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September/October

‘Vanished’ deepwater poses serious oil shortage threat

By Mike Killalea, Editor & Publisher “The offshore drilling market isn’t depressed. It’s vanished,” the longtime drilling contractor sourly observed, perhaps mentally scanning the expanse of nearly rigless seascape that is the Gulf of Mexico. In early August, only 17 rigs were running offshore in the GOM, according to the Baker Hughes Rig Count. By contrast, even the worst previous downturn, in 1992, saw at its mid-year nadir 27 rigs working offshore in the GOM. During the Golden Age of Drilling, in December 1981, 25 MODUs were drilling offshore rig-hating California, and 175 in the Gulf. Deep dive into deepwater econ But the long dry spell might be easing. A recent deep dive into deepwater economics by Paul Cheng, CFA at ...

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Industry/academia collaboration results in rapid development of intelligent, self-learning drilling app

NOVOS system allows UT grad students to easily incorporate complex algorithms into automation application By Claire Kennedy Platt, National Oilwell Varco, and Eric Van Oort, University of Texas at Austin Operators’ increasing demand for consistency with predictability and risk avoidance is enhancing the drilling industry’s need to automate. Continuous academic research can help the industry to meet this challenge, but presenting graduate-level research into the field can be difficult for universities, as finding an operator willing to implement an idea can take as long as five to six years. To shorten this process, collaboration within the industry will be required. This collaboration is now happening between National Oilwell Varco (NOV) and the University of Texas at Austin (UT). Relying on the ...

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Mexican president-elect expected to demonstrate pragmatism around energy reforms despite outspoken opposition, vow to ban fracturing

Campaign promises to fund social programs likely to force López Obrador to stay course By Linda Hsieh, Managing Editor, and Karen Boman, Associate Editor Mexico’s newly elected president Andrés Manuel López Obrador – who has been an outspoken opponent of the country’s 2013 energy reform that ended PEMEX’s oil sector monopoly – made a statement at a press conference in early August that he will ban hydraulic fracturing in Mexico. “If such a ban was implemented and includes natural gas production, unconventional gas exploration will go by the wayside, and Mexico will either be forced to import more American gas or seek gas offshore,” said David Goldwyn, Chairman of the Energy Advisory Group and Non-Resident Senior Fellow with the Atlantic ...

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André Alonso Fernandes, Petrobras: Collaboration, sharing of lessons learned will be key to creating better MPD solutions

By Kelli Ainsworth Robinson, Associate Editor While studying mechanical engineering at the University of São Paulo in his Brazilian hometown, André Alonso Fernandes, currently Technical Advisor at Petrobras, became particularly fascinated with automation and how it can be used for optimization and process control. “That’s one of the things I really enjoy about MPD (managed pressure drilling), which is my current subject,” he said. By the time he graduated in 2001, he knew he wanted a job where he could see the results of his work. “I had an urge to be a field engineer so that I wouldn’t only be in the office but also would get to participate in real construction,” he said. However, this was December 2001 – ...

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Editorial – Through international chapters/staff, IADC at work around the clock, around the world

As an international association, IADC takes seriously its mandate to provide representation for the drilling industry in all geographies in which its members operate. The issues and challenges we face vary vastly by region. As Vice President for IADC’s International Division, I work closely with our network of regional representatives to determine how the association can most effectively function as a strong proponent on behalf of member interests on a worldwide scale. With IADC headquarters based in the US, our regional representatives serve as the eyes and ears for the association globally. Working together with member companies and local and regional regulators and legislators, they determine how we can best use IADC’s resources to advocate for fair and transparent industry ...

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Low-density, lightweight cement tested as alternative to reduce lost circulation, achieve desired top of cement in long horizontal wells

Locally sourced materials and supply chain optimization can help to keep lightweight cements cost-effective By Andy Jordan, Roderick Pernites and Lucas Albrighton, BJ Services Horizontal drilling awoke a new frontier in North America. This advanced drilling practice creates wells with mile-long horizontal sections, minimized hole diameters and maximized casing string diameters. Further, completion intensity has increased exponentially as longer horizontal wells are completed by fracturing with more stages and high-rate pumping. Casing programs have been optimized, often exposing weak formations to higher pressures for longer periods. The combination of exposed formations, longer laterals and smaller annuli poses challenges in achieving a successful cement job. These cementing operations require lighter and more stable slurries and in larger volumes. They also require cements ...

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To effectively manage major hazard events, companies must routinely measure key barriers, look beyond corrective actions at the front lines

By Peter Bridle, Pegasus Risk Management The upstream industry must look beyond its traditional focus on personal injury metrics and retool toward a high-reliability organization (HRO) for effective major hazard event (MHE) management. Fact 1: The US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has repeatedly stated that although companies can work many years without a personal safety injury, this provides no guarantee that an MHE is any less likely. Fact 2: On the day that control of the Macondo well was lost in 2010, executives from both the operator and drilling contractor were on the drilling rig congratulating the crews on having worked seven years without a lost-time injury (LTI). Fact 3: Focusing on and reducing the number of minor injuries, such as ...

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2017 IADC ISP data show increases in lost-time incidents, recordables, fatalities amid rise in drilling activity

LTI rate up by 23.1% and recordables rate up by 17.4% over 2016 number; number of fatalities also escalates from 9 in 2016 to 10 in 2017 By Linda Hsieh, Managing Editor The rapid rise in drilling activity in many sectors of the world is reflected in the newest safety numbers from the IADC Incident Statistics Program (ISP). In 2017, the drilling industry’s worldwide lost-time incidence (LTI) rate increased to 0.16 from 2016’s 0.13, which represents a 23.1% rise. The recordable incidence rate also went up, from 0.46 in 2016 to 0.54 in 2017, a 17.4% increase. The industry also lost ground with fatalities, with 10 fatal incidents reported in 2017 versus nine in 2016. Four fatalities each occurred in the ...

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Application of digital checklists helps KCA Deutag to drive culture of procedural compliance at rig site

Adoption of tablets, mobile devices was rolled across the rig fleet in late 2017 after iterative development process By Annejifke Andrew and Adebayo Aremu, KCA Deutag The industry strives to build a culture where everyone consistently adheres to defined procedures. It works to ensure that all procedures are clear, concise, correct and easy to understand, so that people think before they act. When a better way of doing a job is identified, the process is reviewed, vetted, documented and approved before any changes are made. Additionally, procedural discipline must be measured, recorded and reported in a simple and robust manner. The above words, paraphrased from the Well Control Institute, reflect what the drilling industry is trying to achieve on every shift, on ...

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BP, partners develop guidelines, scenarios for activation of diverter, EDS in deepwater operations

Joint effort with Seadrill, Maersk Training grew out of ‘complexity’ drills created to improve crew response to well control complications By Alex Parmenter, BP; Matias Machum, Seadrill; and Evelyn Baldwin, Maersk Training In deepwater drilling operations, the initial response to any well control event is critical because prompt and informed decision making is required to minimize escalation. Experience has shown that, in the face of an escalating well control scenario that requires the activation of the diverter and/or the emergency disconnect sequence (EDS), there is a risk that critical decisions may be delayed. Recognizing that rig crews need to respond quickly and that decisions about how to proceed need to be clear before an incident occurs, BP, Seadrill and Maersk Training ...

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