Technology Update: Lowering Adoption Barriers to MPD - Land and Sea
- Charley Kamps (Schlumberger) | Blaine Dow (Schlumberger)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- December 2017
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 18 - 19
- 2017. 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 past, most wells have been drilled using conventional methods, but the landscape is changing as economic pressures have forced the drilling industry to refocus. Attention is at an all-time high on technologies that deliver operational efficiency and improve safety. Operators, drilling contractors, and service companies have gone through exhaustive measures to reduce cost, refine efficiency, optimize asset performance, and maximize returns. The recently introduced Schlumberger Managed-Pressure Drilling Integrated Solution offers a significant impact in all of these areas.
Managed-pressure drilling (MPD) is an adaptive drilling process used to precisely control the annular pressure profile throughout the wellbore. In conventional drilling, the system is open to the atmosphere. However, with MPD, a closed-loop circulation system is created. The closed-loop system is the key element, as it enables control of the annular pressure profile through the application of surface pressure.
MPD can dramatically improve operational efficiency through the reduction of nonproductive time associated with influxes, mud losses, and stuck-pipe events. The closed-loop system improves safety by providing an increased awareness of pressure state in the well and facilitates a much higher level of control with quicker response.
The MPD drilling technique has been around for many years on land but is relatively new to deep water, as the needed technologies have only become available in the past 5 to 7 years.
While manual chokes have been the principal form of control of MPD operations since the technique was introduced, it has been noted that the consistency and repeatability of manual methods is only as good as the choke operator’s skill and the level of experience and teamwork between the driller and the choke operator. For this reason, automated MPD was introduced, and a solution now exists that addresses the many challenges associated with MPD operations.
A Shifting Business Case
Historically, MPD components have been owned and leased through various service companies. Operators have called out multiple providers to deliver the kit and execute the service.
Deepwater MPD requires substantial planning and financial investment, which has typically recurred with each call-out. On top of that has been the need to coordinate multiple service providers to work with the drilling contractor so that the system is properly integrated.
Given these requirements, operators have tended not to use the technique unless the well or hole section they are planning cannot be drilled without it. For the most part, MPD in deep water has been a contingency solution rather than a standard practice.It is difficult to build a reasonable business case around a contingency solution or a call-out service that requires such significant investment and has multiple variables at stake. Additionally, service companies must charge a premium to ensure a sufficient return on their investment.
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