In 2012, the North Kuwait Field Development Group led a change in reservoir development strategy to increase oil production through a number of mechanisms, including a transition from vertical wells to horizontal wells to increase reservoir contact in alignment with reservoir management best practices. Over 340 horizontal and high angle wells were drilled and completed between 2012 and 2016, targeting four main reservoirs in North Kuwait. Adoption of operational and well design best practices and appropriate drilling and completion technologies improved the drilling efficiency and completion performance for horizontal wells, as average drilling times were reduced. The latter, in conjunction with improved water-flood management initiatives, helped increase oil production to recent production rate records above 750 MBOPD.

Drilling data associated with horizontal wells drilled throughout the campaign was continuously reviewed. The Reservoir Competency Asymmetric Assessment® (RCAA®)1 methodology was used to understand the key drivers to improve drilling performance. A multi-disciplined team identified the main opportunities with relation to horizontal well drilling and completions and geological operational practices, and technology gaps. The key performance drivers and changes required to improve horizontal well drilling and production performance were ranked based on rig time savings and oil production gains.

The implementation of operational best practices, well placement techniques, engineering design changes, technology adoption, mentoring, and knowledge management, delivered significant improvement in drilling performance. Average well drilling times were reduced by over 40% within two years of the horizontal drilling campaign (Figure 1). In Q4 2014, the rig fleet grew from eight rigs to 23 rigs, presenting a challenge to continue drilling improvements during this expansion. The rapid growth in rig fleet combined with drilling more challenging well targets drove average well drilling times up to 61 days per well. This upward trend was reversed by continually applying the RCAA® process and innovative drilling operations tracking technology across the bigger rig fleet. Average well drilling times were improved to 53 days per well at the end of 2016.
Figure 1

North Kuwait Annual Project Cycle Drilling Performance and Rig Count for Horizontal Wells

Figure 1

North Kuwait Annual Project Cycle Drilling Performance and Rig Count for Horizontal Wells

Drilling Efficiency Index® (DEI®) is a drilling and completions performance metric used to benchmark and track operational efficiency of the existing rig fleet or well type. It is a KPI that reflects both reservoir management and drilling practices. At the end of 2016, the North Kuwait drilling rig fleet of 23 active rigs was operating at one of the highest DEI® levels. The improvement in drilling and well placement efficiency increased the active well count and helped North Kuwait obtain record oil production. An estimated value of $4 billion associated to capex reduction and improved oil production was delivered to KOC. The forward five-year plan for North Kuwait requires over 100 wells be drilled annually. Initiatives to further reduce drilling days have been identified and presented to the organization.

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