September 2003 ///

Special Focus

Drilling blind in complex geology?

Consider the following assignment. You are to develop a field with several potentially productive sands, where chances are great that each well will be somewhat, or totally, different from adjacent wells. Then drill where there is inconclusive evidence as to the exact placement, presence and/or producibility of targeted sands. Finally, drill through potentially productive sections without going deeper than the last zone of interest, and without allowing a surprise encounter with blow-out range gas or other expensive, rig-time-consuming problems. The above task is difficult and frustrating if drilling blind through most of the well. Due to the difficulty of correlation, these wells, although within a field, drill like rank wildcats. In such prospects, real-time mud logging to develop correlation is a priority among the evaluation services available.

Improvements in 4D seismic acquisition

Improving reservoir management is an ongoing challenge. 4D seismic is helping to meet this challenge in a growing number of cases. The technology has a multi-billion dollar potential value by increasing hydrocarbon recovery. However, to fulfill this potential, technical improvements are needed, as some recent failures have demonstrated. The technique is immature, and the industry’s appreciation and knowledge of the key issue of repeatability is limited, though rapidly evolving. Poor repeatability creates changes that are not related to the reservoir (i.e., artifacts) and are difficult to distinguish from true reservoir-induced changes in the seismic response. Repeatability – or lack thereof – will give a detection threshold on the minimum vertical fluid-front movements that can be monitored, on minimum saturation changes that can be observed and on how frequent repeat surveys can be made.

What's new in seismic sensor technology

These days, you often hear that seismic is a commodity, that all traces are created equal. Price is all that matters. Of course, price does matter, certainly more than most contractors and equipment providers would like. But, in reality, there remains a formidable challenge for data providers: increase the quality of seismic data through intensive research and development while consistently lowering costs. Considerable disagreement exists on how to meet this challenge. For example, at a recent conference, one speaker commented that he doubted if there would ever be a worthwhile fiber optic sensor developed. While many would disagree, including this writer and the US Navy, it exemplifies the range of opinions. Other issues include: achieving the lowest possible power requirements for certain applications; meeting high temperature and pressure requirements for wellbore installations; ensuring long lifetimes for permanent installations, whether on the seafloor or in the wellbore; ruggedness with less weight; ease of orienting multicomponent systems; improving vector fidelity; and eliminating noise.


Increasing upstream profit through compressor optimization

A proprietary, noninvasive compressor analysis and fleet-management program called Enalysis is being used by producers to improve performance and reliability of their reciprocating and screw compressors. More than 2,000 compressors are now on the system, from Western Canada to the Lower 48 and the North Sea. The nature and capabilities of this program with specific examples of how using the program has generated substantial compressor efficiency and profitability enhancements for producers is presented.

Integrated production data management improves monitoring, reporting

At Indonesian state firm Pertamina, the upstream strategy is termed, “First Quality, Then Growth.” As a part of this drive to improve quality (productivity and efficiency), the Pertamina DOH SBS subsidiary initiated steps to improve overall data quality and the information management process. These items relate to production monitoring and surveillance. Pertamina DOH SBS is the parent firm’s largest upstream business unit in South Sumatra. Armed with a vision to fully automate production information, the company reviewed commercially available software that was offered in the area of production information management. The aim was to provide a structured data capturing system, as well as an overall framework for an integrated, production data management system (PDMS).

New technique for real-time watercut monitoring

Watercut monitoring is essential for well-test separators, flow stations, oil treatment plants, and oil sales tank farms. Knowing and controlling water/oil content improves the efficiency of oil recovery, minimizes transport of water, and maximizes oil quality by improving the dehydration process. Online water supervision is essential for reservoir management and production optimization, enabling reliable and continuous net-oil production estimation, well diagnostics/maintenance and reservoir model adjustment.

Petroleum Technology Digest: Beam-operated gas compressor is profitable in various field applications

Using the walking beam-operated Beam Gas Compressor (BGC), operators can increase production and reduce operating costs on rod-pumping wells by drawing gas and gas pressure from the casing, alleviating the problem of gas interference in the downhole pump. Operators are utilizing the BGC to force casinghead gas into high-pressure sales lines. Operators find the BGC is the solution to compress casinghead gas in fields where electricity is not available for conventional compression methods. Some operators experience increases of up to 40 bopd with associated gas and compression savings of $20,000 or more.

Recommended practice for hydrate control and remediation

Successful, reliable development of deepwater oil fields requires effective hydrate control and remediation. Responding to this industry need, INTEC Engineering has developed a recommended practice for worldwide application. A significant part of this effort involved development of a production system that achieves hydrate control with an acceptable risk level. The recommended practices were developed from: 1) a survey of developments, both in operation and under design, and 2) evaluation of hydrate prevention and remediation techniques, as described below. Supporting elements to the recommended practice, as follows, include technical issues, level of protection, associated risks and cost impacts.

Special Report

Drill Bit Classifier

World Oil’s comprehensive listing of major manufacturers’ drill bits. Using the IADC classification system, from soft/ sticky to extremely hard, tables show name, IADC code, size and performance of each firm’s offering


Companies in the news

The Baroid product service line of Halliburton Energy Services has acquired Two-Stage Hammermill cuttings grinder technology to assist operators in meeting stringent environmental regulations in onshore and offshore locations. The grinder can handle high volumes of coarse or abrasive cuttings and produce a finely ground end product suitable for injection. Similar machines on the market have drawbacks related to high consumable costs, downtime required to replace consumables, low feed rates and the need to re-process materials to achieve required particle size. The Hammermill cuttings grinder can be configured to accommodate different feed rates, formation types, fibers, sands and other materials. Retention time in the mill can be adjusted to achieve the desired final product size. Development of both smaller and modular versions of the grinder is under way.

New equipment

Woolslayer introduced the SR250E Automatic Pipe Racking Systems to provide occupational safety benefits in well drilling and servicing operations. Designed for land, fixed platform or jackup rigs, the Safety Racker Systems are engineered to rack 242 stands of drill pipe and eight stands of 8-in. drill collars distributed on the driller’s or off-driller’s sides of the racking platform or setback area. Each of the 250 positions on the setback pads is specifically accounted for, so that, throughout the tripping sequence, there is no need for personnel to be on or near the racking system. (Woolslayer Companies, Inc.)

New literature

The TSK Division of TIX Corporation, a Japanese manufacturer of rock-cutting tools, has reissued their drill bit catalog. Rock bits are the mainstay products of the division, and are available in a range of models to cope with the many different formations in the field, from hard rock to soft marshland for pilings, and other specialized uses. The X-type and M-type bits are described, which have journal floating bearings. Produced under strict quality control based on API Spec. 7, these bits maximize user productivity and return on investment. The catalog also describes TSK’s range of drilling support tools.

People in industry


Drilling advances

Bob Palmer: The legacy continues. In mid-August, Rowan Companies christened the new jackup Bob Palmer, in Rowan’s Sabine Pass, Texas, yard. The rig, formerly the Super Gorilla-class Gorilla VIII, will carry the name of a major player in Rowan’s success story into the very type of operation where C. Robert Palmer started his career. In April 2003, Palmer was recognized for 50 years in the oilfield – all in service to Rowan Companies. He started with Rowan in 1953 as a roughneck on Barge Rig 6 in New Iberia, Louisiana, while earning an engineering degree at Southern Methodist University. By 1960, he was supervising engineering/purchasing at headquarters, then in Fort Worth, Texas. In 1963, he went to Midland, Texas, as drilling engineer.

Editorial Comment

The night was sultry. The recent heat wave in Europe has sparked more rhetoric about the horrors of GW – global warming. The warring sides continue to accuse each other of idiocy, using the most extreme arguments that they can think of. Well, I’m no stranger to one-upmanship. The anti-GWers make unrealistic assumptions to support their case: that the Kyoto Protocol would be adopted unaltered; that it would achieve 100% compliance; that, for reasons always unexplained, efficient use of energy would stop its relentless increase; that countries would choose the most costly solutions to meet Kyoto targets; that the Kyoto Protocol, if adopted, will destroy businesses, especially our industry – indeed, economic life as we know it. And so on.

International Politics

Challenges for Norwegian policy. With little exploration activity and few fresh oil and gas finds over the past few years, Norwegian oil policy faces increasing pressure to change. In this respect, bad news may lead to good news. The bad news is that the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate’s (NPD’s) 2003 Resource Report (released in late June) lowers, for the first time, its estimate of ultimately recoverable petroleum resources. This estimate is down 7% from 2002’s figure. It includes all oil and gas produced so far, but excludes the Barents Sea zone disputed by Norway and Russia. Nevertheless, the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS) is a huge, complex area and, to a large extent, still unexplored. It is divided into three petroleum provinces – North Sea, Norwegian Sea and Barents Sea.

What's new in production

New Tools/technology. Three recent releases from developing companies unveil interesting new technologies worth noting. These include: 1) a new process for upgrading heavy oil; 2) a downhole stimulation tool; and 3) subsea compression to boost offshore oil and gas production.

What's new in exploration

Life-saving locator. Many of you G&G types go traipsing off in remote wild places. Hopefully, if you’re with a large survey crew, your whereabouts are known and GPS is available in the course of your work. But what if there are just a few of you, or you’re alone? What if you fall? In such instances, it would be nice to have a new PLB (Personal Locator Beacon).

News & Resources

Industry at a glance

World of Oil

Tight supply levels in the US, plus a continued failure to return significant amounts of Iraqi crude (less than 1 million bpd) to the export market, sent oil prices to a five-month high. The WTI futures price hit $32.85/bbl last month, the highest level since March 18, just two days before Iraq was invaded. Several analysts have noted that the global market remains uncharacteristically resilient, and they expect the high-price cycle to continue through the balance of 2003. Meanwhile, OPEC did its part to keep prices high. At the end of July, ministers agreed to keep their collective output ceiling at 25.4 million bopd until another meeting late this month. Their decision was in spite of prices going beyond OPEC’s $22-to-$28/bbl target range. OPEC Secretary General Alvaro Silva told reporters that global supplies are still sufficient.