ABERDEEN, UK – Safe Influx, a spin-off company from Robert Gordon University (RGU), has designed technology that can detect well influxes, kicks of gas or fluid from a formation into a wellbore, and immediately act to minimize the influx and prevent a well blowout.
Phil Hassard, co-founder of Safe Influx and Drilling Simulation Manager at the RGU’s Energy Transition Institute (ETI), said:
“During development, we found that the industry has six blowouts for every 1,000 wells drilled. With over one million wells still to be drilled in basins across the globe this is potentially 6,000 well blowouts, leading to 120 major oil spills and loss of life…
“Further research showed that up to 70% of well blowouts are down to human factors.
“Drillers have an ever-increasing workload and naturally this means concentration can lapse. To support drillers, our system acts as an automatic preventative safety tool they can use to make the well safe as quickly as possible when the situation arises.”
RGU’s Startup Accelerator program has supported the company, providing funding and guidance. The team also recently secured funds from the Oil and Gas Technology Centre (OGTC) to support a field test.
“We want to make sure that the industry knows our product is robust, so it has been validated by an independent verification body,” said Bryan Atchison, co-founder of Safe Influx and Well Engineering Manager at the ETI.
“We have also tested it extensively on cyber rigs with real drillers and in simulations, and have consistently seen excellent results.
“To prove the effectiveness of our technology even further, we are conducting a field test in October on an older drilling rig. This will show that the system works in a realistic environment and can easily fit within a drilling rigs’ existing infrastructure without the need for significant modification, which will reduce installation costs.”
The test will be supported by a major drilling contractor, he added. Malcolm Banks, Wells Solution Centre Manager at the OGTC, said: “This technology could represent a further step towards automation of well operations and has the potential to enhance real-time decision-making in critical well control situations.”