By Robert O. Anderson
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Additional info for Fundamentals of the Petroleum Industry
Had Lucas and his crew known how, they could have used their drilling mud to overcome the pressure in the well and contain it. " The Spindletop rig, primitive as it was compared to today's rigs, had all the elements of a modern rotary rig in the same way the Wright brothers' airplane had all the elements of modern aircraft. The differences are of degree, not kind, but the degree is considerable. 46 47 This modern rotary rig in California is drilling ahead. Its drill pipe and casing are ready for use.
But the familiar shape has largely disappeared from more accessible regions. It has been replaced by the collapsible portable drilling mast. Since this structure must do the same job under the same conditions as a stationary derrick, it is equally massive. It has about the same relation to a portable cable rig as a Boeing 747 does to a Piper Cub. 48 49 The draw works consists of a heavy drum around which the drilling line is wound, a series of shafts, clutches, and chain and gear drives that control drilling speed.
Since the mud completely fills the bore and is usually heavier than salt-water, its pressure will be greater than the hydrostatic. Occasionally, pressure in the strata will be higher or lower, or a gas pocket will cause a kick, which must be controlled to prevent a blowout. The driller can change the composition of the mud by adding heavier solids such as barites, by reducing the solids content, or by changing to mixtures of oil and water. Sometimes, he even adds asphalts to seal off shales and clays that swell in the presence of water and possibly block the bore and cause the drill string to stick.