Why are drill pipe protectors important? Well, most drilling activities take place in harsh environments such as salty water bodies, thereby exposing drilling gear to corrosive elements. In addition, some components of drilling equipment, such as drill pipes, rotate at high speed, meaning they are prone to rapid wear. Therefore, you need to use drill pipe protectors to reduce wear and tear on your drill pipes.
Drill Pipe Protectors Are Essential
To start with, casing protectors reduce wear and tear problems that occur when drilling pipes are subjected to increasingly stronger abrasion and shock forces. An article published in the authoritative drilling industry magazine Offshore, says that wear is a common problem that affects the lower sections of drilling risers and casings, especially during floating drilling. Unfortunately, this type of wear is costly to repair and removal of the affected section could cause loss of the mud column leading to a blowout. As such, you should use covers for pipe protection to minimize steel-to-steel contact, thereby lowering the rate of wear along wellhead casing systems.
Drill pipe protectorscan also help you comply with project specifications related to rotating drill pipe uptime. In fact, such specs are common across the drilling industry due to the typically high daily rates paid by organizations that hire drilling rigs. The acceptable uptime standard is one-year storm, or one-year current environment. By installing these drill pipe protectors, you will reduce the risk of flouting the uptime requirements stated in your drilling contract.
Thirdly, these protectors are necessary in order to comply with drilling industry standards, such as- limiting the LFJ differential mean angle for drilling with subsea BOP stack and top drive systems to 1° as stipulated ISO 13624/API RP 16Q. It is worth noting that this drilling angle is specified to reduce the risk of excessive wear on lower sections of drilling units including riser, casing and wellhead.
A Brief Review of the Drilling Process
To grasp how drill pipe protection devices work, it is necessary to understand how the drilling process works. In general, rig operators use drill bits attached to elongated drill strings to bore wells/holes into the ground. A typical string consists of several tubular pipe sections attached to each other at the end. During drilling, rig operators attach additional sections to the string as the drill bit bores deeper underground. At the same time, casing materials are installed along the walls of the well to prevent it from caving in, as well as block fluid seepage from the surrounding environment. The casing also prevents contamination of fluids like oil recovered from underground reservoirs.
How Drill Pipe Protectors Work
Drill strings are typically flexible and have room to move laterally inside a well. Moreover, application of drilling forces can cause the joints between string sections to move in different directions depending on factors such as drilling path (curved, angled, or straight), string weight, and force applied to drill bit. These movements generate frictional forces (torque and drag) that cause wear of string joints and drill bit surfaces. To minimize these movements, you should install covers for pipe protection along the length of the pipe at points where there are drill string joints. In addition, the outer diameter of a pipe protector is usually larger than that of the corresponding string joint. This is to ensure that the protector does not restrict drilling operations or recovery of fluids. Depending on the depth of a well, rig operators may install hundreds of casing protectors.
Materials Used To Make Drill Pipe Protectors
Some of the materials used by manufacturers of casing protectors include heavy-duty plastics like HDPE (high-density polyethylene), hydrogenated-nitrile-butadiene-rubber (HNBR), steel reinforced rubber, fluorethylene rubber, as well as hardened rubber/plastic materials. Researchers are also working on new materials that can withstand chemical corrosion, vibrations, shock, fatigue, as well as rotational forces, and speeds generated during drilling. This is in addition to ensuring the materials can withstand temperatures inside wells, which can exceed 200°C.
The Benefits of Installing Pipe Casing Protectors
1. Lower wear rate
Drill pipe protectors reduce the rate of wear along drill string couplings, which is good news to rig operators and their clients. According to a study published in the Oil & Gas Journal, actions such as drilling at critical speeds, drilling in compression, and drilling in highly deviated holes are responsible for more than 80% of drill pipe damage. For instance, drilling at critical speeds leads to variations in center of gravity, changes in alignment of gravitational forces and axis of rotation, as well as changes in center of gravity. This is where pipe casing protectors come in handy to minimize forces and movements responsible for causing wear along the length of the pipe.
2. Lower operational costs
By reducing the rate of wear, pipe protectors lower the operational costs incurred by rig operators and their clients. The same study published in the Oil & Gas Journal found that a rig operator requires about $30,000 annually to maintain a 20,000-ft drill string/pipe in good working condition (cover inspection and repair costs). A new 20,000-ft drill string costs about $600,000, meaning a rig owner may incur a substantial loss if he/she fails to implement damage prevention measures such as installing drill pipe protectors.
3. Improve drilling site safety
Drill pipes typically rotate at extremely high speeds and generate huge stress forces (up to 32,000-psi), meaning that one can cause a lot of destruction if it fails while running at full speed. This includes causing structural damage, as well as injuries and fatalities. Luckily, you can avoid these problems by installing drill pipe protective covers to reduce wear that could lead to premature equipment failure.
Drill pipe protection covers are devices made of materials with high tensile strength properties such as heavy-duty/hardened plastics and rubber. These devices are usually installed at points where drill string joints occur to prevent unnecessary movements that cause wear and tear. Additionally, drill pipe protection covers ensure better site safety, lower operational costs, and reduce the rate of drill pipe wear. For specs and details on the wide array of pipe protectors at Essentra Pipe Protection Technologies, take a look at our catalog.