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Historical Background

The history of oil well drilling technology is studded with the familiar names of Colonel E. L. Drake, Captain Anthony Lucas, and "Spindletop." However, the rapid development and commercial application of rotary drilling in the early 1900s was preceded by the work of many individuals from many different countries. Listed at the end of this segment are important early milestones in the history of modern drilling technology. The early need for water and salt prompted the Chinese to develop a percussion-type drilling apparatus to replace the practice of digging wells by hand. While improvements were made to this concept over a long time period, other individuals eventually conceived of methods for boring a hole into the earth and flushing out the cuttings, as opposed-to beating the rock into pieces and bailing out the particles. The emergence of a commercial use for petroleum in the mid 1800s accelerated the development of equipment and techniques used to drill for oil. While the percussion, or cable-tool, method of alternately lifting and dropping a heavy iron bit remained popular in the American northeast for a long while, the rotary drilling rig, introduced in the American midcontinent, gradually became the most widely used method worldwide. Ancient Times Wells dug by hand...this practice continued in Burma until the 1900s. 256 B.C. Chinese use percussion drilling to drill wells for saltwater, using derricks, tubing, bits, and cemented bamboo casing. 1808 Ruffner brothers of West Virginia use a "spring pole" percussion-drilling apparatus to "kick down" a well. The drillers attach a cable and bit to a flexible sapling secured as a lever over a fulcrum. After using their own weight to bend the pole and drop the bit into the hole, they allow the spring pole to lift the bit back up. 1829 Steam is used to operate improved cable tool equipment that utilizes derricks, engines, and fishing tools to retrieve lost bits. 1844 An Englishmen Robert Beart invents a drilling machine that includes a hydraulic swivel, hollow drilling rods, and circulating fluid. 1845 A French engineer named Fauvelle drills a water well near Perpignan, France, using a set of hollow boring rods to allow pumped water to flush excavated material from the hole. 1848 August Beer, an Austrian professor, suggests the possibility of drilling by a rotary method. 1859 Using cable-tool percussion drilling equipment, Col. E.L. Drake completes the first commercial oil well in America, at a depth of 69 ft. 1860 A French civil engineer named Leschot uses a power-driven, diamond-studded rotary drill. 1866 A patent is granted for a "stone drill" that includes a hollow drillstem, a roller bit, and a fluid-conducting swivel. 1869 A patent is granted on a special type of offshore drilling rig. Another inventor receives a patent on a rotary table with a beveled gear drive. 1880s European oil well drillers, using versions of Fauvelle's water- flushed drilling tools, drill wells in Alsace and Baku.

1882 The Baker brothers begin using rotary equipment to drill for water in South Dakota to depth of 500 ft. 1888 The Bakers move their equipment to Corsicana, Texas, where it becomes popular. 1893 W.B. Sharp drills for oil with a rotary rig near Beaumont; his well is abandoned at 418 ft. 1897 P. Higgins unsuccessfully drills for oil near Beaumont and then hires Anthony Lucas. 1900-1901 Anthony Lucas and the Hamill brothers drill the discovery well at the Spindletop Field near Beaumont, Texas, using rotary drilling equipment from Corsicana. The well flows 100,000 BOPD from 1040 ft and rotary drilling is on its way. 1909 Howard Hughes invents the rotary rock bit, with a rolling cutter. 1918 The world's deepest well, drilled with a cable-tool percussion-drilling rig, is 7386 ft. 1920s Combination rigs are developed that use percussion cable tools to drill down to 4000 ft and rotary drilling equipment below that depth. 1930 The world's deepest well, drilled with a rotary rig, is 10,000 ft.

Surface Environments
Drilling for hydrocarbons is undertaken practically anywhere that potential reservoir rock exists. Petroleum occurs in varying amounts on all continents and in all geologic systems, from Precambrian to Recent (Levorsen 1967). Although the fact that exploration efforts are confined to sedimentary basins decreases the potential exploration area somewhat, drilling locations still include almost every conceivable surface environment on the globe. Surface environments of oil well drilling locations can be categorized as either onshore or offshore . . . although in certain soggy parts of Louisiana the distinction is rather difficult! Onshore, the environments vary drastically from desert to mountain, jungle to arctic permafrost. In Middle Eastern deserts, drilling rigs are transported to remote locations by trailers with wide, low-pressure tires to allow travel over sand. In Sudanese swamps, rigs and rig equipment must be transported via helicopter or amphibious vehicles. River barges and helicopters supply drilling locations in the jungles of Ecuador and Peru. The special challenges of drilling in the arctic have resulted in several innovations. There drilling is conducted from 5 ft (1.5 m) thick gravel pads to protect the tundra and insulate the permafrost from rig-generated heat. At Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, up to 30 wells are drilled from a pad, with the rig being pulled from well to well on metal skids. In order to move equipment from pad to pad, special wheels are mounted directly to the rig substructure and lowered using hydraulic jacks, lifting the rig off the ground. Rigs and related equipment are also transported to remote arctic locations, using Hercules cargo planes, helicopters, or special wide-tire vehicles called "rolligons." Often these vehicles move over ice roads" constructed from fresh water in order to protect the tundra from heavy loads and repeated travel (Gulick 1983). Difficult onshore drilling environments are not always in remote locations. For example, camouflaged and noise-dampened drillsites are sometimes required for urban drillsites, as happens in the Los Angeles, California, area. Traveling to offshore drilling locations, on the other hand, is not always as difficult as remaining there! The weather and water depth are the two greatest challenges to offshore drilling operations. Conditions at the various areas where off-shore drilling is currently conducted ( Figure 1 ) can vary significantly.

Figure 1

For example, in the Gulf of Mexico water depths can vary from less than 60 ft (18 m), where many wells have been drilled, to more than 5,000 ft (1500 m). Although the weather is usually relatively calm in the Gulf of Mexico, occasional hurricanes can bring winds of over 100 mph (45 m/s) and 50 ft (15 m) waves. In the North Sea, rough seas are much more common and 100 ft (33 m) waves must be considered in the design of platforms and drilling equipment (Graff 1981). In Alaska's Prudhoe Bay and Beaufort Sea, the annual cycles of ice formation and breakup can complicate drilling activities. Beaufort Sea drilling has been carried out from natural barrier islands and artificial gravel islands that are serviced by a variety of vehicles, depending on ice conditions. Rigs and equipment can be moved by barge during the ice-free period of late autumn. After the sea ice has formed between the islands and mainland, thick ice roads can be constructed on top of the sea ice. Prior to road construction, helicopter and STOL (short-fake-off-and-landing) aircraft are utilized. Transportation during the time period in which the ice is breaking up requires the use of a "hoverbarge," an air-cushioned vehicle with a flat barge deck, or an AST (Archimedian Screw Tractor), an amphibious vehicle capable of towing cargo through water and broken ice on two screw-shaped pontoons. Offshore drilling in deeper wafers must be conducted from ice-defended drill-ships or from stationary platforms built to withstand the tremendous forces generated by moving ice (Gulick 1983). Ice bergs can also threaten offshore operations in northern areas, particularly off shore Newfoundland. If they are sighted in time, these icebergs (if small enough) can be towed away to prevent a collision with platforms or drilling vessels. Unfortunately, the sea is not the only thing that moves at some offshore locations. Earthquake-proof platforms must be constructed for areas like the Pacific Coast of North America. In the Mississippi River delta regions, where large volumes of sediment are currently being deposited, platforms are designed such that wells are drilled through the legs of the structure to protect the wells and stabilize the structure against mud flows. Of course, not every drilling environment is hostile, but there are quite a variety of conditions for which we must design.

Subsurface Drilling Environments


In general, drilling difficulty increases with increased depth. This is logical because we are required to maintain control over an operation that is taking place at increasingly greater distances via a relatively small

linkage. A string of 5-inch (.127 m) drill-pipe drilling a 15,000 ft (4572 m) well is roughly analogous to a string of everyday drinking straws dangling from the edge of a 75-story building. Increased depth also brings increased pressure, and controlling pressure is much of what drilling is all about. Let us consider subsurface pressures for a moment. Most of the sediment in the sedimentary basins in which drilling is conducted was deposited along with, or later invaded by, water. Consequently, the porous rocks of the petroleum reservoir and the formations above it are full of water. In many cases, the oil and gas accumulations make up little of the total volume of fluids saturating the reservoirs and their associated aquifers. It is the fluid column resulting from all this water, reaching up toward the surface, that causes the pressure we encounter in the fluid-filled pore space of the reservoir rock. For example, if you measure the pressure at different depths in a body of water, it will increase according to the density of the water ( Figure 1 ). The rate of pressure increase, or gradient, will increase with increasing salinity.

Figure 1

Fresh water exerts a pressure of .433 psi/ft (9.81 kPa/m) and water with a salinity of 55,400 mg/liter total solids exerts a pressure of .45 psi/ft (10.18 kPa/m). If the body of water becomes a basin of water-saturated sand ( Figure 2 ), the sand grains can be thought to pack together, supporting one another throughout the column. The fluid pressure in the pore space between the sand grains has not changed, it still varies with depth according to the density of the fluid.

Figure 2

However, the overburden pressure, or lithostatic pressure, is the sum of the pressure exerted by the column of fluid and that exerted by the column of sediment. Since the column of sediment is porous, it exerts a pressure per unit area that is only a little greater than that of the water. The variation of this sum with depth is expressed as an over burden pressure gradient, just as the change with depth of the fluid pressure alone is expressed as a formation pressure gradient. These gradients will vary, depending on the height of the fluid column, the salinity (density) of the water, and the mineral make-up and porosity of the sediments. The over burden pressure gradient is normally about 1.0 psi/ft (22.62 kPa/m), and the reservoir pressure gradient varies from area to area: in the U.S. Gulf Coast it is generally about .465 psi/ft (10.52 kPa/m); it is somewhat less in freshwater areas. This reservoir pressure gradient can also be expressed in terms of the fluid density (or weight, in oilfield terminology). This quantity is commonly expressed in field units of pounds per gallon, or ppg. A pressure gradient of .465 psi/ft (10.52 kPa/m) is exerted by an 8.94 ppg (107 kg/m3) fluid, or conversely, an 8.94 ppg (107 kg/m2) fluid in a wellbore will exactly offset a reservoir pressure resulting from a .465 psi/ft (10.52 kPa/m) gradient. Unfortunately, certain geological or geochemical processes can affect the pressure gradient, causing it to deviate from its normal trend, resulting in abnormal pressures that are higher than expected (and sometimes lower). Figure 3 shows the deviation from the normal pressure trend measured in a group of U.S.

Figure 3

Gulf Coast oil fields. This type of deviation can be due to a number of processes: rapid sedimentation piezometric surface contrasts chemical diagenesis fluid density contrasts structural movement charging RAPID SEDIMENTATION: Normally deposited silts, sands, and muds will be compacted as additional sediment is dumped on top of them. The clays will lose most of their fluid volume and will be compressed into shale. As the sediments are buried deeper, the sands compact slightly, but the shales are squeezed and lose more and more of their interstitial water. If the rate of sediment deposition is so great that the water within and below the shale cannot escape and therefore must help carry the load developed during subsequent compaction, the reservoir pressure will be abnormally high. This is shown schematically in Figure 4 .

Figure 4

PIEZOMETRlC SURFACE CONTRASTS: The piezometric surface is the point to which the fluid in a reservoir will rise under a pressure head resulting from a difference in elevation ( Figure 5 ).

Figure 5

The difference between the distance from the reservoir to ground level and to this "surface" will determine

the degree to which the measured pressure gradient is greater or less than normal. An example of this phenomenon is the artesian well. CHEMICAL DIAGENESIS: Diagenesis of montmorillonite clays to illite clays results in an expulsion of interlayer bound water with increasing temperature. If this water cannot escape from the compressing shales, or is forced into interbedded sandstones, abnormal pressure can develop. FLUID DENSITY CONTRASTS: When a large column of oil or gas is trapped in a reservoir, the lower density of this saturating fluid can cause a deviation from expected pressure. This is because the reservoir fluids transmit the greatest pressure applied to them, much like hydraulic fluid in an automobile brake line. Figure 6 shows how the normal pore pressure in the water-saturated portion of the reservoir is transmitted to the shallow end of the formation.

Figure 6

The pressure at the top of the reservoir equals the pore pressure at the deep end, minus the fluid head exerted by the lighter (less dense) hydrocarbons. STRUCTURAL MOVEMENT: If a normally pressured sand is lifted rather rapidly relative to geologic time, the overburden pressure may decrease more rapidly than the pore pressure can dissipate. This can occur as a result of piercement salt domes, shale diapirs, or tensional faulting. CHARGING: Abnormal pressures can be encountered in sands which, although originally normal pressured, have been placed in fluid contact with an abnormally pressured zone via a conduit (leaking fault, fracture, aquifer, borehole, or combinations of these). Such a sand is said to be "charged" with a pressure greater than normal for its depth. This type of overpressure can be generated relatively quickly in the case of an underground blowout. There are several other mechanisms that contribute to the overpressuring of reservoirs. Clay can act as a semiper meable membrane, allowing osmosis to inhibit the flow of water from compacting shales as a result of an increase in ion concentration. The thermal expansion of water and thermal cracking of hydrocarbons both act to increase the volume of saturating fluids, and can help cause abnormal pressures in a confined reservoir rock. These contributions are thought to be minor, however.

Another variable parameter that contributes to the hostility of subsurface environments is temperature. The temperature gradient, or geothermal gradient, is generally constant for a given borehole, although it may vary from area to area. Typically, the geothermal gradient is expressed in degrees per unit depth ( F/100 ft or C/100 m). The average is about 2F/100 ft, or 3.64C/100 m, although 2.5 - 5F/100 ft and less than 1.0F/100 ft gradients are found (Levorsen 1967). A change in geothermal gradient can sometimes be an indicator of abnormally pressured shales, foreshadowing the potential for an over-pressured reservoir. In determining a bottomhole temperature from a known gradient, or vice versa, an adjustment must be made for the mean annual surface temperature. For example, a 15,000 ft (4572 m) well in an area with a mean annual surface temperature of 60F (15.6C) would have a bottomhole temperature of 360F (182.2C), assuming an average geothermal gradient. That is, 15,000 ft times 2F/100 ft, plus 60F, equals 360F. Although subsurface temperatures do not usually have as great an impact on drilling as subsurface pressures, high temperatures can influence cement setting time thermal expansion and contraction of tubular components (especially in completions) formation evaluation equipment capabilities and the operation of certain downhole equipment such as logging tools, measurement-while-drilling tools, and special drilling tools bit life drilling mud properties and cost In addition to increasing temperature and pressure, other factors associated with the types of formations encountered and the types of fluids they contain can increase the difficulty of dealing with sub surface environments. Salt and anhydrite formations can adversely affect mud systems and, in some cases, cause difficulties in cementing casing. Massive salt formations may even shift laterally, causing casing collapse. High permeability gravels and vugular limestones can lead to lost circulation problems. In the Gulf Coast, "gumbo" shales can cause sticking problems and plugged bits. Carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide contaminants in formation fluids can reduce the endurance of drillpipe and bits through corrosion and sulfide embrittlement. In almost all cases, these problems are aggravated by increasing temperature and pressure. Imagine we have a formation containing salt water that has a gradient of .465 psi/ft (10.5 kPa/m), and that there is a petroleum accumulation in the formation with wells at 10,000 ft (3048 m) as shown in Figure 1 .

Figure 1

If our oil has a density that gives it a gradient of .350 psi/ft (7.90 kPa/m) and the gas gradient is .065 psi/ft (1.47 kPa/m), what is the pressure at the surface of the shut-in oil well? Within the shut-in gas well? What is the pressure at the surface of a new well drilled at the same depth with 8.94 ppg mud (mud weight in ppg equals mud gradient divided by .052)? The oil column in the oil well exerts a pressure equal to its gradient times the depth of the well, in this case 3500 psi (24,080 kPa). However, the pressure in the pore space of the formation at the reservoir depth is 4650 psi (32,000 kPa), because of the saltwater gradient of the aquifer. The difference between the formation pressure at the bottom of the hole and the fluid pressure exerted by the oil column will be felt at the surface as 1150 psi (7900 kPa). In the case of the gas well, the gas column is much less dense than the oil column and therefore allows even more of the formation pressure to be felt at the surface. Consequently, the formation pressure minus the product of the depth and gas gradient is equal to 3910 psi (27,400 kPa). So you see, it is quite possible to have different surface pressures in wells completed in the same reservoir. If we are drilling another well to the same depth, the pore pressure in the aquifer at that depth will be the same: 4560 psi. If we have 8.94 ppg mud in the hole, its gradient will be 8.94 divided by .052, or .465 psi/ft (10.5 kPa/m). That means that the pressure exerted by the mud column will exactly offset the pore pressure, making the surface pressure equal to zero.

Types of Drilling Rigs and Structures


Rigs are generally categorized as onshore (land) or offshore (marine). Onshore rigs are all similar, and many modern rigs are of the cantilevered mast, or "jackknife" derrick type. This type of rig allows the derrick to be assembled on the ground, and then raised to the vertical position using power from the drawworks, or hoisting system. These structures are made up of prefabricated sections that are moved onto the location by truck, barge, helicopter, etc., and then placed in position and pinned together by large steel pins. Some cantilevered land rigs have their mast permanently attached to a large truck to enhance their portability. Figure 1 shows a typical large land rig with a drilling mast.

Figure 1

(We will return to this figure throughout this section.) On location the mast is usually set upon a sub structure 8 ft to 40 ft (2.4 m to 12.2 m) high. The older standard derrick is the familiar four-legged structure

that had to be completely disassembled every time the rig was moved (or else left in place over the well). These derricks are not often used on land today. Rigs are rated according to their drawwork's horse power, mud pump horsepower, and load-bearing capacity. The load-bearing capacity can be translated to a depth limitation depending on the size of the drillpipe. A few rigs are capable of drilling to depths of 30,000 ft (9144 m) and hoisting loads of 1,500,000 lb (680,440 kg). Some modern rigs employ an independent jacking system with hydraulic cylinders to support the heavy load generated by a casing string's weight, thereby increasing the capacity of the rig. Offshore drilling rigs fall into one of several categories, each designed to suit a certain type of offshore environment: Barge rigs Submersible rigs Jack-up or self-elevating rigs Semisubmersible rigs Drillships Structure rigs BARGE RIG: The barge rig is most often a flat-bottomed vessel with a shallow draft, equipped with a derrick and other necessary drilling equipment. It is usually towed to the location and then has its hull filled with water, which allows it to rest on the bottom, providing a solid support for drilling activities. Obviously, this type of rig is only used in relatively shallow, swampy areas such as the river deltas of West Africa, the inland waters of the Louisiana swamps, or the shallows of Lake Maricaibo, Venezuela. Barge rigs are generally capable of drilling in water depths of less than 12 ft (3.7 m), or, in the case of a posted barge, perhaps to 20 ft (6.1 m). A posted barge has a lower hull that rests on the bottom and an upper deck that is sup ported by posts from the lower hull. SUBMERSIBLE RIG: A submersible rig is a larger version of a posted barge, and is capable of working in water depths of 18 ft to 70 ft (5.5 m to 2.14 m). Often the hull of a submersible rig will have steel floats or "bottles" that can be filled with water (ball lasted) to help stabilize the vessel on bottom. JACK-UP RIG: This is a self-elevating drilling rig, illustrated in Figure 2 , designed to operate in depths from 30 ft to 350 ft (9 m to 107 m).

Figure 2

After being towed to the location (or in some cases being self-propelled), the legs are lowered by electric or hydraulic jacks until they rest on the seabed and the deck is level, supported perhaps 60 ft (18 m) above the waves. Most jack-up rigs have three to five legs, and are either vertical or slightly angled for stability. The legs may have steel feet, called "spud cans," or they may be attached to a large steel mat. When moving to a location the legs are raised high above the deck, creating a some what cumbersome vessel that must move at slow speeds and only in good weather. The derrick, or mast, on a jack-up may be located over a drilling slot indented in one side of the structure, or the drill floor may be cantilevered over the side of the deck, allowing the rig to service wells on stationary platforms, or caissons, offshore ( Figure 3 ).

Figure 3

SEMISUBMERSIBLE RIG: Unlike the other offshore vessels, the semisubmersible drilling rig does not rest on the seafloor. This rig is a floating deck sup ported by submerged pontoons and kept stationary by a series of anchors and mooring lines, and, in some cases, position-keeping propellers ( Figure 4 , pontoon type, and Figure 5 , twin hull type).

Figure 4

"Semis" can either move under their own power or must be towed to their location.

Figure 5

They have a water-depth-operating range of 20 ft to 2000 ft (6 m to 600 m), and differ from each other principally in their hull configuration and their number of stabilizing columns. Most types have a rectangular deck; others may be wedge shaped, pentagonal, or even triangular. The two most usual hull arrangements are a pair of parallel pontoons or an individual pontoon at the foot of each stabilizing column. The columns and pontoons are ball lasted to provide a low center of gravity, adding to the semi's stability. Although the semi can operate in deeper water than a jack-up, it is still limited by the capabilities of the mooring equipment and the "riser" (the conduit that connects the drill floor to the sub-sea equipment located at the borehole on the seafloor). DRILLSHIPS: Drillships are most often utilized for extremely deep water drilling at remote locations. A "floater" like the semisubmersible, a drillship must maintain its position at the drilling location by anchors and mooring lines, or by computer-controlled dynamic positioning equipment. A series of controllable pitch propellers, or "thrusters," shift position and speed to maintain the ship over the wellbore. The drilling slot, or "moon pool," is through the ship's midsection, as shown in Figure 6 and Figure 7 .

Figure 6

Most drillships have greater storage capacity than other types of rigs, allowing efficient operation at remote locations.

Figure 7

STRUCTURE RIGS: Structure rigs are mounted on a fixed drilling and production platform, with all necessary auxiliary equipment secured on the deck. The derrick and substructure are usually --capable of skidding to different positions on the platform structure; following the drilling and completion of multiple wells, the rig may be dismantled and removed during the production phase of the program. Subsequent remedial work on these platforms may require the rig to be replaced. In some cases, the configuration of wells on the platform allows a jack-up rig to service the location. Permanent drilling and production structures vary widely in design and capabilities. A few of the most common designs are piled-steel platforms concrete gravity structures caisson-type monopod structures guyed towers tension leg platforms An example of the most common piled-steel platform, with a drilling rig installed on its deck, is shown in Figure 8 .

Figure 8

Drilling from these structures is not significantly different than other drilling operations, so we will not discuss their details in this module.

Basic Rig Functions


The four basic drilling functions are hoisting rotating circulating controlling The principal components of a rig that perform these functions are shown in Figure 1 .

Figure 1

The derrick supports the crown block and traveling block, which are operated via the drawworks and its drilling line. The kelly and swivel are connected to the drillstring and are suspended from the hook beneath the traveling block, allowing the kelly and drillstring to be turned by the rotary table. (Note that many modern rigs employ top-drive units in place of a kelley). A drilling fluid circulation system pumps mud from the pits through stand-pipe, hose, swivel, and drillstem, returning the mud and cuttings up the annulus and back to the pits. The blowout preventer (BOP) stack and its operating equipment allow the drilling crew to maintain control over subsurface pressures. HOISTING The mast and the substructure it sits upon support the weight of the drillstem and allow vertical movement of the suspended drillpipe. The substructure also supports the rig floor equipment and provides workspace for its operation. The drillstring must be removed from time to time; the length of drillpipe section that can be disconnected and stacked to one side of the derrick is determined by the height of the mast. A joint of drillpipe is about 30 ft (9.1 m) long, and a mast that will allow the pulling and stacking of pipe, in three-joint sections (90 ft or 27.4 m), is about 140 ft (42.7 m) high. The drawworks is a spool or drum upon which the heavy steel cable (drilling line) is wrapped. From the drawworks, the line is threaded through the crown block at the top of the mast and then through the traveling block, which hangs suspended from the crown block ( Figure 1 ).

Figure 1

By reeling in or letting out drill line from the drawworks drum, the traveling block and suspended drillstem can be raised or lowered. In order to safely manage the movement of such a heavy load with precision, the driller relies on an electrical or hydraulic brake system to control the speed of the traveling block and a mechanical brake to bring it to a complete stop. The drawworks also features an auxiliary axle, or "catshaft," with rotating spools on each end called "catheads." One spinning cathead is used to provide power to tighten the drillpipe joints via a cable from the cathead to the rotary tongs. The other cathead is for "breaking out" or loosening the pipe joints when the pipe is being withdrawn in sections. The wire rope drilling line that is spooled onto the drawworks drum undergoes a certain degree of wear as the block is raised and lowered in the derrick. For this reason the line is routinely "slipped" (moved onto the drawworks drum) and replaced with a new section from the continuous spool on which it is stored. The line is clamped at the storage spool end by a deadline anchor. The hook is attached to the traveling block and is used to pick up the drillstem via the swivel and kelly when drilling, or with elevators when tripping into or out of the hole. ROTATING The swivel allows the drillstem to rotate while supporting the weight of drillstring in the hole and providing a pressure-tight connection for the circulation of drilling fluid ( Figure 1 ). The drilling fluid enters the swivel by way of the "gooseneck," a curved pipe connected to a high pressure hose. Connected to the swivel is the kelly, a three-, four-, or six-sided 40 ft (12.2 m) length of hollow steel, which is used to transmit the rotary movement of the rotary table to the drillstring. (The term drillstem refers to the kelly and attached drillpipe, drill collars, and bit. The term drillstring refers to the drillpipe and drill collars. However, most folks in the oil patch disregard these rules and use whichever they please!) The kelly cock is a special valve on the end of the kelly nearest the swivel, which can be closed to shut in the drillstem. A lower kelly cock is also available on the bottom end of the kelly to perform the same function when the upper kellycock is not accessible. The flat sided-kelly fits through a corresponding opening in the kelly drive bushing, which in turn fits into the master bushing set into the rotary table. The rotary table is turned by the rig's power source, the table turns the bushings, the kelly bushing turns the kelly, the kelly turns the drillpipe, and so on . . . down to the bit. Note that in place of this conventional rotating system, many modern rigs have gone to the use of power swivels and top-drive units. Circulating System

Circulation of a drilling fluid to carry cuttings up the hole and cool the bit is an important function of any rotary drilling rig ( Figure 1 ).

Figure 1

The heart of the circulation system is the mud pump (or pumps), which is (are) powered by the rig's prime power source, as are the rotary table and drawworks. Mud pumps are positive displacement pumps that push a volume of drilling mud through the system with each stroke of their pistons. The output of a mud pump can be determined from the piston and cylinder sizes, the number of strokes per minute, and type of piston arrangement. The mud pumps pump the drilling fluid from the mud pit or tanks up the stand-pipe to a point on the derrick where the rotary hose connects the standpipe to the swivel. This flexible, high-pressure hose allows the traveling block to move up and down in the derrick while maintaining a pressure-tight system. The circulating drilling mud moves through the swivel, kelly, drillpipe, and drill collars, exiting through the bit at the bottom of the hole. The mud moves up the annular space between pipe and hole (or casing), carrying the drilled rock in suspension. At the surface, the mud leaves the hole through the return line and falls over a vibrating screen called the shale shaker. This device screens out the cuttings and dumps some of them into a sample trap and the rest into the reserve pit. Once cleaned of large cuttings, the mud is returned to a mud tank, from which it can be once again pumped down the hole. Fine particles are removed by centrifugal force by flowing the mud through desanders, desilters, or a centrifuge. A degasser is used to remove small amounts of gas picked up in the mud from the subsurface formations. Controlling Controlling the subsurface pressures encountered while drilling is an important part of the operation. One of the purposes of the drilling mud is to provide a hydrostatic head of fluid to counterbalance the pore pressure of fluids in permeable formations. However, for a variety of reasons the well may "kick"; that is, formation fluids may flow into the wellbore, upsetting the balance of the system, pushing mud out of the hole, and exposing the upper part of the hole and equipment to the higher pressures of the deep subsurface. If left uncontrolled, this can lead to a "blowout," with the formation fluids forcefully erupting from the well, often igniting, and endangering the crew, the rig, and the environment.

The blowout preventers are a series of powerful sealing elements designed to close off the annular space between the pipe and hole where the mud is normally returning to the surface. By closing off this route, the well can be "shut-in" and the mud and/or formation fluids forced to flow through a controllable choke, or adjustable valve. This choke allows the drilling crew to control the pressure that reaches the surface and to follow the necessary steps for "killing" the well and restoring a balanced system. Figure 1 shows a typical set of blowout preventers, including the annular preventer, which has a rubber sealing element that is hydraulically squeezed to conform tightly to the drillpipe in the hole.

Figure 1

Also shown are ram type preventers. These include pipe rams, which close around the pipe with rubber-lined steel sealing elements, and blind rams, which seal off the wellbore when there is no pipe in the hole. Shear rams are a type of blind ram that can crimp the pipe in two with a powerful hydraulic force to seal off the hole. Blowout preventers are opened and closed by hydraulic fluid stored under 1500 to 3000 psi (10,000 to 20,000 kPa) in an accumulator. The choke manifold houses the series of positive and/or adjustable chokes that are usually controlled from a remote panel on the rig floor. Often, a rig that is encountering frequent gas kicks will also have a mud-gas separator, which saves the drilling mud that is expelled along with a large flow of formation gas, and separates the gas for safe flaring at some distance from the rig. Controlling Controlling the subsurface pressures encountered while drilling is an important part of the operation. One of the purposes of the drilling mud is to provide a hydrostatic head of fluid to counterbalance the pore pressure of fluids in permeable formations. However, for a variety of reasons the well may "kick"; that is, formation fluids may flow into the wellbore, upsetting the balance of the system, pushing mud out of the hole, and exposing the upper part of the hole and equipment to the higher pressures of the deep subsurface. If left uncontrolled, this can lead to a "blowout," with the formation fluids forcefully erupting from the well, often igniting, and endangering the crew, the rig, and the environment. The blowout preventers are a series of powerful sealing elements designed to close off the annular space between the pipe and hole where the mud is normally returning to the surface. By closing off this route, the well can be "shut-in" and the mud and/or formation fluids forced to flow through a controllable choke, or adjustable valve. This choke allows the drilling crew to control the pressure that reaches the surface and to

follow the necessary steps for "killing" the well and restoring a balanced system. Figure 1 shows a typical set of blowout preventers, including the annular preventer, which has a rubber sealing element that is hydraulically squeezed to conform tightly to the drillpipe in the hole.

Figure 1

Also shown are ram type preventers. These include pipe rams, which close around the pipe with rubber-lined steel sealing elements, and blind rams, which seal off the wellbore when there is no pipe in the hole. Shear rams are a type of blind ram that can crimp the pipe in two with a powerful hydraulic force to seal off the hole. Blowout preventers are opened and closed by hydraulic fluid stored under 1500 to 3000 psi (10,000 to 20,000 kPa) in an accumulator. The choke manifold houses the series of positive and/or adjustable chokes that are usually controlled from a remote panel on the rig floor. Often, a rig that is encountering frequent gas kicks will also have a mud-gas separator, which saves the drilling mud that is expelled along with a large flow of formation gas, and separates the gas for safe flaring at some distance from the rig. Power Generation/Transmission System Hoisting, rotating, and circulating equipment is supplied with power from a prime power source, usually diesel engines. Engine capacity may range from 500 to 6000 Hp, and power may be transmitted to the rig either mechanically or electrically. Mechanical drive rigs have a combination of belts, sprockets, clutches, and pulleys, which transfer power from the diesel engines to the drawworks, pumps, and rotary table. The more modern diesel-electric rigs use their engines to drive generators that produce electricity. This electricity is sent through cables to a switch and control house from which point it is relayed to power the electric motors of each end user ( Figure 1 ).

Figure 1

Briefly describe the parts that the following rig components play in drilling operations. mud pump kelly drawworks blowout preventers Mud pumps: The mud pumps play an integral part in the circulating function. They provide the pumping action necessary to displace the drilling fluid from the mud pits or tanks up the standpipe, through the rotary hose, through the swivel, kelly, and drillstem, out the bit, and back up the annulus to the return line. Kelly: The kelly allows the rotational motion of the rotary table to be transfer red to the drillstem, and thus is part of the rotating function. Because the kelly is a pipe with flat outside surfaces, perhaps square or hexagonal, it fits into the kelly bushing, which in turn fits into the rotary table. The kelly is also strong enough to allow the entire drillstring to hang from it as it in turn hangs from the hook. Drawworks: As a component of the system performing the hoisting function, the drawworks powers the blocks in the derrick by reeling in or reeling out heavy steel cable. The drawworks also powers the tongs used to tighten and untighten tool joints. Blowout preventers: The blowout preventers help perform the pressure controlling function of the drilling system. The annular preventer and the ram-type preventers squeeze tightly around the drillpipe and close off the space between the drillpipe and the hole. This function prevents the mud in the annulus from flowing out of the return line.

The Drillstem

The drillstring ( Figure 1 )

Figure 1

is made up primarily of lengths of steel pipe to which are welded a threaded "pin" on the bottom end and a threaded "box" on the upper end ( Figure 2 ).

Figure 2

The American Petroleum Institute (API) establishes standards for pipe sizes, as well as for variations on the thread types and thicknesses of the box and pin "tool joints." Drillpipe is available in a variety of strengths and is generally supplied in "joints" that are about 30 ft (9.1 m) long and anywhere from 2 3/8 to 6 5/8 inches (6 to 17 cm) in diameter. Similar to drill-pipe, but having larger outside diameters and smaller inside diameters, are joints of pipe called drill collars. These drill collars perform three important functions: They provide weight on the bit while holding the drillpipe in tension.

They act as a pendant to keep the hole straight. They maintain rigidity to drill a straight hole. Drillpipe should never be subjected to high torque or compressional forces, since it could easily "twist off". (The exception to this rule is horizontal drilling, where the pipe is run in compression in the lateral hole section. In situations like this, heavy weight pipe specifically designed for compressive service is used). The heavy weight of the thick-walled drill collars provides the force necessary to direct the bit through the rock, while keeping the drillpipe above in tension ( Figure 3 ) . The collars also stabilize the drillstem and cause it to drill a continuing straight extension of the previously drilled hole.

Figure 3

Included in the drillstring are a variety of shorter lengths of pipe (or "subs") that perform a variety of tasks: Crossover Subs: These subs are designed to link different sizes or types of drillpipe and collars, which may have different threads and tool joint configurations. Shock Sub: This sub is run behind the bit with a spring or rubber cushions, both of which absorb the impact of the bit bouncing on hard formations. Bumper Sub: This sub is specially designed with a telescoping joint to help maintain a constant weight on the bit and still keep the drillstring in tension when drilling from a floating rig that is moving up and down. (The "motion compensation" equipment on floating rigs also helps maintain a stationary drillstring.) Stabilizers: A stabilizer is a sub with "blades" to keep the drill collars centered in the hole and maintain a full gauge hole. Often the blade surfaces have tungsten carbide edges or inserts ( Figure 4, (a) spiral and (b) straight blades).

Figure 4

Bit Sub: This is a very short sub with a box on both ends. Remember, a drill collar or drillpipe joint is always run with the pin pointing down, and the bit, of course, has a threaded pin pointing up. This sub allows the bit to be joined to the collar or drill-pipe above. There are other specialized tools that may be incorporated into the entire arrangement of drill collars and subs located at the bottom end of the drill-stem. A particular "bottomhole assembly" (BHA) will be designed by the driller and drilling engineer to provide for the most efficient drilling of the well. Drill Bits The drill bit is generally the most critical component of the drillstem. Bit technology has undergone more advancement since the early days of rotary drilling than any other element of the drilling system. There are several types of bits, which we shall discuss in turn: drag bits rolling cutter bits diamond bits special purpose bits DRAG BITS: The oldest of the rotary bits, the drag bit utilizes flat cutter blades to scrap away the rock. These bits, though relatively simple and inexpensive, and still used for drilling soft, shallow formations, have been largely replaced by other types. ROLLING CUTTER BIT: This bit, which is also called a roller cone bit, three-cone bit, or rock bit, is the most commonly used today and comes in a variety of designs ( Figure 1 and Figure 2 ).

Figure 1

The cones of this bit are designed to individually roll as the bit turns on the bottom of the hole.

Figure 2

While the cones distribute the weight of the drill collars, their teeth bite into the rock, gouging and scraping away the cuttings, which are then carried to the surface by the circulating mud. The toothed cones "mesh" together to provide a self-cleaning action; this is furthered by the directed flow of drilling mud from nozzles,

or jets, through which the fluid passes with high velocity. Roller cone bits vary according to the type and configuration of their teeth and the type of bearing used to join the bit body and cones. Steel-tooth (also called milled-tooth) bits have long, widely spaced teeth for soft formation models, and shorter, closely set teeth for harder formation types. The teeth of insert bits also vary in length depending on use, but are made of extremely hard tungsten carbide, and inserted into the steel cones. The bearings may be nonsealed, where the drilling fluid lubricates the rollers, or sealed, where a rubber seal isolates a high performance lubricant within the cones ( Figure 3 ,

Figure 3

cutaway of nonsealed bearing bit with ball and roller bearings inside cone , Figure 4 ,

Figure 4

cutaway of sealed bearing bit with bearings lubricated by internal grease reservoir and Figure 5 , cutaway of high performance insert bit showing roller bearings replaced by journal bearing surfaces, with bearings lubricated by grease from an internal reservoir).

Figure 5

In the case of journal bearings, a precision machined hard metal alloy surface replaces the cylindrical roller bearings. Journal bearings are designed to be stronger and more wear-resistant, for maximum service life. DIAMOND BITS: These bits operate similarly to drag bits, in that they have no moving parts such as cones or bearings, but rely on industrial diamonds to crack and abrade the formation. The diamonds are set in a high-strength steel matrix ( Figure 6 ), with a pattern and spacing optimally designed for the drilling conditions expected.

Figure 6

The location of the drilling fluid outlets is critical in the design of a bit that will allow cuttings to be carried out from under the cutting surfaces. Although these natural diamond bits are much more expensive than roller cone bits, they can be economical on a cost per foot, or foot per hour basis, especially in deep wells with hard formations. Another type of diamond bit is the polycrystalline diamond compact or PDC bit. Here a layer of polycrystalline diamond is bonded to a layer of tungsten carbide to create a cutting surface with both highwear and impact-resistant qualities ( Figure 7 and Figure 8 ).

Figure 7

The PDC surface is self-sharpening as it wears away, continually presenting a fresh edge. (Madigan and Caldwell 1981).

Figure 8

SPECIAL BITS: Other bit-type tools have been designed for special purposes, notably hole openers and underreamers. These tools are run above a bit to maintain or enlarge the hole size. Under reamers have

collapsible arms that are held open by the pressure of mud circulating through the drillstem. These arms enable them to enlarge the bottom of the hole and then be retrieved through the smaller diameter upper portion of the hole. Whatever type is used, all bits perform their job with the help of the drilling fluid, which cools the cutting surfaces and circulates rock chips from underneath. Drilling fluid technology has become increasingly sophisticated and deserves treatment as a separate element of the drilling system.

Drilling Fluids
Most wells are drilled with clear water for faster penetration rates, until a depth is reached where hole conditions dictate a need for a fluid with special properties. The addition of clay and chemicals to the water permits the adjustment of viscosity, density, and other properties to improve hole cleaning and prevent sloughing shale, lost circulation, formation flow, and formation damage. In most cases, the circulating fluid utilized in a rotary drilling operation is a water-based mixture of clays, suspended solids, and chemical additives. In some cases, oil is added to the fluid or the entire system may be converted to an oil-based mixture. A small percentage of wells are drilled with air or foam as the circulating fluid for part of the drilling operation. In any case, the properties of the drilling fluid must enable it to perform the following functions: control subsurface pressures remove cuttings from the hole cool and lubricate the drillstem aid formation evaluation and productivity CONTROL SUBSURFACE PRESSURES: This function is performed by adjusting the density of the drilling fluid so that a balance is maintained between the hydrostatic pressure imposed by the column of drilling fluid and the pore pressure of the formations being drilled ( Figure 1 ).

Figure 1

This balancing act can be difficult at times. If the formations are abnormally pressured, an unexpectedly high pore pressure can cause a flow of formation fluid, or "kick," into the well-bore. This further lightens the already underbalanced mud column, and can lead to a loss of control of the well unless checked. On the other hand, a mud column that has been "weighted up," or made heavier (denser) by mineral additives, such as barite, may control the pressures in an overpressured formation but impose such a force on a normally pressured formation that it fractures, allowing unobstructed flow of drilling mud into the lower pressured formation. Lost circulation such as this can also occur when naturally fractured or cavernous formations are suddenly encountered. The loss of drilling fluid allows a drop in the fluid column (meaning a drop in pressure) that permits other formations to flow into the well-bore. One can easily see that these situations can quickly go from bad to worse. This chain of events must be prevented from ever having a chance to get started. While the drilling fluid density allows it to control pressures, other properties of drilling mud allow it to form a protective filter cake of clay particles on the wall of the hole, preventing excess fluid loss (filtrate) into permeable formations and preventing sloughing, or caving-in, of the sides of the hole. Hard rock formations that do not have a tendency to cave in can be drilled with air, foam, or water as a drilling fluid. Mud density is measured by means of a mud balance; a simple scale commonly graduated in pounds per gallon (ppg) or pounds per cubic foot (ppcf) increments. A filter press is used to force drilling mud against a filter paper, forming a sample filter cake and measuring the amount of filtrate (in cubic centimeters) that is squeezed out of the mud during a measured period of time. REMOVE CUTTINGS FROM THE HOLE: Viscosity is the drilling fluid property that is important to this function. Mud must have the proper viscosity to lift the rock cuttings out from underneath the bit and carry them up the annulus to the surface ( Figure 2 ).

Figure 2

In addition, a drilling fluid must exhibit sufficient gel strength to hold the cuttings in suspension when circulation stops, and prevent them from settling to the bottom of the hole, collecting around the bit, and making the pipe stick in the hole. However, the mud must also liquify upon resumption of pumping, and it must release the cuttings easily at the surface. Viscosity is generally determined with a Marsh funnel, which measures the time it takes for a certain volume of mud to flow through an orifice. Gel strength is measured with a viscometer, which shears the mud between metal cylindrical surfaces.

While not a property of the drilling fluid itself, the velocity at which the fluid is circulated is also important to the proper performance of the hole-cleaning function. Annular velocities between 100 and 200 ft/min (.5-1.0 m/s) are usual. That's about normal walking speed for most people. Annular velocities can be used to calculate the time at which a given sample of cuttings was removed from the bottom of the hole, which can be correlated to depth. COOL AND LUBRICATE THE DRILL-STEM: This function is primarily per-formed at the bottom of the drillstem, where the bit is forced against the bottom of the hole and rotated. Force applied to the bit may range from 10,000 to 100,000 Ib (45 to 445 kN), and rotating speed may range from 50 to 200 rpm! This combination of weight and speed creates frictional heat within the bit that must be removed by the circulating fluid to prevent rapid wear. Lubricants added to the mud system can help reduce friction at the bit, between the drillstring and hole, and within the drillstring itself, where frictional pressure losses can require high pump pressures. Air or foam drilling fluids are particularly efficient at performing this cooling function. AID FORMATION EVALUATION AND PRODUCTIVITY: Drilling fluid properties should be monitored to insure that the interaction between mud and formation does not prevent the formation from being easily evaluated or produced. For example, oil-based muds make it difficult to evaluate potential producing horizons through sidewall samples and cuttings analyses, and with mud-gas-detecting instruments. Both oil-based and salt water-based drilling fluids can make some electrical logging operations difficult. Some formations can be irreparably damaged by the invasion of mud and mud filtrate. Oil-based mud in gas zones and fresh water-muds in zones containing water-sensitive clays, are examples of permeabilitydamaging situations. When necessary, the drilling engineers and geologist must decide what adjustments to the mud system are important to the overall success of the drilling operation. Density, viscosity, gel strength, lubricity, filter cake formation; all of these proper ties are important to the proper functioning of the drilling fluid. A wide variety of chemical additives are available to help control these properties. Some common examples are Bentonite: clay added to fresh water to improve the properties of a natural mud resulting from native clays; Attapulgite: clay added to salt-water-based muds; Barite : barium sulfate mineral with high specific gravity added as weight material; lead and iron compounds are also used for this purpose; Chrome lignosulfonates: modern chemical thinners used to decrease viscosity; Polymers: long chain molecules that act to increase viscosity; Lost circulation materials: any of a variety of items that act to plug porous, permeable zones, including walnut hulls, shredded cellophane, mica flakes, and vegetable fibers. Describe the functions of the drilling fluid. Controls subsurface pressure by offsetting pore pressure in permeable rocks with pressure imposed by the column of drilling fluid. This pressure is a function of the fluid's density, which may be increased by adding minerals, such as barite in the case of drilling mud. Removes cuttings from the hole by holding the pieces of rock in suspension while the fluid is circulated up the annulus . . . bringing the cuttings along. The mud must drop the cuttings easily at the surface, through the solids control equipment. Cools and lubricates the drillstem, especially the bit, where high speed and torque create a great deal of friction. Aids formation evaluation and productivity by not reacting with the formation rock in any manner that damages the formation's ability to permit flow. The drilling fluid should also avoid masking the presence of hydrocarbons from detection by evaluation techniques.

Planning and Preparation

The planning of a well usually begins with the geologist or geophysicist. This is certainly true in the case of exploration wells, and usually true in the case of development wells. Because the geologist has studied the surface, subsurface, and seismic data associated with a prospect, he or she is the individual responsible for outlining the objectives of the proposed well, including the formations expected and their extent. An economic analysis of the proposed well may be done by the geologist or by petroleum engineers working with the geologist. The geological interpretation of the data is the basis of an estimate of the well's productivity and a production schedule; these can be combined with estimates of well costs and product prices to determine the profitability of the well. If the venture meets the company's economic standards and corporate objectives, the proposal is approved. Based on the geologist's well proposal, the next step in most companies is the preparation of a detailed drilling program and cost estimate. This plan is based on the past performance of drilling operations in the same, or similar, areas and the current costs of drilling services and well-completion materials. It is important that the geologist's best estimates of formation depths, occurrence of abnormal pressures, pay thicknesses, and potential drilling problems be considered in the planning. The exact requirements of the program include: depth, commencement date, formations to be encountered, hole size, casing sizes and setting depths, logging operations, testing and completion programs. These are necessary for the negotiation of a contract between the operating company and the drilling con tractor. Almost all modern wells are drilled by contractors rather than oil-producing companies, primarily because of the major capital investments involved in owning and operating large drilling rigs. The operating companies can have their wells drilled under several contract alternatives: a turnkey contract, which requires that the operator pay a fixed amount to the contractor on completion of the well, while the contractor furnishes all the material and labor and handles the drilling operations independently; a footage contract, in which payment is on a rate-per-foot basis; a daywork contract, which compensates the contractor on a rate-per-day basis. Actual contracts often involve several of these bases of payment, with an operator agreeing to pay footage rates to a certain depth, daywork rates below that depth, and standby rates for days when the rig is on site, but not drilling (waiting for equipment, better weather, etc.). With the costs of contract drilling, tubular goods, and completion equipment estimated, the operator can prepare an authority for expenditure, or AFE. This document includes the total costs of drilling the well, the economics of the project, and the necessary internal management authorizations. When several companies drill a well jointly, this AFE is often the instrument for obtaining all of the parties' approvals. With all the preliminary paperwork finished, the process of "making hole" gets under way. First, the drillsite is surveyed and staked to ensure that the rig is located at the exact location the geologist had in mind. At offshore locations this can be a little difficult, but satellite navigational aids now permit rigs to be located within 100 ft (30 m), or less, of the offshore target. On land locations, the availability of access roads and the ruggedness of the terrain may play a part in determining the location. Next, onshore, the land is cleared and leveled. In wet or swampy areas, the entire location may be covered with several layers of wooden boards ("matting") to prevent the heavy rig equipment and supply trucks from floundering in a sea of mud following the first rain. Gravel or crushed rock is sometimes used instead of boards, and the entire location is usually surrounded by a drainage ditch. A water supply is important and sometimes a shallow fresh water well will be drilled. The reserve mud pit is excavated and lined with plastic to serve as a large collecting pit for waste mud and cuttings (in many areas, rigs employ steel tanks for this purpose). At the staked well location, a cellar is dug to accommodate components of the surface equipment that will be below ground level when the well is completed. A large diameter conductor hole is started in the center of the cellar, and lined with a conductor pipe. In swampy areas, the conductor is often driven into the ground to depths of 20 ft to 100 ft (6-30 m) with a pile driver. (At offshore locations, the first pipe to be driven into the seafloor is called the drive pipe. The conductor pipe is then set in a hole drilled or washed out from inside the drive pipe. Procedures will vary, depending on water depth and prevailing regulations.) Next, the rig is moved in, beginning with the substructure (the framework that supports the derrick or mast) and the drilling floor equipment. If a jackknife rig is used, the mast is hoisted upright, using the drawworks, and secured with the block and hook in place. All of the auxiliary equipment must be installed: the circulation system pumps, tanks, and mud-cleaning devices; the engines, generators and power

transmission equipment; the storage facilities and living quarters for the crew; and the electricity, water, and compressed air supply lines. The location layout is often as depicted in Figure 1 , which shows a typical rotary rig.

Figure 1

This entire setting-up process can take anywhere from several days to several weeks, depending on the size of the rig, the remoteness of the location, and the complexity of the planned drilling program. With the rig in position over the conductor, the crew is ready to start "making hole."

Operations Management
Just as rigs vary, depending on the complexity of the environment and drilling program, so does the number of people involved in the operation. A small, onshore drilling rig may have a crew of five or six individuals, while an offshore rig drilling a deep, exploratory well at a remote location may have several crews and groups of specialists, totaling 40 to 50 persons. In general, however, the basic job descriptions and the organization are universal. Figure 1 shows the typical relationships among the operator, contractor, and service company personnel.

Figure 1

The drilling engineer, or drilling representative, is the operating company person on location who is responsible for the safe, efficient execution of the drilling program according to company policies. The drilling representative is often the person responsible for logistics, planning of day-to-day transportation and equipment inventories, and maintaining accurate records of the operation. While living at, or near, the location, the drilling representative is in frequent contact with a company drilling supervisor at the area office, who is perhaps in charge of several drilling operations. The tool pusher is the person in charge of the rig and overall drilling operations. As the contractor's senior representative on location, the tool pusher directs the drilling crew and the maintenance people responsible for the rig and its equipment. On mobile offshore rigs, the tool pusher may share the drilling contractor responsibilities with a captain, who is in charge when the vessel is moving. The contractor may also sometimes have a rig superintendent on location, but in most cases this individual is located in the contractor's office. Reporting to the tool pusher is the driller, an experienced hand who operates the drawworks and rotary table, and directs the roughnecks and the derrickman. The derrickman works high in the derrick, on a small platform, guiding the pipe as it is moved in the derrick while running in or out of the hole. Often the derrickman is also responsible for monitoring the circulation system while drilling is under way. The roughnecks, or rotary helpers, handle the lower end of the drillpipe during trips in or out of the hole. They operate the tongs required to "make up" or "break out "the tool joints. Roustabouts maintain equipment and supplies, help repair the rig, and perform odd jobs. In offshore operations, a crane operator is responsible for lifting equipment onto the deck from supply boats. The service company personnel are ordered out to the location by the drilling representative in most cases. These individuals and their equipment are on hand for special jobs, such as running casing, cementing casing, logging, and "fishing" for stuck pipe. They are responsible to the operating company and their performance is monitored by the drilling representative, although they may work and share accommodations (and long hours!) with the rest of the drilling crew. Modifications to this general organization plan may be found in some oil company/drilling contractor relationships. However, in every case, the primary goal is a team that works together safely and efficiently.

Drilling Procedure

With the rig in position and the conductor pipe in place, drilling is begun. The largest bit is the first to be run, of course. The drilling program is designed so that the initial bit will drill a hole large enough for casing that can accommodate successively smaller bits and casing strings. The number of casing strings necessary to reach the target depth safely will deter mine the initial hole size. Attached to the bit are the first drill collars and stabilizers, followed with joints of drillpipe. Weight is applied to the bit by allowing the bottomhole assembly to rest on bottom somewhat, and the rotary table begins to turn the kelly. As the bit chews away at the bottom of the hole, the mud pumps circulate the cuttings up the annulus. The kelly slowly moves down ward until the top of the kelly and the attached swivel are near the drilling floor (after about 30 to 40 ft [9 to 12 m] has been drilled). From now on, each time a kelly length has been drilled down, another joint of drillpipe is added to the drillstem. The new joint of pipe will have been hoisted into the "mouse-hole" in preparation, waiting to be connected ( Figure 1 , Notice that the kelly has been "drilled down" to where the swivel is close to the rotary).

Figure 1

The kelly and attached drillstring are lifted up in the derrick until the kelly bushing has cleared the drill floor and the tool joint between kelly and drillpipe is visible. Slips (flexible, toothed wedges) are set in the rotary table to grip the drill-string and allow it to hang motionless while the crew "breaks out" (unscrews) the kelly with the rotary tongs. These tongs are nothing more than over-sized pipe wrenches hung from the mast, over the drill floor, and pulled by a cable from the drawworks ( Figure 2 and Figure 3 ).

Figure 2

Now the kelly is hanging freely from the hook,

Figure 3

and the crew can swing it over to the pipe joint that is waiting, "box end up," in the mousehole ( Figure 4 ).

Figure 4

The kelly is screwed into the new joint and both are then lifted up into the derrick and swung over the drillstring held by the slips. The driller lowers the assembly and carefully "stabs" the pin of the new joint into the box end of the waiting joint. The pipe is quickly screwed together and tightened with the tongs before the slips are removed. The entire assembly is then lowered back into the hole to drill another joint length. After each kelly has "drilled down" 30 ft to 40 ft (9 to 12 m), the connection process must be repeated, joint after joint, as the hole is deepened. At some point it becomes necessary to pull out ("trip out") of the hole, perhaps to change the bit or to run casing. When making a trip, drillpipe is handled in stands, usually of two or three joints each (about 60 ft to 90 ft, or 18 m to 27 m). Pipe is removed from the hole and placed on the floor. First the kelly, rotary bushings, and swivel are stowed in the "rathole," as shown in Figure 5 .

Figure 5

With this equipment out of the way, the elevators, which hang from the hook, can be latched around the pipe just below the tool joint box and used to lift the pipe out of the hole. When a stand of several joints has been pulled up into the derrick, the slips are used once again to hang the drillstring in the rotary table while the bottom tool joint is 'broken" with the tongs and unscrewed with a spinning wrench ( Figure 6 ).

Figure 6

The stand of pipe is then swung to one side of the drill floor, where it is set down ( Figure 7 ) and secured at the top by the derrickman.

Figure 7

Free of their load, the hook and elevators are lowered once again to grip another stand of pipe and repeat the process, until all of the drillstem is racked in the derrick. The bit is removed from the final stand of drill collars with a "bit breaker," and the rotary table is carefully covered to pre vent any loose items from falling into the hole. "Tripping in" the hole is the reverse procedure of tripping out. Some rigs have automated pipe handling systems with robot arms at different elevations in their masts to perform the job very quickly. Tripping in or out can take many hours in a deep hole, and time is money on a drilling rig. Careful planning and monitoring of drilling conditions by the driller and drilling engineer can prevent unnecessary trips. When the surface hole has been drilled out of the conductor, as deep as 5000 ft (1524 m) in some cases, the surface casing must be set before drilling can continue further. This casing is set for several reasons: to protect shallow freshwater aquifers from contamination; to support the unconsolidated, low pressure formations nearer the surface and prevent the loss of drilling mud as it is weighted up to permit deeper drilling; to provide a base for well control equipment. Up to this point, the shallow drilling has been done with a diverter system at the surface to simply divert any high pressure gas flows away from the drilling floor in case of a shallow "kick." Now a complete blowout preventer stack needs to be installed on top of the surface casing, to allow the safe control of pressure encountered at greater depths. But first we must run the casing. After the pipe is tripped out of the hole, the casing crew moves in and runs the casing in much the same manner as the drillpipe is run into the hole. Special casing elevators, slips, and tongs are required, however, to handle the large diameter pipe. Surface casing may run from 9-5/8 in to 30 in (24 to 76 cm) in diameter. Several items incorporated into the casing string are described as follows: Guide shoe: A guide shoe ( Figure 8 ) is attached to the bottom of the first joint of casing lowered into the hole. Its rounded nose facilitates the movement of the casing down the hole.

Figure 8

Float collar: This component ( Figure 9 ) is placed several casing lengths above the guide shoe, and contains a one-way valve.

Figure 9

This backpressure valve enables the casing to ""float" down the hole by preventing the entry of drilling fluid into the casing. The valve also prevents a blowout through the casing, should a kick occur during the cementing operation, and prevents backflow of cement after pumping. Centralizers and scratchers: The first of these components holds the casing away from the wall of the hole; the second abrades the mudcake when the casing string is reciprocated (moved back and forth in the hole). This procedure ensures a uniform distribution of cement around the pipe, and good bonding among pipe, cement, and formation ( Figure 10 ).

Figure 10

The cementing procedure can vary in its complexity, depending on the depth of the hole, the number of stages required to fill the annular space between casing and hole, and the possible need for remedial cementing if the first job is insufficient. The procedure for conventional single stage cementing is illustrated in Figure 11 ,

Figure 11

Figure 12 and Figure 13 .

Figure 13

Figure 12

With the casing near bottom, several barrels of water "spacer" are pumped into the casing, followed by a rubber plug that seals against the inside wall of the casing as it is pumped down the hole. The plug serves to isolate the cement slurry, which has been mixed at the surface and pumped immediately behind the plug. When the amount of cement calculated to be required to fill the space between the casing and the hole has been pumped, another plug is inserted into the casing. Drilling mud is then pumped behind the second plug to push the progression of water, plug, cement, and plug, down the casing. When the first plug reaches the float collar, a diaphragm in its core breaks under pressure, and the cement slurry moves through the float collar valve, around the shoe, and up the annular space between the hole and the casing. When the second plug reaches the float collar, all the cement has been displaced around the casing, leaving only a small amount inside the casing between float collar and guide shoe. The second plug will not rupture, and the increase in pump pressure at the surface tells us our job is almost complete. The volume of cement pumped must be carefully calculated to ensure that it is sufficient to fill the annulus between casing and hole. When the cement has '"set" sufficiently, the drillpipe can be run back into the hole (with the next smaller bit, of course) and the entire assembly of plugs, float collar, cement, and guide shoe can be drilled through as the hole is deepened. (These components are constructed of materials that allow them to be easily drilled through.) With the casing securely cemented in the hole, the hole can be safely deepened without fear of losing circulation into the shallow, low pressure formations. As drilling continues, successive casing strings will be run and cemented concentrically to isolate and protect the intervals of openhole. After the hole is deepened from the surface casing shoe, an intermediate casing string may be set, possibly followed by a casing liner . A casing liner is a string of casing, set from inside the intermediate casing extending down ward into the open hole, but not necessarily "tied back" to the surface. This saves the cost of casing the entire hole length, when safety concerns do not require it. Finally, production casing is run to bottom when the total depth of the well has been reached. This string protects the producing formation and allows for the tubing to be easily installed. On most wells, sufficient depth is drilled to ensure an adequate "sump" or "rathole" below the producing interval: this is the space in which junk and debris may accumulate during the completion process. When not making a connection or trip ping, the driller is doing what we would expect "drilling ahead!" Standing at the control console on the drill floor, the driller monitors and adjusts several important drilling parameters. Weight on bit (WOB) is displayed on the weight indicator and is adjusted by lowering and raising the drillstem to allow more or less of its weight to rest on the bit. The driller also monitors rotary speed to make sure that the combination of rpm and WOB is correct for efficient drilling. A mud level recorder, torque indicator, and pump pressure gauge allow the driller to be quickly informed of any anomalous situation that could indicate a potential problem. An important device, often located in the driller's "doghouse," is the drilling rate recorder, which keeps a log of depth drilled versus time. Both the geologist and engineer use this device to keep track of drilling depth versus time.

Drilling Problems
Because of the great stress placed on downhole equipment, it is easy to imagine that sooner or later mechanical failure or adverse hole conditions will result in part of the drillstem becoming lost or stuck in the hole. When this happens it's time to go fishing. Common situations requiring fishing jobs are: Differential sticking, which occurs when the pipe comes in contact with a permeable formation and the string is sucked against the hole by the pressure differential existing between the mud column and the formation ( Figure 1 ). This is one of the problems encountered when heavy mud weights are used;

Figure 1

Key seating, which occurs in crooked holes when the drillpipe cuts into the wall of the hole, creating a slot which grips the pipe when a tool joint or wide drill collar is pulled out ( Figure 2 );

Figure 2

Sloughing shale, a problem that is the result of shale cavings breaking off from the sides of the wellbore. These shavings form "bridges," or tight spots, when they gather at bends in the hole, which stick the pipe; Poor mud properties result in excessive mud cake on the walls of the hole or an inability of the mud to hold the cuttings when circulation stops; either can cause the drillstem to become wedged in the hole; Fatigue failures, which are the result of metal fatigue, and cause the drillstring to "twist off," or break in two, leaving a portion in the hole; Foreign objects, such as bit cones that may break off or a tool that may be dropped down the hole by a careless rig worker. Any hard junk must be retrieved before drilling can continue. The equipment and expertise required for a fishing job are often provided by a specialty service company. A wide variety of tools are employed, depending on the type and configuration of the objects in the hole. When the drillstring is stuck but not parted, the pipe may be purposely unscrewed down hole to allow a larger diameter wash pipe to be lowered over the "fish" ( Figure 3 ). Once the shoe on the wash pipe has freed the pipe from the sides of the hole, an inside connection can be screwed into the fish to lift it out.

Figure 3

An overshot ( Figure 4 (a)) is sometimes used to grasp the stuck drillpipe from the outside,

Figure 4

a spear ( Figure 4 (b)) to grasp from the inside, and jars ( Figure 5 ) are used to provide sharp, hammerlike, upward jerks, to pull the pipe free.

Figure 5

A variety of junk baskets can be used to catch and hold foreign objects such as bit cones and metal scraps ( Figure 6 ,

Figure 6

a "core type" junk basket used to drill over the objects and catch them with inside fingers , Figure 7 ,

Figure 7

a magnet used to hold metal junk, and Figure 8 , a simple "finger type" or "poor boy" basket).

Figure 8

Some of these tools incorporate magnets. When a fish cannot be retrieved, it may be necessary to "sidetrack" the hole. In this situation, the lower portion of the hole containing the fish is cemented off, and the hole is deviated in a new direction. The deflection is accomplished by directional drilling techniques. If the fish extends up into a previously set section of casing, a "window" or hole in the casing must be cut with a tungsten carbide mill before drilling can proceed.

Well Control
Formation pressure results from fluid pressure gradients, which are offset by the column of drilling fluid in the hole. A "kick" occurs when that hydrostatic pressure is insufficient to prevent the flow of formation fluids into the wellbore. This can be the result of abnormal pressures, as when an unexpectedly high formation pressure causes flow. It can also be the result of failure to keep the hole full of mud, particularly when pipe is being tripped out of the hole and mud must be added to replace the volume of the removed pipe. Lost circulation, when the mud weight is heavy enough to fracture the formation or a formation is permeable enough to allow the entry of large volumes of whole mud, can also cause a sudden drop in mud level. If pipe is pulled from the hole too quickly, formation fluids may be sucked, or "swabbed," into the hole, and if the pipe is run into the hole too fast, mud can be forced out into the formation being penetrated. All of these situations can result in a flow of formation fluid into the well, or a "kick." What happens when we "take a kick"? Since most kicks have gas, we shall consider a gas kick, although oil and salt water kicks also occur. As we know, the gas in the formation is under pressure. When a volume of gas flows into the wellbore it begins to rise through the drilling mud because of its lower density ( Figure 1 ).

Figure 1

As the gas rises to the surface, the decreasing size of the volume of mud in the mud column above it allows the gas bubble to expand as it nears the surface ( Figure 2 ).

Figure 2

This increase in bubble size in turn pushes mud out of the hole, decreasing the bottomhole pressure and allowing more gas to enter the hole. If the kick is not controlled ( Figure 3 ),

Figure 3

the condition can deteriorate into a fullscale blowout ( Figure 4 ). The first step in kick control is to stop the bubble from rising quickly in the hole, by shutting in the annulus at the surface with blowout preventers (BOPs).

Figure 4

The blowout preventers are a stack of hydraulically operated valves that effectively seal off the annular space between casing and drillpipe ( Figure 5 ,

Figure 5

annular preventer closed on drill pipe, Figure 6 ,

Figure 6

pipe rams closed on drill pipe, and Figure 7 , blind rams closed with pipe out of hole).

Figure 7

Most BOP stacks include an annular preventer with a doughnut-shaped rubber sealing element that can be squeezed against the drillpipe ( Figure 8 ).

Figure 8

Below this device are a series of ram-type preventers ( Figure 9 ) including pipe rams with rubber jaws molded to grip a certain size drillpipe, blind rams, which completely close the hole when no pipe is present, and shear rams, which crush the pipe in a situation in which the pipe cannot be removed in time.

Figure 9

The hydraulic pressure required to operate the preventers is supplied by accumulators; in an emergency the ram preventers can be closed manually on some stacks. A choke line runs from the preventer stack to a special choke valve that is used to control the high pressure formation fluids when they reach the surface. The kill line allows heavy mud to be pumped into the annulus. With the annulus closed off, the gas bubble will no longer expand, pushing mud out of the hole as it rises. The bubble's low density, however, will still cause it to rise through to the surface, although more slowly, at about 10 ft to 15 ft per minute (3 m to 5 m per minute). Since the bubble cannot expand, its pressure remains high as it moves to the surface. If the well is left "shut-in," in a matter of hours the pressure at both the surface and bottom hole can increase to dangerous levels. The strength of the casing or rock formations may be exceeded, causing lost circulation and leading to even more serious problems. For this reason, the temporarily stabilized kick must be quickly circulated out of the hole through the choke. By pumping mud down the drillpipe, and forcing the drilling fluid and gas bubble in the annulus to pass through the choke, sufficient back-pressure can be held on the annulus and the formation to prevent further flow. (If the kick was the result of insufficient mud weight, the new mud pumped into the well must be heavy enough to balance the formation pressure.) The key to effective kick control is to prevent further flow by maintaining a constant bottomhole pressure using the choke. All drilling engineers must be fully aware of the calculations necessary to determine kickkilling procedures at any point in the drilling program.

Well Evaluation
The wellsite geologist has an important part to play in keeping track of a well's progress and collecting information about the formations encountered as the well is deepened. It is important to adjust the interpretation of subsurface geology to reflect any new data from mudlogging, cuttings samples, and openhole logging and testing. The wellsite geologist helps determine where casing should be set and what intervals should be logged or tested prior to setting casing. Drilling progress is typically plotted on a depth versus time plot ( Figure 1 ) to compare planned and actual drilling time.

Figure 1

This plot is developed from the daily reports usually called "morning reports" which are transmitted to the drilling supervisor from the rig. Abbreviated versions of the daily activities are often routed to oil and drilling company engineering and geology staffs. A list of common drilling report abbreviations to aid in interpreting some of the jargon is included under the heading "References & Additional Information." As a drilling target is approached, preparations for the evaluation of the potentially productive formation begin. In fact, several methods of obtaining information about the formations being penetrated by the bit will have probably been in use already. Mud logging may be a service begun early in the drilling program, while openhole logging is generally performed prior to the running of each casing string. On horizontal or directional wells, or where otherwise dictated by well conditions and objectives, the operator may use Measurement-While-Drilling (MWD) and/or Logging-While-Drilling (LWD) tools in the bottomhole assembly. Mud logging is an important procedure whereby samples of the drilling cuttings are routinely collected and analyzed. The properties of the mud are also monitored to determine if oil or gas formations have been penetrated. Based on the cuttings, a mud logger prepares a lithological log of the hole showing the types of rock and the depth at which it was drilled. This information is extremely helpful to the geologist and drilling engineer in anticipating the conditions ahead of the bit. Once the hole is drilled, a variety of logging devices can be lowered into the borehole to measure and record the properties of the rock formations penetrated. These devices are of three general types, depending on how the rock properties are measured. electrical logging devices radioactive logging devices acoustical logging devices Electrical logs measure the voltage generated naturally by alternating types of rock beds (the spontaneous potential log), and the resistivity or conductivity of the rocks and their saturating fluids to an electrical current (electrical survey log, induction log, dual induction log, etc.). Radioactive logs measure the natural radioactivity of different rock formations, or else the response of those different formations to bombardment by neutrons or gamma rays. Acoustical logs measure the time it takes for a sonic pulse to travel through a formation. All of this data can be combined to determine the thickness, porosity, and hydrocarbon saturation of the rock formations logged. The logging devices, or sondes, are lowered into the mud-filled borehole on electrical cables after the drillpipe has been removed. From a truck-mounted or skid-mounted unit, the logging engineer slowly retrieves the instruments, collecting data as they pass by successive rock formations. As the sondes transmit information to the surface instrumentation, a log is generated showing the variation in measurement as a function of depth.. Several other devices can be run on electrical wireline, including the sidewall sampler and the repeat formation tester. The sidewall sampler uses explosive charges to drive metal cylinders into the wall of the hole, punching out thumb-sized samples of the rock. When retrieved at the surface, these samples give the geologist some idea of the type of rock and fluid at each particular sampling point. Similarly, the repeat formation tester samples the pressure and formation fluids at specific points in the bore hole. A rubber pad is sealed against the wall of the hole, and a passageway in the center of the pad is opened to allow flow between the formation and a lower pressure sample chamber. The above evaluation techniques could be considered small-scale versions of two other methods that are usually much more informative: conventional coring and drillstem testing. If the depth of the formation of interest can be predicted fairly accurately, routine drilling can be stopped just prior to reaching that depth, and a core bit and barrel can be run. This type of diamond bit cuts a cylindrical core of rock that can be retrieved at the surface for analysis. Coring of this type is time consuming and expensive, and is rarely undertaken unless precise laboratory measurement of rock properties is desired. Drillstem testing involves a temporary completion of a potentially productive zone, allowing the entire formation to produce into the drillpipe while pressures are measured and fluid samples taken. Drillstem test equipment has been designed to allow formations to be tested at practically any depth in the wellbore, and to accurately measure flowing and shut-in pressures when wells flow to the surface or when flow is confined to the drillpipe.

Usually, it is during these evaluation procedures that the wellsite geologist's role in the drilling operation intensifies. ensuring that the mudlogging operation is carried out correctly and that the lithological log is prepared accurately; ensuring that cuttings samples are collected at appropriate intervals and correctly processed for storage or analysis; determining what electric wireliner logs will be run and over what intervals; checking log quality control to insure usable data; determining the need for sidewall samples or formation tests, and picking the appropriate depths at which to take them; analyzing sidewall samples on site if necessary; insuring that all logs and samples are obtained and transported in accordance with company security policies; determining coring points and insuring that core material is retrieved and packaged correctly; analyzing log and test data, on site if necessary, to determine the appropriate completion interval or DST interval. All of these evaluation techniques allow the geologist and engineer to determine the productive potential of the well. Knowing which formations will produce and how much oil or gas can be expected is critical to the decision making in the completion phase of the well program.

Offshore Operations: Floating Rigs


As we discussed earlier, special drilling equipment has been developed to handle the problems connected to an off shore environment. Many of these problems are unique to floating drilling rigs, which need to maintain position over the drilling location; provide a competent connection between the subsea BOP stack and the drilling floor; operate a BOP stack on the seafloor; compensate for the up and down movement of the floater, in order to maintain a constant weight on the bit. Other considerations are common to almost all offshore drilling operations: rough weather; logistical problems in the transportation of supplies and personnel; directional drilling problems; safety and survival concerns; unique environmental and regulatory aspects.

Floating Drilling Equipment


Anyone who has spent time in a boat knows that a floating vessel is subject to several influences: wave forces, buoyancy forces, currents, mooring forces, wind, and the weight of the load. Station keeping involves the operations used to correct for these combined forces and keep the drilling vessel over the hole. An obvious way to limit movement is to secure the vessel with multiple anchors, which is called spread mooring. Six to 12 lines with heavy anchors may be strategically attached to the floating

vessel in a pattern designed to minimize movement under a certain combination of wind, wave, and weight conditions. Most semisubmersibles and some drillships use this system. Some drillships also employ a cylindrical turret, centered in the moon-pool, through which drilling is performed. This turret is moored by the anchor lines, but the ship itself is free to rotate around the drillstem axis and adjust to wind and wave conditions. Dynamic positioning involves the use of computer-controlled propellers to exert thrust and counteract wind and wave forces ( Figure 1 ).

Figure 1

Acoustic sensors are used to accurately monitor a vessel's position; they inform the computer when to activate the necessary thruster and adjust the position by varying thruster pitch or speed. Station-keeping systems are successful in limiting floating drilling rig movement to within 2% to 3% of water depth. While the distance between drillfloor and BOP stack on a land rig is only a short walk down the stairway, on a floating drilling rig that journey might be 3000 ft (900 m) and a great deal more difficult! A number of systems have been developed to handle the problems of water depth and vertical movement. These are shown in Figure 2 and include: the subsea BOP stack, which is lowered down to the seafloor along guidelines and attached to a guide base and casing previously placed on bottom;

Figure 2

the flex joint, which is a pressurized ball joint that allows about 10 of angular deviation between the BOP stack and the riser; the marine riser, which is a large diameter pipe that serves as a conduit for the mud returns and as a guide for the drillstring; the slip joint, which is a telescopic link between the upper end of the riser and the drilling vessel. It allows vertical movement of the vessel; the riser tensioner, which prevents the riser from bending or sagging; flexible control lines, which allow the pressure control activities of the BOP stack to be operated from the surface. Above the drillfloor, a drillstring motion compensator is used to automatically adjust the block position and maintain a constant weight on bit. With all these systems in place, the floater can indeed "float" up and down, while the drillstem remains in the same position relative to the borehole, just as it would on land. As drilling has moved into ever deeper waters, the performance requirements for all these systems, and particularly for the marine riser, have increased. Drilling offshore from a jackup, a drilling barge, or a stationary drilling platform can be performed much like a land operation because these rigs do not move around like a floater. However, simply being offshore has its drawbacks. Logistically speaking, supplies and personnel must be transferred by boat or helicopter. Both of these means of transportation are limited by weather conditions and, in some cases, darkness. Space and weight limitations are another concern the land-based drilling engineer usually does not face. While careful scheduling and contingency planning are necessary on any drilling rig, they are doubly important in an offshore situation. Because offshore rig costs are usually much higher than land rigs, the expense of lost drilling time as the result of poor planning or unforeseen equipment needs can be significant. Safety and Survival

All of the hazards associated with heavy, moving equipment, electric power, work at heights, toxic chemicals, and flammable fluids exist at onshore drilling locations. These same hazards exist offshore, with the addition of several others, including: more severe weather; additional equipment in a more confined area; deck motion under certain conditions; a worksite located high above deep water; and personnel transfers to the rig or platform involving helicopters, rope swings, or crane-operated baskets. An offshore rig or platform must include equipment for the survival of all personnel should the structure need to be abandoned in an emergency. Survival capsules that can be quickly released into the ocean are common on floating rigs and remote platforms. These selfpropel led vessels contain food, water, communications equipment, and ventilation systems. At North Sea and Arctic locations, survival suits are sometimes worn to help conserve body heat should the wearer fall into the cold water. All operating companies and drilling con tractors require regularly scheduled safety meetings and drills. When visiting an offshore facility, either as an observer or worker, one should do the following: observe and follow the flight instructions given before travel in seaplanes and helicopters; understand and follow the procedures for boarding the platform via swing rope or personnel basket; report to the responsible authority immediately upon arrival at a location; wear hardhat, life preserver, and eye and ear protection as required; learn the proper actions to take in case of abandonment; obey smoking restrictions; and remain alert and safety conscious at all times.

Figure 1

In Figure 1 , we see that because of insufficient mud weight in our wellbore, the formation we have just drilled into flows a bubble of gas into the wellbore. Even though we promptly shut in the well, the bubble continues to rise in the annulus. With what you know about pressure gradients, determine the pressure in the annulus at the surface and at the bottom of the well, when the bubble reaches the top. Assume that the bubble has a small volume relative to the volume of fluid in the hole. Because the formation pressure is 6500 psi (44,800 kPa), the bubble of gas that flows into the underbalanced wellbore will also be at 6500 psi pressure. As the gas rises in the wellbore, it will not be allowed to displace any drilling fluid from the annulus because we have shut it in with the BOPs. Thus it cannot expand and will remain at its original pressure. Since the volume of gas in the kick is small, perhaps only a few barrels, when it reaches the surface without having been able to expand, there will still be essentially 10,000 ft (3048 m) of mud in the annulus. We know that this mud column exerts a pressure of . 480 psi/ft times 10,000 ft, or 4800 psi. So, while the pressure at the surface will be the pressure of the gas bubble, 6500 psi (44,800 kPa), the pressure at the bottom of the hole will have increased to 6500 psi (44,800 kPa), plus the pressure of the mud column beneath the gas, for a total of 6500 plus 4800 psi, or 11,300 psi (77,900 kPa)! This magnitude of pressure is usually great enough to fracture the formations at or near the bottom of the hole, causing loss of drilling fluid and leading to further kicks or possibly a blowout. List the parts of a floating drilling rig that compensate for the vertical movement of the rig in the ocean and ensure that the drillstring does not move relative to the bottom of the hole. The slip joint, which is a telescoping pipe connection that lengthens and shortens as the vessel rises and fall Is. Although the slip joint moves, it still maintains a pressure seal between its elements. The riser tensioner, Which keeps a constant tension on the riser, even though the slip joint expands and contracts as the vessel moves vertically. The drill setting motion compensator, which adjusts the block position to maintain a constant weight on the bit.

Basic Well Completion Technology


Each drilled wellbore awaiting completion is unique. Even nearby wells drilled to the same reservoir can have different depths, formation characteristics, and hole sizes. It follows, then, that a wide variety of equipment designs and procedures have been developed to provide safe, efficient conduits from subsurface reservoirs

to the surface in different situations. In each case, the ideal completion design minimizes initial completion and operating costs, while providing for the most profitable operation of an oil or gas well over its entire life.

Basic Completion Methods


Once we drill and evaluate our well, our next decision is whether to complete or abandon it. In the latter case, we would set a cement plug or plugs in the hole, possibly recover whatever casing can be removed, and return the drill-site to its original condition. The more fortunate is one in which our well not only is productive, but economically justifies a completion. The next step usually involves the running of the final string of casing the production string. The manner in which this is done determines the basic completion method and may follow one of several configurations: the openhole completion, in which the producing formation is not isolated by the casing, which extends only to the top of the producing interval ( Figure 1 (a));

Figure 1

the liner completion ( Figure 1 (b)), which is not cemented and not "tied back" to the surface; the cased and perforated completion ( Figure 2 (c)), which involves cementing the production casing across the productive interval and then perforating the casing for production.

Figure 2

When a liner is cemented and perforated ( Figure 2 (d)) it could be considered a cased and perforated completion. One of these configurations will be the basis for the completion design, which may incorporate one or multiple strings of tubing and a variety of tubing components to facilitate production from one or multiple zones. For our purposes, a cased and perforated well with a single tubing string will serve to illustrate the typical completion procedure.

Completion Procedure
After the contract casing crew runs the final casing, cementing follows the usual procedure, although stage cementing may be necessary to cement an extremely long string. The production string has been hauled out to the location and the inside diameter checked to make sure that imperfections will not prevent the subsequent running in of tubing and packers after the string is set. Special care must be taken to pre vent the possibility of future leaks. If stage cementing is necessary, the bottom section is first cemented in place and then a series of plugs are pumped down the casing to open ports that allow the upper end of the annulus to receive cement. After the cement has set, the inside of the casing must be drilled out and flushed clean of cement and other debris to a depth below that of the pro posed completion. It is important that the inside diameter of the production casing be clean and smooth. It is also important that the cement form a competent seal between the casing and borehole over the entire openhole interval. To ensure this, an acoustic cement bond log is sometimes run on wireline to determine if voids exist between casing and hole because cement has bypassed the drilling fluid ( Figure 1 ). If the bond is poor in an area, particularly if the area is between productive formations, a cement squeeze will be required. This technique involves selectively perforating the casing and pumping cement into the empty spaces.

Figure 1

Often the cement bond log is run in con junction with a gamma ray log and a casing collar log. The drilling engineers can correlate this gamma ray log with the logs run earlier during formation logging. This correlation is important because as we zero in on the target the productive formation our need to locate tools precisely relative to that formation is critical. Because the open hole logging sondes are subjected to a greater amount of "drag" when being pulled up the hole, the depths at which formations are recorded may differ somewhat from the formation depths on the gamma ray log run inside the casing. If we were to perforate the casing according to the openhole log depths, we might miss the formation entirely. By using the correlation log and casing collar log to set packers and perforate, we are assured of precise placement. At this point, many operators move the drilling rig off location and replace it with a less expensive, and often less powerful, completion rig. This gives the operator time to design the rest of the completion, provide for a sales contract, and order equipment. Whichever rig is used, the next step in the completion is to measure the tubing while running it into the hole. A careful count must be kept of the exact number of tubing joints run into the hole and their total length. With the tubing in the hole, the BOP stack, which is now attached above the tubing head where the tubing will hang, may be tested. The casing may also be pressure tested, and a filtered completion fluid may be circulated into the well to displace the drilling mud prior to perforating. This fluid is usually a heavy brine, which provides the hydrostatic pressure needed to control the well, but does not contain solids that can plug the perforations and damage the formation. If perforating is to be done at this point, the tubing is removed and the perforating gun is lowered and positioned according to the correlation log and casing collars. It is critical that the gun be placed precisely; once inaccurate perforations are made, they can only be plugged off with a costly cement "squeeze." With the well perforated, it may now be time to stimulate the well by either acidizing or hydraulically fracturing the formation. Acid can be used to dissolve formation-damaging particles left by the drilling mud or, in carbonate formations, to create flow passages by dissolving portions of the rock itself. Hydraulic fracturing involves the high-pressure pumping of fluid into the formation to split the rock apart and increase its flow capacity. The exact point at which well stimulation occurs in the completion program will vary. In some cases, as you might expect, the need for stimulation will not be apparent until after the well is completed and tested.

Normally, a completion packer is run and set next, either incorporated into the tubing string or set independently on electric wireline. The packer is pressure tested to ensure its sealing ability. (Many shallow, low pressure wells, however, do not require a packer to isolate the casing from produced fluids.) The tubing must then be "spaced out." This requires that a length of tubing be removed from the upper end so that it can be "landed" in the tubing head, which is some distance bellow the rotary table. Once the tubing has been landed in the tubing head, a temporary plug can be set inside the tubing while the BOP stack is removed and the surface flow control equipment ("Christmas tree") installed. This plug is then removed through the Christmas tree, and the well is completed. Of course, this procedure will vary according to the specific brands of equipment being installed, the characteristics of the well, and the policies of different companies, but the essential sequence of operations will be followed. One variation is the procedure for perforating, which may be done after the tubing has been run. This approach allows the formation to be perforated and immediately "cleaned up" by allowing it to flow as soon as the perforations are created. The rig will often be moved off location at this point, allowing the well to brought on production. On an offshore platform, the rig may be skidded to the next well slot. If a rod pump is required on the well, it may be installed at this time and the necessary rods and downhole pumping mechanism run into the tubing. If gas lift valves have been incorporated into the tubing string, gas may be used to blow the completion fluid out of the tubing and permit the well to flow on its own. In some cases, the well will be "swabbed in" at this point, by running a close-fitting plunger into the tubing on wireline and pulling it back up, thereby displacing the completion fluid in the tubing and allowing the formation to flow. After an initial well test, which may be conducted with temporary test facilities, the flow line needed to produce the well on a continuous basis will be connected.

Perforating
The use of cemented steel casing to line the wellbore and isolate producing zones is only practical when a method for easily reopening those zones for production exists. Jet perforating is the procedure whereby an explosive charge is used to selectively open passages to the formation through the casing and cement sheath. This method is the most widely used today, because of its versatility and power. Having evolved from the same technology that produced the military bazooka, the jet perforator relies on a conical-shaped charge of explosives to produce a high pressure stream of particles. Bullet perforators, on the other hand, fire metal projectiles at the inside of the casing to penetrate casing, cement, and rock. This technique has pressure, temperature, and penetration limitations that have made jet perforating the more popular choice for completions. Jet perforating guns consist of a carrier with a series of explosive charges linked together by a detonating cord. A variety of gun designs exist; they vary according to: whether the gun is to be run on an electric conductor line or attached to the bottom of the tubing; whether the gun is to be run through the casing on electric line or tubing, or is to be lowered through the tubing on electric line; whether the gun is retrievable following detonation or is expendable (meaning it is destroyed when the gun is fired); the diameter and length of the perforation desired. Wider, longer perforations require larger, stronger jet charges, and, accordingly, larger guns to hold them. The charge itself is held in a metal case ( Figure 1 ) that is linked to similarly shaped charges by a detonating cord ending in an electric detonator.

Figure 1

When the gun is fired, an electric current from the surface sets off the blasting cap detonator, which secondarily ignites the detonating cord leading to the main explosive charges. When a charge is fired ( Figure 2 ), the metallic liner collapses to form a stream of high pressure, high velocity jet particles.

Figure 2

Traveling at 30,000 ft/sec (9100 m/sec), the jet stream strikes the casing at some 15 x 108psi (100 x 106kPa) a fraction of a second after detonation, displacing the metal, cement, and rock to form a perforation. Retrievable hollow carrier guns have cylindrical steel bodies with closed ports opposite each jet charge ( Figure 3 (a)).

Figure 3

Fully expendable guns enclose the charges in a frangible aluminum or ceramic case that disintegrates on firing ( Figure 3 (b)), while semiexpendable guns consist of wire or metal strip carriers that are retrieved after firing ( Figure 3 (c)). Through-casing and through-tubing guns of these types differ primarily in the diameter of the gun (3 to 5 inches [7.6 to 12.7 cm] for casing guns, 1 to 2 inches [2.5 to 5.1 cm] for tubing guns) and in the size of the jet charges. As mentioned earlier, perforating can be carried out in several different ways. Conventional overbalanced perforating is done through casing with an electrical conductor line and heavy fluid in the hole. This completion fluid is usually a low-solids solution of sodium or potassium chloride, or sodium or potassium bromide. Conventional underbalanced perforating is usually carried out after tubing has been run and equipment is installed to control the sudden pressure surge when the higher pressure formation is opened to the lower pressure wellbore. For a typical formation the difference between wellbore and formation pressure may be 300-500 psi (2000-3500 kPa). For a low permeability formation, the typical difference between wellbore pressure and formation pressure may be 2000 psi (13,800 kPa) or higher. This differential allows the immediate surge of formation fluids to prevent the clogging of the perforation tunnels with debris. When a maximum pressure differential is desired, a tubing-conveyed perforating gun may be used. Here it is possible to have the tubing run empty with a ported vent, which opens when the packer is set. After firing, the gun component of the tubing is released with a wireline shifting tool to allow full flow into the tubing. In addition to perforation diameter and length, two important considerations in all types of perforating are the shot density and phasing of the perforations. The shot density, or shots per foot, is usually 2, 4, 8,12, or 16 holes in each foot of perforated interval. Phasing pertains to the direction of each successive shot relative to its neighbors; if each charge is pointed 90 away from the next, we have 90 phasing. In the case of 180 phasing, each shot points directly opposite from the next one in the carrier. Gun phasing can be particularly

important when perforating a fractured well, a highly deviated well, or a multiple completion, where the gun must be oriented to avoid perforating an adjacent tubing string. The decision about the interval to be perforated is often made by the geologist or by the engineer and geologist responsible for the area in which the well is drilled. Consideration will be given to maximizing flow rate and minimizing production problems such as produced sand, water coning, or excessive gas production in an oil well. The decision is often made after careful review of the log and core data back at the company office. The geologist's input concerning net pay, sidewall core descriptions, and the areal extent of sand intervals can be crucial in determining the best interval to be perforated.

Stimulation
In many cases, acidizing or fracturing is a routine part of the completion program. Either type of stimulation may also be applied soon after a well has been completed and has tested at lower production rates than expected. Stimulation may also be part of a remedial or "workover" program designed to improve productivity following a decline in production. Stimulation will often follow a formation pressure buildup test that was run to determine if the cause of low productivity was permeability reduction near the wellbore, low permeability throughout the reservoir, or low reservoir pressure. Acid stimulation can improve the first condition, while fracturing is necessary to significantly improve the second condition. Of course, the third condition can only be helped by pressure maintenance. Both acidizing and fracturing procedures involve the pumping of fluids down the tubing or drillpipe and into the formation. In fracturing, the objective is to apply enough pressure to actually split the formation apart, thereby enhancing its flow capacity. In acidizing sandstone formations, the objective is to squeeze acid into the existing pore spaces of the rock matrix; this improves productivity by removing formation damage and dissolving clay particles. In carbonate formations, acid treatments are designed to enhance permeability by actually dissolving part of the rock matrix. Acid-fracturing treatments are designed to create fractures that are simultaneously widened by acid dissolution. Acidizing Successful acidizing involves more than simply pumping acid down the well and allowing it to dissolve part of the formation. The type of acid used, the chemicals added to improve its efficiency, the volumes pumped, and the pumping pressures maintained are dependent on the characteristics of the reservoir rock and fluids and the configuration of the well. Hydrochloric acid (HCl) is the most common chemical used in acidizing. A solution of 15% HCl by weight is most often used in limestone or dolomite formations, while a mixture of 12% HCl and 3% hydroflouric (HF) acid is often used on sandstone formations with interstitial clays, particularly in areas such as the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast of the United States. Organic acids, such as acetic acid, or formic acid, are also sometimes used. A variety of additives help the acid work more efficiently. Inhibitors prevent the acid from attacking the steel tubing and casing at high bottom hole temperatures. In some applications, retarders can pre vent the acid from spending quickly on the first formation rock it encounters, allowing the acid to be pumped further into the formation. Surfactants added to the acid help prevent acid/oil emulsions from forming and reducing the ability of the fluids to flow. Because the reaction of acid and iron compounds can create precipitates within the formation, iron sequestering agents are added to control these deposits. Some acid treatments are even designed to generate acid within the formation, again allowing deeper penetration of active acid. In acid fracturing, it is important to keep the acid from leaking away as a fracture spreads out from the wellbore. Fluid loss agents can be added to keep the acid inside the fracture and allow it to penetrate farther into the formation. Temporary plugging agents are also added, during matrix acidizing jobs, to divert the acid into different layers of the formation and improve overall permeability. Preflush fluids designed to prepare the formation for the acid, the acid plus its additives, and the displacing fluid that follows the acid, are all pumped at rates ranging from less than one barrel per minute to perhaps more than ten barrels per minute. The actual rates will depend on the calculated fracture pressure required to split the formations, and whether a matrix or fracture treatment is preferred. Volumes of 50 to 200 gallons of acid per vertical foot of formation are typical for most reservoirs, depending, of course, on the porosity and rock type. The acid solutions are delivered to the wellsite in specially lined tanks brought by truck to land locations and delivered by boat to offshore wells. High-pressure piping is connected to the well and the acid is pumped down the hole ( Figure 1 ).

Figure 1

The size and configuration of the tubing in the well is important in calculating the volume of fluid required to completely displace the acid into the formation. If gas lift valves or other points of communication exist between tubing and casing, precautions must be taken to ensure that acid is not pumped into the casing/tubing annulus and allowed to corrode the casing. Fracturing As early as 1900, oil producers used explosives to "shoot" wells. By detonating nitroglycerin opposite the producing formation, the wellbore was enlarged and the surrounding rock shattered. As would be expected, this technique was dangerous and often damaging to the casing. In the 1940s, geologists and engineers realized that the inadvertent splitting of the strata during drilling or cementing might be purposefully carried out in a potentially productive formation to increase permeability. The idea was to pump fluid into a cased and perforated wellbore until the hydraulic pressure caused the formation to part; continued pumping would force the fluid into the fracture, propagating the fracture farther and farther from the wellbore. Early researchers realized that the fracture would close once the hydraulic pressure was relieved, so they added a solid material to the fracturing fluid to "prop" open the fracture. Initial jobs consisted of perhaps 500 to 1000 gallons of gelled kerosene (napalm) as a fracturing fluid, with perhaps 1/2 lb of sand per gallon (Neely 1977). These early fractures were assumed to be horizontal, following the bedding planes of the rock. Since that time, an enormous amount of research and field application of fracturing techniques has been carried out. Theoretical mathematical models have been developed that permit engineers to predict the type of fracture and productivity increase that will result from a certain magnitude fracture treatment. These calculations pre vent the unnecessary use of enormous amounts of costly fracture fluid, proppant material, and equipment horse power by tailoring the treatment to the particular well. Although there is still some disagreement among theorists concerning the behavior of rock under stress, we now know that fracture orientation is dependent upon geologic conditions and that most fractures are

vertical rather than horizontal ( Figure 2 and Figure 3 ).

Figure 2

In order to significantly improve a well's productivity, a fracture must conduct fluid at a rate that is several orders of magnitude greater than the conductivity of the rock itself.

Figure 3

Creating a high-conductivity fracture involves selecting the appropriate fluid, additives, and proppant;

determining the optimum volume of material to be pumped; pumping the material at the appropriate rate and pressure Desirable features for a fracturing fluid include the ability to remain in the fracture and not leak off into the formation, the viscosity necessary to transport the proppant out into the fracture, the ability to flow back into the well easily after depositing the proppant, and low cost. Water-based polymer solutions are popular, as are gel led hydrocarbons for water-sensitive formations. A wide variety of additives are available to reduce fluid friction in piping, prevent fluid loss from the fracture, control contamination, and insure compatibility with the formation. The standard proppant used to hold open the fracture is silica sand. Sand can be crushed, however, in deep formations where fracture-closure stresses are high. In such cases sintered bauxite, zirconium oxide, or other high-strength materials are substituted for sand. The goal is to create at least a partial monolayer of proppant within the fracture, holding the fracture open, but not plugging it completely ( Figure 4 ).

Figure 4

At the wellsite, the equipment required for a large fracturing job is somewhat more sophisticated than that required for an acid stimulation. Figure 5 shows the general layout.

Figure 5

The fracturing fluid is held in tanks, where any necessary additives are mixed. Proppant is sorted in similar containers, from which it is conveyed to high-rate blenders. Blenders combine the fracture fluid with the proppant and send the mixture to the pumping system. These blenders are critical to the fracturing procedure because, once the pumping process is under way, interruption of it can result in bridging of the proppant in the tubing or the fracture. The job will fail and retreatment will be required. Often, for major fracturing treatments, large volumes of fluid must be pumped at high pressure. This usually means that standard size pump trucks must be hooked up in parallel to a manifold. The fluid is pumped down the tubing, drillpipe, or casing by this system into the formation. A wellhead protector is often inserted through the Christmas tree to protect its interior from the abrasive, high-pressure fracturing fluid.

Sand Control
While a certain amount of sediment will always be produced along with formation fluids, sand control is the technology and practice of preventing sand flow from unconsolidated sandstone formations. Such a problem is often found in Tertiary sediments, at shallow depths, and in areas such as Nigeria, Indonesia, Trinidad, Venezuela, Canada, the U.S. Gulf Coast, and the Los Angeles Basin (Patton and Abbott 1982). Sand production leads to any or all of the following problems: casing collapse; abrasion of downhole and surface equipment; reduced productivity; completely plugged ("sanded-up") wells. Methods for controlling sand production have generally involved one of three approaches: a metal screen and sand grain barrier that screens out the formation sand but does not inhibit fluid flow into the wellbore; or

an epoxy resin that can be injected into the formation near the wellbore and allowed to harden; this cements the sand grains together and by consolidating them prevents their movement. a combined treatment involving fracture stimulation and sand control, known as a "frac and pack" treatment. Metal wire-wrapped screens and gravel packs work in a manner analogous to a large crowd of people trying to leave a theatre through a small door. Each could pass through the door individually, but when several try at once they form a "bridge" that prevents those at the rear of the pack from moving at all. In sand control, bridging methods employ wirewrapped screens or slotted casing, both of which have carefully sized openings that allow the formation sand to be deposited against them. In the case of gravel packs, carefully sized clean sand is placed outside the screen to retain the formation sand at its outer edge ( Figure 1 ).

Figure 1

Correct sizing of both the gravel pack sand and the gravel pack screen requires knowledge of the information about formation grain size distribution that had been obtained from cores. Guidelines have been developed to select sand and screen sizes that will prevent formation sand movement but not inhibit formation fluid flow. Gravel packing may be carried out in an openhole completion in which under-reaming has enlarged the volume of the pack ( Figure 2 and Figure 3 ).

Figure 2

An inside gravel pack may also be accomplished in a cased and perforated completion.

Figure 3

Three common types of inside gravel packing are shown in Figure 4 ,

Figure 4

wash down, where the gravel is placed in the hole and the screen "washed" through it by circulating , Figure 5,

Figure 5

reverse circulation, where the sand is pumped down the annulus and the carrying fluid returned up the tubing, and Figure 6 , where a crossover allows the sand slurry to be pumped down the tubing , depending on the method of sand placement.

Figure 6

Gravel packs require that there be a good bond between casing and formation, that the perforations be large and free of debris, and that the gravel pack sand is evenly placed around the screen and not mixed with formation sand or dirty completion fluid. Sand consolidation techniques are best applied to shorter completion intervals. Careful mixing and injecting of the plastic resins is important to prevent the mixture from hardening either too far into the formation from the wellbore or inside the casing. Although some permeability is lost in this technique, no restrictions to flow are placed inside the casing as is the case in gravel packing. This is attractive if future downhole work is anticipated and the wellbore may need to be cleaned out. "Frac and Pack" completion methods combine hydraulic fracturing and gravel packing into a single well treatment. They are designed to create relatively short, highly conductive fractures in reservoirs of moderate to high permeability. Frac and pack techniques have come into wide use, and in some areas have largely supplanted the more conventional sand control methods described above. Areas of application include bypassing near-wellbore formation damage that cant be removed with acid treatments. increasing formation support of casing in reservoirs that have formation compacting tendencies. vertically connecting productive intervals in thin, laminated sand-shale sequences. improving productivity in some low-permeability reservoirs alleviating problems caused by high wellbore differential pressure. The decision to complete a well with sand control is not always easy. For example, in a formation where sand production may occur, the completion designer may risk the cost of a future workover in order to save the immediate expense of a gravel pack. This may be particularly true if multiple producing zones in the well will require future work down hole. Of course, the cost of remedial work to clean out and gravel-pack a sanded-up well may be much higher than if the work had been done during the original completion. This is particularly true at some offshore locations where the cost of simply moving a work over rig on to a producing structure can be enormous. With sand control, as with other facets of the completion procedure, decision making is dependent on a number of factors. List the basic completion configurations. The three basic completion configurations are: openhole completion, where the producing formation is not covered by casing; slotted liner completion, where a length of casing is extended across the productive formation, but not cemented; cased and perforated completion, where the productive interval is protected by cemented casing, which is then perforated to permit flow. A liner that is not slotted may be set across the productive interval and cemented and perforated.

Describe the major differences between an acid stimulation and a hydraulic fracturing treatment An acid stimulation treatment involves the pumping of an acid solution (usually hydrochloric) into the pore spaces of the permeable formation rock, while a fracturing treatment requires that the pumping pressure be high enough to split the rock, forcing a viscous fluid into the fracture. Acid stimulation improves permeability near the wellbore by dissolving clay particles that clog pore channels in sandstone formations (hydroflouric acid), and by dissolving some types of rock (carbonate minerals) to enlarge flow passages (hydrochloric acid). Fracturing treatments create long continuous fractures with high permeability to allow increased fluid flow into the wellbore. Most acid stimulations involve pumping smaller volumes at lower pressures than large hydraulic fracturing treatments. Acid treatments pump only liquid, while fracturing treatments involve the pumping of both viscous fluid and a proppant such as sand, which is carried in the fluid to hold the fracture open after it has been created.

West Texas - Permian Basin


Shallow development wells are very common in western Texas, and the following example is typical of many drilled to the San Andres dolomite in that area. Permits are easily obtained, and site preparation takes only three or four days in terrain that is primarily flat and treeless. Rigs are contracted on a per-day or per-foot basis, and a well can often be drilled and completed in eight days. The typical development well is drilled on 20-acre (81,000 m2) spacing. The San Andres dolomite is encountered at about 5000 ft (1524 m) and is usually about 400 ft (122 m) thick. A 12 1/4 inch (31 cm) hole is drilled to about 500 ft (152 m) using water and native clays ( Figure 1 and Figure 2 ).

Figure 1

A string of 8 5/8 inch (22 cm) surface casing is set with cement and a 7 7/8 inch (20 cm) hole is drilled out of the casing to the next casing point.

Figure 2

Drilling fluid in this section is a 10 ppg (1.2 gm/cc) brine. This fluid is needed because of salt formations en countered below 2100 ft (640 m), which would be dissolved by fresh water. Two or three bits may be necessary to reach the total depth of about 5000 ft (1524 m). Logs are run, and casing may be set through the productive zone or above it, depending on whether a cased and perforated or an open hole completion is desired. At this point, the drilling rig may be replaced with a completion rig. If an openhole completion is planned, the productive interval is cored using fluid produced from nearby wells as a drilling fluid. The well is normally stimulated with 6000 gal (22.7 m3) of 28% HCl mixed with nitrogen. Some wells are also fractured. A 2 7/8 inch (7.3 cm) tubing string with a tubing anchor (a packer without seals) is run into the well and set at around 4800 ft (1463 m). Because artificial lift is usually necessary, a 1 3/4 or 2 inch (4.5-5 cm) sucker rod pump is run into the hole, with 7/8 inch (2.2 cm) sucker rods. A pumping unit is placed on a concrete slab and power hookups are completed. Wells usually produce 50 to 200 bbl/day (8 to 32 m3/day) initially and stabilize at about 20 to 40 bbl/day (3-6 m3/day). The details for this example were taken from World Oil (Gulf Publishing Co.), May 1982.

North Slope of Alaska - Prudhoe Bay


Prudhoe Bay, which is on the edge of the Beaufort Sea, 250 miles (400 km) north of the Arctic Circle, is the location of the largest known oil reservoir in North America. Discovered in 1968, the productive interval is the Sadlerochit formation, a Permian/Triassic sandstone and conglomerate system. The reservoir is about 9500 ft (2900 m) deep and normally pressured. In this area of arctic permafrost, drilling is done from a large gravel pad to minimize environmental damage. Up to 30 wells are drilled, some directionally, from these "platforms." The average time required to drill and complete a well is 25 days. After the pad has been constructed, 4 ft (1.2 m) deep cellars are dug and a 36 inch (91 cm) conductor hole is dug at the center with a mechanical auger. The rig is moved on location and a specially insulated 5 inch (13 cm) thick, double-walled conductor pipe is set at 80 ft to 100 ft (24 m to 30 m) below ground level and cemented in place ( Figure 1 ). This helps protect the permafrost from heat generated by drilling fluids and,

later, production.

Figure 1

The surface hole is drilled to about 2700 ft (823 m), using 17 1/2 inch (44.5 cm) diameter mill-tooth bits. Because the surface formations are permanently frozen down to 1800 ft (550 m), the drilling fluid temperature must be maintained below 40F (278 K) to reduce erosion of the sides of the hole. Fresh water bentonite mud is used, and the casing point is reached in a day or two. Surface casing is 13 3/8 inch (34 cm) in diameter and is landed with a hanger that simply rests on top of the conductor pipe. A special cement is used that promotes setting at low temperatures. A 12 1/4 inch (31 cm) hole is then drilled directionally from out of the surface casing set to 2700 ft (823 m). Deviation is accomplished using a down hole motor or by jetting, usually at about 2800 ft (853 m). When the correct hole direction and angle are obtained, three stabilizers are incorporated into the bottomhole assembly to maintain course. The well course is tracked using magnetic surveys. A drilling mud weight of about 7.8 to 9.0 ppg is used to drill down to the shale interval immediately above the Sadlerochit formation. An intermediate 9 5/8 inch (24 cm) casing string is set at 9500 ft (2900 m), using cement around the casing shoe, and a nonfreezing grease in the casing annulus above 2200 ft (670 m). Finally, an 8 1/2 inch (22 cm) hole is drilled out of the intermediate casing to 10,500 ft (3200 m), using 9.7 to 10.2 ppg mud and an insert bit. Stuck pipe and lost circulation are generally problems in this part of the hole. Higher mud weights would help prevent sloughing shale, which can stick the pipe, but unfortunately contribute to lost circulation in the productive zone. Lost circulation material must be used. With the 8 1/2 inch (22 cm) hole finished, open hole logging is carried out, and a 7 inch (18 cm) liner is run to the bottom on drillpipe. The liner is reciprocated up and down while cement is circulated around it, ensuring a good bond. After the cement is set, the liner hanger is tested to 3000 psi (20,700 kPa). The typical completion at Prudhoe Bay includes a conventional 9 5/8 inch (24 cm) permanent packer with 4 1/2, 5 1/2, or 7 inch (11,14, or 18 cm) internally plastic-coated tubing. Ten or twelve gas-lift valve mandrels are installed along the tubing string in anticipation of a need for artificial lift in the future. At this point, it is not unusual for the rig to be moved and the perforating of the well carried out after the completion interval has been decided upon, four to six weeks later. Wells are perforated through tubing using hollow carrier steel guns with four holes per foot and a phasing dependent on reservoir conditions. Loading the hole with diesel oil allows a 700 to 900 psi (4800 to 6200 kPa) underbalance for an efficient clean-up. After perforating, the well is produced for four or five days and then shut-in for a 48 hour shut-in pressure measurement, as required by the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Full-time production begins soon thereafter.

Details for this example are from Reiley (1981) and Leonard (1983).

Norwegian North Sea - Ekofisk Field


Discovered in late 1969, the Ekofisk field was the first major discovery in the North Sea. The field is 180 miles (290 km) offshore in 230 ft (70 m) of water. Following an initial test phase in which 4 exploratory wells were completed as subsea producers, continued development has resulted in the setting of 11 drilling and production platforms, and the drilling and completion of a total of almost 140 wells from these platforms. The Greater Ekofisk Area now includes the Ekofisk, West Ekofisk, Edda, Eldfisk, Tor, Cod, and Albuskjell fields. The Ekofisk area production is found in the Danian and Upper Cretaceous lime-stones. These formations are found at 10,000 ft (3000 m) in a typical well, and the limestone is naturally fractured. All four of the original subsea wells were drilled from semisubmersible rigs. The extreme weather conditions of the North Sea resulted in frequent retrievals of the drilling riser, broken anchor chains, delayed rig moves, and disrupted logistical support. All drilling and completion procedures had to be flexible enough to handle these problems. The subsea wells were drilled by first drilling a 36 inch (91 cm) hole through a temporary guide base and setting 30 inch (76 cm) casing with a permanent guide base at about 130 ft (40 m) ( Figure 1 ).

Figure 1

Next, a smaller bit was used to drill out of the 30 inch (76 cm) conductor to 2000 ft (600 m), where a 20 inch (51 cm) string of casing was cemented and hung off. A 20 inch BOP system was installed on top of this casing, and used while drilling to 5000 ft (1524 m), where 13 3/8 inch (35 cm) casing was run and a 13 3/8 inch BOP stack was in stalled to replace the earlier stack. The hole was then continued through a thick, troublesome, abnormally pressured shale section to the top of the Danian limestone at about 10,000 ft (3000 m). Here, 9 5/8 inch (24 cm) casing was set before drilling through the pay sections. At a total depth of 11,000 ft (3350 m) a 7 inch (18 cm) liner was cemented through the pay. The wells were perforated and drillstem tested before being temporarily abandoned. After a data-evaluation period, the wells were reentered and completed. The single tubing string completions of the subsea wells were performed with drilling mud in the holesubsequent completions from the platforms were completed with clean water. Because the drillstem test

perforations had been squeezed off with cement, the temporary cement plugs set during abandonment had to be drilled out and the 7 inch (18 cm) liner reperforated. A production packer was set on wireline in side the 9 5/8 inch (24 cm) casing, above the 7 inch (18 cm) liner. The tubing run in the subsea wells was 4 1/2 inch (11 cm) above the packer and 3 1/2 inch (9 cm) inside the liner. Sub-sea Christmas trees were installed after the tubing strings were lowered, and the wells were flowed to the drilling vessel through a highpressure riser in order to clean them up. This procedure was followed by an acid treatment to correct wellbore damage from drilling mud invasion, and another cleanup flow period. After connecting the flow lines to the wells, all the wellhead systems were checked for leaks, and divers observed the wellheads and trees for the first 20 hours of production. Following the initial subsea testing period, the completion procedure for wells drilled from the drilling and production platforms was improved in several ways. Rates of 10,000 bbl/day (1600m3/day) were obtained from the subsea wells, and 20,000 bbl/day (3200m3/day) rates were expected on the platform wells that were unrestricted by long flow lines. For this reason, provisions were made to run 4 1/2 or 5 inch (11 or 13 cm) tubing in the platform wells. A side-pocket gas-lift valve mandrel was run to allow continuous injection of a corrosion inhibitor into the tubing from the casing-tubing annulus. Also, an expansion joint (a telescoping tubing component) was run to compensate for expansion and contraction of the long tubing string caused by temperature changes during production and during corrosion treatment phases. A need to allow the bottom perforations to be selectively shut off in case of water production prompted the designers to incorporate two packers into the completion, with the bottom one set between the Danian and Cretaceous perforations. This example was obtained from material in two Journal of Petroleum Technology articles (Luppens 1982 and Jobin, Hoch, and Johnson 1978).

Ghawar Field, Saudi Arabia


Discovered in 1948, the Ghawar field of Saudi Arabia stretches along 150 miles (240 km) of desert, and is one of the largest oil fields in the world. Production is from several zones at about 7000 ft(apx. 2130 m), and ultimate recovery of about 75 billion barrels (12 billion m3) is expected. Moving a rig onto a location in this field is not usually a problem, since the desert is largely uninhabited and the sand fairly compact. An access road and rig location are usually built up about 12 inches (30 cm) from ground level using locally available marl. With the rig on location, a short conductor hole is drilled in a previously dug cellar. Usually a 24 inch (61 cm) bit is used, and a hole-opener run afterwards to enlarge the hole to 34 inches (86 cm). Twenty-six inch (66 cm) conductor casing is set at about 100 ft (30 m), and cemented ( Figure 1 ).

Figure 1

The surface hole is drilled with a 24 inch (61 cm) bit to about 700 ft (213 m). An 18 5/8 inch (47 cm) casing string is set to isolate different quality water reservoirs. From the surface casing, a 17 1/2 inch (45 cm) hole is drilled using the same bottom hole assembly as was used for the earlier portion of the hole: a bit, near bit reamer, shock sub, drill collar, stabilizer, two more drill collars, another stabilizer, and several more drill collars. The drilling fluid used so far is water or a thin water and clay mixture. This portion of the hole will require one or two bits, and lost circulation is sometimes a problem in the Umm Er Raduma formation. When the hole reaches a shale interval normally found at about 2500 ft (760 m), a string of 13 3/8 inch (34 cm) casing is set. This casing string has a landing base at the top, which simply sits on the upper end of the previous (18 5/8 inch (47 cm)) casing. The next portion of the hole is the most challenging interval, because of water-sensitive shales in the Wasia and Biyadh formations and potential lost circulation problems in the Shuaibe. A 12 1/4 inch (31 cm) hole is drilled with a dispersed lignosulfonate mud. The rig's desanders and desilters must be used to reduce the solids in the mud and keep the mud weight low, to avoid lost circulation. When a depth of about 4700 ft (1400 m) is reached, 9 5/8 inch (24 cm) casing is run, hung off in the landing base of the previous string, and cemented. Next an 8 1/2 inch (22 cm) hole is drilled to about 7000 ft (2100 m), or just above the objective sands. There are usually few problems in this part of the hole. A 7 inch (18 cm) liner is run and cemented. The liner overlaps the earlier 9 5/8 inch (24 cm) casing by about 300 ft (91 m), and the liner connection is pressure tested before drilling further. Finally, a 6 1/4 inch (16 cm) hole is drilled through the objective, using a diesel-water emulsion fluid. The hole is circulated clean and logs are run. Tubing is run and hung off in the tubing hanger at the surface. The BOP equipment is removed and the Christmas tree added. Because these wells are completed "open hole, "there is no need to perforate. The flow of oil from the reservoir is up the casing-tubing annulus, rather than up the tubing. The tubing is run primarily so that the well can easily be "killed" by using the tubing to pump heavy fluid to the bottom. Some wells in this area do

have conventional tubing flow completions, and in these cases a 4 1/2 inch (11 cm) tubing is often used to permit high flow rates. The details for this example are from the ARAMCO Drilling Guide, 1978.

Glossary of Drilling Report Abbreviations


The following letter abbreviations are commonly found in drilling reports. ABD, ABND Abandoned BFPH Barrels of fluid per hour BHA Bottomhole assembly: includes the bit, stabilizers, drill collars, and other tools used below the drillpipe BHP Bottomhole pressure; usually measured with a pressure bomb on a wireline BLD Bailed; refers to the practice of removing debris from the hole with a cylindrical container on a wireline BO Barrels of oil BOP Blowout preventer(s) BOPD Barrels of oil per day BPH Barrels per hour BPD,B/D Barrels per day BPV Backpressure valve; a valve that allows fluid to flow through it in only one direction and therefore will maintain pressure (backpressure) on the downstream side BU Bottoms up; when circulation has displaced the mud from the bottom of the hole to the surface BW Barrels of water BWPD Barrels of water per day BWPH Barrels of water per hour CBL Cement bond log; an acoustic device for determining the condition of the bond between cement and hole, and cement and casing. CFG Cubic feet of gas

CFGPD Cubic feet of gas per day CHK Choke; a restriction in a flowline or system, usually referring to a production choke during a test or to the choke in the well control system CIRC Circulate CMT Cement CNL Compensated neutron log; a radioactivity log for measuring porosity COMP Completed CP Casing pressure; pressure on the annulus between tubing and casing: this is measured at the surface CRD Cored CSG Casing DC Drill collar DF Drill floor or derrick floor DIL Dual induction laterolog; an electrical log for measuring resistivity DP Drillpipe DRLG Drilling DST Drillstem test FDC Compensated formation density log; a log that uses radioactivity to measure porosity FP Flowing pressure; usually refers to flowing tubing pressure FTP Flowing tubing pressure; pressure measured at the Christmas tree, while the well is flowing GCM Gas cut mud; mud containing quantities of gas from subsurface formations GIH Go in hole or going in hole; usually relating to the drillstring, a casing string,or a wireline device that is being lowered into the hole

GL Ground level GOR Gas-oil ratio; ratio of gas to oil production during a test (SCF/bbl or m3/m3) GR Gamma ray log; a radioactivity log indicating lithology HGR Hanger; a piece of equipment used for hanging casing or tubing at the surface IES Induction electrical survey log; an electrical log for measuring resistivity IP Initial production; usually describing an initial production test ISF Induction spherically focused log; an elec trical log for measuring resistivity JTS Joints; as in joints of drillpipe or tubing KB Kelly bushing KBE Kelly bushing elevation KO Kicked off; deviated KOP Kick-off point; the depth at which a direc tional hole is deviated from vertical L/D Lay down; as in "lay down drillpipe," mean ing that the equipment is placed horizontally on a pipe rack L/S Long string; relating to the longest of two or more strings of tubing in a well with a multiple completion; the longest string of casing LCM Lost circulation material; material added to the drilling mud to correct lost circulation by plugging off fractures in the rock LOC Location; wellsite LSE Lease; refers to the property on which the well is being drilled M/U Make up; to assemble parts to form a com plete unit; to screw together; to mix or blend MCF Thousand cubic feet of gas MIR Moving in rig

MIRT Moving in rotary tools (see MIR) MOR Moving out rig MW Mud weight; the density of the drilling fluid, usually given in pounds per gallon N/D Nipple down; the reverse of nipple up (N/U) N/U Nipple up; to bolt together valves or fittings, as in "nipple up BOP stack" OCM Oil cut mud; mud containing quantities of oil from subsurface formations OH Openhole: interval of hole without casing P/U Pick up; as in "pick up drillpipe," meaning that the pipe is picked up and assembled from a horizontal position, rather than having been stacked vertically P&A Plug and abandon; to plug the well with cement and remove surface equipment PBTD Plug back total depth: the depth of a well after it has been drilled and then partially plugged back to a shallower depth PERF Perforate PKR Packer: the anchoring and sealing device that blocks off the annular space between tubing and casing PL Pipeline POOH Pull out of hole; retrieve drillstring, tubing string, or wireline equipment from the hole POP Putting on pump: installing a pumping unit on a well RDRT Rigging down rotary tools REC Recover: usually pertains to an item lost or left in the hole RFT Repeat formation tester; electric wireline device for taking samples of formation fluids and pressures from multiple points in the hole RIH Running in hole or ran in hole, see GlH RMG Reaming: enlarging a previously drilled hole

RTTS Retrievable test treat squeeze packer: a retrievable packer designed for use in performing operations in the hole, but not usually left in the well as part of the permanent completion equipment R/U Rig up; assemble and prepare for action; relates to the drilling rig itself or any other equipment S/S Short string; relating to the shortest of two or more strings of tubing in a well with a multiple completion SD,SS Sandstone SDO Shut down waiting on orders: waiting for instructions from management before proceeding with any activity SG Show of gas: gas in mud or cuttings SI Shut in SIBHP Shut in bottomhole pressure: bottomhole pressure measured after the well has been shut in for a significant period of time, usually 24 to 48 hrs or more SICP Shut-in casing pressure: casing pressure measured when the well is shut in SIDPP Shut-in drillpipe pressure; drillpipe pressure measured at the surface with well shut in, usually referred to during kick-killing procedures SIP Shut-in pressure: any shut-in rather than flowing pressure SITP Shut-in tubing pressure SLM Steel line measurement; measured with a steel measuring tape SP Self potential log: an electrical log for indi cating lithology SPD Spudded; began drilling first part of hole, often with a temporary "spudding rig" SQ, SQU Squeeze: as in "cement squeeze," where casing is selectively perforated and cement pumped into the perforations STDS Stands: as in "stands of pipe," meaning two or three joint sections stacked in the derrick SUR, SURV Survey: usually refers to a magnetic survey done to determine position of hole relative to the surface location SW Saltwater

SWBD Swabbed: refers to the suction of fluids into the well, purposefully or inadvertently SX Sacks; as in sacks of cement; one sack of cement produces about 1.2 ft3 (.034 m3) of cement when mixed with water TBG Tubing TD Total depth TIH Trip in hole: to lower into the hole, same as "go in hole" TOOH Trip out of hole: opposite of TIH TOF Top of fish: relating to the depth of the uppermost part of a section of pipe lost in the hole TP Tubing pressure VIS Viscosity: usually refers to mud viscosity and is reported inunits of "seconds"; obtained from a Marsh funnel test W/C Water cushion: water placed in drillpipe during a DST to lessen pressure differential between formation and drillpipe WC Wildcat: well drilled in totally unexplored territory WIH Went in hole; past form of GIH or TIH WL, WIL Wireline WLM Wireline measurement; as opposed to a tubing or drillpipe measurement of hole depth WO/O Waiting on orders: waiting for instructions from management WOC Waiting on cement: time spent waiting for cement to set WOW Waiting on weather: time spent waiting for weather conditions to permit operations to continue