Guest Editorial: MPD benefits are evident, but industry needs tools, learning to use it effectively

Posted on 08 September 2010

Brian Grayson, chairman, IADC UBO & MPD Committee

Brian Grayson, chairman, IADC UBO & MPD Committee

Managed pressure drilling (MPD) is a topic of much debate across E&P companies, drilling contractors, service companies and even regulatory bodies. The debate has centered on exactly what this enabling methodology is and when/where it should be practiced.

What has not been debated are the results of practicing managed pressure drilling – all involved have come to realize the tremendous benefits and future potential of approaching well design in view of the variants of MPD. Due to the undeniable value witnessed while practicing MPD (hazard mitigation, efficiency, ability to drill previously undrillable wells), there has been a thirst throughout the oil industry for information on what constitutes MPD and how to properly practice its variations.

Fortunately, IADC has a dedicated committee working to provide materials and guidance to the industry. The committee is currently focused on three primary deliverables:

• Managed pressure drilling selection tool: This is an educational tool that will allow users to input drilling hazards/objectives and receive suggestions on appropriate methods to achieve the desired results. The tool guides users to general methods, then prompts them to seek out additional information.

• Recommended practices: This is a comprehensive document that suggests readers consider how to properly prepare for and practice the variants of MPD.  This document is being written with the intent of submission to API as a recommended practice.

• Training/competency program: An obvious link for successful and safe practice are the people involved in the operation. The committee is reviewing the needs of the industry and forming a standard for training and ensuring the competency of these personnel.

The quality and robustness of these initiatives is fully dependent on the members of this committee. Recent events in the Gulf of Mexico emphasize the need for our industry to properly understand and apply technology that enhances well safety. Managed pressure drilling is such a technology. When applied in challenging drilling environments, ranging from deepwater to ERD wells and other narrow-margin formations, MPD has demonstrated the ability to improve well control and significantly reduce costs.

To help ensure that the variants of MPD are deployed in the right way and in the right applications and that the technology continues to grow and meet the demands of challenging wells, the IADC Underbalanced Operations and Managed Pressure Drilling Committee wants to enlist your help.

Our aim for sustaining the growth of MPD is to develop a network of experts and interested professionals ready to critically evaluate the technology’s capabilities in areas as diverse as equipment, practices, procedures and training.

Please join us at the next UBO & MPD Committee meeting on 7-8 December and help us to drive the safe development and uptake of this game-changing technology. Details about the meeting and other committee information can be found on the committee’s web page at www.iadc.org or by contacting Holly Shock, committee coordinator, at holly.shock@iadc.org.

Brian Grayson, chairman of the IADC UBO & MPD Committee, is global product service line manager, Secure Drilling Services, for Weatherford International.

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