Rotary drilling is characterized as a method of drilling that employs a sharp, rotational drill bit to bite its way through the earth’s crust. One of the most effective and common methods of drilling, it is used in the construction, mining, and oil industries for its ability to cut through even the most challenging and hardest formations.The rotary drill rig consists of a prime mover, hoisting equipment, rotating equipment and circulation equipment, all of which perform tasks crucial to drilling a well or hole.With the help of pneumatics, hydraulics or an electric motor, high torque and rotation are transmitted from the prime mover to the drill, which sits on a mast above the hole.Rotary drilling was first used for drilling oil wells in 1901 when Captain Anthony Lucas and Patillo Higgins applied it to their Spindletop well in Texas. By 1925, the rotary drilling method was improved with the use of a diesel engine. The first attempt at rotary drilling involved a device that sent a stream of water down a hollow shaft of the drill to remove cuttings. This was in contrast to the cable drill, whereby the operation is interrupted and cuttings are removed singularly before the drilling can resume.The early rotary drill was originally used for drilling in softer formations in areas such as California and the Gulf Coast; but this changed with the production of roller and cone bits comprising steel alloy. This addition made rotary drilling suitable for harder formations, such as rock, and it was eventually used for boring deep holes and wells.Rotary drilling became valuable to the oil industry because it was able to produce holes of a smaller diameter than cable drilling. This became possible because a hole produced by a rotary drill was the same diameter at the lower end as it was at the top.Rotary drilling provided many improvements to drilling applications. The nature of the rotary drill proved important when oil well cements were being produced. The process of unloading continuous sacks of cement to construct a well required the drilling techniques of the rotary drill, which could accommodate these new materials.Early oil drilling applications that were completed with cable tools or churn drills were laden with problems, such as erupting oil fountains that resulted in fires and the loss of valuable oil. The issues that arose from the high pressure of oil wells were remedied with the use of rotary drilling.
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