Expertise has brought consistency and cost control to drilling and completing steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) well pairs. Data shows that the well pad facilities have not achieved the same degree of consistency in scope. Broad differences in specifications, physical design and execution have existed and continue to exist. We intend to show the benefits of technical benchmarking for scope and specification control in the design and execution of SAGD well pads.
Our approach is to measure constructed and operating well pad designs with 511 category measures which rollup into 42 key design metric categories. We believe that the operating well pads provide evidence of functionality and show good engineering practice. Our interest is in showing the minimum of each kind of equipment, pipe and instrument building block that is actually required to provide a functioning site.
Our data comes to us under confidential contract from many of the SAGD producing companies and engineering firms, either for estimating or for comparative analysis of designs with industry normal prior to sanction. We reviewed well pad design elements, physical measurements, sizes and counts and compared them across both industry and design to reveal opportunities for optimization. Our repeated studies of the operational and regulatory compliant well pad scope show that some projects used many times more items than other projects. Large differences in well pad dimensions were often combined with large differences in equipment sizing. Large differences in bulk materials were also observed. Through the identification of design limitations, a number of project teams incorporated significant reductions in on-pad dimensions, pipe and equipment sizes and reductions in counts of instrumentation hardware. This process leads to simplification of the design, allowing for a reduction in capital expenditure (CapEx) and operating costs (OpEx) while ensuring it is still safe and easy to operate. In a low oil-price environment, it is essential to produce well pads comprised of design elements and execution that have measurable success in all areas. Project managers and executives alike need to know that the design teams are utilizing the minimum practical combination of sizing, redundancies and tonnages of materials in execution. It is our belief that good engineering will show what to include but great engineering shows what can be left out. We propose that a minimum, safe, functional scope when combined with good contract strategy will bring the thermal producers supplemental well pad costs that will meet capital requirements in our new low Western Canadian Select crude oil price environment.
NOTE: At no point will the contracting entities or producers be identified in this paper.
We have seen no other recent work that uses this approach to control scope or specification. We believe the technique is universally applicable to any unconventional development such as shale gas, SAGD or similar.