Integrating Engineering and Operations for Successful HTHP Exploratory Drilling
- J.R. Smith (Louisiana State U.) | R.S. Cade (Consultant) | R.D. Gatte (Amoco Production Co.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Drilling & Completion
- Publication Date
- December 1997
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 238 - 243
- 1997. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 1.11.5 Drilling Hydraulics, 1.7.5 Well Control, 1.14 Casing and Cementing, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 1.1 Well Planning, 6.1.5 Human Resources, Competence and Training, 1.5.1 Bit Design, 1.11.2 Drilling Fluid Selection and Formulation (Chemistry, Properties), 1.6 Drilling Operations, 1.2.3 Rock properties, 1.10 Drilling Equipment, 1.7 Pressure Management, 6.5.3 Waste Management, 1.12.1 Measurement While Drilling, 1.6.1 Drilling Operation Management, 1.11 Drilling Fluids and Materials, 1.5 Drill Bits, 1.10.1 Drill string components and drilling tools (tubulars, jars, subs, stabilisers, reamers, etc)
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The Amoco Matagorda Island 636 No. 1 exploratory well was successfully drilled to 18,834 ft in 85 days. Both the depth and the drilling time were industry records for the 50-block area on trend with the well. The 357°F bottomhole temperature, required mud weights of up to 18.5 lbm/gal, more than 8,000 ft of overpressured section, more than 2,000 ft of previously unexplored section, and the historical drilling problems in the area combined to make this well a special challenge. The results validate the strategy that was developed to integrate engineering and operations as an example of how to meet such challenges successfully.
This paper focuses on describing this strategy, how it was developed and applied, and the results achieved relative to previous industry performance in the area. Planning, innovation, and teamwork were the crucial components of the strategy and are discussed in detail. Specific examples of techniques, technology, tools, and our tactics for applying them are provided. These ranged from rigorous application of important industry standard practices to pure experimentation (with previously untried bit designs) and included a comprehensive effort to achieve a positive synergy within both the drilling system we assembled and our organization for its operation.
Most of the really significant drilling accomplishments in which we have been involved required a combination of engineering and operational capabilities that no single individual had. It is noteworthy that some of those accomplishments required doing things that initially we thought could not be done. This means that the combination of knowledge, skills, and ideas created new capabilities that did not previously exist. Our contention is that a drilling organization must have and effectively combine appropriate, existing abilities to create the new capabilities necessary to successfully tackle unique and difficult projects like drilling high-temperature/high-pressure (HTHP) exploratory wells. Successful integration of engineering and operations provides the effective and creative interaction of the knowledge, skills, and ideas necessary for this kind of project.
Understanding Integration and Its Importance to HTHP Exploration
Background Industry Knowledge.
The simplest theory of engineering and operations relating to projects like drilling is that engineering prepares the design and operations implements it. For example, Bourgoyne et al.1 state, "the drilling engineering group prepares a . . . well design and . . . specifications. The company representative, using the well plan, makes the on-site decisions concerning drilling operations. . . . The rig operation . . . is the responsibility of the tool pusher."
The importance of operations to achieving a well's objectives at minimum cost is emphasized in a representative industry drilling manual.5 It describes the roles of an on-site company representative, including organizing and overseeing operations, coordinating logistics, problem identification and reaction, and record keeping. The interactions with engineers are described primarily as receiving a general well plan for review and implementation.
Most of us in the drilling industry know that the drilling process generally requires more interaction between engineering and operations than just the hand-off of a well plan. Nevertheless, the stories that fit this mold are still told. One is that the "oilfield would be fine if it weren't for engineers and o-rings." Another is that "my plan was perfect except the field guys dropped the ball, and it failed." The industry's textbooks, handbooks, and manuals generally reinforce the separation of engineering and operations by avoiding any mention of interaction between them.
Bourgoyne1 puts the drilling process in a more practical context. He explains that the drilling engineer may need to modify the well plan to address unforeseen circumstances. This is a good introduction to the learning-cycle model for the engineering process. This model portrays engineering as a continuous cycle, as shown in Fig. 1. It shows the interrelationship between design or planning, implementation, and post-well analysis as the basis for improved results or products.
This model serves many of us in drilling very well, especially if we apply it informally to our work operation by operation, as well as to an overall well or drilling program. It reinforces the need to learn from operations as well as just carrying them out.
Another model of the engineering process is a design-and-analysis cycle that shortens the learning cycle by using engineering analysis to imply the results of a design or plan without actually implementing it. The design and simulation frequently performed to prepare for cementing operations are an analogous example within the drilling industry.
This approach is extended in Fig. 2, which is based on how Shigley and Mischke2 address the need to identify and define the problem and the importance of evaluating the design. This evaluation will frequently result in iteration that may include redefining the problem or even a recognition of different needs. Presentation is introduced as the "final, vital step in the design process." The engineer's design must be communicated effectively to and be accepted by those who are to approve it and use it, or it is worthless. So these authors identify a formal link between engineering and operations.
Brett and Millheim3 used learning-curve analysis to demonstrate the cost impact of both the learning cycle and preimplementation analysis on multiwell drilling projects. They concluded that the rate of learning was an overall indicator of how well a drilling organization was performing. They also concluded that the organization's structure should encourage good communications and have a real-time analytical capability. Our experience supports these conclusions, but we developed a very different approach from the simulator and central drilling organization that they suggested.
Background Management Knowledge.
Additional insight into integrating engineering and operations can be found in management references. Kepner and Tregoe4 imply two important links between engineering and operations in their problem-solving model. One is the value of engineering analysis in identifying the causes of problems and recommending effective solutions. The second is "potential problem analysis," which is the identification and consideration of potential problems that may complicate a planned operation. This procedure helps develop methods for avoiding or overcoming problems. It is a critical part of planning successful HTHP exploratory drilling and requires the effective integration of engineering and operations skills.
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