Crossing the Technology Chasm: Managed Pressure Drilling
- Steve Jacobs (Decision Strategies) | John Donnelly (JPT Editor)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- February 2011
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 30 - 35
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Editor’s note: This is the first installment of a multipart series examining key upstream technology challenges facing the oil and gas industry and the reasons for the lack of accelerated acceptance of technologies needed to expand the frontiers of exploration and production.
Managed pressure drilling services have been offered for almost a decade and, while some believe it has the potential to be a widely used technology in the future, thus far it has been met with relatively limited acceptance by oil companies. The evaluation of this emerging technology and its acceptance involved a worldwide survey among approximately 600 SPE members who completed an e-mail questionnaire.
In an effort to determine what was important to the participants, the first question asked was: “What are the main value propositions you see for managed pressure drilling services?” As shown in Fig. 1, the most important value proposition cited for MPD is that it allows operators to “walk the line between pore pressure and the fracture gradient.” This capability confirms an important benefit of MPD, and was further substantiated by the second most frequently mentioned value proposition of MPD—that it allows an operator to drill wells not possible otherwise. There were no significant differences in responses to this question between technology providers and users.
The survey results were discussed with both operators and service companies familiar with the technology. Don Hannegan, director of emerging technologies, Controlled Pressure Drilling and Testing Services, with Weatherford International, stated: “In addition to such drilling hazard mitigation applications, a growing amount of today’s MPD applications are for HSE benefits and ‘insurance against a blowout’ on prospects that may be technically drillable with conventional open-to-atmosphere circulating fluid systems. Perhaps one of the more significant impacts of the technology has been that of increasing the amount of reserves deemed recoverable by drilling prospects previously thought to be economically or technically undrillable.” This last benefit would appear to be the ultimate value proposition for MPD.
Lance Cook, vice president of Wells Technology Deployment and Tech Services for Shell, believes that opera-tors and service providers may be looking at the technology differently. “Shell achieves value from the constant bottomhole pressure and the ability to keep the well in balance downhole and, thus, reducing mud cost and avoiding other issues such as stuck pipe,” he says. “Most MPD service suppliers market this constant bottomhole pressure as the primary value from MPD, but they often assume operating companies know more about the subsurface than we actually do. In Shell, we obtain higher value from safely using MPD practices to routinely determine what our pore pressure to leak off gradient is real time with short duration decreases or increases to applied annular back pressure. As most of our MPD operations are on high temperature/high pressure wells, they inherently come with high pressure uncertainty. We also introduce drilling window uncertainty with routine borehole strengthening operations. By eliminating the drilling window uncertainty with MPD ‘finger-printing,’ we are then able to control the constant bottomhole pressure to what is known to be the optimum bottomhole pressure, not relying on pore pressure and fracture gradient predictions.”
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