The RED technology was originated and developed by a team led by Professor Marian Wiercigroch at the Centre for Applied Dynamics Research within the School of Engineering, University of Aberdeen. It all started from a small scale experimental study funded by Centre for Marine and Petroleum Technology in 1998 showing a large improvement in penetration rates, steadily propagating crack zone and remarkable borehole stability. The rate of penetration was found to be many times faster than for rotary drilling, while the reduced static forces implied much longer tool life and enhanced reliability of drill-string. In order to explore the fundamental mechanics behind the obtained phenomena, a new theoretical project was undertaken in 1999 funded by the Royal Society and focused on the mathematical modelling of the drill-bit interactions with the drilled formations. The main effects of the drilling process were captured there by employing the advanced nonlinear dynamics techniques and particle dynamics methods. This 12 months study was followed by another theoretical 18 months project funded by EPSRC in 2000 which looked at the possible solutions for generating the required axial vibrations for the drill-bit. It had advanced further the previously obtained mathematical models and also started to look at the optimal drilling conditions. In 2002 the new funding was secured from EPSRC for 3 years project run in collaboration with Professor S Mikhailov of Brunel University which aimed to investigate fracture processes at the borehole.
The success of these studies generated a significant interest from the industry and in 2006 ITI Energy commissioned 3 months pre-investment experimental project aiming to confirm some of the previous theoretical funding. This was followed in 2007 by another 2.5 years EPSRC funded research project focused on the development of the robust mathematical models. Finally, in 2008 the contract with ITI Energy (Scottish Entreprise) was signed to develop the RED technology. So far three first phases of this work have been completed where the large scale experimental rig was designed and manufactured, and an extensive programme of the full scale experiments was carried out using PDC and roller-cone drill-bits to drill various rocks ranging from sand stone and lime stone to granite. The funding milestones for the RED technology are given below:
- 1998: 12 months experimental project funded by CMPT, £49 950, 1 RA
- 1999: 12 months fellowship for Dr Krivtsov funded by the Royal Society (theoretical modelling), £12 800, 1 RA
- 2000: 18 months EPSRC project (theory & experiments), £49 970, 1 RA
- 2002: 42 months EPSRC fundamental study, BP's contribution in kind, £270 700, 2 RAs, 30% technician
- 2006: 3 months ITI Energy pre-investment project (desk research & experimental study), £32 200, 2 RAs
- 2007: 33 months EPSRC funded theoretical study; Schlumberger's & QinetiQ's contributions in kind, £210 400, 1 RA
- 2008 ongoing: ITI Energy development programme (design, theory & experiments), £4 600 000, 4 RFs, 5 PhD students, 1 technician
Initial research and development of the RED technology has been divided into four phases:
- Phase 0 Proof of Concept
- Phase 1 Experimental Studies and Modelling for Large Scale
- Phase 2 Design and Testing of RED Module
- Phase 3 Pre-commercial Stage
Mathematical modelling and initial experimental analysis began in January 2008 at the start of Phase 0. Then a vertical experimental rig (Vertical RED Rig) was designed and built for the purpose of carrying out experimental tests with standard equipment used by industry in Phase 1, during which the concept was proven also at a large scale. Furthermore, it was shown that very significant improvement (over 500%) in penetration rates over conventional rotary drilling can be achieved with the RED technology. In Phase 2 which began in July 2011, a detailed mathematical modelling and extensive numerical simulation were carried out. In this phase also, a large horizontal drilling rig (Horizontal RED Rig) was designed and built enabling full scale experimental studies under conditions which are closer to whose in the real drilling process. Currently, the project is in Phase 3 at pre-commercial stage . In this phase, all the issues which may be faced in real field conditions, are be addressed and the RED module prototypes are being designed, built and tested.