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Author Archives: Arafat Hoque

Safety culture taking root thanks to SEMS

Over the past six years, a quiet transformation has occurred with regard to offshore safety and environmental stewardship. The transformation is in the growth of a culture of safety that is sweeping the Outer Continental Shelf. One of the first major rules published by the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) following its formation on the heels of the Macondo incident was the Workplace Safety Rule, more commonly known as the Safety and Environmental Management System (SEMS). This was further refined in a subsequent rule, generally referred to as SEMS II. The underlying purpose of SEMS has been for operators to focus on key elements within their organizations, recognize their strengths and vulnerabilities, and develop procedures to minimize the likelihood of safety and environmental failures.

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Perspectives: Siv Hilde Houmb, Secure-NOK: Fortify cybersecurity to avoid downtime

Growing up on a dairy farm in Norway outside of Lillehammer, Dr Siv Hilde Houmb learned how to ski at an early age and dreamed of competing in the Olympics. When a torn knee ligament sidelined her skiing career in 1993, Dr Houmb initially opted to forge a career in sports science and sports biomechanics. However, during her studies at Telemark University College and the Norwegian University of Sports and Physical Education from 1993-1994, she found herself increasingly fascinated by something entirely different – computers. “A computer is logically built. It is made by people, which means it has a finite defined state that it can work in, so you can learn everything about the computer. You can master it,” Dr Houmb said.

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Studies confirm performance of salt-free non-aqueous drilling fluid, bioremediation potential of cuttings

Disposal of cuttings from nonaqueous drilling fluids (NAF) can be a significant expense and logistical issue for the operator of a drilling rig. NAFs typically contain high levels of salts, commonly calcium chloride or sodium chloride, in the internal phase of the emulsion. These salts are beneficial for wellbore stabilization but pose issues for cuttings disposal because the salts don’t biodegrade and can accumulate in high concentrations in soil. A salt-free NAF has been developed and field-validated in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin in Alberta, Canada. The system uses a biodegradable organic to provide an internal phase with equivalent water activity to traditional salt-containing systems. This results in a fluid system with the performance and benefits of a conventional NAF while potentially allowing for greater cuttings disposal options. Depending on local regulations, the system has the potential to reduce environmental and long-term liability concerns by being able to land-farm drilled cuttings without hindering plant growth.

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Dual cutting structure on hybrid roller cone bit increases efficiency of bridge, frac plug drill-outs

Drilling out bridge and frac plugs is a regular and inefficient task in multi-zone completions. The job is commonly done using a variety of standard drill bits. However, removing between 15 and 40 plugs comprised of hard outer slips surrounded by ductile composites and elastomer materials presents several challenges to bit performance. Like drilling operations, the completion objective is to efficiently drill as much as possible before having to pull out of hole to replace the bit. The plug’s hard outer slips can quickly wear steel tooth cutting structures so that the bit is increasingly less effective with each plug it drills. It is also difficult to achieve small cuttings across the various plug materials in use, which can limit hole-cleaning efficiency. In addition, the fluid pressure behind isolated completion zones can result in pressure spikes that reduce bearing life.

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Wirelines

On 27 May, the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) issued the results of a comprehensive environmental analysis on potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on the Outer Continental Shelf offshore California. Based on the analysis in the joint Programmatic Environmental Assessment (EA), BSEE and BOEM issued a Finding of No Significant Impact from the use of specific well stimulation treatments in oil and gas activities on the Pacific Outer Continental Shelf.

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Costs must be controlled, but savings achieved via cuts in HSE, training are just false economy

David Williams is Chairman of the Board, President and CEO of Noble Corporation. Mr Williams is past Chairman of IADC and is a member of the IADC Executive Committee. From your perspective at Noble, what do you see as the most critical challenges facing the industry in this down market? The most critical challenge, and overarching goal for Noble, is to deliver safe operations and ensure environmental awareness in all that we do. Whether the market is up or down, we are committed to running our business in a safe and responsible manner. Cycles are just a part of this business. It’s the nature of the beast. Predicting when a change in the cycle will occur is next to impossible, but history tells us they will come. At Noble, we’re blessed with some very good contract coverage, and our focus remains on continuous improvement to safety and environmental compliance and on running our business efficiently.

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Critical issues in drilling & completions

It’s a tough time to be in the drilling business. We always knew this was a cyclical industry, yet the consistently high oil prices over the past decade – save for the 2008-09 economic blip – had shoved any thoughts of a real market collapse far into the back of our minds. Initial optimism that there would be a quick recovery to this cycle has also waned, with many adopting the attitude of “lower for longer.” For most companies, the focus has shifted considerably toward cost reduction. Operators are cutting back on exploration and zeroing in on core assets, and drilling contractors are faced with significantly lower dayrates and the difficult decisions of warm stacking, cold stacking or even decommission

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To achieve sustainable cost reductions, industry must break old paradigms, adopt more technology standardization

Mike Bowie is North America Region Executive-Subsea Systems and Drilling at GE Oil & Gas. Mr Bowie also serves as the IADC Division Vice President of Drilling Services and is a member of the IADC Executive Committee. What do you consider to be some of the biggest challenges facing the upstream industry at this time? How can we begin to address these challenges? All companies are challenged with cost reductions due to the market. The real question is how to address fundamental opportunities to improve productivity and efficiency, not just cut costs through the brute force of asking for price di

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Times are tough in unbalanced market, but industry should recognize, prepare for increasing volatility as the new norm

What do you consider to be the biggest challenges that drilling contractors face at the moment? The biggest challenge is simply rig rates. During downturns like this, just trying to stay alive and make it to the other side of this cycle is the No. 1 concern. Aging rig equipment may be an issue with some companies but not with us. About 99% of our rigs have been built new since 2006. Do you think the fundamentals of the industry are still good?

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