Design of an ultra-speed Lab-Scale drilling rig for simulation of high speed drilling operations in hard rocks
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Drilling is a common process in mining and petroleum engineering applications which have different objectives. For example, drilling deep boreholes in tight gas formations and gas shales is becoming more popular in the oil and gas industry. By contrast, drilling deep small sized holes for mineral exploration in hard rocks is performed to obtain samples for grade analysis purposes. In both applications optimising the drilling process includes using the most effective operating parameters such as rotation speed and weight-on-bit in order to maximise the rate of penetration. Obtaining the optimum drilling parameters requires sensitivity analysis over a range of data, which would be costly and time consuming during real field operations. Therefore, conducting several experimental simulations in the lab would be very beneficial before field operations begin.A drilling rig was designed and developed to simulate various drilling scenarios. The rig works in conjunction with an existing true triaxial stress cell (TTSC) which is in use for different petroleum related applications. The rig allows drilling into a cubic rock sample of up to 300 mm size. Three independent stresses can be applied to the sample to simulate real in-situ field stress conditions while the sample may be saturated with fluid. A significant feature of the rig is its ultra-high speed rotation which can rotate up to 8000 rpm: this is to simulate hard rock drilling for mineral exploration applications where large weight-on-bit could damage the bit cutters. With the proposed design, a drilling fluid of any type can be circulated in the simulated borehole similar to the real situation, to study its effect on drilling performance. The TTSC drilling lid is equipped with torque and drag measurement systems which are two important drilling parameters to be recorded during drilling operation.It is believed that this new drilling rig will open opportunities for performing major new applied research in the area of more efficient drilling in both oil and gas bearing formations and mineral exploration applications.
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