Commenced in January 2007
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Edition: International
Paper Count: 2

percussive drilling Related Abstracts

2 Optimizing Solids Control and Cuttings Dewatering for Water-Powered Percussive Drilling in Mineral Exploration

Authors: S. J. Addinell, A. F. Grabsch, P. D. Fawell, B. Evans

Abstract:

The Deep Exploration Technologies Cooperative Research Centre (DET CRC) is researching and developing a new coiled tubing based greenfields mineral exploration drilling system utilising down-hole water-powered percussive drill tooling. This new drilling system is aimed at significantly reducing the costs associated with identifying mineral resource deposits beneath deep, barren cover. This system has shown superior rates of penetration in water-rich, hard rock formations at depths exceeding 500 metres. With fluid flow rates of up to 120 litres per minute at 200 bar operating pressure to energise the bottom hole tooling, excessive quantities of high quality drilling fluid (water) would be required for a prolonged drilling campaign. As a result, drilling fluid recovery and recycling has been identified as a necessary option to minimise costs and logistical effort. While the majority of the cuttings report as coarse particles, a significant fines fraction will typically also be present. To maximise tool life longevity, the percussive bottom hole assembly requires high quality fluid with minimal solids loading and any recycled fluid needs to have a solids cut point below 40 microns and a concentration less than 400 ppm before it can be used to reenergise the system. This paper presents experimental results obtained from the research program during laboratory and field testing of the prototype drilling system. A study of the morphological aspects of the cuttings generated during the percussive drilling process shows a strong power law relationship for particle size distributions. This data is critical in optimising solids control strategies and cuttings dewatering techniques. Optimisation of deployable solids control equipment is discussed and how the required centrate clarity was achieved in the presence of pyrite-rich metasediment cuttings. Key results were the successful pre-aggregation of fines through the selection and use of high molecular weight anionic polyacrylamide flocculants and the techniques developed for optimal dosing prior to scroll decanter centrifugation, thus keeping sub 40 micron solids loading within prescribed limits. Experiments on maximising fines capture in the presence of thixotropic drilling fluid additives (e.g. Xanthan gum and other biopolymers) are also discussed. As no core is produced during the drilling process, it is intended that the particle laden returned drilling fluid is used for top-of-hole geochemical and mineralogical assessment. A discussion is therefore presented on the biasing and latency of cuttings representivity by dewatering techniques, as well as the resulting detrimental effects on depth fidelity and accuracy. Data pertaining to the sample biasing with respect to geochemical signatures due to particle size distributions is presented and shows that, depending on the solids control and dewatering techniques used, it can have unwanted influence on top-of-hole analysis. Strategies are proposed to overcome these effects, improving sample quality. Successful solids control and cuttings dewatering for water-powered percussive drilling is presented, contributing towards the successful advancement of coiled tubing based greenfields mineral exploration.

Keywords: Dewatering, Flocculation, cuttings, percussive drilling, solids control

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1 Parameter Selection and Monitoring for Water-Powered Percussive Drilling in Green-Fields Mineral Exploration

Authors: S. J. Addinell, B. Evans, T. Richard

Abstract:

The Deep Exploration Technologies Cooperative Research Centre (DET CRC) is researching and developing a new coiled tubing based greenfields mineral exploration drilling system utilising downhole water powered percussive drill tooling. This new drilling system is aimed at significantly reducing the costs associated with identifying mineral resource deposits beneath deep, barron cover. This system has shown superior rates of penetration in water-rich hard rock formations at depths exceeding 500 meters. Several key challenges exist regarding the deployment and use of these bottom hole assemblies for mineral exploration, and this paper discusses some of the key technical challenges. This paper presents experimental results obtained from the research program during laboratory and field testing of the prototype drilling system. A study of the morphological aspects of the cuttings generated during the percussive drilling process is presented and shows a strong power law relationship for particle size distributions. Several percussive drilling parameters such as RPM, applied fluid pressure and weight on bit have been shown to influence the particle size distributions of the cuttings generated. This has direct influence on other drilling parameters such as flow loop performance, cuttings dewatering, and solids control. Real-time, accurate knowledge of percussive system operating parameters will assist the driller in maximising the efficiency of the drilling process. The applied fluid flow, fluid pressure, and rock properties are known to influence the natural oscillating frequency of the percussive hammer, but this paper also shows that drill bit design, drill bit wear and the applied weight on bit can also influence the oscillation frequency. Due to the changing drilling conditions and therefore changing operating parameters, real-time understanding of the natural operating frequency is paramount to achieving system optimisation. Several techniques to understand the oscillating frequency have been investigated and presented. With a conventional top drive drilling rig, spectral analysis of applied fluid pressure, hydraulic feed force pressure, hold back pressure and drill string vibrations have shown the presence of the operating frequency of the bottom hole tooling. Unfortunately, however, with the implementation of a coiled tubing drilling rig, implementing a positive displacement downhole motor to provide drill bit rotation, these signals are not available for interrogation at the surface and therefore another method must be considered. The investigation and analysis of ground vibrations using geophone sensors, similar to seismic-while-drilling techniques have indicated the presence of the natural oscillating frequency of the percussive hammer. This method is shown to provide a robust technique for the determination of the downhole percussive oscillation frequency when used with a coiled tubing drill rig.

Keywords: Spectral Analysis, percussive drilling, cuttings characterization, drilling optimization, oscillation frequency

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