drilling project

Project Development Process

November 10th, 2015 | Chris Speziale

The Key to Deliverables

Understanding the company’s drilling project development process is key to developing a timeline and outlining the necessary deliverables. There are many different drilling project management structures that are employed by various operators that are more or less stringent depending upon the operator’s management structure and size, geologic probability of success or experience in the region. Additionally, understanding the state at which the process is currently in plays a large role. Is the drilling project fully handed over from exploration or is it in the beginning stages of defining the exploration goals to potentially move to a future development? Also, understanding if the drilling project is fast tracked, schedule driven or cost driven are extremely important when developing an execution schedule.

Identifying Drilling Project Goals

Prior to beginning the design process the goals of the development must be defined. Aside from the obvious goal of maximizing production, the full field intent of the wells and their purpose must be identified. This is highly dependent on reservoir type and quality and will dictate the design, completion option/s selected and future field operations.

  •  Well Type and Service
    • Producers, Injectors, Gas Source Wells, Water Source Wells, Disposal Wells?
    • Have potential water and gas sources been identified?
      • Is there a potential for corrosion issues (CO2, H2S, etc…)
  • Primary and Secondary Recovery Techniques
    • Do the wells have the ability to sustain natural production?
    • Line drive water injection, Water Alternating Gas (WAG), gas injection, depletion only, etc.
    • Do they require secondary lift methods?
      • Electric Submersible Pumps (ESPs)
        • Conventional, Thru-Tubing Conveyed (TTC), Fully Retrievable, Progressive Cavity Pump (PCP)?
        • Expected sand production?
      • Gas Lift
        • Surface pressure constraints?
      • Jet Pump
        • Is a power fluid identified?
  • Reservoir Characteristics and Quality
    • Does the reservoir quality lend itself to efficient secondary recover techniques, will the wells require fracturing or perhaps both?
    • Natural Fractures
      • With unconventional reservoirs now becoming “Conventional” due to advances in fracturing techniques, is there potential to take advantage of insitu fractures
        • Are these fractures open, cemented, or closed?
        • Offset field information, FMI logs, Diagnostic Fracture Integrity Tests (DFIT)?
    • Pore and Frac Pressures
      • Are these identified?
    • Geo-Mechanical studies completed?
      • Is maximum horizontal field stress known?
    • Has seismic been acquired?
    • Potential Geologic Hazards?
      • Depletion/ Over pressure
      • Geologic instability noted on offset wells
      • Faulting
  • Future Well Work and Well Life Cycle
    • What is expected from a future well work stand point?
      • Will cleanouts be necessary?
      • Is it expected to have access to a workover unit on demand?
      • Is coiled tubing access a must?

The above are just a few of the areas that need to be identified to properly evaluate the design of the field. Additionally, if one is developing an exploration plan for a potential future development the goals pertaining to the acquisition of the data must be determined to acquire the necessary information to build a reliable reservoir model.

Determining Drilling Project Extent and Initial Feasibility

To determine drilling project feasibility, especially when developing from a single pad, the reservoir or reservoirs must be defined. Additionally, the primary and potential upside targets need to be identified as this will play a large role in optimally placing the surface location. The aerial extent of the reservoir must be determined and the expected high productivity areas need to be defined. This is typically done using delimiters such as “Net Sand” or various other reservoir parameters that are expected to drive deliverability. Once this is completed surface locations need to be evaluated taking into account the primary and secondary reservoir targets; as well as, potential logistical, surface, governmental and environmental constraints.

Depending upon the recovery method chosen for each reservoir, initial well geometries and spacing requirements need to be identified to build well paths to determine the number of wells that can be placed in the reservoir and to gain an initial understanding of the feasibility of the wells. As one can imagine this is an iterative process between both surface and subsurface parties.

To determine the true feasibility of the wells the full life cycle needs to be determined. Many times well feasibility is not driven by drilling feasibility. Depending on the completion type selected completions may or may not have the ability to be rotated which can limit the extent that a completion can be run due to buckling. Additionally, if coil access is considered a must, possibly due to the need for coil cleanouts in the event of a screen out while fracing or future remedial operations this will most likely be the limiting factor in the length of the wells that are being planned.

Engineering Design & Feasibility

Once the full field has been outlined and the scope of the wells have been identified a full well design feasibility analysis can be conducted. Using our software, ERDPro®, specifically tailored to horizontal drilling and extended reach drilling and completion operations we will then determine each well’s feasibility. ERDPro® is particularly useful for frontend engineering purposes as it allows for various sensitivities to be run accounting for uncertainties in expected flow rates, mud weights, rheologies, rates of penetration, friction factors and running speeds. This allows us to determine the feasibility of the well taking into account the potential for unexpected parameters while staying within design limitations. Each well will be modeled to determine expected hookloads, torque, standpipe pressures, equivalent circulating densities (ECDs) and surge & swab pressures. After each wells analysis we can then make recommendations regarding; directional profiles, casing selection, BHA selection, fluid type & weight and completion limitations. Once completed recommendations can then be made regarding rig selection, necessary hoisting equipment, pump necessities and pad design.

We have found through experience that the chance of successfully drilling and completing complex wells increases dramatically if there is someone available to monitor the well onsite and oversee drilling/tripping parameters. We have also found that it provides a forum, outside of “normal” channels, where your supervisory and engineering personnel can converse with an experienced ERD engineer to discuss and evaluate issues that may arise during day to day operations.  In effect, it provides a learning opportunity for the entire team to hone their skills. Additionally, using the field data comparison module within ERDPro® we can provide you with a daily report summarizing key observations, graphical measured data output and recommendations; as well as, a full End of Well Report (EoWR) that captures best practices and lessons learned which will prove to be invaluable when planning upcoming wells. Prior to execution of the drilling phase we can also offer an ERD Best Practices and Implementation Course, tailored to your well design, to educate those both in the field and office.

Pad and Surface Facility Design

To create an environment conducive to pad operations the logistical nature of the region and operational needs must be determined. This may also be coupled with permitting requirements to build a location as small as possible to reduce the overall footprint and environmental impact. Very often the drilling and completion needs are not taken into account when evaluating pad layout and size which can lead to costly redesigns and operational inefficiencies if the needs are not considered. To determine the pad size and necessary facilities one must understand if it is possible to service it from an offsite location or if it must be self-sufficient. Additionally, the size of the pad is somewhat dependent on the center-to-center spacing selected which can also create complications related to surface anti-collision, requiring directional adjustments and potential downtime or production deferral due to the need to shut in offset wells. A full field anti-collision feasibility analysis should be completed initially assuming a short spacing to represent the worst case scenario.

When determining pad design cuttings disposal, mud mixing, laydown areas, frac spreads and camp needs must considered.  If the location is very remote or there are long distances to cuttings injection sites or existing service facilities, a waste injection facility or mud mixing facility may be necessary to keep operations ongoing. Additionally, cuttings and fluids transfer needs to and from the rig and facilities must be evaluated to understand potential pipe rack synergies or necessary allocation of lines. Again, understanding these needs early in the surface facilities design will greatly reduce the need to re-engineer existing designs.

HXR Drilling Services – Scope Overview

As one can imagine the total scope of providing a full field feasibility study is much more detailed then outlined above. At a high level, you can find the methodology that we employ on such drilling projects:

  • Understand your Drilling Project Development Process and Integrate Deliverables Accordingly
  • Identify the Development Goals
    • Reservoir Characteristics
    • Recovery Methods
    • Initial completion design (if one is selected)
    • Artificial lift methods (if considered necessary)
    • Potential design constraints
  • Identify Optimal Surface Location
  • Build Well Paths and Evaluate Initial Feasibility
  • Conduct Torque & Drag and Hydraulics Analysis
    • Provide recommendations – Trajectory, casing selection, BHA Design, Fluids, etc…
    • Provide necessary rig design criteria
  • Provide recommendations regarding pad design

HXR Drilling Services can integrate into a team at any stage of development. They are available to support teams in executing their project successfully; be it, providing a detailed engineering analysis or simply providing them with recommendations and lessons learned from previous projects.

About the Author

is the President of HXR Drilling Services. He has extensive global experience in directional/horizontal and extended reach drilling, both from onshore pads as well as offshore TLP’s, platforms and man-made island drill sites.

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