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Underbalanced Drilling: From Niche to Universal Adoption

4 – 6 February 2013

Dubai, UAE | The Address Dubai Marina Hotel

Technical Agenda

Introduction to Underbalanced Drilling

Speaker: Martin Culen, Blade Energy

This one hour lecture is intended for workshop attendees who are not familiar with underbalanced drilling to gain a fundamental knowledge of the technique. This knowledge will aid attendees’ participation in the detailed discussions to follow.

Session 1: Underbalanced HSE

Session Chair: Faisal H. Alghamdi, Saudi Aramco

In the last decade, UBD has seen an increasing utilisation in the Middle East and throughout the world. But inspite of this technique evolving to overcome many challenges and managing to gain a level of acceptance among the operating companies, it is still regarded as a niche application. There are many cases where a huge upside potential justifies the perceived higher risk of an underbalanced drilling operation. The goal of this session is to showcase how successful UBD projects have managed the HSE aspect of the operation and to discuss how the HSE management plan has become one of the key elements that is addressed in the front-end engineering of every new UBD project. This approach will ultimately contribute to extending the operating envelope of UBD by decreasing the residual operating risk level in its applications.

Session 2: Maximising Value—Candidate Selection for UBD

Session Chairs: Martin Culen, Blade Energy Partners; Pascal Aviengne, ADCO

Underbalanced drilling is a process that is not applicable to all reservoirs. Identification of suitable candidates early in the planning process contributes not only to the success of the drilling operation, but also to longer term well and reservoir performance. In this session we will explore what are the key criteria considered and how they are combined in the selection process. We will also look at how the main value drivers impact well economics and serve to optimise well design.

Session 3: Advantages and Limits of Logging Operations on Underbalanced Operations

Session Chairs: Nick Nawfal, Baker Hughes; Paco Viera, Weatherford

The measurement of formation properties during drilling is vital for any field exploration and development. It is the way the industry gathers required information to evaluate different formations, from the surface to the deepest reservoir. It defines the most efficient way to access and exploit existing oil and gas reserves. The data generated feed the requirements of different groups and specialties. During underbalanced drilling operations non-conventional drilling fluids, like gasified fluids, are normally utilised which can restrict the use of certain type of logging mechanisms. This session discusses the challenges of logging operations while drilling underbalanced and the valuable information that can be obtained using this technology.

Session 4: Service Equipment Challenges

Session Chairs: Ferda Akgun, Petroleum Institute; Mansour Shaheen, Baker Hughes

Surface equipment design and setup are two of the most critical elements in ensuring an efficient and safe underbalanced drilling standalone operation. Since the introduction of underbalanced drilling in the late 1980s, a few early attempts were made to tackle the simplest well designs using a mix and match set of equipment to achieve the objectives, but poor performance limited the growth of the application. At the time the poor economics associated with underbalanced drilling and the fact that well designs had to be compromised to meet the limited capabilities of the surface equipment made conventional drilling the safer, more attractive method of well construction.

In the last few years some long-term technically challenging underbalanced drilling campaigns in North America and the Middle East have led to the development of new “fit-for-purpose” equipment. This new equipment exhibits improved efficiency that, in turn, extends the operating envelope to cover almost all types of wells and improves underbalanced drilling economics. Currently, the luxury of choice between either a hybrid unit or a coiled tubing drilling rig supported with state-of-the-art data acquisition systems exists. These data acquisition systems permit online KPI monitoring which in turn allows real-time adjustment of operational parameters to achieve an excellent level of drilling control. These technological advancements in underbalanced drilling now make a comparison with conventional drilling meaningful from an economic standpoint. The additional benefit of the improved well productivity associated with underbalanced drilling magnifies the overall value of this drilling technique.