Technology Focus: Well Control (January 2009)
- David Barnett (Wild Well Control)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- January 2009
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 70 - 70
- 2009. Copyright is retained by the author. This document is distributed by SPE with the permission of the author. Contact the author for permission to use material from this document.
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In the last 6 years, the rig count has more than doubled from approximately 1,600 rigs in 2002 to more than 3,500 rigs operating worldwide in 2008. This phenomenal growth has been supported by increasing oil prices that have gone from less than USD 20/bbl in January 2002 to almost USD 146/bbl in July 2008 before falling off drastically in the following weeks. Assuming normal staffing and crew-rotation requirements, more than 30,000 people were needed to operate the 1,900 rigs that were added to the fleet during this period. Experienced personnel are spread thin as new hires are brought onboard to staff the rigs. This influx of new personnel into the industry created the additional burden of needing to train the new hires in the fundamentals of well control. It also makes it necessary to train an increasing number of personnel at the supervisory level as they advance to fill new positions.
Most people agree that the rig crew is the first line of defense against well-control problems. They are the “boots on the ground” that are charged with recognizing the first signs of impending trouble.
On the other end of the spectrum is the increasing number of operator and service-company personnel who are focused on advancing basic well-control principles to accommodate deeper, higher-temperature wells by use of exotic oil-based drilling fluids and by use of various methods of managed-pressure drilling.
The advanced well-control theories are supported by increasingly sophisticated computer models that account for numerous physical changes that become significant only at the elevated pressures and temperatures and increasing depths associated with these extraordinary wells. Interestingly enough, advanced well-control modeling is finding an increased number of uses in less-extreme wells and actually is assisting with teaching the fundamentals that apply to the broader class of wells.
The monumental tasks of training new personnel, training more personnel to higher levels of competency, and developing models to handle the extraordinary drilling environments accurately are all being met with surprisingly good results.
Developments in well-control modeling are providing useful insight into actual downhole conditions and fluid behavior that enables making much better decisions—both in planning and in actual well-control events.
Well Control additional reading available at the SPE eLibrary: www.spe.org
SPE 112761 • “Simulations Comparing Different Initial Responses to Kicks Taken During Managed-Pressure Drilling” by Asis K. Das, SPE, Blade Energy Partners, et al.
SPE 115019 • “Validation of Blowout-Rate Calculations for Subsea Wells” by P. Oudeman, SPE, Shell
SPE 113842 • “RFID Actuation of Self-Powered Downhole Tools” by P.M. Snider, SPE, Marathon Oil Company, et al.
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