CSM No. No 14
CURRENT SUPPORT MEMORANDUM
ALLEGED SUPERIORITY OF TURBINE DRILLING
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND REPORTS
central intelligence agency
cia historical review program release as8
Thli report represents the immediate views of ihe originating intelligence component* of the Office of Research and Reports. Comments are solicited.
This document contains Information affecting the national defense of fthe United States, within the meaning of the espionage laws. Title IS USC,. the transmission or rerelaUon of which in any manner to an unauthorized person is prohibited by law.
Press dispatches from Moscow published in the New Yorkarch6 quote Mr. J. B. O'Connor of Dresser Industries as saying that Russia's turbo-drill laimes as fast as tbe conventional rotary drill used ln. because the source of power is Just above the bit Instead of at the top of the well. This statement is ln general true, but theagnitude applies only to hard rock formationsand the greater speed of the turbo-drill must be weighed against disadvantages which Mr. O'Connor fails to mention..
Both the turbo-drill and the rotary drillrilling fluid, usually mud or water. In turbine drilling, the fluid is forced into the hole under high pressure, and provides the'mollve powerurbine located at the botton of the hole. The ideal power fluid must bo clean and of low viscosity in order tofriction lossesinimum. Drilling fluid, however,one or more other functions with both types of. it carries drill cuttings out of the hole, plasters Jhe-walls of -the hole to prevent caving, and prevents oil or gas- blowouts when the drill penetrates high pressure zones. In gader, to do .these -things well, the fluid must be dense, viscous, afndstt-cizlng properties, or precisely the qualities nbt dediredjin a. power fluid. Hence, the turbo-drill is mos^Tsatisfactory In hard rock formations where drill cuttings are ground fine and the*danger of caving isinimum. It is less satisfactory, or may be completely unsatisfactory, in soft rpek formationsiscous drilling fluid ls needed.
Most rock strata. petroleum producing, regions are 1not of the kind which favor turbine drilling, 'phe^ma^orare ln the Appalachian region. Turbipe'drllling would alao be advantageous for certain rock intervals*ln the Vest Texas Mid-Continent, Rocky Mountain, and Canadian oil fields, andla possible that its use would be warranted*to take care of these intervals. It is highly unlikely that turbine drilling would displace rotary drilling ln the Gulf Coast or .California fields, where most of tho formations are relatively soft. Thc American oil industry has not adopted the turbo-drill, evenmall scale, in spite of research, development and testing dating back at least to
The turbo-drill is not used univorsally even ln the USSR. In areas where hard rock formations prevail, as in thearea, turbo-drills aro used for up toercent of all drilling. Vhere softer formations prevail, as. in the Baku area, only about half the drilling Is by turbine. The Russiansthe turbo-drill to solve the problem ofthe breaking of the rotary drill pipe under high torsional stresses. . solved the problem by improving theand techniques used ln rotary drilling.