October 2012 ///
While hole cleaning during drilling is generally considered to be well understood and a requirement for reaching the well target, many drillers still have difficulty properly managing the entire process. Less-than-optimal hole cleaning can lead to non-productive time, poor borehole quality, and loss of the drill string or even loss of the well.
Drill bit costs, although not insignificant, are a small part of total well expense. The largest factor, by far, in escalating well drilling costs is the number of days spent. The newer drill bit designs all have the same ultimate goals—durability, efficiency, speed and delivery of a high-quality wellbore. Days saved equal money saved.
The keyword in modern drilling is control. As “unconventional” drilling becomes conventional, shale oil and gas reservoirs demand greater, more subtle control. With shale, PDC is the bit of choice, and while roller-cone technology is still valued for faster rates of penetration (ROP) and lower cost-per-foot, fixed-cutter bits now fulfill around 80% of hydrocarbon drilling. Hybrid drill bits, which have characteristics of both types, are finding a larger niche.
Extended-reach drilling (ERD) offers economical access to reserves that were previously out of reach. This access can be achieved from existing infrastructure, with the added benefit of a reduced environmental footprint. ExxonMobil, as operator of the Sakhalin I project, recently drilled and completed nine extended-reach wells at Odoptu field from shore, culminating with the world record extended-reach OP-11 well. The well reached a total depth of 12,345 m (1,784-m TVD and 11,479-m vertical section) in 60 days with less than 1% NPT.
Since 2011, the future global supply of LNG looks increasingly more robust, with new supplies in planning in North America, East Africa (in particular, Mozambique and Tanzania), from the Eastern Mediterranean (Cyprus and Israel), Russia (i.e. planned Vladivostok, Shtockman and Yamal projects), and on a smaller scale from South America (i.e. Colombia). These new supplies, as and when they appear in the market over the course of the next decade, will provide significant competition to some of the large LNG-producing nations (e.g., Australia and Qatar). Already, some of the operators of Australia’s numerous planned liquefaction projects with some of the most expensive projects on a unit cost-of-supply basis worldwide, and faced with further increases in project costs, are beginning to recognize that they need to become more cost-competitive, if they are to find long-term buyers and prosper. On the other hand, Asian LNG buyers are keen to see these potential sources of supply help to dilute the oil-indexed pricing mechanisms that are forcing Asian buyers to pay much higher prices for their gas imports than North America and Europe. Herewith is a country-by-country report of the LNG supply trends throughout the world.
Despite being home to some of the most prolific gas wells in the U.S., the once-celebrated Haynesville-Bossier shale has been relegated to little more than an afterthought, as cellar-dwelling commodity prices and comparatively excessive drilling and completion costs force even the most resolute operators to shut in and await better times.
For now, even the nation’s largest gas producer admits that profits are nearly impossible to come by for players in the non-liquid sectors, making new drilling an unjustified exercise. Rex Tillerson, the typically close-to-the-vest CEO of ExxonMobil, said the operator is making “no money” on domestic gas, going so far as to tell the Wall Street Journal in late June that “we are losing our shirts.”
South Africa’s coal-based synfuel producer, Sasol, has contributed to that country’s energy independence by supplying 30% of its fuel requirements. But when it needed additional processing and production capability at its 160,000-bpd coal-to-liquids (CTL) plant in Mpumalanga, the increased water demand placed potential constraints on the company’s expansion plans.
Under the auspices of the Texas Institute of Science (TxIS) in Richardson, the Global Research Alliance (GRA) draws from a database of more than 18,000 mainly post-graduate petroleum technologists scattered throughout the Eastern Hemisphere. In the face of R&D limitations imposed by the so-called “crew change” in the West, the GRA initiative was conceived to revolutionize global technology development in the petroleum sectors.
In next month’s U.S. election, the Presidency is at stake, all 435 members of the House of Representatives are up for election, and one-third of the 100 U.S. Senators face election. The Republicans control the House, and the Democrats control the Senate. While Republicans will likely retain control of the House, the election could change control of the Senate. Republicans need to gain three seats to control the Senate—if Republican challenger Mitt Romney defeats President Obama—and four if Obama wins (the Vice President breaks any tie votes in the Senate).
The past 12 months have seen continuing instability in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region with the toppling of the regime in Libya, intensifying turmoil in Syria, and implementation of new sanctions against Iran. There have also been significant transitional changes, including the election of a new Egyptian president. Despite these events, oil-and-gas activity remains high, and investment in the region continues, even with new hydrocarbon provinces emerging. This review highlights key developments over the past year.
The oil and gas industry, including Shell, has spent many millions of dollars acquiring wide-azimuth (WAZ) seismic data around the world. The industry also continues to develop seismic acquisition strategies and processing tools to reduce data costs and optimally de-noise and image it. However, few tools are yet available to interpret the data in all five dimensions of the WAZ data space: two coordinates that position the seismic trace on the surface of the earth; one vertical time or depth axis; and two coordinates that relate the separation between the seismic source and the receiver in distance and angle (azimuth).
Geology & Geophysics
With exploration activity booming and new technologies being developed to better assess resource potential, the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) 2012 Annual Meeting will bring together industry professionals from all over the globe to discuss the challenges, opportunities and innovations in the exploration business. In its 82nd year, SEG 2012 will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada, November 4-9, 2012. Themed “Sustainability, Humanitarian Outreach and Social Responsibility,” this year’s program will feature special sessions, technical luncheons, workshops and a series of discussion panels as part of the SEG Forum. This year, the SEG committee evaluated the highest number of abstract submissions—1,560—which will be presented in 116 sessions over the four-day event.
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