Early Kick Detection: Testing New Concepts

Photo courtesy of Cornelis Bustraan.
The Don Taylor is one of Noble Drilling’s drillships contracted by Shell with equipment supplied by National Oilwell Varco. The companies’ installation and operation of a jointly designed early kick detection system was presented in an SPE technical paper recently.

After the 2010 subsea blowout of the Macondo well that resulted in 11 deaths and the worst oil spill in US history, early kick detection technology found itself at the top of the wish list for regulators and offshore companies seeking to avoid similar accidents. The National Commission  on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill concluded that the crew lacked both training and the technology to recognize the critical signs that a kick was occurring.

“If noticed, those signs would have allowed the rig crew to shut in the well before hydrocarbons entered the riser and thereby prevent the blowout,” the commission said.

Five years since the accident, there has been limited progress made in advancing kick detection for conventional, or open-to-atmosphere drilling. One reason is that kick detection is complicated, involving a mishmash of sensor readings that must be correctly interpreted. Because of this, many of the existing kick detection technologies suffer from a high rate of false alarms and only function under certain drilling conditions.

These issues prompted Shell to partner with National Oilwell Varco and Noble Drilling to create what it calls a “smart” kick detection system. Brian Tarr, a principal well engineer who leads the work on well control technology at Shell, discussed the project at the recent SPE Drilling Systems Automation Technical Section Symposium in London.

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Early Kick Detection: Testing New Concepts

Trent Jacobs, JPT Senior Technology Writer

01 August 2015

Volume: 67 | Issue: 8

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