As the politics and philosophical arguments about “Peak Oil” continue to rage, science continues to move steadily onward, progressively creating new and better ways to both find and extract oil that we never could have previously discovered, as well as get a lot more bang for our buck by more effectively utilizing the oil that we currently have readily available to us in our current reserves.
I suppose the first order of business would be to mention the continual fine tuning and innovative advances that are taking place almost daily within the technology of “Three Dimensional Seismic Imaging. For those with their head in the proverbial sand, this most awesome of scientific advances may single handedly do more to save the future of our #1, primary source of energy, Oil.
Now well beyond mere exploration for crude oil, these seismic images help to regulate and maintain optimum functionality of wells in the deepest, most complex and complicated regions of the netherworld and ocean floor. This ability to visualize what is actually going on “down there,” makes the evaluation and assessment of a wide variety of facts and data, all the more easy to handle.
This usage of state of the art, “reflective seismic technology” allows us to easily find oil pools, with pin-point sniper accuracy, that we could never had previously guessed might exist, even a mere 2 years ago. These increasingly more accurate and clear images help us to complete a complete picture of the “subsurface circumstance” that greatly enhance our ability to discover, extract and maintain optimum control of every possible aspect of oil reserves never available to us until now!
Another glowing example of technology once again rising to the occasion to help ensure that our future “energy economy” is quite a bit brighter is the recent innovations made by in drilling technology, that now allows oil drillers to pioneer a methodology of “through-tube rotary drilling.”
The ARCO-BP Shared Services Drilling Group, a cooperative venture that manages the drilling that takes place in several North Slope oil fields in Alaska, has just completed four successful “through-tubing rotary drilled” (TTRD) wells.
The “through-tube rotary drilling” method is designed to allow oil companies to drill a new well through the “production tubing” of an older well. This way, the original well’s tubing doesn't have to be pulled out of the ground by the drilling rig, before setting up to drill the new well. This new technique will save lots of time and money, potentially saving as much as “One Million Dollars” per well and; depending on the circumstances of the terrain, crew size and conditions, days and in some situations, possibly a week of on the clock “man-hours!”
Another scientific innovation that has already paid for itself several hundred times over again is the concept of drilling “Horizontal Production Wells. This allows oil companies to effectively run long sections of horizontal tubing through a thin layer of oil, down to six feet and drain the deposit through several perforated openings that are situated all along the section of the pipe.
This way, the amount of oil-bearing sands that can be efficiently penetrated horizontally continues to increase with each new innovative tweak and fine tuning of the process.
The recent utilization of “Coiled Tubing Units” to replace traditional “drilling rigs,” is another huge money saving technique that makes oil drilling all the more worthwhile and profitable for all concerned.
For certain types of wells, especially "side-track wells," drilled off the bore of an older well, the “coiled tubing units” represent an alternative in both drilling and maintenance of the wells. This all came about by recent advances in science and drilling technology that allowed for new, improved types of down-hole directional equipment and drilling motors.
Another new method brought to us by the ever expansive science of oil drilling what is now commonly referred to as “Multilateral Wells.” This, similar to a “side-track,” is a new well that is drilled off from another, currently existing well. However, in this case, both wells are simultaneously producing, while in the case of a “side-track well,” the older, original well is cemented and closed off.
With “multilateral wells,” these new wells can be drilled off of older wells, with two or more wells sharing the same “vertical section” that reaches to the surface, which saves a lot of money on infrastructure as well as time spent reaching oil quotas.
While most “multilaterals” currently involved only two wells, the truth is, this latest technology can eventually present us with the opportunity of drilling 3, 4, 5 or even 6 wells, simultaneously, while all that “black gold” can be brought up to the surface and delivered to the storage facility through a single hole in the earth’s surface.
With greater targeting accuracy made available by “3 Dimensional Seismic Imaging,” there now are financially feasible opportunities for what are called, “Designer Wells” which are uniquely special, customized “made to order” precision wells that are built to reach small, “pin-point” pocket of oil targets, either through or around several various obstacles, such as tenuous faults to isolated traps.
This latest “three-dimensional seismic imaging” technology allows reservoir engineers to locate pockets of oil as well as various traps and faults with an accuracy of within a hundred feet.
Meanwhile, modern science has just received a most impressive “Degree in Degrees.” It involves a new technologies that allows drillers to make some extremely “tight turns.” These new drills can actually now turn wells by a 55 degree angle, within a mere 100 feet of distance, as well as a turn of up to 100 degrees, or nearly 1/4th of a circle and MORE than a 90 degree turn, in only 200 feet of distance.
Tight turns used to only be possible when the drilling was taking place through solid rock; there was naturally enough support to hold an "open hole" drilling path intact. Now, these new innovations allow for drilling in soft terrain, held intact by a flexible yet sturdy liner.
Now well drilling has successfully taken place where the drilling actually involved making a 270 degree turn, which is nearly a complete circle. Also of note, is the fact that another driller turned 180 degrees in order to successfully tap four separate oil pockets, with a horizontal length of nearly “Six Thousand” feet!
All the while, the latest technological advances in the science of drilling has us now able to drill far deeper than ever previously imagined, through much harder obstacles and in much shorter time that we ever could have reasonable predicted.
So, in a world where our wanton lust for energy has us constantly seeking ways to drill “deeper, harder and faster,” we can all collectively express a mutual sigh of satisfied relief with the news that a recent adaptation of oil drills for deep water drilling, could actually bring scientists closer to the once outlandish goal of drilling all the way through the earth's crust.
In cooperative collaboration with “AGR Drilling Services,” The International Ocean Drilling Project announced its latest technology called “Riserless Mud Recovery”, which is designed specifically for extremely deep drilling. The “RMR” process allows for what is, for all intents and purposes, a completely “closed system,” where the mud and drilling fluids are kept completely separate from surrounding seawater.
This means there is no longer a need to assemble and position risers that surround the drill, in order to effectively draw the mud up to the surface. Representatives of the IODP claim that, “Although it was originally designed as a shallow water drilling system for oil and gas collection, their development has made RMR a good tool for drilling in deep water as well.”
The science of physics postulates that in most cases, the deeper the water, usually the thinner crust beneath and therefore the better chance of pushing all the way through to the mantle. The IODP’s latest feasibility studies have shown that a current IODP research ship could actually use RMR drilling in water with depths up to 9,000 feet with only some minor modifications.
It is further speculated that drilling at the 12,000 feet depth would be possible with the use of an underwater vehicle that could connect the drilling equipment under water and drill from its position, submerged at increasingly deeper depths and continued fine tuning will eventually provide for.
While there very well may be a significant number of possible negative ramifications and consequences for intentionally bursting the very bubble that we all live on the surface of, one still has to be awed and amazed at the scientific innovations that have come about, just in this most directly recent period of progress.
So whether it actually proves to be a wise idea to pierce the very core of our planet, it is most impressive to think that in so few years, we have developed the technology that allows us, not only the opportunity to seriously and rationally contemplate the over-all validity and value of piercing our Earth’s heart, but also to drill much deeper and far more precisely for pockets of oil, in the very toughest of terrains and in the very shortest amount of time possible.
That, my friend, is pretty amazing indeed!
Written for oilprice.com - theno.1 source for oil prices