Executive Summary

Robert Mitchell, Halliburton Company

What is the biggest complaint about SPEDC? It goes something likethis: “I submit my paper and I don’t hear from SPE for about 2 years. Why doespeer review take so long?” For academics, this is a very serious question astheir job depends on publication. It is important for the rest of us because weneed timely technical information to do our jobs well. To answer this question,let’s examine the review process, identify the bottlenecks, and see what we cando to improve it.

First, the paper must be submitted for review. While there are someunsolicited papers, the majority of papers come from SPE conferences. Mostpapers come from the SPE/IADC Drilling Conference, with many more from the SPEAnnual Technical Conference and Exhibition and the Offshore TechnologyConference. For example, this year there were 134 papers submitted to thedrilling conference alone.

The first hurdle to clear in the new peer review process is that in thesubmission process for conferences, there is a check box that requests peerreview for the paper. Although this check box is optional, some people thoughtit was mandatory, indicating that it is too easy to ask for peer review.Therefore, SPE is working to change this. For example, if you have submitted apaper for a conference recently, you have received a request from SPE tojustify why you feel your paper should be peer reviewed. If you are notsufficiently interested to write a few paragraphs on the value of your paper,this is one paper less to overload the review process.

The second hurdle is paper triage. In this process, we try to identifypapers for initial decline. If you receive an initial decline, all is not lost,because sometimes we make mistakes. If you think your paper has value, I urgeyou to appeal the decision. At this point, your paper goes into the actualreview process. Your paper is assigned to a review chair, who then assigns itto at least two reviewers. Even though our goal for reviewers to return thepaper is 2 months, it often takes longer. Sometimes the process can takeseveral months as we chase unresponsive reviewers and then, if unsuccessful,replacement reviewers are assigned, which starts the process all over. Also, ifthings slow because of some controversy about the paper, I may requestadditional reviews. To expedite the processes, we have added 12 new technicaleditors as of November 2007 and we have shortened the review time from 60 to 30days. Once the review chair makes his recommendation, it is sent to theExecutive Editor, who must make a final decision. I will try to make a finaldecision in a timely manner.

Once the paper gets final approval, it must be production edited beforepublication. This part of the process is perhaps the biggest bottleneck of all.SPE is currently working hard to expand its team of production editors as theirresources are limited. Finally, the paper is published in the journal, alongwith about eight other papers.

While our industry is struggling with “The Big Crew Change," theSPEDC Journal is struggling with “The Big Backlog." With so manypapers coming in the door, and so few papers actually reaching the journal,there is a large backup of papers in the middle. There are several things weare doing to help solve this problem. In my opinion, the most serious problemis that many of the papers have been in the system for more than 2 years. Tosolve this problem, I have appointed John Thorogood as deputy editor toexpedite review decisions for these papers. The second goal is to publish morepapers per issue. This requires more editing resource, and SPE is going to getthat resource. The next issue of the journal will have many more papers. We aregoing to do more triage, so you may have to appeal your decision more often. Ifyou have passion about your paper, writing an appeal will not be too onerous.If you don’t care to appeal, that’s one fewer paper in the backlog. Finally, weare soliciting more reviewers. WE NEED YOU! VOLUNTEER!

In this issue, you will find the following drilling papers. First,there's Prediction of Wellbore Position Accuracy When Surveyed WithGyroscopic Tools. Knowledge of wellbore position is critical for manyreasons. Because we don’t have a downhole GPS, we must deduce the wellboreposition from survey data; therefore, the accuracy of this data is a primaryconcern. This paper presents the latest model for the prediction of accuracy ofgyroscopic surveying tools on the basis of a previous error model developed formagnetic MWD tools. The model is the product of the SPE Wellbore PositioningTechnical Section, and is intended to sufficiently apply to a broad range ofgyro systems and future developments in sensor design. Required reading if youare in the wellbore surveying business. Dynamic Depth Correction To ReduceDepth Uncertainty and Improve MWD/LWD Log Quality. This paper continues ourtopic of improving estimates of wellbore prediction. The subject is an olddrillstring topic and drillstring stretch. The authors have determined that themost important factors in drillstring stretch are string weight, friction, andthermal expansion. They attack the first effects by use of a torque-dragsimulator, and have many comments on the proper application of this tool to thestring stretch problem. Thermal expansion is discussed in a more casualfashion, but highlights the difficulty in determining drillstring temperaturesto an acceptable degree of accuracy for this calculation. Formation ofUnderwater Cuttings Piles in Offshore Drilling. A 2D solids-settling modelhas been proposed to simulate the formation of seafloor beds from dischargeddrill cuttings. The beds are assumed to be always at incipient sliding, so thegeometry is defined by the angle of repose of the solids. It is assumed thatthe ocean current transports the cuttings laterally, gravity causes thecuttings to settle, and a distribution of cutting sizes and shapes determinesthe cutting’s resistance to motion through the fluid. Jetting of StructuralCasing in Deepwater Environments: Job Design and Operational Practices.Installation of the conductor doesn’t receive a lot of technical analysis, andconsidering that the conductor is the foundation for the entire well, thisdoesn’t seem justified. This paper reviews the state of the art, and makes agood beginning at the analysis of structural casing installation in deepwater.In addition to the analysis, we are given five case histories with lessonslearned.

Also in this issue are the following completion papers: New TechnologyImproves Performance of Viscoelastic Surfactant Fluids. The use ofviscoelastic surfactant fluids is relatively new technology, first used ingravel-pack completions in the mid 1980s and later in frac-packs in the mid1990s. The improved technology discussed in this paper solves several problems.The system works with high-density brines, the temperature range has beenextended from 200 to 300°F, fluid loss control has been improved withnondamaging “filtercake”-like behavior, and an internal viscosity breakerdeveloped. All of this, and improved economics, too. Effective High-DensityWellbore Cleaning Fluids: Brine-Based and Solids-Free. Step one in theinstallation of a well completion is to clean the wellbore of drilling mud ordrill-in fluids. Conventional cleaning fluids are typically low-density, freshwater, or sea water, and the low density creates a number of operationalproblems. The solution proposed by this paper is a brine-based, solids-free,high-density cleaning fluid. The authors present results from both laboratorystudies and four field test case histories. Polymer Reduction Leads toIncreased Success: A Comparative Study. Polymer is required to createsufficient viscosity in frac fluids to open the fracture and place theproppant. Unfortunately, this polymer also damages proppant-pack conductivity.The obvious answer seems to be lower polymer loadings, but can lower polymerloadings be used successfully? This study of over 200 wells in the westernCanadian sedimentary basin does a direct comparison of high and low polymerloading, which shows the low loading to be both effective and cheaper.World's First Gravel Packed Inflow Control Completion. Openholehorizontal gravel packs have been used successfully in the Etame oil field,offshore Gabon. The ET-6H well, however, was at risk of early waterbreakthrough. The operator decided to use flow control devices in the wellcompletion to generate a more uniform inflow profile along the length of thegravel pack to protect against early water breakthrough. However, the gravelpacking of inflow control devices had never been done before. This paperdescribes the complete gravel pack operation, including inflow modeling, gravelpack design, gravel pack installation, and post-job analysis. ZonalIsolation Modeling and Measurements—Past Myths and Today's Realities. Inour industry, we do not often re-examine the fundamentals of our technology.There are few things more fundamental than the cementing of wells, but what arethe mechanical properties, both short term and long term, of this cementsheath? These properties are the fundamental input to any model of cementfailure used to predict well completion integrity. The authors have studiedthese models to understand exactly what experimental results were needed forvalid predictions. The result is a well-defined consistent set of experimentalmethods and data analysis techniques to determine the key cementbehaviors.

Finally, I would like to thank John Mason for his efforts as the previousExecutive Editor, and you for your continued support of SPEDC.


Robert Mitchell, rmitchell@lgc.com