Well Preparations for Side-Track Drilling Campaign in an Offshore Environment : An Exercise Resulting in Strategic Economic and Operational Advantages

Kumar, Abhineet (Cairn Oil & Gas, Vedanta Limited) | Prakash, Aditya (Cairn Oil & Gas, Vedanta Limited) | Singh, Alok (Cairn Oil & Gas, Vedanta Limited) | Bharati, Pradeep (Cairn Oil & Gas, Vedanta Limited) | Jayan, Binshu (Cairn Oil & Gas, Vedanta Limited) | Kothiyal, Manish (Cairn Oil & Gas, Vedanta Limited) | Patil, Bhushan (Cairn Oil & Gas, Vedanta Limited) | Sarma, Phanijyoti (Cairn Oil & Gas, Vedanta Limited)

OnePetro 

Abstract

An offshore drilling campaign comprising of four development wells was conducted to augment oil production from a field located off the western coast of India. All four wells were designed to be sidetracked from existing depleted wells of the field. Historically, preparing existing wells in the field for side-track took ~4 days/well of a drilling rig and associated spread cost. This paper presents a case- history of conducting side-track well preparatory activities by a rig-less well intervention spread leading to significant time and cost savings. This method was also the first instance of such an activity being conducted in an offshore environment in India.

Prior to actual side-track drilling from an existing well in a brown field, it is required to abandon the open zones in the existing well and prepare the well for casing window cutting for further drilling to a new sub-surface target. Typical preparation activities include multiple wireline runs to set/retrieve deep set and tubing hanger plugs, well killing, nipple-down X-mas tree, nipple-up BOP, wireline run to cut tubing, retrieval of existing completion and ultimately placement of cement plugs to abandon the parent wellbore. The routine approach in the organization for all previous offshore drilling campaigns was to utilize the offshore drilling rig for afore-mentioned well preparation activities. Substantial rig time was spent incurring the cost of entire rig spread for an average ~4 days/well equivalent to ~40% of total well completion time.

The paper elaborates on rig-less operations set-up consisting of Cementing and Wireline Units utilized to conduct well killing, placement of cement plugs, production tubing cutting and nippling down X-mas tree prior to the mobilization of the drilling rig at the platform. The only operation left for the drilling rig was to pull-out the existing completion string and then drilling operations could commence.

The execution of planned operations was flawless on three wells while one well posed technical limitation due to its high deviation. The rig less well preparation campaign was concluded incident free, ahead of schedule and within budget. This offline exercise prior to rig-move saved ~12 days of drilling campaign time which helped in cutting down on overall drilling campaign cost and also allowed the flexibility of adding more wells to the campaign within fair weather window.

While this was an effort to simplify operations and save costly drilling rig-time in a side-track drilling campaign by conducting some very critical operations offline, these methods can also be adopted for planning well abandonment and decommissioning activities in a mature field.