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This episode features the following technical highlights:
• Hydraulic Processing System Ready for Drilling ; and
• CT Drilling Trials Underway at UniSA, Mawson Lakes Campus.
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Build of MinEx CRC’s unique Hydraulic Processing System (or HPS) for Coiled Tubing drilling is complete and the system is being commissioned ready for drilling trials.
Fluid management is critical to Coiled Tubing drilling; firstly to ensure clean fluid is delivered to the bottom hole assembly for efficient operation and minimal wear, secondly to ensure reliable and predictable sample returns and, thirdly to maintain integrity of the drill hole.
Design and construction of the HPS was facilitated by a MinEx CRC Opportunity Fund Project (approved in late-2019) in recognition that no existing technology, or combination of technologies, could meet the technical needs and logistic demands of our vision for CT drilling.
The HPS is an all-in-one, truck-mounted fluid management system for CT drilling – including fluid additive mixing and dosing, solids removal and solids sampling. Fluids are entirely recirculated within the HPS, removing the need drill sumps or external tanks. The HPS includes a prototype fluid monitoring system which paves the way for remote and automated fluid management, where multiple parameters can be optimised for drilling under constantly changing conditions. The truck-mounted system can be transported efficiently over long distances, allows all-terrain access and can be set-up safely and quickly by one person.
With key components of the build now complete we are in the process of connecting and testing the multiple, linked systems (mechanical, electrical, hydraulic) on the HPS and CT rig in readiness for drilling trials due to commence in Q3 2021.
Following initial trials in controlled environments the HPS will be deployed to the Delamerian National Drilling Initiative drilling campaign in south eastern South Australia. We will use our experience from the NDI to modify the HPS design and operating procedures in our constant search for improvement.
MinEx CRC’s Coiled Tubing drilling platform, comprising the RoXplorer® CT drill rig and Hydraulic Processing System (HPS), commenced drilling trials at the Mawson Lakes Campus of UniSA in July.
Coiled Tubing drilling offers the potential for rapid, safe, energy and water efficient drilling at a fraction of the cost of conventional techniques. MinEx CRC is building on the RoXplorer® CT technology developed by DET CRC and deployed to field trials in Nevada in 2018. The Nevada trials confirmed the potential of CT drilling but showed that we could improve our fluid management, streamline sampling procedures and reduce the footprint of our drill site. The current drilling trials represent the next generation of CT drilling, with these improvements added to the platform.
Many of the challenges of drilling with coiled tubing have been addressed by the novel design of the RoXplorer® – including its unique above-hole coil position, fatigue-resistant steel tubing and carefully engineered bottom hole assembly. However other challenges have been addressed by ancillary technologies that have become vital components of the complete CT platform. These include the liqi-Ctrol drilling fluid additive, i-Fluid monitoring and dosing system and an innovative shaker screen sampling system – all of which are built into the Hydraulic Processing System. The HPS combines fluid storage, fluid dosing, fluid cleaning and sampling sub-systems onto a single 12 m truck. In previous CT drilling trials these sub-systems acted independently, with numerous manual controls, contributing to a large and complex drill site. On the current drill site, the sub-systems are coupled, constantly monitored, with the promise of future automation and contained within two vehicles – the rig and HPS.
We plan to drill a 350m hole at Mawson Lakes. The exercise will be used to test the combined CT rig and HPS platform and hone our work practices in a controlled environment. Learnings from the Mawson Lakes hole will be used to inform and improve our approach as we take the platform into the field, first to Kapunda with MinEx CRC Affiliate member EnviroCopper, then to the ‘Delamerian’ NDI drilling campaign in the second half of 2021.