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High Pressure/High Temperature

Topics: HP/HT

After a year, I could begin my editorial the same way I did in 2018, with the words, “The industry is slowly recovering from the worst downturn we have seen in many decades … .” But now, at least, we see some clear indications that the “HP/HT spring” is upon us, most notably the announcement by Chevron and Transocean that they will partner on construction of an ultradeepwater drillship. Because significant financial commitment is behind this agreement, we can safely say that ultradeepwater high-­pressure/high-temperature (HP/HT) drilling is alive and well and that geologists see major resource potential in this environment.

That said, the mantra given out at the beginning of the downturn, “Fit for 50,” by then SPE President Helge Haldorsen of Equinor, is still the benchmark many (wisely) applied for their projects—and, given the volatility of oil prices we have seen in the past year, rightly so. Therefore, and similar to last year’s HP/HT feature, we must concentrate our paper selection on technology and operating methods that make HP/HT drilling operations faster, safer, and more cost-efficient. If above-threshold drilling costs shelve a project, we can have the nicest production hardware in the world, but the project will not fly. And without projects, all HP/HT know-how and equipment quickly disappears. So, this focus is in the interest of the entire HP/HT value chain.

Being able to construct wells efficiently is especially important for a technological frontier operation such as HP/HT. Industry veterans remember the enthusiasm of the 1980s for subalpine HP/HT exploration. The resource basis was there, but the failure of several wells to reach their objective (unfortunately something that happens all too often in conventional HP/HT exploration drilling) killed the potentially very important resource development that could have mitigated the decline of own-gas production in western and central Europe with all its geopolitical consequences.

As the technical and commercial partnership of a drilling contractor and a major operator mentioned previously shows, frontiers of technology such as (extreme) HP/HT are best explored in the spirit (and the contractual framework) of technology partnerships, because very little of the required equipment and procedures is commodified enough to allow the corporate supply chain to decide what the most-cost-effective solution for a project may be. This is not even considering the rare and valuable innovative HP/HT know-how that only a few experts in our industry really possess and can apply, allowing the cost savings of this new level of HP/HT drilling efficiency to be realized. I hope that the papers selected will enhance the broader dissemination of this efficient HP/HT, narrow-margin well-construction knowledge and lead to a step change in HP/HT drilling-cost efficiency that is necessary in our operating environment. Interestingly, geographically, the eastern Mediterranean and Asia Pacific regions seem to be at the forefront of this development, as the selected papers show. I hope you will enjoy them and learn a lot. And, please, provide any feedback you believe to be useful to advance efficient HP/HT well-construction practices.

This Month's Technical Papers

Managed-Pressure Drilling Used Successfully for Offshore HP/HT Exploration Wells

Managed-Pressure Drilling Solves HP/HT Challenges Offshore Vietnam

Continuous-Circulation Technique Drills Narrow-Margin Deepwater Wells

Recommended Additional Reading

OTC 28327 Maharaja Lela South: Innovation at Work To Push the Limits and To Deliver by Sebastien Cochet, Vallourec Asia Pacific, et al.

OTC 28624 Subsea High-Pressure/High-Temperature Technology Verification, Validation, and Regulatory Requirements: HP/HT Riser Technology Challenges by Selcuk Dincal, 2H Offshore, et al.

OTC 28869 HP/HT Hands-Free Drilling Riser System With Superior Fatigue Performance by Colton Sandman, Dril-Quip, et al.

Robert Ziegler, SPE, is global director for well-control technology at Weatherford International. His career spans 30 years in the industry, mainly with Shell, Chevron, Petronas, and Cairn India. Ziegler’s achievements include involvement in the first deepwater application of preblowout-preventer riserless mudline pumping and the first application of a commercial deepwater dual-gradient system in the form of post-blowout-preventer-controlled mud level. He also has overseen dozens of successful offshore managed-pressure-drilling jobs using rotating control devices for several operators on both jackup rigs and semisubmersible rigs as well as the commercial use of directional casing drilling offshore, with more than 100 sections drilled. Ziegler is a member of the JPT Editorial Committee.

High Pressure/High Temperature

Robert Ziegler, SPE, Global Director, Well-Control Technology, Weatherford

01 March 2019

Volume: 71 | Issue: 3

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