The general public has no real concept or understanding of the technical challenges, risks, and difficulties that companies face to discover and then extract oil and natural gas. Companies within the industry need to invest in premium quality tools and remotely controlled equipment to undertake many different jobs that take place many miles below the earth’s surface.
If the equipment proves unreliable or below required standards, it isn’t as simple as calling out the local repair company. Every bit of downtime costs thousands of dollars in lost productivity, which is why the tools and equipment used need to be virtually indestructible.
What Are Downhole Tools?
Downhole tools, as the name suggests, consist of a wide range of different tools that are used in the oil and gas fields to help with the drilling of wells, clearing of blockages, and ensuring that the wells are working to their full capacity. The tools are operated down the hole which forms a part of the well, hence their name. Although the tools themselves tend to be very expensive, they are an excellent investment due to the significant potential to reduce the cost of oil and gas field operations. The conditions under which downhole tools have to perform are hostile and include extreme pressure and high-temperature situations. Let’s examine in greater detail some of the jobs that can be accomplished with the use of downhole tools.
Some of the Different Jobs Where Downhole Tools Prove Invaluable
Well Bottom Communication – For anyone who has ever tried to drill a hole in a wall, the process is relatively easy because you can physically see where you are drilling, and you also receive feedback as you apply or decrease the pressure on the drill. Unfortunately, when you are drilling on the much grander scale of an oil or gas well, this type of personal feedback is not available. That’s where hi-tech communication systems become critically important, as they supply valuable information to the employees and the crew who are operating the drilling system. This information can help to prevent problems, and even warn the crew of impending issues long before they happen, by providing real-time measurements of the drilling process. These type of communication systems have evolved drastically over recent years as technology has advanced. Previously the collected information took a considerable amount of time to travel back to the surface, often only when the drilling assembly was retrieved out of the hole. By the time the feedback was received, there was a potential for the information to be invalid. In recent years these challenges have been largely overcome, with information transmitted in real-time, which has resulted in better knowledge and understanding for the employees, a safer environment, and even the possibility of remote controlling the drilling process from many miles away.
The term ‘completion,’ in regards to the oil and gas industry, means the final part of the well’s construction before it is transformed from a basic hole in the ground to an oil or gas producing well. As you might imagine, this final preparation takes a lot of time, energy, and effort. There are a lot of specifications that need to be adhered to for safety precautions, environmental protection, and maximization of production. Various downhole tools are used in the process in order to accomplish multiple complex tasks. If the hole were simply left alone once drilled, it would not take a great deal of time for it to collapse in upon itself. In order to prevent the hole from collapsing, and to maximize production, various steel pipes, screens, plugs, and valves are joined together and then slid into the drilled hole. This allows employees to control and manage the flow of oil or gas into the well from the surrounding rock while also preventing undesired contaminants, such as sand, water, or poisonous gases, from entering the well. All of these operations are conducted by necessity, and downhole tools are required to perform these challenging but essential tasks.
The quality of the drilling tools and technology have drastically improved over the years. Regardless of these technological advances, when you are drilling deep down into the earth’s surface, there is always the potential of physically breaking parts of the drilling assembly. It is also possible for the assembly to become stuck or lodged in the hole such that it cannot be easily removed. If and when these issues do occur, a company will have already invested significant sums of money into the well, so it is not a feasible option to simply drill another well. The solution calls for a variety of different tools, known as fishing tools, which have to be individually designed to solve the problem.
Each tool has a specific task and multiple fishing tools might be required to overcome a specific problem or clear a blockage. Some tools will cut or mill specific parts of the drilling assembly, others will sweep or capture loose pieces of junk or debris in the hole while others are designed to spear or grab specific pieces of pipe or the assembly to be able to pull on it. All being well, the tool will remove the broken piece of assembly or other blockage with it out of the well, quickly and effortlessly resolving the problem.
Downhole Drilling Equipment
Obviously, some of the most important downhole tools are the various parts of the drilling assembly that are used to physically drill the hole in the earth including the drill bits which actually cut the rock. It may come as a shock to some people to learn that many oil and gas wells will need to be between 6,000-12,000 feet deep and can be steered and angled at up to 90 degrees in order to hit the right reservoir. There are oil and gas reservoirs that are buried the equivalent of 10 Empire State Buildings stacked one on top of the other under the ground. Hopefully, this will put in to focus the extreme challenges and difficulties that are faced on a daily basis by gas and oil companies as they attempt to find and drill into these reservoirs.
The downhole drilling equipment is controlled from above the surface, by a crew of specialist drilling employees who constantly receive information from the downhole tools and the drilling assembly as it powers its way deeper and deeper into the earth. Drilling holes that are so deep require significant skills and excellent equipment. The high element of risk that field operators face is the reason why it is so essential to use only the best and most innovative tools possible.
Why Choose Ulterra for your Downhole Tools?
Ulterra is one of the leading manufacturers of downhole tools in the world, specializing in the latest technology of drill bits known as PDC. This acronym stands for Polycrystalline Diamond Compact and describes the specialist cutting elements used in this highly engineered and high-tech type of drill bit. Our company philosophy is based on three simple foundations.
• Performance – All of our products are designed and created using only the best components because we understand that when our clients are out in the oil fields in tough and challenging conditions they need products that they can rely on. All of our products deliver time and time again and are trusted by hundreds of companies around the world. When it comes to delivering outstanding performance that simply won’t let you down Ulterra should always be at the top of your list.
• Innovation – The very nature of oil and gas exploration and extraction throws up unusual and unforeseen issues on an almost daily basis. At Ulterra we have some of the best engineers and designers in the industry, who are consistently coming up with new and innovative solutions to the many and varied problems facing these vital industries. We never stop in our desire to make oil and gas extraction safer, more productive and efficient.
• Consistency – Our high-quality tools paired with our outstanding levels of innovation and dedication consistently deliver results that companies can rely on. With so many variables that are unavoidable in oil and gas extraction, it is critical to have as many consistent parts of the equation as possible, and that is another example of the thought process and quality that Ulterra delivers on a daily basis.
Downhole tools are the unsung heroes of the oil and gas industry. Millions of people across the world are totally reliant on gas and oil for fuel, chemicals and plastic products the industry produces; yet they have no understanding or idea of the processes at work to provide them with the things they rely on every day. At Ulterra, we are never content to rest on our laurels. We are determined to keep innovating, and driving the oil and gas industries forward.