Field Testing of a Novel Drilling Technique to Expand Well Diameters at Depth in Unconsolidated Formations

Martin L. van der Schans*, Martin Bloemendal, Niels Robat, Ate Oosterhof, Pieter J. Stuyfzand, Niels Hartog

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

Larger well diameters allow higher groundwater abstraction rates. But particularly for the construction of wells at greater depth, it may be more cost-efficient to only expand the borehole in the target aquifer. However, current drilling techniques for unconsolidated formations are limited by their expansion factors (<2) and diameters (<1000 mm). Therefore, we developed a new technique aiming to expand borehole diameters at depth in a controlled manner using a low-pressure water jet perpendicular to the drilling direction and extendable by means of a pivoting arm. During a first field test, the borehole diameter was expanded 2.6-fold from 600 to 1570 mm at a depth of 53.5 to 68 m and equipped with a well screen to create an expanded diameter gravel well (EDGW). In keeping with the larger diameter, the volume flux per m screen length was two times higher than conventional 860 mm diameter wells at the site in the subsequent 3 year production period. Although borehole clogging was slower on a volumetric basis and similar when normalized to borehole wall area, rehabilitation of particle clogging at the borehole wall was more challenging due to the thickness of the gravel pack. While jetting the entire borehole wall before backfilling holds promise to remove filter cake and thus limit particle clogging, we found that a second borehole (expanded 4.1-fold to 2460 mm) collapsed during jetting. Overall, the EDGW technique has potential to make the use of deeper unconsolidated aquifers economically (more) feasible, although further understanding of the borehole stability and rehabilitation is required to assess its wider applicability.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalGroundwater
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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