Orazzini, Simone (ENEL Italy) | Kasirin, Regillio Sarijo (Smith Bits) | Ferrari, Giampaolo (Smith Bits, A Schlumberger Company) | Bertini, Alessandro (Smith Bits, A Schlumberger Company) | Bizzocchi, Isabella (Schlumberger Italiana SPA) | Ford, Robert J. (Schlumberger) | Li, Qingxiu (Smith Bits, A Schlumberger Company) | Zhang, Ming (Smith)
Geothermal energy has been use for centuries to satisfy general heating requirements. The modern geothermal plant is powered by production wells drilled to a source rock to produce steam at the surface. Depending on the location and depth, source formation temperatures vary.
In Italy, the operator must penetrate very hard and abrasive sediment and metamorphic formations to access steam in the granite basement formation. Historically, this was accomplished with a tungsten carbide insert (TCI) roller cone bit (RC). Standard geothermal bits and components, including grease and elastomer seals, are adequate for temperatures up to 150°C (302°F). Beyond these temperatures, the bit's internal components and lubricating material can degrade causing bearing failure limiting on-bottom drilling hours. In the application, the bottom hole temperature is approximately 180°C (350°F) and in some instances it can exceed 280°C (536°F). The extreme heat reduces on-bottom drilling hours leading to multiple bit runs/trips that drive up development costs. The operator required new roller cone technology that would endure the downhole environment.
To solve this challenge, a series of tests were conducted with temperature resistant elastomers and grease compounds in a controlled laboratory environment. The experiments resulted in a new line of roller cone bits equipped with an innovative bearing system that includes new proprietary composite elastomer seals with Kevlar® fabric and a proprietary high temperature grease formula. These innovations increased seal life, lubricity and load capacity at elevated temperatures for HT/HP applications.
The new geothermal bit technology has been run in the Italian application with outstanding results. Compared to standard roller cone products, the high-temperature bits have greatly increased on-bottom drilling hours while reducing total bit consumption and costly tripping for bit change out. Since successful development of the geothermal project is tied to reducing drilling costs, the new bit technology has significantly improved project economics. The authors will discuss development of the high temperature seal and grease compounds for drilling the granite basement source rock. They will also outline changes to the TCI cutting structure, field application, dull grades and bit performance data.
The Larderello area of central Italy (Figure 1) is geologically active and known for its geothermal productivity.1 The first evidence of organized use of the geothermal resource dates back to the 3rd century BC when the Romans used its hot sulfur springs for bathing. In 1817 a group of entrepreneurs led by Francois de Larderel used steam heated cauldrons to extract boric acid (H3BO3) from volcanic mud. The Grand Duke of Tuscany (Leopold II) was a supporter of Larderel's technique and in 1827 built a town for the factory workers named Larderello in honor of Larderel's contribution to the area.2
In 1904 an experiment using steam emerging from surface vents was used to run a rudimentary generator that produced enough electricity to power five light bulbs. It was the first ever practical demonstration of geothermal power. In 1913 the region's first geothermal power plant went into operation and by 1944 five geothermal generating stations were up and running with a combined capacity of 127 MWe.
Wells are now routinely drilled both in deepwater and on land to depths that were previously considered impossible. In these environments, casing design is critical to safely and successfully drilling and producing wells, and unexpected casing wear can result in significant costs or even the loss of a well. As part of a successful casing design strategy, the engineer must assess the maximum permissible casing wear required to maintain casing integrity. Then, steps must be taken to ensure that casing wear thresholds are not exceeded.
Casing wear models use the number of drill string revolutions and contact force between the drill pipe and casing to calculate wear. The contact force is calculated using the dog-leg severity within the well, with the maximum dog-leg severity often determining the location and extent of the most severe casing wear. There is often a large discrepancy between predicted and actual casing wear because of survey quality and inaccurate estimates of dog-leg severity and total revolutions. These discrepancies result in predictions of contact force and drill string revolutions that are in error by 50% or more.
To improve the accuracy of casing wear models, an extensive database was created from a wide variety of wells with measured depths greater than 13,000ft. The database results in a statistically based model for determining dog-leg severity within vertical, build, and tangent sections, as well as total drill string revolutions at various levels of confidence to bound average and maximum expected contact force and casing wear.
Case histories compare measured wear with predictions of casing wear based on original well data and the statistically based model. The case histories also demonstrate the effect of various drilling parameters on casing wear, and evaluate the effectiveness of non-rotating protectors in preventing casing wear.
The goal of this project was to more accurately quantify casing wear risk by improving casing wear analysis accuracy. To do this, data from a large number of wells was analyzed to generate probabilities for dog-leg severity in common well types and also correlate those to actual backmodeled casing wear factors. The results will allow an engineer to analyze what the expected casing wear might be for an average (P50) horizontal well, and then evaluate the maximum expected wear for a 1 in 10 case (P90), 1 in 20 case (P95), or 1 in 100 (P99) case.
All casing wear software, and torque and drag software as well, use a directional survey to determine the side force or contact force between the drill string and wellbore. These points within a directional survey can be a representation of a planned well path, or it can be taken from actual downhole measurements. The survey points are then connected into a single line representing a best approximation of the wellpath with the information given.