Managed-Pressure-Drilling Equipment Augments Deepwater Well Control
- Chris Carpenter (JPT Technology Editor)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- January 2019
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 72 - 74
- 2017. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 2 in the last 30 days
- 55 since 2007
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This article, written by JPT Technology Editor Chris Carpenter, contains highlights of paper SPE 186331, “Augmenting Deepwater Well Control With Managed-Pressure-Drilling Equipment,” by Austin Johnson, SPE, Brian Piccolo, Henry Pinkstone, SPE, Bo Anderson, and Justin Fraczek, SPE, AFGlobal, prepared for the 2017 SPE/IATMI Asia Pacific Oil and Gas Conference and Exhibition, Bali, Indonesia, 17–19 October. The paper has not been peer reviewed.
This paper describes how a technique known as applied-surface-backpressure managed-pressure drilling (ASBP-MPD) can alleviate the limitations of conventional deepwater well control. The paper discusses equipment design and operating philosophy, outlining actions that can be taken to respond to an influx while remaining within the primary well barrier.
Conventional Well Control: Background and Limitations
Industry personnel are trained to follow conventional well-control-response steps when securing a well and closing a subsea blowout preventer (SSBOP) once an influx is detected. The steps are logical from the perspective of adhering to the operating requirements of existing well-control equipment. While variations in procedures exist between companies, the logic behind these steps remains consistent across the industry. The conventional steps are as follows:
- Stop rotating; pick up off bottom and space out
- Stop the mud pumps
- Conduct a static flow check
- Close the SSBOP
Conventional well-control response is limited by the design and operating philosophy of conventional well-control technology. The challenges associated with these constraints include a significant drop in bottomhole pressure (BHP), increased influx volume before the well is finally secured, and the amount of time needed to detect an influx. The initial confirmation of an influx can take a substantial period of time because of a variety of factors that can influence the return flow rate and mud-pit volumes.
On a deepwater rig, the interpretation of pit-volume and flow-rate changes can be subjective. To complicate matters further, conventional drilling rigs often are equipped only with inaccurate paddle flowmeters on the main flowline to measure flow out of the well; these do not offer a precise flow measurement.
The conventional well-control-response procedure does not seem adequate for the deepwater drilling environment when evaluated in terms of influx detection and response time, total influx volume, and reservoir drawdown. Furthermore, after the SSBOP is closed, the conventional well-control response is subject to significant residual risks in the form of stuck pipe, lost circulation from chokeline friction, and the exceeding of kick tolerance. Finally, closing the SSBOP does not address an influx that has been circulated into the riser undetected.
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