Continuous Improvement in Drilling Performance: A Challenge for the Industry (includes associated papers 28160 and 28161 )
- Robert Buchan (BP Exploration Operating Co. Ltd.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Drilling & Completion
- Publication Date
- June 1993
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 79 - 83
- 1993. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 1.10 Drilling Equipment, 1.10.1 Drill string components and drilling tools (tubulars, jars, subs, stabilisers, reamers, etc), 1.5 Drill Bits, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 1.1 Well Planning, 1.6.3 Drilling Optimisation, 1.14.1 Casing Design, 7.2.1 Risk, Uncertainty and Risk Assessment, 1.2.2 Drilling Optimisation
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Summary. In 1990, extensive drilling activity was matched by significant improvements in drilling performance across a range of North Sea blocks. Major reductions in well costs were achieved as a result. The paper describes how a fresh approach to well planning and design led to these improvements and how continuous improvement is possible by creating an environment for innovation that includes teamwork, risk analysis, and a "value for money" approach to well planning.
For BP Exploration, 1990 was a year of intense exploration and appraisal activity. Fifty-four wells were drilled, eight wells were sidetracked, and one deep, high-pressure well was re-entered. At peak activity, 11 mobile units were operating on exploration and appraisal drilling. Fig. 1 compares the level of activity in 1990 with that in other years. This high drilling activity was matched by significant improvements in drilling performance across a range of North Sea blocks, leading to big reductions in well costs. For example, Forth field appraisal drilling-program well costs were reduced by 1M* per well. Significant performance improvements were limited not just to shallow central North Sea wells but also were achieved on deeper prospects. For example, drilling performance improved by 22% on a recent deep Jurassic well, saving 1.05 million. These performance improvements were achieved during a greatly expanded drilling program brought about by a commitment to spud 87 wells in 1 year. This unusually high drilling activity required a tremendous effort from all people concerned, first in working up prospects and wellsites and second in cost-effective well planning and optimized rig use. We recognized that the desired performance breakthroughs would not be made simply by drilling wells more efficiently using standard designs. The way wells were planned and drilled had to be changed. A new culture organization acted as the catalyst to generate ideas for well designs and drilling operations. At the same time, a new concept, "value for money"(VFM), that offered fund managers a choice of well designs, was introduced to the well-planning process. This paper describes how innovative casing designs were applied successfully to wells drilled in the central North Sea, saving at least 15 million over 18 months.
Well Engineering and Operations Organization
A good organizational structure forms the basis for performance improvement. We recognized motivation of the operations team. which includes geologists and petroleum engineers, as a key factor in the performance improvements gained during the development of the South East Forties field. Another important aspect of performance improvement is how well organizations apply new and existing technology and also how effectively the organization learns from experience. Following these principles, an organization was developed to maximize the benefit of teamwork and expertise. This operating group is a small team of rig-dedicated drilling engineers, geologists, and petroleum engineers supported by petroleum engineering and technical specialist groups. The organization extends beyond drilling and encompasses contractor organizations. This approach is symbolic of a new culture that emphasizes teamwork and partnering. A key element of the organization is that all the relevant well-planning and operations experts are in contact with each other daily and share common goals. The process of informal contact is called "networking."Networking has significant benefits for drilling optimization. Not only is a better understanding of lithology, pore pressure, fracture gradients, offset data, and well objectives possible during well planning, but expertise is available during drilling, allowing optimum decisions to be made in terms of lithologic interpretation and well evaluation. Whether the new culture organization succeeds or fails depends on open networking. Desktop communications are used to allow access to a wide variety of drilling and petroleum engineering software programs with common databases.
We recognize that only limited improvement can be made from the review and optimization of current well designs in a mature area. The greatest effect on performance occurs through introduction and implementation of new concepts. These new concepts are derived from applied investigative engineering combined with risk analysis. One benefit of investigative engineering is breakthrough, resulting in a dramatic shift in performance. The desired outcome, provided that the well is drilled safely and well objectives are met, is to reduce costs. Achieving a faster rate of penetration (ROP)or beating a previous time/depth curve is pointless unless the outcome is a more cost-effective well. The cost of the innovation must not exceed the benefit. A detailed analysis of historical well costs to determine high-cost areas is the first step toward identifying where innovation is required. Innovation engineering should be used to reduce consumable and operating costs. Investigative engineering must occur in the well-planning process. To allow this, we must move away from more-conventional operational engineering, which relies on known rules and standard practices and produces standard well designs, to design engineering and applied investigative engineering, which rely on innovation and risk analysis and produce optimized well designs. Continuous performance improvement occurs when performance measurement is used as a tool and when difficult targets are set. An example of a difficult target is to beat the previous best drilling performance in any block by 30%. Another is to save 10 million in planned exploration and appraisal expenditures over 12 months of continuous rig activity. It is amazing how innovative engineers can be when committed to a difficult and challenging target. Zero-based engineering is applied readily to such projects as platform or chemical processing plant designs. Conceptual design begins with the absolute minimum of facilities required for the plant to perform its basic function. A similar concept can be applied successfully to well planning. A zero-based or base-case well design is a design for which crucial well objectives can be met at the minimum possible cost, To meet sonic well objectives, this may mean designing a well with the minimum possible casing strings, bits, trips, logs, and cores while meeting all safety and well-integrity requirements. To meet other crucial objectives, this may mean designing a well to include an additional casing string.
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