Field Validation of a Universally Applicable Condition-Based Maintenance System for Mud Pumps

A universal, automated approach to condition-based maintenance of drilling rig mud pumps is developed using acoustic emission sensors and deep learning models for early detection of pump failures to help mitigate and reduce costs and nonproductive time generally associated with catastrophic pump failures.

Mud flow from tube
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Although mud pumps are considered critical rig equipment, their health monitoring currently still relies on infrequent human observation and monitoring. This approach often fails to detect pump damage at an early stage, resulting in nonproductive time (NPT) and increased well construction costs when initial damage progresses and pumps go down unexpectedly and catastrophically. Automated approaches to condition-based maintenance (CBM) of mud pumps to date have failed due to the lack of a generalized solution applicable to any pump type and/or operating conditions.

This paper presents a field-validated universally applicable solution to mud pump CBM. The system uses a sensor package that includes acoustic emission sensors and accelerometers in combination with anomaly detection deep learning data analysis to pinpoint any abnormal behavior of the pump and its components. The deep learning models are trained with undamaged normal state data only, and a damage score characterizing the extent of damage to the mud pump is calculated to identify the earliest signs of damage. The system can then generate alerts to notify the rig crew of the damage level of key mud pump components, prompting proactive maintenance actions.

Field tests were conducted while drilling an unconventional shale well in west Texas, USA, and a geothermal well in Japan (i.e., two very different drilling operations) to verify the feasibility and general applicability of the developed pump CBM solution. Sensors were attached to pump modules, and data were collected and analyzed using the deep learning models during drilling operations. During the field tests, different hyperparameters and features were compared to select the most effective ones for identifying damage while at the same time delivering low false positive rates (i.e., false alarms during normal state pump operation). The system required only several hours of normal state data for training with no prior pump information. Moreover, it correctly identified the degradation of the pump, swabs, and valves and produced early alerts several hours (in the range of 0.5–17 hours) before actual pump maintenance action was taken by the rig crew.

This generally applicable pump CBM system eliminates the environmental, health, and safety concerns that can occur during human-based observations of mud pump health and avoids unnecessary NPT associated with catastrophic pump failures. The final version of this system will be a fully self-contained magnetically attachable box containing sensors and a processor, generating simple indicators for recommending proactive pump maintenance tasks when needed.

This abstract is taken from paper SPE 212564 by D. Yoon, P. Ashok, and E. van Oort, The University of Texas at Austin; P. Annaiyappa, Nabors Industries; and S. Abe and A. Ebitani, Japan Organization for Metals and Energy Security. The paper has been peer reviewed and is available as Open Access in SPE Journal on OnePetro.