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SPE 114797

Advanced Drilling Simulation Proves Managed Pressure Drilling (MPD)


Economical in Gas Field Development in Western Canada
Geir Hareland, Ivan Olea, Farid Shirkavand, Robert Teichrob, Andang Kustamsi, University of Calgary

Copyright 2008, Society of Petroleum Engineers


This paper was prepared for presentation at the CIPC/SPE Gas Technology Symposium 2008 Joint Conference held in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, 1619 June 2008.
This paper was selected for presentation by an SPE program committee following review of information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents of the paper have not been
reviewed by the Society of Petroleum Engineers and are subject to correction by the author(s). The material does not necessarily reflect any position of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, its
officers, or members. Electronic reproduction, distribution, or storage of any part of this paper without the written consent of the Society of Petroleum Engineers is prohibited. Permission to
reproduce in print is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300 words; illustrations may not be copied. The abstract must contain conspicuous acknowledgment of SPE copyright.

Abstract
The application of managed pressure drilling (MPD) is
becoming more widely spread throughout the world. It is
well known that MPD has less hydrostatic head during
drilling therefore the rate of penetration (ROP) is
increased. This is due to the reduced rock confinement and
chip hold down effects. By simulating the conventional
drilling and MPD of a well in advance the benefits of
MPD can be quantified in terms of increase in ROP and
therefore the economical benefits. Applying a
commercially available drilling simulator (1). meter by
meter drilling performance is analyzed, first simulating
and optimizing a conventional drilling operation and then
performing the same procedure for a MPD operation in
Western Canada. The additional costs of the MPD
operation are integrated into the economical analysis. The
analysis shows that the ROP during MPD in the higher
mud weight regime of the well is improved from 60 to 80
percent. In addition to the faster drilling during MPD the
drill bits last longer due to the lesser hardness of the rock
being less confined and therefore also reducing the amount
of bit wear and the number of bits required and tripping
time. Overall the results indicate that the MPD operation
reduce the drilling cost of gas wells in Central Alberta
more then 20 percent and due to the reduced time at the
location less environmental impact is seen.
Introduction
The first objective of this exercise was to develop a base
case drilling simulation from which subsequent
optimization simulations could be run. An apparent rock
strength log (ARSL) was developed based on actual
drilling data and formed the backbone of all subsequent
calculations. The second objective of the exercise was to
compare the non-optimized base case (as above) with an
optimized base case. Based on previous experience,
drilling economics should improve by approximately 25%.
The third and primary objective of this exercise was to
compare the optimized base case with an optimized
Managed Pressure drilling (MPD) case and, if possible, to
justify the additional cost of implementing MPD

technology.
Executive Summary
The well under study was broken into 5 discreet 200 mm
diameter sections: section 1 (443 m to 447 m) was drilled
with a type 4-1-7 tricone bit (due to its short interval,
section 1 did not account into subsequent simulation runs),
section 2 (447 m to 1944 m), section 3 (1944 m to 2805
m) and section 4 (2805 m to 3149 m) were all drilled with
PDC bits. Because of the presence of chert nodules in the
lowest section, Section 5 (3149 m to 3218 m) was drilled
with a type 5-4-7 insert tricone bit. The first simulation run
for the entire 2771 m section established a benchmark
drilling cost of $237.50/m or $658,110. After optimizing
hydraulics then optimizing bit runs progressively
downward, it was found that the optimized non-MPD Case
showed a decrease in drilling cost to $183.50/m or
$508,295 (a decrease of 23%- as anticipated). The next
step in meeting the aforementioned objectives was to
optimize the MPD Case. First, mud density was changed
from the existing optimized non-MPD profile to a constant
0.9 S.G. for the entire wellbore. The simulation was re-run
and it was found that drilling costs increased to
$199.60/m. It is interesting to note that the decrease in
mud density and therefore increased ROP was offset by
the additional +/- $15,000/day estimated cost of MPD
equipment/services. The new meterage cost of $199.60/m
formed the datum from which subsequent optimized MPD
calculations were compared against. Again, hydraulics and
bit runs were progressively optimized to establish a new
cost per meter of $168.90/m (a further decrease of 15%).
Finally, sections 3 and 4 were merged and an optimized
suite of simulations (based on 1 bit) were run. It was found
that drilling cost decreased to $150.40/m or a total of
$416,750 (18% less than the optimized non-MPD case). A
final suite of simulations were run which sections 3, 4 and
5 were merged and drilled with 1 bit. It was found that
drilling costs decreased a further $9/m ($141.50/m) to a
total of $392,095 (22% less than the optimized non-MPD
case). It should be noted that the costs to move the MPD

equipment were not accounted into the above costs


(approximately $18,000 for this specific job) and will tend
to distort overall cost per meter up. The optimized MPD
Case moves from $141.50/m to $147.90/m with the
moving cost accounted in. It should also be noted that the
MPD equipment could have been brought on line slightly
later in the drilling programme (perhaps after drilling
section 2). An analysis of drilling time for section 2 shows
an optimized conventional drilling time of 36 hours and an
optimized MPD drilling time of 32 hours. If standby cost
($8,000/day total) is accounted into total expenditures it
can be shown that it is cheaper to utilize MPD equipment
from the beginning (by about $2,000). An added benefit
with respect to bringing MPD equipment early is that more
time is provided for crews to become familiar with the
equipment and changed operational procedures (i.e.
connection procedures). A review of final costs to drill
optimized conventional vs optimized MPD shows that
$100,000 can be saved if MPD equipment and drilling
techniques are utilized. The additional cost to rig in and
use MPD drilling techniques/equipment is justified.

SPE 113797

package was unavailable it again can be reasonably


assumed that a 4-phase horizontal separation vessel
complete with a 5000 psi WP UB drilling choke manifold
would be provided. All primary flow line would be
flanged 5000 psi (WP) x 152 mm (6) line. Of note is the
trucking costs associated with moving the MPD/UBD
separation package (including pipe and flare stack).
Typical horizontal UB separation packages require 4 to 6
truck loads to move and require approximately 18 to 30
hours to rig in and pressure test (depending on crew
experience, lease and weather conditions).
Note: Rig in of the UB separation unit should be carried
out off line, minimizing additional day rate costs.
Estimated costs:
$5500/day Separation package including RCH
$2400/day onsite engineering
$5100/day refurbishment / inspection /
$18,000 flat rate - move

A descriptive diagram of the different parts of a typical


MPD equipment configuration can be found in Figure 2.

Drilling Mud
It was assumed that the system volume (including surface
or active) was +/- 200 m3. Given this volume, cost of the
mud system for the conventionally drilled well with a
90/10 invert mud system was formulated as following:
$75/m3/well fluid rental
$400/day system maintenance
$20,000 system refurbishment cost at end of well
$2000 centrifuge cost at end of well strip system back
from 1.4 S.G. to 0.90 S.G.
The cost of the mud system for the MPD drilled well
was formulated as following:
$75/m3/well fluid rental
$400/day system maintenance

Drilling Parameters Overview BHA

ARSL and Lithology

BHA configuration data was unavailable at the time of


writing neutral point calculation and therefore maximum
WOB determination was not possible.

The necessary information to construct the Apparent Rock


Strength Log (ARSL) of the Alberta 1-12 well was
provided to the authors. The data was imported to the
Pason Drilling Simulator and the corresponding ARSL
was automatically computed by the software. Details
about this procedure fall outside the scope of this
document. It is considered that the ARSL accurately
reflects rock strength characteristics for the targeted zones
of interest.

Well Profiles
The different drilling programs for conventional and MPD
can be found in the comparative Figure 1. In this figure
the different schemes studied and simulated for the present
study are shown.
MPD Equipment Layout

Bit Types
The subject 200 mm section was originally drilled with 5
bits. The first section (443 to 447 m) was drilled with a
type 4-1-7 insert bit. Sections 2 through 4 (447 to 1944 m,
1944 to 2805 m, 2805 to 3149 m) were drilled with PDC
bits. Due to the presence of chert nodules, the final section
(3149 to 3218 m) was drilled with a type 5-3-7 insert bit.
Rotating Control Head
Specific information regarding the rotating control head
was unavailable at the time of writing. However, given the
depth of the well and the source of the cost data
(Weatherford) it can reasonably assumed that a Williams
Series 7100 dual element 5000 psi (static) 2500 psi
(working) rotating control head (RCH) would be used.
Separation Package
Again, specific information regarding the actual separation

Optimization Methodology (General Discussion and


Model Calibration Process)
The well was drilled in 5 discreet sections as follows:
Section 1 443 m447 m 200 mm 4-1-7 Tricone
Section 2 447 m1944 m 200 mm 999 PDC
Section 3 1944 m2805 m, 200 mm 999 PDC
Section 4 2805 m3149 m, 200 mm 999 PDC
Section 5 3149 m3218 m, 200 mm 5-4-7 Tricone
Notes:
Optimization efforts were not applied to Section 1
because of the short drilled depth interval.

SPE 113797

The model was not calibrated against known ROP.


Given pore pressure and bit wear coefficients were
assumed to be correct and were not changed
throughout the optimization process.
All optimized PDC runs were constrained to POOH
by a bit wear value of 2.5, while tricone bit runs were
constrained to POOH by a bit wear value of 6.0.

First Run Base Case Developed From Data Provided


The Base Case was developed to provide the datum from
which the success of further optimization runs would be
gauged. Based on the given ARSL, fixed rheology and
mud pump rates, the Base Case model showed a
$237.50/m cost to drill or $658,110 total drilling cost for
the whole interval.
Optimized Base Case Hydraulics Only
The Base Case was further optimized by revisiting
hydraulics and adjusting jet size to yield an HSI of +/- 3.0.
In most cases, jet size was reduced one increment from
given. After optimizing each section, it was found that
drilling cost was reduced to $233.80/m or a total cost of
$647,859. The saving of $11k would need to be weighed
against the perceived risk associated with plugging the
smaller jets unless there is no chance of mixing and
pumping LCM it would be prudent to stay with the
given jet sizes.

Section 4 - ROP to beat 10.46 m/hr


A 2020 parametric was used to bracket bit wear to 3.0
and rotary speed was rounded to the nearest 5. WOB was
changed iteratively and bit wear converged to 2.5.
Ultimately, cost per meter drilled was decreased to
$203.4/m based on drilling section 4 was faster.
WOB 8.5 ton Wear 2.5
RPM 110 ROP 17.52 m/hr
Section 5 - ROP to beat 1.55 m/hr
A 2020 parametric was used to bracket bit wear to 6.0
and rotary speed was rounded to the nearest 5. Ultimately,
cost per meter drilled was decreased to $183.5/m based on
drilling section 5 was faster. Total cost to drill the interval
was now reduced to $509,600 a savings of 22%.
WOB 24 ton Wear 6.1
RPM 160 ROP 4.15 m/hr
Merged Sections 4 & 5 Drilled with PDC
Next, sections 4 and 5 were merged and the combined new
section was drilled with a PDC bit. Because the bit was
drilling to casing point, the wear factor was relaxed to 2.7.
Resulting cost per meter increased to $207.50/m indicating
that the economics of cutting a bit trip out did not
positively affect the overall drilling cost.
WOB 5.5 ton Wear 2.7
RPM 110 ROP 4.55 m/hr

Optimized Base Case Bit Runs


Merged Sections 4 & 5 Drilled with Tricone Bit
As previously mentioned bit run optimization was not
performed on Section 1.
Section 2 ROP to beat 35.7 m/hr
Given the 2.5 bit wear constraint, a 2020 parametric was
first used to bracket bit wear to 3.0. From this point,
rotary speed was rounded to the nearest 5 then fixed (i.e.
118-120 RPM, 152-150 RPM) and an iterative process by
way of changing WOB was employed to converge bit
wear to 2.5. Ultimately, cost per meter drilled was
decreased to $232.50/m based on drilling this section was
faster.
WOB 5.5 ton Wear 2.5
RPM 160 ROP 40.53 m/hr
Section 3 ROP to beat 15.45 m/hr
Again, a 2020 parametric was used to bracket bit wear
to 3.0 and rotary speed was rounded to the nearest 5. WOB
was changed iteratively and bit wear converged to 2.5.
Ultimately, cost per meter drilled was decreased to
$212.80/m based on drilling section 3 was faster.
WOB 6.5 ton Wear 2.5
RPM 160 ROP 30.89 m/hr

Sections 4 and 5 were merged and the combined new


section was drilled with a 5-3-7 tricone bit. The wear
factor was held at 6.0. Resulting cost per meter further
increased to $215.60/m indicating that saving a bit trip and
running a tricone bit would be a poor decision.
Base Case MPD (Increased Dayrate Only)
As a point of interest, the first run was performed to
provide an indication of what it would cost to drill the
section with the increased dayrate associated with
additional MPD equipment but no benefit from increased
ROP as a function of reduced mud weight. Calculations
were performed based on the optimized non-MPD case.
Resulting cost per meter increased to $279.60/m. This data
does not play a part in subsequent analysis.
Base MPD Case Mud Weight of 0.90 SG
The second modeling run used the optimized non-MPD
case parameters with a change to mud weight (changed to
0.9 SG throughout the entire interval). ROP was improved
dramatically and cost per meter drilled was decreased to
$199.60/m. Total cost to drill the interval was now
$553,090. This model formed the MPD Base Case from
which subsequent optimization efforts stemmed.

Base MPD Case Only Optimized Hydraulics


The MPD Base Case was further optimized by revisiting
hydraulics and adjusting jet size to yield an HSI of +/- 3.0.
In most cases, jet size was reduced one increment from
given size. After optimizing each section, it was found
that drilling cost was reduced to $186.40/m or a total cost
of $516,514. Although the saving of +/- $37k is
substantial, benefits would still need to be weighed against
the perceived risk associated with plugging the smaller
jets. Since there is no data supporting the use of LCM, the
authors chose to use the hydraulics optimized model as a
data point in the optimized learning curve.
Optimize Bit Runs by Section
Section 2 ROP to beat 43.14 m/hr
Given the 2.5 bit wear constraint, a 2020 parametric was
first used to bracket bit wear to 3.0. From this point,
rotary speed was rounded to the nearest 5 then fixed and
an iterative process by way of changing WOB was
employed to converge bit wear to +/- 2.5. Ultimately, cost
per meter drilled was decreased to $183.80/m based on
drilling this section was faster.
WOB 6.5 ton Wear 2.6
RPM 130 ROP 47.07 m/hr
Section 3 ROP to beat 40.99 m/hr
Again, a 2020 parametric was used to bracket bit wear
to 3.0 and rotary speed was rounded to the nearest 5. WOB
was changed iteratively and bit wear converged to +/- 2.5.
Ultimately, cost per meter drilled was decreased to
$175.60/m based on drilling section 3 was faster.
WOB 12 ton Wear 2.5
RPM 160 ROP 73.46 m/hr
Section 4 - ROP to beat 47.71 m/hr
A 2020 parametric was used to bracket bit wear to 3.0
and rotary speed was rounded to the nearest 5. WOB was
changed iteratively and bit wear converged to 2.5.
Ultimately, cost per meter drilled was decreased to
$172.80/m based on drilling section 4 was faster.
WOB 8.5 ton Wear 2.5
RPM 110 ROP 84.65 m/hr
Section 5 - ROP to beat 7.45 m/hr
A 2020 parametric was used to bracket bit wear to 6.0
and rotary speed was rounded to the nearest 5. Ultimately,
cost per meter drilled was decreased to $168.90/m based
on drilling section 5 faster. Total cost to drill the interval
was now reduced to $468,021.
WOB 24 ton Wear 2.3
RPM 160 ROP 14.28 m/hr
Merged Sections 4 & 5 Drilled with PDC
Next, sections 4 and 5 were merged and the combined new

SPE 113797

section was drilled with a PDC bit. Bit wear was


constrained to 2.5. Resulting cost per meter decreased to
$150.40/m indicating that there were excellent economics
in combining the sections and drilling with one PDC bit.
Total cost to drill the interval was now reduced to
$416,758.
WOB 6.0 ton Wear 2.5
RPM 145 ROP 51.15 m/hr
Merged Sections 5, 4, 3
Next, sections 5, 4 and 3 were merged and the new section
was drilled with one PDC bit. Because the bit was drilling
to casing point, the wear factor was relaxed to 2.6.
Resulting cost per meter decreased to $141.50/m or
$392,096 total cost - the best economics and new cost
target.
WOB 5.0 ton Wear 2.6
RPM 145 ROP 33.81 m/hr
Though merging sections 5, 4 and 3 gave the best overall
economics, it should be noted that the presence of chert in
the section 5 creates significant risk with regards to
drilling the section without incident. If the PDC
encounters chert and is damaged as a result, an additional
trip plus costs related to the damaged bit would be
incurred. For this reason, there are two scenarios that are
considered:
The Best MPD Case which merges sections 3, 4 and
5 at $392,096 total cost, and
The Most Likely MPD run which merges sections 3
and 4 at a cost of $416,758 and leaves section 5 to its
own short drilled section.
The choice forward would be based on the drilling
engineer/superintendents adversity to risk.
Learning Curve
As discussed above and shown in Figure 11, the upside
to optimizing the drilling plan through the 447 to 3218 m
section is considerable. Base costs of $237.50/m are
reduced to $183.50/m by optimization only and are further
reduced to $141.50/m by reducing mud weight and drilling
the section at or very near balanced.
Conclusions
The Central Alberta 1-12 well provided an excellent
opportunity to compare a well section that had been drilled
conventionally with upside based on reduced mud
weight (increased ROP) and increased equipment cost
associated with Managed Pressure Drilling (MPD)
operations.
1.

Additional cost to mobilize and utilize MPD


equipment and related services were offset by the
increase in penetration rate.
a. Optimized conventional cost to drill was 22%
lower than non-optimized conventional drilling
costs.
b. Optimized MPD cost to drill was 23% less

SPE 113797

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.
7.

than optimized conventional and 40% less than


non optimized conventional drilling costs.
The benefits of drilling MPD are marginalized by
softer drilling the uphole section (447 m to 1944
m) showed an overall increase in P-rate of +/- 25%
while lower sections showed relative increase in Prate of 55%, 80% and 70% respectively.
NOTE: The above relative increases in P-rate are
comparisons between optimized P-rate non-MPD and
optimized P-rate MPD.
Optimizing hydraulics yielded a relative decrease in
overall drilling costs of +/- 5% - the additional uptic must be weighed against risk associated with
plugging jets due to pumping LCM etc.
Mud cost comparisons are higher in weighted invert
systems as compared to non-weighted systems
however, costs are negligible in the overall picture.
Most MPD equipment rig in time is performed offline and does not add significantly to overall rig
costs.
To reduce drilling costs further, MPD, stand-by rates
should be negotiated prior to commencing operations.
It is in general recommended to drill the softer
formations (up hole) with optimized conventional
drilling parameters and employ the MPD
equipment/techniques as rock strength increases.

References
1. Pason System Corp, Optimizer Version 1.20, 2007.

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