You are on page 1of 100

1/13/16 2:26 PM

Feb16_JPT_Cover.indd 1
PowerJet Nova

Rock-optimized PowerJet Nova charges

improve production around the world.
Achieve maximum production using PowerJet Nova* extradeep penetrating shaped charges to deliver the industry’s
most effective penetration in stressed-rock formations, even those with extreme values of rock strength.
In Ecuador, PowerJet Nova charges exceeded production estimates by 250% by connecting to virgin rock
via clean perforation tunnels—and in the North Sea, gas condensate yield surpassed production estimates
with low-skin completion in an offshore HPHT well.
Find out more at

*Mark of Schlumberger. Copyright © 2016 Schlumberger. All rights reserved. 15-PE-64215

Volume 68 • Number 2


Without serious climate policy restrictions, the use of cheaper oil will likely
grow and extend its life expectancy throughout the global energy system.


The prolonged decline in oil prices is having a significant effect on many
aspects of the oil and gas industry, including operators, service companies,
petroleum engineers, and universities and students. When prices recover,
the industry will look much different than it did just a year or two ago.


Developers of the latest generation of unconventional hydraulic fracturing
models are hoping that current weak oil and gas prices will generate
newfound interest in their software technology.
Stacked rigs and other idled
oil drilling equipment dot
the landscape in Dickinson,
North Dakota. Illustration based
CAPITAL PROJECTS on photo by Reuters.
During a special session at the SPE Asia Pacific Unconventional Resources
Conference and Exhibition, panelists discussed the role of uncertainty
and risk in sanctioning megaprojects. In an environment where more than
half of all projects are facing cost overruns, schedule delays, or both, the
need to recognize problem areas prior to sanction is as great as ever. This
feature examines the role of uncertainty and risk in megaprojects and
unconventional plays.
MODELS CONTINUES 6 Performance Indices
The creation of new engineering competency guidelines are at the leading 8 Regional Update
edge of lifelong learning efforts in the engineering profession. 10 President’s Column
20 Technology Applications
24 Technology Update
28 E&P Notes
64 SPE Events
93 People
95 Professional Services
96 Advertisers’ Index

An Official Publication of the Society of Petroleum Engineers. Printed in US. Copyright 2016, Society of Petroleum Engineers.
Simple is the New Standard

PosiFrac Toe Sleeve™

PosiFrac HALO™ Frac Seat

Two Revolutionary Designs:

Industry Standard Redefined.
TAM developed the PosiFrac Toe Sleeve™ and the PosiFrac HALO™ large bore frac
seat to eliminate the need for coiled tubing in a plug-and-perf completion.

The PosiFrac Toe Sleeve™ is designed to open on bleed down after the high-pressure
casing test. Multiple sleeves can be installed at the toe of the well and can be opened
simultaneously, providing more than one fracture initiation point.

The PosiFrac HALO™ large bore frac seat has the largest ID of any frac plug on the
market, and it does not require mill-out following plug-and-perf completion operations.
The simple design increases reliability and virtually eliminates the risk of pre-setting
while being pumped to setting depth. Using industry standard wireline setting tools,
Excellence at the Wellsite® the PosiFrac HALO™ is setting a new standard for plug-and-perf completions. PosiFrac HALO™ is a HydraWell, Inc. technology licensed exclusively to TAM International.


TAM-193_PosiFrac_ToeSleeve_010616_JPT.indd 1 1/7/16 2:12 PM

Illuminate the Invisible™

We give
you the
Michael Weatherl, SPE, President, Well Integrity superpowers
59 Faster Rate of Penetration in Hard Chalk: Proving a New Hypothesis
for Drilling Dynamics you’ve
62 Root-Cause Analysis of Drilling Lost Returns in Injectite Reservoirs
65 Single-Gradient Subsea-Mud-Lift-Drilling Technology in Deepwater
Gulf of Mexico

68 Optimization of Upper Burgan Reservoir Multilateral Well With

dreamed of.
Inflow-Control Device Introducing the world’s
first X-Ray technology
Mark S. Elkins, SPE, Process Lead, ConocoPhillips
for oil wells.
VISURAY’s revolutionary VR90
71 FLNG: Applying Advanced Technology To Bring More Natural not only finds downhole blockages
Gas to Market
faster, it lets you see 2D and 3D
73 Process Support and Marine Systems in a Spar Hull: Innovation reconstructions of the obstruction.
Meets Regulation We’ll illuminate the problem, you’ll
76 Implementation of an Acoustic Automatic Leak-Detection Sonar eliminate the problem. Better yet,
in the Gulf of Mexico you’ll eliminate downtime and
increase profitability.
Angel G. Guzmán-Garcia, SPE, Energy Consultant Contact us for a
79 Production-Logging Tools Facilitate Well Testing in Challenging
82 Complex Reservoir Architecture Validated by Integrating Visit us at Subsea Expo stand 143
Well-Testing Outcomes

84 A Nonisothermal Wellbore Model and Its Application in Well Testing

Niall Fleming, SPE, Leading Adviser, Well Productivity and
Stimulation, Statoil

87 Formation-Damage Diagnosis Facilitates Successful Remediation

in Sandstone

89 Filtrate and Mudcake Characterization: Implications for Formation-

Damage Control

91 Controlling Losses When Recompleting Low-Pressure Reservoirs


The complete SPE technical papers featured in this issue are available
free to SPE members for two months at


Any well type. All forms of lift.
© 2015 Weatherford. All rights reserved.

Bring an experienced partner into play. Weatherford production

optimization consultants work with you to design a life-of-well
strategy that achieves your objectives. Whether you have free-
with your team at any stage to help maximize production and
return on investment.
get more life from your wells.

Drilling & Formation Evaluation | Well Construction | Completion & Stimulation | Production

POC Comps.indd 3 10/13/15 1:25 PM

Anelise Quintao Lara, Petrobras
2016 President
Nathan Meehan, Baker Hughes
John Hoppe, Shell
Helge Hove Haldorsen, Statoil Matthias Meister, Baker Hughes


Janeen Judah, Chevron

Vice President Finance

Roland Moreau, ExxonMobil Annuitant
Salis Aprilian, PT Badak NGL


Libby Einhorn, Concho Oil & Gas


Adeyemi Akinlawon,
Adeb Konsult
Andrei Popa, Chevron

Darcy Spady, Landar Consulting Corp.


David Curry, Baker Hughes


Trey Shaffer, ERM
Bob Garland, Silver Creek Services


J. Roger Hite, Inwood Solutions


J.C. Cunha


Jennifer Miskimins, Barree & Associates
is a
Michael Tunstall, Halliburton
MIDDLE EAST Howard Duhon, GATE, Inc.
NORTH SEA Tom Blasingame, Texas A&M University
Carlos Chalbaud, ENGIE


Phongsthorn Thavisin, PTTEP
Dan Hill, Texas A&M University
Erin McEvers, Clearbrook Consulting AT-LARGE DIRECTORS
RUSSIA AND THE CASPIAN Khaled Al-Buraik, Saudi Aramco
Anton Ablaev, Schlumberger Liu Zhenwu, China National Petroleum Corporation

JPT STAFF The Journal of Petroleum Technology® magazine is a

registered trademark of SPE.
SPE PUBLICATIONS: SPE is not responsible for any
Glenda Smith, Publisher statement made or opinions expressed in its publications.
John Donnelly, Editor
EDITORIAL POLICY: SPE encourages open and objective
Alex Asfar, Senior Manager Publishing Services discussion of technical and professional subjects per-
tinent to the interests of the Society in its publications.
Pam Boschee, Senior Manager Magazines Society publications shall contain no judgmental remarks
or opinions as to the technical competence, personal
Chris Carpenter, Technology Editor character, or motivations of any individual, company, or
group. Any material which, in the publisher’s opinion,
Trent Jacobs, Senior Technology Writer
does not meet the standards for objectivity, pertinence,
Anjana Sankara Narayanan, Editorial Manager and professional tone will be returned to the contribu-
tor with a request for revision before publication. SPE Nominate a colleague for
Joel Parshall, Features Editor accepts advertising (print and electronic) for goods and
services that, in the publisher’s judgment, address the
outstanding work in the E&P industry.
Stephen Rassenfoss, Emerging Technology Senior Editor technical or professional interests of its readers. SPE
reserves the right to refuse to publish any advertising it Now until 15 February, the
Adam Wilson, Special Publications Editor
considers to be unacceptable.
Craig Moritz, Assistant Director Americas Sales & Exhibits Society of Petroleum Engineers is
COPYRIGHT AND USE: SPE grants permission to make
Mary Jane Touchstone, Print Publishing Manager up to five copies of any article in this journal for personal accepting nominations for
use. This permission is in addition to copying rights grant-
David Grant, Electronic Publishing Manager ed by law as fair use or library use. For copying beyond outstanding work in the E&P industry.
that or the above permission: (1) libraries and other users Visit
Laurie Sailsbury, Composition Specialist Supervisor dealing with the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) must
Dennis Scharnberg, Proofreader
pay a base fee of USD 5 per article plus USD 0.50 per for more information on nominating
page to CCC, 29 Congress St., Salem, Mass. 01970, USA
(ISSN0149-2136) or (2) other wise, contact SPE Librarian a colleague today.
at SPE Americas Office in Richardson, Texas, USA, or
e-mail to obtain permission to make
more than five copies or for any other special use of
copyrighted material in this journal. The above permis-
sion notwithstanding, SPE does not waive its right as
copyright holder under the US Copyright Act.
Canada Publications Agreement #40612608.


Algeria 1370 1370 1370 1370 5 USD/million Btu
Angola 1820 1830 1840 1850 4
Ecuador 553 548 543 541
Iran 3300 3300 3300 3300
Iraq 3825 3861 3975 4325 2
Kuwait* 2650 2650 2550 2550
Libya 475 505 430 410












Nigeria 2420 2520 2170 2220
Qatar 1525 1531 1532 1537
Saudi Arabia* 9940 9940 10140 10240
UAE 2820 2820 2820 2820 WORLD CRUDE OIL PRICES (USD/bbl)‡
Venezuela 2500 2500 2500 2500

TOTAL 33198 33375 33170 33663 MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Brent 64.08 61.48 56.56 46.52 47.62 48.43 44.27 37.97

THOUSAND BOPD WTI 59.27 59.82 50.90 42.87 45.48 46.22 42.44 37.21


Argentina 531 533 536 534
Australia 249 296 258 301 WORLD ROTARY RIG COUNT†
Azerbaijan 828 882 832 867
Brazil 2413 2394 2412 2396 REGION JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Canada 3775 3463 3212 3608 US 861 866 883 848 791 760 714
China 4254 4258 4271 4409 Canada 129 183 206 183 184 178 160
Colombia 1023 1028 1026 1010 Latin America 314 313 319 321 294 284 270
Denmark 153 163 161 157 Europe 113 108 109 109 108 108 114
Egypt 525 503 512 511 Middle East 401 391 393 396 403 419 422
Eq. Guinea 249 249 249 249 Africa 103 94 96 96 93 90 91
Gabon 215 205 205 215 Asia Pacific 215 212 220 218 213 208 198
India 776 751 766 771
TOTAL 2136 2167 2226 2171 2086 2047 1969
Indonesia 763 804 810 822
Kazakhstan 1658 1616 1659 1567
Malaysia 697 676 694 620
Mexico 2356 2235 2263 2283
Norway 1586 1614 1555 1595 MILLION BOPD 2015
Oman 977 960 975 993 Quarter 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
Russia 10182 10163 10196 10234
SUPPLY 94.69 95.58 96.60 95.95
Sudan 257 257 242 257
DEMAND 92.89 93.21 94.69 94.28
Syria 30 30 30 30
UK 867 925 1016 880
USA 9567 9612 9400 9296
Vietnam 336 323 300 354 + Figures do not include NGLs and oil from nonconventional sources.
Yemen 91 75 27 27 * Includes approximately one-half of Neutral Zone production.

Other 2544 2493 2469 2467 1 Latest available data on

2 Includes crude oil, lease condensates, natural gas plant liquids, other hydrocarbons for refinery feedstocks,
Total 44358 44015 43607 43986 refinery gains, alcohol, and liquids produced from nonconventional sources.

Total World 80100 79883 79246 80116 † Source: Baker Hughes.

‡ Source: US Department of Energy/Energy Information Administration.



Water cut
Fluid flow rate
Water cut Temperature
Fluid flow rate

Increase production and manage inflow with

real-time information and control in every zone.
With patented inductive coupler technology that provides power and telemetry, the Manara* production and reservoir
management system can be deployed in conventional or extended-reach wells, in two or more sections, or across any
number of lateral junctions—all with a single control line. Using the Manara system to monitor and control previously
unattainable zones, operators can now immediately identify problematic areas, pinpoint the cause, and make the
necessary adjustments to maintain the well at optimal production.

Find out more at

*Mark of Schlumberger. Copyright © 2016 Schlumberger. All rights reserved. 15-CO-87356


AFRICA offshore Western Australia. Reservoir- PL338C in the central North Sea area of
quality sands, including a net hydrocarbon the Norwegian Continental Shelf. A well
Z Cairn Energy has flowed oil from its SNE-2 interval of 33 ft, were confirmed by wireline test achieved production of 265 B/D
well offshore Senegal. Drillstem testing of a logs from a zone between 14,370 ft and through a 36/64-in. choke. A gross oil
39-ft interval achieved a maximum stabilized 14,501 ft. Pressure tests identified at least column of 98 ft was identified along with
but constrained flow rate of 8,000 B/D of three discrete hydrocarbon columns in that a petroleum system that data indicate is in
high-quality pay. A flow rate of 1,000 B/D zone, and formation fluid samples indicated communication with the company’s 2009
of relatively low-quality pay was achieved a condensate ratio ranging from 20 bbl to Edvard Grieg South discovery. Additional
from another zone. Drilled to appraise a 40 bbl per million cubic ft of gas. Quadrant studies of the latest find will be needed.
2014 discovery, the well lies in the Sangomar is the permit operator with a 40% interest. The license operator, Lundin has a 50%
Offshore block in 3,937 ft of water 62 miles Carnarvon Petroleum, JX Nippon, and interest in the well with the other interests
from shore. Drilling reached the planned Finder Exploration each hold 20% stakes. held by Lime Petroleum (30%) and
total depth of 9,186 ft below sea level. OMV (20%).
Cairn has a 40% interest in the block with EUROPE
the other interests held by ConocoPhillips MIDDLE EAST
(35%), FAR (15%), and Petrosen (10%). Z TAQA, a company controlled by Abu
Dhabi National Oil Company, has produced Z Saudi Aramco is delaying some projects
Z Tullow’s Etom-2 well has discovered oil first oil from the Cladhan field in the United to focus on higher priority initiatives as
in Block 13T of northern Kenya. Drilled to a Kingdom North Sea. Situated 60 miles it emphasizes cost controls and budget
5,429-ft final depth, the well found 334 ft northeast of the Shetland Islands in 490 ft tightening to deal with an expected
of net pay in two columns while probing an of water, Cladhan has been developed as long period of lower prices, the state oil
untested fault block identified by 3D seismic. a subsea tieback to TAQA’s Tern Alpha company’s magazine the Arabian Sun
The presence of high-°API oil was indicated platform and is expected to reach an said on 30 December. Since late 2014, the
by oil samples, cores, and log data, and the initial production capacity of more than company has slowed or cancelled various
reservoir quality is the best discovered so 17,000 BOE/D. The field operator TAQA projects, sought discounts on existing
far in the South Lokichar Basin, the company has a 64.5% interest in Cladhan. The other contracts, and recently asked oil service
said. With a 50% interest, Tullow is the interests are held by MOL Group (33.5%) companies to extend discounts into this
block’s operator and Africa Oil holds the and Sterling Resources (2%). year. Chief Executive Amin Nasser said
remaining interest. that Aramco would emphasize long-term
Z Premier Oil said in late December that it growth strategies such as expansion in
expected to produce first oil from the Solan refining and chemicals and meeting Saudi
field in the West of Shetlands area offshore Arabia’s growing energy demand.
Z Woodside has discovered gas at the the UK in January. The originally planned
Shwe Yee Htun-1 well in Block A-6 of the startup in the fourth quarter of last year was NORTH AMERICA
Rakhine Basin offshore western Myanmar. delayed by adverse weather conditions, the
The presence of 49 ft of net pay in the company said. Premier has a 100% stake Z Pemex made two shallow-water oil
target zone was indicated by interpretation in the field, which is expected to achieve discoveries in the second half of last year
of the results, and a gross gas column of a plateau production rate of between that are eventually expected to produce
423 ft was encountered, the company said. 20,000 B/D and 25,000 B/D. combined 40,000 B/D, the company said.
Further analysis of the discovery is expected. The discoveries will add 180 million BOE
Woodside, the operator, has a 40% stake in Z Statoil is developing a USD 940-million to Pemex’s proved, probable, and possible
the block with the remaining interest held by project to help produce the remaining reserves. The exact locations of the
MPRL E&P (20%) and Total (40%). reserves of the company-operated Oseberg discoveries, the type of oil found, and the
field in the North Sea, despite the collapse timetables for field development were
Z Chevron has begun gas production in oil prices. The Oseberg Vestflanken not given.
from two new wells in the Bangladeshi 2 project will incorporate Norway’s first
state of Sylhet in an effort to ease the unstaffed wellhead platform as a tie-in to SOUTH AMERICA
chronic energy shortage in the country. The the Oseberg field center platform complex.
company is producing an initial 130 MMcf/D Slated to start up in 2018, Vestflanken 2 is Z Ecopetrol, Colombia’s state-controlled
from a well in the Jalalabad field, situated expected to recover an additional 110 million oil and gas company, plans to reduce
175 miles from the capital Dhaka, and was BOE and can break even financially with oil production this year as a result of a 40%
set to begin producing from a second well at at USD 32/bbl, the company said. Statoil cut in its investment budget necessitated
the beginning of the year. has a 49.3% interest in Oseberg with the by low oil prices. Targeted production of
other interests held by Petoro (33.6%), Total 755,000 BOE/D this year is down from a
AUSTRALIA/OCEANIA (14.7%), and ConocoPhillips (2.4%). target of 760,000 BOE/D a year ago. The
company has budgeted USD 4.8 billion for
Z Quadrant has found condensate-rich gas Z Lundin has discovered oil at the investment, compared with USD 6.7 billion
at the Roc-1 well in the WA-437-P permit 16/1-25 S well in production license area last year. JPT


Reimagine. SM

Discover the upside in this down cycle.

We are aggressively helping operators
reduce capital investments and improve
returns by transforming the way we all
do business. By working with us to
rethink, reinvent and reimagine field
developments, you can dramatically
reduce overall costs. We will leverage
a new generation of standardized
equipment and innovative tech-
nologies to squeeze unnecessary
cost and time from the value chain.
Talk to us today. Because it’s clearly
time for a change.

Copyright © FMC Technologies, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


The Case for Hydraulic Fracturing

Nathan Meehan, 2016 SPE President

There are two great truths tied to hydrau- ◗ Air pollution

lic fracturing. ◗ Surface spills
1. It has helped improve people’s lives ◗ Fugitive methane emissions
by enabling the oil and gas industry to tap ◗ Traffic and noise pollution
reserves that otherwise could not have ◗ Excess use of water resources
been recovered.
2. It has unleashed dramatic public Earthquakes
opposition. The idea seems simple enough. Pumping large volumes of
I am disappointed to see public opposition to hydraulic frac- fluid underground at high pressures might cause earthquakes.
turing, because I think, for the biggest part, it is unfounded. We all remember the 1978 movie, Superman, in which the
Hydraulic fracturing has become “fracking” in the common villain, Lex Luthor, tried to cause a giant earthquake in just
parlance. To too many people, “fracking” symbolizes all that is this way. Massive hydraulic fracturing can cause microseismic
wrong with oil and gas companies and modern technology. It is events. Although these events could essentially be called earth-
certainly associated with all aspects of unconventional resource quakes, they are 1,000 to 1 million times too small to be felt at
development, which depends on both horizontal drilling and the surface.
hydraulic fracturing to be successful. Unfortunately, the “facts” supporting most of the complaints
It would be inaccurate to deny that there can be problems. But, about hydraulic fracturing have about the same level of scientif-
an objective look reveals that its benefits far outweigh its poten- ic supporting evidence as the movie.
tial risks. It is a safe, reliable technology that has proven highly However, in Oklahoma there has been a significant increase
beneficial to society and it is being improved continuously by in the number of earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 and above,
operators and service companies. Many studies done by the US approximately during the time of increased hydraulic frac-
Environmental Protection Agency (2015) and others have found turing activity. What has caused this measurable increase
very small risks from the practice. Let us take a closer look. in earthquakes?
A careful study by Walsh and Zoback (2015) of increased
A Proven Technology earthquake activity in Oklahoma clearly identified the source
Since the late 1940s, hydraulic fracturing technology has been of the problem: the injection of massive volumes of water into
used in more than 1 million US wells to safely produce oil and basement rock. The study revealed that almost all of the water
gas reserves that otherwise could not be recovered. While the volumes are related to saltwater disposal and enhanced oil re-
principles of the process have not changed in decades, modern covery volumes unrelated to hydraulic fracturing.
hydraulic fracturing relies on vastly improved technology and
processes to ensure its continued contribution to a safe, envi- Groundwater Pollution and Chemicals
ronmentally responsible energy future. No studies have identified significant groundwater pollution
from the process of hydraulic fracturing; however, there may be
Why the Complaints? some potential risks to groundwater, primarily in older wells, as
Detractors claim that we do not know enough about fracturing’s a result of behind-pipe leakage. Of the few areas where such pol-
impacts and risks, despite decades of experience. Many who are lution has occurred, almost all cases are older wells with poor
critical of hydraulic fracturing are actually critical of unconven- cement jobs or leaks in casing.
tional well activity, oil and gas activity in general, and the use The industry needs to expand monitoring efforts for un-
of fossil fuels. To them, hydraulic fracturing is a focal point for conventional wells, making sure that proper cement jobs are
their broader objections. always achieved and that well integrity is maintained. Hori-
Critics of the process have claimed multiple problems with zontal well completions have become sufficiently routine that
hydraulic fracturing, including: the technology to limit and detect potential leaks is wide-
◗ Earthquakes caused by hydraulic fracturing ly available. Distributed acoustic sensing using fiber-optic
◗ Pollution of groundwater with unknown chemicals cable is a relatively new technology that can monitor even

To contact the SPE President, email

10 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

NDF-10695.jpt.Global.Reach.Ad.indd 1 1/4/16 3:20 PM
the tiniest leaks, well below levels that could pose a danger to 4.5
the environment. 4
The disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing has 3.5
increased significantly. Water and sand are, of course, the larg- 3

est components of a hydraulic fracturing treatment—99.55% of 2.5
a typical Fayetteville Shale stimulation (Arthur et al. 2008). Oil 2
and gas operators and service companies continue to use some 1.5
chemicals to eliminate bacterial growth, add viscosity, minimize 1
corrosion, lower friction, etc. Anyone who is interested can go to 0.5 to identify the chemicals used in any specific 0
well. Industry must continue to operate in a transparent and re- 1 Jan 2012 31 Dec 2012 31 Dec 2013 31 Dec 2014
sponsible manner.
Fig. 1—US retail gasoline prices. Source:
Infrastructure Impact petroleum/gasdiesel (accessed 30 December 2015).
Another argument made by those opposed to hydraulic frac-
turing is that fracturing dozens of stages in hundreds of wells
is a large-scale industrial process with related infrastructure guidelines, and economic drivers (Meehan 2012). Teams of ex-
that may impact the lives of people living near areas where it is pert engineers use the reservoir analysis and feasibility stud-
occurring. Large truck traffic can impact the integrity of roads, ies to design and execute development projects that include
disrupt local traffic, and add to noise and air pollution. How- the following:
ever, industry can reduce or mitigate this impact. For example, ◗ Efficient well placement across the field to maximize
pad drilling—the practice of drilling multiple wellbores from a reservoir drainage and improve water management
single surface location—requires fewer trucks, leaves a much logistics
smaller surface footprint, and alleviates a significant amount of ◗ Proper well construction to ensure zonal isolation for the
infrastructure-related impact. life of the well
Many trucks that previously burned diesel fuel are being con- ◗ Optimized hydraulic fracture stimulation treatments to
verted to use natural gas. These conversions not only lower fuel responsibly maximize production and economic returns
costs, but also decrease pollution. ◗ Enhanced recovery technologies to delay production
declines and extend well life
Recycling Programs/Water Reuse ◗ Safe and effective plugging and abandonment procedures
While the demand for water for hydraulic fracturing is small at the end of the well’s productive life
compared to that for agricultural use, it is important to mini-
mize unnecessary use of fresh water when there is a significant Reducing the Number of Wells Required
demand for that resource. To Develop the Resource
Standard practices to reduce or eliminate the use of fresh The performance of unconventional wells is highly variable.
water now involve recycling of unconventional wastewater in There are some who believe that large statistical variations in
shale plays where disposal options are limited and sourcing the production rates and recoveries from unconventional wells
fresh water is difficult or expensive. Recycling not only provides are inevitable and unavoidable. This belief sometimes leads to a
an answer to the disposal question, but also helps reduce an op- commitment to “factory drilling,” in which hundreds of nearly
erator’s fresh water sourcing requirements. identically designed wells are drilled with a focus on reducing
Using recycled water (both recycled flowback and pro- well costs. Pad drilling plays an important role in this develop-
duced water) as either all or part of a fracturing treatment re- ment, because it reduces surface costs and enables reductions
duces fresh water needs. By centralizing recycling treatment in drilling, evaluation, completion, stimulation, and production
and storage facilities, industry can deliver water to multiple costs. However, production and cost histories have shown that
wells or locations efficiently. Operators in many plays not only even in some commercially attractive unconventional plays,
recycle water, but also use brackish (salty) water in lieu of 25% to 40% of all wells drilled did not achieve acceptable eco-
fresh water. nomic returns.
A preferred approach is a more strategic and analytical one
Risk Management that incorporates surface seismic, advanced petrophysics and
Ultimately, oil and gas development is a partnership among land geomechanics, and reservoir engineering data into an integrat-
owners, regulators, operators, and integrated service company ed model enabling operators to identify the most productive
experts, who work together to minimize risks, ensure environ- areas and eliminate the drilling of sub-economic wells. This
mental stewardship, and efficiently recover energy resources. holistic, data-driven approach helps operators screen and se-
Risk management begins with comprehensive reservoir lect the best areas, and drill fewer wells, but ones that have the
analysis and feasibility studies, which combine geological greatest potential and the least risk. It also dramatically lowers
features, rock properties, offset well experiences, regulatory environmental impact while improving economics.

12 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

The Bottom Line Bump, P. 2015. Americans are Spending More Than $2 billion Less a
As the world looks forward to a distant but desirable future Week on Gas Than This Time Last Year (13 January 2015).
with safe, renewable energy, the fact remains that today’s
energy demands can only be met with fossil fuels. This reli- americans-are-spending-over-2-billion-less-a-week-on-gas-
ance is almost certain to continue for many decades to come, than-this-time-last-year/ (accessed 30 December 2015).
requiring significant increases in fossil fuel production. Oil 2015. Total Carbon Dioxide Emissions From the Consumption of
remains the largest primary energy source, with coal in sec- Energy. US Energy Information Administration. http://www.eia.
ond place, and natural gas in third—but gaining momentum. gov/cfapps/ipdbproject/IEDIndex3.cfm?tid=90&pid=44&aid=8
Hydraulic fracturing is essential for low-permeability res- (accessed 30 December 2015).
ervoir development. Unconventional wells may require 25 2015. ExxonMobil Perspectives. Thanks, Fracking. ExxonMobil.
to more than 60 hydraulic fracture stimulations to generate
commercial results. Smaller hydraulic fracturing treatments (accessed 30 December 2015).
are used in higher-permeability wells as both a stimulation King, G. 2012. Hydraulic Fracturing 101: What Every Representative,
and support for sand control operations. Environmentalist, Regulator, Reporter, Investor, University
The abundance of reserves unlocked through hydraulic Researcher, Neighbor, and Engineer Should Know About
fracturing has contributed to drops in both crude oil and gaso- Estimating Frac Risk and Improving Frac Performance in
lineprices (Fig. 1), saving consumers more than USD 2 billion Unconventional Gas and Oil Wells. Paper SPE-152596-MS.
a week according to The Washington Post (Bump 2015).
Hydraulic fracturing also has contributed to a dramatic
drop in greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emis-
sions from fossil fuels in the US decreased 11% from 2007 to
2013 despite increased energy demand, largely as a result of
increased natural gas production and decreased reliance on
coal (EIA 2015). US production of oil and gas has increased
nearly 4 million B/D since 2008, almost entirely as a result of
drilling wells that have required hydraulic fracturing to pro-
duce at commercial rates. Nothing other than global reces-
sions has decreased CO2 emissions as dramatically as has hy-
draulic fracturing (ExxonMobil 2015).
We know a great deal about hydraulic fracturing and con-
tinue research activity to make it even safer, cleaner, and
more cost-effective. The resulting dramatic increase in safe,
affordable energy improves—and will continue to improve—
people’s lives. JPT
2015. Assessment of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Nominate
Fracturing for Oil and Gas on Drinking Water Resources.
US Environmental Protection Agency. Do you have colleagues who are authorities in
production/files/2015-07/documents/hf_es_erd_jun2015.pdf their fields and experienced public speakers?
If you do, consider nominating one or more
(accessed 30 December 2015).
of them for the Society of Petroleum Engineers
Walsh, F. R and Zoback, MD. 2015. Oklahoma’s Recent Earthquakes Distinguished Lecturer Program.
and Saltwater Disposal. Science Advances 1 (5). www.advances.
Learn more about the program at (accessed 30 December
Nominations are accepted until 15 March.
2008. Arthur, J.D., Bohm, B., and Coughlin, B.J. et al.
Evaluating the Environmental Implications of Hydraulic
Fracturing in Shale Gas Reservoirs. http://www.all-llc.
(accessed 1 January 2016).
Meehan, N. 2012. Hydraulic Fracturing: An Environmentally
Responsible Technology for Ensuring our Energy Future. The SPE Distinguished Lecturer Program is funded by the
SPE Foundation, Offshore Europe, AIME, and companies
that allow their professionals to serve as lecturers.
ensuring-our-energy-future-i-of-iii/ (accessed 30 December

JPT • FEBRUARY 2016 13

Bernt Aadnøy, University of Stavanger
Syed Ali—Chairperson, Schlumberger
Tayfun Babadagli, University of Alberta

Ending the US Export Ban

William Bailey, Schlumberger
Ian G. Ball, Intecsea (UK) Ltd
Mike Berry, Mike Berry Consulting
John Donnelly, JPT Editor
Maria Capello, Kuwait Oil Company
Simon Chipperfield, Santos
Nicholas Clem, Baker Hughes
US companies began selling crude oil on the international Alex Crabtree, Hess Corporation
market last month shortly after the US Congress ended the Gunnar DeBruijn, Schlumberger
country’s 40-year-old ban on oil exports. The action is another
Alexandre Emerick,
byproduct of the US shale revolution and will do little to settle Petrobras Research Center
the current fight over global oil market share that has driven Niall Fleming, Statoil
oil prices to decade lows. Ted Frankiewicz, SPEC Services
Congress enacted the ban in 1975, after the OPEC oil
Emmanuel Garland, Total
embargoes against the US in the 1970s drove gasoline retail
Stephen Goodyear, Shell
prices higher and caused regional gasoline shortages. There has been an occasion-
Reid Grigg, New Mexico Petroleum Recovery
al relaxing of the ban, such as in the 1980s when shipments of crude began being
Research Center
allowed to Canada and in the 1990s when sales of Alaskan North Slope crude were
Omer M. Gurpinar, Schlumberger
permitted to relieve a glut of heavy oil on the US west coast. Last year, the ban on
A.G. Guzman-Garcia, ExxonMobil (retired)
shipments of condensate was lifted, and both Pioneer Natural Resources and Enter-
prise Product Partners began selling condensate overseas. Greg Horton, Consultant

The first sales of US crude took place on 31 December and in the first week of John Hudson, Shell

January as ConocoPhillips and Enterprise shipped cargoes from Texas to Europe. Morten Iversen, BG Group
The recent drilling boom in south and west Texas has ushered in a buildup in infra- Leonard Kalfayan, Hess Corporation
structure to the refineries along the US Gulf Coast, which will make export easier. Tom Kelly, FMC Technologies
The shale boom made the argument in favor of the embargo seem antiquated. Gerd Kleemeyer, Shell Global Solutions
After falling steadily since 1985, US crude production began increasing in 2009 International BV
with the sharp rise in shale output. In 2009, US output rose to 5.4 million B/D and Thomas Knode, Statoil
increased to 9.3 million B/D last year, as the country almost doubled production, Marc Kuck, Eni US Operating
according to the US Energy Information Administration. The US now rivals Saudi Jesse C. Lee, Schlumberger
Arabia and Russia in terms of energy output and its crude production now surpasses Silviu Livescu, Baker Hughes
its oil imports.
Shouxiang (Mark) Ma, Saudi Aramco
In the short term, US crude exports should have little effect on the global oil mar-
John Macpherson, Baker Hughes
ket or oil prices. The world is currently awash in supply and shipping US crude to
Casey McDonough, Chesapeake Energy
far-away places such as Asia is uneconomic compared with cheaper oil offered from
the Middle East. But in the long term, when the global supply/demand balance tight- Stephane Menand, DrillScan

ens, Asia will have another option for crude, especially after a planned expansion Badrul H Mohamed Jan, University of Malaya
of the Panama Canal is completed. Latin America may be a natural outlet for US Lee Morgenthaler, Shell
oil as its refineries are geared to running the light, sweet crude such as that which Michael L. Payne, BP plc
comes from the Eagle Ford Shale. Most of the refineries on the US Gulf Coast are Zillur Rahim, Saudi Aramco
built to process heavier crude. Shale producers will have another market for their Jon Ruszka, Baker Hughes
crude, which should encourage production once oil price levels rise again. A study Martin Rylance, GWO Completions
by Columbia University predicted that lifting the export ban could increase US crude Engineering
oil production by 1.2 million B/D. Otto L. Santos, Petrobras
The American Petroleum Institute, which lobbied to lift the ban, said the US Luigi A. Saputelli, Hess Corporation
will now be a major player in the global oil market. While that is not likely in the Sally A. Thomas, ConocoPhillips
short  term, lifting the ban does add another wrinkle to the current battle over
Win Thornton, BP plc
global oil market share, which has changed OPEC strategy and caused crude prices
Xiuli Wang, Minerva Engineering
to plummet. JPT
Mike Weatherl, Well Integrity, LLC
Rodney Wetzel, Chevron ETC
Scott Wilson, Ryder Scott Company
Jonathan Wylde, Clariant Oil Services
Pat York, Weatherford International
To contact JPT’s editor, email

14 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

Change the
way you drill.

Safety. Efficiency. Reliability. Risk reduction.

Learn how our eVolve™ Optimization Service is shaping the future of
drilling at

© 2015 National Oilwell Varco | All Rights Reserved

eVolve_WT_081015.indd 1 8/11/15 3:22 PM


Climate Policy with Low Oil Prices

Roberto F. Aguilera, Adjunct Research Fellow, Curtin University, Australia, and Martin Radetzki, Professor of
Economics, Luleå University of Technology, Sweden

Although oil experienced an extraor- There is little doubt pre-industrial levels throughout the 21st
dinary price increase over the past century, believed to be a warming of
4 decades, a turning point has been about 2 degrees Celsius. Such a policy
reached where scarcity, uncertain sup- that implementation would require global emission cuts of
ply, and high prices will be replaced 30% by 2035, and no less than 50% by
by abundance, undisturbed availabili- of climate policy this 2050, compared with 2011 levels. There
ty, and suppressed price levels in the is little doubt that implementation of
decades to come. ambitious implies climate policy this ambitious implies
In our new book, The Price of Oil, the end of the recent revolution in oil
we conclude that the shale revolution the end of the recent production. There have also been wide-
will yield an increased output of oil in spread claims that such a policy would
the world totaling nearly 20 million B/D result in massive stranded assets in the
by 2035. We also assert that a “conven- revolution in oil fossil fuel industries.
tional oil revolution”—the application of Would sizable proved reserves remain-
horizontal drilling and hydraulic fractur- production. ing in the ground due to a deep climate
ing to conventional oil formations in the policy constitute a serious problem to the
world—will yield a further addition of fossil industries? We do not think so, or
almost 20 million B/D in the same period. to these levels if an early upward reaction else, the reserves would never have been
This extra 40 million B/D is nearly twice takes place. Our optimistic scenario sees created on such a prevalent scale. In the
as much as the global increase in oil pro- a price of USD 40/bbl by 2035. case of oil, the reason proved reserves
duction in the 20-year period from 1994 Without serious climate policy restric- have been created to last more than 50
to 2014. tions, the use of cheaper oil will like- years into the future, at present produc-
As these new production revolutions ly grow and extend its life expectancy tion levels, is that investment in reserve
develop and expand internationally, throughout the global energy system. creation is relatively small in relation
they are bound to have a strong price- to total production costs, and therefore
depressing impact, either by prevent- The Carbon Bubble Fallacy worth the companies’ while to assure rea-
ing price rises from the levels observed A deep climate policy is one that ensures sonable peace of mind about future pro-
in 2015 (the Brent spot price averaged that CO2 concentrations in the atmo- duction potential.
USD 53/bbl), or by pushing prices back sphere do not exceed a doubling from The stranded asset problem could
raise more serious problems if climate
policy resulted in unused production
Roberto F. Aguilera, SPE, is an adjunct research fellow at Curtin installations whose development has
University, Australia, and an associate of Servipetrol Ltd., Canada. involved heavy investment. Applying the
He has participated in numerous energy studies, including those rough and simplified assumption that oil
by the World Petroleum Council, US National Petroleum Council,
output would be reduced in line with the
and UN Expert Group on Resource Classification.
overall emission cuts referred to earlier
of 30% in the coming decades, oil pro-
duction would be reduced from 89 mil-
Marian Radetzki is professor of Economics at Luleå University of
Technology, Sweden. He has held visiting professorships at
lion B/D in 2014 to around 62  million
Colorado School of Mines and at Pontificia Catholic University of B/D in 2035. This would be a remark-
Chile. In the 1970s, he worked as chief economist at the able change, but even here we believe
International Copper Cartel, and has undertaken numerous that serious stranded asset problems are
consultancies over the years. Radetzki and Aguilera’s new book, unlikely to occur. Producing oil wells
The Price of Oil, is published by Cambridge University Press. worldwide experience, on average,

16 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016


Simulate your field development challenges

without compromising efficiency or accuracy.
The INTERSECT* simulator combines physics and performance to deliver reservoir simulation at the scale you need—
fast. The parallel architecture provides superior scalability that enables more realistic geological descriptions and
production forecasts with an improved assessment of uncertainties. Operating in terms of oilfield concepts, the
INTERSECT simulator’s intelligent logic stays consistent for efficiently optimizing your reservoir management strategy
with results you can trust.

Find out more at

*Mark of Schlumberger; the INTERSECT simulator is a joint product collaboration of Schlumberger, Chevron, and Total.
Copyright © 2016 Schlumberger. All rights reserved. 15-IS-89001
USD  10 billion in total, but even these
Carbon Dioxide Emissions (million tonnes)

meager offers are not definitive as they

face political resistance in several of the
countries making them. Given the rela-
tive size of these numbers, it is easy to
understand the difficulty in bridging
the gulf between the climate rhetoric
and the political preparedness to incur
the costs.

Climate Policy Prospects

and Implications
Practically all energy forecasting organi-
zations predict an expanding fossil fuel
future for decades to come, with oil con-
tinuing to play a key part in satisfying
the world’s energy needs. Moreover, the
oil industry’s investment behavior exhib-
Fig. 1—Carbon dioxide emissions from 1965 to 2015. Source: BP Statistical
its unbelief in deep climate policy in
Review of Energy. the foreseeable future. We are inclined
to share these views, and contend that
the stranded asset phenomenon may
decline rates of 7% per annum, so stable them to express an unwillingness to go come to apply in the main to expen-
production requires investments either along with a global emissions deal in sive, subsidized renewables if these atti-
in reserve growth or in the develop- which everybody is charged equally for tudes prevail and become instrumental
ment of completely new fields. No more each emission unit. Given the industri- in policy evolution.
than 5 years of ceased investments would alized world’s history of intensive oil, Another point to consider in this con-
then be required to reduce current pro- coal, and gas use, it is clearly a politi- text is that a vast majority of the world’s
duction capacity to the maximum 2035 cally and morally sensitive issue to deny oil reserves are in the hands of state-
level imposed by climate action. In the less developed countries the use of fos- owned enterprises in developing coun-
absence of dramatic and sudden mea- sil fuels to achieve reduced emissions tries. These organizations have goals
sures imposed without warning, there is at the expense of similar prosperity. such as social and economic develop-
little likelihood that installations capa- Income transfers from wealthier coun- ment, which are likely to be higher prior-
ble of continued production would be tries would be required to get poorer ities than cutting emissions. Moreover,
left idle in consequence of interventions countries aboard a global scheme. oil consumers in most oil-producing
to arrest climate change. These consid- Against this background, it may be developing countries receive significant
erations raise questions about the real- appropriate to present results showing public subsidies. These subsidies are
ism of stranded asset fears. the order of magnitude of the required politically hard to discontinue. They
dollar flows if the world is to attain also encourage domestic usage, and, by
Climate Policy Costs the emissions goal referred to earlier, implication, the level of production.
The cost of a rational, deep climate pol- with the non-OECD world’s participa- Despite the difficulties in predicting
icy, using the most efficient instruments tion paid for in full by financial trans- what might transpire, history and cur-
and assuming that economic adjustment fers. By 2020, the net annual transfers rent behavior point to no more than
to the policy effects will be ideally flex- have been assessed at USD 500  billion, superficial climate action in the future.
ible, has been assessed to amount to of which USD 200 billion would be from The cost of a severe policy is so high,
perhaps 1–2% of annual global GDP: the US. By 2050, the required annu- and the confusion and inaction since the
USD  770–1,540 billion in 2014. Politi- al transfers would exceed USD 3  tril- signature of the shallow Kyoto protocol
cal issues will obviously arise, as these lion, with the US contribution rising to so pervasive, that we deem a reversal of
costs will ultimately have to be borne by USD 1 trillion. At the Copenhagen cli- past climate policy inactivity to be highly
unwilling taxpayers or energy users. mate meeting of 2009, wealthy coun- questionable. The noncommittal nature
These issues will become much more tries pledged USD 100 billion a year and the extended deferral of action
profound since less developed countries until 2020 in compensation to the rest characterizing the just-completed Paris
are now the largest emitters (Fig. 1), of the world, a promise renewed at the agreement support our view. Hence, we
and virtually all of the energy demand recent climate summit in Paris. To put conclude that climate policy is unlikely
growth in the future will come from these sums into perspective, actual to hamper the progress of our projected
these countries. Yet it is reasonable for commitments to date amount to about oil revolutions. JPT

18 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016


When the Hydrocarbon Journey originates

offshore, a whole new set of challenges opens
up that puts increased pressure on values such
as safety, efficiency and time savings.

That is where Cameron experience and

technology are vital. From more traditional
challenges such as high pressure and
deepwater, to newer challenges such as
drilling rig automation, condition-based
monitoring and subsea processing, Cameron
offers the solutions that bring value
and enhance our customers’ returns.

Visit and

take the journey with us.




Chris Carpenter, JPT Technology Editor

Measurement-While-Drilling face antenna, decoded and processed by imizing the nonproductive time associ-
Tool a computer, and distributed to the drill- ated with conventional mud-pulse tools.
NOV Wellbore Technologies introduced er’s readout display without the encum- The flexibility of EM systems makes
the BlackStar II electromagnetic (EM) brance of mud or wire transmission them the preferred strategy in a growing
measurement-while-drilling (MWD) (Fig. 1). EM tools have no moving parts, number of MWD applications, includ-
tool, part of the InTerra family of sen- allowing for use in air-drilling condi- ing underbalanced drilling, underpres-
sors and systems. The BlackStar II EM tions or high-lost-circulation-material sured formations, vertical-control drill-
MWD tool uses EM telemetry to trans- environments where mud-pulse tools ing, and coalbed methane.
mit data measurements even while mak- are rendered inoperable. The BlackStar ◗ For additional information, visit
ing a connection, enabling increases in II EM MWD tool transmits data mea-
survey speed and accuracy that drive surements from the bottom of the hole
performance gains. EM systems send back to the surface, allowing the driller Artificial-Lift
information to the surface through the to control and monitor the location and Production Solution
Earth’s crust using low-frequency EM orientation of the drill bit. Surveys can Baker Hughes introduced the CENesis
waves. Information is received at a sur- be transmitted during connections, min- PHASE multiphase encapsulated pro-
duction solution, which helps opera-
tors avoid production interruptions in
unconventional wells. Designed to sep-
arate natural gas from the oil stream
before it can enter an electrical-
submersible-pumping (ESP) system, the
solution mitigates production downtime
and potential ESP performance issues,
which can ultimately improve reserves
recovery. During the production phase
in unconventional plays, higher levels of
natural gas are usually released from the
pay zone as reservoir pressure depletes.
This gas typically enters the horizontal
wellbore and accumulates in the high
side of the lateral, creating large gas
slugs that, as they move up the wellbore,
cause low-flow or no-flow conditions in
an ESP system. The CENesis PHASE solu-
tion mitigates this problem by surround-
Fig. 1—NOV Wellbore Technologies’ BlackStar II EM MWD tool does not rely on ing the entire ESP system in a shroud,
moving parts for operation.
allowing lighter natural gas to continue
flowing up the wellbore while heavier
production fluid flows into the shroud
and is produced through the ESP system
(Fig. 2). The shroud also provides a sup-
ply of production fluid so the ESP system
can continue to operate during gas-slug
events when natural gas completely dis-
places fluid in the wellbore. Mitigating
this gas interference in the pumping sys-
tem stabilizes production and reduces
downtime associated with pump-cycling
Fig. 2—The CENesis PHASE multiphase production solution from Baker and gas-locking conditions.
Hughes surrounds the ESP system in a shroud, reducing gas interference in ◗ For additional information, visit

20 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

Fig. 3—BBA Pumps’ BV100 dual-vacuum sludge pumps are
designed for difficult pumping jobs.

Dual-Vacuum Sludge Pump

For its new-generation drills, Conrad Stanen has chosen the
BV100 sludge pump from BBA Pumps. With the BV auto-
prime sludge-pump range, BBA Pumps offers a series of
vacuum-assisted centrifugal pumps for use with abrasive liq-
uids. These are specially designed for the pumping of drill-
ing sludges and bentonite in order to meet the toughest pump
jobs. Using high-efficiency pumps and state-of-the-art diesel
engines, the pumps offer maximum performance at minimal
cost (Fig. 3). The BV range of pumps has been designed with
a clear focus on reliability and durability. Featuring a 100%
mechanical priming system, the BV series pumps quickly
prime and reprime, even from dry conditions. The heavy-
build style of both pump and frame make the BV range perfect
for use in the strenuous drilling market. The pumps are con-
structed of steel-welded materials for high wear resistance
and feature the MP100 oil-spill-free priming system. A float-
ing box on the suction spool is easy to clean, and large inspec-
tion covers allow easy access.
◗ For additional information, visit

Antislip/Stick Tool
The new Counter Force antislip/stick tool (AST) solution by
Tomax keeps the lower bottomhole assembly and the drill
bit suspended in both axial and rotational directions at the
critical moment when the first cutter touches the rock. As
the load increases, the helix-telescope function of the Tomax
AST ensures a steady load within the capacity of the fresh cut-
ters, regardless of how hard the rock is. As more of the cutters
are engaged, a smooth bottomhole pattern develops (Fig. 4).
When the full cutting face is engaged, the Counter Force AST


in the absorber loop. The water-cleaning
unit is a vital component of any closed-
loop or hybrid PureSOx system. When
the scrubber is in closed-loop mode, the
unit removes soot from the circulation
water, thus protecting the scrubber and
enabling compliant discharge of bleedoff.
◗◗For additional information, visit

Slim Microimager for OBM Wells

Weatherford introduced the compact oil-
based-mud (OBM) microimager (COI), a
slim-profile tool that delivers fullbore,
high-definition images in wells drilled
with oil-, diesel-, or synthetic-based
muds. The tool’s 4.1-in. diameter enables
deployment in a wide range of geome-
tries including narrow, horizontal, and
highly deviated wells. The COI features
Fig. 5—The Alfa Laval PureSOx
exhaust-gas-cleaning system is
eight pads with 72 total measurement
Fig. 4—The Counter Force AST from
Tomax. adaptable to individual vessels. electrodes that provide optimum cover-
age (Fig. 6). The images can be enhanced
system is practically offloaded, while structural needs. As with the U-design further through Weatherford Reveal 360
the main springs in the AST system take PureSOx scrubber, the I-design scrubber image processing. Reveal 360 technolo-
over to keep the system in tune. Now can be configured with multiple inlets. gy uses structural and textural informa-
the weight on bit (WOB) can be brought This reduces space needs and installa- tion in the measured parts of the image
beyond the compressive strength of the tion costs by allowing one scrubber to to reconstruct any gaps between pads.
rock to produce a fast, yet safe, rate handle exhaust gas from multiple sourc- Through analysis of the COI images,
of penetration. The patented Counter es, including boilers as well as the main the structural, stratigraphic, and dep-
Force AST makes it safe to run a drill and auxiliary engines. A further alterna- ositional geology around the wellbore
bit that is sharp enough to stay engaged tive for inline PureSOx configurations can be detailed, even in wells previously
even in the hardest layers. A continu- is reflux. Reflux involves the creation of deemed too complex for imaging servic-
ous cut at moderate WOB produces less two separate loops: one for the jet and a es. Recently, the COI was deployed with
heat and makes the cutter last consid- second for the absorber. In the jet loop, other petrophysical-measurement tools
erably longer. The larger cuttings from clean water is evaporated by means of in an 8¾-in. OBM well in Latin Ameri-
a sharper edge are removed more eas- the waste heat in the exhaust gas. The ca. The COI captured superior images of
ily, to leave the cutting surfaces clean at vapor is then recondensed as clean water the geology compared with incumbent
all times.
◗◗For additional information, visit

Exhaust-Gas-Cleaning System
The Alfa Laval PureSOx exhaust-gas-
cleaning system is a flexible choice for
sulfur oxide abatement. Its compact
construction and multiple configura-
tions, combined with custom engineer-
ing, make it easy to adapt for individ-
ual vessels (Fig. 5). With the launch of
an inline I-design scrubber, the P
­ ure­SOx
platform is now even more versatile.
The inline-scrubber design, or I-design,
builds directly on proven PureSOx tech-
nology. It provides an additional alter-
native for vessels with more-complex Fig. 6—Weatherford’s slim-profile COI tool delivers high-definition well images.

22 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

technology, which enabled detailed frac-
ture analysis and stratigraphic interpre-
tation. As a result of the image and inter-
pretation services, the operator was able
to reduce reservoir uncertainty and to
optimize the completion design.
◗ For additional information, visit

Subsea Connector
Ametek has expanded its portfolio of
high-pressure, high-temperature (HP/HT)
connectors with the addition of its lat-
est Elite Series Wet-Mate connector. The
Fig. 7—The Elite Series Wet-Mate HP/HT connector from Ametek.
three-channel connector is designed to
operate reliably in the extreme environ-
ments found in subsea and downhole oil tor housings. The sealed receptacle with in the central passage, prevents water
and gas applications. The HP/HT connec- its concentric contacts features an oil- ingress or loss of oil when the connector
tor is just 15.8 mm in diameter and has filled primary chamber to prevent water is not mated. A main insulated plug core
been functionally tested to 1034 bar and ingress. Each electrical band is protect- with contact bands on the connector dis-
temperatures as high as 150°C (Fig.  7). ed further within an individual second- places the female pin during the mating
The Elite Series Wet-Mate connectors ary oil-filled chamber when mated. All process. The plug core is protected by an
feature a distinctive, patented design in chambers have individual seals, so that outer sleeve that covers the contacts in
which concentric contacts are individ- the failure of any one seal does not com- the oil-filled chamber. JPT
ually sealed within pressure-balanced, promise the connector’s overall integrity. ◗ For additional information, visit
oil-filled plug-and-receptacle connec- A central female pin, axially displaceable

JPT • FEBRUARY 2016 23


Custom Biological Produced Water Treatment

Yields Fast Oil Recovery Boost in Waterflood
P. Karicherla, B.G. Clement, SPE, K.M. Kozicki, M.B. Samuel, and T. Meling, SPE, Glori Energy

Improving oil production from mature voir fluids under controlled conditions, with reservoir analysis and fluid sampling
fields is a significant challenge because using specialized equipment from perti- to assess biogeochemical compatibility.
of rising recovery costs and fluctuating nent locations such as injection, produc- Geological assessment characterized
crude oil prices. Although large invest- tion, and source-water wells. Chemical the SCF as an east-west trending anti-
ments are made in finding new reserves, analysis is begun immediately upon the cline, plunging toward the southwest and
typically more than 60% of discov- sample’s arrival to determine the physico- truncated on the northeast by a region-
ered oil is left behind. Thus, the use of chemical characteristics of oil and water. al fault. The field was found to produce
enhanced oil recovery (EOR) technolo- Biological testing comprises assessing from a stratigraphically complex forma-
gies is necessary to bring more of this oil the viability of native microbial popula- tion at depths of 2,000 ft to 4,100  ft.
into production. This article describes tions, developing a customized nutrient Strata were coarse clastic turbidites
how the use of a biological EOR technique blend tailored to the field, and confirm- deposited in a deepwater environment on
that applied produced water for reservoir ing the suitability of injection water for submarine fans. The rock types included
flooding in a mature field led to rapid and supporting microbial activity. sand, shale, silt, and conglomerate with
substantial increases in oil production. The achievement of residual oil recov- interbedded sand-silt and shale.
Glori Energy’s Activated Environment ery results from the stimulation of spe- The formation was divided into four
for Recovery of Oil (AERO) technology is cific indigenous microbial communities zones and 16 individual reservoir units,
a biological EOR method in which cus- exclusively in the near-injector region. with four original oil/water contacts. The
tomized nutrients are injected into the A low concentration of low-cost, inor- net reservoir thickness varied from 25 ft
reservoir to activate native microbes. The ganic nutrient is added continuously to to 120 ft, the porosity averaged 20%
ensuing microbial activity improves oil the injection water to stimulate growth to 26%, the oil gravity ranged between
mobility and leads to increased produc- of the resident microbial populations 20 °API to 36 °API, and the permeabil-
tion in waterflooded sandstone reservoirs. on residual oil. The growth disrupts the ity was between 200 md and 1,300 md,
Use of the technology involves mini- interfacial tension between oil and water, with continuity between injectors and
mal capital spending and low operating improves oil mobility, and enhances the updip producers. All features were con-
costs, and applications can use existing sweep of the flood by diverting water into sidered favorable for implementing bio-
field infrastructure. Reservoirs respond previously unswept channels that con- logical EOR.
quickly to the use of the method, show- tain residual oil. Biochemical testing showed that while
ing higher oil rates and increased oil cuts. Because the goal is to stimulate growth most water quality parameters were
Recovery is increased, and the economic in the formation at the oil/water interface, favorable, free oil content and aqueous
life of the field is extended. the injection water must be largely free organic carbon were above the permitted
Oil fields are screened in a two-step of bioavailable carbonaceous compounds levels. This indicated the need for a free
process that includes reservoir analysis (e.g., oil, organic acids) or the nutrients oil removal process. Biological experi-
and treatment design. Reservoir analysis will be consumed independent of their ments revealed that the aqueous organic
involves geological assessment to deter- growth on residual oil. Thus, produced carbon was not bioavailable and would
mine key characteristics such as porosity, water for reinjection (PWRI) can require not compete for nutrients with the bio-
permeability, structural alignment, net conditioning to reduce the concentra- logical EOR process. Additional biologi-
pay, oil gravity, injector/producer conti- tions of free oil and total organic carbon. cal experiments were used to validate a
nuity, and historical production response. nutrient solution that stimulated growth
The analysis allows for a quick review of Case Study of the indigenous microbial communi-
multiple fields to select the one predicted Biological EOR was implemented in a ties on oil and this was developed for
to benefit most from biological EOR. small pilot area of a large, mature water- field application.
Treatment design comprises biochem- flooded Southern California field (SCF) As a consequence of the biological stud-
ical testing and nutrient formulation. The through continuous nutrient injection ies, a surface system for water condition-
process starts with the sampling of reser- into the PWRI. The project planning began ing and nutrient injection was designed

24 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

Reliability and torque—a valuable combination.
An operator in the Eagle Ford Shale recently drilled a record run using Dyna-Drill’s 7-in power section,
which is engineered with a proprietary hard rubber elastomer. The customer drilled one of its fastest 
curve/lateral hole sections, averaging 3,078 ft/d with ROP up to 400 ft/h while maintaining 1,400-psi
differential pressure.

Since our founding in 1958, Dyna-Drill has been committed to providing robust, high-performance
technologies that consistently deliver unprecedented value to our customers.

Find out more at

Copyright © 2016 Dyna-Drill. All rights reserved.

Dyna-Drill 2016 Feb JPT.indd 1 1/11/16 11:31 AM

600 120,000

500 100,000

400 80,000
Production (BOPD)

Injection (BWPD)
300 60,000

200 40,000
Free Oil Removal
% Removal

100 20,000
0.0 2.0 4.0 6.0
Months Relative to AERO Start
0 0
–44 –38 –32 –26 –20 –14 –8 –2 4 10 16 22 28
Months Relative to AERO Start
Updip Producers, Waterflood Updip Producers, Activated Environment
Updip Producers, Post-AERO waterflood for Recovery of Oil (AERO)
Field Injection Rate (B/D) Downdip/on-strike Producers
Updip Producers, Pre-AERO Decline

Fig. 1—The average daily oil production, water injection, and calculated pre-project decline trend for the pilot project
are shown. The daily oil rate increased significantly following nutrient injection and dropped back to predicted decline
rate when the project ended. Inset: The free oil content in the injection water is shown before and after a remediation
system was used for meeting water quality specifications. Graphics courtesy of Glori Energy.

to remove oil from the PWRI and deliver regular field quality control assessments to 3.5-fold increase in oil rate, which equat-
customized nutrients to each of the four and satellite monitoring of the nutrient ed to a 66 B/D increase in oil production.
target injection wells. The oil removal injection system. Another four wells with similar pro-
system consisted of 19 depth-style poly- Oil production was assessed in wells duction patterns had a 25 B/D production
ester filter elements situated within a considered by the operator to be in the increase over the same period. However,
horizontal housing that coalesced the monitoring area, representing an out- because of statistical noise and the short
free oil from the PWRI. put of about 500 B/D. Enhanced produc- project duration, we consider these to
The horizontal configuration of the tion was first noted 3½ months into the have been probable rather than certain
housing created additional rising time for project and peaked between 5 and 5½ responders to the pilot treatment.
the coalesced oil, which was directed to a months (Fig. 1). A decline in the final Thus, even with monthly data resolu-
storage tank. A volume surge tank, from month coincided with a downturn in field tion and a short, 6-month pilot, we were
which the oil had been removed, served injection and production volumes. able to identify a 1.6- to 2.0-fold increase
as the injection water storage tank for the Assessing the response exclusively from in oil rate and a 1.5- to 1.7-fold increase
triplex injection pump. The nutrient injec- full-field production data, the increase was in oil cut, resulting in a 66 B/D to 91 B/D
tion skid consisted of a high-pressure, almost 130 B/D in wells updip of the injec- increase in production from select pro-
low-volume dosing pump in addition to tion wells. However, monthly changes in duction wells.
an air compressor and receiver. injection volume complicate the short- While these production increases are
Nutrients were injected into the water term analyses. Individual production well less than the 130 B/D increase observed
suction line of the triplex pump and data were statistically noisy, but when in monitored field production during the
pumped into a four-way manifold for average production over the 4-month win- pilot project, the difference of 40 B/D to
continually delivering water and nutri- dow (including the 2 weeks following the 70 B/D could have resulted from month-
ents to each injector. In addition, precise- pilot project) were compared with the to-month variations and/or the sum of
ly controlled air from the nutrient injec- 7-month, pre-project period, eight wells enhancements too small to resolve in
tion skid was delivered by means of mass had demonstrable increases. a 6-month period. Viewed against the
flow controllers to each wellhead. Opera- The eight responding wells showed a decline shown in Fig. 1, these changes are
tional stability was maintained through 1.2- to 2.5-fold increase in oil cut and a 1.4- even more favorable, with the pilot proj-

26 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

Fig. 2—A structure map of the pilot area in a Southern California field where biological EOR was applied to improve oil
recovery. The blue circles are injection wells that received customized nutrients. The green and yellow circles are wells
showing a production increase.

ect showing a marked deviation upward Lumpur, Malaysia, 19–21 July. SPE-144205- SPE J 25(01): 101–112. http://dx.doi.
that remained above this baseline for MS. org/10.2118/12125-PA.
almost a year. Havemann, G.D., Clement, B.G., and Kozicki, Sunde, E., Asa, S., and Lillebø, B. et al. 2012.
In addition to the overall produc- K.M. et al. 2015. New Microbial Method Towards a New Theory for Improved Oil
tion increase, the response pattern was Shows Promise in EOR. J Pet Technol Recovery from Sandstone Reservoirs.
notable. In previously published results 67(3): 32–35. Presented at the SPE Improved Oil
from projects performed with this tech- Jones, S.C. 1985. Some Surprises in the Recovery Symposium, Tulsa, Oklahoma,
nology on waterfloods in Kansas (Bauer Transport of Miscible Fluids in the 14–18 April. SPE-154138-MS. http://dx.doi.
et al. 2011) and Alberta (Havemann et al. Presence of a Second Immiscible Phase. org/10.2118/154138-MS.
2015), responding wells were structurally
updip and distant from the injectors. This
project was similar, in that the respond-
ing wells were updip of one or more treat- New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
ed injectors, and some were more than
2,000 ft away (Fig. 2). This is consis- DIRECTOR/PETROLEUM RECOVERY RESEARCH CENTER
tent with the response patterns observed
in core experiments (Jones 1985; Sunde Directs the center’s research program; provides leadership to a team of scientist,
et al. 2012) where oil travels much fast- engineers, technical, and administrative staff. Serves on Boards and Committees,
at the Institutional, State, and Federal levels. Develops collaborative research
er than the injected water, resulting in a
efforts with other divisions of New Mexico Tech. Supports the Institute’s academic
rapid response from a drop in pressure. goals through advising/supporting graduate and undergraduate students.
Based on the positive results obtained Interacts with oil and gas producers to determine the needs of NM hydrocarbon
from the current and several other field industry and to maintain good working relationships. Ph.D. required in Engineering
applications, biological EOR is an effec- or Physical Science. Strong administrative and budgetary skills required. Ability
to interact effectively with hydrocarbon procedures and professional scientist and
tive and economic approach for recover-
engineers required. Ability to develop good working relationships with industrial
ing trapped oil in mature, waterflooded sponsors and government agencies required. Demonstrated ability to obtain
fields that are approaching their eco- research funding from industrial, governmental, or other sources required. Ability
nomic limit. Furthermore, the applica- to develop and maintain professional contacts internationally required. Must have
tion of PWRI to the method has now been 10+ years of experience in R&D of improved methods for oil and gas recovery,
including at least 3 years in Management of research projects, budgets, and
validated through the use of established
personnel, including scientists and engineers. Must have strong research record
water conditioning technology on only a and international reputation in methods for improved oil and gas recovery.
fraction of the total injection water. JPT
Interested candidates should submit a resume, copies of transcripts and three
references to: New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Human Resources
References 801 Leroy Pl. Brown Hall Box 113, Socorro, NM 87801. The selection process will
Bauer, B.G., O’Dell, R.J., and Marinello, begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.
S.A. et al. 2011. Field Experience from a New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology is an Equal Opportunity/
Biotechnology Approach to Waterflood Affirmative Action Employer.
Improvement. Presented at the SPE
Enhanced Oil Recovery Conference, Kuala

JPT • FEBRUARY 2016 27


Mexico’s Onshore Auction Considered

a Success, Deepwater Up Next
Trent Jacobs, JPT Senior Technology Writer

Each of the 25 onshore blocks offered to dian oil company. This result checked Almost 100 companies prequalified
private companies in Mexico’s Decem- one of the biggest boxes for the Mexi- ahead of the onshore auction in large
ber auction were awarded, almost all of can government: to firmly establish a part due to the government’s loosening of
which went to Mexican companies. It was domestic and privately owned oil and the operating experience requirements.
the third installment of the country’s his- gas sector. The relatively small size of the blocks
toric Round One auction process made “This is a triumph for Mexico,” Juan also allowed firms with relatively modest
possible by a 2013 constitutional reform Carlos Zepeda, the president commis- financial resources to compete.
that for the first time in a generation sioner of Mexico’s National Hydrocar- In the end, 40 companies submit-
allows private companies to extract oil bons Commission, told reporters after ted bids, the highest number of any of
and gas in Mexico. the auction. The government esti- the three auctions held so far. Several
The results of the latest auction mates that combined production from of the winning bids came from service
exceeded expert predictions as well as the newly auctioned areas will reach companies looking to make the leap to
those of the Mexican government that 36,000 B/D of oil and 240 Mcf/D of gas. becoming operators after working for
prior to the auction, had announced it And while no one seems to be disput- decades with Pemex, Mexico’s national
would consider five awarded blocks to be ing the success of the onshore auction, oil company.
a success. Only five out of 19 blocks were which consisted entirely of mature oil Francisco Mendez, an attorney with
awarded in the shallow water auctions and gas fields, there are concerns that Mayer Brown, has been consulting with
held earlier in 2015. the bidding was so aggressive that the several of the companies involved in
In total, 22 of the blocks were awarded winners left little room for themselves to the auctions and believes the govern-
to 13 Mexican companies and consortia, turn a profit. ment has made good on the promise
with three other blocks going to a Cana- The highest bid came from Canamex that it would be receptive to the indus-
Dutch, a Mexican-Dutch consortium, try’s suggestions on how to improve the
which will send 85.7% of its production bidding terms.
revenue to the government. The average “I’ve seen an evolution from the gov-
royalty of all the winning bids was 63% ernment with regard to the drafting of
plus income taxes. the contracts,” he said. “Mexico is com-
At the time of the auction, the Mex- ing from a 76-year period of monop-
ican crude oil basket was priced at oly, so change is not that easy. But as
around USD 30/bbl and production everyone saw, there is a lot of attractive-
from the awarded areas is expected to ness in this opening” of the country’s
come quickly, perhaps in as little as 12 energy sector.
months. Pablo Medina, a Latin Ameri- Shortly after the onshore auction was
ca upstream research analyst at Wood completed, the government announced
Mackenzie in Houston, said that if oil the terms for the highly anticipat-
prices do not rise significantly, some ed deepwater auction that will feature
companies will find themselves in a 10 offshore blocks, four in the Perdi-
Mexico’s third auction for onshore
mature fields was hailed as a tough economic position. do area and six in the southeast Sali-
resounding success as all 25 blocks Highlighting the “extremely high” nas Basin. Unlike the onshore and shal-
were awarded to mostly Mexican bids, he noted that several of the fields low water auctions, the next auction
oil and gas companies. There may require capital expenditures of will likely see bids from large inter-
are concerns though that several
around USD 15/BOE. “Then you need to national oil companies with extensive
companies overbid and will find it
hard to make their fields economic. pay 90% in royalties. So in some cases, deepwater experience.
Photo courtesy of Mexico’s National you basically end up with USD 3 to cover Data rooms opened in January and will
Hydrocarbon Commission. your USD 15 in costs,” he said. remain available to companies until Sep-

28 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

What’s standing between
you and more efficient

With the SPECTRE™ frac plug—nothing.

It completely disintegrates downhole after fracturing.

No post-frac intervention.
No leftover buttons or slips.
Just unrestricted, fullbore access, and faster return on investment.

Visit to learn more about the industry’s first fully

disintegrating plug.

© 2016 Baker Hughes Incorporated. All Rights Reserved. 43600 01/2016

tember. There is no set date for the auc- water blocks could demand an invest- they did not have the experience, and
tion as yet but it is expected to take place ment as high as USD 10 billion. The it was very risky for Mexico as a coun-
no earlier than October. government is also counting on the try and as the ultimate owner of Pemex
The Perdido blocks, located near the deepwater blocks to deliver the vast to do it on its own. It could’ve been a
maritime border with the United States, majority of the new barrels needed to potential disaster.”
are considered to be the most promising reverse the country’s declining produc- Monroy added that while it was ini-
because of the notable discoveries made tion—now at its lowest level in 25 years. tially thought that Pemex would seek to
in the area. The Salinas blocks have seen “The deep water is pretty much participate in the deep water auction as
far less exploration activity and there- the whole reason Mexico made the a minority partner with another opera-
fore will present more risk. reforms,” to its energy laws said Gonza- tor, its credit rating was downgraded in
Compared with the USD 1 billion in lo Monroy, managing director of energy November to an investment level lower
combined investments expected from consulting company GMEC in Mexico than what many companies require of a
the 25 onshore blocks, each of the deep- City. “Pemex did not have the capital, joint-venture partner.

Drilling Fluid Uses Acid and Salt To Improve Well

Trent Jacobs, JPT Senior Technology Writer

The inventor of a new water-based enlarges natural fractures and micro- afraid of rusting drillpipe even though,
drilling fluid believes the chemical fractures along the wellbore. In theory, as he argues, “Drillpipe is cheap com-
process involved with his technology this chemical tandem creates near-well- pared to hydrocarbon production.”
opens up natural fractures as drilling bore pathways for hydrocarbons to be Breese said adding a 3% to 4% con-
takes place to increase production in produced and sends drill cuttings to the centration of hydrochloric acid to his
shale formations. surface that are free of hydrocarbons drilling fluid effectively dissolved lime-
The key ingredients of the technolo- and can be recycled. stone stringers inside a Marcellus gas
gy, called the Aquarius Drilling System, The idea for the new drilling fluid well and helped improve the initial pro-
are readily available salts and acids that came to Breese in 2009 after work- duction rate by 50% compared with an
can be used in conjunction with prov- ing as a contractor in the Marcellus offset well. Using drill cuttings or other
en completion techniques, or in some Shale region of Pennsylvania for New- geologic samples from the target forma-
cases, in lieu of hydraulic fracturing. park Resources, a large global provider tion, laboratory and field tests are need-
“It is so simple that it is almost of drilling fluids. Range Resources, the ed to determine the types of acids and
embarrassing that no one has used this operator of one of the projects he was salts to use, as well as their concentra-
before,” said Daryl Breese, an entre- involved with, was searching for a novel tions and the exposure time needed to
preneur and former mud engineer with way to eliminate the USD 80,000 it was net the desired results.
almost 30 years of experience. “You spending per well to dispose of its drill- He is hopeful that the technology
select the salt, select the acid, and rock ing cuttings at hazardous waste sites. may someday also be used in the United
and roll.” The solution Breese said he helped Kingdom to develop coalbed methane
After receiving significant interest develop was a water-salted-polymer- resources. But due to the widespread
from multiple companies, Breese said based drilling fluid that Newpark public opposition to hydraulic fractur-
last year he agreed to sell exclusive now markets as the Evolution drilling ing, the extraction of coalbed methane
rights to distribute the drilling fluid to a fluid system. has been slow to materialize. Breese said
major service company whose name he “It is really the first drilling fluid that his drilling fluid could provide the mid-
could not disclose because of a contract enabled the cuttings to be approved for dle ground needed to get things moving
agreement. He said the service company recycling instead of being thrown into a in the UK because it can help achieve
is continuing to test the technology and landfill at USD 4,000 to USD 5,000 per production without hydraulic fractur-
that he expects it to see wider use as truckload,” he said. “They could actually ing. He said an operator can just “dial
those trials are completed. use the drill cuttings for things like a rig in” the acid concentration to create the
Explaining how the patented drilling base or a pad base—so that was a huge desired cavity inside the coalbed to pro-
fluid works, he said that as long as its cost savings for them.” duce sufficient quantities of gas.
salt content is higher than that of the Breese said the difference between “Now you can say, we are not going
target formation, the shale will dehy- the two systems is that his involves the to frac, we are just going to drill and we
drate through the process of “osmot- use of acid. He added that the main will keep the drilling fluid local to the
ic sucking.” As that takes place, the reason companies have avoided acidiz- pay zone and it is not going to affect the
acid dissolves carbonate stringers and ing while drilling is because they were water supply at all,” he said.

30 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

US, Alaska Governments End Legal
Claims for Exxon Valdez Incident
Stephen Whitfield, Staff Writer

The US Department of Justice and the igation to recover that money proceeded,
Alaska Department of Law recently the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Coun-
closed federal and legal actions against cil commenced with its Habitat Resto-
ExxonMobil Corp. and its corporate pre- ration Plan, funding monthly scientific
decessors involving the 1989 crude oil studies to determine why the oil had not
spill from the Exxon Valdez oil tanker. yet degraded and what could be done to
The legal actions stem from a 1991 make it nontoxic.
plea agreement the company reached By 2013, the council had determined
with both governments in US district that the populations of harlequin ducks
court. Under that agreement, the com- and sea otters had recovered to pre-spill Registration
pany agreed to pay a criminal fine of levels and were no longer more exposed
USD  125 million. An ensuing civil set- to oil than populations outside of the
Now Open
tlement required the company to pay spill area.
an additional USD 900 million to both If more work is needed, the coun-
governments over a 10-year period to cil has approximately USD 200 million
reimburse past costs and fund the resto- remaining from the 1991 civil settlement
ration of damaged natural resources. with the company. NOAA has plans to
One aspect of the settlement remained continue monitoring the oil sites and
unresolved, however: a provision called assist the council in determining the
the “reopener for unknown injury.” This measures needed to further restore the
provision allowed both governments to Alaskan coastline.
seek up to an additional USD 100 mil- The Exxon Valdez spill was one of the
lion if they found substantial losses or largest spills ever along the US coast. It
declines in wildlife populations or habi-
tats that could not have been anticipated
led to significant institutional and regula-
tory changes, including the Oil Pollution
at the time of the settlement. Act of 1990 and the creation of NOAA’s DRILLING
Beach surveys conducted in 2001 by Damage Assessment Remediation and
the US National Oceanic and Atmospher- Restoration Program. The Oil Pollution CONFERENCE
ic Administration (NOAA) revealed the Act required the gradual phasing out of
presence of patches of oil from the Exxon single-hulled tankers in US waters. As AND EXHIBITION
Valdez spill in subsurface sediments and of 1 January 2015, all tankers entering
on rocks in the spill area. Further surveys US ports and harbors require a double- Fort Worth, Texas, USA
conducted in 2003 determined that the hulled design. 1–3 March 2016
oil was degrading at a slower rate than Alan Mearns, a senior staff scientist
the government had anticipated, and that at the US National Ocean Service’s Office
Fort Worth Convention Center
it was still a threat to species that dug of Response and Restoration, said the
into the sediments in search of food. This double-hulled tanker requirement has
spilled oil was identified as a likely factor had a significant impact on safety in
in the limited recovery of two species, sea the industry.
otters and harlequin ducks. “We’ve had several instances of what Visit
Based on its findings from the NOAA could have been another Exxon Valdez,
to learn more and sign up to receive
beach surveys, the governments request- where a large tanker runs aground and
ed a USD 92 million payment from hits something. But no oil spilled because conference updates and news.
ExxonMobil in August 2006, 1 month the accident didn’t cause penetration
before the court-mandated deadline to into the second hull where the tanks are,”
file for additional damages. While the lit- Mearns said. JPT


Lingering Global Oil
Will Lead to
redictions of a 2016 recovery in In the coming years, production rel in deepwater plays is delaying many
the exploration and production growth is expected largely from low- projects there.
(E&P) sector became increasing- cost producers in the Middle East, led Investment bankers and private equi-
ly rare after 2015 ended with a thud as by Saudi Arabia, which has stuck with its ty investors once eager to put money
oil prices sank below USD 40/bbl. plan to regain market share, even if that into unconventional E&P have turned
The industry consensus now is that oil means keeping oil prices low. A spike in their attention to profiting from dis-
and gas prices are going lower for lon- tensions between Iran and Saudi Ara- tressed E&P deals.
ger, and activity in 2016 will be lower bia and its allies in early January was a “A few of the things that were kind
than in 2015, said Ethan Phillips, a lead- reminder of the political risk associated of propping revenues and activity lev-
er in the oil and gas practice at Bain & with the region. But bad market news els are playing out,” said Karr Ingham,
Co. “We are coming around to the notion from China snuffed an oil market rally consulting economist for the Texas Alli-
that when the industry does come back by showing its appetite for hydrocar- ance of Energy Producers, adding, “It is
it will look different.” bons this year likely will be limited. increasingly apparent that activity levels
Oil prices now are no more predict- While US producers proved surpris- will drop by more than they are now.”
able than they were in December when ingly resilient in 2015—with new plat-
they unexpectedly slid from around forms in the Gulf of Mexico pushing up More Casualties
USD  50/bbl to around USD 35/bbl. the total US annual output—that does Another year of lower prices and deep
For many companies that spent last not appear sustainable. Lower prices E&P budget reductions are forcing more
year struggling to eke out a profit at have led to steep reductions in reserve rounds of layoffs, pushing estimates of
USD 50/bbl in high-cost plays, from estimates in high-cost plays, increasing the jobs lost as high as 250,000 world-
deepwater development to shale, pressure from investors and lenders to wide, with more to come. Job offers
that pushed the break-even point deal with the problems created by dwin- for petroleum engineering graduates
beyond reach. dling cash flows. And the cost per bar- have been sinking as the numbers hit-

32 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

Bust Stephen Rassenfoss, JPT Emerging Technology Senior Editor

Lasting Changes
ting the job market remain at record 25% reduction in pressure pumping during the global reces-
levels. Drilling rigs and pressure pump- capacity, bringing supply in line with sion of 2008–2009, and
ing trucks used for fracturing are being demand, allowing the market to begin to the numbers are expected
stored away for a day when they will be recover no later than 2017. to rise this year.
needed again. That is an optimistic view, with oth- “At least nine US oil and
“This year it is new territory. We have ers predicting the oil and gas industry to gas companies, account-
not seen a period during which the fractur- recover no earlier than 2018. OPEC has ing for more than USD 2
ing industry fleet has shrunk” so fast, said forecast oil prices to average USD 70/bbl billion in debt, have filed
Richard Spears, vice president of Spears by 2020, but Spears and others expect oil for bankruptcy so far in the
and Associates, which provides consult- prices to reach that level sooner, in part fourth quarter,” according
ing services to the worldwide petroleum because of the severe cuts in the indus- to a report from the Federal
equipment and service industry. The firm try now. Reserve Bank of Dallas titled,
is estimating about one-quarter of that “As people read this in February 2016 OPEC Tips Crude Oil Markets
capacity will disappear. Capacity is being it may feel like the worst month ever, but Over the Cliff.
removed part by part as drilling rigs and in that moment are the seeds of recovery This year, the financial pres-
pressure pumping trucks are cannibalized sown,” Spears said. “Companies are so sures on E&P companies will rise.
by owners trying to keep other equipment full of despair, but what they are doing A chart from the report showed
working at deeply discounted rates. will lead to better times,” eliminating the sharp decline in E&P spending
Many companies in that business will surplus supplies of oil and equipment. while failures are rising. Companies
be gone. Spears predicts at least 12 pres- are trying to live within the limits of
sure pumping companies of the 50 it Stressing their cash flow as they face increasing-
tracks will be out of business when the Bankruptcy filings during the last 3 ly tough credit reviews from lenders
market begins to recover. It expects a months of 2015 reached levels not seen and investors.

JPT • FEBRUARY 2016 33

Prepare for Market Turbulence
When these charts were created by the US Energy Information Administration in early December, the consensus was that
prices would rise this year to around USD 50/bbl. At that time it appeared demand growth would catch up with supply.
Charts courtesy of the US Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook.

Then the OPEC meeting ended with no deal to limit production, causing prices to plunge on fears of a lingering supply glut.

Depressed prices, though, may finally force producers in the US and other non-OPEC countries to reduce output.

34 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

“Those of us with debt in our busi-
nesses are doing everything we can to

Oil Production (thousand B/D)

January 2015 January 2016
help the bank to not call the loan,” Spears 2,400
said. “We are trying to hold on to the debt 2,000
we have got. It is hard to imagine asking
a bank for added capital. Right now they
are looking at the upstream business with 1,200
a jaundiced eye.” 800
Companies that depended on bor-
rowed money to grow faster than their
cash flow might allow must now reduce 0
costs enough to generate the cash need- Bakken Eagle Ford Haynesville Marcellus Niobrara Permian Utica

ed to continue paying their bills and sat-

isfy creditors. Not all can survive the test. The Permian is the only major liquids-rich play where production is rising.
Some will become corporate “zombies Courtesy of the US Energy Information Administration Drilling Productivity
lacking the cash flow or access to capi-
tal to continue operations through 2016,
if current price levels persist,” said Alan running a firm offering transaction servic- decision to get out of deepwater explo-
Cunningham, technical director for Gaff- es and operating advice to E&P companies, ration and shift its spending to onshore
ney, Cline, & Associates. he took on a project to track oil industry by saying it was trying to get away from
For service and supply companies this job cuts because he thought other counts projects demanding large capital invest-
reduces demand, and changes the pri- were too low. By year end, he estimated ments where there are years between dis-
orities of customers. “Optimization now that global job losses exceeded 250,000. covery and first production.
shifts to minimizing costs rather than Companies also are backing away “The North American unconventional
maximizing barrels,” said David Deaton, from projects that represent a significant plays can also be considered to be option-
chief advisor in production solutions for amount of future production. A study from al plays, with lower costs and quicker
Halliburton’s Landmark Software and Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. reported that times associated with switching on or off
Service. “Now they are focused on cash 150 projects had been delayed or canceled. investments,” Cunningham said.
management, and lowering the cash cost That will reduce production in future years Last year, Scott Sheffield, chairman and
per barrel even if it impacts production.” from reservoirs holding an estimated 125 chief executive officer of Pioneer Natu-
billion barrels of oil. The projects were in ral Resources, described a short-cycle
Shrinking the oil sands, liquefied natural gas produc- approach this way: “at USD 70 (per bbl) we
Layoffs have come in waves and that is tion, and deep water in countries demand- can grow. At USD 80 we can grow more.”
expected to continue. It began with ser- ing a large take of future revenues. That approach could put a lid on future
vice companies and suppliers reducing North American E&P companies that prices. “People are ready to drill at the
capacity and costs as they adjusted to survive 2016 will need to be efficient, drop of a hat,” Ingham said. “The indus-
reduced demand and deep discounts financially strong, technologically savvy try is really almost spring-loaded to
demanded by E&P companies. By year’s operators able to respond to sometimes respond to a relatively small uptick in
end, operating companies were increas- short windows of opportunity. price, which stomps out any sniffle of
ing their share of reductions as it became Companies are redefining their strate- recovery you have.”
apparent that prices were not going to gies to allow quicker reactions to chang- Lower prices push producers—includ-
recover soon. Reductions in estimated es in the business, and a shortening of ing national oil companies with the
reserves offered an abstract measure of the time between spending and produc- lowest-cost conventional reserves—to
a concrete change—less oil is likely to be tion. Rather than defining their options reduce their cost per barrel. The combi-
produced from high-cost plays, reduc- as unconventional versus conventional, nation of efficiency and quick response
ing the need for workers and equipment. many firms are talking about short-cycle could create an oil business like the North
And the methods used to reduce those versus long-cycle primary assets, Phillips American natural gas business, where
production costs are designed to get said. The goal is to manage projects large production has remained high despite
more out of the ground, often with fewer enough to matter to a big operator “but prices at or below USD 2 MMBtu in the
wells and people, further reducing the still be flexible enough to make relative- heart of the winter heating season.
demand for workers even if prices rise ly short-term moves on the demand and “That is what points to a scenario
back above USD 50/bbl. pricing side,” he said. we do not want to talk about out loud,”
Depressed prices are “destroying a sig- Rather than commitments stretching Ingham said. “It is worth mentioning
nificant portion of the oil and gas industry out for years, these development plans that producers live in fear of a crude oil
in the US,” said John Graves, the owner of can be adjusted on a quarterly basis. For market post-2014 that is like the natural
Graves and Co. While he makes his living example, ConocoPhillips explained its gas market.”

JPT • FEBRUARY 2016 35

Power in Oil Markets Shifts Back to Middle East
P lunging oil prices led to a dras-
tic drop in drilling rigs working in
most places in the world, with a nota-
2,100 600

1,900 500

OPEC/Saudi Arabian Rig Count

ble exception. Baker Hughes’ widely
watched weekly report on drilling rigs 1,700
shows activity has remained steady in 400

US Rig Count
Saudi Arabia and the Middle East. 1,500
Those countries possess rich conven- 300
tional, onshore oil reserves, where the 1,300
cost of lifting a barrel is still solidly prof- 200
itable at prices below USD 20/bbl. These 1,100
countries have millions of barrels a day
of capacity and plan to produce it. 900
Iran has said it plans to export
500,000  BOPD of oil as soon as it is 700 0
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
allowed back in the market, which
depends on its compliance with an agree- US OPEC Saudi Arabia

ment to dismantle its nuclear program. Saudi Arabia has increased the number of drilling rigs running as the number
Libya’s warring parties recently working in the United States has plunged. The chart uses two different scales.
announced a fragile truce with a goal of The scale on the left axis is the US rig rate and the one on the right is the rig
forming a national government, which count for Saudi Arabia and OPEC. Chart courtesy of the US Federal Reserve
might allow it to increase exports that Bank of Dallas using Baker Hughes rig count data.
could rise to 1 million B/D this year,
according to Nouri Berouin, chair- past 12 months, nearly twice the added One indicator of the changing geogra-
man of the Libyan national oil com- output of Saudi Arabia, according to phy in oil production is the disappear-
pany. The comment was in a report the US Energy Information Administra- ance of the spread between the value of
from the Middle East Policy Council tion. Iraq plans to continue increasing the US benchmark crude, West Texas
that said the company is working to production, and Saudi Arabia has about Intermediate (WTI), and the interna-
ramp up its output from 350,000 B/D to 2 million B/D of spare capacity if there tional standard, Brent crude.
600,000 B/D. is a need for it. When US oil production was grow-
Despite conflicts in Iraq, Iraqi pro- Even the United States is export- ing, the US export ban led to an over-
duction reached 4.5 million B/D in ing crude oil again, with a law taking supply of high-quality crude that
November. It has added more than effect early this year eliminating a long- depressed WTI prices. Not long ago
1  million B/D of production over the standing ban. WTI tracked for USD 10/bbl less than
Brent. Now that supply is growing inter-
nationally, there were days in Decem-
Production outages ber where Brent sold for a bit less
Spare capacity than WTI.
Million B/D, November 2015

2.0 Another sign of the shift is that work-

ing rigs drilling in North America now
represent less than half of the rigs work-
ing in the world, falling from 60% at the
end of 2014 to less than 43% at the end
1.0 of 2015, according to the Baker Hughes
weekly rig count.
0.5 Saudi Arabia has established that
it is once again the dominant force in
the world oil markets, and it is plan-
Iran Libya Iraq Kuwait Saudi Arabia ning for lingering low prices. Its
NOTES: The EIA defines production outages as estimated unplanned crude oil production outages. Spare 2016 budget reduces its sizeable def-
capacity is defined as sustainable production capacity (IEA) minus actual production and outages (EIA). icit by cutting subsidies for every-
thing from energy to water, and it
Iran production expected to come back on line after sanctions end. Sources: assumes an average Brent oil price at
Energy Information Administration (EIA) and International Energy Agency (IEA). USD 37/bbl in 2016, according to John

36 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

New-Well Oil Production per Rig (B/D)
Sfakianakis, a Riyadh-based economist 250
at Ashmore Group, the Bloomberg news New-well oil production per rig
agency reported. Rig count 200
Prices that low will speed the decline 600

Rig Count
of US unconventional oil production, 500 150
which was only marginally profit- 400
able at around USD 50/bbl. Before the 300 100
price decline, US producers were pro- 200
ducing more oil per well drilled, but 50
on the downside were the number of
0 0
rigs working (down more than 60%) 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
and the production decline rate in
older wells.
For example, in the Bakken, there Legacy Oil Production Change (thousand B/D)
was a 40% average increase in the out- 0
put of new wells, but a more than 60% (10)
drop in the number of new wells drilled (20)
to fill the gap left in output as older
wells’ production declined. An EIA chart
did not suggest any improvement in
that rate. (50)
Being the low-cost leader is a role (60)
change for Saudi Arabia, which long (70)
was willing to reduce supplies to sus- (80)
tain prices. But when US production 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
surged and demand growth from China
slowed, it shifted to defending its share
of the market. Daily production per new well drilled in the Bakken (upper ) was up last year
The current situation is similar to but far fewer rigs were working. New production could not keep up with
declines in older wells. Courtesy of the US Energy Information Administration.
other commodity markets, such as the
corn market. When prices go down,
farmers commonly grow more to try to As prices drop, more production is ance of Energy Producers. “They are all
maintain their income. While the rich- required to pay for these politically vital commodity markets for one thing. The
est oil producers have a big price edge programs, which can sustain an over- market structures are much the same for
when it comes to lifting crude, national supply that depresses prices. agricultural commodities as petroleum
oil company profits are needed to pay “There are a lot of similarities” with commodities. The biggest producer in
for everything from energy and educa- farm commodities, said Karr Ingham, a the world has little to say about what the
tion to defense and desalination plants. consulting economist for the Texas Alli- price is,” which is set by the markets.

Petroleum Engineering Graduation Rate Exceeds Demand

P etroleum engineers have sophisti-

cated, precise equations to help pre-
dict and control what flows out of wells.
according to an annual survey of petro-
leum engineering enrollment by Lloyd
Heinze, a petroleum engineering pro-
try hiring plans. “The reality is oil com-
panies cannot predict more than 6
months into the future about hiring.
But when it comes to the number of fessor at Texas Tech University. The students we are taking in are in a 4-
trained engineers in the world, guess- The total will not tip down until the to 5-year pipeline,” Heinze said, adding,
work is required. next school year, and even then the “Our industry has never figured out how
Over the past 10 years, the number of expected number is about 30% higher to predict this.”
engineers graduating from US universi- than the largest graduating class during During the late 1970s and early
ties with petroleum engineering degrees the 1980s. 1980s, petroleum engineering schools
has surged. Last year’s graduating class For professors worried about what trained a generation of engineers now
broke a record set in the early 1980s their students’ job prospects will be nearing retirement age. This oil price
boom and, despite the plunge in oil after graduation, it points to a high level downturn is increasingly compared
prices, this year’s class is even larger, of uncertainty associated with indus- to that long-lasting period. A series

JPT • FEBRUARY 2016 37

Student/Faculty US Petroleum Engineering quite quickly,” Heinze said. “We probably
60 Undergrad/Faculty should have peaked enrollment where it
55 Grad/Faculty was about 5 years ago, and we wouldn’t
50 Undergrad/Doctor ratio
have been quite so out of line.”
45 While industry leaders have long talk-
40 ed about not repeating the mistake of
35 graduating engineers that the industry

does not need, there has been a recent
sharp reduction in recruiting by oil com-
panies. Heinze has seen commitments
to hire graduates from the current class
drop to half of what it was just a few
months ago.
The longer-term question in his mind

is how many engineers will the indus-
Academic Year (2006=Sept 2005–Aug 2006) try need from future graduating classes?
When the petroleum engineering student
While the number of petroleum engineering students surged, the number
of teachers did not, sharply increasing the student-faculty ratio. Courtesy of
graduation rate from 1979 to the present
Lloyd Heinze, Texas Tech University. is overlaid on the period from 1956 to the
present, the recent period showed simi-
of price shocks hit the industry in the to replace retirees, plus the work cre- larities to the period that ended with the
late 1970s and 1980s, followed by a ated by the surge in drilling required 1980s bust.
stagnant decade defined by low prices, for unconventional reservoir develop- One difference is that graduations over
during which few petroleum engineers ment, virtually guaranteed that every the past 5 years total 8,450, 43% higher
were hired. graduate could find a high-paying job. It than the comparable historic peak. If the
The trend changed only after the turn was an especially attractive option after history match holds true, the industry
of the century, when prices began to the global recession in 2009 led to a could be entering into another extend-
rise significantly and the industry react- depressed market for graduates in many ed hiring drought for college gradu-
ed to the fact that it would need to find other majors. ates because the number of jobs is stag-
replacements for a workforce nearing “We have been overproducing petro- nant, and so many of them are filled by
retirement age. For the past decade, leum engineering students for the last 10 young engineers.
petroleum engineering programs have years compared to what industry would One unknown is the number of jobs
been urged to supply the engineers need- be normally hiring. But in the oil indus- available to fill. Heinze is trying to esti-
ed for this great shift change. The need try, experienced workers were retiring mate the need, which has not been
done. Variables include the number of
BS 1956–2017 US Petroleum Engineering BS Projection engineers retiring, or finding work in
BS 1979–2017 Brown curve is blue curve another industry after a layoff, and the
shifted back 31 years
2015 1,728 BS
future of unconventional exploration
2016 2,082 BS and development.
BS degrees granted

2017 2,023 BS The shale boom offered work for a lot

of engineers because it required mass
producing plans and documentation
for thousands of wells. While oil and
1000 gas companies have said they want to
avoid another hiring drought, they must
weigh that goal against the cost and time
500 required to turn a college graduate into a
productive engineer.
Low prices present a major chal-
0 lenge—finding a way to lower the cost
0 10 20 30 40 50 60
of these wells enough to profitably drill
Number of Years them again—but solving that problem
may well mean a lasting reduction in the
The number of petroleum engineering degrees (BS) awarded since 1979 is
overlaid on the early years of the line showing degrees awarded since 1956. number of workers and wells drilled.
The ups and downs in the recent cycle resemble the shape of the previous While production is steadily growing
boom. Courtesy of Lloyd Heinze, Texas Tech University. in the Middle East, fewer wells are need-

38 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

ed per million B/D of production, and Texas Tech, the number of students who growth. He said university administrators
with so many skilled workers seeking attended an open house for petroleum are unwilling to pay for a hiring surge for a
jobs, national oil companies have their engineering dropped to 260 in 2015, less program serving an industry where peak
pick of experienced talent. National oil than half of what it had been a year demand has been short-lived. But state
companies in the Middle East are com- before, Heinze said. colleges are also reluctant to set limits on
mitted to hiring local talent flowing from Since then, the job market for gradu- student enrollment.
the growing petroleum engineering pro- ates has deteriorated further. Last fall, “If we cut enrollment to half what it is
grams in those countries. The number it appeared there would be jobs offered currently, that is about what faculty could
of petroleum engineering students has to half of his school’s graduates, but handle and do a good job,” he said. “I am
also been rising in places such as Brazil by December the estimate was fewer really unhappy for the students. I cannot
and China. than 25%. say there was a faculty member in petro-
Future graduation rates will depend Reduced enrollment in US programs leum engineering who did not think we
on student choices, which do seem to has an upside. The rapid rise in student let this (rise in student enrollments) get
have been affected by the downturn. At numbers was not matched by faculty away from us.”

Living-Dead Equipment Adds to Oversupply

Global Oilfield Market (USD billion)

T hose who track drilling and fractur- 500

ing equipment are apt to mention
zombies. That is the living-dead machin-
ery still counted as available to work,
but more likely now to be used for spare
parts or scrapped.
In both those equipment markets, one-
quarter or more of capacity is expect-
ed to disappear over time, but it is a 50
slow-moving sort of destruction with an 0
uncertain outcome.
Richard Spears, vice president of Spears
& Associates, sees fracturing trucks
massed at a service company repair facil- Oilfield spending is expected to fall for the second year running, which is the
ity in his hometown of Tulsa, but no one first time this has happened in the past 20 years. Chart courtesy of Spears &
ever seems to be working on them.
“There has never been a time when
the fleet has not been maintained. Based
on our research, capacity falls by 5 mil-
lion horsepower through the bottom of
the market in the summer of 2016,” said
Spears, who works for a company tracking
the fracturing service business.
That represents about one-quarter of
the capacity of the fracturing business
where the total horsepower indicates how
much water and sand can be pumped into
a well to fracture the rock.
Offshore, there is an even bigger glut
of floating drilling equipment. Many of
those vessels are classified by their own-
ers as stacked, which normally would
mean they are being preserved for future
use. Analysts predict, however, that about Yards filled with idled drilling rigs have sprouted up like forests in Midland,
one-third of the more than 300 of them Texas, and in other places near where unconventional drilling once boomed.
in existence will never return to service, Despite the drop in drilling, production in the surrounding Permian Basin was
even if oil prices rise. still up in 2015. Courtesy of Dan Hill, Texas A&M University.

JPT • FEBRUARY 2016 39

“When the oil price recovers somewhat, ers to maintain it. “Where the 5 million ones that were a product of the building
perhaps to the USD 60–70/bbl, which (horsepower) goes is the question. Some boom in rigs and workboats since 2010.
we consider a more viable long-term oil of it cannot be brought back. It has been More efficient onshore and offshore new
price, we believe there is a market for removed physically,” Spears said. equipment will likely push older, less effi-
200-plus rigs in total, meaning around Companies in the pressure pumping cient machinery out of service because
100 in the traditional mid- to more shal- business are being squeezed so hard that the cost of upgrading it is too high,
low water depth, and around 100 rigs on as equipment wears out, idle units are Løvstad said.
the deepwater side,” said Knut Erik Løvs- cannibalized for parts. While these units Although many of the older rigs are
tad, an analyst following oil services for could be returned to service by replacing counted stacked for future use, “we
Fondsfinans. “That means that roughly the missing and broken parts, higher day do not believe that these rigs will be
100 rigs have to be scrapped.” rates would be needed to justify the cost coming back to the market,” he said.
There is an oversupply of a wide range of that work. The biggest losses will be mid-water
of onshore and offshore equipment, That would require demand for more rigs—floaters built for water depths
from drilling rigs to construction ves- drilling and fracturing, which is not like- from 500 to 3,000  ft. Jobs in water
sels, where the equipment built when oil ly in the US unconventional business for deeper than 1,500  ft will general-
was at USD 100/bbl far exceeds the likely some time. When the market improves, a ly be done by newer deepwater rigs,
future demand. sharp rebound is not expected. The indus- he said.
New equipment is still arriving in some try has shown it can get significantly more Owners of the living-dead rigs have
sectors. For example, the building boom oil per well drilled by focusing on the best little reason to scrap them soon because
that doubled the fleet of subsea construc- rock. Increased productivity is likely to steel prices are down, reducing the
tion vessels between 2007 and 2014 is limit demand for drilling and completion value of the scrap, and removing them
expected to increase the fleet by 8% in services when the market improves. from the fleet may trigger repayment
2016, at a time when there are wide- Spears sees a recovery in the oil busi- of loans secured by the equipment,
spread project delays and cancellations. ness beginning late this year, but a sig- Løvstad said.
nificant rebound in day rates for comple- “We have assumed that it will take a
Fracturing Capacity tion equipment is not likely occur before couple of years to clean out the excess
The actual amount of onshore fracturing late 2017. supply, so we expect the poor market in
capacity lost requires an educated guess terms of the supply/demand balance for
about how this process will play out in Deepwater Rigs rigs to last through 2017, with a poten-
the isolated places where idle equipment Offshore, many of the rigs facing retire- tial recovery in day rates in 2018–19,”
is parked, and the willingness of own- ment are old only in comparison to the he said.

Service Focus Changes the Cost per Barrel

D uring a protracted period of de-

pressed prices in E&P, the customer
focus for service companies and suppli-
equipment companies are looking to
that next stage, which is: How can we
collaborate with our customers to look
up when steam injection was reduced,
and discovered that reducing one of its
most expensive inputs had a negligible
ers shifts to finding ways to reduce the for ways to shave costs, promote new impact on oil production, making it an
cost of producing a barrel of oil. development, and gain efficiency?” attractive tradeoff.
Step one in the process was meet- he said. “Even though efficiency is a continu-
ing the demand by operators to dis- Optimization used to be associated ous goal, operators may not have con-
count services and supplies to maintain with maximizing production. Now it sidered reducing the steam plant out-
customers in a shrinking market. Last must offer a way to profitably produce, put, as long as they could produce any
year, cost cuts were quick, often sub- even from higher-cost reservoirs. amount of oil at USD 100/bbl with a
stantial, and not likely to be repeated “The conversation has changed,” said profit,” Deaton said.
this year. David Deaton, chief advisor in produc- There is an increased focus on reduc-
“There is a limit to that (discount- tion solutions for Halliburton’s Land- ing production costs because drilling
ing) where you begin losing capabil- mark Software and Services. “For the for more oil is simply too expensive,
ity,” said Ethan Phillips, a partner for more nimble operating companies, it is particularly if it is heavy oil. To limit
Bain & Co., who recently did a report a call to action to streamline processes costs, service company customers want
on changing opportunities for oilfield and improve efficiencies.” to get more value from the equipment,
service and supply companies. “The An example of that was a producer software, and data they own. Better
easy stuff, cutting capacity and pric- that lowered the cost of heavy oil pro- measurement and analytics can be an
ing, came quickly. Now service and duction by testing how production held attractive option, but only if it can be

40 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

managed by the operations and engi-
neering staff, which has seen its work- SERVICE DECLINE BREAKDOWN
load grow as companies have cut staff,
Change in
Deaton said. Type of Service Annual Revenue
Next Steps
The industry cannot afford to abandon Contract Compression Services 0
exploration and development because it Geophysical Equipment and Services –1
needs to make up for the natural decline Artificial Lift –4
in older wells, so new approaches are Well Servicing –5
required. An obvious target is deep-
Surface Equipment –5
water development, where the average
Subsea Equipment –5
cost per barrel is even higher than shale
plays onshore and major cost overruns Specialty Chemicals –6
have been common. Production Testing –6
There have been early examples in the Floating Production Services –6
North Sea and Gulf of Mexico, where Offshore Contract Drilling –7
projects are being engineered to sim- Petroleum Aviation –7
plify designs. Complexity and over- Directional Drilling Services –9
customization are on the list of things
Supply Vessels –9
causing blown budgets and timelines.
Cementing –9
Phillips said the options include more
modest designs for production systems, Wireline Logging –9
limiting modifications of the compo- Surface Data Logging –9
nents used, and buying systems in the Drilling and Completion Fluids –9
form of standardized modules designed Completion Equipment and Services –9
by the supplier. Coiled Tubing Services –10
The financial constraints require Hydraulic Fracturing –10
more widespread use of management Solids Control and Waste Management –10
approaches, such as designs based on
Logging-While-Drilling –11
a specific price point, rather than set-
Land Contract Drilling –11
ting the cost based on the design, and
zero-based budgeting where the full Rental and Fishing Services –11
cost must be justified rather than the Drill Bits –11
cost beyond a benchmark level. Offshore Construction Services –12
Casing and Tubing Services –13
Data Insights Inspection and Coating –14
Operators are looking for ways to get Unit Manufacturing –15
more value from available hardware and
Downhole Drilling Tools –16
information. An example of that is find-
Rig Equipment –18
ing ways to get more out of the data
Oil Country Tubular Goods –20
flowing from operations.
For example, systems that sift through
data flowing from pumps seek trends or The impact of spending reductions in exploration and production vary by sector
anomalies that may point to opportuni- in 2016. Courtesy of Spears & Associates.
ties to increase efficiency or avoid cost-
ly failures, said Deaton, who is the tech- to information that will help them be “Automating the data activities and
nical advisory council chair for the SPE more productive, such as knowing in applications in this way will lead to more
Petroleum Data-Driven Analytics Tech- advance what is likely wrong with a efficient use of engineers’ time, less
nical Section. Pattern recognition soft- pump and what parts will be required to time searching for tools and data, and
ware can be used to seek out ways to fix it. Getting that information into the therefore reduced nonproductive time,”
reduce downtime and operating costs hands of field workers requires organi- Deaton said. “The staff can be more effec-
on a limited budget. zational changes to ensure staffers see tive in looking for and applying more
Over time, the goal is to create acces- the value of the tools, know how to use optimization opportunities …(which) is
sible databases from isolated spread- them, and have the resources available to also called for in these times of reduced
sheets, which can offer workers access address problems. operations and engineering staff.”

JPT • FEBRUARY 2016 41

Financial Pressures To Drive Industry To Consolidate
P ressure is growing this year for
exploration and production (E&P)
companies to “face the reality of a pro-
are particularly vulnerable,” Cunning-
ham said.
Gaffney, Cline, & Associates’ model of
flows can expect a chilly reception from
lenders. Financial players with money to
invest are taking a harder line than they
longed period of low prices,” said Alan the Eagle Ford shale concluded that only did a year ago when investors bought bil-
Cunningham, technical director for Gaff- two out of 10 major operators in the south lions worth of stocks and bonds from US
ney, Cline & Associates. Texas formation were making a profit on unconventional operators. Weak compa-
Working for a company whose core new wells last fall. For the majority of nies “will be subject to predatory offers,”
business is calculating the value on oil them, the break-even price is more than he said.
and gas reserves has given him a view USD 50/bbl. Last fall, lower prices led to Signs of the transition are comments
of how the financial pressure on compa- reduced reserve values for about 75% of from executives in investor conference
nies has increased over the past year as it the companies working there, he said. calls about the importance of limiting
has become increasingly obvious that oil Since then, prices have fallen further, investment to the amount of cash gener-
prices are going to remain low. adding to the pressure from investors ated by operations, and announcements
For investors, this hurts earnings and and lenders to take action. of debt exchange offers by companies
reported reserves for E&P companies in “If 75% of the companies were nega- proposing deals to investors hoping to
high-cost plays. While this can apply to tively affected by evaluations last fall, and extend the due date on loans and perhaps
deepwater or heavy oil projects, it is par- (there are) more to come in the spring, I reduce the amount owed.
ticularly true in US shale because of how would think a lot of them would be either They are responding to lenders
reserves are booked, he said. Lower pric- selling or not spending,” he said. whose measures of loan risk have
es can depress two key measures of credit The corrective actions can range from surged. Gaffney, Cline describes it as a
worthiness: cash flow and the value of oil refinancing or selling assets, from selling three-step process:
and gas reserves. the company to filing for bankruptcy. But ◗ In the spring of 2015, companies
Because reserves are based on how so far, there has been little action. “Take and lenders waited to see if
much oil and gas can be profitably pro- away a few mega-deals and 2015 would be lower oil prices would last
duced, companies in plays where the cost characterized as a down year, when there long enough to require reductions
of adding production is greater than the were more potential buyers than sellers,” in reserve estimates used for
current value of oil and gas are facing Cunningham said, adding “that condition financial reports and lender
reserves reductions and impairments, could be reversed in 2016 as more com- evaluations.
which is the term used for reductions in panies will be forced to consider offers.” ◗ The next step came in the fall of
the value of oil based on formulas used by last year when lenders began to
lenders to evaluate loans. Corrections Coming reduce the borrowing bases—the
“Impairments are more likely to occur The need to act will be strongest for formula that includes reserves
first in areas with higher costs and lower those lacking the cash flow, or the abil- used to evaluate loans on the
margins, which is why the North Ameri- ity to raise the money needed to continue books—and the vast majority
can unconventional and heavy oil assets operating. Those with insufficient cash were “negatively affected” by this
60 ◗ Finally, this spring comes the
answer to the question: “And then
Percent of Responses

what?” At that point, the pressure

40 to act will likely begin to thaw the
freeze in deal making.
A survey of energy executives last fall
20 by Ernst & Young found that 88% expect-
ed the oil and gas deal market to improve
10 over the next 12 months, and 59% of
0 them expected their companies to close
Large increase Large increase Little change in Little change acquisitions over the next 12 months,
in both M&A in M&A but M&A but large in both M&A
activity and little change in increase in activity and which is double the response from a sur-
defaults/bankruptcies defaults/bankruptcies defaults/bankruptcies defaults/bankruptcies vey conducted 6 months earlier.
Lenders have proceeded cautiously
A survey of those in exploration and production in the US states, including because of the magnitude of the losses
Colorado and Oklahoma, found they are feeling more pressure from lenders that could be triggered by an aggres-
and expect that will result in increased numbers of acquisitions and failures sive move to demand payment on all
this year. Courtesy of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
the loans where borrowers are not com-

42 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

plying with the terms. But the level of Late last year, some asset deals began a relatively high percentage of their pro-
impairments was huge when oil was to occur. Companies with high debt loads duction at around USD 90/bbl.
trading around USD 50/bbl, and it has were beginning to work with bondhold- This year, only about 11% of the pro-
fallen from there. ers to restructure debt. O’Donnell said duction of a group of 48 North Amer-
“The number and volume of them is that at the time most were small com­ ican independent E&P companies sur-
huge compared to any prior year,” said panies, though the problems now are veyed by IHS was hedged. Those hedges
Paul O’Donnell, principal equity ana- more widespread. will pay less because they are locking in
lyst for consultancy IHS. Three-­quarters One source of cash flow that sustained an average price of USD 69/bbl. “Going
of the companies surveyed by IHS were the industry in 2015 was hedging. Last into 2016, it is more important than ever
affected, for an industry total of USD 100 year, many US independents used futures to be well hedged. It is lower than where
billion in reduced value. and options contracts to lock in prices for you want to see it,” O’Donnell said.

So Many Jobs Have Been Cut It Is Hard To Count Them All

T he impact on workers from the glob-

al downturn is so large it is diffi-
cult to track. At the high end of the job
count dropped from 1,811 rigs working at
the end of 2014 to 698 at the end of 2015,
according to Baker Hughes. There were

Oil and Gas

loss estimates is John Graves, owner of 419 rigs working in the Middle East in Job Cuts
Graves & Co., who estimated the num- November, slightly higher than the previ- Worldwide Numbers Percent
ber of jobs lost in the oil and gas indus- ous year, according to the survey. Service 120,488 47.76
try at more than 250,000 at year end, The 60% drop in rig use in the US Drilling 40,699 16.13
and rising. triggered reductions in a wide range of Supply 41 , 8 1 4 16.58
There are other estimates, but most jobs ranging from completions crews to
E&P 48,050 19.05
cover smaller areas and report lower drilling engineers. The outlook for North
Midstream 1,094 0.43
totals. The US Federal Reserve Bank America in 2016 is more sharp cuts in
Legal Services 109 0.04
of Dallas estimated the US oil and gas E&P spending, more consolidation, and
industry employment is down 70,000 in rising numbers of bankruptcies. All of TOTAL 252,254 100.0
December, while Oil and Gas UK put the those point to more job losses.
total in the United Kingdom at 65,000 Graves started doing his own estimates workers, and to avoid double-counting
earlier this fall, before a large round of of job losses because the reports he saw he subtracts the cuts announced by drill-
late-year layoffs. did not look right to him. “We thought ing contractors.
In Texas, the number of E&P jobs loss- (job losses) were being underreported,” He said that is a conservative assump-
es totaled 56,000 through September, Graves said, adding that his research tion. Offshore rigs employ more people.
an 18% drop in employment from the confirmed his suspicions. Most announcements do not disclose
end of 2014, based on an estimate by To explain his approach, Graves shared contractors let go, and self-employed
Karr Ingham, a consulting economist for a key part of it: a spreadsheet listing a people are not counted in govern-
the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers. year’s worth of job reduction announce- ment surveys of people on business
That total is based on numbers from the ments filling rows from 6 to 344. By mid- payrolls. Also, many workers are tak-
monthly employment reports from the December, there had been 144 job cut ing severance packages, so they do not
Texas Workforce Commission. announcements from service companies, show up in surveys based on the num-
Economic reports use broad job cat- 88 from E&P operators, and 77 from sup- ber of persons filing for unemployment
egories that make it hard to isolate oil pliers. Some companies show up multiple benefits, which are used for monthly
and gas company workers, or determine times, including three majors with five or government reports.
which are in E&P. more announced rounds of reductions. More losses are likely this year because
“When the upstream oil and gas econ- The hundreds of rows of job loss a wave of consolidation is expected,
omy in Texas entered into the current announcements fail to catch all the cuts. Graves said. And the hardest hit are like-
contraction, we estimated jobs lost over Private companies are less likely to dis- ly to be on the E&P side.
the length of the downturn could total close job loss figures than public com- “The service companies sort of front-
40,000–50,000,” Ingham said. “We now panies. And many employment reduc- line all of that” cost cutting, Ingham said.
appear to be well beyond that estimate, tions are below the 50-job threshold set “Their employment is more volatile.
and the end is not in sight.” by the US law requiring advance notice They respond quicker and in a more dra-
US job losses loom large because the of job cuts. matic fashion, and then we see the effect
US drills and fractures a disproportion- To fill in the gap, Graves assumes that on (oil and gas) producing and operat-
ate share of the world’s wells. The US rig every drilling rig laid down represents 30 ing companies.” JPT

JPT • FEBRUARY 2016 43

Downturn Represents Stress Test
for Unconventional Hydraulic
Fracture Modeling
Trent Jacobs, JPT Senior Technology Writer

evelopers of the latest genera- and much younger startups are also in tainability to the flagging shale business
tion of unconventional hydrau- the hunt, such as Sigma3 and FracGeo, by engineering wells that produce more
lic fracturing models are hop- who teamed up in the summer of 2014 oil and gas from fewer wells, with fewer
ing that current weak oil and gas prices to introduce and market new unconven- fracturing stages.
will generate newfound interest in their tional reservoir models. “People are struggling to make a prof-
software technology. Several other players are pushing it with the current oil price just by drill-
After years of rewriting old programs their own approaches but the concept ing every location,” on a geometric grid,
and coming up with new ones, the model- they all share is that if shale produc- said Colin Sayers, an adviser with Sch-
ers say they have advanced the industry’s ers can predict what subsurface prop- lumberger who works on the company’s
ability to digitally simulate how shale erties dictate a quality completion, they unconventional modeling and seismic
reservoirs react to hydraulic fracturing. can land wells in geologically and geo- technologies. The approach he is pitch-
If the technology works, they may have mechanically favorable sweet spots and ing is to “put the wells in the right place
overcome the major limitations that have spend their capital on initiating frac- with the right orientation, and choose
stymied the adoption of fracture model- ture stages only in the most likely-to- where you should complete based on data
ing since the onset of the North American produce sections of a well. The tech- rather than just guesswork.”
shale revolution. nology could also reduce the financial One of the most important metrics
Those working on this new front pain incurred through time-consuming, of success is if the software can accu-
include service company giants such as trial-and-error pilot programs used rately simulate the interaction between
Schlumberger, which in recent years has to determine a particular field’s best hydraulic fractures and the natural frac-
built and acquired a number of modeling, completion practices. tures that act as the dominant transport
simulation, and 3D seismic technologies Ultimately, the technological goal is to mechanism for hydrocarbons in uncon-
to capture this budding market. Smaller lower break-even costs and deliver sus- ventional reservoirs. This objective is far
simpler to understand compared to the
MillerGrid – POIL
underlying science involved, which some
argue is not fully understood yet.
531.575500 “We don’t have the physics to three
203.834305 places past the decimal point, but we are
close enough. The number one issue is
that we are lacking the data,” said Neal
Nagel, chief engineer at Oilfield Geo-
mechanics, who has tracked the mod-
eling sector for nearly 30 years and is
familiar with the latest approaches
being introduced.
“Even if we have the physics, we need
the data—and the data take time and
money,” he said.
Some of the data will come relatively
easy and cheap. Many operators are sit-
ting on mountains of geologic and pro-
A 3D simulation of a horizontal wellbore combined multiple sets of data duction data that will need to be sifted
including seismic, pressure distribution, and microseismic to provide the through in order to be useful in the mod-
operator with a better understanding of the geomechanics involved with
the completion design. The companies developing these simulations with
eling environment. Some will have to
advanced computer models are hoping that the shale industry begins to take obtain new data by way of sophisticat-
notice of how the technology may improve production results. Image courtesy ed well logs or seismic surveys that cost
of FracGeo. several millions of dollars, yet in some

44 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

cases, still cost less than a single hori-
Well L
zontal well. BOPD=439
Well J
But right now, there are only a limited BOPD=646
number of case studies available to help RISC=26% Well K
convince shale producers that fracture RISC=58%
modeling is the silver bullet solution to
Well G
all of their problems. BOPD=859

Predicted 90-Day IP (BOPD)

Schlumberger says it achieved average 800 RISC=21%
production gains of 200% to 300% in 700 Well I
600 BOPD=762
stages where its geomodeling program 500
Well H RISC=24%
was used to compare engineered comple- 400
tions vs. geometrically completed stages 200
in the same well operated by an undis- 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900
closed operator in the Niobrara Shale. Measured 90-Day IP (BOPD)

The software technology was also used to

achieve a 35% higher initial production
Using a so-called geologic sweet spot modeling program, shale operators
rate in a Marcellus Shale gas well oper- can try to predict production based on their proposed well trajectories
ated by Seneca Resources. and placement. This example from the Bakken Shale shows the Relative
FracGeo says its model successful- Intercepted Shale Capacity (RISC) which indicates the percentage of each well
ly identified the need for variable well that does not move through “good rock” and can be used with another model
to estimate the geomechanical effects of hydraulic fracturing efficiency. The
spacing and refracturing candidates for
inset shows the correlation between the predicted initial production rates to
Southwestern Energy in the Fayetteville the measured production rates. Image courtesy of Sigma3.
Shale. The case study will be presented
at this month’s SPE Hydraulic Fracturing frac it,” said Ahmed Ouenes, chief execu- geologic variations found in a lateral
Conference and Exhibition in The Wood- tive officer (CEO) and founder of Frac- wellbore several thousands of feet long,
lands, Texas. Geo. “And then from that understanding, the standard practice is to arbitrarily per-
The company is trying to prove we can decide multiple things: either skip forate into the reservoir about every 50 ft
to the industry that its geomechan- stages, change the treatment, change the to 100 ft and group those “perfs” into
ical models can drive well perfor- spacing, or the sequence.” sections called fracture stages. Identical
mance and, over time, may help illumi- stimulation treatments are injected into
nate the shadowy science involved with Completion Customization 30 or 50 of these stages.
hydraulic fracturing. Such decisions would represent a degree Widely cited studies show that as a
“The whole process here is to under- of completion customization rarely seen result of these geometric completions,
stand what we are doing to the rock as we in the shale industry. Despite the many 40% to 60% of stages produce little

Stage Stage 1023.2

1 1 813.14
2 2
3 3
4 4 393.03
5 5
6 6
7 7
8 8
9 9
10 10
11 11
12 12
13 13

(a) (b) (c)

Based on the same horizontal well, a geomechanical model, microseismic data, and a reservoir simulation are all used
to improve the ability to model hydraulic fracture complexity. The hope is that by combining diagnostic data and
simulations, computer technology can help answer critical questions about well spacing, reserve estimates, and other
issues with which the shale industry continues to struggle. Images courtesy of FracGeo.

JPT • FEBRUARY 2016 45

or no hydrocarbons, while 30% of the ferential stress are most likely to yield by each stage of hydraulic fracturing and
stages represent 80% of a well’s entire complex fracture networks, whereas they can have dramatic impacts on the
production. Baker Hughes estimates that areas with higher differential stress are results of subsequent fractures in the
ineffective stages have come at an annual less likely. same well or offset ones.
cost upward of USD 40 billion. Side-by-side comparisons of data from For the past few years, operators
The alternative being pitched by the microseismic surveys and the stress maps have been experimenting with these
model developers are called geologic or reveal that areas with the most micro- sequenced techniques, called “zipper
engineered completions, which concen- seismic events are concentrated where fracs,” “parallel fracs,” and “sequential
trate stages where the data suggest both there is the lowest differential stress. “In fracs,” and have sometimes seen produc-
hydrocarbons and the conditions need- the high-differential stress zone, nothing tion benefits due to the effects of stress
ed to effectively fracture the rock coex- much happened,” when uniform fractur- shadowing. However, the trial-and-error
ist. This approach requires a greater than ing treatments were applied, Ouenes said. approach has provided little explanation
usual emphasis on detailed reservoir Logging tools can be run inside a well as to why a given fracturing sequence is
data regarding natural fractures, rock to detect these stress zones but only better than another.
mechanics, brittleness, bedding planes, around the near-wellbore area, not into Without clear answers, the primary
in-situ stresses, lithology, etc. the far field of the reservoir. By model- driver for sequenced fracturing has been
“On the unconventional reservoirs, we ing the entire stress field before a well the operational efficiency achieved when
kind of lost this geoscience input for is drilled, engineers can begin to under- crews and equipment are used to com-
many years,” explained Peter O’Conor, stand how shifting its placement may plete multiple wells in quick succession.
vice president of integrated solutions and improve their odds of achieving a com- The hope is that through geomechan-
business development at Sigma3. “People plex fracture network. ical simulations of stress shadowing,
were doing factory drilling and the oil If an engineer decides not to move a operators could have the ability to select
price was very high, and if 40% of the proposed well, they would at least have a sequences that also result in enhanced
stages were not contributing to produc- rough idea that in high-differential stress production and lower well costs.
tion, it was still a profitable exercise. zones fracturing fluids may need to be
“Eventually, we saw as an industry that pumped at higher rates, or at larger vol- Seeing More
a percentage of our wells were really poor umes, or a different proppant is needed, with 3D Seismic
producers, some were okay, and some or that they should avoid fracturing into Microseismic is among the most useful
were really good,” he said. But since the those zones altogether. and popular technologies to emerge from
end of 2014, it has become increasingly This type of stress modeling also the development of shale. Among other
clear that most shale producers can no applies to refracturing. Once an area of things, it has enabled the industry to
longer rely on the law of averages to bal- the reservoir has been depleted through understand stress shadowing, refractur-
ance the losses on the bad wells with the years of production, the stress field ing, and has illuminated the variability of
profitably of the good ones. Even when inside the reservoir can switch direc- fracture stage production. But as Sayers
prices were at their highest, it has been tion, a phenomenon known as stress of Schlumberger notes, “To get micro-
said that only a third of a company’s shale rotation. “The maximum stress direction seismic data, you have to drill a well.”
wells supported an entire development. is now the minimum stress direction,” The best way to get valuable geome-
explained O’Conor of Sigma3. “And so chanical information without first drill-
Stress Matters when you restimulate, you open up virgin ing a well is through a 3D seismic sur-
The pressure to rapidly improve that mar- rock, and lo and behold, the production vey. For Schlumberger and others, 3D
gin of error has forced producers to zero comes back to what it originally was.” seismic data have become a major driv-
in on geologic sweet spots, or sections of But the process of refracturing remains ing force behind the accuracy of their
the formation which are likely to produce a tricky business because of the uncer- predictive models.
the most oil and gas. However, “There tainties involved with where and exactly But until about 3 or 4 years ago, such
are a lot of wells that you cannot explain how to apply it. Using production histo- data were hard to come by as few shale
entirely with geological sweet spots,” said ry data, completion data, and seismic as producers had run 3D surveys across
Ouenes. “Once you have good geology, inputs, modeling may simplify the pro- their acreage. Since then, there has been
you would also like to be fracking into a cess of choosing which wells and which an uptick in 3D seismic acquisition thanks
good geomechanical condition.” stages to refracture. to the adoption of geosteering technolo-
He explained that a primary indica- Another potential use for these models gies that are used to ensure a wellbore
tor of a geomechanical sweet spot is a involves simulating the effects of stress follows the boundaries of the target for-
zone with low differential stress. Frac- shadowing that develops in the reser- mation and for sweet-spot mapping.
Geo has developed a program that can voir when sequenced fracturing oper- For modeling efforts to really take off,
quickly generate a map to identify where ations are used on pads with multiple this growing library of 3D data will be
these stress zones are along a proposed wells. Stress shadows are an effect of the critical because it provides two reservoir
wellbore path. Areas with the lowest dif- near-wellbore stress field being altered inputs needed to run many of them: the

46 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

Introducing a new controlled optimization
process for multistage completions


Recorded downhole data describes every frac


Visit us at
Learn from every frac. booth 201


©2015, NCS Multistage, LLC. All rights reserved. Multistage Unlimited is a trademark of NCS Multistage, LLC.
Pre-Modeling Modeling Post-Modeling

These charts show how data-driven software is used to identify key patterns and optimize horizontal well completions
in shale reservoirs. The complex processes use several modeling programs to predict production results, completion
quality, and analyze uncertainties. Images courtesy of Intelligent Solutions Inc.

in-situ stress state and a description of spatial variability of the stresses and the a must-have technology for producers.
the natural fractures. Historically, this ease of fracture initiation and propaga- The first commercially available uncon-
type of data has mattered more to geo- tion may be predicted more reliably. ventional fracture models were not up
physicists than completion engineers, Because the stress field around a well- to the task because they were based on
which is something Schlumberger is hop- bore interacts with natural fractures, codes originally developed in the 1980s
ing the success of its models can change. each fracture stage has the potential to and 1990s for conventional reservoirs
“To most engineers, seismic is a wig- affect the outcome of the one next to it. that assumed hydraulic fractures in shale
gle—so we don’t want to deliver wig- This means two fracture stages could be would be bi-wing and symmetrical, which
gles,” said Sayers. “What we are trying to communicating via a connected natural they are not.
do, in a nutshell, is to make seismic a tool fracture network and thus doing the job “The industry saw that the simulation
for the engineers.” that a single fracture stage could do. tools were lacking in some areas, which
But applying 3D seismic to heteroge- In wells where there is a strong ten- gave an opportunity for entrepreneurs
neous shale formations is a much more dency for stages to communicate, mod- and universities to jump in,” said Nagel of
difficult task than it is for conventional eling could be used to cut down on the Oilfield Geomechanics. “Now, it is going
reservoirs. The mix of clay, mineralized number of stages. For example, a well to take a period of time for the industry to
crystals, natural fractures, and hydro- with 25 strategically placed stages might accept and recognize the benefits, as well
carbons all cause seismic waves to be be able to produce as much hydrocarbons as potentially the limitations, of some of
affected as they move through the shale as a well with 35 evenly-spaced stages. these newer codes.”
formation. This has led Schlumberger “If the completion cost represents 70% Nagel, who is also an SPE Distin-
to develop a new way to interpret waves of the cost of the well, that reduction in guished Lecturer on the topic of stress
after they are received. number of stages represents almost a shadowing, said that, based on the his-
This process, called orthotropic inver- 20% cost saving for the considered well,” tory of unconventional fracture modeling
sion, has enabled the company to quan- said Ouenes. thus far, he expects only one or two out
tify both the abundance and orientation of the half a dozen new approaches to be
of natural fractures and the stress state in Seeking Adoption successfully commercialized. He believes
the reservoir. With the seismic inversion As promising as today’s state-of-the-art if a major operator adopts fracture mod-
working “hand in hand” with a geome- models sound, there is reason to be skep- eling and publicizes maybe a year or two
chanical model, Sayers said the change in tical about their chances of becoming of strong results, others will follow.

48 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

The big challenge Nagel foresees is interact with natural fractures make it
that if collecting the data costs too much “too complicated for us to mathematical-
money, and calibrating the models takes ly model it,” and those who attempt this
too long or is too cumbersome, shale pro-
ducers may move on once again regard-
“grossly approximate things to a level of
irrelevance and lack of validity.”
SPE Faculty
less of the value proposition.
“Even if you have a better mousetrap,
Mohaghegh, also a professor of petro-
leum and natural gas engineering at West
what does it take to convince the indus-
try?” he asked. “They have to make an
Virginia University, believes the key to
accurate modeling involves “hard data” Teaching Award
impression by clearly increasing produc- including fluid types, injection rates,
tivity and clearly reducing costs, other- proppant types, and volumes used in pre-
wise it’s just going to be a sort of research vious hydraulic fracturing operations. It
tool—which is the mentality I get from also includes information about the con-
most of our clients right now.” struction of those wells, the reservoir’s
And even if the modeling technolo- characteristics, and production history.
gy works as advertised, there is concern
that the notoriously change-averse cul-
“The beauty of it is that all of this data
is available to every company that has a
Apply today!
ture of the oil and gas industry repre- shale asset,” he said. “They probably do
sents yet another significant hurdle. “We not realize what a treasure of data they This award recognizes
need management to look at their orga- are sitting on, the value of it, and how
nizational structures and how they could much we can learn from it.” petroleum engineering
more optimally adopt new workflows and The model is validated using real pre-
new technologies without some of the production data and artificial intelli- faculty who have
barriers like, ‘This is the way we’ve always gence, or “machine learning,” to see if
done that kind of thing,’” O’Conor said. it can replicate the actual results of the demonstrated innovative
wells on production. Intelligent Solutions teaching techniques,
Another Paradigm takes the data used to construct and stim-
There are routes being taken in the mod- ulate those existing wells to build mul- but also encourages
eling sector other than the geomechani- tiple models to predict 30-day, 90-day,
cal or numerical approach. One of them 6-month, and 12-month production rates. and equips others in
is a data-driven model developed in 2011 Mohaghegh said the accuracy of the
by Shahab Mohaghegh, president and models increases from around 75% for academia to use similar
CEO of Intelligent Solutions. So far, the the 30-day model to 85% to 90% for the techniques.
model has been used in the Eagle Ford 12-month model, which he claims is sig-
Shale and the Niobrara by Anadarko, the nificantly greater than what other mod-
Marcellus Shale by Shell, and in the Utica eling technologies offer. Once there is a
Shale by Total. good level of confidence achieved in these
The Intelligent Solutions model relies models, they can be adjusted and tweaked
on data mining programs that predict to see what changes may result in comple-
the performance of well and completion tion optimizations for future wells in the
designs without trying to answer ques- same area.
tions about the size and complexity of He compared this way of building a
induced hydraulic fractures as the geo- model to the way models are built for Application Deadline:
mechanical models try to do. driverless cars or autopilot systems in
“The paradigm shift is to complete- commercial aircraft. He also uses the 15 April
ly abandon this way, or this approach challenges of the pharmaceutical indus-
to modeling,” he said. “When you don’t try as an analogy.
understand the physics, or your under- “When they want to make drugs, they To learn more and apply, visit
standing of the physics is very limited, have some measurements and some
then you try to use the data.” ideas, but nothing is precisely, determin-
The viewpoint that the industry does istically, or mathematically modeled in
not know enough about the science of medicine,” he said. “But we know a lot
hydraulic fracturing puts Mohaghegh at about the human body and how it func-
odds with others in the modeling com- tions, and so dealing with hydraulic frac-
munity. He maintains that the unresolved turing and production optimization in
issues about how hydraulic fractures shale is pretty much like that.” JPT


A wellsite generator from one of Arrow
Energy’s coalbed methane development
projects in the Surat Basin in Queensland. The
high cost of conventional logging methods
have forced the company to consider less
expensive options that may limit the project’s
economic value or increase risks in the
operation. Photo courtesy of Arrow Energy.

Understanding Uncertainty
and Risk in Capital Projects
Stephen Whitfield, Staff Writer

T he SPE Asia Pacific Unconventional

Resources Conference and Exhibi-
tion held in Brisbane last November fea-
do that, exploration and production com-
panies are spending money to gather and
analyze the necessary data.
the information an operator has about the
project. Begg said a problem most compa-
nies face is that the information they have
tured a special session, “Megaprojects: Steve Begg, a professor of petroleum is skewed toward desirable outcomes
Past, Present, and Future,” that focused engineering and management at the Uni- such as lower costs, lower construction
on some of the key issues facing mega- versity of Adelaide and a panelist at the times, and higher production totals.
projects in the Asia Pacific region. Panel megaproject special session, said a com- Begg said that faulty estimations are a
speakers discussed the main impedi- pany that is biased toward risk aversion measure of uncertainty, and risk is a pos-
ments to megaprojects, resource acqui- or risk-seeking behaviors faces a worse sible consequence of uncertainty. A com-
sition and management, and the project long-term outcome than companies that pany that makes optimistic estimations
management skills and business climate take a risk-neutral, or an expected-value, prior to sanction is not engaging in risk-
in the region. approach to decision making. seeking behavior, and a company that
Another topic the speakers addressed “If you’ve got large degrees of uncer- makes cautious estimations is engaging in
was the role of uncertainty and risk in tainty but you’re unbiased, then one proj- risk-averse behavior.
sanctioning megaprojects. In an environ- ect might fail but another one might be
ment where more than half of all projects brilliant, and if you look at a collection of Uncertainty Modeling
are facing cost overruns, schedule delays, decision outcomes in a corporation, you’ll To help reduce uncertainty in decision
or both, the need to recognize problem be well ahead. So uncertainty isn’t the making, Begg proposed a holistic and
areas prior to sanction is as great as ever problem. It’s bias,” he said. probabilistic approach embedded in a
(Ernst and Young 2014). The final investment decision often decision support system. This approach,
One way to improve decision making involves three elements: an owner’s goals the scholastic integrated asset model
for megaprojects is to understand, quan- for the project, the tasks an operator can (SIAM), includes a technological compo-
tify, and mitigate risk and uncertainty. To realistically execute within a project, and nent that integrates a variety of evalua-

50 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

tion and decision-making tools as well documentation of scheduling risks. The ble distribution of startup dates for every
as a modeling philosophy that takes into second step is the development of a spe- well. To account for the limitations that
account the magnitude of uncertainty cific schedule based on the work break- commercial reservoir simulators have in
in a decision. down structure highlighted in Fig.  1. In manipulating schedules, it ran each simu-
The SIAM is designed to identify the the third step, risks are matched with lation in smaller time increments.
uncertainties that impact decisions the schedule activities, and in the fourth step The workflow was then implement-
most, value the acquisition of informa- probabilistic estimates for the duration of ed in an uncertainty analysis software
tion, and encourage flexibility in forward schedule activities are obtained through program, after which the experimental
plans to mitigate and exploit uncertain- databases or interviews with subject mat- design was modeled with the simulated
ties (Begg  2013). It contains six elements: ter experts. These estimates are set as the schedules covering the maximum variable
◗ Simplified component models for inputs in the model. spectrum. From that, Petrobras could
each part of the decision-making The fifth step in the process is the attri- predict the NPV of each schedule from the
process bution of each probabilistic estimate to values of the variables considered.
◗ A Monte Carlo simulation engine a given schedule activity, and the defini-
◗ Modeling language for tion of points of interest that are then set Costs and Uncertainty
customization as outputs. The sixth step is the running Value creation will become an even great-
◗ The incorporation of of a schedule simulation with appropri- er need for operators as megaprojects
interdependencies between ate software. In the seventh step, a results continue to grow in scope and cost. In
components evaluation through the output’s probabi- 2014, Ernst and Young estimated that
◗ The implementation of decision listic distributions and sensitivity analysis 68% of projects in the Asia Pacific region
logic helps define the inputs that could have the scheduled for first oil between 2014 and
◗ The updating of information as a greatest impact on a project. In the eighth 2035 will face cost overruns, and the aver-
result of learning step, a risk assessment associated with age project in the region is expected to
By integrating the technical and busi- the most impactful variables to first oil run 57% over budget.
ness aspects of decision making, the and ramp-up helps determine the most The rising cost of megaprojects may
SIAM establishes a value-driven focus in important risks within the project. lead to more risk-averse decision mak-
the work of multidisciplinary asset teams. The final step is a review of the risk- ing from owners. While Begg cautioned
Petrobras recently proposed the devel- response plans made during the qual- against making such a conclusion—only
opment of an integrative method to fore- itative risk analysis for maintenance, the individuals present during the final
casting production development projects monitoring, and control, thus restarting investment decision process can real-
(PDPs) that incorporates different uncer- the evaluation cycle for a simulation of ly determine if an organization is being
tainty areas such as the association of the mixed scenarios. risk-averse—he said that high capital
reservoir and activities schedule. Petrobras ran 5,000 simulations for costs increase the chances of bad out-
A typical PDP workflow involves paral- an unnamed PDP using the Monte Carlo comes, and with that increased chance
lel schedule-uncertainty analysis. On one method, producing 5,000 probable comes an increased aversion to risk-tak-
track, companies analyze a set of proba- schedules to first oil. To determine which ing action.
ble schedules generated by a Monte Carlo schedule on this spectrum was most likely “I would say, from what I know and
simulation to determine a set of compli- to occur, the company integrated each one understand, given the fact that if you’ve
ance dates for first oil and ramp-up activ- into a reservoir model to develop a proba- got a megaproject, it’s likely to be a very
ities. On the other track, they simulate
representative reservoir probabilistic Production
models based on a deterministic sched- development project
ule and generate a probabilistic net pres-
ent value (NPV). This leads to a second Stationary Subsurface Health, safety,
Wells Indicators
output of a range of probable outcomes production unit installation and environment
and economic indicators reflecting the
Critical resources Critical resources
uncertainties in a deterministic schedule Construction
availability availability
First oil
(OTC 26309).
Petrobras’ approach would merge the Drilling and Pipelay support First gas
Anchoring completion
two tracks, providing a complete set campaign vessel campaign injection

of probabilistic production curves that

Commissioning Production
encompass all possible schedules in every ramp-up
Source: OTC 26309
associated discipline.
The schedule-uncertainty analysis fol- Fig. 1—The development of a work breakdown structure is one of the steps
lows a nine-step sequence of activities. in the schedule-uncertainty analysis Petrobras performs in its integrated
The first step is a qualitative analysis and production development project workflow.

JPT • FEBRUARY 2016 51

significant part of your portfolio, and if it when making decisions, thus mitigating mic data and production rate from each
fails it has a very big impact on the corpo- the impact of cognitive bias. lateral, the company was able to identify
ration, that those are the conditions that “If you have groupthink combined with key production drivers and determine
would lead to risk aversion,” Begg said. a motivational bias, then you might get the most economic technologies to use
Risk aversion is not always a subop- both optimism in terms of the typical out- on the development.
timal course of action for owners when come being skewed toward the desired The company utilized nuclear mag-
handling megaprojects, especially the outcome, plus the overconfidence since netic resonance, borehole imagery, and
case in riskier environments. Begg said it there isn’t even a wide range of outcomes, induced gamma spectroscopy for con-
can be a reasonable behavior if an owner because everybody’s thinking the same,” ventional wireline logging in its vertical
faces severe consequences for a bad deci- Begg said. wells, revealing the reservoir and com-
sion made prior to sanction. pletion quality of Longmaxi and its adja-
“It depends on the size of your portfo- China: Technological Advances cent formations. It identified two zones
lio. If you had 50 situations, or even 10 Uncertainty in decision making is not within a sublayer that had a TOC content
situations that were highly risky, but you solely a concern for the owners of mega- of around 2.8% to 4.0% and a porosity
took a risk-neutral approach, then maybe projects. As unconventional resources of 2.9% to 5.0%. For logging of its hori-
over the course of 10 outcomes you would take up a greater share of the industry, zontal wells, the company used logging-
be ahead on average. So it depends on owners and operators are looking to effi- while-drilling (LWD) tools such as LWD
whether you’re looking at an individual cient ways to increase production, espe- spectroscopy, 3D borehole calipers, and
event or an individual decision in its out- cially in newer markets. In some regions, gamma ray imagery.
come, or a collection of decisions and countries are still deciding whether Typically, operators working in Long-
their outcomes,” he said. unconventionals are a viable proposi- maxi presume that the fracture would
In discussing risk aversion, Begg differ- tion at all. propagate upward and downward with
entiated between decision making, where At the conference, representatives low contrast within the section, so they
risk aversion applies, and the estimation from PetroChina and Schlumberger would complete an exploration offset
of outcomes. He said overconfidence, or released the early findings of an inte- well with the lateral placed in the mid-
a greater belief in the outcome of an event grated project examining the feasibility dle of the Longmaxi organic shale sec-
than the evidence suggests, is a strong of certain technologies in the first inte- tion. However, Liang et al. state that this
motivator within the industry. grated shale block in the Sichuan Basin, idea has not been proven by accurate
Risk and opportunity are the two fac- the Longmaxi formation. China is in the fracture simulation, and previous test-
ets of uncertainty: Because their out- early stages of shale gas development, so ing had not considered the possibility of
comes are known, sure decisions carry companies investing in the area must bal- fracture misalignment and excess fluid
no risk and no opportunity for additional ance the need for capital investment with loss between the interface of the bedding
gains. Overconfidence lowers the range of potentially low economic return. layers of the shale formation. Misalign-
uncertainty: If a decision maker is over- Longmaxi is one of the more promis- ment and fluid loss could lead to fracture
confident, the outcome of the decision ing shale gas reserves in the country. The height restriction.
will look less risky than it is in reality. formation is a constant marine-deposited With that in mind, PetroChina incorpo-
Begg said optimism, or the tendency layer with an average thickness of 120– rated a more integrated drilling and frac-
to skew estimates toward a desired out- 200 m characterized by a lower section turing strategy, evaluating the fracture
come, is a subset of overconfidence. of calcareous-siliceous shale. It is a thick geometry with two fracturing simulation
“Overconfidence relates to the range formation, but recent exploration data models. The models accounted for extra
of uncertainty,” Begg said. “I would like have shown its most promising gas-bear- leakage and pressure loss through mis-
costs to be lower, so I tend to predict a ing interval is at a depth of 20–30 m (SPE aligned layers and could be used to under-
lower range of costs. I would like the time 176861). Total porosity in that interval stand the geometry of complex fractures
to startup to be lower, so I tend to predict ranges from 2% to 6%. The total organic by simulating the interaction between
that as lower. I would like production to carbon (TOC) also ranges from 2% to 6%. hydraulic fractures and natural fractures.
be higher, so my uncertainty estimates In late 2013, PetroChina started its This modeling led to the discovery of two
can be biased toward the high side. The first batch drilling project in the Zhao- optimal landing points from which the
optimism relates to where the central tong block, located in the southwestern company could base its well placement
value (of an estimate) is: Are things gen- edge of the Sichuan Basin. The first phase strategy and ultimately execute fractur-
erally low or are things generally high?” of the project involved the deployment ing treatment.
In addition, Begg said groupthink nar- of five platforms with four to eight later- The first round of batch drilling was
rows the range of uncertainty in decision als in each pad. One pilot well was drilled successful enough to encourage further
making, though that narrow range may for each platform and studied in detail production of shale gas in China. Petro-
increase the chance of a faulty decision. to give the company a better sense of the China found that the integrated approach
Without groupthink, a company would formation properties near each opera- allowed it to develop the reservoir eco-
have a wide range of opinions to consider tion area. By investigating the microseis- nomically. The initial production of its

52 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016


Topic Mining Drillpipe Push Tool Mining Wireline Tool Conventional Wireline Tool
Well Type Development Development Exploration and appraisal
Good—additional data
Data Quality Excellent Excellent
corrections required
Logging behind collar
Logging System Openhole Openhole
attached to drillpipe
Shallow/low pressure and Shallow/low pressure and Very deep/low-high hostile
low temperature low temperature pressure and temperature
Typically separate but can
Tools Stackable Yes Yes
be stackable
Minimal 3 hours rig up and 5 hours for stackable tools
8 hours rig up, rig down,
Operational Rig Time rig down time only. Logging including rig up, rig down,
and rig standby while well
Required occurs as drillpipe is pulled and rig standby while hole
is logged
out of hole is logged
Operational Risk Low Medium Medium
Advanced Tool Suites
Very limited Limited Extensive
Cost of Logging Contractor Moderate Cost-effective Expensive
Rig Time Required No Yes Yes
Crew Size Typically 1–2 Typically 1–2 Typically 2–4
Source: SPE 176823.

H1 well was 60% higher than a typical CBM project in the eastern part of the For Further Reading
offset well with similar wellhead pres- Surat Basin, an area of approximately OTC 26309 Reservoir-Schedule Coupled
sure. Wells H2 and H3, which were drilled 22 000 km. It needed geophysical logs as Uncertainty Analysis for PD Projects:
after H1, improved production totals by part of the data acquisition program, par- Optimization Opportunities and
an additional 20% to 50%. ticularly during the stages of early devel- Improvements for More Robust
Production Forecasts by V.C. Silva and
A construction program is underway opment. The mining logging technology
J.W. Pinto, Petrobras.
to deliver more natural gas from Long- consists of a basic logging suite. In order
SPE 176823 Formation Evaluation Logoff
maxi, and PetroChina will perform fur- to perform advanced logging in explo- Results Comparing New Generation
ther analysis of its production mecha- ration and appraisal wells, the company Mining-Style Logging Tools to
nisms as it gathers more correlation data sought a replacement for the convention- Conventional Oil and Gas Logging Tools
from the field. al logging tool that would ensure holistic for Application in Coalbed Methane
subsurface characterizations and front- (CBM) Field Development by T. Gan,
B. Balmain, A. Sibgatullin et al., Arrow
Australia: Coalbed Methane end engineering work for future project Energy; E. Murphy and L. Cook, Shell
The burgeoning unconventional re-sourc- decision making (SPE 176823). International.
es market in Australia is facing a similar The study compared three logging SPE 176861 Technology Feasibility and
technology risk. Arrow Energy’s coalbed technologies: a mining drillpipe push Production Driver Study in the First
methane (CBM) development projects in logging tool, where a composite collar Integrated Shale Gas Block in Sichuan
Queensland are designed to handle the is inserted inside the drilling borehole Basin by X. Liang, J. Yajun, G. Wang et al.,
PetroChina Zhejiang Oilfield Company; X.
drilling and evaluation of approximately assembly before the production section is
Zhou, Y. Luo et al., Schlumberger.
1,000 wells over a 10-year period. How- lifted; a slimline mining wireline logging
Begg, S.H. 2013. Some Reflections on
ever, high logging costs have forced the tool; and a conventional wireline logging Uncertainty, Decisions, Models, and
company to look into more cost-effective tool, which is the most common practice People. In Proceedings: The Second
ways to evaluate formations. This includ- for CBM formation evaluation. AusIMM International Geometallurgy
ed either early data coverage (which A comparison of the three technolo- Conference 2013, 3–6. Melbourne,
Australia: The Australasian Institute of
limits the project’s economic value) or gies can be seen in Table 1. While mining
Mining and Metallurgy.
restricted logging (which increases the stackable logging tools are more cost-effi-
Ernst and Young. 2014. Spotlight on Oil and
project’s risk). cient and leave a smaller footprint, they Gas Megaprojects. Internal Report, Ernst
The company’s study, which was pre- are also less reliable in performing local and Young Global Limited, London, UK
sented at the conference, focused on a standard operating procedures. JPT (accessed 28 December 2015).

JPT • FEBRUARY 2016 53


Development of Engineering Competency

Models Continues

The American Institute of Mining, Met- The working group holds monthly “The Engineering Competency Model
allurgical, and Petroleum Engineers calls, and SPE’s experiences have pro- has the potential to unite the profession
(AIME), of which SPE is a member soci- vided a critical template for other engi- on the fundamentals that engineers will
ety, is one of 17 societies that make up neering organizations to develop their need to solve the global challenges we are
the American Association of Engineer- discipline-specific competencies. The facing,” said Jerry Carter, chief executive
ing Societies (AAES). AAES, a multi- challenge now is to bridge SPE’s work officer (CEO) of the National Council of
disciplinary organization of engineer- in discipline-specific technical and non- Examiners for Engineering and Survey-
ing societies dedicated to advancing the technical skills with more generic com- ing and cochair of the LLWG.
engineering profession’s impact on the petency model work that has recent- The model was constructed as a
public good, hosts working groups on ly been released by AAES to create a tiered pyramid, creating a system that
topics of interest to three or more mem- holistic lifelong learning roadmap for splits into three sections: foundation-
ber societies. AAES formed the Lifelong SPE members. Behrooz Fattahi, AIME al, industry-related, and occupation-
Learning Working Group (LLWG) in 2013 2014 president and SPE Soft Skills Com- related. The first three tiers are foun-
to “serve as a forum to share best prac- mittee charter member, asked AIME’s dational, showing personal, academic,
tices and data and to discuss issues and Executive Director and AAES LLWG co- and workplace skills that are common
opportunities related to the activities chair, Michele Lawrie-Munro, to work to the engineering profession. Tiers 4
of the member societies to enhance the with SPE’s Soft Skills Committee to make and 5 are industry-related, with both
quality of lifelong learning programs these connections. industrywide skills and industry-specif-
in the United States.” The group iden- ic areas, the latter to be determined by
tified developing a competency model Framework for the discipline-specific representatives. The
as a key priority to help many mem- Engineering Profession sixth and final tier is occupation-related
bers understand the knowledge and The Engineering Competency Model and is divided into two sides: manage-
skills needed to thrive in the engineer- (Fig. 1), released by AAES in July 2015, ment competencies and requirements for
ing workplace. was created as a guideline for devel- a particular position within the engineer-
SPE has been developing discipline- oping the engineering workforce as a ing profession.
specific technical competencies for the whole. Funded by a grant from the Unit- The specific guidelines offered in the
past several years to assist young pro- ed Engineering Foundation, the AAES model were designed to help employ-
fessionals, and more recently graduate LLWG partnered with the US Depart- ers and employees alike understand the
engineers, in quickly ramping up with ment of Labor’s Employment and Train- core set of abilities needed to enter the
necessary skills needed to succeed in ing Administration to prepare this free engineering profession, in general, and
today’s competitive environment. SPE public resource. The collaboration is part to assist employees in maintaining their
believes that accelerating competency is of the Industry Competency Model Initia- skills and be successful throughout their
one direct way for industry to deal with tive, in which the Employment and Train- careers. The model is also meant to be a
“the big crew change” caused by the ing Administration and industry partners living template—engineering organiza-
retirement of a large number of petro- work together to develop and maintain tions are encouraged to not only adopt
leum engineers. In addition to these dynamic models of the foundational and the model, but also to build on it by
technical competencies, SPE established technical competencies necessary in eco- adding more discipline-specific technical
a Soft Skills Committee 5 years ago to nomically vital industries and sectors of skills (Tier 5).
help oil and gas professionals garner the US economy. The group has overseen
and hone the nontechnical expertise competency models for 26 professions, Lifelong Learning and
needed to be successful in a global mar- including machinists, nurses, and emer- Professional Skills
ketplace. SPE’s work is at the leading gency responders, advanced manufactur- Lawrie-Munro said a presentation at the
edge of lifelong learning efforts in the ing workers, and cybersecurity and infor- AAES meeting in October 2012 about
engineering profession. mation technology specialists. the need for lifelong learning opened

54 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

The 2016 generation Anti Stick-Slip Tool (AST) uses a new
counterforce solution for balancing the load on the PDC cutters
in both axial and angular directions. This makes it possible to land
any PDC drill-bit on hard rock without risk of impact damage.


The better protection of the PDC cutters in the first contact 3D & LAYOUT: RENDER.NO
with the bottom of the hole has already delivered impressive
results. An operator in South-Eastern Europe recently drilled
a deep 6.0 inch section in one bit-run with excellent ROP.
The bit drilled for 235 hours to a local TVD record of 5350m
(17500’). Back on surface, the bit was graded 1-3-WT.

A similar result was obtained by a major operator drilling on

the UK shelf where the planned turbine and impregnated bit
The counterforce upgrade enables the new XC-AST to
was replaced by a conventional PDC bit and the AST solution. continuously balance the loading on the cutters. This
prevents the onset of damaging vibrations when the
Contact us: cutters are lowered to fast on to hard rock or when the
bit bites too deep in to a new formation layer.
Aberdeen: +44 1224 561313
Houston: +1 713 557-7542
Stavanger: +47 51 95 11 70
Rio de Janeiro: +21 3497-5083
Fig. 1—Engineering competency model. Courtesy of US Department of Labor Employment & Training Administration.

her eyes to the need for a competency formed our lifelong-learning working that is not being replenished sufficient-
model and continuous improvement in group at AAES,” said Lawrie-Munro, ly rapidly.”
the engineering profession. The Nation- who has also cochaired the effort with Leslie, a civil engineer, said Engineers
al Academy of Engineering’s report pre- Cathy Leslie, executive director of Engi- Without Borders leaders had noticed that
sented by Debasish “Deba” Dutta, now neers Without Borders USA. many of their volunteer engineers, both
the provost at Purdue University and The report pointed out, “For too long, students and professionals, lacked skills
at that time with the University of Illi- the issue of lifelong learning for engi- such as leadership, technical writing, and
nois at Urbana-Champaign, along with neers has been on the back burner, a sense of global awareness and perspec-
the University of Illinois’ Lalit Patil, and even as American industry has heav- tive. Though today’s students are good at
James B. Porter Jr., retired vice presi- ily invested in MBA and executive busi- giving presentations, they are less pre-
dent of E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. ness education. A plan for vigorous, pared in how to handle team communica-
and a member of the National Acade- continual intellectual renewal through tions, team dynamics, and multicultural
my of Engineering, recommended AAES broad-based commitment to lifelong teamwork, Leslie said. The competency
take the lead, along with academia and learning could have a powerful role in model comes at just the right time for
employers, to ensure the importance ensuring that the United States remains millennials (loosely defined as those who
of lifelong learning was promoted. The competitive in the face of accelerat- reached young adulthood about the year
engineering competency model embod- ing technological change and pressures 2000) who need a career roadmap, Leslie
ies this. “We took that to heart and on an aging US engineering workforce said. “The millennials of today don’t mind

56 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

working hard, as long as they know what future, and get feedback on the prelimi-
they’re working for,” she said. “I think nary draft. The working group also dis-
the model establishes a great baseline. If tributed a survey to solicit feedback from OTC is where energy professionals
you look at the ECM (Engineering Com- the engineering community and gath- meet to exchange ideas and
petency Model), it’s not just about math ered input from more than 100 engineer-
opinions to advance scientific
and science skills,” Leslie said. “It’s about ing leaders, which was used to inform
being ethical. It’s about understanding updates and revisions to the model. and technical knowledge. Gain
public policy, quality control, and health In April 2015, the working group and access to leading-edge technical
and safety. It’s about understanding sus- the Department of Labor’s Employment information, the largest equipment
tainability and the impact of projects on and Training Administration met with exhibition, and valuable new
our environment. We’ve agreed on what the subject matter experts, representa- professional contacts.
being professional means.” tives from AAES member organizations,
and other members of the engineering
Model Development Process community to gather additional insight
To begin development of the model, the and finalize the competency model. At
US Department of Labor’s Employment this meeting, Lawrie-Munro shared SPE’s
and Training Administration assigned online competency tool, which generated
a dedicated research team to oversee great interest, especially from the Ameri-
the project, and members of the LLWG can Chemical Society, another leader in
provided the team with a vast amount the engineering profession in the soft
of background information to review,
including accreditation criteria, bodies
of knowledge from various engineering
skills development arena.
Another society participant in the
LLWG has been the Society of Women
societies, the Project Lead the Way out-
line, and curricula and related resources
from academic institutions around the
Engineers. Executive Director Karen
Horting, and former Executive Director
Betty Shanahan, recognized 5 years ago
US. Project Lead the Way is a leading
science, technology, engineering, and
the need for lifelong learning that goes
hand-in-hand with developing workplace
ƛ0%,/"" %+,),$6
math program used in more than 8,000 and competency skills. In 2010, that soci- Conference 2016
schools across the US. The working group ety released a Leadership Competency
also identified subject matter experts Model (see societyofwomenengineers. ǗȔǚ6| NRG Park
from AAES member societies, which rep- /page/1724-pd-leadership-
resent industry and academia, to assist competency-model). Shanahan is also a ,201,+Ǿ"50Ǿ
the research team in developing and cri- member of SPE’s Soft Skills Committee.
tiquing the draft model through a series The Engineering Competency Model
of webinars designed to gather feedback has been endorsed by AAES’ represen-
and further refine the draft. Subject mat- tative body, the General Assembly. An
ter experts from AIME’s member societ- interactive version of the model with
ies included Jeff Fergus, a professor in the detailed explanations of each of the com-
Materials Research and Education Center petencies and resources used to build it is
at Auburn University and member of The available online through the US Depart-
Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society, ment of Labor Employment & Training
and Andy Schissler, petroleum engineer- Administration’s Competency Model
ing exam coordinator at the Society for Clearinghouse website. Visit http://www.
Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration. for more information.
Throughout the development of the The LLWG of AAES will continue pro-
competency model, the working group moting and encouraging adoption of
sought feedback and input from stake- the Engineering Competency Model Registration open now.
holders across the engineering commu- through 2016 with outreach at specif-
nity—from educators of future engineers ic events and through a video for use in
to those who employ engineers. A webi- academia as well as a print-on-demand for more information.
nar was held in February 2015 for AAES one-pager and detailed PowerPoint
member societies and other stakeholders presentation. Additionally, it plans to
to explain the development process, dis- guide other engineering associations
cuss how the model could be a useful tool interested in developing their Tier 5
for engineering-related societies in the discipline-specific competencies. JPT



Drilling Technology
Michael Weatherl, SPE, President, Well Integrity

Perseverance. The featured papers high- key personnel can jeopardize the ability ule risk. “This is how it has been done
light this as a critical element in the to follow through with implementation before” is repeated, and the new idea is
successful application of new drilling of new technology. In this context, perse- put on hold.
technology. In one case, breakthrough verance is more challenging, but it is also But it does not have to be that way.
performance was achieved on a com- more important today than ever before. Proper vision, an atmosphere where the
plex, high-temperature/high-pressure Although most of us could agree that risk/reward profile of new drilling tech-
exploration well offshore Norway as an a fearless approach to new technology nology is understood clearly, adequate
example of “what can be delivered when is desirable and even necessary for sur- time, and sufficient dedicated Earth-
a team adopts a fearless approach to new vival in some cases, like so many things science and engineering resources are
technology.” The team suggests fearless in life, getting there is easier said than foundation ingredients.
pursuit, or perseverance, against a vari- done. Thinking back on a few recent case The featured papers represent relevant
ety of obstacles, hurdles, and potential histories and firsthand experience with examples where these attributes com-
show-stoppers. major projects, there were significant bined to achieve impressive results dur-
One might consider, then, what there challenges, time constraints, and limited ing well construction.
is to fear when trying something new. In engineering resources to investigate new Consider the common threads in the
reality, plenty. First, history has proved alternatives fully. Most often, there is selected papers illustrating step-change
that breakthroughs most often occur as concept selection, partner approval, and performance being delivered, over-
a result of sustained effort, through trials authorization for expenditure before coming short-term technical and orga-
and tribulation and, yes, failure. More assembling the full team, committing nizational challenges with clear vision
specifically, primary financial exposure to a rig, and selecting and procuring and sustained efforts over consider-
and schedule risks often correlate direct- long-lead equipment. Permit/regulatory able periods of time. For today and the
ly to the well-construction phase. Beyond endorsement increasingly requires dedi- days ahead, important lessons are found
financial and schedule risk, what about cation of substantial time and resources in perseverance. JPT
corporate reputation and career aspira- as well. By this time, the execution phase
tions? These objectives can sometimes be looms large on the horizon; we often
at stake during the operational phase, as end up in the fast-track mode. Expedit- Recommended additional reading
well. Are these realities understood and ing peer reviews, recruiting and training at OnePetro:
accepted by project leadership? Imple- personnel, and delivering and inspect-
mentation of new technology can require ing the rig and other major equipment SPE/IADC 173081 All-Attitude Gyro-
While-Drilling Technology Provides
that leadership and key team members are top priorities. Sound familiar? In Accurate Surveys in High-Angle East/West
be willing to step outside their comfort many cases, there can be a tendency to Directional Wellbores Delivering Reduced
zones. When there is a high rate of turn- fall back on proven equipment and pro- Costs and Increasing the Length of the
over, changes in management and other cedures to minimize financial and sched- Producing Zone by Keith Beattie, Gyrodata,
et al.
SPE/IADC 173125 Pioneer Turbodrilling
Michael Weatherl, SPE, is an engineering consultant and president With 16½-in. Impregnated Bit in Deep
of Well Integrity in Houston. He holds a BS degree in petroleum Presalt Well in Santos Basin by R. Pantoja,
engineering from The University of Tulsa. Before starting Well Petrobras, et al.
Integrity in August 2014, Weatherl worked as a drilling and SPE/IADC 173046 Drilling-With-Liner
completion team leader for Hess’ New Ventures Unit in Houston Technology Enables Successful Sidetrack
following assignments as team leader and drilling adviser in Through Depleted Sands in Shallow-Water
Stavanger and offshore Americas. Before working for Hess, he Gulf of Mexico by Wayne Bridgeman,
worked for 25 years for Chevron, including in a number of Chevron, et al.
positions in production and drilling in Louisiana and Texas. Weatherl is a member of the SPE 172559 Application of Friction-
JPT Editorial Committee and serves on the SPE Deepwater Drilling and Completion Reducing Rigid-Resin Centralizers Based
Conference committee. He has authored several papers and served as technical editor on Silicon Carbide by Urdaneta Javier,
for SPE Drilling & Completion from 1991 to 2013. Halliburton, et al.

58 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

Faster Rate of Penetration in Hard Chalk:
Proving a New Hypothesis for Drilling Dynamics

L arge areas of the North Sea contain

Cretaceous sediments, which
form a massive hard layer of chalk
a basic strategy was formulated by the
team leader: Drill with a high point load,
and preserve a defined bottomhole cut-
that historically has presented a major ting pattern. The strategy was built on
drilling risk and expense to operators the hypothesis that the drill-bit cutters
in the area. To mitigate such problems, are not the primary source of stick/slip
a Norwegian operator gathered an vibrations in hard chalk.
integrated team to thoroughly analyze
drilling records and lessons learned Key Considerations
from previous offset wells and to Eliminating Vibrations. Consistent with
re-engineer the drilling process. the hypothesis, it was assumed that the
The positive results of this effort primary source of vibrations was bore-
are described in the paper. hole friction. Three main contributors to
friction were identified:
Introduction ◗ Interaction between the stabilizers
In 2011, an operator initiated prepara- and the borehole wall
tions for drilling a series of deep, high- ◗ Pinching of stabilizers in
pressure/high-temperature exploration “microdoglegs” or ledges from
wells in the Norwegian part of the cen- lateral bit walk
tral North Sea. Given the depth of the ◗ Friction on other parts of the
exploration objectives, the first three drillstring and the bit at high weight
wells in the program had to penetrate a on bit (WOB)
massive body of hard Cretaceous chalk Consequently, the replacement of in-
belonging to the Shetland geological line stabilizers with roller reamers was
group. Acknowledging the challenge prioritized. The use of a modern rotary-
and the fact that a discovery would lead steerable system (RSS), which claims to
to the drilling of successive wells though improve wellbore quality and the preser-
the same troublesome interval, an inte- vation of a well-defined cutting pattern,
grated team representing both the oper- was deemed adequate for minimizing the Fig. 1—Illustration showing the
ator and technologists from the key sup- risk of the hole-pinching effects. To re- perceived challenge to the left with
pliers was assembled. Individuals from duce friction from the drill-bit wear-flat the proposed solution requiring less
this same group are the authors of this and other parts of the bottomhole as- WOB to the right.
paper. The team’s task was to produce sembly (BHA), the drill-bit specialists on
and execute a strategy that made it pos- the team presented a design with a more- ◗ Overload when breaking through
sible to drill the entire 12¼-in.-hole sec- aggressive cutter projection. contrasting interbedded layers
tion, including the hard chalk, in one of rock
bit run. Preventing Cutter Damage. Two main ◗ Backspin
In order to accomplish the goal of com- sources of potential cutter damage were On the basis of the risk from contrast-
pleting the entire section in one bit run, identified: ing layers, a new dynamic depth-of-cut-
control technology was considered.
This article, written by JPT Technology Editor Chris Carpenter, contains highlights
Power Reserve for Continuous Cut.
of paper SPE 173068, “Faster ROP in Hard Chalk: Proving a New Hypothesis for
The overall strategy was dependent on a
Drilling Dynamics,” by Eirik Akutsu, SPE, and Mads Rødsjø, SPE, Det Norske; John surplus level of rotary power. The team
Gjertsen and Mats Andersen, SPE, NOV; Nils Reimers, SPE, and Morten Granhøy- found the required increase in power
Lieng, SPE, Tomax; and Ellen Strøm, SPE, and Kjell Arvid Horvei, SPE, Halliburton, from two sources:
prepared for the 2015 SPE/IADC Drilling Conference and Exhibition, London, 17–19 ◗ Reduced loss through friction and
March. The paper has not been peer reviewed. vibrations

For a limited time, the complete paper is free to SPE members at

JPT • FEBRUARY 2016 59

◗ Addition of a high-output mud Dynamic Depth of Cut system was compressed outside of its
motor [positive-displacement motor A new dynamic depth-of-cut, vibration- functional envelope. As the bit was about
(PDM)] near the bit mitigation technology was available that to exit a stringer below the Shetland
Fig. 1 illustrates the perceived chal- allows for the use of aggressive cutting group, a torque spike snapped the PDM’s
lenge and the emerging BHA solution. structures in difficult formations. The titanium driveshaft. The BHA was pulled
The effort relied on the bit being capable AST has a simple mechanical function. for motor replacement. On the basis of
of handling significant levels of energy The tool is made up on top of the BHA this experience, the next well in the cam-
without initiating stick/slip effects. To and balances the WOB applied from sur- paign (Well B) had parameters adapt-
reduce the risk from stick/slip induced face against the reactive torque from the ed to the established limitations and
through friction, the standard stabiliz- bit. Any abrupt change in torque, such the 12¼-in. section was drilled to total
ers are replaced by roller reamers and as a torque spike from the cutters hang- depth in one run—including the Shet-
the drill bit requires less WOB to be effec- ing up in the exit of a hard stringer, will land group. The section took approxi-
tive. A modern, powerful PDM is includ- cause a telescopic contraction of the unit mately 8 days to drill—approximately
ed on top of the RSS, and the risk of cut- produced through an internal helix. This half the typical budget figure and almost
ter damage is mitigated by an antistick/ contraction instantaneously reduces the 2 weeks less than the average from re-
slip tool (AST). weight on the cutters. The contraction cent years.
continues until the weight (i.e., depth of
A Different Approach cut) is reduced enough so that rotation New Advances in Well C. A different
to Bit Selection can continue; as it does so, an internal make of drill bit was selected for Well C.
A more-aggressive polycrystalline- spring will reapply the initial weight. If The bit was even more aggressive and
diamond-compact (PDC) -bit design was the torque builds up again, the tool will based on a different design than the first
chosen to improve both drilling efficien- repeat the process and needs no reset. two. Also, a new-design 8¼-in.-outer-
cy and durability. Historically, more- diameter AST was included. This AST
heavy-set PDC-bit designs have been Drilling Results had an extended operational range com-
selected when expecting harder forma- The library of reference data for rate of pared with the AST used on the previ-
tions, increased levels of vibration, and penetration (ROP) and time to drill the ous two wells. With these changes, the
severely worn PDC-bit cutting struc- Shetland chalk showed a spread of 14 12¼-in. section was again completed in
tures. However, use of a heavy-set bit to 30 days. When considering the wells one run. Some intervals with a caution
with high WOB requirements often in- drilled in the last 5 to 6 years, the aver- level of risk were seen as the ROP was
creases the compression load on the BHA age number for the sections, including taken up as high as 25 m/h in the hard
and consequential side forces, leading the Shetland group, is 20 days count- chalk. The section was drilled in 4 days,
to friction-induced stick/slip. Therefore, ing four bit trips. Typical budget figures and the bit again had little wear.
more-aggressive, lighter-set PDC-bit de- used for new wells covering the same in-
signs to provide increased point loading terval by experienced well planners esti- Reliable Solution
were selected to minimize the require- mated 16 days, including three bit trips for Drilling Hard Strata
ment for high WOB, hence reducing the with the latter figures representing an The results confirmed that the BHA im-
risk of generating torsional vibrations. optimistic projection. provements and the choice of an aggres-
sive bit made it realistic to drill the prob-
Directional-Steering Capability First BHA Run (Well A). On bottom, lematic strata in one fast run in all three
Steering was needed in the chalk section. the drilling of the 12¼-in. section com- wells. The distance between the wells
Although use of a bent-housing motor menced at fast rates through the initial was significant, and the hard chalk came
would provide such capabilities, steer- shale layers until entering the Shetland in at different true vertical depths. These
able motors would be less effective and group. Through the Shetland group, the observations strongly point to the total
also would leave a less-favorable hole penetration rates continued at steady, BHA design and the bit as the key con-
quality compared with an RSS. The pre- fast speed. The team leader approved tributors to the success in all three wells.
ferred RSS solution was based on point- that the driller offshore be as aggressive When comparing the wells with the av-
ing the bit in the desired direction. The as prudently possible with the drilling erage from the offset wells, savings in
tool uses a driveshaft that is mounted parameters for maximum speed in order the range of 12 days could be concluded.
with bearings at each end. The drive- to establish the boundaries for the sys- With an average budget allocation of be-
shaft is then deflected midway between tem. As the ROP increased, the vibrations tween 60 and 80 days per well, the sav-
the bearings by a pair of eccentric rings transmitted from the measurement- ings from the work would reduce the
through which the shaft passes. By rotat- while-drilling tool remained in the safe overall well cost by 15–20%. Considering
ing the rings, the shaft can be deflected range. The torsional-shock data from the the work was performed from a sixth-
to any desired tool-face setting, from 0 RSS y-axis accelerometer from this first generation rig, the cash savings were sig-
to 100% deflection. The deflection of the run confirmed no stick/slip. nificant. After the study was completed,
shaft results in an angle change of the bit a fourth well was drilled on the basis of
itself relative to the RSS housing, to force Bit-Wear Analysis. In the process of es- the same work. The 12¼-in. section was
the bit angle. tablishing maximum loading, the AST again drilled in one run. JPT

60 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

oppor i

Oil and Gas Professionals

The power of our resources means nothing without the energy of our people. Their focus and expertise make
our energy more dependable, more sustainable, and more useful.

We are looking for experienced oil and gas professionals in Upstream, Downstream, Human Resources,
Treasury, and Safety and Loss Prevention.

Apply now.
Root-Cause Analysis of Drilling Lost Returns
in Injectite Reservoirs

T he work presented combines a

fundamental-physics approach
with field data to identify the root
key physical effects during the cuttings-
removal process are captured through
constitutive models for frictional pres-
asymptotically approach the fracture-
closure pressure, also called the
fracture-closure stress (FCS). The
cause of drilling failures in Paleocene sure drop in a circulating mud, heat fracture-reopening pressure (FRP) is
and Eocene injectite-sand intervals. transfer between the formation and the pressure required to reopen an ex-
Study results showed that unfavorably drilling fluid, cuttings deposition/ isting fracture and at a minimum can
oriented sand/shale interfaces, erosion, and particle/liquid drag force. equal the FCS but is typically larger to
which can occur more frequently The partial-differential equations of some degree. In this regard, above the
at the top of an injectite reservoir, mud and cuttings transport are dis- FCS, fluid can be lost to a fracture and
can reopen at equivalent circulating cretized along the wellbore, and the this can be thought of as a depend-
densities (ECDs) below predicted entire system of equations is solved si- able pressure-relief valve. Additional-
fracture gradients, but above the multaneously in an implicit manner for ly, field data have demonstrated that a
minimum stress, and can result in each timestep. With this approach, the pre-existing fracture can be reopened
massive losses. efficiency of hole cleaning can be char- repeatedly without a reduction in its
acterized for these wells. Additional- FCS because this is driven by the far-
Theoretical Approach ly, the effect of both lost returns and field stress.
and Application breakout can be incorporated into The LOP observed during an LOT is
Diagnosing narrow-margin drilling the models. inherently an uncertain measurement
challenges in injectite sands has proved and can range from the minimum stress
to be extremely difficult because of the Drilling Lost Returns. The upper to the FBP of the formation. The LOP
convoluted nature of available drilling bound of the drilling margin is tradi- is an operationally practical measure-
data, statistically small data sets, and tionally defined by the fracture gradient ment and traditionally serves as the
often contradictory “apples-to-apples” obtained operationally through leakoff maximum pressure that the wellbore
comparisons made on the basis of sim- tests (LOTs) and verified before drill- can sustain without experiencing losses
ple metrics. Two mechanisms have ing the reservoir section by formation- and typically defines the fracture gra-
seemed probable: (1) suboptimal hole integrity tests (FITs). LOTs and FITs dient, or upper bound of the drilling
cleaning leading to packoff and subse- are typically performed at the shoe and margin. However, in reality, the upper
quent lost returns, or (2) lost returns gradually increase the pressure until the drilling margin can actually be a re-
leading to suboptimal hole cleaning and formation begins to take fluid, or leak- sult of any of these factors at a par-
subsequent packoff. off occurs, defining the leakoff pressure ticular depth.
(LOP). Conversely, an extended LOT For reference, available test data used
Wellbore Cleaning. In this work, well- (xLOT) continues to pump fluid after a in this study showed the FCS to be as
bore cleaning is evaluated with a pro- breakdown signature is observed at the low as 1.31–1.43 specific gravity (sg), the
prietary transient-hydraulics and -hole- fracture-breakdown pressure (FBP) and FPP to be approximately 1.45–1.51 sg,
cleaning model. This model is based the fracture-propagation pressure (FPP) and fracture initiation to be as high as
on first-principle equations of mass is established. 2.45  sg. However, xLOT and FCS mea-
and momentum transport for drilling Subsequently, a hard shut-in is per- surements were limited and sparsely
fluid and cuttings along the wellbore formed and the minimum stress can dispersed throughout the field.
in the annular space between the drill- be determined on the basis of the pres- Instead of treating lost-returns be-
pipe and casing (or open hole). The sure falloff where the pressure will havior as a single-point measurement
captured by a traditional LOT or FIT at
the shoe, this study proposes treating
This article, written by JPT Technology Editor Chris Carpenter, contains highlights
the physical loss mechanism as a reacti-
of paper SPE 174848, “Root-Cause Analysis of Drilling Lost Returns in Injectite vation of pre-existing features.
Reservoirs,” by Scott Buechler, Jing Ning, Nidheesh Bharadwaj, Kaustubh In its simplest form and minimum
Kulkarni, Caleb DeValve, Carsten Elsborg, Timothy Head, and Arnout Mols, value, the wellbore pressure required
ExxonMobil, prepared for the 2015 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, to reopen a pre-existing fracture can be
Houston, 28–30 September. The paper has not been peer reviewed. any pressure in excess of the FCS.

For a limited time, the complete paper is free to SPE members at

62 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

2.4 1740
Normal Stress
Loss (m3/h) ECD (sg), Normal Stress (sg)
2.2 Vsh 1741
LCM Treatment

TVD (m)

4800 4900 5000 5100 5200 5300 5400 5500
MD (m)

Cloud Sand Shale

Fig. 1—Integrated interpretation of drilling diagnostics to identify root-cause loss mechanism. Vsh=shale volume.
LCM=lost circulation material.

Results effect of all tool joints. More specifically, likely stemmed from a single event
Wellbore Cleaning. Transient-hydraulics it does not result in increased localized from which there was no recovery.
and -hole-cleaning simulations were pressure peaks around any tool joint be- ◗ The location where losses initiated
conducted for a number of historical hind the bit. Finally, the simulation re- agrees well with high-angle features
wells to understand the effect of drilling sults demonstrated that pressure (or with predicted closure stresses
events, such as lost returns and break- ECD) measured by the MWD tool near near the minimum horizontal
outs, on ECD and hole cleaning. It can the bit is a reasonably good estimate stress and just below ECD.
be seen from these comparisons that the for the maximum possible pressure The hypothesis of a pre-existing
model is capable of capturing the impact (or ECD) present anywhere downhole fracture/feature observed from image
of fluctuating operational parameters for the purpose of conducting fractur- logs agrees well with observed drilling
and predicting the downhole ECD with- ing analyses. events, and it is evident that the pres-
in 0.025 sg of a measurement-while- sure required to reopen these features is
drilling (MWD) tool. Drilling Lost Returns. To evaluate the governed by the orientation of the pre-
The effect of tool joints on transient hypothesis that the reopening or re- existing fracture. In the well analyzed
hole cleaning was also evaluated to bet- activation of pre-existing fractures or in Fig.  1, losses were observed when
ter understand whether the low clear- features is a potential source for ob- drilling through a near-vertical fracture
ance around a tool joint would cause served drilling lost returns, real-time with an ECD in excess of the FCS. In this
localized pressure (or ECD) spikes be- and logged drilling and surveillance case, the FCS was defined as a minimum
hind the bit that were significantly high- data were used. From these data, a num- of 1.45 sg for a vertically oriented frac-
er than ECDs captured at the bit or by ber of conclusions can be inferred: ture and a maximum of 2.31 sg for a hor-
MWD measurements. The primary con- ◗ Detectable features on the image izontally oriented fracture. These two
cern here would be whether, if pres- log occur more frequently in values correspond to an assumed, but
ent, these larger pressures behind the regions where there is substantial unknown, minimum horizontal stress
bit would be large enough to exceed the change in the shale volume. and overburden. To validate this ap-
fracture gradient and initiate losses. ◗ Interfaces are somewhat stochastic proach for potential use in a forecast-
More importantly, because the pres- in nature; high-angle features ing sense, available drilling data  were
sure at any given depth is an integrat- are relatively uncommon along used for a well undergoing cleanup in
ed quantity, the pressure in the hole the length of the wellbore but which the mud weight was held con-
always shows an increasing trend fur- do occur. stant but the flow rate was varied, and
ther down the wellbore. It is impor- ◗ Sustained losses first occurred near drilling mud was either lost or returned
tant to note that the effect of the tool 4910- to 4920-m measured depth depending on the flow rate (i.e., ECD). It
joints will be an integrated effect; how- (MD) and stayed relatively constant was found that once normal stresses are
ever, downhole pressure increased by throughout the remainder of overcome, losses are proportional to
approximately 35–50  psi, including the drilling, implying that losses most flow rate.

JPT • FEBRUARY 2016 63

Applications to Drilling
Injectite Reservoirs SPE EVENTS
It was apparent that, while unfavorably
oriented interfaces infrequently occur WORKSHOPS 1–3 March ◗ Fort Worth—IADC/SPE
in these wellbores, it takes only one to Drilling Conference and Exhibition
initiate losses and, typically, once initi- 15–16 February ◗ Abu Dhabi—SPE Flow 21–23 March ◗ Muscat—SPE EOR
ated, losses are sustained. Furthermore, Assurance and Production Chemistry: Conference at Oil and Gas West Asia
How to Minimise Downtime, Enhance
the likelihood that an LOT or FIT will 22–23 March ◗ Houston—SPE/ICoTA
Production and Improve Operations
encounter an unfavorable interface at Coiled Tubing and Well Intervention
from Wells and Facilities
Conference and Exhibition
the shoe is small, and it is not likely that 16–17 February ◗ Mangaf—SPE Applied
an LOT or FIT conducted at the shoe 22–25 March ◗ Kuala Lumpur—OTC Asia
Tracer Technology to Maximise
would capture the lower bound of these Hydrocarbon Recovery 9–13 April ◗ Tulsa—SPE Improved Oil
reopening pressures. As such, thinking Recovery Conference
21–24 February ◗ Kota Kinabalu—
of the upper bound of the drilling mar- SPE Operating Mature and Very 11–13 April ◗ Stavanger—SPE International
gin in terms of a “lost-returns” gradi- Mature Fields—Operating, Upgrading Conference and Exhibition on Health,
& Extending the Production Life of Safety, Security, Environment, and
ent instead of a traditionally defined Social Responsibility: Sustaining
Offshore Assets
fracture gradient is more applicable for Our Future Through Innovation and
21–24 February ◗ Kuala Lumpur—SPE
injectite reservoirs. Such an approach Collaboration
Maximising Asset Value Through Data
would likely make traditional drilling Science & Analytics 12–13 April ◗ Galveston—SPE/
more challenging by making the drill- IADC Managed Pressure Drilling and
23–24 February ◗ Muscat—SPE
ing margin tighter, but would character- Underbalanced Operations Conference
Unconventional Reservoir Fracturing
ize the root cause of drilling challeng- and Exhibition
23–25 February ◗ Abu Dhabi—SPE Sour
es. Tighter margins could be addressed 20 April ◗ Bergen—SPE Bergen One-Day
Oil and Gas Fields: The Challenging
with technologies such as managed- Transition from Appraisal through
pressure drilling (MPD), or, by knowing Development to Operations
the root cause, technical solutions could 29 Feb–3 March ◗ Kuala Lumpur—SPE
be engineered. Drilling and Completions Fluids and Waste
Management 8–9 March ◗ Abu Dhabi—SPE Women in
Leadership: Exceeding Expectations
Conclusions 1–3 March ◗ Dubai— SPE Well Testing:
Technology, Operations, Sampling, and 9–10 March ◗ Amman—SPE Iraq—The
The root cause of drilling failures was Petroleum Potentiality and Future of
Reservoir Characterisation in the Current
found to be (infrequently occurring) Price Environment Energy
unfavorably oriented sand/shale inter- 29–31 March ◗ Abu Dhabi—SPE Cyber
2–3 March ◗ Bogotá—SPE/AAPG Colombia
faces that reopen when ECD exceeds Offshore—Challenges and Opportunities Security and Business Resilience for the
the minimum stress and that result in for an Emerging Industry Oil and Gas Industry
massive losses. These interfaces were 8–9 March ◗ Kuala Lumpur—SPE 30–31 March ◗ Mexico City—SPE
found to correlate reasonably well with Petroleum Economics—Optimising Value Mexico Health, Safety, Environment and
observed loss events. In parallel, this Throughout the Asset Life Cycle Sustainability
was supported by hole-cleaning simula- 9–10 March ◗ Harstad—SPE Norwegian 5 April ◗ Calgary—SPE/CHOA Slugging It
tions that showed that, without losses, Arctic Subsurface and Drilling Challenges Out Conference
hole cleaning would not result in pack- 13–16 March ◗ Penang—SPE Complex 25–28 April ◗ Dhahran—SPE/SAS Annual
Reservoir Fluid Characterisation—Impact Technical Symposium & Exhibition
off. A lost-returns gradient was pro-
posed instead of the traditional frac- on Hydrocarbon Recovery and Production
ture gradient populated by localized 14–15 March ◗ Aberdeen—Brownfields FORUMS
events during LOT and FIT at the cas- Redevelopment—A Meeting of Minds to
Meet the Challenges 12–17 June ◗ San Antonio—SPE Key
ing shoe. This lost-returns gradient Factors for Success in Unconventional
was calibrated through observed tran- Reservoir Development
sitions between losses and no losses CONFERENCES
12–17 June ◗ San Antonio—SPE Processing
while wells were being cleaned up. The Facilities of the Future
result was a tighter, but better-defined, 9–11 February ◗ The Woodlands—SPE
Hydraulic Fracturing Technology
drilling margin that could be addressed Conference CALL FOR PAPERS
through the use of MPD, alternative
24–26 February ◗ Lafayette—SPE
casing-design strategies, optimized SPE Russian Petroleum Technology
International Conference and Exhibition on
well-path placement, or other engi- Conference and Exhibition ◗ Moscow
Formation Damage Control
Deadline: 18 March
neered solutions. JPT

Find complete listings of upcoming SPE workshops, conferences,

symposiums, and forums at

64 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

Single-Gradient Subsea-Mud-Lift-Drilling
Technology in Deepwater Gulf of Mexico

S ubsea-mud-lift-drilling (SMD)
technology is a form of managed-
pressure drilling (MPD). As with other
and a heavier mud weight is used below
the mudline. This combination of gradi-
ents results in an annular-pressure pro-
such as those commonly seen in the deep-
water GOM.
Note that a unique attribute of the
MPD systems, SMD technology offers file that more closely follows the natu- SMD-S system is the ability to pump off
early detection of influxes (kicks) and ral pore-pressure and fracture-gradient AFP from under the bearing-latch as-
minimizes downhole losses to weak trends. This significantly improves the sembly (BLA) in the SRD. In this configu-
subsurface formations. However, ability to stay within the pressure win- ration, the well is always hydrostatical-
significant differences are built into the dow much longer without changing mud ly overbalanced, even in the event of an
SMD system. This paper will highlight weights. Dual-gradient drilling helps to equipment failure or unplanned loss of
the benefits of single-gradient SMD eliminate casing points that are required power to the system.
(SMD-S) technology, the execution of the in conventional drilling and offers sig-
most recent deployment, and test results nificant production benefits in the deep- SMD-Equipment Testing
that represent the final steps in moving water environment. To safely and reliably perform SMD-S
toward continued MPD operations in the In order to maintain constant bot- drilling, the SMD-system hardware and
deepwater Gulf of Mexico (GOM). tomhole pressure (BHP), this technique operating procedures were required to
allows annulus pressure to be trapped satisfy a number of basic requirements.
Introduction below a subsea rotating control device The system needed to demonstrate de-
SMD is a sophisticated subsea MPD tech- (SRD) during connections by increas- fined performance criteria of all routine
nology development and commercializa- ing the maximum-lift-pump (MLP) inlet drilling operations, safely manage non-
tion project that has just completed its pressure to help manage ballooning or routine drilling operations (e.g., well-
fourth offshore deployment. With every control wellbore stability. control and lost-circulation events), and
deployment, the learnings have been maintain the well in a safe condition in
captured and addressed successfully. The SMD-S. The same mud density is placed the event of equipment failure.
most recent deployment in the deepwater in the riser and below the mudline, so Overall, cased-hole testing results
GOM has demonstrated that the technol- the well is effectively in single-gradient were very positive and the technology
ogy works as designed by successfully mode. Static and dynamic BHPs for an concept was validated successfully along
accomplishing nearly all test objectives. SMD-S system are established with equa- with the mechanical and operational via-
The confidence is now very high that the tions provided in the complete paper. bility of the MLP and the SRD to perform
industry will see the successful commer- Pressure can be pumped off during single-gradient MPD operations. Forty-
cial delivery of a drilling technology that circulation or trapped during connec- four test objectives were attempted dur-
offers potential for a more-efficient drill- tions with the MLP by reducing or add- ing the testing sequence, and 43 objec-
ing operation. In addition, this technol- ing pressure below the SRD to offset tives were met.
ogy will lead ultimately to enhanced pro- the effect of annular frictional pressure The main focus of the testing program
duction and recovery from deepwater (AFD) as the rig pumps are ramped up for SMD-S was to determine the stability
assets. SMD has two operational modes, to the drilling flow rate. This effective- of the MLP inlet pressure and the abil-
SMD-S and dual-gradient SMD (SMD-D), ly allows the system to maintain a dy- ity to manage the wellbore-pressure pro-
as illustrated in Fig. 1. namic BHP in the well that is approx- file within a controlled and predictable
imately equivalent to the static BHP, range. Routine drilling procedures were
SMD-D. A fluid with a density equiv- thereby providing greatly improved sta- tested in cased hole, with special empha-
alent to seawater is used in the riser bility through tight pressure windows sis on the start- and stop-circulation pro-
cedures while controlling AFP. Further,
an assessment was made of the MLP-
This article, written by JPT Technology Editor Chris Carpenter, contains highlights of
inlet-pressure control while tripping pipe
paper SPE 174881, “Successful Testing of Single-Gradient Subsea-Mud-Lift-Drilling through the BLA installed on the SRD,
Technology in Deepwater Gulf of Mexico,” by Sharifur Rahman, Calvin Holt, David along with verifying the ability of the
Dowell, Danilo Morales, and Siri Davis, Chevron, prepared for the 2015 SPE Annual pump to maintain a close-to-constant
Technical Conference and Exhibition, Houston, 28–30 September. The paper has not bottomhole pressure during these op-
been peer reviewed. erations. Within the nonroutine opera-

For a limited time, the complete paper is free to SPE members at

JPT • FEBRUARY 2016 65


8.6-lbm/gal 14.6-lbm/gal
Mud Mud

Above SRD Above SRD

SRD 1,790 psi SRD 3,036 psi

MLP inlet WD=4,000 ft

MLP MLP MLP inlet Pump Off
1,840 psi 2,786 psi
BOP Seafloor BOP 250 psi

AFP Single-Fluid AFP

300 psi Density 300 psi
Drilling Fluid

16-lbm/gal 14.6-lbm/gal
Mud Mud

15,452 psi
15,233 psi

Fig. 1—Subsea mud-lift-drilling-technology modes. BOP=blowout preventer; WD=water depth.

tions, the ability to detect a kick and re- management while controlling the set- input by the system operators. While
spond to a potential equipment failure ting manually or automatically. During the AFP algorithm worked reasonably
was also tested. normal-drilling-related tests, the sys- well for the MLP ramp-down sequence,
tem was able to maintain BHP within a logic errors were noticed during MLP
Test Results and Key Findings 10-psi band. ramp up, which needed the manual
MLP-Inlet-Pressure-Control Test. The The SMD-S test for dynamic-flow- intervention of the system operators
MLP pressure showed stability at dif- check procedure was performed by re- to correct.
ferent conditions. Flow rates were var- ducing the MLP inlet pressure from ap- The BHP tracked the MLP inlet
ied from 300 to 800 gal/min, combined proximately 1,000 psi to approximately pressure during the connection-
with different MLP inlet set points from 400 psi while maintaining both rig-pump procedure test.
400 to 1,000 psi. and MLP rates at a constant 800 gal/min; This test demonstrated that the
The MLP demonstrated control of set- equivalent pressure reduction was ob- bottomhole static density and bot-
ting the inlet pressure while following served on the BHP, which was verified tomhole circulating density can
a schedule automatically from 750 to with the real-time measurement data be controlled precisely by use of the
1,000 psi as rig-pump flow rate was re- from the annular-pressure-while-drilling SMD-S technique.
duced from 800 to 0 gal/min, followed (APWD) tool.
by manual control of the ramp-up sched- Kick Detection. The purpose of this test
ule. Very good MLP-inlet-pressure stabil- AFP Management During Connection. was to verify the kick-detection mech-
ity was observed while pumping at dif- The SMD-S connection procedure was anism with the SMD system and test
ferent flow rates once steady-state flow tested and verified successfully. The AFP the ability to shut in and line up to cir-
was achieved. algorithm works by automatically ad- culate out a kick conventionally. Dur-
The MLP managed small increments justing the MLP inlet pressure against a ing the test, the drill crew was able to
of pressure (25-psi steps) during AFP predefined flow rate vs. pressure table identify the influx in less than a 2-bbl

66 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

gain in the system, even with the low equipment used for SMD-D is unchanged conventional-drilling margins. While
influx rate of only 25 gal/min. The kick- from that of SMD-S, so testing of the eliminating casing strings does save
detection capability of the pump worked dual-gradient capabilities is effectively drilling time and reduces mechani-
as designed. an operational procedure test. cal risk in deepwater wells from tight
SMD-D remains the ultimate ob- mechanical clearances, the real value-
BLA. The BLA successfully latched into jective because this is the only tech- adding benefit is that it offers the ability
the SRD joint and sheared from the run- nology available today that offers the to reach a reservoir with larger casings
ning tool, so the setting procedure was ability to eliminate casing strings in a than with conventional single-gradient
executed as designed. After setting, the deepwater well while maintaining all MPD systems. JPT
BLA-sealing element was tested success-
fully in holding a pressure differential
across the seal. The test simulated trip-
ping 70 tool joints through the element
while varying tripping speed, rotary Missouri University of Science
speed, and MLP inlet pressure; the max- and Technology
imum differential pressure tested was
Department of Geosciences and
750 psi. Rotary speed was varied from 50
Geological and Petroleum Engineering
to 100 rev/min.
The BLA sealing element was inspect- Assistant/Associate Professor of
ed at the provider’s shop after retrieval, Petroleum Engineering
and it showed no signs of abnormal wear.

Benefits of SMD-S System The Department of Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering (GGPE)
Wells currently in the deepwater-GOM at Missouri S&T seeks applicants for a full-time tenure track faculty opening in
portfolio will benefit from the application Petroleum Engineering with appointment at the assistant or associate professor level
to begin August, 2016. The successful candidate is expected to teach undergraduate
of the technology in the following areas:
and graduate courses, develop an externally-funded research program, participate in
◗ SMD-S will improve the
student advising, outreach programs, curricular development, and perform university
likelihood of accessing the top and professional service. A PhD in petroleum engineering or a related discipline
of the Wilcox formation with is required. Preference will be given to those applicants whose specialties are in the
larger drift by eliminating the areas of drilling engineering, well completions, geomechanics or hydraulic fracturing.
contingency casing strings that Industry experience is also preferred.
are set as a result of dealing with Recognized for its academic excellence and strong return on investment, Missouri S&T
losses and kicks encountered while consistently ranks among the top “Best Investment” public universities for both in-state
drilling through tight pressure and out-of-state students. Missouri S&T is a technological research university with a
strong emphasis in engineering, science and technology. There are approximately 8000
windows. students (6200 undergrads, 1800 grad students) in 55 different degree programs. The
◗ By adjusting the MLP inlet GGPE department consists of 21 faculty, over 360 undergraduates, and over 300 graduate
pressure, SMD-S will allow better students in Geology, Geophysics, Geological and Petroleum Engineering.
management of the BHP to mitigate For additional information (but not to submit applications) contact Dr. Shari Dunn-
or eliminate losses when drilling Norman, 151 McNutt Hall, Rolla, MO 65409;; (573) 341-4840.
through tight margins. Interested candidates should electronically submit an application consisting of a cover
◗ Ballooning can be mitigated by letter, current curriculum vitae, a statement of research and teaching interests, one
maintaining near-constant BHP sample publication, and complete contact information for five references to the Missouri
during drilling. S&T’s Human Resource Office at Review of
applications will begin March 1, 2016, and continue until the position is filled.
SMD Forward Plan All submitted application materials must have the position reference number 00065568
Testing results clearly demonstrated in order to be processed. Acceptable electronic formats that can be used for email
that the design fundamentally works and attachments include PDF and Word; hardcopy application materials will not be accepted.
Missouri S&T participates in E-Verify. For more information on E-Verify, please contact
that the SMD system can offer tremen- DHS at 1-888-464-4218.
dous value to deepwater wells through
The final candidate is required to provide official transcript(s) for any college degree(s)
MPD. The system demonstrated con-
listed in application materials submitted. Copies of transcript(s) must be provided prior
trol and sensitivity to wellbore pressures to the start of employment. In addition, the final candidate may be required to verify
well within the design parameters. In other credentials listed in application materials. Failure to provide official transcript(s)
the near term, the operator plans to use or other required verification may result in the withdrawal of the job offer.
and mature SMD-S technology in drilling Missouri S&T is an AA/EO Employer and does not discriminate based on race, color,
deepwater-GOM wells. religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, or status as Vietnam-
Once the SMD-S technology is imple- era veteran. Females, minorities, and persons with disabilities are encouraged to apply.
mented successfully, testing of SMD-D Missouri S&T is responsive to the needs of dual-career couples.
will commence. It is notable that the

JPT • FEBRUARY 2016 67

Optimization of Upper Burgan Reservoir
Multilateral Well With Inflow-Control Device

I n coning situations, such as in the

production of oil reservoirs with
a bottom aquifer, multilateral wells
of Upper Burgan Reservoir
The Burgan formation is a major reser-
es a progradational shoreface succes-
sion, but, in the southeastern part of
the field, the occurrence of channelized
reduce the coning effect and, hence, voir unit. It unconformably overlies the sandbodies could point to an incised val-
prove to be more cost-effective. This carbonate Shuaiba formation and un- ley fill. The overlying UB4 layer does not
paper discusses the first multilateral derlies the Mauddud carbonates with lo- record any significant channelized-delta
well with a Level-4 junction combined cally unconformable contact. The thick- sandbodies and is instead marine influ-
with an inflow-control device (ICD) ness of Burgan is approximately 950 ft enced with some evidence of a deltaic
planned, designed, and drilled in the of soft, clean, porous, well-sorted quartz influx toward the top. The UB3 and UB2
Upper Burgan reservoir of Raudhatain sandstones of littoral to possibly deltaic form two distinct layers in the Raud-
field, north Kuwait. The paper covers aspect, interbedded with siltstones and hatain field, and it is in Layer UB3 that
the main challenges of well placement dark shales. The Burgan formation at the main phase of delta buildout is re-
during geosteering to ensure the best Raudhatain has been divided informally corded in this field. Delta progradation
quality of reservoir rock in structurally into three members, termed the Upper continues in the overlying UB2 layer,
and depositionally complex settings Sand, Middle Shale, and Lower Sand. but the system has started to backstep
with smart-completion design. The Upper Burgan reservoir sediments here, supported by the preservation of
were deposited during the Lower Creta- thinner and muddier channel fills. The
Introduction ceous and are Albian in age. Two gross surface that marks the turnaround be-
The Raudhatain oilfield structure is one depositional models are recognized for tween the UB3 and UB2 layers is subtle
of several developed along a prominent the Upper Burgan: a tidally influenced, in the cored study wells and is typically
anticlinal ridge that plunges gently north fluvial-dominated delta model and a picked after calibration with openhole
of Kuwait. These individual highs, in marine-influenced shoreface model. logs. The uppermost UB1 layer repre-
which the principal oil accumulations of Each of these models typically dominates sents the drowning of the delta system in
the area are localized, tend to be of large a specific layer or constitutes a discrete the Raudhatain field.
areal extent and substantial structural re- horizon within a layer. In gross terms, the Within the Upper Burgan system, there
lief. The Raudhatain structure exhibits a Upper Burgan in north Kuwait is charac- are a number of sand-dominated genet-
quasiradial pattern of small normal faults terized by the buildout and subsequent ic elements that have been recorded. Of
of limited throw. This geometry suggests backstepping of the delta system with these, three in particular—channel-fill,
a primary origin by uplift. widespread shoreface conditions partic- mouthbar, and sand-flat sandbodies—
The Raudhatain structure is a faulted ularly developed at the base and the top have been identified as having the best
anticlinal dome with 65 to 90 ft of topo- of the Upper Burgan. reservoir qualities.
graphical relief. The 3D seismic has de- Primary depositional factors are the
fined the major faulting in the northern Sedimentology main controls on reservoir quality, and,
part of Raudhatain as northwest trend- of Upper Burgan therefore, the sedimentary framework
ing, whereas in the southwestern part of The Upper Burgan in the Raudhatain can be used to predict relative reservoir
the field the faults trend northwest. Fault field comprises five layers, called the quality. Consequently, the best reservoir
throws are highly variable and range UB5, UB4, UB3, UB2, and UB1 from base quality is typically sustained by predomi-
from less than 30 ft to as much as 150 ft. to top, respectively. UB5 also compris- nantly clean and fine- to medium-grained
channel-fill sandstones. Mouthbar and
This article, written by JPT Technology Editor Chris Carpenter, contains highlights sand-flat sandbodies also display good
reservoir properties.
of paper SPE 175227, “Optimize Development Strategy of Upper Burgan Reservoir
The distribution and orientation of
Through Multilateral Well With Inflow-Control Device in Raudhatain Field, North
the best reservoir multistory channel-
Kuwait,” by Sankar Chowdhuri, Peter Cameron, Tarek A. Gawwad, Mohammad fill sandbodies are relatively predict-
R. Madar, Siddhartha Sankar Sharma, Moute’a Dughaim AlMutairi, Vijay able in the various layers across the
Shankar Rajagopalan, Suresh Chellappan, and Moudi Fahad Al-Ajmi, Kuwait Oil Raudhatain field. In summary, the best
Company, prepared for the 2015 SPE Kuwait Oil & Gas Show and Conference, Mishref, reservoir sandbodies are found in the
Kuwait, 11–14 October. The paper has not been peer reviewed. UB3 layer and then the UB2 layer (re-

For a limited time, the complete paper is free to SPE members at

68 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

duced net/gross and reservoir quality) 6,000 100
and are typically multistory channel 5,000

Oil Rate (B/D)


Water Cut (%)

fills, which are typically distributed in 4,000 70
the northeastern, central, and south- 3,000 50
ern areas of the field. Although these 2,000
sandbodies appear to be thinner in the 20
south of the field, there appears to be 10
0 0
a good degree of lateral connectivity












through both mouthbar and sand-flat
sandbodies with enhanced connectiv-
ity toward the top of both layers. Similar Oil Rate (B/D) Water Cut (%)
excellent-quality channel-fill sandbod- Fig. 1—Production performance of Well RA-ML vs. other Upper Burgan
ies only occur at the southern field mar- horizontal wells.
gin in the UB5 layer, but their lateral ex-
tent is very limited. intervening shale barrier between the optimum production target from both
two sublayers. laterals simultaneously. Hence, the well
Multilateral-Well Deep-resistivity-mapping technology was completed with a 5½-in. openhole
Candidate Selection was used to place the laterals in UB3 ICD for the first lower lateral and a 4½-in.
Well RA-ML is located in the eastern upper and lower channels of reservoir openhole ICD for the second upper lat-
flank of the field with good oil satura- sand. The structural dip of the forma- eral by an electrical-submersible-pump
tion, viscosity of 4 to 5 cp, and 2,300-psi tion and the thicknesses of the sand res- completion string.
reservoir pressure, which is far above ervoirs varied from the indications of
the bubblepoint pressure of 1,300 to pilot hole. Production Performance
1,400 psi. It was decided to exploit UB3 The length of the upper lateral in the of RA-ML and Other Upper
upper and UB3 lower sands with two UB3 upper sand was 2,145 ft in good- Burgan Horizontal Wells
vertically staggered laterals by commin- quality reservoir, whereas the length The initial production results show that
gled production. In the eastern part of of the lower lateral was 1,757 ft in the RA-ML is expected to produce approxi-
the Raudhatain field, the channel sand- UB3 lower channel sand of equally good- mately 5,322 BOPD with 0% water cut
stones are particularly well-developed, quality reservoir rock. A dedicated tool through a 48-in. choke size. The aver-
with thicknesses of 25 to 40 ft, as shown was used for quantitative formation and age production of a horizontal well is
in the well correlation section along petrophysical evaluation in addition approximately 1,500 BOPD. The best
some wells offset from RA-ML having to spectroscopy. production from a single lateral upper
porosities from 17 to 26%. The range of Burgan horizontal well was approximate-
permeability varies widely, from a few Logging and ly 3,145 BOPD (Fig. 1). Thus, the produc-
hundred millidarcies to 3.5 darcies. A Petrophysical Evaluation tion of RA-ML was significantly higher
nonpermeable shale layer separates the An integrated petrophysical evaluation than that of any other producing wells
two sand layers. was performed on the 8½-in. section of of the Upper Burgan formation over the
the first lateral by use of a multipurpose Raudhatain structure.
RA-ML Drilling Challenge measurement from the dedicated tool, RA-ML is producing 40% more than
and Geosteering Work Flow to derive a better water-saturation and the best horizontal well and exhibits
The first multilateral well in north Ku- permeability computation. The log data threefold more in production than the
wait, RA-ML, was drilled and complet- from the 6⅛-in. section of the second average horizontal production rate.
ed successfully in 72 days—8 days less lateral were recorded to assess the water
than the planned rig days. A pilot hole saturation and permeability. The record- Conclusions
of 8½  in. was drilled with 64.6° incli- ed logs indicated that the sand quality Use of a multilateral well with an ICD
nation for evaluating the sublayers of was very good to excellent, with an av- has efficiently accelerated production,
UB3 by use of a logging-while-drilling erage porosity of 20 to 23%, resistiv- improved sweep efficiency, and delayed
(LWD) tool and a formation-pressure ity of approximately 50 to 100 —·m, and water breakthrough. Well RA-ML is lo-
tester. LWD logs displayed very good po- log permeability of approximately 1.5 to cated in the eastern flank where the ex-
tential in UB3 for both sublayers, as pre- 3.5 darcies. pected rate is approximately 700 BOPD
dicted from a 3D geological model. The for a vertical well and 1,500 BOPD for
well was drilled without any complica- Multilateral Completion a horizontal well. In the Upper Bur-
tions, though it was sidetracked for geo- With Inflow-Control Device gan reservoir, the American Petroleum
logical reasons at the beginning of the The objective of the completion was to Institute gravity decreases from crest
second lateral. This sidetrack helped to have a pressure integrity at the junc- to flank (32 to 25 °API) and the vis-
geosteer the well into the good-quality- tion with a Level-4 type of multilateral- cosity increases from crest to flank
sand reservoir and avoid penetrating the completion assembly, to achieve the (0.6 to 8 cp). JPT

JPT • FEBRUARY 2016 69


Offshore Facilities
Mark S. Elkins, SPE, Process Lead, ConocoPhillips

Welcome to the Offshore Facilities fea- The first paper provides The design and regulatory requirements
ture in this month’s JPT. It was my plea- are discussed, and lessons learned and
sure to go through 169 papers submit- a high-level look at the recommendations for future projects
ted to SPE in this field over the past design and construction are supplied.
year and select three for inclusion in this The final paper discusses the devel-
issue as well as three for additional read-
of the Prelude floating opment and testing of an active acous-
ing. I considered making my selections liquefied-natural-gas tic automatic leak-detection sonar.
along a theme, but offshore facilities is a facilities. This is The technology makes use of the dif-
broad category spanning vast engineer- ferent acoustic impedance of hydrocar-
ing interests and challenges. The papers a world-class bons compared with the surrounding
I chose are those I enjoyed reading. The gasfield-development seawater to detect with a sonar head
result is a rather eclectic mix. the partial reflection of the transmit-
The first paper provides a high-level
project taking on ted signal by this interface. The paper
look at the design and construction of significant technical describes field trials of the technology
the Prelude floating liquefied-natural- challenges ... . in the Gulf of Mexico using a substi-
gas (FLNG) facilities. This is a world- tute target to simulate an oil release and
class gasfield-development project tak- nitrogen to simulate natural gas.
ing on significant technical challenges, reduce subsequent development time I hope you enjoy reading these papers
and the paper touches on technolo- and cost. as much as I did. JPT
gy selection and development, safety- The next paper describes the design,
design aspects, and construction activi- construction, and installation of a spar
ties. The intent of the developer is for in the Gulf of Mexico, including bulk Recommended additional reading
Prelude to be the first of many FLNG storage tanks for produced oil, metha- at OnePetro:
projects, using a “design one, build nol, and diesel and independent tanks
many” strategy to leverage learnings and for production and subsea chemicals. SPE 172150 The Use of Multirotor
Remotely Operated Aerial Vehicles as a
Method of Closely Visually Inspecting Live
and Difficult-To-Access Assets on Offshore
Mark S. Elkins, SPE, is process lead for ConocoPhillips’ Alaska Platforms by Malcolm Connolly, Cyberhawk
liquefied-natural-gas (LNG) project. He holds a BS degree in Innovations
chemical engineering from Louisiana State University. Elkins has OTC 25676 Implementing
worked for 36 years in the oil and gas industry in various Constructability in Brownfield Projects:
process-engineering roles. He worked for Arco for 20 years, A Case Study by Amir G. Salem, SBM
supporting domestic and international projects and operations Offshore, et al.
both offshore and onshore. For the past 16 years, Elkins has OTC 25685 The Risk of Cryogenic-Liquid
worked for ConocoPhillips, primarily on gasfield-development Release Could Have Been a Show Stopper
projects. He served as the company representative in the engineering contractor for the Floating Liquefied-Natural-Gas
shop for ConocoPhillips’ FLNG technology-development project from 2011 to 2013. Market: How Did the Industry Respond?
Elkins is a member of the JPT Editorial Committee. by R. Wade

70 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

FLNG: Applying Advanced Technology
To Bring More Natural Gas to Market

T he constraints of space and

seaworthiness required the
designers of Shell’s joint-venture
standard gasfield components such as
production wells, subsea templates and
risers, and the floating facility itself. The
treatment facilities; and several facilities
for intermediate storage, maintenance,
and operations. The hull of the facility is
floating-liquefied-natural-gas (FLNG) facility is a full floating production facil- designed to have a 50-year life.
facility to assemble these technologies ity with living quarters; gas-processing, Major processing equipment, such as
in novel configurations. The operator is -treatment, and -liquefaction facilities; the absorption columns and the main
applying standardization as a philosophy and product-storage and -offloading fa- cryogenic heat exchangers, has been
for its FLNG design so that developments cilities. All of these are integrated into a modified to allow it to operate efficiently
can become faster and more cost single design. All processing operations under marine conditions. The FLNG fa-
effective and has also developed an are carried out offshore, with LNG, LPG, cility will use the operator’s proprietary
FLNG solution designed for leaner-gas and condensate product exported direct- double-mixed-refrigerant (DMR) process
fields that has many similarities to ly from the facility. to liquefy the gas. The DMR method is a
standard FLNG designs. The so-called Once constructed, the FLNG facility flexible process that uses mixed refriger-
“FLNG Lean” is able to deliver higher will be towed to the field site where it ant for precooling and liquefaction cy-
LNG-production capacities. will be moored for the duration of opera- cles, enabling full power usage over a
tions—approximately 20 to 25 years— wide ambient-temperature range.
Introduction without being disconnected. The FLNG Specially designed cooling-water risers
With a long history in the LNG industry, unit has been designed to withstand ex- will draw water from deep in the ocean to
the operator signed an agreement with treme weather, including a Category 5 cy- be used in the LNG process. Process ef-
a consortium of heavy-industry compa- clone, and will remain on location during ficiency is increased by the cooler water.
nies to design and build multiple FLNG all conditions. More than 50 000 m3/h will be drawn
facilities and entered the front-end en- The FLNG facility has an internal turret from 150 m below the facility, where the
gineering design (FEED) development because this configuration is more suitable water is approximately 10°C lower than
phase, which focused on the technical for fields that require larger and more- the surface water temperature.
requirements of the project. The opera- complex subsea systems and an increased The FLNG product-containment sys-
tor’s Prelude project was the world’s first number of risers. Internal turrets are also tem is based on LNG containment sys-
to make a final investment decision on an better suited for harsh metocean condi- tems commonly used on LNG carri-
FLNG facility in May 2011. The Prelude tions. All the subsea connections join the ers. However, FLNG requires tanks that
project is expected to produce 3.6  mil- facility by the turret. Production wells on have been designed to withstand liquid-
lion t/a (mtpa) of LNG, 1.3 mtpa of con- the seabed feed gas and condensate from motion, or sloshing, forces when only
densate, and 0.4 mtpa of liquefied petro- the reservoirs through a number of flex- partly full. Prelude will feature six LNG
leum gas (LPG). ible risers and a standard fluid-transfer tanks, four LPG tanks, and two tanks for
system (swivel stack) into the facility. condensate. Total storage capacity will
Proven Technologies A double-walled substructure car- be 220 000 m3 of LNG, 90 000 m3 of
in Innovative Combinations ries the topside and the turret-mooring LPG, and 126 000 m3 of condensate.
The operator’s FLNG facility itself is large system. It hosts the LNG-, LPG-, and The offshore transfer operation of LNG
but is still one-quarter the size of an condensate-storage tanks; the water- is among the more critical issues in the
equivalent facility on land. The key com- production units (potable water, process offshore LNG chain. The products will be
ponents of an FLNG development include water, and boiler feed water); wastewater stored in the hull of the facility until they
are offloaded to the ships that will trans-
port them to market. LNG and LPG will
This article, written by JPT Technology Editor Chris Carpenter, contains highlights of
be offloaded by a side-by-side vessel con-
paper OTC 25907, “FLNG: Applying Advanced Technology To Bring More Natural Gas
figuration, using an offloading system
to Market,” by Alexander Boekhorst, Bruce Steenson, and Harry van der Velde, developed from conventional LNG load-
Shell, prepared for the 2015 Offshore Technology Conference, Houston, 4–7 May. The ing equipment. This system of specially
paper has not been peer reviewed. designed cryogenic loading arms makes
allowance for the fact that both the facili-
Copyright 2015 Offshore Technology Conference. Reproduced by permission. ty and the product carrier will be moving.

The complete paper is available for purchase at OnePetro:

JPT • FEBRUARY 2016 71

Steam generation
Booster compression
End flash, boil-off Natural-gas-liquid extraction
and fuel gas and fractionation
Turret and mooring
Loading arms

Mercury removal Inlet facilities

Fig. 1—Prelude
facility layout. Produced storage within the hull

Thrusters at the stern may also be used Prelude Progress ophy so that developments can be quick-
to position the FLNG facility to ease the Prelude is a global project, with fab- er and more cost effective. Shell has set
offloading process. rication of the components occurring up an LNG Programme Team to ensure all
around the world, including Geoje Is- learnings are captured and implemented
Safety by Design land in South Korea, Dubai, Malaysia, in subsequent projects.
The safety of the FLNG facility has been France, and Australia. For example, the The operator has also developed an
foremost during its design, and its safety Prelude FLNG substructure and topside FLNG solution for leaner-gas fields.
is comparable with that of modern off- are under construction at a shipyard on FLNG Lean is a higher-capacity FLNG
shore oil and gas facilities. Geoje Island. facility that can be applied to fields with
Process safety has been the single most In October 2012, the operator marked lean compositions that do not have the
important driver for developing the facil- the first steel cut for the substructure benefit of considerable condensate
ity layout. Quantitative risk assessments and steel began to be welded together and LPG revenue streams. By optimiz-
performed at different design phases of into large blocks by thousands of work- ing liquid-handling and -storage facili-
the project have been used to evaluate lay- ers in the ship yard. The blocks were ties, FLNG Lean is able to achieve LNG-
out options, and rigorous process-safety then joined together into megablocks, production capacities of approximately
standards have been applied throughout and then into gigablocks, and eventually 6 mtpa. FLNG Lean is built off the same
the design process. The overall aim is to into the substructure itself. In May 2013, platform as Prelude, incorporating all
reduce the risk for personnel operating the keel was laid in the dry dock. In the lessons learned and technology de-
the facility and to be able to demonstrate November 2013, just 14 months from velopment since the start of the Pre-
that the design choices satisfy “as low as first steel cut, the operator and its part- lude project. Feasibility and pre-FEED
reasonably practicable” criteria. ners celebrated the floating of the biggest studies have been carried out, proving
The living quarters, the helipad, the hull ever built. that safety, technical, and economic cri-
control room, and the workshop are lo- The hull will remain floating alongside teria can be met. Where possible (i.e.,
cated at the back of the FLNG facility. a quay in the ship yard as the topside is hull, accommodation, operating and
These areas, where more people may be installed and integrated over the coming safety philosophies, flare and blowdown
working or resting, are, by design, far- years. The topside modules are being fab- system, cooling water), systems are
thest away from the turret and processing ricated and are now being lifted progres- copied directly from Prelude, enabling
facilities where there are large, high-pres- sively onto the hull. maximum repeatability.
sure inventories of gas, and separated by Construction of a project of this mag- To create sufficient deck space for the
relatively low-risk equipment and utilities nitude does not come without risk. Safe- liquefaction trains and process equip-
located in between (Fig. 1). ty is the top priority. This goal underpins ment, some utilities have been moved
There are also 20-m safety gaps across daily conversations on personal safety into the hull. Aeroderivative gas turbines
the full width of the FLNG barge be- with workers in the construction yard will drive liquefaction compressors and
tween adjacent processing modules. On at their morning toolbox meetings as generate power.
the barge deck and the main process well as longer-term process-safety con- In addition to an enlarged operat-
deck, escape routes are provided at both siderations of ensuring receipt of quality ing envelope for inlet gas in terms of
starboard side and port side, running equipment from vendors. both composition and flow rate, en-
along the full length of the FLNG facility. abling technologies have been de-
The central alley between the port- and The Future for FLNG veloped for deepwater applications of
starboard-side modules provides a third The FLNG project is pursuing a design- FLNG and tandem offloading in harsh-
escape route on the process-deck level. one-build-many standardization philos- er environments. JPT

72 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

Process Support and Marine Systems
in a Spar Hull: Innovation Meets Regulation

H istorically, the marine systems

on a spar are relatively simple.
However, attracted to the operational
value of having large volumes of storage,
particularly for flow assurance of the
subsea wells and flowlines during shut-
down conditions, the subject-hull design
criteria included the capabilities to store
(inside the hull) 10,000 bbl of dead oil,
1,000 bbl each of diesel and methanol,
and 2,400 bbl of subsea chemicals.
The paper traces the development
of the project’s process-support and
marine systems.

The Gulfstar 1 (Fig. 1) is a spar-based
floating production system located in
the Gulf of Mexico. The spar has full
offshore-processing and measurement
capabilities for delivering oil and gas to
the export pipelines, which tie into the
existing offshore infrastructure.
The spar hull is 584 ft long and 85 ft in
diameter with a 60-ft hull freeboard. The
hull supports an 8,500-short-ton, three-
level topside. The hull also supports five
initial risers hung off at the riser porch
and provisions for four additional steel Fig. 1—Gulfstar 1 spar on location.
catenary risers to be pulled in through
pull tubes. The spar is held on station by and storage for dead oil, methanol, and ◗ 85-ft-diameter hard tank, skirt
a taut mooring system composed of nine diesel in integral (structural) tanks and section, and keel tank with an overall
chain/polyester/chain mooring lines ar- for flow-assurance chemicals in indepen- length of 584 ft. The top of the hull is
ranged in three groups. dent (free-standing) tanks inside the hull. at elevation of +60 ft and the bottom
The spar is fitted with a variable ballast of the keel tank is at an elevation of
system that uses compressed nitrogen to Arrangement of the Hull −524 ft, relative to the waterline.
adjust the seawater level in the four open- The hull exhibits a classic spar design, ◗ A wet center well with a diameter
bottom ballast tanks. The spar hull also with the general dimensions and geo- of 30 ft from elevation of −232 ft
supports process and utility equipment metries as follows: to an elevation +60 ft.
◗ A hard tank from elevation of
−152 ft to an elevation of +60 ft.
This article, written by JPT Technology Editor Chris Carpenter, contains highlights of
Surrounding the 30-ft-diameter wet
paper OTC 26040, “Process Support and Marine Systems in the Hull: Innovation Meets
center well and forming the section
Regulation,” by Peter Kitchen, Houston Offshore Engineering, and Scott Murphy, called the “hard tank” are six levels of
Williams Field Services, prepared for the 2015 Offshore Technology Conference, watertight flats or decks; these are de-
Houston, 4–7 May. The paper has not been peer reviewed. scribed in the complete paper.
Between elevation −152 ft and eleva-
Copyright 2015 Offshore Technology Conference. Reproduced by permission. tion −232 ft are four watertight radial

The complete paper is available for purchase at OnePetro:

JPT • FEBRUARY 2016 73

The list below includes SI‡metric
conversion factors for common
engineering units.

acre × 4.046 873 E+03 =m2

acre × 4.046 873 E−01 =ha
acre-ft × 1.233 489 E+03 =m3
ampere-hr × 3.6* E+03 =C
Å × 1.0* E−01 =nm
°API 141.5/(131.5+°API) =g/cm3
atm × 1.013 250* E+05 =Pa
bar × 1.0* E+05 =Pa
bbl × 1.589 873 E−01 =m3
Btu × 1.055 056 E+00 =kJ
Ci × 3.7* E+10 =Bq
cp × 1.0* E−03 =Pa • s
cycles/sec ×1.0* E+00 =Hz Fig. 2—Schematic of the top of the spar.
dyne × 1.0* E−02 =mN
bulkheads that form four seawater bal- into four compartments at the waterline
eV × 1.602 19 E−19 =J
last compartments. These compartments for stability purposes. Two of these com-
ft × 3.048* E−01 =m
are configured to have varying propor- partments were converted into holds to
ft2 × 9.290 304* E−02 =m2
tions of void volume to seawater volume house the chemical storage tanks.
ft3 × 2.831 685 E−02 =m3 and provide the principal method for
°F (°F−32)/1.8 =°C controlling the draft as well as the static Process and Utility Equipment. In ad-
°F (°F+459.67)/1.8 =K list and trim of the spar. dition to the marine systems and fluid-
gal (U.S. liq) × 3.785 412 E−03 =m3 The ring-shaped keel tank is divided storage systems, the hull was designed
hp × 7.460 43 E−01 =kW into four compartments by watertight to accommodate two diesel-driven fire-
hp-hr × 2.684 520 E+00 =MJ radial bulkheads to provide the capabil- water pumps, four seawater-lift pumps,
in. × 2.54* E+00 =cm ity to apportion the fixed ballast in these two jockey pumps, the open-drain sump
in.2 × 6.451 6* E+00 =cm2 compartments so as to correct for known caisson, and the closed-drain skid. This
in.3 × 1.638 706 E+01 =cm3
and initial horizontal eccentricities in equipment was installed after the hull
the topside, mooring, and riser payloads. was upended, along with the air-handling
kip × 4.448 222 E+03 =N
During upending of the hull in the field, units. Fig. 2 illustrates the top of the spar.
knot × 5.144 444 E−01 =m/s
the keel tanks, skirt section, and the sea-
ksi × 6.894 757 E+03 =kPa
water ballast tanks all free flood with sea- Equipment Orientation and Support.
kW-hr × 3.6* E+06 =J water. Solid, fixed ballast was installed Equipment installed in the hull of a semi-
lbf × 4.448 222 E+00 =N offshore from a hopper barge after up- submersible or tension-leg platform can
lbm × 4.535 924 E−01 =kg ending of the hull. be installed, piped, commissioned, and
mL × 1.0* E+00 =cm3 operated in its customary orientation. A
mho × 1.0* E+00 =S Tanks. The tops of the 40-ft-high storage spar, however, is typically fabricated in
mile × 1.609 344* E+00 =km tanks are 8 ft below the spar deck. A coffer- the horizontal position and upended off-
oz (U.S. fl) × 2.957 353 E+01 =cm3 dam space between the tank and the outer shore. For this reason, spars do not typi-
psi × 6.894 757 E+00 =kPa shell, between adjacent tanks, and between cally contain equipment inside the hull.
psi2 × 4.753 8 E+01 =kPa2
the tank top and the spar deck is filled with For the Gulfstar spar, all the equip-
nitrogen. Each tank has one or two 8-ft ac- ment inside the hull had to be designed
sq mile × 2.589 988 E+00 =km2
cess trunks that extend from the top of the to be installed vertically in the block-
stokes × 1.0* E−04 =m2/s
tank to the top of the spar. Access to the fabrication phase and then rotated into
ton × 9.071 847 E−01 =Mg
tank is from the top of the spar through an the horizontal position during the block-
ton (metric) × 1.0* E+00 =Mg entrance in the access-trunk area. erection phase and eventually upended
tonf × 8.896 444 E+03 =N Because of the potential hazardous and offshore after the wet tow.
tonne × 1.0* E+00 =Mg corrosive nature of the chemicals, 316
stainless-steel pressure vessels were se- Fluid-Storage Systems
*Conversion factor is exact.
lected to store the production and subsea Dead-Oil Storage and Transfer. The
chemicals in the hull. The hull is divided dead-oil-storage and -transfer system

74 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

consists of two integral tanks, each with pumps. All instrumentation is intrinsi- A discussion of interfaces with regula-
an operating capacity of 4,880 bbl and cally safe. Even the diode lights are inter- tory bodies such as the Bureau of Safety
four transfer pumps. Dead oil is loaded locked so that they cannot be energized and Environmental Enforcement and the
from the topside production header to until the ventilation is running. US Coast Guard is provided in the com-
one of the two tanks located in the hull To control the oxygen levels in the inte- plete paper.
where it is stored for future use during gral tanks and the independent tanks, an
a shutdown. active inert-gas (nitrogen) system is used. Conclusion
A detailed discussion of the spar’s In addition to the blanket gas on the in- The large space available in the spar hull
methanol- and chemical-storage and ma- side of the tanks, a blanket-gas system is lends itself well to the storage of large
rine systems—including ballast, dewa- installed to fill the entire void spaces sur- amounts of fluids. Hull storage reduces the
tering, and tank-monitoring systems—is rounding the integral tanks and the in- topside payload and the vertical center of
provided in the complete paper. dependent tanks. The oxygen levels are gravity and, for a subsea-production-hub
measured in all of those spaces, and the facility, possesses considerable benefits
Fire and Safety safety system will alarm if these levels are for the operator when large amounts of
The first step in managing fuel sources greater than 5% and will take executive dead oil can be stored for flowline flush-
is to ensure the containment of flam- action if the level increases beyond 8%. ing. These benefits, however, do not come
mable fluids. This includes selection of The hull is fitted with fire-water, without some shortcomings. One down-
materials to prevent corrosion; use of water-mist, and foam fixed-firefighting side is overcomplication of the hull design
welded connections instead of threaded systems. The ventilation systems are de- and fabrication. Another disadvantage is
or flanged connections, especially in in- signed to achieve a minimum number of negotiation of the additional regulatory
accessible locations; selection of pump air changes per hour (ACH) on the basis interfaces that must be managed through
seals; and locating openings such as tank of the hazards present and the service the design and fabrication process. The
vents away from sources of ignition. category of the space. Even though the prescriptive rule-based regulatory system
To reduce the potential for energy or hull is unmanned, the ventilation systems in place for marine-system design is in-
sources of ignition, the electric system are designed for continuous operation. tended to avoid mistakes, but when the
for the hull is ungrounded. In the chemi- The chemical-pump room poses the most rules and regulations do not quite fit, there
cal pump room there are no electric mo- risk and is categorized as a “cargo pump is no easy avenue that allows the designer
tors. All pump drivers are either hydrau- room.” As a result, the ventilation system to deviate from the rules, even if a more-
lic motors or nitrogen-driven pneumatic provides 20 ACH. practical or safer method is available. JPT

Critical Well

Well Construction
Material Selection

Multi-String Analysis
Failure Analysis
Petroleum Consulting

The Way
Tubular Design
Should Be
Implementation of an Acoustic Automatic
Leak-Detection Sonar in the Gulf of Mexico

T he authors have developed an

active acoustic automatic leak-
detection sonar (ALDS) designed to

Alarm on leaks within a few minutes
of their initiation
Ensuring that the system is
depths and for various leak rates and
plume geometries.

detect hydrocarbon leaks (mono- and reliable, networkable, compatible Equipment

multiphase oil and gas) at significant with subsea power-distribution ALDS System. ALDS comprises top-
ranges, allowing coverage of wide areas requirements, and deployable side and subsea equipment components.
from a single sensor. The system’s single across the full depth range of The topside equipment includes a rack-
subsea sensor offers 360° continuous producing oil fields (4000 m) mountable command unit known as the
coverage, providing automatic, robust Command Workstation (CWS) that dis-
detection and localization of any leak, Principles of Operation plays an easy-to-interpret infrastruc-
followed by an alert within tens of seconds The system is an active sonar that trans- ture schematic with leak-detection-
of a leak developing. This paper provides a mits ultrasonic pulses or “pings” at symbology overlay, a rack-mounted sonar
case study of an experimental program in 70 kHz into the water and listens for re- interface unit that performs all signal and
which the system underwent trials in deep flections from objects within its field of data processing, and a converter unit for
water (2000 m) at the Thunderhorse field view. This system is a phased-array pro- fiber communication and power inter-
in the US Gulf of Mexico (GOM). cessor capable of looking at returns from facing through the subsea umbilical. The
360° of azimuth coverage simultaneously. umbilical may be several kilometers long
Introduction Hydrocarbons have different acous- (8 km for the experiments detailed in the
Most methods for detecting small leaks— tic properties from the surrounding sea- complete paper) and terminates at the
for example, passive acoustic detectors water, notably a different acoustic im- deepwater tie-in point, which connects
that “listen” for the sound of a leak— pedance, which means that a sound wave through the subsea converter unit. The
have very limited range, which makes encountering the boundary between sea- sonar head is deployed on a 5-m-high
them suitable for applications such as water and hydrocarbon will be partial- tower on a steel sled designed to give the
pipeline surveys but not for wider field ly reflected and therefore “seen” by the sensor a good vantage point over the local
coverage. ALDS was developed to ad- sonar head. To determine if a reflection subsea infrastructure.
dress the requirements for a system that is from leaking hydrocarbons, the sonar This sled was designed to allow the
can provide leak detection, including the map for each ping is compared with a sonar to be leveled by an ROV and also to
ability to localize the leak, from a single reference map to see if the scene has allow the hook up of the sonar to a sub-
point for a whole drill center. The typical changed. Data processing is then used to sea termination hub by an electrical flex-
requirements for such a system include assess any changes from the reference ible link for power and an optical flexible
◗ Continuous and automatic detection map to see if they match the character- link for data.
and localization of oil and gas istics of a hydrocarbon leak or those of The sled was deployed to the seafloor at
leaks across a drill center in both other objects such as remotely operated a remote drill center by use of a dynami-
cluttered and uncluttered seabed vehicles (ROVs), which might be operat- cally positioned support vessel. The ROV
regions with full 360° coverage ing within the ALDS field of view. then made the power and communica-
◗ Automatic elimination of transient Theoretical modeling has been used tions connections. The sonar was powered
acoustic targets to ensure low false- to estimate the acoustic target strength up, and the ethernet communications over
alarm rates of oil and gas plumes at various water optical fiber were tested over an 8-km-
long link back to the production platform.
This article, written by JPT Technology Editor Chris Carpenter, contains highlights
Oil Target. Obvious environmental con-
of paper OTC 26270, “A Case Study on the Implementation of an Acoustic Automatic
straints prohibiting the release of an actu-
Leak-Detection Sonar (ALDS) in the Gulf of Mexico and Its Application to Current
al oil plume during this experiment meant
and Future Brazilian Fields,” by G. Brown, S. Fasham, P. Tomlinson, and R. Crook, that simulating the oil leak was quite a
Sonardyne, prepared for the 2015 Offshore Technology Conference Brasil, Rio de design challenge. A satisfactory solution
Janeiro, 27–29 October. The paper has not been peer reviewed. involved the use of 65-m-long neoprene
strands in 10 bundles of 10 strands, tie
Copyright 2015 Offshore Technology Conference. Reproduced by permission. wrapped approximately every 1.1 m and

The complete paper is available for purchase at OnePetro:

76 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

spaced around the inside circumference
with nylon hoops approximately 15 cm Subsea 365-m
hose reel Sonar
in diameter, attached every meter to two tower
nylon cords as strain members. The idea
is that the neoprene is not under ten- Liquid N2
sion and thus can spread out between
each hoop, simulating the oil in an actual 2100-m
plume. Calculations show this configura- N2 pump coiled tubing
tion is equivalent to an oil-leak rate of ap-
proximately 100 B/D, depending upon the
typical ascent rates of oil plumes. Neo- Hose
prene will therefore behave as an oil-like puller
acoustic target but with a water relative
density of 1.3, sufficiently high for it to
stand upright in the water column when Fig. 1—Gas-target components on vessel before deployment.
deployed from the dynamic-positioning
(DP)-vessel reel. The general shape that ◗ Designing and creating a ment and at sensor leak ranges of 750 m
the strands take in the water column is 200-m-long oil target capable of on clear vectors.
also oil-plume-like in appearance. being deployed from a DP vessel Assuming typical gas/oil ratios of ap-
in approximately 2000-m water proximately 1000 m3/m3, this gas-leak
Gas Target. The design of the gas-leak ex- depths rate of 1 L/min at depth would be associ-
periment was even more challenging be- ◗ Designing and making a controlled ated with less than 2 B/D of oil in a typi-
cause it required very substantial seabed gas-leak system for operation in cal mixed-phase leak of so-called “live”
infrastructure deployment and recovery deep water for leak rates of between oil. This deepwater experiment therefore
to allow an extended trial period. Fig.  1 1 L/min at depth (9 B/D) and shows ALDS capable of detecting live-
shows the complete deepwater-gas-test 10 L/min (90 B/D), as well as “burps” oil leaks of less than 2 B/D at sensor leak
experimental equipment onboard the DP ◗ Designing an experiment that ranges of 750 m. In addition, analysis of
vessel during transit to the trials area. The can be conducted safely in an leak-rate sensitivity showed ALDS capa-
image shows the 2100-m coiled tubing operational oil field close to a ble of detecting just 0.2 B/D of live oil at
unit used to supply high-pressure nitrogen subsea infrastructure sensor leak ranges of up to 500 m.
(N2) gas from the DP vessel to the seabed- During the oil-leak experiment, the oil
deployed (and ROV-controlled) hydraulic target was deployed from a DP vessel to System Applications
distribution system (HDS) from which the various locations. Typically, several min- The GOM trials represent a typical appli-
second ROV deploys a reelable gas-leak utes of data were recorded at each target cation of ALDS for a new field in the pro-
target to the surveyed test locations. position. For the gas-leak experiment, an duction phase; however, ALDS also has
The leak target was deployed by ROV ROV deployed the gas target (approxi- potential for use during other stages of
up to 350 m from the HDS to the re- mately a 30-cm cube) to various surveyed field development. During the exploration
quired survey positions in the operation- positions within the producing field. phase, the system can be used before drill-
al field infrastructure. The calibrated gas ing to establish a reference map for the
leaks at 2000-m water depth were mon- Trial Results field and potentially to detect any variable
itored by the ROV for 1 L/min (9 B/D at The system has been proved against natural seeps by measuring over a number
depth) and 5 L/min (45 B/D at depth). The monophase simulated oil leaks (so-called of tidal cycles. This can allow an operator
differential pressure at depth is approxi- “dead” oil) in an operational deepwater to document natural seepage in a field and
mately 1 bar. (approximately 2000-m) production field to inform a regulator before commencing
in the GOM. Leak rates of approximate- drilling. Here, ALDS can be linked to the
Experimental Methods ly 100 B/D were localized at sensor leak platform control room and, if possible,
The deepwater tests took place in an op- ranges out to 500 m in uncluttered seabed back to shore to allow real-time reporting
erational production field in the GOM and to 250 m among the field seabed in- of leak alarms, giving the operator a high
during early 2012 and early 2013 for the frastructure of pipelines, manifolds, and confidence of no leakage and early warn-
oil-leak and gas-leak experiments, respec- risers. The ultimate detection range re- ing should an incident occur.
tively. A significant part of the planning corded was limited by the linear extent of In production, the system is of sig-
process was to ensure the completion of the synthetic oil-leak target but is expect- nificant interest for monitoring injec-
comprehensive technical risk-assurance ed to exceed 1000 m for higher leak rates. tion wells during enhanced-oil-recovery
assessments that dealt with the unique Against monophase gas leaks in the activities. Other potential applications
challenges of conducting experiments of same deepwater production facility, the include carbon dioxide detection and a
this complexity in such hostile environ- system detected small, 1-L/min at depth standalone option for fields with limited
ments. Among the many challenges were (9-B/D) gas leaks reliably when in close infrastructure; these developments are
the following: proximity to a variety of seafloor equip- detailed in the complete paper. JPT

JPT • FEBRUARY 2016 77


Well Testing
Angel G. Guzmán-Garcia, SPE, Energy Consultant

What a tumultuous, challenging, and Despite the a comprehensive analysis of the field,
exciting year 2015 was. The roller- within the volume surveyed during pro-
coaster ride made it a year ripe for merg-
naysayers’ comments duction. It is the integration of engineer-
ers and acquisitions. Within the next and predictions, ing, geological, and geophysical infor-
few months, a few of the common com- the usual creativity mation that increases the value of the
pany names in our industry will soon interpretation from a well test. In fields
be part of history books, dwindle in our and ingenuity of engineers with complex reservoirs, this holistic
memories, and eventually disappear and scientists approach is definitely adding value to
from our vernacular. Geopolitical unrest, the teams in charge of putting together a
unpredictable weather conditions in all in the oil industry development program.
parts of the globe, and distrust shook were ubiquitous. Despite a smaller volume of articles
the world. and presentations on well testing in
As is usually the case under these cir- 2015, relative to previous years, the arti-
cumstances, panic spread like wildfire duction logging to allocate production cles chosen for this issue of JPT show the
and layoffs became the norm. Recent when multiple reservoirs are produced breadth of applications, as well as the
university graduates were having diffi- commingled. Because of the success ingenuity of experts and academics. As
culty landing well-remunerated jobs and derived from distributed-temperature difficult as it is to narrow down the pub-
were forced to move back in with their sensors and fiber-optic cables, the tem- lications to three selections, I believe
parents or find menial jobs until con- perature history acquired during a well that, in the end, these three manuscripts
ditions improve. Some consulting firms test is also receiving interest among show the incisive use of well-test data. Of
talk about cautious optimism for 2016, practitioners. The downhole tempera- course, the interested reader is encour-
not necessarily in regard to the oil price ture history is a quasimirror-image of aged to seek further articles on this topic
rebounding quickly. Nonetheless, despite the downhole pressure and, thus, can in the OnePetro library. JPT
the naysayers’ comments and predic- be used to infer the behavior of fluids
tions, the usual creativity and ingenu- in the wellbore, as well as to assist in
ity of engineers and scientists in the oil the interpretation during pressure tran- Recommended additional reading
industry were ubiquitous. sient analysis. Basically, engineers now at OnePetro:
Downhole temperature measure- have access to additional information in
ments have been commonplace in pro- their toolbox that can be integrated into SPE 172689 The Evolution of Well-
Testing Practices From Conventional to
Zero Flaring in a Saudi Aramco Oilfield
Development by L. Duthie, Saudi Aramco,
Angel G. Guzmán-Garcia, SPE, is an independent energy consul- et al.
tant. He holds a PhD degree in chemical engineering from Tulane SPE 174897 Testing a Heavy-Oil
University. Guzmán-Garcia spent more than 23 years with Well in Ultradeep Waters: Challenges
ExxonMobil, where he held a variety of positions: conducting Overcome by State-of-the-Art Technology
research on the response of resistivity tools in shaly sands; inves- in Atlanta Project, Santos Basin, Brazil
tigating nuclear-magnetic-resonance petrophysical applications; by Carlos A. Pedroso, QGEP, et al.
conducting and interpreting production logging; designing fluid- SPE 175233 Successful DST Methodology
sampling collection and pressure/volume/temperature analyses; Adopted in Highly Deviated, Deep, Sour,
and designing, executing, and interpreting well tests in both siliciclastic and carbonate and High-Pressure/High-Temperature
environments. He is an instructor in well testing, production logging, and petrophysics Exploratory Well: A Case Study by Abdulla
and is a member of the JPT Editorial Committee. Al-Ibrahim, Kuwait Oil Company, et al.

78 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

Production-Logging Tools Facilitate
Well Testing in Challenging Environments

T he Pugang gas field, one of the

biggest inland gas discoveries of
the last decade in China, has hydrogen
Gas Rate

Tubing Pressure
sulfide (H2S) concentrations as high as 120
Water Rate
10%, making surface- and downhole- 35

Tubinghead Pressure (MPa)

facilities design and execution 100

Gas Rate (104 m3/d)

challenging. Testing these wells also

Water Rate (m3/d)

is difficult because of the surface risks 80
inherent in conventional testing. Well
testing using production-logging tools
recently has been introduced in this 15
field and has been of tremendous
benefit to the operator in identifying the
inflow zones and in performing well- 5
test analysis. 20

Field Introduction 0 –5
The Pugang gas field, discovered in 2002, 09/10/12 10/2/9 10/6/9 10/10/7 11/2/4 11/6/4 11/10/2 12/1/30 12/5/29
is the second-largest gas field in China Date
and the largest sour field discovered in
Fig. 1—Typical well-production profile.
the last decade. This field is north of
Chongqing in the Sichuan basin. The
reservoir fluid in this field is dry gas anguan and Upper Permian Changxing Well Testing
with high H2S (14.4%) and carbon di- formations. These carbonates are open- for Reservoir Surveillance
oxide (CO2) content (9.91%). The field platform carbonates, mainly platform- With high-permeability zones, the gas
is flanked on the west with a gas/water margin shoal and reef sediments. The production observed tends to be on the
contact at 5140-m true vertical depth Feixianguan formation is composed high side, with some wells producing
subsea. With no voidage-replacement mainly of carbonate platform-margin at rates as high as 0.9×106 std m3/d. A
mechanism in place yet, the production shoal and evaporitic environments. typical well-production profile is shown
of water because of the contact move- The main porosity types in the Feixian- in Fig. 1. At these high rates, production
ment is also a concern for the opera- guan formation include intercrystalline, impairment because of scale buildup and
tor. Therefore, production logging as a solution-enlarged intercrystalline, solu- other associated corrosion effects is det-
reservoir-monitoring and -surveillance tion vugs, and compressional microfrac- rimental to overall field production given
tool has been used since 2010, and more tures. Normally, the solution porosity the small number of wells producing in
than 18 wells have been tested to date. is connected by fractures, which gives this field.
Gas in the Pugang field is mainly rise to the high permeability observed in Water production in Pugang gas wells
contained in the Lower Triassic Feixi- this formation. causes not only sour corrosion but also
sweet corrosion. Although most of the
This article, written by Special Publications Editor Adam Wilson, contains highlights tubulars used in this field are corrosion
of paper IPTC 17771, “Well Testing in Challenging Environments: A Case Study From resistant, continuous monitoring of the
state of downhole tubulars is essential.
Onshore China,” by Xin Ling Peng, Mei Sheng Liang, Jie Hu, Xiao Lei Wu, and Dong
Most of the producing gas wells are devi-
Lin Qin, Sinopec, and Prasanna Tellapaneni, Bo Nan Ren, Tao Zhang, and Zhi
ated (typically 35–40°). It is possible that
Hong Guo, Schlumberger, prepared for the 2014 International Petroleum Technology static water is present downhole, with
Conference, Kuala Lumpur, 10–12 December. The paper has not been peer reviewed. no production of water observed at sur-
face; this leads to corrosion downhole
Copyright 2014 International Petroleum Technology Conference. Reproduced by even in wells with no water production
permission. at surface. Water production in these gas

For a limited time, the complete paper is free to SPE members at

JPT • FEBRUARY 2016 79

wells has been shown to cause produc- ◗ Confirm the presence of dual- perforation depth. Real-time monitoring
tion problems by liquid loading of the gas porosity behavior. of the pressure buildup is conducted by
wells. Therefore, monitoring water pro- ◗ Quantify near-wellbore damage (if the reservoir-engineering team to ensure
duction and any static water column be- any), and provide recommendations that the tool is not exposed to this cor-
comes critical for production. for stimulation. rosive environment longer than neces-
Pugang gas wells are generally com- ◗ Quantify the production potential sary. Once the pressure-buildup objec-
pleted in the entire Feixianguan for- of the well. tives are met, the tool is pulled out of hole
mation, and perforations greater than These objectives, coupled with the in- and flowing passes are made. The flowing
400  m in length are seen often in these herent risks associated with testing these passes are also monitored in real time by
wells. However, given the dolomitic na- high-H2S wells conventionally, led the the reservoir-engineering team to con-
ture of the formation and the diagenetic operator to use production-logging tools firm that the data acquired are sufficient
nature of the permeability, barely 10% of to perform well-test analysis and for res- to meet the objectives. In the case of no
the perforations contribute to the flow. ervoir surveillance. ambiguity, the flowing passes are sus-
Without an estimate of downhole produc- pended and the tool is pulled out of hole.
tion intervals and their contributions, a Acquisition Methodology Splitting the operation into two runs
meaningful pressure-transient interpre- The following acquisition methodology dramatically reduced the operational
tation is challenging. Thus, an ideal test- was adopted to meet the objectives: failures observed.
ing program for these wells must meet ◗ Run 1: A dummy run of wireline-
the following minimum objectives: conveyed weights is made to Interpretation Work Flow
◗ Confirm accessibility of the confirm the accessibility of the The flowing and shut-in flowing profiles
formation and presence of static wellbore and to act as a drift run. obtained in the acquisition, along with
fluid columns. ◗ Run 2: Wireline-conveyed pressure/ the openhole logs and pressure/volume/
◗ Identify production intervals and temperature sensors are run to temperature data, are integrated to gen-
their contributions; confirm water- estimate the static fluid column erate a gas-production profile in terms of
entry zones. by means of change in tension the producing intervals and their contri-
◗ Estimate the permeability and and fluid gradient while the well butions. Layer contribution, along with
boundary parameters if observed. is producing. measured flowing pressures, is used to
◗ Run 2: The well is shut in, estimate the permeability of these in-
and pressure buildup at the dividual producing layers. The layers’
midperforation is recorded using petrophysical parameters are then con-
the pressure/temperature sensors. firmed by the pressure-transient analysis.
One Stop for ◗ Run 3: Wireline-conveyed pressure/ Pressure-transient analysis is performed
temperature, spinner, and water- by use of multilayer models and by re-
Everything JPT identification sensors are run to gression of the petrophysical parameters
Get all your online JPT perform a shut-in wellbore profile until a match is obtained. This history-
content in one place at and identify any crossflow in the matched pressure-transient analysis production intervals. is used to estimate the initial reservoir
◗ Run 3: The well is now produced pressure and to estimate formation dam-
Responsive Design at a series of production rates by age. An estimate of the well deliverability
SPE members can access changing the surface choke, and is then made using the flowing pressures
the latest issue of JPT midperforation flowing pressures measured at different flow rates.
from any of their devices. are recorded. Also, the production
Optimized for desktop, intervals and their contributions Conclusions
tablet, and phone, JPT is are recorded by use of spinners and Because of the high H2S and CO2 con-
easy to read and browse water-identification probes. tent in the Pugang gas, well testing in
anytime you are online. Because of the highly corrosive this field is challenging. This paper il-
content of the fluids, exposing the lustrates a work flow for performing
production-logging tools to the mini- well testing and reservoir surveillance in
mum amount of time required to achieve this challenging environment. The com-
Offline Access the objectives is critical. Therefore, ex- plete paper presents three case studies
tensive prejob planning is conducted on in which use of this work flow yielded ac-
Download PDF versions the basis of the information available at tionable information that could be used
of 180+ issues dating the prejob stage, including any previous not only to book reserves but also to in-
back to 1997 for reading production-logging runs made. Initially, crease productivity. By using production
online or when an a dummy run with pressure and temper- logs as a time-lapse measurement, infer-
Internet connection is ature sensors is conducted to check the ences about water-front movement, loss
not available. depth to which the tools can pass and a of productivity, and depletion trends also
pressure buildup is recorded at the mid- can be made. JPT

80 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016


Complex Reservoir Architecture Validated
by Integrating Well-Testing Outcomes

T his work presents a real

field example in which the
integration of well-testing and
Cleanup Main Flow Sampling
6,000 22,000
geological interpretations increased 20,000
the understanding of a complex, 18,000

Oil Rate (STB/D)

5,900 Main BU

Pressure (psia)
heterogeneous reservoir. An integrated Initial BU 16,000
study of both dynamic well-testing Final BU 14,000
data and geological/seismic models 12,000
was conducted to assess a very 10,000
complex pressure response obtained 5,700
from a production test conducted in 6,000
an offshore oil well. The well-testing 5,600 4,000
objectives were to improve reservoir 2,000
characterization and to quantify the 5,500 0
well productivity in a high-permeability 09-Feb 10-Feb 11-Feb 12-Feb
oil-bearing sandstone formation.
Fig. 1—Well 3 testing sequence. BU=buildup.

The target of the production test [drill- perature, average permeability, and well DST Operations
stem test (DST)] is considered one of damage; the assessment of well produc- Well 3, the subject well, was tested along
the more important reservoirs for the tivity; and the detection of late-time the 9⅝-in. liner, using a conventional
development of a field asset located in effects (i.e., any presence of hetero- 4½-in. DST string, over the perforated
ultradeep water. Both the dimensions geneities or permeability barriers with- interval from 13,041- to 13,140-ft mea-
involved and the average petrophysical in the radius investigated by the test sured depth (MD).
properties are expected to sustain quite with respect to the current geological/ Because the tested formation was rec-
good production performance. seismic environment). ognized to be sand sensitive, the well
A dedicated test giving good and reli- The bottomhole data were acquired by was completed for sand control with
able interpreted results was considered a real-time acquisition system through- an inside-casing gravel pack (ICGP) to
essential to assess the expectations con- out the well testing to achieve an effec- counter the risk of sand production. An
cerning the reservoir productivity and tive balance between the value of in- acoustic sand detector also was included
extent, thus confirming the viability of formation and the optimization of the in the surface equipment and installed
the development project. rig time and costs. The bottomhole- upstream of the choke manifold, to mon-
The DST addressed the general main pressure (BHP) and -temperature data itor in real time any risk of solids and
well-testing objectives: the acquisition were transmitted in acoustic wireless sand production at surface throughout
of representative reservoir-fluid sam- mode through the tubing because no the test.
ples (at surface and downhole); the es- cables are allowed in ultradeep water, for The downhole tester valve [intelli-
timation of formation pressure and tem- safety reasons. gent remote dual valve (IRDV)] was set
at 12,736-ft MD, allowing downhole
This article, written by Special Publications Editor Adam Wilson, contains highlights shut-in of the well to minimize well-
of paper IPTC 17986, “Complex Reservoir Architecture Validated by Integrating bore storage effects. The gauge cho-
sen as the reference for the well-testing
Well-Testing Outcomes,” by Eleonora Azzarone, SPE, Enzo Beretta, SPE, Sergio
analysis was positioned at 12,529-ft
Salvadori, and Pietro Bettazzoli, Eni, prepared for the 2014 International Petroleum
true vertical depth (TVD), below the
Technology Conference, Kuala Lumpur, 10–12 December. The paper has not been IRDV and 184 ft above the top of the
peer reviewed. tested interval. A sampler carrier was
also included in the DST string config-
Copyright 2014 International Petroleum Technology Conference. Reproduced by uration, for downhole reservoir-fluid-
permission. sample collection.

For a limited time, the complete paper is free to SPE members at

82 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

The testing operations lasted almost 1 All the reported buildups were per- ◗ The late-time pressure response,
week. The well-test sequence, with BHP formed with the well shut in downhole at after correction for tidal effects,
history and produced-oil rates, is pre- the IRDV. The main 36-hour buildup was clearly proved that some geological
sented in Fig. 1. selected as the reference period for the features were investigated within
interpretation. the testing time. On the basis of
Well-Testing Analysis The reservoir static pressure extrapo- an updated geological map, the
The hydrocarbon was recognized to be lated from well-test interpretation at the channel model was assumed as
light oil, at 42 °API. The bubblepoint gauge depth of 12,529-ft TVD proved to the most likely solution, with the
pressure was expected to be on the order be consistent with the XPT-survey trend. well location set approximately in
of 4,400–4,600 psia, from pressure/ The consequent pore pressure showed a the middle.
volume/temperature studies of the field. normal hydrostatic gradient. ◗ The adopted wireless technology
Neither carbon dioxide (CO2) nor hydro- The lithological scenario proved to proved to be very effective in
gen sulfide (H2S) was detected during be quite complex, with considerable managing the testing operations in
testing operations. permeability-thickness-product (kh) real time. In particular, the main-
The express-pressure-tool (XPT) pres- variations. buildup duration was increased to
sure survey run on the intercepted oil- In this interpretation process, the achieve better confidence in the
bearing reservoir clearly showed the major changes in kh were attributed late-time response.
presence of oil, with an average gradient mainly to the thickness variations be- ◗ The integrated dynamic and static
of 0.259 psi/ft. cause of overlapping layers. In this per- studies were the key to achieving a
The reservoir pressure, extrapolated spective, the average oil permeability was true understanding of the complex
from the well-test interpretation of the assumed constant because permeability reservoir characteristics and
DST, proved to be in line with the pres- variations could be considered of mini- behavior, representing the basis
sure trend of the survey. mal impact. Furthermore, the mobility for moving into any sound field-
comparison of the layers provides quite development implementation. JPT
Tidal Effect and Correction. When test- similar values.
ing a well with a floating system in ul- The mechanical-skin value was deter-
tradeep water, tidal phenomena can mined to be acceptable considering the
affect, sometimes heavily, the BHP mea- ICGP completion and the overbalance
surements acquired during the tests. The perforations. The well-test interpreta-
pseudoharmonic waves induced by tides tion analysis was performed considering
are capable of introducing significant both constant- and variable-skin options.
noise on the pressure-gauge response, From the comparison of the two different
which is amplified at late times. What- matches, it is clear that the well improves
ever the hydrocarbon, this effect increas- its performance from the cleanup to the
es as formation permeability increases. main flow phase.
By capturing the current tidal-effect
law with dedicated seabed gauges, it is Conclusions
possible to remove this effect from the The well-testing analysis on Well 3, sup-
real pressure response and proceed with ported by robust geological and seismic
a reliable interpretation. investigations, provided the following
main conclusions:
Interpretation Diagnosis and Results. ◗ Neither CO2 nor H2S was detected.
The DST well-test interpretation was Sand or solids production was
conducted on the tide-corrected gauge, never experienced during the
which was chosen as the reference for test. This confirmed the good
the analysis. The whole rate history was efficiency of the gravel-pack
introduced to honor the principle of the system. The basic sediments and
superposition effect. water measured during the main
The three buildups and three draw- flow was 0%.
down periods of the main flow were ◗ The extrapolated reservoir-
compared. They showed similar trends, pressure result was consistent with
except for the first drawdown period XPT pressure data. The formation
because reasonable cleanup conditions is confirmed to be in a normal
were not achieved. This proved a good hydrostatic pore-pressure regime.
consistency in the characterization of ◗ Despite the ICGP completion
the most representative reservoir and and overbalance perforations,
well parameters among the different an acceptable mechanical skin
pressure responses. was found.

JPT • FEBRUARY 2016 83

A Nonisothermal Wellbore Model
and Its Application in Well Testing

A lthough the wellbore is in a

nonisothermal environment,
heat transfer between the fluid in
bore model was coupled with an exist-
ing reservoir model through BHT. After
that, several synthetic cases were simu-
which includes a calculation of optimal
transformations from data sets, is ap-
plied for the purpose of demonstrat-
the wellbore and the formation is lated to verify the wellbore model. Final- ing an existing relationship between
often ignored and temperature is ly, on the basis of the coupled wellbore/ temperature (response variable) and
usually assumed constant in data reservoir model, the transient tem- flow rate and pressure (predictor vari-
interpretation, which will lead to perature behavior during flowing and ables). The algorithm is known as the
misunderstanding of the pressure shut-down periods was drawn out for alternating-conditional-expectations
profile. In this work, wavelet transform well-testing analysis and some typical (ACE) method.
and a nonlinear-regression-analysis thermodynamic parameters were esti- The ACE method was used for a set of
method were used to study the mated by use of a set of field data. transient downhole data that were re-
relationships between downhole corded by PDGs. Then, the maximal cor-
temperature, pressure, and flow rate. BHT, BHP, and Flow-Rate relation and the set of optimal transfor-
A nonisothermal wellbore model Relationships mations that contains the transformed
was established that is capable of It is worth noting that formation pres- values in the same order as the inputs
predicting temperature, pressure, sure and temperature emerged in many are produced.
flow rate, and liquid-fraction profiles similar characteristics. First, tempera-
under multirate and multiphase ture and pressure meet the same diffu- Wavelet Transform. Wavelet trans-
production scenarios. sion equation. Second, at the junction be- form is a mathematical method to ana-
tween formation and well, near-wellbore lyze signals that have the characteris-
Introduction damage should be considered for pres- tic of time variation. In other words, it
In order to monitor the downhole pro- sure. At the same time, on the tempera- is a multiresolution frequency-analysis
duction and injection conditions, as well ture side, heat loss should also be con- method. Compared with other signal-
as make decisions for well-performance sidered, located in the formation, casing, analysis techniques, such as the
optimization, the dynamic temperature tubing, and cement. Third, wellbore nonlinear signal-processing method,
data acquired from permanent down- storage is compared with heat-capacity wavelet transform can provide more-
hole gauges (PDGs) and distributed- coefficient in wells. Fourth, constant- accurate analysis results for certain
temperature sensors (DTSs) are often in- pressure and impermeable boundaries classes of signals and images.
terpreted widely. have been set for pressure boundaries, There are several kinds of wavelets. In
In this paper, first, the relationships but the temperature boundary is always this study, the simplest and most widely
among bottomhole-pressure (BHP), regarded as infinite ground. Analyses of used method—the Haar wavelet—was
-temperature (BHT), and flow-rate data the measured PDG data show that the selected to process the downhole tran-
were analyzed briefly by use of wave- temperature can also be used to provide sient pressure and temperature data ac-
let transform and nonlinear regression. reservoir information. quired by PDGs.
Next, a nonisothermal wellbore model If we treat the transient pressure and
with complex structure was derived the- Nonlinear-Regression Analysis. A temperature data as signals of a draw-
oretically step by step. Then, the well- nonlinear-regression-analysis method, down period, the amplitude of well-test
coefficients is positive and, for pres-
This article, written by Special Publications Editor Adam Wilson, contains highlights sure buildup, the amplitude is negative.
of paper IPTC 18152, “A Nonisothermal Wellbore Model With Complex Structure and Therefore, the timing of the flow events
can be identified with wavelet transform.
Its Application in Well Testing,” by Shiyi Zheng, SPE, London South Bank University,
and Yiqun Zhang, SPE, Heriot-Watt University, prepared for the 2014 International
Theoretical Derivation of the
Petroleum Technology Conference, Kuala Lumpur, 10–12 December. The paper has Nonisothermal Wellbore Model
not been peer reviewed. The nonisothermal wellbore model rep-
resented in this paper is capable of pre-
Copyright 2014 International Petroleum Technology Conference. Reproduced by dicting the temperature, pressure, and
permission. flow-rate profiles under multirate and

For a limited time, the complete paper is free to SPE members at

84 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

multiphase production scenarios. This this paper, a modification is made so that ◗ The Joule-Thomson coefficient,
numerical wellbore model calculates it suits inclined flow and even applies to viscosity, permeability, and porosity
temperature and pressure from bottom- horizontal wells. Fluid properties are also are very sensitive to temperature
hole to wellhead separately and iter- treated as functions of pressure and tem- changes, and, in accordance with
ates until the estimated and calculated perature rather than as constants. In ad- an established nonisothermal well-
values converge. dition, the Hagedorn-Brown method was testing model, these representative
First, a geothermal gradient must be found to be effective for slug-flow predic- thermodynamic parameters can be
assumed and a timestep set, along with tion in oil wells; however, on the basis of obtained accurately.
input for other wellbore/formation prop- other existing correlations and assump- ◗ For pressure-buildup tests, a
erties. Then, the Hagedorn-Brown model tions, different flow regimes such as bub- wellbore-storage effect starts with
is modified and recoded to calculate ble flow are taken into account. wellbore-temperature increase
pressure, flow-rate, and liquid-fraction and ends when the temperature
profiles. After that, this pressure- Application of the decreases. The jump in temperature
calculation model is coupled with a heat- Nonisothermal Wellbore can be very small in the case of
transfer model to calculate the temper- Model in Well Testing high permeability and small Joule-
ature profile. Finally, the program will The PDGs and DTSs are always some dis- Thomson coefficients but can be
check the convergence of temperature tance away from the sandface (approxi- relatively large when low porosity
profiles and continue to calculate for next mately 400 ft); in fact, heat transfor- and large viscosity exist. Thus, the
timesteps by using the steady-state tem- mation occurring between the wellbore transient temperature data may be
perature and pressure profiles to replace fluids and the surrounding formation will used as a fast and reliable diagnostic
the items in transient-state temperature- seriously affect the transient tempera- tool in well-testing analysis to detect
calculation equations. Because the pres- ture recorded by the gauges. In order to the end of wellbore storage. JPT
sure model and temperature model are use those downhole transient data for
not run simultaneously, the fluid param- well-testing interpretation, it is neces-
eters can be amended by iteration and sary to couple the wellbore model with a
the problem of having to enter either the reservoir model to simulate actual tran-
exact pressure profile or the exact tem- sient temperature behavior during pro-
perature profile in advance is solved. duction and shut-in periods. Then, some
typical thermodynamic parameters can
Heat-Transfer Model. Thermodynamic be estimated by matching the simulat-
behavior of the flowing fluid is one of the ed results with the real data. In addi-
dominant factors that affect multiphase tion, the effect of wellbore storage on
flow in the wellbore. In addition, PDGs temperature can be simulated by the Changing Your
usually are installed several hundred feet model, and it provides a new method
above the pay zones, so the heat transfer to assist transient pressure analysis for Address?
along that distance, which can lead to well-testing interpretation.
misunderstanding the pressure profile, Let SPE know.
should not be ignored. In order to study Conclusions +1.972.952.9393
the principle of temperature well testing, ◗ The analyses for measured PDG data
first the temperature changes along the by wavelet transform and nonlinear
wellbore need to be figured out, includ- regression show that temperature
ing heat transfer by convection in the responds to changes in flow rate and
fluid and by conduction between well- pressure; therefore, temperature
Update Your
bore and formation. can be used to provide reservoir Member Profile
Pressure- and Flow-Rate-Profile Cal- ◗ A nonisothermal wellbore model
culation Model. The Hagedorn-Brown was developed, and its reliability members/update
model is one of the more successful has been verified by comparing it
wellbore-pressure-drop-calculation with other published models.
methods for multiphase steady-state ◗ The established wellbore model
flow. This correlation includes the ef- can calculate temperature profiles,
fects of gas slippage and was generated integrate pressure data, and SPE Benefits
by analyzing a wide range of experimen- determine flow-rate profiles more
tal data, such as liquid rates, gas/liquid accurately. Discover the possibilities.
ratios, tubing sizes, and different fluid The transient temperature behavior

properties, obtained from a vertical well. at the gauges can be simulated by
Although the Hagedorn-Brown meth- coupling the wellbore model with a
od was developed for vertical wells, in reservoir model.

JPT • FEBRUARY 2016 85


Formation Damage
Niall Fleming, SPE, Leading Adviser, Well Productivity and Stimulation, Statoil

Does formation-damage coreflooding completion fluid. A cleanup sequence tion because a high-permeability res-
give a good representation of damage is performed, increasing either draw- ervoir (e.g., 10 darcy) could experience
that occurs downhole? For those of us down or flowrate, after which the plug significant formation/completion dam-
who are actively involved in coreflood- can be spun down in an ultracentri- age without affecting well productiv-
ing, this is a common question to be fuge to irreducible brine saturation and ity. Furthermore, it does not take into
asked. In addition, it is central with a final permeability is measured that account that openhole completions
regard to the design of corefloods that can be compared to the baseline per- tend to be more resilient to damage
will provide information enabling the meability. The percentage difference because of the high surface area avail-
qualification of specific drilling and between these permeabilities gives the able for inflow.
completion fluids or identification of return permeability. After we have performed our core-
damage mechanisms for wells in pro- At a recent meeting of those inter- flooding, obtained return permea-
duction. Key to all of this is the selection ested in formation damage from North bilities, and identified the formation-
of representative core material from the Sea  operators, I asked the question, damage mechanisms for the different
main production or injection intervals. “What is return permeability?” Is the tests performed, a common question
Formation damage represents a most representative return perme- asked is, “How do these values relate
near-wellbore reduction in permea- ability that identified after the clean- to potential well productivity?” This
bility during drilling, completion, or up sequence of the  coreflood or that is a fundamental question and one for
production, and the plugs selected for identified after spin down? With regard which we have not had an adequate
testing represent a point around the to the latter, one of my formation- answer. Recently, however, compu-
wellbore in which we attempt to iden- damage colleagues often says that tational fluid dynamics has been used
tify either the damage mechanisms that we cannot spin down the reser- with some success to relate coreflood
can be expected for new wells or that voir. Therefore, how representative is data to provide an indication of produc-
may have occurred for wells in produc- this permeability? tion rates. Predicted values have been
tion. In order to achieve this, return- Another question asked at the shown to be similar to actual production
permeability tests are performed that same meeting was, “What are the rates achieved.
are designed to replicate drilling and pass/fail criteria for a formation- I hope you enjoy the papers. JPT
completion of wells, cleanup, and pro- damage test?” Each company tends to
duction. Each company has its own have its own specific criteria, but one
coreflood procedure, but they follow a criterion commonly used is that a 60% Recommended additional reading
basic pattern of a baseline permeabil- return permeability is acceptable. How- at OnePetro:
ity followed by application of mud and ever, this in itself is an oversimplifica-
SPE 174174 Integrated Approach
To Managing Formation Damage in
Niall Fleming, SPE, is the leading adviser for well productivity and Waterflooding by Sergey Aristov, Shell,
stimulation with Statoil in Bergen, Norway. He has worked et al.
previously as a production geologist, chemist, and engineer. SPE 174188 Bursting the Skin Bubble—
Fleming’s main interest is within the area of formation damage Decoupling Formation Damage From Skin
from drilling and completion fluids and in wells under production. in Complex Well Geometries by Michael
He holds a PhD degree in geology from Imperial College London. Byrne, LR Senergy, et al.
Fleming has authored several SPE papers, is an associate editor SPE 174199 New Laboratory Method To
for SPE Production & Operations, serves on the JPT Editorial Assess Formation Damage in Geothermal
Committee, and has been a member of the organizing committees for several SPE Wells by Zhenjiang You, The University of
conferences and workshops. Adelaide, et al.

86 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

Formation-Damage Diagnosis Facilitates
Successful Remediation in Sandstone

W ell-control fluids were used

during a routine overbalanced
workover operation in an offshore
mechanisms can occur during sandstone
acidizing: formation deconsolidation in
acid; reprecipitating during primary, sec-
access from the tubing puncher, an un-
treated pre-existing well-fluid-loss con-
dition, and a poor cement-plug cleanup
well completed in high-permeability ondary, and tertiary reactions; or the re- with a viscous HEC pill are believed to
sandstone. A fluid-loss-control lease of fines because of partial decompo- have compromised the entire wellbore-
pill was used to control excessive sition of minerals in acid. cleanout success.
losses; however, because of the high In the case of damage with oil-based After pulling out tubing, the well was
permeability of the reservoir and the material or emulsions, microemulsion cleaned and stimulated further with
absence of sized particles in the pumped treatments have been recommended. microemulsion-acid treatment before
pill, a large amount of fluid was lost The microemulsion will solubilize the oil flowback, though with limited success.
to the formation. A comprehensive and emulsions and fluidize the filter cake After initial post-microemulsion clean-
review, accompanied by laboratory into a single mesophase while dissolving up, the flowback showed emulsion re-
work, was conducted to identify the the acid-soluble particles and making the turns. The well was then treated with a
damaging mechanism and formulate a solids and formation rock water-wet. The solvent. Thereafter, 100% oil was recov-
remedial treatment. oil-based-mud particles in a filter cake ered, but natural well production could
will disperse, allowing the produced fluid not be sustained.
Introduction to displace these blocking particles from
Polymer-based fluids are beneficial in the damaged zone into the wellbore and Preliminary Formation-Damage
terms of generating viscosity to clean out through any screens. Diagnosis
the wellbore during any well interven- During well completion, multiple fluids
tion. Improper polymer selection has led Well Background not only were circulated downhole but
to significant formation damage in sev- The well in question was drilled and com- also were injected into the well forma-
eral situations. Polymers also can invade pleted initially as an oil producer with an tion. It was suspected that the subse-
the high-permeability zones, hampering inflow-control-device/sandscreen com- quent treatment fluids—microemulsion
hydrocarbon flow through the zones. Bi- pletion installed in the horizontal later- acid and solvents (cutting wash and de-
polymers generally are removed through al across the reservoir. Because of some mulsifier) spotted and injected across the
acidizing, which breaks down the poly- issues with completion hardware in the lateral—may also have reacted with the
mer backbone. The damage caused by well, a workover operation was conduct- earlier fluids lost and injected, to form
polymers can be minimized with proper ed that revealed significant formation damaging byproducts in the well.
polymer selection. damage/production impairment. Dur- Generally, all the introduced
Standard remedial treatments for re- ing the workover, multiple cement plugs completion-fluid materials and existing
moving the near-wellbore polymer in- were spotted in the top sandscreen bore preworkover wellbore fluids were iden-
clude injecting solvents (e.g., xylene), to create a barrier. Before the cement tified as subjects of investigation. These
acids, alcohols, glycols, surfactants, or a job, production tubing was punched and included microemulsion, brine, HEC/XC
mixture of these liquids into the well. 309 bbl of diesel and 540 bbl of NaCl polymer brine, cement-slurry filtrate,
In sandstone well treatments, forma- brine with hydroxyethylcellulose (HEC)/ and diesel.
tion composition should be considered xanthan gum (XC) polymer were bull- Formation-damage laboratory evalua-
carefully, especially minerals susceptible headed in an attempt to clean the pro- tion was designed to be consistent with
to acid attack. Three potential damaging duction string. Inadequate circulation the preliminary formation-damage di-
agnosis. Fluid-chemical samples were
first analyzed, and compatibility tests
This article, written by Special Publications Editor Adam Wilson, contains highlights
were conducted to generate emul-
of paper SPE 174279, “Formation-Damage Diagnosis Facilitates a Successful Remedial-
sion or precipitate that was similar to
Treatment Design and Execution in Sandstone Horizontal Oil Producer: A Laboratory that observed in the field. Thereafter,
and Field Case Study,” by M.A. Bataweel, SPE, A.H. Al-Ghamdi, SPE, P.I. Osode, SPE, potential treatment-fluid options for
T.A. Almubarak, SPE, E.S. Azizi, SPE, Eddy Sarhan, SPE, and M.G. Al-Faifi, SPE, damage removal were evaluated to de-
Saudi Aramco, prepared for the 2015 SPE European Formation Damage Conference, termine the most effective option for the
Budapest, Hungary, 3–5 June. The paper has not been peer reviewed. well conditions.

For a limited time, the complete paper is free to SPE members at

JPT • FEBRUARY 2016 87

Procedure and ture of 160°F and aged for 24 hours. The pumped treatment broke the emulsion,
Experimental Work microemulsion treatment was mixed it would eliminate the possibility that
Fluid-chemical samples were first ana- with different fluids at three different the loss of productivity was from emul-
lyzed and compatibility tests were car- volume-percent ratios. sion blockage. The first two experi-
ried out to generate emulsion or pre- Analysis of the interaction between ments were conducted using the pre-
cipitate similar to that observed in the treatment solution and HEC/XC viscous viously pumped microemulsion-based
field. Thereafter, potential treatment- brine revealed no indication or visual- fluid. The first experiment uses the com-
fluid options for damage removal were ization of any separation or precipita- plete package with 10% acetic acid, and
evaluated to determine the most effec- tion that could be the source of dam- the second was without the acid. Both
tive option for the well conditions. age. When microemulsion treatment showed the ability to break the emul-
was mixed with crude, it did not show sion. A second set of experiments was
Simulation of the Fluid-Reaction By- any indication of emulsion and the two conducted to develop and evaluate an
products/Emulsion Samples. Previ- liquids separated with a clear interface alternative treatment based on formic
ous laboratory evaluations indicated between them. When microemulsion acid to break the field emulsion. That
that there was no incompatibility issue treatment was mixed with HEC/XC vis- proposed formulation was also able to
between microemulsion-treatment cous brine then mixed with crude, it break the emulsion.
formulation and the formation crude showed the potential of emulsion.
and formation water. Nonetheless, Cement filtrate was mixed with Formation-Damage Diagnosis and
it was considered important to veri- crude oil at different volume ratios and Remedial Treatment Design. Review
fy this observation because emulsion showed emulsion tendency, especially of the field operation and initial labo-
was observed during the post-treatment at a 1:3 ratio of filtrate to crude. Mix- ratory work indicated that loss of the
well cleanup. ing microemulsion treatment with ce- viscous pill to the formation could be
ment filtrate did not show any negative the damage mechanism in this case.
Treatment-Fluid Options for Re- interaction, indicating good compatibil- The initial microemulsion with acetic
covered Field Samples and Fluid- ity. To evaluate the effect of microemul- acid was designed to treat any emulsion
Reaction Byproducts. The perfor- sion fluid on preventing or enhancing and damage on the sandface but did not
mance treatment-fluid options con- emulsion tendency, cement filtrate was penetrate deeply enough to remove the
sidered for removal of the recovered mixed with microemulsion at a 1:1 ratio polymer damage. The proposed treat-
field emulsion sample and any other before being mixed with crude at differ- ment targeted a larger-volume treat-
identified laboratory incompatibility ent volume ratios. The test showed that ment with deeper invasion. The pro-
sample were benchmarked against the microemulsion had a positive effect and posed stimulation fluid should take care
microemulsion-fluid-treatment formu- prevented the formation of emulsion. of the emulsion in the wellbore and at
lation applied in the well. Only two cases showed potential the sandface and should be compati-
emulsion: viscous HEC/XC brine and ble with formation rock, to prevent any
Coreflood. A coreflood apparatus cement filtrate. Adding microemulsion negative interactions with clay that can
was built to simulate fluid flow in po- helped prevent emulsion in all cases. worsen performance.
rous media in the reservoir. A positive-
displacement pump equipped with a Field-Sample Identification. Viscous Conclusions
programmable controller was used to brine showed the highest potential of ◗ Microemulsion-treatment fluid
deliver fluids at constant flow rates. A forming emulsion because large amounts was found to be compatible with
set of valves was used to control the in- of HEC/XC brine were lost during the formation crude, the viscous pill,
jected fluid into the core sample. Pres- field operation. High-viscosity HEC/XC and cement filtrate. It also helped
sure transducers were used to measure brine was prepared and analyzed with prevent emulsion potential from
the pressure drop across the core. A nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to be cement filtrate mixed with crude.
convection oven was used to provide used as reference. The NMR signal gen- ◗ Analysis of the flowback samples
a temperature-controlled environment. erated from the aqueous part of the field indicated that the recovered
sample after the emulsion was broken emulsion was a mixture of
Results and Discussion matched the previous signals from the viscous polymer/brine and
Simulation of the Wellbore Fluids In- sample prepared in the laboratory, indi- formation crude.
teraction To Replicate Emulsion For- cating that the viscous pill aggravates the ◗ Formic acid and microemulsion
mation. Microemulsion treatment formation of emulsion. treatment were found to form
with wellbore fluids including viscous an effective demulsifier.
pill, crude, cement filtrate, and com- Treatment To Remove Field Emulsion ◗ Both treatment solutions were
binations of these was performed to Samples. Experiments were conduct- compatible with the formation
evaluate any potential precipitation or ed to assess the ability of the pumped core and showed some ability to
emulsion. Compatibility tests were con- microemulsion solution and proposed remove damage caused by the
ducted at simulated reservoir tempera- treatment to break the emulsion. If the viscous pill. JPT

88 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

Filtrate and Mudcake Characterization:
Implications for Formation-Damage Control

T his paper focuses on experimental

methods quantifying water-based
muds and investigating effects on
same time, the filter cake is undergo-
ing compaction by the effect of the fluid
drag as the smaller drilling-fluid parti-
published analytical models. The dis-
tinctive element of this study is that, un-
like other HP/HT filtration experiments
particle bridging, filtrate invasion, and cles are flowing through the filter cake. that used filter paper or ceramic disks,
permeability. To show the particle- As a result of the deposition and com- the filtration media used were sand-
bridging effect, high-pressure/high- paction undergone by the filter cake, the stone cores. This helps to capture rock-
temperature (HP/HT) filtration tests thickness of the cake and its porosity heterogeneity effects on filtration.
were conducted on sandstone cores and permeability will vary, thus affect- First, sandstone cores were cut from
with permeability ranging from 10 md ing the performance of the filtration. one sandstone slab. Four types of sand-
to more than 1100 md. Analytical During filtration, new particles are de- stone cores were used for this study—
models were used to calculate mudcake posited on the surface of the cake and, Bandera brown, Berea upper gray, Berea
permeability for the tests using over time, the thickness of the cake in- buff, and Michigan. The sandstone-core
different mix designs. The results from creases until filtration subsides. permeabilities used for testing were
this study can be applied to designing Filtrate behavior of the drilling fluid 15.9, 122, 423, and 1130 md.
wellbore-strengthening fluids to affects the permeability of the filter cake. The second step in the experimen-
mitigate formation damage. Thin mudcakes, which have low permea- tal setup was to prepare the drilling-
bility, strengthen the wellbore; however, fluid composition and measure the
Introduction thick mudcakes can cause operational particle-size distribution (PSD) before
In an overbalance situation, the fluid problems such as stuck pipe, excessive and after the blend. Water-based drill-
phase of the mud, called filtrate, in- torque, drag, and high swab and surge ing fluids are composed of gels, thick-
vades the formation, whereas solid par- pressures. Lost-circulation material, eners, thinners, mud-viscosifying addi-
ticles of the mud build up mudcake. such as properly sized calcium carbon- tives, and weighting material or bridging
Characteristics of filtrate and mudcake ate, can prevent leaks of whole mud agents. All components of the water-
are strongly controlled by mud parti- into the formation, which, in turn, pre- based drilling fluid except the weighting/
cle type, size, and concentration. It is vents leaks of the base fluid such as oil or bridging agent were blended together
often desirable for a mud to leave a thin, water. These two chain processes signifi- and weighed. After testing the PSD of
low-permeability cake that helps with cantly increase wellbore strength to pre- the solids, the water-based-drilling-fluid
near-wellbore stability and strength- vent fractures or fracture propagation. components were blended and oven
ens the wellbore. The goal is to re- rolled for 16 hours at 150°F. After remov-
duce the amount of whole mud flow- Experimental Methodology ing the blended mud from the oven, the
ing into the formation and to prevent The laboratory experiments in this work PSD was tested.
loss of circulation, which causes many were conducted on sandstone cores with The third step in the experimental
drilling-related problems. different permeabilities that were fit process was to conduct the HP/HT fil-
Drilling-fluid particles present differ- into the HP/HT permeability-plugging tration test and collect the cumulative
ent sizes; the larger particles form the apparatus (PPA). The bridging efficiency filtrate volume by use of the PPA. For
first layer of the filter cake, and the was investigated by studying barite and the HP/HT filtration, the experiment
smaller particles deposit within the cake calcium carbonate invasion using ex- was conducted at timestep intervals,
formed by the larger particles. At the perimental values alongside previously with the greatest length being 30 min-
utes, at operating conditions of 250 and
This article, written by Special Publications Editor Adam Wilson, contains highlights 2,000 psi. After obtaining results of fil-
tration loss, the PPA cell was cooled,
of paper SPE 174273, “Study of Filtrate and Mudcake Characterization in High
the core was removed, and the mudcake
Pressure/High Temperature: Implications for Formation-Damage Control,” by Saeed
thickness was measured in various sec-
Salehi, SPE, University of Louisiana at Lafayette; Ali Ghalambor, SPE, Oil Center tions and averaged.
Research International; Fatemeh K. Saleh, University of Louisiana at Lafayette; Fluid loss was measured (from spurt
Hadi Jabbari, SPE, University of North Dakota; and Stefanie Hussmann, University to 30 minutes) for four different sand-
of Louisiana at Lafayette, prepared for the 2015 SPE European Formation Damage stones of various permeabilities with
Conference, Budapest, Hungary, 3–5 June. The paper has not been peer reviewed. four types of drilling-fluid formula-

For a limited time, the complete paper is free to SPE members at

JPT • FEBRUARY 2016 89

0.05 Data from cumulative filtrate loss
0.045 from each individual sample were used
to calculate mudcake permeability. Re-
sults of mudcake-permeability calcu-
Cake Permeability (md)

0.035 lation confirm the observations from

filtration tests where mudcake permea-
bility was reduced significantly (Fig. 1).
0.025 It was observed that reduction in mud-
0.02 cake permeability by up to 2.5 orders of
magnitude is achieved for the Bandera
brown sandstone sample.

This study presents an experimental
0 framework for studying particle bridg-
Michigan Berea Buff Berea Upper Gray Bandera Brown ing and filter-cake buildup. The specific
results and conclusions can be summa-
Fig. 1—Mudcake permeability calculated for water-based mud (gray) and for a
sample with sized calcium carbonate (blue).
rized as
◗ Filtration for sandstone samples
of different permeabilities
tions. Spurt loss signifies the amount image-processing techniques. The goal under HP/HT conditions was
of filtrate collected after the differential of this technique was to analyze pore accomplished, and particle
pressure has been applied to the core throats in order to optimize PSD de- bridging was investigated through
for 10 seconds. The objective is to mini- sign of drilling muds. Pore throats were scanning-electron-microscopy-
mize the amount of spurt loss within a obtained from averaging scanning- image analysis. In addition,
30-minute window. electron-microscopy images at the top studies of mud filtration using
Scanning electron microscopy of the edge of the core, following a methodol- rock disks as the filtration medium
cores was conducted before filtration ogy similar to elemental mapping. Simi- can simulate downhole filtration
tests in order to design for PSD using lar to elemental mapping, porosity mea- conditions better.
surements were performed by use of ◗ Permeability of the mudcake
scanning-electron-microscopy images. was lower with decreased
The results of several filtration tests filtration. Mudcake-permeability
Technical Papers revealed that the mixing design that had reduction of up to 2.5 orders
fine-sized calcium carbonate as the pri- of magnitude was observed for
The complete SPE technical mary bridging agent was better at re- the Bandera brown sandstone
papers synopsized in this ducing filtration. Additionally, it was sample. (Mudcake permeability
observed that much higher spurt loss was calculated using existing
issue are available free to
was observed in higher-permeability analytical models.)
SPE members for 2 months
samples (Michigan) compared with the ◗ In studying drilling-fluid
at lowest-permeability samples (Bandera bridging, PSD and PPA results
brown). Results indicate reduction in cu- can help in selecting the optimum
mulative filtration of more than 10  mL concentration and type of particles
when using sized calcium carbonate in for future drilling operations
Subscriptions the mud design. to maintain borehole stability
Results of filtrate tests revealed the and mitigate formation-damage
Address Change: following: problems. PSD design based on
◗ In all cases except the Bandera an image-analysis technique
Contact Customer Services
brown samples, base drilling fluid can be used to optimize PSD.
at 1.972.952.9393 to notify mixed with barite resulted in the This technique can capture
of address change or highest filtration loss compared heterogeneity effects that can
make changes online at with other mixtures with sized affect PSD design. calcium carbonate. ◗ The use of sized calcium carbonate
◗ Michigan samples showed the with appropriate concentration
highest filtration loss compared has decreased HP/HT filtration
with lower-permeability samples. quite significantly. It was concluded
Subscriptions are USD 15 ◗ Filtration loss was generally lower that porous-medium permeability
per year (members). when using fine-sized calcium is a key factor affecting cumulative
carbonate particles in the mixtures. filtration. JPT

90 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

Controlling Losses When Recompleting
Low-Pressure Reservoirs

A challenge in many permeable,

water-sensitive, subhydrostatic
reservoirs is avoiding the loss of
breaker. The breaker is required to break
the crosslinked polymer and lower the
viscosity of the fluid so the broken gel can
the polymer. Once placed in the forma-
tion matrix, the polymer adsorbs onto
the surface of the pore spaces because of
completion fluid when completing or flow out of the formation matrix. Even the electrostatic charges on the polymer
working over wells. To overcome the when using an internal breaker, some and on the surface of the pores. This re-
limitation of conventional fluid-loss- polymer remains in the pore spaces, ef- duces the effective permeability of the
control pills, a low-viscosity system was fectively reducing and damaging the per- formation to water and, in turn, the pro-
developed. The system is composed of a meability of the formation. duction of water. However, because the
viscous disproportionate permeability To overcome the limitation of residual- effective permeability to crude remains
modifier (VDPM) with sized synthetic polymer damage, hydroxyethylcellulose unchanged, there is no decrease in the
polymer particles and fibers, which (HEC) has been used extensively because production of crude.
degrade into organic acids. The VDPM of its low residual-solids content. However, In reservoirs known to have mixed
reduces the effective permeability to linear HEC polymer solutions do not form wettability or to be oil-wet, it is not
water-based fluids, and the sized particles rigid gels but control fluid loss through vis- unusual for a treatment with a low-
create an impermeable filter cake. When cosity and gradual filtration. This means viscosity DPM polymer fluid actually to
the particles degrade, the organic acid that, as the linear fluid penetrates deep- increase the effective permeability to oil,
acts to break any remaining polymer. er into the formation, the shear rate de- while decreasing the effective permea-
creases and the apparent viscosity increas- bility to water.
Traditional es. Permeability damage has been shown Meanwhile, VDPM fluids have been
Polymer-Gel Systems to increase with increasing penetration of used successfully to divert matrix-
The limitations of many convention- viscous fluids, not only with HEC. stimulation treatments from one inter-
al fluid-loss-control pills have result- Despite all the advances made regard- val to another and control unwanted
ed in the development of a number of ing the design of fluid-loss-control pills, water production after the treatment in
solids-free fluid-loss-control pills. In the greatest challenge remains the same, wet producers.
high-permeability reservoirs, a highly which is to have a fluid that prevents the In the case of a VDPM fluid, the chem-
crosslinked gel is needed to achieve good loss of water-based fluids into the reser- istry used to viscosify the low-viscosity
fluid-loss control. Polysaccharides, such voir but does not limit the production of DPM polymer fluid must not interfere
as guar, have been widely used for this crude out of the reservoir when the well is with the adsorption of the polymer and
application because of their low cost and put on production. the resulting differential permeability
availability. These guar-based fluids are modification—change in effective per-
typically crosslinked with borate or or- Disproportionate meability to water—when injected into
ganometallic crosslinkers. The viscosity Permeability Modifiers the matrix at low and high shear rates.
of crosslinked guar decreases significant- Disproportionate permeability modifiers Laboratory testing showed that the vis-
ly at temperatures greater than 200°F be- (DPMs) are commonly used to reduce the cosity of a low-viscosity linear DPM poly-
cause of the limited thermal stability of production of unwanted water in sand- mer solution could be increased by use of
the polymer. For higher-temperature ap- stone and limestone reservoirs. These a proprietary viscosity-enhancer pack-
plications, polyacrylamides can be used polymers are conventionally mixed in age (VEP). This enables the viscosity of
to form crosslinked gels. light brine and pumped into the forma- the DPM polymer fluid to be adjusted
A limitation of crosslinked polysac- tion as a low-viscosity (<5 cp) fluid. as a function of the permeability and
charide and polyacrylamide polymers is The low concentration of monovalent temperature, independent of the DPM
that they require an internal or external salts in the brine limits the hydration of polymer concentration.
Increasing the VEP concentration in-
creases the viscosity of a polymer fluid
This article, written by Special Publications Editor Adam Wilson, contains highlights of without crosslinking the polymer or
paper SPE 174169, “Controlling Losses When Recompleting Low-Pressure Reservoirs,” compromising the ability of the DPM
by G. Uguna, Petroamazonas, and R. Rachid, SPE, A. Milne, SPE, and S. Ali, SPE, polymer to adsorb onto the surfaces of
Schlumberger, prepared for the 2015 SPE European Formation Damage Conference, the pore spaces in order to decrease the
Budapest, Hungary, 3–5 June. The paper has not been peer reviewed. effective permeability to water.

For a limited time, the complete paper is free to SPE members at

JPT • FEBRUARY 2016 91

Traditional Sized Particles with solid-acid particles using polyglycol-
SPE SERVICE DIRECTORY The most common approach taken to ic acid (PGA), a biodegradable polymer.
SPE Online
minimize fluid loss into the reservoir With time, the PGA degrades to liquid
Awards Program
is the use of sized particles to create an glycolic acid, leaving no residual solids.
Cynthia Thompson, impermeable filter cake. The particles
Phone: 1.972.952.9370
bridge on the face of the formation or VDPM Fluid-Loss-Control Pill
Book Sales
Phone: 1.800.456.6863 or 1.972.952.9393
perforation tunnel with, ideally, no in- For a solids-free VDPM fluid to be effec- vasion of the solids or fluid filtrate into tive in diverting a matrix treatment or
Continuing Education/Training Courses the formation matrix. The two primary controlling unwanted water production,
Chiwila Mumba-Black,
Phone: 1.972.952.1114 types of bridging agents are calcium car- sufficient VDPM fluid with the DPM poly-
Distinguished Lecturer Program bonate and sodium chloride salt. Thus, mer must be injected into the matrix for
Cindy Hartley, determining the proper particle-size dis- the DPM polymer to adsorb on the sur-
Phone: 1.972.952.9304
tribution (PSD) is the first step toward face of the pore spaces. The thickness of
Dues, Membership Information, Address Changes,
Copyright Permission formulating a nondamaging fluid. the polymer layer adsorbed on the sur-
Phone: 1.800.456.6863 or 1.972.952.9393 However, avoiding particle invasion re- face of the rock is a function of the mo-
eMentoring Program
quires a good knowledge of the pore- lecular weight and concentration of the
Sandy Wilson, throat-size distribution in the formation. polymer and the shear rate of the fluid
Phone: 1.972.952.9394
It is also considerably more difficult to through the pore throat. The thickness of
Insurance Program
Sandy Wilson,
ensure that the PSD is optimized when a the adsorbed polymer layer increases as
Phone: 1.972.952.9394 well is completed in more than one for- a function of increasing shear rate until a
JPT/SPE Website Advertising Sales mation because the optimum PSD may maximum value is reached. Hence, in low-
Craig Moritz,
Phone: 1.713.457.6888 be different for each producing interval. matrix-permeability reservoirs, the limit-
JPT Equally, in low-pressure reservoirs, there ed surface area of the pore spaces and high
John Donnelly, may not be sufficient differential pres- shear rates through the pore throats en-
Phone: 1.713.457.6816
sure across the sandface to remove a filter sure that DPM rapidly accumulates in the
Peer Review
Stacie Hughes, cake when the well is put on production. pores and prevents further fluid invasion.
Phone: 1.972.952.9343 This has led to increased interest in solu- However, as the permeability increases,
Professional Development Services ble solids, which, with time and temper- the surface area of the pore spaces also in-
Tom Whipple,
Phone: 1.972.952.9452 ature, dissolve into the formation water creases while the shear rate through pore
Section Service or into the crude. Rock salt is commonly throats decreases. This means that the
Phone: 1.972.952.9451
used to minimize damage but is less effec- volume of fluid, with a given polymer con-
SPE Website
tive in controlling losses, and fluid-loss- centration, that must be injected into the
John Donnelly, control pills are more difficult to design matrix to have sufficient DPM polymer
Phone: 1.713.457.6816
because of the solubility of the rock salt. adsorbed in the matrix also increases. It is
Phone: 1.800.456.6863 or 1.972.952.9393 Oil-soluble resins are another common not possible to increase the DPM polymer alternative but have limitations in terms concentration because the polymer will
of cost, temperature, and particle size. start to plug the pore throats.
Americas Office
222 Palisades Creek Dr., Richardson, TX 75080-2040 USA In the case of a fluid-loss-control pill,
Tel: +1.972.952.9393 Fax: +1.972.952.9435
Degradable Solids the VDPM fluid or brine that is injected
Asia Pacific Office Degradable solids, unlike soluble parti- or lost into the formation matrix must be
Level 35, The Gardens South Tower Mid Valley City,
Lingkaran Syed Putra, 59200 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
cles, are most commonly solid-acid pre- recovered when the well is put on produc-
Tel: +60.3.2182.3000 Fax: +60.3.2182.3030 cursors, which hydrolyze as a function tion. However, the adsorbed DPM poly-
Canada Office
of time and temperature to form a liquid mer greatly reduces the effective perme-
Eau Claire Place II, Suite 900–521 3rd Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2P 3T3 acid. However, below a critical threshold ability to water and acts as a check valve,
Tel: +1.403.930.5454 Fax: +1.403.930.5470
Email: temperature, these particles are effec- slowing the rate at which the water-based
Europe, Russia, Caspian, and tively inert and insoluble in water, great- fluid can flow out of the formation as the
Sub-Saharan Africa Office
1st Floor, Threeways House, 40/44 Clipstone Street, London W1W ly simplifying the design of fluid-loss- well cleans up. For this reason, the VDPM
5DW UK control pills. fluid-loss-control pill is based on the same
Tel: +44.20.7299.3300 Fax: +44.20.7299.3309
Email: Solid-acid particles can be used in sev- chemistry as the VDPM diverter fluid,
Houston Office eral different ways in fluid-loss-control with the addition of sized PGA particles.
10777 Westheimer Rd., Suite 1075, Houston, TX 77042-3455 USA
Tel: +1.713.779.9595 Fax: +1.713.779.4216 pills. Solid-acid particles can act as an in- The PSD of the PGA solid-acid precursor
ternal breaker, with the sized solid-acid is designed to create an impermeable fil-
Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia Office
Office 3101/02, 31st Floor, Fortune Tower, JLT, P.O. Box 215959, particles replacing some of the sized cal- ter cake on the face of the formation and
Dubai, UAE
Tel: +971.4.457.5800 Fax: +971.4.457.3164 cium carbonate particles in a convention- not in the pore throats of the formation
Email: al gel/polymer fluid-loss-control pill. matrix. Even in a high-permeability res-
Moscow Office
Perynovsky Per., 3 Bld. 2, Moscow, Russia, 127055
Alternatively, it is possible to replace ervoir, only a few barrels of fluid are lost
Tel: +7.495.268.04.54 all the inert (typically calcium carbonate) into the reservoir before the impermeable
solid particles in a fluid-loss-control pill filter cake is formed. JPT

92 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016


Dan Adamson’s SPE Legacy a Lasting One

DAN K. ADAMSON, because of decreased production dur- political, professional-technical associ-

who guided SPE for ing the Iranian Revolution. Oil prices ation and should stay independent of
more than 2 decades rose sharply and long lines were com- domestic political affairs.”
as its executive direc- mon at US gasoline stations. SPE was
tor and helped trans- still under the umbrella of its parent An International Association
form it into a leading organization, the American Institute of Many consider Adamson’s guidance of
international techni- Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum SPE into a highly regarded international
cal-professional association, died 26 Engineers (AIME), but the oil industry, association as his chief legacy. In 1976,
December. He was 76. and SPE’s membership, was becoming the SPE Board had passed a resolution
Adamson joined SPE in 1965 as assis- increasingly global. Some members of stating that SPE should provide services
tant to the executive secretary, the title the SPE Board of Directors and officials to members worldwide, recalls Douglas
of SPE’s top position at the time, work- at AIME wanted SPE to remain a primar- Ducate, who became second in charge
ing in administration, student rela- ily US-focused organization and become at SPE after Riley’s death and who also
tions, continuing education, and special more involved in politics. Adamson was instrumental in successfully building
assignments, and became publications strongly disagreed. the organization.
manager in 1967. He eventually moved “When I first began working with Adamson and his supporters on
up the ranks to become assistant execu- Dan, SPE was just a subsidiary of AIME the SPE board faced tough questions
tive director and general manager and and there were some very different and about whether SPE was charting the
became SPE’s fourth executive director strong perspectives about SPE’s future,” right course. “But he was able to main-
in 1979, after David Riley, who had held said Marvin Katz, who served as SPE tain the relationship with AIME while
the position for 11 years, died suddenly president in 1980. “Some wanted SPE to building SPE internationally,” Ducate
of a heart attack at age 48. become more involved politically in US said. “The focus of his administra-
Adamson would keep the top posi- affairs, representing the industry along tion was to carry out the direction of
tion until his retirement in 2001, estab- with other associations. But Dan felt the board to ensure that SPE became
lishing an indelible imprint on the Soci- very strongly that SPE should be a non- a successful international association,
ety. When Adamson joined SPE, it was
a largely US-based organization with
membership totaling 15,000 and a staff
of fewer than 50. When he stepped down
36 years later, the Society’s member-
ship had grown to 51,000 members
from more than 50 countries and it
had established offices in London and
Kuala Lumpur as well as successful
meetings around the world. “Dan was a
great man who had an impact on many
people and built SPE into a success-
ful, international organization,” said
Mark Rubin, who succeeded Adamson
upon his retirement and is now SPE’s
chief executive officer and executive
vice president.

Charting SPE’s Direction

The year Adamson became executive
director was a critical one for both the
oil and gas industry and SPE. A second
“oil shock” had hit the United States Adamson, left, and Douglas Ducate at SPE headquarters.

JPT • FEBRUARY 2016 93

would immediately be on the phone try- “When you talked to him,
ing to resolve it. He just knew everyone
and knew who to talk to and he would
work hard to resolve any issue that you had his undivided
came up.”
attention and he was
Significant Achievements
Adamson made other long-lasting con-
tributions to SPE. He helped create genuinely concerned about
the Offshore Technology Conference
(OTC)—which debuted in 1969 in Hous- you both personally and
ton and remains one of the industry’s
major global conferences—and was
instrumental in SPE becoming involved professionally. He was a
in the Offshore Europe conference in
which involved recruiting members, Aberdeen and SPE’s first conference in wonderful friend to have.”
establishing sections, and building China, in Beijing in 1982. Adamson was
relationships worldwide.” initially assistant executive manager of
And Adamson excelled at building OTC and later executive manager. —former SPE President
relationships. “He knew literally thou- He also worked with the SPE Founda-
sands of SPE members—he knew their tion to build SPE’s headquarters build- Marvin Katz
names, their companies, and he did ing in Richardson, Texas, in 1984, as
everything he could to make you suc- the staff had outgrown rented space in
ceed,” said Dennis Gregg, SPE president Dallas, and oversaw the technological Arscott added, “Dan once said that his
in 1986. “He was always very supportive upgrade of SPE staff operations. “He job was to make the SPE presidents look
of the members but he never wanted or was the helmsman during SPE’s tech- good, and that was typical of his unself-
took credit.” nology upgrade,” Ducate said. Oil and ish nature.”
gas companies had become “way out in Another personality trait that stood
A Friend to Many front in the use of technology,” he said, out was his frugality, not only with SPE’s
Katz agreed. “Dan was comfortable work- including the use of computers, data money but in his personal life. “He had
ing with people at all levels of the petro- transfer, and email. “His drive to take a unique way of looking for the best
leum industry worldwide and was able to SPE’s technology to a higher level to bargains in travel,” Ducate said. “He
encourage not only engineers but man- meet the needs of members was a jug- could find inexpensive hotels in expen-
agement of the importance of SPE and its gling act. That whole shift in how we sive locations and the most inexpensive
valuable role in information dissemina- did business was a huge challenge for plane routes. He came from a humble
tion,” he said. the staff.” background, and he was thrifty in his
“So many people regarded Dan as one Colleagues and friends of Adamson approach to things throughout his life.”
of their best friends,” said Katz, who frequently mention his desire to credit Adamson was born 12 October 1939
traveled to China and other internation- others for accomplishments and steer in Vernon, Texas, a small town near the
al venues with Adamson to build con- away from the limelight. “Dan was a Texas-Oklahoma border. He attended
tacts and meet with members around very self-effacing person and had a style the University of Missouri and gradu-
the world. “When you talked to him, that allowed him to sit down with CEOs, ated from Southwestern University with
you had his undivided attention and members, or officials of national oil a BA degree in history. At Southwestern,
he was genuinely concerned about you companies (NOCs) and make friends,” he met his future wife, Diane, whom he
both personally and professionally. He Ducate said. “He could sit down with married in 1962 and who preceded him
was a wonderful friend to have.” anyone and explain the mission and in death in June 2015. They lived in Den-
Lyn Arscott, who served on the SPE value of SPE. He built relationships that ver for 2 years where he taught school
board as treasurer during the 1980s and led many NOCs to welcome SPE into before moving to Texas.
was SPE president in 1988, said Adam- their countries.” A memorial service was held in Jan-
son made any member he came into After his retirement, SPE staff and uary for Adamson at University Park
contact with feel welcome in the asso- board members tried several times to United Methodist Church in Dallas,
ciation. “He just cared for people. He recognize his service to the association. attended by many former SPE presi-
would make the extra effort to talk to “We tried for years to honor him after he dents and staff. He is survived by four
people, to solve problems, and to fol- retired and he refused,” said Gregg. “He daughters, Larkin Bryant, Rebecca
low up,” he said. “If the board learned said that SPE awards were for the mem- Schatzle, Amy Anderson, and Sarah Kel-
of a problem in a local section, Dan bers, not the staff.” lar; and eight grandchildren.

94 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016

Petroleum Engineers • Energy Advisors
AVASTHI Associates, Inc.
Oil and Natural Gas Reserve Advisors
& ASSOCIATES, INC. Reserve Determinations Market Valuations • Reservoir Engineering • Merger & Acquisition Support
Worldwide Energy Consulting Geologic Studies Expert Testimony
Since 1990
• Reserve Determinations • Mineral and Royalty
Petrophysical Analysis Arbitration
Seismic Interpretation Commercial Models • Economic Evaluations Management
CO2, N2, Chemical and Thermal EOR/ IOR, CCUS,
Reservoir Engineering and Simulation, IAM, Reservoir Simulation Risk Analysis • Underground Storage • Regulatory Filings and
Geosciences, Static and Dynamic Modeling, Stochastic Evaluations Acquisition Screening Engineering Testimony
Geomechanics, Fracturing/ Stimulation,
Consulting and Training Services for Three Allen Center • Salt Cavern Engineering • Facilities Engineering
Development and Optimization of 333 Clay Street, Suite 3850
Houston, Texas 77002 • Supply Studies • Disposal Well Design
Conventional/ Unconventional/ Shale,
Oil, Gas, Gas-condensate, and TEL: (713) 739-1000 • Graphical Information Systems
FAX: (713) 739-6112
• Mining Engineering
Heavy Oil Fields around the World
Global Head Office: 800 Rockmead Drive, Suite 212
Houston, Texas 77339, U.S.A. • Phone: +1-281-359-2674 Austin — Houston — Wichita — Calgary
Worldwide Petroleum Consulting M.J. ENGLAND, P.E.
SPE Benefits HOT
Reserve Reports Estate Appraisals
Fair Market Value Expert Witness
Discover the possibilities. Engineering 215 Union Blvd., Suite 350
Lakewood, CO 80228-1840 Exploration / Field Development / Training Telephone: 303/298-0860
Integrated Reservoir Studies • Lead & Prospect Facsimile: 303/298-0861
Generation • Reservoir Characterisation • Field
Development Planning • Enhanced Oil Recovery • SERVING THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY FOR

CG A & Underground Gas Storage • Reserves Audits • Training

& HR Development
Parkstrasse 6, 8700 Leoben, Austria
Phone: +43 3842 430530 / Fax: +43 3842 430531


PETROLEUM CONSULTANTS Specializing in All Phases of Reserves Evaluations,
SINCE 1960 Huddleston & Co., Inc. Including Petroleum Economics,
Reservoir Engineering, Geology, and Petrophysics
Domestic and International
Petroleum & Geological Engineers
1221 McKinney, Suite 3700 Two Houston Center Phone: (713) 651-9455
Fort Worth Houston Austin 909 Fannin St., Ste. 1300 Fax: (713) 654-9914
(817) 336-2461 (713) 651-9944 (512) 249-7000 Houston, TX 77010 Houston, TX 77010 e-mail:
Ph: (713) 209-1100 Fax: (713) 209-1104 – e-mail:
Web pages:

COUTRET AND ASSOCIATES, INC. International Reservoir

Petroleum Reservoir Engineers
Property Evaluation, Reservoir Engineering
Fluid Injection, Property Management
Technologies, Inc.
International Petroleum Consultants

401 Edwards Street, Suite 810 Phone (318) 221-0482 Seismic Interpretation & Modeling Fractured Reservoir Characterization/Modeling
Shreveport, LA 71101 Fax (318) 221-3202 Stratigraphy & Petrophysics Gas Storage • Unconventional • EOR • CO2 CCS Black
Reservoir Simulation Oil/Compositional/Thermal Reservoir Simulation
Enhanced Oil Recovery Studies
FORREST A. GARB Well Test Design & Analysis Provider of LYNX®, MatchingPro®,
PlanningPro® and ForecastingPro® Software
& ASSOCIATES, INC. Well Completion Optimization
International Petroleum Consultants 300 Union Blvd., Suite 400 Denver, Colorado
Lakewood, CO 80228 475 17th Street, Suite 1400
PH: (303) 279-0877 Fax: (303) 279-0936 Ph. (303) 292-9595
Reservoir Engineering Expert Witness
Economic Evaluation Reservoir Simulation
Geologic Studies Due Diligence
Forensic Engineering Technical Staffing PERA
5310 Harvest Hill Road, Suite 275 Curtis H. Whitson
Dallas, Texas 75230-5805
Tel: 972-788-1110 Fax: 972-991-3160
Len Andersen & Associates
Web pages: 800-428-4801 EOS Fluid Characterization
Design & Analysis of PVT Data
Frank Givens, CPA Gas Condensate Specialists
Structured approach to Investment Decisions Changing Your Address? Compositional Simulation Expertise
662-404-3798 Pipe-It Integrated-Model Optimization Let SPE know Skonnertveien 7, 1st floor • 7053 Ranheim Norway
LPL FINANCIAL Phone 47 7384 8080 / Fax 47 7384 8081
Member FINRA/SIPC +1.972.952.9393 /

JPT • FEBRUARY 2016 95

310 South Vine Avenue, Tyler, TX 75702
• Consulting Petroleum Engineers 903-593-9660 • 903-593-5527 (FAX) • 800-587-9660 — WORLDWIDE PETROLEUM CONSULTANTS —
• Reservoir Engineering
• Reservoir Simulation • Waterflood & EOR Studies
• Reservoir Characterization
• Oil and Gas Reserves Evaluation James E. Smith, P.E., Registered Professional Engineer Geological & Petrophysical Analysis
• Fair Market Value and Acquisition Valuation Reservoir Simulation
• Enhanced Oil Recovery Unconventional Resource Evaluation
• Economic Evaluation Reserves & Property Valuation
• Oil and Gas Production
Gas Storage & CO2 Sequestration Analysis

Gas Storage Design and Screening
Regulatory Filings and Database Acquisition
Expert Petroleum Engineering Testimony
SPE CONNECT Expert Witness • Technical Training

FTI Platt Sparks 12770 Coit Road, Suite 907, Dallas, TX 75251
925-A Capital of Texas Highway S. SPE Members Come Together Online Phone (972) 385-0354
Austin, Texas 78746 U.S.A.
(512) 327-6930
With SPE Connect FAX (972) 788-5165

A virtual place where you can meet,

PRA collaborate, and discuss specific technical ZAETRIC ®

Petrotechnical Resources of Alaska, LLC

challenges and resolutions, SPE Connect is Providing technical document development, busi-
Alaska’s Oil and Gas Consultants
now your link to SPE members worldwide. ness process support and printing/binding services
Geology, Geophysics, and Engineering
to the oil & gas industry since 2000.
3601 C Street (907) 272-1232 voice • DOCUMENTATION — Drilling & Completion,
Suite 1424 (907) 272-1344 fax
Rig Operations, QA/HSE, Equipment, Reports,
Anchorage, AK 99503
Instructions & Procedures
ROBERTO AGUILERA, Ph.D. Tarek Ahmed & Associates Ltd. • BUSINESS PROCESS — Technical Contracts,
RFQs, Process Evaluation, Project & Vendor
SERVIPETROL LTD. Taking Petroleum Engineering Training Management
International Petroleum Consultants to a New Level
• PRINTING/BINDING — Turnkey, In-House,
Independent Oil and Gas Producers For dates & descriptions Customizable, Quick Turnaround
Naturally Fractured Reservoirs of courses held worldwide, please visit us at
Log Interpretation • The Woodlands, Texas
Well Test Analysis 281-298-1878 •
Performance Forecasts
Numerical Simulation HSE Now SPE Membership
Petroleum Short Courses
E-mail: Membership in the Society of Petroleum
SPE’s new web app for health, safety, and Engineers is a continuous well of career-
903-19th Avenue SW, Suite 502
Calgary, Canada T2P 3T7 environment professionals. enhancing opportunities for E&P professionals.
Phone: (403) 266-2535 Fax: (403) 264-8297


ADIPEC 2016 NCS Multistage, LLC

Page 21 Page 47
Baker Hughes New Mexico Tech
Page 29 Page 27 10777 Westheimer Rd., Suite 1075 • Houston, Texas 77042-3455
Cameron Newpark Drilling Fluids Main Tel: +1.713.779.9595 • Fax: +1.713.779.4216
Page 19 Page 11
Craig W. Moritz Dana Griffin
Dyna-Drill Rock Flow Dynamics (Companies A-L) (Companies M-Z)
Page 25 Cover 3 Assistant Director Americas Advertising Sales Manager
Sales & Exhibits Tel: +1.713.457.6857
Fairmount Santrol Saudi Aramco Tel: +1.713.457.6888
Page 81 Page 61
FMC Technologies Schlumberger
Page 9 Cover 2, Pages 7, 17
Fritz Industries TAM International
Page 23 Page 2
KAPPA Engineering Tomax AS ADDRESS CHANGE: Contact Customer Services at 1.972.952.9393
to notify of address change or make changes online at www.spe.
Cover 4 Page 55
org. Subscriptions are USD 15 per year (members). JPT JOURNAL OF
LEUTERT Viking Engineering PETROLEUM TECHNOLOGY (ISSN 0149-2136) is published monthly
Page 83 Page 75 by the Society of Petroleum Engineers, 222 Palisades Creek Drive,
Richardson, TX 75080 USA. Periodicals postage paid at Richardson,
Missouri University of Science Visuray TX, and additional offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to
& Technology Page 3 JPT, P.O. Box 833836, Richardson, TX 75083-3836 USA.
Page 67
National Oilwell Varco Page 4
Page 15

96 JPT • FEBRUARY 2016


RFD-006_tNavigator_JPT_0724.indd 1 7/24/15 4:12 PM