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DRILLING ENGINEERING AND WELL COMPLETION

DEEPWATER DRILLING

BY

WATAYNE OBI

Table of Contents
1.0 INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................................... 1 2.0 DEEPWATER EQUIPMENT ........................................................................................................ 2 3.0 WELL DESIGN............................................................................................................................... 3 3.1 WELL PLAN ............................................................................................................................... 3 3.1.1 DRILLING FLUID SELECTION ........................................................................................ 4 3.1.2 CASING DESIGN ............................................................................................................... 4 3.1.3 CEMENT DESIGN ............................................................................................................. 4 3.2 RIG SELECTION ....................................................................................................................... 5 3.3 DRILLING ................................................................................................................................... 5 3.4 WELL COMPLETION ............................................................................................................... 6 4.0 DEEPWATER CHALLENGES..................................................................................................... 6 4.1 HYDRATE FORMATION .......................................................................................................... 6 4.2 PORE PRESSURE AND LOW FRACTURE GRADIENTS................................................. 7 4.3 HIGH-PRESSURE/HIGH-TEMPERATURE (HPHT) ........................................................... 8 4.4 HIGH CAPITAL .......................................................................................................................... 8 4.5 SHALLOW WATER FLOW ...................................................................................................... 8 5.0 SAFETY IN DEEPWATER DRILLING ....................................................................................... 8 6.0 CONCLUSION ............................................................................................................................... 8 BIBLIOGRAPHY ................................................................................................................................. 10

List of Figures
Figure 1: Distribution of deepwater wells around the world ........................................ 1 Figure 2: Riser Pipes .................................................................................................. 2 Figure 3: Illustration of deepwater rigs ....................................................................... 3 Figure 4: Flow chat for well planning .......................................................................... 5 Figure 5: Pore and fracture pressure gradients for different water depths ................. 7

1.0 INTRODUCTION
The deepwater drilling has increased tremendously over the years. This is because reserves located in areas easily to recover are diminishing. Significant conventional reserves are located in less accessible areas of the world. However, development of these areas involves risk and high cost. Oil and gas companies are now producing in areas that years back would have been considered impossible to explore. A survey carried out by the US Minerals Management Service (US MMS) concluded that 31 rigs were found drilling in deep water in the Gulf of Mexico in 2008 compared with only three in 1992 (BBC, 2010). Research by Cunha (2004) proved that a decade ago deepwater drilling was largely concentrated in the US Gulf of Mexico and Brazil, however, some western African countries are now largely involved in deepwater drilling. Fig 1 shows the distribution of deepwater wells around the world. A deepwater drilling activity begins at water depths between 400-1500 metres while ultra-deepwater drilling commences at water depths greater than 1500 metres (Martin, 2012).

This report will examine equipment for deepwater drilling and well design. It will further discuss the major problems faced during deep water drilling and finally, safety in deepwater drilling.

Figure 1: Distribution of deepwater wells around the world (BBC, 2010)

2.0 DEEPWATER EQUIPMENT Semisubmersibles and drillships are the basic rig types used to drill in deep water. Operating water depths for drillships can range from several hundred to more than 10,000 ft. Usually, drillships are used for drilling in the deepest waters and in more remote locations. After the deepwater discovery wells are drilled, specially designed fixed or floating platforms and rigs are normally used to develop and produce them. In general, semisubmersible rigs are limited to water depths of 6,500 ft or less. Semisubmersible rigs and drillships share a common characteristic; they are floating drilling platforms that move up and down with both tidal and wave action. In shallow to medium water depths, these rigs are moored to anchors on the ocean floor. At extreme water depths, a dynamic positioning system of thruster propellers is used to keep the rig over the location without the need for mooring lines and anchors. This is more common on drillships and the ultra-deepwater semisubmersibles.

Hoisting systems are used on the rigs to raise and lower the drill pipe and tools needed to drill the well. Another equipment used in drilling is the pumping system; it circulates fluids in and out of the well while drilling.

The Blowout Preventers (BOPs) are located on the ocean floor. It protects the rig and environment from oil and gas flows. A riser, a piping system connects the BOP to the rig. Another function of the riser is to connect the mud flow from the well to the rig at the surface. In addition, the riser system includes redundant choke-and-kill lines and usually a dedicated mud circulating line to allow a higher annular velocity in the larger-diameter riser for better hole cleaning.

Due to the hostile environment, Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) are used to monitor the seafloor and assist with robotic arms when necessary. ROVs have a visual device to see under the water.

Figure 2: Riser Pipes (David, 2010, p. 15)

Figure 3: Illustration of deepwater rigs

3.0 WELL DESIGN A well design process begins with a thorough understanding of the environment in which the well is to be drilled. A detailed well design considers all critical aspects of the well objectives, the risks, the estimated time and cost, and the government regulations. The well design can split into; Well plan Rig selection Drilling Well completion

3.1 WELL PLAN Well planning is very demanding in drilling. Well planning may vary for different operators. However, the end result is maximum recovery and low cost. (Leffler, Pattarozzi et al. 2011) suggest that it is important to know critical aspects such as; The well depth The well location Wellbore stability issues Lost circulation plans
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The expected hydrocarbons (gas or oil or both) The depths of expected reservoir sands Critical risk estimation Estimated cost and time to drill and evaluate the well

The casing, drilling fluid and cement must be designed properly to avoid problems while drilling. 3.1.1 DRILLING FLUID SELECTION The major factors used to select the drilling fluid for a specific well are; cost, technical performance and environmental impact. Selecting and applying the correct drilling fluid is one of the keys to successful deepwater drilling. High-performance drilling fluids should be selected to optimize hole cleaning, borehole stability and inhibition of gas hydrates. 3.1.2 CASING DESIGN According to Devereaux (1998), API Bulletin 5C2 and NACE Standard MR-01-75 are used when designing casings. Compared to onshore and shallow water drilling, deepwater drilling uses many casings. Regulatory requirements must be considered during casing design. These regulations give the appropriate casing design load scenarios for well control operations. It is compulsory for each casing string to be assessed for the loads that it will be encountered during the life of the well. It is necessary to design the most economical casing that is fit for purpose for the full design of the well. 3.1.3 CEMENT DESIGN Deepwater cementing is different from onshore cementing (Xi, Qu et al. 2010). Cementing in deepwater requires special attention to cement system design to ensure zonal isolation and casing integrity where pressure and temperature changes can compromise standard systems. The cement slurry must have certain hydraulics properties for proper placement in the wellbore. In the fluid state, thickening time, fluid loss, stability, rheology and CHP should be considered. Once the cement is set, acceptable permeability, ductility, compressive strength and shear bond strength are required (Kolstad, Mozill and Flores, 2004). The cementing design must be balanced to achieve the ideal viscosity, density and slurry properties. A cement slurry and spacer that can remove the drilling mud and replace it with the cement slurry should
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be designed (Doherthy, 2011). Cementing in deepwater wells has some challenges such as cold temperatures, shallow flow, and lost circulation.

Figure 4: Flow chat for well planning

3.2 RIG SELECTION When an operator embarks upon the selection of a rig for deepwater drilling, the following have to be considered; Well and water depths Drilling mud weight and delivery capacity Riser sizes and blow out preventers (BOPs) specifications Transmission of well and rig data Remote operated vessel (ROV) capability Safety performance records Mobilization costs Availability

3.3 DRILLING The operator determines how the well is drilled. Measuring while drilling (MWD) tools are used during drilling to determine the existence of hydrocarbons as the drill bit

bores the hole. Flow rates of the hydrocarbons from zones that have not yet been cased may be evaluated by a drillstem test (Leffler, Pattarozzi et al. 2011). 3.4 WELL COMPLETION After careful interpretation and consideration on well test data such as logging and coring, a decision is made whether to set production casing and complete the well or to plug and abandon it. Steps must be taken during well completion to change a drilled well into a producing one. These steps include; casing, cementing, perforating, gravel packing and installing a wellhead.

4.0 DEEPWATER CHALLENGES Deepwater drilling, in general, has a greater degree of difficulty than conventional drilling and presents many operational challenges. Deepwater exploration, production and development present different challenges to operators. Recent advances in technology have prompted the current expansion into deepwater drilling and production, and the trend around the world continues to be toward deeper water. As drilling moves into greater depths, the operational and technical problems will increase. For example, as the depth of the water increases, the temperature decreases and the pressure increases. In these conditions, as the crude oil reaches for the surface it would congeal in an ordinary pipeline. These challenges are the effects of the depth of the water and hence, they have a major role in the operational window. Some of the major challenges faced when drilling deepwater are; Pore pressure and low fracture gradients Current High capital Hydrate formation Well control High-pressure/High-temperature (HPHT) Shallow water flow

4.1 HYDRATE FORMATION Gas hydrates are a major concern for operators drilling in deep water. Gas hydrates are an ice-like mixture of gas and water. At high pressures, gas hydrates will form at moderate temperatures, even as high as room temperature. Gas hydrates occur
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naturally in deepwater seabed deposits, usually at depths greater than 800 ft. They occur naturally in the Gulf of Mexico at depths as shallow as 1,750 ft and at a temperature of 45F (7.2C). Naturally occurring gas hydrates can pose a wellcontrol problem when drilled, but gas hydrate formation in the drilling fluid is a more significant well-control problem in deepwater situations. Hydrates can block production lines and drilling equipment (Halliday, Clapper et al. 1998). Hydrates could be controlled by injecting inhibitors.

4.2 PORE PRESSURE AND LOW FRACTURE GRADIENTS The fracture gradient and pore pressure decrease as the water depth increases which results in a narrow margin between the pore pressure and fracture gradient. This causes lost returns during cementing as well as lost circulation during drilling. According to Rocha (2003), Smaller tolerance between pore pressure and fracture pressure gradient resulting in narrow pressure margins while drilling is probably the most recognized deepwater challenge. This low fracture gradient is as a result of a decrease in the overburden pressure gradient. The operational window formed by the fracture pressure gradient and pore pressure reduces as the water depth increases. This reduced operational window affects deepwater drilling for example, a great number of casing strings are used during drilling and slim hole at total depth. New tools such as pressure while drilling (PWD) are used to monitor the annular pressure to ensure effective hole cleaning without the formation fracturing (Rocha, 2003).

Figure 5: Pore and fracture pressure gradients for different water depths (David, 2010, p. 11)

4.3 HIGH-PRESSURE/HIGH-TEMPERATURE (HPHT) Wellbore temperature and pressure increases as the depth of the well increases. Operators have different definitions of HPHT conditions, however, wells with pressures above 10,000psi and bottom hole temperature in excess of 300 oF fall in this category (Health and Safety Executive, 2005). This HPHT reduces the viscosity of the drilling fluid. Also, some of the drilling equipment are not able to withstand this high temperature. 4.4 HIGH CAPITAL Deepwater projects are highly capital intensive. The cost of hiring a deepwater drilling rig can be up to $1 million dollars per day. This generally increases the cost of developing a deepwater field. According to Doherty (2011), The cost of developing a deepwater field can exceed $1 billion, and increases with increasing water depth. 4.5 SHALLOW WATER FLOW Shallow water flow can be a significant problem in some areas such as Gulf of Mexico. This occurs when sea water is trapped in pore spaces of sediment that comprises impermeable clay or shale. This results in an increase in overburden and therefore, pressure builds up as the sea water is trapped in the impermeable shale.

5.0 SAFETY IN DEEPWATER DRILLING Risks are always involved in deepwater drilling. The Gulf of Mexico drilling accident that took place in 2010 gives a tragic reminder that there is no such thing as zero risk. Strict safety procedures have to be adhered to when drilling a well in extreme conditions. For example, a Professional Engineer must review the design and certify that the cementing and casing designs are appropriate.

6.0 CONCLUSION Deepwater drilling is more complex and expensive compared to shallow water and onshore drilling. The challenges faced in deep water are unique and require careful planning and consideration.

Even with the economical, technical, political and geological challenges in deep water drilling, operators continue to drill deeper water depths and explore frontier areas due to the recent exploration success.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Azar, J.J. and Samuel, G.R. (2007) Drilling engineering. Tulsa, Okla: PennWell Corp. BBC News (2010) Global deepwater oil production. Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10298342 (Accessed: 11 November 2013) Cunha, J.C. (2004) 'Innovative design for deepwater exploratory wells', IADC/SPE: Drilling Conference. Dallas, Texas, 2-4 March 2004. Society of Petroleum Engineers. DOI: 10.2118/87154-MS. Devereaux, S. (1998) Practical drilling and well planning manual. Tulsa, OK, USA: PennWell. David, A.S.R. (2010) 'Drilling in extreme environment: challenges and implication for the oil industry'. London, United Kingdom. Lloyd's Doherty, D. (2011) 'Factors to deepwater cementing', The American Oil & Gas Reporter (April). Halliday, W., Clapper, D.K. and Smalling, M. (1998) 'New gas hydrate inhibitors for deepwater drilling fluids', IADC/SPE: Drilling Conference. Dallas, Texas, 3-6 March 1998. Society of Petroleum Engineers. DOI: 10.2118/39316-MS. Health and Safety Executive 2005: High pressure, high temperature developments in the United Kingdom continental shelf, HSE Research Report 409. Available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrpdf/rr409.pdf (Accessed: 18 November 2013). Kolstad, E., Mozill, G. and Flores, J.C. (2004) Deepwater isolation, shallow-water flow hazards test cement in Marco Polo', Offshore (January). Leffler, W.L., Pattarozzi, R. and Sterling, G. (2011) Deepwater petroleum exploration and production: a nontechnical guide. 2nd edn. Tulsa, OK, USA: PennWell. MARTIN, A.S. (2012) The impacts and risks of deepwater and arctic hydrocarbon Development. Available at: http://www.sustainalytics.com/sites/default/files/unconventional-oil-and-gas-arcticdrilling_0.pdf (Accessed: 15 November 2013) Rocha, L.A.S., Junqueira, P. and Roque, J.L. (2003) 'Overcoming deep and ultra deepwater drilling challenges', Offshore Technology Conference. Houston, Texas, 58 May 2003. DOI: 10.4043/15233-MS. Xi, F., Qu, J., Lv, G., Tan, W. and Wang, C. (2010) 'Study of deep water cement experimental method and cement slurry', 20-25 June 2010, The International Society of Offshore and Polar Engineers. Beijing, China, 20-25 June 2010.

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