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July/August

GOM deepwater case studies: Hybrid bit minimizes vibrations, increases ROP, directional control

Polycrystalline diamond compact (PDC) bits and traditional roller cone bits can both face numerous challenges when drilling in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico (GOM). These range from poor drilling dynamics and gumbo-related-balling problems to drilling salt efficiently. The resulting nonproductive time (NPT) and compromised drilling speeds can challenge economic recovery in today’s environment. However, in Q1 2016, deepwater operators have used a new hybrid drill bit technology to reduce drilling times in extreme GOM wells.

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Along-string measurements enable critical decisions, understanding of open, cased hole on structurally complex Norwegian North Sea field

With the development of a new field in the Norwegian North Sea, a major operator is taking on a complex task. The field was initially discovered in 1975 but proved too difficult to develop at the time. The field consists of an oil reservoir and several deeper, structurally complex, high-pressure gas and condensate reservoirs. Long horizontal wells are required for developing the oil reservoir, while several deviated wells will be drilled to unlock the gas and condensate reserves. Wells are drilled with restricted pressure windows and present a risk of both severe losses and influxes.

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D&C News

Statoil to farm into exploration licenses in Turkey Statoil has entered a binding letter agreement for two exploration licenses in the Thrace region in the northwestern part of Turkey.  The exploration licenses cover an area of approximately 540 sq km. Statoil will have a 50% interest in the Banarli licences, while the operator Valeura Energy, a Canadian exploration company, will keep the remaining 50%. The shallow formations above 2,500 m will be 100% retained by Valeura. The first phase of the work program includes the commitment of drilling one exploration well, with spudding planned for  late 2016 or early 2017. The agreement is pending governmental approval, which is expected by the end of September 2016. BP ramps up production from ...

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Can US land repeat zero fatalities if market rallies?

Attendees at the 2016 IADC Drilling Onshore Conference on 19 May were treated to a bit of good news during the market outlook session: The oil and gas industry is right at the beginning of a multi-year cyclical upswing. That’s according to Marshall Adkins, Managing Director for Raymond James and Associates. In fact, Mr Adkins said there is potential for the US rig count to average approximately 1,000 for 2017 and 1,300 for 2018. Those would be significant improvements over this year’s dismal rig count, which was hovering in the high 300’s as of May.

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Pushing the envelope in deepwater cementing

As operators continue exploring and developing deepwater resources, cementing challenges have increased exponentially due to the very narrow pore pressures and fracture gradients typically seen in deepwater wells. Not only do operators have to ensure they’re achieving the necessary zonal isolation and sufficient cement coverage, they’re also now dealing with increasingly thicker casing and the resulting tighter restrictions. Thicker casing has come about due to the industry’s desire to improve safety, said Iain Levie, Vice- President of Global Technical Services for Antelope Oil Tool. “Casing designs require more robust burst and collapse thresholds, so operators are moving toward thicker-walled casing.”

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North Sea industry learning to live in world of $60 oil

Although the global oil downturn continues to cast a shadow over the North Sea E&P market, all segments of the industry are pitching in to reduce costs and help this mature basin remain viable well into the future. Similar to other parts of the world, the cost of development in the North Sea increased significantly during the last boom. As oil prices fell, however, companies have been forced to find new ways to bring costs in line with lower budgets. “The UK is particularly challenged as the cost of production in the North Sea has become unacceptably high,” said Hannon Westwood General Manager Brian Nottage. “In the UK, we have about 300 assets currently on stream, and about a third of those are struggling to make money at current prices.” The UK government is helping by lowering taxes for oil producers, although this is unlikely to bring about significant changes in the short term.

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Studies confirm performance of salt-free non-aqueous drilling fluid, bioremediation potential of cuttings

Disposal of cuttings from nonaqueous drilling fluids (NAF) can be a significant expense and logistical issue for the operator of a drilling rig. NAFs typically contain high levels of salts, commonly calcium chloride or sodium chloride, in the internal phase of the emulsion. These salts are beneficial for wellbore stabilization but pose issues for cuttings disposal because the salts don’t biodegrade and can accumulate in high concentrations in soil. A salt-free NAF has been developed and field-validated in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin in Alberta, Canada. The system uses a biodegradable organic to provide an internal phase with equivalent water activity to traditional salt-containing systems. This results in a fluid system with the performance and benefits of a conventional NAF while potentially allowing for greater cuttings disposal options. Depending on local regulations, the system has the potential to reduce environmental and long-term liability concerns by being able to land-farm drilled cuttings without hindering plant growth.

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Dual cutting structure on hybrid roller cone bit increases efficiency of bridge, frac plug drill-outs

Drilling out bridge and frac plugs is a regular and inefficient task in multi-zone completions. The job is commonly done using a variety of standard drill bits. However, removing between 15 and 40 plugs comprised of hard outer slips surrounded by ductile composites and elastomer materials presents several challenges to bit performance. Like drilling operations, the completion objective is to efficiently drill as much as possible before having to pull out of hole to replace the bit. The plug’s hard outer slips can quickly wear steel tooth cutting structures so that the bit is increasingly less effective with each plug it drills. It is also difficult to achieve small cuttings across the various plug materials in use, which can limit hole-cleaning efficiency. In addition, the fluid pressure behind isolated completion zones can result in pressure spikes that reduce bearing life.

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