By Joanne Liou, editorial coordinator
GE Oil & Gas is combining industry experience and existing assets to increase access to hard-to-reach reservoirs and rig flexibility in deepwater operations with its MaxLift 1800 pump system and interchangeable BOP stacking system. At a press conference at the 2012 OTC on 2 May in Houston, GE also introduced its deepwater BOP Blind Shear Ram that is capable of shearing and sealing 6 5/8-in. tool joints.
With about 70% of hydrocarbons coming from reservoirs that need some form of artificial leverage, GE is developing technologies to focus on deepwater drilling, EOR and unconventional fuels, Sam Aquillano, vice president – drilling and surface for GE Oil & Gas, said. “The industry only recovers 30 to 35%, and the industry has its sights on a 50% recovery rate,” he said. “Every 1% increase equals eight years of production in the Middle East.”
The MaxLift 1800 pump system, a JIP with Chevron, enables dual-gradient drilling in deepwater applications and can deliver up to 1,800 gpm at pressures up to 6,600 psi. The system can drill in tighter fracture and pore pressure gradients of heavy subsalt plays. This is a significant advantage because it opens up a great deal of reservoirs that were historically unreachable, Chuck Chauviere, president of drilling and production for GE, said.
The dual-gradient pump, which sits on top of a deepwater stack, also reduces the number of casing strings and allows better management of the downhole environment. “It affords you the opportunity to modify the well construction such that you can get a larger-diameter production facing down there,” Mr Chauveiere explained. “You can actually engage horizontal offsets to greater subsea space more than you ever had before.” The approximately 450,000-lb device provides refined kick detection from the sea floor, opposed to the surface, and provides detection in gallons instead of barrels to further management of downhole operations.
GE expects to begin offshore testing of MaxLift 1800 by the end of the year. The system will be deployed off of Pacific Drilling’s Pacific Santa Ana in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM), which is fully outfitted for dual-gradient drilling, Mr Chauviere said.
To enhance offshore rig flexibility and availability, GE has developed a BOP stack with an interchangeable lower marine riser package (LMRP) and lower stack frames. GE’s stacking system can land on any type of stack, which provides advantages when there are multiple stacked solutions that are custom fit.
“With this interchangeability configuration, a rig can come in and land, engage and then take control and begin drilling process,” Mr Chauviere said. The new BOP has been deployed in the GOM and West Africa regions.
Designed for use in GE’s 18 ¾-in. ram BOPs, the new Blind Shear Ram can both shear and seal after cutting 6 5/8-in. tool joints. “We’ve leveraged quite a bit of technology that was born in the business and brought in some new geometry as well as metallurgy into play to solve industry challenges,” Mr Chauviere stated.
The ram is designed to eliminate non-shearable sections for greater shearing flexibility. Redefining the concept of unshearable, the new ram begins to close the gap on what can be sheared. The blind shear ram has been successfully tested to 15,000 psi after cutting the tool joint.