Smart Kick Detection—First Step on the Well-Control-Automation Journey

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On the basis of safety performance results achieved through automation downstream, an operator set out to achieve the same advances in its upstream business. Automating the initial well-control response to an influx was the initial focus area, with the goal of assisting personnel in identifying and stopping any influx without delay. This led to collaboration between an operator, a rig contractor, and a rig-equipment supplier. This paper describes the development, deployment, and field testing of the first upgraded kick-detection system from this collaboration.


Kick detection is a critical activity during well construction that typically involves the driller monitoring various inputs to determine if there is any indication of an influx of formation fluids into the well.

From a kick-detection perspective, the majority of well-construction operations can be categorized into one of the following three activities that require the driller to use different kick-detection methods:

  • Drilling or circulating
  • Making connections
  • Tripping in or out

The primary kick indicators for drilling or circulating are increase in mud-return-flow rate (vs. mud flow in) and pit gain. While making connections, continued return flow with pumps off and pit gain are the primary indicators. While tripping in or out, continued return flow and trip-tank gain (vs. expected change) are the primary indicators.

This article, written by Special Publications Editor Adam Wilson, contains highlights of paper SPE/IADC 173052, “Smart Kick Detection—First Step on the Well-Control-Automation Journey,” by J.D. Brakel, SPE, and B.A. Tarr, SPE, Shell; W. Cox, Noble Drilling Services; and F. Jørgensen, SPE, and H.V. Straume, National Oilwell Varco, prepared for the 2015 SPE/IADC Drilling Conference and Exhibition, London, 17–19 March. The paper was peer reviewed and published in the September 2015 issue of SPE Drilling & Completion.
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Smart Kick Detection—First Step on the Well-Control-Automation Journey

01 January 2016

Volume: 68 | Issue: 1