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Next Generation Well Control

14–19 October 2012 :: The Algarve, Portugal

Technical Agenda

These exciting topics will be discussed in an open setting designed for optimal input from all participants.

Session 1: What keeps you awake at night?

Session Managers: Keith Lewis and Steve Cromar

In this introductory session we will explore how the industry can balance risk and reward in a future where hydrocarbon reserves are found in increasingly difficult and often environmentally sensitive locations. It reviews what we have learnt from root cause analysis of major well control incidents from the past, including the Montara and Macondo blowouts. We will also assess the effectiveness of steps taken by the industry to mitigate risk as well as identify future challenges. We will also be exploring the following questions:

  • Are we on the right track?
  • Do we need to step back and ask ourselves what would we do if we had the opportunity to redesign, restructure and retrain?
  • How should we tackle the significant challenges facing our industry to economically and safely extract hydrocarbons in increasingly challenging circumstances of temperature, pressure, water depth and environment, under the also increasing scrutiny of public opinion and government regulators?

Session 2: People

Session Managers: John Boogaerdt, Gareth Williams and Bob Newhouse

Recently published Well Control events in our industry have generated several learnings that are believed to be indicative of pan-industry problems, rather than being specific to a single company. Currently, resulting changes from major incidents (such as the Montara and Macondo blowouts) typically focus on the themes of equipment and systems (standards). These are seen as the ‘holes in the cheeses’ that align for such incidences to occur. These changes typically reduce the likelihood of the same incident re-occurring. In order to prevent similar incidents, these changes need to be supplemented by changes addressing the root causes associated with human factors, for instance, the competence and behaviours of people involved throughout our organisations.

Each has a role to play in preventing incidents and their situational awareness is critical. These human factors are the “fillers of the holes in the cheeses” and can compensate for failures in other ‘barriers’.

A clear challenge is how to influence our industry. Well control training, examination and certification (WCTEC) is now a respected process that has been established over the last two decades, but how do we add the human factor element in training and behaviours? Do we take people out of the decision process and automate it, like running an LNG plant? Do we need to incorporate checklists and back-up personnel for drilling operations? What other possibilities are there to make it work and to get it accepted, not only on the drill floor but in all areas of the organisation.

Session 3: Are we conditioned to only be reactive to wellbore response and how do we evolve from this paradigm?

Session Managers: Randy Lovorn, Ashley Johnson and Andy Grisdale

Let’s take a provocative examination of the state of the industry in regards to smart well responses. Have we evolved into specialised disciplines which drive us to operate in silos where collaboration is deficient? This session will explore the way forward in predictive well control through advanced monitoring. Discussion leaders will guide the session through topics such as model standards, cross discipline model integration (such as real time pore pressure) and seismic interpretations for true early kick detection. We will also look at how we can achieve smart responses from down hole and surface parameters as well as why well control events occur at transition points in the well’s construction.

Session 4: Monitoring the well, what is really happening?

Session Managers: Ashley Johnson, Randy Lovorn and Mike Ryan

The wellbore is a complex hydraulic system, with solids, liquids and gas present, large changes in pressure and temperature and the certainty of solution and dissolution occurring simultaneously at different locations in the well. In order to maintain “control” of the system we must keep the fluid influx and efflux, to and from the open hole, to tolerable levels, manage any discharge at surface in an environmentally safe manner and maintain the mechanical integrity of the system (critically the open-hole section). In any other industry this system would be highly instrumented, monitored and carefully controlled.

The session will look at the measurements (type and frequency) and communication paths (frequency and latency) needed to manage and control the well. This includes managing the actual process as well as the integrity of the system and barriers, from the initial spudding of the well up until it is abandoned or goes onto production. Discussion leaders will identify the physical processes occurring in the well, including temperature changes, pressure, solubility, phase migration, wellbore stability to frame the discussion. The challenge is to define the required measurements needed to illuminate the actual situation in the well as well as indicate what will happen next.

Session 5: Barriers

Session Managers: Ian Davidson and Jan Brakel

Failure of barriers is the primary cause of blowouts. We deliberately place multiple barriers in our wells to provide multiple lines of defence, should the primary barriers fail. We also place strict rules on the steps to be taken in instances where barriers either fail or are compromised (i.e. securing the well and suspending operations until a minimum of two barriers are re-established). Today however, in increasingly demanding circumstances including, deepwater, HP/HT, narrow margins drilling and the commercial pressure of high operating costs, our barriers are continuously under threat.

In this session we will:

  • Review the reliability of the barriers at our disposal today and their effectiveness as wells are subjected to more demanding conditions and operational wear and tear through the well’s full life cycle.
  • Discuss the present rules we apply to restore barriers and whether new or fewer rules are applicable.
  • Look to the future to alternative measures to supplement and monitor effectiveness of our lines of defence in terms of wellhead integrity, casing and cement integrity and well design in general, including completions.
  • Look at means to more readily accommodate tertiary well control.
  • Question whether we are reducing barrier reliability by increasing complexity and if we should we be looking at new and different secondary well control systems.
  • Consider if operator well design standards are robust enough and if current industry standards still appropriate to guarantee a minimum level of well integrity considering today’s and tomorrow’s well construction challenges.

Session 6: Intervention

Session Managers: Graham Berry, Keith Lewis and Bob Newhouse

During this session we will be examining intervention methods, relief wells and intercept methods and ways to improve intercept when drilling relief wells. We will review critical issues such as relief well designs in shallow reservoirs, same season relief wells in Arctic areas and relief well planning guidelines from the ‘regulatory authorities.’ As well as this we will also explore the following:

  • Capping and containment methods - is there another solution other than the current cap or BOP designs?
  • Well integrity, future well design and maintaining the primary barriers
  • What is really happening, where are the fluids, what are the pressures – how can we use well modelling software to assist in these areas?
  • Future downhole shutoff devices or systems - what are/will be the new technologies to assist in this area.

Session 7: Future Dreams

Session Managers: Pat Reilly and Claudio Molaschi

Like many industrial systems, well control systems have hardly changed since they were first introduced many decades ago. While there have been continuous improvements in materials, control systems and design details, the basic design of BOP components and actuation systems remains the same. Additionally, the basic parameters we monitor to control the well and the systems we use to transmit the data have not changed significantly. The two goals of this session are to:

  • Consider information and equipment capability that currently does not exist
  • Discuss the issues that prevent change

In an effort to identify new capabilities, this group discussion session will explore the following questions:

  • What equipment or information capability would result in a step change improvement in managing and controlling the well?
  • What new capability would be so compelling that no operator or rig contractor would consider drilling without it?
  • How would you design a BOP if you were not allowed to use a ram, annular, or accumulators?
  • What are the options for well control below the wellhead?
  • What do you see as the weakest link in managing the well?
  • What promotes change?
  • What inhibits change?
  • What is in our culture that prevents us from changing?
  • What determines proactive vs. reactive change?
  • What is the risk/reward environment for being a champion of change as an individual/company?

Session 8: What have we heard/gathered

Session Managers: Ian Davidson and Mike Ryan

This session is to allow the group to develop and gather a collection of views, learnings and possible actions to be taken forward. These will be derived from conversations and ideas from previous sessions, including formal and informal interactions around each session from the Forum.

Session 9: Reporting/wrap up

Session Manager: Keith Lewis

This wrap up session aims to develop personal action points/plans for attendees in a bid to change the future outcome in well control practices as we move from the reality of today towards a future that, we as an industry, need to be more proactive (as opposed to reactive) in creating.