Blowout Prevention and Relief-Well Planning for the Wheatstone Big-Bore Gas-Well Project
- Eric R. Upchurch (Chevron Australia) | Sam Falkner (Chevron Australia) | Andrew House (Chevron Australia) | Chinh Nguyen (Chevron Australia) | Ken Russell (Chevron Australia)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Drilling & Completion
- Publication Date
- September 2017
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 153 - 167
- 2017.Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Blowout Response, Big-Bore Gas Well, Subsea Well, Well Control, Blowout Prevention
- 18 in the last 30 days
- 328 since 2007
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The offshore Wheatstone liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Western Australia uses subsea big-bore gas wells as the preferred method of producing the field. Wheatstone wells use a 9 5/8-in. production conduit from the top of the gas pay zone to the ocean floor. Wellbores of this size are necessary to match the large productive capacity of the gas reservoirs they penetrate. This producing scenario provides the obvious benefit of yielding large volumes of gas through the use of relatively few wells. Each of those highly productive wells, however, also represents a source of gas that, if accidentally allowed to flow unhindered, could present an uncommonly difficult well-control challenge. It is for this reason that the Wheatstone Drilling and Completions (D&C) Team evaluated a wide range of possible reservoir- and well-architecture scenarios to fully understand the possible scale of relief-well responses that might be necessary in the event of a blowout. The conclusions from this evaluation were surprising. Our original well-design concept called for penetrating the Wheatstone gas reservoirs with a casing shoe set 3,100 ft vertically above. Our analysis indicated that three or four relief wells would be simultaneously required to bring a blowout under control. Because of these results, both the well- and drilling-execution plan were redesigned to minimize the number of required relief wells. In summary, the redesign amounted to setting the casing immediately (i.e.,<=10 ft) above the gas reservoir before actually penetrating it, with the resulting benefit of reducing the required number of relief wells to two. Although this reduction is beneficial, it should be noted that there is only one documented subsea case where two or more relief wells have been drilled with the intent of simultaneously pumping into both to effect a dynamic kill. Given this fact, our well-control-related preparations for executing this project were more extensive than those of preceding projects.
This paper chronicles the full extent of the engineering and operational planning performed to ensure that no uncontrolled hydrocarbon releases occurred during the execution of the Wheatstone Project’s subsea big-bore gas wells and, if a blowout were to occur, that the response to such an unprecedented event would be sufficient and robust. Covered in this paper are reservoir-deliverability modeling, dynamic-kill modeling, gas-plume modeling, relief-well trajectory and mooring planning, pilot-hole-execution planning, a newly applied logging-while-drilling (LWD) technology for sensing resistivity vertically below the drill bit, and a discussion of future research identified as necessary to better define the fluid-injectivity capabilities of subsea relief wells.
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