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Meet Weatherford’s new rotary steerable system

Nov 14, 2018
4 min read
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Weatherford caught industry attention with its new rotary steerable system. John Clegg, Director of Research, Development and Engineering, is at ADIPEC to reveal why.

With its Magnus RSS proudly on display show sponsor Weatherford has something to get ADIPEC attendees talking.

Largely inspired by unique directional drilling – and operating - challenges in KSA, Magnus rivals established RSS options.

John Clegg believes this “leap frog” tool could benefit many drilling global environments.

In extensive U.S. and Mexico testing, Magnus has logged significant footage and circulating hours since commencing commercial operations.

“I’ve been working around drilling tools and rotary steerables for over 30 years,” says Clegg.

“I’ve seen the market for these change a lot; when we started it was very much high technology, a niche application and technically not easy to do.

“Two tools that led the market from the early to mid 1990s are probably still the RSS tools available today. Part of what we’re trying to do is develop a credible alternative.

“The challenges we’re looking at are as much commercial as they are challenges around the philosophy of how you design and build tools - it’s more than just a technical solution to specific drilling challenges.”

Clegg set about making Magnus appeal on several fronts.

“We designed a lot of things into it that maybe wouldn’t have in the past; things like simplicity and reliability,” he says.

“Everybody wants reliability, but in terms of simplicity I’m thinking something that’s easy to live with; easy to use, easy to train people on and very importantly – and this could be of particular interest to Saudi Aramco – something that can be repaired and built anywhere in the world.

“So we said (to my team) you’re going to have a warehouse or workshop with a torque machine,  an overhead crane, which most oilfield workshops have, and one of those big Snap-On tool chests  - that’s all and you’ve got to be able to repair the tool and turn it around very quickly with just that. “Achieving that in the design means you can very quickly deploy anywhere in the world and quickly build a local repair and, ultimately local, assembly, manufacturing capability.”

Clegg said one customer grumble they absorbed was reliance upon costly variants when existing RSS encountered problems.  Magnus removes that but also evolves the RSS concept with unique features such as independent pad control and true inclination hold, for better reliability and accuracy, respectively.

“We designed things into the tool which were more than basic steering performance – we have a tool less likely to get stuck than the vast majority on the market,” says Clegg.

“There are times when you don’t want a rotary  steerable tool to be trying to tilt the bit or pushthe bit sideways - maybe when you’re drilling out casing or reaming; we made it a very specific requirement for this one.”

Clegg says having three independent pads is probably the biggest innovation, not least as you can continue drilling should one fail.

“You can effectively switch the tool off so it doesn’t provide any bias, which means you can do a true proportional mode, so you have the tool pushing anywhere between nothing and its absolute maximum rate; you can specify a percentage.”

“While a few companies in the market are just now beginning to talk about proportional mode or proportional control, Magnus is the only tool combining continuous rotation of all elements on the outside of the tool with true proportional control.

“Having them (pads) independently controlled means you have a lot of control over whetherthey’re going to be open or closed and allows you very precise control over exactly what the curve is going to be, so it means you can drill a true curve that is exactly the right radius.”

The Magnus project involved early and regular consultation with Saudi Aramco; it wasn’t commissioned but developed with KSA - and anticipated wider demand - in mind.

“Some features we put in are specifically because of issues we are aware of with drilling in Saudi Arabia; being able to repair the tool locally and to optimise logistics - one of the things that blight cost in providing a lot of rotary steerable service is the amount of time it takes to repair tools. We want these tools to be able to turn round very quickly, within days.”

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