From the Ground Up: How Heat Treatment Plays a Role in the Extraction of Petroleum

Posted: Feb 28, 2020

There is nothing easy when it comes to drilling and extracting oil, especially down-the-hole (also known as down-hole or DTH) drilling. Down-hole drilling is favored for its efficiency to cut through hard rock while maintaining a straight line into the earth.

Down-hole drilling is a multi-step process that involves strategic planning. Before any drilling can occur, first a geologist must find oil. The most common way to do this is to conduct a seismic survey by sending shock waves into the earth’s surface. If the readings are favorable to the possibility of an oil trap, the land must then be prepared for drilling. The drill site will be cleared and leveled, a water well will be drilled if there is not a natural source of water nearby, and a reserve pit is dug to dispose of debris like rock cuttings and drilling fluid.

Once all that is done, the drilling can finally begin. The crew will begin by using a small drill truck before bringing in the main rig. After they’ve opened up the earth, the main rig is brought in and drilling continues until the oil trap is reached. Down-hole drills act like a jackhammer, drilling and smashing through miles of hard rock. As the drill gets deeper into the earth, multiple drill pipes are joined together creating a drill string. Like a football team in perfect sync, each individual part comes together to work towards a common goal. If all parts aren’t working on the same level, achieving that goal becomes impossible.

Heat Treating Equipment used in Down-Hole Drilling

As you can see, equipment used for down-hole drilling goes through a rigorous process of breaking through tough ground. This puts extreme stress on the drilling tools and piping used. From the equipment used to dig the water well to the main rig, the drill bits and piping need to be able to withstand the rigors of the work and tough conditions of the ground. This is why heat treatment processes are a key step in the production of the tools used for down-hole drilling. The high tensile steel that houses electronic gears undergo testing in temperature ranges of -70° C to +260° C, (-94° F to +550° F). Untreated drill bits and piping do not have the strength or durability to be used for down-hole drilling. Proper heat treatment and oil quenching increases ordinary pipe’s strength 20-30%.

Gruenberg top load ovens are used to test downhole electronics and heat treat piping used for drill bit calibration or well logging vessels in oil and gas applications. Some of the tools are very sensitive to metallic materials so in those cases, Gruenberg will design and manufacture special non-metallic ovens for tool reliability testing. For more information on the Gruenberg Silver Select™ and other top-loading ovens visit our website or connect with us on Facebook and LinkedIn.


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