Directional drilling – the drilling of non-vertical wells that helped make the development of shale gas possible -- will continue to play a key role in energy development, and so will the technologies that make it possible.
The benefits of directional drilling are tremendous. Think cleaner, cheaper electricity; local economy booms; and decreased dependence on foreign energy. The unconventional oil and gas resources that can be tapped through directional drilling benefit consumers, businesses, and even the transportation sector. So being recognized as an innovator in this area is an honor.
The Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) recently received that honor when it was recognized for its contributions to directional drilling. On May 3, 2013, the lab accepted an award for its role in a joint project that helped develop what is now Schlumberger’s Slider product line. Schlumberger/Slider recognized NETL for supporting “small business innovation and for promoting industry to use the Slider technology—a goal aimed to stimulate the economy and endorse national energy advances.”
Now celebrating its 10th year of commercialization, Slider technology greatly improves the efficiency of conventional downhole motor and measurement-while-drilling (MWD) systems. Engineers use MWD systems to collect data, such as the nature of a rock formation, as a well is being drilled. This improves drilling efficiency and accuracy, and allows engineers to better evaluate a formation as the drill bit passes through, thereby reducing the risk of formation damage.
When a rotary drilling system is steered down a directional well, the driller often runs into problems when attempting path corrections in the “sliding” mode, when the downhole motor is used to transmit power to the drill bit without rotating the drill pipe. During sliding, drilling tools may stick to the rock formations, impeding the drilling process.
Slider has the solution to this problem. The technology’s combination of hardware and software integrates surface data and MWD data to automate the rocking motion typically applied during the sliding operation. Slider makes real-time calculations to control torque—the tendency of a force to rotate an object about an axis—from the surface. This provides directional drillers with a low-cost method to correct the course of the drilling assembly during sliding with a level of accuracy impossible in conventional drilling.
By reinventing how the industry navigates tools downhole, innovations like Slider have set the standard for drilling processes – and they’ve helped make sure that we can continue to develop cleaner, more sustainable domestic energy resources.