The high-profile blowout at Macondo well in the US Gulf of Mexico, brought the challenges and the risks of drilling into high-pressure, high-temperature (HPHT) fields increasingly into focus. Technology, HSE, new standards, such as new API procedures, and educating the crew seem to be vital in developing HPHT resources. High-pressure high-temperature fields broadly exist in Gulf of Mexico, North Sea, South East Asia, Africa, China and Middle East. Almost a quarter of HPHT operations worldwide is expected to happen in American continent and the majority of that solely in North America. Oil major companies have identified key challenges in HPHT development and production, and service providers have offered insights regarding current or planned technologies to meet these challenges. Drilling into some shale plays such as Haynesville or deep formations and producing oil and gas at HPHT condition, have been crucially challenging. Therefore, companies are compelled to meet or exceed a vast array of environmental, health and safety standards.
This paper, as a simplified summary of the current status of HPHT global market, clarifies the existing technological gaps in the field of HPHT drilling, cementing and completion. It also contains the necessary knowledge that every engineer or geoscientist might need to know about high pressure high temperature wells. This study, not only reviews the reports from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) and important case studies of HPHT operations around the globe but also compiles the technical solutions to better maneuver in the HPHT market. Finally, the HPHT related priorities of National Energy Technology Laboratories (NETL), operated by the US Department of Energy (DOE), and DeepStar, as a strong mix of large and mid-size operators are investigated.
The Ichthys LNG Project
INPEX has begun construction of one of the world's largest oil and gas projects following the Final Investment Decision (FID) on the US $34 Billion Ichthys LNG Project in Australia on 13 January 2012. The Ichthys LNG Project is a joint venture between INPEX (Operator) and Total with Tokyo Gas, Osaka Gas, Chubu Electric and Toho Gas.
The Ichthys Field is situated in the Timor Sea approximately 200 kilometers off the Western Australian coast and over 800 kilometers from Darwin. Three exploratory wells drilled in 2000 and 2001 resulted in the discovery of an extremely promising gas and condensate field with resource estimates from two reservoirs totaling approximately 12TCF of gas and 500 million barrels of condensate. Conceptual studies, FEED and ITT followed and development leading to sanctioning of the Ichthys LNG Project by INPEX and Total.
Gas from the Ichthys Gas-Condensate Field in the Browse Basin will undergo preliminary processing offshore to remove water and extract condensate. The gas will then be exported to onshore processing facilities in Darwin via an 889 kilometer subsea Gas Export Pipeline (GEP). Most condensate will be sent to a Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel for stabilization and storage prior to being shipped to global markets. The Ichthys LNG Project is expected to produce 8.4 million tons of LNG and 1.6 million tons of LPG per annum, along with approximately 100,000 barrels of condensate per day at peak.
Production from 20 subsea wells in the first phase - 50 will be drilled in total - will be sent to the Central Processing Facility via 8?? rigid lines connected to flexible risers. The flexibles will be supported by a 110 meter high jacket type riser support structure. You see, no aspect of the Ichthys LNG Project is small.
Effluents will be separated on the Central Processing Facility (CPF), a semi-submersible floater. Gas will be dried and compressed prior to being sent ashore via a GEP. Compression will be from four compressors, designed for 590.7 MMSCFD. Following initial treatment, most liquids will be transferred from the CPF to the nearby FPSO for processing and storage. The 330 meter-long FPSO will be a weather-vaning ship-shaped vessel that is permanently moored on a non-disconnectable turret. It has been designed with a storage capacity of nearly 1.2 million barrels. Loading of two offtake tankers in tandem will be possible from the FPSO.
The design team for the Wheatstone offshore platform successfully deployed an ‘Inherently Safe Design' (ISD) approach to engineering the gas processing complex. Through a program of initiatives focused on ISD, a substantial improvement in the safe design of the platform has been delivered.
Major accident events:
The Texas City incident in 2005 initiated the most detailed and far reaching investigation ever undertaken by the US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) at the time. The CSB report included a recommendation that BP form an independent panel to conduct a review of the company's corporate safety culture, safety management systems, and corporate safety oversight at its U.S. refineries. This independent review was conducted and a separate report known as the Baker Report was developed, with the key conclusion being that the process safety culture was deficient.
Major incidents such as the Macondo and Montarra well blow-outs still occur. NOPSA newsletter Issue 86, February 2010 presented data on gas releases, a recognised precursor to major accident events and showed "Design problems at root of most major gas releases??.
Most offshore wells that require artificial lift are gas lifted, as gas typically is readily available and compared to other lift systems, gas lifting is relatively inexpensive and low maintenance. However, electric submersible pumps (ESPs) can
efficiently and economically increase oil production and reserves recovery under the appropriate operating conditions. This may translate to a lower abandonment pressure in the long term—possibly reducing the total number of wells required to deplete an asset.
Since few ESPs currently are installed in offshore wells, an ESP screening "Rules of Thumb" was created as a simple guide for prioritizing offshore ESP candidates. The selection criteria focus on feasibility of installation, operability conditions
and operating practices to maximize run life, and economic considerations. ExxonMobil† and industry experience from North America, South America, West Africa, Asia, Australia, the Middle East, and the North Sea provided the basis for the study.
New oil and gas frontiers are presently looking at projects offshore of theGulf of Mexico and South Atlantic, including West African and Brazilian watersand soon after Asia Pacific. New technologies are required to performinstallation in a cost efficient and safe method; they must encompass the stateof art equipment in order to provide effective solutions. The new ships FDS2and CastorONE are Saipem's replies to the forthcoming challenges indeep/ultra-deep water field development and pipe lying. The new vessels willoperate by using new welding, NDT and field joint coating technologies,including innovative installation equipment able to generate added value forthe implemented solutions. Field development projects include complex risersystems and the new fleet is designed to offer reliable solutions for thefuture configurations, which are designed to route the oil and gas fluids tothe floating treatment units. Saipem FDS2 is described by indicating hercapabilities and her equipment, including those required for project in shallowwater and those specifically designed for deep waters installation.Furthermore, sea keeping and naval features are offered in order to demonstrateher versatility and ability to solve main installation challenges relevant tothe deep water fields. Trunk line projects will be addressed to transportationof large gas volumes over long distances across harsh environments and Saipemvessel CastorONE is presented by showing off her capabilities for the ultradeep water installation. Information on the new state of art rigid stinger isprovided together with some conceptual solutions designed to increase theefficiency of the working stations and of the method to transfer the pipes withspecific equipment. The paper concentrates on the installation requirements forthe in-field production gathering systems and on the oil and gas exportpipelines.
Field development: the leading market trends
Since 1998, numerous deep water field development projects, mainly in the SouthAtlantic region both in West Africa and in Brazil were carried outsuccessfully. The vision for the future leads towards two major trends: evendeeper waters and new surprising geographical regions. Moving in bothdirections, thanks to its top class technologies and assets, Saipem aim to leadthe path towards the even tougher future challenges.
The scope of the work of deep water projects, within EPCI type contracts, hasnormally included all major and minor technical aspect, supplies andinstallation/operations from A to Z, with contract values typically in therange of half to one billion USD. Key of this market segment - which nowrepresents a significant portion of turnover and backlog - has been theintegrated development of original technical solutions and dedicatedfit-for-purpose installation vessels.
Leveraging on its notable competence, track record and offshore constructionfleet, the two main lines of evolution for the offshore field developmentmarket were, are and will be tackled, namely ultra-deep waters and new frontierregions as follows:
• On one hand, the ultra-deep water developments, emerging in the traditionaloil provinces in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic, will require theIndustry to make available new technologies and equipment to support the safeand effective implementation of the relevant production schemes;
• Simultaneously, the development of subsea oil and gas fields is taking placein new world regions bringing quite new challenges from both the technical andexecution standpoints.
Exploitation of oil and gas reservoirs in water depths in excess of 2,000m (?6600') is progressively emerging as the new market. Gulf of Mexico, offshoreBrazil and West of Africa are nowadays showing the greatest concentration offield development projects. In addition, subsea developments in new areas suchas East India, Indonesia, Offshore China and Western Australia are appearing inthe offshore oil and gas theatre both for relatively moderate and for deeperwater depths.
Perdido Regional Development in the Western Gulf of Mexico and the Walker Ridgearea in the Central Gulf of Mexico will be significant and challenging offshoreprojects.
The plans for many of the upcoming deepwater projects involve the use of highpower Electrical Submersible Pump (ESP) Systems for Artificial Lift. However,the perception in the industry is that the average run-life currentlyachievable with such high power ESP Systems is much shorter than what would bedictated by robust project economics, given that intervention costs in theseapplications can be very high, in the US$50MM - 75MM range. Therefore, theconsensus among operators is that there is a need to try and improve thereliability of these systems.
In response to this industry need, DeepStar® recently commissioned a gap studytowards identifying the barriers that may be preventing ESP Systems fromachieving the desired reliability as well as the additional R&D effort thatmay be required for the industry to close the existing gap. DeeepStar® providesa forum for deepwater technology development, while leveraging the financialand technical resources of the industry (http://www.deepstar.org/).
This paper presents a summary of the results of this study, including: a) theMean Time To Failure (MTTF) that people believe is currently achievable (i.e.with current technology); b) the biggest differences about these applications,which introduce additional uncertainty to the ability of the system to performreliably; c) the main sources of uncertainty regarding each of the major ESPSystem component's reliability; and d) the tentative plan that was outlined aspart of the project, to address the gaps that were identified.
The Gap Analysis was based on phone interviews conducted with recognizedindustry experts, on discussions that took place with members of a TechnicalCommittee (TC) that was put in place for the project, and on a broader industrysurvey conducted through the internet. The proposed go-forward plan consists oftwo follow-up projects: one focused on improved system design and operationalpractices, including system monitoring (or surveillance) and control; and onefocused on validating the design of key components of concern, for thespecifics of these applications, through laboratory testing. The proposednear-future R&D effort has the support of major operators, but still needsto be fine-tuned, with input from the industry, before the actual work canproceed with buy-in and financial support from all of the partiesinvolved.