In subsea environments, the use of larger-bore/higher-rate well designs is often a key contributor to the economic recovery of hydrocarbon resources. Their use is a necessity for accommodating the huge production capacity of the reservoirs they penetrate, with the major benefit of minimizing the number of wells necessary to develop a subsea field. The enthusiasm for using such well designs, however, must also be tempered by a clear understanding of the considerable well control risk they introduce - that risk being an increased level of difficulty in bringing such a well under control if a blowout were to occur. It is not uncommon that multiple relief wells would be simultaneously required to bring a big-bore blowout under control. The discussion of this fact is, though, not a common topic in industry literature. Instead, capping stacks have been more the focus. Much recent attention has been trained on ensuring that capping stacks are a viable method for quickly responding to a high-rate subsea blowout. This makes sense in light of the simpler, and publicly more palatable, concept of rapidly installing a capping stack on a blown-out subsea well, relative to the less-desired complexities and significant time investment of drilling relief wells. Still, a capping stack is only as reliable as the wellhead it must connect to. It is because subsea wellheads have such a high chance of being damaged during a blowout that relief wells will always be relied on as the ultimate backstop for ensuring that a subsea blowout can be brought under control.

This reliance on relief wells, as they are traditionally envisioned, has limitations though when addressing a high-rate subsea blowout. Any subsea relief well will have inherent limitations resulting from the architecture of choke and kill lines (flow restrictions) and that of the cross-over piping at the BOP (erosion concerns). In the world of high-rate subsea blowouts, these limitations can sometimes translate into multiple relief wells being required to inject fluid at the rates necessary to effect a dynamic kill. But, the simultaneous use of multiple subsea relief wells to dynamically kill a single blowout has only been tried once in the industry's history. As a result, some countries require that stopping a blowout must be possible by drilling only one relief well.

This paper describes methods that can be implemented to transcend traditional relief well limitations via the use of a relief well injection spool (RWIS), with the ultimate goal of dynamically killing a subsea big-bore blowout using a single relief well. The technique varies with water depth. In both shallow- (826 ft) and deep-water (8260 ft) environments, techniques are presented and analyzed that will allow using a single subsea relief well to perform a dynamic kill using 15 lbm/gal drilling fluid injected at 238 bbl/min. This particularly severe scenario, based on a big-bore gas well development in Western Australia, is chosen so that our results will have applicability to most sub-sea well control events that might arise in the future.

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