Surface BOP (SBOP) technology isn’t exactly new: it’s standard practice on jackup rigs drilling exploration wells. However, there are different circumstances when using SBOP with floating rigs, primarily due to the movement of the floating rigs compared with the stationary, bottom-supported jackups.
However, SBOP has been used from floating rigs in the past. Unocal utilized the technology in the early 1990s off Indonesia with their Saturation Exploration (SX) method of drilling as many prospects as possible in order to increase their success rate. Shell also used SBOP in 2000 and 2001 offshore to drill a total of seven wells off Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia in mild metocean conditions. In 2003 Shell utilized SBOP technology to drill a well in about 9,400 ft of water offshore Brazil with the Stena Tay semisubmersible in moderate metocean conditions.
In the early 2000s, IADC convened two ground-breaking workshops on utilizing surface BOP (SBOP) from floating drilling units. The workshops resulted in an ad hoc task force that developed the IADC Guidelines for Surface BOP Drilling. The document is available from store.iadc.org.
Meanwhile, Shell continued utilizing SBOP technology to drill and complete 12 wells offshore Brazil in the BC-10 field during 2008, which was the same field it drilled in 2003 noted above.
Interestingly, the use of SBOP has not yet been “sanctioned” by the Minerals Management Service (MMS). The session’s first speaker will be Russell Hoshman with the MMS who will present the agency’s stance on SBOP for exploration drilling in the Gulf.
“Some floating production systems use surface BOPs in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Mr Carter, “but the MMS is not currently considering allowing the technology for floating rigs in the Gulf.
“We’ll find out why during this session.”
Meantime, as the pressure continues to increase to reduce deepwater well costs, surface BOP drilling appears to be one of the most promising technologies to achieve lower costs. Surface BOP already is a highly regarded enabler for reducing well costs in some deepwater applications.
A special panel session will be held Thursday, May 6, from 2:00-4:00 p.m. to examine the current state of the technology. Surface BOP Technology: State of the Art and Future Opportunities in Deepwater will offer a range of perspectives from operators, drilling contractors, consultants and regulators who have one thing in common. They are all actively engaged in safely applying surface BOP technology to reduce deepwater well costs.
“Attendees at this session can expect to hear different opinions and some controversy about utilizing surface BOP technology from floating rigs,” said Moderator Greg Carter.
During this session, an audio visual system “voting pad” will be used during the discussion to provide instant feedback from the audience to pre-determined questions related to significant aspects of worldwide surface BOP usage.
Panel moderators are Neil Kavanagh, Chief Technology Manager, Woodside Energy, and Greg Carter, Owner of Nautilus Offshore Company.
Panelists include Russell Hoshman, Petroleum Engineer, Minerals Management Service (MMS); David Bond, General Manager, Drilling, Ophir Energy; Earl Shanks, Senior Engineer, Deepwater Technology Company; Brian Tarr, Senior Engineer, Well Technology, Shell International E&P; Gavin Humphreys, New Business and Technology Manager, Stena Drilling; and John Kozicz, Technology Manager, Transocean.