ProTreat also plans and executes scale and hydrate squeezes to
trol for drilling contractors that were accepted by the US Geo- improve production economics.
logical Survey. In addition, Rehm taught well control courses for Today, in addition to his activities in the underbalanced
many operators and drilling contractors and conducted the ﬁrst drilling arena, Rehm consults as technical adviser to Far East
introductory well control school for the MMS. Energy Corp., a role in which he has been active since 2005. In
For the next 10 years, Rehm worked for different compa- this capacity, he advises on underbalanced drilling processes for
nies in a variety of capacities, where he was able to contribute previously undeveloped coalbed methane resources in China.
to some of the most signiﬁcant technological advancements in His present project involves completing a two-volume series on
recent history. As a consultant with Louden Rehm Resource De- managed-pressure drilling and underbalanced drilling.
44 JPT S P E C I A L S E C T I O N
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.
swelling, shrinking, hydration, strength reduction, and failure.
Stimulating the water ﬂow out of the shale and into the well-
He was laid off his ﬁrst job in 1958 after only one day amid a bore can strengthen the shale, thus avoiding wellbore instabil-
recessionary, oil-glutted economy when petroleum industry jobs ity. However, a shale and drilling ﬂuid system must produce
were scarce for new graduates (he had just earned his BS degree a high osmotic-pressure gradient in the wellbore and exhibit
in petroleum engineering from Louisiana State University). high membrane efﬁciency. Therefore, this project is examining
Undaunted, Chenevert continued his studies, earning an MS a variety of water-based drilling ﬂuids that have proven to be
and then doctorate in petroleum engineering at the University of effective in improving shale inhibition, to determine muds that
Texas (UT) at Austin. might help resolve shale hydration.
Chenevert’s career began at what is now Exxon Production Another area of Chenevert’s current research assesses the
Research Co. (then Humble) between 1964 and 1975, before interaction between oil-based muds and shales. Even though the
launching and running his own company, Chenevert Engineer- oil ﬁltrate of oil-based muds does not hydrate the shale, it pene-
ing, between 1977 and 1984. Over the years, he has also trates and ﬂows through it. The research is aimed at determining
consulted for a host of companies, including Amoco, Arco, Fina the breakthrough pressure that needs to be overcome by an oil-
Petroleum, Oryx, Petrobras, and Saga Petroleum. based mud over a shale, and how the emulsiﬁers’ concentration
He has also made quite a mark in the “publish or perish” and the water activity of the shale affects this pressure.
world of academia, publishing more than 100 papers and three In 2006, Chenevert was inducted into the Drilling Fluid
books. Chenevert also has developed software applications for Hall of Fame by the American Association of Drilling Engineers
use in petroleum engineering and holds nine US patents, in- (AADE). The association established the Hall of Fame to recog-
cluding ones for drilling with low water content in oil emulsion nize key individuals who have contributed to the understanding
ﬂuids, a method for determining clay reactivity, water-based and knowledge of drilling and completion ﬂuids and the down-
well ﬂuids for shale stability, and treating subsurface water- hole conditions that drilling companies encounter. Chenevert was
sensitive shale formations. one of eight inductees that AADE selected from 47 candidates.
“I have felt privileged to spend my career investigating and Membership in the Hall of Fame recognizes his work in develop-
researching,” says Chenevert, who serves as senior lecturer for ing chemical and mechanical concepts of wellbore stability and
UT’s petroleum engineering program and director of the drilling balanced activity oil-based drilling ﬂuids.
research program at the university’s Petroleum and Geosystems Chenevert also received SPE Distinguished Member recog-
Engineering Department. Other academic posts he held prior to nition and the 1994 SPE Drilling Engineering Award, an Ameri-
UT were adjunct professor at the University of Houston and as- can Petroleum Institute (API) recognition award, a most outstand-
sociate professor at Oklahoma University. ing faculty member and faculty excellence award from UT, and
Chenevert earned international recognition for his work in he was the Sylvain Pirson Centennial Lecturer in Petroleum Engi-
the area of wellbore stability and drilling ﬂuids. At Exxon, he was neering at the school from 1984 to 1992.
fascinated with troubleshooting the causes of wellbore instability As has anyone who has been in the industry this long,
and began developing drilling muds that could solve the prob- Chenevert has seen sweeping technological changes over the
lems. “I could not believe I was getting paid to do research,” years. Among those that have left the biggest impression on him
Chenevert said. “I like being able to make designer muds. Drill- have been the use of diamond cutters for longer bit runs, the
ing muds are always in demand,” he continued, noting that “if application of horizontal drilling for extended-reach wells that
the mud stops, the drilling stops.” have “opened up tremendous new reserves,” and the clean up
Chenevert has been active in that area for about half a and restoration of well sites. “What we have now is a very ef-
century now and is currently involved in four primary areas of fective industry,” he said.
research: the petrophysical properties of shales, wellbore stability Chenevert has been very active in SPE, serving on several
in shale formations, the dynamic ﬁltration of drilling muds, and committees and as a textbook and technical editor. He is also a
properties of synthetic muds. member of a number of other professional associations, includ-
One project he has led involves assessing water-based ing API, AADE, American Filtration Society, American Society for
muds that show promise for alleviating shale hydration prob- Engineering Education, American Society of Mechanical Engi-
lems. About 75% of the problems in drilling operations are neers, International Society for Rock Mechanics, and the North
related to shales, which are vulnerable to phenomena such as American Rock Mechanics Society.
LEGENDS OF DRILLING 45
SEEING THINGS DIFFERENTLY
Bill Maurer is a classic
example of the term
“thinking outside the box.”
horizontal wells were drilled during the 1980s, compared with
about 2,700 per year today.
Or, to put it more accurately, During the 1980s, Maurer also was instrumental in the
he is a pro at thinking out- development of the then-revolutionary PDC bit, which is now
side the borehole about used for about half of all drilling operations. The 1990s
what is needed to deliver brought advances in slimhole drilling and high-powered mo-
better oil and gas drilling tors, with Maurer involved in the development of both. Since
results in all types of reser- the turn of the new century, Maurer has been interested in
voirs. “To invent things, you advances in expanded tubulars and radial jet drilling, a new
have to see things differ- stimulation technique. “I keep going into new ﬁelds,” he ad-
ently,” Maurer said. “I like to mits. “It’s more interesting.”
change things.” Maurer, a big proponent of collaborative efforts to ad-
That is an understatement where Maurer is concerned. vance technology, believes that there would be great beneﬁt
Maurer’s ability to “see things differently” resulted in pio- from a more shared approach to research and development
neering changes for the industry, including his extensive research (R&D), rather than companies over-protecting their knowl-
into novel drilling techniques, drilling mechanics, rock mechan- edge. “Two engineers are four times as smart as one engi-
ics, drill bit design, downhole drilling motors, high-pressure jet neer,” says Maurer.
drilling, horizontal drilling, and advanced drilling tools. Unconventional natural gas technology is an area that
He holds 38 patents on oilﬁeld downhole drilling and com- would make great strides from shared R&D, Maurer believes.
pletion tools. An entrepreneur as well as an inventor, Maurer “With a joint industry project on unconventional gas technology,
also started 18 successful oilﬁeld service companies, including we could do in 2 or 3 years what will take individual companies
ones that ﬁrst marketed polycrystalline diamond compact (PDC) 10 to 15 years to accomplish.”
bits, slimhole drills, horizontal drills, resin-coated sand, jet drills, In another example of his belief in a collaborative ap-
high-temperature turbo drills, and other innovative products. proach to industry challenges, Maurer applied himself—or
Maurer started his career in 1962 at Jersey Production Re- rather, teams of engineers—to developing software to solve
search (JPR) in Tulsa after graduating from the Colorado School wide-ranging problems in horizontal drilling. “In the 1980s,
of Mines with a master’s degree and PhD in mining engineer- there was no software for horizontal drilling, so on our joint
ing. In 1964, JPR merged with Exxon Production Research in industry project we developed 20 to 30 programs to help
Houston. By 1974, Maurer was a senior research specialist with overcome problems that companies were encountering in
Exxon when he decided to break into business for himself and drilling horizontal wells.” For example, the programs ad-
launched Maurer Engineering. dressed well path planning and projections, torque and drag,
“Each decade, I was working on something new and excit- coiled tubing design, casing stress, and wellbore cementing,
ing,” Maurer recalls. The 1960s were signiﬁcant for advances among other things. Notably, the software (now owned and
in the reliability of motors used in downhole drilling, he noted. marketed by Petris Technology) was developed in four lan-
By the time he was out on his own in the 1970s, Maurer En- guages: English, Spanish, Russian, and Chinese.
gineering was instrumental in development of measurement- In 2000, Maurer Engineering was sold to Noble Drilling,
while-drilling technology, which transmits data from the well bit which retained all the employees, including Maurer and the
to the surface in real time. This, in turn, enabled horizontal (or company’s cofounder, William McDonald.
directional) drilling to proceed. Over the years, Maurer has authored more than 60 pub-
The ﬁrst horizontal well was drilled back in 1929, but for lished works, including two books on drilling technology. He has
many decades, there was no feasible or economic way to ap- also won numerous awards, among them the 2001 SPE Drilling
ply the technology. Eager to overcome some of the remaining Engineering Award, the 1987 ASME Engineering Achievement
obstacles, Maurer organized an effort, funded by the Drilling Award, the 1984 Houston District Small Business Innovation
Engineering Association, to develop tools that would drill hori- Award, and, in 1981, the Distinguished Alumnus Award from
zontal wells. More than 50 companies participated jointly in this his undergraduate alma mater, the University of Wisconsin in
effort over a period of 10 years, which led to the development Platteville. He was inducted into the US National Academy of
of reliable horizontal drilling techniques that changed the oil in- Engineering in 1992 and in 1987 became a fellow of the Ameri-
dustry. According to the American Petroleum Institute, only a few can Society of Mechanical Engineers.
46 JPT S P E C I A L S E C T I O N
OTA BLY RO CKY” C
A NOTABLY “ROCKY” CAREER IN
YDROC ON PHYSICS RESEARCH
CARBO P YSICS 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.
Robinson was then a young PhD research physicist who was earned his master’s degree in physics from Clemson in 1950.
enamored—as he still is—with the science of improving the way He then received a doctorate in engineering physics from North
rocks are drilled for hydrocarbons. But Robinson’s career has Carolina State University in 1954. As a graduate student, he was
hardly been rocky in any other sense of the word. an instructor of physics at Clemson, the University of Chattanoo-
Among the many honors in his career, Robinson has been ga, Tennessee, and at North Carolina State. He joined Humble
awarded 24 international patents, 34 US patents, an Exxon Dis- in 1953, as he ﬁnished his thesis on electrets.
tinguished Lecturer Award, three Exxon Outstanding Instructor Robinson’s career has provided him the opportunity to make
Awards, the 1984 International Association of Drilling Con- contributions in many technology areas. These include mud
tractors Special Recognition Award, the 1999 American Asso- cleaners, explosive drilling, drilling data telemetry, subsurface
ciation Drilling Engineering (AADE) Meritorious Service Award, rock mechanics, drilling and hydraulic optimization techniques,
the 1985 SPE Drilling Engineering Award, the 2006 American and tertiary oil recovery, as well as conducting on-site drilling
Petroleum Institute (API) Service Award, and in 2006, was in- workshops, global drilling ﬂuid seminars, and rigsite consulta-
ducted into the AADE Hall of Fame, and in 2007, acquired the tions. Research projects were tested in the ﬁeld offering an op-
API Emeritus designation. portunity to not only test current research, but also to try new
Robinson, who spent his entire career at Humble (now things and test many “accepted” theories, he says. Drilling rigs
ExxonMobil) formally retired in 1992, yet has hardly stopped provided a rare opportunity to evaluate new ideas and concepts.
working. In fact, he might just qualify for a listing as one of the Jointly working on research projects, testing new concepts, and
world’s busiest retirees. solving daily drilling problems beneﬁted both the research di-
Among other things, in the past 5 years, he has added nine vision and drilling operations. Solutions developed on the rig
technical papers to an already formidable list of publications, generally were practical and had immediate application.
has contributed to several books and one encyclopedia on drill- Two projects that Robinson ﬁnds particularly memorable
ing technology, and consults on drilling activities with several were explosive drilling work that spanned about 4 years, and de-
operating and service companies. He has also been a member veloping a means to store wire inside a drillstring for data telem-
of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology steering committee etry. In another project, the mud cleaner went from patent memo
for rapid drilling and excavation, the drilling advisory panel for to commercial use in less than a year, Robinson recalls. He also
Houston’s Weiss Energy Museum exhibit, and chaired the AADE spent about 4 years working on rock mechanics, or “squeezing”
shale shaker handbook rewrite committee, the AADE waste man- rocks under pressures up to about 15,000 psi.
agement committee, the American Society of Mechanical Engi- Throughout his career and to this day, Robinson has always
neers’ drilling-ﬂuid processing textbook committee, and served derived enormous satisfaction from teaching. He formerly taught
as an adviser to Sandia National Laboratory’s diagnostics-while- about drilling ﬂuids, solids control, hydraulics, lost circulation,
drilling project. and other topics around the world for Exxon for the better part of
In his “spare” time one would not know he had, he has two decades. At present, he is a drilling instructor with Petroskills
also been a volunteer docent for the “Ocean Star” jackup rig for about 8–10 weeks a year.
museum in Galveston, Texas. Robinson reﬂects on his career: “I joined Humble Produc-
Today, he is on API Subcommittee 13 (Drilling and Comple- tion Research because of all of the fascinating physics involved
tion Fluids), Chairman of the API task group editing the solids in drilling for and producing hydrocarbons. In South and North
control standard, a member of API’s task groups on hydraulics Carolina, we had very little opportunity to be exposed to the en-
and drilling ﬂuids, and serves on the planning committee for gineering and science involved in producing hydrocarbons. The
AADE’s technical conference. scientiﬁc challenges were, and still are, wonderful to explore.
Robinson’s original aspiration was to become an electrical We are currently drilling horizontal wells that are over 7 miles
engineer. After spending more than 2 years in the US Army, he long and hitting geological targets less than a half acre in size.
enrolled at Clemson Agricultural College in engineering, and Many new technologies have been developed even during the
was persuaded by a professor to switch his major to physics. past 5 years. It is so mentally intriguing that I do not see how
In 1949, he graduated with a degree in industrial physics and anyone can actually retire from the fun.”
LEGENDS OF DRILLING 47
SPE Papers authored by the L E G E N D S O F D R I L L I N G
Martin Chenevert Shale Preservation and Testing
Techniques for Borehole Stability
Studies, 1997. Coauthor: M. Amanullah.
Mechanical Anisotropies of Laminated
Sedimentary Rocks, 1965. Coauthor: Diffusion of Gas in Oil Based Drilling
C. Gatlin. Fluids, 1997. Coauthor: S.V. Bodwadkar.
Shale Control with Balanced-Activity Control of Shale Swelling Pressures
Oil-Continuous Muds, 1970. Using Inhibitive Water-Base Muds,
1998. Coauthor: Vincent Pernot.
Shale Alteration by Water Adsorption, 1970.
The Role of Taylor Vortices in the
Stabilizing Sensitive Shales With
Transport of Drill Cuttings, 1998.
Inhibited, Potassium-Based Drilling
Coauthors: Zeno Philip and Mukul
Fluids, 1973. Coauthor: Dennis E. O’Brien.
A New Approach to Preventing Lost
Maurer Shale Preservation and Testing
Returns, 1974. Coauthor: L.A. Carlton.
Techniques for Borehole-Stability
William C. Maurer Perforation Stability in Low-Permeability
Gas Reservoirs, 1985. Coauthor:
Studies, 2001. Coauthor: M. Amanullah.
Chemical and Thermal Effects on
T.W. Thompson. Wellbore Stability of Shale Formations,
Fractures and Craters Produced
in Sandstone by High-Velocity Stability of Highly Inclined Boreholes, 1987. 2001. Coauthors: M. Yu, G. Chen, and
Projectiles, 1961. Coauthor: John S. Coauthor: B.S. Aadnoy. M.M. Sharma.
Rinehart A New Gravimetric-Swelling Test for
Model for Predicting Wellbore Pressures
Evaluating Water and Ion Uptake in
The “Perfect–Cleaning” Theory of in Cement Columns, 1989. Coauthor:
Shales, 2004. Coauthors: Jianguo Zhang,
Rotary Drilling, 1962. Liang Jin.
Talal AL-Bazali, and M.M. Sharma.
Shear Failure of Rock Under Shale/Mud Inhibition Deﬁned With
Compression, 1965. Measurement of the Sealing Capacity
Rig-Site Methods, 1989. Coauthor:
of Shale Caprocks, 2005. Coauthors:
Bit-Tooth Penetration Under T.M. AL-Bazali, J. Zhang, and
Simulated Borehole Conditions, 1965. Stability of Boreholes Drilled Through M.M. Sharma.
Salt Formations Displaying Plastic
Hydraulic Jet Drilling, 1969. A Rapid, Rigsite-Deployable
Coauthor: Joe K. Heilhecker. Electrochemical Test for Evaluating
Coauthor: E.F Infante.
the Membrane Potential of Shales,
High-Pressure Drilling, 1973.
A Model for Predicting the Density of 2005. Coauthors: T.M. AL-Bazali,
Coauthors: Joe K. Heilhecker and
Oil-Base Muds at High Pressures and J. Zhang, and M.M. Sharma.
William W. Love.
Temperatures, 1990. Coauthors: Ekwere
Factors Controlling the Membrane
An Analysis of Relative Costs in Drilling J. Peters and Chunhal Zhang.
Efﬁciency of Shales When Interacting
Deep Wells, 1991. Coauthors: E.E.
Wellbore Stress Distribution Produced With Water-Based and Oil-Based Muds,
Andersen, G.A. Cooper, and P Westcott.
by Moisture Adsorption, 1990. 2006. Coauthors: Talal M. Al-Bazali,
Use of Hollow Glass Spheres for Coauthors: Ching H. Yew, Chein L.Wang, Jianguo Zhang, and Mukul M. Sharma.
Underbalanced Drilling Fluids, 1995. and Samuel Osisanya.
Maintaining the Stability of Deviated
Coauthors: George H. Medley Jr. and
Filter Cake Structure Analysis Using the and Horizontal Wells: Effects of
Ali Y. Garkasi.
Scanning Electron Microscope, 1991. Mechanical, Chemical and Thermal
High-Power Slim-Hole Drilling Coauthor: John Huycke. Phenomena on Well Designs, 2006.
System, 1995. Coauthors: John H. Coauthors: Jianguo Zhang, Mengjiao Yu,
Chemical Shrinkage Properties of Oilﬁeld
Cohen and Curtis E. Leitko. T.M. Al-Bazali, Seehong Ong,
Cements, 1991. Coauthor: B.K. Shrestha.
M.M. Sharma, and D.E. Clark.
Field Testing of Advanced Turbodrill,
On the Stability of Shales and Its
2000. Coauthors: John H. Cohen, Roy A Rapid, Rigsite-Deployable,
Consequences in Terms of Swelling
C. Long, Orren Johnson, Baudelio Electrochemical Test for Evaluating
and Wellbore Stability, 1992.
Ernesto Prieto De La Rocha, and the Membrane Potential of Shales,
Coauthors: F Santarelli, Elf Aquitaine,
Nicolas Rodriguez Saucedo. 2007. Coauthors: Talal Al-Bazali,
and S.O. Osisanya.
Laboratory Testing of High-Pressure Jianguo Zhang, and Mukul M. Sharma.
Coiled-Tubing Drilling System, 2001. Permeability and Effective Pore Pressure
Factors Controlling the Membrane
Coauthors: J.H. Cohen, C.C. Leitko, of Shales, 1993. Coauthor: A.K. Sharma.
Efﬁciency of Shales When Interacting
and W.J. Gwilliam. Time Lapse Resistivity and Water- with Water-Based and Oil-Based Muds,
Analytical Model for Casing Expansion, Content Changes in Shale, 1996. 2008. Coauthors: Jianguo Zhang,
2005. Coauthor: Colin G. Ruan. Coauthors: S.L. Morriss and M.I. Javalagi. Talal M. Al-Bazali, and Mukul M. Sharma.
48 JPT S P E C I A L S E C T I O N
SPE Papers authored by the L E G E N D S O F D R I L L I N G
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 Gearhart
Failure Characteristics of Rock,
Solids Control in Weighted Drilling Marvin Gearhart
Coauthor: J.K. Heilhecker. Well Site Digitizing Equipment for
Mineral Exploration, 1970.
Improve Drilling Efﬁciency with Two
Coauthors: James K. Hallenburg and
Nozzles and More Weight-On-Bit,
Robert S. Foote.
1983. Coauthor: C.R. Tsai.
Wellsite Formation Analysis Using
Hydraulic Wellbore Erosion While the DDL Computer, 1977. Coauthor:
Drilling, 1995. .
Mickey P Head.
Coauthor: Bill Chemerinski.
Mud Pulse MWD Systems Report,
Modernization of the API 1981. Coauthors: Kelly A. Ziemer and
Recommended Practice on Rheology Rehm Orien M. Knight.
and Hydraulics: Creating Easy Current State of the Art of MWD and
Access to Integrated Wellbore Fluids Its Application in Exploration and
Engineering, 2007. Coauthors:
P.A. Bern, E.K. Morton, M. Zamora,
William Rehm Development Drilling, 1986.
Coauthors: L.M. Moseley and M. Foste.
R. May, D. Moran, T. Hemphill, Effect of Borehole Size, Mudcake,
Abnormal Pressure Control Maximum
I. Cooper, S. Shah, and D.V. Flores. and Standoff on the Photoelectric
Casing Pressure from Gas Kicks, 1967.
Absorption Index Measurement, 1989.
Measurement of Formation Pressure
from Drilling Data, 1971. Coauthor: Ray
Worldwide Occurrence of Abnormal
Pressures, Part II, 1972.
Horizontal Drilling in Mature Oil Fields,
1989. Coauthor: A. Garcia.
LEGENDS OF DRILLING 49
Drilling Achievements: Past, Present, and Future
The pioneering achievements of technology and techniques. Rather, it cost and risk involved in using them.
oil and gas drilling in its early days has been about strategy, risk manage- By reviewing the evolution of past and
are well known, but less atten- ment, safety, environmental protec- current technological achievements,
tion has been given to the drill- tion, and experience. Mostly it has valuable insight can be gained about
ing achievements of the late 20th been about economics what might be expected for drilling in
century and this decade. While not In an SPE paper written by J.B. the future.
perceived as having the same ex- Cheatham Jr. of Rice University al-
citement as earlier achievements, most two decades ago, he stated that, Past Drilling Achievements
the industry’s more recent drill- “The primary parameters pertaining Horizontal Drilling. When it comes to
ing accomplishments have nev- to drilling technology revolve around the most important drilling achieve-
ertheless produced equal or even safety and economics; the hole must ment of the past 25 years, the devel-
greater economic returns for oil be safe and it is desired to mini- opment and application of horizontal
and gas producers. mize the drilling cost (the total cost, drilling techniques and technologies is
not just one phase of the activity).” the overwhelming choice of industry
“All the boundaries of well engi-
Cheatham pinpointed the key issues experts. The ability to drill horizon-
neering have been pushed far beyond
that operators expect from drilling tally has impacted the economics of
where things were 20 years ago,” says
operations—drilling and all the other oil and gas production tremendously
John Mason, Lead Completion Engi-
aspects of well construction must ei- because it places the wellbore in much
neer for BP in Aberdeen. “In two de-
ther reduce nonproductive time or in- greater contact with the pay zone than
cades, new geological challenges and
crease efﬁciency, or preferably, achieve does a vertical well. This allows great-
relentless commercial business driv-
both when “making hole.” er quantities of hydrocarbons to be
ers have pushed technology and in-
Many industry experts believe produced and enables more efﬁcient
novation to achieve the development
that drilling achievements are driven drainage of the reservoir.
of whole new hydrocarbon provinces.
by a risk-adjusted philosophy that Horizontal well costs can be as
Over [the last] 20 years, we have not
evaluates drilling decision-making much as two or three times that of
achieved the headline accomplish-
and the use of new technologies and a vertical well. However, the produc-
ments of the computer industry, but
techniques as directly related to the tion factor may be enhanced by as
oilwell drilling did start long before
rewards gained from the economic much as 15–20 times, making them
the ﬁrst personal computers were on
risk taken. very attractive to producers. In fact,
sale to the public.”
History has shown that operators this factor alone accounts for the ex-
Operator Expectations have always preferred to hold on to plosive growth in the number of hor-
For operators, the advancement of existing technologies until the newer izontal wells that have been drilled
oil and gas drilling has never been technologies have proven they can since the technology proved com-
just about making hole using newer deliver an even bigger reward for the mercially viable.
+ First self-lubricated, sealed-
bearing rock bit.
+ First tungsten-carbide-tooth
bit with O-ring sealed journal
+ Horizontal drilling techniques used
in the US.
+Inertial weld for tool joints developed.
+ First commercially viable PDC bit
+ Scoop-shaped tungsten-carbide
+ First thermally stable diamond bit.
+ Steerable drilling system introduced.
1977 + First full-scale simulator capable of
+ Polycrystalline-diamond-compact +First smooth hard-metal hardfacing testing bits up to 12¼ in. developed.
(PDC) drill bit developed. introduced for protecting tool joints.
+ Advances in CAD, cutting structures,
+ Mud-pulse telemetry introduced, compensation and lube systems, and
enabling accurate determination 1978
precision journal bearings.
of bit location while drilling. + Measurement-While-Drilling
+ First downhole motor. 1979 + First metal-sealed rock-bit bearing.
+ First eccentric diamond bit. + Cutter bits with large-diameter
cutters JPT S P E C I A L S E C T I O N
“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
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-
Fig. 1—Directional drilling applications in Alaska.
Mike Williams, Schlumberger’s
Drilling and Measurements Global expensive. The need to access reser- looking at what part of the reservoir
Sales Manager, traces the evolution voirs that were inaccessible by verti- you want to be in for best produc-
of this technology. “In the late 1970s cal means because of environmental tion,” Williams says. “That has driven
and early 1980s, the majority of wells concerns is one of the reasons that di- the LWD business, which really start-
were still vertical,” he says. “Then rectional drilling grew up. And if you ed in the late 1980s with simple resis-
in the late 1980s and early 1990s is look at what enabled that, MWD was tivity and has moved to a whole range
when directional drilling boomed. the big breakout. Very few wells are of services.”
It was purely because of the cost of drilled without MWD now, horizontal Geosteering with Rotary Steer-
infrastructure—the cost of putting or vertical.” able Systems. Geosteering technolo-
the rig, or the production facilities, “The industry has gone from just gy also received a lot of expert votes
directly over the reservoir was too drilling a geometric well to actually as one of the most signiﬁcant accom-
1990 2000 2004
+ First anti-whirl PDC bit. + Ream-While-Drilling tool introduced. + High-performance water-based mud
+ Coiled-tubing drilling developed. introduced.
+ First post-on blade, impregnated bit 2006
+ First large-diameter, high-rev/min conﬁguration. + Pyramid-shaped teeth for fast drilling
motor bit with metal face seal and + Extended-reach well at 31,000 ft developed.
anti-friction roller bearings. measured depth in Hibernia ﬁeld is
world’s longest completed at its true 2007
1995 vertical depth of 13,000 ft. + Extended-reach well at 37,000 ft on
+ First polished cutters. Sakhalin Island sets world record
+ Depth-of-Cut control technology
+ Rotary Closed Loop Drilling System
+ World drilling water-depth record set
1998 by 10,111-ft Toledo well at Alaminos
+ Extended-reach well drilled beyond Canyon block 951 in US Gulf of
10 km on Wytch Farm in UK. Mexico.
LEGENDS OF DRILLING 51
Fig. 2—Varel PDC bit designed for Fig. 3—Schlumberger EcoScope LWD tool.
hard rock applications.
plishments in the recent history the missing piece of the puzzle. It gives single wellbore radiate in different di-
of drilling. you the capability to get to where you rections and can contact resources at
“This drilling achievement has found out you should be, and that has different depths. Development of this
transformed our ability to drill extend- been a big change,” he says. technology is recent and rapid, and
ed-reach wells and long horizontals,” Directional Drilling. During the promotes the use of one site instead
says BP’s Mason. “In 1988, North Sea last three decades, numerous tech- of many sites.”
horizontal wells were unproven and nologies have emerged that enhanced Polycrystalline Diamond Cut-
technically risky. They cost at least drilling, with directional drilling con- ters. Introduced in the 1970s by
twice that of conventional wells. A sidered one of the most signiﬁcant. General Electric Company, the PDC
500 m horizontal section might have For example, the ability to deviate bit (Fig. 2) uses thin, diamond lay-
taken 20 days with four or ﬁve bit the wellbore from vertical to reach a ers bonded to tungsten carbide-cobalt
trips. distant target enabled the drilling of studs or blades. The extreme resis-
“By 1996, rotary steerable systems multiple wells from slots located on a tance of diamond to abrasive wear
were being tried but were notoriously single strategically placed platform on makes it a good choice as a medium to
unreliable. They had achieved a few an offshore lease (Fig. 1). prolong the life of cutters on bits that
stunning drilling results, but lacked “Since its ﬁrst use in the oil ﬁeld, shear rock formations during oil and
the reliability needed to gain cus- directional drilling technologies and gas well drilling. PDC bits are inher-
tomer support. By 1998, the reliability methods have gone through a mas- ently more efﬁcient than roller cone
problems were better understood and sive evolution and eventually enabled bits, which depend on a crushing mo-
suddenly the service company phones horizontal drilling to become a real- tion to penetrate rock formations.
were ringing off the hook. Operators ity,” says Cheatham. Following their introduction,
clamored for the drilling performance According to the American Pe- studies indicated that PDC-equipped
delivered by rotary steerables and the troleum Institute, the impact of direc- bits could effectively drill soft forma-
industry has not looked back since.” tional drilling has been immense. tions faster and last longer than con-
“I believe this is probably the “In the past, oil and natural gas ventional roller bits. In recent years,
most important drilling achievement wells were drilled vertically at depths continued progress has been made in
of the 1990s,” states Curtis Cheatham. ranging from a few thousand feet to PDC bit design that has broadened the
“Now these technologies can be cou- as deep as ﬁve miles. But new direc- range of formation strength that can
pled with geosteering technology sup- tional drilling and horizontal drilling be economically drilled. Today, PDC
ported by real-time LWD/MWD data technologies allow drills to deviate bits account for more than one third
telemetry to guide the bit to the target from the vertical plane and go hori- of the total footage drilled worldwide,
with a high degree of conﬁdence.” zontal—or beyond. For oil and natu- with annual sales by US manufacturers
The use of rotary steerables has ral gas producers, this means reaching exceeding USD 260 million. Over the
led to drilling wells more efﬁciently, reservoirs that are not located directly useful lifetime of a bit, a single PDC
says Williams of Schlumberger. “LWD beneath the drilling rig, and avoiding bit will save more than USD100,000
enabled us to know where the best part sensitive surface and subsurface envi- compared with drilling with roller-
of the reservoir is, however it was still ronmental features. Advances in direc- cone bits (US DOE).
painful to get there with traditional tional drilling now permit multilateral Extended-Reach Drilling. The
motor technology. Rotary steerable is drilling, where multiple offshoots of a importance of extended-reach drill-
52 JPT S P E C I A L S E C T I O N
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
Fig. 5—Instrumented drillpipe.
advanced technology. That envelope
continuously enlarges as companies
push technology to the limit.” These clay-free invert-emulsion
During the 1990s, ever-increasing ﬂuids are formulated without the use
production targets posed challenges of commercial organophilic clays or
to operators who sought to maximize lignites. Instead, rheological proper-
the full potential of their maturing ties are managed through the appli-
ﬁelds. This encouraged the initiation cation of powerful emulsiﬁers and
of extended-reach drilling efforts in polymers. The interaction of the com-
many worldwide locations. Once con- ponents in these clay-free systems
sidered a high-cost, high-risk option, is the key to providing a robust gel
the global demand for more hydrocar- Fig. 4—Expandable tubulars structure that eliminates the need for
bons necessitated a change in operator reduce the tapering effect of excessive thickening of the mud, helps
thinking about how extended-reach conventional casing programs. save conditioning time, and prevents
wells and projects were evaluated. over-treatment. Also, the absence of
The ability to drill more than 10 increased to more than 20 bits/sec commercial clay and lignite naturally
km horizontal displacement became (bps) at depths shallower than 20,000 reduces the solids content and helps
an industry goal following the contin- ft, and in excess of 3 bps from depths operators achieve faster rates of pen-
ued success of horizontal drilling ef- of more than 36,000 ft. That compares etration (ROP).
forts. Operators reasoned that two- or to a typical data rate of 0.4 bps 30 Expandable Tubulars. This tech-
even threefold production increases years ago (Fig. 3). nical advancement is considered one
could result if more of the wellbore “By mixing telemetry, MWD/ of the most important currently be-
could be exposed to the pay zone. LWD tools, and steerable systems, ing applied (Fig. 4). “This technolo-
Thus, it was just a matter of time un- we can enable real-time analysis and gy allows the drilling of any trouble-
til extended-reach drilling techniques real-time changes in well design,” some zone without worrying about
overcame the 10-km barrier. That says João Carlos Ribeiro Plácido, the diameter reduction,” says Plácido
major industry drilling milestone oc- a drilling engineer for Petrobras. of Petrobras.
curred in 1998 during the drilling “This is an amazing drilling achieve- “The development of expand-
of a long extended-reach well at BP’s ment when compared to past drill- able tubing and casing has been un-
Wytch Farm ﬁeld development in ing methodologies.” der way since the early 1990s,” adds
southern England. Weatherford’s Cheatham. “It is very
The importance of the technology Present-Day Achievements useful today for mitigating drill-
was summed up by the Oilﬁeld Review A snapshot of today’s drilling activity re- ing hazards such as lost-circulation
article. “The success of this well [BP’s veals the application of numerous tech- zones or unstable wellbores, but it
Wytch Farm well] has opened up nologies that most experts believe are is just beginning to be programmed
even more targets and the potential leading to major drilling achievements. into well plans to deliberately reduce
to access reserves that would have re- Invert-Emulsion Drilling Fluids. conventional reverse telescoping. So
mained out of reach or required huge One important advancement currently far, their most common use has been
capital outlays just a few years ago.” under development is synthetic-based, to bail out wells that have encoun-
Borehole Telemetry. Steady ad- high-performance, invert-emulsion tered problems.”
vancement has been made in this drilling ﬂuids, says Carl Themlitz, Instrumented Drillpipe. Tech-
technology, with operators now push- Southern Region Technical Manager nology that builds high-speed data
ing telemetry systems to transmit for Halliburton’s Baroid Fluid Ser- transmission capabilities directly into
real-time data quickly in lieu of using vices. “Development of these ﬂuids drillpipe is opening up new possibili-
wired pipe or wireline (Wassermann has been under way for some time, ties and transforming the drillstring
et al. 2008). Mud-pulse telemetry is but they are becoming much more ac- from simply a drilling tool into a
now the most common method of cepted now because they offer a step- high-technology information tool,
transmitting MWD and LWD data, change in the technology of drilling state the authors of a recent paper on
and mud-pulse telemetry rates have ﬂuids,” he says. instrumented drillpipe (Jellison et al.
LEGENDS OF DRILLING 53
Fig. 6—Kongsberg Maritime real-time operations center.
2004) (Fig. 5). “The system can pro- a revolutionary change, not just an JPT last year that celebrated SPE’s
vide information about the operator’s evolutionary improvement.” 50th anniversary (Thorogood 2007).
most valuable asset: hydrocarbons in Computer Technology and Real- Thorogood’s premise is that drilling
the reservoir. Time Operations. Effective drilling technology evolves slowly rather
Using electrical cable, the intelli- decision-making consists of having than in giant leaps.
gent drill pipe system transmits data the most recent information available “Looking back on how innova-
from typical downhole sensors: MWD, and timely access to that information. tions happened, one sees that many of
LWD, and rotary steerable tools, with This is the goal of real-time drilling the key components already existed,”
speeds on the order of 1 million bps, operations centers (Fig. 6). Thorogood wrote. “We cannot pre-
in contrast to conventional mud-pulse “Computers, the Internet, and dict what drilling in 2032 will look
MWD technology that transmits data related information technology is cur- like. What we can say though, is that
at rates up to 12 bps. Electromagnetic rently giving rise to huge advances in progress toward it will be orderly,
technology provides data rates of up productivity, as well as the ability to will be incremental, and will involve
to 100 bps, but suffers from depth and research and manage large volumes of technologies that are already proven
formation related limitations. The bi- information,” says Mason. “This com- outside the oil industry. When we get
directional drillpipe system can trans- puter technology, when coupled with there, it will not seem radical, but the
mit real time MWD/LWD data, as well real-time decision-making, is opening difference will be huge.”
as send commands or signals from the great opportunities for the advance- The industry is already in the in-
surface to operate downhole tools and ment of drilling operations in which fancy of what is going to come next,
sensors. The system is virtually trans- closed-loop systems allow well trajec- says Schlumberger’s Williams. “LWD
parent to standard rig procedures and tories to be modiﬁed in real time as measurements traditionally were very
offers robust, reliable operation.” data from the drill bit is fed back to shallow. They looked out a couple
BP’s Mason agrees, adding, “In remotely located asset teams.” of inches to 2 ft from the wellbore.
a world of superlatives, I think the With technologies such as PeriScope,
most exciting advancement today is Future Challenges which has only been around a year to
instrumented drillpipe. We are now If we could take a peek into the fu- 18 months in a commercial form, you
just starting to understand how far ture, we might see drilling technolo- now can look beyond that and see as
our drilling operations could be trans- gies in use that look a lot like those of far, in the best cases, 25 ft away from
formed by using a drillstring that can today. That is what John Thorogood, the wellbore,” Williams says. “Is there
transmit 1 million bps of data to sur- SPE’s Technical Director for Drilling going to be a time when we can see
face. Today, mud-pulse transmission and Completions during 2001–04 100 ft out from the wellbore? Yes, ab-
is maxed out at 12 bps. Tomorrow, we and retired BP Chief Drilling Engi- solutely, there will be. Is there going to
will be at 1 million bps. This feels like neer, predicted in a special issue of be a time when we can see in front of
54 JPT S P E C I A L S E C T I O N
the bit before we even drill it? Abso- mous savings in steel while produc- biggest change in the industry will
lutely, yes. That is going to come, too, ing less cuttings. be the way we use our manpower.”
and that is going to give a whole new Casing and Liner Drilling. Drill- Drilling achievements have al-
lease of life to wellbore positioning. ing with casing has traditionally been ways been dependent on drivers to
“This is where the industry is seen as a means to combine the cas- make them a reality. Business strategy,
headed: we need a bigger information ing and drilling in one operation, thus risk, safety, and environmental protec-
highway downhole. MWD continues saving on tripping time. But the appli- tion are among the important drivers.
to advance to some fairly astounding cation range has extended to combat However, all drilling achievements
data rates from what we had even 5 problems caused by depleted sands ultimately depend on the two most
years ago. And the advent of wired and tight pore pressure gradients as important drivers of all: operator ne-
drillpipe potentially opens that infor- well as to minimize unscheduled drill- cessity and oilﬁeld economics.
mation highway further. Potentially, ing events (Davies et al. 2006).
the two coupled together make that In the future, experts see current
information highway very big.” casing- and liner-drilling efforts evolv-
Many technologies hold huge ing to provide the ability to drill from
promise as potential milestone casing point to casing point with full
achievements. formation evaluation capability using
1. Cheatham, J.B. Jr. 1983.
Advanced Drilling Software. LWD. Combining expandable tubu-
Drilling Technology: Present
“We are going to see drilling software lars technology and managed pressure
Trends and Future Prospects.
that can intelligently handle, orga- drilling with casing and liner drilling
SPE Paper 12358 presented
nize, distill, and integrate terabytes is also viewed as a future application
at the Production Technology
of subsurface and drilling data to for this technology.
Symposium, Lubbock, Texas,
add real value to our business,” Ma- Two of the biggest challenges in
son says. “We are also going to see the future appear to be access to re-
2. US Department of Energy.
geological data from offset wells and sources and the availability of techni-
Diamond Cutter Drill Bits.
analog ﬁelds that are presented in cal talent, both areas where technol-
Success Stories, 1, www.nrel.gov/
the doghouse telling the driller when ogy holds promise.
losses and kicks, washouts, and low “There is very little easy oil and
3. Allen, F Tooms, P., Conran, G.,
ROP are to be expected. We will also gas left,” says Williams. “There is a
Lesso, B., and Van de Slijke, P.
see mud loggers’ and LWD data that top end, the industry-leading tech-
1997. Extended Reach Drilling:
are presented to the subsurface team nology, that is dragging along a whole
Breaking the 10-km Barrier.
to tell them where their reservoir traditional market. For instance, if
Oilfield Review, winter, 32,
models should be improved.” you look at US land, there are roughly
Environmentally Driven Tech- 1,800 rigs drilling wells. The majority
4. Wassermann, I., Hahn, D.,
nologies. Thaemlitz of Halliburton of them still are drilling vertical wells
Reckmann, H., Nguyen, D.H.,
believes this is a certainty. “Every today. But the switch from vertical to
and Macpherson, J. 2008.
year the industry is becoming more deviated to horizontal is happening
Mud-pulse Telemetry Sees
aware of the increasing demand for at an amazing pace now, on land in
Step-change Improvement with
technology that advances the drilling a lower-technology market—a more
Oscillating Shear Valves. Oil &
function yet does not harm the envi- cost-sensitive market. One of the sur-
Gas J., ( June 23).
ronment. Therefore, we are going to prising things is rotary steerables—we
5. Jellison, M.J., Reeves, M.,
have to take today’s environmentally are running them on US land, in west-
Urbanowski, R., and Sporker,
friendly drilling ﬂuids and make them ern China, and in the middle of Siberia.
H. 2004. Intelligent Drill Pipe
even more environmentally friendly. You would never have put money on
Improves Drilling Efficiency,
That is what the world is going to de- that 5 years ago. The whole industry is
Enhances Well Safety and
mand in exchange for the ability to moving forward.”
Provides Added Value. Paper
drill for oil and gas.” Another big change may have as
presented at the IADC World
Monobore Wells. Today, ex- much to do with personnel as technol-
Drilling Conference, Dubrovnik,
pandable tubulars are providing ogy. “I don’t think the industry ever
Croatia, 1–2 July, 1.
the foundation for the development will ﬁll the talent gap so we have to
6. Thorogood, J. 2007. Drilling in
of the future technology that over- use our people more smartly. We are 2032—Back to the Future. JPT,
comes the remaining barriers to in the infancy of taking people off 59 (10): 108.
deepwater and ultradeepwater de- rigs and putting them in remote lo- 7. Davies, M., Clark, L., McClain,
velopment. That technology is the cations where the same people can E., and Thomas, J. 2006.
monobore and near-monobore well. manage more than one rig to make A Staged Approach to the
Some experts believe the industry is better use of our people. We are Introduction of Casing and Liner
close to the monodiameter well and looking at what we can automate, Drilling. Paper 17845 presented
that a well consisting of a single although I don’t like the term auto- at the Offshore Technology
casing diameter from the surface mated systems, but semismart sys- Conference, Houston, Texas,
tree to total depth could have enor- tems. In the next 5 to 10 years, the 1–4 May, 1. JPT
LEGENDS OF DRILLING 55
Total Value Drilling: Right People,
Right Process, Right Technology
17–19 March 2009
SPE/IADC RAI Congress Centre
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
• 3 Plenary Sessions
• 135+ Technical Presentations
• 70+ Exhibitors
• Short Course– Horizontal Well Completions
International Association Society of Petroleum Engineers
of Drilling Contractors