Drilling and Completion Lab (DRACOLA)
The University of North Dakota (UND) announces the development of a large-scale world leading drilling and completions laboratory (DRACOLA) for experimental modelling at real field scale. The former well known TerraTek Drilling and Completions Laboratory will serve as the basis for development of the unique facility. It has been donated by Sidney Green of Salt Lake City, Utah the founder and former President/CEO of TerraTek, now retired from Schlumberger, and the recent founder/president of Enhanced Production, Inc. and is Research Professor at the University of Utah. This facility and the UND faculty, students, and collaborating industry partners are advancing the state of the art significantly. The facility not only serves the oil and gas industry, it can be used for several related applications in mineral exploration, subsurface storage and disposal, civil engineering applications, geothermal drilling and rock mechanics research projects.
DRACOLA facilities include a wellbore simulator pressure vessel, a full-scale drill rig and mud pumping capabilities for measuring the performance, wear, deviation and dynamics of full size drill bits tested at overbalanced or underbalanced drilling conditions at simulated depth. The effects of drilling and coring fluids and drill-bit hydraulics on drilling performance, bit balling, formation damage, coring and core fluid invasion, and many other areas can be determined.
The facility is available to provide industry services to optimize drilling operations, train hands on and practical aspects of drilling operation and machinery to the industry people, educate undergraduate students to learn the practical side of drilling while they are taught the in class theories, and conduct research in the areas of industry needs by graduate level students.
DRACOLA is a step between bench scale and analytical modeling, and field scale, with costs one-tenth to one-hundredth of field tests. It provides quantitative information for highly controlled tests, allowing observations of small and large effects. DRACOLA tests have been proven to simulate real field conditions in a fraction of the time required for field programs. DRACOLA progresses bench scale research and analysis to full-scale real simulations, thereby greatly removing risks associated with new technology field commercialization. DRACOLA testing has proven to speed new technology introduction, improve safety and reliability, and most importantly to reduce costs.
Specific drilling applications include the ability to simulate rock cutting/destruction with drilling mud chemical effects and with drill-bit hydraulics. During drilling, by far the largest hp goes into the mud compared to rotating the bit. Laboratory tests and field application have shown the effect that mud chemistry can have on drilling rates. Yet, researchers and industry have not carefully coupled rock cutting, mud effects, and bit hydraulics. DRACOLA brings together all three under full-scale conditions.
Thousands of plug scale and core scale tests and numerous analysis have been made for reservoir characterization and to optimize well drilling, well completions, and well production. DRACOLA allows large-scale, real scale in many cases, reservoir simulated tests to validate and calibrate. This applies to perforating, wireline logging, borehole break-out and collapse analysis, sand production control, hydraulic fracture breakdown, borehole imaging, and many other applications. DRACOLA is the bridge from plug or core scale to real field conditions at much lower costs and in shorter times than field trial-and-error programs.
DRACOLA offers low-cost and timely screening of novel drilling and completion techniques. For example, laser and high-energy radiation drilling, projectile and particle drilling, waterjet drilling, acoustic and vibration drilling, thermal spallation drilling, and other techniques can be effectively screened under deep-well conditions. Other examples include fiber-optic fluid-flow measurements, perforation erosion measurements, proppant transport observations, and other. No such unbiased and readily available facility exists in the world. Measurements can be verified in the laboratory far more cost effectively and timely than relying on field campaigns.
The combination of the DRACOLA facility and the DrillSim-5000 drilling simulator lab allows combining the most advanced computer simulated drilling with hands-on full-scale drilling training. This promotes the Petroleum Engineering Department at UND to be a leader in the area of drilling and completion training, engineering, and research.
We welcome interested industry and future students to contact us to discuss potential services, training and educational packages that they may need and for joint research collaborations.
The Drilling and Completion lab (DRACOLA) equipment, which was built in 1974, experienced a number of modifications and transition until it was donated to UND Petroleum Engineering in November 2019. Photos show in brief the journey of the equipment since 1974 to date.
Large-scale Drilling & Coring Testing
–Bit, Fluid, Rock & Downhole Condition Effects on Drilling Penetration Rate
–Coring Performance and Core Damage Studies
–High Pressure Drilling in Shale with PDC Bits and Water-based Fluids
–Bit Deviation, Vibration, Wear and Novel Drilling and Coring Tools Testing
–Float Collar Drill-out and Milling Tests
Large-scale Completions Testing
–Borehole Stability & Open-hole Completions
–Sand Production Testing
–Unconsolidated Sand Completions Testing
–High Overbalance Perforating
–Hydraulic Fracturing and Cuttings Reinjection
–Horizontal Screen Loading
–Formation Damage, Fines Invasion, Kill Fluids, Acidizing, etc…
–200 ft/hr ROP
–50-400 rpm standard
–400-1000 rpm special
–100,000 lbs WOB
–3.5” to 12.25” bit size
Large Mud Pump
–Standard Fluids Ends
- 3900 psi at 620 gpm
- 5500 psi at 440 gpm
–HP Fluid Ends
- 12,000 psi at 180 gpm
Small Mud Pump
- 3000 psi at 25 gpm
Examples of Benefits to Clients
Shale drilling with PDC bits and water-based fluids at high pressures
–3 new bits and PDC bit design criteria identified
–3-4 fluid additives to increase ROP by 3-4 times
–correlation of shale properties and ROP
Prediction of open-hole completion borehole stability
–determined that industry models are not adequate for prediction
–borehole instability and sand production occurs at much lower stresses than predicted
–correlations of field and laboratory needed
- Sand Production Testing and Prediction
–Effects of Stress Level, Seepage Pressure and 2-Phase Flow on Sand Production
–Sand Production Prediction Modeling Through Back-Analysis of Phases 2 and 3
- Screen Loading and Expandable Screen Testing
–Various Screen Loading Experiments in Wellbore Simulator and Large Block Frame
–Testing of Expandable Screens in Weak Formations
- Low invasion coring
–Identified new coring bit design
–Identified spurt-loss as mechanism of invasion
–Developed spurt-loss tester and computer spurt-loss model
–Established low invasion coring field practices
- High OB perforating
–Concept was first testing in TerraTek stress frame
–Developed criteria for field requirements of pressure, perforation orientation, etc.
–Became highly successful field operation to increase well production
- Lost circulation with OB mud
–Demonstrated field observation in lab and determined differences in fracture initiation and propagation between OB and WB fluids
–Identified LCM material for OB fluids
- Drilling waste disposal by hydraulic fracturing for environmental compliance
–Determined mechanics of fracture containment
–Demonstrated theory of multiple fracturing
–Identified results of slurry injection in unconsolidated material
–Determined bit deviation and walking tendencies of roller-cone and PDC bits
–Determined side cutting features of roller-cone and PDC bits
–Determined the effect of stress on perforation depth
–Defined new standards for perforator testing i.e. sample size, stress, flow requirements, etc.
Examples of Past Drilling Research Projects
- Main Parameter Effects on ROP for a Given Drilling Fluid
–Borehole, Pore & Confining Pressures, WOB, RPM, Fluid Flow & Bit ΔP
- With simulated down-hole conditions, bits and fluids can be a developed to optimize ROP and minimize formation damage for different rock formations .
- Bit Mechanics/Design
–Bit Type Effects on ROP i.e. Roller-cone, Natural Diamond & PDC, Bit Dynamics, Bit Deviation and Side Cutting, Nozzle Size & Placement, Bit Diameter & Wear Effects
- With simulated down-hole conditions, bit design optimization in different rock formations is possible
- Drilling Gumbo-type Shale and Bit Balling Reduction
–Low ROP, Bit Balling, Drilling Fluid & Additive Effects to Reduce Bit Balling Relative to Oil-base Fluid, PDC Bit Designs to Reduce Balling
- Fluid additives can reduce bit balling and dramatically increase ROP
- Spurt-loss Effects on Enhancing ROP & Reducing Formation and Core Invasion
–Fluid Solids, ΔP, Filter-cake, etc.
- A spurt-loss analytical model was developed to predict drilling fluid spurt-loss based on standard property tests
- Drilling Fluid Effects in Deep Shales, Carbonate & Sandstone
–Oil-base vs Water-base, high vs low density fluids, clear low-solids fluids, bit balling, cuttings size, rock, bit & hydraulics effects
- Low solids, weighted brines can dramatically increase ROP to levels near oil-base fluid ROP’s and reduce bit balling
- Rock Property Effects on ROP
–Rock Strength, Permeability Ductility, Grain Size and Other
–ROP Modeling, Predictions and Statistical Analysis
- Correlation and predictive ROP models can be achieved through statistical and analytical methods relating rock properties to drilling performance and may be possible to include drilling fluid properties in model
Industry and Government Drilling-Related Testing
- PDC Bit Drilling Tests
–Compare PDC bit performance to roller-cone
–Compare PDC bit designs
–PDC bit designs to reduce bit balling
–PDC bit performance over a range of WOB, RPM and down-hole condition
–PDC cutter wear testing and performance testing of field worn bits
- Shale Drilling Tests
–Bit performance in shales-3 shale types
–Drilling fluids for reducing bit balling, including oil-based, water-based with ROP enhancers and solids free, weighted fluids
- Improving Bit Hydraulic Tests
–Optimize bit nozzle size, deltaP and flow rate (hydraulic horsepower) for best ROP
- Bit Vibration Testing
–Determine magnitude and frequency of bit vibrations using spectral analysis
- PDM, Turbine and Drill Hammer Testing
- Novel Bit and Bit Material Testing
- Ultra-High Speed Drilling Tests
–Drilling performance of small-size diamond bits with RPM’s from 10,000 to 50,000 rpm
–Drilling performance of medium-size compact bits with RPM;s from 5,000 to 10,000 rpm
- Single Cutter and Bit Wear Testing
–Wear testing of a variety of PDC cutters in medium-scale instrumented cutter tester
–PDC wear in granite and hard sandstone
–Compare wear resistance of PDC cutters
- Small-scale Spurt-loss Testing
–Determine the relationship between drilling fluid properties and drilling parameters on spurt-loss beneath PDC bit cutters
–Modeling of the spurt-loss mechanism and prediction of spurt-loss based on fluid properties, solids, etc.
- Salt Drilling
–Optimizing drilling in salt to be able to use sea water as a drilling fluid
–Determine salt dissolution rates and optimum penetrations rates to produce a salinity needed to keep the borehole stable
- Look-Ahead Formation Drilling Using Mud Pulse/Seismic
September 15, 2020: The signage of the drilling and completion lab/Research facility was displayed on the building in the Old Mill Road
Photo showing the BNSF railway workers unloading the rail they donated to the DRACOLA. These rails will support the drilling tower and allow the tower to transverse across the floor, allowing access to the core sample holder.
We sincerely appreciate this generous donation and the support of the BNSF to find this type of rail which we needed to fit our wheels
We appreciate the donation of the SCR house by Nabors Drilling Technology to the DRACOLA.
This "House" is the control center for all of the motors on the drill rig and the support equipment used in the operation of the drill rig.
Harry Feilen email@example.com
Director of Drilling and Completion Labs
Lannie Fladeland firstname.lastname@example.org
President and CEO at Bumpa’s Consulting
Senior Advisor for lab modification and development
Vamegh Rasouli email@example.com
Petroleum Engineering Professor and Department Chair
Foued Badrouchi firstname.lastname@example.org
Ahmed Ismail email@example.com
Jerjes Porlles Hurtado firstname.lastname@example.org
Samuel Afari email@example.com
Mohamed Lamine Malki firstname.lastname@example.org
Jake Fladeland email@example.com
Harry Feilen, M.Sc./M.E.
Director of Drilling and Completion Labs - Petroleum Engineering
Safety Manager - College of Engineering and Mines
University of North Dakota
Vamegh Rasouli, Ph.D.
Department Chair and Continental Resources Distinguished Professor
Department of Petroleum Engineering
College of Engineering & Mines
University of North Dakota
Collaborative Energy Complex (CEC) Building, Room 111
2844 Campus Road Stop 8154
Grand Forks, ND 58202-8154
The Auto Lab 1500 multi-purpose test system is developed by New England Research. The Auto lab 1500 is a triaxial rock testing system that can perform standard rock mechanic experiments, and measure different mechanical and petrophysical properties of rocks under reservoir pressure and temperature. The system can perform integrated measurements and analysis work, with pore pressures up to 100 MPa, confining pressures to 200 MPa, and temperatures to 121°C. The system consists of a pressure vessel, hydraulic pumps, an electronics console, and controlling software. It can conduct various destructive and non-destructive tests, including permeability, Biot, velocity, resistivity test, deformation and strength test. The apparatus can also measure and calculate parameters such as bulk modulus, shear modulus, Young’s modulus, Poisson’s ratio, strength, bulk compressibility, permeability, resistivity, P- and S- wave velocities.
The data generated from P- and S- wave velocities can characterize acoustic properties of the sample and generate dynamic mechanical properties to be compared with filed data (wireline log data) for dry samples and when different type of fluids is injected through the sample. This device can generate a full stress-strain curve that will be interpreted to extract geomechanics parameters and by crushing the sample, failure criterion such as Mohr-Coulomb data can be recorded which is an important data for deformation and fracturing analysis.
Understanding the Uniaxial Compressive Strength (UCS) of the rocks is crucial for geomechanical modeling. This device is equipped with a high-force servo-hydraulic testing system which is essential for geomechanics investigations to monitor stress as a function of deformation. There is a highly stiff load frame assembly which includes a fixed crosshead mounted on two rectangular columns bolted to the base plate, creating an extremely rigid yet free-standing frame. Integrated in the base plate is a single-ended, double-acting actuator with a 100 mm (4 in.) stroke for tests requiring large displacements. The frame assembly includes two feedback transducers, a differential pressure (ΔP) transducer and an internal linear variable differential transformer (LVDT) that provides control and measurement of actuator displacement. This equipment is particularly built for testing rock samples with two different size and diameter. The UCS and the precise measurement of lateral and axial deformation recorded by the LVDT transducers mounted on the sample will be used to estimate the rock mechanical properties behavior of the rock units.
The University of North Dakota has just installed its first full-scale drilling and well control simulator in its new pioneering Collaborative Energy Complex (CEC), home to the UND Department of Petroleum Engineering and Institute for Energy Studies. The simulator provided by global simulator technology specialists Drilling Systems, will enable them to hugely expand their teaching capabilities in the field of oil and gas drilling operations and well control, a standard of knowledge and experience now expected of new students entering the industry.
Their new DrillSIM-5000 ‘conventional’ drilling simulator replicates a real drill-floor environment in exacting detail, providing a real-life experience for students, researchers and professionals alike. The simulator allows the instructor team to set up any drilling and well control scenario based on actual events experienced in the field. Learning within such a real-world environment will not only allow the students to experience and learn how to carry out day-to-day drilling operations but also how to react and control stressful and potentially hazardous situations in complete safety. Training on full-scale simulators is a practice well known to many industries including commercial aviation, military, motorsports and other industries operating in potentially hazardous situations and has been shown to be a much more effective tool for knowledge retention and effective long-term skills training than traditional study methods.
‘This an excellent new training asset for us to have on site’ Vamegh Rasouli, Department Chair states, ‘it will now allow us to provide a very real true-to-life training experience for all of our students and will give us the additional benefit in the ability to challenge the students’ knowledge and skills under real-world situations in stressful and potentially hazardous scenarios in a way we couldn’t before. ‘UND and the CEC can now be confident that the students we send out into the field as they start their careers will be of the very highest standard available today’.
In late 2016 UND dedicated the new Collaborative Energy Complex (CEC) on its Grand Forks campus. The CEC is home to the UND Department of Petroleum Engineering and the Institute for Energy Studies. The complex also features cutting-edge labs, active-learning classrooms and space for interdisciplinary collaboration among faculty, students and professionals in the energy industry along with the Solberg Student Success Center and the Big Ideas Gym.
Lab spaces for the full-scale Drilling Simulator and the Virtual Reality (VR) Labs in the CEC are in place through an initial generous donation from Hess Corporation and will be operational this year.
The CFS series flawlessly performs single and multiphase core flood studies at reservoir-representative conditions of temperature and pressure. Notably the device allows the evaluation of critical parameters such as brine sensitivity, return permeability, critical flow velocity and various secondary and tertiary EOR methods, including water flooding, polymer injection, ASP injection, miscible and immiscible gas flooding, acid treatments and microbial flooding. Relative permeabilities at irreducible water saturation, residual oil saturation, displacement efficiency and incremental oil recovery after implementation of the EOR process, can be determined. The computer controlled system is provided with a unique software that allows both manual and automated operation where all key components can be controlled including pumps, valves, video capturing and data acquisition. A test sequencer also permits automated elaborate test sequences. The core holder, air operated valves, produced fluid separator if selected and necessary plumbing are mounted in an isothermal convective air bath that has been designed to provide easy access to all main components.
The first virtual reality training lab entirely dedicated to Oil and Gas drilling training simulation is located in the Collaborative Energy Complex (CEC), a part of UND College of Engineering and Mines.
The Hess Virtual Reality Lab provides detailed, interactive virtual models of the state of the art drilling platforms currently in operation in North Dakota and around the country. As an introduction to the techniques and skills needed to operate a drilling platform, the VR lab enables engineers to train on the use of drilling machinery, including practice with complex drilling processes in a risk-free virtual environment.
The VR training lab will be accessible from anywhere in the world, supporting close collaboration between the University and participants from industry in a shared virtual space where they can review machinery and perform simulated drilling operations. The Hess Virtual Reality Lab is part of the College of Engineering and Mines and the Department of Petroleum Engineering.
“The launch of this VR training lab is a great resource for students to learn complex operations in a simplified but practical sense and gain hands-on experiences in a safe environment,” states Dr. Vamegh Rasouli, the Chair of the Petroleum Engineering Department.
The VR training lab has been developed and installed by Qbit Technologies Inc., a Palo Alto startup specializing in VR solutions for training and business applications. As with other solutions developed by Qbit, the UND VR lab has been developed using a free, open source platform for the creation of shared virtual reality simulations.
“VR will democratize the use of simulation for training, and this project is a perfect example of using our platform and VR to rapidly develop a training solution for safety in the Oil and Gas industry,” says Philip Rosedale, CEO of High Fidelity.
The hardware used comprises HTC Vive headsets, hand controllers and haptic gloves in the near future. We are also creating a VR cave space, where learners can use special PC backpacks and move freely in the simulation environment, free from wires stopping their movements.
The MFL unit was built to study the multi-phase transportation in vertical upwards, vertical downwards, and horizontal pipes. With different water and air superficial velocity combination, different type of flow regimes (e.g. bubble flow, slug flow, churn flow, annular flow) can be simulated in the test tube. The unit is equipped with the instruments to measure the pressure, temperature and flow rate. The MFL can simulate the oil and gas transportations from inside the wellbore to the surface. The test tube is made of 6ft long and 1inch thick clear PVC, while the tube can be replaced with other sizes as needed. The data acquisition system is designed in order to collect and plot various types of data and curves in real time for monitoring and analysis.
The fluid friction apparatus allows detailed studies of flow, flow measurement methods and pressure losses in the blockage and leakage in the series or parallel pipes. The hydraulic bench supplies the circuits with a controlled and measured flow of water. To measure pressure loss through the blockage and leakage, pressure sensors and flowmeters which partner with NI LabVIEW are used. Several pipe sections are of different locations, length and size of blockage or various location of leakage points to show how this affects pressure loss. Not only the equipment can be used in research, but also be used as the teaching aid. The piezometer set includes a hand-pump can be applied to measure pressure loss across each part in the flow loop such as roughened pipes and fittings. The Venturi meter and orifice meter are used for measuring flow rate. Moreover, the velocity profile can be measured via the traversing Pitot tube.
The Slurry Loop Unit was built to study the cuttings transportation in vertical, horizontal and deviated annulus space. The equipment allows investigating the effect of the cuttings geometry, drilling mud rheological properties and flow rate on different types of flow profiles that may form in the annulus including: homogenous or heterogeneous suspension, moving and stationary beds, dune and boycott movements. The unit is equipped with the different ultra-precision instruments to measure the fluid properties (viscosity and density), fluid pressure drops, temperature and flow rate in order to obtain accurate and high quality data for analysis and interpretation. The annulus, 15ft long, is made up of 5” drill pipe and 8” clear PVC tube but can modify the unit to use other annulus sizes. The data acquisition system allows collecting and plotting all the data real time for monitoring and analysis.