Underbalanced drilling

Amerada Hess recently completed the Phu Horm 3 sidetrack well in northeast Thailand using Halliburton's underbalanced drilling (UBD) technology.

Frank Hartley • Houston

Amerada Hess recently completed the Phu Horm 3 sidetrack well in northeast Thailand using Halliburton's underbalanced drilling (UBD) technology. The UBD technology was a first for Thailand.

The primary objective was to drill the well safely while maintaining pressure control and minimizing the severe fluid losses experienced while drilling the over-pressured reservoir section of the Phu Horm 3 well. Other objectives were to reduce formation damage and to evaluate productivity and reservoir characteristics as the well was drilled.

As part of the operations, an underbalanced applications group provided upfront engineering and site supervision, including drilling and reservoir engineering and a team of onsite drilling specialists and operators.

Other technology included cryogenic nitrogen, the four-phase separation system, SCAN and Insite data acquisition and management system, condensate handling and storage, gas flare system, completion equipment, and ancillary equipment such as downhole gauges and non-return valves.

Conventional drilling techniques would not have been successful on the well. The results confirm that this technology has real application in drilling fractured carbonate reservoirs of this type.

The potential for growth of underbalanced applications in the international arena is promising, as major operators start to discover the benefits of the technology in terms of production enhancement, accessibility of incremental reserves, and the reduction or elimination of drilling problems.

Reservoir simulation

Oil and gas companies depend heavily on computer simulations of their reservoirs to forecast hydrocarbon reserves, expedite reservoir development, and maximize the profitability of their reserves. To further this effort, Schlumberger Information Solutions and Intel Corp. have opened the Intel Energy Competency Center, the first in the US, located at the SIS headquarters in Houston.

The center provides an environment where industry professionals can evaluate the performance and cost benefits of various reservoir simulation scenarios on Schlumberger software. The value of validating solutions has been demonstrated in other competency centers in the Middle East and Europe.

Using their own data, operators can run, and then visualize, their simulations on Xeon processors and Intel Itanium 2 processor-based workstations and servers in cluster configurations from Hewlett Packard. The Intel-based platforms in the center run on both Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems.

Operations reporting

Landmark Graphics Corp. has developed a next-generation technology for wellsite operations reporting and analysis. Landmark recently released Open Wells, an operations reporting and engineering data management solution that offers both drilling and well services reporting. The new technology was designed to integrate with other industry drilling and well services applications, including CasingSeat, Compass, StressCheck, and Wellplan, and earth model visualization systems AssetView and 3D DrillView KM.

The technology was engineered and integrated to support rapidly expanding real-time drilling environments from shallow onshore fields to deepwater frontier areas.

According to Landmark, OpenWells is configurable for any type of drilling or well services operation across a wide range of drilling environments, providing a customizable data management tool.

Cuttings grinder

Baroid has acquired Two-Stage Hammermill cuttings grinder technology to assist operators in meeting stringent environmental regulations in onshore and offshore locations.

The technology is a component of Hallibur-ton's FullCircle cuttings injection process, which includes feasibility studies, planning, cuttings handling and slurrification, and pressure pumping.

The new cuttings grinder can handle high volumes of coarse or abrasive cuttings and produce a finely ground end product suitable for injection. Similar machines on the market today have drawbacks related to high consumable costs, decreased rig efficiency due to downtime required to replace consumables, low feed rates and the need to re-process materials to achieve particle size grade requirements, the company says.

Inability to process abnormally high volumes or cuttings from hard formations may prevent the operator from injecting some cuttings, making it necessary to seek other more costly disposal options.

The Hammermill cuttings grinder can be configured to accommodate different feed rates, formation types, fibers, sands and other materials. Retention time in the mill can be adjusted to achieve the desired final product size. The unit can replace the much larger and more capital intensive ball mills currently in use. Development of both smaller and modular versions of the unit is under way.

Cutting tool

A new downhole cutting tool has been used in well remedial operations near Hassi Messaoud, Algeria. The electric tool, developed by Sondex, a British oilfield technology company, does away with the need for chemicals or explosives – the traditional way of severing tubing below the surface.

The downhole electric cutting tool (DECT) has been used in four wells and has made six cuts in a program by Baker Atlas on behalf of Sonatrach, the Algerian oil and gas group. It is believed to be the world's first commercial deployment of such a tool.

The DECT was operated at depths to 3,329 m with temperatures to 120° C and pressures of 5,000 psi. Most of the cuts were made in 4 1/2-in. P110 tubing. Each cutting operation took 6.5 min. DECT can cut most tubulars up to 5 in. in diameter.

Development of the tool was aided by funding from a consortium of major oil companies. Statoil is backing the development of a tool capable of cutting larger diameter tubing. Further industry funding is expected for the development of a tool capable of operating at especially high pressures and temperatures.

The tool has been tested at pressures to 18,000 psi and in temperatures as high as 150° C.

Medium duty packer

Baker Oil Tools has developed a new economical and reliable medium duty (MD) 6K packer for completions and workovers. The new, fit-for-purpose Hornet MD 6K packer was built with the same chassis design as the field-proven Hornet 10K, but with ratings scaled down for less hostile environments.

Rated for 6,000 psi, this packer addresses not only the physical environment, but also the economics of the moderately pressured production applications, which call for low cost, reliability, and versatility. Its lower end temperature rating of 45° F fills temperature requirements into the range of the Hornet 10K packer.

The packer can be set on wireline or mechanically. It can be landed in tension, compression, or neutral; the ability to pack off with applied tension makes it ideal for shallower applications.

Setting and releasing with a one-quarter turn is made easier with an enhanced upper slip system, which has been thoroughly tested across American Petroleum Institute minimum to maximum casing inside diameter tolerances for each specified weight. The slip wicker configuration provides bi-directional load support while facilitating easy release. The solid upper cone supports highest tensile loads, and the staged release action eliminates high over-pull requirements. Minimum set-down weight is required to anchor slips.

The bonded internal bypass system with no O-rings means fewer leak paths. The Hornet MD is available with NACE trim for H2S service, and it can be specified with nine chrome flow wetted material, plastic coatings, or nickel plating as required for the application.

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