Intelligent drilling is providing new technological support for the development of oil fields in northwestern China.
The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) reported on the production tests conducted in early August. “Tarim’s western basin well TP259-2H produces 13.5 tonnes of oil and 42,000 cubic meters of natural gas per day, almost five times the output of neighboring wells,” the report said.
Led by Zhu Rixiang and Di Qingyun from CAS, the project was carried out in cooperation with the Northwestern Oilfield Exploration and Development Research Institute and Sinopec Zhongyuan Petroleum Engineering Limited.
The Cretaceous-age oil and gas reserves of the Tarim Basin are more than 4,000 m (13,000 ft) deep and have a complex, uneven distribution. They separate into a layer cake structure, where the layers of rock are only 2–5 m thick but fluctuate over 10 m in depth.
Conventional directional drilling techniques have been limited in extracting these resources.
The team developed a three-dimensional geological model with metre-level resolution, which includes “composition, rock properties and structure” using intelligent algorithms. This model allowed them to predetermine drilling targets, design horizontal well paths, and predict potential geological formations and oil and gas encounters.
The intelligent drilling system was guided by 3D target navigation technology as its “brain” and coordinated using various tools as its “eyes” and “limbs” to accomplish the task accurately.
An imager based on electromagnetic waves was fitted on the drill as its eyes. It sent electromagnetic waves into the layers and received the reflected signals to determine the rock’s electrical characteristics and boundaries.
In a mining operation in July, the instrument operated continuously for 229 hours at depths of up to 4,538 meters, accurately identifying low-resistance formations such as sand bodies and providing critical decision-making information to the system.
Three-dimensional precision navigation technology serves as the brain of the system. It uses pre-built models of underground oil and gas layer structure to guide the drill to the best extraction points.
Flexible rotation guidance systems and geological navigation systems then guide the drill to designated targets with flexible mechanical structures.
“The project launched in 2017 has now grown into a complete solution with its own intellectual property rights. This has achieved the goal of intelligent deep drilling based on the system,” the CAS report said.
“The system contains [the] The persistent efforts of hundreds of researchers for more than six years. Many self-developed devices have completed technical finalization after hundreds of field tests and iterations, making the transition from prototype to engineering model.