IADC/SPE Drilling Conference sets new attendance record

IADC/SPE Drilling Conference sets new attendance record – 1998 International Association of Drilling Contractors/Society of Petroleum Engineers conference

J. John Grow

The 15th annual IADC/SPE Drilling Conference, held at the Hotel Inter-Continental, Dallas, and cosponsored by the International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC) and the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), broke its old attendance record set in 1996 at 1,600 with more than 1,750 participants in 1998.

The event offered excellent networking opportunities, as professionals shared information on technology and techniques that could enhance operating efficiency, solve engineering problems and improve profitability. The international meeting did indeed standalone as the best opportunity to examine new technology important to today’s successful drilling operations.

If you were unable to attend the Conference, here is a brief summary of what was missed.

The theme of the 1998 Conference was “The Globalization of Drilling.” With increasing interest in developing petroleum resources, tremendous opportunities exist that were not previously available to international companies.

With our industry entering a new cycle of worldwide growth, areas of potential constraints have emerged. The three plenary sessions addressed these constraints with discussions on solving drilling rig and equipment shortages, solving human resources constraints, and proving the integrity of our operations (health, safety and environmental concerns).

Twenty technical sessions were held over three days with papers presented on:

* Deepwater drilling: equipment/operations/solutions/special offshore topics

* Special drilling operations: air/mist/underbalanced and coiled tubing drilling

* Drilling: optimization/equipment/fluids/rigs/case histories

* Directional drilling: special operations, tools and planning

* Tubulars/bit technology/milling/sidetracking/rotary drilling systems

* Special fluids/completion fluids/zonal isolations

* General management/information technology/health, safety and environment.

More than 35 organizations came from around the world to display their technology and products ranging from chemical solvents to computer software to well completion services.

Once the technical papers were presented and exhibitors closed shop, receptions, given by various exhibitors, were activities for the evening. One particular evening a fire alarm sounded and all personnel evacuated the main hotel. Not knowing if this was a false alarm, or real, it was best to leave. It was discovered that one of the service companies was holding a reception across the highway so some of the crowd moved in that direction. It was there that the mystical sounds of Scottish bagpipes could be heard, as rendered by a native Scot who happened to be carrying his bagpipes for practice sake.

Yes, it was truly an international conference, sharing of ideas, technology and even a little culture among the drilling professionals of the world. If you were unable to attend, hope to see you there next year.

Applications of StarWars laser technology in natural gas drilling. The Gas Research Institute (GRI), U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army are teaming up to determine whether applications of StarWars laser technology can revolutionize the drilling of natural gas wells.

A two-year basic research project will examine the feasibility, costs, benefits and environmental impact of applying laser technologies to drill and complete wells. An improved understanding of laser applications could lead to the development of several products, including a downhole laser-drilling machine; laser-assisted drill bits for both conventional and coiled-tubing drilling (CTD) applications, a laser-perforating tool, and sidetrack, directional laser drilling devices.

GRI will manage the project, and Colorado School of Mines (CSM), Golden, will be the primary contractor. Subcontractors are Solutions Engineering, Colorado, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge and Phillips Petroleum Co., Oklahoma.

The research will include tests of several laser systems at the U.S. Army’s High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility (HELSTF), White Sands Missile Range and at Air Force Research Laboratory’s Directed Energy Directorate at the Phillips Research Site, Kirkland AFB, New Mexico.

The CSM petroleum engineering department laboratories will be used to determine basic rock characteristics, such as porosity, permeability, mineralogy, strength, elastic/mechanical properties, and pore-size distribution, of target samples.

Two promising high-energy lasers that will be used in testing advanced drilling concepts are:

1. Mid-infrared advanced chemical laser (MIRACL), the highest average power laser (megawatt class) in the U.S. This system was originally developed for shipboard defense and used extensively for testing StarWars concepts during the 1980s and 1990s at HELSTF.

2. Chemical oxygen-iodine laser (COIL), a high-powered laser invented by the U.S. Air Force in 1977 for air-to-air defense, which appears to offer potential for natural gas drilling applications. COIL has gained notoriety as an airborne laser tactical weapon capable of tracking and destroying missiles.

A promising laser test was conducted recently by Phillips Petroleum using the U.S. Army’s MIRACL laser to evaluate laser-boring applications. The laser beam bored through a sandstone-shale “sandwich” at a speed that indicates penetration could be increased by more than 100 times current rates.

COPYRIGHT 1998 Gulf Publishing Co.

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