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WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Introduction and
How to Use

Volume 1
Procedures and Guidelines

Volume 2
Fundamentals of Well Control

BP EXPLORATION
© 1995 British Petroleum Company PLC
Text originated by BP Drilling Department
Manual produced by ODL Publications, Aberdeen, Tel (01224) 637171
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

WELCOME

Click here to zoom in on text, then click on text to scroll through

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Following is the Second Edition of the “BP Well Control Manual” first issued in 1987.
When issued it was expected to be a living document, accounting for changes in
technology and experience, it still is. Now, eight years later, horizontal and extended
reach wells, coil tubing drilling and under balance drilling have or will become part
of our kit for improved profitability.

Our objective with this Second Edition is to bring three changes to the operating
groups:

1) Issue the manual in an electronic version as a pilot which may lead to collecting
all of the manuals on a server or CD-ROM.

2) Make available Excel based well control worksheets which have been
incorporated into the manual.

3) Modify parts of Volume I Chapters 1 and 6 for high angle and horizontal well
operations.

In a separate file we have issued the “HTHP Well Control Manual”. Future updates
will tie this manual with the “BP Well Control Manual”.

Publication of the manual in electronic format should make the abundance of


information in it more accessible to you. A powerful search capability and “hot button”
references are part of the software package we have selected. Software used is
compatible with Macintosh, MS-DOS and DEC hardware platforms making it accessible
to BP and our contractors when needed. Electronic publishing makes modifications
easier and we solicit your suggestions for correction, clarification, change or addition
to the manual. If we have not managed to make the resource more useful and clear
to you we have failed our objective. Your views on how well we have done are
important.

To open and use the manual please read the section below. While use of the electronic
version of the manual is encouraged there is still the option of printing a hard copy
of the manual. Hard copies can still be obtained from ODL in Aberdeen at a cost for
printing and shipping.

Originally this manual was not issued as “policy”. In the October 1994 Drilling Managers
Meeting this and two other documents, the “Drilling Policy Manual” and “Casing
Design Manual”, were designated as the three core policy documents covering our
operations. Every effort has been made in this edition to tie to the other two documents.

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

HOW TO USE

This manual has been converted into Adobe Acrobat software and is a ‘read only’ version,
ie you cannot make any changes to text or figures, you can copy the text and figures and
paste them in to another application.

Navigating through the Manual


When you have read this you will be able to navigate quickly through the manual, to and
from volumes, sections, subsections and figures.

Clicking the mouse on the `Main Contents' button at the bottom of this page will take you to the
Well Control Manual overall contents list, ie Volume 1 or 2. For additional help use the Acrobat
Help files.

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use the Acrobat arrows in the to return you to the Main
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appear with an arrow inside it.

Press the mouse button on the section you require to read, and you will be zoomed into the
section, press it again and it will scroll through that section, at the end of the section it will
reset to the beginning of the section.

Excel Worksheets
Each example of a Worksheet in the manual is linked to a blank Excel Template for you to
use for your own calculations, just click on the example Worksheet and Excel will
automatically open. To return to the manual, simply Quit out of Excel.

Printing
When printing to a US Letter size printer please click on the “Shrink to Fit” box in the Print
dialogue box. Printing of Excel Worksheets is through Excel.

Manual
Contents

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Volume 1 – Contents

Nomenclature
Abbreviations

1 PREPARATION
Section Page
1.1 INSTRUMENTATION AND CONTROL 1-1
1.2 MANPOWER ORGANISATION 1-9
1.3 DRILLS AND SLOW CIRCULATING RATES 1-15
1.4 USE OF THE MUD SYSTEM 1-27
1.5 KICK TOLERANCE 1-35

2 THE PREVENTION OF A KICK


Section
2.1 CORRECT TRIPPING PROCEDURES 2-1
2.2 MAINTAIN SUITABLE HYDROSTATIC PRESSURE 2-9
2.3 CONTROL LOST CIRCULATION 2-17

3 WARNING SIGNS OF A KICK


Paragraph
1 GENERAL 3-2
2 DRILLING BREAK 3-2
3 INCREASED RETURNS FLOWRATE 3-2
4 PIT GAIN 3-3
5 HOLE NOT TAKING CORRECT VOLUME DURING
A TRIP 3-4
6 CHANGE IN PROPERTIES OF RETURNED MUD
7 INCREASE IN HOOKLOAD 3-6
8 CHANGE IN PUMP SPEED OR PRESSURE 3-6

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

4 ACTION ON DETECTING AN INFLUX


Section Page
4.1 SHALLOW GAS PROCEDURE 4-1
4.2 SHUT-IN PROCEDURE 4-9
4.3 DURING SHUT-IN PERIOD 4-17

5 WELL KILL DECISION ANALYSIS


Paragraph
1 GENERAL 5-2
2 PIPE ON BOTTOM 5-2
3 PIPE OFF BOTTOM – (Drillpipe in the Stack) 5-2
4 PIPE OFF BOTTOM – (Drillcollar in the Stack) 5-5
5 NO PIPE IN THE HOLE 5-5
6 WHILE RUNNING CASING OR LINER 5-7
7 UNDERGROUND BLOWOUT 5-9

6 WELL KILL TECHNIQUES


Section
6.1 STANDARD TECHNIQUES 6-1
– Wait and Weight Method 6-2
– Driller’s Method 6-3
6.2 SPECIAL TECHNIQUES 6-31
1. Volumetric Method 6-33
2. Stripping 6-47
3. Bullheading 6-67
4. Snubbing 6-75
5. Baryte Plugs 6-84
6. Emergency Procedure 6-93
6.3 COMPLICATIONS 6-97

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

NOMENCLATURE
SYMBOL DESCRIPTION UNIT
A Cross sectional area in.2
a Constant –
An Total nozzle area in.2
b Constant –
c Constant –
C Annular capacity bbl/m
Cp Pipe capacity bbl/m
Ca Cuttings concentration %
CL Clinging constant –
CR Closing ratio –
D Depth m
Dshoe Shoe depth m
Dwp Depth of openhole weak point m
dbit Bit diameter in.
dh Hole diameter in.
dhc Hole/casing ID in.
do Pipe OD in.
di Pipe ID in.
dcut Average cuttings diameter in.
dc Drilling exponent (corrected) –
F Force lb
Fsh Shale formation factor –
FPG Formation Pressure Gradient SG
g Gravity acceleration –
G Pressure gradient psi/ft
psi/m
SG
Gi Influx gradient psi/ft
H Height m
Hi Height of influx m
Hp Height of plug m
ITT Interval Transit Time µsec/m
K Bulk modulus of elasticity
L Length m
λ Rotary exponent –
MR Migration rate m/hr
M Matrix stress psi
m Threshold bit weight lb
MW Mud weight SG

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SYMBOL DESCRIPTION UNIT


N Rotary speed rpm
OPG Overburden Pressure Gradient SG
P Pressure psi/SG
(The units of subsurface pressure
may be either psi or SG)
∆P Adjustment pressure psi
Pa Annulus pressure psi
∆Pbit Bit pressure drop psi
Pcl Choke line pressure loss psi
Pdp Drillpipe pressure psi
Pf Formation pressure psi/SG
Pfrac Fracture pressure psi/SG
Pfc Final circulating pressure psi
Pi Hydrostatic pressure of influx psi
Pic Initial circulating pressure psi
Plo Leak off pressure psi/SG
Pmax Maximum allowable pressure
at the openhole weak point psi/SG
Poc Wide open choke pressure psi
Pp Pore pressure psi/SG
Pscr Slow circulating rate pressure psi
PV Plastic Viscosity cP
Q Flowrate gal/min
Qmud Mud flowrate gal/min
Qgas Gas flowrate gal/min
Re Reynolds number –
R Resistivity ohm-m
Rw Resistivity of water ohm-m
ROP Rate of Penetration m/hr
Shale factor meq/100g
S Overburden pressure psi
Sg Gas saturation Fractional
Sw Water saturation Fractional
t Time seconds
min
TR Transport Ratio –
T Temperature degrees
C, F, R
TD Total Depth m
TVD True Vertical Depth m
V Kick tolerance bbl

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

SYMBOL DESCRIPTION UNIT


V Volume bbl
cc
ml
l
v Velocity m/min
m/s
vmud Mud velocity m/min
vp Average pipe running speed m/min
vs Slip velocity m/min
W Weight gm
kg
lb
w Weight lb/ft
lb/bbl
SG
w Weight of pipe lb/ft
wb Baryte required for weighting up lb/bbl
wcut Average cuttings weight SG
WOB Weight on Bit lb
x Offset ()
YP Yield Point lb/100ft2
Z Compressibility factor –
µ Viscosity cP
ν Poissons’s Ratio –
σ’1 Maximum effective principle stress psi/SG
σ’t Tectonic stress psi/SG
Ø Porosity Fractional
Ø600 Fann reading lb/100ft2
β Tectonic stress coefficient –
ρ Density SG
ρb Bulk density SG

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

ABBREVIATIONS

API RP American Petroleum Institute Recommended Practice


BHA Bottomhole Assembly
BOP Blowout Preventer
BRT Below Rotary Table
DWT Dead Weight Tester
ECD Equivalent Circulating Density
EMW Equivalent Mud Weight
H2S Hydrogen Sulphide
IADC International Association of Drilling Contractors
ID Internal Diameter
KTOL Kick Tolerance
LCM Lost Circulation Material
LMRP Lower Marine Riser Package
LO Leak off
MAASP Maximum Allowable Annular Surface Pressure
OBM Oil Base Mud
OD Outside Diameter
PMS Preventive Maintenance System
PV Plastic Viscosity
ROP Rate of Penetration
SCR Slow Circulating Rate
SG Specific Gravity
SPM Strokes per Minute
YP Yield Point

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

1 PREPARATION
Section Page

1.1 INSTRUMENTATION AND CONTROL 1-1

1.2 MANPOWER ORGANISATION 1-9

1.3 DRILLS AND SLOW CIRCULATING RATES 1-15

1.4 USE OF THE MUD SYSTEM 1-27

1.5 KICK TOLERANCE 1-35

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

1.1 INSTRUMENTATION AND CONTROL

Paragraph Page
1 General 1-2
2 Pressure Gauges 1-2
3 Pump Control 1-4
4 Fluid Measurement 1-6

Illustrations
1.1 Suggested Instrumentation for a Floating Rig 1-3
1.2 Suggested Instrumentation for a Fixed Installation 1-5
1.3 Suggested Fluid Measurement System 1-7

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

1 General
It is essential that an appropriate level of control equipment is provided on every rig in order
that a well that is under pressure can be accurately monitored.

In general, during a well control incident, there is a necessity for more accurate
instrumentation than under conditions encountered during routine drilling.

The level of instrumentation on every rig therefore must be evaluated in order to assess
its␣ s uitability for well control purposes. This evaluation should ideally be carried out
in␣conjunction with the pre contract rig audit and any deficiencies made good prior to
contract␣award.

The purpose of this section is to highlight the important aspects of instrumentation and
control and to recommend a standard level of equipment for all rig types.

The level of instrumentation that is recommended will ensure that a suitable level of control
is afforded during unusually critical operations, and that adequate back-up is provided.
Therefore, much of this equipment would not be necessary in routine circumstances. However
equipment failure is most likely when the equipment is highly stressed. It is in these situations
that serious incidents can develop if a suitable level of back-up instrumentation and control
equipment is not to hand.

2 Pressure Gauges
When a well is under pressure it is important that accurate pressure measurements can be made.

Each rig will normally be equipped with gauges to read standpipe pressure and annulus
pressure. The gauges that are fitted to the choke panel and at the driller’s console are often
the only gauges available for well control purposes.

Although the standpipe and choke manifold will generally be fitted with ‘Cameron’ gauges,
these are considered to be so inaccurate as to have little application to well control.

All of these gauges will have a fullscale deflection that is at least equal to the working
pressure rating of the equipment. In all cases, this means that it will be necessary to install
gauges of lower rating in order that relatively low pressures can be accurately recorded.
This will be especially important with high pressure equipment.

It is also important that suitable pressure gauges are installed at the choke manifold in case
the well has to be controlled from this position. This will apply to land rigs which may be
equipped only with manual chokes and the majority of rigs that are equipped with both
manual and remote operated chokes.

Accurate readout of pump pressure and choke pressure is, in the majority of cases, all that is
required. However an extra pressure reading is required on a floating rig in order that the
wellhead pressure can be monitored through the kill line.

In order to be able to install additional pressure gauges it may be necessary to fabricate


manifolds and install high pressure instrument hose between the choke panel and the
standpipe/choke manifold. All this equipment must be rated to the working pressure of
the␣equipment.

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Figure 1.1 Suggested Instrumentation for a Floating Rig

STANDPIPE
1
CAMERON
GAUGE

STANDPIPE
2

1/4in
NEEDLE
VALVE D
TRANSDUCER K CHECK
C
VALVE

STANDPIPE
MANIFOLD
HYDRAULIC
FLUID INLET

CAMERON CHOKE
GAUGE PANEL
D
K SW
AC
C O

KILL PUMP
LINE OUTPUT
MONITOR

REMOTELY
OPERATED
CHOKE
CHOKE
MANIFOLD

MANUAL
CHOKES

CHOKE
BUFFER LINE
TANK

DRAIN FROM
BOP

OVERBOARD
LINE
D – DRILL PIPE
POORBOY K – KILL LINE
DEGASSER C – CHOKE LINE
– 1/4in NEEDLE VALVES
FLOWLINE – CHECK VALVE/HYDRAULIC FLUID INLET

WEOX02.001

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

So in general:

• There must be gauges available to read choke pressure, standpipe pressure and kill line
static pressure in the case of a floating rig.

• The above gauges must be readable from the manifold if manual chokes are fitted to the
manifold.

• It must be possible to easily install and remove low range pressure gauges at the choke
panel and at the choke manifold.

Suggested pressure recording systems for a floating rig and a fixed installation are shown in
Figures 1.1 and 1.2. The proposed systems can also be used for measuring slow circulating
rate pressures (SCRs).

The following points should be noted from the proposed systems:

• A good selection of gauges should be available. Gauges should be calibrated on a regular


basis with a Dead Weight Tester. It is suggested that the gauges are checked at each
BOP Test and at this stage the pressure monitors in the mud logging unit should be
checked against the rig equipment.

• It must be easy to change the gauges.

• A hydraulic fluid hand pump should be available to purge the lines at suitable points as
shown.

• Consideration should be given to completely isolating the supplementary pressure


monitoring system from that originally fitted to the rig. This would ensure that the original
system was closed and hence in no way susceptible to leaking needle valves or misuse
of the supplementary system.

• Sensitive low pressure rated gauges should be removed from the system unless required.
The piping and manifolding should be permanently installed. It would be a good idea to
fabricate a cover for the manifolding at the choke manifold and choke panel.

• The gauges that are used to measure the slow circulating rate pressures should be used
to monitor well pressures in the event a kick is taken.

• A stroke counter, similar to the battery operated ‘Swaco’ unit, is recommended for remote
installation at the choke manifold. It should be removed when not required. A suitably
isolated terminal should be located at a convenient point at the choke manifold, in order
that the signal from the limit switches on the pumps can be transmitted to the counter.

3 Pump Control
It is desirable that the remote control of the pump used to kill a well that is under pressure is
located reasonably close to the choke operator.

In most cases the rig pumps will be used. Generally, the Driller will control these pumps
from a position that is close to the choke panel. Most choke panels contain a meter that
displays the cumulative output of the pump. Therefore, in the majority of cases, if the well
is controlled with a remote operated choke, the man on the pump will be able to co-ordinate
with the choke operator.

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Figure 1.2 Suggested Instrumentation for a Fixed Installation

TO
STANDPIPE

TO
STANDPIPE

STANDPIPE
MANIFOLD D
C

CHOKE
PANEL

D SW
AC
O
1/4in HYDRAULIC
FLUID FILLED
HIGH PRESSURE HOSE

TO PUMP/
FROM CHOKE PANEL
BOP
CHOKE

CHOKE
PRESSURE
GAUGE

TO
DEGASSER
TO BURN PIT

REMOTELY
OPERATED
CHOKE
TO BURN PIT
TRANSDUCER

CHOKE
CAMERON
MANIFOLD GAUGE

TO BURN PIT
C – CHOKE LINE
TO D – DRILL PIPE
DEGASSER – 1/4in NEEDLE VALVES
– CHECK VALVE/HYDRAULIC FLUID INLET

WEOX02.002

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

However, if the choke manifold contains manual chokes, the choke operator may be some
considerable distance from the man on the pump and a monitor of the pump output. In such
cases, it is recommended that a remote pump output meter is positioned at the choke manifold.
This will be especially important on land rigs which may be equipped only with manual
chokes and where often the choke manifold is located at some distance from the rig floor.

A further complication may arise if a kill pump or cement pump is used during a well control
operation. It may become necessary to use these pumps on any rig, but the use of a relatively
small displacement pump will be standard well control procedure on a floating rig that is drilling
in deep water. Therefore, on a floating rig, it is desirable that it is possible to control and monitor
the kill/cement pump from the rig floor.

4 Fluid Measurement
During stripping operations, as well as during a volumetric kill, it is important to be␣able to
accurately measure small volumes of fluid bled from, or pumped into the␣well.

API RP 53 recommends that ‘a trip tank or other method of accurately measuring the drilling
fluid bled off, leaked from, or pumped into a well within an accuracy of half a barrel
is␣required’.

Most rigs will not have suitable equipment to do this.

It is usually assumed that the choke manifold lined up across a manual choke to the trip
tank␣is a suitable fluid measurement system. However , in most cases this will not be a
satisfactory arrangement because of the relatively large volume in the line between the
choke and the tank.

In general, there is a requirement for a line from the well, terminating at a manual choke
positioned directly above a measuring cylinder, such as the trip tank (hydraulically activated
chokes are not suitable for this application). However a bleed line from the well to the
mixing tanks on the cement/kill pump may be sufficient.

The most satisfactory arrangement is to use a strip tank as shown in Figure 1.3. This tank
would typically have a 3 to 4 bbl capacity so that very small volumes of fluid can be measured.
After bleeding into the strip tank, the tank contents can be emptied into the trip tank where
the total volume of mud bled from the well, together with the mud leaked past the preventers,
can be measured.

Although it is not ideal, it may be sufficient to use a Lo-Torq valve instead of a␣manual
choke to bleed fluid to the tank. However, during a long operation this is likely to wash out
and so provision should be made to easily and quickly replace the valve.

It is not recommended to bleed mud into a measuring tank that is situated in a confined area
when there is a possibility that gas is entrained in the mud.

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PRESSURE
GAUGE

FROM CHOKE MANUAL


MANIFOLD/BOP CHOKE
3in PIPE

LEVEL
INDICATOR
STRIP TANK
(3 – 4bbl
capacity)

LARGE ID
DRAIN
WORKING PLATFORM

FLOWLINE
TRIP
RETURNS
TANK

WEOX02.003

Figure 1.3 Suggested Fluid Measurement System

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1.2 MANPOWER ORGANISATION

Paragraph Page
1 General 1-10
2 Individual Responsibilities 1-10
3 Communication 1-12

Illustrations
1.4 An Example Communication System 1-13

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1 General
This section is intended to provide a guideline for the allocation of individual responsibilities
during a well control incident. It is Company policy that a well control contingency plan
should include the allocation of individual responsibilities.

The contingency plan should be drawn up in conjunction with the drilling contractor and
should be regularly reassessed. Well control drills provide an opportunity to assess the
effectiveness of the contingency plan and to identify and make good any inadequacies.

2 Individual Responsibilities
The well control contingency plan must allocate the responsibilities of all those concerned
in the operation. Circumstances at the rigsite may dictate that these responsibilities be
modified in the event of an incident; however, the following can be used as guidelines for
the allocation of responsibilities in the event of a well control incident:

(a) The Company Representative


• Once the well has been shut-in and is being correctly monitored, to organise a pre-kill
meeting for all those involved in the supervision of the well control operation.

• To provide specific well control procedures, using the contingency plan as a


guideline.

• To monitor and supervise the implementation of these procedures.

• To be present on the rig floor at the start of the kill operation. Either the Toolpusher
or the Company Representative should be present at all times on the rig floor during
the operation.

• To maintain communication with the Operations base.

• The Company Representative has the right to assume complete control of the work
required to regain control of the well.

• To assign the responsibility of keeping a diary of events.

(b) The Company Drilling Engineer


• Will provide technical back-up to the Company Representative.

• To keep a diary of events.

(c) The Senior Contractor Representative


• Has the overall responsibility for all actions taken on the rig.

• Has the responsibility for supervising the contractor staff that are not directly
involved in the well control operation.

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• However, in the event that the well gets out of control, the Company Representative
has the right to assume complete control and supervise the work required to regain
full control of the well. (This entitlement is a standard condition of Company drilling
contracts.)

(d) The Contractor Toolpusher


• Has overall responsibility for the implementation of the well control operation.

• Has the responsibility for ensuring that the driller and the drill crew are correctly
deployed during the well control operation.

• Must be present at the rig floor during the start of the kill operation. Either the
Toolpusher or the Company Representative should be present at all times on the rig
floor during the operation.

• Has the responsibility for briefing the off duty drill crew prior to starting a new␣shift.

(e) The Driller


• Has the responsibility for the initial detection of the kick and closing in the well.

• Has the responsibility for supervising the drill crew during the well control operation.

(f) The Mud Engineer


• Has continuous responsibility for monitoring the mud system and the conditioning
of the mud.

It may be prudent to send an extra Mud Engineer to the rig in the event of a well control
incident to ensure constant supervision of the mud system.

(g) The Cementing Engineer


• Will ensure that the cement unit is ready for operation at any time.

• Will operate the cement unit at the discretion of the Company Representative.

(h) The Subsea Engineer (where appropriate)


• Should be available for consultation at all times during the well control operation.

• Has the responsibility for checking all the BOP equipment during the operation.

(j) The Mud Logging Engineers


• Have the responsibility for continuously monitoring the circulating system during
the well control operation.

• One member of the crew must keep a diary of events.

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3 Communication
One of the Company Representative’s responsibilities is to organise a pre-kill meeting once
the well has been shut-in. The purpose of this meeting is to ensure that all those involved in
the supervision and implementation of the well control operation are familiar with the
procedures that will be used to kill the well. This meeting is also the first stage in the
process of communication during the well control operation.

Experience has shown that even the most well conceived well control procedures can go
badly wrong if communication before and during the operation is not properly organised
and effective.

It is therefore most important that the well control contingency plan details the method and
line of communication for each individual involved in the operation.

The objectives of a suitable system of communication are:

• To ensure that all information relevant to the well control operation is communicated to
the Company Representative.

• To ensure that those involved in the supervision of the operation are at all times in
communication with the Company Representative.

• To ensure that all those involved in the operation are aware of the line and method of
communication that they should use.

• To ensure that communication equipment on the rig is adequate, and is used during the
well control operation in the most effective manner possible.

Figure 1.4 shows an example of a possible communication system on a semi-submersible␣rig


for use during standard well control operations. The following can be noted from this example:

• After the kick is taken, the well is shut-in and closely monitored.

• The Company Representative calls a pre-kill meeting of those involved in the supervision
of the operation.

• Responsibilities are allocated to those involved in the operation by the supervisors who
attended the meeting.

• Each line and method of communication is defined. It should be noted that:

– The rig telephone system is not overloaded.

– The most important lines of communication to and from the Company Representative
(denoted by those inside the broken line) are best maintained with the use of hand
held radios.

– The use of intrinsically safe hand held radios ensures that all those inside the broken
line can listen in on each others communication.

– Depending on the type of operation it may be necessary to include others within the
broken line.

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Figure 1.4 An Example Communication System

(1) KICK TAKEN – WELL SHUT-IN – WELL BEING MONITORED

(2) PREKILL MEETING

COMPANY REPRESENTATIVE
COMPANY DRILLING ENGINEER
SENIOR CONTRACTOR REPRESENTATIVE
TOOLPUSHER
MUD ENGINEER
MUD LOGGING ENGINEER

(3) ALLOCATE RESPONSIBILITIES

SENIOR
MUD CONTRACTOR
TOOLPUSHER
ENGINEER REPRESENTATIVE

OFF DUTY SUBSEA CONTRACTOR


MATES
DRILL CREW ENGINEER STAFF

CONTRACTOR
DRILLER
SHOREBASE

PUMPMAN/
DRILL CREW
DERRICKMAN

(4) MAJOR LINES/METHOD OF COMMUNICATION


DURING THE WELL CONTROL OPERATION

DRILL CREW

CONTRACTOR MARINE PUMPMAN/


DRILLER SHOREBASE STAFF DERRICKMAN

RT RT

RT SENIOR S/S
CONTRACTOR MUD
TOOLPUSHER
REPRESENTATIVE ENGINEER

H/H

H/H H/H
COMPANY
S/S REPRESENTATIVE RT

RT

SUBSEA COMPANY SERVICE COMPANY MUD LOGGING


ENGINEER SHOREBASE ENGINEERS ENGINEER

RT – RIG TELEPHONE SYSTEM S/S – SHIP TO SHORE H/H – HAND HELD SET

WEOX02.004

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1.3 DRILLS AND SLOW CIRCULATING RATES

Paragraph Page
1 General 1-16
2 BOP Drills 1-16
3 D1: Kick while Tripping 1-17
4 D2: Kick while Drilling 1-17
5 D3: Diverter Drill 1-19
6 D4: Accumulator Drill 1-19
7 D5: Well Kill Drill 1-21
8 Slow Circulating Rate Pressures, SCRs 1-22
9 Choke Line Losses 1-23

Illustrations
1.5 SCR Pressure Plot 1-23
1.6 Choke Line Pressure Loss Data Sheet 1-25
1.7 An example Determination of Choke Line Losses 1-26

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1 General
Both BOP Drills and the recording of slow circulating rate pressures will be carried out on
a routine basis on all rigs.

This section covers the reasons why it is necessary to carry out BOP Drills, to regularly
record SCRs, as well as recommended procedures.

2 BOP Drills
The purpose of BOP Drills is to familiarise the drillcrews with techniques that will be
implemented in the event of a kick.

One of the major factors that influences the wellbore pressures after a kick is taken is the
volume of the influx. The smaller the influx, the less severe will be the pressures during the
well kill operation. In this respect, it is important that the drillcrew react quickly to any sign
that an influx may have occurred and promptly execute the prescribed control procedure.
Drills should be designed to reduce the time that the crew take to implement these procedures.

The relevant Drills should be carried out as often as is necessary, and as hole conditions
permit, until the Company Representative and the Contractor Toolpusher are satisfied that
every member of the drillcrew is familiar with the entire operation.

Every effort must be made to ensure that the Drill is carried out in the most realistic manner
possible. Where practical, there should be no difference between the Drill and actual control
procedures.

Once satisfactory standards have been achieved, the Drills (D1, D2 and D3, as appropriate)
should be held at least once per week. If standards fall unacceptably, the Company
Representative should stipulate that the Drills are conducted more frequently.

It is important that returning drillcrews have frequent Drills.

The following Drills should be practised where applicable:

D1 – Tripping
D2 – Drilling
D3 – Diverter
D4 – Accumulator
D5 – Well Kill
(Suffix R to be included if the remote panel was used)

These codes should be used to record the results of the Drill on the BOP Drill Record
Proforma. This form should be sent to the Drilling Superintendent fortnightly. The results
of each Drill must also be recorded on the IADC Drilling Report.

1-16
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

3 D1: Kick while Tripping


The purpose of this Drill is to familiarise the crew with the shut-in procedure that will be
implemented in the event of a kick during a trip. This Drill should only be conducted when
the BHA is inside the last casing string.

Before the trip is started, the Standing Orders to the Driller will have been posted. This will
detail the action that the crew should take in the event a kick is detected.

When directed by the Company Representative, the Contractor Toolpusher will instruct the
Driller to assume that a positive flowcheck has been conducted, and to implement the
prescribed control procedure as detailed in the Standing Orders.

Shut-in procedures to be adopted in the event of a kick while tripping are detailed in Chapter␣4.

However, as a guideline the following procedure should be initiated:

• Without prior notice, the Company Representative will start the Drill by manually raising
the trip tank float to indicate a rapid pit gain.

• The Driller is expected to take the following steps to shut in the well:

1. Stop other operations.

2. Install the drillpipe safety valve.

3. Open the choke line valve.

4. Close the annular preventer.

5. Record the casing and drillpipe pressure.

6. Notify the Company Representative that the well is shut-in.

7. Record the time for the Drill on the IADC Drilling Report.

The Contractor Toolpusher must ensure that the crew are correctly deployed and that each
individual completely understands his responsibilities.

The time taken for the crew to shut in the well should be recorded.

Having shut-in the well, preparations should be made to strip pipe. These preparations should
include lining up the equipment as required, assigning individual responsibilities and
preparing the Stripping Worksheet.

4 D2: Kick while Drilling


The purpose of this Drill is to familiarise the crew with the control procedure that will be
implemented in the event of a kick while drilling.

This Drill may be conducted either in open or cased hole. However if the drill is conducted
when the drillstring is in openhole, the well will not be shut-in .

1-17
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

When the pipe is on bottom, the following procedure can be used as a guideline for the drill:

• Without prior notice, the Company Representative gradually increases the apparent pit
level by manually raising the float.

• The Driller is expected to detect the pit gain and take the following steps:

1. Pick up the kelly (or topdrive) until the tool joint clears the BOPs and
the kelly cock is just above the rotary table.

2. Shut down the pumps.

3. Check the well for flow.

4. Report to the Company Representative.

5. Record the time required for the crew to react and conduct the Drill on
the IADC drilling report.

When the bit has been tripped to the previous casing shoe, a further Drill may be conducted
that will result in the well being shut-in.

Therefore after tripping the bit to the shoe, the following procedure may be used as a guideline
for this Drill:

• Stop tripping operations and install the kelly (or topdrive) and start circulating.

• Having been instructed to do so by the Company Representative, the Driller is expected


to take the following steps to shut-in the well:

1. Pull up until the tool joint clears the BOPs.

2. Shut down the pumps.

3. Open the choke line valve.

4. Close the annular preventer.

5. Record the casing and drillpipe pressure.

* 6. Double check spaceout, close and lock hang-off rams and hang-off pipe
and check that the kelly cock is just above the rotary table.

7. Notify the Company Representative that the well has been shut-in.

8. Record the time taken for the crew to shut-in the well on the IADC drilling
report.

* If on a floating rig

The procedures adopted during these Drills should be in line with the shut-in procedures as
outlined in the Standing Orders. These procedures are outlined in Chapter 4.

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

5 D3: Diverter Drill


If shallow gas is encountered and the well kicks, blowout conditions may develop very
quickly. It is therefore important that crew initiate control procedures as soon as possible in
the event of a shallow gas kick.

Diverter Drills should therefore be carried out to minimise the reaction time of the crews. A
further objective of the Drill is to check that all diverter equipment is functioning correctly.
The time taken for each diverter function to operate should be recorded. A Drill should be
carried out prior to drilling out of the conductor casing.

The procedures that should be implemented in the event of a shallow gas kick are covered
in Chapter 4. Drills should be designed in line with the specific procedure that will be
adopted in the event of a shallow gas kick.

The Contractor Toolpusher must ensure that the drill crew, and marine staff (offshore), are
correctly deployed during the Drill and that each individual understands his responsibilities.

The time recorded in the log should be the time elapsed from initiation of the Drill until the
rig crew (and marine staff) are ready to initiate emergency procedures.

6 D4: Accumulator Drill


The purpose of the Accumulator Drill is to check the operation of the BOP closing system.
The following specific tests are recommended:

(a) Accumulator precharge pressure test


This test must be conducted on each well prior to spudding and approximately every
30␣days thereafter at convenient times.

On closing units with two or more banks of accumulator bottles, the hydraulic fluid line to
each bank must have a full opening valve to isolate individual banks. The valves must be in
the open position except when accumulators are isolated for testing, servicing or transporting.
The precharge test should be conducted as follows:

1. Shut-off all accumulator pumps.

2. Drain the hydraulic fluid from the accumulator system into the closing unit
fluid reservoir.

3. Remove the guard from the valve stem assembly on top of each
accumulator bottle. Attach the charging and gauging assembly to each
bottle and check the nitrogen precharge.

4. If the nitrogen precharge pressure on any bottle is less than the minimum
acceptable precharge pressure listed below, recharge that bottle (with
nitrogen gas only) to achieve the specified desired precharge pressure.

5. If the nitrogen precharge on any bottle is greater than the maximum


acceptable precharge pressure listed below, a sufficient volume of nitrogen
gas must be bled from the accumulator bottle to provide the specified
desired precharge pressure.

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March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Accumulator Desired Min. Acceptable Max. Acceptable


Working Pressure Precharge Precharge Precharge
Rating Pressure Pressure Pressure

1500 psi 750 psi 750 psi 850 psi


2000 psi 1000 psi 950 psi 1100 psi
3000 psi 1000 psi 950 psi 1100 psi

(b) Accumulator closing test


This test should be conducted before BOP stack tests. The test should be conducted as
follows:

1. Position a joint of drillpipe in the blowout preventer stack.

2. Close off the power supply to the accumulator pumps.

3. Record the initial accumulator pressure.

The pressure should be the designed operating pressure of the accumulators. Adjust
the regulator to provide 1500 psi operating pressure to the annular preventer.

4. Operate the sequence of functions as relevant to the rig type.

For a land rig:


Close the annular preventer and one pipe ram (sized for the pipe in the stack).
Open the HCR valve on the choke line.

For the floating rig:


Close and open all the well control functions (apart from blind/shear rams).
Duplicate the operation of the blind/shear rams.

After each function, record the volume used, the time taken, and the residual
accumulator pressure. The residual accumulator pressure after completing all the
tests must be at least 200 psi greater than the precharge pressure.

5. Turn on the accumulator pumps.

Having completed the tests, recharge the accumulator system to its designed operating
pressure. Record the time taken to recharge the system.

(c) Closing unit pump test


Prior to conducting any tests, the closing unit reservoir should be inspected to be sure it
does not contain any foreign fluid or debris. The closing unit pump capability test should
be conducted before BOP stack tests. This test can be conveniently scheduled either
immediately before or after the accumulator closing time test. The test should be
conducted according to the following procedure.

1. Position a joint of drillpipe in the blowout preventer stack.

2. Isolate the accumulators from the closing unit manifold by closing the
required valves.

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March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

3. If the accumulator pumps are powered by air, isolate the rig air system
from the pumps.

A separate closing unit air storage tank should be used to power the pumps during
this test. When a dual power (air and electric) source system is used, both power
supplies should be tested separately.

4. Close the annular preventer and open one choke line failsafe valve
(or␣HCR valve).

Record the time (in seconds) required for the closing unit pumps to close the annular
preventer plus open the choke line valve and obtain 200 psi above the accumulator
precharge pressure on the closing unit manifold. It is recommended that the time
required for the closing unit pumps to accomplish these operations does not exceed
two minutes.

5. Close the choke line failsafe (or HCR valve) and open the annular
preventer.

Open the accumulator system to the closing unit and charge the accumulator system
to its designed operating pressure using the pumps.

7 D5: Well Kill Drill


The objective of this Drill is to give drillcrews the most realistic type of well control␣training
and a feel for the equipment and procedures that they would use to kill a well.

This Drill should be carried out prior to drilling out the intermediate and production strings.
It should never be carried out when openhole sections are exposed. The following procedure
is recommended:

1. Run in hole and tag the top of cement.

2. Pull back one stand and install the kelly (or install topdrive).

3. Break circulation and establish slow circulating rate pressures.

(Consider circulating bottoms up prior to this if the annulus may contain contaminated mud).

4. Carry out standard BOP Drill D2, resulting in the well being shut-in.

5. Consider applying low pressure to the casing (typically 200 psi), bring the
pump up to kill speed controlling the drillpipe pressure according to a
predetermined schedule.

It is important that this opportunity to circulate across a choke is used to maximum effect. A
drillpipe pressure schedule should be drawn up and carefully adhered to.

It is important that the choke operator develops a feel for the lag time between manipulation
of the choke and its subsequent effect on the drillpipe pressure. The lag time should be
recorded, so that it can be used for reference should a kick be taken in the next hole section.

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March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

8 Slow Circulating Rate Pressures, SCRs


There are many reasons why a kick should be displaced from the hole at a rate that is
considerably slower than that used during normal drilling. These include:

• To minimise the pressure exerted on the openhole.

• To allow weighting of the mud as the kick is displaced.

• To permit adequate degassing of the returned mud.

• To limit the speed of required choke adjustments.

• To reduce the pressure exerted on well control equipment.

All these factors must be taken into account when deciding at what rate to displace the kick.
However the absolute upper limit for the displacement rate may be restricted by the pressure
rating of the surface equipment, in particular the setting of the pump relief valve. It should
be noted that it is potentially hazardous to displace a kick from the hole when the surface
pressure is close to the relief valve setting.

In order to estimate the circulating pressures during the displacement of a kick, it is necessary
to know the friction pressure in the circulating system at low rates. For this reason, it is
useful to have determined the SCR pressure before a kick is taken.

At a given rate of circulation, the initial circulating pressure can be estimated from the sum
of the shut-in drillpipe pressure and the SCR pressure.

Company policy states that SCRs should be conducted regularly and at least:

• Once per tour (or at 300m intervals during the tour).

• When the bit is changed.

• When the BHA is changed.

• When the mud weight or properties are changed.

The range of circulation rates used will be dependent upon many factors, but should fall
within the limits of 1/2 and 4 barrels per minute. If oil base mud is in the hole, when back on
bottom after a trip, circulate bottoms up before measuring SCRs.

At these relatively low pump speeds the volumetric efficiency of the rig pumps may be
significantly less than at normal speeds used during drilling. It is therefore recommended
that the volumetric efficiency of the rig pumps is checked at low pump speed, such as when
pumping a slug prior to a trip.

It is useful to plot the SCRs on a graph as shown in Figure 1.5. The drillstring internal
friction should be calculated at the SCRs and used to determine the annulus frictional pressure
as shown. The annulus frictional pressure is a major factor that will influence the rate at
which the kick will be displaced from the hole (using standard well control procedure the
annulus frictional pressure will be added to wellbore pressure as the pump is brought up to
speed to kill the well).

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March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

STANDPIPE PRESSURE (psi)

PSCR3

Drillstring internal
pressure drop

PSCR2

Annulus pressure
PSCR1
drop

SCR1 SCR2 SCR3

Other SCRs can be selected PUMP OUTPUT


to displace the kick (bbls/min) (stks/min)

WEOX02.005

Figure 1.5 SCR Pressure Plot

A graph similar to Figure 1.5 aids the selection of circulation rates other than these actually
measured and also provides a guide to the size of the annulus circulating losses over a range
of circulation rates.

9 Choke Line Losses


The frictional pressure caused by circulating through the choke line, while displacing a kick
from the well, can cause additional pressures to act in the wellbore.

These pressures are not significant in the case of land, platform and jack-up rigs, but can be
critical in the case of a floating rig.

In most cases however, if the correct procedures are adhered to, the choke line frictional
pressure should be accounted for as the kick is displaced out of the hole. The recommended
method is to monitor the wellhead pressure through the kill line as the pump is started. If
the wellhead pressure remains constant as the pump is brought up to speed then the choke
line friction will in most cases be automatically compensated for. (This technique is outlined
in detail in Chapter 6.)

It is also possible to account for the choke line losses by reducing the choke pressure by an
amount equal to the choke line loss as the pump is brought up to speed. This method is not
considered to be as reliable as using the kill line monitor.

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March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

It is important that the choke line frictional pressure is accurately known at a wide range of
circulating rates. From this information the additional load on the wellbore can be assessed
at a range of displacement rates and subsequently the most suitable rate can be selected.

The following procedure should be implemented in order to properly assess the choke line
frictional pressures at slow circulating rates. This procedure should be carried out initially
when the BOP and riser are installed and before drilling out of each subsequent casing shoe.

1. Install suitable pressure gauges to record standpipe and choke pressures


during circulation.

2. Record SCR pressure at a range of rates from 1/2 to 4 bbl/min down drillpipe
and up the riser.

3. Open choke line valves.

4. Line up choke manifold to route flow across a fully opened remote operated
choke. Route returned flow through the poorboy gas separator to the
shakers.

5. Space out to ensure no tool joint is opposite annular preventer.

6. Close annular preventer.

7. Circulate down the drillpipe and up through the choke line until returns are
uniform.

8. Record SCR pressure at same rates as before. Record the choke pressure
at each rate.

9. Calculate the choke line frictional pressure at each rate.

Figure 1.6 shows a form that can be used to record the data. The form also shows how to
determine the choke line friction pressure from the recorded data. Figure 1.7 shows an
example determination of choke line losses.

The choke line losses should be adjusted for changes in mud weight as shown on the form.
The accuracy of this adjustment is however questionable over a wide range of mud weights.
In order to verify choke line losses after drilling out of the casing shoe, it is acceptable to
isolate the well and pump down the choke line at the range of slow circulating rates.

1-24
March 1995
Figure 1.6 Choke Line Pressure Loss Data Sheet
CHOKE LINE PRESSURE LOSS DATA SHEET

WELL No 25 RIG RIG 19 DATE 25/7/87


WELL STATUS DURING TEST 133/8in CASING RUN AND TESTED / 135/8in STACK INSTALLED AND TESTED
PROPERTIES OF THE MUD IN THE HOLE DURING THE TEST 1.4SG OBM/PV24CP/YP100 lb/100ft2 RECORDED BY J. P.
MEASURED CORRECTED CORRECTED CORRECTED
CHOKE LINE CHOKE LINE CHOKE LINE CHOKE LINE
CIRCULATION 6.5
……………in ……………in SCR SCR CHOKE LOSS LOSS LOSS LOSS
RATE LINER LINER PRESSURE PRESSURE PRESSURE
PUMP RATE PUMP RATE UP RISER UP AT SCR 1.4 SG
AT…………… AT…………… AT…………… AT……………
CHOKE LINE MUD WEIGHT MUD WEIGHT MUD WEIGHT MUD WEIGHT
(bbl/min) (SPM) (SPM) (psi) (psi) (psi) (psi) (psi) (psi) (psi)

BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL


RIG PUMPS: NATIONAL 12 - P - 160
4.78 40 985 1435 80 370
1-25

3.58 30 680 985 55 250


2.39 20 400 590 40 150

CEMENT PUMP - HT - 400 (4in PLUNGER)


1.00 120 190 25 45
0.5 50 65 0 10
0.25 0 0 0 0

(1) (2) (3) (2)-(1)-(3)


March 1995

WEOX02.006
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 1.7 An example Determination of Choke Line Losses

CIRCULATING @ 20SPM UP
CIRCULATING @ 20SPM UP RISER CHOKE LINE (CHOKE WIDE OPEN)

400 600 50

PSCR @ 20SPM = 400psi POC = 50psi

PCL = PSCR (up choke line) – PSCR (up riser) – POC


= 600 – 400 – 50
PCL = 150psi

where PSCR = Slow Circulating Rate Pressure (psi)


PCL = Choke Line Pressure Loss at SCR (psi)
POC = Choke Pressure recorded at SCR with choke
wide open (psi)

WEOX02.007

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March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

1.4 USE OF THE MUD SYSTEM

Paragraph Page
1 General 1-28
2 Pit Management 1-28
3 Building Mud Weight 1-29
4 Dealing with Gas at Surface 1-31
5 Chemical Stocks 1-34

Illustrations
1.8 An example Mud Gas Separator 1-32
– operating at maximum capacity

1-27
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

1 General
Well control contingency plans should outline the manner in which the mud system will be
utilised during standard well control operations.

This section is intended to highlight the major factors that will determine the most satisfactory
arrangement of the mud system in such circumstances.

2 Pit Management
The following guidelines should be considered when specifying pit arrangements:

(a) While drilling a critical hole section


• Keep the active mud system surface area as small as is practical to ease kick detection.
Any reserve mud stocks in the tanks should be positively isolated from the active
system. Ensure that the gates on the trough are sealing properly.

• Adequate reserve stocks of mud should be held; the volume and weight of which
will be determined by the nature of the next hole section.

• Ensure all pit level systems and tank isolating valves are working correctly before
drilling into possible gas-bearing zones.

• Keep all mud treatments and pit transfers to the absolute minimum at critical sections
of the well. Ensure that the Driller and the Mud Logging Engineer are aware in
advance of any changes to the system.

• Crew safety meetings should discuss the problem of gas kicks, especially if oil
based mud is in use, and emphasise the importance of early detection. Mud
engineering and mud logging personnel should attend these meetings.

(b) When displacing a kick


The major factors that will determine the most satisfactory pit arrangement for displacing
a kick include the following:

• The technique that will be used to displace the kick.

• The usable surface pit volume in relation to the hole volume.

• The method of weighing up the mud.

• How to deal with the kick when it is displaced to the surface.

• How to deal with the pit gain caused by influx expansion during displacement.

• How to deal with contaminated returns.

• The nature and toxicity of the influx fluid.

• The monitoring of pit levels in the active system.

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March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

The kick can be displaced from the hole using either the Wait and Weight Method or the
Driller’s Method. The most satisfactory arrangement of the pits will be different for each
technique and clearly will be rig-specific. There are three different stages at which the mud
can be weighted up for these two techniques:

• The Wait and Weight Method

– In a typical situation when it is impractical to weight up a complete hole volume


prior to displacement of the kick. This will therefore entail that some mud is weighted
while the kick is displaced from the hole. The volume that is weighted prior to
displacement of the kick will depend, for a given hole capacity, on the rate at which
baryte can be added into the system in relation to the desired rate of displacement.

– In the unusual situation when there is adequate surface volume, a complete hole
volume of kill mud can be prepared before displacement of the kick.

• The Driller’s Method

– In this case the mud is weighted either while the kick is displaced with original
weight mud or after the first circulation depending on the availability of baryte and
tank space.

3 Building Mud Weight


(a) Baryte delivery to the mud pits
The rate at which baryte can be added to the original mud influences the time required
to increase the weight of a volume of mud. For this reason it is important to measure the
rate at which both the conventional hopper system and the high rate system (if fitted)
can supply baryte.

If the Driller’s Method is used this will determine the time required to build the mud
weight after the kick has been displaced from the hole.

If the Wait and Weight Method is used, the maximum rate at which baryte can be supplied
to the mud will:

• Determine the time required to weight the hole volume of mud before the kick is
displaced.

• Or it may limit the rate at which the kick can be displaced, if the mud is weighted as
the kick is displaced.

The maximum rate at which the mud can be weighted can be determined for a given
required mud weight increase from the following formula:

Maximum possible rate = Baryte delivery rate (lb/min)


at which the mud can Baryte required to weight up (lb/bbl)
be weighted (bbl/min)

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March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Therefore for the following example:

Required mud weight increase = 0.2 SG (from 1.5 SG to 1.7 SG)

Baryte required = 1490 X (1.7 - 1.5) = 117 lb/bbl


4.25 - 1.7

If the maximum barytes delivery rate for the rig = 350 lb/min

Then:

Maximum rate at which the = 350 = 3 bbl/min


mud can be weighted 117

This figure therefore gives an indication of the maximum displacement rate if the mud
is weighted as the kick is displaced from the hole.

(b) Baryte storage


When possible at least one full barytes storage tank should be pressured up at all times
and the bulk delivery system tested regularly.

The bulk system should be included in the rig PMS (Preventive Maintenance) system.

(c) Building viscosity into the mud


There may be well control situations which require that considerable volumes of weighted
mud are built from a water or oil base. This may be the case in the following situations:

• If considerable losses are experienced.

• If the required volume of kill weight mud is greater than the surface stocks of active
and reserve weighted mud.

• If the returns are severely contaminated and have to be dumped.

The limiting factor for an oil base mud may be the rate at which viscosity can be built
into the base oil. Building viscosity is usually a less important factor when water base
muds are used.

Shear equipment is required for building viscosity using clay viscosifiers in new base
oil. Some offshore rigs have jet line mixers to help build viscosity.

In circumstances in which large volumes of new oil mud must be built, it would be
useful to know the rate at which new mud can be sheared to a level at which barytes can
be suspended.

This rate is determined by shearing a known volume of new mud until the minimum
viscosity is reached. As a guideline, the minimum viscosity would be represented by a
yield point of 10, and a 10 second gel reading of 3.

In emergency situations, viscosity can be built quickly using an oil mud polymer (Baroid’s
LFR 2000 as an example) at 4 lb/bbl in conjunction with organophilic clays. However,
it is recognised that these polymers can cause high temperature gelation of the mud, and
as such, they are not recommended for use in high temperature wells.

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March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

(d) Volume increase due to baryte addition


The volume of a given amount of mud will increase as baryte is added to it. This may be
significant when large mud weight increase is required in a large volume of mud.

The volume increase due to baryte addition can be determined from the following
relationship:

Volume increase = 1.48 bbl per metric ton of baryte added

Therefore in the following situation:

The required addition of baryte = 200 lb/bbl

Volume to weight up = 600 bbl

Volume increase due to baryte addition

= 600 X 200 X 1.48 = 80 bbl


2205

4 Dealing with Gas at Surface


It is important that suitable equipment is available on the rig to deal with the influx once it
is displaced to surface.

Returns should be piped through the mud gas separator and then on to the degasser for
further treatment.

(a) The mud gas separator (poorboy)


The mud gas separator should be lined up at all times when a kick is being displaced.
The separator is used to remove large gas bubbles from the mud and to deal with a flow
of gas once the influx is at surface.

There will be a limit to the volume of gas that each separator can safely deal with. When
this limit is exceeded, there exists the possibility that gas will blow through into the
shaker header box.

An estimation can be made of the maximum gas flowrate that the separator can handle.
The limiting factors will be the back pressure at the outlet to the vent line in relation to
the hydrostatic head of fluid at the mud outlet of the separator. When the back pressure
due to the gas flow is equal to, or greater than, the hydrostatic head available at the mud
outlet, the gas will blow through to the shaker header tank. See Figure 1.8.

In order to minimise the possibility of a gas blow-through, the vent line should be as
straight as possible and have a large ID. The mud outlet should be configured to develop
a suitable hydrostatic head (minimum recommended head is 10 feet). See Figure 1.8.

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March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

The back pressure due to the flow of gas should be monitored with a pressure gauge as
shown in Figure 1.8. Some warning of the possibility of a gas blow-through will be
given when the registered pressure approaches the hydrostatic head of the fluid in the
discharge line. It should be noted that the maximum hydrostatic head available may not
be that of the mud in the event that large volumes of oil or condensate are displaced
to␣surface.

If the safe operating limit of the separator is approached, the choke can be closed in
(while ensuring that the well is not overpressured) or the flow switched to the overboard
line or the burn pit.

GAS OUTLET
8in ID MINIMUM

GAS BACK PRESSURE


REGISTERED AT
THIS GAUGE
(Typically 0 to 20psi)
STEEL TARGET
PLATE

INLET

INSPECTION
COVER

SECTION A-A
APPROX 30in OD TANGENTIAL INLET
HEIGHT
1/2 OF

A A

4in ID INLET-TANGENTIAL TO SHELL


FROM CHOKE MANIFOLD
BRACE

10ft MINIMUM INSPECTION


HEIGHT COVER
HALF CIRCLE
BAFFLES ARRANGED
IN A ‘SPIRAL’
CONFIGURATION

TO SHAKER HEADER
TANK

MAXIMUM HEAD AVAILABLE


DEVELOPED BY THIS
HEIGHT OF FLUID
eg: 10ft HEAD AT 1.75 SG
GIVES 7.6psi MAXIMUM CAPACITY

10ft APPROX

8in NOMINAL
‘U’ TUBE

2in DRAIN
4in CLEAN-OUT OR FLUSH LINE WEOX02.008
PLUG

Figure 1.8 An example Mud Gas Separator


– operating at maximum capacity

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March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

(b) The degasser


The degasser should be lined up at all times during the well control operation.

The degasser is designed to remove the small bubbles of gas that are left in the mud
after the mud has been through the mud gas separator.

It is important that the degasser is working properly and as such it should be tested
every tour. While drilling with gas cut returns, the degasser can be checked as follows:

1. Measure actual (gas cut) mud weight at the shaker header box using a
non pressurised mud balance.

2. Measure actual mud weight at the degasser outlet using a non


pressurised mud balance.

If the actual mud weight at the outlet of the degasser is greater than the actual mud
weight at the inlet, then the degasser is working. If the mud weight at this stage is
not equal to the active system mud weight, then either the degasser is not working
properly, or the returns are at a lower weight than the mud in the active system.

If the actual mud weight measured at this stage is equal to the active system mud
weight, then the degasser is working properly.

3. Measure mud weight at the degasser outlet and the shaker header box
using a pressurised mud balance.

If the actual mud weight at the outlet of the degasser is equal to the reading on␣the
pressurised mud balance, the degasser has removed all the gas from the mud.

(c) Overboard lines/Flare lines


It is recommended that a second method of dealing with severely gas cut returns be
available at the rigsite, whether on land or offshore. This will generally be either an
overboard line, or a flare line to the burn pit on land.

It should be easy to switch the returns from the mud system to the flare line. It may be
necessary to use the flare line during a well control operation in the following situations:

• The gas flowrate is too high for the mud gas separator.

• Hydrates are forming in the gas vent line from the mud gas separator.

• The gas is found to contain H2S.

• The mud system is overloaded.

Lines that are required to handle high velocity gas must be as straight as possible to
minimise erosion. Significant erosion is likely to occur in the path of high velocity gas
and solids, therefore the redundancy in flowlines and manifolds downstream of the choke
must be analysed on all rigs.

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5 Chemical Stocks
(a) Baryte and mud chemical stocks
Company policy details the minimum stocks of baryte and mud chemicals that should
be held at the rigsite. The policy states that:

‘Sufficient weighting material stocks must be maintained on site such that the entire
mud circulating volume can be raised by a minimum of 0.25 SG (See formula in
Paragraph 3). Reserve stocks of bentonite or viscosifier must also be on site to
enable this increase in mud weight to be effected’.

‘Where transport and logistics are not assured (offshore and remote locations) the
minimum onsite weighting material stock must be 100 tonnes’.

This is a minimum standard, and as such, the Company Representative may wish to
stock a greater quantity of baryte and chemicals.

(b) Cement stocks


Cement stocks should not drop below the quantity of cement and additives that will be
required to set 2 X 150m of cement plugs in the hole section being drilled.

Additionally, in high pressure wells, an abandonment plug recipe should be onsite prior
to drilling into the reservoir. Batch mix tanks should also be onsite during the drilling of
such reservoir sections.

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1.5 KICK TOLERANCE

Paragraph Page
1 General 1-36
2 Kick Tolerance Calculation Methods 1-36
3 Procedure for Kick Tolerance Calculations 1-37
4 Considerations for High Angle and Horizontal Wells 1-40
5 When to Calculate Kick Tolerance 1-41
6 Excel Kick Tolerance Calculator 1-42

Illustrations
1.9 Kick Tolerance Values Through a Zone
of Increasing Pore Pressure 1-43
1.10 Excel Kick Tolerance Calculator – Example Calculations 1-44

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1 General
Many definitions of kick tolerance have been used in the drilling industry. Within BP, Kick
Tolerance is defined as the maximum volume of kick influx that can be safely
shut-in and circulated out of the well without breaking down the formation at
the openhole weak point.

It is now an accepted part of the Company Casing Design policy to determine the casing
setting depth by the Limited Kick Method. It is therefore particularly important that the
kick tolerance in critical hole sections be accurately monitored.

This section explains how to calculate kick tolerance and when to calculate kick tolerance.

In critical hole sections, it is important to calculate kick tolerance on a regular basis. This is
because kick tolerance changes as a function of hole depth, BHA geometry, mud weight,
formation pressure and influx type, etc.

2 Kick Tolerance Calculation Methods


Depending upon how kick tolerance is defined, a number of methods exist for kick tolerance
calculations. In general, these methods can be classified into two categories:

1 Simple Methods

In these methods kick tolerance calculations are simplified based on several assumptions:

• The kick influx is a “single bubble”.

• At the initial shut-in condition, the influx is at the bottom of the openhole.

• The effects of the gas migration, gas dispersion, gas solubility, downhole temperature
and the gas compressibility are ignored.

Although these assumptions may seem unrealistic, the simple methods have gained wide
acceptance in the drilling industry because they are simple and generally yield
conservative (safer) kick tolerance. However these methods have an inherent
shortcoming: they do not measure how quickly an influx will grow. This is to say that in
some cases formation deliverability may be such that the well could not be shut in
before the kick tolerance volume was exceeded. Therefore the same kick tolerance
between two wells may not mean that they share the same level of risk !

2 Computer Kick Simulators

In the recent years many sophisticated computer simulators have been developed which
can provide a good approximation of kick conditions from the stage when it flows into
the wellbore to that when it is circulated out. In the simulations, assumptions used in
the simple methods are replaced by mathematical models.

Among many other applications, the kick simulators can be used for kick tolerance
calculations. They can predict the maximum pressures at any point of the annulus and
the results are more accurate and less conservative than using the simple methods. In
addition, as simulators can simulate how quickly an influx will flow into the wellbore,
they can predict how much time the rig crew have to shut in the well before the influx
exceeds the kick tolerance limit. Therefore simulators can be used to provide direct
indications in the level of risk involved under various scenarios.

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However, due to complexity, kick simulators are recommended only in the situations
where kick tolerance is considered critical based on the simple methods.

Some computer kick simulators are available from the Drilling & Completions Branch,
BP Exploration, Sunbury.

3 Procedure for Kick Tolerance Calculations


The method illustrated in the following is one of the simple methods. The method calculates
the maximum allowable kick influx volume when the well is shut in. The method considers
two scenarios:

• When the influx is at the bottom of the hole at the initial shut in condition

• When the top of the influx has been displaced to the openhole weak point (with the
original mud weight)

The following procedure can be used to calculate the kick tolerance:

1 Estimate the safety factor to be applied to the Maximum Allowable Annular


Surface Pressure (MAASP)

When the influx is displaced from the hole, there will be additional pressures acting in
the wellbore. The following are some of the possible causes of such additional pressures
during circulation:

• Choke operator error (depending upon the choke’s condition, operator ’s


experience,␣etc.)

• Annular friction pressure (depending on the hole size, mud properties, etc.)

• Choke line losses (in particular on floating rigs)

The safety factor (SF) to be applied to the MAASP will be the sum of these additional
pressures. The drilling engineer must use his/her judgement to determine the most
appropriate safety factor.

2 Calculate the Maximum Allowable Annular Surface Pressure (MAASP)


Without Breaking Down the Weak Point Formation:

MAASP = Pleak – 1.421 x MW x TVD wp – SF (psi)

where:
MAASP Maximum allowable annular surface pressure (psi)
MW Mud weight in hole (SG)
Pleak Leak-off pressure at the openhole weak point (psi)
SF Safety factor (psi)
TVDwp Vertical depth at the openhole weak point (m)

It should be seen that MAASP is determined based on the consideration of the formation
fracturing pressure at the openhole weak point. So it is considered only when there is a
full mud column from the weak point to the surface (i.e. the influx is still below the
weak point). If lighter fluids (such as a gas influx) occupy the annulus above the weak
point, the surface pressure in excess of MAASP may not cause downhole failure.
Therefore from the moment the top of an influx has been displaced past the openhole

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

weak point, MAASP is no longer a consideration and may be exceeded by a margin


which should be determined based on the casing burst strength and the pressure ratings
of BOP stack and choke manifold.

The method for estimating the position of the influx top is described in Vol.I, Chapter 6,
Section 6.1.

3 Calculate the maximum allowable height of the influx in the openhole


section:

MAASP – ( Pf – 1.421X MW X TVD h)


H max = (m)
1.421 X (MW – Gi)

where:
Hmax Maximum allowable height of the influx (m)
Gi Influx gradient (SG)
Pf Formation pore pressure (psi)
TVD h Vertical depth of openhole (bit) (m)

4 Calculate the maximum allowable influx volume that Hmax corresponds to


at the initial shut-in conditions

Vbh = H max x C1 / cos(θ bh) (bbl)

where:
Vbh Maximum allowable influx volume at initial shut-in condition (bbl)
C1 Annular capacity around BHA (bbl/m)
θ bh Hole angle in the bottom hole section (degree)

If the bottom hole section is horizontal (or above 90 degree), the hole angle used in the
calculation should be the openhole angle immediately above the horizontal section. The
kick tolerance should be the sum of the calculated volume (Vbh ) plus the annular volume
of the horizontal section.

In cases where Hmax /cos(θbh ) is greater than the length of BHA, the maximum allowable
volume (Vbh) should be calculated partly based on the annular capacity around BHA
and partly around drillpipe.

5 Calculate the maximum allowable influx volume that Hmax corresponds to


when the top of the influx is at the openhole weak point

Vwp = Hmax x C2 / cos(θ wp) (bbl)

where:
Vwp Maximum allowable influx volume when top of the influx is at the openhole
weak point (bbl)
C2 Annular openhole capacity around drillpipe (bbl/m)
θwp Hole angle in the openhole section below the weak point (degree)

In cases where Hmax /cos(θwp ) is greater than the openhole drillpipe length below the
weak point, the maximum allowable influx volume (Vwp) should be calculated partly
based on the annular openhole capacity around drillpipe and partly around BHA.

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6 Convert the maximum allowable influx volume at the weak point (Vwp ) to
what would be at the initial shut in condition

Based on Boyle’s law, the maximum allowable influx volume at initial shut-in
corresponding to Vwp will be:

V bh' = V wp X Pleak (bbl)


Pf

7 The actual kick tolerance should be the smaller of Vbh (Step 4) and Vbh'
(Step 6)

Example:
Bit depth: 4000 m
Current hole size: 12-1/4"
Hole angle: Vertical
Mud weight in hole: 1.60 SG
BHA length / OD: 182 m / 8"
Drillpipe OD: 5"
Estimated pore pressure at 4000 m: 1.58 SG
Last casing shoe: 2695 m
Leak-off test EMW: 1.72 SG
Annular back pressure at SCR: 70 psi
Safety margin for choke operator error: 150 psi

1. Estimate the safety margin to be applied to MAASP:

SF = 70 + 150 = 220 psi

2. Calculate MAASP:

Leak-off pressure, Pleak = 1.421 x 1.72 x 2695 = 6587 psi

MAASP = 6587 - 1.421 x 1.6 x 2695 - 220 = 240 psi

3. Calculate the maximum allowable influx height in the openhole section:

Pore pressure gradient, P f = 1.421 x 1.58 x 4000 = 8981 psi

240 - (8981 - 1.421X 1.6X 4000)


H max = = 178m
1.421 X (1.60 - 0.2)

4. Calculate the maximum allowable influx volume at the initial shut-in condition:

Annular capacity around BHA, C1= (12.252 - 8 2) / 313.8 = 0.2743 (bbl/m)

As the BHA length (182 m) is longer than Hmax (178 m), so the influx is around BHA
only when it is at the bottom of the hole. Therefore:

Vbh = 178 x 0.2743 = 49 bbl

5. Calculate the maximum allowable influx volume when the top of influx is at the
casing shoe:

Annular capacity around openhole DP, C2= (12.252 - 5 2) / 313.8 = 0.3985 (bbl/m)

Openhole DP length = 4000 - 2695 - 182 = 1123 m ( > H max of 178 m)

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Vwp = 178 x 0.3985 = 71 bbl

6. Convert Vwp to the initial shut-in condition:

Vbh' = 71 x 6587 / 8981 = 52 bbl

7. Therefore the actual kick tolerance is 49 bbl.

4 Considerations for High Angle


and Horizontal Wells
In high angle and horizontal wells, reservoirs are often drilled at a high or horizontal
angle with the last casing or liner string set on top of the reservoir. When considering
kick tolerance for the reservoir section, it is often the case that the maximum allowable
gas height (determined by step 3 in the previous section) extends from the openhole
bottom to inside the casing/liner. This implies that the well can tolerate an infinite volume
of gas influx without fracturing the openhole weak point.

On the other hand, because of the long openhole section through the reservoir in a high
angle or horizontal well, the influx volume can be potentially high. So when the influx
is circulated to surface, it may fill up the entire annuli of the vertical and low angle
sections and result in very high choke pressures at surface. Therefore, the kick tolerance
volume in this case should be determined not only by the formation fracture gradient at
the openhole weak point but also by the maximum allowable surface pressure based on
the casing burst strength and the pressure ratings of the surface equipment.

When drilling a high angle or horizontal well, the following procedure should be used
to determine the kick tolerance:

a. Calculate kick tolerance volume as V1 using the method as described in


the previous section (Step 1 through 7)

b. Determine the maximum allowable surface pressure Psurf based on the


casing burst strength and the pressure ratings of the surface equipment
(BOP stack, choke manifold, etc.). Note its difference with MAASP which
is based on the formation fracture gradient at the weak point.

c Calculate the maximum allowable gas height Hmax when the gas influx
top has reached the surface:

(Psurf - SF) - (Pf - 1.421X MW X TVD h)


H max =
1.421 X (MW - Gi)

where:
Gi Influx gradient (SG)
Pf Formation pore pressure (psi)
SF Safety factor mainly determined by the choke operator error margin (psi)
TVD h Vertical depth of openhole (bit) (m)

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

d Calculate the influx volume that Hmax corresponds to when the gas influx
top has reached the surface:

Vsurf = Hmax x Ccsn (bbl)

where:

Vsurf Maximum allowable influx volume when the influx top reaches surface (bbl)
Ccsn Annular capacity in the casing near surface (bbl/m)

e Convert Vsurf to the corresponding volume at the initial shut-in condition:

Psurf
V 2 = V surf X (bbl)
Pf

f The actual kick tolerance volume is the smaller of V2 (step e) and V 1


(step␣a).

5 When to Calculate Kick Tolerance


Company policy states that:

“The kick tolerance of the weakest known point of the hole section being drilled must be
updated continuously whilst drilling.

If the kick tolerance is less than 50 bbl the Drilling Superintendent must be informed.

If the kick tolerance is less than 25 bbl for offshore wells or 10 bbl for land wells, drilling
may only continue when dispensation has been given by the Manager Drilling in town.”

Kick tolerance will change if there is a change in hole depth, mud weight, formation pressure
or BHA. Therefore kick tolerance must be constantly re-evaluated as the well is drilled, not
only based on the current condition but also on the future conditions which are expected to
occur deeper in the well.

The frequency with which the kick tolerance should be re-evaluated is dependent on the
nature of the well. However, in hole sections where kick tolerance is likely to be a critical
factor, the following guidelines should be considered:

• After LO test, evaluate the kick tolerance at suitable intervals throughout the next hole
section with a number of mud weights that are likely to be used.

• If the hole section contains a zone of rapid pore pressure increase, the kick tolerance
should be evaluated frequently based on the anticipated pore pressure.

• If any factors that affect the kick tolerance (such as mud weight, BHA) change as the
section is drilled, the kick tolerance below that point in the section should be re-evaluated.

• At each stage in the hole section, the Company Representative and the Drilling Engineer
must assess the possibility of the pore pressure developing in a manner different to that
predicted and hence its effect on the kick tolerance.

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 1.9 shows an example of the type of calculations that should be worked. The kick
tolerance figures shown are those that would typically be calculated before a transition
zone. As shown, the current bit depth is 3500 m and the kick tolerance has been calculated
at various intervals across the zone of increasing pore pressure. The kick tolerance has been
calculated for the mud weight currently in use, for the maximum mud weight anticipated for
the section, and intermediate weight.

From these figures, it is clear that a serious situation would develop if a kick was taken
from the high pressure zone with the mud weight currently in the hole. This might occur if
either the pore pressure developed more rapidly than predicted, or if the steady increase in
pore pressure was undetected at the surface.

The kick tolerance figures for the intermediate mud weight show that even at this weight,
the kick tolerance would be small if the high pressure zone was unexpectedly encountered.

The kick tolerance is finally calculated at the maximum mud weight. These figures show a
final minimum kick tolerance of 50 bbl at that mud weight. The table also shows the kick
tolerance if the pore pressure developed higher than predicted of 1.6 SG. In general these
figures indicate that drilling should proceed cautiously through the zone of increasing pore
pressure. On the basis of these figures, it may be decided to weight up the mud a certain
amount before the predicted increase in pressure occurs.

The decisions that are made on the basis of kick tolerance figures such as these will be
largely dependent upon the particulars of each situation, including the level of confidence
placed in the pore pressure prediction.

6 Excel Kick Tolerance Calculator


Figure 1.10 is an Excel Kick Tolerance Calculator, which can be activated to calculate the
kick tolerance by entering data into green-shaded cells. The kick tolerance volume, together
with a range of other parameters, will be displayed automatically. The calculator is based on
the same method as described in the previous sections, except that it uses the pressures at
the mid-point of the gas influx. So the calculator is slightly less conservative.

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March March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 1.9 Kick Tolerance Values though a Zone


of increasing Pore Pressure

PORE PRESSURE (psi)

3000 4000 5000 6000 7000 8000 9000

CASING SHOE
Maximum Allowable Pressure
9000 13.8ppg EMW

10,000 9.2ppg

DEPTH
(ft)

11,000

CURRENT BIT DEPTH


MW = 9.6ppg

12,000
9.2ppg

11.3ppg

13.2ppg
13,000

FOR CURRENT MW (9.6ppg) FOR MUD AT 12ppg FOR MUD AT 13.3ppg


TVD MW PORE KTOL TVD MW PORE KTOL TVD MW PORE KTOL
(ft) (ppg) PRESSURE (bbl) (ft) (ppg) PRESSURE (bbl) (ft) (ppg) PRESSURE (bbl)
(ppg) (ppg) (ppg)

11,480 9.6 9.2 600 11,480 12 9.2 600 11,480 13.3 9.2 600
12,470 9.6 9.2 600 12,470 12 9.2 600 12,470 13.3 9.2 600
12,630 9.6 10.2 460 12,630 12 10.2 450 12,630 13.3 10.2 450
12,795 9.6 11.3 215 12,795 12 11.3 246 12,795 13.3 11.3 280
12,960 9.6 12.3 30 12,960 12 12.3 112 12,960 13.3 12.3 153
12,990 9.6 12.4 7
13,123 9.6 13.2 (0) 13,123 12 13.2 10 13,123 13.3 13.2 50

12,960 9.6 13.2 (0) 12,960 12 13.2 10 13,123 13.3 13.3 35


13,123 12 13.3 (0) 13,123 13.5 13.2 40

WEOX02.009

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 1.10 Example Calculations using Excel Kick


Tolerance Calculator

KICK TOLERANCE CALCULATOR


For Vertical, Deviated or Horizontal Wells
Version 1.2, March 1995

Well: Example Calculation Units: (UK/US): UK

Kick Zone Parameters: Input Messages:


1 Openhole Size ? (inch) 12.25
2 Measured Depth ? (m) 4000
3 Vertical Depth (m) ? (m) 4000
4 Horizontal Length (Angle>87 deg) ? (m) 0 Non-Horizontal
5 Tangent Angle Above Horizontal ? (deg) 0
6 Min Pore Pressure Gradient ? (sg) 1.580
7 Max Pore Pressure Gradient ? (sg) 1.600
Weak Point Parameters:
8 Measured Depth ? (m) 2695
9 Vertical Depth ? (m) 2695
10 Section Angle (<87 deg) ? (deg) 0
11 Fracture Gradient / EMW ? (sg) 1.720
Other Parameters:
12 Bottom Hole Assembly OD ? (inch) 8
13 Bottom Hole Assembly Length ? (m) 182
14 Drillpipe OD ? (inch) 5
15 Gas Hydrostatic Pres Gradient ? (sg) 0.2
16 Pressure Safety Factor ? (psi) 220
17 Mud Weight in Hole ? (sg) 1.600

Annular Capacity Around BHA: (bbl/m) 0.27426


Annular Capacity Around DP: (bbl/m) 0.39854
Fracturing Pres at Weak Point: (psi) 6587
Max Allowable Shut-in Csg Pres: (psi) 240
Comments:
Min Pore Pressure at Kick Zone: (psi) 8981
Maximum Allowable Gas Height: (m) 178
Kick Tolerance at Min Pore Pres: (bbl) 48.7

Max Pore Pressure at Kick Zone: (psi) 9094


Maximum Allowable Gas Height: (m) 120
Kick Tolerance at Max Pore Pres: (bbl) 33.0

1.60
Pore Pressure Gradient

1.60

1.59
33 1.60
1.59 41 1.59
49 1.58
1.58

1.58

1.57
33 41 49
Kick Tolerance (bbl)

For more infor or help, please contact YUEJIN LUO, BP Exploration, Sunbury, Tel: 853-2424, Fax: 853-4183

1-44
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1 March
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 1.10 Example Calculations using Excel Kick


Tolerance Calculator (cont'd)

APPENDIX:
Maximum Allowable Gas Influx Volume
Based on Surface Equipment Rating & Casing Burst

Max Allowable Surface Pressure ? (psi) 5000


Casing ID in Surface Section ? (inch) 12.515

Annular Capacity: (bbl/m) 0.419456

At Minimum Pore Pressure Gradient: Comments:


Maximum Allowable Gas Height
When Gas Arrives at Surface: (m) 2460
Max Allowable Gas Vol. on Shut-in: (bbl) 613

At Maximum Pore Pressure Gradient:


Maximum Allowable Gas Height
When Gas Arrives at Surface: (m) 2403
Max Allowable Gas Vol. on Shut-in: (bbl) 547

1.60
Pore Pressure Gradient

1.60
547 1.60
580 1.59
1.59
613 1.58

1.59

1.58
540 550 560 570 580 590 600 610 620
Max Allowable Gas Volume on Shut-in (bbl)

For more infor or help, please contact YUEJIN LUO, BP Exploration, Sunbury, Tel: 853-2424, Fax: 853-4183

1-45
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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

2 THE PREVENTION OF A KICK


Section Page

2.1 CORRECT TRIPPING PROCEDURES 2-1

2.2 MAINTAIN SUITABLE HYDROSTATIC PRESSURE 2-9

2.3 CONTROL LOST CIRCULATION 2-17

Formation pressures are contained by the hydrostatic pressure of a column of drilling


fluid – this is primary well control.

If primary control is lost the blowout preventers are closed and secondary well control
techniques are used to kill the well.

Primary control is maintained by ensuring that a full column of drilling fluid of an


appropriate weight is allowed to exert its full hydrostatic pressure in the hole.

Industry wide experience has shown that the most common causes of loss of
primary control and hance the well kicks are:
• Swabbing during trips.
• Not adequately filling the hole during a trip.

• Insufficient mud weight.


• Lost circulation.

The evidence also shows that the majority of kicks have occurred during trips.
This chapter outlines the measures that are required to eliminate or minimise the risk
of a kick due to the above causes, and to minimise influx volumes if a kick occurs.

March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

2.1 CORRECT TRIPPING PROCEDURE


Paragraph Page
1 General 2-2
2 Prior to Tripping 2-2
3 Tripping Procedure 2-5
4 Special Procedure for Oil Base Muds 2-8

Illustrations
2.1 Typical Trip Tank Hook-up – on a floating rig 2-3
2.2 BP Trip Sheet – example of a completed sheet 2-4
2.3 Example of Standing Orders for Driller 2-6

2-1
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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

1 General
Industry wide experience has shown that the majority of well control problems have occurred
during trips. It is therefore particularly important that special attention is paid to ensuring
correct tripping procedure.

During tripping the potential exists for a significant reduction in bottomhole pressure due to
the following effects:

• Reduction in ECD as the pumps are stopped.

• Swab pressures due to pipe motion.

• Reduction in height of the mud column as pipe is removed from the well.

The procedures required to deal with an influx when the pipe is off bottom are not so
straightforward as when the pipe is on bottom. Every effort must therefore be made to ensure
both that the well is stable prior to initiating a trip out of the hole, and that correct tripping
procedure is strictly adhered to.

2 Prior to Tripping
Considerable preparation is required before the trip is commenced. The following are among
the most important actions that should be carried out prior to tripping:

• Circulate the hole

– The mud should be conditioned to ensure that tripping will not cause excessive swab/
surge pressures.

– Any entrained gas or cuttings should be circulated out.

– The mud weight should be such as to ensure an adequate overbalance will exist at all
times during the trip.

• Determine the maximum pipe speed

– Swab/surge pressures should be calculated at various tripping speeds using the


appropriate formulae. (See Chapter 3, Volume 2.)

– The maximum average pipe speed should be selected bearing in mind the estimated
overbalance or trip margin.

• Line up the trip tank

– Company policy states that:

“A trip tank must be available on every rig and be complete with a mechanically
operated indicator of the trip tank level, visible from the Driller’s position. The trip
tank level must also be monitored from the Mud Logger’s cabin.”

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

TRIP TANK
LEVEL
REMOTE RIG FLOOR
INDICATOR
CONTROL VALVE

OVERBOARD

ROTARY TABLE

DIVERTER

RETURNS TO HOLE FILL


SHAKERS UP LINE

FLOWLINE

TELESCOPIC
JOINT

FROM
MISSION PUMPS RISER

CHECK
VALVE

DRAIN
TRIP TANK PUMP

WEOX02.010

Figure 2.1 Typical Trip Tank Hook-up


– on a floating rig
Figure 2.1 shows a typical trip tank hook-up on a floating rig.

– It is considered unsafe to trip without a trip tank and as such, spare parts for the hole
fill pump/motor should be kept at the rig site.

– In order that maximum use is made of the trip tank on trips in and out of the hole, a
trip sheet should be used to record the mud volumes required to keep the hole full.

• Fill in the trip sheet

– Company policy states that:

“A trip sheet will be filled out by the Driller on every trip.”

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March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 2.2 BP Trip Sheet


– example of a completed sheet

TRIP SHEET

WELL No 26 RIG RIG 20 DATE AND TIME 15.30 27/8/87 SHEET No 1


REASON FOR TRIP CHANGE BIT No 20 DRILLER A.C.E.
HOLE DEPTH 3250m INITIAL BIT DEPTH 3250m
DISPLACEMENT OF 5 in DRILLPIPE : 0.0246 bbl/m : 0.697 bbl/stand

DISPLACEMENT OF 5 in HEAVYWEIGHT : 0.0564 bbl/m : 1.60 bbl/stand


DISPLACEMENT OF 91/2 in DRILL COLLARS : 0.2624 bbl/m : 7.35 bbl/stand
DISPLACEMENT OF in : bbl/ : bbl/stand
DISPLACEMENT OF in : bbl/ : bbl/stand

Trip On: Singles Doubles Stands NO OF STANDS TO CASING SHOE 53 STANDS


NO OF STANDS TO TOP OF BHA AT THE STACK 108 STANDS AND 1 SINGLE
STAND STAND Measured Hole Calculated
……… ……… Trip Tank Discrepancy
Fill/Disp Fill/Disp
No Increment Volume Remarks
(bbl) increment accum increment accum increment accum
(bbl) (bbl) (bbl) (bbl) (bbl) (bbl)

30.5
1 1 30.0 0.5 0.5 0.7 0.7 -0.2 -0.2
2 1 29.4 0.6 1.1 0.7 1.4 -0.1 -0.3
3 1 28.6 0.8 1.9 0.7 2.1 +0.1 -0.2
5 2 27.2 1.4 3.3 1.4 3.5 0 -0.2
7 2 25.9 1.3 4.6 1.4 4.9 -0.1 -0.3
10 3 23.8 2.1 6.7 2.1 7.0 0 -0.3
15 5 20.1 3.7 10.4 3.5 10.5 +0.2 -0.1
20 5 16.6 3.5 13.9 3.5 14.0 0 -0.1
25 5 13.2 3.4 17.3 3.5 17.5 -0.1 -0.2

Single Single
Double Double (1) (2) (3) (4) (1)-(3) (2)-(4)
Stands Stands

WEOX02.011

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– Figure 2.2 shows a completed example of the BP trip sheet. This trip sheet should be
used if the contractor cannot provide a similar sheet. The basic requirement for a
trip sheet is that a clear method of comparing calculated with actual hole fill volumes
is provided. The cumulative discrepancy between the two values should also be
recorded.

– The trip sheet for the last trip out of the hole should be available for comparison.

• Provide the Driller with the necessary information

– The Driller should be told the reason for the trip.

– He should be told of any indicators of increasing pore pressure or near balance that
were identified during drilling before, or since, he came on shift.

– He should be fully aware of the procedures to be adopted in the event of a kick while
tripping.

– An example of the standing orders that should be provided to the Driller is shown in
Figure 2.3.

• Drill floor preparation

– Crossovers should be available on the rig floor to allow a full opening drillpipe
safety valve to be made up to each tubular connection that is in the hole.

– A drillpipe safety valve (kelly valve) should be available on the rig floor. It should
be kept in the open position.

– A back-up safety valve, such as a Gray valve, should be available close to the rig
floor. This valve should only be used in the event that the drillpipe safety valve does
not hold pressure, or if stripping in the hole is required and no dart sub is fitted.

– The rig crew should be completely familiar with, and practiced in, their
responsibilities in the event of a kick.

3 Tripping Procedure
Having completed the preparations as outlined in the previous section, the trip out of the
hole can be started. The following procedure is proposed as a guideline:

1. Flow check the well with the pumps off to ensure that the well is stable
with the ECD (equivalent circulating density) effect removed.

2. Pump a slug.

This enables the pipe to be pulled dry and the hole to be accurately monitored during a trip.

2-5
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 2.3 Example of Standing Orders for Driller

STANDING ORDERS TO DRILLER WHILE TRIPPING

WELL NO 15 RIG RIG 12


ORDERS EFFECTIVE ON ALL TRIPS
DATE 15/6/87 COMPANY REP K.D. SMB TOOLPUSHER

IF ANY OF THE FOLLOWING OCCUR:


1. HOLE NOT TAKING CORRECT VOLUME DURING THE TRIP
2. THE WELL IS FLOWING
3. ……………………………………………………………………………
4. ……………………………………………………………………………
5. ……………………………………………………………………………
6. ……………………………………………………………………………
7. ……………………………………………………………………………
8. ……………………………………………………………………………
Or if there is any other possible indication of a kick.

1. STOP TRIPPING OPERATIONS


2. FLOWCHECK THE WELL IF NECESSARY

IS THE
YES NO
WELL
FLOWING?

1. SET THE SLIPS 1. NOTIFY COMPANY REPRESENTATIVE


……………………………………………………………
AND TOOLPUSHER
2. INSTALL OPEN DP SAFETY VALVE
……………………………………………………………
3. CLOSE DP SAFETY VALVE 2. PROCEED AS DIRECTED
……………………………………………………………
4. OPEN CHOKE LINE VALVE (S)
……………………………………………………………
5. CLOSE ANNULAR PREVENTER
……………………………………………………………
6. CHECK THAT WELL IS SHUT IN
……………………………………………………………
7. NOTIFY COMPANY REPRESENTATIVE
……………………………………………………………
8. INSTALL KELLY
……………………………………………………………
9. LINE UP STANDPIPE MANIFOLD
……………………………………………………………
10. OPEN DP SAFETY VALVE
……………………………………………………………
11. RECORD DP AND CSG PRESSURE
……………………………………………………………
12. IF IN OPENHOLE: ENGAGE
……………………………………………………………
BUSHINGS, ROTATE THE PIPE
……………………………………………………………
13. PROCEED AS DIRECTED
……………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………

WEOX02.012

2-6
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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

The following formula can be used to calculate the volume of slug to ensure a length, L, of
dry pipe:

Vsl = MW X L X Cp (bbl)
(MWsl – MW)

where Vsl = volume of slug (bbl)


L = length of dry pipe (m)
Cp = internal capacity of the pipe (bbl/m)
MWsl = slug weight (SG)
MW = mud weight in the hole (SG)

As a general rule, the slug should be mixed to maintain a minimum of 2 stands of dry pipe.
It is important to accurately displace the slug to the pipe. In this manner, the Driller will
know the weight, depth and height of the slug at all times during the trip.

3. For the first 5 – 10 stands off bottom, monitor the hole through the rotary.
This is to check that the annulus is falling as pipe is removed from the hole. The pipe
wiper should therefore be installed only after the first stands have been pulled. The trip
tank should not be overfilled at this stage to ensure that swabbing is clearly indicated,
should it occur. The circulating pump should be switched off at this stage and the hole
filled from the trip tank, after each stand.

4. Circulate the hole across the trip tank and continue to trip out, monitoring
hole volumes with the aid of the trip sheet.

5. Conduct a flowcheck when the BHA is into the casing shoe.

6. Conduct a flowcheck prior to pulling the BHA through the stack.


Be aware that the required hole fill volume per stand of heavy weight and drill collars will
be greater than for drillpipe as the BHA is being removed from the hole.

If unsure of the overbalance, consideration should be given to conducting a short round trip.
Once back on bottom, the overbalance can be assessed from the level of the trip gas at
bottoms up.

If the hole does not take the correct amount of fluid at any stage in the trip, a flowcheck
should be carried out.

If the flowcheck indicates no flow and the cause of the discrepancy cannot be accounted for
at surface, the string should be returned to bottom while paying particular attention to
displacement volumes. After circulating bottoms up, it may be necessary to increase the
mud weight before restarting the trip out of the hole.

If the flowcheck is positive, the well should be shut-in according to the procedure indicated
in the standing orders. Subsequent action will be dependent upon the conditions at the rigsite
(See Chapter 5).

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

4 Special Procedure for Oil Base Muds


When oil base mud is in use, gaseous fluids have a tendency to go into solution with the
mud at high temperature and pressure. Experience has shown that once an influx has gone
into solution, it will not break out of solution until the bubble point is reached, typically at
1000 – 1500psi (this will depend on the fluids concerned). The possible consequence of this
is that a small influx that was undetected at depth may suddenly break out of solution close
to the surface. This may cause a dangerous liberation of gas at surface as well as significant
reduction in hydrostatic pressure in the well.

Consideration should also be given to the possibility of thermal expansion of the mud at
high temperatures. This can cause a reduction in effective mud weight and hence in the
overall hydrostatic head.

It is therefore recommended that tripping procedures are modified to take account of this
potential problem when oil base mud is in use in the following situations:

• When drilling or coring in a potential pay zone.

• On prediction of an increase in pore pressure.

• On detecting significant levels of gas in the mud.

In these circumstances the following procedure is recommended prior to pulling out of the
hole:

1. Flow check the well.

2. Circulate bottoms up.

3. Check trip to the shoe monitoring hole volumes.

4. Flow check at the shoe and run back to bottom.

5. Circulate bottoms up. Close in the BOP and circulate through the choke when
the potential influx is at 500m below the stack, watching for any pit gain.

6. If necessary increase the mud weight and perform a further check trip.

This procedure can be relaxed if, after several trips under the same conditions, the well
remains stable.

The following procedure is recommended in these circumstances after a round trip.

1. When back on bottom prior to any further drilling or coring, circulate


bottoms up to check for trip gas.

2. Circulate until potential influx is at 500m below the stack, watching for any
pit gain.

3. Close in the well and circulate the potential influx through the choke.

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

2.2 MAINTAIN SUITABLE HYDROSTATIC


PRESSURE
Paragraph Page
1 General 2-10
2 Gas Cutting 2-10
3 Cuttings Contamination 2-14

Illustrations
2.4 Bottomhole Pressure Reduction – due to gas cutting 2-12

2-9
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

1 General
Primary well control is achieved by controlling formation pressures with the hydrostatic
pressure of the drilling fluid. The drilling fluid may be contaminated with cuttings and
formation fluids during drilling. These contaminants can significantly alter the effective
hydrostatic pressure exerted by the drilling fluid, and in certain circumstances, this can
cause loss of primary control.

Hydrostatic pressure will be reduced once drilling stops as a result of the loss of annulus
frictional pressure and the removal of cuttings from the annulus. The settling of cuttings to
the bottom of the hole may significantly reduce the hydrostatic pressure further up the hole.

This section outlines the techniques that can be used to predict the effect of drilling fluid
contamination on the hydrostatic pressure.

2 Gas Cutting
When drilling through a formation that contains gas, it is inevitable that the mud will become
contaminated with gas from the drilled formation even if the formation is penetrated
overbalance.

Drilled gas will enter the mud system at a rate determined by the following factors:

• Rate of penetration, ROP (m/hr)

• Hole diameter, d h (in.)

• Formation porosity, Ø (fractional)

• Gas saturation, Sg (fractional)

The rate of gas entering the mud at bottomhole conditions, Qgas (gal/min), is given by the
following formula:
2
dh (gal/min)
Qgas = X 1.285 X ROP X Ø X Sg
24
Therefore as an example in the following conditions:

ROP = 25 m/hr
dh = 12 1/4 in.
Ø = 0.2
Sg = 0.75
Bottomhole pressure = 6000psi
Hole depth and depth at which
gas enters the mud, D = 3020m
2
Qgas = 12.25 X 1.285 X 25 X 0.2 X 0.75
24
= 1.26 gal/min at 6000psi

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March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Therefore at atmospheric pressure the gas flowrate is given by:

Qgas = 1.26 X 6000 = 514 gal/min at atmospheric pressure


14.7
This simplified calculation treats the gas as ideal and does not consider the effects of
temperature.

In this hole section the flowrate of mud is 700 gal/min; the actual mud weight at surface can
be calculated using the following formula:

Qmud
MW act = MW X
Qmud + Qgas

where MWact = actual mud weight at surface (SG)


MW = uncut mud weight (SG)
Qmud = flowrate of mud (gal/min)
Qgas = flowrate of gas (gal/min)

Therefore in this case the actual (or gas cut) mud weight at surface is given by:

MW act = 1.4 X 700 = 0.81 SG


700 + 514
It should be stressed that this figure is an estimation of the actual mud weight at the flowline
and as such will not reflect the actual density of the mud in the hole.

The percentage gas cutting is given by:

Percentage cut = MW – MWact X 100


MW

Which in this case gives a figure of:

Percentage cut = 1.4 – 0.81 X 100 = 42% cut


1.4

The following formula can be used to estimate the bottomhole pressure reduction due to gas
cut mud:

∆P = 14.7 (MW – MW act) ln (96.46 X MW X D) (psi)


MW act 1000

where ∆P = bottomhole pressure reduction due to gas cutting (psi)


D = depth at which gas enters the mud (m)

Figure 2.4 shows the effect of various levels of gas cutting for two different mud weights
using the above formula. It should be noted that these curves represent an ideal gas;
temperature and solubility effects are not considered.

In this case:

∆P = 14.7 (1.4 – 0.81) ln (96.46 X 1.4 X 3020) (psi)


0.81 1000

∆P = 64psi

2-11
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 2.4 Bottomhole Pressure Reduction


– due to gas cutting

0 20 40 60 80 100
0

-1000

-2000

2.1
SG
1.05
SG
TRUE VERTICAL DEPTH (m)

-3000
2.1
SG
1.05
SG

2.1
-4000 SG
1.05
SG

2.1
SG
1.05
-5000 SG

2.1
SG
1.05
SG

-6000
2.1
SG
1.05
SG

5% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50%

PERCENT GAS CUT AT THE FLOWLINE


-7000
0 20 40 60 80 100

DECREASE IN BOTTOMHOLE PRESSURE (psi)

WEOX02.013

2-12
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Therefore the average mud weight in the hole is equal to:

MW = (6000 – 64) = 1.38 SG


3020 X 1.421

It can be seen that what appeared to be significant gas cutting, at 42%, caused a very small
reduction in the bottomhole pressure and actually only reduced the effective mud weight by
0.02 SG, or by a factor of 1.4%.

The actual reduction in bottomhole pressure is caused by the gas when it has considerably
expanded. This expansion does not occur until the gas has been circulated to near the surface.
As can be seen from the previous example, this near surface expansion has a small effect on
the bottomhole pressure in a deep well for moderate levels of gas cutting. However the
effect of near surface expansion may be critical in relatively shallow hole sections.

The effect of gas cutting in a relatively shallow hole is demonstrated with the following
example:

dh = 24 in. Ø = 0.3
Instantaneous ROP = 80 m/hr Sg = 0.7
D = 300m Pump output = 750 gal/min
MW = 1.13 SG Formation pressure = 1.03 SG

Gas enters the mud system at a rate given by:


2
= 24 X 1.285 X 80 X 0.3 X 0.7
24
= 21.6 gal/min at bottomhole conditions

Gas flowrate at surface is given by:

21.6 X 1.03 X 1.421 X 300 = 645 gal/min


14.7

The actual mud weight at surface is given by:

750 X 1.13 = 0.61 SG


750 + 645

Corresponding to a pressure reduction of:

14.7 X (1.13 – 0.61) ln (96.46 X 1.13 X 300) = 44 psi


0.61 1000

The average mud weight in the hole is given by:

(1.13 X 1.421 X 300) – 44 = 1.02 SG


300 X 1.421

Quite clearly the potential exists for the well to kick in this situation, given that the pore
pressure at this depth is assumed to be normal at 1.03 SG.

2-13
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Industry experience has shown that excessive gas cutting in shallow hole has in many cases
been the cause of shallow gas blowouts in offshore environments. The previous example
shows the possible effect of gas cutting in shallow hole. However it should also be noted
that in shallow hole the annulus pressure loss during circulation will be negligible, and the
expansion of the gas may cause mud to be unloaded at surface, thereby further reducing the
hydrostatic head of the mud column.

It is therefore important that the ROP is restricted in shallow hole. High pump output should
also be maintained to disperse the gas within the mud to minimise variations in SG.

3 Cuttings Contamination
One of the most important functions of the drilling fluid is to transport cuttings from the bit
to the surface. The presence of cuttings in the annulus will increase the effective hydrostatic
pressure of the fluid column. If this increase is excessive, it can cause losses which may
possibly lead to the loss of primary control.

It is therefore useful to be able to estimate the additional pressure caused by the cuttings in
the annulus. In order to be able to estimate this additional pressure, a measure of the ability
of the drilling fluid to remove the cuttings from the well is required.

The cuttings slip velocity is defined as the velocity of the cuttings relative to the velocity of
the mud. There are many factors that influence the cuttings slip velocity, however the
following relationship can be used to estimate its value:

Slip Velocity, v s = 108 X d cut X (wcut – MW) 0.667


MW 0.333 X µ0.333

where vs = slip velocity (m/min)


µ = average viscosity (cP)
MW = mud weight (SG)
wcut = average cuttings weight (SG)
dcut = cutting average diameter (in.)

However, if the particle Reynolds number is greater than 2000, the following formula should
be used to calculate the slip velocity:

1
dcut (w cut – MW) 2
vs = 34.56
1.5 X MW

The particle Reynolds number, Re is given by:

Re = 422.78 X MW X v s X d cut
µ

2-14
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

The transport ratio is defined as the ratio of the actual cuttings velocity to the mud velocity;
it is therefore determined as follows:

Transport ratio, TR = v m – vs
vm

where vm = Q (m/min)
0.134(d hc 2 – do 2)

and vm = mud velocity (m/min)


Q = pump output (gal/min)
dhc = hole/casing ID (in.)
do = pipe OD (in.)

The concentration of cuttings in the annulus can be calculated from the following formula:

Ca = ROP X d bit2 X (1 – Ø)
448.4 X Q X TR

where ROP = rate of penetration (m/hr)


dbit = diameter of the bit (in.)
Ø = porosity

The extra pressure caused by the cuttings in the annulus is given by the formula:

∆P = (w cut – MW) X 1.421 X sum (L X Ca)

where L = the length of each section (m)

The cuttings concentration must therefore be determined for each section of hole.

Consider the following example for a 17 1/2 in. hole section drilled from a floating rig.

Casing shoe at 900m Average viscosity = 50 cP


Casing ID = 22 in. Pump output = 700 gal/min
Riser ID = 22 in. ROP = 50 m/hr
Bit size = 17.5 in. Openhole length = 180 m
Drillpipe OD = 5 in. Cuttings density = 2.5 SG
Collar OD/length = 8 in./180m Cuttings diameter = 0.3 in.
Mud weight = 1.5 SG

The slip velocity = 108 X 0.3 X (2.5 – 1.5)0.667


1.50.333 X 50 0.333

= 7.7 m/min

The velocity of the mud in 17 1/2 in. hole is given by:

Velocity = 700 = 21.6 m/min


0.134 X (17.5 2 – 82)

In the 22 in. section:

Velocity = 700 = 11.4 m/min


0.134 X (22 2 – 52)

2-15
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

This gives a transport ratio of 64% in 17 1/2 in. hole and of 32% in 22 in. hole.

The cuttings concentration, Ca, in the 17 1/2 in. hole is given by:

Ca = 50 X 17.5 2 = 0.076 (= 7.6%)


448.4 X 700 X 0.64

In the 22 in. hole section:

Ca = 50 X 17.5 2 = 0.152 (= 15.2%)


448.4 X 700 X 0.32

The porosity is not considered.

The additional hydrostatic pressure due to the cuttings is determined as follows:

∆P = (2.5 - 1.5) X 1.421 X [(0.076 X 180) + (0.152 X 900)]

∆P = 214 psi

This additional pressure therefore increases the effective mud weight to a figure given␣by:

MW = (1.5 X 1.421 X 1080) + 214 = 1.64 SG


1080 X 1.421

2-16
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

2.3 CONTROL LOST CIRCULATION


Paragraph Page
1 General 2-18
2 Causes of Lost Circulation 2-18
3 Classification of Lost Circulation 2-19
4 Identification of Loss Zone 2-19
5 General Procedure for Spotting Plugs 2-20
6 Lost Circulation Decision Analysis 2-23
7 Drilling Blind 2-27

Illustrations
2.5 Balanced Plug Technique 2-22
2.6 Lost Circulation Remedies 2-24

2-17
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

1 General
Lost circulation can occur as a result of the following:

• Unconsolidated or highly permeable low pressure formations (including depleted


reservoirs and at the base of long permeable reservoirs).

• Natural fractures.

• Induced fractures.

• Cavernous formations.

Lost circulation is undesirable primarily for three reasons. Firstly, that a loss of hydrostatic
head may lead to the well kicking and secondly, that the cost of the replacement mud required
may be considerable. Thirdly, it precludes accurate monitoring of the hole.

This section is intended to outline how to identify the different types of loss zone and, in
each case, to determine the most appropriate remedy.

2 Causes of Lost Circulation


These are as follows:

• Setting intermediate casing too high

Optimum casing design ensures that weak formations are isolated prior to drilling into
known areas of higher pressure.

• Drilling with excessive overbalance

• Drilling too fast

Overloading the annulus can cause excessive ECDs or the formation of mud rings as the
concentration of cuttings increases.

• Swab/surge pressures when running pipe

The mud properties and tripping procedures must be controlled to ensure that surge
pressures are not excessive when running pipe. Care should be taken when breaking
circulation, possibly by breaking circulation at several depths on the trip in the hole.

• Mud cake build up

In severe cases, mud cake can reach a level where the hole packs-off around the drillstring.
To minimise this problem good fluid loss control and maximum use of the solids-control
equipment must be coupled with a low fluid-loss mud. The drilled solids content of the
mud must be carefully controlled, by dilution if necessary.

2-18
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

3 Classification of Lost Circulation


The severity of the loss zone can be assessed as follows:

• Seepage Losses (0.25 – 10 bbl/hr)

This takes the form of very slow losses or sometimes undetectable loss to a permeable
formation. In some instances, this may be due to filtration loss due to poor fluid loss
control. (The identification of seepage losses may be confused with the removal of
cuttings from the mud at the shakers.)

Curing this level of loss is sometimes not economical if a cheap mud is in use and the
rig rate is high. If pressure constraints are tight the losses may have to be cured. Other
factors such as the need for a good cement job, formation damage or the risk of possible
stuck pipe need to be considered in specific cases.

• Partial Losses (10 – 500 bbl/hr)

Because these losses are more severe the cost of the mud in use becomes more important
and so it is more likely to be economical to take some rig time to cure them.

Drilling with losses can be considered if the fluid is cheap and the pressures are within
operating limits.

• Complete Losses (500 bbl/hr – No returns)

If complete loss of returns is experienced, immediately pump water down the annulus,
monitoring the volumes required to fill the hole. From the volume required, the
hydrostatic head that the hole can maintain should be determined.

When drilling in top hole sections with high ROP, complete losses may be caused by
overloading the annulus. In this case consideration should be given to pulling out and
circulating in stages to clean the hole.

If efforts to cure the losses are unsuccessful, consideration may be given to drilling
blind.

4 Identification of Loss Zone


The formation type determines the most appropriate remedial treatment required to cure
losses. It is therefore important that the loss zone is correctly identified.

Each type of lost circulation zone will exhibit certain characteristics which can be outlined
as follows:

• Unconsolidated formations

Occur mainly at shallow depth. For whole mud to be lost to a formation, in the absence
of fractures, requires permeability of the order of 10 Darcies.

Will cause a gradual loss of mud to the hole, however, may worsen if no remedial action
is taken.

2-19
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

• Natural fractures

Can occur in many rock types.

May cause a gradual loss of mud to the hole, however if drilling proceeds and more
fractures are exposed, complete losses may be experienced.

• Induced fractures

Horizontal fractures may be induced at relatively shallow depths after the formation of
mud rings and by overloading the annulus. The formation of a mud ring will be indicated
by an increase in pump pressure and the drillstring becoming tight.

Vertical fractures may occur at greater depth and may be caused by any pressure surge
on the formation. Usually indicated by sudden and complete losses.

• Cavernous formations

Normally only experienced in limestone formations.

Loss of returns may be sudden and complete. May be accompanied by the bit dropping
up to several feet depending on the height of the cavern.

• Underground blowout

Condition where the act of shutting in on a kick induces a fracture in the openhole
above the point of influx. Kick fluids flow, usually from the lower active zone to the
zone which has been fractured. Generally indicated by unstable pressure readings at
surface.

The depth of the loss zone must be established in order to calculate the hydrostatics
involved and to determine the remedial action required.

The loss zone can be located using a Temperature Survey, which operates by identifying
a discontinuity in the temperature gradient within the wellbore. A noise log may also be
used. Correlation with the known lithology at the confirmed loss zone is very important
to identify the type of formation that has been fractured.

5 General Procedure for Spotting Plugs


Accurate placement of plugs downhole is vital if the loss zone is to be sealed. To do this,
accurate measurement of pump efficiencies and internal pipe sizes must be made.

When drilling in areas of potential lost circulation, large nozzles should be fitted to the bit.
However, coarse LCM must not be pumped through a bit with nozzles.

When the bit in the hole contains small nozzles and an LCM pill is required, consideration
should be given to tripping the pipe and running a bit with large nozzles or even open ended
drillpipe.

The use of bits with a centre jet will also increase the area available for spotting plugs.

When the plug is being spotted, keep the pipe moving to avoid getting stuck.

When placing plugs containing cement, wherever possible the slurry formulation should be
tested by the cementing contractor to determine thickening time.

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March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

The best displacement method for placing plugs is to use the balanced plug technique. This
is however not always possible to achieve or desirable, depending on the rate of loss or the
type of slurry to be pumped.

In general, placement techniques will be as follows (refer to Paragraph 6 for recipes):

(a) Conventional circulation


Used for techniques 2A and 2B.

Place the plug through open ended pipe (if possible) opposite the loss zone. Pump at
1.0␣bbl/min until the losses cease.

(b) Balanced plug


Used for techniques 3A, 3B, 3C, 4A, 4B, 4C and 4D.

The balanced plug method should be used for the above techniques. However, if cement
in any of the above techniques and it becomes necessary to spot the plug through a bit,
the balanced plug technique should not be used. In this case, the bit should be tripped
into the casing and the non-balanced plug technique used (See/(c)).

The basic requirement for a balanced plug is that the correct volume of spacer is pumped
behind the slurry, to ensure that the hydrostatic pressure in the annulus is balanced with
that in the pipe before the pipe is pulled out of the plug. The pipe is then pulled out of
the plug. If it is decided to squeeze the plug, 2 bbl should be pumped down the pipe, the
BOPs closed and then squeeze pressure applied on the annulus below the rams. Balanced
plugs can be allowed to lose to the formation under the hydrostatic head of the column
alone, or by squeezing. It may be desirable to reverse circulate the pipe contents, if this
is possible after pulling out of the plug.

Plug balancing calculations are as follows:

• Calculate the volume of cement plug for the required height of plug

Volume (bbl) = height (m) X hole capacity (bbl/m) X factor for excess

No of sacks required = volume (bbl)


slurry yield (bbl/sk)

2-21
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

TUBING

MUD

SPACER
where h = height of spacer (m)
H = height of plug (m)
h L = drillpipe/tubing length (m)

PLUG

WEOX02.014

Figure 2.5 Balanced Plug Technique

• With the volume of spacer ahead known calculate the height and volume of spacer behind
(See Figure 2.5)

If the same fluid is used before and after the plug:

h = Spacer vol ahead (bbl)


annulus capacity (bbl/m)

Spacer vol behind (bbl) = h X pipe capacity (bbl/m)

where h = height of spacer (m)

2-22
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

• Calculate the height of the cement plug before the pipe is pulled out

H(m) = Volume of slurry(bbl)


annulus cap (bbl/m) + pipe cap (bbl/m)

where H = height of the plug (m)

• Calculate the plug displacement volume

Displacement volume (bbl) = (L – H – h) X pipe cap (bbl/m)

where L = Drillpipe/tubing length (m)

(c) Non-balanced plug


Used for techniques 5A, 5B, 6, 7A and 7B or whenever using techniques 3C, 4A, 4B
and 4C through a bit.

Where the loss zone depth is known with certainty then the pipe can be placed
approximately␣50m above it. The slurry is displaced to the end of the pipe and the BOP is
closed. For a downhole mixed plug, pump simultaneously down the annulus and pipe at
2␣bbl/min. For a spotted plug pump the slurry out of the pipe plus 5 bbl excess, then pump
down the annulus only.

6 Lost Circulation Decision Analysis


Figure 2.6 can be used as a guide to determining the most suitable method of dealing with a
lost circulation problem. The techniques referred to in Figure 2.6 are specified below.

• Technique 1
Pull up and wait

The bit should be pulled up to safety inside casing and the hole left static for 4 to
8/hours without circulation. (While waiting, a lost circulation pill can be mixed (eg/2A
or 2B), at comparatively low cost, for use in case the zone does not self heal.)

This technique is only likely to succeed in zones of induced fractures. It is therefore not
applicable to naturally occurring horizontal loss zones eg/gravels, natural fractures, vugs
and caverns where the overburden is self-supporting.

• Technique 2A

LCM pill
Mix a 100 – 500 bbl pill as follows:
100 – 500 bbl mud
15 lb/bbl fine walnut/sawdust/etc
10 lb/bbl fine fibres (wood, mica or cane)
5 lb/bbl medium to fine fibres (wood, cane, mica or similar)
5 lb/bbl large cellophane flakes (1.0 in. diameter)

Pump the pill as recommended in Paragraph 5. Repeat if the hole still takes fluid. If the
hole is still not filling go on to use a ‘High filter loss slurry squeeze’.

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LOST CIRCULATION REMEDIES

SEVERITY OF EFFECTIVE IN
TYPE OF LOSS LOSS, bbl/hr LOSS ZONE GEOMETRY LOST CIRCULATION REMEDIAL TECHNIQUE WBM OBM*

Seeping 1 – 10 to horizontal loss zones** Technique 2A – Plug of fine bridging agents in mud yes yes
to induced vert fractures Technique 3A – High-filter-loss slurry squeeze with yes yes
fine bridging agents
Partial 10 – 500 to horizontal loss zones** Technique 1 – Pull up and wait (primarily for induced yes partial
vertical fracture)
to induced vert fractures Technique 2B – Plug of medium bridging agents in yes yes
mud
Technique 3A – High-filter-loss slurry squeeze with yes yes
coarse bridging agents
Complete 500 – complete to horizontal loss zones** Technique 3B or 3C – High-filter-loss slurry squeeze yes yes
with coarse bridging agents
Technique 4B – Thixotropic cement or other cements yes no
(4A, 4C, 4D)
Technique 5B – Mud + diesel-oil-bentonite plus yes no
cement
Technique 5A – Downhole-mixed soft plug yes yes
(mud-diesel oil-bentonite)
Technique 7B – Downhole-mixed hard plug (sodium yes yes
silicate, calcium chloride, cement squeeze
Flo-Check)
Long Complete to horizontal loss zones** Technique 3A, 3B or 3C – High-filter-loss slurry yes no
honeycomb or squeeze with 25 – 35 lb/bbl or coarse bridging agents
caverns (only Technique 5B – Downhole-mixed soft/hard plug
in limestones) continuously mixed in large amounts

Deep induced Complete Vertical in WBM or OBM Technique 1 – Pull up and wait yes partial
fractures in WBM Technique 5B – Downhole-mixed soft/hard plug yes no
in WBM Technique 5A – Downhole-mixed soft plug yes no
in WBM Technique 7B – Downhole-mixed hard plug yes yes
(sodium, silicate, calcium chloride, cement
squeeze, Flo-Check)
in OBM Technique 3B or 3C – High-filter-loss slurry squeeze yes yes
with coarse bridging agents
in OBM Technique 4A – Neat portland cement yes yes
in OBM Technique 7B – Downhole-mixed plug yes yes
(sodium, silicate, calcium chloride, cement
squeeze, Flo-Check)

* Usually not in use where loss zones are WBM – water-base mud
horizontal. They consist of porous sands OBM – oil-base mud
and gravels, natural fractures, and
honeycomb and caverns.

Figure 2.6 Lost Circulation Remedies


• Technique 2B
LCM pill

As above but using larger concentrations of coarse materials eg coarse mica, wood,
walnut or cellophane.

• Technique 3A
High filter loss slurry squeeze (Diearth, Diaseal M etc)

100 bbl water


15 lb/bbl bentonite or 1.0 lb/bbl Drispac (or 1.0 lb/bbl XC Polymer)
0.5 lb/bbl lime
50 lb/bbl Diearth, Diaseal M
15 – 20 lb/bbl fine mica, walnut, cellophane or similar material as can be mixed and
remain pumpable.

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• Technique 3B
High filter loss slurry squeeze

As Technique 3A but include the following:

15 – 30 lb/bbl medium and coarse LCM

• Technique 3C
High filter loss slurry squeeze

As Technique 3A but include the following:

Reduce Diearth concentration to 10 – 25 lb/bbl


Use barytes as inert filler at 300 lb/bbl
Add cement at 70 lb/bbl

Place in 30 bbl slugs into loss zone with 200 psi squeeze pressure.

Note: Wherever possible, slurry formulations should be tested prior to spotting to


eliminate possible premature setting. When this is the case, always be aware
of the thickening time and avoid leaving cement in or opposite the pipe beyond
this time.

• Technique 4A
Neat cement slurry

Neat cement slurries give high compressive strength plugs.

Mix Class G cement at 1.90 SG in water

• Technique 4B
Extended cement slurry (using bentonite)

Prehydrated bentonite slurry gives a degree of fluid loss control and ‘plating effect’ to
help stop lost circulation. Coupled with this, a lightweight slurry can be formulated
(1.58 SG) which helps in areas of serious lost circulation. A further benefit is that
reasonable compressive strength characteristics are found with slurries of this type.

Add 10 lb/bbl bentonite to pre-treated fresh water (with 0.25 lb/bbl caustic and 0.25/lb/
bbl soda ash). Mix cement up to 1.58 SG.

• Technique 4C
Aggregated cement slurry (with sand or ground coal)

Add aggregrate to the neat cement slurry at 1.90 SG up to a maximum weight of 20 – 35


lb/sack of cement in the mix.

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• Technique 4D
Thixotropic cements

Cement of this type exhibits good flow characteristics when being pumped and a quickly
developing gel strength when stationary. This thixotropic behaviour is beneficial for
the following reasons:

– A plug of cement displaced past the loss zone is self supporting and does not fall
back under its own weight.

– The cement will tend to remain next to the wellbore when squeezed into fractures
due to their rapidly developing gel strength.

Due to the temperature and chemical formulation sensitivity of this type of slurry, it is
not recommended to use this cement without rigorous quality control and testing prior
to each job. Halliburton Thixset 1 or 2 are examples of this type of cement.

• Technique 5A
Downhole mixed soft plug

This type of lost circulation pill is designed to mix with a water base mud or formation
water in the downhole environment and subsequently be squeezed into the formation.

Mix 10.5 gal of diesel or base oil to 100 lb of bentonite.

Granular or fibrous LCM may be added to this mix if required, ie mica at 10 ppb plus
walnut at 10 ppb.

This mixture must be kept away from contact with water until it is placed out of the
drillpipe. To do this, a 10 bbl oil spacer is pumped ahead of a plug, followed by 10 bbl
after the plug.

The principle of this plug is to form a rubbery plug whenever the mixture contacts the
water base mud. Formation water will assist the hydration of the bentonite.

• Technique 5B
Downhole mixed soft/hard plug

This type of lost circulation pill is designed to mix with a water base mud or formation
water in the downhole environment. It can be designed to form an initially fluid mixture
of a soft or semi-hard nature depending on its composition, and can be squeezed into
the formation where it will harden and develop compressive strength.

The proportion of mud to the pill in the final mix downhole will determine the strength
of the plug. For example, a 1:1 mix with fresh water will result in a soft plug, whereas
a 1:3 (water/mix ratio) mix will result in a hard plug. In every case however, pilot tests
should be carried out at surface for various mixes, prior to spotting the pill.

Mix on surface 300 lb of G neat cement and 158 lb of bentonite to 1 bbl of diesel or base
oil. All water should be excluded from the mix on surface.

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• Technique 6
Downhole mixed soft plug
Oleophilic clay and water

This type of plug formulation is designed for use in an oil base mud. It works by the
same principle as 5A, except that the clay disperses in water and hydrates in oil (the
opposite of a bentonite squeeze).

Mix on surface 280 lb of oleophilic clay to 1 bbl of water. Add lignosulphonate at 4/lb/
bbl water.

An example of oleophilic clay is Baroid Geltone.

The spacers ahead and behind this plug must be water based.

• Technique 7A
Surface mixed soft plug (polymer type)

These formulations are mixed on surface, where polymers are blended with activators
and extenders, to give a delayed thickening reaction. This allows enough time to place
the plug in the loss zone before the chemical reaction takes place.

Haliburton Temblok is an example of this type of material.

This treatment is only temporary and the yield strength breaks down fairly quickly. It
should be followed by a cement slurry to effect a permanent seal.

• Technique 7B
Downhole mixed hard plug

Haliburton Flocheck can be used for this.

This is a Sodium Silicate material which on contact with calcium ions forms insoluble
Calcium Silicate. By pumping a CaCl 2 brine to the formation, followed by the Flocheck
material, plugging of the formation occurs when the two chemicals mix in the formation
matrix.

Placement as follows:

Pump 50 bbl 10% (by weight) CaC12 followed by 10 bbl fresh water. Then pump 35/bbl␣of
Flocheck followed by a further 10 bbl fresh water. Care must be taken to ensure that
CaC1 2 does not come into contact with Flocheck on surface as it will go hard in the pits.

This treatment, whilst permanent, may be reinforced by a cement slurry.

7 Drilling Blind
In certain circumstances it may become necessary to drill ahead without any returns at surface,
ie drilling ahead blind. This may be required if all attempts as laid out in Paragraph 6 have
failed. Once the decision to drill blind has been made, the main objective will be to set
casing in the first competent formation penetrated.

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Although no cuttings will be obtained while drilling blind, casing seat can be located by
logging and by keeping up a penetration log whilst drilling ahead. The hole has to be logged
frequently, for example every 100m or whenever the penetration rate suggests a formation
change. Once a competent formation has been identified, the new formation has to be
penetrated by at least 20m to successfully set and cement the next casing string.

Whilst drilling blind the following precautions must be taken:

• Use one pump for drilling as normal with the other continuously filling the annulus
with water.

• Assign personnel to monitor the flowline for returns at all times.

• Pick the drillstring up off bottom every 2m drilled to ensure that the hole is not packing
off above the bit.

• Keep one pit full of viscous mud at all times ready to pump to the hole.

• If one pump requires repair, use the cement unit to fill the annulus continuously.

• After drilling each single, wipe the hole over a full single and kelly length prior to
drilling ahead. Wipe the hole over the length of a stand if using a topdrive.

If overpull is experienced wipe the hole 3 or 4 times.

Spot a viscous pill around the bit prior to making each connection. This pill should be
balanced in and outside the pipe.

• If, during drilling, the fluid in the annulus reaches surface, stop drilling immediately.
Pick up the drillstring so that the BOPs can be closed if required. Stop the pump on the
drillpipe and the annulus. Close in and observe for any pressure build up.

– If there is no pressure on the annulus, start up the pump on the drillpipe and circulate
bottoms up through a fully opened choke (if this is possible). The loss zone may be
plugged with drill cuttings. Drill ahead if everything is normal to a predetermined
depth, if the area is well known. Stop and log if the area is not well known to determine
if a suitable casing seat has been found and has been sufficiently penetrated.

– If there is pressure on the annulus be prepared to adopt procedures for an


underground␣blowout.

At all times be prepared to cement the well.


If tripping is required when complete loss of returns exists then the following precautions
must be taken:

• Spot a viscous pill across the openhole section.

• Before tripping, stop the pumps on drillpipe and annulus and observe the well for
30␣minutes. Keep the string moving and be prepared to close in the well if necessary .

• Drop the dart into the drop-in dart sub.

• Fill up the annulus continuously during the trip.

• Monitor the flowline at all times.

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• Stop the pumps and monitor the well whenever the bit is pulled into the previous casing
shoe.

• Be prepared to shut in at all times during the trip.

If wireline logging is required when complete loss of returns exists then the following
precautions must be taken.

• When logging, the pump should be kept continuously on the hole. The only exception is
when static fluid level has to be established.

• Logging is best conducted using through drillpipe logging tools, with open ended drillpipe
run to the casing shoe.

2-29/30
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3 WARNING SIGNS OF A KICK


Paragraph Page
1 General 3-2
2 Drilling Break 3-2
3 Increased Returns Flowrate 3-2
4 Pit Gain 3-3
5 Hole not Taking Appropriate Volume During a Trip 3-4
6 Gas Cut Mud 3-4
7 Increase in Hookload 3-6
8 Change in Pump Speed or Pressure 3-6

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1 General
When drilling with returns to surface, a kick cannot occur without any warning sign. This
Chapter outlines and explains the signs that indicate either that a kick has occurred or that a
kick may soon develop.

2 Drilling Break
One of the first indications that a kick may occur is an increase in penetration rate, or a
drilling break.

Many factors influence the rate of penetration, but an increase in penetration rate can be
caused by an increase in formation porosity, permeability or pore pressure. A change in all
or one of these formation parameters may create the conditions in which a kick could occur.

For this reason any drilling break should be checked for flow.

Even if the flowcheck indicates no flow, the reason for each drilling break should be
determined.

As an example, a drilling break could be caused by drilling into an impermeable transition


zone above a permeable reservoir. Because the formation is impermeable, it is unlikely that
any significant flow would be noticed during a flowcheck. However, the formation may be
considerably underbalanced by the mud column. If drilling continued and the reservoir was
penetrated, a kick would be taken.

Consideration must therefore be given to circulating bottoms up before drilling ahead after
a negative flowcheck, especially in critical sections of the well.

3 Increased Returns Flowrate


The first confirmation that a kick is occurring is an increase in returns flowrate while the
pumps are running at constant output.

However, this increase may not be detected if the influx flowrate is particularly slow. In this
case a slight pit gain may be the first detectable confirmation of the kick.

If low gravity formation fluids enter the wellbore during drilling, the hydrostatic pressure
in the annulus will decrease rapidly as more influx enters and when the influx expands as it
is circulated up the hole. As a result, rapid influx flowrates can quickly develop, even though
the initial influx flowrate might have been very low.

The length of formation exposed also has direct bearing on the rate of flow into the well.
The greater the length of formation exposed, the larger the flowrate.

It is therefore important that surface equipment be able to reliably detect a small increase in
returns flowrate.

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4 Pit Gain
(a) While Drilling
A gain in pit volume, that was not caused by the movement of mud stocks at surface, is
confirmation that a kick is occurring or has occurred.

This is the most reliable indicator of a kick. Consequently, every effort must be made to
ensure that pit levels are accurately monitored at all times.

Very small influx volumes may not be detected at surface as they occur. This may be
due to the fact that, either the initial influx was particularly small, or the influx flowrate
was very slow. This could be the case if the formation has low permeability or if a more
permeable formation was only very slightly underbalanced. In such cases, the influx
may be detected before it is circulated to the surface if it expands significantly as it
rises up the hole. In general, the greater the amount of gas that is contained in the
influx, the greater the expansion of the influx will be as it rises up the hole.

As a result, the greater the proportion of gas in the influx, the more likely it is that the
influx will be detected as it is circulated up the hole.

Consequently, a low volume influx heavy oil or brine that does not contain any
appreciable quantity of gas, will be relatively difficult to detect at surface.

However, if the active system is accurately monitored, pit gains of less than 10 bbl
should be detected reliably, even on floating rigs.

(b) During a Connection


An influx may only occur during a connection due to the reduction in bottomhole pressure
as the pumps are shut down and the pipe pulled off bottom.

If the well flows only during a connection, it is likely that the influx flowrate will be
slow initially, resulting in only a small pit gain. Therefore, early detection of flow during
a connection may be difficult.

However, it is important to check for flow during a connection, because if a close to


balance situation is developing, it is most likely to show initially during a connection.
The first signs are likely to be increasing connection gases. However, if the underbalance
develops very rapidly and the bottoms up time is considerable, then it is possible that an
influx may occur before the connection gases are detected at surface. In this instance,
flow during a connection may be the first indication of an underbalanced situation.

The detection of a small pit gain during a connection is complicated by the volume of
mud in the flowline returning to the pit after the pumps have been shut down. This will
cause an increase in pit level during each connection.

It is important therefore to establish the volume of mud that is contained in the flowline
during circulation. For instance, this volume might be 10 bbl and as such, a 10 bbl pit
gain during a connection would not be significant. However, a 15/bbl gain may indicate
that a 5 bbl influx has occurred.

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5 Hole not Taking Appropriate Volume


During a Trip
As pipe is pulled from the hole, it is essential that the appropriate volume of mud is used to
keep the hole full. This is essential in order that both a full head of mud is maintained in the
hole and that if an influx is swabbed into the hole, it is detected immediately.

Before every trip, a trip sheet (See Page 2-4) should be filled out. This must clearly show
the expected hole fill volumes as the pipe is pulled out of the hole. As the trip proceeds,
actual hole fill volumes should be entered in the trip sheet alongside the expected volumes.
If the hole takes less mud than expected, this should be taken as positive indication that an
influx has been swabbed into the hole.

A flowcheck should be carried out immediately or, if in a reservoir section, the well should
immediately be shut in.

A negative flowcheck at this point is not necessarily confirmation that an influx has not
occurred. It is quite possible, even if an influx has been swabbed into the well, that the well
will not flow if the pipe is stationary.

Therefore, if at any stage in a trip the hole does not take the correct volume of mud, the pipe
should be run back to bottom, using the trip tank, and bottoms up circulated.

The problems associated with dealing with a kick when the pipe is off bottom can be
considerable, and so every effort must be made to ensure that significant swab pressures are
avoided during a trip.

Swabbing is minimised by ensuring that the mud is in good condition prior to pulling out
of␣hole and that predetermined speeds are not exceeded at any stage in the trip (see Chapter␣3,
Volume 2).

6 Gas Cut Mud


A kick is confirmed at surface as an increase in returns flowrate and a pit gain.

However, a minor influx that is not detected as a pit gain may first be identified at surface in
the returned mud. Formation fluids and gas in the returned mud may therefore indicate that
a low volume influx is occurring or has occurred, even though no gain has been detected.

Returned mud must be monitored for contamination with formation fluids. This is done by
constantly recording the flowline mud density and accurately monitoring gas levels in the
returned mud.

Gas cut mud does not in itself indicate that the well is kicking (gas may be entrained in the
cuttings). However, it must be treated as early warning of a possible kick. Therefore the pit
level should be closely monitored if significant levels of gas are detected in the mud.

An essential part of interpreting the level of gas in the mud is the understanding of the
conditions in which the gas entered the mud in the first place.

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Gas can enter the mud for one or more of the following reasons:

• As a result of drilling a formation that contains gas even with a suitable overbalance.

• As a result of a temporary reduction in hydrostatic pressure caused by swabbing as pipe


is moved in the hole.

• Due to the pore pressure in a formation being greater than the hydrostatic pressure of
the mud column.

Gas due to one or a combination of the above, is classified as follows:

(a) Drilled Gas


As porous formations containing gas are drilled, it is inevitable that a certain quantity
of the gas contained in the cuttings will enter the mud.

Any gas that enters the mud, unless in solution with oil base mud and above the bubble
point, will expand as it is circulated up the hole, causing gas cutting at the flowline. Gas
cutting due to this mechanism will occur even if the formation is overbalanced. Raising
the mud weight will not prevent it.

However, drilled gas will only be evident during the time taken to circulate out the
cuttings from the porous formation.

(b) Connection Gas


Connection gases are detected at surface as a distinct increase above background gas, as
the hole is circulated bottoms up after a connection.

Connection gases are caused by the temporary reduction in effective total pressure of
the mud column during a connection. This is due to pump shut down and the swabbing
action of the pipe.

In all cases, connection gases indicate a condition of near balance. Consequently, when
connection gases are identified, consideration should be given to weighting up the mud
before drilling ahead and particularly prior to a trip.

(c) Trip Gas


Trip gas is any gas that entered the mud while the pipe was tripped and the hole appeared
static. Trip gas will be detected in the mud on circulating bottoms up after a round trip.

If the static mud column is sufficient to balance the formation pressure, the trip gas is
caused by swabbing and gas diffusion.

Significant trip gas may indicate that a close to balance situation exists in the hole.

(d) Gas due to Inadequate Mud Density


Surface indications of an underbalanced formation depend on the degree of underbalance,
as well as the formation permeability.

The penetration of a permeable formation that is significantly underbalanced will cause


an immediate pit gain.

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A permeable formation that is only slightly underbalanced may only cause a small flow
into the well. The first evidence of this at surface is likely to be gas cut mud, accompanied
by a small pit gain. The initial pit gain may be so small that it is only detected as it
expands as it is circulated up the hole.

In the case a tight formation is underbalanced, there may be little or no actual flow of
gas into the wellbore. Therefore, drilling such a formation may show only gas cut mud,
even if the underbalance is relatively high. This is a relatively difficult situation to
detect and is also potentially dangerous.

7 Increase in Hookload
If an influx occurs while drilling, an increase in hookload may be noticed at surface.

Influx fluids will generally be lighter than the drilling fluid, especially so if the influx is
gas. Displacement of the drilling fluid by the influx will reduce the buoyancy of the
bottomhole assembly. This will increase the effective weight of the drillstring, a change that
is likely to be registered as an increase in hookload.

An increase in hookload may only be noticed after a considerable volume of influx has
occurred. It is not therefore a reliable method of detecting a kick at an early stage.

8 Change in Pump Speed or Pressure


Pump pressure may decrease with a corresponding increase in pump speed if an influx occurs
during drilling.

This indication is caused as a result of the U-tube effect, caused by light fluids flowing into
the annulus. However, it is only likely to become noticeable as the influx is circulated up
the hole.

A washout in the drillstring will cause the same decrease in pump pressure and increase in
pump speed. However, if these signs are noticed, the Driller should first assume that a kick
may have occurred and flowcheck the well.

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4 ACTION ON DETECTING AN INFLUX

Section Page

4.1 SHALLOW GAS PROCEDURE 4-1

4.2 SHUT-IN PROCEDURES 4-9

4.3 DURING SHUT-IN PERIOD 4-15

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4.1 SHALLOW GAS PROCEDURE


Paragraph Page
1 General 4-2
2 Gas encountered whilst drilling without a riser from
a Floating Rig 4-3
3 Gas encountered whilst drilling for surface casing
from a Floating Rig with a riser 4-4
4 Gas encountered whilst drilling for surface casing
from a Bottom Supported Rig 4-6
5 Onshore Shallow Gas 4-7

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1 General
Offshore shallow gas accumulations are normally associated with recently laid down
sand␣ l enses that are totally enveloped by mudstones. When encountered at shallow
depths,␣lenses tend to be highly porous, permeable and relatively unconsolidated. They
are␣commonly thin, flat and normally pressured. However , overpressured lenses have been
encountered. Overpressure at this depth is generally caused by inclination of the lens which
has the effect of increasing the height of the lens and hence the pore pressure gradient at the
top of the lens.

In some areas, shallow gas has been associated with buried reefs or vuggy limestone which
can be extremely porous and almost infinitely permeable.

Shallow gas kicks are generally caused by loss of hydrostatic head due to one or a combination
of the following:

• Overloading the annulus with cuttings and hence causing losses.

• Drilled gas expanding and unloading the annulus.

• Improper hole fill while tripping.

Consequently it is strongly recommended to take the following general precautions to


minimise the possibility of inducing a shallow gas flow:

• Drill pilot hole

• Drill riserless

• Restrict ROPs

• Accurately monitor the hole

Shallow gas flows are often extremely prolific, producing very high flow rates of gas and
considerable quantities of rock from the formation; particularly so when a long section of
sand has been exposed.

In the event of a shallow gas flow, the Company Representative must immediately liaise
with the Senior Contractor Representative to make preparations to evacuate initially
non-essential personnel from the rig. The eventuality of having to completely evacuate the
rig must also be addressed (the contractor’s emergency evacuation procedures will be
implemented).

A well should not be drilled through a shallow seismic anomally (bright spot), which may
indicate the presence of shallow gas. If a bright spot is present at the proposed drilling
location it is good practice to move the rig to avoid the hazard. The new drilling location
should, if possible, be located on a shallow seismic shot point.

It should be noted that the absence of bright spots does not rule out the possibility of the
existence of shallow gas. Further to this, the absence of shallow gas in one well of a series
drilled from a surface location does not guarantee the absence of shallow gas in subsequent
directional wells drilled from the same surface location.

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2 Gas encountered whilst drilling without


a riser from a Floating Rig
Company policy states that surface hole will be drilled riserless unless the particular
conditions as outlined in Drilling Policy and Guidelines Manual are applicable.

Drilling riserless ensures that the major cause of blowouts from shallow, normally pressured
gas reservoirs – namely, the loss of hydrostatic head – is eliminated. There remains however,
the danger of penetrating an overpressured reservoir.

A contingency plan must be developed, prior to spud, in conjunction with the Drilling
Contractor to cover the following situations:

• The procedures to be adopted in the event of a shallow gas flow.

• The procedure for winching the rig off location.

The contingency plan must be discussed in detail at the pre-spud meeting.

A gas blowout in open water produces a 10 degree cone of low density water and a discharge
of highly flammable gas. The intensity of the blowout depends to a large extent on the water
depth and current. The plume is likely to become more dispersed with greater water depth,
whilst the effect of a current would be to displace the plume away from the rig.

Within a plume of expanding gas, a floating vessel will suffer some loss of buoyancy; however,
this diminishes rapidly with water depth such that the effect on a semi-submersible at operating
draft would be negligible. The eruption of the gas would tend to displace a vessel, and if
constrained by its moorings, might cause a drillship to keel towards the plume, thereby
reducing its freeboard further. Under calm conditions, the gas cloud would disperse slowly
and would constitute a fire hazard if the gas became entrapped in a confined area.

The severity of the hazard can only be assessed at the time, and whilst there is unlikely to be
an immediate danger to crew or vessel, the following precautions or considerations should
be addressed before and whilst the surface hole is open:

• The rig should be moored with length of moorings remaining in the locker to allow the
rig to be winched 400 ft away from the plume. If practical, the windlasses should be
held on their brakes and the chain stoppers only applied after surface casing is set.

• All hatches should be secured to prevent invasion of voids by inflammable gas or


downflooding if the freeboard is reduced by loss of buoyancy or heel. This is critical
for a drillship.

• Facilities and personnel should be continuously available at short notice to slack off the
moorings closest to the plume and heave in those up current (but not down wind). Before
spudding, a contingency plan should be prepared detailing individual responsibilities
and duties.

• Drill pilot hole, limiting the ROP and circulate at a high rate to distribute the cuttings
and drilled gas.

• A float valve should always be run in the drillstring.

• Sufficient mud should be kept on site to fill the hole volume twice. (Typically at 1.15/SG.)

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• Weather conditions and current should be continuously monitored and the sea surface
should be checked for evidence of gas.

If a shallow gas flow is detected:

If there is no immediate danger to personnel or the rig:

1. Attempt to control the well by pumping mud/seawater at a maximum rate.

If the gas flow is endangering personnel or the rig:

2. Drop the drillstring or shear the pipe (See Section 6.2).

3. Winch the rig to a safe position outside the gas plume.

3 Gas encountered whilst drilling for surface


casing from a Floating Rig with a riser
In relatively shallow offshore environments, the conductor is usually set in a formation that
is too weak to contain the pressure of a gas kick. If a kick is detected in such circumstances,
the well should be diverted in order to avoid an underground blowout and the possibility of
the gas broaching around the conductor shoe.

It is Company policy that where the situation demands that a riser is to be used when drilling
for the surface casing, an annular preventer and subsea dump valves are installed at the
mudline, in addition to the normal diverter system at surface.

Industry experience has shown that current diverter systems cannot be relied upon to safely
control shallow gas blowouts. As a result, shallow gas flows should be controlled at the
seabed, using the subsea dump valves at the mudline and annular preventer. Immediate
preparations should then be made to unlatch the pin connector or LMRP and winch off
location, up current but not down wind.

A contingency plan must be developed, prior to spud, in conjunction with the Drilling
Contractor to cover the following situations:

• The procedures to be adopted in the event of a shallow gas flow.

• The procedure for winching the rig off location.

• The procedure to be adopted in the event of failure of any of the major components of
the BOP/riser/diverter system.

The contingency plan must be discussed in detail at the pre-spud meeting.

The surface diverter system ensures that there is a back-up system available in the event of
a failure of the subsea system. It can also be used to divert gas which may be in the riser
above the stack.

4-4
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

The following precautions, in line with those listed in Paragraph 2, should be taken routinely
whilst the surface hole is open:

• The rig should be moored with length of moorings remaining in the locker to allow the
rig to be winched 400 ft away from the plume. If practical, the windlasses should be
held on their brakes and the chain stoppers only applied after surface casing is set.

• All hatches should be secured to prevent invasion of voids by inflammable gas or


downflooding if the freeboard is reduced by loss of buoyancy or heel. This is critical
for a drillship.

• Facilities and personnel should be continuously available at short notice to slack off the
moorings closest to the plume and heave in those up current (but not down wind). Before
spudding, a contingency plan should be prepared detailing individual responsibilities
and duties.

• Care should be taken to ensure that the annulus does not become overloaded with cuttings,
causing losses or cuttings liberated gas, and hence the possibility of unloading the
annulus. This is achieved by drilling a pilot hole, limiting the ROP and circulating at a
high rate to distribute the cuttings and drilled gas.

• Facilities should be continuously available to fill the annulus rapidly from surface in
the event of sudden losses.

• Care should be taken to monitor the hole and ensure that it remains full whilst tripping.

• A float valve should always be run in the drillstring.

• Sufficient mud should be kept onsite to fill the hole volume twice. (Typically 1.15/SG.)

Should the well start to flow, the following procedure can be used as a guideline:

1. Open the subsea dump valves.

2. Close the annular preventer and allow the gas to vent at the seabed.

If there is no immediate danger to personnel or the rig:

3. Attempt to control the well by pumping sea water/mud at a maximum rate.

If the gas flow is endangering personnel or the rig:

4. Consider dropping the drillstring or shearing prior to (5) (See Section 6.2).

5. Unlatch the LMRP or pin connector and winch the rig to a safe position
outside the gas plume.

In the event of failure of the subsea diverter system there remains the option to divert at
surface or to unlatch the LMRP or pin connector, thereby venting the gas at the wellhead.
Diverting at surface is not recommended, however if it becomes absolutely necessary to
divert at surface, proceed as follows:

1. Maintain maximum pump rate.

2. Space out so that the lower kelly cock is just above the rotary table.

3. Open the diverter lines, close the shaker valve and diverter element thereby
diverting returns overboard.

4-5
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

4. Shut down all non-essential equipment and machinery to minimise potential


sources of ignition. Deploy fire hoses beneath the rig floor .

5. Prepare to unlatch the pin connector or LMRP and winch to a safe position.

If the situation is deteriorating and loss of control is imminent:

6. Consider dropping the drillstring or shearing the pipe prior to (7) (See
Section 4.3).

7. Release the pin connector or LMRP and winch the rig to a safe position
outside the gas plume.

4 Gas encountered whilst drilling for surface


casing from a Bottom Supported Rig
Shallow gas reservoirs are potentially much more hazardous when penetrated from a jack-up
or platform. Because the conductor extends almost to the rig floor, the products of a kick are
discharged directly into a hazardous zone.

In the event of a shallow gas flow, the diverter will immediately be closed in order to direct
the flow overboard. The reliability of the diverter system while subject to the stress of a
shallow gas flow is uncertain and so the possibility of equipment failure at this stage must
be considered.

On a bottom supported rig, a hazardous situation is created if a restriction forms in the


diverter line. The subsequent pressure build up may cause gas to broach around the casing to
the seabed. In this event there is a real risk that the seabed becomes fluidized, thus inducing
a sudden reduction in spudcan resistance.

The following precautions should be taken routinely whilst the surface hole is open:

• Care should be taken to ensure the annulus does not become overloaded with cuttings,
thus causing losses or gas to be liberated from the cuttings to such an extent that the
annulus unloads. This is achieved by drilling pilot hole, limiting the ROP, and circulating
at a high rate to distribute the cuttings and drilled gas.

• Facilities should be continuously available to rapidly fill the annulus from surface in
the event of sudden losses.

• Facilities should be available and care taken to monitor the hole and ensure that it remains
full whilst tripping.

• A float valve should always be run in the drillstring.

• A means of diverting the flow away from hazardous zones, without restricting flow or
imposing backpressure on the well, should be available for immediate activation.

• Sufficient mud should be kept onsite to fill the hole volume twice.

4-6
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Should the well start to flow, the following procedure may be used as a guideline:

1. Maintain maximum pump rate.

2. Space out such that the lower kelly cock is just above the rotary table.

3. Ensure that diverter lines are open, close shaker valve and diverter element
thereby diverting returns overboard.

4. Shut down all non-essential equipment and machinery to minimise potential


sources of ignition. Deploy fire hoses beneath the rig floor.

5. Evacuate all non-essential personnel.

6. Monitor the sea for evidence of gas breaking through outside the conductor.
(Evacuate all personnel if any evidence is detected.)

5 Onshore Shallow Gas


The shallow geology of onshore locations varies widely, but shallow gas is a rare occurrence
onshore. Geological control is usually sufficient to predict formations accurately and, when
necessary, specific contingency plans should be made to counter potential problems.

Shallow onshore reservoirs are generally older, more consolidated and less permeable than
those offshore, which will tend to restrict the flow potential of a shallow kick onshore.

Onshore, most wells are spudded through a thin layer of weathered formation into a bed
rock. The conductor and surface casing strings are normally set in competent formation
which can permit secondary well control by normal means.

However, if it is not possible to positively exclude the possibility of either a shallow gas
accumulation or a weak casing shoe, a means of diverting the flow away from the rig should
be provided. Provision should also be made to ensure an adequate supply of water is available
to pump to the hole at a high rate without taking returns.

Diverter procedures for an onshore well will be similar to those for a bottom supported
offshore rig. However, if water supply is known to be limited, a baryte plug may be the only
practical method of halting a shallow gas flow.

Most flows from shallow onshore reservoirs are associated with aquifers that outcrop at
higher elevations (or indeed lower elevations if air or foam drilling fluid is in use). A water
flow of this type is usually predictable and of limited consequence. Severe shallow flows
have been encountered in the past as a result of a shallow zone becoming charged by a lower
high pressure zone; the shallow zone having been charged by a faulty cement job in a
previously drilled well.

4-7/8
4-7
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

4.2 SHUT-IN PROCEDURES


Paragraph Page
1 General 4-10
2 Fast Shut-in 4-10
3 Shut-in Procedure 4-11

Illustrations
4.1 Kick while Drilling, Floating Rig, Fast Shut-in 4-12
4.2 Kick while Drilling, Fixed Rig, Fast Shut-in 4-13
4.3 Kick while Tripping, Fast Shut-in 4-14

4-9
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

1 General
It is Company policy that a well kick will be shut in and controlled at the BOP stack on hole
sections below the surface casing.

The procedures to be adopted in the event of a kick while drilling ahead from the surface
casing shoe are drawn up at the discretion of the Company Representative and the Company
Drilling Superintendent.

There are various methods of shutting in a well that is flowing. In general, the best method
is that which ensures that the well is safely shut in and the influx volume is minimised. The
smaller the volume of influx, the lower will be the pressures in the wellbore and at surface
throughout the kick control process.

It is the responsibility of the Company Representative to ensure that the Contractor is made
aware of the procedures that should be initiated in the event of a well kick.

The speed with which the Drillcrew carry out these procedures is a critical
factor. In this respect, if a primary indicator of a kick, such as either a pit gain
or an increase in returns flowrate is detected, no time should be spent
flowchecking the well. In such circumstances, the kelly (or topdrive) should
be picked up, the pumps stopped and the BOP closed immediately.
Speed and proficiency are achieved by regular drills. It is a further responsibility of the
Company Representative that he ensures these drills are carried out at suitable intervals to
ensure the drillcrews are proficient at implementing the shut-in procedures.

The forms illustrated in Figures 4.1 to 4.3 should be used to make absolutely clear the
shut-in procedures that will be used on each rig. These forms are intended primarily for the
Driller, however copies should be distributed to other relevant personnel including the
Toolpusher and, where appropriate, the Subsea Engineer.

When a standard shut-in procedure is finalised, this procedure should be written on a large
notice board that will be positioned prominently on the rig floor.

2 Fast Shut-in
Drilling management have issued the following guideline:

The fast shut-in is the preferred method of shutting in a well.

In order to implement the fast shut-in, the equipment should be set up as follows:

• The remote operated choke closed and isolated by a high pressure valve immediately
upstream.
(Ensure that the choke pressure can be monitored in this position.)

• One remote operated chokeline valve closed.


(Outer failsafe on a floating rig and HCR valve on a fixed rig.)

In the event that a kick is detected, or suspected, the choke line valve(s) are opened and the
BOP closed.

4-10
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

On a floating rig, the annular BOP will be used to initially shut-in the well. On a fixed rig,
the pipe rams may be used to initially shut-in the well, in order to speed up the procedure, if
the position of the tooljoint in relation to the pipe ram is known with confidence.

The advantage of this method is quite clear, namely that the operation is relatively simple in
comparison with the soft shut-in. Consequently, mistakes are unlikely and the time taken to
close in the well will be minimised.

At all times, be aware that the pressure rating of the standpipe equipment is generally less
than that of the BOP stack and the choke manifold.

3 Shut-in Procedure
It is the responsibility of the Company Representative and the Company Drilling
Superintendent to define the shut-in procedure that will be implemented in the event of
a␣kick.

The following forms are examples of the information that should be provided to the Driller:

Figure 4.1: Kick while Drilling, Floating Rig, Fast Shut-in.

Figure 4.2: Kick while Drilling, Fixed Rig, Fast Shut-in.

Figure 4.3: Kick while Tripping, Fast Shut-in.

4-11
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 4.1 Kick while Drilling, Floating Rig, Fast Shut-in

STANDING ORDERS TO DRILLER

WELL NO 24 RIG RIG 20


ORDERS EFFECTIVE THROUGH 121/4in HOLE SECTION
DATE 10/3/87 COMPANY REP S.M.B. K.D. TOOLPUSHER

IF ANY OF THE FOLLOWING OCCUR:

1. DRILLING BREAK
*2. INCREASED RETURNS FLOWRATE
*3. PIT GAIN
4. CHANGE IN PUMP SPEED OR PRESSURE
5. SUDDEN CHANGE IN PROPERTIES OF RETURNED MUD
6. ……………………………………………………………………………
7. ……………………………………………………………………………
8. ……………………………………………………………………………
9. ……………………………………………………………………………
10. ……………………………………………………………………………
Or if there is any other possible indication of a kick.

LOWER KELLY COCK IS …………………………


1. PICK UP UNTIL ………………………… 2.5m ABOVE ROTARY
UPPER PIPE
(Space out to ensure that a tool joint is clear of ………………………… rams)
2. SHUT DOWN THE PUMPS
3. FLOWCHECK THE WELL IF NECESSARY
(Do not flowcheck if 2* or 3* as above have been detected.)

IS THE
YES NO
WELL
FLOWING?

1. OPEN UPPER CHOKE LINE 1. NOTIFY COMPANY REPRESENTATIVE


……………………………………………………………
AND TOOLPUSHER
FAILSAFE (S)
……………………………………………………………
2. CLOSE UPPER ANNULAR 2. PROCEED AS DIRECTED
……………………………………………………………
3. CHECK WELL IS SHUT IN
……………………………………………………………
4. NOTIFY COMPANY REPRESENTATIVE
……………………………………………………………
5. CHECK SPACEOUT
……………………………………………………………
6. CLOSE UPPER PIPE RAMS
……………………………………………………………
7. ADJUST ANNULAR CLOSING
……………………………………………………………
PRESSURE
……………………………………………………………
8. HANG OFF ON UPPER PIPE RAMS
……………………………………………………………
9. CLOSE RAMLOCKS
……………………………………………………………
10. PROCEED AS DIRECTED
……………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………

WEOX02.015

4-12
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 4.2 Kick while Drilling, Fixed Rig, Fast Shut-in

STANDING ORDERS TO DRILLER

WELL NO 28 RIG RIG 15


ORDERS EFFECTIVE FOR WELL No 28
DATE 15/9/87 COMPANY REP J.B.H. J.P. TOOLPUSHER

IF ANY OF THE FOLLOWING OCCUR:

1. DRILLING BREAK
*2. INCREASED RETURNS FLOWRATE
*3. PIT GAIN
4. CHANGE IN PUMP SPEED OR PRESSURE
5. SUDDEN CHANGE IN PROPERTIES OF RETURNED MUD
6. ……………………………………………………………………………
7. ……………………………………………………………………………
8. ……………………………………………………………………………
9. ……………………………………………………………………………
10. ……………………………………………………………………………
Or if there is any other possible indication of a kick.

LOWER KELLY COCK IS …………………………


1. PICK UP UNTIL ………………………… 2m ABOVE ROTARY
5in PIPE
(Space out to ensure that a tool joint is clear of ………………………… rams)
2. SHUT DOWN THE PUMPS
3. FLOWCHECK THE WELL IF NECESSARY
(Do not flowcheck if 2* or 3* as above have been detected.)

IS THE
YES NO
WELL
FLOWING?

1. OPEN CHOKE LINE VALVE (S) 1. NOTIFY COMPANY REPRESENTATIVE


……………………………………………………………
AND TOOLPUSHER
2. CLOSE ANNULAR PREVENTER
……………………………………………………………
3. CHECK THAT WELL IS SHUT IN 2. PROCEED AS DIRECTED
……………………………………………………………
4. RECORD DP AND CSG PRESSURE
……………………………………………………………
5. NOTIFY COMPANY REPRESENTATIVE
……………………………………………………………
6. PROCEED AS DIRECTED
……………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………

WEOX02.016

4-13
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 4.3 Kick while Tripping, Fast Shut-in

STANDING ORDERS TO DRILLER WHILE TRIPPING

WELL NO 28 RIG RIG 10


ORDERS EFFECTIVE ON ALL TRIPS
DATE 23/7/87 COMPANY REP A.J.N. H.H. TOOLPUSHER

IF ANY OF THE FOLLOWING OCCUR:

1. HOLE NOT TAKING CORRECT VOLUME DURING THE TRIP


2. THE WELL IS FLOWING
3. ……………………………………………………………………………
4. ……………………………………………………………………………
5. ……………………………………………………………………………
6. ……………………………………………………………………………
7. ……………………………………………………………………………
8. ……………………………………………………………………………
Or if there is any other possible indication of a kick.

1. STOP TRIPPING OPERATIONS


2. FLOWCHECK THE WELL IF NECESSARY

IS THE
YES NO
WELL
FLOWING?

1. SET THE SLIPS 1. NOTIFY COMPANY REPRESENTATIVE


……………………………………………………………
AND TOOLPUSHER
2. INSTALL OPEN DP SAFETY VALVE
……………………………………………………………
3. CLOSE DP SAFETY VALVE 2. PROCEED AS DIRECTED
……………………………………………………………
4. OPEN CHOKE LINE VALVE (S)
……………………………………………………………
5. CLOSE ANNULAR PREVENTER
……………………………………………………………
6. CHECK THAT WELL IS SHUT IN
……………………………………………………………
7. NOTIFY COMPANY REPRESENTATIVE
……………………………………………………………
8. INSTALL KELLY
……………………………………………………………
9. LINE UP STANDPIPE MANIFOLD
……………………………………………………………
10. OPEN DP SAFETY VALVE
……………………………………………………………
11. RECORD DP AND CSG PRESSURE
……………………………………………………………
12. IF IN OPENHOLE: ENGAGE
……………………………………………………………
BUSHINGS, ROTATE THE PIPE
……………………………………………………………
13. PROCEED AS DIRECTED
……………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………

WEOX02.017

4-14
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

4.3 DURING SHUT-IN PERIOD


Paragraph Page
1 General 4-16
2 Record Pressure Data 4-16
3 Record drillpipe pressure with a Float Valve in the string 4-17
4 Trapped Pressure 4-19
5 Identify the Influx Type 4-20
6 Influx Migration 4-21
7 Control Influx Migration 4-24

Illustrations
4.4 Shut-in Pressure Build-up Curve
– showing the effect of influx migration 4-17
4.5 Well Control Operations Log 4-18
4.6 An Example Calculation
– showing how to evaluate the type of influx fluid 4-22
4.7 An Example of the possible increase in wellbore
pressure due to influx migration 4-23

4-15
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

1 General
When a flowing well is shut in by closing the BOPs, the flow will continue until shut-in
pressures have built up to balance the static reservoir pressure. In most cases, this will mean
that the flow will stop almost immediately the BOPs are closed and that the shut-in pressure
will stabilise within a few minutes.

In general, only if the well has been flowing for some time will the kick zone pressure take
time to build up to a maximum after the well has been shut in. In most cases, when a kick is
taken, the inflow into the wellbore occurs for only a short time and the drawdown is relatively
small. As a result, pressure in the wellbore will stabilise quickly after the well is shut in.

However, there have been many cases of surface pressures taking several hours to stabilise.
The reasons for this can be one, or all, of the following:

• The influx originated from a low permeability zone.

• The influx created instability in the wellbore, leading to the hole sloughing and
packing␣of f.

• The influx is migrating up the hole.

• The surface lines or subsea choke line is partially packed off.

This section covers the procedures that may be required during the time the well is shut in
prior to circulation.

2 Record Pressure Data


As soon as the well is shut in, a person must be assigned to record the drillpipe and casing
pressures. The pressures should be recorded initially at 1 minute intervals until the pressures
have stabilised. It is important to record the data frequently in order that any change in the
rate of build-up be clearly identified.

Usually, the rate of build-up is relatively fast until the well begins to stabilise. Once the
pressures have begun to stabilise, any further significant increase in surface pressures can
be indicative of influx migration.

The drillpipe pressure reflects the difference between the kick zone pressure and the effective
hydrostatic pressure of the mud column in the drillpipe, assuming that the influx has not
entered the drillpipe. It can therefore be used to determine the kick zone pressure.

When the surface pressures take a considerable time to stabilise, it is often difficult to
determine the drillpipe pressure that truly reflects the actual bottomhole pressure. There are
no hard and fast rules that apply to determine the correct value for the relevant drillpipe
pressure reading, however, frequent and accurate pressure readings will aid the
interpretation of build-up data.

Figure 4.4 shows a pressure build-up curve which shows signs of influx migration. The kick
zone EMW is determined from the drillpipe pressure during the stabilised period.

4-16
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

INITIAL STABILISED INFLUX


PRESSURE PERIOD MIGRATION
BUILDUP OCCURRING

ANNULUS
PRESSURE
SURFACE PRESSURE (psi)

DRILLPIPE
PRESSURE

TIME ELAPSED AFTER SHUT-IN

WEOX02.018

Figure 4.4 Shut-in Pressure Build-up Curve


– showing the effect of influx migration

Figure 4.5 shows a form that can be used to record the build-up of drillpipe and casing
pressure. This form should also be used to keep a complete record of events during the well
control operation.

3 Record drillpipe pressure with a Float Valve


in the string
If a non-ported float valve is in the string and a kick is taken, the valve will close against the
differential pressure and no pressure will be recorded at the standpipe.

In order to open this valve and allow the pressure to be transmitted to the surface, the
following procedure can be implemented:

1. Line up the pump to the drillpipe.

4-17
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 4.5 Well Control Operations Log

WELL CONTROL OPERATIONS LOG

WELL NO 28 RIG RIG 9 DATE AND TIME 3/7/87 03.00 SHEET NO 1

FIRST READING AT / INTERVAL BETWEEN READINGS 1 MINUTE UNTIL PRESSURES STABILISE


TIME DRILLPIPE CHOKE PIT LEVEL/
PRESSURE PRESSURE VOLUME REMARKS
(hr min) (psi) (psi) (bbl )

03.00 300 450 120 WELL SHUT IN – 10bbl GAIN


03.01 360 500 ''
03.02 420 560 ''
03.03 460 600 ''
03.04 520 660 ''
03.05 590 730 ''
03.06 630 770 ''
03.07 700 840 ''
03.08 720 860 ''
03.09 740 880 ''
03.10 760 900 ''
03.11 770 910 ''
03.12 775 920 ''
03.13 775 920 ''
03.14 780 925 ''
03.15 780 925 ''
03.16 780 925 ''
03.17 780 925 ''
03.20 780 925 '' INFORM COMPANY REP – PRESSURES STABILISED
03.25 780 925 ''
03.30 780 925 ''
03.45 780 925 '' START MIXING KILL WEIGHT MUD @ 1.75 SG
04.00 780 925 ''
04.30 782 925 ''
05.00 782 925 ''
05.10 782 925 '' 100bbl 1.75 SG MUD MIXED IN TANK No 1
05.15 782 925 '' VERIFY EQUIPMENT CORRECTLY LINED UP – CO REP
AND TOOLPUSHER TO RIG FLOOR
05.20 782 925 '' START CIRCULATION – BRING PUMP UP TO 25 SPM
05.24 1085 925 120 PUMP UP TO SPEED – RETURNS THROUGH DEGASSER
05.30 1010 910
05.40 880 903
05.50 755 930
06.00 630 945
06.10 450 950 KILL WEIGHT MUD TO BIT

WEOX02.019

4-18
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

2. Carefully monitoring both the pump and casing pressure, pump to the hole
at a controlled rate (very slow).

3. Record the increase in pump pressure and the volume of mud pumped.

The relationship between the pump pressure and the volume of mud pumped will be
linear as the mud in the drillpipe is compressed. If pumping is continued after the pressure
equalises across the float valve, the valve will open. As the valve opens, the pump
pressure will increase slower than before; this change should be easily recognisable at
slow pump rates. Stop the pump when this change is noticed. The casing pressure is
also likely to show an indication of the valve opening.

4. Isolate the pump at the standpipe.

5. Record the shut-in drillpipe pressure as the pump pressure recorded


immediately before the float valve opened.

6. If the casing pressure rises at any stage, immediately stop the pump.

Isolate the pump. Bleed off the excess pressure from the casing. As an example, if the
casing pressure rose 50 psi and this extra pressure was considered undesirable, bleed
50␣psi from the casing and record the shut-in drillpipe pressure as 50 psi less than the
final pump pressure.

The utmost care must be taken in carrying out this procedure. As outlined, this procedure
involves pumping into a closed well. The well is pressurised at the start of the operation,
and so any excessive additional pressurisation caused by pumping into the well may
overpressure the openhole section.

4 Trapped Pressure
In some circumstances it is possible that pressure, in excess of that caused by the kick zone,
can be trapped in the well. There are three possible causes of this phenomenon:

• The pumps were left running after the well was shut-in.

• The influx is migrating up the hole.

• Pipe has been stripped into the well without bleeding the correct volume of mud.

Trapped pressure of this kind will result in surface pressures that do not reflect the actual
kick zone pressure. However if the surface pressure built up at any point after the well
was␣shut-in, this is confirmation that there is no trapped pressure in the well. Pressure may
be trapped in the well if the surface pressure appears constant and no pressure build has
been seen.

The drillpipe pressure is used to determine the kick zone pressure and hence the mud weight
used to kill the well. An artificially high drillpipe pressure reading, used to determine the
kill mud weight, will result in overkilling the well.

4-19
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

The following procedure can be used to check for trapped pressure:

1. Ensure that accurate pressure gauges are fitted to the drillpipe and annulus.
Carefully monitor the drillpipe and casing pressure.

2. Using a manual choke, bleed a small volume of mud from the annulus to a
suitable measuring tank. (1/2 barrel is a suitable amount.)

3. Shut in the well. Allow pressure to stabilise.

If pressure has been trapped in the well, the drillpipe pressure and casing pressure will
have fallen.

If the drillpipe pressure does not drop after bleeding mud from the annulus, no pressure
is trapped in the well. Be aware that, if there is no trapped pressure in the well, each
increment of mud bled from the well will cause a further influx into the well. Therefore,
if no reduction in drillpipe pressure is detected after bleeding 2 – 3/bbl from the well,
no more mud should be bled off.

An increase in casing pressure is a sure sign that additional influx has entered the well.
Therefore, if this occurs, no more mud should be bled from the well.

4. If both the drillpipe pressure and casing pressure have decreased, continue
to bleed mud from the well in 1/2 bbl increments.

5. When the drillpipe pressure no longer decreases as mud is bled from the
well, record the drillpipe pressure as the shut-in drillpipe pressure. Stop
bleeding mud from the well.

It should be stressed that bleeding mud from a well that has kicked is an operation that must
be carefully implemented. Whilst it is undesirable to overkill the well, it is potentially
hazardous to increase the size of the influx, which is clearly a possibility if this procedure is
not properly carried out.

A firm recommendation is that the volumes bled from the well at this stage are kept to a
minimum, unless influx migration is obviously occurring. If there is some doubt as to the
true shut-in drillpipe pressure, even after bleeding mud from the annulus, it may be prudent
to use the Driller’s Method to circulate out the kick, rather than continue bleeding mud.

This procedure is not recommended if the kick zone is suspected to have low permeability.
Bleeding even very small quantities of mud from the annulus may reduce the pressure of a
tight kick zone below its final shut-in pressure. The drillpipe pressure will continue to
decrease, giving the false impression at surface that the bottomhole pressure is still greater
than the actual kick zone pressure. A possible consequence is that the operator may
inadvertantly reduce the bottomhole pressure significantly below the kick zone pressure
and cause a further influx into the wellbore.

5 Identify the Influx Type


The shut-in pressures recorded on the drillpipe and the casing after a kick is taken are
generally not equal. This is because the effective hydrostatic pressure of the fluid in the
annulus will be reduced below that in the drillpipe. It is unlikely that any kick fluid will␣enter
the drillpipe, because this is effectively a closed system if the kick was taken while drilling.

4-20
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

The pit gain at surface provides a guide to the volume of the kick. With this information,
together with the annular geometry and the surface pressures, it is possible to estimate
the␣influx density . The type of influx fluid can then be evaluated, using the following as
a␣guide:

Influx fluid Calculated Influx gradient (psi/ft)

Gas 0.05 – 0.2


Oil 0.3 – 0.4
Water > 0.4

Figure 4.6 shows an example of how to determine the influx type. This calculation is only
an approximation, for the following reasons. Firstly, it is assumed that the influx is a discrete
bubble, whereas it is more likely to be eccentric to the hole and contaminated with mud.
Secondly, the effective mud weight in the annulus is not likely to be the same as in the
drillpipe, due to cuttings loading the annulus, and possibly, contamination of the mud with
formation fluid. Thirdly, the hole may be out of gauge. It is important, however, that this
calculation is carried out for the additional reason that it provides a check of the validity of
the kick data.

It is useful to know the type of influx before circulation is initiated. Although most formation
fluids, including formation water, contain some gas, the calculated influx gradient provides
a guide to the proportion of gas in the fluid. The proportion of gas in the influx determines
two important factors, firstly, the well bore pressures during displacement, and secondly,
the pit gain during displacement. If the gas contains sufficient heavy hydrocarbon molecules
at reservoir conditions, condensate fluids may be formed as the gas is displaced from the
hole. This will not occur for a dry gas that does not contain a sufficient proportion of heavy
molecules. Gas will come out of solution from an oil influx when the influx pressure reduces
below the bubble point pressure during displacement. For light oils, a significant quantity
of gas will be produced.

It is recommended that all kicks are assumed to contain a certain proportion of gas. Prior to
circulation therefore, an estimation should be made of the maximum pressures that will be
encountered during circulation, and provision should be made for a pit gain during this
period. (See Chapter 5, Volume 2 for hand calculation techniques.)

6 Influx Migration
After a kick is taken, there is usually a tendency for the influx to migrate up the hole.
This␣tendency is caused by the dif ference in density between the influx fluid and the mud.

Influx migration up a closed-in well can cause excessive pressures within the wellbore if
suitable control procedures are not implemented.

Figure 4.7 shows an example of the potential increase in bottomhole pressure caused by gas
migration.

4-21
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 4.6 An Example Calculation


– showing how to evaluate the type of influx fluid

HOLE DRILLSTRING DIMENSIONS PRESSURE BALANCE

1. Determine the bottomhole 2. Determine the hydrostatic


855 500 pressure pressure of the influx

DRILLPIPE ANNULUS
SURFACE SURFACE
PRESSURE PRESSURE

1.7SG MUD
+ MUD +
MUD

HYDROSTATIC HYDROSTATIC
PRESSURE PRESSURE
OF MUD IN OF MUD IN
81/2in HOLE THE DRILLPIPE ANNULUS

61/4in COLLARS
+

INFLUX
= HYDROSTATIC
20bbl INFLUX PRESSURE
INFLUX
HEIGHT OF BHA =
= 195m

4000m BOTTOMHOLE BOTTOMHOLE


PRESSURE PRESSURE

Identify the influx fluid as follows:

1. Determine the bottomhole pressure


Bottomhole pressure = Drillpipe pressure + mud hydrostatic pressure
= 500 + (1.7 x 1.421 x 4000)
= 500 + 9663
= 10,163psi
2. Calculate the height of the influx in the annulus
Influx volume = Recorded pit gain = 20bbl
Annular capacity at collars = 0.1058bblm
Height of influx = 20/0.1058 = 189m
3. From pressure balance
Annulus surface pressure + Hydrostatic pressure of the mud + Hydrostatic pressure of
the influx = Bottomhole pressure

855 + 1.7 x 1.421 x (4000 – 189) + Pi = 10,163psi

Pi, hydrostatic pressure of the influx = 10,163 - 855 - 9206


= 102psi

Influx gradient = Pi/height of the influx


= 102/(189 x 3.2808)
= 0.16psi/ft
Therefore the influx is mainly gas
4. The following formula can also be used routinely to calculate the influx density
Density of the influx (SG) = MW – Pa – Pdp
h x 1.421
= 1.7 – 855 – 500
189 x 1.421
= 0.378 SG –
– 0.16psi/ft

WEOX02.020

4-22
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

SURFACE PRESSURE 250psi 3195psi 6180psi


0
GAS @
6180psi

1.4SG
MUD
1500m GAS @
6180psi

2975m
GAS @
3000m 6180psi
BOTTOMHOLE PRESSURE 6180psi 9160psi (12140psi)
BOTTOMHOLE EMW (SG) 1.45 2.15 (2.85)

WEOX02.021

Figure 4.7 An Example of the possible increase in


wellbore pressure due to influx migration

Influx migration does not always occur, but when it does, the rate at which the influx rises
up the hole is dependent on several variables. Experiment has shown that a gas bubble will
migrate up one side of the annulus as mud falls down the opposite side. Bearing this process
in mind, it is clear that the factors that predominantly affect the rate of rise of the influx will
be the following:

• The viscosity of the drilling fluid.

The more viscous the mud, the more difficult it is for the mud to fall down the annulus
to allow the influx to migrate.

• The difference in density between the mud and the influx.

The buoyancy force causes the influx to migrate.

• Any interaction between the mud and the influx fluid.

Migration will be slowed if the viscosity of the mud is increased as a result of


contamination with the influx fluid. In severe cases, migration may be completely
prevented.

4-23
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

7 Control Influx Migration


There are many possible reasons that a well that has kicked may be left shut-in for extended
periods. Procedures for relieving bottomhole pressure, should migration occur during this
period, will depend both on the position of the drillstring in the hole and whether or not the
drillpipe pressure can be used to monitor bottomhole pressure.

In both cases however, it is necessary to control the well using the Volumetric Method. This
technique ensures that the bottomhole pressure is maintained slightly above the kick zone
pressure at all times. This is accomplished by bleeding suitable volumes of mud from the
annulus to allow for expansion of the influx as it migrates up the hole.

This control procedure is greatly simplified if the drillstring is on bottom and in


communication with the annulus. In this case, the bottomhole pressure can be monitored
with the drillpipe pressure gauge. It is simply necessary to ensure that the drillpipe pressure
stays at a suitable value above the final shut-in pressure (that value recorded before migration
started) by bleeding mud from the annulus.

If the drillstring is off bottom, the bit is plugged, or there is a washout in the drillstring, it is
not possible to monitor bottomhole pressure with the drillpipe pressure gauge. In this event,
the annulus pressure is the only reliable guide to subsurface pressures.

The principle behind the control of the annulus is that an increase in annulus pressure caused
by influx migration, must be relieved by an equivalent reduction in the hydrostatic pressure
of the mud in the annulus. Thus, if the annulus pressure rises 100 psi, then a volume of mud
corresponding to a hydrostatic pressure in the annulus (at the top of the influx) of 100 psi
must be bled from the well at constant choke pressure.

The procedure for implementing the Volumetric Method is covered in detail in Chapter 6.

4-24
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

5 WELL KILL DECISION ANALYSIS


Paragraph Page
1 General 5-2
2 Pipe on Bottom 5-2
3 Pipe off Bottom (Drillpipe in the Stack) 5-2
4 Pipe off Bottom (Drillcollar in the Stack) 5-5
5 No Pipe in the Hole 5-5
6 While Running Casing or Liner 5-7
7 Underground Blowout 5-9

Illustrations
5.1 Preparations for the Well Kill 5-3
5.2 Decision Analysis – Pipe off Bottom
(Drillpipe in the Stack) 5-4
5.3 Decision Analysis – Pipe off Bottom
(Drillcollar in the Stack) 5-6
5.4 Decision Analysis – No Pipe in the Hole 5-8
5.5 Decision Analysis – Flow to a Fracture above a
High Pressure Zone 5-10
5.6 Decision Analysis – Flow to a Fracture or Loss
Zone below a High Pressure Zone 5-12

5-1
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

1 General
This Chapter is intended to provide guidelines to the decision making process in the event
that a kick is taken in a variety of different situations.

In reality, the specific conditions prevailing at the rigsite at the time that the kick is taken
will determine the best course of action to take in order to kill the well.

This Chapter should therefore not be used as a guide at the moment that a kick is taken. However,
it is anticipated that general familiarity with the analysis presented in this Chapter will enable
rigsite personnel to be better prepared to deal with a situation in which the well has kicked.

The techniques referred to in this section are covered in detail in Chapter 6, Well Kill
Techniques.

2 Pipe on Bottom
If a kick is taken with the pipe on bottom, the well will be shut-in immediately unless the
decision has previously been made to divert.

Having established that the well is safely closed in, it will be necessary to decide on the
most appropriate method of killing the well. This decision is the responsibility of the
Company Representative.

Having decided on the most appropriate course of action, the Company Representative is
responsible for ensuring that contractor personnel are made aware of the procedures that
will be used to kill the well.

The general procedure that is presented in Figure 5.1 represents the steps that should be
taken in preparation to kill the well. These steps are applicable to any situation in which a
kick is taken.

3 Pipe off Bottom (Drillpipe in the Stack)


If an influx is taken during a trip it will generally be necessary to return the drillstring to
bottom before the well can be killed.

The surface pressure will be a major factor in determining the most suitable method of
returning the pipe to bottom. It must be considered in relation to the string weight and the
pressure rating of the BOPs.

The first option that should be considered is stripping the pipe to bottom with the rig equipment.
Annular stripping is the most satisfactory method, however ram combination stripping may
have to be considered if surface pressures are approaching the pressure rating of the annular. On
a floating rig, ram combination stripping is a particularly difficult operation.

The limitations imposed by the rig BOP system may dictate that stripping the pipe to bottom
is impractical. In this case, snubbing must be considered.

Figure 5.2 represents an analysis of the decision making process in the event the well kicks
with the pipe off bottom.

5-2
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 5.1 Preparations for the Well Kill

KICK TAKEN
WELL SHUT-IN

MONITOR THE
WELL
CONTINUOUSLY

PREKILL MEETING
• DECISION MADE AS TO
MOST APPROPRIATE
METHOD OF KILLING
THE WELL
• DRILLING
SUPERINTENDENT IN
TOWN SHOULD BE
MADE AWARE OF THE
SITUATION

ALLOCATE INDIVIDUAL
RESPONSIBILITIES
• ESTABLISH THE LINES
OF COMMUNICATION

COMPLETE
PREPARATIONS
• CHECK EQUIPMENT
• ENSURE PERSONNEL
ARE BRIEFED
• VERIFY
COMMUNICATIONS

START UP KILL
PROCEDURE
• COMPANY
REPRESENTATIVE
CONTROLS THE
OPERATION THROUGH
THE CONTRACTOR
TOOLPUSHER

WEOX02.022

5-3
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 5.2 Decision Analysis – Pipe off Bottom


(Drillpipe in the Stack)

WELL KICKS PIPE


OFF BOTTOM
(Drillpipe in stack)

IS IT
POSSIBLE NO WELL IS DROP THE PIPE
TO STAB A SAFETY FLOWING UP AND SECURE
VALVE? THE DRILLSTRING THE WELL

YES

STAB AND CLOSE


FULL OPENING HANG OFF
SAFETY VALVE

OPEN CHOKELINE SHEAR PIPE


VALVE

CLOSE
ANNULAR

INSTALL DP DART
OR INSIDE BOP

THE
SEVERITY OF THE
MONITOR SURFACE SITUATION DICTATES
PRESSURE – CONSIDER
THAT STRIPPING WITH SNUBBING
ROTATE THE PIPE RIG EQUIPMENT
IS IMPRACTICAL

YES ATTEMPT TO
REDUCE SURFACE
PRESSURE – SURFACE
POSSIBLE TO CONSIDER: YES PRESSURE
REDUCE SURFACE • VOLUMETRIC EXCEEDS PRESSURE
PRESSURE? • LUBRICATION RATING OF
• BULLHEADING ANNULAR?
• CIRCULATE OUT
NO INFLUX NO

REDUCE
ANNULAR CLOSING
PRESSURE

ATTEMPT TO
LOWER PIPE
THROUGH STACK

ATTEMPT TO
REDUCE SURFACE
PRESSURE –
CONSIDER: NO POSSIBLE TO
LOWER PIPE
• VOLUMETRIC THROUGH
• LUBRICATION ANNULAR?
• BULLHEADING
• CIRCULATE OUT
INFLUX
YES

YES
ATTEMPT TO
REDUCE SURFACE
POSSIBLE PRESSURE –
YES POSSIBLE TO TO LOWER NO POSSIBLE TO
REDUCE SURFACE CONSIDER:
TOOLJOINT THROUGH REDUCE SURFACE
PRESSURE? ANNULAR?
• VOLUMETRIC PRESSURE ?
• LUBRICATION
• BULLHEADING
• CIRCULATE OUT
NO YES INFLUX NO

CONSIDER CONSIDER
FEASIBILITY IMPLEMENT FEASIBILITY
OF RAM TO RAM CONSIDER OF ANNULAR TO
ANNULAR
STRIPPING SNUBBING RAM STRIPPING
STRIPPING

WEOX02.023

5-4
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

4 Pipe off Bottom (Drillcollar in the Stack)


Every effort should be made to ensure that well control problems are avoided when the
BHA is across the stack. Regaining control from a situation in which the well has kicked
when the BHA is across the stack can present serious complications.

If the kick was swabbed in, it may be possible to bring the well under control by bleeding
gas and lubricating mud into the well. It is however, undesirable to leave the collars in the
stack for an extended period during a well control operation.

In any event, it is likely that the pipe will have to be stripped to bottom before the well can
be killed.

There are considerable operational problems presented by attempting to strip the BHA
through the annular; these include:

• Many BOP stacks, especially on land, have only one annular BOP. The BOP element
will be subject to considerable stress as the spiralled collars are stripped through it. If
the element fails there is no back-up.

• Stabilizers in the BHA may prevent stripping completely.

Further complications that may arise in this situation are numerous, but include the following:

• There is not sufficient weight of collars to strip through the annular BOP.

• Well pressures force the collars out of the hole.

• An internal blowout through the drillstring.

The appropriate course of action required in these situations will depend to a large extent on
the particular conditions and equipment at the rigsite. However Figure 5.3 is intended as a
guide to dealing with such situations.

5 No Pipe in the Hole


Correct tripping procedures will ensure that an influx is detected before the pipe is completely
out of the hole.

Should an influx remain undetected during tripping and the well is shut in with no pipe in
the hole, it may not be possible to re-introduce drillpipe into the hole in order to strip to
bottom.

The limiting factor is the surface pressure in relation to the weight of the drillstring above
the stack. A simple calculation will determine whether it will be possible to overcome the
wellbore pressures with the weight of the string. There is quite clearly a limited weight that
can be applied at a surface stack.

If the influx is immediately below the stack, it may be possible to either kill the well by
lubricating mud into the well, or to reduce the surface pressures such that it becomes possible
to re-introduce pipe into the hole.

5-5
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 5.3 Decision Analysis – Pipe off Bottom


(Drillcollar in the Stack)

WELL KICKS
(Drillcollar in
the stack)

IS IT
NO WELL IS DROP THE PIPE
POSSIBLE TO
FLOWING UP THE AND SECURE
STAB A SAFETY
DRILLSTRING THE WELL
VALVE?

YES

STAB AND CLOSE


A FULL OPENING
SAFETY VALVE

OPEN CHOKE
LINE VALVE(S)

CLOSE ANNULAR

YES IS THE
INCREASE ANNULAR
ANNULAR
CLOSING PRESSURE
LEAKING?

NO

IS THE INCREASE
PIPE FORCED YES
MINOR LEAK LEAK STOPS ANNULAR
OUT OF THE CLOSING PRESSURE
HOLE?

NO

IS THE
INSTALL INSIDE NO
PIPE FORCED
BOP OUT OF THE
LEAK HOLE?
THREATENS RIG
FLOOR AREA YES
MAKE UP DRILLPIPE
TO COLLARS

ATTEMPT TO
LOWER SURFACE
IS IT PRESSURE CONSIDER
POSSIBLE TO NO LUBRICATING
LOWER PIPE INTO BULLHEADING
THE HOLE?

YES
OPEN
CHOKE LINE IS IT
STRIP IN YES POSSIBLE TO OPEN
UNTIL DRILLPIPE LOWER PIPE INTO CHOKE LINE
IN THE STACK THE HOLE?

NO
CHECK INTEGRITY
OF ANNULAR
PREVENTER

DROP THE PIPE DROP THE PIPE


STRIP IN THE CONSIDER
AND SECURE AND SECURE
HOLE SNUBBING
THE WELL THE WELL

WEOX02.024

5-6
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

However, if the influx is someway down the hole, it may not be possible to reduce the
surface pressure significantly.

If the influx is migrating up the hole, it may be possible to kill the well by implementing the
Volumetric Control Method.

On fixed offshore and land rigs, the only practical method of controlling the well may be
with the use of a snubbing unit. Snubbing units have been used in exceptional circumstances
on floating rigs.

Figure 5.4 represents a full analysis of the decision making process in the event that a kick
is taken with no pipe in the hole.

6 While Running Casing or Liner


Before pulling out of the hole prior to running casing, every effort will be made to ensure
that the mud is conditioned and the well is under control, thereby minimising the possibility
of well control problems during the casing operation.

However, possible causes of well control problems while running casing include the
following:

• A kick that was swabbed in on the last trip of the hole.

• Swabbing in a kick on a connection while running the casing.

• Surge pressures while running casing leading to losses and hence inducing a kick.

• When casing is run to cure a well control problem, such as after drilling with a floating
mud cap or after controlling an underground blowout.

Particular attention should therefore be paid to these aspects.

In critical well sections, consideration should be given to installing casing rams in the BOP
stack prior to running casing; this is only practical in surface stacks. Specialist shear rams
are available that can shear up to 13 3/8 in. casing; these may be considered applicable in
certain situations.

It is impractical to detail the procedure required in the event that a kick is taken while
running casing or a liner. The immediate priority however will be to close in the well, but
the most suitable control technique can only be determined bearing in mind the particular
conditions at the rigsite. The subsequent options available can be summarised as follows:

• Cross over to drillpipe (unless current string weight is too great) and strip to bottom to
kill the well.

• Cross over to drillpipe, strip in until drillpipe is in the stack and kill the well at current
shoe depth.

• Kill the well with the casing across the stack.

• Drop the casing.

• Shear the casing.

5-7
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 5.4 Decision Analysis – No Pipe in the Hole

WELL SHUT IN – NO
PIPE IN THE HOLE

MONITOR
SURFACE
PRESSURE

IS THE INFLUX NO
IMMEDIATELY BELOW
THE RAMS?

YES

LUBRICATE MUD
INTO THE HOLE AND
BLEED GAS

NO ALL
GAS BLED
FROM RAMS?

YES

IS THERE ANY NO
PRESSURE UNDER
THE RAMS?

YES

ATTEMPT TO REDUCE DO
THE SURFACE SURFACE
PRESSURE NO PRESSURES INDICATE YES
THAT INTRODUCING
BY LUBRICATING PIPE INTO THE HOLE IS
OR BULLHEADING POSSIBLE?

POSSIBLE TO YES
REDUCE SURFACE
PRESSURE?

NO

IMPLEMENT YES IS THERE


VOLUMETRIC EVIDENCE OF INFLUX
CONTROL METHOD MIGRATION?

NO

BULLHEAD KILL
MUD INTO THE WELL
PREPARE NO IS SNUBBING YES FLOWCHECK
A PRACTICAL SNUB IN PIPE STRIP IN THE HOLE
CONTINGENCY TO THE WELL
CONSIDERATION? KILL THE WELL KILL WELL
DEAL WITH THE OPEN THE RAMS
FRACTURED ZONE
KILL WELL
WEOX02.025

5-8
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

The major factors that will determine the most appropriate course of action will include the
following:

• The length and type of casing run.

• The possibility and consequences of the casing becoming stuck.

• The possibility and consequences of collapsing the casing.

• The feasibility of circulating out a kick by conventional means. (The relatively small
annular clearance may cause excessive pressures in the annulus, or may possibly
completely restrict circulation.)

• The feasibility of killing the well by other means such as bullheading or by volumetric
control.

• The BOP stack configuration and ram types.

• The likelihood of the casing being forced out of the hole by the well pressure.

7 Underground Blowout
(a) Flow to a Fracture above a High Pressure Zone
The majority of underground blowouts in the past have been as a result of a fracture to
a weak zone up the hole as high pressure zone is penetrated.

Figure 5.5 shows a decision analysis for identifying and dealing with an underground
blowout of this type.

If an underground blowout is suspected, on no account should attempts be made to


control the well using standard techniques. If the annulus is opened, reservoir fluids
will be allowed to flow up the wellbore to surface, thereby increasing surface pressures.

The first action, after shutting in the well, will be to perform a positive test. The purpose
of this test is to determine whether or not the hole is a closed system. A small displacement
pump is lined up to the drillpipe and a small amount of fluid is pumped. If the drillpipe
and casing pressure increase, there is no indication of fracture in the openhole. If the
drillpipe pressure does not increase, or if any increase is not evident on the casing, then
a fracture in the openhole is indicated.

In order to halt an underground flow, it is necessary to pump fluid at a high rate down
the drillpipe and up the annulus; thus effecting a dynamic kill. The fluid will eventually
have to be at kill weight in order to balance the kick zone EMW. However, it will also
have to be as thin as possible to ensure that it can be pumped at high rate without
excessive surface circulating pressures.

Generally the kill mud must flow at least as fast as the underground flow if it is not to be
dispersed by the flow as it passes out of the bit. The kick zone EMW can at best be
estimated because reliable drillpipe pressure will not be available. The mud weight
required to kill the well will depend on the position of the fracture in the wellbore and
the average weight of the fluid occupying the annulus between the fracture and surface.

5-9
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 5.5a Decision Analysis – Flow to a Fracture above


a High Pressure Zone

SHUT IN THE WELL

REASSESS THE MONITOR SURFACE NO EVIDENCE IMPLEMENT STANDARD


SITUATION PRESSURES OF UNDERGROUND TECHNIQUES TO KILL
BLOWOUT THE WELL

SUSPECT
UNDERGROUND
BLOWOUT BECAUSE:
1. DRILLPIPE ON VACUUM
2. PRESSURE BUILDUP CLEARLY
INDICATES FORMATION HAS
FRACTURED
3. ANNULUS PRESSURE
FLUCTUATING

RUN POSITIVE TEST

RUN TEMPERATURE
AND/OR NOISE LOG TO
IDENTIFY FLOW IF
NECESSARY

NO UNDERGROUND
BLOWOUT
CONFIRMED ?

YES

1. DO NOT BLEED FLUID


FROM ANNULUS
2. LINE UP ONE PUMP TO
THE ANNULUS. LINE UP
MUD AND IF NECESSARY
WATER SUCTION

IF ANNULUS PRESSURE
IS NOT EXCESSIVE
LEAVE ANNULUS SHUT IN

IF ANNULUS PRESSURE IS
BUILDING, PUMP MUD AT
SLOW RATE DOWN
ANNULUS. IF ANNULUS
CANNOT SUPPORT MUD,
PUMP WATER

CONTINUALLY
MONITOR ANNULUS

CONTINUED ON FOLLOWING PAGE


WEOX02.026

5-10
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 5.5b Decision Analysis – Flow to a Fracture above


a High Pressure Zone (continued)

PREPARE 2 x ANNULUS
VOLUME OF KILL WEIGHT
MUD (AT MIN PV AND YP –
USE FRICTION REDUCER
IF AVAILABLE). REMOVE
KELLY – INSTALL
HP CIRCULATING LINE

IMPLEMENT DYNAMIC KILL


USING BARYTES PLUG
• PUMP KILL WEIGHT MUD
AT MAXIMUM RATE
• KEEP PUMPING UNTIL
ALL THE MUD IS USED
• STOP ONLY IF SURFACE
PRESSURES BECOME
EXCESSIVE

TAKE STEPS
1. CHECK MUD IS AT KILL
DRILLPIPE AND TO SECURE WELL
WEIGHT
2. REDUCE MUD VISCOSITY ANNULUS PRESSURES OPTIONS:
TRY YES
3. REDUCE DRILLSTRING INDICATE THAT 1. CEMENT BHA IN PLACE
AGAIN
INTERNAL FRICTION UNDERGROUND FLOW 2. POOH TO PLUG
4. PUMP LARGER PLUG HAS CEASED? FRACTURE
3. POOH TO RUN CASING

NO

1. MIX LCM PILL


(100bbl MIN FOR LARGE
ANNULUS)
2. MIX 2 x ANNULUS
VOLUME OF KILL
WEIGHT MUD
3. PUMP LCM PILL DOWN
ANNULUS UNTIL JUST
ABOVE FRACTURED ZONE

IMPLEMENT DYNAMIC KILL


• PUMP KILL MUD AT
MAXIMUM RATE DOWN
DRILLPIPE
• PUMP LCM PILL DOWN
ANNULUS AND INTO
FRACTURE
• KEEP PUMPING UNLESS
SURFACE PRESSURE
LIMITS ARE REACHED

TAKE STEPS
1. CHECK MUD IS AT KILL TO SECURE WELL
DRILLPIPE AND
WEIGHT
2. REDUCE MUD VISCOSITY ANNULUS PRESSURES OPTIONS:
TRY YES
3. REDUCE DRILLSTRING INDICATE THAT 1. CEMENT BHA IN PLACE
AGAIN
UNDERGROUND FLOW 2. POOH TO PLUG
INTERNAL FRICTION
4. PUMP LARGER PLUG HAS CEASED? FRACTURE
3. POOH TO RUN CASING

NO

OPTIONS: OPTIONS:
1. BACK OFF, STRIP UP 1. STRIP UP INTO CASING.
INTO CASING, SQUEEZE HAVING INSTALLED
HIGH FILTER LOSS DART SQUEEZE
CEMENT SLURRY TO YES IS THE PIPE NO HIGH FILTER
PLUG WELL STUCK ? LOSS CEMENT SLURRY
2. IF CIRCULATION IS TO PLUG WELL
POSSIBLE ON BOTTOM, 2. PUMP FRESHWATER AT
PUMP FRESHWATER AT MAXIMUM RATE TO
MAXIMUM RATE TO SLOUGH HOLE
SLOUGH HOLE
WEOX02.027

5-11
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 5.6 Decision Analysis – Flow to a Fracture or


Loss Zone below a High Pressure Zone

• DRILLING AHEAD
• LOSSES EXPERIENCED

SHUT DOWN ROTARY CURE LOSSES


OR TOP DRIVE DRILL AHEAD

• CANNOT CONTROL
LOSSES
• WELL STARTS TO
FLOW
• SHUT IN WELL

POSSIBLE UNDERGROUND
BLOWOUT INDICATORS:

• NO SURFACE PRESSURE
• ANNULUS AND DRILLPIPE ON
VACUUM (ANNULUS PRESSURE
MAY BUILD UP)

RUN POSITIVE TEST

RUN NOISE AND/OR


TEMPERATURE
LOG IF NECESSARY

UNDERGROUND NO REASSESS THE


BLOWOUT SITUATION
CONFIRMED?

YES

• DO NOT BLEED FLUID


FROM ANNULUS
• LINE UP ONE PUMP TO
THE ANNULUS. SUPPLY
MUD AND IF NECESSARY
WATER SUCTION

CONTINUALLY
MONITOR ANNULUS

OPTIONS TO
CONTROL THE FLOW:
• PUMP LCM PILL
• SET CEMENT PLUG ON
BOTTOM
• CIRCULATE THE HOLE
TO LIGHT MUD. DRILL
UNDER PRESSURE WITH
ROTATING HEAD

SURFACE
PRESSURE LOGS
NO INDICATE THAT
UNDERGROUND
FLOW HAS
CEASED ?

YES
TAKE STEPS TO WEOX02.028
SECURE WELL

5-12
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

The fracture may only support a column of water, in which case it will be necessary to
balance the kick zone pressure with the sum of the hydrostatic pressure of the kill weight
mud from the kick zone to the fracture and the hydrostatic pressure of the water above
the fracture.

If the first attempt to control the flow is unsuccessful, the most likely causes will be␣either
that the volume or the velocity of kill mud was insufficient. Subsequent options therefore
include increasing the volume of the kill mud pumped and pumping at a greater rate.

If the rig pumps have been operating at maximum output there remains the options to
bring more pumps to the rigsite or to reduce the frictional resistance of the drillstring by
such measures as:

• Removing the nozzles of the bit with a charge run on wireline.

• Perforating the BHA close to the bit.

• Pumping a lighter, less viscous mud ahead of the kill weight mud in order to reduce
the velocity of the inflow.

As indicated in Figure 5.5, if these measures do not bring the well under control, there
remains the option to mix an LCM pill or soft plug (See Chapter 2, Section 2.3) and
displace it down the annulus and into the fracture as the kill weight mud is pumped
down the drillpipe. The pump rates on the drillpipe and the annulus should be such as to
ensure that the LCM pill is completely displaced into the fracture over the period of
time that will be required to pump the prepared volume of kill weight mud.

Past experience has shown that in many cases, having halted the underground flow, a
further flow has been initiated by attempts to pull off bottom. If the decision is made to
pull off bottom having halted an underground flow, extreme care should be taken.

The industry has given the term ‘Baryte plug’ to the heavy weight pills required to deal
with underground blowouts. The recommended procedure for mixing and spotting a
baryte plug, to deal with an underground blowout, is covered in Chapter 6.

(b) Flow to a Fracture or Loss Zone below a High Pressure Zone


The most likely cause of an underground blowout that flows down the wellbore from a
high pressure zone is that a naturally fractured or cavernous formation is drilled into.
The resultant losses reduce the hydrostatic head of the drilling fluid to such an extent
that a permeable zone higher up the wellbore begins to flow.

When the well is shut-in, it is unlikely that any pressure will be recorded on either the
drillpipe or the casing. However, the casing pressure may increase if gas migrates up
the casing/drillpipe annulus; this rise in pressure is prevented by pumping mud down
the annulus.

Figure 5.6 shows the decision analysis for identifying and dealing with an underground
blowout of this type.

Having established that the flow is downwards to a loss zone, there are two options that
should be considered for halting the flow:

• Set a plug on bottom.

• Reduce the mud weight and drill ahead under pressure.

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Drilling under pressure will however only be used in circumstances in which lost
circulation of this type has been anticipated, the high pressure zone has low permeability
and the correct equipment, including a rotating head, is available onsite.

See Chapter 2, Section 2.3 for LCM and cement plug recipes.

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6 WELL KILL TECHNIQUES

Section Page

6.1 STANDARD TECHNIQUES 6-1

6.2 SPECIAL TECHNIQUES 6-31

2.1 Volumetric Method 6-33

2.2 Stripping 6-47

2.3 Bullheading 6-67

2.4 Snubbing 6-75

2.5 Baryte Plugs 6-84

2.6 Emergency Procedure 6-93

6.3 COMPLICATIONS 6-97

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6.1 STANDARD TECHNIQUES

Paragraph Page
1 General 6-2
2 Kick Circulation Methods 6-2
3 Kick Sheet 6-3
4 Implementation of the Wait & Weight Method 6-5
5 Implementation of the Driller’s Method 6-8
6 Procedures For High Angle or Horizontal Wells 6-11
7 Floating Rig Procedure 6-14
8 Accounting for Choke Line Losses in Deep Water 6-23

Illustrations
6.1 An Example Completed Kick Sheet 6-14
6.2 The Kill Line Monitor 6-21
6.3 Subsea BOP Gas prior to Removing Gas from Below
the Preventers 6-24
6.4 Removing Gas from a Subsea BOP Stack
– Lower pipe rams closed hang off rams opened 6-25
6.5 Removing Gas from a Subsea BOP Stack
– Kill and choke lines displaced to kill weight mud 6-26
6.6 Removing Gas from a Subsea BOP Stack
– Kill and choke lines displaced to water 6-27
6.7 Removing Gas from a Subsea BOP Stack
– Gas pressure bled down, gas occupies choke line 6-28
6.8 Removing Gas from a Subsea BOP Stack
– Diverter is closed, the annular is opened and the gas
is displaced from the stack 6-29
6.9 The Effect of Choke Line Losses
– Casing pressure greater than choke line pressure 6-30
6.10 The Effect of Choke Line Losses
– Casing pressure after initial circulation is less than
choke line loss 6-31

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1 General
This section covers the basic steps that are required to implement the Driller’s Method, the
Wait & Weight Method on both a fixed installation as well as a floating rig. Further
discussions on the theories behind the methods are covered in Vol.2, Chapter 5.

Company policy is that a contingency plan must be developed regarding the implementation
of the well control methods for both Company operated rigs and rigs that are under a Company
contract. This section is intended to assist in drawing up these contingency plans.

All the well control techniques are designed to ensure that:

Bottom hole pressure is maintained constant and equal to, or slightly greater than, the
formation pressure.

This is the key to well control practice. These techniques use the principle that:

The drillpipe pressure is used to monitor bottom hole pressure.

In the event of any well control incident it is important that a diary of events is kept. The
Well Control operations log can be used initially for this (See Figure 4.5). A full report
should eventually be issued and submitted to Line Management.

2 Kick Circulation Methods


(a) The Wait & Weight Method
When conditions permit, it is recommended that the Wait & Weight Method
be used in preference to other methods, in particular for vertical and low
angle wells.

With the Wait & Weight Method, the mud is weighted up to the kill weight after the well
is shut in. Then circulation is started and the kick displaced from the hole with kill
weight mud. So the well can be killed with one complete circulation. Circulation can be
started immediately if the rig mud weighting system is able to weight up the mud at a
rate greater than or equal to the mud SCR.

Therefore the advantages of the Wait & Weight Method are as follows:

• The surface pressure will be lower than using other methods if the kill weight mud
enters the annulus before the influx is circulated out. This difference is most
significant for influx containing gas, and for high intensity (large under-balance)
kicks. This is illustrated in Figure 5.5 in Vol.2, Chapter 5.

• The pressure exerted on the casing shoe (or the weak point in the openhole) will be
lower than using other methods if the kill mud starts up the annulus before the top of
the influx is displaced to the shoe (or openhole weak point). This is illustrated in
Figure 5.6 in Vol.2, Chapter 5.

• The well will be under pressure for the least time.

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(b) The Driller’s Method


In certain circumstances, it may not be practical to implement the Wait & Weight Method.
These include:

• There are insufficient stocks of weighting material at the rigsite.

• The rig mud weighting system is not capable of increasing the active mud weight to
kill weight as the kick is displaced.

• There is some considerable doubt as to the mud weight required to kill the well.

• Impending bad weather dictates that the kick must be displaced from the hole as
quickly as possible.

• Increasing surface pressures indicate the influx is rising rapidly in the annulus

Under the above circumstances, the Driller’s method should be considered. The Driller’s
Method requires that two complete hole circulations are carried out before the well can
be killed. After a kick is taken and the well shut-in, the kick is displaced from the hole
by the first circulation with the original mud. In the mean time the mud is weighted up
to kill weight, and the second circulation carried out to kill the well.

The advantages of the Driller’s Method over the Wait & Weight Method are:

• The kick can be displaced from the hole soon after the well is shut-in.

• The earlier circulation may reduce the risks of stuck pipe and other hole problems.

• Influx fluids can be displaced from the well, even if suitable mud weighting material
is not available.

• It avoids the need to initiate a volumetric control during the waiting period.

3 Kick Sheet
The kick sheet should be used to record all the relevant well and kick data. Figures 6.1a,
6.1b and 6.1c show an example kick sheet. The procedures for completing the kick sheet are
shown in Figure 6.1d.

The general well data, drillstring/annulus contents, circulating times and the mud pump
data should be recorded routinely and available at all times in the kick sheet.

In case a kick is taken, the relevant kick data should be recorded in the kick sheet. The
shut-in procedure and the interpretation of the pressure data are covered in Chapter 4. Based
on the kick data, a decision should be made regarding what method be used to kill the well.
In addition to the standard methods which have been described in the previous paragraphs,
some special techniques should be also considered. These special techniques are discussed
in Section 6.2.

If the decision is made to displace the kick from the hole by using one of the standard
methods, the relevant parameters should be calculated and recorded in the kick sheet.

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(a) Determine the kill weight mud


Circulation may be initiated with the original weight mud, or with the kill weight mud,
depending on the kill method to be used.

The weight of the mud that would exactly balance the kick zone pressure is calculated
from the shut-in drillpipe pressure as follows

Pdp
Kill Mud Weight, MW2 = MW1 + (SG)
TVD x 1.421

where Pdp = Stabilised shut-in drillpipe pressure (psi)


MW1 = Original mud weight (SG)
TVD = True vertical depth of kick zone (m)

It is not recommended practice to weight the mud any higher than the kill weight during
the well killing operation. After the well has been killed however, the mud weight should
be raised to provide suitable overbalance.

(b) Calculate the baryte quantity required to weight up the mud


This calculation is necessary in order to determine if adequate stocks of baryte are
available on site. The amount of baryte required to weight up the mud can be calculated
from the following formula:

(MW2 - MW1)
Baryte required, Wb = 1490 x (lb/bbl)
(4.25 - MW2)

Total quantity of baryte required (lb) = Wb x Total Active Mud Volume (lb)

Total active mud volume = Drillstring Vol + Annulus Vol + Surface Active Vol (bbl)

The stocks of baryte at the rigsite must be at least 10% greater than the calculated
quantity of baryte required.

(c) Develop annulus pressure profile


It is useful to estimate the maximum pressures that will occur during circulation. The
areas of particular importance will be the maximum pressure that will be exerted at the
shoe (or openhole weak point) and the maximum surface pressure. It is not however
essential to carry out these calculations prior to circulation.

An approximate technique can be used to estimate the maximum pressure at a weak


point in the openhole, as well as the maximum surface pressure during displacement.
This has been presented in Vol.2, Chapter 5. The actual pressures will generally be
lower than those predicted by the technique.

Computer software that utilises the exact technique is also available at the Drilling and
Completions Branch, BP Exploration, Sunbury. The software includes the effects that
the conventional approximate technique has neglected. These include the gas solubility
in oil-based muds, downhole temperature, gas dispersion and slip, etc. So the software
can provide more realistic predictions of pressures and flows in the wellbore than the
approximate techniques. The software can be also used to investigate the impacts of
operational parameters, formation characteristics and human factors on the overall well
control operation. These include the kick detecting volume, the formation permeability
and over-pressure, the time required for the rig crew to shut-in and the mud SCR, etc.

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4 Implementation of the Wait & Weight Method


Prior to implementing the Wait & Weight Method, the relevant sections of the Kick Sheet as
covered in Paragraph 3 should be completed.

The Wait & Weight Method accomplishes the kill operation in one complete circulation. It
requires weight up of the mud after the well is shut in, followed by circulation with the kill
weight mud. So several calculations are necessary prior to initiating circulation. These are
as follows:

(a) Determine the circulation rate


The upper limit for the circulation rate is generally set by the maximum rate that baryte
can be mixed into the mud. The following formula can be used to estimate the maximum
possible circulation rate:

Baryte delivery rate (lb/min)


Maximum circulation rate = (bbl/min)
Baryte required to weight up mud (lb/bbl)

A limiting factor, particularly in the case of oil mud, may be the rate at which viscosity
can be built in the mud. This, and associated problems of building mud weight are
discussed in Chapter 1 in ‘Use of the Mud System’.

Having established the maximum possible circulation rate, the actual circulation rate
will be determined on the basis of several factors. These factors are detailed in Chapter␣1
in ‘Drills and SCRs’. The chosen SCR and the relevant pumping data should be recorded
in the kick sheet.

(b) Calculate the initial circulating pressure


The initial drillpipe circulating pressure, Pic, should be calculated in order to estimate
the circulating pressure that will be required to maintain constant bottom hole pressure
at the start of the circulation.

The initial circulating pressure recorded after the pump has been brought up to
speed␣should be the sum of the shut-in drillpipe pressure and the SCR pressure at the
chosen rate:

P ic = P dp + P scr

where Pic = Initial circulating pressure (psi)


Pdp = Stabilised shut-in drillpipe pressure (psi)
Pscr = Circulating pressure at SCR with MW1 (psi)

(c) Calculate the final circulating pressure


As the drillpipe is displaced with kill weight mud, the standpipe pressure must be reduced
to take into account the increased hydrostatic pressure of the mud in the pipe. The
standpipe pressure must also compensate for the additional friction pressure in the
drillpipe and across the bit as the kill weight mud displaces the original mud.

Once the drillpipe has been completely displaced to kill weight mud, the static drillpipe
pressure required to balance the kick zone will be zero. At this stage therefore
the␣␣circulating pressure can be estimated by determining the SCR pressure for the kill
weight mud.

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The final circulating pressure can be estimated as follows:

MW2
Pfc = P scr (at MW1) x
MW1

where P fc = Final circulating pressure (psi).

(d) Determine the displacement times and the cumulative pump strokes
At all times during circulation, it is important to know the position of the influx in the
wellbore, as well as the volume of hole that has been circulated to kill weight mud.

The key points during the circulation are as follows:

• When the kill weight mud reaches the bit.

• When the top of the influx is circulated to the casing shoe or openhole weak point.

• When the influx is circulated to the choke.

Before circulation is started, the estimated circulating time and the corresponding total
pump strokes to each point should be calculated.

Volume to be displaced (bbl)


Pumping time to reach point = (min)
Pump rate (bbl/min)
of interest

Volume to be displaced (bbl)


Total strokes to reach point = (stk)
Pump output per stroke (bbl/stk)
of interest

(e) Plot standpipe pressure schedule


To ensure that the standpipe pressure is adjusted correctly as the kill weight mud is
circulated down the drillpipe, a plot should be made of the required standpipe pressure
(See Figure 6.1b).

The initial circulating pressure should be plotted corresponding to zero strokes. The
final circulating pressure should be plotted corresponding to total strokes equivalent to
complete displacement of the drillpipe. The two points on the graph can be joined up
with a straight line to produce the standpipe pressure schedule. (Note: for high angle or
horizontal wells, the graph is not a straight line. See Paragraph 6.)

In practice standpipe pressure is most easily controlled by reducing the pressure in small
steps, rather than continuously.

(f) Procedure for the displacement of the kick


1 Bring the pump up to kill speed

• Line up the pump to the drillpipe and route returns through the choke manifold to
the mud gas separator.

• Zero the stroke counter on the choke panel.

• Open the remote operated choke at the same time as the pump is started on the hole.
Consider stroking the drillstring up at this point.

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• Maintain the choke pressure equal to the original shut-in casing pressure as the pump
is slowly brought up to speed. This may take 1/2 to 1 minute.

• Once the pump is up to speed record the initial circulating pressure.

If the actual initial circulating pressure is considerably different from the calculated
value, stop the pump, shut in the well and investigate the cause.

If the actual initial circulating pressure is equal to, or reasonably close to the calculated
value, continue the displacement and adjust the standpipe pressure schedule accordingly.

Any marginal difference between the actual and calculated initial circulating pressure
is most likely to be due to the fact that the SCR pressure used to calculate the initial
circulating pressure was inaccurate. The actual SCR pressure, and hence the corrected
final circulating pressure, Pfc, can be determined from the initial circulating pressure as
follows:

Pscr = Pic – Pdp

The standpipe pressure schedule can therefore be corrected to take into account the
adjusted circulating pressures.

2 Circulate the influx from the well maintaining constant bottom hole
pressure

As the drillpipe is displaced with kill weight mud, the standpipe pressure should be
stepped down according to the standpipe pressure schedule. (The standpipe pressure
will have a natural tendency to drop as the kill weight mud is displaced down the
drillpipe.)

Once the drillpipe has been displaced to kill weight mud, the drillpipe pressure should
be maintained at the final circulating pressure for the rest of the circulation.

The pit gain, drillpipe pressure, choke pressure and all other relevant information
should␣ b e recorded during displacement using the Well Control Operations Log
(See␣Figure 4.5). These will help to determine the down hole condition during all stages
of the kill operation.

As the influx is displaced up the hole, the drillpipe pressure will tend to drop as the
influx expands. (This expansion will not occur if the influx is water or oil.) This effect
will be especially marked if the influx contains a significant quantity of gas. The choke
should therefore be adjusted to compensate for this. For example, if the drillpipe pressure
drops by 70 psi below that required, the choke pressure should be increased by
approximately 70 psi. The pressure on the drillpipe will increase after a lag time which
can typically be 2 seconds per 300m of drillstring depth. This technique will be most
effective at the early stages of displacement; and less so at later stages of the
displacement, if the well contains a significant proportion of gas.

When the influx reaches the choke, the choke pressure will start to decrease due to the
differences in density and viscosity between the influx and the mud. If the influx contains
significant quantities of gas, the drop in choke pressure may be quite substantial, and
the choke will have to be closed down quickly.

As the influx is circulated from the well and mud is circulated to the choke, the choke
pressure will begin to rise rapidly. The choke should therefore be opened to allow the
choke pressure to drop sufficiently to re-establish the final circulating pressure on the
drillpipe, and hence maintain constant bottom hole pressure.

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Once the hole has been circulated to kill weight mud, the pump should be stopped, the
well shut-in, and the casing and drillpipe checked for pressure. There should be no
pressure on either the casing or the drillpipe. However, if there is still some pressure on
the casing, circulation should be restarted to clear the contaminated mud from the annulus.

Once the well has been completely killed, a flowcheck on the choke line return should
be carried out before the rams are opened. If this flowcheck indicates no flow, the rams
should be opened and a further flowcheck on the annulus carried out.

In line with Company policy, a further complete hole circulation should be carried out
prior to continuing operations. A suitable overbalance can be added to the mud at
this␣stage.

5 Implementation of the Driller’s Method


Prior to implementing the Wait & Weight Method, the relevant sections of the Kick Sheet as
covered in Paragraph 3 should be completed.

The Driller’s method is a two complete circulation method. The kick is circulated out of the
hole by the first circulation with the original mud. The second circulation is carried out with
the weighted mud to kill the well.

Prior to the first circulation, the following calculations are necessary:

(a) Determine the circulation rate


The circulation rate for the first circulation of the Driller’s Method is not limited by the
baryte mixing capacity of the rig. Limiting factors will include the additional wellbore
pressures due to circulation, and further practicalities as outlined in Chapter 1. Record
the chosen circulating rate SCR and the corresponding pumping data in the kick sheet.

(b) Calculate the initial circulating pressure


The initial circulating pressure at the start of the first circulation is calculated in the
same manner as the Wait and Weight Method, although the drillstring displacement
volume/time is not significant in this case.

The initial circulating pressure will be maintained constant throughout the first circulation
since the mud weight is not changed.

(c) Determine the displacement times and corresponding pump strokes


These figures are calculated in exactly the same manner as the Wait and Weight Method.

(d) Plot the standpipe pressure schedule


The standpipe pressure is held constant throughout the first complete circulation at the
initial circulating pressure.

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The following steps can be used as a guide for the procedure for the displacement of
the␣kick:

1 Bring the pump up to speed for the first complete circulation

• Line up the pump to the drillpipe and route returns through the choke manifold to
the mud gas separator.

• Set the stroke counter on the remote choke panel to zero.

• Open the remote operated choke at the same time as the pump is slowly brought up
to speed. Consider stroking the drillstring up at this point.

• Maintain the choke pressure equal to the original shut-in casing pressure as the pump
is slowly brought up to speed. This may take 1/2 to 1 minute.

• Once the pump is up to speed record the initial circulating pressure. If the actual
initial circulating pressure is considerably different from the calculated value, stop
the pump, shut-in the well and investigate the cause.

If the actual initial circulating pressure is equal to, or reasonably close to the calculated
value, continue the displacement, holding the standpipe pressure at the value recorded
when the pump was first brought up to speed.

Any marginal difference between the actual and calculated initial circulating pressure
is most likely to be due to the fact that the SCR pressure used to calculate the initial
circulating pressure was inaccurate. The actual SCR pressure can be determined from
the initial circulating pressure as follows:

Pscr = Pic − Pdp

This adjusted value for the SCR pressure should be used for estimating the circulating
pressures for the second complete circulation.

2 Circulate the influx from the well maintaining constant bottom hole
pressure

Influx behaviour during circulation will be similar to the Wait and Weight Method
requiring similar choke manipulation.

Choke pressures will inevitably be higher than if the Wait and Weight Method had
been␣used. These higher pressures will be reflected downhole, causing greater stress in
the openhole.

Once the influx has been displaced from the hole, the shut-in drillpipe and shut-in casing
pressure should be equal. If the casing pressure is higher than the drillpipe pressure,
this is evidence that there is still some kick fluid in the annulus, or the mud weights are
out of balance.

Prior to circulating kill weight mud into the hole, the calculations as outlined in
Paragraph␣3 “Kick Sheet” should be carried out. The following further calculations are
then worked:

(a) Determine the circulation rate for the second circulation


The circulation rate is determined on the same basis as if the Wait and Weight Method
had been used.

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(b) Calculate the initial circulating pressure


The initial circulating pressure will be the same as for the first circulation.

The initial circulating pressure is therefore calculated as follows:

Pic = P dp + Pscr

where Pic = Second circulation initial circulating pressure (psi)


Pdp = Drillpipe pressure recorded prior to second circulation (psi)
Pscr = Slow circulating rate pressure (psi)

(c) Calculate the final circulating pressure


As with the Wait and Weight Method, the circulating pressure must be adjusted to
compensate for the kill weight mud.

MW2
Pfc = P scr (at MW1) x
MW1

where Pfc = Second circulation final circulating pressure (psi)


MW1 = Original mud weight (SG)
MW2 = Kill mud weight used for second circulation (SG)

(d) Determine the displacement times and corresponding cumulative pump


strokes
These figures will be the same as for the first circulation.

(e) Plot the standpipe pressure schedule


The standpipe pressure schedule for the second circulation is drawn up in the same
manner as for the Wait and Weight Method (Figure 6.1b).

The following can be used as a guide for the procedure of circulating the hole to kill
weight mud:

1 Bring the pump up to speed for the second complete circulation

• Change pump suctions without stopping the mud pump, and begin pumping the kill
weight mud. (An alternative is to stop pumping and then restart using the procedure
for the Wait and Weight Method.)

• Zero the stroke counter on the choke panel.

• Once the pump has been switched to the kill mud, record the initial circulating
pressure.

The initial circulating pressure should be the same with the standpipe pressure during
the first complete circulation. If this is the case, continue the displacement and adjust
the standpipe pressure schedule accordingly.

If the initial circulating pressure has changed considerably, stop the pump, shut in the
well, and investigate the cause.

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2 Circulate the hole to kill weight mud maintaining constant bottom hole
pressure

As the drillpipe is displaced with kill weight mud, the standpipe circulating pressure
should be stepped down according to the standpipe pressure schedule.

Once the drillpipe has been displaced to kill weight mud, the final drillpipe circulating
pressure is held constant by manipulating the choke.

As kill weight mud is circulated up the annulus, the drillpipe pressure will tend to
increase. The choke should be adjusted to ensure that the drillpipe pressure is maintained
at the final circulating pressure; thereby ensuring constant bottom hole pressure.

When the returned mud is at kill weight, the pump should be stopped and the well
shut-in. The well should be checked for pressure.

Once the well has been killed, a flowcheck on the choke line return should be carried
out before the rams are opened. If this flowcheck indicates no flow, the rams should be
opened and a further flowcheck on the annulus carried out.

In line with Company policy, a further complete hole circulation should be carried
out␣prior to continuing operations. A suitable overbalance can be added to the mud at
this stage.

6 Procedures For High Angle or Horizontal Wells


(a) Implementation of Kick Circulation Methods
The procedures for implementing one of the standard kick circulation methods are
essentially the same for both the vertical and high angle or horizontal wells (as covered
in the previous paragraphs). However, there are several points which should be considered
before and during a well killing operation in a high angle or horizontal well.

• The advantages of the Wait & Weight Method over the Driller’s Method are less
important in a high angle or horizontal well. This is because the weighted mud will
not reduce the surface and casing shoe pressures until it has passed the horizontal or
high angle section. By then the kick may have entered into the casing or been out of
the well.

• The circulation should be started using the Driller’s Method once the well has
been␣shut in and the stabilised shut-in pressures are established. In the mean time,
the kill weight mud is prepared in the reserve mud pits. The earlier start of the
circulation will reduce the risks of stuck pipe and other hole problems associated
with the stagnant mud.

• Once the mud weight has been increased to the kill weight, the circulation should be
switched to the kill weight mud, even if the influx is still in the annulus. The
circulation continues until the kick is circulated out and the kill mud returns to surface.
This will minimise the well pressures as well as the time of dealing with the kick.

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(b) Standpipe Pressure Schedule


When pumping down the kill mud through the drillpipe in a vertical well, the surface
pump pressure should be reduced linearly from the initial circulating pressure (ICP) to
the final circulating pressure (FCP), in order to maintain the bottom hole pressure
constant. Thereafter, the pump pressure is kept constant at FCP until the kill mud returns
to surface. Therefore, the pressure schedule during pumping the kill mud through the
drillpipe can be obtained by simply joining a straight line between ICP and FCP. This
has been covered in the previous paragraphs.

However, this is not the case in a high angle or horizontal well because the change in
the hydrostatic pressure due to the kill mud is not linear. For example, when the front of
the kill mud is going through a horizontal section of the drillpipe, the hydrostatic pressure
at the hole bottom does not change at all. So in this case the pump pressure should be
kept constant (or increased slightly due to friction pressure increase with kill mud).

Therefore, the standpipe pressure schedule should be modified to take into account the
effect of hole angle. To achieve this, the standpipe pressures when the kill mud reaches
several critical depths in the drillpipe should be calculated. These include the depths at
the kick-off, end-build, end-tangent, etc. The calculations can be performed as follows:

i. Calculate the drillpipe size factor and the friction constant. This is necessary in
order to calculate the friction pressure increase due to the kill weight mud.

α1 = L 1 / ID15

where: α1 = Size factor for drillpipe section 1, (m/in 5)


L1 = Length of drillpipe section 1, (m)
ID1 = ID of drillpipe section 1, (inch)

If there is more than one drillpipe section (tapered string), then the size factor should be
calculated for each of the sections. BHA can be treated as part of the drillpipe section.

Pfc - P scr
β=
α 1 + α2

where: β = Drillpipe friction constant, (psi.in 5/m)


α1 α2 = Drillpipe size factors for section 1 and 2, (m/in5)
Pfc = Final circulating pressure (psi)
Pscr = Slow circulating pressure with original mud MW1 , (psi)

ii. Calculate the friction pressure increase when the kill mud reaches each of the critical
depths in the drillpipe (kick-off, end-build, end-tangent, etc.).

• If the critical depth is above/at the drillpipe section cross-over point, then:

MD
∆P friction = β x
ID 1 5

• If the critical depth is below the drillpipe section cross-over point, then:

(MD - L1 )
∆P friction = β x [α 1 + ]
ID 25

where: ∆P friction = Friction pressure increase due to kill weight mud, (psi)

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MD = Measured depth at the critical depth, (m)

iii. Calculate the static drillpipe pressure when the kill weight mud reaches each of the
critical depths:

TVD
Pstatic = Pdp x (1.0 - )
TVD h

where: Pstatic = Static drillpipe pressure, (psi)


Pdp = Drillpipe pressure before the kill weight mud is circulated, (psi)
TVD = Vertical depth at the critical depth, (m)
TVD h = Vertical depth at the open hole kick zone, (m)

iv. Calculate the standpipe pressure when the kill weight mud reaches each of the
critical␣depths.

Pstand = P scr + ∆Pfriction + Pstatic

where: Pstand = Standpipe pressure, (psi)

The results of the above calculations should be recorded in the Kick Sheet. These
calculations should be carried out if the hole has a maximum angle greater than
30␣de grees.

Figures 6.1a shows an example of a completed kick sheet for a high angle well.
Figure␣6.1b sho ws the standpipe pressure schedule for pumping down the kill weight
mud. It shows that the standpipe pressures required to maintain a constant bottom hole
pressure are lower for a high angle well (with build-hold profile) than if the well was
vertical. So if the standpipe pressure schedule for a vertical well was used (dotted straight
line in Figure 6.1b), excessive high well pressures would result, which would increase
the risk of fracturing the formation at the casing shoe or openhole weak point.

(c) Trapped Gas in Inverted or Horizontal Hole Section


If a kick containing free gas occurs in an inverted hole section (i.e. the hole angle is
greater than 90 degrees), then the free gas will be trapped there unless the mud is
circulated fast enough to flush the gas out of the inverted section. Similar scenarios also
occur in washouts or undulations of a horizontal hole section.

A combination of the following is a possible indication that a kick has occurred in the
inverted or horizontal hole section:

• There is an increased mud return flowrate

• There is a positive pit gain

• When the well is shut in, the drillpipe pressure and the casing pressure are the same
(under-balanced kick) or both are zeros (swabbed kick)

• The casing pressure is stable (no gas migration)

However the kick influx density/type (gas, water or oil) can not be determined based on
the above data (as using the method described in Section 4.3). A gas kick is recognised
when it is being circulated through the low angle or vertical hole section, where gas
expansion causes a continuous increase in the casing pressure. So the first attempt to
kill the well should be using one of the standard techniques.

6-13
Rev 1 March
March 1995
1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

If the kick can not be circulated to surface using the standard techniques, it indicates
that the kick influx is free gas which has been trapped in the inverted or horizontal hole
section. To remove the trapped gas, the mud must be circulated with an annular velocity
above a critical value. This critical annular velocity is about 100 ft/min when the hole
angle is between 90~95 degrees. In an 8-1/2" hole, this corresponds to a critical flow
rate of 4.6 bbl/min, which is higher than the normal range of SCR during a well control
operation. So prior to drilling an inverted or horizontal hole section, the pump pressure
at a SCR corresponding to 100~150 ft/min should be recorded in the kick sheet.

The following procedures may be attempted to remove the trapped gas from the inverted
or horizontal hole section:

• Start circulation with the original mud at a flow rate corresponding to an annular
mud velocity of 100~150 ft/min until the entire horizontal hole section has been
displaced;

• Reduce the flow rate to a normal SCR and proceed using one of the standard well
killing techniques.

• After one complete circulation, stop the pump and shut in the well to check the
pit␣gain.

• If there is still a positive pit gain, that indicates that some gas is still trapped downhole.
Repeat the previous procedures.

In cases where the high flow rate can not be achieved to remove the trapped gas, consider
bullheading the gas back into the formation. As the trapped gas should stay near the
kick formation, bullheading is more likely to succeed in an inverted hole section. The
bullheading technique is described in Section 6.2.

7 Floating Rig Procedure


Well control on a floating rig presents special problems that are not encountered on land
and fixed offshore rigs. The main difficulties stem from the fact that the well must be killed
while circulating through a small diameter choke line. The problems presented can be
summarised as follows:

• The frictional pressure generated by circulating through the choke line may cause
excessive pressures in the wellbore or in the circulating system.

• The entry of the influx into the choke line may cause an uncontrollable drop in bottomhole
pressure.

• As the mud displaces the influx from the choke line the rapid increase in hydrostatic
pressure in the annulus may cause excessive pressures in the openhole.

These problems are particularly acute in deep water. However, well control procedures should
be modified in line with those described here, even in relatively shallow water, to take
account of these problems. The drillpipe pressure is still used to monitor bottomhole
pressure.

6-14
March
Rev 1 1995
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 6.1a An Example of Completed Kick Sheet

An Example of Completed Kick Sheet

Well No. Well No. Rig Name: Rigname Date: 27-Oct-94 Time: 13:10
Hole Size: 8-1/2" Casing Size: 9-5/8" Shoe Depth (m): TVD= 1535 TD= 4291
MAASP (psi): 1003 Max Eqiv. Mud Weight (sg): 1.44 Casing Burst (psi): 10900
Barytes on Site (MT): 50 On Order (MT): 40 Total Reserved Mud Vol (bbl): 300
DRILLSTRING CONTENTS
DP/DC Section ID Capacity (bbl/m) Length (m) Vol (bbl) Cumulative Volume (bbl)
5" DP 4.276 0.0583 5180 301.82
5" HWDP 3 0.0287 60 1.72 303.5
6-1/4" DC 2.25 0.0161 60 0.97 304.5
ANNULUS CONTENTS
Hole/Casing Section ID Capacity (bbl/m) Length (m) Vol (bbl) Cumulative Volume (bbl)
5"DP - 9-5/8"csg 8.681 0.1605 4291 688.6
5"DP - Hole 8.5 0.1506 949 142.9 831.5
6-1/4" DC - Hole 8.5 0.1058 60 6.3 837.9

Surface Equipment Vol (bbl): 6 Choke Line ID: 3.0 Length (m): 100 Vol (bbl): 2.9
Total Circulating System Vol (bbl): 1151 Surface Active Mud Vol (bbl): 350
Total Active Mud Vol (bbl): 1501
Pump 1 Liner: 5-1/2" Max Pres (psi): 4723 Eff (%): 97 Stroke Vol (bbl/stk): 0.0855
Pump 2 Liner: 5-1/2" Max Pres (psi): 4723 Eff (%): 97 Stroke Vol (bbl/stk): 0.0855
PUMP 1 PUMP 2 TRAVEL TIMES (MIN / STROKES)

SPM bbl/min Pscr SPM bbi/min Pscr Surface to Bit Bit to Shoe Shoe to Choke Total
30 2.565 350 30 2.565 355 119 / 3567 58 / 1746 268 / 8055 445 / 13368
40 3.42 590 40 3.42 600 89 / 3567 44 / 1746 201 / 8055 334 / 13368
50 4.275 890 50 4.275 900 71 / 3567 35 / 1746 161 / 8055 267 / 13368
KICK DATA
Time of Kick: 15:25 Depth (m): TVD= 1667 TD= 5300 Mud Weight (sg), MW1= 0.98
Shut-in DP Pres (psi), Pdp= 400 Annulus Pres (psi), Pa= 460 Pit Gain (bbl): 20
Kill Mud Weight (sg), MW2= 1.15 Barytes Required (lb/bbl): 81.1 Total (MT): 55
Chosen Pump SPM: 30 Stroke Vol (bbl/stk): 0.086 SCR (bbl/min): 2.565 Pscr (at MW1)= 350 psi
Time Started: 15:30 Initial Circ Pres (psi), Pic= 750 Final Circ Pres (psi), Pfc= 410
For High Angle or Horizontal Wells ( > 30 deg)
Drillpipe Size ID Length (m) Size Factor Drillpipe Friction Constant
5" DP + BHA 4.276 5300 3.708 16.27

STANDPIPE PRESSURE WHEN PUMPING DOWN KILL MUD


Section Point MD (m) TVD (m) Vol (bbl) Strokes Pstatic (psi) Pfriction (psi) Standpipe Pressure (psi)
Surface: 0 0 0 0 =Pdp 0 Pic= 750
Kick Off: 350 350 20 239 316 4 670
End Build 1: 1328 1000 77 905 160 15 525
DP Cross-Over:

End Tangent 1:
End Build/Drop 2:
Bit: 5300 1667 309 3612 0 60 Pfc= 410

6-15
March 1995
March 1995

Figure 6.1b An Example of Kick Sheet


STANDPIPE PRESSURE SCHEDULE

0 750 750
800 239 670
905 525
750 3612 410 410

700
Standpipe Pressure (psi)

650 Kick

BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL


off
600
If The Well Was Vertical
6-16

550

500 End Build

450

400
Bit
350
0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 3000 3500 4000
Pump Strokes
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 6.1c An Example of Kick Sheet

Figure 6.1c: An Example of Kick Sheet

SUMMARY OF FORMULAE
1. MAASP = P wp - 1.421 x MW 1 x D wp For High Angle or Horizontal Wells

2. Pipe Internal Capacity (bbl/m) = ID 2 / 313.8 10. Drillpipe 1 Size Factor, 1 = L 1 / ID15

3. Annular Capacity (bbl/m) = (DH 2 - DP 2) / 313.8 Drillpipe 2 Size Factor, = L 2 / ID25


2

Pdp Pfc - Pscr


4. Kill Mud Weight (sg), MW2 = MW 1 +  11. Drillpipe Friction Constant, = 
1.421 x TVDh
1+2

(MW2 - MW1 )
5. Baryte Required (lb/bbl) = 1490 x  12. Static Pressure When Kill Mud at TVD (psi):
(4.25 - MW 2)
Pstatic = P dp x (1.0 - TVD / TVDh )
6. Initial Circulating Pressure (psi), Pic = P dp + P scr
13. Friction Pressure Increase When Kill Mud at
MW 2 MD (psi):
7. Final circulating Pressure (psi), P fc = P scr x 
MW 1
a. When MD above/at DP cross-over point:
8. Pumping Time to Reach Depth of Interest (min): MD
Pfriction = x 
ID 15
Volume to be displaced (bbl)
= 
Pump output (bbl/min) b. When MD below DP cross-over point:
(MD - L1)
Pfriction = x [ 1 +  ]
9. Pump Strokes to Reach Depth of Interest (stk): ID 25

Volume to be displaced (bbl) 14. Standpipe Pressure at Depth of Interest (psi):


= 
Pump stroke volume (bbl/stk)
Pstand = P scr + Pfriction + Pstatic

SYMBOLS AND UNITS

D wp Vertical depth at openhole weak point (m) Pstand Standpipe pressure (psi)
DH Hole diameter or casing ID (inch) Pstatic Static (drillpipe) pressure (if well was shut
DP Drillpipe OD (inch) in) when pumping kill mud (psi)
ID Drillpipe ID (inch) Pwp Leak off pressure at openhole weak point
L Length of drillpipe with same size (m) (psi)
MAASP TVD True vertical depth at depth of interest (m)
Maxi TVD h True vertical depth of open hole (m)
mum allowable annulus surface pressure Drillpipe size factor
(psi) Drillpipe friction constant
MD Measured depth at depth of interest (m) Pfriction Friction pressure increase with kill mud
MW 1 Original (unweighted) mud weight (sg) (psi)
MW 2 Kill mud weight (sg)
Pdp Shut-in drillpipe pressure (psi) Subscripts for ID, L and :
Pfc Final circulating pressure (psi) 1 Drillpipe size 1
Pic initial circulating pressure (psi) 2. Drillpipe size 2
Pscr Standpipe pressure at solw circulating rate
with original mud (psi)

6-17
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 6.1d An Example of Kick Sheet

COMPLETION OF KICK SHEET

GENERAL WELL DATA (Routinely Recorded)

These include well No, rig, date, time, hole size, casing size, shoe depths, MAASP, max mud weight, casing
burst pressure, barite quantities and reserved mud volume.

• MAASP [psi] = (Leak-off pressure, psi) − 1.421 x (Mud weight in hole, sg) x (Leak-off TVD, m)
• Max mud weight (Shoe frac grad) [sg] = (Leak-off pressure, psi) / [ 1.421 x (Leak-off TVD, m) ]

DRILLSTRING / ANNULUS CONTENTS (Routinely Recorded)

These include the drillstring, annulus contents, surface volumes and the total active mud volume. The
drillstring contents include OD, ID, capacity, length and volume. The annulus contents include hole/casing
sizes (with drillstring OD), hole/casing ID, capacity, length and volume).

• Drillstring capacity [bbl/m] = (Pipe ID, inch)2 / 313.8


• Annulus capacity [bbl/m] = [ (Hole size, inch) − (Pipe OD, inch) 2 ] / 313.8
2

• Volume [bbl] = (Capacity, bbl/m) x (Length, m)


• Total active mud volume [bbl] = (Total circulating system vol, bbl) + (Surface active mud vol, bbl)

CIRCULATION TIME AND PUMP STROKES (Routinely Recorded)

These include the liner size, rated pressure, volume efficiency and stroke volume. Record at least three slow
circulating rates and the corresponding standpipe pressures.

Calculate circulation times and number of pump strokes:

• Surf → Bit [min] = (Total drillstring volume, bbl) / (Pump output, bbl/min)
[stk] = (Total drillstring volume, bbl) / (Pump stroke volume, bbl/stk)
• Bit → Shoe [min] = (Total open hole annular volume, bbl) / (Pump output, bbl/min)
[stk] = (Total open hole annular volume, bbl) / (Pump stroke volume, bbl/stk)

• Shoe → Choke [min] = (Total casing annular volume, bbl) / (Pump output, bbl/min)
[stk] = (Total casing annular volume, bbl) / (Pump stroke volume, bbl/stk)

KICK DATA

Record all the relevant kick data (time, hole depths, mud weight, shut-in DP & casing pressures, pit gain). All
the kill parameters should be calculated.

• Kill mud weight [sg] = (Mud weight in hole, sg) + [(SIDPP Pdp, psi) / [ 1.421 x (Hole TVD, m)]
(Kill mud weight, sg) − (Mud weight in hole, sg)
• Barite required [lb/bbl] = 1490 x 
4.25 − (Kill mud weight, sg)
• Total quantity of barite required [MT] = (Total active mud volume, bbl) x (Barite required, lb/bbl) / 2205
• Initial circulating pres P ic [psi] = (SIDPP Pdp, psi) + (SCR pres P scr , psi)
• Final circulating pres P fc [psi] = (SCR pres P scr , psi) x (Kill mud weight, sg) / (Mud weight in hole, sg)

6-18
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 6.1d An Example of Kick Sheet (cont'd)

HIGH ANGLE OR HORIZONTAL WELLS (Angle > 30 deg)

No need to complete this section if the well is vertical (or angle<30 deg). In this case, the standpipe pressure
schedule can be obtained by joining a straight line between the initial and the final circulating pressures.

Otherwise, the standpipe pressures should be calculated for pumping down the weighted kill mud to each of
the depths at kick-off, end-build, drillpipe cross-over, end-tangent, etc. After the kill mud has reached the bit
depth, the standpipe pressure should be maintained constant at the final circulating pressure.

• DP size factor, α = (Drillpipe section length, m) / (Drillpipe ID, inch)5


(Calculate for each of the drillpipe IDs)

(Final circ pres P fc , psi) − (SCR pres P scr , psi)


• DP Friction Const, = 
(DP Size 1 factor α1) + (DP Size 2 factor α2)

Calculate the pump stroke and the corresponding standpipe pressure when the kill mud has reached the
depth at MD/TVD (the point for calculation such as kick off, end-build, etc.):

• Volume [bbl] = (Drillstring capacity, bbl/m) x (Measured depth MD, m)


• Pump stroke [stk] = (Volume, bbl) / (Pump stroke volume, bbl/stk)
(TVD, m)
• Static (shut-in) pressure Pstatic [psi] = (SIDPP Pdp, psi) x [ 1.0 −  ]
(Hole TVD, m)
• Friction pressure increase (due to kill mud) ∆Pfriction :
- If MD (point for calculation) is above or at DP1/DP2 cross-over point:
∆P friction [psi] = (DP Friction Const, β) x (MD, m) / (Top drillpipe ID, inch) 5
- If MD is below DP1/DP2 cross-over point:
[ (MD, m) − (Top DP1 length L 1 , m) ]
∆P friction [psi] = β x [ (DP1 size factor, α1 ) + 
(DP2 ID, inch) 5
• Standpipe Pressure Pstand [psi] = (SCR pres P scr , psi) + (∆Pfriction , psi) + (Pstatic , psi)

STANDPIPE PRESSURE SCHEDULE

Draw up the standpipe pressure schedule on the graph paper by:


1. Choose appropriate scales for the horizontal pump stroke and the vertical standpipe pressure.
2. Mark each of the calculated standpipe pressures against the corresponding pump strokes. The initial
circulating pressure should be plotted corresponding to zero stroke and the final circulating pressure
corresponding to the strokes for the kill mud to reach the bit.
3. Join the marked points with straight lines. From the final point onward (after the kill mud has
reached the bit), draw a horizontal line.

For vertical or low angle wells, there are only two marked points (i.e. the initial & final circulating pressures)
and therefore the pressure schedule is a straight line before the kill mud reaches the bit. For high angle or
horizontal wells, there should be more than two points and the pressure schedule is not be a straight line .

6-19
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Choke line losses are generally not significant at slow circulating rates in shallow water and
so the calculations required during the implementation of both the Driller’s Method and the
Wait and Weight Method on a floating rig, drilling in shallow water, do not account for
choke line losses. The calculations as covered in Paragraphs 4 to 6 (which cover the normal
implementation of the Wait and Weight Method and the Driller’s Method) are therefore still
applicable.

In deep water, when choke line losses can be significant, it is necessary to assess the effect
of choke line losses on wellbore pressures during circulation. In which case further
calculations, as covered in Paragraph 8, ‘Accounting for Choke Line Losses in Deep Water’,
are required to account for choke line losses.

Standard procedure (as detailed in Paragraphs 4 to 6) should be modified along the following
lines when using either the Wait and Weight Method or the Driller’s Method on a floating␣r ig:

1 Bring the pump up to speed

• Line up to monitor wellhead pressure through the kill line. See Figure 6.2 for a
schematic␣of the kill line monitor . (Bear in mind that the kill line may not contain
mud at this stage.)

• Line up the pump to circulate down the drillpipe and route returns through the choke
manifold to the mud gas separator.

• Set the stroke counter on the choke panel to zero.

• Record the pressure registered on the kill line monitor.

• Open the remote operated choke at the same time as the pump is started on the hole.

• Hold the kill line monitor pressure constant as the pump is brought up to speed.

• Once the pump is up to speed the initial circulating pressure should be checked.

2 Circulate the kick to the wellhead maintaining constant bottomhole pressure

In the case of the Wait and Weight Method the standpipe pressure will be reduced in
line with the standpipe pressure schedule.

In the case of the Driller’s Method the standpipe pressure is maintained at initial
circulating pressure as the kick is displaced from the hole.

When the total strokes pumped indicates that the influx is approaching the wellhead the
kill line monitor should be carefully checked for any sudden drops in pressure. A drop
in pressure registered on this gauge indicates that the influx has entered the choke line,
however this drop may not always be detected.

3 Circulate the influx out of the well maintaining constant bottomhole


pressure

It is recommended that the influx is displaced up the choke line at a considerably reduced
rate in order that the choke does not have to be adjusted at an unrealistic rate. This may
involve shutting in the well at this point and restarting the displacement at the minimum
pump speed.

A considerable increase in choke pressure will generally be required as gas or lightweight


influx displaces mud from the choke line.

6-20
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 6.2 Use of Kill Line Monitor for Wellhead Pressure


on Floating Rig

DRILLPIPE
PRESSURE
GAUGE

PUMP

CHOKE
KILL LINE PRESSURE
MONITOR GAUGE

VALVE VALVE RETURNS


CLOSED OPEN

SEA

KILL LINE CHOKE LINE


(KILL LINE VALVES
OPEN)

SEABED

KEY

MUD VALVE OPEN

GAS VALVE CLOSED

WEOX02.030

6-21
Rev 1 March
March 1995
1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

An increase in the pressure recorded at the kill line monitor may indicate that the original
mud behind the influx has started up the choke line.

In the case of the Wait and Weight Method, once the returns are at kill weight, the pump
should be stopped and the well checked for pressure.

In the case of the Driller’s Method, the well will be circulated to kill weight mud prior
to step (4).

4 Remove BOP gas

It is quite possible that some gas will have accumulated under the closed BOP
during␣displacement of the kic k. This gas must be removed from the stack before the
BOP is opened.

The recommended technique is to isolate the well, displace the kill and choke lines to
water (maintaining the BOP gas at original pressure), bleed gas up choke line, open the
annular and allow riser to U-tube, displacing the gas up the choke line. Diesel may be
used instead of water if low mud weights have been used to kill the well. (Adequate
facilities should be available to deal with the returned diesel.)

For the example stack shown in Figure 6.4, for which trapped gas has the potential to be
a serious problem, this technique is implemented as follows:

• Isolate the well from the BOP stack by closing the lower pipe rams. (See Figure␣6.4.)

• Circulate kill mud down the kill line, across the stack and up the choke line.
Route␣ r eturns through the degasser. Record the kill line circulating pressure.
(See␣Figure 6.5.)

• Shut the well in. Line up to circulate water down the kill line and up the choke line.

• Slowly displace the kill line to water. As the kill line is displaced to water increase
the kill line circulating pressure by an amount equal to the difference in hydrostatic
pressure between the kill mud and water at the depth of the stack. (This will ensure
that the gas pressure is unchanged.)

• Keep pumping water across the stack and maintain the final circulating
pressure.␣W hen the returns are clear water, stop the pump and shut in at the choke.
(See Figure␣6.6.)

• Close the subsea kill line valve(s).

• Bleed pressure from the choke line. (See Figure 6.7.)

(The pressure that has been trapped in the gas bubble is used to ensure that the gas
bubble expands as the choke is opened to displace all the water from the choke line.
Having bled all the pressure from the choke line the gas bubble should be almost at
atmospheric pressure.)

• Close the diverter. Line up the trip tank/pump to circulate the riser under the diverter.

• Slowly bleed back the upper annular closing pressure. Open the annular.

• Allow the riser to U-tube. Take returns up the choke line. Fill the hole as required.
(See Figure 6.8.) Be prepared to deal with gas in the riser.

• Displace the riser and kill and choke lines to kill weight mud.

6-22
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

• Open the lower pipe rams.

• Open the diverter and flowcheck the well.

8 Accounting for Choke Line Losses in Deep Water


In line with the standard procedure for floating rigs, an attempt will always be made to
compensate for choke line losses with the use of the kill line monitor.

However, the effect of choke line losses should be assessed in any situation in which choke
line losses are considered significant. This is most likely to occur only in deep water. (See
Chapter 1, Section 1.3 for the techniques for measuring choke line pressure losses.)

The following procedure can be used to account for choke line losses for the Wait and
Weight Method (however the same principles are applicable to the Driller’s Method):

1 Assess the effect of choke line losses at pump start up

In order to determine the most suitable circulation rate, the additional pressure acting in
the wellbore due to choke line friction should be estimated at a range of circulating
rates.

The following two cases may be applicable at this point:

Case A: When shut-in casing pressure is greater than the choke line friction pressure at
the desired slow circulating rate. (See Figure 6.9.)

Case B: When the shut-in casing pressure is less than the choke line friction pressure
at the desired slow circulation rate. (See Figure 6.10.)

In Case A the choke line friction pressure will be fully compensated for until such time
during the displacement that the required choke pressure is less than the sum of choke
line friction pressure and the wide open choke pressure. In most cases this will occur
only when the original mud behind the influx is passing the choke, at which time
subsurface pressures are unlikely to be critically high. Therefore, if Case A is applicable,
the choke line losses should not impose a limitation on the circulation rate.

However Case B represents a situation in which part of the choke line frictional pressure
will be applied on the openhole. The choke line frictional pressure can be compensated
for up to the amount equal to the difference between the shut-in annulus pressure and
the wide open choke pressure.

The additional pressures exerted in the wellbore due to choke line losses at pump start-
up can be determined as follows:

For Case A: there should be no additional pressures in the wellbore due to choke line
friction at pump start-up

For Case B: additional wellbore pressure due to choke line friction


= Pcl – Pa + Poc

where: Pa = annulus shut-in pressure (psi)


Poc = choke pressure at SCR recorded with the choke wide open (psi)
Pcl = choke line frictional pressure at SCR (psi)

6-23
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 6.3 Subsea BOP Stack prior to Removing Gas


from Below the Preventers

KILL LINE CHOKE LINE

MUD UPPER ANNULAR

GAS

VALVE OPEN

VALVE CLOSED

LOWER ANNULAR

BLIND/SHEAR

PIPE RAM

PIPE RAM

PIPE RAM

PIPE RAM

WEOX02.031

6-24
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 6.4 Removing Gas from a Subsea BOP Stack


– Lower pipe rams closed hang off rams opened

KILL LINE CHOKE LINE

MUD UPPER ANNULAR

GAS

VALVE OPEN

VALVE CLOSED

LOWER ANNULAR

BLIND/SHEAR

PIPE RAM

PIPE RAM

PIPE RAM

PIPE RAM

WEOX02.032

6-25
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 6.5 Removing Gas from a Subsea BOP Stack


– Kill and choke lines displaced to kill weight mud

KILL LINE CHOKE LINE

MUD UPPER ANNULAR

GAS

VALVE OPEN

VALVE CLOSED

LOWER ANNULAR

BLIND/SHEAR

PIPE RAM

PIPE RAM

PIPE RAM

PIPE RAM

WEOX02.033

6-26
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 6.6 Removing Gas from a Subsea BOP Stack


– Kill and choke lines displaced to water

KILL LINE CHOKE LINE

MUD

GAS UPPER ANNULAR

WATER (OR DIESEL)

VALVE OPEN

VALVE CLOSED

LOWER ANNULAR

BLIND/SHEAR

PIPE RAM

PIPE RAM

PIPE RAM

PIPE RAM

WEOX02.034

6-27
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 6.7 Removing Gas from a Subsea BOP Stack


– Gas pressure bled down, gas occupies choke line

KILL LINE CHOKE LINE

MUD

GAS UPPER ANNULAR

WATER (OR DIESEL)

VALVE OPEN

VALVE CLOSED

GAS PRESSURE BLEEDS DOWN LOWER ANNULAR


TO DISPLACE WATER FROM
CHOKE LINE RESULTANT GAS
PRESSURE IS CLOSE TO
ATMOSPHERIC

BLIND/SHEAR

PIPE RAM

PIPE RAM

PIPE RAM

PIPE RAM

WEOX02.035

6-28
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 6.8 Removing Gas from a Subsea BOP Stack


– Diverter is closed, the annular is opened and
the gas is displaced from the stack

KILL LINE CHOKE LINE

MUD

GAS UPPER ANNULAR

WATER (OR DIESEL)

VALVE OPEN

VALVE CLOSED

LOWER ANNULAR

BLIND/SHEAR

PIPE RAM

PIPE RAM

PIPE RAM

PIPE RAM

WEOX02.036

6-29
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 6.9 The Effect of Choke Line Losses


– Casing pressure greater than choke line pressure

INITIAL SHUT-IN CIRCULATION STARTED AT 40SPM


CONDITIONS

CHOKE PRESSURE
DRILLPIPE PRESSURE DROPS BY CHOKE
INCREASES BY LINE PRESSURE DROP
SCR PRESSURE

800 400 800 800 1385 430

KILL LINE
PRESSURE HELD
CONSTANT

BOTTOMHOLE PRESSURE
STAYS APPROXIMATELY
CONSTANT
KEY

MUD

GAS

SCRS AND CHOKE LINE LOSSES

SPM 20 30 40

PSCR 400 680 985

PCL 150 250 370

MINIMUM RATE FOR PUMP

WEOX02.037

6-30
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 6.10 The Effect of Choke Line Losses


– Casing pressure after initial circulation is
less than choke line loss
INITIAL SHUT-IN CIRCULATION STARTED AT 30SPM
CONDITIONS

CHOKE PRESSURE
DRILLPILE PRESSURE DROPS BY CHOKE
INCREASED BY LINE PRESSURE DROP
SCR PRESSURE

400 100 400 400 780 150

KILL LINE
PRESSURE HELD
CONSTANT

BOTTOMHOLE PRESSURE
STAYS APPROXIMATELY
CONSTANT

INFLUX CIRCULATED OUT CIRCULATION STARTED AT


WITH ORIGINAL MUD MINIMUM RATE, 20SPM
WEIGHT

DRILLPIPE PRESSURE
EQUALS THE SUM OF THE ORIGINAL
SHUT-IN DRILLPIPE PRESSURE PLUS
THE SCR PRESSURE PLUS
THE CHOKE LINE LOSS PLUS THE WIDE CHOKE PRESSURE
OPEN CHOKE PRESSURE MINUS THE WITH CHOKE WIDE
SHUT-IN CASING PRESSURE OPEN

100 100 100 200 600 50

UNABLE TO KEEP THE


KILL LINE PRESSURE
CONSTANT. EVEN WITH
THE CHOKE WIDE OPEN
THE KILL LINE PRESSURE
INCREASES BY THE SUM
OF CHOKE LINE LOSS
AND WIDE OPEN CHOKE
PRESSURE MINUS THE
ORIGINAL SHUT-IN
PRESSURE

BOTTOMHOLE PRESSURE
INCREASES

SCRS AND CHOKE LINE LOSSES

SPM 20 30 40 KEY

MUD
PSCR 400 680 985

PCL 150 250 370 GAS

MINIMUM RATE FOR PUMP


WEOX02.038

6-31
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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

These pressures as well as the annulus frictional pressure will act at all points in the
wellbore and circulating system. The effect of these additional pressures must therefore
be analysed at all points in the system and in particular at the openhole weak point.

2 Calculate the initial circulating pressure

The initial circulating pressure is calculated to estimate the standpipe pressure once the
pump is up to speed.

For Case A: the initial circulating pressure = Pdp + P scr

For Case B: the initial circulating pressure = Pdp + P scr + P cl + P oc – P a

where: Pscr = show circulating rate pressure (psi)


Pdp = shut-in drillpipe pressure that reflects the kick zone pressure (psi)
Pcl = choke line frictional pressure at SCR (psi)
Pa = annulus shut-in pressure (psi)
Poc = choke pressure recorded while circulating at SCR with the choke wide
open (psi)

3 Calculate the final circulating pressure

The final circulating pressure, when kill weight mud reaches the bit, for each case is
calculated as follows:

For Case A: Final circulating pressure = Pscr X MW2


MW1

For Case B: Final circulating pressure = (Pscr X MW2) + Pcl + Poc – P a


MW1

where MW2 = weight of the kill mud (SG)


MW1 = weight of the original mud (SG)

4 Monitor pressure at the kill line monitor as the pump is brought up to speed

For Case A, the pressure at the kill line monitor is held constant as the pump is brought
up to speed. The choke pressure will decrease by an amount equivalent to the choke line
friction pressure once the pump is up to speed.

For Case B, the pressure at the kill line monitor will be constant as the pump is brought
up to speed. However at some point before the pump is up to the SCR the kill line
monitor pressure will start to increase. Once the pump is up to speed the choke will be
wide open and the pressure at the kill line monitor will have risen by the proportion of
the choke line friction pressure that is not compensated for. (The increase will be
equivalent to Pcl + P oc – P a.)

5 Check the initial circulating pressure once the pump is up to speed

If the initial circulating pressure is significantly different from the calculated value, the
pump should be stopped, the well shut in and the cause for the discrepancy determined.

If the initial circulating pressure is equal to or reasonably close to the calculated value,
the displacement should be continued.

Any marginal difference is likely to be due to the fact that the actual SCR pressure is
different from the value used to calculate the initial circulating pressure. The actual
SCR pressure can be established from the initial circulating pressure recorded when the
pump is up to speed.

6-32
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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

For Case A, the actual SCR pressure can be determined from the initial circulating
pressure as follows:

P scr = Pic – P dp

For Case B, the actual SCR pressure can be determined as follows:

P scr = Pic – P dp – P cl – P oc + P a

For the Wait and Weight Method the final circulating pressure must be recalculated as
follows:

For Case A, the final circulating pressure can be determined as follows:

Pfc = Pscr X MW2


MW1

For Case B, the final circulating pressure is determined as follows:

Pfc = (Pscr X MW2)+ Pcl – P a + Poc


MW1

The standpipe pressure should therefore be redrawn to take into account these adjusted
figures.

6 Assess the effect of choke line losses at the latter stages of kick
displacement

For Case A: In the latter stages of the displacement the choke pressure required to
maintain constant bottomhole pressure will drop. This drop will be most
significant once the original mud behind the influx is at the choke.

If the required choke pressure drops below the sum of the choke line
loss and the wide open choke pressure, it will no longer be possible to
completely compensate for the choke line losses.

The resultant increase in wellbore pressure at this stage will be given by:

Increase in pressure = Pcl + P oc – P a

In practice, the choke will be wide open at this stage and the standpipe
pressure will rise above final circulating pressure.

When the hole has been circulated to kill weight mud, the circulating
pressure will have increased by the sum of the choke line losses and the
wide open choke pressure.

For Case B: As the influx expands the choke pressure required at surface will
increase. As the required choke pressure increases it will be possible to
compensate for a greater proportion of the choke line losses.

If the required choke pressure increases to a value equal to the sum of


the choke line loss and the wide open choke pressure it will be possible
to compensate for the complete amount of the choke line losses.

It should be noted that the most critical period in terms of downhole pressures is likely to
occur at early stages in the displacement. In this respect the change in choke line loss
compensation at latter stages in the displacement is unlikely to be a critical factor.

6-33/34
6-33
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

6.2 SPECIAL TECHNIQUES


Subsection Page

2.1 VOLUMETRIC METHOD 6-37

2.2 STRIPPING 6-51

2.3 BULLHEADING 6-71

2.4 SNUBBING 6-79

2.5 BARYTE PLUGS 6-89

2.6 EMERGENCY PROCEDURE 6-97

6-35/36
6-35
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

6.2 SPECIAL TECHNIQUES


Subsection 2.1 VOLUMETRIC METHOD

Paragraph Page
1 General 6-38
2 Static Volumetric Method
(Drillpipe pressure used to monitor
bottomhole pressure) 6-38
3 Static Volumetric Method
(Choke pressure used to monitor
bottomhole pressure) 6-40
4 Lubrication 6-46
5 Dynamic Volumetric Control 6-47

Illustrations
6.12 Static Volumetric Method – an example of control
of bottomhole pressure at the choke 6-42
6.13 Static Volumetric Control – illustrating the
consequences of improper procedure 6-43
6.14 Volumetric Control Worksheet – an example for a land rig 6-44
6.15 Static Volumetric Method – choke pressure used
to monitor bottomhole pressure 6-45
6.16 Dynamic Volumetric Method – used to remove
gas from below a stack 6-49

6-37
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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

1 General
The Volumetric Method can be used to control the expansion of an influx that is migrating
during shut-in periods. It can therefore only be used if significant migration is
occurring. This may occur only in the case of gas kicks.
This method can be used during shut-in periods prior to displacement, or as a means of
safely venting an influx from a well in which circumstances prevent the implementation of
normal well control techniques.

Situations in which the Volumetric Method may be applicable therefore include:

• During any shut-in period after the well has kicked.

• If the pumps are inoperable.

• If there is a washout in the drillstring that prevents displacement of the kick.

• If the pipe is a considerable distance off bottom, out of the hole or stuck off bottom.

• If the bit is plugged.

• If the pipe has been dropped.

There are four techniques that may be required to deal with an influx that is migrating up
the hole. These are as follows:

• Static Volumetric Control: When the drillpipe is on or near bottom and can be used to
measure bottomhole pressure.

• Static Volumetric Control: When the drillpipe cannot be used to measure bottomhole
pressure.

• Lubrication: When the influx has migrated to the stack this technique is used to replace
the influx with mud as the influx is bled at the choke.

• Dynamic Volumetric Control: This technique may be used as an alternative to the above
but is most applicable as an alternative to lubrication on a floating rig.

The following Paragraphs can be used as guidelines for the implementation of the above
mentioned procedures.

2 Static Volumetric Method


(Drillpipe Pressure used to monitor
bottomhole pressure)
This procedure is the most simple to implement in that the drillpipe pressure is available to
monitor bottomhole pressure.

It may be necessary to implement this procedure during any time that the well is shut-in
after a kick has been taken. This situation may arise while preparations are being made to
kill a well or when operations have to be suspended due to bad weather or equipment failure.

6-38
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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

The following guidelines can be used:

1 Record the shut-in drillpipe and choke pressures

After the well has been shut-in the surface pressures can be used to identify the influx
type. These calculations are covered in Chapter 4.

If the influx contains a significant proportion of gas, it will be necessary to allow the
influx to expand considerably as it migrates up the hole.

2 Develop annulus pressure profile

The annular pressures during migration of the influx will be similar to those resulting
from circulation with the Driller’s Method. In this respect, a PC or programmable
calculator can be used to develop the annulus pressure profile as for the Driller’s Method.

The maximum wellbore pressures can therefore be estimated along with the anticipated
pit gain.

3 Determine migration rate

After the surface pressures have built up to values which reflect the kick zone pressure,
further increases will be due to migration. The rate of migration can be estimated from
two pressure readings, recorded either both on the drillpipe or both on the casing, taken
at a known time interval apart.

The distance D (m), migrated up the annulus of constant cross section in the time
interval T (min) is given by:

D= P2 – P1 (m)
MW X 1.421

where P1 = surface pressure at start of interval (psi)


P2 = surface pressure after interval T (psi)
MW = mud weight in the hole (SG)
T = time interval (min)
MR = migration rate (m/hr)

The migration rate can therefore be estimated as follows:

MR = D X 60 (m/hr)
T

4 Allow drillpipe pressure to build by overbalance margin

The drillpipe pressure should be allowed to build by a suitable overbalance margin.


This margin will be registered on the drillpipe as an increase in pressure over and above
the final shut-in pressure.

The overbalance margin may typically be in the range 50 to 200 psi.

5 Allow drillpipe pressure to build up by operating margin

The drillpipe pressure should be allowed to build by a further margin to ensure that the
overbalance is maintained as mud is bled from the well.

The operating margin may also typically be in the range 50 – 200 psi depending on the
resultant wellbore pressures at each stage in the operation.

6-39
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

6 Bleed increment of mud from the annulus to reduce drillpipe pressure

After the drillpipe pressure has built by the sum of the overbalance margin and the
operating margin, the kick zone will be overbalanced by the sum of these two values.

Mud should then be bled from the annulus to reduce the drillpipe pressure to a value
representing the final shut-in pressure plus the overbalance margin.

A manual choke should be used for this operation to ensure adequate control. It is strongly
recommended that small volumes of mud are bled off at a time to allow time for the
drillpipe pressure to respond. There will be a considerable delay time between choke
and drillpipe pressure in a deep well and especially if the influx contains gas.

7 Continue process until influx migrates to the stack

This process should be repeated until the influx migrates to the stack. Arrival of the
influx at the stack may be preceded by bleeding gas cut mud from the well. However, if
gas is observed at the choke, the well should be shut-in and mud lubricated into the
well. If gas is bled from the well the bottomhole pressure will drop and eventually
cause a further influx.

When the influx has migrated to the stack, surface pressures should no longer rise as
migration will cease to occur. This may not be the case on a floating rig when some
migration may occur up the choke line.

Use the Volumetric Control Worksheet to record all the relevant data (See Figure 6.14.)

8 Lubricate mud into the hole or implement the Dynamic Volumetric Method

See Paragraphs 4 and 5 as follows.

3 Static Volumetric Method


(Choke pressure used to monitor
bottomhole pressure)
This technique may be required if the drillstring is stuck off bottom, out of the hole or too
far off bottom to be stripped back or if the bit is plugged.

In these cases, it will not be possible to monitor the bottomhole pressure with the drillpipe
during the control process. The choke pressure is therefore used in conjunction with the
volume of mud bled from the well to infer the bottomhole pressure.

The principle of this procedure is that the bottomhole pressure is maintained slightly over
kick zone pressure by bleeding mud from the annulus to allow the influx to expand as it
migrates up the hole. Mud is bled in increments from the well as the choke pressure rises
due to migration. The amount of mud bled off for each increment is determined from the
increase in choke pressure.

6-40
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

For example, if the choke pressure increases by 100 psi, a volume of mud equivalent to a
hydrostatic pressure in the annulus of 100 psi is bled at the choke at constant choke
pressure. In this manner, control over the bottomhole pressure is achieved. It should be
noted that this method is only applicable if the influx is migrating as the mud
is bled from the well . The rate of influx migration determines the time required to bleed
each increment of mud from the well.

Figure 6.12 illustrates this technique. In this example, the following conditions apply:

Operating margin = 150 psi


Annulus = 8 1/2 in. X 5 in.
Mud weight = 1.85 SG

Hydrostatic equivalent of mud = 445.7 – 1.85 = 17.5 psi/bbl


(72.25 – 25)

Therefore bleed 150 = 8.5 bbl of mud


17.5

As can be seen from Figure 6.12, the influx must migrate (1824 – 133 =) 1691m while the
8.5 bbl of mud is bled from the well. It is clear that this operation will take several hours.

If the operating margin was quickly bled from the well, the original influx would expand by
approximately 0.4 bbl before the bottomhole pressure drops to the original kick zone pressure.
If the remaining 8.1 bbl were bled from the well, this would cause a further influx of 8.1 bbl,
as shown in Figure 6.13.

As the influx migrates further up the hole, the time required to bleed the 8.5 bbl increment
from the well will decrease significantly. In this example, the influx must migrate 570m
(approximately 2 hours) as the next increment is bled from the well. If the rate of influx
migration is maintained, this time will continually reduce until the influx is at surface.

Volumetric control is similar to the Driller’s Method although the influx moves up the hole
under the influence of migration. The resultant wellbore pressures as well as the required pit
gain will be similar for the two techniques.

The following guidelines can be used:

1 Record shut-in choke pressure

2 Develop annulus pressure profile

3 Determine migration rate

The first three steps are carried out in the same manner as for the previous technique.

4 Calculate hydrostatic pressure of mud per barrel

The hydrostatic pressure of the mud per barrel should be calculated at the point in
the annulus directly above the influx. It can be calculated as follows:
Hydrostatic pressure per barrel = 445.7 X MW (psi/barrel)
(d hc 2 – d o2 )

where MW = mud weight in the hole (SG)


dhc = hole/casing ID (in.)
do = drillstring OD (in.)

6-41
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 6.12 Static Volumetric Method


– an example of control of bottomhole
pressure at the choke

1. 2.
AT INITIAL SHUT-IN INCREASE IN SURFACE PRESSURE
FOR OVERBALANCE MARGIN

650psi Pa 850psi Pa

PRESSURE IN VOLUME OF
BUBBLE 10,000psi INFLUX 10bbl

HEIGHT VOLUME OF
OF INFLUX INFLUX 10bbl 76m
66m DEPTH 3615m

BHP = Pf = 10,000psi BHP = 10,200psi


T=0 T = 15 min (assuming migration
rate of 300m/hr)

3. 4.
INCREASE IN SURFACE PRESSURE 8.5bbl BLED OFF WHILST HOLDING
FOR OPERATING MARGIN CHOKE PRESSURE CONSTANT

1000psi Pa 1000psi Pa

PRESSURE IN VOLUME OF
BUBBLE NOW INFLUX 18.5bbl
5405psi
PRESSURE
VOLUME OF
IN BUBBLE
INFLUX 10bbl
10,000psi
KEY

MUD 1824m
133m

GAS

MUD BLED AT
BHP = 10,350psi CONSTANT CHOKE BHP = 10,200psi
PRESSURE
T = 25 min T = 6 hours

WEOX02.039

6-42
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

3a. 4a.
BLEED MUD FROM 8.5bbl BLED OFF INSTANTANEOUSLY,
WELL INSTANTANEOUSLY WELL SHUT-IN

Pa DROPS BELOW Pa > 1000psi


1000psi

VOLUME OF
INFLUX = 10.4bbl

VOLUME OF
INFLUX = 10.4bbl

VOLUME OF
SECONDARY INFLUX
= 8.1bbl

BHP DROPS
BHP = 10,000psi BELOW BHP = 10,000psi
T 25 min 10,000psi T 25 min

KEY

MUD

GAS

WEOX02.040

Figure 6.13 Static Volumetric Control


– illustrating the consequences of
improper procedure

5 Allow choke pressure to build by overbalance margin

The choke pressure should be allowed to build by an overbalance margin that may
typically be in the range 50 – 200 psi.

6 Allow choke pressure to build by operating margin

The choke pressure should be allowed to continue building a further similar amount to
provide an operating margin.

The total margin will depend on the resultant wellbore pressures at each stage in the
operation.

7 Bleed increment of mud from the well at constant choke pressure

A suitable volume of mud should be bled from the well to reduce the bottomhole pressure
by an amount equivalent to the operating margin.

6-43
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 6.14 Volumetric Control Worksheet


– an example for a land rig

VOLUMETRIC CONTROL WORKSHEET

For worksheet calculation enter information into shaded cells. Units (US/UK): UK Version 1/1 1Q'95 by ODL/C. Weddle

WELL NO 26 RIG Rig 10 DATE AND TIME 15:30 20/08/95 SHEET NO 1

MUD WEIGHT IN THE HOLE, sg 1.85 LUBRICATING MUD WEIGHT, sg 1.85

HYDROSTATIC PRESSURE PER BARREL OF 1.85 sg MUD in 5 X 8.5 ANNULUS: 17.46 psi/bbl

HYDROSTATIC PRESSURE PER BARREL OF sg MUD in X ANNULUS: psi/bbl

HYDROSTATIC PRESSURE PER BARREL OF sg MUD in HOLE: psi/bbl Migration Rate Time (min) 20

HYDROSTATIC PRESSURE PER BARREL OF sg MUD in HOLE: psi/bbl P1 2 P2 5

OVERBALANCE MARGIN: 200 psi OPERATING MARGIN: 150 psi Distance, (m) 3.743701 Rate, (mpm) 11.2311
Choke or DP
TIME OPERATION Choke Change in Hydrostatic Overbalance Volume Total
If DP pressure can't be read see page 6-36 Monitor Monitor of Mud Bled/ of Mud Bled/ Volume of
of Vol. 1 of BP Well Control Manual Pressure Pressure Lubricated Lubricated Mud
( hr min) (psi) (psi) (psi) (psi) (bbl) (bbl)
19:00 650 0 0 0 0 100

19:15 Influx Migrating 850 200 0 200 0 100

19:25 Influx Migrating 1000 150 0 350 0 100

19:25 / 01.25 Bleed Mud at Choke 1000 0 -150 200 8.5 108.5

1:35 Influx Migrating 1150 150 0 350 0 108.5

1:35 / 3:15 Bleed Mud at Choke 1150 0 -150 200 8.5 117

3:30 Influx Migrating 1300 150 0 350 0 117

3:30 / 4:45 Bleed Mud at Choke 1300 0 -150 200 8.5 125.5

4.:55 Influx Migrating 1450 150 0 350 0 125.5

4:55 / 5:30 Bleed Mud at Choke 1450 0 -150 200 8.5 134

+ ve
+ ve increase - ve bled overbalance + ve bled

- ve
- ve decrease + ve lubricated underbalance - ve lubricated

WEOX02.199

6-44
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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

The choke pressure must be held constant as the mud is bled from the well.

As an example (refer to Figures 6.12 and 6.13):

Operating margin = 150 psi


Annulus = 8 1/2 in. X 5 in.
Mud weight = 1.85 SG

Hydrostatic equivalent of mud = 445.7 – 1.85 = 17.5 psi/bbl


(72.25 – 25)

Therefore bleed 150 = 8.5 bbl of mud


17.5

As can be seen from the example in Figure 6.12 the bottom of the influx has had to
migrate from 133m off bottom, to 1824m off bottom, whilst bleeding off 8.5 bbl of
mud. This could take considerable time. If the operating margin, in this case 150 psi
(8.5 bbl), had been quickly bled off and assuming no migration during this period, the
bubble would have expanded by only about 0.36/bbl before bottomhole pressure (BHP)
dropped to kick zone pressure. This would result in a further influx of 8.14 bbl.

Subsequent volumes bled from the well will require less migration distance, ie for an␣increase
of bubble size to 27 bbl (after next bleed off), the distance from bottom will be 2395m.
GAS MIGRATING
2200 TO SURFACE
PRESSURE BUILDUP

2050

INFLUX MIGRATING
1900

1750
MUD BLED AT CHOKE
(at constant choke
1600 pressure until volume
bled off corresponds
to Operating Margin)
CHOKE PRESSURE (psi)

1450
OPERATING MARGIN

1300

1150
OPERATING MARGIN

1000
OPERATING MARGIN
850

OVERBALANCE MARGIN

650

FINAL SHUT-IN ANNULUS PRESSURE

0 8.5 17 25.5 34 42.5 51 59.5 68 76.5

VOLUME OF MUD BLED FROM ANNULUS (bbl)

WEOX02.041

Figure 6.15 Static Volumetric Method


– choke pressure used to monitor
bottomhole pressure

6-45
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

8 Continue the process until the influx migrates to the stack

This process should be repeated until the influx migrates to the stack.

When the influx has migrated to the stack surface pressures should no longer rise as
migration will cease to occur. This may not be the case on a floating rig when some
migration may occur up the choke line.

Use the Volumetric Control Worksheet to record all the relevant data.

Figure 6.14 shows a completed example.

9 Lubricate mud into the hole or implement the Dynamic Volumetric Method

See Paragraphs 4 and 5.

If this process has been implemented because the pipe was off bottom, it may be feasible
to circulate the influx out of the hole when the influx has migrated to the bit.

See Figure 6.15 for a typical choke pressure schedule for the Static Volumetric Method.

4 Lubrication
This technique may be used to vent the influx from below the stack while maintaining constant
bottomhole pressure.

Lubrication is most suited to fixed offshore and land rigs. It can be used to vent gas from the
stack after implementing the Static Volumetric Method, as well as to reduce surface pressures
prior to an operation such as stripping or bullheading.

Lubrication is likely to involve a considerable margin of error when implemented on a


floating rig because of the complication of monitoring the bottomhole pressure through the
choke line. When the influx has migrated to the stack it is quite possible that the choke line
will become full of gas cut mud. In this situation it is impractical to attempt to maintain
control of the bottomhole pressure with the choke.

However lubrication is simpler to implement than the Dynamic Volumetric Method. For
this reason alone, it may be considered for use on a floating rig.

The following guidelines can be used to lubricate mud into a well:

1 Calculate the hydrostatic pressure per barrel of the lubricating mud

This is done in the same manner as for the Volumetric Method.

2 Slowly lubricate a measured quantity of mud into the hole

Line up the pump to the kill line.

Having determined the safe upper limit for the surface pressure, the pump should be
started slowly on the hole.

Mud should be lubricated into the well until pump pressure reaches a predetermined limit. At
this point the pump should be stopped and the well shut in.

The well should be left static for a period while the gas migrates through the mud that has
been lubricated into the well.

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

The exact amount of mud lubricated into the well should be closely monitored.

3 Bleed gas from the well

Gas should be bled from the well to reduce the surface pressure by an amount equivalent
to the hydrostatic pressure of the mud lubricated into the well.

If the surface pressure increased as the mud was lubricated into the well, the amount
that the pressure increased should be bled back in addition.

Ensure that no significant quantity of mud is bled from the well during this operation. If
mud appears at the choke before the surface pressure has been reduced to its desired
level, shut the well in and let the gas percolate through the mud.

Returns should be lined up through the mud gas separator to the trip tank to ensure that
any volume of mud bled back with the gas is recorded and accounted for.

4 Repeat this procedure until all the influx has been vented from the well

This procedure should be repeated until all the gas has been vented from the well.

It is likely that it will be necessary to reduce the volume of mud lubricated into the well at
each stage during this procedure. This is due to the reduction in volume of gas in the well.

If the influx was swabbed into the well and the mud weight is sufficient to balance formation
pressures, the choke pressure should eventually reduce to zero.

However, if the mud weight in the hole is insufficient, the final choke pressure will reflect
the degree of underbalance. It will then be necessary to kill the well.

5 Dynamic Volumetric Control


This technique can be used as an alternative to the Static Volumetric Method. However, it
should only be used only as a method of safely venting an influx from below a subsea stack,
due to both the complexity of the operation and the level of stress imposed on well control
equipment during circulation.

Experience has shown that the Dynamic Volumetric Method is the most reliable method of
venting gas from a subsea stack, if the drillpipe cannot be used to monitor bottomhole pressure.

The principle of the procedure is identical to the Static Volumetric Control, however the
implementation is considerably different. In this case, circulation is maintained across the
wellhead, whilst the surface pressure and pit gain are controlled with the choke. The kill line
pressure is used to monitor the well.

It is very important that the active tank be a suitable size to resolve very small changes in
level. It should be possible to reliably detect changes of the order of one barrel.

Having identified that the influx is at the stack, the following guidelines can be used to
implement the Dynamic Volumetric Method:

1 Ensure that the kill line is full of mud

If there is any possibility that the kill line contains gas, the well should be isolated and
the kill line circulated to mud. This will ensure that the pressure at the stack is accurately
monitored during the operation.

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

2 Circulate down the kill line and up the choke line

Ensure that it is possible to monitor the active pit level accurately. Route returns through
the mud gas separator.

3 Bring the pump up to speed

As the pump is brought up to speed, the kill line (or pump pressure) must increase by an
amount equal to the kill line pressure loss. However if it is not possible to compensate
for the choke line pressure loss, the kill line pressure will inevitably increase by more
than the kill line pressure loss.

The kill line circulating pressure will be monitored during the operation to remove gas
from the well.

4 Reduce kill line pressure in line with drop in pit level

As gas is bled from the well, the pit level will drop while the choke operator adjusts the
choke to maintain a constant kill line circulating pressure. This will result in mud being
lubricated into the well.

If the kill line circulating pressure is held constant as mud is lubricated into the well (as
gas is removed), the bottomhole pressure will increase. Therefore, as the pit level
decreases, the kill line pressure should be reduced to account for the greater hydrostatic
pressure in the annulus.

As an example:

Drop in pit level = 10 bbl


Annulus = 8 1/2 in. X 5 in.
Mud weight = 1.85 SG

Hydrostatic equivalent of mud = 445.7 X 1.85 = 17.5 psi/bbl


(72.25 – 25)

Therefore reduce kill line circulating pressure by 17.5 X 10 = 175 psi

This procedure should be continued until all the influx has been vented from below the
stack. This will be indicated by a constant pit level.

If the well has been completely killed by removing gas from the stack, the final circulating
kill line pressure will be equal to the sum of the kill line pressure loss, the choke line pressure
loss and the wide open choke pressure. If the well is not yet completely killed at this point,
the final circulating kill line pressure will be greater than this value.

See Figure 6.16 for an example kill line pressure schedule for this technique.

6-48
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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 6.16 Dynamic Volumetric Method


– used to remove gas from below a stack

(PIT GAIN TO ALLOW


FOR GAS EXPANSION) GAS IS REMOVED FROM THE WELL,
MUD IS LUBRICATED IN
KILL LINE PRESSURE (psi)

ORIGINAL KILL LINE PRESSURE


ONCE PUMP IS UP TO SPEED

SLOPE OF LINE = HYDROSTATIC


PRESSURE PER
BARREL OF MUD

GAIN IN PIT LEVEL ORIGINAL PIT LEVEL ONCE PUMP IS UP TO SPEED DROP IN PIT LEVEL

CHANGE IN PIT LEVEL (bbl)


WEOX02.042

6-49/50
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6.2 SPECIAL TECHNIQUES


Subsection 2.2 STRIPPING

Paragraph Page
1 General 6-52
2 Monitoring Well Pressures and Fluid Volumes 6-52
3 Annular Stripping 6-56
4 Annular Stripping Procedure 6-57
5 Ram Combination Stripping 6-59
6 Ram Combination Stripping Procedure 6-61
7 Dynamic Stripping Procedure 6-67

Illustrations
6.17 A Guide to Interpretation of Surface Pressure Changes
during Stripping 6-54
6.18 The Effect of the Pipe/BHA Entering the Influx 6-55
6.19 Surge Dampener Fitted to the Closing Line of an
Annular BOP 6-57
6.20 Example Stripping Worksheet – showing effect of
migration and BHA entering the influx 6-60
6.21 Surface BOP Stack Suitable for Ram
Combination Stripping 6-62
6.22 6-63
to to
6.25 Annular to Ram Stripping 6-66
6.26 Equipment Rig-up for Dynamic Stripping 6-68

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1 General
Stripping is a technique that can be used to move the drillstring through the BOP stack
when the well is under pressure. Stripping places high levels of stress on the BOPs and the
closing unit, and requires a particularly high level of co-ordination within the drillcrew.

Company policy is that a contingency plan must be developed regarding stripping procedure
for both Company operated rigs and rigs that are under a Company contract. This Section is
intended to aid in the drawing up of this contingency plan and as such the following are
proposed as the most important considerations:

• How to move the tool joint through the BOP.

• Wear on BOP elements and the control unit.

• The level of redundancy in the BOP and the control system.

• Wellbore pressures in relation to the maximum allowable pressure for equipment and
the formation.

• The monitoring of pressure and fluid volumes.

• The organisation and supervision of the drillcrew.

• Controlling increases in wellbore pressure due to surge pressure.

• The condition of the drillpipe.


(Drillpipe rubbers should be removed and any burrs smoothed out.)

• The possibility of sticking the pipe.

• The control of influx migration.

• Manufacturers’ information regarding minimum closing pressures for annular preventers.


(This information should be available at the rig site.)

• The procedure to be adopted in the event that the surface pressure approaches the
maximum allowable as the pipe is stripped into the influx.

See Figure 5.2 in Chapter 5 for a decision analysis related to stripping operations.

2 Monitoring Well Pressures and Fluid Volumes


During stripping operations, a constant bottomhole pressure is maintained by carefully
controlling the surface pressure and the volume of mud bled from or pumped into the well.
The equipment required for this operation is described in Chapter 1, ’Instrumentation
and Control’.

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Accurate monitoring of the well is required for the following reasons:

(a) To compensate for the volume of pipe introduced into the hole
To avoid over pressuring the well, a volume of mud equal to the volume of pipe and tool
joints (the volume of metal plus the capacity) introduced into the well, must be bled off.

Where possible, mud should not be bled from the well while the pipe is stripped in. It is
recommended that mud is bled from the well during each connection. This ensures that
there is a clear indication at surface of the BHA entering the influx.

However it is recognised that there may be situations when it is impractical to bleed


mud from the well at connections. Such situations include:

• If the surface pressures are close to maximum allowable prior to the stripping
operation.

• If a high pressure water kick is taken. In these circumstances the effective


compressibility of the fluid in the hole will be low and as such there may be a very
large pressure rise as pipe is stripped into the well.

• If the pipe has to be stripped out of the hole. In this case, there will be a tendency for
the volume of metal removed from the well to be replaced by influx fluid.

In these circumstances it may be necessary to implement the dynamic stripping technique.

(b) To compensate for influx migration.


To compensate for influx migration, it is necessary to bleed mud from the well. This is
in addition to the volume of mud bled from the well when introducing the pipe into the
hole. Normally, the required volume of mud will be very small in comparison to the
volume bled off to compensate for the introduction of pipe into the hole.

Influx migration is indicated by a gradual increase in surface pressure even though the
correct volume of mud is being bled from the well (however this may be due to the
BHA entering the influx). It is confirmed by increasing surface pressure when the pipe
is stationary (See Figure 6.17). Influx migration is controlled by implementing the
Volumetric Method.

(c) To allow an increase in surface pressure as the BHA enters the influx.
When the BHA is run into the influx, the height of the influx will be considerably
increased. This can cause a significant decrease in hydrostatic pressure in the annulus,
requiring a greater surface pressure to maintain a constant bottomhole pressure (See
Figure 6.18). A potential problem arises if this condition is undetected. The choke
operator may continue to bleed mud from the well to maintain a constant surface pressure
and inadvertantly cause further influx into the wellbore. It is therefore important to
accurately monitor the total volume of mud bled from the well.

It is recommended that the potential increase in surface pressure resulting from entering
the influx should be estimated before stripping into the hole.

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 6.17 A Guide to Interpretation of Surface Pressure


Changes during Stripping

START
STRIPPING IN

PRESSURE
CONTINUE
INCREASES AS PIPE
STRIPPING
IS STRIPPED IN

BLEED VOLUME OF
MUD EQUAL TO
VOLUME OF PIPE
STRIPPED

SURFACE NO SURFACE
PRESSURE DROPS TO PRESSURE DROPS TO
ORIGINAL VALUE? VALUE GREATER
THAN ORIGINAL

YES
NO

SURFACE HAS THE


NO CORRECT VOLUME OF
CONTINUE CONTINUE PRESSURE INCREASES
STRIPPING STRIPPING WHILE PIPE IS MUD BEEN BLED
STATIONARY? FROM THE WELL?

YES YES

INFLUX IS PIPE HAS


MIGRATING ENTERED INFLUX

BLEED MUD TO
COMPENSATE FOR
MIGRATION

NO NO SURFACE
IS THE PIPE
PRESSURE LIMIT
ON BOTTOM?
APPROACHED?

YES YES

CIRCULATE OUT
TOP OF GAS BUBBLE
KILL THE WELL
USING THE
DRILLER'S METHOD

WEOX02.043

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 6.18 The Effect of the Pipe/BHA Entering the Influx

1. Start stripping 2. BHA has entered influx


• Height of influx in annulus
has increased
• Overall hydrostatic in
annulus decreases
• Surface pressure required
to balance formation
pressure increases

KEY GAS
INFLUX
GAS MUD
INFLUX

GAS

MUD MUD

WEOX02.044

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

3 Annular Stripping
There are two stripping techniques, Annular and Ram combination stripping. The decision
analysis presented in Chapter 5, ‘Pipe off Bottom – Drillpipe in the Stack’ outlines the
basis upon which the most suitable stripping technique is selected.

Annular stripping is considered to be the most satisfactory technique. It involves less risk
than ram combination stripping for the following reasons:

• Annular stripping is a relatively simple technique.

• During annular stripping the only item of well control equipment that is subject to high
levels of stress is the annular element.

• The control system is not highly stressed during the operation (as is the case during ram
combination stripping).

• The annular element can be changed out on a surface stack when pipe is in the hole by
inserting a split element.

• The upper annular preventer, on a floating rig, is the only stack component that is subject
to wear and this can be changed without pulling the complete BOP stack.

Ram combination stripping is possible on all types of rig but involves significantly more
risk when implemented on a floating rig.

The surface pressure is the overriding factor which determines whether or not it will be
possible to implement annular stripping. However, it is also necessary to consider that the
operating life of an annular element is severely reduced by increased wellbore pressure.
Field tests* carried out on Hydril and Shaffer 5K Annulars, show good performance at 800
psi wellbore pressure, but at 1500 psi and above the performance was severely reduced and
unpredictable.

If surface pressures indicate that annular stripping is not possible, attempts should be made
to reduce the pressures in order to enable annular stripping to be used. The most appropriate
technique will depend on the position of the influx in the hole. The options are; to circulate
out the influx, to lubricate the influx from the well or to bullhead.

To ensure that the annular is not subjected to excessive pressures as the tool joint is stripped
through the element, a surge dampener must be placed in the closing line (See Figure 6.19).
This may not be necessary on a surface stack if the pressure regulator can respond fast
enough to maintain a constant closing pressure as a tool joint is stripped through the annular.

As a word of caution, some drilling contractors have installed check valves in the control
lines to the BOPs; the purpose being to ensure that the BOP stays closed if the hydraulic
supply is lost. However, if a check valve is installed in the closing line to an annular BOP, it
will not be possible to reduce the closing pressure once the annular has been closed. In
order to reduce the annular closing pressure, in this case, it will be necessary to open the
annular having closed another ram to secure the well.

* Tests carried out by Exxon Prod. Research 1977.

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

OPENING
LINE

SURGE DAMPENER
(precharged to 50%
of required closing
pressure)

CLOSING LINE

WEOX02.045

Figure 6.19 Surge Dampener Fitted to the Closing Line of


an Annular BOP

4 Annular Stripping Procedure


Having shut in the well, the following procedure can be used as a guideline for the
implementation of annular stripping.

1 Install drillpipe dart

Allow the dart to fall until it seats in the dart sub. To check that the dart is functioning
properly, bleed off pressure at the drillpipe (restrict volumes bled off to an absolute
minimum, typically 1/2 – 1 bbl).

If the dart does not hold pressure allow more time for the dart to drop or consider
circulating the dart into place (restrict volumes pumped to a minimum).

If the dart still does not hold pressure, install a Gray valve in the string.

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2 Monitor surface pressures

Surface pressures should be monitored after the well has been shut-in to check for influx
migration. If the influx is migrating it will be necessary to implement volumetric control
during the stripping operation.

If the pipe is off bottom, it will not be possible to identify the type of influx in the usual
manner. However, a high surface pressure caused by a relatively small underbalance
usually indicates that the influx contains a significant quantity of gas.

3 Determine the capacity and displacement of the drillpipe

It will be necessary to bleed mud from the well to compensate for the volume of pipe
introduced into the hole.

This volume is equal to the sum of the capacity and the displacement of the pipe. There
are various tables which outline these quantities, but a reasonable estimation can be
made as follows:

Displacement and capacity = do2 X 0.003187 (bbl/m)

where do = outer diameter of the pipe (in.)

Allowance should also be made for the extra volume of metal in the tool joints.

4 Calculate hydrostatic pressure per barrel of mud

Should migration occur, it will be necessary to bleed from the well at constant choke
pressure to allow the influx to expand. The hydrostatic pressure equivalent of the mud
in the hole is calculated as follows:

Hydrostatic pressure equivalent = 445.7 X MW (psi/bbl)


(d hc2 – d o2)

where MW = mud weight in the hole (SG)


dhc = hole/casing ID (in.)
do = drillstring OD (in.)

or if the pipe is above the influx:

Hydrostatic pressure equivalent = 445.7 X MW (psi/bbl)


dhc 2

For more details on this technique, See Sub-section 2.1 ‘Volumetric Method’ in this
chapter.

5 Estimate increase in surface pressure due to BHA entering the influx

It is possible to estimate the maximum possible pressure increase due to the BHA entering
the influx as follows:

Max possible surface = 445.7 X (MW – G i) X V X 1 – 1 (psi)


pressure increase (d hc2 – d o2) dhc 2

where MW = mud weight in the hole (SG)


Gi = influx gradient, converted to SG (water = 1 SG)
V = volume of influx (bbl)
dhc = hole/casing ID (in.)
do = BHA OD (in.)

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6 Allow surface pressure to increase by overbalance margin

An overbalance of 50 to 200 psi should be maintained throughout the stripping operation.

If the influx is not migrating, the overbalance margin can be applied by bleeding a
volume of mud that is less than the volume of pipe introduced into the hole, at the start
of the operation.

7 Reduce annular closing pressure

The BOP manufacturers recommend that the closing pressure is reduced, prior to
stripping, until a slight leakage occurs through the BOP. This reduces the wear on the
annular by lubricating the element during stripping.

8 Strip in the hole

The pipe should be slowly lowered through the annular while the surface pressure is
accurately monitored. The running speed should be reduced when a tool joint passes
through the annular.

Mud should be bled from the well at each connection, unless surface pressure limitations
dictate that this should be carried out more frequently.

The pipe should be filled with mud at suitable intervals, typically every 5 stands. Use
original mud weight.

A person should be posted at the Driller’s BOP Control Panel at all times to be ready to
shut-in the well in the event of failure of the annular preventer.

9 Monitor surface pressure

Surface pressures and all relevant data should be recorded on the Stripping Worksheet.
(See Figure 6.20.) Use Figure 6.17 as an aid to the interpretation of changes in surface
pressure.

10 Strip to bottom. Kill the well

The only sure method of killing the well will be to return the string to bottom and
implement standard well kill techniques.

5 Ram Combination Stripping


There are two types of ram combination stripping; annular to ram, and ram to ram. Both
techniques must be considered if either the tool joint cannot be lowered through the annular
or the surface pressure is greater than the rated pressure of the annular and this pressure
cannot be reduced to within safe limits.

Annular to ram stripping is preferable to ram to ram, unless surface pressures indicate that
the annular cannot operate reliably.

For both ram combination techniques there is a requirement that:

• There is sufficient space for the tool joint between the two stripping BOPs.

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 6.20 Example Stripping Worksheet


– showing effect of migration and BHA
entering the influx

STRIPPING WORKSHEET
Units (US/UK) uk
For worksheet calculation enter information in shaded cells. Version 1/1 1Q'95 by ODL/C. Weddle
WELL NO 3 RIG Rig 10 DATE AND TIME 10/7/87 10:30 SHEET NO 1

MUD WEIGHT IN HOLE 1.75 LUBRICATING MUD WEIGHT 1.75

INITIAL BIT DEPTH 2000 HOLE DEPTH 2250

STRIPPING DATA

VOLUME OF MUD DISPLACED BY 5 Inch Pipe Drillpipe 0.0797 bbl/m : 2.15 bbl/stand

OVERBALANCE MARGIN 120 psi OPERATING MARGIN 150 psi (Max)

VOLUMETRIC CONTROL DATA

HYDROSTATIC PRESSURE PER BARREL OF 1.75 SG MUD IN 5 x 8.5 ANNULUS 16.52 psi/bbl

HYDROSTATIC PRESSURE PER BARREL OF 1.75 SG MUD IN 6.5 x 8.5 ANNULUS 26.01 psi/bbl

HYDROSTATIC PRESSURE PER BARREL OF 1.75 SG MUD IN 8.5 HOLE 10.80 psi/bbl

HYDROSTATIC PRESSURE PER BARREL OF 1.75 SG MUD IN 8.75 HOLE 10.80 psi/bbl

TIME OPERATION Choke or Dp Change in Bit Pipe Stripped Hydrostatic Over- Volume of Total
Choke Monitor Depth of Mud Bled/ balance Mud Bled/ Volume
Monitor Pressure Lubricated Lubricated of Mud
Pressure
( hr min) (psi) (psi) ( ) ( ) bbl (psi) (psi) (bbl) (bbl)

10:05 Well Shut In-Pressures 550 2000 N/A

Stabilized

10:20 Drillpipe Dart Installed 2000

10:30 Strip in Stand No 1 770 120 2027 27 2.2 N/A 120 0 0.0

10:36 Strip in Stand No 2 890 120 2054 54 4.4 N/A 240 0 0.0

10:40 Bleed Mud at Connection 770 -120 2054 54 4.4 N/A 120 2.2 2.2

10:45 Strip in Stand No 3 890 120 2081 81 6.6 N/A 240 0 2.2

10:48 Bleed Mud at Connection 770 -120 2081 81 6.6 N/A 120 2.2 4.4

10:53 Strip in Stand No 4 890 120 2108 108 8.8 N/A 240 0 4.4

10:57 Bleed Mud at Connection 770 -120 2108 108 8.8 N/A 120 2.2 6.6

11:00 Strip in Stand No 5 950 180 2135 135 11.0 N/A 240 0 6.6

(Assume BHA has entered flux)

11:05 Bleed Mud at Connection 830 -120 2135 135 11.0 N/A 120 2.2 8.8

11:10 Strip in Stand No6 1080 250 2162 162 13.2 N/A 240 0 8.8

11:15 Bleed Mud at Connection 960 -120 2162 162 13.2 N/A 120 2.2 11.0

11:20 Strip in Stand No 7 1330 250 2189 189 15.4 N/A 240 0 11.0

11:25 Bleed Mud at Connection 1210 -120 2189 189 15.4 N/A 120 2.2 13.2

11:28 Strip in Stand No 8 1460 250 2216 216 17.6 N/A 240 0 13.2

11:33 Bleed Mud at Connection 1340 -120 2216 216 17.6 N/A 120 2.2 15.4

11:40 Strip in Stand No 9 1590 250 2243 243 19.8 N/A 240 0 15.4

11:45 Bleed Mud at Connection 1470 -120 2243 243 19.8 N/A 120 2.2 17.6

- ve bled +ve + ve bled


+ve increase +ve lubricated overbalance
M M -ve lubricated
-ve decrease NA if bled to - ve
compensate underbalance
for pipe
WEOX02.197

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

• There is an inlet at the stack between the two BOPs used for stripping.

• There is a suitable level of redundancy in the stack to ensure the lowest BOP is not used
during the stripping operation.

API RP 53 (issued 1984) states:

“The lowermost ram should not be employed in the stripping operation. This ram should
be reserved as a means of shutting in the well if other stack components of the blowout
preventer fail. It should not be subjected to the wear and stress of the stripping operation.”

In a critical situation, it may be possible to modify a surface stack to suit these conditions
after a kick has been taken. An example surface stack that is suitable for ram combination
stripping is shown in Figure 6.21.

The risks involved in ram combination stripping can be assessed by considering the following
points:

• The high level of drillcrew co-ordination required.

• The level of stress placed on the BOP elements.

• The level of stress placed on the BOP control system.

(During ram combination stripping, the accumulators are charged to maximum operating
pressure and isolated from the BOP. The pumps are used for operational functions.)

• The possibility of replacing the worn BOP elements during operation.

• On a floating rig, the reduction in level of redundancy within the subsea BOP stack as
the ram preventer is used.

6 Ram Combination Stripping Procedure


The following procedure can be used as a guideline for the implementation of annular to
ram stripping. The procedure for ram to ram stripping will be similar.

(For details of Steps 1 to 6 See ‘Annular Stripping Procedure’)

1 Install drillpipe dart

2 Monitor surface pressures

3 Determine the capacity and displacement of the drillpipe

4 Calculate hydrostatic pressure per barrel of the mud

5 Estimate the increase in surface pressure due to the BHA entering the influx

6 Check ram spaceout

To confirm the distance BRT of the two preventers that will be used for stripping.

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 6.21 Surface BOP Stack Suitable for


Ram Combination Stripping

ANNULAR

BLIND RAM
FLANGED ACCESS POINT
TO STACK FOR USE
DURING RAM
COMBINATION STRIPPING

PIPE RAM

PIPE RAM

WELLHEAD
ACCESS POINT

WEOX02.046

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 6.22 Annular to Ram Stripping


– stop stripping in when tool joint is above
the annular

MUD

VALVE OPEN ANNULAR

VALVE CLOSED

BLIND RAM

TO
PUMP
CHOKE

PIPE RAM

PIPE RAM

WEOX02.047

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Figure 6.23 Annular to Ram Stripping


– close pipe ram
– bleed ram cavity pressure

MUD

VALVE OPEN ANNULAR

VALVE CLOSED

BLIND RAM

PRESSURE
BLED OFF
AT CHOKE

PIPE RAM

PIPE RAM

WEOX02.048

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 6.24 Annular to Ram Stripping


– strip in until tool joint is just below annular

MUD

VALVE OPEN ANNULAR

VALVE CLOSED

BLIND RAM

PIPE RAM

PIPE RAM

WEOX02.049

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Figure 6.25 Annular to Ram Stripping


– use rig pump or cement pump to
equalize across pipe ram

MUD

VALVE OPEN ANNULAR

VALVE CLOSED

BLIND RAM

FROM
PUMP

PIPE RAM

PIPE RAM

WEOX02.050

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7 Isolate the accumulator bottles at full operating pressure


The accumulators should be kept as back-up in the event of pump failure.

8 Allow the surface pressure to increase by the overbalance margin

9 Reduce annular closing pressure and strip in

10 Stop when tool joint is above annular (See Figure 6.22.)

11 Close pipe ram at normal regulated manifold pressure

12 Bleed ram cavity pressure


Before the annular is opened it will be necessary to bleed down the pressure below it.
(See Figure 6.23).

13 Reduce ram operating pressure

14 Open annular. Lower pipe

15 Stop when tool joint is just below annular (See Figure 6.24.)

16 Close annular at maximum operating pressure

17 Pressurise ram cavity to equalise across ram (See Figure 6.25.)


Do not use wellbore pressure to equalise across the ram.

18 Reduce annular closing pressure

19 Open pipe ram

20 Continue to strip in according to the above procedure. Kill the well


Fill the pipe as required.

7 Dynamic Stripping Procedure


The situations in which it may be necessary to implement Dynamic Stripping are outlined
in Paragraph 2.

The purpose of this technique is to maintain constant choke pressure as the pipe is stripped
into the hole. This is achieved by circulating at a constant rate across the end of the choke
line. A manual choke should be used and the equipment rigged up as shown in Figure 6.26.

For this technique to be effective the pump output must be considerably greater than the
rate at which the volume of pipe is introduced into the well. If the pump rate is too low,
pressure surges will be caused at the choke as the pipe is stripped in, and the choke pressure
will fluctuate. The same is true for stripping out of the hole, in which case the choke pressure
may drop as pipe is stripped from the well, if the pump rate is too low. This may cause
further influx to occur.

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Figure 6.26 Equipment Rig-up for Dynamic Stripping

MUD

VALVE OPEN ANNULAR

VALVE CLOSED

BLIND RAM

PIPE RAM

MONITOR
PRESSURE
GAUGE

MANUAL
CHOKE

PIPE RAM

MUD TANK

PUMP

WEOX02.051

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The main problem associated with this technique is that migration and entrance into the gas
bubble may not easily be detected at surface. If no allowance is made for these complications,
further influx may be allowed to occur. To avoid this, the mud tank levels should be closely
monitored to ensure that the levels rise, or drop, in direct relation to the volume of pipe that
has been stripped into, or out of, the well. If any discrepancy is noticed, the well should be
shut-in and the surface pressures verified. Influx migration should be dealt with using the
Volumetric Method.

The Dynamic Stripping technique can be used during either annular or ram combination
stripping. For annular stripping it is implemented along the following lines:

(For details of Steps 1 to 6, See Paragraph 4 ‘Annular Stripping Procedure’)

1 Install drillpipe dart

2 Monitor surface pressures

3 Determine the capacity and displacement of the drillpipe

4 Calculate hydrostatic pressure per barrel of the mud

5 Estimate the increase in surface pressure due to the BHA entering the influx

6 Allow the surface pressure to increase by the overbalance margin

7 Line up the pump to the choke line (See Figure 6.26.)

8 Ensure that the manual choke is fully closed. Open choke line valve(s)

9 Open the manual choke at the same time as the pump is brought up to
speed

10 Maintain final shut-in pressure on the choke

11 Reduce annular closing pressure

12 Strip in the hole

13 Monitor surface pressures and pit level


If the choke pressure increases significantly as the pipe is stripped into the hole, either
reduce the pipe running speed or increase the circulation rate.

Use the Stripping Worksheet to record all the relevant data. It is very important to
accurately record pressures and mud volumes while stripping.

14 Strip to bottom. Kill the well


Fill the pipe as required.

1-69/70
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6.2 SPECIAL TECHNIQUES


Subsection 2.3 BULLHEADING

Paragraph Page
1 General 6-72
2 When to Bullhead 6-72
3 The Important Factors 6-72
4 Procedure 6-73

Illustrations
6.27 Well Shut-in after Production
– tubing full of gas prior to bullheading 6-74
6.28 Example Guide to Surface Pressures during
a Bullheading Operation 6-75
6.29 Well during Bullheading Operations 6-76
6.30 Well after Bullheading Operations tubing displaced
to kill weight brine 6-77

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1 General
Bullheading is a technique that may be used in certain circumstances during drilling
operations to pump an influx back into the formation.

This technique may or may not result in fracturing the formation.

Bullheading is however a relatively common method of killing a well during workover


operations. This technique is generally used only during workover operations when there is
adequate reservoir permeability.

2 When to Bullhead
During operations, bullheading may be considered in the following situations:

• When a very large influx has been taken.

• When displacement of the influx by conventional methods may cause excessive surface
pressures.

• When displacement of the influx by conventional methods would result in an excessive


volume of gas at surface conditions.

• If the influx in suspected to contain an unacceptable level of H2 S.

• When a kick is taken with the pipe off bottom and it is not considered feasible to strip
back to bottom.

• When an influx is taken with no pipe in the hole.

• To reduce surface pressures prior to implementing further well control operations.

3 The Important Factors


Bullheading during drilling operations will be implemented when standard well control
techniques are considered inappropriate. During such situations, it is unlikely that accurate
information is available regarding the feasibility of bullheading. In most cases therefore,
the likelihood of successfully bullheading an influx will not be known until it is attempted.

However, the major factors that will determine the feasibility of bullheading include the following:

• The characteristics of the openhole.

• The rated pressure of the well control equipment and the casing (making allowance for
wear and deterioration).

• The type of influx and the relative permeability of the formation.

• The quality of the filter cake at the permeable formation.

• The consequences of fracturing a section of the openhole.

• The position of the influx in the hole.

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4 Procedure
In general bullheading procedures can only be drawn up bearing in mind the particular
circumstances at the rigsite. For example there may be situations in which it is considered
necessary to cause a fracture downhole to bullhead away an influx containing H2S. In another
situation with shallow casing set, it may be considered totally unacceptable to cause a fracture
in the openhole.

During a workover operation a procedure for bullheading will be drawn up along the
following lines:

1 Calculate surface pressures that will cause formation fracture during


bullheading

Calculate also the tubing burst pressures as well as casing burst (to cover the possibility
of tubing failure during the operation).

2 Calculate static tubing head pressure during bullheading

3 Slowly pump kill fluid down the tubing. Monitor pump and casing pressure
during the operation

As an example consider the following well (See Figure 6.27).

Well information: Depth of formation/perforations at 3100 m


Formation pressure = 1.06 SG
Formation fracture pressure = 1.66 SG
Tubing 4 1/2 in. N80 Vam Internal capacity = 0.0499 bbl/m
Internal yield = 8430 psi
Shut-in tubing pressure = 3650 psi
Gas density = 0.1 psi/ft

• Total internal volume of tubing

= 3100 X 0.0499 (bbl)

= 155 bbl

• Maximum allowable pressure at pump start up

= (1.66 X 3100 X 1.421) – (0.1 X 3.2808 X 3100) (psi)

= 6300 psi

• Maximum allowable pressure when the tubing has been displaced to brine at 1.06 SG

= (1.66 – 1.06) X 3100 X 1.421 (psi)

= 2640 psi

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 6.27 Well Shut-in after Production


– tubing full of gas prior to bullheading

3650
psi

4 1/2in N80 TUBING

PACKER

PERFORATIONS @ 3100m
FORMATION PRESSURE – 1.06SG
FORMATION FRACTURE GRADIENT –
– 1.66SG

KEY

BRINE VALVE OPEN

GAS VALVE CLOSED

WEOX02.052

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

• Static tubing head pressure at initial shut-in.

= 3650 psi

• Static tubing head pressure when tubing has been displaced to brine

= 0 psi (ie the tubing should be killed)

The above values can be represented graphically (as shown in Figure 6.28). This plot can be
used as a guide during the bullheading operation. Figures 6.29 and 6.30 show a schematic
of the well at two stages of the operation.

10000 10000
TUBING BURST
9000 9000
8430
8000 WORKING PRESSURE 8000
RANGE DURING BULLHEADING OPERATION
SURFACE PRESSURE (psi)

7000 7000
6300 STATIC TUBING PRESSURE
THAT WOULD FRACTURE FORMATION 6000
5800
INCLUDING 500psi SAFETY
5000 FACTOR (if fracturing is 5000
a consideration)
4000 4000
3650
3000
2640
2000 2140

1000 STATIC TUBING PRESSURE 1000


TO BALANCE FORMATION PRESSURE
0 0
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 130 140 155

VOLUME OF TUBING DISPLACED (bbl)

WEOX02.053

Figure 6.28 Example Guide to Surface Pressures during


a Bullheading Operation

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 6.29 Well during Bullheading Operations

4000psi
60bbl OF THE TUBING DISPLACED
(FROM FIG 6.28, TUBING PRESSURE
WITHIN ACCEPTABLE LIMITS)

BULLHEAD
BRINE

4 1/2in N80 TUBING

PACKER

PERFORATIONS

KEY

BRINE VALVE OPEN

GAS VALVE CLOSED

WEOX02.054

6-76
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 6.30 Well after Bullheading Operations


– tubing displaced to kill weight brine

0psi

4 1/2in N80 TUBING

PACKER

GAS TRAPPED
UNDER PACKER

PERFORATIONS

KEY

BRINE VALVE OPEN

GAS VALVE CLOSED

WEOX02.055

1-77/78
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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

6.2 SPECIAL TECHNIQUES


Subsection 2.4 SNUBBING
Paragraph Page
1 General 6-80
2 Snubbing Units 6-80
3 Selection of a Snubbing Unit 6-82

Illustrations
6.31 Rig Assisted Snubbing Unit 6-81
6.32 Concentric Cylinder Snubbing Unit 6-83
6.33 Multicylinder Snubbing Unit 6-84
6.34 Force Diagram for Snubbing Pipe 6-85

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1 General
Snubbing is a technique used to force pipe into a shut-in well when the upthrust due to well
pressure makes it impossible to strip the pipe through the BOP under its own weight.

Snubbing is relatively common in some areas in workover operations, when the well may
be allowed to continue flowing as remedial work is carried out.

Snubbing may be considered during drilling operations for well control purposes, either
when it is impossible to introduce pipe into a well that is under pressure, or if the rig BOP
system is not considered adequate to provide reliable pressure containment during a prolonged
stripping operation.

A snubbing unit can be used to introduce a range of sizes of pipe into the well. It can be
used to snub tubing, drillpipe and even casing in exceptional circumstances.

The lowermost components of the snubbing unit are the snubbing BOPs, which are made up
to the top flange of the annular preventer on the rig’s stack. This flange is often poorly
maintained because it is normally made up to the bell nipple and does not generally need to
form a pressure seal. It must therefore be inspected and, if necessary, repaired before the
snubbing BOPs are nippled up.

The snubbing BOPs are likely to be too tall to fit underneath the rotary table and too wide to
go through it. To overcome this problem, the snubbing company can provide suitable spacer
riser sections to bring the assembly above the rig floor.

The weight of the snubbing unit is supported by the wellhead. Guy lines from the work
platform prevent lateral movement.

Snubbing units can therefore be rigged up on land rigs and fixed offshore installations in a
relatively straightforward manner. Snubbing units are not commonly used on floating rigs,
however they have been used successfully in the past for well control operations.

In order to use a snubbing unit on a floating rig, pressure containment must be established
between the rig BOP and the unit on the rig floor. Drillpipe or tubing may provide this
pressure containment, in which case small diameter tubing may be run into the well through
the drillpipe or tubing. An operation of this type can only be carried out in relatively calm
seas so that the rig heave does not cause excessive movement of the snubbing unit.

2 Snubbing Units
(a) The Rig Assisted Type
The rig assisted unit uses the travelling blocks to generate the snubbing force through a
series of pulleys and cables. (See Figure 6.31.) The rig assisted unit can handle larger
diameter pipes such as casing up to 13 3/8 in. and have snubbing capacities of 80,000 lb
to 400,000 lb.

These were the first snubbing units used and the few that are currently available are
operated by Otis and Cudd Pressure Control.

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Figure 6.31 Rig Assisted Snubbing Unit

TRAVELLING BLOCK

BALANCE WEIGHT

TRAVELLING SNUBBERS

SNUB LINE

STATIONARY SNUBBERS

PLATFORM

STRIPPING OR
PUMP SNUBBING
INLET PREVENTERS

SAFETY PREVENTERS

WELL PRESSURE

WEOX02.056

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The unit consists of a set of travelling snubbers which are connected to the travelling block.
The travelling snubbers grip the pipe and force it into the well as the blocks are raised.

A set of stationary snubbers grip the pipe while the travelling snubbers are being raised (by
the counter balance weights) for a new bite on the pipe.

Once sufficient pipe has been run to reach the balance point, the travelling snubbers will be
removed and the pipe will be run in by conventional stripping.

(b) The Hydraulic Self Contained Type


Hydraulic snubbing units are the most common type available. They are completely self
contained and can be used either inside the derrick or when there is no rig on location.

There are two different types of hydraulic unit available, these being:

• The concentric cylinder unit (See Figure 6.32) for snubbing capacities up to 30,000
lb and for pipe up to 5 1/2 in. OD.

• The multicylinder type (See Figure 6.33) for snubbing capacity up to 150,000 lb and
for pipe up to 7 5/8 in. OD.

The units are operated from the work platform which is on top of the hydraulic jack
assembly. From this position the speed of the pipe and the slips are controlled as can be
the rotary table, if required.

Stationary and travelling slips are operated in sequence to grip the pipe as it is snubbed
into the well.

One operator will control the BOPs and equalising valves. Another operator will
co-ordinate the pipe handling, using the counter balance system.

3 Selection of a Snubbing Unit


The following are the criteria that should be used to determine the most suitable unit for a
given application:

• Snubbing Force

This is the force that the unit must exert to push the pipe into the hole. The snubbing
force will be a maximum for the first joint of pipe and decrease gradually as the weight
of the pipe in the hole increases in normal conditions.

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Figure 6.32 Concentric Cylinder Snubbing Unit

WORKBASKET WITH CONTROLS

TRAVELLING
SLIPS (CLOSED)

PISTON TRAVELLING SLIPS


(OPEN)

STATIONARY SLIPS
(CLOSED)

STATIONARY SLIPS
(OPEN)

ACCESS WINDOW
STATIONARY
SLIPS (OPEN)

SNUBBING UNIT
BLOWOUT
PREVENTER STACK

KEY
HYDRAULIC
CONTROL FLUID

WELL PRESSURE

PISTON EXTENDED AND TRAVELLING PISTON RETRACTED AND TRAVELLING


SLIPS CLOSED PRIOR TO FORCING SLIPS OPEN BEFORE PISTON IS
WEOX02.057
PIPE INTO WELL AGAIN EXTENDED

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 6.33 Multicylinder Snubbing Unit

POWER TONGS

BOP CONTROL PANEL

CONTROL PANEL
COUNTERBALANCE
WORK PLATFORM WINCH

TRAVELLING SLIPS

FOUR OPERATING
CYLINDERS

TELESCOPING
MAST

STATIONARY SLIPS

WINDOW – for stripper


bowl or annular BOP

SPOOL

HANGER FLANGE

PUMP INLET

SNUBBING UNIT
BLOWOUT PREVENTER
STACK

WEOX02.058

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The snubbing force is calculated as follows:

– Snubbing force, Fs = F p + Ff – (w a – Ly X 3.281) – (wb X L z X 3.281)

where Fp = Pw – Ao

(See Figure 6.34)

where F s = required snubbing force (lb)


Fp = force due to well pressure (lb)
Ff = frictional force (lb)
wa = weight of pipe (lb/ft)
wb = buoyant weight of pipe (lb/ft)
Ly = length of pipe above BOP to the travelling snubber (m)
Lz = length of pipe in the hole (m)
Ao = outside cross sectional area of pipe (in.2)

COMPRESSION FORCE
Fs Fs
POINT OF
APPLICATION
OF TRAVELLING
SNUBBERS
wa
Ff Ly (SNUBBING
PIPE UNIT STROKE)

SNUBBING
BOP Ff
(wa)(Ly)

wb Pw
Lz
WELLBORE

Fp
Fp
(wb)(Lz)

Equilibrium Equation (from ∑ Forces = 0)

Therefore: Fs = Fp + Ff – (wa) (Ly) – (wb) (Lz)

Where Fs = required snubbing force (lb)


Fp = force due to well pressure (lb)
Ff = frictional force (lb)
wa = weight of pipe (lb ft)
wb = bouyant weight of pipe (lb ft)
Ly = length of pipe above BOP to the travelling snubber (m)
Lz = length of pipe in the hole (m)

WEOX02.059

Figure 6.34 Force Diagram for Snubbing Pipe

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

– Snubbing force for the first joint of pipe.

In this case, the length of pipe in the hole (Lz) is zero, and the length of pipe above
the BOP is considered insignificant. Consider the following example:

The well is shut in with a wellhead pressure of 5000 psi. 2 7/8 in. tubing produces a
frictional force of 3000 lb at the stripping rams. The area of pipe exposed to the
wellbore pressure therefore equals 6.492 in.

Snubbing force, F s = Fp + F f

= (6.492 X 5000) + 3000 (lb)

= 35,460 lb

– The snubbing force, Fs, if there is already some pipe in the hole.

In this case the length of the pipe above the BOP is again considered insignificant.
As an example:

2 7/8 in. tubing of 6.5 lb/ft is run empty to 1000 metres in 1.2 SG mud. The wellhead
pressure is 5000 psi. Drag in the hole is 2000 lb, friction at the BOPs is 5000 lb.

Ai = internal cross sectional area area of pipe (in.2 )


Ao = outside cross sectional area area of pipe (in.2 )
wi = weight of fluid inside the pipe (SG)
wo = weight of fluid in annulus (SG)
wa = weight of pipe in air (lb/ft)
wb = buoyant weight of pipe (lb/ft)
D = depth of tubing (m)

wb = wa + (w i X Ai) – (wo X Ao)

wb = 6.5 + (O X Ai) – (1.2 X 62.4 X 6.492) (lb/ft)


144

wb = 3.12 lb/ft

Therefore the snubbing force is given by:

Fs = Fp + Ff – (wa X Ly) – (w b X L z)

Fs = (6.492 X 5000) + 2000 + 5000 – (3.12 X 1000 X 3.281) (lb)

= 29,200 lb

• Size of the Unit

The dimensions of the unit must be checked against the internal dimensions of the derrick,
if the unit is to be used with a rig on location.

• Lifting Force

The unit must be able to provide a reasonable overpull, over and above the weight of
the maximum string weight.

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• Tubular Selection

If there is already pipe in the hole, this will determine the most suitable type of pipe to
be used.

Drillpipe can be used, however the following points should be considered:

– Drillpipe will require a relatively high snubbing force because of its large cross-
sectional area at the tool joints.

– Drillpipe does not have gas-tight connections.

– The drillpipe must be in good condition and inspected thoroughly before running in.

Tubing is more commonly used for snubbing for the following reasons:

– The force required to snub it in is very much less, and the unit required corresponding
smaller.

– External flush tubing can be run through the stripper rubbers without the need for
sequencing the rams.

The following points must also be considered:

– The limitations imposed by the ID of the tubing on the maximum pump rate.

– External upset tubing will be slower to run, but will be easier to control, if it starts to
be forced out of the well.

– Premium connections are desirable because they are gas tight.

– The collapse strength of the tubing.

– The susceptibility of the tubing to failure due to buckling.

6-87
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6.2 SPECIAL TECHNIQUES


Subsection 2.5 BARYTE PLUGS

Paragraph Page
1 Characteristics of Baryte Plugs 6-90
2 Deflocculation 6-92
3 Pilot Tests 6-92
4 Slurry Volume 6-92
5 Pumping and Displacement Rate 6-93
6 Preparation of a Baryte Plug 6-93
7 After Pumping a Baryte Plug 6-93
8 Baryte Plug Procedure 6-94

Illustrations
6.35 Field Mixing of Baryte Plugs 6-91

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1 Characteristics of Baryte Plugs


(a) Hydrostatic Kill
Since baryte settling is inherently slow and since the results of settling are quite
unpredictable, the use of a settling recipe should not be a dominant factor in designing
a well control operation. In general, the goal in using a baryte kill slurry should be the
same as with any other kill weight mud – achieving a hydrostatic kill.

Three factors contribute to achieving a hydrostatic kill: the density of the fluid, the
volume of the fluid, and the rate at which the fluid is pumped. The density and volume
of the kill weight mud must be high enough to control the formation, and the pump rate
during the kill must exceed the influx rate by sufficient margin so that the kill weight
mud is not blown out of the wellbore. The properties of the fluid pumped should be
chosen with these three factors in mind. The ideal kill weight mud would be inexpensive
and simple to mix and handle over a wide range of densities. Deflocculated baryte slurries
fit this description except that the settling of the baryte can be a problem in surface
handling and pumping.

(b) Bridging effect


It has been suggested that a baryte plug can stop unwanted flow by a bridging effect and
that achieving a hydrostatic kill is not necessary. Some field experiences support this
view; there are cases where a well has stopped flowing after being treated with a small
baryte plug. Nonetheless, it is imprudent to rely on baryte bridging when attempting to
kill a well.

Laboratory tests show clearly that even very low gas volumes (0.01 Mcf/d at bottomhole
conditions) can flow through a settling baryte plug. This fact, as well as field experience,
shows that the bridging action of a baryte plug is not dependable. For this reason, the
design of a baryte plug should be based on achieving a hydrostatic kill.

The strength of the settled baryte is another significant factor in well control. Laboratory
tests show that the strength of a settled baryte plug is quite variable. Settled baryte can
appear rock-solid when pushed hard and yet move slowly out of the way of a persistent
gently force. This behaviour is actually a well understood property of deflocculated
cakes. A baryte plug can fail unexpectedly if a hydrostatic kill condition is not maintained.

(c) Settling/Non-settling
Since baryte settling is of little value downhole and troublesome on the surface, it should
be an optional feature of the slurry recipe. Figure 6.35 shows two recipes for baryte
slurries. The recipes are identical except that one contains XC polymer to eliminate
baryte settling. It would seem reasonable to use the settling recipe for small jobs or
where the settling baryte might really be helpful downhole. For large kill operations,
the non-settling recipe would be preferred.

Bentonite or some polymer other than XC could be used to suspend the baryte in a
slurry. The particular recipe in Figure 6.35 was selected because it is prepared easily in
both fresh and seawater and because XC solutions are shear-thinning enough to allow
good pumpability while adequately suspending the baryte in the pits.

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Figure 6.35 Field Mixing of Baryte Plugs

(a) For use with water based muds


1. Prepare mix water equal to 54 percent of final volume of slurry required.
Recipes below are for one barrel of mix water:

• Setting recipe

1 bbl water (fresh or sea)


15 lb lignosulphonate
2 lb/bbl of caustic (pH = 10.5 to 11.5)

• Non-setting recipe

1 bbl water (fresh or sea)


15 lb lignosulphonate
1 lb XC polymer
Defoamer (octanol or other)
2 lb/bbl of caustic (pH = 10.5 to 11.5)

2. Add baryte to mix water to prepare final slurry.

For 1 bbl of 2.5 SG slurry, mix

0.54 bbl mix water


700 lb baryte

(b) For use with oil based muds


1. Prepare mix oil equal to 47 percent of final volume of slurry required.
Recipes below are for one barrel of mix oil:

• Setting recipe

1 bbl base oil


1.5 US gal oil wetting agent

• Non-setting recipe

1 bbl base oil


4 lb organophilic clay
1.5 US gal oil wetting agent

2. Add baryte to mix oil to prepare final slurry.

For 1 bbl of 2.5 SG slurry, mix

0.54 bbl mix water


700 lb baryte

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Baryte-plug-type slurries can be prepared with all of the baryte substitutes which are now
on the market. In general the recipes in Figure 6.35 do not require change except that, in
some cases, the higher density of the substitue allows higher slurry weights than were possible
with baryte. For example, hematite slurries can be prepared to 3.00 SG using the non-settling
recipe in Figure 6.35. Replace the baryte with 870 lb hematite per final bbl of slurry. The
non-settling recipe is strongly recommended for hematite slurries because of the relatively
coarse grind of oil-field hematite.

2 Deflocculation
For years it has been standard practice to add a thinner to baryte slurries used for well
control. Both lignosulphonates and phosphates have been used, with the phosphate SAPP
having the widest acceptance. Chemicals of either type can deflocculate a baryte slurry to
improve pumpability and allow settling into a firm cake.

The choice of deflocculant will influence the baryte slurry properties as follows:

• Use of SAPP gives a slurry with fairly high fluid loss (50cc). SAPP will not deflocculate
in sea water or in the presence of some contaminants which occur in natural baryte.

• Use of lignosulphonate gives a slurry with low fluid loss (5cc). Lignosulphonate is
effective in sea water and tolerates both contamination and elevated temperatures.

Use of a high fluid loss baryte slurry is advantageous, possibly because it might dehydrate
and plug the wellbore, or promote, perhaps, hole instability. On the other hand, a low fluid
loss slurry would reduce the chances of differential sticking. Faced with this choice, prudence
suggests using the more reliable lignosulphonate rather than the somewhat unpredictable
SAPP. The recipes in Figure 6.35 contain lignosulphonate.

3 Pilot Tests
Because of variation and possible contamination of ingredients throughout the world, it is
always advisable to pilot test a baryte slurry. Prepare a sample of the slurry using the recipe
chosen and the ingredients at the wellsite. After being stirred well, the sample should have
the expected density and be easily pumpable. If the baryte needs to settle in the wellbore,
this should also be checked ahead of time. Reasonable settling is 2 in. in a mud cup after a
15 minute wait. The settled cake should be hard and somewhat sticky rather than soft and
slippery. The settling test is not a guarantee that the baryte pill will form an effective plug
under downhole conditions, but will certainly give an indication of the settling characteristics.

4 Slurry Volume
Slurry volumes depend upon the amount of openhole and the severity of the kick. These
volumes normally range from 40 bbl to 400 bbl.

The slurry volume should be 125 to 150 percent of the annular capacity necessary to give
the height of plug desired, but should not be less than 40 bbl. If a second baryte plug is
required, the slurry volume should be greater than the first.

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5 Pumping and Displacement Rate


Baryte plugs should always be pumped with the drillpipe close to the bottom of the hole. If
there is any significant volume of mud under the baryte slurry then the baryte slurry will
mix with the mud because of the large differences in density. If the influx zone is somewhat
above the bottom of the hole, then the baryte slurry should be pumped to bottom and then
above the influx zone far enough to provide the desired hydrostatic kill height.

A baryte plug should be pumped and displaced at a rate somewhat higher than the kick rate.
If the kick rate is unknown, a reasonable rate (5 to 10 bbl/min) should be used for the first
attempt although very large blowouts can ultimately require kill weight mud placement at
greater than 50 bbl/min.

6 Preparation of a Baryte Plug


For field preparation of either a settling or non-settling baryte slurry, it is best to prepare the
mix water first and then add baryte to the desired density. The equipment needed on location
to prepare and pump a baryte plug is a cementing unit equipped with a high pressure jet in
the mixing hopper, a means of delivering the dry baryte to the cementing unit, and sufficent
clean tankage for the mix water so that the lignosulphonate and caustic soda can be mixed
in advance. The non-settling slurry may be recirculated through the mixing hopper several
times if necessary to obtain a particular weight; service companies are reluctant to recirculate
settling baryte slurries through their equipment.

It is possible to weight-up to 2.5 SG in one pass provided the mix water is fed to the hopper␣at
600 to 1000 psi. Hopper nozzles and feed rate should be selected to give this pressure drop.

Settling-type baryte slurries may only be stored in ribbon blenders or similar equipment
which provide continuous, thorough agitation. Non-settling slurries may be stored in
standard␣mud tanks although even these slurries may drop out a few in. of baryte per day if
not stirred.

The baryte slurry may be pumped into the drillpipe either through a cementing head
or␣through the standpipe and kelly . In either case, the pump tie-in to the drillpipe should
contain provisions for hooking up both the cementing unit pump and the rig pump so that
either can be used to displace the slurry. If this is not done, and the cementing unit breaks
down, the baryte may settle in the drillpipe before the mud pump tie-in can be made or the
cementing unit repaired. Blockage of the drillstring by baryte settling will complicate the
well control problem.

7 After Pumping a Baryte Plug


Baryte plugs may be used in a variety of situations, it is not possible to give one
fixed␣procedure which will always work. There will always be a need for local decisions
and good judgement. This is especially true in deciding what to do after a baryte plug has
been pumped.

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The decision after placing a baryte plug is whether to pull pipe or not. The goal of pumping
a high-density slurry is to achieve a hydrostatic kill; the decision whether to pull pipe depends
on an assessment of the success of this kill. If a hydrostatic kill was probably achieved then
it is usually best to pull up above the slurry and try circulating mud. If there is doubt about
the hydrostatic kill it may be better to stay on bottom to be ready to pump a larger baryte
plug if needed. The risk in pulling out is that the pipe may become stuck off bottom or may
have to be stripped back to bottom if the baryte plug fails. The risk of staying on bottom is
that the pipe may become stuck or plugged. It is possible to keep the pipe free by moving it
(especially in a non-settling plug) but there is no way to circulate (to avoid plugging) unless
the pipe is pulled above the top of the baryte slurry.

8 Baryte Plug Procedure


(a) Leave Pipe in Place
1 Mix and pump the slurry at the appropriate rate

Monitor the slurry density with a densometer in the discharge line or a pressurised
mud balance. Displace the slurry immediately at the same rate.

2 Overdisplace the slurry by 5 bbl to clear the drillstring

Continue to pump 1/4 bbl at 15 min intervals to keep the drillstring clear.

3 Verify that underground flow has stopped

A noise log may be used. It is more definitive than temperature logs. Temperature
surveys can be used in addition or if the noise log is not available. If temperature
surveys are used, wait 6 to 10 hr for the temperatures to stabilise. The survey will
show a hotter than normal temperature in the zone of lost returns. Wait another 4 hr,
run a second survey. If the underground flow has stopped, the temperature in the lost
returns zone will have decreased.

4 After it has been determined that the flow is stopped, bullhead a cement
slurry through the bit to provide a permanent seal

Observe the annulus during the pumping. If the casing pressure begins varying
appreciably, or if a sudden change in the pumping pressure occurs, the baryte plug
may have been disturbed. Overdisplace the cement to clear the drillstring. Additional
cementing to obtain a squeeze pressure might be desirable.

5 Plug the inside of the drillstring

The cement in step 4 can be underdisplaced, but a wireline bridge plug set near the
top of the collars is preferred. Cement should be dump bailed on the wireline bridge
plug for additional safety.

6 Pressure test the inside plug

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7 Perforate the drillstring near the top of the baryte plug. Attempt to
circulate

It may be difficult to tell whether the well is circulating or flowing from charged
formations. Pressure communication between the drillpipe and annulus is one clue;
a pressure increase should have appeared on the drillpipe from annulus pressure or
on the casing from hydrostatic pressure in the drillpipe when the perforation
was␣made.

Consideration should be given to circulating with lighter mud because of the known
lost returns zone.

• Well will circulate:

– Use drillpipe pressure method to circulate annulus clear of formation fluid.

– Run a free-point log.

– Begin fishing operations.

• Well will not circulate:

– Squeeze cement slurry through perforation. Cut displacement short on final


stage to provide an interior plug or set wireline bridge plug. WOC and pressure
test plug.

– Run free-point log.

– Perforate the pipe near the indicated free point.

– Circulate using drillpipe pressure method until annulus is clear.

If well will not circulate, squeeze perforations with cement or set a wireline
bridge plug above perforations and perforate up the hole.

(b) Pull Out of Plug (High Pressure, Low Permeability Formation)


1 Mix and pump the slurry

Monitor the slurry weight with a densometer in the discharge line or a pressurised
mud balance. If mixing is interrupted for any reason, immediately begin displacement
of the slurry using either the cement unit pumps or the rig pumps. Work the pipe
while pumping and displacing.

2 Displace the slurry with mud at the same rate

Cut the displacement short by 2 or 3 bbl to prevent backflow from the annulus. If a
non-ported, drillpipe float is in the drillstring, overdisplace the slurry.

3 Immediately begin pulling the pipe

It may be necessary to strip the pipe through the annular preventer. Pull at least one
stand above the calculated top of the baryte slurry.

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4 Monitor the annulus

• If no pressure is on the annulus, continue working the pipe, and observe annulus
mud level.

– If the annulus is full, begin circulating at a low rate keeping constant watch
on pit levels.

– If the annulus is not full, fill annulus with water and observe. If annulus will
stand full, begin circulating at a slow rate. Consider cutting mud weight, if
feasible.

• If pressure is on the annulus, circulate the annulus using normal well control
techniques. Continue working the pipe.

– If returns become gas-free, the baryte plug was successful and the well is
dead.

– If returns do not become essentially gas-free after circulating two or three


annular volumes, the baryte plug was not effective. A second plug will be
necessary.

5 Trip out of the hole after verifying that the well is dead

If the bottom part of the hole is being abandoned, then a cement plug should be
placed on top of the baryte.

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6.2 SPECIAL TECHNIQUES


Subsection 2.6 EMERGENCY
PROCEDURE

Paragraph Page
1 Use of Shear Rams 6-98
2 Dropping the Pipe 6-99

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1 Use of Shear Rams


Shear rams can be used to cut drillpipe and then act as a blind ram in order to isolate the
drilling rig from the well. Shearing the pipe is a technique that will be required only in
exceptional circumstances.

The use of the shear rams can be considered in the following situations:

• In preference to dropping the pipe in the event of an uncontrollable blowout up the


drillstring (an internal blowout).

• When it becomes necessary to move a floating rig off location at short notice.

• When there is no pipe in the hole, the shear rams can be used as blind rams.

Most shear rams are designed to shear effectively only on the body of the drillpipe. Procedures
for the use of shear rams must therefore ensure that there is no tool joint opposite the ram
prior to shearing. Be aware that many subsea stacks have insufficient clearance between the
top pipe rams and the shear rams to hang off on the top rams and shear the pipe.

Specialist shear rams, such as the Cameron Super Shear Rams, are available that are designed
to shear 7 in. drillcollars and casing up to 13 3/8 in. OD. It is clearly important however,
that rigsite personnel are aware of the capabilities and operating parameters of the shear
rams installed in the rig’s BOP stack.

Optimum shearing characteristics are obtained when the pipe is stationary and under tension.
It is therefore recommended practice that the pipe weight is partially hung off prior to
shearing. Hanging the pipe off also ensures that there is no tool joint opposite the shear
rams. Maximum operating pressure should be used to shear the pipe.

The following procedure can be used as a guideline for shearing the pipe in the case of an
internal blowout:

1 Space out to ensure that there is no tool joint opposite the shear rams

2 Close the hang-off ram

3 Hang off on the rams

Ensure that the pipe above the hang-off rams remains in tension.

4 Prepare to operate the shear rams

5 Close the shear rams at maximum accumulator pressure

6 Monitor the well. Implement appropriate control procedures

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2 Dropping the Pipe


Situations in which it will be necessary to drop the pipe will be extremely rare.

Dropping the pipe is an emergency procedure and as such it is a procedure that will only be
required as a last resort when the safety of the rig and personnel is threatened.

Situations that may require the pipe to be dropped include:

• If an internal blowout occurs on a rig that has no shear rams.

• If an internal blowout occurs when the drillcollars are in the stack.

• As an alternative to the use of shear rams in the event of an internal blowout when
drillpipe is in the stack.

• If the pipe is pushed out of the hole under the influence of wellbore pressure.

• If a BOP develops a leak and there is no back-up available.

Once the pipe has been dropped the well is shut-in with the blind/shear rams. However,
re-establishing control of the well in this situation will be time consuming and costly.

It is clearly important to be sure that the pipe will clear the stack once it has been dropped
(especially on a floating rig in deep water). The possibility of damaging the ram packings
must also be considered.

There are two techniques that can be used to drop the string:

(a) Unlatch the elevators


1 Lower the string until the elevators are at a manageable distance from
the␣floor

2 Ensure that the BOP is closed at maximum operating pressure

3 Attach a tugger line to the elevators

4 Clear the floor

5 Open the choke line to bleed down surface pressure

6 Open the elevators

7 Open the BOP. Allow the string to drop

8 Close the blind/shear ram

9 Close the choke

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(b) Back off a tool joint


1 Set the slips

2 Break a tool joint. Ensure that the joint can support the weight of the
string

3 Pull the slips

4 Run the joint below the rotary

5 Set the slips

6 Ensure the BOP is closed at maximum closing pressure

7 Open the choke line to reduce the surface pressure

8 Turn the rotary to the left to back off the joint

9 Open the BOP and allow the pipe to drop

10 Close the blind/shear ram

11 Close the choke

Both of these techniques involve a certain amount of risk. The most suitable method in each
case will depend on the particular conditions at the rigsite.

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6.3 COMPLICATIONS

Paragraph Page
1 Plugged Bit Nozzle 6-102
2 Plugged Choke 6-102
3 Cut Out Choke 6-102
4 Pump Failure 6-103
5 Pressure Gauge Failure 6-103
6 String Washout 6-103
7 Stuck Pipe 6-104
8 Well Control Considerations in Horizontal Wellbores 6-104
9 Hydrates 6-105
10 Surface Pressures Approach the MAASP 6-109
11 Impending Bad Weather 6-110
12 Loss of Control 6-111
13 Well Control Considerations in Slim Hole Well 6-111

Illustrations
6.36 Temperature at which Gas Hydrates will Freeze (Katz) 6-106
6.37 Natural gas expansion – Temperature reduction
curve (NATCO) 6-107
6.38 Height of 10 bbl Gas Influx in Annulus 6-113
6.39 Reduction in Bottom Hole Pressure Due to 10 bbl Gas Influx 6-114
6.40 Annular Friction Pressure Drop 6-115
6.41 Swab Pressure in a 1000 m Hole 6-116

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1 Plugged Bit Nozzle


A plugged nozzle in the bit is indicated by an unexpected increase in drillpipe pressure with
little or no change in the choke pressure.

The choke operator may be tempted to open the choke in an attempt to reduce the drillpipe
pressure to the original circulating pressure. This will result in a drop in choke pressure and
a corresponding drop in bottomhole pressure.

Therefore should a plugged bit nozzle be suspected, the pump should be stopped, the well
shut-in and the pump restarted to establish the increased standpipe pressure that will maintain
a suitable bottomhole pressure.

An increase in drillpipe pressure could also be caused by the hole packing off around the
BHA. This would be likely to cause increased, though fluctuating, circulating pressures.
The drillstring should be reciprocated in order to clear this problem.

If the bit becomes totally plugged, this will cause an abrupt and continually increasing
drillpipe pressure, with little or no change in choke pressure. In this event, if increased
drillpipe pressure does not clear the problem, the string must be perforated as close as possible
to the bit in order to re-establish circulation.

It is good practice, especially in critical hole sections, to run a circulating sub above the bit
or above a core barrel.

2 Plugged Choke
A plugged choke is indicated by an unexpected increase in choke pressure accompanied by
an equal increase in drillpipe pressure. Some plugging of the choke is to be expected if the
annulus is loaded with cuttings.

Clearly the first course of action is to open the choke in an attempt to both clear the restriction
in the choke and to avoid overpressuring the well. If this action is not successful the pump
should be stopped immediately. After switching to an alternate choke the excess pressure in
the well should be bled at the choke and the displacement restarted in the usual manner.

One of the reasons for displacing a kick at slow circulation rates is to avoid overpressuring
the well if cuttings plug the choke. In this respect, circulation rates should be minimised in
critical conditions if the annulus is likely to contain a substantial volume of cuttings.

3 Cut Out Choke


A choke is unlikely to suddenly cut out. In this respect, there will not be any dramatic
indication that this problem is occurring.

As a choke wears it will become necessary to gradually close it in to maintain circulating


pressure. If the operator finds that he has to gradually close in the choke to maintain
circulating pressure, the first reaction should be to check the pit volume to ensure that lost
circulation is not occurring.

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Having established that there is no loss of circulation a worn out choke should be suspected.

There may come a stage when it is no longer possible to maintain a suitable circulating
pressure even with the choke apparently fully closed. At, or preferably before this stage, the
flow should be switched to another choke and repairs effected to the worn choke.

4 Pump Failure
The most obvious indicator of failure at the fluid end is likely to be erratic standpipe pressure
together with irregular rotary hose movement. This may be preceded by an unexplained
drop in circulating pressure.

If pump failure is suspected, the pump should be stopped and the well shut-in. The
displacement should be continued with the second rig pump, or if necessary, the cement
pump. The faulty pump should be repaired immediately.

5 Pressure Gauge Failure


Every effort should be made to ensure that all pressure gauges are working correctly, and
that back-up gauges are available in the event of failure of a pressure gauge during a well
control operation.

Should gauge failure occur during a well control operation it is important that the defective
gauge be replaced as quickly as possible. If no back-up gauge is immediately available,
stop the operation and shut in the well.

6 String Washout
A washout in the drillstring may be indicated by an unexpected drop in standpipe pressure,
while the choke pressure remains unchanged.

The recommended procedure in the event of a drillstring washout is to stop the pump and
shut the well in.

Every effort must be made to ensure that the washout is not enlarged by extended circulation
and drillstring manipulation.

The most critical situation would be in the event of a washout close to the surface. Should
this occur, it is unlikely that it will be possible to displace the influx from the hole effectively,
unless the influx is above the washout.

If the washout is identified as being near the bottom of the well, it may be possible to
displace the kick from the well effectively. In this case, there will of course be the risk of
parting the drillstring with continued circulation.

Regardless of the depth of the washout, it will be necessary to re-establish the correct
circulating pressure if the pump is restarted. Excessive downhole pressures may be caused
if the original circulating pressure is maintained at the standpipe. It is advisable to periodically
re-establish the circulating pressure, if the circulation is contained for prolonged periods
through a washout.

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7 Stuck Pipe
The complication of stuck pipe during a well control operation can cause serious problems,
most especially if the pipe is stuck off bottom.

Unfortunately, the likelihood of the pipe becoming stuck during a well control operation is
increased if the pipe is off bottom. The pipe should be rotated, to minimise the risk of
sticking the pipe, if the well is shut-in with the pipe off bottom and the BHA in openhole.

Due to the relatively high wellbore pressures during a well control operation, the most likely
cause of stuck pipe is differential sticking. However, mechanical sticking may result if the
hole sloughs and packs-off as a result of the contact with the influx fluids.

If the pipe is differentially stuck with the bit on bottom, continue the operation because it is
most likely that circulation can still be carried out in order to kill the well. Efforts to free the
pipe can be made once the well has been killed.

Should the pipe be differentially stuck with the bit off bottom, the situation is complicated
in that it will generally not be possible to reduce the wellbore pressure at that depth by
circulation. It may be possible to free the pipe by spotting a freeing agent. However, if the
influx was swabbed in, it may be possible to regain control of the well by volumetric control.

If the pipe is mechanically stuck, a combination of working the pipe and spotting a freeing
agent can be used in attempting to free the pipe.

8 Well Control Considerations in


Horizontal Wellbore
Well control procedures in horizontal wellbores use the same basic principles as those for
vertical or deviated holes. Downhole equivalent mud weights are calculated using the true
vertical depth, as always.

There are however several additional points to consider, these are as follows:

• The purposes of drilling a horizontal well are to improve hydrocarbon recovery and to
maximise the area of reservoir exposed at the wellbore, in order to maximise production
rates. It must therefore be considered that influx flowrates, in the event of a kick, will
be considerably greater than for a well drilled vertically through the reservoir.

Particular attention must be paid to tripping procedures when the reservoir is exposed.

• It is possible that shut-in pressures in the event of a kick will be identical on both drillpipe
and annulus, although a large influx has been taken; this would depend on the length of
the horizontal openhole section.

This is not a problem, however it does mean that it is not possible to check the validity
of kick data.

The possibility that the wellbore contains a large influx should therefore be addressed
in such circumstances.

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• There is a greater potential for swabbing when a large surface area of reservoir is exposed.
Correct tripping procedure must be rigorously adhered to.

It is quite feasible, in a horizontal well, that the horizontal section is full of reservoir
fluid and yet the well be dead. It is therefore recommended that extreme caution be paid
when tripping back into such a reservoir after a round trip. When back on bottom it is
recommended to circulate bottoms up through the choke manifold.

In the event of a kick whilst tripping it may not be possible to drop or pump down the
dart. This will depend on the hole angle at the dart sub position. If it is not possible to
install the dart into the dart sub, the ‘Gray’ valve can be used.

9 Hydrates
Natural gas hydrates have the appearance of hard snow and consist of chemical compounds
of light hydrocarbons and liquid water. They are formed at temperatures above the normal
freezing point of water at certain conditions of temperature and pressure (See Figure 6.36).
This formation process is accelerated when there are high gas velocities, pressure pulsations
or other agitations, such as downstream of a choke and at elbows, which cause the mixing
of hydrocarbon components.

During well control operations, gas hydrates may cause the following serious problems:

• Plugging of subsea choke/kill lines, preventing opening and closing of subsea BOPs,
sealing off wellbore annuli and immobilising the drillstring. There have been recorded
incidences of such occurrences with subsea stacks in water depths of 350m and deeper.

• Plugging of surface lines at and downstream of the choke or restriction. This is


particularly hazardous when high gas flowrates are experienced through low pressure
equipment (such as the poorboy separator and gas vent line). The formation of hydrate
plugs under these conditions can rapidly overpressure low pressure well control
equipment.

The major factors which determine the potential for hydrate formation are gas composition,
liquid content and pressure and temperature. The formation of hydrates can be predicted
using Figure 6.36. It should be noted that the conditions for hydrate formation can be created
at a subsea stack operating in a cold water environment.

Figure 6.37 can be used to predict the temperature drop associated with a pressure drop
(across a choke, for example). As an example, if gas at 3000 psi and 90°F was choked to
1800 psi, the temperature would be expected to drop to 55°F, in which case, hydrate formation
could be expected.

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 6.36 Temperature at which Gas Hydrates


will Freeze (Katz)

The purpose of this chart is to determine the temperature below which hydrates will form,
when sufficient liquid water is present.

4000

3000

2000

1000
PRESSURE FOR HYDRATE FORMATION (psia)

NE
900 HA
ET
800 M

700

600

500

400
AV
R
G
6
0.
300

7
0.
8
0.

200
9
0.
0
1.

100
90
80
70

60

35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85

TEMPERATURE (°F)

Example: With 0.7 specific gravity gas at 1000psia, hydrates may be expected at 64°F.
At 200psia this would be 44°F.

WEOX02.061

6-106
March 1995
NATURAL GAS EXPANSION – TEMP REDUCTION CURVE
BASED ON 7 SP GR GAS
(From NATCO)

00
160 70 160
0
150 650 150
00
60
140 140
00
55 R OP
130 R ED 130
00 SU
50 R ES
OP
120 ET 120
00 DU
45 P
D RO
110 110
00 MP
40 TE
100 00 100
35
00

RISE
90 30 90

6-107
INITIAL TEMP
105° - 80° = 25°
0
80 250 HYDRATE EXPECTANCY DEGREES FAHRENHEIT 80
00
20
70 BASE LINE 70
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

00
reduction curve (NATCO)

15

GAS TEMPERATURE (°F)


60 00 60
10
50 0 50
50
0 S
40 R VE 40
CU S
L PY GA
30 A T 30
TH U F EXAMPLE
EN 0 C
T
N 0 0 REQUIRED: REDUCE GAS PRESSURE
20 TA U/1 FROM 2400 # PSI AT 80°F TO 1500 # 20
Figure 6.37 Natural Gas Expansion – Temperature

NS BT PSI DETERMINE INITIAL TEMPERATURE


CO RISE NECESSARY SO THAT AFTER
10 EXPANSION TO 1500 # PSI THE FINAL 10
TEMPERATURE WILL BE 75°F
0 0
0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000
2
PRESSURE (lb/in )

WEOX02.062

March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Hydrates can be combated by one or a combination of the following:

• Injecting antifreeze agents such as methanol into the gas flow; this has the effect of
dissolving liquid water deposits, and thus lowering the temperature at which hydrates
would be expected to form.

Methanol is often injected at the subsea test tree during well testing operations from a
floating rig.

The most appropriate place to inject methanol at surface is at the choke manifold. The
point of injection should be upstream of the choke. High pressure chemical injection
pumps (as manufactured by Texsteam) are suitable for this application.

• Heating the gas above the temperature at which hydrate will form.

During gas well testing operations, a steam exchanger will usually be provided for this
purpose. Experience has shown that this is the most effective and reliable method of
preventing the formation of hydrates. The combination of heating and antifreeze injection
is ideal.

• Reducing line pressure in order to allow the hydrates to melt. This is a temporary measure
and not always practical. Once hydrates have formed, it often takes a considerable length
of time to clear the line.

It is important that adequate contingency is provided, along the above lines, to deal with
hydrates, if it is suspected that the potential exists for hydrate formation. Subsea water
temperatures and pressures should be checked as well as the potential for hydrate formation
at surface in the event of a gas kick.

10 Surface Pressures Approach the MAASP


The MAASP is defined as the maximum allowable annular surface pressure. Bearing in
mind the method that is used to calculate its value (i.e. assuming that MAASP is calculated
from LO Test result), it is clear that the MAASP is a consideration only when there is a full
column of mud from the openhole weak point to the surface. Surface pressures in excess of
the MAASP therefore may not cause downhole failure if lighter fluids (such as a hydrocarbon
influx) occupy the annulus above the openhole weak point.

Consequently, during a well control operation, from the moment that the top of an influx is
displaced past and above the openhole weak point, the MAASP is no longer a consideration
and may be exceeded.

In the event that surface pressures exceed the MAASP when the kick is still below the
openhole weak point, consequently causing excessive downhole pressures, there are two
distinct options:

• Hold the choke pressure so as to maintain bottomhole pressure equal to, or slightly
greater than, the kick zone pore pressure.

• Reduce the choke pressure and limit it to the MAASP.

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The consequences of overpressuring the openhole weak point as in the first option can be
assessed, bearing in mind the following factors:

• The depth of the casing shoe.

• The quality of the cement job.

• By how much the openhole weak point will be overpressured.

• The length of time that the openhole weak point will be overpressured.

• The characteristics of the openhole weak point.

• Any safety factor included in the calculation of the MAASP.

• The possibility of broaching around the casing.

The consequences of underbalancing the formation as in the second option can be assessed,
bearing in mind the following factors:

• The type of kick zone fluid.

• The permeability of the kick zone.

• The degree of underbalance.

• The length of time that the kick zone will be underbalanced.

The appropriate course of action should therefore be selected on the basis of these factors.
However, in general, a kick zone should only be underbalanced in exceptional
circumstances such as when the zone is known to have low permeability. This
can often be assessed from the rate of pressure build after shutting in a well that has kicked.

11 Impending Bad Weather


Bad weather is most likely to cause serious problems as regards well control on offshore␣rigs.

For example, it may not be possible to offload baryte supplies or remove excess personnel
in bad weather.

On a floating rig, a critical situation is reached should it become necessary to unlatch the
riser during a well control operation. In this situation it will not be possible to monitor the
well and hence control the migration of the influx, should this occur.

Should weather conditions deteriorate with very little warning, the following procedure can
be implemented:

1 Attempt to bullhead the influx back to the formation

2 Displace the drillstring to kill weight mud

3 Close lowermost pipe rams (in addition to the hang-off rams). Shear the
pipe rams

4 Prepare to unlatch, monitoring wellbore pressures until it becomes


necessary to unlatch

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

If additional time is available, consideration should be given to spotting a heavy pill or plug
on bottom to either kill the well hydrostatically or provide a barrier to migration.

Bad weather may cause problems regarding the supply of chemicals and barytes to all types
of rigs. In this respect, it may be necessary to implement the Driller’s Method, should there
not be adequate chemical stocks at the rigsite.

In certain areas of the world, severe cold may cause operational problems. Points of particular
concern are, BOP operating fluid, manifolds and flowlines.

12 Loss of Control
Loss of control during a well control operation may result from excessive loading of pressure
control equipment or exposed formations.

However there are recorded incidents of equipment failure at pressures significantly below
rated values. These failures have been attributed to faulty manufacture, lack of proper
maintenance, or corrosion. High pressure equipment is considered particularly susceptible
to failure when exposed to corrosive fluids such as H2 S.

It is not possible to detail specific procedures in the event of loss of control during a well
control operation. However, in critical situations, action should be taken bearing in mind
that the absolute priority is the safety of rigsite personnel.

13 Well Control Considerations in Slim Hole Well


A slim hole is commonly defined as one in which 90% or more of the length of the well is
drilled with drill bits less than 7" in diameter. A well with hole sizes smaller than those in a
conventional well is also broadly considered as a slim hole well.

Whilst the immediate difference between a conventional well and a slim hole well is their
hole sizes, other major characteristics of a slim hole include the practice of long sections of
continuous coring and the requirements of higher drillpipe rotary speeds, lower weights on
bit, lower mud flow rates and special mud systems. So a slim hole well requires significant
changes in the well design, well operation and the well control procedures.

(a) Slim Hole Characteristics


In terms of well control, a slim hole well has the following characteristics when compared
with a conventional well:

• Greater Influx Length

Due to the reduced annular size in a slim hole, the same volume of formation influx
will occupy a longer section of the annulus in a slim hole well than in a conventional
well. As shown in Fig.6.38, a 10 bbl influx occupies 66 m long annulus in a
conventional 8.5"x5" well and 523 m long in a 3.5"x2.5" slim hole well.

6-110
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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

• Greater Bottom Hole Pressure Reduction

As the result of the greater influx length, the same volume of formation influx will
result in a greater reduction in the bottom hole pressure in a slim hole well. As␣shown
in Fig.6.39, a 10 bbl gas influx will reduce the bottom hole pressure by about 743 psi
in a 3.5"x2.5" slim hole well and only 94 psi in a conventional 8.5"x5" well.

• Higher Annular Friction Pressure

Also due to the reduced annular size, the annular friction pressure drop can be many
times higher in a slim hole well than in a conventional well, as shown in Fig.6.40.
Therefore the friction pressure drop can become significant during well control
operations in a slim hole well whereas it is all but ignored in the case of a conventional
well.

• Higher Swab and Surge Pressures

Fig.6.41 compares the swabbing pressure in both slim hole and conventional wells.
It can be seen that the swabbing pressure is much higher in a slim hole well than in
a conventional well. Also the swabbing pressure increases more rapidly in a slim
hole well with increasing the trip speed.

• Effect of High Drillpipe Rotational Speed

During a slim hole drilling operation, the drillpipe is often rotated at a much higher
rate than that during a conventional drilling operation. Due to the high rotational
speed together with the small annular size, the drillpipe rotation can result in a
significant increase in the annular friction pressure and the ECD. This effect must be
taken into account in the well control procedures. Otherwise, the weak formation
may be broken down when the drillpipe starts to rotate, or a kick influx be induced
when rotation stops (whilst still maintaining circulation).

(b) Kick Detection System


As described above, a small volume of influx can occupy a long section of the annulus
in a slim hole well and thus greatly reduce the bottom hole pressure. This will cause the
influx flow to intensify continuously. As the result, a kick can develop more rapidly in
a slim hole well than in a conventional well. Therefore it is important to be able to
detect a kick at a very early stage during a slim hole well operation.

Although the basic principles in the kick detection technique remain the same for slim
holes, the sensitivity of the detection system must be enhanced. The basic requirements
for a slim hole kick detection system are:

• The system must be able to detect a small volume of pit gain (typically 1 or 2 bbl).
This technique is most reliable when the influx flow is slow (low kick intensity).

• The system must be able to detect the difference between the mud flow in and out of
the well (typically 25 gpm). When the influx flow is fast, this technique is more
sensitive and reliable than the pit volume detection technique.

• The system must be able to detect a kick whilst making a connection. The high
annular friction pressure creates a high ECD during drilling ahead. So the most likely
time for a kick to occur will be when the pumps are shut down to make a connection.

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

(c) Well Kill Technique


As the annular friction pressure is small in a conventional well, it is used as a safety
factor during the well kill operation to ensure that the bottom hole pressure stays slightly
above the formation pressure. So the annular friction pressure is usually ignored in the
conventional well control calculations. In a slim hole well however, the annular friction
pressure may be so high that when used as a safety factor, it will break down the formation
at the weak point and cause lost circulation.

Therefore a decision that must be made when drilling a slim hole is whether
the␣ c onventional well kill technique can be applied. This can be made in the
following␣steps:

• Estimate the annular friction pressure at the slow circulating rates and add this to the
maximum static pressure (i.e. the sum of the mud hydrostatic pressure and the surface
casing pressure) at the weak point in the wellbore.

• Compare the total wellbore pressure with the breakdown pressure at the weak point.
Will lost circulation be likely?

• If lost circulation is unlikely, the conventional well control technique can be applied.
Otherwise the slim hole well control technique must to be used.

(d) Slim Hole Well Control Manual


This section briefly summarises the key differences in well control for slim holes. A BP
Slim Hole Well Control Manual is available that details the principles and procedures
for kick prevention, kick detection, well shut-in and the well kill technique for slim
holes. The manual can be obtained from the Drilling and Completions Branch, BP
Exploration, Sunbury.

6-112
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March 1995 1995
Figure 6.38 Height of 10 bbl Gas Influx in Annulus
Figure 6.38a: Height of 10 bbl Gas Influx in Annulus
Gas Influx Annular Gas Influx Reduction In Friction
Volume 600 Size Height BHP (osi) Pressure
(bbl) (inch) (m) 1.0 sg Mud (psi)
Height of Gas Influx

BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL


Brine: 4.0 cPMud: PV=15/YP=10
1 0 400 8.5 x 5 66 94 8.5 x 5 13.8 31.2
(m)
6-113

10 6 x 4.5 199 283 6 x 4.5 41 128.6


523 m
200
10 3.5 x 2.5 523 743 3.5 x 2.5 68.9 254.3

199 m

0 66 m
8.5 x 5 6 x 4.5 3.5 x 2.5
Size of Annulus (inch)
Rev 1 March
March 1995
1995
March
Rev

Figure 6.39 Reduction in Bottom Hole Pressure Due


1 March
1995 1995

to 10 bbl Gas Influx


Figure 6.38b: Reduction in Bottom Hole Pressure
Due to 10 bbl Gas Influx
(1.0 SG Density Difference Between Mud and Gas)
800

BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL


Mud: PV=15/YP=10
Reduction in BHP

31.2 600
6-114

(psi)

128.6
400 743 psi
254.3
200
283 psi
94 psi
0
8.5 x 5 6 x 4.5 3.5 x 2.5
Size of Annulus (inch)
Height of Ga
(m)

Figure 6.40 Annular Friction Pressure Drop


Figure 6.38c: Annular Friction Pressure Drop
(Mud Annular Velocity = 150 ft/min)
300
254
250
Friction Pressure Drop

BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL


swab pressures
(psi/1000m)

Swab Pressure
200

(psi/1000m)
Brine: 4.0 cP sec/std 8.5/5 6/4.5 3.5/2.5
150
6-115

Mud: PV=15/YP=10 129 300 40.9 45.8 90


250 41 46 90.8
100
200 41.3 46.3 92.1
68.9
150 41.7 48.8 94.2
50 41
31.2 100 42.5 47.8 98.5
13.8 50 44.8 50.9 110
0
40 46.2 52.5 117.7
8.5 x 5 6 x 4.5 30 3.5 x 2.5
48.3 55.1 128.4
Size of Annulus (inch) 25 55 66.4 168
20 58.8 92.2 238
15 64.8 147 368
Rev 1 March
March 1995
1995
Reduction in
(psi)
Rev
March

Figure 6.41 Swab Pressure in a 1000 m Hole


1 March
1995 1995

Figure 6.38d: Swab Pressure in a 1000 m Hole


(Mud: 1.0 SG, PV=15 cP, YP=10 lbf/100sqft)
300
3.5"x2.5"

240

BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL


Swab Pressure
(psi/1000m)

3.5/2.5 1 8 08 . 5 / 5
6-116

90 6.0"x4.5"
90.8 120
92.1
94.2 8.5"x5.0"
60
98.5 Annulus
110
0
117.7
128.4 90 60 30 0
168 Trip Speed (sec/30m std.)
238
368
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Volume 2 – Contents

Nomenclature
Abbreviations

1 THE ORIGINS OF FORMATION PRESSURE


Section Page
1.1 INTRODUCTION 1-1
1.2 NORMAL FORMATION PRESSURE 1-9
1.3 SUBNORMAL FORMATION PRESSURE 1-11
1.4 ABNORMALLY HIGH FORMATION PRESSURE 1-17
1.5 SHALLOW GAS 1-33

2 FORMATION PRESSURE EVALUATION


Section
2.1 INTRODUCTION 2-1
2.2 FORMATION PRESSURE EVALUATION
DURING WELL PLANNING 2-5
2.3 FORMATION PRESSURE EVALUATION
WHILST DRILLING 2-25
2.4 FORMATION PRESSURE EVALUATION
AFTER DRILLING 2-69

March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

3 PRIMARY WELL CONTROL


Paragraph
1 GENERAL 3-2
2 HYDROSTATIC PRESSURE 3-2
3 EQUIVALENT MUD WEIGHT, EMW 3-2
4 CIRCULATING PRESSURES AND ECD 3-4
5 CALCULATING THE CIRCULATING
PRESSURE LOSSES 3-7
6 SWAB AND SURGE PRESSURES 3-10
7 SWAB AND SURGE CALCULATIONS 3-12

4 FRACTURE GRADIENT
Paragraph
1 GENERAL 4-2
2 STRESSES IN THE EARTH 4-2
3 FRACTURE ORIENTATION 4-3
4 FRACTURE GRADIENT PREDICTION 4-4
5 DAINES’ METHOD OF FRACTURE
GRADIENT PREDICTION 4-4
6 AN EXAMPLE PRESSURE EVALUATION LOG 4-7
7 LEAK OFF TESTS 4-9
8 LEAK OFF TEST PROCEDURE 4-10
9 INTERPRETATION OF RESULTS 4-11

March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

5 BASICS OF WELL CONTROL


Paragraph
1 GENERAL 5-4
2 DISPLACING A KICK FROM THE HOLE 5-4
3 FACTORS THAT AFFECT WELLBORE PRESSURES 5-9
4 SUBSEA CONSIDERATIONS 5-20
5 SAFETY FACTORS 5-25
6 CALCULATING ANNULUS PRESSURE PROFILES 5-29

6 WELL CONTROL EQUIPMENT


Section
6.1 WELLHEADS 6-1
6.2 BLOWOUT PREVENTER EQUIPMENT 6-5
6.3 CONTROL SYSTEMS 6-43
6.4 ASSOCIATED EQUIPMENT 6-57
6.5 EQUIPMENT TESTING 6-67

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

NOMENCLATURE
SYMBOL DESCRIPTION UNIT
A Cross sectional area in.2
a Constant –
An Total nozzle area in.2
b Constant –
c Constant –
C Annular capacity bbl/m
Cp Pipe capacity bbl/m
Ca Cuttings concentration %
CL Clinging constant –
CR Closing ratio –
D Depth m
Dshoe Shoe depth m
Dwp Depth of openhole weak point m
dbit Bit diameter in.
dh Hole diameter in.
dhc Hole/casing ID in.
do Pipe OD in.
di Pipe ID in.
dcut Average cuttings diameter in.
dc Drilling exponent (corrected) –
F Force lb
Fsh Shale formation factor –
FPG Formation Pressure Gradient SG
g Gravity acceleration –
G Pressure gradient psi/ft
psi/m
SG
Gi Influx gradient psi/ft
H Height m
Hi Height of influx m
Hp Height of plug m
ITT Interval Transit Time µsec/m
K Bulk modulus of elasticity
L Length m
λ Rotary exponent –
MR Migration rate m/hr
M Matrix stress psi
m Threshold bit weight lb
MW Mud weight SG

March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

SYMBOL DESCRIPTION UNIT


N Rotary speed rpm
OPG Overburden Pressure Gradient SG
P Pressure psi/SG
(The units of subsurface pressure
may be either psi or SG)
∆P Adjustment pressure psi
Pa Annulus pressure psi
∆Pbit Bit pressure drop psi
Pcl Choke line pressure loss psi
Pdp Drillpipe pressure psi
Pf Formation pressure psi/SG
Pfrac Fracture pressure psi/SG
Pfc Final circulating pressure psi
Pi Hydrostatic pressure of influx psi
Pic Initial circulating pressure psi
Plo Leak off pressure psi/SG
Pmax Maximum allowable pressure
at the openhole weak point psi/SG
Poc Wide open choke pressure psi
Pp Pore pressure psi/SG
Pscr Slow circulating rate pressure psi
PV Plastic Viscosity cP
Q Flowrate gal/min
Qmud Mud flowrate gal/min
Qgas Gas flowrate gal/min
Re Reynolds number –
R Resistivity ohm-m
Rw Resistivity of water ohm-m
ROP Rate of Penetration m/hr
Shale factor meq/100g
S Overburden pressure psi
Sg Gas saturation Fractional
Sw Water saturation Fractional
t Time seconds
min
TR Transport Ratio –
T Temperature degrees
C, F, R
TD Total Depth m
TVD True Vertical Depth m
V Kick tolerance bbl

March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

SYMBOL DESCRIPTION UNIT


V Volume bbl
cc
ml
l
v Velocity m/min
m/s
vmud Mud velocity m/min
vp Average pipe running speed m/min
vs Slip velocity m/min
W Weight gm
kg
lb
w Weight lb/ft
lb/bbl
SG
w Weight of pipe lb/ft
wb Baryte required for weighting up lb/bbl
wcut Average cuttings weight SG
WOB Weight on Bit lb
x Offset ()
YP Yield Point lb/100ft2
Z Compressibility factor –
µ Viscosity cP
ν Poissons’s Ratio –
σ’1 Maximum effective principle stress psi/SG
σ’t Tectonic stress psi/SG
Ø Porosity Fractional
Ø600 Fann reading lb/100ft2
β Tectonic stress coefficient –
ρ Density SG
ρb Bulk density SG

March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

ABBREVIATIONS

ASN Amplified Short Normal


BHA Bottomhole Assembly
BHC Borehole Compensated Tool
BHT Bottomhole Temperature
BGG Background Gas
BRT Below Rotary Table
CDP Common Depth Plot
CEG Cation Exchange Capacity
CG Connection Gas
DE Drilling Engineer
DIL Dual Induction Laterolog
DRG Designated Resident Geologist
DST Drillstem Test
ECD Equivalent Circulating Density
EMW Equivalent Mud Weight
ES Electrical Survey
FDC Formation Density Compensated Tool
FIT Formation Interval Tester
HCR High Closing Ratio
ID Internal Diameter
ITT Interval Transit Time
LMRP Lower Marine Riser Package
MWD Measurement while Drilling
OD Outside Diameter
PV Plastic Viscosity
RFT Repeat Formation Tester
RMS Root Mean Squared
ROP Rate of Penetration
SLS Long Spacing Sonic Tool
TD Total Depth
TG Trip Gas
UV Ultra Violet
WOB Weight of Bit
YP Yield Point

March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

1 THE ORIGINS OF FORMATION PRESSURE


Section Page

1.1 INTRODUCTION 1-1

1.2 NORMAL FORMATION PRESSURE 1-9

1.3 SUBNORMAL FORMATION PRESSURE 1-11

1.4 ABNORMALLY HIGH FORMATION PRESSURE 1-17

1.5 SHALLOW GAS 1-33

March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

1.1 INTRODUCTION
Paragraph Page
1 General 1-2
2 Subsurface Pressures 1-2
3 Pressure Seals 1-6
4 Pressure Gradients 1-7

Illustrations
1.1 Composite Overburden Load for Normally
Compacted Formations 1-4
1.2 Schematic Diagram of Subsurface Pressure Concepts 1-5

Tables
1.1 Types of Formation Pressure Seals 1-6

1-1
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

1 General
All formations penetrated whilst drilling a well exert pressures of varying magnitudes. To
gain an understanding of the origins of these pressures, it is neccesary to define and explain
certain subsurface pressure concepts. These are explained in this Section.

2 Subsurface Pressures
(a) Hydrostatic Pressure
Hydrostatic pressure is defined as the pressure due to the unit weight and vertical height
of a fluid column. The size and shape of the fluid column do not affect the magnitude of
this pressure. Mathematically:

P=rXgXD (1-1)

where P = hydrostatic pressure


ρ = average fluid density
g = gravitational acceleration
D = vertical height of fluid column

Relating this to drilling operations and commonly used oilfield units gives:

P = C X MW X D (1-2)

where P = hydrostatic pressure (psi)


MW = fluid density or mud weight (lb/gal or ppg)
D = vertical depth (ft)
C = conversion constant (psi/ft per lb/gal)

The constant, C, is necessary to allow the use of oilfield imperial units (psi, ft, lb/gal).
It has a value of 0.052 psi/ft per lb/gal and is derived as follows:

Using consistent units (pressure in lb/sq.ft, length in ft, density in lb/cu.ft) and rearranging
equation 1-2, C would be numerically equal to 1:

C= P = 1 lb/sq.ft/ft per lb/cu.ft


D X MW

Substituting the standard conversion constants of 144 sq.in/sq.ft and 7.48/gal/cu.ft gives:

C=1 X 7.48 lb/sq.ft X sq.ft/sq.in


144 ft X lb/cu.ft cu.ft/gal

C = 0.052 lb/sq.in
ft X lb/gal

C = 0.052 psi/ft per lb/gal

1-2
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

So in imperial oilfield units (psi, ft, lb/gal), equation 1-2 becomes:

P = 0.052 X MW – D (1-3)

For the Company’s system of units (psi, SG, m):

P = C' X SG X D (1-4)

where SG = specific gravity of the fluid (no units)


D = vertical depth (metres)
C' = conversion constant (psi/m)

NOTE: Specific gravity (SG) is not a unit of density. It is the ratio of the density of
a␣fluid to the density of fresh water at a specified temperature, and hence has
no units.

The constant, C', has a value of 1.421 psi/m and is derived as follows:

To express equation 1-2 in terms of SG (as in equation 1-4), the constant C' must be
related to the density of fresh water, which is 8.33 lb/gal. Hence for fresh water:

C' = C X 8.33 psi/ft/lb/gal X lb/gal

C' = 0.052 X 8.33 psi/ft

C' = 0.433 psi/ft (1-5)

Expressing this in terms of metres using 3.2808 ft/m gives:

C' = 0.433 X 3.2808 psi/ft X ft/m

C' = 1.421 psi/m

Equation 1-4 thus becomes:

P = 1.421 X SG X D (1-6)

(b) Overburden Pressure


Overburden pressure is the result of the combined weight of the formation matrix (rock)
and the fluids (water, oil and gas) in the pore space overlying the formation of interest.

It was originally assumed that overburden pressure increases uniformly with depth. The
average density of a thick sedimentary sequence is equivalent to an SG of 2.3. Hence,
the overburden pressure (S) is given by:

S = 0.433 X SG X D (1-7)

where D = vertical depth (ft).

The overburden pressure gradient (OPG) is given by:

OPG = S = 0.433 X SG
D

OPG = 0.433 X 2.3 = 1.0 psi/ft

1-3
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 1.1 Composite Overburden Load for Normally


Compacted Formations

1. Constant gradient 1.0psi/ft


2. Gulf of Mexico, Texas and Louisiana, USA
3. Santa Barbara Channel, California, USA
4. North Sea area

4 2 3 1

2
DEPTH 1000m

0.7 0.8 0.9 1.0 1.05

OVERBURDEN GRADIENT psi/ft

WEOX02.063

1-4
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

However, because the degree of compaction of sediments varies with depth, the overburden
pressure gradient is not constant. Worldwide experience indicates that the probable maximum
overburden gradient in clastic rocks (fragmental sedimentary rocks ie sandstone, shale) may
be as high as 1.35 psi/ft.

Onshore, with more compact sediments, the overburden pressure gradient may be assumed
to be close to 1 psi/ft. Offshore however, overburden gradients at shallow depths will be
much less than 1 psi/ft due to the effect of the depth of sea water and large thickness of
unconsolidated sediment. Figure 1.1 shows average overburden gradient for various areas.

PRESSURE
NO
RM
AL
HY
DR

O
OS

VE
R
DEPTH

TA

B
U
TIC

R
D
EN
GR

G
R
AD

A
D
IE
IEN

N
T
T

SUBNORMAL
PRESSURES
(Subpressures)
ABNORMALLY
HIGH PRESSURES
(Surpressures)

Formation
Pressure, Pf Matrix Stress, M

Overburden Pressure, S = Pf + M

WEOX02.064

Figure 1.2 Schematic Diagram of Subsurface


Pressure Concepts

1-5
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

(c) Pore Pressure


Pore pressure is the pressure acting on the fluids contained in the pore space of the rock.
This is the strict meaning of what is generally referred to as formation pressure. Formation
pressure is related to overburden pressure as follows:

S = Pf + M (1-8)

where S = overburden pressure (total vertical stress)


Pf = formation pressure (pore pressure)
M = grain-to-grain pressure (matrix stress)

All sedimentary rocks have porosity to some extent. If the pore spaces of the rocks are
freely connected from surface, then the formation pressure at any depth will be equal to
the hydrostatic pressure exerted by the fluid occupying the pore spaces. In this ‘normal’
pressure situation, the matrix stress (grain-to-grain contact pressure) supports the
overburden load. Any departure from this situation will give rise to ‘abnormal’ formation
pressures. Formation pressures less than hydrostatic are called subnormal (subpressures)
and formation pressures greater than hydrostatic are termed abnormally high formation
pressures (surpressures) (See Figure 1.2).

3 Pressure Seals
For abnormal pressures to exist, there must be a permeability barrier which acts as a pressure
seal. This seal restricts or prevents the movement of pore fluids and thus separates normally
pressured formations from abnormally pressured formations.

The origins of a pressure seal may be physical, chemical or a combination of the two. The
types of formation pressure seals are listed below in Table 1.1.

Type of Seal Nature of Seal Examples

Vertical Massive siltstones Gulf Coast, USA,


Shales Zechstein in North Germany,
Massive salts North Sea, Middle East,
Anhydrite USA, USSR.
Gypsum
Limestone, marl, chalk
Dolomite

Transverse Faults Worldwide


Salt and shale diapirs

Combination Worldwide

Table 1.1 Types of Formation Pressure Seals

1-6
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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

4 Pressure Gradients
As indicated previously in Paragraph 2(b) under ‘Overburden Pressure’, it is common
practice to express subsurface pressures in terms of pressure gradients, or pressure per unit
depth, psi/ft or psi/m. It should be realised that densities such as mud weights in lb/gal
or␣SG, also express pressure gradients. These units can easily be converted to psi/ft or psi/m
using the conversion constants derived earlier in Paragraph 2(a). Rearranging equation
1-3 gives:

PG = P = 0.052 X MW (1-9)
D

where PG = pressure gradient (psi/ft) at depth D (ft), and rearranging equation 1-6 gives:

PG = P = 1.421 X SG (1-10)
D

where PG = pressure gradient (psi/m) at depth D (m).

Or,

PG = P = 0.433 X SG (1-11)
D

where PG = pressure gradient (psi/ft) at depth D (ft).

By converting subsurface pressures to gradients relative to a fixed datum, it is possible to


directly compare formation pressures, fracture pressures, overburden pressures, mud weights
and equivalent circulating densities (ECDs) on the same basis (See Chapter 3). The datum
chosen is usually sea/ground level for initial planning purposes. Once a rig has been allocated
for the well, then the datum chosen for final well planning and whilst drilling is the rotary
table level (since mud hydrostatic pressure starts from just below this level).

During drilling operations, it is standard practice to express all pressure gradients in terms
of equivalent mud weight (EMW) either in lb/gal or SG. This allows direct comparison of
downhole pressures to the weight (density) of the mud in use. EMWs can be calculated
from rearrangements of equations 1-9 to 1-11:

EMW (lb/gal) = P (psi) (1-12)


0.052 X D (ft)

EMW (SG) = P (psi) (1-13)


1.421 X D (m)

EMW (SG) = P (psi) (1-14)


0.433 X D (ft)

NOTE: From this point on ppg will be used instead of lb/gal as the abbreviated version
of pounds per gallon.

Example: For a formation pressure of 5970 psi at 3500m BRT, what is the
formation␣pressure gradient in psi/ft? What is the equivalent mud weight
in ppg and SG?

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March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Formation pressure gradient, FPG = pressure


depth

FPG = 5970 = 0.52 psi/ft


3500 X 3.2808

Equivalent mud weight from equation 1-12

EMW = 5970 (ppg)


0.052 X 3500 X 3.2808

EMW = 10.0 ppg

From equation 1-13

EMW = 5970 = 1.20 SG


1.421 X 3500

1-8
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

1.2 NORMAL FORMATION PRESSURE


Paragraph Page
1 General 1-10
2 Magnitude and Examples 1-10

Tables
1.2 Average Normal Formation Pressure Gradients 1-10

1-9
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

1 General
Normal formation pressure is equal to the hydrostatic pressure of water extending from the
surface to the subsurface formation. Thus, the normal formation pressure gradient in any
area will be equal to the hydrostatic pressure gradient of the water occupying the pore spaces
of the subsurface formations in that area.

2 Magnitude and Examples


The magnitude of the hydrostatic pressure gradient is affected by the concentration of
dissolved solids (salts) and gases in the formation water. Increasing the dissolved solids
(higher salt concentration) increases the formation pressure gradient whilst an increase in
the level of gases in solution will decrease the pressure gradient.

For example, formation water with a salinity of 80,000 ppm sodium chloride (salt) at a
temperature of 25°C, has a pressure gradient of 0.465 psi/ft. Freshwater (zero salinity) has
a pressure gradient of 0.433 psi/ft.

Temperature also has an effect as hydrostatic pressure gradients will decrease at higher
temperatures due to fluid expansion.

In formations deposited in an offshore environment, formation water density may vary from
slightly saline (1.02 SG, 0.44 psi/ft) to saturated saline (1.19 SG, 0.515 psi/ft). Salinity
varies with depth and formation type. Therefore, the average value of normal formation
pressure gradient may not be valid for all depths. For instance, it is possible that local
normal pressure gradients as high as 0.515 psi/ft may exist in formations adjacent to salt
formations where the formation water is completely salt saturated.

The following table gives examples of the magnitude of the normal formation pressure
gradient for various areas. However, in the absence of accurate data, 0.465 psi/ft is often
taken to be the normal pressure gradient.

Formation Water Pressure Gradient Example Area


(psi/ft) (SG)

Fresh water 0.433 1.00 Rocky Mountains and


Mid-continent, USA

Brackish water 0.438 1.01

Salt water 0.442 1.02 Most sedimentary basins


worldwide

Salt water 0.452 1.04 North Sea, South


China Sea

Salt water 0.465 1.07 Gulf of Mexico, USA

Salt water 0.478 1.10 Some areas of Gulf


of Mexico

Table 1.2 Average Normal Formation Pressure Gradients

1-10
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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

1.3 SUBNORMAL FORMATION PRESSURE


Paragraph Page
1 General 1-12
2 Causes of Subnormal Formation Pressure 1-12
3 Magnitude of Subnormal Formation Pressures 1-15
4 Summary 1-16

Illustrations
1.3 Relationship between Piezometric Surface and
Ground Level for an Aquifer System 1-13
1.4 Temperature-pressure-density diagram for Water
illustrating Subnormal Pressures caused by Cooling
an Isolated Fluid 1-14
1.5 Formation Foreshortening 1-15

1-11
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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

1 General
Subnormal formation pressure is defined as any formation pressure that is less than the
corresponding pore fluid hydrostatic pressure. A subnormal formation pressure gradient is
thus any gradient less than the pore fluid hydrostatic gradient.

Subnormal formation pressures are often termed subpressures.

2 Causes of Subnormal Formation Pressure


Subnormal formation pressures occur less frequently than abnormally high formation
pressures. They may have natural causes related to the stratigraphic, tectonic and geochemical
history of an area, or may be caused artificially by producing reservoir fluids.

(a) Depleted Reservoirs


Producing large volumes of reservoir fluids causes a decline in pore fluid pressure unless
compensated for by a strong water drive. Depleted reservoirs may thus have pore
pressures less than hydrostatic.

For example, the original reservoir formation pressure in BP’s Forties Field was 3215␣psi
at a depth of 2175m subsea. This equates to a formation pressure gradient of 0.451␣psi/ft,
which is the normal hydrostatic gradient. After twelve years production from the field
and even with pressure boosting by water injection, the reservoir formation pressure
dropped to approximately 2750 psi. This gives a subnormal pressure gradient of
0.385␣psi/ft.

(b) Piezometric Surface


A piezometric or potentiometric surface is an imaginary surface that represents the static
head of ground water and is defined by the level to which the ground water will rise in
a well. For example, the water table is a particular potentiometric surface.

In very arid areas such as the Middle East, the water table may be deep. The hydrostatic
pressure gradient commences at the water table giving a subnormal pressure gradient
from the surface.

A piezometric surface is dependent on the structural relief of a formation and can result
in subnormal or abnormally high formation pressures. The piezometric surface for an
aquifer system is shown in Figure 1.3.

Drilling in mountainous areas may thus encounter subnormal pressure gradients due to
the surface elevation being higher than the water table elevation or formation water
potentiometric surface.

(c) Temperature Reduction


A reduction in subsurface temperature will reduce the pore pressure in an isolated fluid
system where the pore volumes (and thus fluid density) remains constant. This may
cause subnormal pressures.

1-12
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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

ABNORMALLY HIGH SUBNORMAL


INTAKE PRESSURES PRESSURES
AREA

PIEZOMETRIC GROUND
SURFACE LEVEL

HYDROSTATIC
HEAD

AQUIFER

DISCHARGE
AREA

RESERVOIRS

WEOX02.065

Figure 1.3 Relationship between Piezometric Surface


and Ground Level for an Aquifer System
The temperature-pressure-density diagram for water shown in Figure 1.4 illustrates this
concept.

Both temperature and pressure are dependent on depth. For a normal fluid (non-isolated)
which is allowed to expand and contract freely, a temperature reduction associated with
a depth change would follow the path indicated (which in this example corresponds to a
temperature gradient of 2.5°C/100m). A lower pressure would result but it would still
be equal to the normal hydrostatic pressure. In an isolated fluid system (ie/completely
sealed shales), cooling must take place along a constant density path as shown. The
pressure corresponding to the lower temperature is thus subnormal.

If gas is present in the pores, the effects of temperature reduction will be greater as gas
pressure is much more sensitive to temperature changes than water.

Mechanisms which may create a reduction in subsurface temperature include uplift,


erosion or a combination of uplift and erosion.

(d) Decompressional Expansion


Decompressional expansion is the term used to describe the combined effects of uplift
and erosion. In shales, uplift and overburden removal by erosion may cause a reduction
in pore fluid pressure. This reduction may be due to an increase in pore volume and
removal of free water from the pore space by adsorption in clay minerals as the
overburden pressure decreases. Water adsorption due to mineral transformations (eg/illite
to montmorillonite) may also occur due to the decrease in temperature. (This is the
reverse of ‘Clay diagenesis’ as described in Section 1.4 of this Chapter.)

1-13
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 1.4 Temperature-pressure-density diagram for


Water illustrating Subnormal Pressures
caused by Cooling an Isolated Fluid
1 = Initial conditions at depth 1

2 = Conditions at depth 2

11

1.0gm/cc

0.962

0.933

0.909

0.877
0.98
DENSITY

10

m
100
°C/
8 2.5

7
PRESSURE 1000psi

PRESSURE AT
DEPTH 1 1
5

PRESSURE AT DEPTH 2
2
FOR NORMAL FLUIDS
4

NORMAL ISOLATED
FLUIDS FLUIDS

1 PRESSURE AT DEPTH 2
2
FOR ISOLATED FLUIDS

T2 T1

0 50 100 150 200 250


TEMPERATURE °C

WEOX02.066

1-14
March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

OVERPRESSURED

A
SUBNORMAL
BED A
PRESSURE

P BED B P P B P OVERPRESSURED

BED C

WEOX02.067

Figure 1.5 Formation Foreshortening

This pressure reduction may be sufficient to cause subnormal pressures which would be
transmitted to any reservoir rocks associated with the shales.

(e) Formation Foreshortening


This is a tectonic compression mechanism. It is suggested that during a lateral
compression process acting on sedimentary beds, upwarping of the upper beds and
downwarping of the lower beds may occur. The intermediate beds must expand to fill
the voids left by this process, as shown in Figure 1.5. It is then possible for more
competent intermediate beds, such as shales, to have subnormal pressures due to the
increase in pore volume.

This mechanism is thought to occur in areas of recent tectonic activity, such as along
the flanks of the Rocky Mountains.

(f) Osmosis
Osmosis is the spontaneous flow of water from a more dilute to a more concentrated
solution when the two are separated by a semi-permeable membrane.

In the subsurface environment, clays and clayey siltstones can act as semi-permeable
membranes. If salinity differences exist between the fluids in the sediments on either
side of clay beds, then osmotic flow can occur. If the flow is from a closed volume, the
pressure will decrease and may become subnormal. Likewise, if the flow is into a closed
volume, abnormally high pressures may result.

Osmosis is discussed in more detail in Section 1.4 of this Chapter.

1-15
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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

3 Magnitude of Subnormal Formation Pressures


By definition, subnormal formation pressures must be lower than the normal hydrostatic
pressure for the location. In terms of pressure gradients, subnormal pressures will have
gradients less than normal (0.433 to 0.465 psi/ft depending on the particular area).

As previously discussed, the Forties Field reservoir is now subnormally pressured at


0.385␣psi/ft. Subnormal gradients of 0.36 to 0.39 psi/ft have been quoted for areas of the
Texas Panhandle (NW Texas) with one case as low as about 0.23 psi/ft thought to be the
result of a low piezometric surface.

One of the lowest formation pressure gradients encountered is 0.188 psi/ft which was recorded
in the Keyes gas field in Oklahoma.

4 Summary
The various suggested causes of subnormal formation pressures can be classed as ‘artifically
caused’ or ‘naturally caused’.

‘Depleted reservoirs’ and ‘piezometric surface’ (where pressure regime depends on the
surface location of the well) may be classed as artificial causes, since these subnormal
pressures do not originate in the subsurface formation, but are externally influenced.

Conversely, the other causes of subnormal pressure discussed have origins in the formations
themselves and can be thought of as being naturally caused. It is unlikely that any one of
these processes may be the sole cause of subnormal pressures in any particular area. It is
probable that a number of processes have contributed to produce the subnormal pressures,
particularly in the light of the dependency of the processes on depth and temperature.

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1.4 ABNORMALLY HIGH


FORMATION PRESSURE
Paragraph Page
1 General 1-18
2 Causes of Abnormally High Formation Pressure 1-18
3 Magnitude of Abnormally High Formation Pressures 1-30
4 Summary 1-31

Illustrations
1.6 Typical Formation Pressures caused by
Compaction Disequilibrium 1-19
1.7 Interlayer Water and Cations between Clay Platelets 1-20
1.8 Schematic of Reaction of Montmorillonite to Illite 1-21
1.9 Water Distribution Curves for Shale Dehydration 1-23
1.10 Diagenetic Stages in the alteration of Montmorillonite to Illite 1-23
1.11 Abnormal Formation Pressures caused by
Tectonic Compressional Folding 1-24
1.12 Abnormal Pressure Distribution around a Piercement
Salt Dome 1-26
1.13 Schematic Diagram of a Mud Volcano 1-26
1.14 Abnormally High Pressure due to Reservoir Structure 1-28
1.15 Schematic Diagram illustrating Osmotic Flow 1-30

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1 General
Abnormally high formation pressure is defined as any formation pressure that is greater
than the hydrostatic pressure of the water occupying the formation pore spaces. Abnormally
high formation pressure gradients are thus any formation pressure gradient higher than the
pore fluid hydrostatic pressure gradient.

Abnormally high formation pressures are also termed surpressures, overpressures and
sometimes geopressures. More often, they are simply called abnormal pressures.

2 Causes of Abnormally High


Formation Pressure
Abnormally high formation pressures are found worldwide in formations ranging in age␣from
the Pleistocene age (approximately 1 million years) to the Cambrian age (500 to 600␣million
years). They may occur at depths as shallow as only a few hundred feet or exceeding 20,000␣ft
(6100m) and may be present in shale/sand sequences and/or massive evaporite-carbonate
sequences.

The causes of abnormally high formation pressures are related to a combination of geological,
physical, geochemical and mechanical processes, as discussed in the following paragraphs.

(a) Depositional Causes


• Compaction Disequilibrium

Compaction disequilibrium is also known as ‘undercompaction’ or ‘sedimentary


loading’. It is the process whereby abnormal formation pressures are caused by a
disruption in the balance between the rate of sedimentation of clays and the rate of
expulsion of the pore fluids, as the clays compact with burial.

Freshly deposited clays have adsorbed water layers and the solid clay particles do
not have direct physical contact. The pore pressure is hydrostatic as the pore fluid is
continuous with the overlying sea water. As sedimentation proceeds, a gradual
compaction occurs and as the clay particles are pressed closer together, pore water is
expelled. The clay sediment has high porosity and is permeable in this initial state.
So as long as the expelled water can escape to surface or through a porous sand
layer, pore pressures will remain hydrostatic.

For this equilibrium to be maintained, a balance is required between the rate of


sedimentation and burial, and the rate of expulsion and removal of pore fluids. If the
rate of sedimentation is very slow, then hydrostatic pressures will be maintained.

The initial porosity of clays is 60 to 90%, depending on the type of clay, whereas
compacted clay/shale has a porosity of less than 15%. Thus a vast amount of water
must be removed from clay sediments during burial. If the equilibrium between rate
of sedimentation and rate of fluid expulsion is disrupted, such that fluid removal is
impeded, then an increase in pore pressure will result. This could occur either by an
increase in the rate of sedimentation or by a reduction in the rate of fluid removal
(caused by a reduction in permeability or by the deposition of a permeability barrier
such as limestone).

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The ‘excess’ pore fluids help support the increasing overburden load, thereby
retarding compaction further, and resulting in abnormally high pressured formations.
Abnormal pressures resulting from this process will have a gradient no greater than
the overburden gradient. This is because these pressures are produced by the excess
overburden load being supported by the pore fluids.

If beds of permeable sandstone that are hydraulically connected to zones of lower


fluid pressure are present within an overpressured zone, adjacent clays will dewater
to the sand bed. The adjacent clays will compact and decrease in permeability and
porosity thus restricting further dewatering of the clay beds. The local pressure
gradient across these clay/sand boundaries will be significantly higher than the overall
pressure gradient, but are caused purely by ‘leakage’ from the clays to the sand.
Figure 1.6 illustrates typical overpressures caused by compaction disequilibrium.

Areas in which abnormal formation pressures associated with high sedimentation


rates have been encountered include the North Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Gulf
of Papua.

Hydrostatic pore pressure

Overburden pressure

Actual formation pressure

Very high local pressure gradient


adjacent to permeable zones due
to low permeability of the clays
CLAY
DEPTH

Overall formation pressure


SAND parallels the overburden
pressure gradient, but may
CLAY not reach extrapolated
pressure gradient due to
leakage from the clays
SAND
Extrapolated initial
CLAY formation pressure
(parallel to overburden
pressure gradient)
SAND

Overpressured sandstone
(hydrostatic gradient
within sandstone)
CLAY

SAND

PRESSURE

WEOX02.068

Figure 1.6 Typical Formation Pressures caused by


Compaction Disequilibrium

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• Rock Salt Deposition

Continuous rock salt deposition over large areas can cause abnormal pressures that
may approach overburden pressure. Salt is totally impermeable to fluids and behaves
plastically at relatively low temperatures and pressures, thereby exerting pressures
equal to the overburden load in all directions. The fluids in the underlying formations
can not escape as there is no communication to the surface and thus the formations
become overpressured.

Massive rock salt deposits are commonly found in the southern North Sea with
abnormally high formation pressures sometimes being encountered in formations
below or within these massive salts. For instance, one BP southern North Sea well
required mud weights up to 1.94 SG (0.84 psi/ft) to control a saturated salt water
flow from an anhydrite formation at the boundary between the Z2 and Z3 Units of
the Zechstein halite formation.

(b) Diagenesis
Diagenesis is the alteration of sediments and their constituent minerals during burial
after deposition. Diagenetic processes include the formation of new minerals, the
redistribution and recrystallisation of the substances within the sediments, and
lithification (sediments turning into rocks).

Negative Charge
CLAY SHEET Imbalance

H H H H
H H H H
Na + H H
O 1 or 2
O O O
O O Layers of
H H H Adsorbed
H Water
H O H
Na +
Ca + + About 4
O Layers of
O Ca + + Structured
H
Water
H H O
O O
Na + O
H H
H H H H
H
O O O
O O
Ca + +
H H H H H H H H H H

CLAY SHEET

WEOX02.069

Figure 1.7 Interlayer Water and Cations between


Clay Platelets

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• Clay Diagenesis

The major constituents of marine shales are bentonitic clays of which montmorillonite
is by far the most common. Montmorillonite has a swelling (expanded) lattice
structure and contains approximately 70 to 85% water at initial burial in sea floor
sediments. This water is present in the form of at least four layers of molecules
adsorbed between clay platelets and up to ten layers held on the outside of the platelets.
The clay platelets have a negative charge imbalance due to their structure. This causes
the adsorption of interlayer water together with various cations (positively charged
ions), principally sodium (Na +) and calcium (Ca++). The interlayer water is shown
schematically in Figure 1.7.

The environment at this initial burial stage would be alkaline, rich in calcium and
magnesium (and of course sodium from salt water), but poor in potassium.

After further burial, compaction expels most of the free pore water (non-adsorbed)
and the water content of the sediment is reduced to about 30%. As burial progresses
and the temperature increases, eventually all but the last layer of structured (adsorbed)
water will be desorbed to the pore spaces. This causes the clay lattice to collapse and
with the availability of potassium, montmorillonite diagenesis to illite occurs. This
reaction is shown schematically in Figure 1.8. It involves adsorption of potassium at
the interlayer and surface sites as well as the release of a small amount of silica.

O O

M A 3 LAYER SHEET

O O

A A
Add K
Substitute K INTERLAYER SITES
W + W W + W
Al for Si
W W W W W and Mg A

+ W Charge
W W W W O
Satisfied
A 3 LAYER SHEET
A
O

O
A
A
O ILLITE

Ky AL4 (Si8-y, Aly) O20 (OH)4

= Oxygen M = Magnesium
MONTMORILLONITE
= Silicon W = Water
(Al4-x Mgx)(Si8-y, Aly) O20 (OH)4
Negatively charged plates O = Hydroxyl (OH) K = Potassium
satisfied by interlayer
water and cation adsorption A = Aluminium + = Cation eg Ca ++, Na+

WEOX02.070

Figure 1.8 Schematic of Reaction of Montmorillonite to Illite

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The reaction is temperature (and hence depth) dependent. Initial dehydration may
occur at temperatures as low as 6°C. Most of the interlayer water is liberated between
100°C and 250°C, but some of the more structured water remains to about 300°C.
Water distribution curves showing the various shale dehydration stages are shown in
Figure 1.9.

At the second dehydration stage (See Figure 1.9), the water that is released expands
due to a density reduction from the highly structured phase to the pore phase. Thus
abnormally high pressures may result, particularly if the rate of expulsion of free
pore water from the clay body is less than the rate of water release from the clay
interlayers. Figure 1.10 is a schematic diagram showing the stages of alteration of
montmorillonite to illite.

If water escape from the clay body is restricted, the silica released in the diagenetic
process will precipitate in the pore spaces. This may further reduce permeability and
so assist in developing abnormal pressures.

• Sulphate Diagenesis

Diagenesis in sulphate formations (gypsum, anhydrite) may cause abnormal pressures


by creating permeability barriers, a fluid source and/or a rock volume change.
Carbonate reservoirs are commonly overlain by evaporite sections (salt, anhydrite).

Anhydrite (calcium sulphate, CaSO4) is formed by the dehydration of gypsum


(CaSO4.2 H 2O) which liberates large amounts of water. There is a 30% to 40%
shrinkage in formation thickness associated with this process. If this occurs at depth
and in the presence of a permeability barrier, abnormal formation pressures may
result. (The anhydrite itself is totally impermeable and may act as a vertical
permeability barrier.)

This process may have been the cause of the high pressure salt water flow discussed
under ‘Rock Salt Deposition’ in (a) ‘Depositional Causes’. Here, a mud weight of
1.94 SG (0.84 psi/ft) was required to control a saturated salt water flow from an
anhydrite section sandwiched between massive salt sections.

The process is, however, reversible. Anhydrite can take on water to form gypsum.
There is an intermediate semi-hydrate stage (CaSO4.1/2 H2O) in which the rock volume
would increase by 15 to 25%. If such rehydration was to occur at depth in a closed
system, very high abnormal pressures could be developed.

• Diagenesis of Volcanic Ash

Diagenesis of volcanic ash results in three main products: clay minerals, methane
and carbon dioxide. Thus formations that originally contained large amounts of
volcanic ash may become overpressured due to the production of gases from the
volcanic ash.

Areas in which this process has occurred include the NW coast of the USA and areas
of the South China Sea region (Java, etc).

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WATER ESCAPE CURVE WATER CONTENT OF SHALES


(SCHEMATIC)

WATER AVAILABLE % WATER


FOR MIGRATION
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 SEDIMENT SURFACE

PORE WATER
PORE AND
INTERLAYER WATER
EXPULSION

1st DEHYDRATION
BURIAL DEPTH
(SCHEMATIC)

AND LATTICE WATER


STABILITY ZONE
LATTICE WATER
STABILITY ZONE
INTERLAYER
WATER

2nd INTERLAYER WATER


DEHYD'N ISOPLETH
STAGE

3rd DEHYDRATION
DEEP BURIAL
STAGE
WATER LOSS

'NO MIGRATION LEVEL'

WEOX02.071

Figure 1.9 Water Distribution Curves for Shale Dehydration

STAGE 1

Before diagenesis
MOST WATER
(about 3000 – 6000ft,
IS BOUND WATER
below 60°C)
porosity = 20 to 35%
clay is LOW POROSITY
70% montmorillonite
10 mixed layer
20% other

STAGE 2
FREE PORE WATER
During alteration FROM DESORBED
to illite (100 – 200°C) INTERLAYER WATER
high porosity = 30 to 40%
clay is CLAY RELEASES
20% montmorillonite SILICA, ADSORBS
60% illite POTASSIUM
20% other

NOTE PARTICLE COLLAPSE


STAGE 3
LOW POROSITY
After diagenesis and VERY LITTLE
compaction BOUND WATER
(over 200°C)
porosity = 10 to 20%
clay is
70% illite VOLUME LOST
10% montmorillonite
20% other
WEOX02.072

Figure 1.10 Diagenetic Stages in the alteration


of Montmorillonite to Illite

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(c) Tectonic Causes


• Compressional Folding

Tectonic compression is a compacting force that is applied horizontally in subsurface


formations. In normal pressure environments, clays compact and dewater in
equilibrium with increasing overburden pressures. However, in a tectonic
environment, the additional horizontal compacting force (tectonic stress) squeezes
the clays laterally. If conditions are such that the pore fluids can still escape, then
pore fluid pressures will remain normal. However, it is more likely that the increase
in stress will cause disequilibrium. The pore fluids will not be able to escape at a
rate equal to the reduction in pore volume, resulting in an increase in pore pressure.

Abnormal pressure distribution within a series of compressional folds is shown in


Figure 1.11. Abnormally high pressures occur initially within the hinge portion of
each compressional fold in a thick clay sequence.

EXTENSION
EXTENSION

COMPRESSION COMPRESSION

COMPRESSION

COMPRESSION

AMOUNT OF
SHORTENING

POSSIBLE
OVERPRESSURED
ZONES

WEOX02.073

Figure 1.11 Abnormal Formation Pressures caused by


Tectonic Compressional Folding
An example of overpressures associated with steep tectonic folding is the oilfields
of Southern Iran where local pressure gradients as high as 1.00 psi/ft can be
encountered. Also, one of the highest formation pressures reported of 1.3 psi/ft was
recorded in the tectonically folded Himalayan foothills in Pakistan.

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• Faulting

Faults may cause abnormally high formation pressures in the following ways:

– Slippage of formations along a fault may bring a permeable formation, eg a sand


bed, laterally against an impermeable formation such as a clay. Thus, the flow of
pore fluids through the permeable zone will be inhibited and abnormally high
formation pressures may result.

– Non-sealing faults may transmit fluids from a deeper permeable formation to


a␣ s hallower formation. If this shallower formation is sealed, then it will
be␣ p ressured up by the deeper formation. (See ‘Char ged Formations’ in (d)
‘Structural Courses’).

• Uplift

If a normally pressured formation is suddently uplifted, abnormally high pressures


may be generated. Uplift is not a unique cause of abnormal pressure as the process
that uplifts a buried formation will also uplift the overburden. For abnormal pressures
to occur, there must be a concurrent geological process that reduces the relief between
the buried formation and the surface. Such processes may be piercement salt domes,
shale diapirs, faulting or erosion.

Note that uplift and erosion may also cause subnormal formation pressures, depending
on the type of formation and the amount of cooling that the formation undergoes.
(See ‘Temperature Reduction’ and ‘Decompressional Expansion’ in Section
1.3 of this Chapter.)

• Salt Diapirism

Diapirism is the piercement of a formation by a less dense underlying formation.


Salt will behave plastically at elevated temperatures and pressures and due to its
lower density, will move upwards to form piercement salt domes in overlying
formations. This upward movement disturbs the normal layering of sediments and
overpressures can often occur due to the associated faulting and folding action.
Additionally, the salt may act as an impermeable seal and inhibit lateral dewatering
of clays thereby further contributing to the generation of abnormal pressures.

The typical distribution of abnormal pressure zones around a piercement salt dome
is shown in Figure 1.12.

Abnormally high formation pressures associated with salt domes have been
encountered worldwide, both onshore and offshore.

• Shale Diapirism

As with salt diapirism, this mechanism refers to the upward movement of a less
dense plastic formation. In this case, high porosity (high water content) shales
behave␣plastically causing the formation of shale diapirs called ‘mud volcanoes’
(See Figure 1.13).

In practice, wherever mud volcanoes occur, there has been rapid Tertiary and/or late
Cretaceous sedimentation. This rapidly loads underlying shales of low shear strength
causing the formation of mud volcanoes. Formation pressures are abnormally high.
For example, pressure gradients of 0.9 psi/ft have been measured around mud
volcanoes on Aspsheron Peninsula in Azerbaidzhan, USSR.

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SAND BASIN WARD

HORIZON A

A HORIZON
B

C
B

C
D

E D

SALT ABNORMAL
PRESSURE

WEOX02.074

Figure 1.12 Abnormal Pressure Distribution around a


Piercement Salt Dome

MUD VOLCANO

UPPER MIOCENE
SEA LEVEL

MIDDLE MIOCENE

LOWER MIOCENE 5000ft

0 Mile 1

WEOX02.075

Figure 1.13 Schematic Diagram of a Mud Volcano

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• Earthquakes

Earthquakes may cause compression in subsurface formations which causes a sudden


increase in pore fluid pressures. For example, the 1953 earthquake in California
caused production in the nearby Mountain View oil field to double over a period of
several weeks after the earthquake.

(d) Structural Causes


• Piezometric Surface

This is defined in Section 1.3. A regionally high piezometric surface, such as that
caused by artesian water systems, will result in abnormally high pressures as shown
in Figure 1.3. Artesian systems require a porous and permeable aquifer sandwiched
between impermeable beds. The aquifer intake area must be high enough for the
abnormal pressure to be caused by the hydrostatic head.

Examples of areas where abnormally high pressures are caused by artesian systems
are the Artesian Basin in Florida and the Great Artesian Basin in Queensland,
Australia.

• Reservoir Structure

In sealed reservoir formations containing fluids of differing densities (ie water, oil,
gas), formation pressures which are normal for the deepest part of the zone will be
transmitted to the shallower end where they will cause abnormally high pressures.
Examples of such formation are lenticular reservoirs, dipping formations and
anticlines.

Abnormal formation pressures will only be generated if fluids less dense than the
pore water are present, such as in oil/gas reservoirs. The pressure at the top of a fluid
zone is given by:

P fT = PfB – [Gf X (DB X D T)] (1-15)

where P fT = formation pressure at top of zone (psi)


P fB = formation pressure at bottom of zone (psi)
Gf = pressure gradient of fluid in zone (psi/ft or psi/m)
DT = vertical depth to top of zone (ft or m)
DB = vertical depth to bottom of zone (ft or m)

In the example shown in Figure 1.14, the formation pressure at the oil/water contact
is normal hydrostatic pressure with a gradient of 0.452 psi/ft. Using equation 1-15,
the pressure at the gas/oil contact is 4850 psi which gives an abnormally high
formation pressure gradient of 0.462 psi/ft. Similarly, the pressure at the top of the
reservoir is 4784 psi giving an abnormal gradient of 0.486 psi/ft.

Obviously, in very large structures, especially in gas/water systems with long gas
columns, the overpressures developed at the top of the gas column may be very
high. Indeed one documented example in Iran quotes a pressure gradient of 0.9 psi/ft
(approaching overburden gradient) at a depth of only 640 ft (195m).

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DEPTH

At top of reservoir:
CAP ROCK Pf = 4850 – 0.1 x
(10500 – 9842)
TOP OF Pf = 4784psi
.
GAS CAP . . FPG = 4784 = 0.486psi/ft
D = 3000m GAS 9842
(D = 9842ft) (Gf = 0.1psi/ft) At gas/oil contact:
GAS/OIL Pf = 5116 – 0.325 x
CONTACT (11319 – 10500)
D = 3200m OIL
Pf = 4850psi
(D = 10500ft) (Gf = 0.325psi/ft) .
. . FPG = 4850 = 0.462psi/ft
10500
OIL/WATER
CONTACT At oil/water contact:
D = 3450m NORMAL HYDROSTATIC
WATER PRESSURE GRADIENT OF
(D = 11319ft) (Gf = 0.452psi/ft) 0.452psi/ft
Pf = 11319 x 0.452
Pf = 5116psi

WEOX02.076

Figure 1.14 Abnormally High Pressure due to


Reservoir Structure

• Charged Formations

Normally pressured, or low pressured porous and permeable formations at shallow


depths, may be pressured up by communication with deeper higher pressured
formations. This ‘charging’ of the shallower formations may take place by fluid
communication along non-sealing faults behind casing in old wells, or wells with
faulty cement jobs, and whilst drilling a sequence of permeable formations with
very large differences in pore fluid pressures (causing recharge salt water flows).

Abnormal pressures caused by recharge can be very high, especially if gas is the
medium that transmits the pressure (same mechanics as gas reservoir in ‘Reservoir
Structure’, but over greater depth differences). Mud weights as high as 19 ppg
(2.28␣SG, 0.988 psi/ft) have been quoted as sometimes required for drilling through
shallow charged zones.

(e) Thermodynamic Effects


Thermodynamic processes may be considered as contributing factors in most of the
causes of abnormally high formation pressure already discussed. Formation temperature
increases with depth in any geological system and if the system is essentially closed,
thermodynamic effects will add to the build up of abnormal pressures.

• Aquathermal Pressuring

Referring to the temperature-pressure-density diagram for water (Figure 1.4), a


temperature increase in an isolated fluid system must take place along a constant
density path. The increase in pressure is thus very rapid and only small increases in
temperature are required to produce large overpressures.

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However, shales are not totally impermeable and the time taken to heat the shales
during burial should be sufficient to allow most of the excess pressures developed to
leak away. The main effect of heating during burial is to retard compaction, and
aquathermal pressuring is not thought to be a major cause of abnormally high
formation pressures.

• Thermal Cracking

At high temperatures and pressures caused by deep burial, complex hydrocarbon


molecules will break down into simpler compounds. Thermal cracking of
hydrocarbons will increase the volume of the hydrocarbons in the order of two to
three times the original volume. If contained in an isolated system, this would result
in high overpressures being developed. However, there is no conclusive evidence
that thermal cracking is a significant cause of abnormal formation pressures.

• Permafrost

In arctic regions, drilling and production operations may cause extensive thawing of
the permafrost. If this thawed permafrost refreezes later in the life of the well,
‘freezeback’ pressures, high enough to damage the casing, may result. Obviously,
this situation may be avoided by proper well planning and casing design.

Freezeback pressure gradients ranging from 0.66 psi/ft to as high as 1.44 psi/ft have
been recorded in Alaska.

• Osmosis

As defined in Section 1.3, osmosis is the spontaneous flow of water from a more
dilute to a more concentrated solution when the two are separated by a suitable
semi-permeable membrane. This action is represented schematically in Figure 1.15.

For a given solution, the osmotic pressure (differential pressure across the membrane)
is almost directly proportional to the concentration differential; and for
a␣given␣concentration dif ferential the osmotic pressure increases with temperature.
Theoretically, osmotic pressures of up to 4500 psi can be produced across a
semi-permeable membrane with solutions of 1.02 gm/cc NaCl in water and saturated
NaCl␣brine.

Clay and clayey siltstone beds can act as semi-permeable membranes. If salinity
differences exist in the sediments above and below such beds, then osmotic flow can
occur. If the flow is into an isolated system, then a pressure increase will occur in
this system. Alternatively, the osmotic pressure developed across these beds may
inhibit the vertical flow of water from compacting shales, thereby contributing to
the development of abnormal pressures.

However, the efficiency of clay beds as semi-permeable membranes in the sub-surface


environment is unknown. It is thus currently believed that osmosis is a minor cause
of abnormal formation pressures.

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LIQUID PRESSURE LIQUID PRESSURE


DECREASES INCREASES

0 0
3 1 3 1
2 2

H2O
H2O

CI-

CLAY MEMBRANE
Na+

SALINE WATER
FRESH WATER

H2O

H2O

CI-

H2O Na+

H2O

OSMOTIC
H2O
FLOW

WEOX02.077

Figure 1.15 Schematic Diagram illustrating Osmotic Flow

3 Magnitude of Abnormally High


Formation Pressures
As defined, the magnitude of abnormally high formation pressures must be greater than the
normal hydrostatic pressure for the location, and may be as high as the overburden pressure.
Abnormally high pressure gradients will thus be between the normal hydrostatic gradient
(0.433 to 0.465 psi/ft) and the overburden gradient (generally 1.0 psi/ft).

However, locally confined pore pressure gradients exceeding the overburden gradient by up
to 40% are known in areas such as Pakistan, Iran, Papua New Guinea, and the USSR. These
superpressures can only exist because the internal strength of the rock overlying the
superpressured zone assists the overburden load in containing the pressure. The overlying
rock can be considered to be in tension.

In the Himalayan foothills in Pakistan, formation pressure gradients of 1.3 psi/ft have been
encountered. In Iran, gradients of 1.0 psi/ft are common and in Papua New Guinea, a gradient
of 1.04 psi/ft has been reported. In one area of Russia, local formation pressures in the
range of 5870 to 7350 psi at 5250 ft (1600m) were reported. This equates to a formation
pressure gradient of 1.12 to 1.4 psi/ft.

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In the North Sea abnormal pressures occur with widely varying magnitudes in many
geological formations.

The Tertiary sediments are mainly clays and may be overpressured for much of their thickness.
Pressure gradients of 0.52 psi/ft are common with locally occurring gradients of 0.8 psi/ft
being encountered. An expandable clay (gumbo) also occurs which is of volcanic origin and
is still undergoing compaction. The consequent decrease in clay density would normally
indicate an abnormal pressure zone but this is not the case. However, in some areas, mud
weights of the order of 0.62 psi/ft (1.43 SG) or higher are required to keep the wellbore
open because of the swelling nature of these clays. This is almost equal to the low overburden
gradients in these areas.

In the Mesozoic clays of the Central Graben, overpressures of 0.9 psi/ft have been recorded.
One BP well encountered a formation pressure gradient of 0.91 psi/ft in the Jurassic section.
In the Jurassic of the Viking Graben, abnormal formation pressure gradients up to 0.69␣psi/ft
have been recorded.

In Triassic sediments, abnormally high formation pressures have been found in gas bearing
zones of the Bunter Sandstone in the southern North Sea. Also in the southern North Sea,
overpressures are often found in Permian carbonates, evaporates and sandstones sandwiched
between massive Zechstein salts.

4 Summary
Of all the processes that may be responsible for causing abnormally high formation pressures,
it is unlikely that any one will be the sole cause in any particular area. The effects of several
processes will probably combine to cause the observed abnormal pressure.

Certain processes are thought to be either ineffective or uncommon as causes of abnormal


pressures. These include uplift (as a sole mechanism), osmosis, thermal cracking, permafrost
and earthquakes. A recent report(6) has found that the most significant cause of abnormally
high formation pressures in depositional basins is compaction disequilibrium, with
aquathermal pressuring contributing to a small extent. Clay dewatering (diagenesis) was
found to have little effect. However conditions within clays during dewatering are very
similar to these developed during undercompaction; and the two processes probably occur
concurrently, while undercompaction is recognised as the primary mechanism.

The significance of aquathermal pressuring as a cause of abnormal pressure is temperature


and hence depth dependent. This is also true of the diagenetic process.

With increasing depth aquathermal pressuring is thought to be a contributory factor in all


cases of abnormal pressure generation.

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1.5 SHALLOW GAS


Paragraph Page
1 General 1-34
2 Definition 1-34
3 Origins of Shallow Gas 1-34
4 Characteristics of Shallow Gas 1-35

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1 General
Shallow gas accumulations present a major hazard to drilling operations. Gas influxes taken
at shallow depths cannot generally be shut-in for fear that the pressures involved will fracture
the formation at the previous casing shoe, thereby causing an underground blowout, or flow
around the casing to the seabed.

2 Definition
For the purposes of drilling operations, shallow gas can be defined as any gas accumulation
encountered at any depth before the first pressure containment casing string is set.

For well planning purposes, possible gas bearing zones at shallow depths may be identified
from shallow seismic sections (‘bright spot’ technique – See Section 2.2 of Chapter 2).
These are normally used down to a depth of about 1000m below surface or mudline.

3 Origins of Shallow Gas


There are two potential origins of shallow gas:

(a) Biogenic Generation


This is the production of gas at shallow depths of burial from the degradation of organic
matter within the sediment. An example of this would be the Pleistocene section of the
North Sea which contains some organic rich clays and occasional peat/lignite formations.
Thus a biogenic origin is considered likely for shallow gas accumulations in the
North␣Sea.

(b) Petrogenic Generation


This is the thermocatalytic degradation of kerogen which occurs under conditions of
elevated temperature and pressure at greater depths. (Kerogen is a complex hydrocarbon
formed from the biogenic degradation of organic matter which also gives gas as stated
above.) Sufficient depth of burial to produce the heat necessary for this process to operate
is probably not reached in the shallow depths considered here ie down to 1000m.

However, migration of gas from deeper petrogenic sources may be possible. This could
occur naturally, along non-sealing faults for example, or even through the natural
permeability of clays at shallow depths. Alternatively, artificial migration paths may be
produced in poorly cemented casing annuli allowing gas from petrogenic sources to
accumulate in shallower formations. This could result in shallow gas accumulations
forming later in the life of a producing field when early wells showed no indication of
shallow gas.

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4 Characteristics of Shallow Gas


(a) Composition
Shallow (biogenic) gas has the following typical composition (provided by BP/Sunbury):

99% + methane (CH 4)


0.5% carbon dioxide (CO2 )
less than 0.5% nitrogen (N2 )
less than 0.1% ethane (C 2H6 ) and higher hydrocarbons.

Hydrogen sulphide (H 2S) may also be present.

Petrogenic gas associated with the generation of oil should contain a larger proportion
of ethane and higher hydrocarbons.

(b) Configuration of Shallow Gas Accumulations


Shallow gas accumulations are commonly found in sand lenses which are inferred to
have been deposited in a shallow marine shelf environment with tidal influence. In this
environment, the sands would tend to be in the form of sand waves, sand patches and
ridges resulting in a discontinuous and patchy distribution. These sand lenses could
thus be sealed by the surrounding clay sediments.

This patchy distribution of shallow gas is very important. It must not be assumed that
because several wells have penetrated a potential shallow gas zone successfully, then
all future wells will also be free of shallow gas hazards.

(c) Pressures and Volumes


Most shallow gas accumulations tend to be normally pressured. However, the classic
area where overpressured shallow gas sands are encountered is the Gulf of Mexico,
USA. In this area, overpressuring is thought to be the result of undercompaction of
shales due to rapid deposition (See ‘Compaction Disequilibrium’, Section 1.4 of this
Chapter.)

One instance of overpressured shallow gas in the North Sea was reported for a well in
the SE Forties area where a gas kick from a sand at about 800m subsea gave a calculated
formation pressure gradient of at least 1.20 SG (0.52 psi/ft). Shallow gas accumulations
resulting from migration of petrogenic gas may well be overpressured (See ‘Charged
Formations’, Section 1.4). Also, overpressured shallow gas may result from long ‘tilted’
sand lenses, in an identical manner to that described under ’Reservoir Structure’, also
in Section 1.4.

It is difficult to estimate the volumes of gas present in shallow gas accumulations.


However, estimates have been made from shallow gas discharges. In one North Sea
incident, it has been estimated that 8 mmscf of gas was vented. At a depth of about
410m subsea and 600 psi pressure, this corresponds to a bulk rock volume of 20,000
cubic metres, assuming a porosity of 30%. For a 5m thick sand, this corresponds to an
area of only 70m in diameter.

The flowrate of gas in the above incident was estimated at 40 to 50 mmscfd. Flowrates
of over 100 mmscfd have been reported for shallow gas blowouts in the Gulf of Mexico.
These high flowrates are as a result of the high porosity and permeability in shallow
large grain sand deposits.

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Suggestions for further reading:

1. ‘EXLOG’, 1981. Theory and Evaluation of Formation Pressures. Exploration Logging


Inc., USA.

2. ‘EXXON’, 1975 Abnormal Pressure Technology. Exxon Company, USA.

3. FERTL, W.H., 1976. Abnormal Formation Pressures. Elsevier Scientific Publishing


Company, Amsterdam.

4. FERTL, W.H. and CHILINGARIAN, G.V., 1976. Importance of Abnormal Pressures to


the Oil Industry. Soc. Petrol. Eng., Paper 5946.

5. ‘GEARHART’, 1986. Overpressure. Gearhart Geodata Services Ltd., Aberdeen.

6. MANN, D.M., 1985. The Generation of Overpressures During Sedimentation and Their
Effects on the Primary Migration of Petroleum. Report GCB/156/85. BP Research Centre,
Sunbury.

7. SELLEY, R.C., 1985. Elements of Petroleum Geology. W.H. Freeman and Company,
New York.

8. SHEPHERD, M., 1984. Forties Field: Shallow Gas Hazards in the Main Field Area.
Report GL/AB/1880. BPPD Aberdeen.

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2 FORMATION PRESSURE EVALUATION


Section

2.1 INTRODUCTION 2-1

2.2 FORMATION PRESSURE EVALUATION


DURING WELL PLANNING 2-5

2.3 FORMATION PRESSURE EVALUATION


WHILST DRILLING 2-23

2.4 FORMATION PRESSURE EVALUATION


AFTER DRILLING 2-65

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2.1 INTRODUCTION
Paragraph Page
1 General 2-2
2 The Transition Zone 2-2

Table
2.1 Techniques used to Predict, Detect and Evaluate
Formation Pore Pressures 2-3

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1 General
Knowledge of formation pore pressure is of prime importance in the planning, drilling and
evaluation of a well. Good estimates of formation pore pressures and fracture pressures are
required to optimise casing and mud weight programmes, and to minimise the risk of well
kicks, stuck pipe, lost circulation and other costly drilling problems.

The following sections describe the techniques used to predict, detect and evaluate formation
pore pressures at the various stages of drilling a well. Table 2.1 summarises these techniques.
Methods for predicting and evaluating fracture pressure are covered separately in a later
section of this Manual.

Abnormally high pressured zones are by far the most common encountered, and the most
important, in drilling operations. This Chapter is therefore mainly concerned with methods
of predicting, detecting and evaluating abnormally high formation pressures.

2 The Transition Zone


Formation pressure gradients are considered to be the normal hydrostatic gradient for the
area until a depth is reached where various pressure indicators suggest the onset of either a
subnormally or an abnormally high pressured zone. The zone in which the formation pressure
gradient changes from normal to subnormal or abnormally high gradient is known as the
transition zone.

In shales, the transition zone is the equivalent of the pressure seal discussed in Section 1.1
of Chapter 1. Since perfect seals of zero permeability rarely occur (except, for example,
salt and anhydrite), transition zones are normally present. The differential pressure across a
transition zone causes pore fluid flow through the transition zone. However, the flow rate
through the zone will be extremely low, due to the very low permeability within the zone.
The thickness of the transition zone depends on the permeabilities within and adjacent to
the overpressured formation and the age of the overpressure ie, the time available for fluid
flow and pressure depletion since the overpressure developed.

The presence of the transition zone is very important in formation pressure evaluation.
Formation properties in this zone often show a change away from normally pressured depth
related trends. The magnitude of the change in the trend can sometimes be used to estimate
the change in the formation pressure gradient. The parameters used to monitor the trends in
formation properties are listed in Table 2.1. It must be realised that the start of the transition
zone marks the onset of abnormal pressures. Every effort must be made to recognise the
start of this zone both in well planning and during drilling.

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Table 2.1 Techniques used to Predict, Detect and


Evaluate Formation Pore Pressures

Data Source Pressure Data/Indicators Stage of Well

Offset wells Mudloggers reports Planning (also used for


Mud weights used comparisons whilst drilling)
Kick data
Wireline log data
Wireline formation test data
Drillstem test data

Geophysics Seismic (interval velocity) Planning

Drilling Drilling rate While drilling


parameters Drilling exponents
Other drilling rate methods
Torque
Drag
MWD logs

Drilling mud Gas levels While drilling (delayed by


parameters Flowline mud weight the time required for mud
Flowline temperature return)
Resistivity, salinity and
other mud properties
Well kicks
Pit levels
Hole fill-up
Mud flow rate

Cuttings Bulk density While drilling (delayed by


parameters Shale factor the time required for mud
Volume, shape and size return)
Miscellaneous methods

Wireline logs Sonic (int. transit time) After drilling


Resistivity log
Density log
Other logs

Direct pressure Wireline tests (RFT/FIT) Well testing or completion


measurements Drillstem tests

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2.2 FORMATION PRESSURE


EVALUATION DURING WELL PLANNING
Paragraph Page
1 General 2-6
2 Offset Well Data 2-6
3 Seismic Data 2-8
3.1 Abnormal Pressure Evaluation from Seismic Data 2-9
3.2 Identifying Shallow Gas Hazards 2-20
4 Summary 2-21

Illustrations
2.1 Pressure/Depth Plot 2-7
2.2 Schematic Diagram illustrating Seismic Reflection System
and Seismic Traces 2-9
2.3 Schematic Diagram showing Common Depth Point
(CDP) Seismic Ray Paths 2-10
2.4 Schematic Plot of Offset versus Two Way Travel Time
for Common Depth Point System 2-11
2.5 Example Seismic Velocity Analysis Plot 2-13
2.6 Example of Stacking Velocity Data on a Seismic Section 2-14
2.7 Seismic and Sonic ITT versus Depth Plots for
Abnormally Pressured Well 2-17
2.8 Log-log Plot of Seismic Interval Transit Time 2-18
2.9 ITT Departure versus Formation Pressure Gradient 2-19
2.10 ITT Ratio versus Formation Pressure Gradient 2-20
2.11 Example of Drilling Hazard Log over Shallow Section 2-22

Table
2.2 Calculation of Depths and Interval Transit Times 2-16

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1 General
At the planning stage of a well, several early decisions are made that are directly influenced
by the predicted formation pore pressure profile for the well. The magnitude of the expected
formation pressure influences the pressure rating of the casing and wellhead/BOP equipment
to be used, and can ultimately influence drilling rig selection. Casing programme design
and mud weight programmes should be tailored to the predicted formation pressures for
the␣well.

Other related aspects of well planning that are influenced include, cement programmes,
completion equipment, contingency stocks of casing, and mud chemicals/baryte stocks to
be held.

Thus, accurate formation pressure predictions are required in order to optimise well planning.
Good well planning will, in turn, help to minimise the risk of costly problems whilst drilling.

There are normally (but not always) two sources of formation pressure information for the
well location being considered. The first and most widely used is offset well data. However,
in areas where there are no offset wells or they are considered to be too far away to give
reasonable data, then seismic data may be used to predict formation pore pressures. Seismic
analysis may also be useful in validating offset well data for the location being considered.

2 Offset Well Data


Pressure data from nearby wells are commonly used to predict the pore pressure profile.
The data are often direct measurements which will give accurate pressures for the particular
offset well location. Pressures can also be calculated or inferred from other well data available
in well reports. The most commonly used sources of pressure data from offset wells are
listed at the top of Table 2.1. The methods used to calculate formation pressures from other
well data, such as wireline logs, are described in Sections 2.3 and 2.4.

The measured and calculated/inferred formation pressures are then applied to the same
formations in the well being planned. Additional information, such as the pressure gradient
of the expected reservoir fluid, is also used to finally arrive at a predicted formation pressure
profile for the well. This information is presented as a pressure depth plot, an example of
which is shown in Figure 2.1. (Fracture pressure information is also presented in the form
of formation leak off tests from offset wells.)

The accuracy of the pore pressure prediction from offset well data will depend on the type
of well that is to be drilled. The following two cases can be considered:

• Appraisal/development wells

The offset well data should usually be reliable as the offset wells will normally be fairly
close to the proposed well location and usually drilled on the same structure. For
development wells, the pore pressure profile should be accurately defined from data
from the appraisal wells.

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Figure 2.1 Pressure/Depth Plot

WELL No: 3/10b-a


AREA: UKCS North
0

Leak Off Test 30/4–1


Leak Off Test 30/4–2
500
Predicted Formation Pressure 3/10b-a

Holocene to Eocene
TERTIARY TO RECENT
1000

1500

Palaeocene
2000

2500
DEPTH (m)

Upper
CRETACEOUS
3000
SG EQUIVALENT

3500
psi ft

Lower

2.61
1.128
2.51
4000 1.085
2.41
1.042
2.31
0.998
2.21
4500
Upper

0.955
2.1
0.911
JURASSIC

5000
Middle Lower

SG EQUIVALENT 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9
0.477 0.564 0.651 0.738
psi ft
0.434 0.521 0.607 0.694 0.781
5500
0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 7000 8000 9000 10000 11000 12000 13000 14000 15000

PRESSURE (psi) WEOX02.078

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• Exploration wells

In well explored regions, such as certain areas of the North Sea, the offset well data
should be reliable enough for a good estimate to be made of the pore pressure profile
for the proposed exploration well. However, if the nearest offset wells are far away,
then the pressure data should be treated with caution when applying it to the proposed
well. If there are insufficient pressure data available for any one profile to be predicted,
then the alternatives should be considered and the ‘worst case’ evaluated for each
particular aspect of well planning.

Analysis of seismic data may be required to back-up the pressure profile predicted from
offset wells. In areas where there is no offset well information or they are too far away
to be of any use, then seismic data analysis may be the only method available to predict
the pore pressure profile (See Paragraph 3, ‘Seismic Data’).

In exploration areas where there is a well established Company office, the predicted pressure
profile is usually compiled by the Designated Resident Geologist (DRG) for the well. The
pressure depth plot should be obtained as soon as possible and the data must be checked
immediately by the Drilling Engineer responsible for planning the well. The DE must ensure
that the pressure data is the best available, whilst also accepting that the accuracy of the
data will vary depending on the number and proximity of nearby wells.

In areas where there is no established exploration office, or where the pressure profile is
required prior to compilation by the DRG, then the well planning DE will have to predict
the formation pressure profile. The DRG or Area Geology Group must be consulted. The
DRG or Area Geology Group will determine which offset wells are most ‘geologically
similar’ to the proposed well and hence the best source of formation pressure data. Also,
geological features such as faults and unconformities in the area will be identified. These
may affect the way in which the pressure data are applied to the proposed well.

Notes on formation pressures from offset wells are often given in the ‘Drilling Proposal’
document, together with the lithological prognosis and other pertinent data (well location,
target depths, total depth etc). Petroleum Engineers should also be consulted, as they may
have additional pressure information, especially regarding expected reservoir pressures.

3 Seismic Data
In hydrocarbon exploration, seismic data are mainly used to identify and map prospective
reservoir traps and to estimate the depths of formation tops in the lithological column. Seismic
data can also be used to predict formation pressures quantitatively, or at least to give an
indication of the entrance into abnormally high pressures. In new or relatively unexplored
areas, seismic data are often the only information available from which pore pressure data
can be derived.

Seismic data can also be used to indicate the possible presence of shallow gas bearing sands.
This is done using data from high resolution shallow seismic surveys which are normally
used down to a maximum depth of about 1000m below surface or the mudline.

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3.1 Abnormal Pressure Evaluation from Seismic Data

(a) Basic Theory


A seismic wave is an acoustic wave propagated in a solid material - normally a rock.
The velocity at which the wave travels depends upon the density and elasticity of the
rock, and the type of fluid occupying the pore spaces of the rock. Thus the formation
type, formation fluid type, and degree of compaction (ie depth) will determine the seismic
velocity in an particular formation.

Knowledge of seismic velocities in particular formations over a range of depths enables


geophysicists to make fairly reliable formation lithology predictions from seismic data.
It is also the seismic velocity of shale sequences that permits the use of seismic data for
predicting the presence of overpressured formations, and to estimate the magnitude of
the overpressure.

Refl
C
Time

Refl
B

Refl
A
Up hole time

First breaks

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Shot
Moment

Geophones Shot Point Geophones

V1

V2
Interval Reflecting
Velocities Beds
B

V3

C WEOX02.079

Figure 2.2 Schematic Diagram illustrating Seismic


Reflection System and Seismic Traces

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With increasing depth and compaction, the density and elasticity of shales increases
which results in increasing seismic velocity with depth. Overpressured shales are
undercompacted. This results in lower density and elasticity for that depth. The seismic
velocity in overpressured shales is thus lower than in normally pressured shales at similar
depths. Thus we need formation interval seismic velocity data to detect and evaluate
overpressured shales. These data are readily available from seismic surveys.

Seismic data are acquired by creating acoustic waves, by some form of explosion
(or␣implosion), and measuring the time taken for the wave to travel down to subsurface
reflecting beds and back to the surface. The surface point of origin of the wave is
called␣the shot point and the reflected waves are detected at surface by a series of
geophone (or hydrophones if offshore) placed at known distances from the shot point.
The system is shown schematically in Figure 2.2, together with the seismic traces
recorded by the geophones. The whole system is moved across the surface and the
measurements are repeated from a new shot point. The process is continued along a
pre-determined ‘seismic line’.

By using the geometric relationships between the shot points and geophone positions, it
is possible to identify a series of seismic traces that have approximately the same
reflection point on a reflecting bed. This point is known as a common depth point (CDP),
and the seismic paths associated with this point are shown in Figure 2.3. For clarity,
only the first reflecting bed is shown, but obviously the deeper reflecting beds will also
have corresponding CDPs vertically below, the reflections from which will appear on
the series of seismic traces. The distance between the shot point and any particular
geophone is termed the ‘offset’.

Offset

Shot Points Geophones


Surface

Reflecting bed A

COMMON DEPTH
POINT (CDP)

Figure 2.3 Schematic Diagram showing Common Depth


Point (CDP) Seismic Ray Paths

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Figure 2.4 Schematic Plot of Offset versus Two Way Travel


Time for Common Depth Point System

Offset, x

to

A
Time, t

Reflecting Beds
C

The equations of the dashed lines through the seismic reflections are of the form:

x = V √ t2 - to2

where to = vertical two way reflection time to reflecting beds (ie offset, x = o)
V = stacking velocity (average velocity)

Thus the stacking velocity, V, is the variable defining the hyperbolae which best fit
the seismic reflections.

WEOX02.081

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In practice, the seismic traces from the same CDP are collected together to form a ‘gather’
in which seismic traces at the various offsets are plotted against the reflection time. A
simplified schematic plot of offset versus reflection time is shown in Figure 2.4. With
greater offset, the path length of the wave is longer (See Figure 2.3) and the reflection
time for the same reflecting bed increases. Curves can be drawn through the peaks on
the seismic traces, corresponding to the same reflecting beds, as shown by the dashed
lines in Figure 2.4.

The geometry of the CDP seismic system is such that the equation of the curve through
the seismic peaks (known as a ‘seismic event’) from a horizontal reflector should be a
hyperbola. The variable defining the shape of the hyperbola is called the ‘stacking
velocity’ or the ‘normal moveout velocity’. In practice, the peaks on the seismic traces
do not lie exactly on a hyperbola. Velocity analyses are performed to determine the
velocity value that gives a ‘best fit’ hyperbola to the data. This is done by investigating
the hyperbolic function with a range of stacking velocities at increasing time increments,
and comparing the result to the actual data from the seismic traces on the gather.

The results from the velocity analysis are output in the form of a plot of stacking velocity
versus reflection times. A typical example plot from an actual analysis is shown in
Figure 2.5. The plot appears as a series of ‘contours’ defining a number of ‘peaks’. Due
to the mathematical computations involved in the analysis, the peaks represent the ‘best
fit’ stacking velocity values and the corresponding vertical two-way reflection times
for each reflecting bed.

The stacking velocities obtained are not the true average velocities from the surface to
the reflecting bed. However, the stacking velocity is usually considered to approximate
to the root mean square (RMS) velocity (as indicated on the horizontal axis in Figure␣2.5).
The RMS velocity is the average velocity along the actual path of the seismic wave. In
many cases, this is also considered to be equal to the vertical average velocity from the
surface to the subsurface reflecting bed. Thus, the velocity-time pairs (as they are called)
from the velocity analysis can be used to calculate the depths of the reflecting beds.

The stacking velocities are used to compute the vertical two-way reflection times for
each of the seismic traces on the seismic gather. The seismic gather can then be ‘stacked’
to form one ‘complete’ seismic trace for that particular CDP. A seismic section is then
produced by displaying the stacked traces for each CDP along a seismic line.

The stacking or RMS velocities are also used to calculate the interval velocities between
reflecting beds, which is the property that we require to detect and evaluate abnormal
pressure.

(b) The Method


Before attempting to predict a formation pore pressure profile from seismic data, the
Drilling Engineer must discuss the seismic data and velocity analyses with the Area
Geophysicist and Geologist. This will help to identify potential problems such as poor
seismic data, lithology complications, errors introduced by formation dip, etc. The DE
should then have a better understanding of the problems involved in predicting a pore
pressure profile for the well being planned.

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Figure 2.5 Example Seismic Velocity Analysis Plot
RMS VELOCITY (ft/sec)
10000

11000

12000

13000
4000

5000

6000

7000

8000

9000

0.0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
TWO-WAY TRAVEL TIME (millisecs)

1.0
1.2
1.4
1.6
1.8
2.0
2.2
WEOX02.082
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Figure 2.6 Example of Stacking Velocity Data on a


Seismic Section

SP 561

TIME VRMS VINT


0 1470 1470
200 1470 1635
300 1527 1809
650 1685 2320
1150 1986 2942
1450 2218 3098
1700 2368 4923
1850 2668 3416
2050 2750 3972
2200 2850 2866
2350 2851 3165
3100 2930 3479
5000 3150
LINE CB-82-39

LINE CB-82-41
SP 870 202

140 146
550 600

WEOX02.083

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The first step in the method is to obtain the stacking velocity data for a range of CDPs
near to the proposed well location. The stacking velocities used for these CDPs should
be given in panels displayed above the surface line on the seismic section. An example
is shown in Figure 2.6.

At this point, it is worth checking the stacking velocities given in the panels against the
velocities obtained from the CDP velocity analyses. This is because stacking velocities
are chosen to produce a good CDP stack (‘clean’ appearance) and may not be equal to
the values that would be obtained from a velocity analysis such as that in Figure 2.5. A
geophysicist should be consulted to decide which stacking velocities should be used,
although more often than not, the velocities given in the panel on the seismic section
will suffice.

The interval velocities are then calculated from the two-way time and stacking velocity
(average velocity) using Dix’s formula:

(V i12)2 = t 2(V 2)2 – t 1(V 1)2


t 2 – t1 (2-1)

where Vi12 = interval velocity between reflecting beds 1 and 2 (m/s)


t1 = two-way travel time for reflecting bed 1 (s)
t2 = two-way travel time for reflecting bed 2 (s)
V1 = average velocity to reflecting bed 1 (m/s)
V2 = average velocity to reflecting bed 2 (m/s)

In the example shown in Figure 2.6, the interval velocities have already been computed
using Dix’s formula. The depths to the reflecting beds are calculated from:

D = t.V (2-2)
2

where D = depth of the reflecting bed (m)


t = two-way travel time for the reflecting bed (s)
V = average velocity to reflecting bed (m/s)

Note that the two-way time in the panel in Figure 2.6 is given in milliseconds (ms). This
needs to be converted to seconds for use in equation (2-2) (1ms = 10 3 sec).

A table should be drawn up as shown in Table 2.2. The final step in the calculations is to
convert interval velocities, a term used by geophysicists, into interval transit times which
is a term more familiar to drilling engineers. This is done by simply taking the reciprocal
of the interval velocity. Note that interval transit times are expressed in micro-seconds
per metre (µsec/m) (1µsec = 10-6 sec).

A plot of interval transit time (ITT) versus depth can then be constructed. The interval
transit time is plotted as a vertical line over the depth interval, for which it was calculated.
This results in a plot similar to a sonic log plot but in which the data are averaged over
long sections and not, as with the wireline sonic log, over a few feet only. A plot of the
data from Table 2.2 is shown in Figure 2.7. The corresponding wireline sonic log plot is
also shown for comparison. Note that ITT is plotted on a logarithmic scale and depth on
a linear scale. The types of scales that are used are discussed further in (c)
‘Interpretation’.

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Two-way Average Depth Int. velocity Int. transit


time (stacking) (Dix’s formula) time
velocity
t V D Vi ∆ti
(millisecs) (m/s) (m) (m/s) (µsec/m)

0 1470 0 1470 680

200 1470 147 1635 612

300 1527 229 1809 553

650 1685 548 2320 431

1150 1986 1142 2942 340

1450 2218 1608 3098 324

1700 2368 2013 4923 203

1850 2668 2468 3416 293

2050 2750 2819 3972 252

2200 2850 3135 2866 349

2350 2851 3350 3165 316

3100 2930 4542 3479 287

5000 3150 7875

Table 2.2 Calculation of Depths and Interval Transit Times

(c) Interpretation
As stated, overpressured shales have lower interval velocities, and therefore higher
interval transit times than normally pressured shales at the same depth. The normal
shale compaction trend line on the ITT depth plot decreases with depth. Thus an increase
in interval transit time away from the normal trend line indicates the presence of abnormal
pressures. This is shown by the shaded section in Figure 2.7. From the seismic ITT plot
(‘stepped’ profile), the top of the abnormal pressures would probably be estimated to be
at 2300m to 2500m. When the well was drilled the top of the abnormal pressures was
found to be at about 2000m.

There is a certain amount of conflict surrounding the types of scale that should be used
for plotting ITT data. The format used in Figure 2.7 assumes that the normal compaction
trend is a straight line on semi-logarithmic scales. This method is recommended by
Fertl(17), as it enables ITT data to be directly compared with other pressure indicators
that are plotted using the same linear depth scale (composite plots). Alternatively,
Pennebaker(25) suggested that the normal compaction trend should be a straight line on
log-log scales. An example plot of this format is shown in Figure 2.8.

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Figure 2.7 Seismic and Sonic ITT versus Depth Plots for
Abnormally Pressured Well

LITHOLOGY
500

SEISMIC
DATA
1000 siltstone with
mudstone

SONIC
LOG

1500
calcareous
mudstone
Overpressure
and siltstone
Top:

Actual
2000
sandstone
DEPTH (metres)

limestone
Predicted

2500

3000

mudstone and
siltstone

3500
e
d lin
tren
tion
pac
com

4000
mal

sandstone
Nor

4500
mudstone and
siltstone

100 200 300 400 500 600 800

INTERVAL TRANSIT TIME (µsec/m)

WEOX02.084

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NORMAL TREND

DEPTH

TOP OF OVERPRESSURE

T, Interval Transit Time


WEOX02.085

Figure 2.8 Log-log Plot of Seismic Interval Transit Time

Both the semi-log and log-log plots of ITT versus depth will show approximately the
same top of abnormal pressures. However, a major difference between the two methods
arises when the plots are used to estimate the magnitude of the abnormal pressures.
Charts relating the magnitude of formation pressures to some function of the ‘departure’
of the observed ITT values from the extrapolated normal ITT values are available for
both methods. For the semi-log plot, the difference between the observed and normal
ITT values is used to estimate formation pressures from a chart such as the one shown
in Figure 2.9. For the log-log plot, Pennebaker(25) presented a chart that required the
ratio of observed ITT to normal ITT in order to estimate the magnitude of the abnormal
pressures, as shown in Figure 2.10.

Thus, the two methods of plotting ITT data require entirely separate empirically derived
charts to estimate the magnitude of abnormal pressures. It is most important that the
correct chart is used when estimating formation pressures. The chart from one
method should never be used with an ITT plot from the other method.

It should also be noted that different geological areas have vastly different correlations
between ITT departure and formation pressure (See Figure 2.9). Hence, it is most
important to obtain the correct correlation for the area that is being investigated. It may
be necessary to determine a new correlation for the area of interest. This can only be
done using actual well data on a regional basis and with the assistance of the geologists
and geophysicists. In completely unexplored areas, this may not be possible at all.

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Another major problem in interpreting seismic ITT plots is the placing of the normal
compaction trend line. Referring to Figure 2.7, it would be most difficult to determine
the exact position and gradient of the normal compaction trend line from the seismic
data alone. The various non-shale lithologies affect the data quite considerably and
even with the actual sonic log from the well overplotted, the correct position of the
normal compaction trend line is still open to debate. One possible solution to this problem
is to make numerous seismic ITT (and sonic log ITT, if available) plots for the region
being investigated. It may then be possible to determine the position and gradient of an
average normal compaction trend line for the region.

A full discussion of other problems associated with the interpretation of seismic ITT␣plots
is given by Barr (2) and are further discussed in relation to sonic log plots in Section 2.4
of this Chapter.

1.0
ST 2.25
COA
GULF

0.9 OX
ILC BASIN
W WARE 2.00
DELA

EQUIVALENT MUD WEIGHT SG


XAS
ST TE
PRESSURE GRADIENT psi/ft

WE
0.8
RG 1.75
SBU IO
CK FR
VI EA
2
T

0.7 S
AS

I NA
CO

CH
H
LF

UT A 1.50
GU

SO H SE (FRIO, VICKSBURG,
0.6 RT AND WILCOX – SOUTH
NO
TEXAS GULF COAST
AREAS)
1.25
0.5

1.00
0.4
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80
abnormal normal
SONIC LOG DEPARTURE t pressured – t pressured , u sec/ft
shale shale

WEOX02.086

Figure 2.9 ITT Departure versus Formation


Pressure Gradient

To summarise, seismic ITT data may be of use in determining the possible existence of
overpressures at the planned well location. Depending on the degree of knowledge of
compaction trends/formation pressure relationships for the area, it may be possible to
use the seismic ITT data to estimate the magnitude of formation pressures. However, it
must not be assumed that abnormal pressures do not exist because of a lack of indications
from the seismic ITT data. The construction and interpretation of seismic ITT plots
should always be done in conjunction with the local geophysicists and geologists.

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0.4

0.5

1.25

0.6

1.50
PORE EQUIVALENT
PRESSURE 0.7 MUD DENSITY
GRADIENT SG
psi/ft

1.75

0.8

2.00
0.9

2.25

1.0 1.2 1.4 1.6

T/ Tn
Note: See warning in (c) Interpretation.

WEOX02.087

Figure 2.10 ITT Ratio versus Formation Pressure Gradient

3.2 Identifying Shallow Gas Hazards

Detailed high resolution seismic surveys as well as conventional seismic data are used to
identify potential gas bearing zones at shallow depths by using a technique known as ‘bright
spot’ analysis. The high resolution seismic data are acquired over a survey grid with perhaps
only 150m between seismic lines, the grid covering an area of only a few square kilometres
around a proposed well location. The data are processed to produce detailed seismic sections
usually down to a maximum depth of about 1000m.

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Gas bearing formations may produce high amplitude ‘anomalies’ on the seismic reflection
traces of the seismic section. These high amplitudes (relative to the other seismic reflections)
are caused by strong seismic reflections due to the velocity impedance contrast between the
gas bearing formation and the overlying formations. These amplitude anomalies appear
visually on the seismic section as bright areas. The lateral extent of the bright spots can be
mapped on a horizontal section, or sections, and the area of the proposed well location
examined in detail. It may be necessary to move the well location to avoid drilling into a
possible shallow gas zone as indicated by a bright spot.

It must be noted that the high resolution seismic technique cannot usually detect a gas sand
that is less than 2 to 3 metres thick, although such a thickness of gas accumulation may be
enough to cause a shallow gas blowout. Also, the absence of bright spots does not mean that
there will be no shallow gas and conversely, bright spots do not always contain gas. However,
it is wise to avoid drilling through any bright spots if possible.

Ideally, the Geophysicists must be responsible for analysing the shallow seismic data at the
proposed well location. Once the well location has been finalised, the Drilling Engineer
should liaise closely with the Geophysicists and Geologists to produce a drilling engineering
hazard log over the depths covered by the shallow seismic survey. An example hazard log is
shown in Figure 2.11. It will not be possible to predict formation pressures for shallow gas
formations from the seismic data. However, drilling personnel should always be aware that
shallow gas bearing formations may be overpressured, though this is not normally the case.

4 Summary
The importance of reliable formation pressure data must be stressed. It is the responsibility
of the well planning DE to ensure that the pressure data used are the most accurate available.

Whenever possible, pressure data from offset wells should be used to predict the pore pressure
profile for well planning. Direct pressure measurements such as those from RFTs, drillstem
tests and well kicks should give more accurate data than pressures derived from well logs.

Seismic methods of pressure prediction should only be used in the absence of offset well
data. Occasionally, seismic analysis may be necessary to endorse the data from offset wells,
although there is no guarantee that this will be successful.

A recent development by Geochemistry Branch at Company Research Centre, Sunbury is


worthy of note. A compaction model has been developed that may have an application for
predicting formation pressures. This model may be useful for pressure prediction in areas
with very few or no offset wells, especially if used in conjunction with seismic data. At
present, the model is being validated against actual well data.

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Figure 2.11 Example of Drilling Hazard Log


over Shallow Section

CASING DEPTH DRILLING


(m) HAZARD

RTE 0

SEABED 100

200
210 BASE OF NEAR SURFACE SEDIMENT
230 POSSIBLE SHALLOW GAS

30in
(320m)
350 FAULT

400

SAND, LENSES, POSSIBLE GAS

470

18 5/8in
(580m)
600
620

SAND AND SHALE

800

850 FAULT

1000 BASE OF SHALLOW SURVEY WEOX02.088

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2.3 FORMATION PRESSURE EVALUATION


WHILST DRILLING
Paragraph Page
1 General 2-25
2 Drilling Parameters 2-25
2.1 Rate of Penetration 2-25
2.2 Drilling Exponents 2-27
2.3 Other Drilling Rate Methods 2-38
2.4 Hole Characteristics 2-42
3 Drilling Mud Parameters 2-43
3.1 Gas Levels 2-43
3.2 Temperature 2-52
3.3 Resistivity/Conductivity/Chlorides 2-53
3.4 Flowline Mud Weight 2-53
4 Cutting Parameters 2-53
5 Measurement While Drilling (MWD) Techniques 2-60
6 Mud Logging Service 2-61
7 Summary 2-64

Illustrations
2.12 Example showing Increase in Penetration Rate
on Entering an Abnormally High Pressure Zone 2-26
2.13 Effect of Lithology Variation on Penetration Rate 2-27
2.14 Effect of Bit Condition on Penetration Rate when Drilling
into an Overpressured Zone 2-28
2.15 Schematic Diagram showing Typical response of
Corrected d-exponent in Transition and
Overpressured Zones 2-30
2.16 Schematic Diagrams showing Various Typical
d c-exponent Responses 2-31
2.17 Schematic Diagram showing dc-exponent Response
to Overcompaction caused by Ice Sheet Loading 2-33
2.18 Example of Formation Pressure Determination from the
d c-exponent plot using the ‘Ratio Method’ 2-34

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Illustrations
2.19 Example showing the ‘Equivalent Depth Method’ for
Formation Pressure Determination from dc-exponent Plots 2-36
2.20 Example showing Formation Pressure Determination
from the dc-exponent Plot using Lines Constructed
from the ‘Eaton Equation’ 2-49
2.21 Example showing the ‘Normalized Penetration Rate’
Method for Determination of Formation Pressures 2-40
2.22 Schematic Diagram showing Mud Gas Levels as an
Indicator of Formation Pressures 2-45
2.23 Example of Mud Gas Levels showing Trip Gas,
Kelly Gas (Kelly Cut), and Recycled Trip Gas 2-46
2.24 Schematic Diagram showing Theoretical Geothermal
Gradients and Temperature Profile through an
Overpressured Zone 2-49
2.25 Schematic Diagram showing Expected Flowline
Temperature Response on Drilling through
an Overpressured Zone 2-49
2.26 Example Flowline Temperature Plots showing Raw
Data Plot, End-to-end Plot and Trend-to-trend Plot 2-50
2.27 Example ‘Horner’ Temperature Plot for Estimation
of True Bottomhole Temperature (BHT) 2-51
2.28 Example of Typical Response of Differential Mud
Conductivity/Delta Chlorides 2-53
2.29 Schematic Shale Bulk Density/Depth Plot 2-54
2.30 Variable Density Column for Measuring Shale Bulk Density 2-55
2.31 Response of Shale Bulk Density/Depth Plots in
Overpressures caused by Various Mechanisms 2-56
2.32 Shale Factor/Depth Response to Overpressure caused
by Compaction Disequilibrium and Clay Diagenesis 2-58
2.33 Characterisation of Shale Cavings Caused by
Underbalanced Conditions and Stress Relief 2-59
2.34 Mud Logging Unit Functions and Information Flow Diagram 2-62

Table
2.3 General Mud Logging Sensor Specifications 2-63

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1 General
The aim of formation pressure evaluation whilst drilling is to determine the optimum mud
weight to contain any formation pore pressures encountered, whilst maximising rates of
penetration and minimising the hazards of lost circulation and drillstring differential sticking.
To achieve this, formation properties have to be closely monitored in order to detect any
changes that may indicate the transition from a normally pressured zone to an abnormally
pressured zone or vice versa.

Abnormally pressured zones may exhibit several of the following properties when compared
to normally pressured zones at the same depths.

• Higher porosities

• Higher temperatures

• Lower formation water salinity

• Lower bulk densities

• Lower shale resistivities

• Higher interval velocities

• Hydrocarbon saturations may be different (ie higher saturation)

Any measureable parameter which reflects the changes in these properties may be used as a
means of evaluating formation pressures. The parameters commonly used to evaluate
formation pressures while drilling are listed in Table 2.1. It should be remembered however,
that the above properties also vary with differing lithologies. Lithological variations should
always be taken into account when interpreting changes in drilling and mud parameters.

As the aim of formation pressure evaluation whilst drilling is to reduce the risk of taking
well kicks, this section concentrates on the techniques used to achieve this. The pressure
evaluation techniques in Table 2.1 that are associated with kicks are not discussed here.

2 Drilling Parameters
2.1 Rate of Penetration

Rate of penetration varies with the weight on the bit, rotary speed, bit type and size,
hydraulics, drilling fluid properties and formation characteristics. If the weight on bit, rotary
speed, bit type, mud density and hydraulics are held constant, then the rate of penetration
(ROP) in shales will decrease uniformly with depth. This is due to the normal compaction
increase in shales with depth. However, the undercompaction present in transition and
abnormally pressured zones, together with the reduction in differential pressures across the
bottom of the hole, result in an increase in penetration rate. It should also be noted that
slower penetration rates have often been observed in the ‘cap rock’ (pressure seal) overlying
transition zones.

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March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

The increase in ROP on drilling into a transition zone can be best seen on a plot of ROP
versus depth. The average ROP over 0.5 to 2m depth increments (depending on whether
the␣drilling is slow or fast) is plotted as shown in Figure 2.12. A normal compaction trend
can be established in shales as shown. A new trendline must be established for each new
bit␣ r un. An increase in penetration rate away from the normal compaction trend may
indicate␣abnormal pressures provided that the drilling and mud parameters, and lithology ,
remain constant.

ROP

NORMAL SHALE
TREND LINE
DEPTH

NEW BIT

TOP OF
OVERPRESSURES

WEOX02.089

Figure 2.12 Example showing Increase in Penetration


Rate on Entering an Abnormally High
Pressure Zone
Complications arise due to lithology changes and bit dulling. Sandstone usually drills much
faster than shales. This is normally shown by a sharp increase in ROP as the sandstone is
penetrated. This effect, known as a ‘drilling break’ is shown schematically in Figure 2.13.
The normal compaction trend must be established over the shale sections only.

Drilling breaks must always be flow checked regardless of whether the current estimated
pore pressure gradient is less that the mud weight. Occasionally, the transition zone may be
only a few metres thick if there is a very good pressure seal. This may make it very difficult
to identify an increase in ROP as being one due to increased pore pressure, because it may
be masked by a drilling break.

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March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

ROP

sand

shale
NORMAL SHALE
COMPACTION
TREND LINE
DEPTH

WEOX02.090

Figure 2.13 Effect of Lithology Variation


on Penetration Rate

Bit dulling can also mask penetration rate changes due to pore pressure increases. A
comparison of ROP curves in an overpressured section for a dull bit and a sharp bit are
shown in Figure 2.14. The dull bit continues to show the normal compaction trend in the
transition zone whilst the sharp bit clearly shows a gradual increase in ROP. The dull bit
ROP may even show a decrease in the overpressured zone if the bit is very worn and close
to being pulled.

In practice, drilling parameters are rarely held constant, as they are purposefully varied in
order to maximise the penetration rate. Thus, ROP curves alone tend to be of limited use in
identifying overpressured zones. They may, however, provide additional information when
used in conjunction with other abnormal pressure indicators.

2.2 Drilling Exponents

From the preceding discussion on ROP curves, it is clear that a method of accounting for
the effect of drilling parameters is desirable in order to make ROP a better indicator of
abnormal pressures. The ‘d-exponent’ attempts to achieve this.

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March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

SHARP BIT DULL BIT


ROP ROP

sand

shale
DEPTH

TOP TRANSITION ZONE

WEOX02.091

Figure 2.14 Effect of Bit Condition on Penetration Rate


when Drilling into an Overpressured Zone

(a) d-Exponent
In 1965, Bingham(4) proposed a generalised drilling rate equation to relate all the relevant
drilling parameters:

d
ROP = a WOB (2-3)
N B
where ROP = penetration rate (ft/min)
N = rotary speed (rpm)
B = bit diameter (ft)
WOB = weight on bit (lb)
a = rock matrix strength constant (dimensionless)
d = formation drillability exponent (dimensionless)

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March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Jorden and Shirley (21) rewrote equation 2-3 for ‘d’, the drillability exponent. They inserted
constants to allow the use of more common oilfield units and let the matrix strength
constant, ‘a’, equal 1. This removed the need to derive values for the matrix strength
constant, but made d-exponent lithology dependent:

log ROP
d= 60N
log 12WOB
106 B

where d = drillability exponent (d-exponent) (dimensionless)


ROP = penetration rate (ft/hr)
N = rotary speed (rpm)
B = bit diameter (in.)
WOB = weight on bit (lb)

NOTE: The constant 106 is simply a scaling factor inserted in the equation in order to
give values of d in a convenient workable range, normally about 1.0 to 3.0.

In constant lithology, d-exponent will increase with depth as the ROP decreases due to
the increased compaction and differential pressures across the bottom of the hole.
However, when an overpressured zone is penetrated, compaction and differential pressure
will decrease and will result in a decrease in d-exponent. Hence d-exponent is, in general,
related to the differential pressure at the bottom of the hole which in turn is dependent
on pore pressure.

(b) Corrected d-Exponent


Since the differential pressure across the bottom of the hole is affected by the mud␣weight
also, then changes in the mud weight will produce unwanted changes in d-exponent.
Hence Rehm and McClendon (27) proposed the following correction to the d-exponent to
account for mud weight variations:

dc = d X FPG N (2-5)
ECD

where dc = corrected or modified d-exponent (dimensionless)


FPGN = normal formation pressure gradient (ppg, SG)
ECD = equivalent circulating density (ppg, SG)

This correction has no theoretical basis but has been successfully used worldwide. ECD
should be used whenever possible but use of the actual mud density has been found to
be acceptable. The response of d-exponent in overpressure is shown schematically in
Figure 2.15.

The dc-exponent may be plotted with either semi-log or linear co-ordinate axes. Either
system will produce an approximately linear, normal compaction trendline, as indicated
in Figure 2.15. In practice, the semi-log co-ordinate system gives a more efficient data
display (values of dc are normally in the range 0.5 to 2.0) and is a more suitable format
for making formation pressure estimates from dc-exponent.

A d c-exponent plot should be commenced as soon as drilling begins. Values should be


calculated at 0.5 to 2m intervals, depending on penetration rate. This is normally done
automatically by the Mud Logger’s computer and displayed as required. The values
may also be plotted up automatically to enable trends to be spotted as early as possible.

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

NORMAL
CONCEPTION
TREND UNE

NORMAL
PRESSURE
DEPTH

TRANSITION
ZONE

OVERPRESSURED
ZONE

dc WEOX02.092

Figure 2.15 Schematic Diagram showing Typical response


of Corrected d-exponent in Transition and
Overpressured Zones

The ‘normal’ dc trendline should be established as soon as possible in order that transition
zones to abnormal pressures can be recognised as they are being drilled. However, it is
often difficult to precisely establish the normal dc trendline due to scatter in the dc
values calculated. This variation in d c values is mainly caused by:

• Lithology

As previously stated, d-exponent increases with depth and compaction in constant


lithology. This implies that d-exponent is mainly applicable to shales. Changes
in␣lithology will thus cause changes in the value of d c. If the lithology change is
relatively minor, such as silty shales, then a slight decrease in dc values may be
observed which may not affect the overall trend significantly. Cuttings analysis should
help to identify ‘true’ shale points for use in establishing the normal trend if the dc
values show a large␣scatter .

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March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

Figure 2.16 Schematic Diagrams showing Various Typical


dc-exponent Responses

(a) (b)

MUDSTONE
SOFT CLAY
NORMAL PRESSURE

NORMAL PRESSURE
SAND
SILTY MUDSTONE
CALCITIC MUDSTONE
MUDSTONE
DEPTH

DEPTH
MUDSTONE SAND

MUDSTONE
CALCITIC MUDSTONE
OVERPRESSURE

OVERPRESSURE
MUDSTONE
MUDSTONE
SAND

MUDSTONE
CALCITIC MUDSTONE

dc dc

(c) (d)

ROCK BIT
12 1/4in / 25 000 lb
W/B = 2040 lb/in
SMOOTHED CURVE SMOOTHED
RAW DATA CURVE
DEPTH

DEPTH

INSERT
BIT

12 1/2in / 10 000 lb
W/B = 1178 lb/in

ROCK BIT

RAW DATA

dc dc

(e) (f)

NEW BIT
NORMAL PRESSURE
DEPTH

DEPTH

NEW BIT
OVERPRESSURE

NEW BIT
FRESH BIT DULL BIT

dc dc
WEOX02.093

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For major lithological variations, such as interbedded sandstone/shale, the normal


trend must be developed through the shale sections only. The increased ROP in sand
sections will give sharply decreased dc values. (It may be possible to develop normal
trendlines for the various other lithologies but these are of little use in overpressure
evaluation and may only serve to confuse matters.) The important message here is
that lithology variations must be taken into account when interpreting dc-exponent
plots. The response of d c in various lithologies is shown schematically in Figure␣2.16
(a) and (b).

• Hydraulics

Changes in drilling hydraulics may produce changes in dc-exponent. This also applies
to formations that are susceptible to jetting. Therefore, it is often impossible to
establish a normal dc trend in soft, unconsolidated sediments, such as those commonly
drilled in offshore top hole sections.

• Bits

The different drilling actions of different types of bits, ie mill tooth or insert, can
cause variations and trend shifts in dc.

It is sometimes necessary to plot a ‘smoothed’ curve to account for trend shifts as


shown schematically in Figures 2.16 (c) and (d). Changes in hole size will also
produce a trend shift in dc.

The effect of bit wear is to produce an increase in dc values towards the end of the
bit run, as indicated in Figure 2.16(e). The new bit should give a new dc trend that
continues along the previous trend provided that it is the same type of bit and none
of the other parameters have varied significantly.

The effect of drilling into an overpressured zone as the bit dulls is shown schematically
in Figure 2.16 (f). A dull bit may mask the decrease in dc which would be expected
if the bit was fresh. In extreme cases, bit dulling may totally mask or even produce
an increase in dc values even though an overpressured zone has been penetrated.

Thus it can be seen that the position of normal trends should be established with great
care, as should the practice of shifting trends from raw data to produce smoothed curves.

Two further noteworthy phenomena that may cause difficulty in interpreting the plots␣are:

• Unconformities/Disconformities

The presence of an unconformity/disconformity in the geological age of formations


being drilled will often change the character of the normal trendline. The different
compaction histories and sedimentary conditions of the formations above and below
an unconformity/disconformity may result in not only a shifted normal dc trendline,
but also a change in slope. A new trendline should be established after drilling through
an unconformity/disconformity.

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BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

dc – EXPONENT

0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0

1.2

1.
SG

1S
1.3

G
SG

OVERCOMPACTED
DEPTH

NORMAL
COMPACTION
TREND

NORMALLY COMPACTED

OVERPRESSURED

WEOX02.094

Figure 2.17 Schematic Diagram showing dc-exponent


Response to Overcompaction caused by Ice
Sheet Loading

• Ice Sheet Compaction

Ice sheet compaction can often cause a good normal compaction trend to be
established at shallow depths in top hole sections. This is due to the increased
compaction of the near surface sediments caused by the weight of a once present
overlying ice sheet. This may lead to a normal d c trend being developed through dc
values that are too high. The compacting influence of the ice sheet is often dissipated
after the first few hundred metres and the d c-exponent then appears to decrease to a
new normal trend, falsely indicating an increase in pore pressure. This effect is shown
schematically in Figure 2.17.

(c) The Calculation of Formation Pressures using dc


Once the normal compaction trend has been firmly established on the dc-exponent plot,
then d c values that decrease away from this line may indicate abnormal formation
pressures. This is, of course, provided that there have been no significant changes in
lithology or in any of the other relevant parameters.

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• The ratio method

The magnitude of the formation pressure can be related to the dc deviation on the
semi-log plot using the ‘ratio method’:

FPG O = FPGN X dcN


dcO (2-6)

where FPG O = actual formation pressure gradient at depth of interest


(psi/ft, SG or ppg)
FPG N = normal formation pressure gradient (psi/ft, SG or ppg)
dcO = observed corrected d-exponent at depth of interest
dcN = expected corrected d-exponent on normal trendline at
depth of interest

Normal shale trend line


Normal formation pressure
Gradient is 1.08 SG
SANDS

2.04
1.80
SG 1.56
DEPTH

1.44
1.32
1.20
TYPICAL
1.08 SG TRANSITION
ZONE

Maximum formation press


gradient is 1.43 SG

Maximum formation press


gradient is 1.66 SG

dc – EXPONENT (SEMI-LOG SCALE) WEOX02.095

Figure 2.18 Example of Formation Pressure Determination


from the dc-exponent plot using the
‘Ratio Method’
Equation 2-6 is only valid for the semi-log dc plots as it is assumed that dc is an
exponential function of depth. By rearranging the above equation into:

dcO = d cN X FPG N (2-7)


FPG O

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March 1995
BP WELL CONTROL MANUAL

and substituting known values of FPG N and dc at various depths, it is possible to


calculate a series of values of dcO , equivalent to various values of formation pressure
gradient, FPGO. These series of values of dcO can be plotted on the semi-log dc plot
as lines parallel to the normal d c trendline. The formation pressure gradient at any
desired depth can then be estimated directly from the dc plot. Figure 2.18 shows an
example d c plot with equivalent formation pressure gradient lines drawn in.

NOTE: Transparent overlays ready marked with equivalent formation pressure


gradient lines are sometimes available for reading formation pressures directly
off the dc plot. As it is never certain exactly what depth and dc scales were
used to construct these overlays, their use should be avoided in making
formation pressure gradient estimates.

The ratio method is a very simple method of making formation pressure estimates
from dc-exponent. However, it ignores the effect of the variable overburden gradient
(See ‘Overburden Pressure’ in Chapter 1, Section 1.1), which controls compaction
trends. This effect is reflected in the d c-exponent trend, but is considered not
accurately defined by it. An alternative method of calculating formation pressures
from the dc plot is the equivalent depth method.

• Equivalent Depth Method

Due to the increase in compaction with depth, the formation matrix stress also
increases, and the formation becomes harder to drill. In overpressured formations
the compaction and matrix stresses are less than would be normally expected at that
depth. The equivalent depth method attempts to relate these values to the depth at
which they would be normal.

The method assumes that the matrix stress (grain to grain contact pressure) is equal
at all depths having the same value of dc. Matrix stress (M) is related to pore pressure
(P f) and the overburden pressure (S) as shown by equation 1-8 (See Chapter 1,
Section 1.1). This equation can be rearranged to give:

Pf = S – M (2-8)

This equation holds at any depth. Therefore, referring to the example dc plot in
Figure 2.19, the actual formation pressure gradient (FPG O) at the depth of interest
(D O) is given by:

FPGO = PfO = SO – M O
DO D O DO

FPGO = OPGO – MO (2-9)


DO

where OPG O = overburden pressure gradient at depth of interest (psi/ft)


MO = matrix stress at depth of interest (psi)

The overburden pressure gradient is known because it is continually estimated by


the Mud Loggers and updated from wireline formation density or sonic logs.
(The␣overburden gradient is required for estimating fracture pressures as well as for
making pore pressure estimates.) However, the value of the matrix stress at the depth
of interest is unknown.

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A line is then constructed vertically upwards from the value of dc at the depth of
interest until it crosses the normal dc trendline at ‘the equivalent depth’ (DE), as
shown in Figure 2.19. At this equivalent depth, both the pore pressure and the
overburden pressure are known. Thus, equation 2-8 can be solved for the matrix
stress (ME) at the equivalent depth (DE):

ME = SE – PfE (2-10)

In terms of gradients:

ME = SE = PfE = OPG E – FPG E


DE DE DE

ME = DE (OPGE – FPG E) (2-11)

where OPGE = overburden gradient at equivalent depth (psi/ft)


FPGE = formation pressure gradient at equivalent depth (psi/ft) which also
equals the normal formation pressure gradient at the equivalent
depth FPGNE (psi/ft)

dc – EXPONENT
0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0

DE
DEPTH

NORMAL
COMPACTION
TREND

DO

WEOX02.096

Figure 2.19 Example showing the ‘Equivalent Depth


Method’ for Formation Pressure Determination
from dc-exponent Plots

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Since the matrix stress at the depth of interest and equivalent depth are considered
equal (equal d c values), then substituting equation 2-11 into equation 2-9 gives:

FPGO = OPGO – D E (OPGE – FPG NE) (2-12)


DO

where FPG O = formation pressure gradient at depth of interest (psi/ft)


OPG O = overburden pressure gradient at depth of interest (psi/ft)
OPG E = overburden pressure gradient at equivalent depth (psi/ft)
FPG NE = normal formation pressure gradient at equivalent depth (psi/ft)
DO = depth of interest (ft)
DE = equivalent depth (depth at which dc is equal to value at DO) (ft)

NOTE: Equation 2-12 can be used directly with gradients in SG, lb/gal or psi/ft
and depths in metres or ft.

The equivalent depth method has been successfully used to estimate formation
pressures from both semi-log and linear scale d c plots. However a major flaw in the
theory occurs when the equivalent depth of a particular overpressured formation is
found to be above the rig floor. This will be the case if high overpressures are
developed at relatively shallow depths. Also, the method relies on determining the
intersection point of a vertical line with the normal compaction trendline. It therefore
becomes inaccurate when the normal compaction trendline is very steep, as is usually
the case on the semi-log dc plot.

• The Eaton Method

The most accurate estimates of formation pressure from dc-exponent are considered
to be obtained from the Eaton equation. This empirical equation was again developed
from the basic relationship between pore pressure, overburden pressure, and matrix
stress (equation 2-8). For normal pressure conditions:

MN = S O – PfN (2-13)

Eaton then introduced a term to relate the dc-exponent (drilling rate) response in
overpressures to the reduction in matrix stress:
1.20
MO = MN DcO (2-14)
d cN

Combining equations (2-13) and (2-14) gives:

1.20
MO = (SO – PfN) dcO (2-15)
d cN

Rewriting equation 2-13 for an abnormally pressured situation gives:

MO = S O – PfO (2-16)

Substituting equation 2-16 into equation 2-15 then gives the Eaton equation:
1.20
PfO = SO – (SO – PfN) DcO (2-17)
d cN

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Dividing through by the depth (D), gives the equation in terms of gradients:

1.20
PfO = SO – SO – PfN dcO
DO DO DO DO d cN

1.20
FPGO = OPGO (OPGO – FPGN) dcO
d cN

where FPGO, FPGN, OPGO, dcO and dcN are the same terms as explained for equations
2-6 and 2-12.

By rearranging equation 2-18 and substituting known values of FPGN, d cN and OPG,
it is possible to plot a series of d cO lines equivalent to various values of FPG O (in a
similar manner to that previously explained for the Ratio method). An example of
this construction is shown schematically in Figure 2.20. Formation pressure gradients
can then be read directly from the dc plot.

Eaton originally developed the equation for use in estimating formation pressures
from shale resistivity plots (See Section 2.4), but found that it applied equally
to␣corrected d-exponent. The value of the exponent, 1.20, was derived from actual
well data.

All the methods for estimating formation pressures from dc-exponent plots rely on correct
placement of the normal compaction trend. The difficulties in achieving this have
previously been discussed and highlight the fact that identification of overpressured
zones should not be based on dc-exponent calculations alone. Other abnormal pressure
indicators, which are often more basic in nature than dc-exponent calculations, should
always be checked. These indicators must support, as far as possible, any formation
pressure conclusions drawn from the dc plot.

Drilling factors that are not accounted for by dc-exponent are drilling hydraulics, bit
tooth efficiency (bit wear) and matrix strength (lithology dependent). Also, the
relationship between ROP and the various drilling parameters is not so simple as is
implied by the dc-exponent equation.

These factors have led to the development of more refined drilling exponents in which
attempts have been made to model the various drilling/formation interactions more
closely. In particular, mud logging companies have developed their own drilling
exponents from which they make formation pressure estimates. Exlog’s ‘Nx’ (normalised
exponent) and ‘Nxb’, and Anadrill’s ‘A’ exponent are examples of these more refined
drilling exponents.

The theory of these drilling exponent methods will not be discussed in detail here as
their formulae are of a proprietary nature and are not generally available. Suffice it to
say that the methods still rely on estimating a normal compaction trend and spotting
deviations from it caused by pore pressure changes and not by lithology or drilling
changes.

2.3 Other Drilling Rate Methods

There are a number of other drilling rate methods for estimating formation pressures that
are worthy of note. As these methods are generally more complex than d-exponent methods,
they have not gained wide acceptance and thus tend only to be used by their originators.

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Figure 2.20 Example showing Formation Pressure


Determination from the dc-exponent Plot
using Lines Constructed from the
‘Eaton Equation’

dc – EXPONENT
0.5 1.0 1.5

1.80 1.68 1.56 1.44 1.33 1.20 1.08 SG

NORMAL
TREND
DEPTH

TOP OF
OVERPRESSURE

WEOX02.097

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(a) Normalised Penetration Rate


This method was developed in 1980 by Prentice(26) from work done originally by Vidrine
and Benit(32). The method uses a drilling rate equation to ‘normalise’ the effects of the
variables controlling ROP. The only variable not normalised is differential pressure
across the bottom of the hole. If the ECD is then considered to be fairly constant over
short intervals of the hole, a change in ‘normalised’ penetration rate reflects a change in
formation pressure.

2960

NEW BIT

ECD = 1.25 SG 1.08 SG

2990

NEW BIT
3020

DEPTH (metres)
ECD = 1.25 SG 1.08 SG

8.53m/hr 4.11m/hr

3050
CIRCULATED 1.38
1.28 SG ECD ALL AROUND

ECD = 1.38 SG NEW BIT

1.28 SG 3080

8.23m/hr 6.1m/hr
4100
1.37 SG CIRCULATED 1.5
ECD ALL AROUND

12 8 4 0
NORMALIZED PENETRATION RATE (m/hr)
WEOX02.098

Figure 2.21 Example showing ‘Normalized Penetration


Rate’ Method for Determination of
Formation Pressures

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As drilling proceeds, a plot of normalised penetration rate against depth is constructed.


The observed penetration rate is mathematically corrected to the normalised penetration
rate by applying arbitrarily chosen normal parameters according to the equation:

λ
WN – m NN ∆PbitN QN
ROPN = ROPO X X X (2-19)
WO – m NO ∆PbitO QO

where ROP = penetration rate (ft/hr or m/hr)


W = weight on bit (lb)
N = rotary speed (rpm)
∆Pbit = bit pressure drop (psi)
Q = mud flow rate (gpm)
m = ‘threshold’ bit weight (weight necessary to initiate formation failure) (lb)
λ = rotary exponent

and the subscripts

N = ‘normal’ values
O = observed values

Values of λ and m are given by Prentice(26). If the ‘normal’ conditions are chosen so that
most of a bit run can be drilled at these conditions, then no corrections will be necessary and
ROPN will equal ROPO. Each bit run is treated as an individual unit and is plotted up as
shown in the example in Figure 2.21. Changes in mud weight are also plotted separately.

Drilling trends are fitted to each bit run, or part bit run, at constant ECD, as shown in
the example. Provided that the ECD and formation pressure remain constant, the bit
will dull and the ROPN will follow the dulling trend. If a deviation from the dulling
trend is noted at constant ECD, this then indicates either a lithology change or a change
in formation pressure. Lithology changes are generally abrupt, and easily identified.
Formation pressure changes show a more gradual deviation from the dulling trend, as
shown in the example plot at about 9950 ft and 10,100 ft.

Vidrine and Benit (32) developed a graphical relationship between differential pressure
across the bottom of the hole and the percentage decrease in ROP caused by this
overbalance. Using this relationship, the extrapolated dulling trend ROP N and the
observed ROPN at a particular depth are used to estimate the actual formation pressure
at that depth. The method is detailed in full by Prentice(26) together with worked examples
and a comprehensive discussion of the theory behind the method. The method is quoted
as being the most responsive of all methods used to indicate the changes in formation
pressure, but no data are presented to support this claim.

(b) Sigmalog
This method was developed by AGIP and Geoservices(3). Basically, it is a plot of a
calculated rock strength parameter versus depth. The method is based on the following
drilling rate equation (developed by AGIP):
0.5 0.25
√σ t = WOB . N (2-20)
B . ROP0.25
where √σt = ‘raw’ rock strength parameter and WOB, N, B and ROP are as previously
defined. The ‘raw’ rock strength is then corrected to the rock strength parameter, √σo, using
experimentally derived relationships to account for depth and bottomhole differential pressure
(assuming a normal formation pressure gradient). The Sigmalog is then constructed by plotting
√σo versus depth.

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In normally pressured formations, √σo will increase with increasing depth and
compaction. A normal compaction trend can be established and a decrease in √σo away
from the normal trend will indicate an increase in formation pressure. When this occurs,
the relationship used to correct √σt to √σo is reworked to determine the true bottomhole
differential pressure (not the assumed one). The formation pressure can then be calculated
from the differential pressure and the ECD for the mud weight in use.

Various factors such as faults, unconformities/disconformities, poor bit efficiency, coring


etc, cause ‘shifts’ in the normal trend. However all the normal trends have the same
slope, and the shifts of the trendlines are proportional to the shifts in the values of √σo.
Correct shifting of the normal trendlines is thus of prime importance in calculating
formation pressures from the Sigmalog. Despite this problem, it is claimed that the
Sigmalog is an excellent formation pressure evaluation tool and can be applied both in
shale and non-shale lithologies. The Sigmalog is commonly used by Geoservices to
estimate formation pressures.

(c) Other Methods


Several other methods of formation pressure evaluation from drilling rate equations
have been put forward. These include methods by Combs (10) , Zoeller (33) , and
Bourgoyne (5). These are not discussed here but are referenced in case of interest to
the␣reader .

2.4 Hole Characteristics

(a) Drag and Torque


Drag is the excess hook load over the free hanging load required to move the drillstring
up the hole. Drag may be caused by bit and stabiliser balling, dog legs, insufficient hole
cleaning, etc, and also by overpressure effects in shales. Overpressured shales often
behave plastically and creep into the borehole. This reduces the wellbore diameter and
will cause an increase in drag as the bit/stabilisers are moved up through the section.

In an underbalanced drilling situation, an increased volume of cuttings may come into


the wellbore. This may result in an increase in drag when picking up the drillstring to
make a connection, especially if the cuttings are not circulated above the drillcollars
prior to picking up. Normal drag after drilling new hole is usually of the order of 10,000
to 20,000 lb, depending on the hole and BHA geometries. Consistent drag values much
higher than this may indicate borehole instability caused by abnormal pressures. In
deviated holes however, consistently higher drag will invariably be seen.

Torque usually increases gradually with depth due to the increase in wall-to-wall contact
between the drillstring and borehole. If underbalanced conditions exist then an increase
in torque may be observed due to excess cuttings entering the hole. A reduced wellbore
diameter caused by overpressured shales may also result in an increased torque, especially
if full gauge stabilisers are being used.

However, increased torque resulting from underbalanced conditions is virtually unseen


when the pressure differential into the wellbore is less than 1 ppg (0.12 SG) equivalent
pressure gradient. If an increase in torque is taken to indicate underbalanced conditions,
then concurrent increases in drag and hole fill (see below) should also be expected.

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Torque can be useful in detecting large increases in pore pressures, for example when
crossing a fault line into overpressured formations. However, sudden large increases in
torque can also be caused by a locked cone on the bit, a sudden change in formation
type, and by stabilisers ‘hanging up’ on hard stringers.

Both torque and drag are not considered to be valid overpressure indicators when drilling
high angle deviated holes. Also, increases in torque due to abnormal pressures are difficult
to distinguish from the normal torque increase with depth. When drilling from a floating
rig the vessel motion and varying offset from the wellhead tend to produce significant
torque fluctuations that make interpretation very difficult.

(b) Hole Fill


Hole fill after making a connection or after a trip out of the hole may indicate abnormal
pressures. As discussed above, overpressured shales may squeeze into the wellbore and
reduce its diameter. Then, as the bit is run in the hole to bottom after a connection or
trip, it removes the shale which is pushed to the bottom of the hole. Cavings caused by
underbalance conditions may also enter the wellbore during a connection or a trip and
cause hole fill.

Hole fill may also be the result of insufficient hole cleaning caused by poor mud
properties, or by not circulating all the cuttings out of the hole prior to tripping. However,
any excessive hole fill after making a connection or a trip should be noted and other
abnormal pressure indicators evaluated to determine if overpressures are actually being
encountered.

3 Drilling Mud Parameters

3.1 Gas Levels

Hydrocarbon gases enter the mud system from various sources during the drilling of a well.
The gases in the return mud stream are extracted from the mud for analysis in the mud
logging unit. There is no quantitative correlation between measured gas levels and formation
pressure. However, changes in gas levels can be accounted for by relating them to the actual
drilling operation in progress (drilling, tripping etc) and the mud weight in use. Tentative
pore pressure estimates may then be made.

The main sources of gas in the mud system are:

• Gas liberated from drilled cuttings.

• Gas flowing into the wellbore due to underbalanced conditions.

The gas levels from these sources are dependent upon the formation gas saturations, the
mud weight and the particular drilling operation.

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Gas levels are categorised as follows:

(a) Background Gas (BGG)


This is the total level of gas extracted from the return mud stream whilst drilling ahead.
It originates primarily from the unit volume of formation cut by the bit. Hydrocarbons
are often generated within shales and migrate to more porous formations such as
sandstones where they may be trapped. Gas in shale cuttings is released into the mud
stream due to the reduction in pressure as the cuttings are circulated up the hole.

If hydrocarbons are present in any porous formations drilled, there will be relatively
high levels of background gas in the mud stream. However, if the mud weight in use
causes a high overbalance, there may be little, if any, entry of gas into the mud. The
high overbalance will cause the mud filtrate to ‘flush’ the gas away from the wellbore.

In underbalanced drilling conditions, gas may enter the mud at a rate that depends on
the permeability of the formations being drilled. Shales may shown an increase in
background gas levels, due to an increase in cavings caused by the underbalanced
conditions. Background gas levels normally show a gradual increase as a transition
zone to abnormal pressures is drilled.

Background gas can not be used quantitatively to estimate formation pressures since
the levels depend on mud circulation rate, efficiency of gas extraction from the return
mud stream (gas trap efficiency) and also on the gas composition. However, if mud
properties, drilling conditions, and lithology remain fairly constant, then increasing
background gas levels may well indicate that the formation pressure gradient is
approaching, or possibly exceeding the mud weight gradient.

(b) Connection Gas (CG)


When circulation is stopped to make a connection, the bottomhole pressure of the mud
column is reduced by an amount equal to the annulus pressure loss i.e. the effective
mud weight is reduced from the ECD to the static mud weight. This reduction in pressure
may be enough to allow a small amount of gas to be produced into the mud column.
This is known as connection gas. Also, connection gas may also be caused by ‘swabbing’
when picking up the drillstring to make a connection.

When this gas reaches the surface, it appears as a peak above the background gas level
on the total gas trace recorded in the mud logging unit. Connection gas peaks are generally
short and sharp depending on the ‘bottoms up’ time, i.e. the longer the bottoms up time,
the wider the peak will be.

It is possible to correlate connection and background gas levels with the mud weight to
give a fairly accurate estimate of the formation pressure. This is shown schematically in
Figure 2.22. As the pore pressure approaches the bottomhole dynamic pressure,
connection gas peaks begin to appear, probably due to swabbing. As the pore pressure
increases further, the background gas level also begins to increase and the connection
gas peaks become higher. It is reasonable to assume at this point that the pore pressure
slightly exceeds the dynamic bottomhole pressure (ECD). A slight increase in the mud
weight at this point then causes a sudden decrease in the background gas and the
connection gas peaks disappear, indicating that a slight static overbalance has been
established.

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MUD WEIGHT PRESSURE PROFILES GAS LEVELS

C
Connection
C

C Bottomhole Background
Dynamic Pressure Gas
Pore
C
DEPTH

Pressure

C Connection
Gases

C
Increase in
BGG Level
C

C – Indicates connection
WEOX02.099

Figure 2.22 Schematic Diagram showing Mud Gas Levels


as an Indicator of Formation Pressures

One major problem with this type of interpretation is to distinguish connection gas
peaks caused by effective mud weight reduction due to stopping circulating, from gas
swabbed into the wellbore when the drillstring is picked up. Swabbing effects are much
more difficult to quantify than simple reductions from the ECD to static mud weight.
This may result in higher than actual pore pressure estimates being made, especially if
the connection gases observed are entirely due to swabbing. Clearly, it is good practice
to use connection procedures that minimise swabbing. If used consistently, this will aid
in the interpretation of connection gas levels.

(c) Trip Gas (TG)


This gas is produced by the same mechanism as connection gas, but the effect of swabbing
due to pulling the drillstring from the hole will generally be greater. This is because the
cuttings will have been circulated from the annulus and pipe speeds will be greater.

A trip gas peak will be observed on circulating bottoms up after a round trip or
non-drilling operation.

Swabbing, due to pulling the drillstring out of the hole, may cause the whole of the
openhole section to be underbalanced. Thus the observed trip gas may not come from
the bottom of the hole but from somewhere higher in the openhole section, and two or
more gas peaks may be observed. This effect may also appear for connections if there is
a high degree of swabbing or the hole is underbalanced. Lag time calculations should
locate the depths/formations causing the gas peaks.

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Due to the complex causes of trip gas, it may only be used qualitatively in estimating
formation pressures. The early onset of trip gas after circulation is resumed may indicate
that much of the openhole is slightly underbalanced. Other abnormal pressure indicators
must be consulted to confirm this.

(d) Miscellaneous Gases


These are mainly ‘kelly gas’, recirculated trip gas and carbide gas.

GAS LEVEL

TOTAL GAS MUD WEIGHT

10 20 30 40 50 60 70
RECYCLED TRIP GAS

10 20 30 40 50 60 70
TIME

KELLY CUT

TRIP GAS

10 20 30 40 50 60 70

CIRCULATION STARTED

WEOX02.100

Figure 2.23 Example of Mud Gas Levels showing Trip Gas,


Kelly Gas (Kelly Cut), and Recycled Trip Gas

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Kelly gas (also known as ‘kelly cut’) is caused by air being circulated around the system
from a partly empty drillstring or kelly after a trip or connection. The air is pumped into
the borehole as a slug of mud aerated with compressed air. This enhances any gas
diffusion effects from formations to the borehole and may result in enrichment of the
aerated mud with the hydrocarbon gases. A gas peak will thus be recorded when this
mud is circulated back to the surface.

Kelly gas due to connections is rarely seen as the kelly is usually kept full of mud
during connections by closing the lower kelly cock. Kelly gas after a trip is sometimes
observed (as shown in Figure 2.23) but should be easily distinguishable from other gas
peaks by experienced Mud Loggers. Although indicating the presence of hydrocarbon
gases, kelly gas is of no value for formation pressure evaluation.

Recirculated trip gas (or any other recirculated gas) behaves in a similar way to kelly
gas, and should be anticipated by the Mud Loggers from knowledge of the mud system
total circulation time. An example is shown in Figure 2.23.

Carbide gas is used to check the calculated total circulation time and is caused by the Mud
Loggers putting calcium carbide down the drillpipe at a connection. The carbide reacts with
the water in the mud to produce acetylene, a hydrocarbon gas that is detected as a large
sharp gas peak when circulated round to surface. The circulation time can then be used to
back calculate the openhole volume and thus to check for hole enlargement.

It must be noted that evaluation of formation pressures from gas levels relies entirely on
hydrocarbon gases being present to some extent in the well being drilled. Occasionally,
very ‘dry’ holes are drilled which may be overpressured, but show very low background
gas levels. In these wells, it is very difficult to use gas levels as a reliable formation
pressure indicator.

3.2 Temperature

Due to the radial flow of heat from the earth’s core to the surface, the subsurface temperature
increases with increasing depth. The geothermal gradient is the rate at which the temperature
increases with depth and is usually assumed to be constant for any given area. However, it
has been found that the temperature gradient across abnormally pressured formations is
generally higher than that found across normally pressured formations in the same area.

This phenomenon can be explained by considering the thermal conductivity of the formations.
Since water has a thermal conductivity of about one-third to one-sixth that of most formation
matrix materials, then formations with a higher water content (higher porosity) will have a
lower thermal conductivity. These formations will thus have a higher geothermal gradient
across them. Overpressured shales usually have a higher water content than normal and will
thus have higher than normal geothermal gradients across them.

The top of an overpressured shale should therefore be marked by a sharp increase in


geothermal gradient. This may often be reflected by an increase in the temperature of the
return mud in the flowline. Also, the caprock immediately above a pressure transition zone
often shows a reduced geothermal gradient due to increased compaction (higher thermal
conductivity) and a lower than normal temperature at the top of the transition zone. This
effect is shown schematically in Figure 2.24. Again, this may be reflected in the flowline
mud temperature by a reduced flowline temperature gradient. In some cases, the flowline
temperature may even fall (negative gradient) and be then followed by a large increase as
the overpressured zone is penetrated, as shown schematically in the plot of flowline
temperature versus depth in Figure 2.25.

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The example in Figure 2.25 is, of course, an idealised case. The flowline temperature very
clearly reflects the changes in formation temperature and there are no other influences on
the mud temperature. In practice, there are many other factors that affect the flowline
temperature and make the interpretation of flowline temperature plots very difficult,
especially offshore. Such factors include:

• Circulation rate.

• Rate of penetration.

• Time elapsed since the last trip (the mud