Document Sample
					                         LEGENDS OF DRILLING

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
Martin Chenevert
                   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
                   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
Marvin Gearhart:

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
 Bill Rehm:

                                 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:

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
  Bill Maurer:

                                          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
Le    obi
Leon Robinson:
         Y            EER

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.
                                                                                             M. Sharma.
                                             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:
                                             S.O. Osisanya.
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
                                             Behavior, 1989.
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


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                                                         Gearhart
Failure Characteristics of Rock,
Solids Control in Weighted Drilling                                                    Marvin Gearhart
Fluids, 1975.
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

                                          1977 1974
                                               + Horizontal drilling techniques used
                                                 in the US.
                                               +Inertial weld for tool joints developed.

                                               + First commercially viable PDC bit
                                                                                            + Scoop-shaped tungsten-carbide
                                                                                              chisel developed.
                                                                                            + 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
                                                 technology introduced.
       1973                                                                                 1987
       + First downhole motor.                 1979                                         + First metal-sealed rock-bit bearing.
                                               + First eccentric diamond bit.               + Cutter bits with large-diameter
     50                                                                                               introduced.
                                                                                              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
  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-
                                           Fig. 1—Directional drilling applications in Alaska.
  ment thinking.”
       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
                                                                                             14–15 November.
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,
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

           and Exhibition
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                        • 3 Plenary Sessions
                        • 135+ Technical Presentations
                        • 70+ Exhibitors
                        • Short Course– Horizontal Well Completions

                                        International Association   Society of Petroleum Engineers
                                         of Drilling Contractors

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