Drilling operations have become much more complex than they were in the 1800s. The related activities have become extremely risky and difficult in modern times. The uneven distribution of hydrocarbons has forced drilling companies to consistently drill in deeper waters, through the technologies that are extremely complex and vulnerable to even the slightest of errors. Drilling operators, more often, come across harsh downhole conditions that present critical engineering hurdles to drilling equipment. Every technology and equipment piece has to catch up with the ongoing advancements. That is, in fact, true for well logging as well. One such advancement that brought about innovation in conventional well logging procedure is Measurement While Drilling (or MWD), introduced in the 1970s.
Measurement While Drilling method involves the integration of the measurement tools into the drillstring and extract real-time information to assist with steering the drill. MWD was designed and developed to address the problem of retrieving downhole information after the well angle goes beyond 60 degrees. Measurement While Drilling instantly became a commercial success in the 70s, owing to the importance of the insights acquired by collecting and relaying downhole data from the bottom of a wellbore while drilling.
A typical MWD incorporates three major subcomponents called the Power system, Telemetry system, and Directional sensors. It utilizes electromechanical devices such as gyroscopes, magnetometers, and accelerometers to estimate borehole inclination and azimuth during the actual drilling. Electromagnetic Telemetry enables the transmission of the downhole data to the surface through mud pulse and is then analyzed to gain insights.
Innovation Realized: Vertex WINC+ Kit
Canadian downhole expert, Vertex Downhole developed a completely digital and user-tailored MWD tool, WINC+ (Wireless Inclination with Azimuth) in the year 2012. WINC+ provides drilling operators with inclination, azimuth, and toolface, which in turn enables them to keep the hole straight and on target. The WINC+ has allowed drilling operators to avoid expensive doglegging and potential hole conditions as a result of not circulating while surveying. With Vertex’s WINC+ tool, surveying is feasible at any point, simply by stopping the pumps and starting them. Drilling operators can now consistently drill as the survey is relayed back to the surface.
The unique features of WINC+ can be summed up in the following points:
- Retrievable and re-seatable, tool switches out down-hole via wireline
- Tools come preloaded in 30° nonmagnetic drill collars
- 347° F / 175° C operation
- No configuration required, easy one-step, high side offset if TF is needed
- Inclination accuracy +/- .10°
- Azimuth accuracy +/- 0.5°
- Reliable, high LCM tolerant mud pulse technology
- Real-time shock vibration measurements
- Detailed shock vibration reports from tool memory
- Operating battery life expectancy of 800 hours
- Optional toolface available up to 22.5° inclination
- Optional gamma-ray logging, memory ability provides depth/time/gamma high res logs, after out-of-hole
- Remote log-in support and troubleshooting as well as 24/7 phone support
- ERD interface required
Vertex supports the WINC+ tool with the WINC Commander Software, which allows users to view, edit and directly email surveys. Vertex’s innovative software provides the following unique features to the users:
- Easy to use, minimal configuration required
- Survey history stored automatically by job
- Automatically email surveys from the tablet
- Automatic default cellular data card if rig WiFI is unavailable
- GPS location automatically provided for a one-button auto declination calculation
- No need for end of well gyro costs
- Cost-effective solution for monitoring or correcting on the surface hole sections
Measurement While Drilling: What Lies Ahead
A report released by Grand View Research portrays a positive picture for the Global Measurement while Drilling market and expects a strong growth through 2022. The multifold increase in the oil and gas exploration activities over the last few years has pushed pioneers like Vertex Downhole to consistently bring about innovation through tools such as WINC+. As new technologies appear on the horizon, it’ll be interesting to observe the growth of Measurement While Drilling technology and the drilling process on the whole.
(The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Energy Dais.)