DI-84 – IntelliDril – Diagnostics-While-Drilling

Date Submitted: 4/14/99


Submitted by: A.J. (Chip) Mansure Sandia National Laboratories P.O. Box 5800 MS-1033 Albuquerque, NM 87185-1033 505-844-9315

Principal Investigator(s): A.J. (Chip) Mansure Sandia National Laboratories P.O. Box 5800 MS-1033 Albuquerque, NM 87185-1033 ajmansu@sandia.gov

Business Impact: A proposal to revolutionize drilling practice through Diagnostics-While-Drilling (DWD)

Technical Objectives: Sandia National Laboratories is seeking industry’s cooperation in our Diagnostics While Drilling Program. The DWD program starts with a two fold objective: (1) conduct a comparison of the effectiveness of PDC bits for drilling geothermal (hard rock) formations by gathering real-time, high-speed data using a cable to bring data back to the surface, and (2) thereby demonstrate the value of real-time diagnostic data for optimizing drilling. Our vision for the Advanced Drilling program is a cooperative effort between industry and Sandia to develop DWD. Sandia will coordinate the program and focus on software development and field tests, whereas industry would develop and provide hardware for the DWD system. A draft program plan has been submitted to DOE. The program starts with the DWD proof-of-concept testing then proceeds into the development of technologies that would be enabled by a cost-effective high-speed data link. We invite your suggestions and comments.

Methodology: The central concept of DWD is a closed feedback loop, carrying data up and control signals down, between the driller and tools at the bottom of the hole. Up-coming data will give a real-time report on drilling conditions, bit and tool performance, and imminent problems. The driller can use this information to either change surface parameters (weight-on-bit, rotary speed, mud flow rate) with immediate knowledge of their effect, or to send control signals back to active downhole components. DWD will reduce costs, even in the short-term, by improving drilling performance, increasing tool life, and avoiding trouble. Its longer-term potential includes variable-damping shock subs for smoother drilling, self-steering directional drilling, and autonomous “smart” drilling systems that analyze data and make drilling decisions downhole, without the driller’s direct control.

Deliverables: In addition to the Driller and Drill Rig/Drill Pipe, the following components make up the DWD system and hence are the deliverables: (1) DWD Tool, to acquire data from downhole sensors, condition it for transmission, and deliver it to the high-speed data link; (2) High-Speed Data Link, which carries downhole information to the surface and carries surface control signals back downhole; (3) Drilling Advisory Software, which acquires, analyzes, and displays downhole and surface data in real time to provide the driller with a complete and accurate status of drilling conditions and system performance; (4) Surface-Controllable Downhole Tools, which permit the driller to actively control downhole tools with real-time knowledge of the effect of his actions.

Comments: Considering the components listed in the previous section, development of a DWD system appears to face four major technical challenges: the high-speed data link; the drilling advisory software; and the surface-controllable downhole tools. (1) The principal technical challenge in the DWD system is the high-speed data link. To minimize downhole signal processing, the data link should have a minimum transmission rate of 100 kbits/sec, which is four orders of magnitude above the data rate of mud-pulse telemetry used in conventional MWD systems. (2) Of the critical elements, the only one for which prototypes do not currently exist is software for the driller’s console. Raw data is of little value to the driller, so a major task in this project is to work with the driller and determine the best way of processing and presenting the data. (3) With a high-speed data link to transmit control signals downhole and transmit sensor data back uphole, a wide range of downhole tools that have not been feasible to this point will become practical. (4) Development of advanced downhole sensors with high-temperature, high-shock capability may be evolutionary from existing devices, but may require significant innovation. This will become clearer after the proof-of-concept tests help to refine a list of measurements to be taken and conditions under which the sensors will have to operate.

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