The ultimate challenge for the oil industry is to drain the reservoirs completely. The average recovery factor is still only 50% in Norway, for example, despite considerable research and development in the past decades. Much more oil remains, leaving us with considerable potential for increased recovery.
Drilling wells to access the remote parts of the reservoirs is a key factor in this, but many wells may prove uneconomical, so fewer extended-reach wells are often chosen. For the past 15 years, many wells have been drilled with stepouts of 30,000–40,000 ft. Going beyond this is not simple because using conventional technology has limits related to hydraulics, materials, and other technical challenges and also carries a high economic risk. Recently, the world’s longest well was drilled in Sakhalin, Russia, with a total depth of 49,200 ft and a stepout of 46,300 ft.
Current long-reach technology already has a large effect on oil recovery. Many possible improvements, however, remain, and we see new contributions every year. One example is given in paper SPE 186917, which shows developments within drill-in fluids. Paper OTC 28091 demonstrates a record horizontal well drilled in Brazil. Other people are challenging the maximum well length; paper SPE 178859 presents an entirely new drilling concept with the objective of more than doubling well stepout.
Along with drilling development, the completions of these wells have also improved, with a considerable number of inflow-control technologies, smart-well completions, and fishbone drainage systems, for example. The completion string is designed to optimize the production of the well and minimize negative effects on water production, important elements for maximizing the recovery factor. Extended-reach wells will be improved continuously to ensure maximum depletion of our oil fields.
This Month's Technical Papers
Recommended Additional Reading
SPE 183786 Hole Cleaning and ECD Management for Drilling Ultralong-Reach Wells by Feifei Zhang, Halliburton, et al.
SPE/ IADC 178148 Combining Technology and Automation To Overcome Drilling Challenges and Deliver the Longest Extended-Reach Well in Kuwait: A Case History by Hadi Al-Ajmi, KOC, et al.
SPE 187458 New Approach To Quantify Productivity of Fishbone Multilateral Well by Amjed Hassan, KFUPM, et al.
Bernt S. Aadnøy, SPE, Professor of Petroleum Engineering, University of Stavanger
01 May 2018
Directional Drilling Becomes Office Work at Chevron, Hess
Moving their directional drillers into their Houston real-time remote operations centers has improved drilling efficiency for two of the top shale producers.
Factory-Model Approach Improves Performance of Coiled-Tubing Drillout
This paper presents a factory-model approach to improving CT drillout performance that has been used successfully for more than 3 years and has become standard practice.
Multilateral and Complex-Trajectory Wells
The oil industry is currently undergoing a technological transformation that will add value, improve processes, and reduce cost. Future drilling engineers will have knowledge of robotics, automation, and organizational efficiency, which is highly appealing for recruitment.
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05 September 2019
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