In an unusual move to improve personnel certification and training at the assistant driller level, Saudi Aramco’s Well Control Manual now requires that the assistant driller have a supervisor level well control certification. “It is unusual to be driving it down to the assistant driller,” said Saudi Aramco Petroleum Engineering Specialist Steve Smith. “It seems to us (the Well Control Committee) that the assistant driller is the one who has to shut the well down if needed and who is out there on the rig floor.”
Under constant review, Saudi Aramco’s policies, procedures and equipment requirements for well control have been revised this year with publication of the fourth edition of the official Well Control Manual. Mr Smith described the changes and equipment requirements during the IADC Well Control Middle East 2010 conference and exhibition in Bahrain 29-30 November.
The manual’s fourth edition, now split into two volumes, contains major changes that impact Aramco operations and distributors. According to Mr Smith, true to Aramco’s reputation as one of the toughest companies to qualify equipment, the revised edition includes tightened requirements for API monogrammed equipment, contains added requirements and configurations for 15,000 BOP systems, adds secondary choke and kill lines to 10,000-rated and higher BOP systems, and allows for the use of shear blind rams in Class B BOP stacks. Volume 1 of the manual outlines specific requirements, policies and procedures and Volume 2 contains general industry information that is destined to become an Aramco training manual for well control.
Equipment requirements specify that annulars be rated at 2.5% H2S at 180°F and 3- to 5,000-psi rams be rated at 10% H2S at 250°F. 10,000-psi rams should be rated at 20% H2S at 300°F. The manual mandates that approved manufacturers must test above and beyond API requirements. Also, grandfathering of non-monogrammed equipment is no longer allowed as of September 1, 2012. “This equipment has to carry a pedigree; otherwise it is just a piece of steel sitting there that we know nothing about,” remarked Mr Smith. “On the tails of the BP incident, we said what can we do to tighten our requirements? The only thing we can actually point to is the API monogram. That’s what guarantees us quality.”
The manual also states that equipment approval is based on required full-scale testing of ram packers for H2S and extended hold periods are required for temperature qualification testing. The three-year re-certification requirement is maintained in the current edition of the manual. All elastomer seals must be changed every 12 months.