Back to Top
Skip to main content
Novel High-Speed Drilling Motor for Oil Exploration & Production
Project Number

The project goal is to design and develop a high-speed mud motor assembly, compatible with a coiled tubing drilling system, to drill in vertical, horizontal, and multilateral wells.


APS Technology Inc., Cromwell, CT


The area of high-speed drillbit development has progressed steadily. It is recognized that a suitable downhole motor will be necessary to fully develop the capabilities of these bits. High-speed drilling holds the potential to reduce drilling costs and produce a smaller environmental footprint. This project will pursue the development of a suitable downhole motor.

The design of the prototype is complete. Prototype manufacture is nearly complete, despite delays and errors with manufacturers.

This project is intended to develop a high-speed drilling system with a motor powered by drilling fluid and with the ability to support a coiled tubing drilling operation. The use of high-speed motor and bit combinations has the prospect of greatly increasing drilling rates and thereby reducing the costs of exploration and development wells. The use of smaller-diameter bits and systems and coiled tubing drilling equipment in conjunction with these systems will further reduce drilling costs and enhance hydrocarbon recovery in environmentally sensitive and marginally economical areas. This objective and project thus should be of significant benefit to domestic oil and gas producers.

The principal objective of this project is to design and develop a high-speed mud motor assembly compatible with a coiled tubing drilling system, to drill microholes for vertical, horizontal and multilateral wells. The drilling motor assembly must contain both a conventional mud motor and an efficient gearing system to produce drillbit speeds exceeding 10,000 rpm and match the requirements of new drillbits now under development.

To accomplish this high-speed drilling, an efficient, reliable, gearing system must be coupled to a conventional mud motor. One advantage of this coupling approach is that by changing the gear ratio, the motor may be adapted to a variety of bits and drillbit requirements. It is anticipated these bits and motors will be initially employed for coiled tubing-drilled wells.

Phase I produced the overall system and key components design and modeling. These components include the motor power section, gearbox, flexible coupling, seals, and bearings. In Phase II, the motor and the test equipment are being built to test the motor in the laboratory. These tests are scheduled to begin shortly.

Current Status

(December 2008)
This project has been completed, and the final report is available below under "Additional Information".

APS has taken the approach of using a system using planetary gears to increase the speed of a conventional mud motor to 10,000 rpm. The mud flow is directed around the outside of the gear train, and a unique flow diversion system has been employed. A prototype of the motor was built and tested in APS’s high-pressure flow loop. The motor operated per the model up to ~4200 rpm. At that point a bearing seized and the per-formance was severely degraded. The motor is being rebuilt and will be retested out-side of this program.

This project was selected in response to DOE’s Oil Exploration and Production master solicitation DE-PS26-03NT15450.

Project Start
Project End
DOE Contribution


Performer Contribution

$199,770 (25% of total)

Contact Information

NETL - Virginia Weyland (virginia.weyland or 918-699-2041) 
APS - Carl Perry ( or 860-613-4450)

Additional Information

Final Project Report [PDF-4.34MB] - April 2008

High pressure loop built to test high speed motor.
High pressure loop built to test high speed motor.
High-pressure loop with motor test assembly.
High-pressure loop with motor test assembly.