Procrastination: Is it too many things going on at once that causes us to rush to meet deadlines, or makes us forget to complete important tasks in a timely manner, or even try to do too many things at once, resulting in nothing getting done correctly? You probably are wondering how this relates to well control. In our work schedules, we all are faced with situations in which we are required to complete multiple concurrent tasks. This often is the case when we rush to finish drilling a problem well so that we can get the drilling rig moved to the next location and turn this well over to the completions team. Multiple activities must be completed concurrently that, individually, are relatively simple, but each activity requires the attention of the driller, tool pusher, company man, and others on the crew. When one of these tasks begins to go awry, our attention may be on something else, and we can miss important warnings until it is too late to avoid a disaster.
What is the point? Once again, I will use the Macondo blowout as an example. To leave the well in a position to be completed by another crew, mud had to be removed from the riser and top of the well and be replaced with seawater. A spacer was pumped between the mud and seawater to prevent mixing of the seawater and mud. This is a simple enough operation, it seems, but when seawater is being pumped into the well, mud has to be pumped onto a workboat to prevent the pits from running over, and the spacer is being dumped overboard; keeping track of how much of each fluid is going where becomes a daunting task. Could this have been a contributing factor in not recognizing the beginning of the kick?
Jerome Schubert, SPE, is an assistant professor in the Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering at Texas A&M University. He has more than 30 years’ experience with Pennzoil, Enron Oil and Gas, the University of Houston– Victoria Petroleum Training Institute, and Texas A&M University. Schubert earned BS, ME, and PhD degrees in petroleum engineering from Texas A&M University. He is a coauthor of Managed Pressure Drilling and the author of more than 35 technical papers. Schubert serves on the JPT Editorial Committee and has served on several SPE committees and as a Technical Editor for SPE Drilling & Completion. He serves as Faculty Advisor for Pi Epsilon Tau. Schubert is a registered professional engineer in Texas.