An automated cuttings and cavings sensor for monitoring wellbore stability and hole cleaning during well construction
This research project introduces the first working prototype, that could be deployed in the field and taken into production, of a 3D-imaging cuttings monitoring system that can quantify the volumetric return of cuttings on surface and provide information about the size and shape of cuttings and cavings. Initial challenges, identified in an early field test, and their solutions, incorporated into a working field prototype, are presented. The results of preliminary outdoor tests validate system performance and demonstrate its ability to quantify the volumetric return of cuttings in real-time. Additionally, the test results reveal the potential to detect cavings and to estimate the particle size distribution of cuttings. The results can be used directly for improved hole cleaning management and stuck pipe avoidance in field operations. The development of this cuttings sensor prototype is a major milestone in the field of drilling automation, bringing the industry closer to achieving a fully automated hole cleaning and stuck pipe prevention system.