Horizontal and Complex-Trajectory Wells
The decision to construct horizontal or complex-geometry wells is driven by return on investment from technically supported predictions of incremental production or recovery. Variables that can be controlled during the construction phase, which contribute to a well’s performance over its lifetime, can be defined and set as “well-construction key objectives.” The well then can be designed and constructed using the ingenuity of knowledgeable people who are applying technologies and techniques to deliver on these objectives successfully.
However, wells are often constructed under contractual arrangements that conflict with these objectives. A highly beneficial project outcome may not result in commercial success for all parties who contributed. Worse still, it is not uncommon for events that are undesirable and unfavorable to one party to benefit another party inadvertently, often resulting in misalignment. Therefore, to deliver what is important to the project, we rely on a range of integrity-centered human factors such as professionalism, pride in doing a good job, reputation, and relationships.
This misalignment has been ongoing for years; however, there are notable exceptions to standard contractual arrangements. Interest in moving to contracts aligned to rewarding delivery of the desired result is increasing, but we might ask ourselves why the movement is slow. Certainly, designing project-specific “smart” contracts requires more effort, but, if all parties know what they want, the actual process of constructing the contract will benefit the project. Another factor that may explain the slow uptake is that, ideally, multiple parties should be incentivized on delivery of common key objectives across the asset team. This complicates matters because the tendering, evaluating, and awarding of different activities traditionally have different timelines (for example, tendering and selecting; drilling-rig contractor vs. drilling services vs. completions systems).
Therefore, while we have knowledgeable, innovative, professional people with access to great technology, we should remember that the way a contract is constructed helps maintain focus on what really matters when it comes to delivering the best outcome. Well-conceived contracts may also accelerate development of new technologies, to deliver what is not currently achievable. In a nutshell, things tend to align under a well-considered contract.
Horizontal- or complex-geometry-well construction projects are potentially good candidates to work out new contractual arrangements. Authorization to proceed with these projects is technically based, and measurable key variables can be defined. Performance of these wells is often more sensitive to the key variables; therefore, high focus on them by means of novel contractual arrangements should drive greater value.
This Month's Technical Papers
Recommended Additional Reading
IPTC 16813 Advancing Multistage Fracturing Using Horizontal JITP and Autonomous Completion Systems by Tim Benish, ExxonMobil, et al.
SPE 163979 Challenges to Geosteering and Completion Optimization of Horizontal Wells in the Cotton Valley Formation, East Texas by S. Liu, BP America, et al.
SPE 167448 Production Optimization of a Long Horizontal Well Using Permanent Downhole Distributed-Temperature and Pressure Monitoring and Surface-Controlled Zones by Magnus Carlsen, Maersk Oil, et al.
Horizontal and Complex-Trajectory Wells
Jon Ruszka, SPE, Drilling Adviser, Baker Hughes
01 November 2014
Drilling for Miles in the Marcellus: Laterals Reach New Lengths
Range Resources' drilling head talks about how the company went from drilling the shortest laterals in the Marcellus to the longest and why.
Unlocking Egypt’s Unconventional-Resource Potential
The Apollonia tight-gas chalk play is located in the Abu Gharadig Basin in the Western Desert of Egypt. This has long been ignored as a gas play in the overburden, while the Jurassic and Cretaceous oil fields deeper in the basin have been explored and developed.
Isolation Barriers With Coiled Tubing in Plug-and-Abandonment Operations
Plug-and-abandonment (P&A) operations can be expensive, leading to negative net present value. Historically, P&A operations in the North Sea—estimated to hold some 3,000 wells of declining production—were performed with either drilling or workover rigs.
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