May 17, 2011

ANSYS Software Facilitates Groundbreaking Drill Design 75 Percent Faster and More Cost Effectively Than Conventional Design

PITTSBURGH - Cognity, an Aberdeen, Scotland-based design consultancy, has completed an offshore oil drilling project 75 percent faster and more cost effectively than conventional design methods would allow, using simulation software from ANSYS.

The project involved a design for conductor casing, the pipe that is driven into the ground prior to drilling to prevent soft mud collapsing around a designated hole. To ensure success, Cognity had to overcome a number of design challenges; the biggest was that conductors must be positioned securely and accurately to maximize oil production.

If a drilling attempt fails, the hole collapses and the area is inaccessible to others via traditional drilling approaches -- since traditional conductors follow the path of least resistance. Poorly positioned conductors, known as junked slots, cannot be drilled and require sidetracking, which is time consuming and expensive. The conductor must also withstand compressive forces exceeding 450 tons during driving, which compounds the design complexities.

"Using ANSYS® software, we developed a solution that doubles the load-carrying capacity of the conductor-steering mechanism, saving our customers valuable time and money," said Rae Younger, managing director, Cognity. "High-performance computing (HPC) simulation allowed our team of engineers to develop virtual prototypes and iteratively evaluate design options with rapid turnaround."

This level of detailed engineering simulation enabled Cognity to complete the design for the steerable conductor in just six months, a time frame months, or possibly years, less than would have been required using traditional design methods. Simulation removed the need for expensive physical prototypes during the concept design phase and reduced both project costs and duration.

The cutting-edge steerable conductor can now be positioned with accuracy during driving in highly variable soil conditions and avoids the risk of junked slots. It is currently at the manufacturing stages and will be land-trialed later this year before deployment offshore.

"Traditional approaches in oil and gas engineering projects are now being complemented by new and innovative ways to achieve goals in a faster, more cost-effective way, with a higher degree of certainty and fidelity," said Ahmad Haidari, global industry director for energy and process at ANSYS. "Advances in engineering simulation software offer potential to model the entire lifecycle of a project, early in the engineering design cycle. This leads to faster design and lower costs -- and ultimately success."