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Subsea drilling-with-casing system, RFID-controlled drilling reamer unveiled

Posted on 23 September 2010

Weatherford International unveiled two technologies this week at the SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition in Florence, Italy: the SeaLance subsea drilling-with-casing system and the RipTide RFID drilling reamer.

SeaLance

The SeaLance system “is the world’s first deepwater subsea drilling-with-casing system and the world’s only deepwater subsea drilling-with-casing system,” said Scott Beattie, global business unit manager, Drilling with Casing/Drilling Hazard Mitigation for Weatherford. The system makes it possible for a 20-in. casing string and its high-pressure wellhead housing to be drilled to depth, cemented and released in a single run, according to the company.

“The SeaLance was developed to improve the choices available to the industry when drilling top-hole sections while improving safety and the overall integrity of subsea wells,” Mr Beattie said. “For example, in certain applications, the system will mitigate the loss in casing size by dynamically dealing with shallow hazards while drilling-with-casing to the desired setting depth.”

The system, developed jointly by Weatherford and ENI, is currently available in the 20-in. size; additional sizes may be developed in the future.

Primary components of the system are the Defyer series drillable casing bit, which eliminates the retrieval of bit BHAs; the 20-in. retractable shoe joint, which enables the soft landing of the wellhead or high-pressure housing; and the running tool, which locks into a setting sleeve below the wellhead, helps to maintain casing tension, and creates a torque path from the drill pipe through the casing to the bit.

RipTide

The RipTide RFID drilling reamer “is currently the industry’s first electronically controlled drilling reamer,” said Tor Ellis, senior completion engineer for Marathon Petroleum Co (Norway). Weatherford worked jointly with Marathon to develop the tool, which enables operators to enlarge holes up to 25% beyond bit diameter during hole-enlargement-while-drilling operations

Unlike ball-drop activated drilling reamers, RipTide uses RFID (radio frequency identification) to selectively open and close the cutter blocks for improved operating flexibility.

“What we’re trying to prove out here is: Conventional reamers are limited to one or two activations downhole, and then you must trip out of hole and replace it. With this technology, we’re now able to repeatedly activate the tool numerous times without tripping out of hole, successfully opening and closing it,” explained Eddie Valverde, global product line manager, Weatherford Borehole Enlargement.

Operators would be able to activate and deactivate the tool at anytime while drilling or tripping, according to Weatherford.

Four field trials of RipTide have been completed so far. The first three tested the mechanical aspects of the design, and the fourth, carried out on a Marathon well, proved the RFID activation, Mr Ellis said.

The tool is powered by a lithium battery pack and is currently rated to 185°C. Weatherford is looking at applying this RFID activation technology to other downhole tools as well, Mr Valverde said.

SeaLance, RipTide and Defyer are trademarks of Weatherford.

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