Sophisticated hydraulic model enables not only early kick detection but automatic early kick response
By Linda Hsieh, Editor & Publisher, and Sarah Junek, Associate Editor
Weatherford has launched Victus, an intelligent managed pressure drilling (MPD) system that represents “a step-change in the way we do managed pressure drilling in the industry,” said Etienne Roux, President of Drilling and Evaluation for Weatherford. “It’s not just one widget we added. It’s an all-encompassing system that will drive efficiency to operators and drilling contractors in equal measure, and help them to be safer, faster and eliminate waste.”
The software system is based on a sophisticated hydraulic model that incorporates all MPD experience and data Weatherford has gathered over the past 50 years. The accuracy of this model’s pressure predictions provides for not only early kick detection but also – due to the intelligence of the system – automatic early kick response. Built-in responses also allow the system to automatically perform entire series of functions with the push of a single button, then automatically check that the functions were done correctly.
“I compare the system to the anti-lock brakes in your car, which adjusts the brakes so fast that you get optimum tire performance,” said Anthony Spinler, VP of MPD for Weatherford. Similarly, when it comes to drilling, this closed-loop MPD system adjusts the bottomhole pressure so quickly that drilling performance remains optimized through the entire well construction process. “During drilling, the system is constantly controlling the most important thing you have in managing a well, which is the bottomhole pressure,” Mr Spinler said. In fact, the system is capable of both detecting and responding to influxes within seconds – so fast and accurate that it measures influxes in gallons, not barrels.
Weatherford is encouraging drilling contractors to take advantage of the Victus platform to deploy MPD not just on expensive and complex deepwater wells but to use MPD on all wells universally. Because of the automation and intelligence of the system, drilling contractors will not need crews with 10 years of experience to drill with MPD anymore. “By putting this system on the rig, it allows our customers to be comfortable with, say, one Weatherford project manager and then the rig crew operating the system in this automated fashion,” Mr Roux said.
Applying the system across the board, even on land and shallow-water wells that may not necessarily need MPD to navigate narrow drilling windows, will enable long-term cost reductions and efficiency gains. This is a critical consideration as operators increasingly demand that MPD systems are pre-installed on rigs and drilling contractors evaluate the value proposition of such investments.
“We’ve now perfected this to be a performance-enhancing tool to the way the industry drills, with increased rates of penetration, elimination of casing strings, better safety, less use of mud and better well construction that results in better production rates,” Mr Spinler said.
Weatherford is in the process of upgrading all of its current MPD systems on existing rigs with the Victus software update and testing the new features. Roll-out is scheduled to begin this summer on land rigs, and the first offshore system is expected to be deployed by year-end. DC