This paper presents design, testing, installation, and lessons learned with the world's first completely integrated managed pressure drilling (MPD) control system on a deepwater drilling rig. While previous MPD installations have included driller-operated systems, they all include additional human machine interfaces (HMI) and standalone control network components with limited use of rig data and limited to no interfaces to other critical drilling machines on the drilling rig. For the installation described in this paper, all MPD control functions were permanently installed on the main drilling control network of the drilling unit, providing direct access to high speed data from other drilling machines that influence the wellbore pressure. This includes the rig's mud pumps, top drive, and drawworks. Moreover, the MPD control system has the ability to actively control the drilling machines, thereby optimizing performance through coordinated control of mud pump, top drive, and MPD chokes during drilling and connections.
For years, the MPD community has predicted that MPD will be the next convention in drilling, and many rigs have been retrofitted to enable MPD on a temporary basis. However, advanced MPD technologies remain a service that operators call out when they cannot achieve their drilling targets without it.
MPD is perceived as complicated, requiring specialist knowledge in both the planning and execution phase. Lack of standardized equipment and procedures fuels this perception. Because of the limited and temporary use, few companies develop or retain in-house expertise, which again limits promotion and use of the technology.
The cost of an MPD project is prohibitively high to many. Mobilizing a temporary MPD service involves extensive rig modifications, installation, commissioning and third party certifications. In addition, comes MPD service rates and cost for personnel.
Although many case histories have demonstrated the value of MPD by greatly reducing nonproductive time and allowing access to challenging reservoirs, the cost and complexity of MPD deployment remain obstacles that leaves MPD as a niche technology that many decision-makers resist.
The solution to these challenges is simple: To finally release the full potential of MPD, permanent installation and true integration with existing rig infrastructure is required, combined with a more sustainable and favorable business model. This paper discusses the steps to the next generation managed pressure drilling platform.