Mechanical Extrusion Offers Advantages Over Ball Activation for Downhole Tools
- Mike Churchill (Churchill Drilling Tools)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- February 2013
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 32 - 34
- 2013. Copyright is retained by the author. This document is distributed by SPE with the permission of the author. Contact the author for permission to use material from this document.
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One of the most innovative recent advances in downhole drilling tool activation has been the introduction of mechanical extrusion technology, incorporating the use of rigid metal darts to improve the cycling and control of a variety of processes and devices. Increasingly, operators are recognizing mechanical extrusion by means of dart activation as a time-, cost-, and labor-saving alternative to traditional ball activation methods.
For example, conventional cycling of drilling bypass valves has used a polymer extrusion process that relies on balls as the activation device. However, Churchill Drilling Tools has developed an effective and accurate mechanical extrusion method that uses a dart-based valve. The system can perform activations up to five times faster than polymer methods.
The company’s MX (mechanical extrusion) system allows the use of rigid Smart Darts for multicycle control and exploits their robustness and resilience at high pressures and temperatures (up to 660°F) to deliver greater operating speed, reliability, and performance. The system’s unique feature is its two configurable shearing modes, which solves reliability and power delivery problems. It requires a radius as small as 0.0075 in. for power transmission, thereby making implementation extremely compact.
With the ability to control and power three or more tools independently, users eliminate the conventional inner diameter (ID) and obstruction conflicts between different tools in a string. This has implications for mono-cycling ball and shear systems, which commonly obstruct the bore after use. These can be turned into multicycling, nonobstructive, and multi-tool systems. The system can also enhance multicycling ball-activated tools that are based on polymer extrusion by improving performance and delivering greater multitool compatibility and interoperability.
The system allows the mechanical extrusion to be delivered in a range of settings to suit the specific cycle application. With a variety of latching, sealing, and flow path geometries, as well as the adjustable shear mode ratings, this element of the system provides a tangible change in string design and program implementation. For example, in bypass valve implementation, users can cover multiple flow path contingencies with a single valve in hole and choose from the range of darts to establish the optimal setting for the situation encountered.
The system advances the capability of simple hydromechanical control and its power and reliability benefits into areas that previously needed more complex electronic systems. Being mechanical, it is not subject to the same high pressure and high temperature limits that affect electronics and electrical components.
Smart Darts enable a multicycle circulating sub (circ sub) tool to deliver a reliable and versatile bypass on demand. Whatever the drilling application, whether planned or a contingency, the system enables a rapid and reliable switching to the optimal flow path configuration.
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