Techbits: Workshop Discusses HP/HT Drilling, Completion Challenges
- Ted Moon (SPE.org Technical Editor)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- April 2007
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 34 - 34
- 2007. Copyright is held partially by SPE. Contact SPE for permission to use material from this document.
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As operators shift exploration and production attention to deeper waters, they face aggressively high temperatures and pressures testing the limits of most current drilling and completion technology. Without significant new investment in technology development, potentially vast reserves will remain untapped.
With this challenge in mind, SPE recently held an Advanced Technology Workshop (ATW) titled “Strategies and Solutions for HP/HT Drilling and Completions” in Galveston, Texas. The event drew more than 100 attendees from service and operating companies, consultancies, and government to discuss technology development needs related to drilling in high-pressure/high temperature (HP/HT) reservoirs—those with pressures and temperatures exceeding 15,000 psi and 400ºF.
Focus on Solutions
Earl Shanks, BP consultant on HP/HT well-control projects and ATW Cochairperson, said the ATW’s focus on solutions, rather than problems, was appropriate “because we are moving forward with solutions on quite a few fronts.” Things have progressed considerably, as maps displaying existing HP/HT discoveries made clear to the ATW audience. “HP/HT is real, it’s here,” Shanks said.
The priority that operators have given to HP/HT technology issues was welcomed by Amin Radi, R&D Director for Vetco Gray. “This is not something that we or any of the other service and technology companies can solve by ourselves,” he said. “It needs to be worked out with involvement from the production companies.”
Most sessions followed a presentation/question-and-answer format and focused on U.S. Gulf of Mexico (GOM) deepwater developments. Additional discussion dealt with regions such as the Caspian Sea and Egypt.
Two important session topics were
- Potential opportunities for operators and vendors to leverage money and resources jointly, as well as form joint industry projects (JIPs) on specific research initiatives when appropriate.
- The need to develop testing standards.
Shanks stressed that several JIPs were already forming. “There are currently not many labs available to handle the extreme environments needed for this kind of testing, and only a few labs can do any sour testing,” he said. With relatively little laboratory work having been possible so far, the U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS) is understandably concerned as projects push the technology limits for metals and elastomers in HP/HT environments.
“We have drillers in the GOM moving forward with wells in excess of 30,000 ft,” said Russell Hoshman, an MMS petroleum engineer who participated in the ATW and sits on the steering committee for an HP-equipment recommended practices document now under industry development. “We may face surface pressures of 20,000 psi and completions with pressures as high as 20,000 psi. These completions may have bottomhole temperatures in excess of 450ºF.
“For a subsea-wellhead tree, the highest pressure in the engineering standards is 15,000 psi, while for surface trees the equipment is rated to 20,000 psi. If someone were to come into our office tomorrow and state that they have a 25,000-psi well, we want to be involved and hear how they have qualified their equipment and determined that it is suitable for service,” he said.
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