Nine years have passed since the Deepwater Horizon disaster and industry is in a considerably better position to respond to a loss of well control of that scale. With the delivery of the Offset Installation Equipment (OIE) in January 2018 the joint industry Subsea Well Response Project (SWRP) has drawn to a close. Despite this, equipment and services continue to be developed. This paper will communicate developments in subsea well response technologies and the latest guidance developed by industry.
This paper provides an overview of the International Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP) Report 594 - Source Control Emergency Response Planning Guide for Subsea Wells. What should a comprehensive subsea Source Control Emergency Response Plan (SCERP) consider? What resources including manpower, expertise and equipment would be required for a controlled response? In addition, it provides an overview of recent enhancements in subsea well response equipment. This includes; offset installation equipment (OIE) for shallow water scenarios where vertical access above a wellhead may not be possible and air-freight capping stack solutions to minimise incident country configuration and testing.
The findings from technical and logistical studies, whilst developing this technology, will be clearly communicated for industry consideration. This includes critical activities to be considered in developing response times models. This paper will demonstrate that capping equipment located in country does not necessarily improve the overall response time for a loss of well control event; an effectively planned response is more important than immediate hardware availability. The importance of mutual aid of personnel and equipment in a response will be key as not one company can provide all the solutions.
Although only required for remote or land locked basins, to further enhance industries capabilities, it has recently been demonstrated that existing ram based capping stacks can be transported by air, without disassembly, and thereby maintaining pressure boundaries. This allows for a more rapid air mobilisation to the incident location without the need for major re-assembly upon arrival.
While several years have passed since the 2010 Gulf of Mexico (GOM) source control incident that caused a six-month drilling moratorium, the industry likely believes it is fully prepared to prevent or mitigate the effects of a similar incident in a timely manner. However, installing a source control device on a blowing well is a technically complex exercise, one that has never been performed; while performing such an operation, one should consider challenges posed by metocean conditions, coupled multiphase hydrodynamics, and multibody interactions that complicate the deployment and docking of a capping stack onto a subsea wellhead. The latest gate-valve technology intended to close against flow presents a more compact option for rapid capping than unwieldy ram-based systems. The speed of deployment of the lighter capping stack is attributed to the availability of suitable aircraft, lifting equipment at the airport or dockside, and an ample supply of suitable deployment vessels. The underlying logistical issues that prevent rapid responses to subsea incidents have not, for the most part, been addressed until now. A development differentia in capping-stack technology has been necessary to exact the speed of response that the industry calls for and to meet the expectations of stakeholders and the general public. Fortunately, the industry now has access to technology that can be deployed to a source control incident in any global location in a matter of days. Sophisticated, high-fidelity simulation, hitherto unavailable, incorporates metocean sea state and uses coupled multiphase hydrodynamics and multibody interaction effects of vessel motion, suspension system dynamics, and the hydrodynamics of the capping system within the unstable blowout forces to create an accurate analysis that addresses plume and landing-force analysis at the wellhead. Coupled with the tools to accurately simulate the effects of the force dynamics from surface to wellhead to complete the entire process, the advances accompany the new capping design and enhance the ability to determine landing capability, heralding further advancement in source control technology and techniques.
Efforts to help reduce environmental footprint, infrastructure, and development costs have led to an increased use of pad drilling. However, the close proximity of wells in pad drilling increases the risk of more severe consequences during well control incidents. In the case of a burning well, both radiant and direct heat can potentially ignite adjacent wells, possibly threatening both human life and equipment and detrimentally affecting the immediate environment. This paper describes challenges and lessons learned from controlling a multiwell pad blowout.
A series of six wells with 15 ft spacing was drilled on a pad. Each well was completed with multistage hydraulic fractures; however, during flowback operations, a well developed a leak through a flowback line connection. The gas exiting the well eventually ignited, and the heat from the fire damaged the seals and wellhead equipment on neighboring wells, causing all of the wells on the pad to develop leaks, which consequently caught fire. Successful well kill operations using surface well intervention subsequently secured all of the wells. This paper provides unique insight into the challenges of containing a blowout on closely spaced well pad configurations and highlights lessons learned.
This paper presents two case histories providing insight into source control operations at shallow water depths. The first case history discusses a capping procedure at the seabed in a water depth of 80 ft. Debris on the seafloor was cleared and a new platform was installed, incorporating the remaining legs of the damaged previous jacket up. Once the well was successfully capped and diverted, the drillstring was snubbed into the flowing well, which was then killed by means of a dynamic kill operation. The second case history discusses capping a burning high pressure gas well on a platform. Debris was cleared and removed from the platform, and eventually the well was capped and flowed to a pipeline.
This work highlights how source control options should be considered and evaluated as part of emergency response plans for jackup rigs and platforms. Proper planning, organization, and task management are fundamental to a safe and successful operation.
Kutas, David Thomas (Chair of Drilling and Completion Engineering - Montanuniversitaet Leoben) | Bailey, Philip (Chair of Drilling and Completion Engineering - Montanuniversitaet Leoben) | Prohaska, Michael (Chair of Drilling and Completion Engineering - Montanuniversitaet Leoben)
The publication generally and briefly describes what circumstances governed the petroleum industry and the connected regulatory organizations before the Macondo blowout. The paper shortly describes utilized classic containment and control efforts such as actuation attempts of the BOP, top kill with junk shot, relief wells. The publication's main focus is to describe and graphically present in detail the Cofferdam, the Riser Insertion Tube Tool, Top Hat, Capping Stack and choke and kill line collection method which were utilized to seal off the flow of hydrocarbons at the Macondo blowout. An extended literature review has been completed to fully cover and understand the technologies which were utilized and newly developed in the efforts to stop the outflow and abrogate the accident. The assessment of critical properties, problems are also presented next to the description of the specific source control technology. The blowout has triggered efforts never seen before both in short- and long-term not only from the side of affected regulatory and company side but industry wide. Short-term, the main effort was to contain the blowout as soon as possible, long-term it triggered strong determination from companies, and connected businesses to create proper contingency planning, containment technologies and strategies also through newly established consortiums. The non-profit oriented consortiums, containment systems and established HSE regulations need to be maintained properly even in a low oil price environment, so deeper understanding, recurrent inspection of the development ways of containment technologies in offshore environment can be crucial for sustaining the high HSE standards. The paper also aims to summarize knowledge to be able to make proper decisions in case of deepwater projects.
The realization associated with Macondo is that loss of well control (blowouts) can still occur in the drilling equipment and procedures in unanticipated ways. The oil and gas industry, the regulators and the public must understand the potential and the preparations. The industry and the regulators are collaborating and investing in improved methods, practices and equipment necessary to continue to conduct ever safer exploitation of hydrocarbons.
This paper describes how the global oil and gas industry is developing specific ability to close off wells with a secondary “capping system” that can shut off entirely and/or flow to offshore collection vessels. Capping systems can be installed in various configurations for deepwater, ice-infested locations, multi-well installations beneath a floating facility, well intervention scenarios, and wells with limited downhole pressure integrity.
New configurations of well control equipment incorporate changes in pressure protection design philosophy, or utilize newly available equipment to provide safe exploration in new, more difficult service in a variety of application environments. The leading edge capping technology addresses 20,000 psi, HPHT (high pressure/high temperature), harsh environment exploration and extended flow containment. Treatment and transportation provisions are anticipated in most applications.
The oil industry is not using Macondo as our only scenario to consider for loss of Source Control. The planning does not simply address capping stack installation over a blowing well. We are implementing proactive solutions and practices to safer and more reliable pressure protection equipment for all subsea operations.