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Eni Corporate University

WELL CONTROL

Training course based upon the contents of the

Multimedia course on well control


INDEX

1. PRESSURES AND GENERAL PRINCIPLES 1

1.1 Hydrostatic pressure 3


1.2 Static pressure 7
1.3 Pressure losses 8
1.4 Bottom hole pressure 20
1.5 Formation pressure 23
1.6 Fracture pressure 24
1.7 Pressure loss (slow circulating pressure) 28
1.8 Shut-in pressures 30
1.9 Circulating pressure 31

1.10 Gas law 32


1.11 Gas migration in a closed-in well, without expansion 33
1.12 Gas migration in an open well with uncontrolled expansion 34
1.13 Gas migration in a closed-in well with a controlled expansion 35
1.14 Representation with a tube "U" 36

2. CAUSES OF KICK 39

2.1 Abnormal pressure 42


2.2 Failing to fill the hole properly while tripping - out 43
2.3 Swabbing 45
2.4 Loss of circulation 48
2.5 Decrease of mud density 49
2.6 Gas-cut mud 50
2.7 Particular situations 52
2.8 Synthesis 53
3. KICK INDICATORS 55

3.1 Flow rate increase 58


3.2 Hole keeps flowing with pumps stopped 58
3.3 Pit volume increase 59
3.4 Increase in penetration rate (drilling break) 60
3.5 Lesser decrease of the mud level during the tripping- out operations 61
3.6 Decrease of circulating pressure and increase of pump strokes 62
3.7 Gas-cut mud 63
3.8 Others indicators 64
3.9 Synthesis 65

4. SHUT-IN PROCEDURES 67

4.1 Well shut - in procedures: soft shut-in and hard shut-in 69


4.2 Shut-in during drilling 71
4.3 Shut-in during tripping: with drill pipes 72
4.4 Shut-in during tripping: with drill collars 73
4.5 Warnings 74
4.6 Crew drill 75
4.7 Stabilization of the SIDPP and SICP pressure values 76

5. WELL CONTROL METHODS 81

5.1 Driller's method 84


5.2 Pressure at the shoe 90
5.3 Wait and weight method 93
5.4 Considerations on driller's method and wait and weight method 98
5.5 Volumetric method 100
5.6 Lubrication 103
5.7 Stripping or snubbing 105
5.8 Analysis of the main problem that occur during well control 106
Pressure and general principles
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PRESSURE AND
GENERAL PRINCIPLES

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PRESSURE

Definition If a force F acts perpendicularly on a surface A, the intensity of the force


with respect to the surface area is defined "Pressure" :

F
P=
A

Expressing F in kg and A in cm2,, the pressure is expressed in kg/cm2.

1.1 HYDROSTATIC PRESSURE ( PH )

Definition The hydrostatic pressure of a fluid at any given depth is the pressure
represented by the weight of the fluid column pressing on a given surface area.

A body immersed in a fluid at a given depth H is not only subject to the atmospheric pressure
(acting on the fluid surface) but also to the pressure due to the mass of the liquid over it. This
latter pressure is defined hydrostatic pressure PH

Defining: H = fluid column depth (vertical depth)


D = fluid density (mud) or specific weight

the hydrostatic pressure PH is defined by the following expression:

D H
PH =
10

We consider 10 as a conversion factor necessary for the correct dimensioning of the values,
because of the different measuring units. In the metric system, density is expressed in kg/l,
while pressure is expressed in kg/cm2.
Thus, if we consider that at a density D=1 we have that 1 litre = 1 dm3 = 1000 cm3 and since
Pressure = Height x Density , we obtain :

[kg] [kg] 1 [kg]


Pressure = m x = 100 cm x = x
[l] [1000 cm 3 ] 10 [cm 2 ]

Which means that for a correct dimensioning , pressure must be divided by a 10 factor.

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The main characteristics of hydrostatic pressure are:

it is in direct proportion to the vertical depth


it is in direct proportion to the fluid density
it does not depend on the shape and the volume of the fluid container
as it is true for all pressures, it exerts an equal force in all directions

Unit of measurement

The unit used for measuring pressure PH depends on the system of measurement selected. In the
Metric System (or Italian Technical System) it is expressed in kg/cm2.

The table below summarises the units of measurement and the conversion factors of the most
commonly used systems of measurement.

SYSTEMS OF MEASUREMENT

Value Metric International system English


System practical pure system

Density D kg/l kg/l kg/m3 ppg

Depth H m m m ft

Pressure PH kg/cm2 bar kPa psi

Conversion 10 0,0981 0,00981 0,052


Factor

Formula for the DxH D x H x 0,0981 D x H x 0,00981 D x H x 0,052


calculation of PH 10

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As shown in the table below, for conversion from one system to another, pressure must be
multiplied by conversion factors :

CONVERSIONS FROM ONE SYSTEM TO ANOTHER

From the metric system to the international practical system: kg/cm2 x 0.981 = bar

From the metric system to the international pure system: kg/cm2 x 98,1 = kPa

From the metric system to the English system: kg/cm2 : 0.0703 = psi

Example:
100 kg/cm x 0.981 = 98.1 bar
100 kg/cm x 98.1 = 9810 kPa
100 kg/cm : 0.0703 = 1422 psi

Example of calculation of PH

If a D = 1,5 kg/l density mud is used in a well which has a vertical depth H = 4.000 m, the
hydrostatic pressure is:

D x H 1, 5 x 4.000
PH = = = 600 kg/cm2
10 10

The hydrostatic pressure can be described by the following diagram:

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Hydrostatic pressure gradient (G)

Definition The hydrostatic pressure gradient is the relationship between pressure and
vertical depth.

In other words, the gradient represents the linear increase of pressure referred to the increase of
linear depth. If we could hypothetically enter inside a fluid container, knowing the gradient, we
would know the increase in hydrostatic pressure for each meter of descent towards the bottom.

PH D
G= =
H 10

The gradient is expressed in kg/cm2 per metre:


Kg
m
cm 2

In practical work, the unit of the gradient is not 1 metre, but 10 metres. Thus:

P D x H
G= x 10 = x 10 = D
H 10 x H

Therefore, if referred to 10 metres, the hydrostatic pressure gradient inside the well is
numerically equivalent to the density of the mud.

The hydrostatic pressure can be defined by the pressure gradient as follows:

PH = H G

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1.2 STATIC PRESSURE (PS)

Definition The static pressure is the pressure measured at the surface of a closed well
without circulation.

Characteristics:

it exists only when the well is closed


it is produced by pressures trapped within the well.
it increases the pressure at the bottom of the well
in kick conditions it exists in two different forms:
. SIDPP: Shut In Drill Pipe Pressure
. SICP : Shut In Casing Pressure
during drilling operations it is utilised for:
. BOP test
. Leak Off test

Graphic representation

Referring to the example given for the hydrostatic pressure, if we hypothetically close the well
assuming a PS =100 kg/cm2 , the graphic description of the pressure within the well is as
follows:

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1.3 PRESSURE LOSSES

Definition Pressure losses result in a drop of pressure due to the friction forces opposing
to the fluid flow.

Pressure losses in a pipe are represented by the following general formula:

Fluid density x Pipe length x (Fluid flow rate)x


P =
(Pipe inside diameter) 5

In the formula the value of x (the exponent) depends on the type of fluid flow (layer flow x = 1,
or turbulent flow, x= 2). In the case of mud flow circuit we assume x = 1.86

By this general formula it is possible to point out the main factors affecting pressure losses. In
fact, pressure losses:

vary linearly with the fluid density (they increase in direct proportion to density)
vary linearly with the pipe length (they increase in direct proportion to the pipe length)
vary substantially with the circulation velocity (they increase sharply when circulation
velocity increases)
decrease with increases of pipe diameters

Dependence of pressure losses on the pipe flow rate and on the fluid density
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The flow rate (Q) of a pipe having a section A can be expressed in relation to fluid velocity V
as:

Q=VxA

Therefore, P increases sharply with increases in flow rate.

If a fluid is pumped into the same circuit with different flow rates, the following relation
between pressure losses and flow rate exists:

P1 Q12
=
P2 Q22

In drilling the flow rate is termed "circulation flow rate" and it is determined by the number of
pump strokes (SPM). Utilizing the pump strokes, the given relation becomes :

P1 SPM12
=
P2 SPM22

If fluids with different densities are pumped in a circuit with the same flow rate, the pressure
losses are in direct proportion to the densities.

P1 D1
=
P2 D2

Pressure losses in the hydraulic circuit of the well.

Pressure losses in the hydraulic circuit of the well are distributed:

in surface lines
inside the drill pipes (DPs)
inside the drill collars (DCs)
through the bit nozzles
in the annulus hole-drill collars
in the annulus hole-drill pipes

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a) pressure losses in the surface lines

The pressure losses through the surface lines determine the pressure necessary for circulating
the mud from the pump to the top of the pipes.

The pressure losses through the surface lines depend on the following factors:

flow rate
mud density
type of surface piping system

The value of such DP is determined by means of the chart provided at the end of this chapter
(table 1).

Knowing the flow rate, the table gives DP values with a mud density = 1. By multiplying this
value by the mud density inside the well we obtain the value of pressure losses in the surface
lines.

P = (table value) x mud density

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b) pressure losses inside the Drill Pipes

The pressure losses inside the drill pipes determine the pressure necessary for circulating the
mud throughout the pipes.

They depend on:

flow rate
mud density
internal diameter and type of drill pipes

The value of these pressure losses is determined by means of Table 2, which, in function of
the flow rate and of the type of pipes, gives the pressure losses every 100 metres. Once this
value has been determined, pressure losses are given by the following formula:

table value
P= x pipe length x mud density
100

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c) pressure losses inside the Drill Collars

They determine the pressure necessary for circulating the mud throughout the drill collars.

They depend on:

flow rate
mud density
internal diameter and type of drill collar and heavy wate

The value is determined by means of Table 3 which, in function of the flow rate and of the
type of drill collars, gives the pressure losses every 100 metres. Once this value has been
determined, pressure losses are given by the following formula:

table value
P= x (pipe length+havy wate length) x mud density
100

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d) pressure losses through the bit nozzles

They determine the pressure necessary for circulating the mud through the bit.

They depend on:

flow rate
mud density
surface area of the bit nozzles

The value of these pressure losses is determined by means of Table 8. Depending on the bit
type and on the surface area of the nozzles, from table 8 we obtain a value which, multiplied
by the mud density, gives the pressure losses:

P = table value x mud density

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e) pressure losses in the annulus between hole and drill collars

The pressure losses inside the annulus between hole and drill collars determine the pressure
necessary for pumping up the mud from the bit to the top of the drill collars.

They depend on:

flow rate
mud density
hole diameter
external diameter of drill collars

By means of table 4, which gives pressure losses every 100 metres with mud density = 1 , in
function of the flow rate, it is possible to calculate these pressure losses by the following
formula:

table value
P= x drill collars length x mud density
100

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f) pressure losses inside the annulus between hole and drill pipes

They determine the pressure necessary for pumping up the mud through the annulus for the
entire length of drill pipes.

They depend on:

flow rate
mud density
hole diameter
external diameter of drill pipes

The value of these pressure losses is determined by means of Table 7 which, known the flow
rate, gives the pressure losses every 100 metres with a mud density = 1. The following
formula shall then be applied:

(table value)
P = x drill pipes length x mud density
100

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Pressure losses throughout the mud circulation system (example)

The above example points out the pressure losses throughout the mud circulation system. As it
can be observed, pressure losses mainly take place through the bit.

Only minor pressure losses take place in the annulus. However, these losses are to be considered
highly important, since they contribute to the total pressure at the bottom hole, as they add to the
hydrostatic pressure acting inside the well.

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Example:

Clculation of pressure losses

Hole = 12 "
Depth 3000 mt
DPs 5" E 2850 mt
DCs 8" x 12 13/16 " 150 mt
RB 3 x "
Mud density (D) 1,4 kg/lt
Flow rate (Q) 2300 lt/min

SURFACE PIPING SYSTEM (Tab. n 1)

Q = 2300 --------------------> P = 3,6 Kg/cm2 (D = 1,00)

P = 3,6 x 1,4 = 5 Kg/cm2 (D = 1,4)

INSIDE DPS (Tab. n 2)

Q = 2300 P = 1,6 Kg / cm2 for 100 mt


2850
P (DPs length) 1,6 = 45,6 Kg / cm2 (D = 1,00)
100
P = 45,6 1,4 = 63,84 64 Kg / cm2 (D = 1,4)

INSIDE DCS (Tab. n 3)

Q = 2300 P for 100 mt = 11,5 Kg / cm2


150
P for 150 mt = 11,5 = 17,25 Kg / cm2 (D = 1,00)
100
P (D = 1,4) = 17,25 1,4 = 24,15 24 Kg / cm2

ANNULUS DC - HOLE (Tab. n 5)

Q = 2300 P for 100 mt = 0,19 Kg / cm2


150
P for 150 mt = 0,19 = 0,28 Kg / cm2 (D = 1,00)
100
P (D = 1,4) = 0,28 1,4 = 0,39 0,4 Kg / cm2

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ANNULUS DP - HOLE (Tab. n 7)

Q = 2300 P for 100 mt = 0,056 kg / cm2


2850
P for 2850 mt = 0,056 = 1,59 kg / cm2 (D = 1,00)
100
P (D = 1,4) = 1,59 1,4 = 2,23 2,2 kg / cm2

BIT (Tab. n 8)

Q = 2300 -------------> area 3 nozzle F 1/2" = 3 x 1,26 = 3,8 cm2

P (Area 3,8 cm2) = 60 Kg/cm2 (Mud D = 1,00)

P (Mud D = 1,4) = 60 x 1,4 = 84 Kg/cm2

PRESSURE LOSSES TOTAL = 180 Kg/cm2

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Pressure losses in the annulus ( Pan )

Among the different types of pressure losses, those produced in the annulus are of great
importance, since they modify the bottom hole pressure.

Their value is in function of the characteristics of the mud, of the circulation flow rate adopted
and of the hole geometry.

At each depth, during circulation, a dynamic pressure (Back Pressure) is exerted. The value of
such pressure is given by the sum of hydrostatic pressure and pressure losses in the annulus.

PBH = PH + Pan

Exemple 1: Hole = 12"


Depth 3000 mt
DPs 5" E 2850 mt Pan = 2,77 kg/cm2
DCs 8" x 12 13/16 " 200 mt
Mud density (D) 1,5 kg/lt
Flow rate (Q) 2200 lt/min

Exemple 2: Hole = 8"


Depth 3000 mt
DPs 5" E 2800 mt Pan = 18,75 kg/cm2
DCs 6" x 12 13/16 200 mt
Mud density (D) 1,5 kg/lt
Flow rate (Q) 2200 lt/min

The above examples show how pressure losses increase substantially in direct proportion to the
decrease in the hole diameter.

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1.4 BOTTOM HOLE PRESSURE ( PB )

Definition The bottom hole pressure (PB) is the total pressure acting at the bottom of
the well.

Its value depends on the different combinations of work procedures:

1. Open well and pump turned off


2. Open well with circulation
3. Closed well and pump turned off
4. Closed well with circulation through the choke

1.Open well and pump turned off:

The bottom hole pressure is equivalent to the hydrostatic pressure (PH):

PB = PH

2. Open well with circulation:

the bottom hole pressure is given by adding the hydrostatic pressure (PH) to the pressure
losses in the annulus (DPan):

PB = PH + Pan

3. Closed well and pumped turned off:

the bottom hole pressure is given by adding the hydrostatic pressure (PH) to the pressure
losses in the annulus (PS):

PB = PH + PS

4. Closed well with circulation through the choke:

the bottom hole pressure is given by adding the hydrostatic pressure (PH) to the static
pressure (PS) and to the pressure losses in the annulus (Pan):

PB = PH + PS + Pan

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The following scheme summarises what has been said above and gives a graphic representation
of the different components of the bottom hole pressure:

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Equivalent circulating density ECD

Definition ECD represents the mud density that can determine, with no circulation
taking place, a hydrostatic pressure at the bottom of the well which is equal
to the pressure when circulation takes place.

When drilling is done in permeable formations and in balance, at turning off the pump the
pressure losses in the annulus cease and this could result in formation fluids that have been
formed entering in the well. Knowing the ECD it is possible to determine the increase in mud
density which is necessary to avoid a kick.

The ECD value can be obtained by adding to the density of the mud inside the well the density
necessary to compensate the pressure losses Pan. Hence:

ECD = D + (Pan) x 10/ H

Safety margin (S)

The safety margin (S) is a pressure that can be added to that at the top of the well so as to work
with a bottom hole pressure which is slightly greater than the formation pressure

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1.5 FORMATION PRESSURE ( PF )

Definition The formation pressure (or pore pressure) is the pressure exerted by the
fluids contained in the formation.

It depends on the following formation characteristics:


- porosity
- permeability

The term porosity expresses the following ratio:

volume of empty spaces


x 100
rock volume

while permeability is the property which allows the fluids to pass. The greater the extent to
which the pores are connected, the greater the permeability of the rock. The unit of
measurement used for permeability is the Darcy (we generally use the submultiple, the
milliDarcy).

The formation pressure acts on the bottom and walls of the well. To avoid seepage of formation
fluids (kick) the hydrostatic pressure of the well must be equal to the formation pressure:

HYDROSTATIC EQUILIBRIUM PH = PF

Maintaining hydrostatic equilibrium at the bottom of the well is the most important objective of
the primary control.

In practical work, a pressure (TM, Trip Margin) able to compensate the pressure variations due
to raising and lowering trips is added to the hydrostatic equilibrium.

In such conditions the hydrostatic pressure is:

PH = PF + TM

Formation pressure: normal and abnormal

Definition The formation pressure (PF) is considered normal when it is equivalent to


the pressure of a column of saline water with a density D* between 1.03 and
1.07 kg/l; it is considered abnormal if it is otherwise.

Defining the pressure gradient "G", we obtain:

if G < 1,03 kg/cm2/10 m we have abnormally low pressure with risk of fractures
if 1,03 <= G <= 1,07 kg/cm2/10 m we have normal pressure
if G > 1,07 kg/cm2/10 m we have abnormally high pressure with risk of kick

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1.6 FRACTURE PRESSURE ( PFR )

Definition The fracture pressure (PFR) is the pressure that produces a partial loss of
mud without actually causing the breaking of the formation.

Keeping the well at a pressure higher than fracture pressure will cause a loss of circulation.

Leak-off test

The fracture pressure is usually determined by means of an experimental procedure, the "Leak-
off test". In practice, the Leak-off test determines the MAASP (maximum allowable annular
surface pressure) without causing any formation fractures. Once this value has been determined,
and remembering that fractures take place in the weakest point (usually under the shoe), the
fracture pressure can be calculated by adding to the hydrostatic pressure at the shoe (PHs) the
pressure value obtained by means of the test.

PFR = MAASP + PHs

Leak-off test procedure

1. Drill a short open hole section ( 3 - 5 metres)


2. Circulate and condition mud
3. Pull the bit to the casing shoe
4. Close the BOP
5. Pump mud
6. Record the pressure values and plot them on a graph. (time and pressure).
7. Join the points (a straight line is obtained)

- The test ends when the points diverge considerably from the straight line.
- The last point on the straight line will be the value of MAASP.

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The leak-off test procedure is important during exploration of wells and when the fracture
gradient is unknown.

The test can be carried out following two different procedures:

- pumping volumes at those time intervals necessary for balancing the pressures
- at a 40-80 liters/min. constant rate, with cementing unit

MAASP

(Maximum Allowable Annular Surface Pressure)

Definition The MAASP (Maximum Allowable Annular Surface Pressure) is the


maximum pressure at the surface annulus just before the formation fractures
at its weakest point (usually below the last casing shoe). The MAASP is the
maximum pressure recorded during the leak-off test:

MAASP = PFR - PHs

The MAASP value is very important for the well control.

The MAASP depends on the hydrostatic pressure at the shoe and therefore it varies in relation
with:

mud density and, in case of kick, in relation with


the height of the influx above the casing shoe

By changing the mud density the hydrostatic pressure at the casing shoe will change, then, since
the fracture pressure is constant, the MAASP will vary. In practice we have:

Increase in mud density ======> MAASP decrease

Decrease in mud density ======> MAASP increase

The MAASP must be recalculated when the mud density changes (without repeating the leak-off
test, but referring to the formula of the MAASP).

Since the hydrostatic pressure at the casing shoe PHs decreases during the migration of gas, the
MAASP increases in a way that depends on the type of fluid (liquid or gas), as it is shown in the
following graph:

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The MAASP value must not be exceeded as long as the influx remains in the open hole.
As soon as the influx has entered the shoe the value of MAASP can increase without any danger
for the formation, provided that the bottom hole pressure is kept constant. The two different
processes are explained in the following:

Liquid The influx does not expand during the upwards flow. The PHs decrease ends
when the influx has completely entered the shoe.

Gas The influx expands during the upwards flow. The expansion determines a PHs
decrease during the complete upwards flow, even after the influx has completely
entered the shoe.

Fracture mud density

Definition The fracture mud density (DFR)allows us to represent the fracture pressure in
terms of mud density so that we can have a reference value.

The DFR represents the mud density that in static conditions determines a pressure equal to the
fracture pressure and can be calculated by the following formula:

DFR = PFR x 10
H

This value is equal to the maximum allowable mud density in the well.

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The allowable mud density in the well can vary from a minimum value, equivalent to the normal
formation gradient GF, to a maximum value corresponding to the DFR, as shown in the
following graph.

The MAASP can be a function of the DFR. In fact:

MAASP = PFR - P Hs

DFR x Hs D x Hs
MAASP = -
10 10
( DFR- D) x Hs
MAASP =
10

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1.7 PRESSURE LOSS (PL)

Definition It is the pressure required for circulating the mud in the well at a slow
circulating rate. (The normal PL values are determinate at 1/2 and 1/3 of the
normal flow rate).

The measurement and the recording of this value are of great importance, since
they represent the circulating pressure to be used in case of kick.

PL is determined with the well closed and with circulation through the choke line. The choke line
does not alter the PL value because its length is irrelevant where pressure losses are concerned.

The PL values must be determined in order to:

to control kick with the standard pump without exceeding its maximum
working pressure.
to weigh up and degasify the mud more easily
(WHY) to reduce wear and strain on surface equipment
to reduce pressure losses in the annulus
to work with one pump only
to reduce stress on the staff performing the well control

The PL values must be recorded:

at the beginning of each operation


if the mud density changes
(WHEN) if the drilling string composition changes
if the pump liner diameters change
if the bit nozzles are changed

The PL value must be read:

Routinely, doing two readings:


- at minimum number of pump strokes
(HOW) - at 10 o 20 pump strokes above the minimum number of pump strokes
for each pump separately

Note: - PL values must always be recorded on the drilling chart.


- PL values must be read from the gauge on the control panel of the automatic choke.

Even with identical pumps the PL must be recorded for each pump since the volumetric
efficiency can be different.

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In case of equal densities of the mud and of the hydraulic circuit (constants indicated by K in the
following formula) the PL at a reduced flow rate is 1/4 of the normal pressure, since the
circulation pressure depends on the square of the mud circulation flow rate:

P = k Q 2

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1.8 SHUT-IN PRESSURES

When a kick sets in, the pressure values within the well are modified and stabilize at values
which assure a new equilibrium between bottom hole pressure and formation pressure.

Once the well has been closed and the pressure values have stabilized, two specific pressures
must be read in order to carry out the well control:

1 SIDPP (Shut In Drill Pipe Pressure),


2 SICP (Shut In Casing Pressure),

Shut In Drill Pipe Pressure

Definition The shut-in drill pipe pressure (SIDPP) is the pressure read at the pipes after
stabilisation, with the well closed and during a kick.

SIDPP = PF - PH

Shut-in casing pressure

Definition The shut-in casing pressure (SICP) is the pressure read in the casing after
stabilisation, with the well closed during a kick.

SICP = PF - (PHG + PH )

where:
PHG = Hydrostatic pressure exerted by the fluid in the well

The relation between the two shut-in pressure values is of great importance. If in the place of
PHG and PH we write their expression (density x height/10), we obtain:

( D - DG ) HG
SICP = SIDPP +
10

Hence, we obtain the density of the mud (DG) inside the well:

DG = D - (SICP - SIDPP) X 10
HG

Depending on the DG value we can have the following situations:

DG > 0,7 the fluid in the well is liquid


0,3 < DG < 0,7 the fluid in the well is a mixture
DG < 0,3 the fluid in the well is gas

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1.9 CIRCULATING PRESSURE

Definition The circulating pressure is the pressure exerted on the pipes during the
well control.

During the operational stages of the well control we have two different circulating pressures:

ICP Initial circulating pressure which is the pressure at the start-up of the pump, with
original mud (unweighted)

ICP = SIDPP + PL

FCP Final circulating pressure which is the value read on the gauge of the pipes when the
Kill mud comes out of the bit and begins to replace the
original mud in the annulus.

FCP = PL x KMD
OMD

(KMD = density of the weighted mud)


(OMD = density of the original mud)

This different terminology is necessary for filling in the KILL SHEET.

Note The two pressures, ICP and FCP, can be increased by a safety margin factor
which is not specified in the EWCF regulations.

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1.10 GAS LAW

The Ideal Gas Law, known also as Boyle's Law affirms that for a gas held at constant
temperature, its volume multiplied by its pressure remains constant:

P x V = constant

The Perfect Gas Law can be considered sufficiently accurate also in the case of gas migration. In
our case this means that during every phase of migration in the well the product of the volume
by the pressure of influx gas remains constant.

Defining Pi e Vi as pressure and initial volume of the influx gas, P' e V' as pressure and
volume of the influx gas in a given phase of the migration, we have:

Pi Vi = P' V'

Assuming the relation P x V = constant, we analyse the following situations:

gas migration without expansion

gas migration with uncontrolled expansion

gas migration with controlled expansion

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1.11 GAS MIGRATION IN A CLOSED-IN WELL, WITHOUT EXPANSION

Let us analyse the behaviour of a gas influx that migrates in a well with the BOP closed. The gas
cannot expand because the BOP has been closed and will therefore migrate in the annulus
because of the difference between the gas specific weight and the mud specific weight .

Without expansion the gas volume and the gas pressure during the gas migration do not change
(gas law).

The hydrostatic pressure at the top of the gas column decreases because of the upward
movement and is compensated by an increase of pressure at the top. As a consequence, the
bottom hole pressure will increase.

The aforesaid is represented in the following graphs:

From what we have already seen it is clear that simply keeping the well closed and waiting leads
to high pressure values in the well which can cause:

fracture of the formations with lost of mud and the possibility of subsequent uncontrolled
underground blowouts
damage to equipment
breaking of the casing

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1.12 GAS MIGRATION IN AN OPEN WELL WITH UNCONTROLLED EXPANSION

In this case, with the BOP opened, the gas migrates upwards expanding freely and its volume
increases.

This expansion results in the expulsion of an equal volume of mud with a subsequent decrease
in the bottom hole hydrostatic pressure and additional gas can enter. The expansion is not
substantial until the gas reaches the 3/4 of its upwards movement; the phenomenon becomes
then more evident, with the expulsion of bigger volumes in shorter intervals

The following graphs are a representation of what has been said:

From what we have previously seen, it is evident that the upward movement of a gas influx in an
open well is characterised by an uncontrolled expansion of gas volume causing:

a decrease in the bottom hole pressure, due to the partial emptying of the annulus, with
danger of additional gas influx;
a situation which becomes more and more difficult to control.

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1.13 GAS MIGRATION IN A CLOSED-IN WELL WITH A CONTROLLED


EXPANSION

The migration of gas without expansion causes an increase in bottom hole pressure, while the
migration with uncontrolled expansion causes a reduction in bottom hole pressure. Both of these
conditions can not be used in practice because they alter the bottom hole pressure .

Correct management of the rising gas influx must include a controlled expansion that will keep
the bottom hole pressure constant at a pressure value which is equal to the formation pressure.

We now proceed to analyse a gas influx migration in a closed-in well under controlled
expansion (the control shall be carried out operating on the choke)

During migration the gas expands, increasing in volume and consequently decreasing in
pressure, and the gas expansion will displace a corresponding amount of mud producing a
decrease in hydrostatic pressure, compensated by an increase in surface pressure. As a
consequence, the bottom hole pressure remains constant.

What has been said is illustrated by the following graph:

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1.14 REPRESENTATION WITH A TUBE "U"

We can imagine a well in the form of a "U" tube with:

- pipe branch
- annulus branch

where:

- the pipe is open at the bottom


- the bottom is in contact with the formation
- the pipe branch is full of mud with density D, which exerts a pressure PH
- the annulus branch (in case of a kick) can contain in addition to mud also influx.

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Graphic representation of U tube principle:

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CAUSES OF
KICK

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GENERALITY

The main cause of a kick is the lack of an adequate hydrostatic pressure to assure :

PH > PF

If, for some reason, it turns out that PH < PF we have reached the necessary and sufficient condition
for a kick.

This condition can come about as a result of different causes which can be grouped as follows:

Natural causes Operative causes

Natural causes determine an increase Operative causes, or mechanically induce


in formation pressure. causes, determine a decrease in hydrostat
pressure at the bottom hole.

They mainly consist of: They mainly consist of:

a) abnormal pressure b) failing to fill the hole properly when trippin


out drill string
c) swabbing
d) loss of circulation
e) insufficient mud weight
f) gas-cut mud

At present, more than 50% of blow-outs are due to the combination of causes b) and c).

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2.1 ABNORMAL PRESSURE

An abnormal formation pressure will take place when fluid pressure in the formation has a gradient
bigger than 1,07 kg/cm2/ 10 meters. By drilling trough an abnormal pressure formation with an
insufficient mud weight a kick can be caused.

Abnormal pressures are caused by particular geological situations:

- high velocity in sedimentation Low permeability zones, sedimented at high velocity can trap
fluids thus determining an abnormal pressure zone.

- abnormal pressure due to fault Sedimentation zones can be raised by tectonic movements. In this
case the zone has kept its original pressure. A further erosion of
the surface has determined a lesser depth of the zone, which,
under normal conditions, would have a lower pressure than the
pressure it has.

- artesian effect An artesian effect takes place when drilling through a water-
bearing layer. In this case the pressure is not related to the
drilling depth but is determined by the height of the water layer
above the drilling point.

- lenses Lenses are found when impermeable zones (clay) produce


structural traps that imprison the formation fluids. Lenses near the
surface are particularly dangerous.

- inclination of rock layers When the geometry of a gas reservoir is strongly inclined, the
formation pressure values on the upper part of the lens are
abnormal. The fluid layer pressure is normal, while, due to the
low density of the gas, the pressure value in the higher region of
the reservoir is abnormally high.

During the last years of research different methods have been studied in order to prevent abnormal
pressures: some of them can be applied before the drilling, some during the drilling and some after
the drilling. In spite of the validity of the principles they are based on, these methods might prove
unreliable in certain situations, such as limited quantity of the samples to be analysed, subjective
data evaluation, uncertainty about the depth of the sample original region.

The methods which are most commonly used during the drilling are:
Trip velocity
D exponent
Sigmalog
Clay density
Clay resistivity
Mud temperature
Mud resistivity, salinity and pH
Gas manifestation
Slides and hole diameter reductions

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2.2 FAILING TO FILL THE HOLE PROPERLY WHILE TRIPPING - OUT

If the volume of the steel removed during the tripping out is not replaced by an equal volume of
mud, we will have a decrease in the hydrostatic pressure throughout the well. In such conditions it
is likely that, in a certain layer, the hydrostatic pressure is lower than the formation pressure in the
same layer, causing the fluid to enter the well.

For this reason, the volume of the removed steel must always be replaced with an equivalent
volume of mud.
Vpulled out steel = Vadded mud volume

This condition must always be verified to avoid drops in the bottom-hole hydrostatic pressure, and
this must be done by means of the Possum belly, which points out even minor changes in the tank
level. If the well receives less mud, this means that some formation fluid has entered inside the
well.

Warning: this is one of the main causes of kick and it is essentially due to the driller's
responsibility.

The decrease in pressure determined by the tripping out, can be calculated as follows:

1. Calculate the volume of the pulled-out steel


2. Calculate the drop in mud level in the hole
3. Calculate the drop in hydrostatic pressure

1) calculate the volume of the pulled-out steel

The two following situations should be considered when calculating this volume:

a) dry drill pipe: in this case only the volume of the pulled out steel must be considered:

Pulled-out volume = [pulled-out length ] x [steel displacement]

b) wet drill pipe: in this case the pulling out of the total volume of the pipes must be
considered, and such volume is given by the closed-end displacement plus the
casing capacity.

Pulled out volume = [pulled-out length] x [closed-end displacement]

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2) calculation of the drop in the mud level inside the well H

For this calculation, two other cases should be considered besides the wet and dry drill pipes cases:
the presence of the pipes inside the well and the pulling out of the last drill pipe.

pipes inside the well:

volume pulled out


a) dry drill pipe H=
casing capacity - steel displacement

volume pulled out


b) wet drill pipe H=
casing capacity - closed end displacement

volume pulled out


last drill pipe H=
casing capacity

3) calculation of the drop in hydrostatic pressure PH

mud density x drop in level


PH =
10

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2.3 SWABBING

The drill string movement determines a mud flow in the annulus and such flow determines on its
turn a pressure loss and a subsequent variation in the bottom hole pressure. This phenomenon is
called swabbing.

In case of tripping out, pressure losses inside the annulus (Swabbing)determine a decrease in the
bottom hole pressure:

PB = PH - Pan

The drop in the bottom hole pressure can determine the entrance of formation fluids.

In case of tripping in the hole the pressure losses (Surging) are added to the hydrostatic pressure:

PB = PH + Pan

The increase in the bottom hole pressure might determine a fracture in the formation with
subsequent pressure loss and danger of a kick.

The danger of a kick is much higher during the tripping out than during the tripping in.

The swabbing effect becomes greater as the following entities increase:

trip velocity
decrease in annulus clearance
length of the drill string in the hole
mud viscosity

The phenomenon is also amplified by the presence of clay obstructions on the bit and on the
stabilizers (obstructions in the Bottom Hole Assembly) because they narrow the hole.
The phenomenon increases linearly with depth and is at its maximum when the bit is near the
bottom (increase in the string length>>>increase in pressure losses>>>increase in swabbing). In
this case the trip velocity must be reduced.

The onset of swabbing can be detected through the Possum Belly. By observation of the mud level,
we can know if formation fluids have entered the well during the tripping out.

A change in the string weight, detected through the Martin Decker during the trip, usually
intensifies the swabbing effect.

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In order to prevent and reduce the effect of swabbing the following indications should be followed:

- decrease trip velocity (especially near the bottom)

The trip velocity determines the pressure loss values due to swabbing. The swabbing effect
increases sharply with trip velocity

- condition the mud, carefully checking the rheological characteristics

Improving the rheological characteristics of the mud before the tripping reduces the swabbing
effect and facilitates tripping operations

- pay the utmost attention in case of overpull during a trip

Overpull during trip can worsen swabbing. The operation must be done with care.

- increase in mud density

Mud density can be increased to bring trip margin back to its previous level

- Short Trip

Procedure:

pull out some stands at normal velocity


run in again to the bottom
circulate the bottom influx up to the surface
analyse the characteristics of the mud and of any influx pulled out:

. if the mud is not gas-cut, you can pull out with the same velocity
. if the mud is gas-cut, you must determine the type of operation necessary

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The two graphs below illustrate the variations of trip velocity and of PB during a trip:

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2.4 LOSS OF CIRCULATION

The term "loss of circulation" indicates a flow of mud from the well towards the formation, caused
by naturally fractured formations or by mechanically induced fractures (for example by swabbing).

The loss of circulation can be:

partial: when the flow-out is less than the flow-in

total: when there is no return of mud from the well, causing a sudden drop in the
level inside the well

Total loss of circulation can cause a kick because the mud level in the well drops, thus determining
a drop in the hydrostatic pressure; mineral layers previously controlled by the mud, may cause a
kick.

Partial loss alone is not a direct cause of kick. But if it worsens, it may reach a total loss value.

The loss of circulation can be caused by:

- geological causes:
.karsic formations
.fractured formations
.faults

- operative conditions that can take place inside the well:

. substantial pressure losses in the annulus


. swabbing during tripping in (surge pressure)
. starting of circulation through holes of small diameter at great depth
. gumbo shale in the annulus

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2.5 DECREASE OF MUD DENSITY

The hydrostatic pressure exerted by the column of mud in the well is the main condition for the
prevention of a kick. If the mud density decreases when passing through mineral layers (due to
unforeseen causes), the hydrostatic pressure in the well will drop below planned levels and as a
consequence some formation fluids might enter in the well.

The most common causes of an unplanned decrease in mud weight are:

- defective functioning or failure of the mud surface equipment.


- erroneous mud circuit operations
- unsuitable characteristics of the mud

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2.6 GAS-CUT MUD

When a structure containing gas is drilled, a certain quantity of gas is released in the drilled rock
volume. The mud forms an emulsion with the gas and its density decreases. The gas released inside
the well is subject to the hydrostatic pressure of the mud column over it. As soon as the gas starts to
flow upwards (either because of the circulation or of the difference in density) the pressure over it
decreases, and the gas expands.

The decrease in mud density is minimal at the bottom and greater at the surface, with a slight
decrease of the bottom hole pressure.

The quantity of gas released when a gas-bearing formation is drilled determines a continuous
contamination of the mud (background value) which depends on the following factors:

- drilling rate
- degree of porosity of the formation
- hole diameter

The presence of gas in the mud during drilling operations, depending on the operational conditions,
can be defined as follows:

a) Drilling gas: gas released from the rock by the penetration of the bit

b) Connection gas: gas which accumulates in the well during pauses for adding the pipes
(connection)

c) Trip gas: gas which accumulates during pauses to change bit. (The pause is much
longer and the accumulation is greater).

d) Formation gas: formation gas penetrated in the well when the hydrostatic pressure value is
not high enough to compensate the formation pressure value.

The drilling gas, the connection gas and the trip gas, at an initial stage of the drilling, all have a
pressure value lower than the hydrostatic pressure value:

Pgas < PH

The well control is guaranteed and the situation is under control. As a general rule, these situations
are not dangerous. They may become dangerous if the volume of the penetrated gas is high. This
could happen at the initial stage of the drilling operations, with large diameters and high drilling
velocity. In this case we talk about Shallow gas.

Instead, in a situation where

Pgas > PH

we have formation gas, and a kick takes place.

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The danger resulting from mud contamination, that is the decrease of the hydrostatic pressure
(PH) due to the rapid expansion of the gas at the surface, can be determined either by empirical
tables or analytically, using the following formula:

D - D1
PH = 2,3 x x log PH
D1

where: PH = hydrostatic bottom pressure with mud density D


D = original mud density
D1 = gas-cut mud density

Gas accumulations are read by the Gas Detector. The Degasser is used to expel gas from the mud
before circulating it in the well again.

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2.7 PARTICULAR SITUATIONS

A kick can be determined by a simultaneous combination of phenomena or as a consequence of


certain operations which normally do not cause blow-out.

In the following are some of these situations:

layer test (DST)


running a casing
recording of electrical logs
waiting for cement hardening after the casing job
some conditions for fishing
retrieve of a Bridge Plug slightly below the surface

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2.8 SYNTHESIS

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KICK
INDICATORS

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GENERALITY

It is very important to recognise a kick at an early stage. Experience shows that the more
limited the initial volume of the contaminating fluid, the higher the possibility to carry out a
successful control.

The aim of this chapter is that of examining the main kick indicators. However, in the
operational practice, the phenomenon determines more than one change simultaneously. For this
reason, a careful analysis of such combination of phenomena helps detecting abnormal
situations. Kick indicators can be grouped into two categories, as shown by the following chart:

INDICATORS OF A KICK IN INDICATORS OF POSSIBLE KICK


PROGRESS

Flow rate increase Pit volume increase

Hole keeps flowing with pumps stopped Increase of penetration rate

Lesser decrease of the mud level during


pulling out operations

Decrease in circulating pressure and increase


in pump strokes

Gas-cut mud

Decrease in string weight and increase in


pressure

Increase in torque and/or overpull

The indicators are listed according to their priority level. In the right-side column the last three
indicators refer to particular situations. The quantity of fluid which can penetrate in the well is in
direct proportion with the negative value of the pressure difference PH-PF , with the formation
permeability, with the length of the drilled section and with the time required to recognise the
kick. It is therefore very important that a kick be recognised immediately, promptly carrying out
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the necessary checks and operations. The prompt detection of a kick is the driller's main aim.

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3.1 FLOW RATE INCREASE

In normal conditions the quantity of mud coming out of the well is equivalent to that entering it
and corresponds to the flow rate of the pump.

The entry of formation fluid in the well alters this equilibrium and causes an increase in flow-
out. This variation can be read on a flow meter positioned on the flow line.The flow meter
indicates flow variations and being connected to the flow line, enables us to recognise kick
immediately.

3.2 HOLE KEEPS FLOWING WITH PUMPS STOPPED

This is a sure indicator that a kick is in progress. It takes place when the annular pressure losses
are significant (especially in the small diameter holes).

In this case, by stopping the circulation, the annular pressure losses will stop too. The formation
pressure can exceed the hydrostatic pressure and, as a consequence, formation fluids will enter
into the well.

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3.3 PIT VOLUME INCREASE

Any flow of formation fluid into a well determines an increase in the surface mud volume.

This means that an increase in pit volume is a kick indicator. In this case it is necessary to stop
operations and carry out a flow check.

If no kick is detected, check the reason for the anomaly. (The foreman should always be
informed about the operations which can modify the pit volume in order to avoid the start of
unnecessary checks).

The acoustic alarm for indicating pit volume variations must always be in working condition and
ready to show even slight level changes.

A pit volume increase can also depend on other causes, not related to the kick. The most
important ones are :

addition of materials to modify the mud characteristics


leakage or incorrect use of mud system valves which can cause the transfer between the
tanks .

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3.4 INCREASE IN PENETRATION RATE (DRILLING BREAK)

The rate of bit penetration tends to decrease as the depth of the well increases because of
increasing hardness of the ground. A sharp increase of the penetration rate can indicate entry into
a zone of abnormal pressure. In such a situation it is necessary to stop drilling and run a flow
check for kick.

The graph shows the trend of the formation pressure gradient with respect to the mud gradient.
It also points out that the entry into an abnormal pressure zone alters the hydrostatic
equilibrium and a subsequent kick.

The graph below shows the trend of the difference DP between the bottom hole pressure and the
formation pressure. During drilling, the DP value is positive. Approaching to the abnormal
pressure zone such value decreases until it reaches negative values when the bit impacts the
abnormal pressure zone. This phenomenon might depend on the rock higher softness.

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3.5 LESSER DECREASE OF THE MUD LEVEL IN THE POSSUM BELLY DURING
THE TRIPPING - OUT OPERATIONS

During the trip out of the hole the level in the possum belly can decrease less than expected
because of the volume of the pulled out steel. This can imply that swabbing is taking place and
that there can be some formation fluid in the well, partially compensating the decrease in level.

In this case tripping out must be suspended and you must carry out a flow check, which can reveal
three different situations:

1) a return to normal level This is not a dangerous situation. The lesser drop was due to
a partial obstruction in the annulus.

2) a lower than expected The swabbing has determined a momentary unbalance of


level the bottom hole pressure and a subsequent entry of limited
quantity of formation fluid.
The Equilibrium is restored by suspending movement, even
though some fluid remains inside the well and the level in
the tank is different. In this case, stop the trip.

3) the well keeps flowing Kick in progress!

In order to determine the degree of swabbing during the tripping out, an accurate check of the
level variations in the possum belly is recommended.

Note The use of the possum belly also during the trip-in operations allows to detect abnormal
conditions in the well, such as the migration of a gas influx or the fracturing of a weak
formation.

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3.6 DECREASE OF CIRCULATING PRESSURE AND INCREASE OF PUMP


STROKES

The formation fluids, compared to mud, are usually characterised by a lower density.
Therefore, their penetration into the well determines a decrease of the annulus hydrostatic
pressure and a subsequent unbalance in the well. Such unbalance determines a decrease of the
circulating pressure and possibly an increase of the pump strokes.

These conditions may indicate that a kick is taking place and it is therefore necessary to interrupt
all the operations and adopt the recommended procedures.

The decrease of the circulating pressure may also be due to other causes such as:

pump failure
unbalanced mud
wash-out of the drill string.

In any case, a kick should be included among the possible reasons for a pressure decrease until
the actual cause has been detected.

Note The increase of the pump strokes is more evident in mechanical (or diesel electric)
systems than in SCR systems.

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3.7 GAS-CUT MUD

The presence of formation fluid in the well can be detected by continuous observation of some
chemical-physical characteristics of the mud such as density, salinity, content of chlorides. Such
readings reveal the presence of formation fluids:

density The mud density will decrease as the formation fluids penetrate into the
well.

content of chlorides An increase in chlorides in the mud fluid indicates the entrance of native
water. In fact, the salinity in water formation is usually greater than that in
drilling mud.

The increase of such values, revealed by continuous monitoring, may reveal a progressive
increase of the formation pressure or a decrease of the tripping margin and can therefore supply
useful information to prevent kicks.

The mud can be contaminated by:

water
oil
gas

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3.8 OTHER INDICATORS OF A KICK

A) Decrease in the drill string weight and increase in the circulating pressure

A decrease in the drill string weight, indicated by the Martin Decker weight indicator, and an
increase in the circulating pressure indicate a kick. In fact, the pressure of the fluid
infiltrated into the well exerts a mechanical force that tends to push the drill string upwards.

Such mechanical force is also exerted on the pipes mud opening the pump safety valves so
that the fluid cannot penetrate inside the pipes.

This is a rare phenomenon that can arise with high formation pressure and high permeability.

Note A sudden increase in circulating pressure can open the safety valve of the pump
with return flow from the pipes.

B) Increase in torque and/or overpull

In particular conditions the formation pressure tends to reduce the hole opening with a
consequent increase in torque during drilling and in overpull during the pipe changing
operations.

These conditions can reveal the beginning of a kick.

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3.9 SYNTHESIS OF KICK INDICATORS

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SHUT - IN
PROCEDURES

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4.1 WELL SHUT-IN PROCEDURES: SOFT SHUT-IN AND HARD SHUT-IN

After detecting any kick indicator, and when there is no doubt that a kick is taking place, the
driller shall immediately carry out the well shut-in procedure following the recommended
procedure.

If there are any uncertainties, a flow check shall be carried out before starting the shut-in
procedures.

Flow check

The flow check procedure can be done during drilling or during tripping.

DURING DRILLING
- Raise the kelly and the first tool joint with pumps on
- Stop the pumps
- Check any possible flow inside the well

DURING TRIPPING
- Stop tripping
- Check any possible flow from the well by means of the possum belly

The check for any flow from the well may determine two situations:

- the well flows: carry out the shut-in procedure


- the well does not flow: resume the operations in compliance with the customer's
instructions

After the need to shut the well has been ascertained, one of the two recommended procedures
(API RP 59 regulations) can be chosen:

1) HARD SHUT- IN Procedure 2) SOFT SHUT- IN Procedure

The two shut-in procedures differ for the sequence of the following operations:

closing of the BOP


opening of the hydraulic valve on the choke line
possible closing of the power choke on the choke manifold

The type of procedure is chosen in advance by the company and it depends on how the power
choke has been set at the beginning of the operations:

HARD procedure ---> closed power choke SOFT procedure ---> partially open power choke

It is very important to verify periodically if the position of the valves on the choke manifold is in
accordance with the type of procedure that has been chosen. The well shut-in implies a high risk
of formation fracture at the casing shoe. In particular, the danger is greater at a limited depth
because of the low fracturing formation gradient typical of this depth .

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SOFT SHUT-IN procedure

Before starting any operation make sure that the choke manifold is set to circulate the mud to the
shale shaker through the half opened power choke and that the internal mechanical valve is open.

Operational sequence to be followed:

1. Opening of hydraulic valve on the choke line


2. Closing of BOP
3. Closing of power choke
4. Recording of the stabilised SIDPP and SICP values and of the pit gain

HARD SHUT-IN procedure (The choke must be set in the close position)

1. Closing of BOP
2. Opening of hydraulic valve on the choke-line
3. Recording of the stabilised SIDPP and SICP values and of the pit gain

SOFT Procedure HARD Procedure

Advantages Advantages

It allows an easier control of the casing It requires less time to carry-out the necessary
pressure by reducing the danger of fracture operations with less formation fluid in the well
below the casing shoe

The opening of the hydraulic valve on the


choke-line allows, on certain check panels, to A lower fluid volume results in a lower SICP
keep the automatic opening system of the choke
working

Reduction in water hammering phenomenon It is easier and quicker


due to the immediate shut-in

Disadvantages Disadvantages

A bigger formation fluid volume will enter into Greater risk of fracturing the formation below
the well the casing shoe

The Soft or Hard shut-in procedures ends with a series of operations to be carried out before and
after the actual shut-in. Such operations are strictly connected with the operational stage, drilling
(bit at the bottom), tripping with drill pipes or with the bit on the bottom, as it is shown in the
following charts.
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4.2 WELL SHUT-IN DURING DRILLING

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4.3 WELL SHUT-IN DURING TRIPPING, WITH DRILL PIPES

Two inside BOPs are being used: a gray valve and a lower kelly cock, the latter kept in reserve
on the rig floor. Inside BOPs must be kept in good condition, in open position and handy on the
rig floor.

The keys for working on the installed kelly cocks and on the the kelly cock kept in reserve must
always be at hand.

If the gray valve has been installed to read the SIDPP, you must go ahead with the appropriate
procedure (see stabilization of pressures).

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4.4 WELL SHUT-IN WHILE TRIPPING, WITH DRILL COLLARS

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4.5 WARNINGS

During the well shut-in operations the following warnings should always be kept into account:

Closing the power choke If the choke that has been installed doesn't seal perfectly,
to obtain pressure balance you must close the choke up
stream valve.

Installing the kelly cock The keys for opening and closing the kelly cocks must
always be at hand.

Installation of x-overs The x-overs needed to connect the "inside BOPs" to the
drill collars being used must be kept available on the rig
floor.

Maintenance of inside BOPs The inside BOPs must be kept in good conditions, in
the open position and handy on the rig floor.

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4.6 CREW DRILL

In order to keep the crew at a high level of efficiency and to test the correctness of the
procedures, some practice drills are periodically carried out.

Such drills start without any advice and the crew operates as if it were a real situation or
emergency case.

Pit drill The drill consists of a simulated change in the pit level.
The level indicators are manually triggered thus activating the alarm; the crew
must start the suitable procedures immediately. The drill is proposed by the
supervisor before shutting in the well. The time is read to test the crew
efficiency (the time required must no more than one minute).

Bop drill It includes all the pit drill operations plus the well shut-in.
At the beginning this drill is carried out quite frequently, until the crew reaches
an acceptable execution time (two minutes). Subsequently, it becomes a
weekly drill. The exercise varies depending on the operational conditions as
follows:

- during drilling
- during tripping with drill pipes
- during tripping with drill collars
- with pipes outside the well

Depending on the conditions under which the drill is carried out, the crew shall
carry out the well shut-in in compliance with the corresponding procedure.

Stripping drill This test is carried out after the casing has been run in and before drilling the
cement. It involves the closing of the BOP with the pipes inside the well,
tripping them in according to the stripping procedure (see chapter on well
control methods).
The drill should take enough time to allow the running in of an adequate
section of pipes for the testing of the equipment efficiency, and to let each
member of the crew to learn his own task.

Choke drill This drill should be carried out before drilling the shoe, with the well closed
and with trapped pressure. It consists of pumping through the pipes at a
suitable flow rate, working on the choke in order to control the casing pressure.
This exercise trains the crew to operate on the choke.

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4.7 STABILIZATION OF THE SIDPP AND SICP PRESSURE VALUES

When a kick occurs, the formation pressure (PF) near the bottom of the well decreases as a
consequence of the formation fluid flow in the well. The formation pressure tends to decrease
until it reaches the hydrostatic pressure value PH. After the well shut-in, a further formation
fluid flow occurs at the bottom of the well: the time required depends on the formation
permeability, on the fluid nature and volume, on the difference between PF and PH.

As a consequence, the surface pressures increase to such a value that added to their respective
hydrostatic pressures, they develop a bottom hole pressure equal to the formation pressure. At
this point the two pressures stabilise at their respective values. The time necessary for SIDPP
and SICP to reach their final value is a period defined as "stabilisation time" (generally from 5
to 10 minutes).

The increase in surface pressure must be followed attentively and recorded so that the exact
moment of pressure stabilisation can be recognised. The true SIDPP and SICP values to consider
for all following control operations are those of the moment of stabilisation.

C
A B

Notes to the graphs:


A-B: bottom hole pressure < formation pressure
B: bottom hole pressure = formation pressure B: stabilisation point

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The stabilisation time, after shutting in the well, is connected to the formation flow and depends
on:

degree of formation permeability


nature and volume of contaminating fluid
difference between PB and PF

The stabilisation process can follow different trends, depending on:

the nature of the contaminating fluid


the degree of formation permeability

It is very important to know the exact SIDPP and SICP values because:

the SIDPP value enables us to calculate the weighted mud density necessary for controlling
kick;

the difference between SICP and SIDPP, together with the volume increase of the mud in the
pit, enable us to determine the nature of the contaminating fluid (DG density):

SIDPP - SICP = HG/10 (D-DG)


DG = D - (SICP-SIDPP) x 10/HG

If DG < 0,3 kg/l ===> gas


If DG < 0,7 kg/l ===> mixture
If DG > 0,7 kg/l ===> liquid

The contaminating fluid height can be determined by the increase in volume.

HG= increase in volume/well annulus capacity

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Determination of stabilised pressures

Determining the moment of stabilisation can sometimes be difficult because of the migration of
gas influx towards the surface, which induces a expansion and a subsequent pressure increase,
constant but more gradual, rather than a pressure stabilisation.

In this case it is impossible to establish a true stabilisation point because the time lapse (A-B)
which represents the stabilisation period tends to confuse with the time lapse (B-C) which
represents the pressure increase due to the rising of the gas and to the subsequent expansion.

When the exact determination of the stabilisation point is difficult, there are two possible
strategies:

Extend the observation time:

with frequent pressure readings, stopping when the pressure increase tends to stabilise

Interpolate the recorded values:

- paired values are determined " observation time T - SIDPP", recorded with maximum
accuracy, which allow to calculate the stabilised pressure values.

- the straight line joining the SIDPP points (ordinate) and the SIDPP/T (abscissa) is traced .

The intersection of the line with the pressure axis defines the stabilised SIDPP value.

As a general rule, a shut- in time of 10-20 minutes is enough to obtain the stabilised pressures.

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Particular situations

The pressure reading at the drill pipes may be impossible because of the presence of a check
valve which hinders the registration of the pressure value on the gauge.

In this case, to determine the SIDPP value, the following procedure should be adopted:

- start a slow circulation until the check valve opens.


- the SIDPP value given on the gauge represents the stabilisation value.

Note : Any increase in the SICP value must be avoided and it must be kept under
observation during the procedure. Its increase means that the pressure induced by
pumping through the drill pipes was too high and that it transferred into the casing
(circulation with a shut-in well).

Anomalous situations related to stabilised pressures

The readings of the stabilised pressure values delineate the following situations:

1) 0<SIDPP<SICP this is a normal situation since the casing pressure is


affected by the influx and PF>PH

2) SIDPP = SICP > 0 . the penetrated fluid has the same density as the mud
. the influx height is negligible
. the fluid has entered into the pipes as well as into the
casing, with the same height
. influx due to swabbing penetrated under the bit

3) 0 =SIDPP < SICP . this situation only occurs in presence of an influx, or it


may be due to an excessive weight loss of the mud in
the annulus caused by the drilling gas. This situation
can occur when there is a check valve on the drilling
string.

4) 0 < SICP<SIDPP . the height of the influx in the drill pipes is greater than
that of the influx in the casing

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Use of pressures to control the well

The stabilised pressure readings are very important because they reflect the real situation at the
bottom of the well and they constitute the basis for blow-out control.

The SICP value is kept constant when the pump is started, until a low flow rate is obtained. This
guarantees a stable bottom hole pressure at the moment of the pumps start-up.

The SIDPP enables us to calculate the density of the kill mud and to reach the correct
circulating pressure (ICP). In fact::

KMD = OMD + 10 x SIDPP/TVD

where:

KMD = kill mud density


OMD = original mud density
TVD = vertical depth of the well

The KMD value is calculated in order to restore the bottom hole hydrostatic equilibrium.

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WELL CONTROL
METHODS

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GENERALITY

After the well shut-in and the pressure stabilisation have been carried out, different methods can
be adopted in order to control the kick.

All of the methods have the following aims:

to bring the influx to the surface


to restore the hydrostatic equilibrium inside the well.

Each method aims at reaching such objectives by following different procedures.

The most common methods require one or more circulations to restore the control inside the
well, others do not require any circulation, and can therefore be suitable in the most dangerous
situations.

According to the control methods, in order to avoid the penetration of further fluid into the well
and to reduce the risks of fracture, it is recommended to keep a

Constant bottom hole pressure

Bottom hole pressure = formation pressure

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5.1 DRILLER'S METHOD

The driller's method is considered to be the simplest control method since it does not involve any
calculations ( at least during the initial stage) and can suit several different situations.

The method includes two operational stages:

first circulation the mud is circulated at the same density as the mud inside the well
until the contaminating fluid is expelled

second circulation the mud is circulated at a higher density ( Kill Mud Density) than
the mud inside the well in order to restore the hydrostatic
equilibrium, stopping the kick completely. The circulation ends
after all the original mud has been replaced by the kill mud.

The advantages of this method are:

it is simple
operations can be started immediately
no calculations involved (initial stage)

The disadvantages of this method are:

more risks of fracture in the formation weakest point (usually near the casing)
higher pressure values both inside the well and in the surface control equipment
longer time required to stop the blow-out completely (it requires at least two complete
circulations)

OPERATIONAL PROCEDURE: FIRST CIRCULATION

1. Calculate the initial value of the circulating pressure: ICP = SIDPP + PL

2. Start the mud pump and pump slowly until the recorded PL value is reached and adjust
the automatic choke in order to keep the SICP value constant.

Once the pump is up to the kill rate, in order to keep the bottom hole pressure constant it is
necessary to:

- keep the pump strokes constant


- keep the ICP constant
- keep the same mud density

During the period of transition the drill pipe pressure will increase gradually and for this
reason the SICP must be checked.

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3. As soon as the number of strokes has been reached, check the circulating pressure

If the pressure value is equal to the calculated ICP, the situation is normal.
If the value is slightly different, the situation can still be normal. The difference can be
due to the variation in volumetric efficiency of the pump at the time of PL recording.
If the value is considerably different, the situation is anomalous: we must stop, discover
the cause and solve it before proceeding..

4. Carry-on the circulation until the kick fluid has been completely circulated-out of the
well by keeping the circulation pressure and the pump strokes constant

On the basis of the "U" tube principle, possible changes of ICP, can be compensated by
changes in SICP through the choke.
In this case we must keep in mind that all these changes will be transferred to the gauge of the
drill pipes after some time because of the length of the well (the pressure propagation wave
moves through the mud at about 300 m/s).
In practice, between a choke regulation and the following step, sufficient time must pass for
the pressure to register on the pipe gauge.

5. End the circulation when the influx has been circulated-out and check if

This condition can be detected either with the pump "on" or "off".
You can know if the operation has succeeded by stopping the pump, closing the choke and
reading the stabilised SIDPP and SICP

if they are equal this means that the influx has been circulated-out and the first circulation
is over.;
if the SICP is bigger than SIDPP the circulation must be carried out again to circulate out
all the influx.;
if they are equal, but at a higher value than the expected one, this means that during the
pump shut-down some pressure has been trapped in. This excess must be bled off through
the choke. The confirmation of trapped in pressure is had when we observe a drop in pipe
pressure while discharging.

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OPERATIONAL PROCEDURE: SECOND CIRCULATION

1. Prepare the kill mud

The Kill Mud Density (KMD) can be calculated as follows:

KMD = OMD + (10 X SIDPP)


TVD
2. Prepare data for circulation

Circulation data preparation means registering the following on the instrument panel:

the number of strokes necessary to replace the internal volume of the strings (this requires
a conversion from volume to pump strokes)

reset the pump stroke counter

3. Circulate until the light mud has been displaced from the string while keeping the SICP
constant

If at the end of the first circulation the pump was stopped, it is necessary to start it again by
increasing the strokes slowly up to the PL value while SICP is kept constant until complete
displacement of the internal string volume by proper adjustment of the power choke.

During this phase, like the first circulation, the number of pump strokes must be kept
constant.

If the pump has not been stopped, circulation can continue with the same parameters.

In this phase a gradual increase in the hydrostatic pressure, due to the weighted mud, will
reduce the SIDPP to zero with a consequent decrease, in circulating pressure..

4. Record the value of final circulating pressure (FCP)

At the end of the mud displacement in the string, the value of circulating pressure must be
recorded and kept constant during all the time necessary to displace the mud in the annulus.

The recorded value must be compared with the value previously calculated (FCP) by the
following formula:

FCP = PL x KMD
OMD

If everything is OK, the two values should coincide.

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5. Complete the circulation up to the total displacement of the annulus volume keeping the
FCP constant. Stop the circulation and check the pressure values.

6. If the situation seems to be normal open the BOP and carry-out the flow-check, then
carry-on with the operation of mud conditioning.

During a well control the following parameters should be regularly and frequently recorded (at
5/10 minute intervals) :

Circulating pressure
SICP
Pump strokes (strokes/min and progressive)
Mud density ("in" and "out")
Volume in the tank
Choke position

The knowledge of these data will substantially contribute to the detection of any possible
anomalies during the well control.

Pressure trend during the migration of a gas influx

The following graphs show the trends with time of the casing pressure (SICP), of the
hydrostatic pressure and of the bottom hole pressure (PB)during the upwards migration of a gas
influx .

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Attention should be paid to how the drill pipe pressure and bottom hole pressure remain
constant. The decrease in the hydrostatic pressure at the annulus, due to the gas expansion, is
counterbalanced by an equal increase in SICP.

Pressure trend during the rise of a liquid influx

The graphs below show the trend with time of the SICP, of the hydrostatic pressure and of the
bottom hole pressure during the rise of a liquid influx.

The fact that the SICP value doesn't change cannot be assumed in order to simplify the control.
The procedure must always be carried out assuming that we have a gas influx. For this reason,
after having reached the proper number of pump strokes, the control must be carried out with
attention to the pressure on the pipes and not to that on the casing.

If, by mistake, the SICP is kept constant, in case of a gas influx, the bottom hole pressure will
decrease with further influx of formation fluid.

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Trend of pressures with the two circulations

The graphs show the trend of SICP, SIDPP, PB and circulating pressure during the two gas kick
control phases with driller's method.

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5.2 PRESSURE AT THE SHOE

It is very important to know the trend of the pressure at the shoe during the gas migration. The
graphs here below show that the pressure at the shoe increases gradually and reaches its
maximum value when the top of the influx reaches the shoe. This is a critical moment, when
the risk of fracture in the formation is higher if the value of casing pressure is greater than the
MAASP value.

In this case the driller's method cannot be applied and other methods must be chosen.

In the following scheme we assume that:

- mud density = 1 kg/l - gas density = 0 kg/l


- the string is composed of drill pipes only - the annular capacity is constant
- the pressure values have been read in static conditions - vertical depth

While the influx penetrates into the casing, the pressure at the shoe decreases. Right after the
influx has completely penetrated into the casing the pressure at the shoe remains constant during
the upwards flow (provided that the bottom hole pressure remains constant).

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The pressure at the shoe can be reduced by pumping kill mud during the influx migration. The
kill mud in the annulus determines an increase of the hydrostatic pressure below the influx and a
subsequent decrease of the pressure at the shoe. As a consequence, in the same conditions, the
pressure at the shoe is lower than it should be with the driller's method. This is shown by the
following schemes:

In this case (see the Wait & weight method in the following) a solution is given for those
difficult situations where the driller's method cannot be applied because of the formation
fracture danger.

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Comparing the Driller's method and the W&W method

The graphs below show the relation between the pressure at the shoe (Pshoe) and the pressure at
the casing (SICP) during the control of the kick with the driller's method (1st circulation) and
with the wait and weight method.

The comparison points out how the kill mud in the annulus (wait and weight method)
determines a decrease of the SICP and Pshoe values.

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5.3 WAIT AND WEIGHT

The Wait and Weight method requires only one complete circulation done with weighted mud.
The method involves "waiting" for the time necessary to "weight" a suitable amount of mud to
start the control operations before starting the well control.

Circulation with weighted mud produces two results:

the original mud is substituted by weighted mud (Killing mud) The mud density is able
to give a sufficient hydrostatic load so as to counterbalance the formation pressure.

the fluid infiltration in the well is brought to the surface and eliminated.

The operation ends when the well is completely full of kill mud. In this situation the well is safe
(killed).

The weighted mud for the beginning of the procedure must be prepared in a short time in order
to avoid that the time interval between the well shut-in and the starting of the circulation causes a
migration of gas with subsequent risk of fracture under the shoe and errors in the readings of the
pressure values.

OPERATIONAL PROCEDURE

Once the well has been shut in and the pressure values have stabilised the kill sheet must be
filled. The following steps are:

1. preparation of the kill mud

While waiting for the mud to be ready, the driller must check the pipes pressure and the
casing pressure.

In order to keep the bottom hole pressure constant, the pipes pressure must not increase. In
order to couterbalance such increase, some mud must be expelled from the choke until the
pipes pressure returns to its initial value (SIDPP).

2. start up of the pump

During the start up operations the pump strokes must reach the recorded PL value and the
choke must be adjusted in order to keep the SICP constant.

Once the strokes have reached such value, compare the circulating pressure and the ICP
value calculated in the kill sheet:

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if the pressure value is equal or slightly different, the situation can be deemed normal. The
difference may be due to a variation in the volumetric efficiency of the pump with respect
to the moment of the PL reading;
if the value is substantially different the situation is anomalous: stop the pump, while
keeping the casing pressure constant, find the cause and solve it before proceeding.

Reset the stroke counter when the kill mud reaches the kelly. This moment marks the start of
the time lapse necessary to expel the original mud from the pipes. For this purpose the surface
lines volume must be known, so that the number of strokes can be determined.

3. displacement of the string internal volume

In this phase the circulating pressure decreases progressively from the ICP value to the FCP
value because of the SIDPP decrease.

The bottom hole pressure remains constant, since the decrease in the circulating pressure
value is compensated by the increase of the hydrostatic pressure value due to the downward
flow of the kill mud.

The SIDPP will be completely set to zero when the kill mud reaches the bit. Such a decrease
is controlled by operating on the automatic choke.

4. displacement of the annulus volume

Once the kill mud has reached the bit, the final circulating pressure (FCP) must be kept
constant until the end of the operations.

5. stop the circulation and check the pressure values. If the situation is normal open the
BOP, carry out a flow check, condition the mud and carry on with the necessary
operations.

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Trend of pressures

Circulating pressure

The circulating pressure graph shows the increase of the PL value (PL2>PL1) due to a higher
density of the circulating mud.

A: Decrease in circulating pressure

The pressure value decreases, with a stepped trend, from the initial to the final value. The
variation takes place at fixed intervals, as calculated in the kill sheet.

Initial circulating pressure: ICP = SIDPP + PL1

Final circulating pressure : FCP = PL1 x KMD


OMD

B: increase of the PL value due to the circulation of the kill mud.

The gradual down flow of the kill mud in the pipes determines a linear increase of
pressure losses which pass from the PL1 value to the PL2 value as follows:

PL2 = PL1 x KMD


OMD

C: PL due to the original mud density (PL1)

This value represents the pressure losses, at a low flow rate, caused by the pumping of the
mud at its original density.

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Bottom hole pressures

The graph shows how the increase of the hydrostatic pressure value, due to the kill mud,
counterbalances the decrease of the SIDPP value, keeping the bottom hole pressure constant.

A: Increase of the hydrostatic pressure value ( Ph )

The increase of the hydrostatic pressure due to the kill mud counterbalances the decrease of
the SIDPP value. The increase of the hydrostatic pressure affects the bottom hole pressure,
but not the circulating pressure.

B: Decrease of the SIDPP value

The increase of the hydrostatic pressure value due to the kill mud determines the SIDPP
decrease which affects the circulating pressure as well as the bottom hole pressure. The
bottom hole pressure remains constant because the SIDPP is gradually replaced by the
hydrostatic pressure.

C: Hydrostatic pressure at the bottom due to the original mud density (PhO)

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The following graphs show the trend with time of the pressures during the Wait & Weight
control method.

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5.4 CONSIDERATIONS ON THE DRILLER'S METHOD AND THE WAIT AND


WEIGHT METHOD

Possibility to carry out circulation

Both methods involve circulation and displacement of the original mud by using weighted
mud.

To apply these methods the two following conditions must be valid:

bit at the bottom (or very near to the bottom hole)

possibility to carry out circulation and absence of obstructions in the circulation circuit
(in the bit nozzles, in the annulus ...)

If these conditions are not satisfied, other methods must be applied.

Pressure at the shoe and MAASP

The graph shows the casing pressure and the MAASP trend, pointing out the casing pressure
value when the influx is at the shoe (SICP shoe). As we have seen, with the wait and weight
method this pressure value is lower than with driller's method. In principle, the choice
between the two methods depend on the position of the MAASP with respect to the SICPshoe
value, as shown in the graph. If the MAASP has a lower value than the SICPbit in the wait
and weight method too, other methods must be applied to control the blow-out.

CRITERION FOR THE CHOICE OF NETHODS

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Procedure for the calculation of the ICP

Both methods require, before starting the operations, the calculation of the initial circulating
value ICP, which implies the knowledge of the SIDPP and PL values.

For this purpose the suitable procedures are described with respect to the situations where, for
various reasons, one or both values are unknown.

PL is unknown Set the pump at an arbitrary number of strokes, according to past


experience, keeping the casing pressure constant
When you have reached the planned stroke rate, record the ICP
value and calculate PL

PL = ICP - SIDPP

SIDPP is unknown Bring the pump to the rate corresponding to PL, keeping the
pressure at the casing constant.
When you have reached the planned rate, record the circulating
pressure value (ICP) and calculate SIDPP:

IDPP = ICP -PL

PL and SIDPP are unknown Slowly start pumping until the mud in the pipes moves and
record SIDPP while always checking that the casing pressure does
not increase. After recording SIDPP in this way, calculate PL as
illustrated above.

Pump capacity

If during the control an accidental decrease in capacity unobserved by the driller occurs, the
result is an increase in bottom hole pressure, while the pipes pressure remains constant (ICP).

A decrease in pump capacity can be due to:

increase in SICP
pump failure
other accidental causes

If you need to change the capacity while the pump is starting to work, SICP must be kept
constant.

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5.5 VOLUMETRIC METHOD

This method can be used only with gas because, as we will see, it utilises pressure increases
occurring when a gas influx rises. The volumetric method suits particular operative conditions
without circulation and as a consequence the two methods described above cannot be applied.

The main conditions are:

Lack of pipes in the well Pipes in the well but abnormal conditions which
exclude circulation:

- bit nozzles plugged up


- pump failure or damage to surface circuit
- obstruction in the annulus
- drill string wash out above gas influx

The purpose of this method is to bring the gas influx from the bottom up to the BOP keeping the
bottom hole pressure constant.

Note
In some operative conditions you can use the mud pump to circulate at the top of the
well through the kill line and the choke line.

Basic principle

The kick is gaseous and the circulation is at a halt. If you let the gas influx rise to the surface in
this situation, the problem of keeping the bottom hole pressure constant arises, even if we know
that the pressure at the top will increase progressively.

The problem can be solved by decreasing the hydrostatic pressure in the well by periodically
eliminating mud from the choke at time intervals and in quantities based on appropriate
calculations.

In this way the bottom hole pressure, which tends to increase as the gas rises, is lowered by the
expulsion of mud.

Initially you let the pressure rise to have a "work margin" which is afterwards annulled during
the elimination of the mud (about 10 kg/cm)

When the pre-determined volume has been eliminated, you close the choke keeping SICP
constant and you let the "work margin" pressure rise. Reopen the choke for a new discharge
operation.

You continue in this way until the gas volume has reached the BOP.

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The following graphs show the pressure trends.

The pressure at the choke increases progressively while the bottom hole pressures are kept
constant by eliminating mud periodically through the choke. The graph in function of time
illustrates how the discharge periods shorten as the gas rises nearer the BOP.

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Calculations

To use the method properly, you must calculate the mud volume to be discharged in order to
neutralise the increase in bottom hole pressure deriving from work margins adopted. This is
obtained by transforming the work margin (P) in hydrostatic height (H).

To determine the mud volume to be discharged (V), you multiply the height (H) by the casing
capacity or by the capacity of the annulus pipe casing in the section where the influx is. (Cf)

The volume of mud to be discharged is measured by means of the increase in level in the possum
belly (DL) which offers a more precise measurement.

Because of the difficulties in the exact determination of the influx position, the volumetric
method functions well only with geometrically regular wells.

Height of mud in the well H: P x 10


D

P = P2 - P1 D = mud density

The hydrostatic height H is equivalent to the work margin given by the difference between
surface pressure after the rising of the influx (P2) and the initial pressure value (P1)

Volume of mud to be discharged V: V = H x Cf

Increase in possum belly level L: L = V


Possum belly capacity

Velocity of the influx migration : Vm = DP x 10


D (T2 - T1)

(T2 - T1) = time lapse during which a variation DP takes place due to gas migration.

End of operations

The volumetric method does not include the expulsion of gas. This is done by the lubrication
method. Therefore, the procedure is concluded as soon as the gas begins to escape.

In practice, during rising the gas influx breaks up and to enable all the gas to reach the BOP it is
necessary to discharge some through the choke, to the extent that SICP ceases to increase.

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5.6 LUBRICATION METHOD

The lubrication method enables us to expel the gas influx from under the BOP while keeping the
bottom hole pressure constant. It is the natural complement of the volumetric method.

Procedure

1. pump a certain volume of mud through the kill line

The volume of mud to be pumped (V) is that which would give the desired increase of
hydrostatic pressure (PH).
H = 10 x PH (meters)
D
V = H x casing capacity (litres)

pump strokes = V
pump capacity (litre/stk)

If the kick derives from swabbing you must pump mud of the same density as that in the
well (D); if the kick is due to excessive pressure you must pump kill mud (Dk).

2. wait some minutes for pumped mud to pass through the gas influx

3. gas is discharged in burst through the choke until the surface pressure has dropped to a
value equal to the sum of the pressure increase caused by mud pumping and
hydrostatic increase.

Repeat the procedure various times until all the gas has been expelled.

Pressure trends

The method can be performed in two ways:

keeping pumping pressure increase constant


keeping the pumped mud volume constant (constant increase of the hydrostatic pressure)

The first method is to be preferred because it allows a better control of the bottom hole pressure
towards the end of the operations, that is when gas volumes get smaller and smaller.

In the following graphs the two trends are illustrated.

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The increase of the bottom hole pressure is cause by the increase of the hydrostatic pressure
value at the top (due to the gas compression).

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5.7 STRIPPING or SNUBBING

Principles

Stripping and snubbing are not really methods, but techniques that allow the application of
some conventional methods. They consist in sending down or bringing up the drill string
slowly with the well shut in and keeping the bottom hole pressure constant (normally the drill
string is lowered to bring the bit under the gas influx).

To avoid increasing the bottom hole pressure (PB) during the down trip, a volume of mud
equal to that of the pipes lowered in the well must be discharged. The control is carried out
through the possum belly.

The drill string can drop by its own weight (Stripping) or by the force (Snubbing) exerted by
hydraulic jacks on the drill floor.

To apply such techniques a check valve (Gray valve) must be installed in the pipes to avoid
mud return from inside the pipes.

From an operative point of view, the stripping technique can follow two different modalities,
depending on the pressure at the well top and on the BOP stack configuration.

Stripping with the annular BOP is carried out at well top pressures that reach about 1000 psi.
For greater pressures you must use the annular BOP connected to the ram BOP or two ram
BOPs (ram-to-ram).

To allow the tool-joints to pass, the rams must be opened and closed alternatively. During the
trip the mud must be discharged through the rams and, once they have been closed, the section
must be pressurised.

The ram-to-ram stripping procedure is as follows:

1. Trip in the string until the tool-joint reaches the closed BOP (ram)
2. Close the lower ram BOP
3. Discharge the trapped pressure
4. Open the upper ram BOP, passing of the tool joint
5. Close the upper ram BOP and pressurize with mud
6. Open the lower ram BOP, passing of the tool joint

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5.8 ANALYSIS OF THE MAIN PROBLEMS THAT OCCUR DURING WELL


CONTROL

The column "open choke" shows adjustments of the choke (increase or decrease of the opening)
to neutralise the effect of the problem at hand.

In the column ANALYSIS the result of choke adjustment on PL and PB is shown, and also what
would happen without any adjustment. For example, in "Wash out at the choke" we see that a
decrease in choke opening cancels the decrease of PL and PB that would otherwise occur.

Plugged bit nozzles

Plugged up nozzles on the bit reduce the opening for fluid passage and cause a sudden increase
in circulating pressure.

This increase is due to the increase in pressure losses through the nozzles of the bit.

Bit nozzle out

The escape of one or more nozzles from the bit determines a greater flow opening with
consequent circulating pressure drop caused by pressure losses at the bit.

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Drill string wash out

The hole in the drill string causes:

a slow and gradual decrease of circulating pressure due to the pressure losses within the
drill string, if you don't intervene. This situation keeps the bottom hole pressure constant.

reduction of the choke opening to maintain the pressure of circulation at the programmed
level requires:

. an invariable circulating pressure


. a slight pressure increase at the choke because of increase of pressure losses due to
reduced choke opening
. the pressure increase at the choke will lead to a pressure increase at the bottom (with
danger of fracturing)

Sudden and total obstruction of the choke

A sudden obstruction of the choke halts the circulation and causes a sudden increase of the
circulating pressure and of the pressure at the choke with a subsequent increase of bottom hole
pressure and risk of fracture. This situation is extremely dangerous, and you must stop pumping
immediately and open another valve.

Gradual blocking of the choke

A progressive obstruction of the choke causes a pressure increase (of equal intensity)at the
choke and on the pipes. The pressure increase at the choke is due to the increase of pressure
losses through the choke caused by the partial obstruction. The bottom hole pressure increases.

Total loss circulation

The total loss circulation causes:


- sharp decrease of the circulating pressure
- sharp decrease of the pressure at the choke
- sharp decrease of the pit mud level
- sharp decrease of outflow as a result of this situation
- sharp decrease of the pressure at the casing
- sharp decrease of the bottom hole pressure with danger of further influx

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Mud pump failure

Damage means an accidental decrease of the pump flow rate at an equal number of pump
strokes (which makes it difficult to detect the problem). This determines a decrease of the pipes
pressure and of the choke pressure (sharper at the pipes) because of a lower mud flow rate
which involves lower pressure losses.

In this case three procedures are possible:

reduce the choke opening in order to bring the circulating pressure to its previous value
reduce the choke opening in order to bring the choke pressure to its previous value
increase the pump strokes in order to bring the flow rate to its previous value.

Choke wash out

The widening of the choke because of the wash out determines a decrease of the choke pressure
and an identical decrease at the pipes, with subsequent decrease of the bottom hole pressure. To
restore normality it will be enough to reduce the choke outward opening until the choke
pressure is brought to its previous value.

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