Free Newsletter
Register for our Free Newsletters
Advanced Composites
Amorphous Metal Structures
Analysis and Simulation
Asbestos and Substitutes
Associations, Research Organisations and Universities
Automation Equipment
Building Materials
Bulk Handling and Storage
CFCs and Substitutes
View All
Other Carouselweb publications
Carousel Web
Defense File
New Materials
Pro Health Zone
Pro Manufacturing Zone
Pro Security Zone
Web Lec
Pro Engineering Zone

Lab microdrilling technology can cut cost of oil exploration

DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory : 31 May, 2007  (Technical Article)
A microdrilling technology developed by the Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory could fundamentally change the face of oil and gas exploration, a multi-billion-dollar a year global industry.
The new technology allows for drilling holes up to 500 feet deep with all the equipment carried on a tandem-wheel trailer pulled by a standard pickup truck. When developed for depths to 10,000 feet, the technology will replace traditional deep drilling methods that use massive amounts of costly equipment, material and manpower.

Last month, four microholes with diameters two to five times smaller than conventional holes were drilled to depths of 300 to 500 feet in alluvium and lake sediments by staff from the Laboratory's GeoEngineering group of the Earth and Environmental Sciences division. The work was supported by a major energy company in concert with the DOE's Natural Gas and Oil Technology Partnership.

This experimental fieldwork showed that drilling small-diameter microholes is both feasible and ideally suited for data collection using miniature sensors. For example, in this experiment Los Alamos scientists for the first time used a microelectromechanical instrument to collect subsurface seismic data.

'Future microholes will be drilled so inexpensively that companies can use them to do things they've never done before,' said Earl Whitney, project leader for Oil and Gas Programs at the Laboratory. 'By using the microholes to deploy newly-miniaturized seismic and other geophysical instruments, the industry can study vast areas of potential production at an enormous reduction in cost.'

The microdrilling technology is based on the miniaturization of conventional coil tubing techniques that deploy a drill motor and bit on the end of tubing coiled around a spool. The recent test drilled 2 3/8-inch diameter microholes lined with 1-inch I.D. flush joint PVC tubing. Drilling fluids are run through the tubing to turn the motor and drill bit.

In place of the usual large mud tanks needed to capture what's dug out of the ground, much smaller tanks suffice.

'Cleanup is expensive for conventional drilling methods,' Whitney said. 'By greatly reducing the volume of the well and the size of the drilling site, we dramatically reduce the overall drilling costs and the environmental impact of the operation.'

The team is developing an even smaller motor and bit system that could allow drilling to 10,000 feet, deep enough to explore much of the world's potential oil and gas resources. Concurrently, plans include broadening the project's focus to include miniaturization of standard borehole tools used today in drilling operations to study oil and gas reservoirs.

The project was funded through the Natural Gas and Oil Technology Partnership, a research collaboration of DOE laboratories and the oil and gas industry, and the Department of Energy's Federal Energy Technology Center of Morgantown, W.Va and Pittsburgh, Pa. The partnership was created 11 years ago when Los Alamos and Sandia Laboratories began joint research with industrial partners. Since that time, the partnership has grown to include all nine of DOE's multi-program Laboratories. The partnership has been championed since its inception by the National Petroleum Technology Office, a field facility of DOE's Office of Natural Gas and Petroleum Technology. Under this arrangement, the DOE pays for the scientists' time and the industrial partners share other costs of research and testing.
Bookmark and Share
Home I Editor's Blog I News by Zone I News by Date I News by Category I Special Reports I Directory I Events I Advertise I Submit Your News I About Us I Guides
   © 2012
Netgains Logo