Friday, March 9, 2018

Science & Technology: Designing Geothermal Drill Bits for Extreme Temperatures

Engineering Bits for Drilling Down Close to the Magma (Society of Petroleum Engineers)

Cutters showing the wear from two drilling runs in tough basalt while drilling a geothermal well in Iceland. Source: SPE 189677.

One of the hottest wells ever was drilled last year in Iceland, with a bit and mud motor from Baker Hughes surviving temperatures as high as 426°C.

It was the second attempt to drill a really deep geothermal well after the first abruptly ended half way to its target depth. In fairness to the hardware, it worked right up until it drilled into the magma. It is now displayed in a museum run by HS Orka, the Icelandic power company behind the project.

“We were able to pump water until the magma let it go,” said Ari Stefansson, power plant manager for HS Orka, who was the drilling manager for the project covered in a paper delivered this week at the IADC/SPE Drilling Conference in Fort Worth, Texas (SPE 189677).