Sandia’s work in drilling technology is aimed at reducing the cost and risk associated with drilling in harsh, subterranean environments. The historical focus of the drilling research has been directed at significantly expanding the nation’s utilization of geothermal energy. This focus in geothermal related drilling research is the search for practical solutions to challenges associated with tapping the most intense sources of heat, typically found well below the earth’s surface in very severe environments.
Because a large portion of the cost and risk of generating electricity from geothermal sources is associated with drilling and completing exploration, production, and injection wells, Sandia’s primary focus has been on the development of improved drilling and completion technologies such as diagnostics while drilling, high-temperature electronics, advanced drill bit technologies, and wellbore integrity technologies to reduce and mitigate problems associated with loss of circulation.
We also actively work on advanced drilling concepts to provide economical access to deeper and hotter resources in the future. Most of these research projects are conducted in cooperation with geothermal operators and companies within the well service industry. On a cost-per-foot basis, geothermal drilling is among the most expensive type of drilling performed; and Sandia’s work this area has created natural synergies that benefit other industries and agencies (e.g.,Oil & Gas and DOD) requiring drilled access to the underground.