The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) established the Extreme Drilling Laboratory to engineer effective and efficient drilling technologies viable at depths greater than 20,000 ft. This paper details the challenges of ultradeep drilling, documents reports of decreased drilling rates as a result of increasing fluid pressure and temperature, and describes NETL’s research and development activities. NETL is invested in laboratory-scale physical simulation. Its physical simulator will have capability of circulating drilling fluids at 30,000 psi and $480°F$ around a single drill cutter. This simulator is not yet operational; therefore, the results will be limited to the identification of leading hypotheses of drilling phenomena and NETL’s test plans to validate or refute such theories. Of particular interest to the Extreme Drilling Laboratory’s studies are the combinatorial effects of drilling fluid pressure, drilling fluid properties, rock properties, pore pressure, and drilling parameters, such as cutter rotational speed, weight on bit, and hydraulics associated with drilling fluid introduction to the rock-cutter interface. A detailed discussion of how each variable is controlled in a laboratory setting will be part of the conference paper and presentation.

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