Remote Directional Drilling and Logging in the Arctic
- Adam Wilson (JPT Special Publications Editor)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- February 2017
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 50 - 51
- 2016. Society of Petroleum Engineers
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- 106 since 2007
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This article, written by Special Publications Editor Adam Wilson, contains highlights of paper SPE 178873, “Remote Directional-Drilling and Logging-While-Drilling Operations in the Arctic,” by Crispin Chatar, SPE, Alexey Stepnov, Anton Mardyashov, and Juan Raul Elizondo Gonzalez, Schlumberger, prepared for the 2016 IADC/SPE Drilling Conference and Exhibition, Fort Worth, Texas, USA, 1–3 March. The paper has not been peer reviewed.
Few locations present as many challenges for drilling as the Arctic. It is one of the most hostile environments in the world, with some of the most remote locations, the toughest logistics challenges, and the largest gaps in infrastructure on the planet. One solution to reduce risk to personnel and the environment and to optimize cost was to use directional drilling and to log the well remotely. Advances in data, communication, and transmission technology have made this possible.
Challenges of Remote Operations
Implementing remote operations is not simple and definitely cannot be accomplished without thorough planning. Three key elements are required: people, infrastructure, and processes.
First, the right profiles and competency levels to staff both field crews and remote operations centers (ROCs) must be identified.
Second, infrastructure must be considered. Every remotely operated rig and ROC should be equipped with a standard kit that provides a reliable fit-for-purpose communication channel, ensuring continuous remote control.
Finally, processes must be determined, reviewed, and implemented. Developing global baselines that will be adopted and adapted by the business units will provide consistency. This includes hazard analysis and risk-control documents; responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed charts; escalation matrices; emergency response plans; remote-operation standards; and remote-operation implementation guidelines.
Challenges of the Arctic
Drilling at high latitudes presents unique challenges. First, some personnel are reluctant to work in such an extreme environment. Temperature is only one of the reasons these environments are seen as harsh. These environments also experience cyclic opportunities for operations. An example of this is seen in Alaska, where, in summer, there is less drilling at high latitudes because the required infrastructure changes when the ice roads melt, preventing machinery and equipment from being transported.
The environment also is isolated from proper infrastructure, and it can take twice as many employees to perform a given task because most employees will work on rotation. This doubles the health, safety, and environment (HSE) risk.Other reasons make these locations less attractive from a business perspective. These include the cost of special equipment, the cost of transport, and the cost of infrastructure. All of these are challenges that every operator must consider before beginning operations in the Arctic. Other risks are the health and safety of employees and the environment.
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