Keep engineers engaged in horizontal well control, Flaherty urges

Posted on 06 March 2014

By Joanne Liou, associate editor

The intensity and variability of horizontal drilling in the US is putting more pressure on equipment and people, H&P’s Jeff Flaherty said during a plenary session at the 2014 IADC/SPE Drilling Conference in Fort Worth, Texas.

The intensity and variability of horizontal drilling in the US is putting more pressure on equipment and people, H&P’s Jeff Flaherty said during a plenary session at the 2014 IADC/SPE Drilling Conference in Fort Worth, Texas.

Horizontal drilling has been around for more than 25 years, yet the extent and intensity to which horizontal wells with extended lateral sections are being drilled today bring new challenges to industry. While these are not the most technical wells ever drilled, “we’re seeing all kinds of variability in the way people drill these wells and the way they handle well control,” said Jeff Flaherty, Senior VP of US Land Operations for Helmerich & Payne (H&P). “We take it 90°, and gravity is not your friend; it’s your foe. It’s a different ball game throughout the shales,” particularly in relation to well control. Mr Flaherty spoke at a plenary session focusing on unconventional resources on 5 March at the 2014 IADC/SPE Drilling Conference in Fort Worth, Texas.

The industry is now perforating production zones that can run 10,000-ft or longer, which means that drilling contractor engineers must be engaged in horizontal well control. “There are hydrocarbons, and they will go to the path of least resistance. Companymen may not understand a lot of it, and we see people trying to kill wells in the lateral section,” Mr Flaherty said. “Make sure when you pull up into the vertical portion that this well is dead. Kill it and circulate bottoms-up once, twice to make sure you have the gas out of the wellbore.”

The intensity of unconventional operations is also placing more pressure on drilling contractors’ equipment and personnel. Batch drilling, for example, is working equipment, such as drillstrings and mud pumps, to their limits, while equipment maintenance has to be redefined to keep pace. “We can’t do it the way we used to,” he said. Unconventional operations also are taking a toll on people, especially in remote areas where crews may work 14-day shifts, 12 hrs/day. “When you batch-drill, it’s happening in a rapid-fire occasion. You’re doing nothing but drilling and running casing. Fatigue sets in,” he noted.

The industry is still in the early stages of understanding the long-term costs of unconventional operations, particularly from the perspective of drilling contractors. As their equipment is run longer and people are working harder, the costs for contractors to operate are only going up. “Ultimately, as service providers, our costs go up. We calculate daily costs, but it’s a long-term capital cost,” Mr Flaherty said.

Leave a Reply

*

FEATURED MICROSITES


Recent Drilling News

  • 26 November 2014

    US EIA: Increase in energy demand requires 33 million bbl/day more oil

    The world is going to need one-third more oil between 2010 and 2040, with developing countries, such as China and India, accounting for a major portion in the increase in...

  • 25 November 2014

    Prescriptive Analytics prescribes how to complete wells to maximize production

    "Big data" is taking on a new role in industry, where companies are combining the findings from geology and geophysics with new data collected from advanced technologies...

  • 25 November 2014

    Petrobras completes drilling first appraisal well in Libra Consortium

    Petrobras recently completed drilling the first appraisal well in the Libra area, the 3-BRSA-1255 (3-RJS-731), known as NW1. Located in the Northwest portion of the Libra block, in the pre-salt layer of the...

  • 24 November 2014

    Ensign secures contracts for 2 ADR 1500S pad drill rigs in Montney area

    Ensign Energy Services has signed contracts for two of its new ADR 1500S pad drill rigs for a major operator in the Montney area of northeast British Columbia...

  • 21 November 2014

    Statoil cancels Stena Carron rig contract offshore Angola

    Statoil has decided to cancel the Stena Carron rig contract after fulfilling the work commitments in the Statoil-operated blocks 38 and 39 in the Kwanza basin offshore Angola...

  • Read more news