Shell Oil Freeze Ring

Innovative techniques used on a flagship project that changed the industry.


Shell Oil Company needed help with a large-scale research and exploration drilling program in 2002. The project was spearheaded with six guiding principles, (1) no harm to people, (2) protect the environment, (3) comply with the law, (4) gather research data, (5) control schedule and cost, and (6) maintain good contractor relations. Shell Oil enlisted IDS and Layne to assist in managing these principles and project goals.


In September of 2002, IDS successfully completed a high-level research exploration drilling program for Shell Oil that greatly improved directional drilling potential within the directional drilling industry.

The original scope of work indicated 25+ drill holes with depths between 600 feet and 1500 feet to be drilled. All holes were to be maintained within a 2-foot radius cylinder (0.6 % tolerance to 0.3 % tolerance, depending on depth). Steerable 4.75-inch directional motors with 6.25-inch and 6.50-inch PCD bits were used to drill all holes. Multiple tools were to be used simultaneously within very close proximity of each other (at times less than 10-foot separated active drills). IDS developed and implemented proprietary techniques specifically for the MIT project.

As a result, the project was successfully completed within prescribed tolerances in a timely manner. To accomplish this, a combination of sophisticated EM-MWD tools, gyro survey instrumentation, and IDS-developed accuracy improvement techniques were utilized to steer and maintain the drill holes with a combination of slides and rotations. IDS controlled doglegs and inclinations, with many holes maintaining a 1 foot radius to target while maximizing penetration rates. Drill hole inclinations were kept below 1.0o to ensure that the holes stayed within the cylinder and doglegs were kept to a minimum to assist in ease of reaming.

As a result of the stringent requirements of this program coupled with IDS' experience and methodology, options for all directional drilling venues have significantly increased.

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