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JUNE 2013

Advancing Directional Technologies
Simple two in one innovation

Improved geological
insight while drilling faster
The MicroCORE Drill Bit improves ROP by up to 35%, while delivering
high quality undisturbed cuttings, generating crucial geological
information and giving operators the ability to analyze a continuous
flow of valuable formation material.*

TOTAL patented technology
*Dependent on bit size
June 2013 Volume 06 Issue 06

ISSN 1757-2134



Tyler Cobb, Baker Hughes, USA, reiterates the importance of selecting
the correct drill bit from the perspective of operators and contractors.


Todd Bielawa and Jack Castle, Century Products, Inc., USA, outline
Louise Taggart, AKE, UK, looks at how the upstream oil and some recent developments in drill bit technology that are helping
gas industry functions in Russia, and considers challenges and operators continue to get the job done in ever-harsher conditions.
opportunities inherent in operating in the country.


Cary Maurstad, Varel International, USA, takes a look at some of the
Simon Drysdale, BP, UK, explains how investing in current talent is latest advances in drill bit technology that are helping oil producers drill
helping to bridge the skills gap in the global oil and gas industry. faster and further.


Laura Drysdale, Change International Recruitment, UK, explains Steve Krase, Ryan Directional Services, USA, gives us a look at a
how the growth in demand for hydrocarbons has fuelled a boom in unique approach to MWD for unconventional wells.
the deepwater market, which is stretching the limits of manpower
Paul Hazel, Welltec A/S, UK, explains how improved annular barriers
lead to better completions.
Matt Corbin, Aker Solutions, UK, provides an overview of the
development of a subsea gas compression system that could pave
the way to easier operations in the Arctic. | 60 | KEEP ON YOUR TOES
Stephen J. Chauffe, TEAM Oil Tools, USA, examines a new hydraulic
toe valve designed for a cemented environment.
Cyril Widdershoven, TNO, the Netherlands, shows how the arguments
for and against the production of shale gas in the EU are mapped out, | 65 | SEAL THE DEAL
and explains the political-economic decisions that need Sean Hollis and David Brown, CSI-Technologies, USA, show how
to be made. common well repair problems can be overcome with an engineered
Doug Crice, Wireless Seismic, USA, examines the growing range of | 69 | FOAM-FREE CEMENTING
cableless seismic systems available to operators, and compares these Amir Mahmoudkhani, Kemira, USA, explores the advantages of green
with traditional cable-based systems. innovations in defoamers for cementing applications.

On this months cover >>

Drilformances PDC drill bits and innovative downhole tools deliver consistent high performance. Operators turn to
Drilformance when speed, directional control and a quality wellbore are fundamental to achieve project economics. The
companys innovative design methods continue to deliver advances in drilling technology that result in optimal economic
returns for operators.

Oilfield Technology is audited by the Audit Bureau

of Circulations (ABC). An audit certificate is
available on request from our sales department.

Copyright Palladian Publications Ltd 2013. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted
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endorse any of the claims made in the articles or the advertisements. Printed in the UK. Images courtesy of

Overcoming conventional
P&A failures gave this operator
a resin to celebrate.

Case History:

Costs were mounting for an offshore
operator trying to abandon a well.
Conventional decommissioning
operations failed to stop a continuous
high-pressure bubble stream.

The low yield point of Halliburton
WellLock resin enabled inltration
of the leak. The three-dimensional
polymer network not only resisted
gas channeling, but effectively
displaced seawater and wellbore
uids, achieving a competent
plug bond.

Testing after the plug set
demonstrated a competent
seal compliant with regulations.

Whats your plug and abandonment challenge?

For solutions, go to

Solving challenges.

2013 Halliburton. All rights reserved.

Anna Scordos

he UK will be a place for shale gas companies to see, Gazproms Deputy Chief Executive, as saying Gazprom
and be seen, over the next few years. IGas is a leading will continue to play a leading role as a gas exporter. As
onshore hydrocarbon producer in the UK, delivering The Beatles sang, All you need is gas. Inaccurate song
natural gas and crude oil to Britains energy market and has quotes aside; European gas demand is actually on the
recently announced that it has previously underestimated decline, as, over recent years, Europe soaked up the
the volumes of its gas resources in northwest England. The surplus US domestic coal supplies sidelined by the shale
company has now predicted that its licensed sites in Cheshire phenomenon.
hold approximately 102 trillion ft3 of shale gas. These volumes Oil & Gas UK, the leading representative organisation for
of reserves could meet British gas consumption demands the UK offshore oil and gas industry, released a statement
for many years to come. In an interview with the BBC, last month revealing that companies delivering drilling,
Andrew Austin, the companys Chief Executive, said, We completion, testing and maintenance for oil and gas wells
[Britain] import around 1.5 trillion ft3, we consume around generated gross revenue of 1.9 billion (US$ 3.05 billion)
3 trillion ft3 a year. Assuming you could recover technically in 2012, apparently the highest since records began in
something like 10 to 15% of the shale gas in place, then it 1996. Spending on equipment and technology rose by
could move import dependency out for about 10 to 15 years. approximately 5% from US$ 178 million to US$ 186 million.
The company will start drilling this year. Well services contractors spent up to 90% of their annual
Many O&G players in the UK have strong hopes that capital investment on developing new technologies. The
the country will, at some stage, manage to replicate the Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business,
success of the USA in harnessing the resource. Development Innovation and Skills, acknowledged The Long and Winding
of shale plays in Europe is slow, but the regions markets Road ahead for the UK O&G industry, saying: These gures
are still affected by the huge shale exploitation in the US; show just how valued the UKs expertise in the oil and gas
last year LNG cargos were diverted from the US to Europe, sector is across the world. They also emphasise the value
which made gas from Russia expensive in comparison. But and potential growth of the industry to make a stronger UK
Gazprom is insisting that its gas is competitive now, and economy. We want to continue to attract investment into the
expects European exports to rise by 9.4% this year. The supply chain so that we can compete internationally. The
state controlled energy group is nothing if not condent. A UK will clearly be working Eight Days a Week to maintain its
recent Financial Times article quoted Alexander Medvedev, competitive edge on the international O&G stage. O T

es Little
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June 2013 3

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world news

// BP // US$ 1 billion Alaska expansion planned inbrief

BP has revealed plans for US$ 1 billion 110 new wells. ARGENTINA
The Argentine government has
of investment in its Alaskan operations Janet Weiss, BPs regional president
signed an agreement with the Federal
over the next five years, including the said, Our announcement today should
Organisation of Hydrocarbon Producing
addition of two new drilling rigs to its make it abundantly clear that BP is
Provinces that aims to guarantee
North Slope fields. The new rigs will committed to being a part of [Alaskas]
the fulfilment of the objectives in the
push BPs Alaskan total up to nine. future and to continuing to extend the
hydrocarbon sovereignty law. The law in
According to BP, the plans will call life of North Americas largest oilfield.
question is designed to make Argentina
for an increase in drilling and well work BP has claimed that the decision
self-sufficient in hydrocarbons within as
activity, the upgrading of existing behind this new wave of investment in
little as four years.
facilities and the addition of up to Alaska was a result of recent changes
The ambitious law could face
200 new jobs in the state, giving a to the states tax law. The states tax
significant hurdles in the form of a lack
boost to both the companys operations laws changed in April, and have made
of drilling rigs and other equipment, as
and the states economy. oil and gas operations more appealing
well as concern from foreign companies
The company has also secured to investors. Changes included a 20%
over the safety of their investments
support from the other working interest reduction in taxes collected on new oil
in Argentina in the wake of the
owners (ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips production, and a new flat tax of 35%
nationalisation of Repsols YPF.
and Chevron) at Prudhoe Bay to on profits.
begin the evaluation of an additional Weiss explained that, Now an
US$ 3 billion worth of development improved tax structure is in place, oil POLAND
Wlodzimierz Karpinski, Polands
projects. These projects would continue and gas projects can once again move
treasury minister has stated that
for almost a decade. They are likely to forward, keeping Alaska competitive in
despite setbacks in its development,
involve the construction of new drilling the midst of Americas recent energy
successfully utilising the countrys shale
pads and the drilling of more than renaissance.
reserves will remain a priority.
The pressure on companies
// Russia // 2013 oil // OPEC // Cap to to invest in this area will certainly
not be smaller, it could even be
production record hit stay at 30 million bpd bigger, because this is a matter of
national interest, Karpinski was
Russias oil output in May rose slightly The international oil cartel, OPEC, has quoted as saying. Poland is believed
(a 0.1% increase) bringing the figure to decided to maintain a production cap to hold recoverable reserves of
10.48 million bpd, partially supported of 30 million bpd; this decision had 346 - 768 billion m3.
by the countrys top producer, Rosneft, been widely expected, but according
which had been further ramping up its to some sources, the ongoing shale IRAN
output. oil boom in the US has begun to raise According to the Financial Times, Irans
This figure matches Russias concerns. oil output has fallen to a 25 year low as
November 2012 output, but still falls Sources claimed that the countries Tehrans major Asian customers have
just short of the countrys post-Soviet that had been hurt most by shale cut their imports in response to US
record of 10.50 million bpd. Rosneft oil had asked the group to look sanctions.
pushed its overall production up by into ways of resolving the situation. China, India, Japan, South Korea
0.15% as a result of growing output However, OPECs Secretary General, and others have all dramatically
from its recently acquired Vankor field Abdalla Salem el-Badri said that reduced their imports of Iranian oil,
(which was obtained after the company although a review into the impact of purchasing just 750 000 bbls between
bought out TNK-BP for US$ 55 billion). shale oil would be launched, it would them this April - down 30% on the
The companys total output is be down to member countries to find figure for March. The US has provided
4.6 million boepd. their own solutions. 180 day waivers to allow time for Iranian
The countrys gas production Several countries have already customers to find new suppliers.
fell by 1.7 billion m3/d, as a result of begun to seek alternative markets
Gazproms output declining by 11%. outside of the US.

June 2013
world news

diarydates // Syria // Production // Lundin // Sverdrup

5% of pre-war levels appraisal well complete
3 - 6 September
Offshore Europe The Syrian oil minister, Suleiman Abbas Swedish company, Lundin Petroleum
Aberdeen, UK has revealed that the countrys oil has completed another appraisal well
E: output has fallen by 95% from pre-war at the Johan Sverdrup field offshore levels to just 20 000 bpd (down from a Norway and has found additional
figure of 380 000 bpd). resources.
22 - 27 September The Syrian government had been The well encountered an oil
SEG International Exposition and 83rd dependent upon oil as its main source volume of approximately 12 m,
Annual Meeting of revenue until the EU imposed an which was described by the
Houston, USA embargo as punishment for attempts to Norwegian Petroleum Directorate as suppress the uprising. Production took having very good reservoir quality.
a significant hit after the government The companys CEO and President
lost control of most of northern and said, The latest [...] appraisal well
30 September - 2 October
eastern Syria, where the majority of the provides a further important data point
countrys oilfields are located. and will be incorporated into the latest
New Orleans, USA
The EU had recently agreed to reservoir model, which will be used to
allow the purchase of oil from the update resource estimates later this
Syrian opposition. However, extensive year.
smuggling operations and the influence The well, located in water 112 m
29 - 31 October of powerful local tribes will likely mean deep and drilled to a total depth
OTC Brasil that the opposition will be unlikely to of 2045 m, was drilled by the rig
Rio de Janeiro gain full control of the facilities. Bredford Dolphin.
// Petrobras // Domestic production
on the rise; new pre-salt record set
webnews Brazils state giant, Petrobras, has reported that domestic oil
highlights production rose by 4.2% in April to a total of 1.98 million bpd.
The companys total hydrocarbon production including natural
gas rose by 2.6% to 2.55 million boepd.
IGas announces significant rise According to Petrobras, The output increased primarily
in gas-in-place at UK shale basin due to the resumption of production on platforms P-09,
PCE-1 and P-54, in the Campos Basin, following a scheduled
Northcote Energy - highly positive shutdown in March, and the ramp-up in production on
frac update FPSO Cidade de Itaja, in Bana Field, Santos Basin. Aprils
most significant scheduled shutdowns happened on FPSO
Challenges for oil and gas Esprito Santo, in Parque das Conchas, operated by Shell, and
development in the Western Pacific on FPSO Brasil in Roncador Field.
The company also added that, It is also important to note
the increasing contribution of pre-salt areas, which have been
To read more about Scan for the
ENERGY GLOBAL adding to consolidated output results. A new pre-salt output
these articles and for iPhone/iPad App record of 311 000 bbls of oil was set on 17 April. In addition to
more event listings go to: the daily record, Petrobras set a monthly record of 293 800 bpd
in the pre-salt.
Brazils pre-salt fields are believed to hold significant
Get the free mobile app at
http:/ / amounts of oil and could pave the way for Brazil to become a
major hydrocarbon exporter.

06 June 2013
Expros mission is
We provide services and products that
measure, improve, control and process
ow from high-value oil and gas wells,
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and enhancement.

world news

// Kodiak // Acquires
// Total // To partner with others in South Sudan North Dakota assets
Total has announced that it will partner Now Total has gone ahead and, with a Kodiak Oil & Gas Corp. has announced
with ExxonMobil and Kufpec in order to nudge from the ministry, engaged certain that it is going to spend US$ 660 million
search South Sudans Jonglei state for oil. partners. ExxonMobil and Kufpec have on assets in North Dakota, which were
Total has held in a majority interest been brought in to be partners in Block previously owned by Liberty Resources.
in the 120 000 km2 Block B in the region B1. According to Reuters, a source The acquisition covers 42 000 acres
since the 1980s, but the long civil war with inside knowledge of the deal has of both producing and undeveloped
between Sudan and the newly emerged confirmed that B2 is likely to be managed assets across the Williston basin, with
South Sudan prevent the company from by the same partnership, and that the coverage in both the Three Forks and
going ahead with exploration. government has yet to decide on B3. Bakken plays. This will bring Kodiaks
It was announced by the South Sudan has only recently total holdings in the Williston basin to
South Sudanese government last year resumed production from its fields after 196 000 acres. The acquired acreage
that, in order to speed up development a 16 month hiatus brought about by a produces approximately 5700 bpd at
of the region, negotiations were taking diplomatic spat with Sudan; at one point, present.
place in order to split the block. The the two countries were perilously close The Bakken and Three Forks
chairman of South Sudans parliamentary to all out war. Even since the resumption formations are believed to hold a total
committee on energy and mining, of production, tensions between the two of approximately 7.4 billion bbls of
Henry Odwar, announced that the block nations are still high; recent attacks by undiscovered, but technically recovered
would be split into three: B1, B2, and B3. militants on the border have only served oil. North Dakota is now the second
Odwar was quoted as saying that, to fuel suspicion. largest oil producing state in the US.

// US // Shale boom // PDVSA // US$4billion // Statoil // New nd

reduces hurricane threat loan signed with China near the Vigdis eld
As well as bringing about a significant Venezuelas PDVSA has agreed a Norwegian state player, Statoil has made
upturn in domestic oil and gas US$ 4.02 billion loan with Chinas a new oil discovery near the North Sea
production, the US shale boom may have Development Bank Corp. (CBDC), the Vigdis field, however, after disappointing
the unexpected advantage of making proceeds of which will go towards results, the commercial viability of the find
the oil and gas industry more resilient to ramping up production in the Orinoco remains in question.
hurricanes. belt. The deal was signed by PDVSAs According to the Norwegian
According to the EIA, the shift of the President, Rafael Ramirez and CDBC Petroleum Directorate, The objective
industry towards inland operations (away Vice President Wang Yongshen. of the well was to prove petroleum in
from exposed offshore facilities) will likely Specifically, the money will be used Lower Jurassic reservoir rocks (the
mitigate the overall impact of hurricanes to boost production at the Sinovensa Cook formation), as well as to collect data
on oil production. In the four years field from 140 000 bpd to 330 000 bpd. in order to assess further development of
leading up to 2011, production in the PDVSA holds a 64.25% stake in the field, the area.
Gulf of Mexico (GoM) accounted for more with China National Petroleum Corp. The well proved a 24 m oil column
than a quarter of the US entire output; in holding the remaining 35.75%. Increasing in the Cook formation with somewhat
2012, this figure had dropped to 19%. production at the field falls under poorer reservoir quality than expected.
The EIA reports a similar scenario for PDVSAs 2013 - 19 business plan, which The size of the discovery is being
natural gas, with 26% coming from the is targeting at increasing Venezuelas evaluated regarding whether or not it may
GoM in 1997, but accounting for just 6% total production to 6 million bpd (up from be commercially interesting.
last year. 2.91 million bpd at the end of last year). The well, which was drilled from a
Hurricanes however, are still liable to Chinese companies including CNPC template at the Vigdis field, reached a
cause significant disruption if they make have signed various agreements with total vertical depth of 2546 m, in water
landfall; Hurricane Isaac (2012) caused at PDVSA, which are designed to see some 292 m deep. The drilling vessel
least 1.3 million bbls of production to be each company boost its production by was the Fred Olsen Energy-owned
shut in. 1 million bpd by 2019. Bideford Dolphin.

08 June 2013
he upstream oil and gas business is vital to the Russian PU:PILYPH([[YHJ[PUNPU]LZ[TLU[[VUL^LSKZ^PSSILRL`PM

T economy. Last year, revenues from the hydrocarbon

sector contributed approximately 50% of GDP and they
will remain even more vital as the government looks to pump
Russia is to maintain its oil output levels in the longer term and
10 million bpd until 2020. In order to attract further investment,
more public money into military reform and social spending. however, issues such as changes to the tax regime and
Data from the Energy Ministry indicated that Russias level of corruption will have to be addressed so as not to hinder further
oil output was the highest in the world last year, ahead of even growth in the upstream sector.
Saudi Arabia. Output was edged up by increased production at
Rosneft to a post-Soviet high of 10.4 million bpd, an increase of Production
1.1% on 2011 levels. However, future output may be constrained 5H[\YHSNHZV\[W\[PU9\ZZPHMLSS MYVTSHZ[`LHYZN\YLKV^U
I`[OLJV\U[Y`ZPUJYLHZPUNS`TH[\YPUNLSKZWHY[PJ\SHYS` to 655 bcm, attributed in part to a drop in production of 5.1%

Louise Taggart,
AKE, UK, looks at
how the upstream
oil and gas
industry functions
in Russia, and
considers the
challenges and
inherent in
operating in the

(26 bcm) at Gazprom. Gazproms position has also been weakened domestic market, the upstream market is likely to remain dominated
abroad, with exports constrained by continued stagnation in the by such domestic giants in the short term.
European export market and by growing hostility towards its pricing
structure, which pegs gas prices to oil indexes. Independent Exploration
producer Novatek saw its own production levels rise 7.1% and Offshore exploration in the key Arctic region remains dominated
such independent companies are expected to increasingly by Gazprom and Rosneft, which hold the rights to some 80% of
challenge Gazproms dominance in the coming months and years. Arctic sections. The right to work on the continental shelf belongs
However, the gas sector remains dominated by the Gazprom only to companies with more than 50% state ownership; private
monolith. Although the downstream sector could be opened companies are limited to entering only as junior partners without a
up, with discussion continuing over the possibility of liberalising stake in the operating licence. The government has also outlined
35.L_WVY[Z[VV[OLYYTZHSSV^PUNMVYHT\JOTVYLJVTWL[P[P]L plans to suspend the development of reserves in 20% of the

Arctic shelf, ostensibly in a further bid to halt private access to HU`ZPNUPJHU[\WOLH]HS7YLZPKLU[7\[PUYLTHPUZYTS`PUJVU[YVS
reserves. In May, the government awarded four exploration licences at the helm of the government and although some changes have
for the Barents Sea to Gazprom without the need for an auction. been brought in as a sop to the opposition movement, the political
Although some foreign companies have begun to secure elite will remain well established. Although this will ensure a
upstream access in the Russian Arctic in the form of partnerships level of political stability, it in itself also engenders further issues.
with Rosneft and Gazprom, the government will remain reluctant Political stagnation will ensure the continuation of the entrenched
to open up these natural resources to foreign or private investors, business elite, along with the implications that it brings for their
except as junior partners brought in to provide technological vested interests. The business environment remains dominated
L_WLY[PZL/V^L]LY[OLKPMJ\S[PLZMHJLKI`MVYLPNUJVTWHUPLZ by cronyism and widespread corruption. The US 2013 National
Z\JOHZ)7^OPJOZH^P[ZLMMVY[Z[VKL]LSVWVMMZOVYL(YJ[PJLSKZPU Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers reported that
JVUQ\UJ[PVU^P[O9VZULM[Y\UPU[VKPMJ\S[PLZYLZ\S[PUNPU[OL corruption remains the key barrier to foreign investment in Russia.
widely-publicised exit of BP head Dudley, will make foreign Although the government has sought to improve the business
investors wary of entering the market as a junior partner with limited climate, corruption was reportedly continually cited as a major
oversight. concern in both commercial and bureaucratic transactions. A
number of recent political resignations following allegations of
Boosting investment undeclared assets will do little to reassure investors that any
and changes will need to be made to encourage investment in the problem.
TVYLKPMJ\S[LSKZHZJ\YYLU[WYVK\J[PVUTH[\YLZ;OLNV]LYUTLU[ The appointment of the next head of the Central Bank is also
is coming under growing pressure to loosen regulation and taxation PUKPJH[P]LVM2YLTSPUPU\LUJLV]LY[OLSL]LYZVM[OLLJVUVT`
[VIVVZ[PU]LZ[TLU[PUNYLLULSKWYVQLJ[ZPUHYLHZUV[HIS`[OL(YJ[PJ Putin nominated his chief economic advisor Elvira Nabiullina to
which have much higher exploration and extraction costs associated the position, raising concerns over the banks independence in
with their reserves. Russias tax system has undergone various its future monetary policy given her close links to the Kremlin
changes in recent years, hampering oil companies efforts to make and undermining hopes that the Central Bank would seek more
long term investment plans, with operators calling for a more stable independence.
and clear tax regime. The Finance Ministry has indicated it may
move to gradually phase out oil export duties whilst simultaneously Government involvement
increasing the rate of mineral extraction tax (MET). The ministry is The government is expected to retain its involvement in the
expected to announce its proposals on lowering the export rate by upstream energy sector in the medium term, given its strategic
2 3% annually in May. The proposal is expected to lower the crude importance to the economy. This was evidenced by the Rosneft
export duty rate from the current 60%, and would also lower rates [HRLV]LYVM;52)7UHSPZLKPU4HYJO^OPJOZLLZ9VZULM[
MVYYLULKWYVK\J[Z^OPJOHYLJHSJ\SH[LKHZHMYHJ[PVUVMJY\KL take control of assets including Samotlorneftegaz, the largest
However, in a bid to offset any losses in revenue, it would also intend production facility in Western Siberia. Rosneft is one of the key
to raise the MET. The MET increase could be as much as 5%. actors in the governments armoury of assets, majority-controlled
The proposal has already attracted criticism from upstream by the state holding company Rosneftegaz. A possible partial
operators and the tax is widely seen as a brake on investment privatisation of Rosneft continues to be mooted, with the most
needed to increase oil production. Russian oil companies have recent reports suggesting that the government could seek to
voiced concerns over the latest proposals, saying they would sell a 19% stake in the company as part of its plans to speed
lead to a decline in oil output and result in less tax revenue. The up the privatisation process. Privatisation has been on the
L_[YHJ[PVU[H_^HZH[MVYZL]LU`LHYZ\U[PS[OLH\[OVYP[PLZPUJYLHZLK table for several years, most notably under the presidency of
it by 6.4% last year. The amount of tax is calculated monthly for Medvedev, but has seen little real movement. A renewed sell-off
Another hurdle to investment in the upstream energy sector has been hit by a fall in tax revenues. The Economy Ministry
remains the wider operating and business environment. Russia has indicated that privatisation of state stakes could raise
has sought to develop a more investor-friendly environment than approximately RR 320 billion (US$ 10.2 billion) this year. According
some of its other energy-rich neighbours, such as Kazakhstan. to the governments mid-term privatisation strategy, the state
However, a number of issues can still pose a barrier to foreign energy holding company should start cutting its 69.5% stake in
investment in the upstream sector, both direct such as taxation Rosneft this year, with a complete sale by 2016.
and the regulatory environment, and more latent issues such as Future prospects for the upstream sector will remain stymied
the political environment. by vested government interests, the dominance of state-owned
energy majors in exploration and extraction, and issues that
Political environment affect business operations across the board, such as corruption.
Russias political environment has come under increased scrutiny However, given the governments reliance on the revenues from
following the disputed parliamentary elections in December 2011, hydrocarbon reserves and the need to boost foreign investment
^OPJOYLZ\S[LKPU[OLYZ[SHYNLZJHSLVWWVZP[PVUWYV[LZ[ZZPUJL in newer developments to ensure that production levels do not
the collapse of the Soviet Union. The consequent perception tail off in the future, it will at some point be forced to realise that
of political instability, which some parts of the Western media private and foreign capital is vital for ensuring that the sector
were quick to erroneously label part of the wider Arab Spring, reaches its full operational potential. Technological know-how for
consequently in the wider business environment. However, for and investment capital will eventually tip the balance in favour of
the medium term at least, the status quo is unlikely to witness sector liberalisation. O T

12 June 2013
he world of oil and gas has changed dramatically over also a need to retain and maximise the capability of the existing

oil prices rose year-on-year, leading to both increased
investment in existing infrastructure, and an appetite to
the industry needs to ensure that the global workforce is in a
look to new frontiers in an attempt to increase production continual cycle of learning new skills and career development.
to meet demand. In the past
10 years BP has been pushing the Simon Drysdale, BP, UK, Bridging the skills gap; why
boundaries of exploration, from are we where we are?
established geographies such as explains how investing in With the constant focus on the need
the Gulf of Mexico to the emerging
such as Angola.
current talent is helping to to bridge the apparent skills gap,
many people within the industry
The uptick in oil prices is driven
in part by the incessant increase
bridge the skills gap in the ask did you not see this coming?
Whether the industry had foreseen
in global demand for energy. global oil and gas industry. the challenge or not, the more
The International Energy Agency important question is why has a
predicts that demand for energy will grow by some 40% by skills gap and subsequent war for talent emerged?
The future looks very bright for the oil and gas industry, but led to the current skills gap.
it certainly faces challenges. Attracting the right talent, with the The oil and gas industry has a history of hiring and training
appropriate skills, is a cross-sector challenge that has received the workforce based on the current oil price. Traditionally, when
an unprecedented level of attention amongst employers and oil prices have fallen, workers have been made redundant as
in the media coverage over recent years. Whilst a great deal of projects are delayed and workload drops, and when oil prices
talk and attention has been given to the need to recruit, there is spike, the industry battles to acquire as much resource as

Figure 1. A drilling engineer on the Dada Gorgud rig in the Azeri Field, Azerbaijan, which drilled the AZB001 well. Image courtesy of BP p.l.c.

possible as it embarks on a talent acquisition programme. BP the continual development of the sectors employees is of
is moving away from this model and looking to invest whatever equal importance. Huge investment is required to ensure that
is required to ensure the right skills in the right places so that LTWSV`LLZJVU[PU\HSS`UKKL]LSVWL_[YHJ[HUKIYPUN[VTHYRL[
the company will be ready to adapt to both macro and micro LULYN`YLZV\YJLZPU[OLTVZ[ZHMLHUKLMJPLU[^H`
Whilst planning and economic forecasting have a role to and development. It has developed and implemented global
last 15 years has seen the rise of graduates going straight to [HSLU[PUJS\KPUN[OL*OHSSLUNL7YVNYHTTL;OLWYVNYHTTL
,UNPULLYPUNHUK4H[OZ:;,4Z[\KLU[ZJOVVZPUN[VW\YZ\L allows graduates to sample three differing roles within the
a career on a trading platform over a production platform. organisation, enabling consistent and structured learning
away from the oil and gas sector in recent years, and who can PUK\J[PVUL]LU[^OPJO\ZLZ]PY[\HS[YHPUPUN[LJOUVSVN`;OL
ISHTL[OLT&;OL`OH]LILLUWYVTPZLKSVUNYL^HYKPUNJHYLLYZ result has been huge cost savings for the business and more
HUKZHSHYPLZ[VTH[JO;OLPUK\Z[Y`OHZYLZWVUKLKWVVYS`H[ centralised training for recent joiners. A win-win situation.
engaging and educating tomorrows generation about the critical Additionally, the company has recognised that the
role oil and gas plays in the world and the fantastic career training of new talent needs to be extended beyond these
VWWVY[\UP[PLZVUVMMLY;OLPUK\Z[Y`ULLKZ[VNL[IL[[LYH[[OPZ three initial years and has subsequently developed and
build understanding of what needs to be done and encourage implemented the E&P eXcellence Programme for its staff.
development and aims to offer depth and increased
Need for formal learning operational capability.
It must not be forgotten that whilst bringing new recruits and As previously mentioned, a uniform approach to learning
young talent into the sector is of paramount importance, and development is required to ensure existing staff, from all

14 June 2013
areas of the globe, have an ongoing and consistent career Need for informal learning
development programme. The BP Upstream Learning Centre Whilst monetary investment in employees learning and
in Houston is an example of this approach. The 65 000 ft2 development is critical, formal programmes alone are not a proven
centre, which is made up of 10 classrooms designed for over recipe for success, and in some corporate cultures formal training
300 students, opened in March 2010 and is viewed within become a tick box exercise. Informal learning, the passing on
the industry as being an example of the future of training. of knowledge to emerging talent, and fostering a collaborative
Last year, of the 14 900 people who were trained worldwide culture is of equal importance. There is a need to develop as
by BP, nearly 6400 passed through the doors of the centre. well as formally train employees and this can only realistically be
Technology is central to the offering with life-sized achieved through structured mentoring programmes.
simulators, 3D visualisation capability, dual image displays, All graduates and new joiners are assigned a mentor
video capture and conferencing capability, and purpose-built and meet on a regular basis to discuss challenges that have
broadcast rooms to allow teachers to deliver training in the been faced, both from the technical side and as part of the
LSK development of so called soft skills.

Need for multi-company learning Outlook: what else can be done?

By its very nature, the oil and gas industry has a history of The industry as a whole has come a long way in recent
being collaborative. Organisations form partnerships on the years. It has become better at formalising, standardising and
overwhelming majority of global projects and they rely upon collaborating in attempts to develop current and emerging
and utilise a great number of service companies to ensure the talent. That said, improvements could certainly be made.
global workforce remains mobile and adaptable to constant In order to maximise capability across the whole sector there
changes in their clients needs. is a need to move towards standardised international learning and
The oil and gas industry does better than many others at development practices. Presently, even formal training differs by
facilitating and encouraging learning and development across company and by country. Change cannot happen overnight, but
multiple organisations, and industry bodies, such as OPITO, are standardisation should be a core area of focus for the industry
becoming increasingly important in encouraging and facilitating over the next 10 years. All stakeholders have a role to play, from
multi-company training programmes. That said, more could the international oil and gas companies such as BP, through to
and should be done. Increasing the skills and capability for the regional and international industry trade bodies and societies.
the sector as a whole is without doubt a positive for the The result can only mean an increase in safety, capability and
organisations operating within it. VWLYH[PVUHSLMJPLUJ` O T

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LauraDrysdale, t looks likely that 2013 will herald a number of changes

UK, explains how the growth in
I in offshore drilling, and in particular the deepwater
market. High levels of investment across the board,
from virtually every major contractor and operator has
resulted in the industry experiencing aggressive newbuild
demand for hydrocarbons has strategies to keep up with demand from operators; and
fuelled a boom in the deepwater rigs becoming more advanced in terms of their drilling
depth and operational capabilities.
market, which is stretching the With an increase in dual activity in water depths
limits of manpower availability. never before attempted, it is not just a matter of having

Managing the

advanced rig designs, but finding the shipyards that Last year, several contractors increased their asset
have the experience, and can deliver projects on time, portfolios through either newbuilds during the past two
whilst meeting client requirements. years, or acquisitions, or both.
A prime example of how the market is driving The UKs Ensco plc. is one such company that has
demand is the Saipem Sacrabeo 9. The rig was embraced a buy-and-build strategy wholeheartedly. The
specifically built to drill in extreme water depths company expanded its fleet by three new 8500 series
offshore Cuba, and tap into reserves never drilled rigs over the last year, and acquired Pride International,
before. While this rig has yet to strike oil, the Cuban which came with two moored semisubmersibles,
government is determined to continue in its quest to four DP semis and three DP drillships. Pride also had
successfully drill in the region. numerous deepwater DP drillships under construction

at the time of the acquisition. The end result is that Ensco A shortage of engineering graduates has created major
now has two deepwater moored semisubmersibles and issues across the sector. Reducing workforce pressures
17 DP semis and drillships, with two more drillships to be and ensuring that skilled staff are developed and retained
completed. within the industry is therefore vital to safeguard future
Transocean has also steadily increased its deepwater prosperity in a hugely competitive market.
fleet. Over the past four years the company has gone There are currently pinch points in a range of
from operating 12 moored rigs and 24 DP units (with highly specialised technical roles and people, who
eight rigs under construction at the time) to a moored rig have experience of the sector, moving around different
fleet of 11, but an increase in its DP units of 12, taking companies, rather than new talent being recruited. This
the total to 36. This increase came about after acquiring can have a big implication in terms of cost inflation for
two rigs from Aker Drilling and the delivery of several new companies and is not healthy for the wider economy, with
rigs. The company still has a further two drillships under premiums paid for some roles.
construction. A large number of the young people coming into
Noble Corp. also expanded its deepwater rig the sector need training, and the infrastructure and
fleet, acquiring Frontier Drilling, which operated the partnerships needed to bridge the skills gap are largely
Frontier Driller (now Noble Driller) moored semisubmersible. in place. However, it is likely to take a number of years to
The acquisition included two shallow water drillships and an address the shortfall of skilled workers.
FPSO, and Frontier had three drillships under construction. Finding experienced staff may not be the only hurdle
Two of these drill ships were delivered the Noble Bully I that operators need to overcome as recent research
and Noble Globetrotter I and the contractor still has five undertaken by Change Recruitment revealed that many
drillships under construction, three for delivery this year workers perceived a lack of progression opportunities as
and two set for delivery in 2014. a result of the global economy. With these frustrations
Other organisations that have added to their portfolios bubbling over, 75% of respondents admitted to actively
include Norways Ocean Rig, which increased its deepwater hunting for alternative employment and 44% specifically
LL[I`MV\Y\UP[ZPUHKKPUNMV\Y:HPWLTKLZPNU saying they were doing so in order to take a step up the
7HJPJ+YPSSPUN:(OHZHKKLK[OYLL:HPWLTKLZPNU Add to this the fact that almost half (48%) of oil
KYPSSZOPWZ[VP[ZLL[ZPUJLHUKOHZ[^VHKKP[PVUHS and gas professionals questioned stated they had not
deepwater drillships scheduled for delivery this year. received inflationary pay rises over the past two years,
with a fifth (20%) saying they had received nothing at all,
Draining the personnel reserves and it is hardly surprising that more than a quarter (26%)
However, newbuild plans are heavily reliant on operators of respondents felt they were not appreciated by their
being able to find the staff for these rigs, and with a finite organisation.
number of experienced personnel within the market, Nearly three quarters (73%) subsequently felt that
companies need to plan ahead for the future. they would be paid better if they worked for a different
It was reported last year that there could be up to organisation, and over half (54%) also thought the benefits
10 000 new jobs created by the end of this year in the they received as part of their package would be better if
North Seas subsea sector. And for a sector that is certainly they moved company.
booming, this was welcome news, especially as concerns The deepwater drilling market continues to be a
have been raised about the number of suitably qualified very candidate skills-driven market. It has bucked the
candidates for the positions. trend throughout a difficult time in the economy and has
The subsea industry is outperforming other sectors and continued to grow despite setbacks in the market, which
an increase in demand for candidates in this field is being have stunted, and at times changed how business is done.
seen. A survey by Subsea UK, which represents more than Candidates with industry experience are in a luxurious
250 companies, suggests that 50% of companies reported position of being in high demand and sought after and in
finding the staff they need has become very difficult, and many cases have the happy headache of multiple clients
14% of operators said recruiting qualified personnel was offering opportunities within the industry. This has driven
almost impossible. salaries and competitive benefits packages up, and clients
The industry supports around 50 000 jobs and is are finding that they have to work hard to keep their
expected to grow by 40% in the next two years and there compensation in line with the rest of the market.
is an obvious skills gap that needs to be filled. The sector
needs to continue to attract new talent in order to help From the North Sea to the rest of the world
meet the growing demand. One thing remains the same though: employers across the
In order to fill the perceived gap in skilled shipyard-level globe continue to look for North Sea experience, which can
maintenance crew, some organisations are looking outside help to open up the rest of the world in terms of jobs and
the oil and gas industry and at other trade where skills career development as it is still seen by the industry as the
are transferable with the transport, military and heavy most advanced area in the world to work.
industry sectors being a breeding ground for the kind of As it is a mature market, a number of company assets are
skilled engineering and ship building graduates who are ageing. This has led to a separate industry being developed
capable of moving sectors and making a positive impact for to service these assets, which in turn requires a great deal of
their employers. specialist expertise to look after the infrastructure.

20 June 2013
However, the North Sea employment market still has some in terms of what newer rigs are assigned to East Africa for
of its own challenges, and at present is thought to be short of drilling operations beyond the already established basins in
personnel with between 10 and 20 years of experience. This Mozambique.
could be because experienced personnel are more reluctant The booming Golden Triangle areas of West Africa, Brazil
to make a move to a new role during an economic dip, and and the Gulf of Mexico have been a primary focus for many of
V]LY[OLWHZ[ML^`LHYZYTZOH]LHSZVILLUZLLUJ\[[PUN the worlds leading operators and their continued investment
back on their trainee intakes. in exploration throughout the region is shaping the things to
The sector has remained fairly resilient in the face of the come both in 2013 and beyond.
economic situation, but a number of organisations have seen Looking into the not too distant future for a snapshot,
restructuring and even downsizing, resulting in a drop off of there are currently 178 drilling rigs in construction in
hierarchical positions. South East Asia alone. If each of these rigs requires
4VYL[OHU[^VM[OZ VM[OLWLVWSLX\LZ[PVULKZHPK 500 employees, then there will be a huge number of jobs
they believed their career would have progressed further had created.
the UK not been hit by recession; and two thirds said they (S[LYH[PVUZ[V[OL<2ZZJHSYLNPTLOH]LYLZ\S[LKPU
would be prepared to work anywhere, including emerging fairly substantial changes to the industry. The bigger players
markets, for the right career opportunity and remuneration. have taken a back seat, allowing smaller operators to enter
established and emerging markets for those workers willing to independent companies who can be more nimble and
to take the plunge and move and a marked increase is cost-effective in how they operate. By their very nature, the
being seen in the number of people showing interest in independent companies tend to have a smaller portfolio
opportunities available in Africa and the Middle East. The VMLSKZ[VJVUJLU[YH[LVUTLHUPUN[OH[[OL`HYLSPRLS`[V
tougher jobs market in the UK has had a knock-on effect on TH_PTPZL[OLWV[LU[PHSVM[OLLSKZ[VHNYLH[LYL_[LU[
the number of younger workers showing interest in moving
overseas and for many it is not just down to money, but the Looking ahead
opportunities and career progression that working in another On the whole, the future continues to look promising for the
country offers. industry. It will be interesting to see what impact renewable
Elsewhere, the East coast of Africa is proving to be very energy has in terms of talent attraction. While the green
exciting, with a great deal of experimental drilling taking energy industry cannot compete in terms of remuneration, the
place. Many larger operators are tapping up contracts in renewables route might appear prosperous to some young
this largely untested region, and 2013 could be a big year engineers, and therefore could be one to watch this year. O T

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Matt Corbin, Aker Solutions, UK, provides an overview of
the development of a subsea gas compression system that
could pave the way to easier operations in the Arctic.

eveloping technology to compress natural gas The solution is to instead put the platform on the

D on the seabed and send it straight to shore -

as an alternative to installing a large offshore
platform - has been a long term goal for the offshore
under ice, and the facility is not dependent on
industry. Now that goal is one step closer to becoming subsea compression in the Arctic reduces risk
YLHSP[`HZUHS[LZ[PUNPZ^LSS\UKLY^H`MVY[OLM\SSZJHSL because it means no people offshore, no
Ormen Lange subsea compression pilot, designed and OLSPJVW[LYPNO[ZHUKUVZ\WWS`]LZZLSZ
built by Aker Solutions. The technology could be the ;OLYZ[THQVYZ[LW[V^HYKZSVJH[PUN
key to unlocking the Arctics oil and gas reserves. a subsea compression system on the
According to the US Geological Survey, the seabed is the Ormen Lange subsea gas
Arctic holds 90 billion bbls of oil in reserves plus JVTWYLZZPVUWPSV[WYVQLJ[
47 trillion m3 of gas. But ice-infested waters combined At Nyhamna, on the west coast of Norway,
with reservoirs hundreds of miles from shore make a large pit is currently playing vital part in a
VPSHUKNHZLSKKL]LSVWTLU[ZHO\NLWO`ZPJHSHUK 25 year long technology saga. Inside the pit and
technological challenge. Due to the ice and freezing Z\ITLYNLK\UKLY^H[LYZP[Z[OL^VYSKZYZ[
cold, oil companies will, in many cases, have to rule full-scale subsea processing and compression
out platforms on the surface of the sea. system. It is in the middle of a two year rigorous test


programme to ensure it can meet the demands of one of the stream, which therefore must be controlled. The solution is to
toughest challenges ever set by the offshore industry. remove the bulk of the liquid condensate before it reaches the
This large subsea system, some 120 ft (36 m) long and compressor, raise its pressure and inject it back into the gas
weighing over 1000 t, is the pilot subsea compression plant for export line downstream of the compressor.
[OLNPHU[6YTLU3HUNLNHZLSK^OPJOZ\WWSPLZ VM[OL Separation of the condensate is achieved in a 3 m diameter
UKs gas requirements. vertical separator upstream of the compressor. The condensate
Ormen Lange, operated by Norske Shell, came onstream in PZYV\[LK[VH3PX\PK)VVZ[LYW\TW^OPJOMLLKZ[OLSPX\PKZPU[V
September 2007 and reached plateau production in November the high pressure export gas line for transportation to shore.
 KLSP]LYPUN\W[VIPSSPVUM[3 (70 million m3/d) of gas and The separator also contains a system for removing sand from
32 000 bpd of condensate to the Nyhamna processing plant in [OLPUJVTPUN^LSS\PKZ[VWYL]LU[ZHUKI\PSKPUN\WPUZPKL[OL
mid-Norway. vessel and to protect the compressor.
drive the hydrocarbons to shore, but that pressure will steadily L_WVY[SPUL[VILJHYYPLK[VZOVYLI`[OLNHZV^
decline, and later this decade gas compression will be required
decision must be made: should gas compression be achieved The Ormen Lange pilot is all electric there are no
conventionally by locating compressors on the topsides of hydraulically operated components. The full compression
a new offshore platform, or could gas boosting be achieved station would be electrically operated and controlled, with
entirely subsea by using the subsea pilot plant? HWWYV_PTH[LS`4>VMWV^LYILPUN[YHUZTP[[LKMYVTZOVYL
;OLILUL[ZVMVW[PUNMVYZ\IZLHJVTWYLZZPVUMVY through a subsea power cable at 132 kilovolts, which would
6YTLU3HUNLVYHU`V[OLYNHZLSKHYLU\TLYV\Z*HWP[HSHUK be stepped down by transformer to 22 kilovolts at the subsea
operating costs of a subsea station are more economical than station.
those for a new deepwater compression platform. Another The list of sophisticated electrical components that had
key advantage is that by locating the compression system on [VILKL]LSVWLKZWLJPJHSS`MVY[OL6YTLU3HUNLWPSV[PZ
the seabed near to the subsea gas wells, the back pressure long. High on that list are the variable speed drives (VSDs) for
exerted on the gas reservoir will be much reduced, enabling the compressor and pump, which would be controlled from
greater production to be achieved. ZOVYLI`ZPNUHSZZLU[[OYV\NO[OLIYLVW[PJZPU[OLZLHILK
power cable. As gas production rates and pressures from
Full-scale pilot the Ormen Lange reservoir change over time, the VSDs will
Subsea compression is not a new concept, but despite the regulate the speeds of the drive motors by varying the supplied
concept being mulled over by the industry for decades, it voltage and current frequency, thus enabling the compressor
was not until 2006 that Aker Solutions was awarded the duty to be changed and the pump speed to be regulated to
YZ[JVU[YHJ[[V[HRLKL]LSVWTLU[MVY^HYKI`KLZPNUPUNHUK control the liquid level in the separator.
I\PSKPUN[OLYZ[M\SSZJHSLWPSV[Z`Z[LT And so to Nyhamna where all of the ingenuity and
The Ormen Lange pilot was built throughout 2010 at the engineering effort that has gone into the Ormen Lange pilot is
companys Egersund offshore construction yard. currently being tested. In February 2011, the Egersund yard
The pilot consists of eight large subsea modules, grouped shipped to the test site a purpose-built 900 t process module,
to form process, control and high voltage power systems. ^OPJOPZKLZPNULK[VZPT\SH[LHYHUNLVMV^JVUKP[PVUZ
Together these make up a single full-sized compression train. including slugs, to test the pilot. The Nyhamna test loop has
The modules for the pilot contain the essential equipment JHWHJP[`[VKLSP]LY\W[VTPSSPVUZ[HUKHYKM[3
for solving the technology challenge. The entire system was TPSSPVU:T3/d) of gas per day, 11 300 bpd (1800 Sm/d) of
put through months of testing at Egersund, before being JVUKLUZH[L4>VMLSLJ[YPJHSWV^LYHUKWZP
disassembled and shipped to Nyhamna for reassembly in the operating pressure.
42 m x 28 m x 14 m deep test pit, where it is currently being put ;OL6YTLU3HUNLWPSV[PZ[OLYZ[HUKILZ[VWWVY[\UP[`[OL
through its paces on live Ormen Lange gas and condensate. industry has had to prove that subsea gas compression is the
centrifugal machine, which will operate at 11 000 rpm. The Z\IZLHNHZJVTWYLZZPVU[LJOUVSVN`)`[OL[PTL[OLYLHS(YJ[PJ
compressor and its high speed electric drive motor are housed LSKZPU[OLPJLPUMLZ[LK^H[LYZHYLYLHK`MVYKL]LSVWTLU[[OL
in a single, hermetically sealed enclosure which is pressurised technology will be there for platform-free production. O T
with a barrier system to keep the motor and compressor
spaces separate, and also to ensure clean operating conditions
for the motor and bearings.

More than compression

As important as the compressor and its reliable operation are to SEARCH hundreds of
the project, there are many other new components necessary international industry
to create the overall system. One example is for achieving events on Energy Global
liquid separation and boosting.
A characteristic of all gas compressors is that they have a
limited tolerance to the volume of liquids in the incoming gas

26 June 2013
Mapping out
the arguments
uropes shale gas future is still looking
Cyril Widdershoven, TNO,
the Netherlands, shows E bleak. Ongoing discussions are not focusing
on the economic and technical aspects of
a possible shale gas revolution in EU member
how the arguments for and countries, but on the political-environmental
against the production of aspects. Perceived threats, not supported by
independent assessments, taking into account the
shale gas in the EU are specific situation of a certain shale gas project in
a country, are ruling the current debate. Instead of
mapped out, and explains trying to find a bridge between techno-economics
the political-economic and environmental issues, the current debate is
only polarising opinion. Some analysts are already
decisions that need stating that the current debate is no longer based
to be made. on the possible pros and cons of shale gas, but on
the perceived threat that shale gas could pose to
a possible green energy future, as indicated by

green politicians and lobby groups. The latter discussion is the current developments. Initiatives like the Argument Map
irrational and counter-productive in all aspects. can help to shed light on the shale gas debate. Also, TNO
will be working with the European Research Agency to
Navigating the arguments develop a European Research Programme on shale gas to
To set up a more fundamental discussion, Dutch bring more scientific evidence to the table, can help to shed
independent applied science and technology company TNO light on the shale gas debate.
has set up a so-called Argument Map. The company has, In the coming years, Europe will stand at the front of
after in-depth assessments of the pros and cons of shale a major discussion on how to adjust to the ongoing shale
gas, devised a tool to summarise the arguments for and gas revolution in the USA, the overall implications for the
against shale gas production in different EU Member States. global gas sector and its technical challenges. At the same
The main focus of this map is to bring clarity to the positions time, European politicians will have to adjust to the ongoing
in the shale gas debate and promote a rational discussion. economic crisis hitting Europe, while addressing requests
Instead of the Argument Map only being presented in the from its industry to make use of the possible low cost
Netherlands, the decision was taken to publish the map in energy resources available on the continent. Until now the
Brussels, targeting a Europe-wide audience. Without taking discussion has only been centred around environmental
any political or economic stand, the map explains, based issues, largely due to the infamous American movie
on a literature review and input from experts from different Gas Land, which has been showing a rather subjective view
backgrounds and Member States, the possible issues of shale gas operations and environmental consequences.
surrounding shale gas exploration and production in the EU.
European and national policy makers, industry stakeholders Taking stock
and lobby groups, should take the current discussion to a Some moves already have been made by the EU to assess
much more abstract level to build up a possible co-operation its options. In recent months, several major conferences
framework. This is needed to address the vast amount have been held by the EU and stakeholders to address these
of misconceptions in the public domain. The map could issues. At a recent event at the European Parliament in
be a possible instrument to lay the ground for such an Brussels, parties involved have been trying to look behind
effort. Without setting up an open and rational discussion, the hype of shale gas and dispel myths surrounding the
uncertainty, fear of the unknown and mistrust of reputable, resource. Still, analysts have been disappointed until now,
peer-reviewed scientific evidence, will keep on constraining as most discussions again were full of exaggerations and

Figure 1. Argument Map: shale gas production in EU member states.

28 June 2013
speculative positions. Anti-shale gas lobbyists have been shale gas reserves in the USA are also different from the
playing the environmental disaster position if shale gas Netherlands or UK. Threats to ground water reserves in
production would be allowed in Europe. At the same time, Europe are different from the USA or elsewhere in the world.
pro-shale gas groups have been exaggerating the impact Still, environmental issues should not be taken lightly, but
of shale gas revenues on the European economy. Some approached in the normal way of technical and economic
have even been stating that European shale gas could be analysis through methods already in place for decades due
enough to bring about European energy independence, to conventional oil and gas operations in the EU. Hence the
and revolutionise the continents economy. As indicated set-up of the Argument Map, designed to bring a rational
already by the Argument Map (Figure 1), the truth will lie way of thinking to the current emotional debate.
somewhere in the middle. When talking about the EU, the real discussion should
Shale gas production has the potential to bring additional focus on the available reserves. The need for an assessment
energy resources to the market. Some European countries by independent parties of the available reserves, the related
could be reaping the rewards, including potentially: costs and possible rewards, is needed to substantiate the
Germany, Poland, the UK and maybe even the Netherlands. future developments. Until now, most of the economics
The total volumes available are as yet unknown, but even of shale gas have been not shown to the public. At the
the most optimistic scenarios do not show Europe to be Brussels conference (EUP), one of the main messages
in the same league as the US, China, Russia, Algeria, presented was that the economics of shale gas are still
Saudi Arabia or Jordan. Optimism has taken over from unclear for European operations. At the same time, the
rational assessments by investors and operators. At the size of shale gas resources both in the US and the EU have
same time, negativism is only part of the discussion currently been vastly over-exaggerated, or current assessments are
supported by anti-shale gas environmentalists, NIMBY based on suppositions, which are somehow not the reality.
lobby groups or green politicians. The Gas Land issue is Several analysts even have stated lately that there could
not of any relevance to the European situation. The US shale be a false bubble in the gas sector, which is liable to blow
gas revolution, in contrast to Europe, is based on ownership up in the faces of the involved parties very soon. Still, the
of the land, different environmental laws and investment overall discussion at present is that the green lobby was
regulations. The unexpected vast volumes available in the hoping to reap the expected reward of a high (and no longer
Bakken or other shale gas regions in the USA dwarf the economically viable) crude oil price, which would have seen
potential of the European players. Geological specs of the a move towards green technologies. The high gas prices at

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the end of the 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century at the end of the 21st century, shareholders and clients need to
certainly gave way to this approach. However, the global be supplied at present. The shale gas revolution has not only
economic crisis, the immense worldwide investments made caused Americas emissions to decrease, surprisingly it also
in gas production and the unexpected boon of the shale has decreased renewables and gas consumption in the EU.
gas revolution have resulted in plummeting gas prices. The lack of demand for coal in the USA (and elsewhere) has
Economically, gas is the fuel for the future. Its availability, brought down the global coal market prices. European power
combined with low prices and geopolitical issues, have put generation companies have been taking advantage of the latter,
the break on the run for renewables. The costs of wind, ^OPJOYLZ\S[LKPUHYLLTLYNLUJLVMJVHSYLKWV^LYWSHU[Z
solar and biomass, are too high, especially when comparing European CO2 emission levels of course are showing tendency
them with gas prices. to go up further than ever before. The market has taken over,
The Green Lobby also is now confronted by another no EU emission strategy or CO2 pricing schemes will be able to
remarkable aspect. Europes race for renewables, supported prevent the latter on the short run.
by the Energie Wende in Germany, and the multibillion Euro
projects proposed by the European Union and its member Looking to the future
countries, has not resulted at present in a reduction of This situation can be stopped, the solution is again to
emissions. The 2020 goals of the EU are not going to be promote more natural gas or shale gas usage. As the IEA,
reached, maybe the opposite will be the case. Renewable and others, have been stating for years. The easiest, most
energy has not had the effect that was expected. cost-effective way to reduce emissions is to go for gas.
Yes, gas is a hydrocarbon source of energy but it produces
American exceptionalism much lower emissions than other hydrocarbon resources.
The USA however has become the leading example of For Europe there is only one solution: to go for gas. Gas is
good economic strategy implementation designed to the only applicable intermediate energy resource to bridge
support industry, create vast amounts of jobs, and (albeit the conventional (high CO2) energy economy of the present
unintentionally) reduce CO2 emissions. In stark contrast to and the unconventional/renewable energy situation wanted
the EU, China, India and others, Washington can brag about in future. If the EU does not take the necessary steps, the
its emission reductions. No other country has been able future of the European economy (and its citizens) looks
to show these results. Geopolitical economists even have bleak. It is possible that European emissions levels will
stated that the world should follow the USA. When looking be reached without shale gas, but it will be at the cost of
at the emissions situation, Washington is leading the pack. prosperity and high unemployment rates. The current energy
Emissions can be reduced while at the same time supporting dependency of Europes basic industries is too high to
basic economic fundamentals, increasing investments in gamble with renewables. In the short term (10 - 15 years),
hydrocarbons, and creating jobs and energy independence. European companies, such as BASF, Unilever or Krups,
The need for US investments in renewables has become a will struggle to keep producing within the EU at current
minor issue. No economic factors or lobby groups are able to energy rates. Global competition is high, major American
push for new solar or renewable investment schemes in the companies are already reinvesting in their home country to
^H`[OH[[OL`^LYLHISLK\YPUN[OLYZ[6IHTH(KTPUPZ[YH[PVU reap the reward of low shale gas prices. Europes economic
Going for the Golden Age of Gas, as presented last year by future will not depend totally on shale gas in Poland or the
the IEA in Paris, has become a reality in North America. Netherlands, but it will be a mistake not to take advantage
This success has, to the astonishment of several experts, of resources. Shale gas in Europe needs to be addressed
not resulted in a gas revolution in the EU. After decades of in a rational way, not based on emotions or pure political
supporting gas-fuelled power generation, clearly functional in assessments. If shale gas is technically and environmentally
Northwest Europe due to indigenous gas production (Norway, producible at economically interesting price levels, the right
UK, Germany and the Netherlands), Brussels now is betting choice is to start production. At present, the answer is still
on renewables. EU investment schemes for technology out there, no specifics have yet been delivered.
development in CCS, renewable energy (solar, wind), have been The need for investment in setting up research and
known for decades. However, success rates are still nothing independent assessments of the available shale gas
to brag about. CCS projects in the EU are largely on hold, the resources and their potential effects is clear; to prevent such
NIMBY issue is also a major factor here; Green lobbyists investment would be foolish. John F. Kennedys dream to
want to promote CCS, but please, somewhere else. The put a man on the moon also was confronted by opponents.
lack of investment and support by the EU and the respective Some even thought that the Apollo rocket would destroy
governments for conventional oil and gas technology the moon. It seems that current debates have the same
development and production, has resulted in a lack of follow irrational quality. Fracking, the devil in disguise according
up to meet new challenges in the future. The tendency to only to environmentalists and opponents, has been used for
promote renewables, as shown by 2020 or the Dutch 2050 decades, also in Europe. Perhaps it is time to let Brussels
HWWYVHJOOHZUV^IHJRYLK3V^NHZWYPJLZHUKL]LYTVYL play the part of Aladdin and let the Genie out of the bottle?
competent technology has become the main stumbling block Technical economic research is needed; the only Genie then
for green projects in the EU. Investors and power generation to be found is perhaps a new gas revolution, Europes shale

30 June 2013
Doug Crice, WirelessSeismic,
USA, examines the growing
range of cableless seismic
systems available to
operators, and compares
these with traditional
cable-based systems.
s a general rule, geophysicists are

A pretty creative - when they see a

problem or envision a better way
to do things, they envision a solution. If
the problem is generic to the geophysical
industry, they might even develop the
idea with the support of their employer
or otherwise. Generally the idea is way
ahead of the technology required to make
it practical, or the industry is slow to adopt
a method, and it is some time before it
shows up in practice. The Vibroseis is
Conoco, years in development, and widely
adopted perhaps 20 years later. 3D seismic
took even longer because a lot of things
had to happen to make it practical: the
recording systems had to be developed to
collect data from thousands of geophone
groups, seismic contractors had to acquire
the systems and methods to collect the
data, software was needed to process the
information on more powerful computers
(and later individual workstations), and
interpreters had to learn how to understand
these new images.

Figure 1. Juggie deploying a cable-based seismic system. The

difficulties involved in deployment are obvious, as are the safety risks. 31
These innovations and countless others have resulted in continuous
improvements in the way seismic data is collected and in the quality of the
information about where the elusive hydrocarbons reside.

Considering cables
Cables used in land seismic might be classed as an annoyance rather than an
obstruction. In conventional 2D surveys, the maximum number of channels was
limited to approximately 240, because the cables required two conductors for every
geophone. The cables were broken up into segments short enough that they could
be carried by one person. Surveys with more active channels were limited to an
occasional oil company funded experiment, which was really multiple 2D surveys
conducted in parallel.
The advent of 3D surveys exacerbated the problems multifold. Before 3D
surveys could be practical, what are called distributed systems were created to
facilitate data collection with exponentially greater numbers of channels. Common
distributed systems deployed small boxes spread out in the survey area. Each
digitised the analogue signal from four, six or eight geophone groups. The data was
recording system, which at that point was more like a computer than an acquisition
Figure 2. Geospace GSR autonomous
recording system shown with battery and system.
geophone. The GSR and second-generation 0U[OLTVKLYU+Z\Y]L`L]LU^P[OIYLVW[PJZP[PZJVTTVU[V\ZLTPSLZ
GSX is the market leader in autonomous nodes. of cables on an average sized survey. Consider the problems with cables:
They require significant manual effort to deploy and retrieve
Animals, all kinds, chew on them, so the first part of each
day is spent on cable maintenance.
Crossing highways and rivers is troublesome.
Permission to lay cables may not be available in patches of
the survey.
Cables are difficult to use in urban environments with streets
and buildings.
Permission is difficult or impossible in environmentally
sensitive areas.
On the other hand, cable-based systems offer substantial
immediately, so the client representative can evaluate the
quality of the seismic information. Cultural and wind noise can
be monitored to see if the survey can continue. In desert areas
without roads and few animals, it is possible to lay out huge
use multiple vibrator groups to achieve high productivity. But, for
most surveys, eliminating cables is a desirable goal. Doing so
has been a challenge.
For a long time, geophysicists have wanted to eliminate
cables. As discussed earlier, the ideas came about well before
the technology was available to provide a practical solution to
the problem.

The dawn of cable-free systems

Early attempts at cable-free seismic systems met with
marginal success. Autonomous memory-based systems using
magnetic tape storage were limited by cost, complexity, and
environmental problems. Early radio-based systems were limited
by the available bandwidth. Eventually, technology advanced,
and costs came down, to allow development of practical
Figure 3. Wireless Seismic RTSystem2 real time acquisition system information was transmitted to a central recorder by VHF radio.
at work in rough terrain in Columbia. The data was harvested by physically visiting the unit with

32 June 2013
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a second device. Some RSR units remain in use today, but
they are approaching obsolescence because of the visitation
requirement and the lack of replacement parts. Early attempts at
About the time the RSR was introduced,
Vibration Technology, aka Vibtech, was founded to build a cable-free seismic
system to collect data wirelessly in real time. This system
utilised WiFi technology using multiple towers, each able systems met with
to communicate with clusters of local acquisition units. By
marginal success.
possible to create a wireless seismic system with enough
stations to compete with a cable-based system.
In 2005, the cableless revolution really took off, with data (a common-receiver gather) does not lend itself to simple
ION Geophysicals announcement of FireFly. This event L_HTPUH[PVU\U[PS[OLSLZMYVTTHU`\UP[ZHYLTLYNLKPU[V
JVPUJPKLK^P[OH\YY`VMKL]LSVWTLU[VM^PYLSLZZZLPZTPJ a suitable record (a common source gather). Consequently,
acquisition systems. As is common with pioneering designs, the initial tests to determine the sweep or shot parameters
In 2007, Geospace introduced the GSR, followed later by supported by these units, and estimates must be made.
-HPYLSK5VKHSP:LPZ>PYLSLZZ:LPZTPJHUK(\[V:LPZ:LYJLS Nonetheless, the autonomous blind systems are the leading
purchased Vibtech and integrated it with their cable systems. seller. Surprisingly, despite the expectation of fewer workers,
Catagories of cableless systems about the same as on a cable crew, but the survey proceeds two
The cableless systems can be grouped into different types: or three times as fast.
Autonomous blind nodes are deployed in the field where Sercel has done a good job on integrating their cableless
they collect the data and put it in an internal memory in the Unite system with their cable systems. The units can be
unit. They must be picked up and brought to the central mixed on a survey to accommodate deployment problems
computer to retrieve data. The data from the individual units such as a survey with a town located as part of the area of
is sorted and combined with the data from the other units to
interest. The central recording system accepts data from the
construct the seismic record. Representative units are made
mobile harvesters and integrates it nicely with the cable data.
by Geospace, FairfieldNodal, and AutoSeis. Instrument
quality control is performed by either passing by the unit Sometimes a single tower is put up to collect data from a
or connecting a separate device that checks the operation local group of stations, but the logistics of distributing towers
and battery charge level. The units can operate continuously around the complete site are daunting enough that the preferred
in the field for a month or so, although the data cannot be approach has been to use mobile harvesting.
examined until they are picked up. Real time wireless systems such as the Wireless Seismic
Autonomous nearsighted nodes operate in a similar RT System 2 potentially eliminate all the perceived problems
fashion, but the data can be harvested wirelessly by with blind systems at the expense of a little extra infrastructure,
visiting the unit in the field and transferring the data to a in the form of radio backhaul systems. The system has worked
second device, usually wirelessly from a distance of many extremely well on some surveys because the initial geophysical
metres. Representative models are the Sercel Unite and the tests are completed quickly, allowing the survey to proceed.
Inova Hawk. If the data is collected daily, the danger of lost
Deployment is easy because the system can leap over roads,
data due to equipment failure or theft is minor.
tracks, rivers and non-permit areas. If an individual fails, the
iSeis Sigma fit in this group.
Wireless future?
Real time nodes send the complete seismic data to the
The industry is now seeing a transition in technology without a
doghouse continuously. They are essentially equivalent to
a cable-based system. Examples are the Wireless Seismic predetermined outcome. What will be the product mix between
RT System 2 and the Sercel Unite system (when used with JHISLIHZLKHUKJHISLSLZZZ`Z[LTZ`LHYZMYVTUV^&
fibre connected multiple towers in real time mode). Cable-free systems started to gain acceptance with purchases
So, how has the industry greeted the advent of this new type YLJV]LY`Z[H[PZ[PJZ)`JHISLSLZZZ`Z[LTZYLWYLZLU[LK
of seismic system? It is safe to say that initial scepticism is HWWYV_PTH[LS` VM[OL^VYSK^PKLZHSLZVMSHUKZLPZTPJ
evolving to acceptance, if not widespread enthusiasm. The systems. Now, there are reports of contractors retiring perfectly
blind autonomous nodes offer the easiest deployment they good cable-based systems because those surveys are not as
JHUQ\Z[ILWYVNYHTTLKWSHU[LKI`[OLHNZHUK[LZ[LK[V competitive in the geophysical contracting market. According
check their performance. To extract the data, users have to wait [VYLJLU[UHUJPHSYLWVY[Z+H^ZVU.LVWO`ZPJHSOHZYLWSHJLK
until it is time to roll the units, carry them back to the central some RSR and ARAM crews with autonomous nodes and
computer, extract the data in a special rack into a computer, V\[[[LKHUL^JYL^^P[OH>PYLSLZZ:LPZTPJ9;:`Z[LT
charge the batteries, and take them out to their next location. Global Geophysical has replaced all their cable-based
Deployment is easy, though it requires a little more skill on the acquisition crews with nodal systems. On the other hand, the
part of the operator than does a cable system because of the JOHUULSJYL^ZVWLYH[PUNPU5VY[O(MYPJHHYLZ[PSS\ZPUN
8*[LZ[Z+H[HYL[YPL]HS[HRLZZVTLLMMVY[HUK[OLMVYTVM[OL cable-based systems where the surveys are huge. O T

34 June 2013
or years, many in the drilling industry
Tyler Cobb,
Baker Hughes, F have claimed that drill bits are a
commodity. It appears that many drill
bit suppliers these days are offering bits
USA, reiterates that have the same number of blades and
cutter sizes, some form of leached cutters,
the importance design similarity and even their respective
marketing propositions begin to blur
of selecting the together. It is only natural to assume they
correct drill must all be fairly equal.
The truth is that not all bits perform the
bit from the same and selecting the right one can have
a dramatic impact on drilling performance
perspective of and overall well and drilling campaign
operators and costs. Much like a set of golf clubs, meal
choice, or new pair of boots, it may make
contractors. sense to choose based on lowest price to

oil and gas industry that a technology is
worthy of consideration. Finally, a patented
product affords greater assurance that it is
differentiable from competitors products.

Where is the value?

The best way to review the impact of

innovation is to group the top innovators

together versus all others, and then review
a sample application data set. Figure 2
shows how the 318 utility patents that
were awarded in 2011 are split between
the top two organisations and the
other 39 contributing organisations and
Consider a snapshot performance
comparison from the Williston Basin, USA,
with Figure 3 representing the performance
Figure 1. Utility patents awarded per year by technology class. *Batteries includes thermoelectric of the top two innovating companies
and photoelectric i.e. solar panels. Source: and Figure 4 representing all others. The
results demonstrate a difference of 22%
in rates of penetration (ROP), and 13% in
spare the immediate budget pains, but the consequences of this distance drilled.
choice could leave long term regrets. The bottom line is the enduring top performers in the industry
Similarly, despite the industrys best intentions to reduce are those who deliver the highest amount of new, quality
vendor costs, selecting the cheapest bit up front in many technology in the form of novel intellectual property to the drill
applications may end up costing the operator more than they bit industry.
bargained for. Understanding where the differences are in drill
bits and becoming savvy in what makes those differences Reliability
perform, is where operators stand to gain much.
The keys to identifying real value in the drill bit world can be How do we measure?
found in the categories of technology, reliability, quality and Every operator knows one of the most important metrics in
service assurance. the drilling industry is reliability. And yet many believe the only
important metric for drill bits is ROP.
Technology Times are changing, and it is time drill bits are held to the same
standards as other downhole drilling tools. How can reliability be
Smoke and mirrors vs. game changer measured for drill bits? For tricone bits, many turn to the practice
For those in the know, drill bit technology can be considered of measuring the statistical reliability of the bearings and seals in
advanced. This is especially true when comparing drill bit-related terms of thousands of revolutions (Krevs).
patent activity to other high-technology classes such as With regard to polycrystalline diamond compact (PDC)
aeronautics/astronautics and ships as shown in Figure 1. bits, which lack any moving parts to constructively measure
Similar to any technological industry, there will be those who traditional reliability, it boils down to the concept of performance
make use of game-changing technology to add real value and consistency. A drill bit manufacturer who consistently delivers high
those who employ smoke and mirror gimmicks, which add little levels of PDC performance demonstrates that the spread between
documented performance to the product. upper quartile and lower quartile results is relatively small.
Finding a game-changer amongst all the feature noise in This consistency offers gains in terms of authorisation for
the marketplace does not mean it necessarily has to look expenditure planning and wellbore delivery timetables.
dramatically different in order to deliver big returns on the
additional micro-investment toward bit price. Where is the value?
Vital clues to potential game-changing technology worth Imagine a bit drilling an 8000 ft section that reached total depth
[OLL_[YHKVSSHYJHUPUJS\KL!]LYPHISLSHIKH[HJVYYLSH[LKLSK at an ROP of 200 ft/hr. Now compare that to the same bit drilling
performance, industry papers and patents. A drill bit company an identical successive well, but only at an ROP of 120 ft/hr. This
who can provide supporting materials for all four of these topics comes to a difference of more than 26 hrs for interval completion.
very likely is offering a feature that is more than smoke and Beyond the immediate expense of 26 additional hrs of rig time,
mirrors. the resultant extended timetable can cause innumerable pains
Not only does the technology need to stand up as an individual and headaches for successive service planning.
performer in a controlled lab environment, but this measured lab With service companies all striving to increase their asset
Furthermore, multiple industry papers, especially ones crews that were originally planned for have now been on standby
co-authored by operators, are some of the best signs in the at additional cost, or worse, are no longer available, leaving the

36 June 2013
June 2013 37
related process and repaired likewise, but once the
details are exposed, the differences are exponential.

Original quality
It is no secret that drill bit designers around the world
use sophisticated computer-aided design software to
create their design models. The quality comes into play
in the form of the proprietary modelling software each
company custom builds for running simulations prior to
Additionally, most bit vendors will hesitate to
describe their particular recipes for drill bit success,
but rest assured some employ extensive research
and development resources dedicated to delivering
consistent innovations in advanced materials to gain an
edge over the competition.
Figure 2. Percentage splits for utility patents awarded in drill bits (earth boring) in Beyond the design work and material sciences, each
2011. *Individual, nonafliated patents.**Others representing 39 organisations. drill bit is only as good as their manufacturers equipment
Source: and skilled workforce responsible for machining and
assembling. Most manufacturers are happy to host a
tour of their facilities, and this is highly recommended
as it gives insights into the rigor of their manufacturing,
tolerances upheld throughout the process, and testing
methods and capabilities.
Some great questions to ask on the plant tour are:
What is the extent of manufacturing traceability - if
there is an identified failure, how can it be traced back
to the particular component of concern?
How does their quality department function?
What sort of testing is undergone before releasing
radical new designs to the field?

Sustainable quality
So, the bit manufacturer has impressive simulation
software, some of the highest quality materials and an
impeccable manufacturing facility, but what happens
following run(s)?
With the ever-increasing presence of the rental
market for drill bits, the repair process has never been
more important. Even the slightest variances in the
cutter placement in the repaired bit can dramatically
Figure 3. Top two innovators performance in Williston Basin 8.75 in. PDC depth in
change the drilling characteristics or performance
6000 to 12000 ft. Source: Baker Hughes WebBITS data.
consistency of the drill bit.
While repair centres may not always be open to
operator/contractor scrambling to line up second-best options. public tours, it certainly would be within reason to request the
This delay could mean higher costs, longer lead times and occasional analysis of consecutive runs for a particular drill bit to
additional logistical consequences. ensure it is delivering the consistency of performance one should
The wiser, long term bit solution may in fact lie in using the expect from a high quality repair process.
manufacturer that can deliver drill bits that perform in a highly
consistent manner, and this can only be determined through Where is the value?
diligent measurement and analysis. Much like the difference in car manufacturers, drill bit

Quality for drill bits can be segmented into two sources: original

manufacturers all operate under different levels of quality
from the materials they use, the manufacturing processes
they employ, the tolerances they uphold, and the consistency
quality and sustainable quality. Original quality stems from of their repair centres.
three primary factors including quality of design, materials and The value here ties back to the reliability of the bit and
manufacturing processes. The sustainable quality trait refers to the consistency of performance, which was previously
the repair process. discussed.
At a fundamental level, drill bits may be designed using similar Also, much like the automobile industry, it is at least
methods, made from comparable materials, manufactured in a in part the consumers responsibility to conduct their

38 June 2013
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30 September2 October
service company is able to provide
continuous improvement beyond what
may be possible with other drilling tools.
Several of the service companies have
an iterative application/design process
operators are invited to or can request to
participate in.
Since drill bits have a relatively short
design and manufacturing cycle time
(compared to some downhole tools), it
is certainly possible to conduct several
design iterations over the course of a
improvements in consecutive wells with
higher quality and lower total cost per
Competition certainly is the lifeblood
that drives improvements, but creating
long term, performance-based
relationships with a bit supplier can be
extremely rewarding to an operators
drilling campaign.
Figure 4. Other innovators performance in Williston Basin 8.75 in. PDC depth in 6000 to
12000 ft. Source: Baker Hughes WebBITS data. Conclusion
For drill bits, there is a large quantity of
own background research and comparisons to determine service companies all reaching out to pedal their products.
whether the variances in quality are fairly represented by the Some even make drill bits that look very similar to other
differences in pricing. more mainstream brands and occasionally even deliver
comparable ROP. This can create a false impression that
Service assurance drill bits are all the same and have become a commodity
What service? Despite the occasional exceptions depending on the
The operator purchases a bit, the vendor makes sure it has application challenges, the overriding evidence shows that for
[OLYPNO[UVaaSLZ[VWYV]PKL[OLVW[PT\TV^YH[LZHUK drill bits, the differences are deeper than the naked eye can
drilling performance, and then perhaps picks the bit up see and include differentiating factors in technology, reliability,
afterwards. What more to service is there? quality and service assurance.
For some operators, this may seem a perfectly reasonable The sheer number of patents being pursued and awarded
argument. To others, they realise the impact that a heavily for drill bit technologies is evidence of the innovations being
experienced and resourced bit supplier can have on long term introduced to the industry.
drilling performance. Like many other tools in the drilling environment, a
These bit manufacturing majors are not only employing critical metric of value delivery for drill bits is reliability,
some of the most experienced drill bit application engineers, or performance consistency. High reliability can reduce
but also have rigorous training and competency programmes [V[HSJVZ[ZHUKKLJYLHZLSVNPZ[PJHSPULMJPLUJPLZMVYKYPSSPUN
to provide unparalleled service assurance when it comes to campaigns.
bit recommendations and drilling improvement support. Quality in design, materials, manufacturing, and repair
Beyond the human capital, many of the biggest drill bit should always be a consideration when making purchases or
companies maintain remarkable records of wells drilled rental agreements that can affect the success rate of an entire
around the world. They are able to leverage this drilling operation on such a grand scale.
data to identify opportunities for improvement and offer Finally, operators should expect a level of service
HWWYVWYPH[LHUKZWLJPJKYPSSPUNYLJVTTLUKH[PVUZ;OPZPZ assurance from their drill bit vendor partners. Leveraging
especially true when they are provided with foot and long term relationships with service companies can provide
time-based drilling data and formation evaluation information performance-enhancing design iterations and valuable
where they are able to identify the exact rock type the bit is application support for reducing total well-delivery costs.
having trouble in and make improvements in the design to For operators and contractors alike, it is imperative to
maximise performance and reliability. always be wary of the effects of drilling service selection
purely on cost or convenience as the total cost of that
Where is the value? simple decision may far exceed what was invoiced. Do not
The real value of service assurance, which sets any particular be deceived by appearances, because not all drill bits are
bit supplier apart from another is the means by which that made equally. O T

40 June 2013
Todd Bielawa and Jack Castle, Century Products, Inc., USA, outline some
recent developments in drill bit technology that are helping operators
continue to get the job done in ever-harsher conditions.

rowth in the oil and gas industry has led to the of larger carbide inserts and shapes has been expanded by

G development of new technologies and techniques as

it pertains to the way in which wells are being drilled
and tools are being designed in order to get the job done.
design feature advances within the manufacturing process,
such as: the latest technology hard facing materials and
applications, vacuum sealed bearing technology and the
As more attention has been placed on the PDC drilling continued development of tighter tolerances and synthetic
arena, many bit manufacturers have placed less emphasis lubricants.
on the large magnum bit technology. Whether it is for oil As the wells drilled get more complicated, there is a
and gas, salt domes, storage or HDD applications, large growing need for durable, low torque tools.
hole openers and tri-cone bits remain integral components
in the drilling arena worldwide. Tungsten carbide inserts
In todays competitive environment there is a need for The magnum bit arena has been dominated by milled tooth
ever changing, creative R&D offered with state of the art designs. However, technology and process improvements
designs, especially in the magnum bit size range. The use have led to an expanded availability of various

application techniques to keep the highest concentration
of tungsten material at the cutting surface without heat
degradation, is used. The dominant problem in many MT
applications is the ability to maintain gauge. Centurys bit
design incorporates three rows of active tungsten carbide
gauge cutting inserts. These back up the hard facing
Figure 1. Tungsten carbide inserts. thereby extending the bit life and improving the overall
penetration rate.

Sealed bearing vs. open bearing

In the magnum bit arena, non-sealed bearing (open
bearing) bits are often utilised for pennies of savings
on the initial bit price. However, sealed bearings offer
significant performance advantages over open bearing
products. The key feature of sealed bearings is the
significant prevention of drilling fluids and abrasive
formation cuttings from entering the bearing cavity. This is
achieved by using elastomer O-ring seals, metal-to-metal
seals, or highly engineered synthetic seals to prevent
contaminated slurry from entering the bearings. In
addition, the most technically advanced sealing systems
Figure 2. 30 in. milled tooth are also vacuum-sealed, lubricated and compensated.
This is achieved by pulling a vacuum on the bearing cavity
before greasing. By applying this vacuum, it ensures no air
tungsten carbide insert (TCI) pockets exist once the grease has been pumped in.
options to better serve the Non-sealed bearings are exactly what the name infers.
industry. When discussing Here the open bearing is susceptible to all the drilling
;*0[LJOUVSVN`P[PZKPMJ\S[ fluids and soil matter in the hole without any lubrication
not to notice the larger available. Imagine any bearing being open and exposed
more robust inserts that to the extreme downhole conditions without protection.
adorn todays magnum Open bearing bits do not last long and are not capable of
hole openers and bits. handling todays drilling performance expectations.
Kennametal produces one Considering their advantages over earlier open seal
of the largest carbide inserts bearings in terms of quality, dependability and
for Century Products. At performance, it is easy to see why sealed bearing designs
1 1/8 in. diameter, this insert are preferred when these characteristics are important.
clearly dwarfs yesterdays Century utilises seals made from HSN, which is the best
technology. available material for compression set and chemical resistance
With the larger range to the extreme downhole conditions. The largest cross section
Figure 3. 24.75 in. Century hole
of inserts, there is a seal in the industry is utilised. This is a case where bigger is
new need for applying better. The tolerances offered, which are tighter than industry
better grade selections. standards, give reduced axial play, which enhances seal
The combination of improved grades and geometry has life, and improves bearing performance. The close tolerance
established new performance standards that eliminate machine-matched components, crowned roller main bearings
By utilising the new design and grades available in system that reduces friction and dissipates heat under the
the larger carbide inserts, it was possible to decrease high rotary loads encountered in the magnum bit lines.
the amount of carbides per cone while still offering the
ability to load the insert with the required weight to fail the Additional concerns for improving performance
formations. The new design options allow them to achieve and specific design features
higher penetration rates without the traditional insert mode Selecting the right bit for the application or the right
failures. Whether the requirement is for the crushing action company to trust for help with that selection is imperative
provided by conical inserts or the aggressive scraping to the overall success of a drilling operation.
action provided by chisel shapes, the right combination As the industry continues to explore deeper, more
can be offered to get the job done. sophisticated methods of well designs, there is a need
for the advancement of drill bit resources to accomplish
Latest technology in hard facing for milled tooth ever-greater feats. From larger more demanding surface
cones applications to highly deviated well designs, there needs
In the magnum bit range, milled tooth bits are still the to be the proper product for every application. The biggest
dominant IADC range called for. A proprietary material factors affecting performance are: durability, stability,
that has both spherical and cast carbides and the latest in performance and proper bit selection.

42 June 2013



Case study Where:

36 in. magnum bit required in South America

Due to safety and hole stability concerns, a 36 in. magnum
bit was selected to drill the 65 m surface hole in a single
pass. The customer had been using traditional 1-1-1 IADC
code bits but decided to utilise the magnum 36 in. bit. Due
to the improved gauge and hydraulic configuration the SE = Specific energy.
magnum bit drilled the 65 m surface hole in less than 35 hrs, W = Weight on bit.
where in previous wells it took up to 175 hrs due to deviation N = Rotary speed.
control issues. The ROP on the magnum bit was 1.87 m/hr d = Diameter of bit.
versus 0.66 m/hr on the offset. One of the reasons for the PR = Penetration rate.
improved performance is the 6-point stabilisation feature.
While deviation was the concern with this application, This calculation can be used to further examine the
the magnum line comes standard with the most durable relationship of bit selection and proper design application to
gauge protection and the latest in hard facing materials help ensure that the torque output necessary to fail the rock
offered. This allows the magnum series to perform well in will not exceed the drill string limitations.
the abrasive environments encountered in the Middle East Example: a hole opener using 8 12 in. cutters will
and the sealed bearing technology offered will allow for the require more energy to fail the rock than a Century 5 cutter
longer sections encountered in the North Sea as well. The bit design. Add in the larger bearing and slower rotational cone
graded out a 1/1/No/A/E/I/NO/TD and will be more speed and maximum performance can be achieved with lower
cost-effective on the second and third runs in this field. torque for longer downhole drilling time.

Technical considerations Summary

Hydraulics: a good general rule for flow is 30 GPM x Drilling wells for the oil and gas industry is not going to
hole size = minimum; 50 gpm x hole size = maximum. change in the future. What will change is the development
Example: 30 x 30 in. = 900 minimum GPM. 50 x 30 in. = of new technologies and techniques in the way the wells are
1500 maximum GPM. being drilled. In order to be successful, companies need to
Specific energy vs. torque: calculation for specific stay ahead of the game. O T
energy is as follows:

The *()& the most advanced and .%


easy-to-operate rig in the world. The safe, efficient 20
: 4 % 

operation keeps your PDQFUHZout of Danger J
Zones! 2QO\WHQORDGVfor the rig, power packs,
Drillers Cabin and Pipe Handler makes for IDVW
PRELOLW\, fast rig up and fast rig down while leaving a
small foot print.
The *()&2.has a hook load of 500,000 lbs.
(226 Tonnes). The Top Head Drive, 5DFN 3LQLRQ
rig also features a Slip Spindle, prolonging the life of
the pipe threads. The *()& equipped with
a Self-Erecting Drillers Control Cabin, Hydraulic
Wrenches for Make Up & Break Out, Drillers Cabin
operated Pipe Handling System, 27 1/2 in. (698.5 mm)
Master Bushing and Accommodates Range III Drill
Pipe as well as Drill Collars & Casing to 20 in.
(508 mm).



*()&2,1&an Astec Industries Company

Cary Maurstad, VarelInternational,
USA, takes a look at some of
the latest advances in drill bit
technology that are helping oil
producers drill faster and further.

ringing together advanced knowledge and and enhanced thermal stability, these cutters resist abrasive

B understanding of PDC bit design with the latest

manufacturing technology, the Katana series of steel
PDC bits embodies the latest in cutting structure design,
wear while maintaining toughness to deliver longer cutter
Katana bit cutting structures are designed utilising the
Katana bits are unlike other PDC bits, with smaller sizes ILVW[PTPZLKMVY[OLZWLJPJYVJR[VILKYPSSLK)/([VIL
TPUPTPZLZIP[SLUN[O[VNLULYH[LPTWYV]LKZ[LLYHIPSP[`HUK In addition to the Katana bit series, a new line of steel body
Katana bits are available with abrasion-resistant target shale formation through variable lithology, bits

WHJLH[TOYM[OY^OPSLKYPSSPUNTM[H on these bits allows designers to take full advantage of hydraulic
curve sections of these shale wells on a single bottom hole assembly In terms of steerability, steel body bits can be designed with a
Figure 1. Varels steel body VM513SH is dull graded 0 - 2, with only PU[LY]HS[PTL;OLIP[KYPSSLKH[V[HSKPZ[HUJLVMTM[PU[OL
two delaminated cutters on the outer shoulder when pulled after ZPUNSLY\U^P[OHUH]LYHNLWLUL[YH[PVUYH[LVMTL[YLZWLYOV\Y
drilling a One BHA run in the DJ Basin, from drillout to landing the  M[OY
curve in only 25.4 hrs, a total distance of 5580 ft, at an average 0UHKKP[PVU[V[OLZWLLKHUK[OLYLK\JLKKYPSSPUN[PTL[OLZ[LLS
penetration rate of 219.7 ft/hr. IVK`IP[NYHKLKV\[HZHK\SSJVUKP[PVU^P[O[OLVUS`K\SS
characteristics being two delaminated cutters on the outer shoulder

SPOT design upgrade

effective cutting structure to control bit behaviour as desired for
Figure 2. Katana series steel Figure 3. The solid tungsten PUJ\[[LYWVZP[PVUPUN[VJYLH[LIP[Z[HPSVYTHKLMVYZWLJPJKYPSSPUN
PDC bits incorporate hydraulics carbide EdgeGuard pucks are JOHSSLUNLZ
optimisation. Also available in brazed into the bit in strategic ;OYV\NO\WKH[LKHSNVYP[OTZL_[LUZP]LLSKVWLYH[PUNHUK
a shankless conguration in position to afford maximum
many sizes, for minimisation wear resistance in high
of bit length for responsive angle directional drilling, and
applications. then determine how changing bit features and dimensions affect

46 June 2013
YV[HY`Z[LLYHISLZ`Z[LTZJVYYLSH[PVUIL[^LLUTVKLSZHUKLSKY\UZ double roller cone bit life in the high angle wells, where directional
JVUYTZ[OL\WNYHKLK:76;+5KLZPNULKIP[ZHYLV\[WLYMVYTPUN demands call for high doglegs through the highly abrasive

Making things harder:

impregnated diamonds
and hardfacing
Last year saw innovations in
as well as in roller cone bit
Leading Through Innovation
hardfacing, both of which hold
Worlds Most Trusted Hardbanding
+L]LSVWLKV]LY[OLSHZ[ Supported by almost 200 applicators worldwide on every continent
months and introduced last year,
high quality diamonds to create a
more robust, less brittle diamond
that is less likely to suffer breakage
remain whole during drilling, the
Decreases Downtime & Increases Productivity!
Duraband NC Hardbanding
 Exceptional Reliability
Uses: New Application  Excellent Casing & Tool Joint Protection
Tool Joints  No need to remove existing hardbanding
tough Ordovician sandstone,
 Re-application costs up to 75% lower than
competitive cracking hardband products
 Cuts NPT & Maintenance Cycles
benchmark of the established
 Fearnley Procter NS-1 Certified Product for
JVTWL[P[VY-PLSK[LZ[ZJVU[PU\L new application & re-application over other
^P[OHKKP[PVUHSY\UZWSHUULK[OPZ competitive hardbands

Roller cone bits with an

Patent Pending
Improves Wear Resistance
In Non-Mag Applications!
 Up to 500% Improved Wear Resistance
Over Ordinary Non-Mag Welding Alloys
bits, increasing overall durability
 Up to 500% Better Abrasion Resistance
in directional work demanding high  Apply directly to non-mag tools & over
+3:)P[Z^P[O[OLWH[LU[WLUKPUN previous layers of stainless
WYV[LJ[PVUOH]L`PLSKLK   Meets API Spec. 7 Relative
greater bit life due to reduced wear permeability less than 1.01
in high angle wells through abrasive  No spalling in multiple layers
Highly DHYLDWHG:HOOVSour Gas Well
hardfacing with a series of tungsten Available from drill pipe manufacturers
and rental companies
bit leg, around the shirttail and on
48 June 2013
Moving on
with MWD
Steve Krase, Ryan Directional Services, USA,
gives us a look at a unique approach to MWD for
unconventional wells.


\UPX\LWHJRHNPUNZJOLTL;OLZ`Z[LT Drilling automation and unmanned

people from the wellsite entirely. Although technical challenges placement, the applications of directional drilling, geosteering
remain, the reality of achieving total unmanned operation is not HUKKYPSSPUNLMJPLUJ`T\Z[ILHKKYLZZLK(S[OV\NO[OL
so much hampered by technology but more so by a reluctance measurements required for wellbore placement are readily
to change by the industry itself. In order to accomplish full available and have been since the late 1980s, most of the
unmanned operation it must be demonstrated that personnel can systems in the industry today were designed for use in the
be removed from the wellsite without reducing service quality or offshore environment. When compared to the onshore drilling
inadvertently introducing additional HSE risk for remaining wellsite environment the cost structure for drilling offshore is much
personnel. higher. Subsequently the majority of the MWD systems available
today are too expensive to operate cost-effectively in the
In order to achieve a reduction in directional drilling and MWD JHWHIPSP[`PZUV[LUV\NO;OLPKLHS4>+Z`Z[LTMVYKYPSSPUN[OLZL
personnel at the wellsite it is important that the design of types of wells will be reliable, short in length for ease of transport
designed with simplicity in mind and with a low operating cost to
address the lower cost land market. Additionally, there are two Directional drilling
more factors that must also be addressed. Firstly, the system It is generally accepted that MWD survey systems for accurate
must require little or no human interface to setup prior to running wellbore surveying have been available since 1978 when
in the hole, therefore the downhole system must arrive at the ;LSLJV6PSLSK:LY]PJLZJVTTLYJPHSPZLK[OLYZ[4>+Z`Z[LTPU
wellsite ready for use. Secondly, the system must provide the the UK sector of the North Sea. Since that time, advances have
real time measurements required by the drilling, geology and been made to improve the accuracy and survivability of these
real time measurements must also be available remotely to moving parts. Modern day sensors are much more accurate and
anyone that needs them to make decisions. reliable and utilise the latest in digital technology.
When drilling horizontal wells on land, the measurements Drilling an unconventional reservoir typically requires
provided by the downhole MWD system must be focused ZPNUPJHU[S`OPNOLYI\PSKYH[LZ[OHU^LYLWYL]PV\ZS`YLX\PYLKMVY
VUWYV]PKPUN[OLPUMVYTH[PVUZWLJPJHSS`YLX\PYLKMVYLMJPLU[ drilling wells that targeted conventional reservoirs. In addition
^LSSIVYLWSHJLTLU[0UVYKLY[VHJOPL]LLMJPLU[^LSSIVYL to improved survey accuracy, increased frequency of surveys
has proven to be a necessity to insure wellbore placement.
Additionally, the ability to measure and transmit inclination surveys
continuously and preferably in closer proximity to the bit than
the position of the standard directional module, has also proven
and if these changes are unaccounted for in determining wellbore

Since the late 1980s when MWD technology development
became focused on the replacement of openhole wireline logs
in developing sensors to aid in making real time decisions based
Figure 1. Directional sensors. This photo shows the signicant
advances made in geosteering, which uses geologic information
change in MWD sensors over time. The instrument in the lower left
that, when compared to a geological model, enables decisions
is a directional sensor from circa 1980 minus electronics and the
instrument to the right is a present day directional module, which about correction to the well path to be made in real time. Most
includes electronics. recently this includes sensor systems with azimuthally sensitive
response, which enables the user to detect not only a change in
bed boundary but also the direction from which a bed boundary

Drilling efficiency
quantities of this data from downhole to surface in real time to
enable a reliable interpretation of what is actually occurring at
the bit and or in the BHA. Although the measurements and how
to make them are generally well understood, the interpretation
of this data in a timely manner has been problematic; therefore
Figure 2. The Ryan Directional surface system takes advantage of
cloud computing to ensure database integrity and access to data for most drillers have preferred to rely on surface measurements

50 June 2013
Powerful. Proven. Dyna-Drill.
Rotor Elastomer Stator

Chromed, or HR 4140/4142 QT
Carbon Coated NBR-HR P530 Non Mag SS

Power Section Sizes

1 11/16 Inches to 11 1/2 Inches

Proven performance for any application

Whether drilling with a PDC or roller cone bit and regardless of the formation,
Dyna-Drill power sections deliver the power you need to optimize ROP.

Dyna-Drill manufactures high-performance mud motor power sections from

conventional to ultra torque. Stator rubber formulations developed by Dyna-Drill
have produced innovations in elastomer durability resulting in products that serve
specific applications which can be compounded to withstand the most punishing
drilling fluids and downhole temperatures.

For over 50 years, Dyna-Drill has offered operators the most technologically
advanced and efficient downhole motor equipment in the oil and gas industry.
2013 Dyna-Drill
Figure 3. Ryan personnel support Permian Basin MWD Gamma operations from a KH[HJYLH[LJSPLU[MHJPUNYLWVY[ZL[J(JJLZZ[VIV[O
Remote Operating Center in Houston, Texas. YLHS[PTLHUKOPZ[VYPJHSKH[HNH[OLYLKH[[OL^LSSZP[L
provide a useful interpretation of the data LHZ`^P[OHT\S[P[\KLVMVMM[OLZOLSMZVS\[PVUZ
H\[VTH[PVUJVU[PU\LZ unmanned land based operation allows for prioritisation of transferred data under
there also exists a need for downhole :THSSYPNZP[LMVV[WYPU[!RL`[V\UTHUULKVWLYH[PVUPZSPTP[PUN
Minimising personnel requirements ^P[OYLK\JLKTHUWV^LYH[[OL^LSSZP[L0UVYKLY[VHJJVTWSPZO

52 June 2013
Legendary Performance

Every well has a story, let our consistent

high performance bits be a part of yours.

1 877 PDC DRIL

ime and again it is proven that safe and effective annular barriers are crucial to well management. Cementing is the

T industrys conventional solution, but it can be a complicated, expensive and time-consuming undertaking. Swellable
shortcomings, as degradable polymers represent a risk in the typically harsh and unforgiving environment of a well.
Horizontal drilling emerged in the 1990s and since then, drilling technology has continued to enable deeper and more complex
well designs. These advances in drilling technology go above and beyond the current capabilities of cement to provide a reliable
annular barrier that will last throughout the lifetime of the well.
Currently, more than half of the worlds rigs are drilling horizontally. The growing desire for increasingly capable, extended reach

Paul Hazel,
Welltec A/S,
UK, explains
how improved
annular barriers
lead to better

entrepreneurial idea, the Well Tractor, allowed deployment
and operation of intervention tools into horizontal and highly
In a time where production
deviated wells, without the use of coiled tubing or similar
is declining and the global heavy-duty equipment. Today it is a widely accepted, industry
intervention standard means of conveyance.
demand for energy is on the rise, In a time where production is declining and the global
innovation. The primary driver behind the development of
The primary driver behind the new technologies is a focus on how to do things safer and
development of new technologies more effectively, allowing operators to manage their wells and
is a focus on how to do things The Flex-Well system allows for multi-lateral well design
and an unlimited number of zones across the reservoir. It can
safer and more effectively. enable early production and increase ultimate recoverables
without compromising the long term well integrity. The
associated with total well construction. The operator can
A new concept overcome current and future drilling, deployment and
A novel solution, the Flex-Well, has been designed to production challenges, enabling complete, intelligent,
deliver cement assurance, zonal isolation and/or cementless extended reach, multilateral wells with extreme reservoir
completions in all types of environments, as well as allow long contact capabilities. With the introduction of the WAB, the
[LYTL_PIPSP[`MVYM\[\YL^VYRV]LYZPKL[YHJRHUKL]LU[\HS Flex-Well vision is becoming a reality.
well abandonment.
The concept provides the operator with all the Beginning with better barriers
components required to design and construct a The WAB for cement assurance can be set in wet cement or
[MVYW\YWVZLJVTWSL[PVU"ILPUNHZTPUPTHSPZ[PJVYHZ at a later time in sections that are not cemented. It is installed
intricate as the operator needs in order to accomplish optimal as part of the liner or casing string, positioned at depths
A central element of the solution is the Welltec Annular hung off and the cement operation completed as normal.
Barrier (WAB), which is a rugged, large expansion ratio, When setting in green cement, while the cement plug is
all-metal expandable barrier that can be used for a wide being bumped, additional pressure is applied to the well to
variety of applications, and delivers reliable annular isolation expand the annular barrier. The hydraulic expansion of the
and maximised delta P capability across the entire borehole barrier in the wet cement ensures conformance to the open
over the full life of the well, withstanding up to 10 000 psi and OVSLHUKLSPTPUH[LZ[OLYPZRVMJLTLU[JOHUULSZ^OPJOJV\SK
Traditional completion methods have a number of [OLJHZPUNHUKJLTLU[PZYLTV]LK*VU[YVSSLKL_WHUZPVU
ZOVY[JVTPUNZ:^LSSHISLWHJRLYZOH]LZOV^U[VJH\ZLSLHRZ extrudes the cement away leaving only a WAB-to-formation
PUHWWYV_PTH[LS` VM^LSSZPUHWWYV_PTH[LS`]L`LHYZ or a WAB-to-casing contact. The relative high plasticity of the
from installation, and further problems arise due to formation formation in comparison to the steel will ensure that
changes over time, as these impact cement causing it to steel-to-formation contact remains after release of the
KL[LYPVYH[L:7,77(JOPL]PUNSHZ[PUNX\HSP[` expansion pressure. Any cement trapped between the WAB
cementation and perforations is especially challenging and and the formation will not experience relaxation of pressure
costly in HP/HT environments. when drilling mud is displaced. Removal of micro annulus will
Due to its design, the WAB addresses many of the KL[LYTPNYH[PVUVM\PKVYNHZILOPUK[OLJLTLU[LKJHZPUN
shortcomings of conventional completion methods, including and liners.
Z^LSSHISLWHJRLYZIV[OVU[OLZOVY[[LYTHUKPU[OLSVUN Preservation of the intended zones of interest remains
run, even in extreme environments. Installation time is the priority as well designs grow in complexity. No matter if
considerably shorter and it allows for early production, as the well is a producer or an injector, it is critical to protect
there are no swellable elastomers to wait on. Long term well [OLZLaVULZI`PZVSH[PUN[OLTMYVTPU[Y\ZP]LJYVZZV^VY
integrity is secured due to its design, materials and testing, the introduction of contaminants. One contaminant results
and it has many HSE advantages. The Flex-Well concept from the cementing operations or the cement slurry itself.
offers increased recoverables and reduces installation costs *LTLU[SLZZJVTWSL[PVUPZH^H`[VYLZVS]L[OPZPZZ\LHUK[OL
substantially, which opens the opportunity to exploit a new WAB for zonal isolation has been developed in conjunction
array of reservoirs that previously were not feasible a with a number of global operators to address this.
potentially game changing development. Whether used for cementless completion or cement
assurance, the annular barrier assembly is mounted on the
Unconventional challenges, unconventional exterior of the liner or casing, enabling a maximum diameter,
solutions full-bore liner with rotational capability to be deployed. After
)HJRPU ^OLU[OLPKLHVM[YHJ[VYIHZLKJVU]L`HUJL setting the liner hanger and under surface control, the outer,
^HZYZ[PU[YVK\JLK[OLZJLW[PJPZT^HZO\NL/V^L]LYHU high-grade steel alloy sleeve of the barrier is hydraulically

56 June 2013
Delivering bigger results on a compact scale.
At Cudd Energy Services, we strive to deliver better offshore results.
Our hydraulic drilling unit provides an economical alternative to
traditional platform and jack-up rigs. Its compact design accommodates
the space limitations of offshore rig platforms, while the vertical
racking feature allows intervention operations to be performed
between multiple wells without laying down work string or rigging
down. This leads to improved work efciencies with fewer trips and
easier marine transport.

To learn more, visit us at today.


expanded to contact and conform to the open hole, while VM^VYR)HZLKVU[OPZUP[LLSLTLU[HUHS`ZPZ-,(TVKLSSPUN
simultaneously working to harden the alloy. During the setting was performed in the initial development stages to simulate
sequence, arrays of unique, pressure activated seals are the expansion on the maximum required borehole size with
energised against the formation, providing the hydraulic seal the available expansion pressure.
that allows the WAB to deliver a stable metal barrier with a FEA considered the following parameters:
maximised delta P capability across the entire borehole for Maximum allowed expansion pressure.
the lifespan of the well. Maximum allowed outside diameter.
Setting temperature.
From vision to reality Minimum operating temperature.
The idea of the annular barrier has been around for years, Pressure differential in production mode.
reservoirs. Thus the WAB has been developed in close
co-operation with a number of operators, addressing While standard FEA analysis characterises the borehole
[OLKPMJ\S[PLZMHJLKI`[OLTPUH]HYPL[`VMJOHSSLUNPUN as a rigid body, it is also possible to model the rock response
environments. The outcome is a hydraulically expandable to the expansion stresses ensuring it does not exceed the
metal annular barrier, developed for the applications where formation limits.
swellable external casing packers are traditionally used. As the design was revised, the FEA analysis was re-run to
The WAB allows for surface operation, advanced ensure all the project challenges were met. Once the FEA was
downhole monitoring and reservoir control, and re-stimulation JVTWSL[LKIHYYPLYTHU\MHJ[\YPUNMVYX\HSPJH[PVUJVU[PU\LK
of multiple zones stretching horizontally over more than ^P[OYLK\JLKX\HSPJH[PVUYPZRZ
30 000 ft. of wellbore and potentially comprising more than ;OLX\HSPJH[PVUVM[OL>()^HZJVUK\J[LK\ZPUN
60 zones. It is a unique, single skin well completion liner, the ISO 14310 V-3 testing protocol, which establishes the
assembled on the outside diameter (OD) while maintaining pressure-drop limit of 1% for the pressure-testing cycles. It is
full-bore inner diameter (ID). It provides long term robust manufactured in accordance with ISO9001.
and reliable zonal isolation in cemented or un-cemented
wellbores and may be used in conjunction with casing as Case study: high pressure, cementless, zonal
well as liners. It also provides higher differential pressure acid stimulation
capacity and higher expansion ratio to running OD without In the North Sea an operator needed to deploy a liner across
compromising the ID. Consequently, it does not impair or an 8000 ft horizontal section within a selected reservoir
YLZ[YPJ[V^JVUKP[PVUZHUKM\Y[OLYTVYLLUHISLZZ\IZLX\LU[ comprised of eight zones. The challenges were that the zones
well maintenance to take place unhindered. had to be completely compartmentalised and able to withhold
Fast and safe deployment are key industry demands, up to 8000 psi delta P during an extensive acid stimulation
which are supplied through simple components and solid liner job, as well as isolate a nearby water-bearing zone.
functionality. Due to the lack of control lines, installation can be To improve economics and maximise reservoir exposure
Z^PM[HUKLMJPLU[HUKP[PZLHZ`[VWSHJLPUSH[LYHSZ;OPZHSZV to the acid, cement was avoided as part of this solution.
ensures safe well abandonment when required. The full-bore The baseline operation was built up from an extensive
construction ensures the highest production rate capacity, drilling and production database, and using the annular
and its rugged design and reliable nature allows for increased barrier completion solution, the well was projected to deliver
reservoir contact, and enables cementless completions.  IWK
Over the last two years intensive design and development After an extensive engineering study, 16 of these wellbore
work has been under way. One of the main challenges has annular barriers were installed on the operators line assembly
been moving into the realm of plasticity theory requiring the and deployed in the well, sealing off the selected eight zones.
involvement of external expertise combined with numerous Once the entire liner including WAB assembly reached the
laboratory tests. The challenge lies in the complexity of the desired target depth, pressure inside the liner was increased
interaction between the various components of the seal to expand the WABs; an operation that took less than 30 min.
^OLUZL[\UKLYWYLZZ\YLPLP[PZKPMJ\S[[V[LZ[[OL]HYPV\Z With the zones completely isolated, the acid stimulation job
components in isolated tests. ^HZUHSPZLKHUK[OLKLZPYLKTH_PT\TKLS[H7\W[VWZP
During the development of the annular barrier, the was achieved between each of the zones. The pressure was
development and engineering team faced an array of successfully contained within each zone while the stimulation
challenges, including: job went from one zone to the next as designed. The zonal
Relatively low expansion pressures. JVTWHY[TLU[HSPZH[PVUHUK>()PU[LNYP[`^LYLJVUYTLKI`
A requirement to hold a high delta P in collapse temperature and pressure sensors located within each of the
(production) pressure differential a property in conflict zones using independent readings.
with the expansion pressure specified above. Eliminating the need for cement in this project lowered
Choice of material and dimensioning of the expandable the Capex and enabled the operator to achieve the desired,
sleeve, capable of very high expansion ratios. extended reach drilling target while overcoming the limiting
Design of outer seals with an ability to withstand high equivalent circulating density (ECD) concerns. The planned
delta P across a wide temperature range after setting. productivity achievement was greatly surpassed and after six
Preliminary engineering drawings were created based on months of production, an average of 4500 bpd was achieved
intellectual property gathered over the course of many years ^P[OVUS` ^H[LYJ\[ O T

58 June 2013
Stephen J. Chauffe, TEAM Oil Tools, USA, examines a new hydraulic
toe valve designed for a cemented environment.

large majority of North American long lateral wells ;OPZHY[PJSLWYLZLU[Z[OLLSK[YPHS[LZ[PUNHUKYLZ\S[Z

A are cemented and thus require initial toe injection

before these multi-stage wells can be completed.
and time-consuming use of coiled tubing (CT) or tubing allows the tool to function regardless of any residual or tail
;OL[VLPUP[PH[PVUZSLL]LZHYLY\UHZHUPU[LNYHSWHY[VM higher operating pressures and temperatures than other
6UJL[OLJHZPUNOHZILLUZ\YMHJL[LZ[LK[VMYHJWYLZZ\YLZ Utica and Barnett shale plays. The tool has been tested
HKKP[PVUHSWYLZZ\YLPZHWWSPLK[VVWLU[OL]HS]LHUKPUQLJ[ more than 300 times and by more than a dozen operators
into the formation. HUKOHZZOV^U[VZH]LHU`^OLYLMYVT<: [V
HUKJHZLKOVSLHWWSPJH[PVUZ;OLLMJPLUJPLZMV\UKPU of these wells are cemented and require an initial toe
open hole applications are desirable in completions that PUQLJ[PVUWYPVY[VJVTWSL[PUN[OL^LSS(UKPUHSTVZ[HSS

the current completion techniques utilised today plug and perf and The next generation of toe sleeve technology is a sleeve that is
The plug and perf method uses a combination of frac plugs [OLPUOLYLU[YPZRVM[VVSMHPS\YLPZTP[PNH[LK^P[OZWLJPJKLZPNU
and perforation clusters to complete the well. Once the lower most characteristics.
zone is hydraulically fractured, a frac plug (bridge plug) is pumped The sleeve, once activated, fully opens regardless of whether or
to depth and set. The zone above the frac plug is then perforated not excess cement has been left in the lateral. The sleeve remains
with wireline and subsequently hydraulically fractured. Completing fully open as hydrostatic pressure is constantly applying an opening
wellbores using this technique requires an initial toe injection to force, which is further secured with internal body-lock ring. The
W\TWKV^U[OLYZ[MYHJWS\NHUKN\UZL[ sleeve offers an alternative to costly TCP operations and allows for
Historically, the initial toe injection is established with the use H+-0;WYPVY[V[OLTVIPSPZH[PVUVM[OLMYHJLL[
of TCP. With TCP, perforating guns are deployed on threaded pipe
or coil tubing, often times below a snubbing unit. This technique The next generation: cemented sliding sleeve toe
is time consuming, costly and adds a safety issue with perforating valve
guns on surface. The T1026 ORIO toe valve is a hydraulically actuated,
The ball sleeve method utilises ball-activated stimulation valves hydrostatic-operated sliding sleeve, which is run at the bottom of
cemented in place along the lateral. In this case, which is similar a cemented casing completion. And, once activated, it is always
to the open-hole scenario, individual balls are dropped to open open. Injection is established and subsequent treatment operations,
each valve and subsequently hydraulically fracture each zone. Z\JOHZWS\NHUKWLYMHYLMHJPSP[H[LK;OL[VVSPZZWLJPJHSS`
Similar to the plug and perf method, an initial toe injection must designed for a cement environment and functions properly
ILLZ[HISPZOLKPUVYKLY[VW\TWKV^U[OLYZ[MYHJIHSS-HPSPUN[V regardless of the amount of excess cement left in the casing.
establish an initial toe injection typically results in all the Unlike previous generations of toe sleeve, this tool is designed
ball-activated frac sleeves being drilled out in order for TCP to be with three layers and not two. The only part of the tool that moves is
run. the middle layer, thus mitigating the risk of premature opening while
both running in the hole or during the cementing operation.
The patented middle layer piston is protected with
required to rupture one of the disks. When one or both of the
disks burst, pressure enters into the middle layer and acts to
push the middle piston down into the atmospheric chamber,
On previous generations of toe sleeves, the innermost
piston moves within the inner diameter (ID) of the tool. This
design is susceptible to both premature opening during the
cementing operation and also failure if tail or residual cement
is left in the low side of the casing. The new design mitigates
that problem by having three layers. With the three layers, the
middle layer moves into the protected atmospheric chamber.
Excess cement does not affect the tool at all.
The utilisation of rupture disks allows the tool to actuate
at very precise opening pressures. The pressure can be
pre-set to within 2% of required actuation pressure. The
Figure 1. Top illustration: ORIO toe valve in closed position. Bottom illustration: surface actuation pressure is simply the disk rating minus
ORIO toe valve in open position. the hydrostatic pressure in the casing at the tool. This
20 000 psi prior to actuation.

Field trials: Eagle Ford, Utica

and Woodbine plays
The ORIO toe valve has been employed
in almost every North American shale
play, and internationally in China, Russia
Figure 2. ORIO toe valve and Australia. The tool has been tested
stimulating the production zone. more than 300 times and by more than
a dozen operators and has shown to
save anywhere from US$ 80 000 to
US$ 120 000 per well.
Utica and Woodbine plays. A total of
62 wells were reviewed. The wells were
horizontal, with lateral lengths ranging

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from 4500 to 9000 ft in length. The tools were run on either 4.5 in. or Next generation toe injection sleeves
TVZ[JVTTVUILPUN[VPUPUKPHTL[LY)V[[VTOVSL eliminate the need for the costly and time-consuming use of CT or
established allowing wellbore cleanup and subsequent plug and L]LU^P[OL_JLZZJLTLU[SLM[PU[OLJHZPUN;OL\[PSPZH[PVUVMK\HS
from being tested. The data captured illustrated designed opening HUK,HNSL-VYKZOHSLWSH`ZPSS\Z[YH[L[OH[[OLH]LYHNLVWLUPUN

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64 June 2013 our
Join worldwide membership today at
Sean Hollis and David Brown,
CSI-Technologies, USA, show
how common well repair
problems can be
overcome with
an engineered

ime is not kind to wells can be in a variety

T wellbore equipment.
Equipment like casing,
tubing, packers, control lines and
of areas such as packers,
wellheads, cement plugs,
primary cement, control lines
wellheads can degrade over time due to and other areas. Many of these
operation in harsh environments. Corrosion and unplanned areas provide significant sealing
equipment failure can result in leaks, which require repair to challenges that are either too costly to
protect the environment, maintain well productivity and ensure repair with cement or mechanical devices or simply cannot
regulatory compliance. be repaired by these methods. This issue creates the need
Every year, hundreds of wells located on the for an easily applied, economical sealing solution that
Gulf of Mexico shelf develop leaks. These leaks can be provides significant benefits to the operator. A unique and
located virtually anywhere in the well and under a variety effective sealing solution has been proven to be effective
of conditions. A large number of these are very costly to in repairing a wide range of leaks in wells. This solution is a
_HUKYLTLKPH[PVU]PHJVU]LU[PVUHSTLHUZPZUV[\Z\HSS` unique resin sealant that does not require a rig and can be
LJVUVTPJHSS`Q\Z[PLK-\Y[OLYTVYLTHU`VM[OLZLSLHRZ placed in the well quickly and easily.
are on wells that have been plugged and abandoned or on
this type of well is extremely uneconomical and is avoided A simple solution to satisfy these sealing needs is the use
as much as possible by operators. However, the issue poses of unique two-part resin sealant. This sealant has many
operational problems, environmental hazards and regulatory characteristics that make it an ideal choice for sealing
compliance concerns. unique and difficult leaks. It provides excellent mechanical
A range of conventional options is available for repair, properties, unique placement options, and allows variable
ranging from cement to mechanical solutions. Leaks in densities and cure times.

The resin sealant possesses mechanical resin sealant is a solids free fluid. This
properties that make it extremely effective allows it to be squeezed into extremely
at sealing leak paths in a wellbore. Many small openings and flow paths. And unlike
wells contain high wellbore stresses that cement, the resin sealant does not suffer
can cause other sealing materials to from fluid loss or dehydration. This means
fail. The resin sealant has over twice the the resin will cure regardless of the size,
compressive strength of a typical cement geometry and permeability of its flow path.
system1 and over six times the tensile The cure time of the resin sealant can
strength. 1-SL_PIPSP[`PZHUV[OLYRL`WYVWLY[` also be adjusted as needed. A wide range of
of the resin. The Youngs, or elastic downhole conditions can affect the handling
modulus of the resin is extremely high. This and placement of any type of sealant.
allows the resin to deform under changing The resin sealant can be formulated to be
conditions without failing. It will also return WSHJLKHUKJ\YLKPU[LTWLYH[\YLZMYVT-
to its original size and shape once the [V-;OLHTV\U[VM[PTLILMVYL[OL
stresses are removed. The resin also has resin cures can be increased for squeeze
great shear bond qualities. This allows it applications or decreased for gas control.
to adhere and maintain a strong bond with All of these characteristics allow the resin
casing, cement, and many other materials. sealant to provide a unique and effective
The combination of these excellent sealing method. The resin sealant has been
mechanical properties allows the resin to used in many applications such as to seal
maintain its seal even under extreme stress casing leaks, packer leaks, wellhead leaks,
Figure 1. Example of resin falling and
conditions. plug and abandon applications and many
roping through water.
The resin sealant is impervious to water other applications. The successful placement
or brines. 1 This quality allows for more and of the resin sealant has been carried out with
LHZPLYWSHJLTLU[VW[PVUZ-VYL_HTWSL dump bailers, bullheading, pouring and by
quite often a production packer between HSSV^PUNP[[VMHSSPU[VWSHJL-\[\YLWYVQLJ[Z
the production tubing and the casing will may further the wide range of the resin sealant
have a small leak. The leak is small enough applications and placement techniques.
to prevent sufficient circulation around the
leak path but large enough to necessitate Field application
sealing. This essentially prevents the A recent application for the resin sealant
placement of typical sealing materials such provided a very unique situation to seal.
as cement, but it is not a problem for the The well contained a control line that ran
resin sealant. Because of the impervious down the annulus of the production casing
Resin Plug
nature of the resin, it can be pumped into and production tubing to a subsurface
annulus from the surface and allowed to safety valve. The top of the control line
fall on top of the packer. The resin sealant connected to a port inside the wellhead.
does not need to be pumped down to the Gravel This port connected to a nipple on the
packer as it will fall in a rope through the Pack outside of the wellhead to allow pressure
annular brine and puddle on top of the to be applied to operate the subsurface
resin. This method of placement has been valve. This is a common setup in wells with
proven to be very simple and effective. subsurface valves. In this well, however,
The resin sealant is also impervious to the production tubing and the control
gases. Many times, a sealant is needed to Figure 2. Example of resin to seal a line had both parted 200 ft below the
stop and seal bubbling gas. When the resin leaking packer. wellhead. Though the well was no longer
sealant is placed on top of a gas leak, the under production, the operator of the well
gas will bubble up through the resin until required the remaining control line to be
the resin develops enough gel strength to prevent any further fully plugged in order to provide a barrier against formation
gas intrusion. The resin is unaffected by the gas and does pressure.
not allow the formation of channels like in cement. Once the The well was located in shallow water in the Vermillion
gel strength of the resin sealant overcomes the gas bubbles, area of the Gulf of Mexico. The temperature at the wellhead
the resin continues to cure and form a solid, channel-free ^HZ-;V[\YU[OLWHY[LKJVU[YVSSPULPU[VHIHYYPLY
seal. 200 ft of the in. ID line would need to be plugged from
The density of the resin sealant can be adjusted by the surface and the seal would have to be durable enough
adding various lightweight or heavyweight additives. This to withstand at least 3000 psi. Due to the narrow ID of the
allows the resin to have a density that can range from control line, a solution using resin sealant was developed.
7.0 ppg all the way up to 19.0 ppg. The use of weighting The low viscosity and solids-free formulation meant that the
agents is useful in the leaking packer mentioned earlier. The sealant could be pumped down this narrow opening without
resin sealant density must be weighted above the weight bridging or plugging. In addition, the physical properties of
of the annular brine in order to ensure it falls to the top the resin sealant would provide an impervious barrier once
of the packer. While these additives add solids, the base setting inside the line. The resin sealant was designed to fill

66 June 2013

201 3
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sealant was mixed with an air-powered drill in a 5 gal.
bucket. Once it was thoroughly mixed, it was then loaded
The resin was designed into the hydraulic hand pump and pumped into the control
line port on the wellhead. The resin was slowly pushed into
and tested prior to the the full length of the hanging control line. The slow pumping
allowed the resin to build resistance in the control line as
job to ensure sufficient it developed gel strength and began to cure. Once the full
volume of the sealant was displaced into the control line,
placement time. No the valve on the control line port was shut to keep pressure
solids were added to the on the curing resin. A total of 36 hrs were allowed to pass
before opening the valve to ensure the resin had fully
resin sealant to ensure cured. The control line was confirmed to be fully plugged,
satisfying the operators requirements, and further repair
it would flow easily operations commenced on the well.

through the small ID of Conclusion

the control line. The resin sealant provides an effective sealing method for a
variety of well repairs. The excellent mechanical properties,
wide temperature and density, adjustable set properties, the
200 ft of the in. ID control line. The required volume of ability to fall through water and penetrate small voids gives the
resin sealant to fill the control line was only 1 gal. Due to resin sealant a distinct advantage over other sealing methods.
the small volume of resin sealant as well as limited space The resin sealant reduces costs by eliminating the need for
and equipment on location, the placement of the resin a rig and other equipment. Field applications have proven
sealant would be done with a hydraulic hand pump from a the sealing ability of the resin sealant and future well repair
workboat. projects will provide brand new challenges for sealing. O T
The resin was designed and tested prior to the job to
ensure sufficient placement time. No solids were added References
1. Sabins, Fred, and Larry Watters. Cement Alternative
to the resin sealant to ensure it would flow easily through
Has Unique Properties. E&P Magazine 4 June 2007: n.
the small ID of the control line. Prior to pumping, the resin pag. Exploration & Production. 4 June 2007. Web. 01 May 2013.

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Keep up to date with
the latest news from the
global energy industry.
Amir Mahmoudkhani, Kemira, USA,
explores the advantages of green
innovations in defoamers
for cementing applications.

oams are stabilised dispersion systems containing gas as the HUKH]VPKPUNVWLYH[PVUHSKPMJ\S[PLZK\L[VLU[YHPULKHPY;YHKP[PVUHS

F dispersed phase and a liquid or solid or a mixture of both as the

continuous phase. Most chemical additives needed to make
cement slurries are surface active molecules with an amphiphilic
products that have been used in common operating conditions,
often pose a risk to the environment. A new generation of greener
chemistries is needed either in liquid or dry forms to meet industry
structure; on one hand soluble and on the other insoluble (or of and environment regulations. Solid defoamers represent a particularly
limited solubility) in aqueous phase. This surfactancy is responsible attractive alternative, as they are characterised by long term stability
for the stabilisation of air-liquid interfaces and the potential generation and ease of handling under severe climatic conditions.
of excessive foam and air entrainment as shown in Figure 1. Such
HKKP[P]LZPUJS\KLJLTLU[YL[HYKLYZKPZWLYZHU[Z\PKSVZZJVU[YVS Challenges with environmental regulations
additives, gas migration control agents and ductility improvement Compliance with national and international environmental regulations
additives. Chemicals used to enhance cement grinding are also NV]LYUPUN\ZLHUKKPZJOHYNLVMVPSLSKJOLTPJHSZPZHJYP[PJHSMHJ[VY
known to cause foaming to some extent. in the development of new, environmentally-acceptable chemicals.
Cement foaming, chemically entraining air in cement slurries to The most important institutions guiding these regulatory frameworks
HJJV\U[MVYHKKP[P]LZPU]VS]LKPZKPMJ\S[[VJH[LNVYPZLPU[OLZLUZL are (1) the US Environmental Protection Agency for US Gulf Coast/
of a conventional process. It can be viewed as an emulsion of air in Gulf of Mexico and (2) the Oslo/Paris Commission (OSPARCOM) for
the cement water system or foam formation in the liquid phase and North Sea and other European Countries. The OSPAR commission
retained by the gel or solid network, or both. Origins of air in cement KLULKH]LY`YLZ[YPJ[LKSPZ[VMZ\IZ[HUJLZ[OH[HYLJVUZPKLYLK
slurries include air already contained in the system and air entrapped to Pose Little Or No Risk (PLONOR) to the environment; some
during mixing. Reviewing literature on air entrainment revealed that countries follow the guidelines more rigorously than others. Most
it is clearly a complex process, which is affected by many factors of the service companies supply their customers globally; the need
such as the mixing regime, physical and chemical properties of for greener technologies becomes a requisite to operate, as many
oil well cements, water ratio and quality, dosage and properties of state oil companies and international companies are looking into the
the foaming agent, other chemical additives and supplementary North Sea regulations when establishing their environmental controls
cementitious materials (SCMs), and a range of other parameters. and legislations.
In well cementing applications, the reliable administration of For the last few decades, the development of greener chemistries
defoaming chemistries is a key step in preventing excessive foaming MVY^LSSJVTWSL[PVU\PKZOHZILJVTLTVYLJOHSSLUNPUNK\L[V

necessary high performance standards and evolving
restrictive regulations. Although one of the additives
with the lowest dosage rate, defoamers and antifoams
represent a particular challenge when looking into
formulations with more environmentally-viable
materials. There is a tendency to shift from
Figure 1. Mechanism of foam stabilisation. non-biodegradable silicone based products.
Non-silicone chemistries such as fatty alcohols,
esters and phosphates that show less toxicity
and better biodegradability, may represent viable
solutions. However, the challenge of achieving a high
performance and cost-effective product remains,
more strict and demanding. Kemira Chemicals is
global product safety requirements and promote
greener, alternative chemistries without compromising
Using a systematic approach, different defoamer
chemistries were evaluated for highly foaming systems.
A series of non-toxic, biodegradable (more than
Figure 2. Systematic approach for development of green defoamers.  6,*+HUKOPNOS`LMJPLU[WYVK\J[Z^LYL
developed achieving yellow banding for Norway and
gold for UK applications. In addition, a Smart solid substrate with
green PLONOR banding was developed to be used as a carrier for
the above chemistry. The Smart dry technology is proving to be
of greener and even more cost-effective defoamers for cementing
As shown in Figure 2, the process for development of green
defoamers involves a systematic study and evaluation of active
defoaming chemistries, formulating agents and diluents or carriers.
Performance testing is also a key in development of green products
Figure 3. Graphical representation of foaming/defoaming patterns
from FEAT data. Testing methods for defoamers
There is currently no API standard for evaluation of defoamers for oil
and gas cementing. Cementing service companies often use their
own developed lab procedures, which often includes:
Slurry preparation using API procedure.
Measuring slurry density using a mud balance or other methods.
Visual investigation of air-entrainment in cement for voids and
Effects on other properties such as rheology, thickening time and
compressive strength.
Comparison of performance against a defoamer currently used
in the field as a benchmark.
A controlled approach has been developed for the evaluation
of cement defoamers using a unique Foam and Entrained
Figure 4. Blender foam test data in the latex system. All defoamers Air Test analyser (FEAT) and a more comprehensive blender foam
are dosed at 0.2% BWOC. test method that provide more insights into cement foaming
and defoaming processes. More detailed description of the
methodologies used can be found in the References section of this
Table 1. Defoaming chemistries and their discharge conditions article (Mahmoudkhani, 2011).
Sample ID Discharge permits The blender test was designed to address the effect of shear rate,
slurry volume and time on foaming during mixing of cement slurries.
Silicone A No
A clear protocol to evaluate densities of foamed slurries allow
Silicone B No for much controlled testing and better reproducibility of the data.
Non-silicone C Yes (Yellow for Norway, Gold for UK) ;OL-,(;[LJOUPX\L\[PSPZLZH\PKYLJPYJ\SH[PVUSVVWKLZPNULK[V

70 June 2013
The instrument is temperature controlled, open atmosphere, and adsorbent structure which strongly impacts defoamer release and
features an inline foam generation chamber to entrain air in the subsequent performance. Although high surface area substrates
experimental media. Density is continuously recorded using a density (such as precipitated silica) are often chosen due to their high
V^TL[LYVUJLYLJPYJ\SH[PVUILNPUZ;OLLMMLJ[VMHKKP[P]LZZ\JOHZ adsorption or loading capacities, they may lack performance owing
foamers, defoamers and antifoamers may be determined at any time to poor and slow release of the active defoaming chemistry from the
by injection into the foam chamber. Figure 3 represents a schematic Z\IZ[YH[LHUK[O\ZSLHK[VWYVK\J[TPZ\ZLZHJYPJPHSKLMVHTLY
of the defoamer densitytime curve obtained by the FEAT Technique. A careful selection of a substrate and active defoaming agent
;OLJ\Y]LJVUZPZ[ZVMZL]LYHSKPZ[PUJ[HYLHZ;OLYZ[WVY[PVUVM[OL should address several aspects ranging from environmental
curve with a downward slope (dinit to dmin) indicates the quickness
with which the test media entrains air and foams. Defoamer is then
injected at a chosen density or time noted on the graph. The initial
density minimum (dmin) of the graph represents the time which the
defoamer has begun to affect the media. The upward slope from
this minimum (dmin to dmax) represents the quickness with which the
defoamer acts upon the media to remove entrained air. The curve
then generally peaks at the defoamers maximum effectiveness (dmax).
An ideal defoamer would maintain the same density as the peak,
whereas a real defoamer gradually loses effectiveness causing the

Performance evaluation
As discussed earlier, a careful evaluation of the effectiveness of
a product, either as an anti-foaming or defoaming agent, should
Figure 5. FEAT analysis of silicone and non-silicone chemistries in the
latex system.
systematic evaluation requires separate testing under the different
conditions. Both FEAT and blender tests were utilised here; while
blender test evaluates defoamer capability on a cement slurry, FEAT
analysis looks at the liquid mixing step prior to slurry creation.
Non-silicone green chemistries are then benchmarked to traditional 1330
silicone products.
Figures 4 and 5 show the blender and FEAT results for cement 1050
slurries with a gas mitigation control additive (a latex type product).
For such a highly foaming latex, the selection of non-silicone 720
products will be more effective than silicone chemistries and in
particular a better option when defoaming properties are needed in
the liquid mixing step prior to slurry creation.
cement slurries. They are often used at higher dosage in lightweight
and ultra-lightweight cement slurries to provide adequate properties
Performance of silicone and non-silicone defoamers is evaluated Figure 6. Blender foam test data for API Class G Cement and PVA
MVYJLTLU[ZS\YYPLZJVU[HPUPUNH\PKSVZZHKKP[P]L!WVS`]PU`SHSJVOVS (0.9%) system. All defoamers are dosed at 0.2% BWOC.
(PVA). As shown in Figure 6, silicone based defoamers were found
to be not effective in PVA foaming systems,
instead both non-silicone based defoamers
exhibit superior performance as indicated by
measured slurry density in comparison to the
design density.

SMART dry defoamers

Liquid defoamers are predominantly used
in normal operating conditions, but dry
defoamers are preferred in extreme climates,
mainly due to ease of handling and storage,
long term stability and uniformity. In dry
defoamers, the active defoaming chemistry
is loaded on the voids of a high surface
area (solid) substrate. Consequently, the
development of dry defoamers brings another Figure 7. Formulation of dry defoamers, effect of substrate structure on defoamer adsorption
level of complexity associated with the and release.

June 2013 71
on a low porous smart substrate expecting faster release of the
dosages. It is noticeable how the liquid and smart defoamer sample

Figure 8. Blender foam test on cement A slurry using 2% Dispersant Conclusions

and 20% Salt System. Liq (liquid defoamer), SD (Smart Dry Defoamer) As local environmental legislations are under constant revision, it
and Dry (Traditional Dry Defoamer). Non-silicone liquid defoamer as PZPTWVY[HU[[VKL]LSVWUL^WYVK\J[ZJVUZPKLYPUNUV[VUS`J\YYLU[
challenge when chemical companies need to formulate effective
regulations and cost to operational conditions and practices such as [LJOUVSVNPLZSPTP[LKI`LU]PYVUTLU[HSS`]PHISLJVTWVULU[Z;OL
dosage points, nature of additives used and the need of defoaming UL^KY`[LJOUVSVN`^HZWYV]LU[VILOPNOS`ILULJPHSNYHU[PUNHSS
versus antifoaming functionalities. A solid substrate with green [OLHK]HU[HNLZVMKY`WYVK\J[ZWS\ZL_PIPSP[`PU[LYTZVMKVZHNL
release upon mixing in foaming media. Figure 7 illustrates the References
1. Mahmoudkhani, A., Bava. L., Wilson, B., An Innovative Approach for
(active defoamer uptake) and desorption (active defoamer release) :7,:7,7YVK\J[PVUHUK6WLYH[PVUZ:`TWVZP\T4HY
kinetics to maximise performance.

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72 June 2013

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