Reelwell’s Breakthrough: Revolutionizing Extended Reach Drilling with Cutting-Edge Pressure Management

A drilling prospect

The Reelwell Drilling Method (RDM) is a new technique that uses accurate pressure management and improved well control through closed loop fluid circulation to push the limits of Extended Reach Drilling (ERD).

Reelwell AS was founded in 2004 at the central science park in Stavanger on the basis of this new drilling concept, which revolves around the dual string drilling method. This design is predicted to save time and money for drilling companies, as well as opening up a whole host of opportunities in reaching new reservoirs and production fields from existing oil platforms. The business gained backing for the RDM from the Research Council of Norway, as well as support from Shell and Statoil who recognised the enormous potential of this innovative technology.

The RDM involves the use of hydraulic Weight On Bit (WOB) technology by using a piston as an integrated part of the drillstring, this enables long reach in mature reservoirs, as well as facilitating deep water drilling. Though the technology is not on the commercial market yet, in the near future Reelwell will have the ability to provide specialised equipment for hire to oil and gas companies. Ove Hole, sales and marketing manager of Reelwell, outlines the company’s operations: “We are developing new technologies for drilling methods and equipment to increase oil recovery and revenue, as well as providing a more eco-friendly solution. We are able to upgrade and improve existing facilities to run our drilling technology by introducing our engineered components into customers’ existing systems.

“We have developed a down-hole valve that works in conjunction with the dual drill pipe to give us the possibility to rout and return mud cuttings from the hole back to the surface via the inner drill string conduit,” he continues. “We have also produced a piston who gives us the ability to use hydraulic force to push the bit forward, this means that we can drill horizontally without relying on weight from a vertical section enabling us to drill for a longer length of time than conventional drilling. The world record at the moment for horizontal drilling is 12 kilometres, but with our technology we can double that length, which will obviously have huge implications when trying to reach new reservoirs.”

Typically the RDM will be used in mature fields that are experiencing pressure problems with conventional drilling systems that often result in excess loose mud in the drilling reservoir. The RDM reduces this risk and can provide a more efficient method of cleaning so that drilling is always done in a clean hole and drills avoid getting stuck. It is also beneficial for mature fields that have known oil pockets surrounding the existing platform but are too far away, as the RDM can reach further distances and eliminates the need for hiring semi-submersible drilling rigs.

Reelwell’s technology is in the final stages of development, having been successfully tested and verified over the past two years. The RDM is currently undergoing an onshore pilot test in Stavanger. The company is planning to launch its technology over the coming months and is hoping to work closely with clients to become known in the industry. Ove has hopes that the company’s technology will become the industry standard for drilling in mature fields. The efficiency and cost benefits of the technology have massive implications for the future of the oil and gas industry. The RDM provides economic savings in the reduction of steel casings, well construction, hiring of rigs, cleaning of down-hole apparatus and time.

Ove outlines the factors that will set Reelwell’s technology apart from competitors to lead it to the forefront of the deep drilling industry: “This is a new technology, even though we use conventional drilling rigs and drill bits it is a new way of thinking for the planning and decision making process. We have so many additional features to add to the normal drilling process; we can provide better control, a cleaning feature, a hydraulic bit and down hole isolation for mud collection. We are set apart by the fact that we provide everything our competitors do but with an additional system that no-one else has – no one can cover all the applications that our technology has already built-in. We work closely with clients in the planning stages to be as thorough as possible and we see preparation as essential. Our experienced personnel are also highly skilled and provide expert supervision in the handling, installation and day-to-day function of our equipment ensuring the highest quality possible throughout operations.”

Reelwell AS is attending the OTC exhibition in Houston in May where it will receive one of the most prestigious awards in the oil industry, the OTC 2009 Spotlight on New Technology for the Reelwell Drilling Method. This is a highly regarded accolade and is one of the first to recognise this winning technology – Ove predicts this to be the first of many.

Reelwell AS

Products: New drilling technology