Automated Drilling Systems for MPD C-The Reality
- Saad Saeed (Halliburton) | Randy Lovorn (Halliburton Sperry-Sun Drilling Services) | Kjetil Arne Knudsen (Halliburton)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- IADC/SPE Drilling Conference and Exhibition, 6-8 March, San Diego, California, USA
- Publication Date
- Document Type
- Conference Paper
- 2012. IADC/SPE Drilling Conference and Exhibition
- 1.7.2 Managed Pressure Drilling, 1.10 Drilling Equipment, 5.1.2 Faults and Fracture Characterisation, 1.7.5 Well Control, 1.7.6 Wellbore Pressure Management, 1.11.2 Drilling Fluid Selection and Formulation (Chemistry, Properties), 1.6 Drilling Operations, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 1.13 Drilling Automation, 1.10.1 Drill string components and drilling tools (tubulars, jars, subs, stabilisers, reamers, etc), 1.6.9 Coring, Fishing, 3 Production and Well Operations, 1.12.1 Measurement While Drilling
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Managed pressure drilling (MPD) has heralded an era of accurate and precise downhole pressure control. Not only can today's MPD systems operate in tight operational envelopes, but they, more importantly, provide dynamic real-time well control while drilling. This dynamic precision has directly enabled access to assets that were previously considered virtually "undrillable.?? But, how can MPD boast such success? One of the major reasons is automation. Automation can provide levels of functional control that are difficult, if not impossible, for human operators to achieve and maintain. MPD's inherent closed-loop setup, coupled with conventional methodology, naturally lends to automated applications.
Furthermore, despite all the advancements in MPD automation within the past few years, there is a common misconception that current MPD systems can provide fully automatic control ("cruise control??) of the entire drilling process. This is far from reality, as MPD systems today provide "supervised automation.??
Though there is a lot of material pertaining to the benefits and functionality of MPD automated drilling systems, there is very little technical information on how the systems actually function. The primary focus of this paper is to fill this disparate gap by examining the internals of such a system and, in turn, detailing how it actually works.
The paper will start by developing a generic framework, which is common to all MPD automated drilling systems (independent of the company). The components, technology, and architecture will all be presented in detail, which will be augmented by tracing the information flow through the system to clearly illustrate how the MPD process is actually carried out. Having established the technologies, capabilities, and limitations will become apparent. This will then be followed by examples of concrete implementations.
Managed pressure drilling (MPD) has not only facilitated the introduction of innovative control solutions, but spurred the development of real-time automated systems in the drilling industry, heralding an era of accurate and precise downhole pressure control. However, these advancements are not universal. It is important to note that MPD comes in a number of different forms with varying automation influence. Interestingly, the term MPD, is unique in that it not only relates to a specific technique, but is also commonly used as an umbrella term to describe an entire technology. The industry has tried to clarify this situation by taking one of two approaches. The first path is by defining MPD in broad, generic terms, which cover a variety of divergent techniques. The second path takes the opposite approach and counters generality by distilling and defining each technique into distinct categorical delineations based primarily on physical phenomena. As the primary focus of this paper is the reality of the automated drilling system in MPD, it is important to note that all MPD is not equal when it comes to automation. Actually, many are surprised that automation does not apply equally to all forms of MPD, irrespective of the definition that is used. Rather, automation (as we know it) has primarily been developed and applied in primarily one segment of MPD. This segment is focused on the precise prediction and control of bottomhole pressure (BHP) within predefined limits. The most well-known of these techniques is constant bottomhole pressure (CBHP) drilling, where applied surface (back) pressure is manipulated by a choke device to indirectly control the BHP profile. This workflow naturally lends very well to an automated philosophy and is not only the primary focus of MPD automation today, but the core focus of this paper.
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