Geometrically complex and horizontal wells are constructed to deliver additional production with fewer environmental effects. The continuous success with which we are able to drill, complete, operate, and maintain wells having demanding profiles positioned for stronger reservoir performance is the result of service companies, drilling companies, operators, and technical institutions developing ever-more-advanced and -reliable technology. As new technologies are put to work, new techniques are developed to reduce operational risk, increase payback, and improve efficiency, thereby pushing the boundaries of what previously was considered technically improbable to achieve or uneconomical. As a result, higher-value wells are constructed. Development of these new technologies and techniques continues, but none of this is possible without technically competent experienced people.
Well-construction activity has ramped up over the past 2 years. This activity ramp is occurring simultaneously in established areas and “frontier” locations that are remote from upstream infrastructure or are lacking local expertise. As a result, it is challenging to ensure that complex wells gain the focus of the most-experienced technical personnel to deliver acceptable performance consistently. While remote operating centers alleviate some of this challenge, the need for technical training and competency development probably has never been greater than it is today. However, the opportunities to achieve this have never been greater.
Every well we construct and operate presents on-the-job-training and competency-development opportunities. We should make greater efforts in identifying these opportunities and in committing to exploiting them. This should be more widely recognized at the planning phase by documenting training opportunities as key well objectives. Achieving these objectives would enhance the value delivered from each well.
It is only by focusing on development of people, existing and new to our industry, that the boundaries of horizontal and complex wells will continue to expand, adding production with fewer environmental effects. This must persist irrespective of the business cycle because while there are efficient methods of attaining technical proficiency by commitment to well-structured programs, there are no shortcuts.
Read the paper synopses in the November 2011 issue of JPT.
Jon Ruszka, SPE, is Field Career Development Manager, Baker Hughes Africa Region. He has more than 25 years’ industry experience in various technical, operational, and marketing positions, primarily focused on the application and advancement of directional-drilling technology and techniques. Ruszka earned a BSc Honours degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Bristol and a post-graduate diploma with distinction in offshore engineering from Robert Gordon Institute of Technology, Aberdeen. He has authored and presented several SPE papers and serves on the IADC/SPE Drilling Conference & Exhibition Organizing Committee and the JPT Editorial Committee.
When you take a look at the oil industry these days, what is the one thing you hear and read about the most? “Shale plays.” Operators are developing resources, purchasing acreage, and purchasing companies that have acreage in the USA and in countries around the world, now more than ever before.
For long-term economic stability of these projects, they need to be drilled as inexpensively and as fast as possible–basically, they need to be “factory-type wells.” The main fluid-related challenges associated with shale drilling are rate of penetration (ROP), shale stability, torque and drag, and waste management. Many of these wells are being drilled with nonaqueous fluids (NAFs) to meet these challenges, with the only real issue being waste management. However, there are technologies being used that reduce the amount of waste generated with NAFs, such as premium solids-control systems and thermal-desorption methods.
In an effort to eliminate NAF waste-management issues, drilling-fluids companies have developed fit-for-purpose water-based drilling fluids for each of the major shale plays. The shale regions around the world vary in depth, mineralogy, temperature, and other characteristics, and a single fluid formulation does not fit all circumstances. Each fluid is customized to the unique characteristics of a particular shale region. Fluids companies have specific products and chemistries that are designed for a specific type of shale and drilling operation.
As technological advances enable exploitation of shale resources around the world, the challenge will be to find the most-cost-effective solution. As always, the lowest overall well cost may not result from the lowest-cost-per-barrel drilling fluid. One has to take into account ROP, torque and drag, wellbore stability, and waste management when determining the most-cost-effective solution.
There were many good papers written this year, and I have tried to choose a variety of universal topics. Please take time to read them and the papers listed as additional reading.
Read the paper synopses in the November 2011 issue of JPT.
Brent Estes, SPE, is a Drilling Fluids Specialist for Chevron Energy Technology Company supporting worldwide drilling operations. Previously, he was with ExxonMobil and Baroid Drilling Fluids. Estes earned a BS degree in petroleum engineering from Texas A&M University. He has a broad background in all aspects of drilling and completion fluids, including fluids research and development and working as a drilling engineer. Estes has authored several SPE papers and serves on the JPT Editorial Committee.
Robin Beckwith, Staff Writer JPT/JPT Online
Earlier this year, a Cornell University professor made quite a splash publishing a paper asserting that emissions from shale gas rivaled those from coal. A July 2011 study issued by the Post Carbon Institute underscored this conclusion. Not so, say five separate recent reports–from Carnegie Mellon University, IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA), the US National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), Argonne Laboratory, and Deutsche Bank Climate Change Advisors (coauthored by individuals from Worldwatch Institute and ICF International). At heart are issues related to measuring and quantifying emissions of an odorless, colorless gas–methane (CH4)–considered the second-most prevalent long-lived greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide (CO2).
Read the full article in the November 2011 JPT.