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Considering most of the rigs deal with human-machine interface systems, the role of human factors is at the heart of any successful operation. Eye-tracking technology can be useful in real-time operation centers where ocular movement data can improve the professionals’ performance. Environmentalists have sued a US agency to try to stop it from allowing oil and gas drilling on a vast stretch of federal land in Nevada, where the government is reversing protections put in place 9 months ago under the Obama administration. Two months after a Colorado home exploded near an Anadarko well, the reverberations are still rattling the oil industry, driving down driller shares and raising fears of a regulatory backlash. More than 100 members of Congress are urging the Trump administration not to open up the Atlantic or Pacific oceans for oil and gas drilling as part of the Interior Department’s review of federal offshore policies.
Although considered a mature exploration area, the United States continues to attract exploitation of developed gas fields due to its well developed downstream infrastructure. However, natural gas production from major US basins is expected to fall below U.S. demand in the near term. Deep Miocene gas exploration programs in the Gulf of Mexico have emerged to exploit this supply shortfall. While attention has focused on jack-up rig designs for shallow water offshore prospects in this market, recent discoveries lie in 18 feet or less of water in Louisiana; the traditional operating area of the conventional swamp barge fleet.
Penetration rates, hole stability, and mud properties are key well construction parameters for both deepwater and deep gas projects, and lessons learned apply to both areas of operation. Deep gas targets have comparatively more compacted formation, higher temperatures, and low margins between flowing wells and lost returns, thus well control is a driving factor in well design. This paper describes the re-engineering of a conventional deep drilling barge rig to deliver a new generation high pressure/high temperature/high flow barge rig designed for increased reliability and specification for deep gas drilling programs in the US Gulf Coast region. Upgrading the main power and distribution systems and high performance pump configuration are discussed as well as resulting auxiliary system modifications.
Results of initial prospects drilled with this modified rig (Rig 76 B) in south Louisiana are presented, describing how upgrades on the rig impacted drilling performance. Safety and environmental results, hydraulics optimization, high pressure mud circulating system performance, and trouble shooting new components are included. The successful integration of drilling technologies including real time formation evaluation, bottomhole assemblies and performance drilling is discussed from the rig perspective. Finally, a check list of potential areas for improving the full potential of the rig in the market is provided to expand the application as more challenging drilling prospects are evaluated for technical and commercial feasibility.
Despite a significant increase in active rig counts since the second half of 1999 a corresponding gas production increase has not been realized in the US. Increased land drilling activity exploiting unconventional gas reserves is largely offset by declining conventional gas reserves onshore and offshore. Chart 1 compares the steady decline of gas production in Gulf of Mexico offshore federal leases to increased production in Colorado, and Wyoming from 2001, while total US production is slightly lower during the period. Large gas finds in the U.S. are traditionally made in homogeneous sandstone formations while unconventional reserves derive from smaller, complex reservoirs such as shale and coal. Thus, extraction costs are also increasing. These trends are forecast to continue until 2015 when Prudhoe Bay gas reserves may be on-line. In this environment, declining production and higher lifting costs underpin continued strong domestic gas pricing and corresponding drilling activity.
Although heavily explored since the 1920's, the onshore Miocene of south Louisiana has produced more economic discoveries in the past ten years than the Flex Trend sub-salt play. More recent Miocene discoveries are deep, geopressured, and contain reservoirs that are not seismic amplitude associated. Large discoveries have been on faulted anticlines found with the aid of detailed regional maps utilizing well logs, biostratigraphy, and 2-D seismic data. Exploration of this play has expanded into the shallow-water shelf, which to date has produced over 40 billion barrels of oil equivalent, but has limited tests below 20,000 feet. Figure 1 depicts recent discovery potential by age.