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Drilling & Production

Innovative aluminum alloy drill pipe offers alternative to steel

Peter Kaufmann
Peter Kaufmann

The leading-edge FuchsRohr AluDrill pipe from OTTO FUCHS Drilling Solutions (OFDS) is an alternative to standard steel pipes commonly used for drilling. Due to its comparatively high strength to weight, the aluminum pipe solution can be used across a wide range of subsea and downhole operations including demanding horizontal drilling.

Peter Kaufmann, President of OFDS, is convinced that FuchsRohr AluDrill's operational advantages can significantly improve drilling effectiveness: "As the downhole environment increasingly moves from vertical to directional and horizontal drilling, weight becomes a major concern. Our aluminum alloy pipes are up to 50 percent lighter than similarly-sized steel pipes and completely stable. Their strength-to-weight ratio sets them apart from pipes made from conventional materials."

Kaufmann says that aluminum alloys have become more important in recent years, especially in the aerospace industry and in the construction of industrial compounds: "Aluminum alloys' outstanding qualities have allowed us to enlarge their scope to other applications. The light weight and high strength makes them ideal for oil and gas drilling."

A series of commercially drilled shale wells in Colorado's Niobrara formation demonstrated the advantages of the FuchsRohr AluDrill. In Q4 2016, a Colorado based operator evaluated the FuchsRohr AluDrill in mono-bore wells exceeding 17,000-ft.-well, typically with a 7,000-ft. vertical and a 10,000-ft. lateral sector. The results showed up to a 30 percent improvement in sliding mode with similar gains possible in rotary mode due to improved weight transfer to bit. With sliding mode typically consuming up to 40 percent of drilling time, the FuchsRohr AluDrill has demonstrated strong economic advantages for drillers and operators. In addition, due to the 30-50 percent reduced weight over steel, the FuchsRohr AluDrill pipes allow drillers and operators to efficiently cover lateral distances, reaching targets in residential areas that cannot be reached by vertical drilling. This is important for parts of the Niobrara formation that extend within the greater Denver metropolitan area.

The recent drilling projects showed that the pipes are stable and reliable due to shrink-fitted tool joints. The aluminum alloy's superior elasticity gives distinct advantages when drilling "dog legs” and horizontally.

OFDS is currently working with the market to identify several drilling applications where FuchsRohr AluDrill can cut costs and reduce time. The FuchsRohr AluDrill is available in all standard sizes from 4 – 6⅝ inch and features a proprietary internal upset design, which allows it to be used with standard pipe-handling equipment. While this pipe is typically provided with standard API connections, premium connections are also available.

OTTO FUCHS Drilling Solutions will be present at the OTC in Houston, Texas, in the German Pavilion (Hall B, Booth Number 3615-8, May 1-4).

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