Drilling Procedures

Standard Drilling Procedures and Processes

Air rotary drilling: Background Information

The air drilling method uses air as the drilling and circulating fluid. This method requires a compressor with a high volume and pressure to supply sufficient air for effective drilling. The compressed air is pumped through the drill rods to the drilling bit. Once the compressed air exits the bit it collects the cuttings and begins expanding in an upward direction or towards the lower pressure in the borehole. As the air expands its energy output increases, therefore allowing the air to carry cuttings and solids. Once the air exits the borehole the energy dissipates and the cuttings are left on the surface like sand or rock chips. Air is located anywhere, where drilling is required. It is also much more simplistic in character as supposed to a liquid drilling fluid. The characteristics of air can be altered by adding chemical components to the compressed air. By adding water, foam, and surficant we change the air density and volume allowing for improved cleaning of the borehole. Air rotary drilling is best suited for medium to hard drilling in consolidated formations. This method is commonly used on blast holes and some larger water wells.

Typical Mine Layout

Borehole Plan

Each borehole is engineered prior to drilling. Tiphography, lithology, stratigraphy, depths and deviation constraints affect the choice of equipment, borehole sizes, casing points and inhole tools necessary to confidently complete the project.

Drilling Methods

Borehole diameters and casing programs vary with stratigraphy, anticipated in-hole conditions, and locality. Typically pilot boreholes will be drilled using percussion rigs to penetrate the weathered zone and barren overburden. Percussion drilling is cheaper and quicker than diamond drilling. The disadvantages of percussion drilling are that the costs to the contractor rapidly escalate when water-bearing fissures are intersected. Yields of over 40000 L/hr are not uncommon. Percussion boreholes tend to deviate more than diamond drilled boreholes; reducing penetration rates to control deviation soon becomes unattractive as daily revenue decreases.

Percussion drilling begins in 380 or 30m to establish the standpipe into solid rock. Drilling continues in 250mm diameter to +/-400m and a 203mm ID welded casing is inserted to isolate the borehole from near-surface, unstable formations. The borehole diameter is then reduced to 200mm and drilling continues to +/- 800m where the diameter is further reduced to 165mm until the target depth. No casing is inserted at 800m because the larger the upper borehole section reduces the pressure loss associated with a small annulus and enables more power to be generated by the hammer for a given volume of air. On completion of the borehole, a casing string is grouted into the borehole using a non-return valve above the bottom casing joint and a wiper plug.

Methane gas is occasionally associated with carbonaceous shales in the upper overburden. Diverters with blue lines are placed on top of the standpipe to isolate the rig and crew from any potential blow out. Foaming additives are used to aid borehole cleaning when required.

Percussion drilling begins in 380 or 30m to establish the standpipe into solid rock. Drilling continues in 250mm diameter to +/-400m and a 203mm ID welded casing is inserted to isolate the borehole from near surface, unstable formations. The borehole diameter is then reduced to 200mm and drilling continues to +/- 800m where the diameter is further reduced to 165mm until the target depth. No casing is inserted at 800m because the larger the upper borehole section reduces the pressure loss associated with a small annulus and enables more power to be generated by the hammer for a given volume of air. On completion of the borehole a casing string is grouted into the borehole using a non-return valve above the bottom casing joint and a wiper plug.

Methane gas is occasionally associated with carbonaceous shale’s in the upper overburden. Diverters with blue lines are placed on top of the standpipe to isolate the rig and crew from any potential blow out. Foaming additives are used to aid borehole cleaning when required.

Typical Borehole Layout

Establishment

Boreholes have to provide sufficient water for drilling as circulation losses are common and must be protected from contamination by drilling fluids.

Excavations for rig foundations, fluid pits and drainage; access roads, fencing and electrical installations for the site are undertaken by sub-contactors to the drilling company’s specifications.

Surface Drilling

Surface plant configurations and ratings vary between contractors, the majority of rigs are mechanically or hydrostatically driven, an integral hoist provides lifting capacity, rotation is transmitted through a quill bushing and feed rates are controlled by two hydraulic cylinders with a stroke of +/- 1m. A much smaller population of top drive or rotary table type rigs have been used for deep hole exploration. A hydrostatic drive is preferable as this greatly reduces the shock loading placed on the drill string.  Auxiliary draw works may be used, with a more powerful hoist, to aid pulling and lowering of the rod string.

Crewing

Typical complements are two 5 man crews each consisting of a driller, top hand and three-floor men working on a 12-hour shift five days per week. The crew alternate shifts under the control of an onsite charge hand who is on 24-hour call. Working hours are controlled by government legislation. Each borehole is considered to be an individual mine and is subject to the Mines and Works Act and the control of the Government Mining Engineer. The Act prohibits any mining on certain public holidays and Sundays if a 7-day week operation is required exemptions may be obtained. However, this requires four crews two of which work a twelve-hour shift for seven days and are then rested for seven days.

These vary between project and client and are also dependant upon the anticipated geology and target intersection parameters. For example, a borehole may be restricted to a cone centered on the borehole collar which has a base at the final true vertical depth with a diameter not exceeding one-tenth of the true vertical depth. Borehole deviation can be controlled to an extent by bit selection, drilling practices and the use of stabilizers.

Borehole deviation increases torque and the cost of drilling fluids required for lubrication; reduces equipment life and necessitates additional drilling to intersect a given target.

The doglegs caused by borehole deviation must be carefully monitored and kept within 3* per 30m of borehole wherever possible. This is particularly important in the upper portion of a borehole as the cyclic stress reversals caused by severe doglegs can rapidly cause rod failure and premature casing wear as the string weight below the dogleg increases.

DJC Drilling Drill

Water-based, low solids drilling fluids were developed from the oil-field mud system and these are used on the majority of rigs. A filming amine type lubricant is used to coat the rods, casing, and sidewall to reduce torque and enable better energy transfer to the bit. The amine also “west” and lubricates thereby increasing bit life and provides corrosion protection for the rod string. Long-chain polyacrylamide viscosifiers enhance the carrying capacity of the fluid and dampen vibration. The shearing characteristics of the viscosifier enable efficient heat transfer and cleaning of the bit. Other additives are used to control pH, bacterial growth and to counter specific problems such as lost circulation, caving, and swelling clays.

Fluid costs may on average represent 5% of a contractor’s drilling cost. This can increase rapidly if high torque, poor formations or lost circulation zones are encountered. The prevention of environmental contamination and the disposal of spent fluids have increased project costs and make efficient management of the system an integral part of the drilling operations.

DJC Drilling Jojo Tank

Geophysical logs are run prior to deflection drilling obtain to maximum information from the borehole. The type of logs vary but generally include dip meter, gamma neutron, VSP, and resistivity. On completion, cement plugs are inserted below the dolomite to prevent any possible water ingress should subsequent mining operations intersect the borehole. Casings are recovered where possible and inspected and graded for future use. Site clearance is affected to drill the drill site in the closest possible condition when establishment commenced.

The cost of drilling deep exploration boreholes varies greatly depending upon the ability to percuss deep pilot-boreholes; the anticipated lithology and related borehole sizes, the final depth and deflection requirements

Specific Points to the Standard Drilling Procedures

  • Before-Plan for drill operations before leaving base
  • Check road worthiness
  • Check oil and fuel leaks
  • Check for air leaks on the compressor
  • Check for excessive smoke on the compressor
  • Check for any hazardous wires, electrical equipment. Possibility of any short cuts
  • Check all safety chains and links
  • Check all pressure relieve valves
  • Check automatic shutdown device
  • Check safety hook locks
  • Check mounting bolts
  • Check levelling jacks
  • Check V-belts
  • On-Site-Is there a proper road to the drill site
  • Is the site clear and level
  • Is there any overhead High Tension Power lines
  • Execute safety procedures and check that all safety regulations are adhered to.
  • Execute safety checks and procedures for Drill rig and compressor.
  • Setting up of machine
  • Stack block properly under the out riggers
  • Level the machine evenly
  • Anker the derrick properly after lifting
  • Attach the drill string
  • Make sure drill bit and hammer are in place
  • Join the hose to the drill rig
  • Start the compressor
  • Check for any deviation during drilling of the borehole for the first twelve meter
  • Check for unstable formation
  • Check that the drill rig remain level while drilling
  • Take care of a sink hole-the surface below the riggers may give away
  • Ream the borehole to a larger diameter and case the borehole through the unstable formation as soon as possible
  • Commence with drilling with a standard size bit of 165mm and drill the hole to the desired depth
  • If a water strike occur the yield should be measured in order to establish an indication of the amount of water available in the borehole
  • After completing the borehole to the desired depth the hole must be gravel packed, flushed out, and the equipment removed from the borehole.  The drill rig can now be demobilised from the borehole
  • To prevent contamination into the borehole a sanitary seal is to be installed at the side of the casing and a concrete block need to be erected around the casing to support the casing. The number of the borehole and date need to engrave in the concrete block. Thereafter a casing cap need to be placed over the casing in order to seal the casing off at the top
DJC Drilling Drill
DJC Drilling Drill