Bit by bit

June 3, 2014

The doors leading to the exhibit halls, where more than 1355 exhibitors were present. Images from SPE. 

Sarah Parker Musarra reviews the 2014 International Association of Drilling Contractors/ Society of Petroleum Engineers Drilling Conference and Exhibition.

More than 1000 attendees braved unseasonable (for Texas) icy conditions that made driving in

most North Texas cities nearly impossible, including host city of Fort Worth, to attend this year’s International Association of Drilling Contractors/Society of Petroleum Engineers Drilling Conference and Exhibition (IADC/SPE 2014).

Rolv Rommetveit, managing director of eDrilling Solutions, accepted SPE’s Drilling Engineering Award Winner for 2014, which recognizes “outstanding achievement or contributions to the advancement of petroleum engineering in the area of drilling engineering technology.” Rommetveit was nominated by his colleagues and selected by committee for the award, which celebrated its 30th year.

Technical session highlights

Paper IADC/SPE 167937, entitled “Alternative Drilling Fluid Weighting Agents: A Comprehensive Study on Ilmenite and Hematite” was the first paper of the first technical session, “Fluids and Hydraulics.” Presenters Ahmadi Tehrani presented the paper.

He co-authored with Angelika Cliffe, Michael Hodder, Steven Young, John Lee, James Stark, and Suzanne Seale of Schlumberger’s M-I SWACO. In his presentation, he discussed whether the more abrasive, higher-density minerals ilmenite and hematite could be successors or alternatives to barite, the “standard weighting agent in the drilling fluid industry,”noting in the paper that this study was a more “comprehensive laboratory study” than what had been done in the past.

According to Tehrani’s presentation, increased consumption in China and India in API-grade barite, along with low production, has led to a price increase of more than 100% since 2009.

Baker Hughes' FASTrak LWD and wireline fluid sampling service was recently successfully deployed in a deepwater GOM case study. Image from Baker Hughes. 

Several tests were conducted on hematite and ilmenite, including magnetic property testing and abrasion testing. In addition to the standard API 131/

ISO 10416 Section 7 Tehrani said that abrasion testing with the Taber abrader found that “abrasion can be reduced significantly by lowering particle size,” however, both minerals are more abrasive than barite. The paper concluded that “the results of tests conducted by two different methods suggest that only the size grade D95 = 25 μm displays abrasivity similar to API barite.”

In addition, one of the other pressing points in the question if either of these two minerals could be heir-apparents to barite was their magnetic susceptibilities. Tehrani pointed out that para-magnetism affects downhole tools, including directional drilling tools and magnetic resonance tools. Both ilmenite and hematite have much, much higher magnetic susceptibility than API-grade barite – up to 100 and 1000 times, respectively, higher. Tehrani and his co-authors wrote in the paper, that to their knowledge, “the upper limit of acceptable para-magnetism has not been determined for down- hole tools.”

The authors concluded that hematite and ilmenite could only be considered as a replacement for barite “if they are milled to a fine [particle size distribution] PSD (e.g. D95 = 25 μm), noting that “[compatibility] with downhole tools remains an open question that needs to be assessed under real conditions.”

In Tuesday’s Session 2, “Drilling Dynamics,” Ryan Gee presented paper IADC/SPE 168034, entitled “Drilling with induced vibrations improves ROP [rate of penetration] and mitigates stick/slip in vertical and directional wells,” which he co-authored with J.R. Clausen, A.E. Schen, I. Forster, J. Prill, all of whom were from National Oilwell Varco.

The authors published that they found “a low-frequency, benign axial vibration can increase the ROP in all well types.”

“No lateral excitations – this was purely axial,” Gee clarified in his presentation, noting that lateral excitations and stick/slip can actually improve performance and maintain directional control.

Using an the axial excitation tool, which creates excitation over a frequency range, was simulated at the hard rock drilling facility at Sandia National Laboratories, axial excitation between 5-20Hz was tested at two speeds: 60rpm and 135rpm.

“We saw ROP gains from 20-50%,” Gee said, with lower frequencies showing increased ROP improvement than higher frequencies. In the paper, the authors noted this trend could be “[owed] to the decreasing amplitude of excitation at higher frequencies.”

Multiple tests were performed in the field at testing was also performed in the field at a test well in Catoosa Test Facility in Owasso, Oklahoma.

Gee said in his presentation that it was notable that “the same bit drilled all three field tests,” with only minor wear displayed on the edges of the PDC, and no damage whatsoever to the PDC cutting structure. In the paper, the authors wrote that “it was highly unexpected given the amount of load placed on the bit during peak WOB (weight on bit) fluctuations.”

In conclusion, Gee said, the authors saw “ROP improvements, significant reduction in stick/slip and improved RSS (rotary steerable system) control.” They also saw “increased WOB without generating stick/slip by adding fluctuation and changing the DOC (depth of cut).”

On Wednesday, Schlumberger’s Hrishikesh Majumdar presented paper IADC/SPE 167916, “Solving deepwater GOM pore pressure puzzle: multiple activation reamer eliminates trip prior to running coring bottomhole assembly,” which he co-authored with Xianjie Yi and Kevin Corbin of Chevron North America E&P, and Jefferson Davis, Patrick Davis, Mahavir Nagaraj, Oguz Yalcin of Schlumberger.

Majumdar discussed how the “nature of the pore pressure profile on deepwater Gulf of Mexico (GOM) dictates the need for hole enlargement while drilling (HEWD)” and examined the case study behind one operator who decided to use a “ream-on-demand (RoD) system in the 12 1⁄4-in. section and eliminate multiple trips to change out BHAs (bottomhole assemblies).”

The paper concluded that the RoD tool “was successfully deployed to overcome the potential additional time and complexity of navigating through the pore pressure issues on this development well.” The RoD eliminated a BHA trip from more than 25000ft measured depth, which in turn, incurred that additional savings by eliminating the need to pump down devices.

Rendering of the SteadyState Continuous FLow System. Photo from Weatherford.

Spotlights from the exhibit floor

More than 1300 exhibitors from domestic and international companies and organizations were present to showcase their respective companies’ premier drilling products. FASTrak Among other products, Baker Hughes highlighted its FASTrak logging while drilling (LWD) fluid-analysis sampling and testing services, which provides formation pressure testing, fluid analysis and caption, and the retrieval of downhole reservoir samples. The service company said the product, which will become commercial 2Q 2014, can quickly provide fluid’s physical properties to reduce rig time and operative costs.

Ana Carolina Hinkle, product champion – LWD Formation Testing and Sampling Services, was on hand in Baker Hughes’ booth to explain that one “important application is the ability of taking samples on extended reach and horizontal wells.”

FASTrak was recently chosen by a GOM operator in a deepwater development well for testing and sampling. In the case study circulated at the conference, FASTrak obtained three samples with less than 5% contamination.

“In terms of benefits, FASTrak, unlike its competitors has been able to capture ultra-high purity samples with very low oil-based mud contamination,” Francisco Galvan-Sanchez, product manager- Fluid Characterization & Testing for Baker Hughes, said. He added that “FASTrak can capture the highest amount of fluid volume in the industry, we also have the ability to transmit the most fluid proper- ties in real time for fluid analysis.”

Collecting up to 16 single-phase samples in a single run, FASTrak’s sensors continuously monitor refractive index and measure density, viscosity, and sound speed, among other variables, in real time. Weatherford experts were available to discuss several of the company’s drilling- related products and services.

Alex Goodwin, Weatherford’s global business development manager, discussed the company’s RipTide Rathole Killer, which was introduced commercially August 2013.

“It really is one of the hottest drill- ing applications in deepwater Gulf of Mexico,” Goodwin said, explaining that two of the four major operators in the deepwater GOM used the product and achieved US$3 million savings in rig time and rig savings for both operators.

The RipTide Rathole Killer, modified from the original RipTide Reamer, is placed below the measurement-while-drilling/ logging-while-drilling (MWD/LWD) tools in the BHA, closer to the drill bit.

“Previously, this application was not attainable. Our reamer isn’t mechanically-activated, it’s radio frequency identification(RFID)activated, so we are able to activate the reamer even if there is a restriction above it in the BHA,” he said.

Justin Cunningham, Global Product Line Manager for Continuous Flow System (CFS), explained the technology behind Weatherford’s new SteadyState CFS, a product of its Secure Drilling services line.

Unlike conventional drilling methods, SteadyState CFS allows drilling fluid to circulate continuously during connections.

“This is particularly important in the managed pressure drilling realm because, as well programs become more challenging, greater control of downhole pressure is required,” Cunningham explained. “A large percentage of drilling hazards related to wellbore pressure occur when mud pumps are cycled off and on during connections, causing fluctuations in equivalent circulation density and downhole pressure spikes. CFS’ ability to continuously circulate drilling fluid remedies these fluctuations, especially in narrow drilling margins.”

Weatherford says that the use of this technology reduces non-productive time, and “enables fewer and deeper casing strings when pore-pressure and fracture- gradient windows are narrow.”

CFS is planned to enter field trials 3Q 2014.

While a plethora of exhibitors touted products, Italy’s Drillmec had something else up its sleeve: The drilling equipment and oilfield product provider is near- ing completion of a newbuild offshore modular platform drilling rig for client Compañía Perforadora México (PEMSA) to be deployed in the Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex)-operated heavy oilfield Ayatsil.

Discovered in 2008, and located off Campeche Sound near Cantarell, Ayatsil is Pemex’s largest-ever discovery. Sitting in a water depth range of 125-143ft, Ayatsil is estimated by Mexico’s Energy Ministry to contain reserves of up to 553MMbo.

“As a 3000hp offshore modular drilling rig, it’s the first of its kind in this size,” the rig’s Project Manager John Folsom explained. “It is roughly 120 lifts, in total, and each modular has different equipment in it: from mud pumps, to generators, to quarters.

“It’s a first for Pemex, it’s a first for Drillmec, it’s the first [of its size] for the Gulf of Mexico,” he said.

Rendering of Drillmec's 3000hp offshore modular drilling rig, which the Italian company says is the first of its kind. Image from Drillmec. 

As a self-erecting rig, it can be installed on a fixed platform with Drillmec-supplied cranes, opening the market up for other countries to pursue offshore play.

“For this client and also worldwide, the original API platform drilling rigs were bigger rigs, and you would have to have a derrick barge to install it onto the platform,” Folsom said. “With Mexico, with Brazil, with a lot of different countries, derrick barges are not readily avail- able. They need a big rig, but they need it to be modular so they can load and unload it without a derrick barge."

“Derrick barges are very expensive to operate, and you have to get scheduled in, because there is not that many in the world. So Pemex and countries like Peru are looking to modular rigs so that they can actually complete in the market place.”

Folsom said that while Drillmec received the contract in December 2012, it had already been working on the project for about six months prior to that. Drillmec plans to ship the rig in June with installation on the platform to follow in August.

“Most prototypes of this size take nearly two years to complete, and we are looking at 18 months to two years [for completion],” he said.

This particular rig can be installed in water depths of around 185-300ft, depending on the platform, which in this case is being built by McDermott International. The system itself consists of two main modules: the drilling equipment structure (DES) and the drilling support module (DSM), which is equipped with one 75-ton crane and one 50-ton crane.

Drillmec said that the DES has the capacity to move above 15 wells arranged in a 3x5 matrix. The rig is capable of drilling wells up to 25,000ft. The rig can accommodate 100 people, with a helipad on top of the housing area that meets International Civil Aviation Organization standards.