Together with the advancements in technology and growing global population come heightened demands for increased energy resources. When talking about the increased global exploration of fossil fuels, the biggest challenge in drilling is vibration that damages the equipment, causes mechanical dysfunctions and non-productive time, hinders drilling execution processes, and disrupts the design plans. This is precisely what MSC Software intends to change with its modeling and analysis solutions that accurately simulate complex mechanical systems in rugged service environments. Being one of the ten original software companies, MSC Software offers a game-changing solution with best-in-class simulation technology that is commercially available and highly competitive. Driven by the zeal to help drill engineers plan, validate, and optimize their designs, MSC Software’s simulation technology leverages virtual prototypes to effectively “build and test” drilling processes. Fred Harvey, Manager of Oil and Gas Solutions at MSC Software, says, “The practice of full scale prototype testing before manufacturing is not practical for drilling. So we prototype the system virtually in order to better understand its behavior and enable drilling engineers to make more informed decisions that will ultimately reduce vibrations and risk of failure while improving drilling efficiency and directional control.”

The virtual prototyping is leveraged for predicting the vibrations and string dynamics ahead of time, allowing engineers to understand the impact of design changes and avoid many common problems. As Harvey puts it, “With a rich expertise in simulation, our team develops drilling models to efficiently account for the complex non-linear dynamics that include 3D coupled physics, wellbore geometry, geology, controls and fluid systems.” The simulation technology is based on Multi-Body Dynamics (MBD) while incorporating the effects of various sub systems and environmental considerations to capture the overall system level behavior of the drill string while remaining very computationally efficient. The uniqueness of this simulation technology is that it not only models full drill string dynamics but also is fast enough to explore the unknowns and conduct parameter sensitivity studies through design studies and other optimization methods.

The simulation data collected in the process contains crucial vibration and dynamics information, allows an operator to analyze and compare the change in system behavior under different scenarios. These scenarios are modeled using MSC ADAMS (Automated Dynamic Analysis of Mechanical Systems) and any repetitive modeling processes and workflows can be managed and automated with MSC’s simulation data management software, SimManager, making simulation operations more productive, timely, and effective.

Additionally, MSC offers a broad portfolio of simulation tools, covering a wide range of physics that make it possible for our customers to explore their design space from the material microstructure level all the way through part/assembly level performance and full drilling system level behavior. MSC Apex is a new simulation environment that significantly reduces the workload for structural engineers to build finite element models and generate high quality simulation results.

We prototype the system, understand its behavior that drives informed engineering decisions while changing designs to reduce vibrations for a better drill string control

For engineers who have a strong preference for their own solvers, Apex is useful for building the model and generating an FE mesh with high level of control that can be used by all the common FE solvers in a fraction of the time that it would take with traditional tools. MSC’s Software Cradle solutions include powerful thermo-fluid analysis software to study fluid flow, cuttings transport, solids separation and porous flow through rock. Extreme material non-linearity, deformations, and damage are solved by MSC Marc, a powerful, nonlinear finite element analysis solution that accurately simulates part and material behavior under static, dynamic, and multi-physics loading scenarios. Marc is widely known for being best in class solution for modeling extreme non-linear materials like hyper-elastic and plastic deformation. Simufact expands upon the Marc solver technology to simulate manufacturing processes like forging, welding, and 3D printing. “Simufact is very easy to use and no expertise in simulation is needed for manufacturing process engineers to gain useful insights from these simulations,” says Harvey.

MSC Software is assisting Pioneer Natural Resources, a US independent operator, who is looking to study how changes to their well design can impact drilling operations. The application allows them to vary drill string components, operating parameters, wellbore geometry, lithology, and control systems to understand their effect on drill string dynamics. Harvey recalls how MSC Software assisted another large oil and gas company that was looking to reduce a common drilling dysfunction. MSC Software’s simulation model helped research engineers understand the effect of control systems on the drill string dynamics to avoid dynamic dysfunction and mitigate the vibrations in order to drill more efficiently. “They witnessed our unique ability to capture highly non-linear dynamics and evaluate different scenarios to mitigate those vibrations and dysfunctions,” states Harvey.

Looking ahead, MSC Software intends to continue to apply leading technology from automotive and aerospace industries to further enhance the fidelity and speed of drilling simulations. A lot can be learned from our developments in autonomous vehicles and manufacturing, both of which closely parallel industry wide drilling initiatives. “Our strategy is to capture the real-world behaviors with simulation and enable engineers to make sound design and operational decisions that improve the drilling process, reduce risk of failures, and increase production opportunity,” Harvey concludes.