One of the petroleum industry's goals is to reduce the environmental impact of oil and gas operations in environmentally sensitive areas. To achieve this, a number of Environmentally Friendly Drilling (EFD) technologies have been developed to varying degrees but few have been integrated into a field demonstrable drilling system (i.e., combination of technologies) compatible with ecologically sensitive or off-limits areas.

The main purpose of this paper is to present a decision-analytic technology selection process. The proposed method is based on a systems analysis that can be used for integrating current and new EFD technologies into an optimal EFD system. The system draws upon a large number of technologies (more than 100) identified by a government-industry joint venture studying low impact operations in sensitive ecological areas. In order to provide flexibility to the user, a small number of systems (1~5) are proposed for a given site, instead of a single best system. An optimization scheme is suggested based on a combination of multi-attribute utility theory and exhaustively enumerating all possible technology combinations to provide a quantitative rationale and suggest the best set of systems according to a set of criteria, with the relative importance of the different criteria defined by the decision-maker. This methodology is designed to help decision-makers select an optimal drilling system for a given site in order to minimize environmental impact and maximize profit at that specific site.

An application of the proposed approach is described by conducting a case study in Green Lake at McFaddin, TX; some of the difficulties in using this approach in practice are also discussed. This paper describes the results of the case study which provided a more logical and comprehensive approach that maximized the economic and environmental goals of both the landowner and the oil company leaseholder.

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