The well-collision-avoidance management and principles presented in this paper are a culmination of the work and consensus of industry experts from both operators and service companies in the SPE Wellbore Positioning Technical Section (WPTS). This is not a new subject, but current guidance is disparate, company-specific, and occasionally contradictory. As a result, the guidance can be difficult to understand and implement. A further aim is to drive the standardization of the well-collision-avoidance rules, process, and nomenclature throughout the industry. Standardization improves efficiency and reduces implementation errors.

The consequences of an unplanned intersection with an existing well can range from financial loss to a catastrophic blowout and loss of life. The process of well-collision avoidance involves rules that determine the allowable well separation, the management of the associated directional planning and surveying activities, and assurance and verification. The adoption of a specific minimum-allowable separation rule, no matter how conservative, does not ensure an acceptably low probability of collision. Many other factors contribute, such as the level of compliance by office and rig personnel with collision-avoidance procedures, and the completeness and correctness of the directional database. All these factors are connected.

The material is split into eight sections, each dealing with a critical element in the collision-avoidance process. Examples are presented to highlight a good-implementation practice. This aligned approach will dispel some of the current confusion in the industry concerning well-collision avoidance; will improve efficiency when planning and executing wells; and will build industry focus on the associated collision risks when drilling. The WPTS is also supporting the current development of API RP 78 (not yet issued).

This is the first of two papers. The second paper (Sawaryn et al. 2018) covers the minimum-allowable separation rule and its application, assurance, and verification.

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