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Too Good to be Green
ISSN 1757-2134 June 2011 Volume 04 Issue 04

Palladian Publications Ltd 2011. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or
transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the
copyright owner. All views expressed in this journal are those of the respective contributors and are not necessarily the opinions of the
publisher, neither do the publishers endorse any of the claims made in the articles or the advertisements. Printed in the UK.
On this months cover >>
Oilfield Technology is audited by the Audit Bureau
of Circulations (ABC). An audit certificate is
available on request from our sales department.
Leading suppliers; Century Products, NOV Downhole and Varel,
provide details of advanced drill bit technologies.
Kelly Harris, BWA Water Additives, UK, takes a look at screening tests
in order to find more environmentally friendly chemicals.
Michael Hurd, Kasia Millan and Dr. Mohan Nair, Kemira, USA, offer a
suppliers view of antiscalants in oil and gas markets.
Siv Howard and John Downs, Cabot Specialty Fluids, Scotland,
describe how cesium acetate brine could make a novel
high-performance drilling, completion and workover fluid.
Dave Allison, Neil Modeland, Bart Waltman and Kirk Trujillo,
Halliburton, USA, consider innovations in fluids, completion designs
and equipment to address HPHT stimulation challenges.
Asad Mehmood, Weatherford International Ltd, Pakistan, discusses
the use of drilling control systems to navigate narrow pressure margins
and access deep drilling targets.
Mohd Hairi Abd Razak and Fuad Mohd Noordin, Petronas, Malaysia,
and Mohd Nur Afendy and Rahmat Wibisono, Schlumberger, Yemen
and Malaysia, present an example of the planning and execution of
coil tubing (CT) operations on platforms too small to accommodate all
the required equipment.
| 80 | AD INDEX
Climate change may be opening up the Arctic to an exploration boom,
but other factors may be shutting it down. Oilfield Technology
Correspondent Gordon Cope takes a look at these factors.
Ekaterina Kozinchenko, Jake Leslie Melville, Hege Nordahl and
Adrian Del Maestro, Booz & Co., UK, contribute their perspective on
ensuring the long term success of Russian oil and gas.
Kevin Forbes, Epi-V, UK, explores the opportunities for private equity
investors in the upstream services sector, which is set for the next
phase of industry investment.
Kristofer Tingdahl, dGB Earth Sciences, USA, addresses the
limitations of seismic interpretation.
Henning Trappe, Gerald Eisenberg-Klein, Juergen Pruessmann, TEEC,
Germany, discuss the use of CRS analysis on seismic data to improve
the view of reservoir structure and lithology.
Rusty Petree, Drilformance, USA, looks at ways of improving drilling
efficiency at the bit.
Charles Douglas and Josh Passauer, Smith Bits, a Schlumberger
company, USA, consider a new bit optimised for shale, saving
significant rig time in the Haynesville Play.
Drilformances groundbreaking PDC drill bits have a proven track record of improving well
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Bringing Solutions to Surface
James Little
Managing Editor
Contact Information >>
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pec will meet in Vienna, Austria, on 8 June 2011
for its 159
Ordinary Meeting. For the rst time
since December 2008, when the group set
its production target at 24.85 million bpd, there is a
genuine possibility that this gure may at last be set
for an increase. Although purely speculative, reports
indicate that an increase of between 500 000 bpd and
1.5 million bpd is on the cards. In reality, Opec members
have been actively outing production targets all along
with an actual current production total, due to member
non-compliance of closer to 26.3 million bpd, in spite
of Libyas 1.4 million bpd of lost production. However,
what is important is the apparent recognition, should an
increase be conrmed, that Opec is awake to the spectre
of demand destruction and the impact of consistently
high oil prices on the recovering global economy.
Whilst Brent crude prices have already dipped
amidst the speculation, the impact of such a meagre
increase would be symbolic rather than medicinal as
demand for crude oil is forecast to escalate further
during the second half of 2011. The same issues face
key commodities across the spectrum be they oil, wheat
or gold, in that there is a fundamental tension between
falling supply and rising demand. Whether the cause is
the unprecedented economic growth not just in China,
but across many emerging Asian nations, the Fukushima
nuclear crisis in Japan or the now extended period of
unrest in the Middle East, the reality is that this type of
price volatility is likely to become the norm rather than
a temporary blip. The dual effects of a rising population
and increasing economic development worldwide are
placing intense pressure on an already creaking supply
chain. The very fact that isolated weather events or political
upheaval can impact commodity prices to quite such an
extent as we have witnessed in recent months/years is a
testament to how nely balanced the system has become.
The oil and gas sector is a case in point with the market
lurching from being comfortably supplied in early January
to a sharp rise in oil prices from sub US$ 100 to US$ 125
in the space of a few weeks on the back of events in the
Middle East. The effect has contributed in no small part to
the rise in global ination and the threat of an end to the
global economic recovery as analysts forecast even greater
prices hikes over the course of the next 12 months.
For Opec at its forthcoming meeting, the actual level
of any increase in production, be it 1 million bpd or higher,
is largely immaterial, as it will inevitably be quickly soaked
up by global demand. What is important is that the cartel
is seen to be reacting sympathetically to an escalation in
the current price of crude oil. By showing intent to address
rising oil prices its efforts will go some way to defusing the
growing clamour from the renewable energy lobby intent
on the substitution of fossil fuels with alternatives such as
wind, solar and nuclear energy.
This months issue begins with an article by
Contributing Editor, Gordon Cope that looks at the Arctic
frontier as the largest remaining region of untapped oil
and gas reserves and an effective illustration of how the
industry is pushing back every conceivable barrier in its
quest to meet future oil and gas demand.

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world news
June 2011
Statoil is pushing forward with its
first fast-track project, Visund South,
which is expected to come onstream
next year.
Visund is an oil and gas field
in blocks 34/8 and 34/7, 22 km
northeast of the Gullfaks field in
the Tampen area of the Norwegian
North Sea.
Onstream in spring 1999, this
development encompasses a floating
production, drilling and quarters
platform. The subsea-completed wells
on the field are tied back to the floater
with flexible risers. Oil is piped to
Gullfaks for storage and export. The
Visund field began producing gas and
exporting it to continental Europe on
7 October 2005.
Statoil submitted the plan for
development and operation of
Visund South in January. It has now
built the first seabed template for the
Lawmakers in Texas have passed a
bill requiring disclosure of most of the
chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing.
Although the industry has voluntarily
begun sharing frac fluid details in
response to public concerns about
hazards relating to the chemicals, the
new law will make it mandatory for
all Texas wells. The law still exempts
chemicals deemed trade secrets.
The Atlantic basin is expected to see
an above-normal hurricane season
this year, according to the seasonal
outlook issued by NOAAs Climate
Prediction Center; a division of the
National Weather Service. The seasonal
average is 11 named storms, whilst
the 2011 hurricane season can expect
to see 12 - 18 named storms, with the
possibility of 3 - 6 of those becoming
major hurricanes.
Realm Energy International Corp. has
contracted Halliburtons Consulting and
Project Management team to work with
Realm Energy to significantly expand the
technical evaluation and ranking of the
highest potential shale deposits found in
emerging prospective basins globally.
New Zealands new environmental
protection laws dealing with its
exclusive economic zone, (much of
which is earmarked for oil exploration)
will come into effect in July 2012. The
Environmental Protection Authority will
be responsible for issuing consents
under the new law; monitoring and
enforcement of activities within the EEZ,
situated 12 - 200 nautical miles offshore
and the Extended Continental Shelf,
which extends further than the EEZ.
// OPEC //
Raising output?
// Statoil // Visund South: fast-tracking nicely

With oil demand predicted to rise this
year, it has been reported that OPECs oil
ministers will discuss raising production
quotas for the first time in almost four
The last time that OPEC producers
chose to raise output quotas was in
September 2007, when 522 000 bpd was
added to the market. It is expected that
raising the quotas to 1 - 1.5 million bpd
will be discussed at a meeting in Vienna
this month.
The violence in Libya has caused
a net 1.4 million bpd to be removed
from the market. This is despite a
production increase by Saudi Arabia. As
the maintenance season for European
refineries comes to an end, a rise in
demand for crude oil during the summer
is expected.
first fast-track project, with the aim
of cutting the time from discovery to
production in half.
The template is the first to have
been built from a standard catalogue
for subsea equipment. This will
form the basis for the continuing
development and use of the
standard catalogue in the fast-track
The company has been working
closely with the supplier industry to
develop standard equipment for this
part of its field development portfolio.
This means that it can start to build
equipment more quickly and develop
smaller finds more efficiently.
It has taken less than a year to
build the Visund South structure
from the signing of the contract
for subsea equipment with FMC.
Subsea 7 will carry out the actual
installation on the seabed.

Centrica has mothballed its
South Morecambe gas field, which
supplies 6% of the UKs gas annually,
following through on a statement of
intention made last month in response to
increased taxes.
The UK governments decision
to raise offshore drilling taxes had
apparently made the field uneconomical.
Centrica claims that the site will be
brought back into operation once the
wholesale gas price reaches a level
where it becomes economical again.
UK Chancellor George Osborne
raised a supplementary tax on oil and
gas production in his Budget from 20%
to 32% in an effort to raise 2 billion to
fund a cut in fuel duty. Centrica claims
this raised the effective rate of tax on the
South Morecambe field to 81%.
// Centrica //
Mothballs gas eld
world news

June 2011
30 August - 1 September
3P Arctic 2011
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
6 - 8 September
SPE Offshore Europe
Aberdeen, Scotland
25 - 28 September
MEOS 2011
4 - 6 October
OTC Brazil
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
30 October - 2 November
Denver, USA
7 - 11 November
World Shale Gas
Houston, USA
4 - 8 December
20th World Petroleum Congress
Doha, Qatar
// BP // Settling Deepwater Horizon claims
Noble Energy, Inc. has announced
a discovery at the Santiago
exploration prospect in the deepwater
Gulf of Mexico. The well, located in
6500 ft of water on Mississippi Canyon
Block 519, was drilled to a total depth
of approximately 18 920 ft. Open hole
logging identified approximately 60 ft
of oil pay in a high quality Miocene
reservoir. Noble Energy is the operator at
Santiago with a 23.25% working interest.
Santiago is the third discovery in the
companys Galapagos project, in addition
to the prior successes at Santa Cruz and
Isabela. Total gross resources discovered
in the larger Galapagos project, including
the Santiago well, are estimated by
Noble Energy to be 130 million boe.
Approximately 75% of the discovered
resources are oil.
BP has announced that it has
reached agreement with MOEX
Offshore 2007 LLC and its affiliates,
Mitsui Oil Exploration Co., Ltd and
MOEX USA Corp. to settle all claims
between the companies related to
the Deepwater Horizon accident.
MOEX, which had a 10% interest
in the Macondo well, has joined BP
in recognising and acknowledging
the findings by the Presidential
Commission that the accident was
the result of a number of separate
risk factors, oversights and outright
mistakes by multiple parties and
a number of causes. Like BP,
MOEX Offshore has also recognised
and acknowledged the conclusions
of the US Coast Guard that, among
other things, the safety management
systems of both Transocean
and its Deepwater Horizon rig
had significant deficiencies that
// Noble Energy //
Malaysias Petronas is making
bold moves to intensify its efforts
in unlocking potential resources.
Shamsul Azhar Abbas, Chairman at
Petronas, has recently suggested that
the company is poised to explore small
and medium sized oilfields that are as
yet undiscovered in the region, with the
aim of raising crude oil production by
1.7 billion bbls.
Geology-based assessments
suggested that Asias mean
undiscovered oil resources is in the order
of about 50 billion bbls, he said. These
undiscovered resources would translate
into a resource base one-and-a-half
times the combined proved reserves in
Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia today,
he claimed at the 16th Asia Oil and Gas
Conference this month.
// Petronas //
Expanding exploration
rendered them ineffective in preventing
the accident. MOEX has concluded that
entering into a settlement with BP is in
its best interest. The agreement is not
an admission of liability by any party
regarding the accident.
Under the settlement agreement,
MOEX USA Corp., the parent company
of MOEX Offshore 2007, will pay BP
US$ 1.065 billion. BP will immediately
apply the payment to the US$ 20 billion
trust it established to meet individual,
business and government claims, as
well as the cost of the Natural Resource
The parties have also agreed to
mutual releases of claims against each
other. BP has agreed to indemnify MOEX
for compensatory claims arising from
the accident. BPs indemnity excludes
civil, criminal or administrative fines and
penalties, claims for punitive damages,
and certain other claims.
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How can a rig that big
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world news
June 2011
// Shell // Upgrader Expansion Project // Total // Aquires interest
in Qatari offshore block
Total has announced that it has signed an
agreement with CNOOC Middle East
(Qatar) Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of
CNOOC International Ltd, to acquire a 25%
interest in Qatars Block BC (pre-Khuff)
exploration license. CNOOC Middle East
(Qatar) Ltd will continue to be the operator
with a 75% interest.
Located 130 km east of the Qatari
coast, the offshore block covers an area of
5649 km
, with water depths ranging from
15 to 35 m.
The Block BC Exploration and
Production Sharing Agreement (EPSA),
entered into with the Government of the
State of Qatar, stipulates that 2D and 3D
seismic surveys will be conducted and that
at least three exploration wells will be drilled
by 2014.
Commenting on Totals participation
in the Block BC EPSA, His Excellency
Dr Mohammed Bin Saleh AI-Sada, Qatars
Minister of Energy and Industry said, We
would like to welcome our long time partner,
Total, into the Block BC EPSA, and we wish
them and CNOOC all success with the
exploration activities, which we believe are
always enhanced when quality companies
such as Total and CNOOC join efforts.
The farm-in transaction is another
step forward in the partnerships forged
with Qatar Petroleum and CNOOC, and
reflects Totals commitment to expanding
its exploration and production operations
in promising geological basins, stated
Christophe de Margerie, Chairman and Chief
Executive Officer of Total.
Present in Qatar since 1936, Total has
a 100% interest in the Al Khalij field, a 20%
interest in North Field Bravo (NFB) block and
a 10% interest in the Qatargas 1 liquefaction
plant. The Group also has a 24.5% stake
in the Dolphin Energy Ltd company and a
16.7% stake in Qatargas 2 Train 5. Totals
Qatari production averaged 164 000 boe
per day last year.
// ExxonMobil //
Angola strategy
The Offshore Technology Conference
(OTC) presented ExxonMobil
Development Co. with a special
citation for the development and
implementation of the Design
One, Build Multiple strategy that
successfully delivered large-scale
deepwater projects offshore Angola
on Block 15, which achieved peak
production of over 700 000 bpd of
oil with the aid of two tension leg
platforms and five of the worlds
largest floating production, storage and
offloading vessels.
The projects in Block 15,
approximately 90 miles off the coast
of Angola, established industry
benchmarks for completion time and
unit development costs for deepwater
projects of their size and complexity. To
date, over 1 billion of the 5 billion bbls
discovered on the block have been
produced. Current production is
approximately 500 000 bpd.
Marathon Oil Corp. has announced
that it has reached a definitive
agreement with Hilcorp Resources
Holdings, LP to purchase its assets
in the core of the Eagle Ford shale
formation in Texas in a transaction
valued at US$ 3.5 billion. Along with
other transactions expected to close
by the end of this year, Marathons
Eagle Ford acreage position is
expected to more than double to
285 000 net acres.
In addition to the six rigs currently
under contract related to this
acquisition and two in Marathons other
Eagle Ford acreage, Marathon has
five drilling rigs on order and expects
to be operating at least 20 drilling rigs
in the Eagle Ford within 12 months of
closing this transaction. As a result, the
company expects to grow production
from its total Eagle Ford acreage
position to a peak of approximately
100 000 net boe per day by 2016.
// Marathon// Shale
assets purchase
Shell has announced the successful
start of production from its Scotford
Upgrader Expansion Project in
Canada. The 100 000 bpd expansion
takes upgrading capacity at Scotford
to 255 000 bpd of heavy oil from the
Athabasca oil sands.
This start-up is an important
milestone for our heavy oil business,
said Marvin Odum, Shell Upstream
Americas Director. It adds new
capacity from an important source of
oil in a world requiring more secure
This is the first commercial
production from the upgrader
expansion. The Scotford Upgrader
processes oil sands bitumen from
the Muskeg River Mine and Jackpine
Mine, for use in refined oil products.
Production capacity at the
Athabasca Oil Sands Project is now
at 255 000 bpd. Engineers will focus
on improving efficiency and adding
capacity through debottlenecking.
Design and engineering work also
continues on the proposed Quest
carbon capture and storage project at
the Scotford Upgrader. Quest could
capture and store underground some
1 million tpy of CO
. A final decision
to begin construction could come in
2012, once all regulatory approvals
are in place.
he Arctic is one of the most desolate places on
Earth, starting at a latitude 66 33N, it covers
some 21 million km
, or 6% of the planets
surface. One third is land and two thirds sea; for much
of the year, it is shrouded in darkness, ice and raging
But the Arctic is also a land of tremendous bounty.
Whales feast on abundant sea life, polar bears hunt
the shores for seals, and herds of caribou wander the
vast tundra. Beneath the surface rests immense fuel
reserves; according to the United States Geological
Survey (USGS), more than 400 oil and gas elds,
containing 40 billion bbls of oil, 1136 trillion ft
natural gas, and 8 billion bbls of natural gas liquids
have been identied and developed, mostly in the
West Siberian Basin of Russia and on the North Slope
of Alaska.
And much more remains to be found. In a 2008
study, the USGS assessed all potential sedimentary
basins north of the Arctic Circle and estimated that
approximately 30% of the worlds undiscovered gas
(1670 trillion ft
) and 13% of the worlds undiscovered
oil (90 billion bbls), could be found there. I think
the USGS survey is conservative, says Dr. Benoit
Beauchamp, a professor of Geoscience at the
University of Calgary and the Director of the Arctic
Institute of North America. They did a good job
of the Beaufort Sea and the Mackenzie Delta, but
downplayed the potential of the Sverdrup Basin in
the Canadian Arctic Islands and the Bafn Bay basin
between Greenland and Canada.
Recently, the search for oil and gas in the far north
became a lot easier. Due to rising temperatures, the
area of the polar region subjected to permanent sea ice
has begun to shrink, from an annual summer minimum
of 9 million km
in the 1990s to 6 million km
in 2007;
some scientists predict a total clearance of ice by 2040.
The retreat has not only opened up northern shipping
lanes, it has extended the period of seismic offshore
research and drilling by several months.
The result has been a resurgence in oil and gas
exploration not seen since the 1970s. Ineld Systems,
a London-based consultancy, estimates that capital
expenditure in the Arctic region should increase steadily
Climate change may be opening
up the Arctic to an exploration
boom, but other factors may be
shutting it down. Oilfield Technology
Correspondent Gordon Cope
takes a look at these factors.
June 2011
throughout this decade, rising to over US$ 7 billion annually
through 2017.
x In Alaska, Repsol has announced a plan to spend at least
US$ 768 million exploring 2000 km
on the North Slope
over the next several years. Development of this regions
offshore continental shelf (OCS) has been estimated by
the American Petroleum Institute to have the potential
to produce 10 billion bbls of oil and 15 trillion ft
of gas,
generating almost US$ 200 billion in government revenues
over the next four decades.
x In Russia, the immense Shtokman field, with reserves of
over 24 billion boe, is tentatively due onstream in 2016.
CGGVeritas and JSC Geotech Holding have announced a
joint venture to supply ice class vessels to shoot 2D and 3D
seismic in Arctic waters to delineate further targets. Rosneft
and BP have formed a joint venture to tap into Arctic regions
previously reserved for Russian companies.
x Several companies have announced plans to institute and
continue exploration in Greenland, which has a potential
for over 50 billion boe in its offshore waters. Cairn drilled
three wells in 2010, one of which showed signs of oil, and
plans to drill another four during the 2011 season. Shell and
Statoil have been awarded two large exploration blocks in
West Greenland totalling more than 20 000 km
x In the Canadian Beaufort Sea, Shell and Exxon have
spent almost C$ 1.8 billion in the last two years meeting
lease obligations, and hope to drill an offshore well on the
continental shelf within five years.
There are many challenges facing Arctic exploration and
development. First and foremost is the harsh climate; winter
daily averages hover near -30 C, and total darkness can stretch
for six months.
Secondly, the Arctic is gas prone; about three times as
much undiscovered reserves are considered to be gas, the rest
is oil and natural gas liquids. Current markets for natural gas
in North America are depressed by the glut of shale gas. This
surplus has already cast doubt over the viability of the recently
approved Mackenzie Gas Pipeline (MGP), a C$ 16 billion
project designed to ship up to 1.9 billion ft
/d from the onshore
Mackenzie Valley elds 1200 km south to markets in Alberta,
and the Alaska pipeline, a proposed US$ 35 - 40 billion project
to send 4.5 billion ft
/d of stranded gas in the Prudhoe Bay eld
to the lower 48 states.
The trend toward rising temperatures is not without its
downside, either. Climate warming is a blessing and a curse,
says Beauchamp. With less sea ice, you can navigate in the
Northwest Passage (NWP) and the Beaufort Sea, which aids
in seismic exploration and commercial trafc, but you are also
getting bigger, faster icebergs that scrape the ocean bottom
much deeper, which means you have to bury pipelines quite
deep to avoid damage.
Climate change also complicates drilling. During the rst
round of exploration in the 1970s, the industry used some clever
devices to drill, such as building articial ice islands by spraying
sea water in the cold conditions so that they could land large
planes and install huge rigs, says Beauchamp. Now, there is
some question if such devices would still actually work, and
companies may need to bring in steel-reinforced ice platforms at
much greater expense.
Onshore infrastructure can also suffer. Climate warming
can destabilise the permafrost, causing roads to buckle and
buildings to collapse, says Beauchamp. Right now, engineers
dont know what the effect will be, and industry doesnt like to
deal with such large unknowns.
Politics as usual
In addition to geological and meteorological considerations,
navigating Arctic waters will require a steady hand when it
comes to social, sovereign and environmental issues.
The Arctic has a permanent population of 4 million residents
in Alaska, Northern Canada, Greenland and Russia. Most of
them are aboriginal people, and their emphasis is on preserving
their environment and livelihoods. For the last several years,
Shell has attempted to drill licences held in the Beaufort Sea and
Chukchi Sea (a body of water between Alaska and Russia that
may hold as much as 30 billion bbls). Aboriginal groups objected
to Shells programme, and late last year, a federal Environmental
Appeals Board judge ruled that the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) had not adequately evaluated the effect of drilling
emissions on nearby aboriginal villages, and repealed two EPA
permits. Shell, in turn, announced it would postpone drilling until
the issue was resolved.
Environmental groups are adamantly opposed to Arctic
drilling, and may have good reasons to be worried. BPs
Gulf of Mexico deepwater drilling disaster last year (in which
11 crew members were killed and almost 5 million bbls of oil
were released), highlighted the difculties of countering a major
spill even in an accessible, warm climate. Experts painted a
glum picture of the ability to respond to a similar spill in an Arctic
accident. Retired Admiral Thad Allen noted that only one of three
US Coast Guard ice breakers is currently operational. The
drill-staging community of Barrow, Alaska has no ability to house
the hundreds of extra workers needed to handle a spill, and
limited ability to handle emergency aircraft. Harsh weather and
ice oes would further complicate remediation efforts.
The National Oil Spill Commission, appointed by the
White House after the BP disaster, also iterated these concerns,
saying that much more offshore research was necessary to
ensure the ability to overcome the challenges imposed by the
extreme Arctic environment. Before the spill, there was talk of
BP and Exxon drilling a subsea well in the next ve years, says
Beauchamp. They were also seeking to remove a drilling clause
that called for their ability to drill a relief well in the same season.
Now, I dont think removal of that clause will y at all. Industry
will have to come up with serious plans to control any disaster
There are also many sovereignty issues to be sorted out. The
NWP is a convoluted channel that passes between Canadas
mainland and its Arctic Archipelago. For centuries, seafarers
seeking a shortcut from Europe to Asia have sought an ice free
route, to no avail. Now, climate warming has opened the NWP
completely for months at a time, creating an opportunity to
safely transit the sea route.
Unfortunately, there is no international agreement on who
can use the passage, and when. The United Nations Convention
on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) allows free travel of vessels
through certain bodies of water that transect jurisdictions
(such as the Strait of Hormuz and the Strait of Gibraltar).
Individual nations, however, control passage through internal
bodies of water (such as the Mississippi River in the US). When
UNCLOS was being created in the 1970s, Canada pushed for
the latter designation. As a sovereign water, Canada can say
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June 2011
no to vessels carrying nuclear waste, or insist on
double-hulled vessels carrying crude, says Dr. Rob Huebert,
the Associate Director of the Center for Military and
Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.
The US and EU disagree with Canada, however, and
argue that the NWP is an international strait. If the NWP is
considered an international strait, then the ability of Canada
to control shipping is limited, says Heubert. You can have
military vessels and nuclear powered subs, as well as the
right to military yovers.
There is also an environmental aspect to control of the
NWP, says Beauchamp. International laws are less enforced
than Canadian laws. It would be more difcult to control the
dumping of wastes.
Unlike the Antarctic, which is not claimed by any nation,
there are ve nations that claim sovereignty over parts of
the Arctic: Canada, the US, Denmark (Greenland), Russia
and Norway (known as the Arctic 5). Several disputes over
international boundaries remain to be solved. In 1825,
Russia and Great Britain established the north-south
boundary between Alaska and British North America as
the 141
meridian of longitude. After the US purchased
Alaska from the Russians and Canada became independent,
however, a disagreement arose over where the boundary
actually rested offshore. Each country covets a pie-slice of
territory that covers some 21 000 km
, and may hold as much
as 1.7 trillion m
of gas and 6 billion bbls of oil.
The near future
Over the next few years, research may begin to dispel some
of the concerns regarding the Arctic. The region, which is
30 times the size of Texas, has only a few thousand wells in
total; it may be far more oil-prone than geoscientists expect.
During a recent Arctic technology conference, representatives
from Total SA postulated that exploration in deeper waters
and around the rims of basins might nd oil that was
displaced by such giant gas reservoirs as the Snhvit eld off
Norway, and the supergiant elds in the Yamal Peninsula/
Kara Sea off northern Russia.
Industry and nations are working to nd solutions to
above-ground problems. Experts note that aboriginal
reluctance regarding oil and gas production depends on
how companies approach communities. You cant make
blanket statements in regards to aboriginal attitudes and
development, says Huebert. When you look at the Canadian
side of the Arctic, you have aboriginal groups that are
favourably oriented, such as the Aboriginal Pipeline Group
pushing for construction of the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline,
which is a reection of the homework that BP and Exxon did
there. The Greenlanders are also really looking forward to
oil and gas development; the Danes and Greenlanders have
worked out an agreement that will see independence talks
move ahead when they reach a certain degree of prosperity.
In 2010, Russia and Norway announced that they
had resolved a 40 year old Arctic boundary dispute,
encompassing 170 000 km
, to their mutual satisfaction.
Canada and the US also launched a joint expedition survey
in order to map the Arctics North America continental shelf.
Not only will it ascertain the extent of the OCS, the data will
also help resolve the maritime boundary between the two
The Arctic Council, an international body that has traditionally
been used to communicate concerns between ve main aboriginal
groups and the eight nations that rim the Arctic (Norway,
Sweden, Finland, Russia, Denmarks Greenland, Canada, the
US and Iceland), has taken a further step forward and created
an international treaty that will divide search-and-rescue
responsibilities among the nations and co-ordinate emergency
response efforts.
In the longer term, the industry will design exploration
and production hardware designed to deal with harsh Arctic
conditions. Seabed Rig, based in Stavanger, Norway, in
conjunction with Statoil, is developing a remote controlled rig
that would sit on the Arctic seabed, well away from ice. The rig
would be remotely controlled through an interactive 3D interface
located on a surface vessel above. The rig is sealed to prevent
contamination of the surrounding water, and has zero-liquids
discharge during operations.
Numerous shipbuilders around the world, including Teekay
in Vancouver and FLEX LNG in the UK, are working on building
oating LNG plants capable of handling 75 - 100 million ft
of gas. Designed to circumvent the long, expensive process of
building a liquefaction plant on land, the self-propelled vessels
can pre-treat, liquefy, store and ofoad LNG. Such vessels are
ideally designed to produce remote gas elds in the Arctic during
ice-free months, then move out during inclement winter weather.
Changing economics may also make Arctic pipeline projects
more viable. Im cautiously optimistic about the MGP, says
Beauchamp. Shale gas is the big bogeyman; many people think
that we wont need the MGP or Alaska pipeline for a long time.
But I think that the industry may have already picked the low
hanging fruit of shale gas. The growing oilsands production will
soon need that gas.
In addition, an untapped source of energy may eventually
come to the fore in the Arctic. Gas hydrates are complex water
ice structures in which methane is trapped. Geoscientists reckon
that there are several thousand trillion ft
of methane trapped
in hydrates around the world, with signicant concentrations in
Arctic permafrost and seaoor sediments. For the last several
years, the US National Research Council, the Geological Survey of
Canada and other researchers have been conducting experiments
at the Mallik eld in the Mackenzie Delta. Their studies have
shown that hydrates can be produced in commercial amounts
from conventional gas wells.
Although many obstacles remain, the Arctic is still the largest
remaining region of untapped energy, and is relatively free of
political restraints that place most of the worlds energy supplies
off limits to IOCs. In 10 years from now, I see signicant oil and
gas production in the Beaufort, the Russian high Arctic, and off
Greenland, says Huebert.
Dr. Beauchamp agrees. Other regions with the potential for large
conventional discoveries have warlords and terrorists and unfriendly
governments, he notes. The Arctic is under Canadian and US
jurisdiction, which have stable governments and regulations. That
makes the Arctic less risky and more appealing.

1. Dr. Rob Huebert is the Associate Director of the Center for Military and
Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.
2. Dr. Benoit Beauchamp is a professor of Geoscience at the University of
Calgary and the Director of the Arctic Institute of North America.
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The Russian riddle
Ekaterina Kozinchenko, Jake Leslie Melville,
HegeNordahl and Adrian Del Maestro, Booz & Co., UK,
contribute their perspective on ensuring the long term
success of Russian oil and gas.
inston Churchill once described Russia as a riddle,
wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. That
remark still resonates with Russias foreign investors
particularly with those involved in the energy sector. Today
Russia stands at a major crossroads with regards to the
evolution of its oil and gas industry. What is undisputed
is that the country boasts some of the worlds largest
hydrocarbon reserves, and is the largest oil and gas producer.
Geographically, Russia sits strategically between the large
energy demand centre that is Europe, and the rapidly growing
demand centres of China, India and other Asian economies. It
remains very important geopolitically.
What is less clear is how well prepared Russia is to face
the array of challenges to further develop its energy resources;
a growing scal burden, ongoing investor concerns about the
regulatory framework, inconsistent government intervention in
the energy sector, overlaid as a costly place to do business
from an expatriate perspective. An additional concern relates
to the age and the types of elds both in production, and
those still to be developed. Can the oil and gas sector meet
the growing technical and operational challenges in accessing
the countrys additional hydrocarbon reserves?
New oil and gas developments in Russia are increasingly
complex, with operators having to explore and produce in
remote and frontier basins under difcult conditions, such
as offshore Arctic. The industry needs to further develop the
technical capabilities required to deliver large capital projects
in both the upstream and downstream segments. Developing
these capabilities often by working side by side and in
collaboration with international companies that have the
requisite expertise will be key for the long term success of
the sector and critical in enabling domestic players to increase

June 2011
production, build local infrastructure, and to execute
expansionist strategies overseas successfully.
The size of the prize is truly significant
The importance of Russia as a major hydrocarbon basin
cannot be over emphasised. As illustrated in Figure 1a,
Russia boasts the largest gas reserves in the world -
representing nearly a quarter of global resources - and
competes with Saudi Arabia as the largest global oil
producer, (Figure 1b).
Russia remains the major gas supplier to Europe, and
is also a large crude supplier. Despite recent economic
woes, its importance is undiminished. More than 80% of
the countrys crude oil exports go to Europe and Eurasia,
while nearly half of gas exports by pipeline go to Germany,
Ukraine and Italy alone. The political turmoil that is
sweeping the Middle East and North Africa has served to
reinforce the importance of Russia as a major hydrocarbon
Figure 1a. Proven gas reserves by country, 2009.
Source: Booz & Company research.
Figure 1b. Top 10 oil producers, 2009.
It appears that international oil companies (IOCs) have
been expressing growing condence in Russia. This year
alone has witnessed the announcement of the BP Rosneft
alliance (yet to be completed) focusing on exploration
opportunities in the Arctic South Kara Sea, as well as Totals
US$ 4 billion investment to acquire a 12% stake in the gas
producer Novatek. Similarly, Shell announced a strategic
alliance with the Russian gas giant Gazprom towards the
end of 2010, signalling its continued interest in Russia
after the events of 2006, when the super major was forced
to cede majority control of one of its agship projects,
Sakhalin II. Investor condence in the Russian energy sector
is not just limited to the oil majors. Wintershall (the upstream
subsidiary of BASF) has a long history of co-operation
with Gazprom. Indeed the two companies have three
gas-marketing joint ventures, as well as production joint
ventures in Russia and Libya. They also recently signed a
memorandum of understanding on joint development of gas
elds in West Siberia and the North Sea.
but there are
challenges ahead
Despite the renewed interest
of the international oil majors,
West Siberia, the countrys
most prolic oil province,
is in sharp decline due to
basin maturity and the lack of
sufcient investment in existing
infrastructure and new project
developments. Partly for this
reason, and as illustrated in
Figure 2, oil production after a
decade of substantial growth
now appears to be plateauing.
As a result, energy
companies are having to
develop new prospects in
frontier territories, driving up
their costs signicantly.
Growing capital project capabilities will be a
fundamental hurdle for the industry
Looking across the whole oil and gas value chain, there are
a number of major capital projects under development by
Russian companies, both at home and abroad, as illustrated
in Figure 3.
Their ability to deliver these projects in a timely and
cost-effective manner depends upon two major factors. First,
Russian companies will need to have core project delivery
capabilities, including diligent project scoping and concept
development, use of new technology, risk management,
rigorous project planning, appropriate contracting strategies,
and a decision driven project delivery model. Second, they
will need to manage and understand the operating context
in light of difcult new frontier operating environments and
local content requirements, as well as expertise in stakeholder
management of government and local partners. All in all,
the project organisation and governance set up needs to
be tailored to the delivery challenges and operating context
(including appropriate contracting strategies and capability
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June 2011
levels). Specically, the Russian oil and gas industry needs
to strengthen technology development and improve capital
project delivery capabilities, such as:
x Front end loading: scoping, planning and detailing of
design and concepts, to avoid re-work: stakeholder
management for approvals.
l Execution: contracting strategies, risk management,
project control (design freeze, quality, plan and cost,
decision gated maturation), commissioning stakeholder
management for licence to participate.
l Transition/handover to operations: production and
resource (capability) ramp up and operating model
stakeholder management for licence to operate.
x Developing or assembling these capabilities will require
setting up a delivery, governance and stakeholder
management model that takes into account operating
context, contracting strategy, access to capability, local
content and regulations, JV configurations and enabling
effective decision making (clarity on accountabilities
and decision rights) and delivery both during project
execution and during operations.
Figure 3. Source: BP Statistical Review of World Energy June 2010; Booz & Company research.
Figure 2. Russian oil production, 2000 - 2009. Source: BP Statistical Review of World Energy
June2010; Booz & Company research.
Options for developing the key capabilities
Given the challenges facing the Russian oil and gas
sector, Russian oil and gas operators have three main
strategic options:
x Partnerships. Working closely with IOCs and
collaborating on research and development is a
viable and popular option. Examples of such joint
ventures would include Gazproms collaboration with
Statoil and Total in the Shtokman development in
order to access advanced Arctic technologies. Part
of the rationale underpinning the alliance between BP
and Rosneft was to establish an Arctic technology
centre to develop innovative technologies for the safe
exploitation of the Russian Arctic shelf. According
to recent press commentary, Gazprom is also
considering shale gas joint ventures in North America
in order to learn the technology. It is possible the gas
giant will enter the US shale gas market in the next
six to 12 months collaborating with smaller and more
well-established players.
x M&A. Acquiring the required capabilities in capital
construction is another option. Lukoil, for example,
recently announced it was
interested to work alongside
North American companies
in shale gas and shale oil
x Centres of excellence.
This route involves
establishing internal
learning centres where best
practice is captured and
best in class processes
and methodologies are
developed. TNK-BP, Lukoil
and Transneft have all
respectively pioneered the
creation of internal capital
construction centres of
Churchill concluded his famous
comment on the riddle of
Russia by noting that the key
[to solving it] is Russian national
interest. That interest, happily,
is the same as the interests of
the global energy industry, as
well as those of consumers in
Europe and Asia: with the right
sets of capabilities in place,
foreign energy companies
present the best path forward
for Russia to develop and
capitalise on its incomparable oil
and gas reserves, and to ensure
abundant supplies for these key
markets in future decades.

Founded in 1914 by Edwin Booz,
Booz & Co. is a global management
consultancy, working with businesses,
governments and organisations.
echnology has been crucial in supporting the sourcing and production of hydrocarbons since the modern age
of oil and gas exploration began.
These technologies are developed to reduce capital expenditure, improve reservoir recovery, access new
hard-to-reach reserves or minimise the environmental impact of exploration. Each requires signicant nancial capacity
to develop, commercialise, test and position in order to achieve market adoption.
Parke A. Dickley, the petroleum geologist, once famously wrote of oileld exploration in the 20
century: Several
times in the past we thought we were running out of oil and gas, whereas, actually, we were only running out of ideas.
Over the next few years, ideas in the form of innovative oil and gas technology will be more important than ever as
the sector faces a raft of notable challenges.
The industry need
The ongoing need to make the extraction of challenging conventional reserves more cost-effective creates a fertile
environment for new technologies to emerge. Progress in this area is helping the industry to exploit reserves that had
previously been uneconomical; building future value for their owners.
Kevin Forbes, Epi-V, UK, explores the opportunities for private
equity investors in the upstream services sector, which is set for
the next phase of industry investment.

June 2011
However, one of the barriers remaining is changing
non-conventional reserves into cost-effective, efcient
prospects. Accessing this new oil requires intensive drilling
and new completion methods, which in turn necessitate
signicant capital investment. Epi-V has successfully invested
in technologies such as the i-Tec I-FRAC ball drop activated
fracturing sleeve; that are helping to unlock these resources
efciently. These new, innovative technologies will be vital if the
industry is to meet energy demand, which is predicted to grow
by 40 - 50% to 2035 by the International Energy Agency (IEA).
For emerging fast moving services businesses, the industry
climate is bringing considerable new growth opportunities to
the fore. These opportunities include technology that is able to
cost-effectively address the difculties posed by deepwater,
geologically complex reservoirs and unconventional reserves,
such as shale gas.
Moreover, with oil prices above US$ 100 and the industry
increasing its capital expenditure by 11% this year, 2011 is as
good a time as any to back oil and gas services, as the sector
enters its next signicant spending cycle, with notable capital
investment expected.
Entrepreneurial technology-driven oil and gas services
businesses are highly attractive to a specialist investor, such
as Epi-V, where, through a mixture of growth capital, industry
insight and commercialisation competence, it can turn potential
into a ourishing company of signicant strategic value to the
The shale challenge
The swift rise of shale gas and oil is just one of many
segments of the oil and gas industry that is creating signicant
opportunities to invest in groundbreaking innovations that
optimise production and drive process efciencies.
Shales extremely low permeability and the extraction
challenges this created meant that it was previously considered
completely uneconomical. However, the combination of
horizontal drilling, hydraulic fracturing and high tech
multi-stage completions is allowing us to realise some of the
potential of these vast reserves, with greater than 50% of US
rigs now drilling horizontal wells and more than 150 drilling in
one basin alone.
The challenges this market poses are both technical and
economic, and they are placing strategic premiums on new
technology capable of maximising reservoir contact and inow
performance, while improving efciency and reducing time and
Epi-V is looking at a broad range of businesses with
technology that, when applied to this market, will address
specic process challenges. These include maximising
economic reservoir contact for the well and improving drilling
and completion efciency safely.
An investors active approach
As mature participants in the upstream services sector, Epi-V
has witnessed a number of technologies with potential to exploit
these new high value growth markets.
The organisational maturity of the majority of ambitious,
technology-led oil and gas services companies means that
investment alone is not enough. To access new growth areas,
funding should be considered as only one requirement in a
companys long-term growth strategy.
To position companies to bring game-changing technologies
to market, initially, they require capital investment to allow for
product development, qualication and commercialisation -
overcoming the challenges of industry adoption.
A notable challenge for new companies is to dene potential
applications and markets for a given technology. Epi-V works
closely with management teams to chart all conceivable industry
opportunities and how the technology can bring most value to
the industry operators. In many cases, technology companies
commercialise ineffectively as a result of failing to appreciate
the adverse implications of changing current operator workows
or target applications that have low value to the operator. The
broader perspective of an experienced, specialist investor can
bring insight into the true commercial opportunities. This stage
should assess the feasibility, use, development time and markets
for the given technology, and consider additional applications
that can speed adoption, identity value from an operators
perspective and, ultimately, create a protable business.
Strategic market positioning can then be taken to the
next level, with the company actively engaging with its target
customers having understood their requirements. By aligning
technology with customer requirements, the business can then
build persuasive marketing and brand strategies.
There are also more practical issues to take into account. How
does the business translate the founders science and innovative
IP into a development programme to create robust products?
Does the company manufacture or outsource? What facilities
are required? How will the business cope with geographic
distribution? How will management recruit and manage a diverse
workforce to meet growth targets? In the midst of all this change,
the business must take an objective and disciplined approach
to funding and cash ow, as this is the lifeblood of any new
business. Experienced investors can provide signicant support
to guide emerging businesses though this process.
Combined, these stages allow a technology-led oil and gas
services company to nd its market, perfect its proposition and
build a presence that allows for rapid adoption and protable
business growth.
Ideas transformed into successful companies
Innovation and technology will become increasingly central to
the fortunes of oil and gas exploration businesses as companies
explore resources in ever more challenging environments. The
opportunities for investors and investee companies alike are
signicant, so long as the proposition is well positioned in the
In seeking funding, businesses should look to potential
partners with deep industry experience, not just funding. The
industry is very competitive and traditionally slow to embrace
new technologies, and nancial backing alone is simply not
enough to gain competitive advantage.
Emerging oil and gas services companies should seek both
investment and the alternative viewpoint that an experienced
investment partner can bring to its companies to help them
realise their growth potential. When commercialisation is effective,
upstream oil and gas services businesses can seize opportunities.
By identifying specic market opportunities and working
closely with management to fully exploit their technology in
that space, its possible to turn a nascent technology into a
signicant growth business that drives innovation for the entire

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Tel. +358 10 8611
In North America
+1 800 347 1542
Available free of charge to registered readers:
OT_JuneOnline.indd 1 07/06/2011 16:45 OT_21-24_June2011.indd 24 08/06/2011 09:09
ew would argue against the premise that seismic
interpretation tools and their ease of use have
improved signicantly over the last few years.
From advances in attribute analysis to fault mapping
and horizon picking, seismic interpretation has made
substantial advances in developing geologically consistent
3D representations of the subsurface. Interpreters today can
also enjoy a highly visual graphics environment on which to
rigorously interpret their geological data and maximise its
value for future reservoir management decisions.
This being said, however, seismic interpretation today
still comes with certain limitations, which are manifested in
a number of ways. For example, many geological models,
often containing gigabytes of data, still remain highly
generalised. All too often, it is just kilobytes and megabytes
of data, including just a few mapped horizons, from which
important interpretations are derived. The result is that huge
amounts of potentially valuable seismic information are
being lost.
There is also often a lack of understanding of the full
structure of the seismic data, a lack of integration across
the workow and a manual-focus to interpretation activities.
Kristofer Tingdahl, dGB Earth Sciences, USA,
addresses the limitations of seismic interpretation.
June 2011
In this way, users are unable to gain a clear picture of the datas
depositional history, and horizons and faults often have to be
picked and edited manually.
Against this context, there is a clear need for todays seismic
interpretation software to generate improved quantitative rock
property estimations and clearer denitions of stratigraphic
traps, create more accurate and robust geological models, and
extract more value from the terabytes of high resolution seismic
This article will look at how these challenges are being met
through a new automated horizon tracking tool and an improved
graphics-focused environment.
The importance of horizons
Horizons the term used to denote the surface in or of a rock
or a particular layer of rock that might be represented by a
reection in seismic data have always been central to seismic
interpretation. Seismic horizon interpretation can result in
automatic fault detection and denition
and the accurate structural modelling
of both elds and prospects.
While conventional interpretation
workows might only require a limited
number of key horizons to be mapped,
however, it has become clear to us
that, by automating horizon tracking
and creating a denser set of horizons,
interpreters can extract more geology
from their seismic data.
A dense set of auto-tracked
horizons can help guide well
correlations, generate an improved
insight into the depositional
environment, interpret systems tracts,
and improve the chances of nding
stratigraphic traps where oil might be
Furthermore, in comparison to
standard workows where the low
frequency model is often considered
to be the weakest link, having a dense
set of horizons can result in a much
more detailed model being built to
be put forward for seismic inversion.
By interpolating well data along
the dense set of horizons, detailed
geologic models can be generated
that are fully consistent with seismic
This is the rationale and thinking
behind the dip-steered auto-tracker
dGB Earth Sciences has developed,
known as the HorizonCube.
Building the HorizonCube
The HorizonCube is a new plugin
which is part of the companys
OpendTect seismic interpretation
software, where a dense set of
correlated 3D stratigraphic surfaces
are developed into a set of continuous,
chronologically consistent horizons through an advanced
algorithm. All correlated 3D stratigraphic surfaces are assigned a
relative geological age.
Figure 1 outlines the process as well as the impact
the HorizonCube can have on all elements of the seismic
interpretation workow, from well correlation to inversion to
sequence stratigraphy.
To create a HorizonCube, all the user must do is input
dip and azimuth cubes, at least two mapped horizons, and
(optionally) mapped fault planes. Horizons are then created
either in a model-driven way (through stratal or proportional
slicing, for example) or in a data-driven way via a dip-steered,
3D chronostratigraphy auto-tracker.
The auto-tracker algorithm tracks the dip/azimuth eld to
generate horizons that are typically separated by one sample at
the starting position. The dip/azimuth eld is smoothed, reduces
the impact of random noise, and allows the user to control the
detail that needs to be captured by the horizon tracker.
Figure 1. The HorizonCube process and the impact it can have on all elements of the seismic
interpretation workow.
Figure 2. The power of high density horizon tracking for chronostratigraphic correlation. All tracked
events are assigned a relative geological age displayed with a corresponding colour.
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3D shot gather
CMP gather & P G section CRS gather & P G section
3D CRS shot gather

June 2011
Another advantage is that smoothed dip elds are more
continuous than amplitude elds, that are used by conventional
auto-trackers that pick amplitudes and/or trace similarities and
then stop when the constraints are no longer satised. The
result is a series of patchy horizons rather than continuous,
chronologically consistent horizons as is the case here with
HorizonCube. Horizons with watertight intersections at the faults
are also generated through the HorizonCube by automatically
stopping against mapped fault planes.
Figure 2 demonstrates the power of high density horizon
tracking for chronostratigraphic correlation. To facilitate
correlation, a random line created from the 3D volume through
the wells and a dense set of horizons is auto tracked. All tracked
events are assigned a relative geological age displayed with a
corresponding colour with an interactive slider used to add or
remove these chronostratigraphic events.
The process highlights in detail how events are correlated
between the wells and aids in the understanding of how rock
properties vary laterally. For example, the sandy shelf-edge
facies observed in the right well correlates with a shaly,
toe-of-slope facies in the well on the left.
The benefits of HorizonCube
So what are the benets of the new HorizonCube?
Firstly, the auto-tracked horizons allow a detailed and
accurate low frequency model to be developed. Figure 3,
for example, demonstrates
the difference between
the HorizonCube and the
conventional workow in regard
to not only the quality of the
model but also the quality of
the Acoustic Impedance (AI)
The simple model uses
only top and bottom horizons
to guide the well interpolations
(a). The detailed model uses
19 additional horizons (d). The
simple low-frequency model
(b) does not fully honour the
seismic while the detailed
model does. The inverted
results which are driven by
the input models reect these
differences (c & f).
In this way, operators
can get a lot more geology
out of their 3D models and
highly accurate low frequency
models can be used to create
geologically correct AI and
Elastic Impedance (EI) cubes
through the use of Deterministic
and Stochastic Inversion
A clearer image of reservoir
geometries can also be
obtained. For example, Figure 4
shows the thickness maps of
the depositional sequences
with and without HorizonCube interpretation on a eld, offshore
Abu Dhabi.
In this case, one of the main challenges of the seismic
interpretation was the poor quality of the 3D data, where, due to
this poor quality, the automated tracking of chronostratigraphic
unit boundaries was not possible using conventional tracking
methods (amplitude and phase responses were too indistinct for
the tracker to trace for any distance in a consistent manner).
Through HorizonCube, however, it was possible to create a
dense set of auto-tracked horizons and seismic-based maps of
depositional cycles and system tracts in this case, reecting
sediment build-up on the reef surface.
Well correlation and seismic/well data integration
Two of the biggest challenges in seismic interpretation today are
the ability to effectively use seismic data to aid well correlation
and to support this through the integration of well-based
sequence stratigraphy with seismic sequence stratigraphy.
To this end, the densely tracked horizon mapping and the
interactive slider of HorizonCube allows interpreters to correlate
and update well markers and horizons in order to improve well
correlation. It allows the interpreter to reveal the spatial evolution
of the sedimentary succession by visually moving forwards and
backwards in geological time, highlighting in detail how events
are correlated between the wells and aiding in the understanding
of how rock properties vary laterally.
Figure 3. The difference between the HorizonCube and the conventional workow in regard to not only the
quality of the model but also the quality of the Acoustic Impedance (AI) inversions.
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June 2011
Furthermore, in partnership with third-party specialists,
dGB now offers the stratigraphic framework analysis of
associated well log data, as an add-on to its Sequence
Stratigraphic Interpretation System (SSIS).
Here, the stratigraphic analysis of well logs is conducted
interactively with the seismic data analysis, adding to both the
robustness and resolution of the resulting chronostratigraphic
In particular, dGB offers unconventional, data-driven
attribute analysis of well logs with which it can either QC
preferred well log markers for consistency with its SSIS
results, or build a completely new log-based framework,
based on sequence stratigraphic principles.
Like seismic data, well logs carry geological information in
attributes that are unseen in conventional displays, and that
are therefore unexploited for stratigraphic interpretation.
Based on linear predictions, the transforming of a facies-
sensitive log (such as GR) reveals depositional patterns
- correlatable from well to well - even across lateral facies
variations. These dene packages of strata, bounded by
Figure 4. The thickness maps of the depositional sequences with and without HorizonCube
interpretation on a eld, offshore Abu Dhabi.
Figure 5. Seismic interpreters can use HorizonCube to interact
directly with the tablet in their editing and visualisation activities.
surfaces corresponding to the ooding
surfaces and base level falls of sequence
stratigraphy. The packages range in scale
from the sequences and para-sequences
of seismic stratigraphy down to the limits
of the resolution of the logs. The analysis
is carried out using the CycloLog software
package from Enres International and is
deployed by consultants with extensive
experience in this method.
The combination of this innovative
approach to the stratigraphic analysis of
well data with dGBs SSIS technology
offers clients a powerful means of building
a stratigraphic and hence depositional
The importance of an
accessible, intuitive workflow
HorizonCube can only be fully effective,
however, if interpreters move away from
the manual-focused and limited graphics
environments of the past and operate in an
environment where workow processes are more accessible
and intuitive.
Its with this in mind that dGB has teamed up with the
Japanese company Wacom, a world leading manufacturer of
pen tablets and digital interface solutions, allowing seismic
interpreters using HorizonCube to interact directly with the
tablet in their editing and visualisation activities (see Figure 5).
This allows for the drawing of horizons, faults and
objects within a highly user-friendly and graphics-focused
environment, with the interactive pen display allowing the
user to directly work with the pen on the screen and thereby
making the process of analysing data much more efcient.
This is due to the perfect hand-eye co-ordination of the pen
display and the fact that the user works exactly at the point
on the screen where he wants the cursor.
To this end, HorizonCube can be used for sequence
stratigraphy interpretation where the horizons are used
to mark sequence boundaries and faults can be directly
drawn into the data set. The result is a highly innovative but
practical tool.
Generating a different perspective
Seismic interpretation today is all about generating a
different perspective on the geological and stratigraphic
aspects of data volumes and squeezing maximum geological
value out of this data.
With applications, such as HorizonCube, and
partnerships with companies such as Wacom, where
dGB is using its experience in the photography, graphics,
and fashion design industries and applying it to seismic
interpretation, the company is seeing how seismic
interpretation has the power to innovate and the overcome
limitations of the past.
Geoscientists will nally be able to enjoy the full benets
of knowing the complete structure of their reservoir data,
leading to geologically sound rock-property predictions,
effective well correlation and more geological information
from seismic than ever before.
hree ingredients are required to obtain a good resolution
of our hydrocarbon reservoirs from reection seismic
data. These are an imaging method that is able to collect
and relocate the reections pertaining to a specic reector,
an accurate set of data dependent parameters that steer the
imaging process, and, hopefully, good data.
Highly accurate imaging methods are available today,
but quite often cannot fully exploit their strengths. Data
noise and irregularities deteriorate both the determination of
accurate imaging parameters, and the actual imaging process,
thus requiring effective ways to increase the robustness of
imaging and lithology prediction. Such effective measures are
demonstrated by recent strategies of the Common Reection
Surface, or CRS method that enhance the subsurface resolution
in both, the prestack domain of measured data, and poststack
domain of stacked data.
During the last decades, the determination of the seismic
imaging parameters, and the actual imaging process have
seen a steady development to more and more sophisticated
numerical methods that went hand in hand with the increase of
numerical computer power. Modern depth imaging by prestack
depth migration (PreSDM) provides the most accurate methods
for a combined realisation of the two imaging steps, the focusing
of all reections from a single subsurface structure, and their
relocation to the original position in depth.
Especially in complex geology, however, these PreSDM
methods are very sensitive to the signal-to-noise ratio of the
seismic data, and even more to the velocity depth model. Model
building has thus become the most crucial and costly step in
depth imaging, since PreSDM requires an accurate and even
more consistent global eld of imaging velocities. Here again,
the data quality has a strong inuence on the model building
The CRS approach now offers a preconditioning of seismic
data that strongly raises the signal quality, and optionally
compensates for irregularities in the spatial distribution of
seismic recordings as well. The main idea of this CRS strategy
is to collect and focus seismic reection events belonging to
a local common subsurface structure, the so called common
reection surface, before entering further imaging or reservoir
Henning Trappe, Gerald Eisenberg-Klein, Juergen Pruessmann,
TEEC, Germany, discuss the use of CRS analysis on seismic
data to improve the view of reservoir structure and lithology.

June 2011
characterisation steps. As an example, Figure 1 illustrates the
effect of CRS focusing by PreSDM sections of low fold 3D
seismic land data.
Further advantages of this CRS data preconditioning
for imaging in time and depth, model building and reservoir
studies are outlined in the following, after a closer look at the
CRS imaging principles.
CRS method
CRS focusing is characterised by both a high resolution, and
a general robustness. Dense local measurements of seismic
data parameters are collected from each imaging point into
so-called CRS attribute volumes providing the high resolution.
The robustness with respect to local parameter errors is based
on the local independence of the measurements, in contrast
to the mutually dependent estimates of PreSDM imaging
parameters in a global model.
Another advantage is the high number of contributions
that are used in CRS focusing of individual reections events,
leading to a strong suppression of noise. This multiple
contribution, the so called fold, is a consequence of the
general CRS subsurface assumptions of local reector
elements with dip and curvature in the subsurface. In the
seismic data, the seismic reection produced by one of these
complex reector elements is certainly not conned to a
specic common mid-point (CMP) of the shot and receiver
pairs, but extends across many neighbouring CMP locations.
Collecting the contributions from all these CMP locations
amounts to a much larger stacking fold than in conventional
CMP stacking using one CMP location at a time only.
The CRS contributions to a certain image point are
collected along a hyperbolic time surface for zero-offset
stacking, that was presented by Mann et al. (1999) and
Jger et al. (2001) following initial work by Gelchinsky (1988).
Corresponding to the complex reector geometry, a complex
set of stacking parameters is required to dene this time
surface, comprising the waveeld dip , and the waveeld
curvatures R
and R
at the surface. They are related to
hypothetical wavefronts from a point source at the normal
incident point (NIP) on the reector, and from an exploding
reector, respectively. This is indicated in Figure 2 (top) for the
case of 2D seismic data.
The advantages of CRS stacking as opposed to
conventional NMO/DMO stacking were illustrated by
Hubral et al. (1999) in the schematic display of Figure 2
(bottom). The high fold and the increased S/N ratio of the
CRS stacked section are attributed to the better t of the CRS
travel-time approximation (green) to the actual reection times
(blue) in a much larger area of the offset and CMP domains.
CRS stacking obviously collects a much larger portion of
the actual reection. Stacking along the full CRS travel time
approximation provides a CRS stack, whereas partial stacking
in small offset and CMP intervals is used to produce CRS
gathers with an enhanced signal contents.
The main factor assuring the high resolution of the CRS
stack is the automatic estimation of an optimum set of
stacking parameters, the so-called CRS attributes, at each
point of the image. Due to this detailed attribute search, CRS
imaging is a computationally intense method, especially in
3D applications. This advance in seismic processing can
thus be regarded as another consequence of the increased
Figure 1. Kirchhoff prestack depth migration of CMP gathers (top)
versus CRS gathers (bottom). Note the improvement of sedimentary
reections and salt boundary.
Figure 2. The CRS stacking attributes comprise the emergence angle
and the wavefront curvatures R
and R
at the surface, which can
be related to hypothetical experiments with (a) a point source, and (b)
the exploding reector, respectively, in the subsurface (top row, after
Jger et al., 2001). The t of (c) DMO and (d) CRS stacking surfaces
(green) to the CMP/offset-dependent travel times (blue) are illustrated
for an anticlinal model (gray, bottom of graph), showing a large area
with excellent t for CRS stacking (bottom row, after Hubral et al.,
June 2011
power of modern computers, just like the evolution of new depth
migration techniques.
Increased CRS fold for noise suppression in low
fold data
Seismic imaging generally faces problems when dealing with
extremely low-fold or sparse seismic datasets. In order to obtain
a good image in those cases, the redundancy of the data must
be identied and exploited to the highest degree. Obviously,
CRS imaging is well suited for this task by tracing seismic
reections through large portions of prestack data. This CRS
imaging strength at sparse data has been illustrated by the
depth sections of Figure 1 with strongly improved 3D PreSDM
results from CRS gathers.
A more systematic investigation on CRS stacking in
low-fold data was presented by Gierse et al. (2007) starting
from 3D seismic land data with a fold of 15. Acquisition at
an even lower fold of eight was simulated by omitting every
second shot line or every second receiver line, respectively, and
nally acquisition fold was reduced to four using both types of
omissions. For each conguration, CRS zero-offset stacks were
obtained by full CRS stacking.
Figure 3 compares the reference NMO/DMO stack from the
original 15-fold data to the CRS stack of the nal 4-fold data.
CRS imaging fully compensates for the loss of acquisition fold,
providing an image that is even superior to the conventional
full-fold result in many areas. CRS imaging thus represents a
processing option for 3D surveys acquired at low fold due to
limited access or economic reasons. An additional advantage of
CRS processing is observed in Figure 3 where the data is partly
interpolated into the muted near surface zone by CRS using data
from neighbouring inlines.
CRS gathers for enhanced prestack applications
The previous CRS imaging examples have shown that CRS
stacks of good quality may be produced for low-fold data,
and then used for further processing in poststack time or
depth migration. A much larger potential for improved imaging,
however, lies in prestack applications of the CRS processing
producing CRS gathers.
The construction of CRS gathers makes use of the
dense CRS attribute volumes that comprise local kinematic
measurements for each point of the image, thus providing a
detailed and accurate kinematic description of the seismic
events in the data: this information can be used for mapping
seismic data to any existing, or new prestack trace geometry.
Event data from original traces in the vicinity of a target trace
is mapped to that target trace by dip-consistent partial CRS
stacking, based on the CRS attributes.
The CRS data mapping may be used to solely decrease the
noise level in the existing data traces by considering exactly
these input traces as target traces of the trace extrapolation.
Each initial data trace is then replaced by an extrapolated CRS
trace at the same location as shown in Figure 4, which obviously
preserves the original shot geometry in the CRS shot gather but
increases the signal-to-noise ratio by partial CRS stacking. CRS
shot gathers with preservation, or enhancement of the original
shot geometry are well suited for shot-based depth migration
techniques like wave-equation PreSDM or RTM.
Alternatively, new geometries can be introduced for
reconstructing shots and target traces away from the existing
Figure 3. DMO reference stack of original 15-fold land seismic
data (left), versus CRS stack of reduced 4-fold data (right). Note the
preservation and enhancement of structural resolution.
Figure 4. Original shot gather (top), and associated geometry-
preserving CRS shot gather (bottom).
Figure 5. Moveout corrected CMP gather (left), geometry-preserving
CRS gather (middle), and CRS gather with offset regularisation (right).

June 2011
data conguration, or for regularising the data geometry in
CMP/offset domain. Figure 5 compares an original CMP gather
from 3D land data with corresponding CRS gathers. Geometry
preservation as performed in the CRS shot gather construction
of Figure 4, leaves the irregular data distribution in the
CMP/offset domain untouched but enhances the signal contents
(Figure 5 middle). Regularised CRS gathers with a uniform
CMP/offset coverage (Figure 5 right) may interpolate the seismic
reections in large data gaps and even reconstruct seismic
features like air waves. These CRS gathers are well suited for
CRS-AVO investigations, and for Kirchhoff prestack migration in
time or depth as shown in Figure 1.
CRS based depth imaging workflow
Both the CRS gathers, and the event information in the CRS
attributes may be used to design a complete depth imaging
workow. Commonly the rst step to depth is the fast derivation
of an initial velocity model in depth from processing parameters
of the time processing. The traditional Dix conversion of stacking
velocities into a starting model in depth is restricted to mainly at
structures since stacking velocities do not contain any useful dip
information (Dix, 1955).
The CRS attributes, on the contrary, comprise an explicit dip
measurement. Inversion of CRS attributes by grid tomography
into a velocity depth model thus well reconstructs the dipping
trends. This was demonstrated in a case study of CRS depth
imaging in salt geology by Pruessmann et al. (2008), using 3D
seismic data from the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. In this case
study, the velocity model from CRS tomography followed the
seismic depth structures much better than the Dix model from
stacking velocities (Figure 6).
The costly renement of the velocity depth model that uses
iterative PreSDM with subsequent moveout analysis in depth
gathers, can as well be shortened signicantly by migrating
CRS gathers. The atness of the depth gathers as a measure
of the model accuracy is more clearly visible in the CRS depth
gathers with a high signal-to-noise ratio. The CRS depth imaging
workow nally produces a depth image with superior resolution
of the near surface sediments, a better denition of the salt
body, and much clearer sub-salt reections in comparison to the
result of the conventional workow (Figure 7).
CRS characterisation of reservoir structure
Based on the local optimisation of the CRS attributes the CRS
processing may reveal local details that have not been present in
previous stack sections. This is shown for a suspected
gas-water contact, which is clearly outlined after CRS
processing but much less in a conventional stack (Figure 8).
Another example of structural reservoir characterisation
from Eisenberg-Klein et al. (2008) compares time slices of 3D
Figure 7. Final prestack depth migration from conventional depth imaging ow (left), and from CRS ow (right). Note the improved denition of the
salt body.
Figure 6. Dix model (left) versus CRS tomography model (right) with
respective CRS poststack depth migrated sections.
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Figure 8. Stack from conventional processing (top), and CRS
processing (bottom). The suspected gas-water contact is much better
resolved by CRS, forming a horizontal line through the centre of the
Figure 9. Time slices at 1256 ms through coherence volumes
calculated from conventional prestack time migration (left), and
poststack time migration of the CRS stack (right), demonstrating
the noise suppression and associated fault enhancement by CRS
coherency volumes calculated from a conventional prestack
time migration, and a poststack time migration of a CRS stack
(Figure 9). The slice of the conventional prestack time migration
shows a strong noise contamination in some areas, while the
CRS processing removed the noise and highlighted the faulting.
Prestack time migration on CRS gathers provides a similar
suppression of noise but was not considered in the work by
Eisenberg-Klein et al.
CRS-AVO and reservoir lithology
Besides structural investigations at reservoir level, CRS
processing may also contribute to the lithology prediction, e.g.
in impedance inversion of high quality CRS images, or by AVO
investigations at CRS gathers as illustrated in Figures 10
and 11. For 3D land seismic data from a gas storage site,
three moveout-corrected CMP gathers with standard
amplitude-preserving preprocessing are shown at locations A, B
and C, respectively (Figure 10 top). The noise contamination is
obvious, producing a patchy amplitude distribution. Furthermore,
acquisition irregularities had caused a varying offset coverage
with several trace gaps.
In the corresponding moveout-corrected CRS gathers,
regularisation in the CMP-offset domain has lled the trace
gaps by event-consistent data contributions from neighbouring
CMP locations (Figure 10 bottom). Uncorrelated noise has been
largely removed, revealing seismic reections that were partly or
fully buried in the noise before. Correlated noise, however, has
not been eliminated as is demonstrated by the ground roll at
location A.
In general, the CRS gathers exhibit a good reection
continuity allowing a rst rough evaluation of the
offset-dependent amplitude behaviour. The most obvious feature
is provided by the high reection amplitude in the upper part of
the CRS gather at location B. An increased amplitude level may
also be recognised in the corresponding CMP gather, but due
to the noise-induced uctuations it does hardly stick out from
the average amplitude distribution as represented at location C.
The CRS gather at location B, on the contrary, does not only
show this strong amplitude increase very clearly but also its
connement to large offsets.
Based on the CMP and CRS gathers discussed before,
AVO analyses in the un-migrated domain produced the shallow
vertical sections through the gather locations A, B, and C
displayed in Figure 11. These sections contain the product
(P*G) of the AVO attributes intercept (P), and gradient (G).
The conventional result in the top row of Figure 11 clearly
shows the noise contamination which is increasingly harmful
when approaching minimum fold near zero time. In the whole
section, the reection information is completely hidden by the
noise inuence which is much stronger than any trends of the
reection amplitude.
The CRS-AVO result in the bottom row of Figure 11 shows
a strong noise reduction, now revealing the reected structure
forming an anticline. Most parts of the section show blue colours
corresponding to the wet trend of water-saturated sediments, or
decreasing amplitude with offset. The red colour mainly appears
at anticline reections at medium time where the gas-bearing
reservoir is located. This colour corresponds to an increase of
reection amplitude with offset, and indicates the presence of
gas. This effect is especially strong near the top of the anticline
as conrmed by the CRS gather of Figure 1 at location B, and
June 2011
decreases at the anks. As a result, the CRS approach provides
a robust AVO analysis with meaningful results at data where
conventional AVO completely fails.
The CRS method that was originally developed as a generalised
seismic stacking technique in time domain, has developed into
a universal tool for robust parameter estimation and model
building, enhanced lithology prediction and reservoir analysis,
and high resolution poststack and prestack migration in time
and depth, for 2D/3D land and marine data. The extension of
the CRS stacking range over several CMP locations and over
the full offset range strongly increases the fold, allowing a stable
determination of the stacking parameters, the so-called CRS
attributes, for each point of the image. These densely sampled
attribute volumes represent a highly detailed event description of
the seismic data for high-resolution applications in imaging and
The increased fold of the local event description, and the
associated increase of the signal-to-noise ratio in CRS imaging
is effective in both land and marine data of various fold.
Especially in low-fold data, CRS imaging uses the
redundancy of the event information to a maximum extent in
order to reveal reections and faults that are mostly buried in
noise in the associated conventional time and depth images.
CRS may thus be regarded as a versatile complement of sparse
2D or 3D seismic acquisition in surveys with limited access, or
severe cost restrictions.
A powerful approach to combine CRS processing with
modern prestack imaging techniques is the partial CRS stacking
into so-called CRS gathers. CRS partial stacking reduces the
data noise in prestack time or depth migration, and CRS data
regularisation minimises the migration noise in these processes.
CRS data regularisation in shot domain is well suited for
wave-equation depth migration and RTM, whereas regularisation
in CMP/offset domain improves Kirchhoff prestack migration
in time and depth, but also AVO analysis, or simply the manual
stacking velocity analysis in poor data.
A comprehensive CRS depth imaging workow comprises
both the model building, and the prestack and poststack depth
migration. In a rst step, the detailed event information of the
CRS attributes is inverted by grid tomography into a reliable
starting model of the velocity in depth. Dip is well honoured
in this model, in contrast to conventional models from Dix
inversion of stacking velocities. The reliable starting model,
and the improved model update on CRS-based depth gathers
effectively reduce the model building time and cost. The nal
depth migration of CRS gathers increases the general resolution,
and especially improves the denition of salt bodies and sub-salt
The structural reservoir analysis strongly benets from the
high resolution of CRS imaging, and from the local optimisation
of the CRS imaging parameters. Coherency measures from
CRS images show a signicant noise suppression revealing
the fault systems in noise zones. A similar noise suppression
is observed in CRS-AVO analysis, which allows to expand
AVO to deeper targets and noise zones especially in land data.
Further CRS tools are available, thus composing a complete
processing chain from initial CRS residual statics until the nal
CRS reservoir studies, a chain that is steadily expanded by new
Figure 11. Conventional AVO (top) versus CRS-AVO (bottom): product
section of AVO intercept and gradient across a gas storage with
indication of gather locations A, B, C of Figure 10.
Figure 10. CMP gathers (top) versus regularised CRS gathers
(bottom) from 3D land seismic data across a gas storage. Note the
CRS signal enhancement in general. At location B, the increase of
amplitude with offsets is highlighted by the CRS result, and trace gaps
are lled.
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Manufacturing techniques
Drilformance uses a methodical approach to manufacturing,
keeping unique processes simple and streamlined. Fewer
steps, systematic processes and rigorous quality control ensure
delivery of uniformly high quality bits with dependable eld
reliability and predictable results.
Utilising manufacturing techniques from the aerospace
industry, each Drilformance PDC bit is milled from a block of solid
steel, providing maximum structural integrity and a high degree
of elasticity to reduce bit chatter and eliminate shing jobs due
to broken blades. Drilformance bits have an extremely short
make-up length, and incorporate a patent-pending make-up
system that eliminates the need for a welded shank behind the
bit, further reducing make-up length while increasing structural
integrity. Each bit is machined to the same tight tolerances and
precise pocket accuracy, ensuring consistent eld performance.
Proprietary manufacturing processes enable higher blade
standoff, increasing the junk slot area for better hole cleaning.
Fit-for-purpose manufacturing processes also help the bits stay in
gauge, eliminating reaming operations that waste rig time.
Dynamic force balancing
Bit stability and control is enabled by tightly integrated bit
frame components. Drilformance proprietary engineering
and manufacturing methods uniquely address common PDC
usability issues such as stick-slip, bit-whirl, and non-uniform
weight distribution across a breadth of dynamic environments.
This attention to detail in development and manufacturing
produces PDC drill bits that allow operators to achieve total
depth (TD) in signicantly less time and, as some of the cases
below illustrate, with only a single drill bit.
Drilformance PDC bit field results
Wolfberry Trend, West Texas
An operator drilling offset wells in this Permian Basin formation
required a minimum of two, and typically three bits to complete
the production hole section. After selecting a Drilformance

in. DF613R2 PDC bit for the production interval, the
operator reached TD in 119 hours with a single bit. The run
shaved off three days of drilling time and eliminated a 12 hour
trip, for estimated savings of more than US$ 150 000. Additional
wells in the trend have been consistently drilled with a single
DF613R2, enabling a step-change in performance improvement
from the operators perspective.
Figure 1. Drilformance Acel Drill
PDC bit system.
Figure 2. Comparison of drilling time using Drilformance PDC bits
(left) versus the drilling time for other drill bits (right), demonstrating a
time saving of 143 hours.
June 2011
In another area of the same
trend, the operator typically
required three to ve production
bits to drill to TD. After selecting
Drilformance PDC solutions, the
rst well took two production
bits and 200 hours of drilling
time, compared to 343 hours
on a previous well, resulting in
savings per well estimated at over
US$ 200 000. Additional wells have
realised similar performance gains.
Bone Springs Trend, New Mexico
The operator was looking for a bit
that could beat their best bit run to
date (close to 80 ft/hr) and drill the
entire interval in one run to reach
kick off point. Using an 8 in.
DF613R2 PDC bit, the rig drilled
the entire vertical section in one run at 89 ft/hr for an 11% gain
over the previous best record.
Eagle Ford Shale Trend, South Texas
The operators goal was to drill an entire production hole interval,
which contained multiple sections including tangent, curve and
lateral, with one bit to a planned TD of approximately 16 400 ft. No
bit had drilled the entire section on a well of this length in this area.
The operator selected an 8 in. DF513R bit for the
operation. The bits stable, aggressive cutting structure allowed
the entire interval of approximately 12 000 ft to be drilled,
reaching TD with no problems. The bit held angle in the tangent
and maintained 13 deg/100 ft build rates in the curve, with
sections of the curve sliding at over 60 ft/hr. The operator
conrmed that the Drilformance drill bit achieved the best results
for that rig to date.
Results of another operator in the Eagle Ford Shale trend for
three wells drilled on the same pad using competitor bits on two
wells and a Drilformance DF513R bit on the other well are shown
x The Drilformance bit drilled the interval 24 hours faster than
the best offset run on the pad, and reached TD in 56 hours.
x The Drilformance curve ROP average was more than 50 ft/hr
and lateral ROP average was more than 100 ft/hr.
This example highlights the DF513Rs directional and rate of
penetration capabilities. Drilformance bits tend to stay on target,
resulting in fewer corrections and more time rotating with better
ROP. On this pad, the Drilformance run resulted in approximately
10% less time sliding compared to the competitor offset run,
(Figure 3).
Marcellus Shale Trend, Pennsylvania
An operator was looking to optimise results in the surface hole,
curve, and lateral intervals. A 12 in. DF513 was utilised to
drill the surface hole 50% faster than previous methods. The
challenge for the curve and lateral sections was to nd a bit that
could achieve the desired build rates in the curve and still get
high ROP in the lateral section. An 8.75 in. DF513R was utilised
to drill both intervals to TD in a single run. The bit achieved
excellent build rates in the curve and showed a 40% increase in
ROP versus previous competitor offset runs.
Cardium Trend, Alberta
An operator had been looking for a bit to drill the vertical and
curve section in one run in the Willesden Green Field. To this
point, no other bit had successfully completed the interval. The
operator chose an 8 in. DF516R and drilled the entire 1832 m
interval to casing point, saving valuable rig time. The dull was
1-2-CT compared to competitors previous attempts that had
resulted in bits being pulled and found damaged beyond repair.
Recent breakthroughs
Drilformances design philosophy is to push the limits of what
can be drilled with PDC systems, while maintaining optimal
performance across the wide range of applications. The
Drilformance Advanced Technology Development team has
created PDC systems that focus on the driller, emphasising
steerability and control, in addition to high penetration rate and
Recent advancements include the Heli Path
radial spiral
structure, coupled with a Compact Unibody
design and
Opti Trac
modelling, providing both stability and directional
control. Shadow Path
enhances bit shoulder durability while
extending PDC cutter life. Rhino Armor
provides maximum
protection on all critical surfaces, minimising erosion from
high solid mud systems. Cryo Edge
PDC cutter technology
Figure 4. Average drill out run (metres) drilled, Willesden Green Field,
Alberta, Canada.
Figure 3. A comparison of Drilformances PDC bit performance with two competitor bits, demonstrating
Drilformances signicantly lower drilling time and higher ROP.

June 2011
provides excellent impact resistance, abrasion resistance
and thermal stability.
Rhino Armor
Drillers who seek to maximise their PDC intervals require
both strength and durability. Drilformance utilises proprietary
Rhino Armor hard facing to achieve maximum protection for
PDC systems. Precise temperatures and application width
are enforced in the application to prevent delamination and
maximise fracture resistance. Material volume is augmented
on the bit shoulder and gauge to provide additional
protection to high-wear surfaces.
Cryo Edge
The principle behind the architecture of the cutter is to
minimise fracturing and increase thermal resistance by
Figure 5. An aggressive cutter prole engages the most demanding
formations with ease, while the patent-pending Shadow Path work
sharing system enables longer cutter life by reducing heat build-up.
Figure 6. Superior directional control and stability is achieved by
OptiTrac modelling and the patent-pending Heli Path radial structure
on the bit face.
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providing the optimal angle of attack for the cutter edge.
Drilformances Cryo Edge PDC cutters consist of a single
piece of tungsten carbide substrate bonded to a high quality
PDC compound. Cryo Edge is a combination of proprietary
manufacturing process and materials, which include a
precise angular micro-bevel applied to each cutter before
insertion into the bit pocket. This calibrated displacement
impacts the shear potential of each cutter, permitting a
more aggressive prole to maximise depth of cut with each
Accel Drill
: next generation drilling
Drilformance has integrated all of its current technologies
into Accel Drill, providing step-change advances in
drilling capabilities. For example, Accel Drill incorporates
Drilformances Dynamic Nutation
system, which enables
longer intervals to be drilled faster, particularly in tough
formations. Adamas Base
advanced materials are
incorporated in high-wear moving components of the system
for signicantly increased tool life. Drilformances
Accel Drill system bit-to-bend length is 10 in., as compared
to conventional directional assemblies having typical
bit-to-bend lengths of 3 - 6 ft. Accel Drills shorter
bit-to-bend length reduces unnatural lateral stresses
associated with conventional assemblies, and signicantly
increases dogleg severity capability.
The combination of these advances means complex
geometry wells can be drilled from surface casing to TD
without tripping out of the hole to change BHA assemblies.
Consistent reliability and notable increases in versatility and
ROP contribute directly to bottom-line drilling economics.
Measurable productivity is the name of the
Unconventional and complex geometry well economics
are driven by increases in operational efciency. Operators
and directional drillers are using manufacturing-style
approaches to achieve reliable, predictable and low cost
results. Rather than relying on instinct or tried and true
approaches, increasingly we turn to eld data to determine
whats really working. Drilling programmes have reached
a stage of maturation such that different bit technologies
have been tried in different zones and formations, and
steerability, durability, elimination of sliding, improved ROP,
and impact on NPT can be directly observed and measured.
Both operators and directional drillers now benet from
data driving smarter, more economic drilling decisions and
quicker technology adaption.

n the fast-paced drilling industry, performance is king. Increasingly, challenging demands are placed on
drill bits. And why not? After all, they are the tip of the spear.
Bits are required to drill faster, last longer, and produce better quality boreholes than ever before. But
these attributes dont come easy. Formations are increasingly complex; targets are deeper, hotter and
harder to reach.
The recent nationwide shale play is spilling across our borders as North American operators are
proving the value of shale drilling, and worldwide plays lie just around the corner. Yet while huge
shale gas reserves potential beckons operators, there is a constant push for greater efciency to
minimise costs. Natural gas is a commodity, and as a result, operators cannot independently
raise prices to offset costs. With prices set by local markets, the only recourse to
improve protability is to attack costs. In the mature arena of well construction,
cost reduction is a tough challenge and even signicant investments in
technology often result in marginal gains. Nevertheless, every so
often, perseverance and innovation are rewarded.
Designing the ultimate shale bit
A Smith Bits team of eld engineers,
design engineers and hydraulics
experts was assembled to
carefully study shale
drilling, pulling
together their
Charles Douglas and Josh Passauer, Smith Bits,
a Schlumberger company, USA, consider a new bit optimised for shale,
saving significant rig time in the Haynesville Play.

June 2011
experience and learnings from thousands of wells drilled to
date. They considered the operators needs together with the
geomechanical scenarios they faced. While understanding
that there probably would not be one solution that ts
all situations, they were able to isolate the predominant
impediments to shale drilling and borehole quality and address
The following drilling characteristics of the majority of
shale wells were identied:
x Over the past few years, shale well profiles have shifted
from vertical to horizontal.
x Drillers generally use different bits to drill the vertical
section, the build (or curve) section and the lateral.
x Most shale wells are drilled using positive displacement
mud motors and are completed using hydraulic fracturing.
x Effective borehole cleaning is a must, especially in the
lateral section.
x Bit vibration must be controlled to optimise drilling
efficiency and bit longevity as well as to avoid damaging
LWD/MWD equipment.
Almost immediately, the team concluded that considerable
time could be saved if a high performance bit could be
designed that could drill the entire well, while delivering
acceptable borehole quality and cuttings transport. They
reached into their toolbox and implemented several
proprietary modelling and database programs including:
x IDEAS* integrated drillbit design platform shows how
the bit behaves as an integral part of the whole drilling
assembly. IDEAS-designed, bits go from concept to
proven performance in minimum time.
x i-DRILL* engineered drilling system design for predictive
bottomhole assembly (BHA) modelling identifies solutions
that minimise vibrations and stick-slip during drilling and
optimise bit performance for any given environment.
x YieldPoint RT* drilling hydraulics and hole cleaning
simulation program optimises bit hydraulics for the
specific well plan being simulated.
x DRS* Drilling Record System, a collection of data
from 3 million bit runs, helps engineers quickly locate
similarities in drilling conditions and bit performance.
The result was the Smith Bits Spear* shale-optimized steel
body polycrystalline diamond compact (PDC) drill bit.
Combination of technologies delivers results
By combining an aggressive design with a tough steel body
construction, engineers produced a bit that could drill both
the curve and the lateral in a single trip while delivering high
penetration rates and effective borehole cleaning. The benets
of the leading curve section bit, the 6 in. SDi711, were
combined with those of the leading lateral hole performer, the
6 in. SDi513, to create the new SDi611 Spear.
Switching from the traditional matrix body to steel offered
increased ductility and allowed the blades to be made much
taller and thinner, leading to a dramatic improvement in junk
slot area and face volume and providing a larger area for
cuttings removal and evacuation from the face of the bit.
This, coupled with a unique hydraulic design directed drilling
uid to sweep across the cutting surfaces to keep them clean
and minimise the re-grinding that robs energy from cutting
new rock. Where vibration is predicted, optional MDOC*
depth-of-cut inserts can be tted behind the shoulder and
Figure 1. DBOS drill bit optimisation system log summarises drilling
challenges for Haynesville operators, and helps with bit selection.
Figure 2. Smith Bits Spear 6
in. SDi611 steel body PDC drill bit
as specially designed for Haynesville Shale horizontal well drilling.

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June 2011
gauge cutters. Bit vibration is the principle cause of excessive
cutter wear and poor drilling efciency.
Spear bits proved to achieve target build rates in the
curve section by facilitating good tool face control, and fast
penetration in the lateral while maintaining desired direction and
inclination. In addition, the hydraulic enhancements made to the
bit design meant that the blades and nozzles did not pack up
with shale during drill pipe connections.
With its short make-up length to ensure desired dogleg
severity, the new bits have successfully been run under the
following operating parameters with varying BHA congurations:
x PDM speeds ranging from 0.52 rev/gal. to 1.02 rev/gal.
x Motor bend angles ranging from 1.5 to 2.6.
x Flow rates ranging from 200 gal./min. to 260 gal./min.
x Weight-on-bit ranging from 2000 lbf to 20 000 lbf.
x Drilling fluid weights ranging from 14.5 lb/gal. to 17.0 lb/gal.
Haynesville shale well example
A typical Haynesville drilling program calls for drilling and
wireline logging a vertical or directional 9
/8 in. intermediate
section to the casing point using water-based drilling uid. The
uid is then displaced with oil-based mud for drilling the curve
and lateral sections. Since bottom-hole temperatures
are severe, the use of rotary steerable systems (RSS) and
logging-while- drilling (LWD) tools is limited and PDM steerable
motors are primarily used to build and drill the curve section and
Up until now, operators have been faced with a dilemma.
Previous bit designs were either optimised for the curve section
with strong build tendencies and directional-friendly steerability
or they targeted the lateral section with fast, aggressive
penetration rates. To get the best performance, a bit trip
was required so the best bit could be used for each section.
Alternatively, the operator could elect to use the same bit for
both the curve and lateral, giving up performance on one section
or the other depending on the bit chosen.
To maximise sensitivity to the operators needs, Smith Bits
placed an Advanced Services Engineer (ASE) in the operators
ofce as a technical advisor to provide recommendations
and support to the operator. ASE engineers have access
to Smith Bits proprietary engineering tools to assist in
recommending the ideal bit and provide operational expertise
for each particular application. The practice of placing technical
specialists within operating companies is widespread. Logging
and pumping services engineers have proved their value through
deep domain expertise for many years. It follows that drilling
experts will provide similar benets. Working with the operators
drilling engineers and well design specialists, Smith Bits
engineers selected two offset wells belonging to the same
operator and with formation characteristics as close to those of
the case study well as possible to test the new SDi611 Spear bit.
To ensure the best match between the well design and
geomechanical constraints imposed by the formations to be
drilled, a DBOS* drill bit optimisation system log plotted from
the best available data, including lithology and mineralogy, and
unconned compressive strength of the rock is often used. This
takes into account both the curve section and the lateral, and
shows engineers that the bit will perform well in both sections
and can help facilitate the decision to drill to total depth without
a bit trip.
The rst offset well was drilled using three PDC bits of
another manufacturer. It kicked off at 10 500 ft and drilled curve
and lateral to a measured depth of 16 324 ft. Penetration rates
for the three bits were 23 ft/hr, 39 ft/hr and 31 ft/hr respectively.
Offset well number two kicked off at 10 455 ft using the
Smith Bits SDi513 Spear bit for the curve and drilled 1012 ft;
then switched to another manufacturers PDC bit to drill 479 ft.
To complete the lateral, the SDi513 bit was used and drilled
Figure 3. Comparison of Smith Bits Spear steel body bit prole (left image) with that of a typical matrix body bit (right image) shows junk slot area
increased by 45% as a result of extended blade height, reduced blade thickness and bullet shape body.
Under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa
Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain
Soci et y of Pet r ol eum Engi neer s
17th Middle East Oil & Gas Show and Conference
Conference: 25-28 September 2011
Exhibition: 26-28 September 2011
Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Centre
Worldwide Co-ordinator
Conference Organisers
on the case study well. Total savings
were estimated by the operator at
US$ 365 000.
Since the case study well was
drilled, the operator has been
increasing its use of Smith Bits Spear
bits in the Haynesville.
No silver bullet
Drilling the shale plays is not a simple
task. Each play must be carefully
studied to determine its geomechanical
properties and formation parameters
so the optimum bit can be selected.
The fundamental design parameters of
the new Spear bits address the most
challenging aspects of curve and lateral
shale drilling, maintaining a high rate of
penetration while delivering an accurate
wellbore trajectory and a good quality
borehole so subsequent completion
activities can proceed without
The Smith Bits Spear design can
be tted with premium ONYX* PDC cutters for hard rock
drilling applications. Many years of experience have shown
that bit selection is a science. There is no one-type-ts-all
situation. Drilling engineers nd that they obtain the best
performance when the bits are carefully matched to the well
design and the geomechanical constraints presented by the
formations to be drilled.
* Mark of Schlumberger.
4552 ft to total measured depth of 16 498 ft. Penetration rates
for the three bits were 14 ft/hr, 10 ft/hr and 31 ft/hr respectively.
The case study well was kicked off at 10 720 ft and was
drilled entirely with the SDi611 Spear bit to a total measured
depth of 16 783 ft. A single bit was used. Penetration rate was
49.7 ft/hr; a Haynesville record. There are a few faster lateral
runs, but so far none have been able to drill both the curve and
the lateral at that rate.
Considering both the penetration rate gains plus the
elimination of bit runs a total of 124 hours of rig time was saved
Figure 4. Comparison of case study well with two nearby offset wells of the same operator
highlights single bit run performance of the Spear SDi611 bit (left) in a record-setting run for
Haynesville horizontals.
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odays competitive environment demands constant
creation and improved application in all areas of
the drilling arena, especially in the magnum size bit
range. Century Products, Inc. is a US-based manufacturer
specialising in the development of magnum
sized drilling tools. High quality, durable bits
that offer a high rate of penetration and on
target steering performance is the focus of
Centurys R&D.
The industrys attention has been directed
towards the development of the smaller, PDC
bit range. Century is lling a void by offering
a complete range of drilling tools for borehole
enlargement from 16 in. 72 in. With two
complementary product lines, Hole Openers
and three cone Rock Bits, engineers are
provided with custom designed options to
choose from so drilling plans do not have to be
The Hole Opener line covers from
20 in. 72 in. and the three cone Rock Bit line
ranges from 16 in. 36 in. Both are available in
IADC codes ranging from 1-1-5 to 5-3-5 and feature the highest
load and energy bearing seal combination in the industry.
They are available with Tungsten Carbide Inserts (TCI) or a
Milled Tooth (MT) bearing design to perfectly attack the various
formations drillers encounter.
A six-point stabilisation feature is standard on the Rock Bit
line (Figure 1). This allows for better stability, which results in
smoother running parameters and less vibration
to help reduce other potential downhole failures.
Three interchangeable jet nozzles are extended
to aid in the stabilisation as well as provide
exceptional hole cleaning abilities.
The Hole Opener line incorporates
stabilisation features as well, which results in
a well-balanced tool machined to exacting
tolerances. A rebuildable design allows for
multiple cutting structures to be inserted into
one body, transforming an otherwise disposable
piece of equipment into an asset, (Figure 2).
These stabilisation features are critical
when drilling with larger diameter drilling tools.
Inherently these larger sized tools experience
severe vibration and have difculty maintaining
minimal borehole deviation. Borehole
enlargement tools that fall within this range
require a dedicated engineering effort to ensure optimal drilling
performance, which yields a high ROP with minimal vibration.
As a technology leader, Century continually strives to optimise
Jack Castle, Century Products, Inc., USA, details the companys range of drilling tools.
Figure 1. 36 in. Magnum Rock Bit.

ing sup
liers; C
entury Pro
le and
arel, p
e d
f ad
rill bit techno

June 2011
drilling performance while lowering
the cost per foot through innovative
advancements to the larger size
drilling tools.
Design features
The correct bit choice is an integral
component in the overall drilling
performance achieved. There are four
different bearing sizes to choose from,
12.5 in., 16 in., 22 in. and 26 in. and
three different cutting structures to
select, incorporating TCI Conical and
Chisel proles as well as Milled Tooth.
The following information provides an
overview of innovative features built
into each bit used on the Hole Opener
and Rock Bit lines to eliminate
common problems drillers encounter
out in the eld:
Century high load/high
energy bearing
Figure 3 features:
x Extreme Pressure (EP) lubricant
and dual reservoir system.
Century Products Cutters use
the latest in synthetic grease.
This, along with the compensator
design, ensures proper circulation
is maintained under the most
stringent applications.
x HSN O-Ring Seals: largest
seal area in the industry. HSN
Material is utilised for its wear,
heat compression and chemical
resistance properties for the
O-Rings. It has a service range
of -40 to +325 F. For the high
energy required, Century has
designed and utilises the largest
cross section O-Rings for longer
seal life.
x Crowned roller bearings. Premium
crowned roller bearings are
used, which gives the bearing
the capability to withstand the
extreme high loads.
x Ball bearing cone retention. Ball
bearing cone retention is provided
as the most reliable method of
cutter retention in the industry.
x Premium silver plated floating
bearing system. Fully floating
thrust bearing system allows for
reduced frictional heat build-up
to ensure lower operational
temperatures under high-energy
operations. This design facilitates the longer bit life that
Centurys reputation has been built around.
x Gage row protection. Double the number of tungsten
carbide inserts that actively cut the gage diameter and
assists in maintaining tight tolerances and extending in-gage
bit life.
Figure 2. 24 in. Century Hole Opener.
Figure 3. 22 in. replaceable arm and cone assemblies.
xShirttail/leg protection. Hard facing
along with carbide inserts blanket the
shirttail and leg, providing superior
wear resistance.
xInterchangeable jet nozzles.
Interchangeable jet nozzles with
carbide jets from 8/32
to 24/32
An improved hydraulic design
has also been incorporated, which is
especially effective as the size of the
hole increases. For example, a 72 in.
hole equals 1.05 yds
of rock for every
foot of penetration. This is equal to the
volume of 67.71 ft of an 8 - 4 in. hole.
Designs must be modied for magnum
size products to address these
increased volumes.
When these bearings are
teamed with the latest innovation
in bit designs, you have a winning
combination. These bits are designed
to handle the tough, hard over thrust
formations from Canada to Columbia,
and the sharper, abrasive formations
in the Middle East. This high energy
bearing design is also suited for the
longevity required in the North Sea.
As much as three times the bit life
versus non-sealed products can be
Case study
xLength: 7456 ft River Crossing.
xCountry: Quebec, Canada.
xPipe: 20 in. steel.
xBore size: 30 in.
The Canadian Province of
Quebec, in the French speaking city
of Trois Riviers, 88 miles northeast
of Montreal on the banks of the
St. Lawrence Seaway, served as the
setting for the 7456 ft River Crossing
Project of The Year in 2006.
A 12.5 in. pilot hole was drilled with
the intersect method which employs
two drill rigs that start from opposite
ends of the project site and meet
somewhere in the middle. In effect,
one drill provides the pilot bore for the
Once the pilot bore was completed,
a 30 in. Century Hole Opener with
5 22 in. TCI (Tungsten Carbide Inserts)
cone was attached to the drill system
to handle the one pass ream. With the
larger cones, the 30 in. Hole Opener was able to reach down to
the 12.5 in. pilot hole.
The larger cones enabled the drilling company to skip a
reaming pass and complete the borehole in considerably less
time. The majority of the drill was mainly drilled through bedrock
June 2011
that ranged in compression strength from 4000 to 8000 psi.
Both shale and limestone rock were encountered.
The reaming process took 400 hours at an average RPM
of 30 and weight on bit between 145 000 165 000 lbs.
The reaming process was cut in half by using a single
NOV Downhole discusses the companys solutions in large diameter drilling.
he drilling of deeper oil wells is rapidly becoming
more commonplace in todays oil and gas industry.
Hydrocarbon sources are less and less at our ngertips,
leading the industry to develop new and more sophisticated
technologies in order to reach these distant resources. This in
turn brings its own challenges, and certainly demands its own
solutions (Figure 1).

Downhole has introduced the ReedHycalog

TitanUltra drill bit product line designed to overcome
the unique challenges of large diameter drilling. Due to the
substantial difference between bottomhole assembly (BHA) and
hole diameter, extremely high forces can be generated. Lateral
and torsional vibrations amplify the magnitude of these forces,
affecting ROP and directional control, and can ultimately
destroy the bit and downhole tools. Furthermore, bottomhole
cleaning and the risk of hole washout make optimal hydraulic
design essential for improving borehole quality and drilling
Reecting the design focus on the four fundamental areas of
improved stability, rate of penetration, durability and steerability
to maximise performance in large diameter applications,
TitanUltra bits have set world records in deepwater projects
offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, Australia and Russia.
Stability: ultra-stable bit designs
The new concept of stability developed for the TitanUltra
products, goes beyond the development of the cutting
structure itself. It also considers new techniques developed for
other critical parts of the design such as the bit body and the
secondary components.
x Cutting structure designs: proprietary mathematical
modelling enables the design of extremely high laterally and
torsionally stable cutting structures.
x Blade global asymmetry: the difference in the angle between
each one of the design blades, has proven to increase the
bits ability to mitigate externally created lateral vibrations
and diminishes build up of whirl energy magnitude.
x Secondary components: new Torque Fluctuation Controllers
(TFCs) smooth out torque spikes that may be encountered
during drilling.
ROP: aggressive bit designs
x New cutting structure layout: unique cutting structure
spacing and exposure allows maximum ROP while drilling
smoother and longer intervals.
x Hydraulic design: hydraulic modelling enables designs
that efficiently clean the hole and maximise ROP. Other
achivements with the new hydraulic design include:
Figure 1. The ReedHycalog TitanUltra product line from
NOVDownhole is designed to overcome the challenges of
large-diameter drilling with a design focus on improved stability,
penetration rates, durability, and steerability.
Century Hole Opener as opposed to running two passes
to open the hole to 30 in. Due to the unique design on
the Hole Opener Bearings and Seals, the Century Hole
Opener easily achieved 180 hours of operation in the

l The nozzle configuration is primarily focused on minimising
the erosion of the borehole. This erosion is usually a major
problem in large hole applications, where the nature of the
lithologies drilled tends to create hole washouts.
l Increases directional ability in large hole diameters.
Durability: more durable bit designs
x Bit wear and impact force prediction: proprietary
mathematical modelling ensures designs that resist external
forces and formation abrasiveness.
x Finite Element Analysis (FEA): advanced structural integrity
simulations provide reliable bit body structure design to
overcome the most demanding drilling situations.
Steerability: directionally compatible bit designs
featuring the semi-active gauge
x The TitanUltra designs can be run on bottomhole
assemblies that include push or point the bit rotary steerable
systems (RSS), as well as mud motors. Field testing has
demonstrated its directional reliability response in all
applications. TitanUltra is the first known 24 in. or larger
PDC bit that has drilled more than a 15 inclination on an
RSS through salt lithology in the Gulf of Mexico.
x This new technology incorporates a new gauge
configuration, the Semi-Active Gauge, which gives the bit
ability to achieve moderate dog legs and maintain verticality.
Overall, it has delivered superior borehole quality in these
large diameter drilling applications.

June 2011
Performance advantages
Conventional thinking has held that an increase in blade count
leads to a decrease in ROP. However the TitanUltra product
lines specially designed cutting structure layout provides
performance advantages to increase ROP while using higher
blade counts.
Varel International discusses recent advancements in PDC and Roller Cone drill bit technology.
ervice companies in the oil and gas industry are
constantly evolving through deployment of new
technology to their customers and it is no more evident
than in the highly competitive drill bit industry. Companies work
diligently to have a ow of constant technology development
deployed to the eld. Varel International continues to be a
leader in the eld, where rapid evolution of drill bit technology,
drill bit applications and erce competiveness keep things very
The company is in the forefront of drill bit and PDC cutter
technology with research and design facilities both in the US
and in Europe and is represented in all of the primary oil and gas
basins worldwide.
In just the past year alone, Varel has made strides in both
PDC and Roller Cone drill bit technology. Along with
supporting its legacy lines, the company has been on the
forefront of PDC cutter testing and cutter qualication, as well
as delivering custom roller cone solutions for specic customer
PDC cutter technology
Cutting edge testing technology cutter qualification
In order to achieve success, the company has recently
introduced its testing and qualication standards. Building upon
already successful PDC product lines such as Diamond Edge
bits, Navigator bits and the ToughDrill series, Varel has
developed and deployed two patent pending PDC cutter
testing technologies. These innovative tools measure cutter
toughness and abrasion resistance to enhance and improve the
development and selection of PDC cutter technology for drilling
Cutter toughness
Cutter toughness is the ability to withstand the effects of drilling
dynamics. Toughness is related to the strength of the
diamond-to-diamond bonding created during the
High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) sintering of the PDC
cutter. Historically, test methods in the industry have been
qualitative and have fallen short of providing effective data for
eld cutter selection.
To better measure cutter toughness, Varel has developed its
patent pending Acoustical Emissions Toughness Test
(AETT). AETT quantitatively assesses the strength of the
diamond-to-diamond bonding. With this test a load is applied to
the cutters and increased at a constant rate while an acoustic
sensor detects acoustic emissions from microcracking in
the diamond table. Measuring the energy released during
microcracking yields a concrete assessment of the PDC
Multiple types and grades of PDC cutters can be cross
compared according to their resistance to load induced
microcracking yielding a highly predictive valuation of impact
Abrasion resistance
Abrasion resistance is the cutters ability to stay sharp as it
drills. The primary drawback of traditional abrasion tests is
Figure 2. 26 in. TitanUltra World Record ROP. Bit Dull Grading:
1-1-CT-N-X-I-NO-TD, Offshore Australia.
The TitanUltra product line has demonstrated great
success in deepwater applications while drilling lithologies
such as salt and sedimentary, interbedded formations.
Extensive eld testing over the past year led to three
world records in some of the most important deepwater
applications worldwide, such as the Gulf of Mexico, Russia
and offshore Australia.
Proof of performance:
x The 17.5 in. TitanUltra bit set a single-bit run world record
in a section of the worlds longest well offshore Russia,
drilling a total length of 14 603 ft at a rate 149.2 ft/hr.
x In the Gulf of Mexico, a TitanUltra bit set a world record
for the longest 24 in. PDC section, drilling 4645 ft at
107 ft/hr. This application was also the first known 24 in.
or larger PDC run that drilled more than a 15 inclination
on a rotary steerable system through salt lithology in the
Gulf of Mexcio. Low vibration was registered and the bit
was dull graded 1-1-WT-A-X-I-NO-TD.
x The most recent world record was set in Australia, where
a 26 in. TitanUltra bit set an ROP world record by drilling
3304 ft at the rate of 144.35 ft/hr, cutting 12 hours of
drilling time and saving the customer approximately
US$ 500 000 in rig costs alone, (Figure 2).
June 2011
the lack of an accurate simulated geological environment.
Current tests use a homogenous rock structure, which does not
calibrate how moments of high impact energy affect a cutters
abrasion resistance. Varels second patent pending test, the
Bimodal Abrasive Rock Test (BART), is a laboratory abrasion
resistance test which employs an engineered rock sample
with highly abrasive cement cast around upright layers of high
compressive strength granite to measure a cutters abrasion
resistance. The two rock samples create a load/unload cycle
to simulate interbedded formations and formation transitions.
By recreating this environment, BART provides a more suitable
measurement of abrasion resistance correlating to feld
performance and yields a quantifcation of a specifc cutters
applicability to transition drilling.
When used in combination, AETT and BART testing regimens
promise to signifcantly accelerate cutter development by
speeding the qualifcation of new cutters and by providing more
accurate quantifcation of prototype cutter attributes. These
processes aide in the development of new cutter technology and
in the selection of the best existing technology.
These breakthough standards and testing technologies
have led to the establishment of two classes of Varel qualifed
PDC cutters: Thor and Vulcan class cutters. The Thor
class cutters are engineered to be more impact resistant than
standard cutters to address the challenges specifc to hard rock
applications and interbedded formations. Conversely, highly
resistant to abrasion and the heat of drilling, Varels Vulcan class
cutters are applied in the hardest and most abrasive drilling
Thor cutters
The company deploys its Thor class cutters to meet the
challenges associated with interbedded lithology and high
impact drilling applications where cutter toughness is required.
Drilling through transitional zones often produces signifcant
drill string vibrations. With maximum diamond particle size
distribution and optimal sintering, Thor cutters have increased
toughness while maintaining thermal mechanical abrasion
resistance. Before a cutter can enter this classifcation, it
undergoes a battery of tests and evaluation techniques.
With Thor cutters, the foundation of the cutting structure is
protected, leading to increased ROP and extended drill bit life in
hard-to-drill applications.
Vulcan class cutters
Varel applies Vulcan class cutters when a high level of
thermo-mechanical abrasion is anticipated. Highly abrasive
formations generate elevated friction and heat during drilling,
and industry standard cutters can crack and wear under these
This class of cutters is manufactured to resist these highly
abrasive conditions. With a smaller diamond grain size and
an enhanced thermal stability, the cutters resist abrasive wear
while maintaining toughness. With Vulcan cutters, abrasion
resistance is maximised, leading to longer bit life and higher ROP
throughout the interval.
Before a cutter is qualifed for Vulcan classifcation, it is
subjected to a rigorous cutter testing methodology; key to
entering this class is a high score in the thermal abrasion test.
Performance examples
In a recent performance review for drilling in Offshore Southern
Thailand, Varel designers delivered proof points of the
effectiveness of Vulcan cutter equipped PDC drill bits. Overall
these bits were able to withstand the highly abrasive formations
they encountered, including formations with abundant dolomite
Specifcally, two separate seven-bladed Navigator series drill
bits earned top remarks from the drilling engineer in charge as
the best bit for the deeper section. The frst bit drilled through
the hard and abrasive Benjarong Formation to TD of 12 215 ft,
delivering superior footage and ROP when compared to closest
Due to the excellent post-run condition of the drill bits
cutting structure, it was quickly rerun completing 1782 ft for a
Figure 1. 8.5 VRP 713PDGX Post Run: the second drill bit
performance featured (the 8.5 in. VRP713PDGX bit) is shown here
after two complete runs, the most recent to section TD in a formation
consisted of hard and abrasive dolomitic cemented sandstone,
dolomitic limestone and dolomite stringers with UCS up to 35 kpsi.
Figure 2. The Acoustical Emissions Toughness Test (AETT)
quantitatively assesses the strength of the diamond-to-diamond
bonding in PDC cutting elements.
OT_49-54_June2011.indd 53 08/06/2011 09:59

June 2011
cumulative footage of 3261 ft spanning two runs and an ROP
that was 122% higher than the closest competitive offset.
A second bit, used in hard and abrasive dolomite
cemented sandstone, dolomitic limestone with multiple
dolomite stringers, was also noted for its durability and
longevity. While this 8 in. VRP713PDGX delivered similar
footage to its non-Vulcan equipped counterparts, the post-run
condition and the estimated 79% increase in ROP, once again
made this bit a success. A second run with this same bit in a
separate section delivered a run to TD in the same unforgiving
formation type.
Pushing the limits with 44 in. steel-tooth roller
cone drill bit
Varel has recently expanded the Jumbo bit product offering
to include additional sizes, cutting structures and bearing
options for specifc top hole requirements. The company has
completed a massive 44 in. steel-toothed roller cone bit for the
oil and gas industry.
The bit, which weighs in at more than 6000 lbs and is more
than 22% larger in diameter than any previous roller cone bit,
was requested specifcally by an integrated global petroleum
company in the Middle East.
David Harrington, Vice President of Varels roller cone
technology group, explained how the ultra-large diameter
bit will work to create effciencies in current feld operations
by offering a single bit solution to top hole drilling which
previously involved drilling a pilot hole and then re-drilling with
a hole opening assembly.
Figure 3. 44.00 Roller Cone bit: the largest drill
bit deployed in the oil and gas feld, this 6000 lbs
drill bit is designed to create effciencies in the
top hole drilling operations.
Figure 4. The Bimodal Abrasive Rock Test (BART), is a laboratory abrasion
resistance test which employs an engineered rock sample with highly abrasive
cement cast around upright layers of high compressive strength granite to
measure a cutters abrasion resistance.
READ about the latest
developments in the shale
gas sector on Energy Global
www. ener gygl obal . com/ s ect or s
Shale_End.indd 1 22/02/2011 15:02
Drilling with this large diameter bit in the top hole section
is a more effcient solution. The bit saves the operator time and
money through a reduction of tripping to change bits and the
need for hole enlargement tools, said Harrington.
This bit features an advanced cutting structure with
optimised row placement, tooth spacing and cutter geometry
for increased drilling effciency. These attributes also work to
minimise tooth wear and prevent cutter tracking in a wide variety
of formations and conditions.
The colossal bit was constructed following strict
manufacturing processes that are designed to be robust and
repeatable. These processes are constantly monitored and
continuously reviewed to provide the drilling industry with
ever-increasing value.
Harrington concluded, The cutting structure on this bit was
engineered for specifcally for operators purpose. The inaugural
run of this innovative product is scheduled for mid-2011.
OT_49-54_June2011.indd 54 08/06/2011 09:59
Kelly Harris, BWA Water Additives, UK, takes a look at screening
tests in order to find more environmentally friendly chemicals.
ince the 1972 Stockholm United Nations Conference on the Human Environment,
environmental pollution has been considered as a major concern for all industries. Across
the globe, a number of governments and regional economic integration organisations
have since established programmes for identifying and assessing substances that could cause
long term harm. This harm is dened as substances that are resistant to degradation and
accumulate in living organisms where they produce undesirable effects above a certain level
of concentration. These Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) or Persistent, Bio-accumulating,
Toxic substances (PBTs) are classied using a variety of tests and are subject to regulations
concerning their use. These tests are dependent on the nal destination of the chemical, and
knowledge of how the environment will be impacted by its presence is paramount. Once
identied, classication depending on specic criteria can be achieved. For example:
x The OSPAR (Oslo and Paris) Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment
of the North-East Atlantic, aims to prevent further pollution by continuously reducing
discharges, emissions and losses of hazardous substances (identified by PBT criteria), with
the ultimate aim of achieving concentrations in the marine environment near background
values for naturally occurring substances, or close to zero for man-made substances.
x The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the USA defines two sets of criteria for
PBTs. Fitting into one of which means emission must be controlled, and the other, for it to
eventually be banned.

June 2011
x The Canadian Government has a screening process that
places substances that are persistent or bio-accumulating
and inherently toxic into three categories depending on the
outcome of further screening.
Unfortunately the hunt for low harm (i.e. biodegradable)
inhibitors has meant that less effective products are sometimes
selected due to their perceived green qualities. This is in
spite of the fact that this lower effcacy may actually result in
increased chemical discharge back to the environment. In an
ideal world a very small amount of chemical would be used
Figure 1. Schematic demonstration of the differences between
laboratory tests and feld tests.
Figure 2. Calcium Carbonate Threshold Test - percentage inhibition at
specifed dose level.
Table 1. Inherent biodegradability of commonly used scale inhibitors
and the new green inhibitors
Inhibitor type Acronym Inherent biodegradability result*
Phosphonates PBTC 17% in 28 days
ATMP 23% in 28 days
HEDP 33% in 28 days
Polyacrylates PAA 10% in 35 days
Phosphinopolyacrylates PPCA 0% in 35 days
Polymaleic PMA 18% in 35 days
Terpolymaleic MAT 35% in 35 days
Sulphonic acid co-polymers SPOCA 7% in 28 days (OECD 306)
Polyaspartate PASP 83 - 87% in 28 days
Carboxy methyl inulin CMI >20% (OECD 306)
Polycarboxylic acid PCA 68.6% in 28 days (OECD 306)
Maleic acid polymer MAP 54.9% in 35 days
* OECD 302B test unless otherwise stated.
which would then disappear completely! A survey of the
currently available products shows that although this target
has not been met, some products are defnitely moving in
the right direction.
Biodegradation is a natural process by which organic
substances are decomposed by micro-organisms (mainly
aerobic bacteria) into simpler substances such as CO
water and ammonia. At the moment, evidence of partial
degradation is enough to meet most criteria and avoid
categorisation as a PBT or POP.
For measuring biodegradability, the most recognised
tests are the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Development (OECD) series and include purely
laboratory-based tests, as well as simulation and feld-based
The closer a test mimics the environment the less
control there is in place and therefore the less reliable the
data is.
In the laboratory tests, every chance is given for degradation
to occur utilising high levels of test substance or, a low ratio
of test substance to biomass with a long adaptation period,
and a simplifed environment. Simulation tests are a good
central point with external factors, such as temperature and
pH, controlled but a more realistic environment.
Within OECD guidelines a series of tests can be
undertaken as follows:
Ready/ultimate tests
These are rigid screening tests with a high level of test
substance (2 to 100 mg/L). They are laboratory tests,
however, a positive test means that ultimate biodegradation
in the environment will occur. A failure does not mean that
the chemical will not biodegrade at all, so instead inherent
biodegradability tests may be performed.
Inherent tests
These tests have a high capacity for degradation with long
exposure times and a high biomass to substance ratio,
thus giving the substrate the best chance. Again, this is a
laboratory test with a controlled and synthetic environment.
A positive result will demonstrate the substrate is inherently
biodegradable, but a negative result can still not rule out
degradation in its fnal environment.
Simulation tests
These tests use a low concentration of the chemical and
are performed in an environment that closely mimics the
real world. A positive result here strongly suggests that
a chemical will biodegrade in the natural environment. A
negative result will give an indication that the chemical is
likely to be persistent.
By following this process of beginning with the ready
biodegradability tests and moving down the chain, a good
understanding of how a substance will behave in the
environment can be obtained. When this information is used
in combination with the toxicity and bio-accumulation data,
the impact of releasing this chemical into the environment
can be assessed with a high degree of confdence. However,
determining if a chemical biodegrades is only half the story,
OT_55-59_June2011.indd 56 08/06/2011 10:04
since all of this is futile if it does not do the job it was
designed for.
Scale inhibitors
Water systems are ubiquitous with the chemical process
industries (CPIs). The mixing, heating, concentrating or
evaporating of water in these systems will form scale if they
are left untreated.
Scale inhibitors are chemical substances, which when
added at very low levels will reduce or prevent the formation
of scale. There are a vast array available today including
phosphate esters, phosphonates (PBTC, ATMP, HEDP),
polyacrylates (PAA), phosphinopolyacrylates (PPCA),
polymaleic acids (PMA), terpolymaleic acids (MAT), sulfonic
acid copolymers (SPOCA), polyvinyl sulfonates, and more
recently the so called green inhibitors polyaspartic acid
(PASP), carboxy methyl inulins (CMI), polycarboxylic acids
(PCA) and maleic acid polymers (MAP).
The biodegradability of the current classes of inhibitors
available in the market is shown in Table 1. Before
the push for green products very few were
actually biodegradable. HEDP and MAT, being
above 30%, are only just considered as inherently
biodegradable. Looking at the new generation of
green inhibitors it is clear to see the difference
with all four well above what is required to be
considered as non-persistent. However, the
question remains: are the new class of green
products effective scale inhibitors?
Scale formation
Scale is formed by the increasing concentration of
scaling cations, such as calcium and barium with
scaling anions, such as carbonate and sulphate.
Once the concentration of ions exceeds
super-saturation levels, nucleation will occur, which
leads to precipitation. What happens at the surface
of this crystal depends upon the rates of formation
and dissolution of the scale. Generally the rate of
formation is greater, thus leading to growth of the
crystal. These crystals can then clump together to
form larger crystals that will eventually block the
system. There are three mechanisms by which
inhibitors can work to prevent the catastrophic
build up of scale; at the nucleation stage, at the
growth stage and nally the deposition stage.
Threshhold inhibitor
The inhibitor binds with the scale forming ions, but
unlike chelants the bound ions must be available
to interact with their counter ions. This disrupts
the ion cluster at the early equilibrium stages of
crystal formation, thus disrupting them before they
reach critical size for nucleation. As a result the
ions dissociate releasing the inhibitor to repeat the
Growth inhibitor
This slows the growth of the scale by blocking
the active edges of the crystal. Once the inhibitor
has bound to the lattice, the crystal will form
much more slowly and be distorted. Often they are much more
rounded in shape which makes them less likely to adhere to
surfaces and more easily dispersed throughout the system.
Prevents the crystals coming together and forming a large body
of scale. The inhibitor will interact with the surface and repulse
other charged particles so that they do not bind.
Industrial Water Treatment (IWT)
In the IWT area the most commonly encountered type of scale
is calcium carbonate, which may occur in three possible crystal
forms aragonite, calcite and vaterite. When testing for the
efficiency of a scale inhibitor against calcium carbonate scale the
following tests can be performed:
Calcium Carbonate Jar Test
This is a 30 minute homogeneous test which demonstrates the
threshold inhibitor ability of a product.

June 2011
Pilot Cooling Tower Evaporative Unit Test
This is designed to test both the threshold and dynamic
inhibitor mechanisms against calcium carbonate under heat
transfer conditions.
Calcium Carbonate Jar Test
Here air bubbling is used to facilitate CO
removal, which
moves the equilibrium towards carbonate formation, thereby
increasing the test severity by raising the pH of the test
A solution containing calcium chloride and
magnesium chloride is mixed with an equal volume of
a solution containing sodium carbonate and sodium
bicarbonate, which already contains the additive to be
tested. The air bubbled solution is heated at 70 C (158 F) for
30 minutes, after which time the solution is ltered and the
calcium remaining in solution determined by EDTA titration.
The higher the amount of calcium retained in solution the
greater the scale inhibition ability of the product.
The results expressed as percentage inhibiton against
dose level are given in Figure 2. At 1 and 2 mg/L dose
level HEDP and ATMP are clearly the most effective with
PCA and MAP being the best amongst the green scale
inhibitors. Once a 4 mg/L dose level has been reached,
a number of inhibitors are capable of 100% inhibition of
calcium carbonate including PCA and MAP but PASP only
reaches an 80% level. This may seem like quite a high gure
but unless 100% is reached calcium carbonate will form and
ultimately greatly reduce the efciency of the plant.
Pilot Cooling Tower Evaporative Unit Test
This dynamic test is designed to provide a realistic measure
of an additives ability to control calcium carbonate
deposition. The Pilot Cooling Tower Evaporative unit has
constant make-up but has no blowdown, so the system
water concentration increases with time as evaporation
occurs. The system water is circulated over a 316 stainless
steel heat exchanger. The heat exchanger is heated
by passing hot water through the tube. The surface
temperature of the heat exchanger is approximately 70 C
(158 F). The evaporative region maintains bulk water
temperature at 40 C (104 F), by passing air counter current
to the water ow in the cooling tower. The higher the calcite
saturation index (SI) that can be reached, the more efcient
the inhibitor. A schematic diagram of the equipment used is
given in Figure 3. Initial dose level of additives is 10 mg/L as
In Figure 4, PBTC shows what level a good calcium
carbonate inhibitor can achieve in this test. Its failure point
occurs at a calcite SI of approximately 200.
Of the green inhibitors, MAP exhibited the best calcium
carbonate control, reaching a calcite SI of 285. PCA also
fared well with a failure point at 240 calcite SI. Both of these
results are a signicant increase over that reached by PBTC.
PASP however gave a rather poor result failing at a calcite SI
of approximately 80. This is less than one third of the level
reached by MAP and PCA.
Oil industry
When considering application in oilelds, performing both the
calcium carbonate and the barium sulphate dynamic scale
Table 2. Calcium Carbonate Dynamic Scale Loop Test water chemistry
Ion Concentration mg/L
Calcium 350
Magnesium 56
Sodium 10 077
Potassium 283
Barium 50
Strontium 50
Bicarbonate 1000
Chloride 16 058
Sulphate 0
TDS 27 924
pH 7.8
Table 3. Barium sulphate test water
Ion Concentration mg/L
Calcium 636
Magnesium 634
Sodium 14 760
Potassium 446
Barium 120
Strontium 190
Bicarbonate 0
Chloride 26 930
Sulphate 530
TDS 44 246
pH 5.5
Figure 4. Percentage calcium carbonate inhibition versus
CalciteSaturation Index on an ICW rig.
Figure 3. Schematic diagram of PCT with conditions of operation.
June 2011
loop tests is required to provide a good indication of inhibitor
performance in the reservoir.
Calcium Carbonate Dynamic Scale Loop Test
In some ways the dynamic scale loop test is less severe
than the threshold static jar test, the inhibitor is replenished
therefore keeping it at a constant concentration. In the jar test
when a crystal is formed some of the inhibitor is consumed
as it binds onto the crystal surface. As inhibitor levels are
not replenished, concentration will therefore drop over time.
Having a constant inhibitor level throughout the dynamic
test ensures that it is the growth inhibition mechanism that is
being studied with metal surfaces acting as growth sites.
This test is conducted using synthetic Brent water, the
water chemistry for which is given in Table 2. Separate
solutions containing the anions and the cations are pumped
through pre-heat coils at 90 C (194 F) and mixed in a T-piece
prior to the 0.1 mm ID 1 m long 316 stainless steel test
coil. A schematic representation of this apparatus is shown
in Figure 5. During the test calcium carbonate deposition
reduces the bore of the test coil causing an increase in
pumping pressure. The rate of change in pressure across
the coil is monitored with a pressure transducer and data
captured for graphical representation later. The test is
considered successful if the change in pressure remains
below 1 psi (6.895 kPa) over a two hour period.
MAT, a commonly used inhibitor, demonstrates that a
2.5 mg/L dose level is sufcient to completely inhibit calcium
carbonate scale formation (Figure 6). The green inhibitors
PCA and MAP also display excellent scale inhibition at
2.5 mg/L. PASP is unable to prevent scale formation at this
dose, reaching 1 psi (6.895 kPa) in only 50 minutes.
Barium Sulphate Dynamic Scale Loop Test
The water chemistry for this dynmaic scale loop test is
given in Table 3 and is equivalent to a 80:20 Troll:Seawater
mixture. The anion and cation solutions, this time with with no
inhibitor present, are pumped through preheat coils at 90 C
(194 F) and mixed in a T-piece prior to the 0.1 mm ID 1 m
long 316 stainless steel test coil. Barium sulphate deposition
reduces the bore of the test coil causing an increase in
pumping pressure. Once a 1 psi (6.895 kPa) change in
pressure has been achieved, a third solution containing
anions plus inhibitor replaces the anions solution. The test
is run for 2 hours unless the additive fails to prevent further
barium sulphate scale.
Figure 7 illustrates the data for MAT and the three green
inhibitors PASP, PCA and MAP. At a 4 mg/L dose level MAT
was able to stop deposition completely thus leading to no
further increase in pressure. PASP, PCA and MAP were
equally efcient at this dose level. This demonstrates that in
this test the green inhibitors are as efcient as those already
in common use.
All of these tests demonstrate that PCA and MAP offer a
signicant improvement over other biodegradable products
such as PASP, and are also more efcient than their
non-biodegradable counterparts, against calcium carbonate
scale. A high result in a biodegradation test is a worthy
aim, however it should not be at the sacrice of overall
Figure 6. Calcium Carbonate Dynamic Scale Loop Test Results.
Figure 5. Dynamic Scale Loop Test Schematic.
Figure 7. Barium Sulphate Dynamic Scale Loop Test.
performance. A poor inhibitor could potentially do more
damage in the long run as larger volumes of additive are
required to control the scale and, therefore, much larger
volumes are discharged into the environment. The focus of
the water treatment industry has therefore never changed
to produce efcient products that prevent the formation
of scale now there is just an added caveat that they must
do as little harm to the environment as possible. This study
shows that although the problem has not been completely
solved, we are certainly moving in the right direction.
ichael H
urd, K
asia M
illan and

r. M
han N
air, K
ira, U
ffer a suppliers view
antiscalants in o
il and g
as m

here was a time not long ago when the needs for
scale inhibitors were pretty well dened and the list
was not all that long. Manufacturers and suppliers
had a basic sales relationship with the operators in order
to understand the needs in the eld. Products were
needed to stop barium sulfate and calcium carbonate
scale development in ambient to hot, brackish to brine
type produced waters. In recent years however, the list of
conditions has grown in a surprising number of directions
and also includes a wider range of scales. Previously odd
metal and mineral compositions like iron sulte or silica
scales are now fairly common. Reservoirs with mixed
waters from water injection for pressure maintenance,
waterood, or just disposal now create a world of scale
headaches as the mix emerges from a producing well to
ow along the seaoor at near freezing temperatures or at
near boiling temperatures from land production comingling
with other production at an initial separation battery to
further compound scaling tendencies. Throw in waxy
deposits and H
S or CO
from more complex completions
and biolm, which becomes an active part of the scale itself
from either the reservoir bacteria or surface contamination,
and the market for scale inhibitors takes on a whole different
meaning. And, of course, while being compatible with other
chemicals being added into the ow stream, the scale
inhibitor needs to be environmentally friendly or green,
which often means different things to different people at
different times. This article attempts to take a look at the
issues in a broad sense and see what technology might be
available to help solve, or at least better dene, the resulting
needs that exist.
Being green
Lets start at the end of the list with a discussion of what
it means to be green. It is a buzzword that has become
a part of our jargon overnight, being used by oileld,
environmental groups, media, and politicians alike, but
unfortunately each have a slightly different understanding
of what that means. To some it ideally means nontoxic,
but then there are those who point out that even drinking
water in excess can have the disastrous result of drowning!
So use limits enter the picture with a debate of how
much is acceptable with most recognising that minimum
levels are desirable. In the oileld we know that some of
these chemistries we use can be harmful if misused or
mishandled, and accidents and spills do occur, which
cause the rest of us to be even more diligent in our use
procedures. But we are also committed to producing
needed oil and gas and that simply cant be done without
the use of scale inhibitors at some level in the process.
The idea then is to minimise the amount that must be used
against performance while continuing to develop scale
inhibitor technology and other chemicals that are less toxic
and provide equivalent or better performance.
However, there is still some debate over what
determines toxicity. Testing in water represents a more
sensitive environment to the dangers of a particular
chemistry. Therefore, testing against certain sh and
aquatic invertebrates determines a level of aquatic toxicity
and helps establish the minimum levels for discharge,
particularly into a body of water. Biodegradation testing
determines the time a particular chemistry will remain
in, and be a potential threat to, the environment, with
28 days being a benchmark established initially in the
North Sea as an acceptable time period in most regulations.
Bioaccumulation determines the ability of a species,
again usually aquatic, to accumulate the chemistry within
its tissues. This test also taps into other work done to
determine any other physical, neurological, or genetic
disruption effects from these chemistries. The result is
a set of data used most often by regulatory agencies to
determine the parameters and use limits around which a
chemical can be used in the eld. This data is also utilised
by internal HS&E groups to establish working parameters
and procedures for oileld workers who handle the
products on a regular basis and are far more likely to be
exposed than the general public. Levels of acceptability
usually emerge from the testing as some sort of black to
green designations either in these areas individually or
collectively according to a formula. Improvement in any area
of the testing that moves from one level to another higher
or better level without degrading results in another area is
normally seen as a signicant improvement and rewarded in
the ratings awarded.
With that background then it is easier to understand
that some aquatic toxicity is difcult to avoid with scale
inhibitors. For most polymeric versions of scale inhibitor
the molecule is too big to bioaccumulate in most species
so biodegradation is where you look to improve the
product in the short term. Kemiras KemEguard scale
control technology was developed to achieve the 60%
biodegradability or higher guided by the Norway Sector
of the North Sea regulations, (see Figure 1). One new
product in particular, KemEGuard 2593 has a standard
biodegradation rate of 60% over 28 days as compared with
an average of 8 - 10% for typical polymeric scale inhibitors.
Thus, the new technology offers a greener option with
similar performance for sulfate scale prevention compared
with its parent technology.
With toxicity being such a concern though, there needs
to be a way to keep track of the scale inhibitors in the
system when squeeze treatments are used. Mass balance
is one way of keeping track of the products that go in and
are produced back out of a production well. The problem
is that scale inhibitors are tough to measure, particularly
at low levels near the Minimum Inhibition Concentration
(MIC) after a squeeze job when timing and accuracy can
be critical. This usually requires a sample to be caught,

June 2011
transported, and analysed at a lab in a process that takes hours, if
not days to complete. And getting a read on just how much is lost
to the formation, how much is produced back quickly, and how
much really does the job is particularly difcult when all you have is
a snapshot in time.
Tagging a molecule that is hard to nd or measure with something
you can easily monitor online is one way of keeping track of it
quickly and efciently. Using appropriately tagged scale inhibitors
offers a number of benets in addition to mass balance and
tracking without interference in performance from the tag
addition. This isnt a blend of scale inhibitors and something else.
Its an additional molecular structure thats manufactured into the
molecule, in one case into a sulfonated copolymer, in such a way
that the two cant be separated in the formation. Furthermore,
the tag is incorporated so that it is uniformly distributed in the
polymer backbone, and does not appreciably change the Mw
and distribution of the original polymer, so that the polymers
performance for scale prevention remains unchanged.
Blended products tend to adsorb at different rates with
reservoir rock or react with reservoir uids in ways that prevent
accurate production of the ratio that was injected resulting in
misleading data regarding the actual scale inhibitor. The same
is the case with polymers with tags that are not uniformly
incorporated into the polymer chain. A regimen of properly and
uniquely tagged scale inhibitors allows for online detection,
accurate trending of production levels, and better control of the
overall treatment, increasing the time between treatments and
allowing for better planning when a number of wells are treated
together. It is particularly advantageous when several wells are
comingled at a common production station.
Setting up online detection with unique tags in each well
would allow for optimum planning for both the production facility
shutdown and cost-effective group treatment of the individual wells
by accurately reading the trends in each well and anticipating the
most protable treatment point in the future for all the common
wells, all from a single point at the production station. Development
work is continuing, specically on the leading sulfonated
copolymer chemistry offered, and products are now being used in
eld trials. In the future, the applications for this chemistry will be
broadened beyond the offshore work where it is currently targeted.
Figure 1. % degradation (North Sea testing).
Figure 2. Iron contamination at 85 C/pH 5.8.
Figure 3. Percent scale inhibition of BaSO
at 250 ppm with a soluble
iron contaminate.
Figure 4. Static barium sulfate inhibition efciency 4C, pH 6.5,
50/50 Heidrun FW/seawater.
Figure 5. Barium sulfate inhibition at high temperature.
Performance issues
Beyond the convenience of tagging and
the benet of an environmental product,
a scale inhibitor still has to perform in
the reservoir with the reservoir uids and
additives into which it is injected. Additives
and environmental conditions can play
havoc with some standard products.
Typical polymeric scale inhibitors can
be precipitated by methanol; common
antifreeze in the oileld. Iron levels can
affect a variety of scale inhibitors used.
And while biolms can form with scales
and complicate the treatment of both, the
biocides used to treat the bacteria may
also contribute to the consumption or
interference of the scale inhibitor within the
system. For this article well focus on iron
in the reservoir water, but pay attention
to reactions of various kinds that might
interfere with the performance of a scale
inhibitor under reservoir conditions.
More often, dosage is pushed to bare
minimum to minimise the environmental
and economic footprint, and that
makes detection and monitoring more
difcult. The low dosage also creates
an environment where the products are
more susceptible to interferences from
additives or contaminates. Iron happens
to be one of those contaminates that has
come up in recent years in part because of
this change in dosage levels, particularly
with phosphorous and polyacrylate based
products. As dosage falls to minimum
effective levels, iron appears to have a
more signicant effect than rst thought.
Note in Figure 2 the effect of iron at very
low levels on a variety of chemistries.
Figure 3 then shows that some of that
effect is actually mitigated in phosphorous
products with higher levels of iron. Those
iron levels are likely to create other
problems in the well however. Polyacrylates
then tend to fall off in performance as that
iron number continues to rise. Speciality
formulations with a unique polymer can
provide a synergistic effect in performance
through offering lower dosage at improved
performance, which, in the end, is the
overall goal of product improvement.
Last, but certainly not least is
the physical environment in which
the antiscalant should work, looking
specically at temperature and brine.
Kemiras sulfonated copolymers chemistry
worked well from 4 C in a Scaled Solutions
study to 175 C at Rice University working
with barium sulfate scales in brines that,
in both studies, had moderate to severe
scale indexes. A further variant of the
KemGuard 2705 is the KemGuard 2708,
which has equivalent scale inhibition
performance, is non-corrosive, is stable
to 175 C, and is approved for capillary
injection applications. The Rice University
study found the 2705 and 2708 to be
particularly effective against calcium sulfate
anhydrite scales. See Figures 4 and 5.
KemGuard scale control agent
therefore offers a single product that
works well across a wide range of
temperature and brine conditions
in comparison to phosphate-based
and other common chemistries. For
carbonate scales speciality formulations
of organophosphates offer performance in
similar temperature and/or brine condition
ranges. While testing in specic brine
compositions under specic moderate
temperature conditions may pinpoint
other chemistries that work similarly, brine
compositions rarely remain constant,
particularly in reservoirs with active water
injection. Having fewer products in the
warehouse that work over a wider range
of conditions offers lower inventory costs
and faster response time when (not if)
conditions change.
The issues presented here are by no
means the denitive list, but are the
ones where progress appears to be
accomplished at this point in time.
Additive interference will continue to be
of increasing concern while reducing
environmental footprint will be critical to
future products. In the opening paragraph
a basic sales relationship was mentioned
between suppliers and operations, but
now it is incumbent on manufacturers
and suppliers to introduce new products,
techniques, and applications in an effort
to offer new solutions to the needs
and issues in the eld in concert with
operations and eld services. The growing
complexity of the reservoirs, uids, and
procedures in the eld demand a higher
standard of involvement together at all
levels of the supply chain in order to meet
the need. Manufacturers often have a
better understanding of the molecule
itself and the ability to manipulate that
molecule to achieve the desired effect.
Therefore, effective working relationships
or partnerships are an integral part of the
development equation to make sure what
is developed does the job. It is no longer
what do you have for me today, but what
can we do together to solve this problem
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Avoid completion NPT and
future interventions, while
protecting near wellbore
reservoir permeability.
he success of cesium
formate brine as a
well construction and
workover uid
has raised the
question of whether there might
be other cesium-based brines
with equally useful properties.
One candidate examined by
the research department of
Cabot Specialty Fluids (CSF)
is cesium acetate brine. The
results of CSFs initial tests
on cesium acetate brine are
summarised below.
Solubility and density
It was found that the solubility
of cesium acetate in water is
89.95% wt at 20 C (68 F),
making a brine with a uid
density of 2.336 g/cm
at 15.6 C (60 F). The brine
density as function of dissolved
cesium acetate salt is shown in
Figure 1.
Siv Howard and John Downs,
Cabot Specialty Fluids, Scotland,
describe how cesium acetate
brine could make a novel
high performance drilling,
completion and workover fluid.

June 2011
It is possible to blend cesium acetate brine
with potassium acetate brine to make clear
acetate uids with densities between 1.40 g/cm
and 2.30 g/cm
It is also possible to blend cesium acetate
and cesium formate brines to make clear
monovalent cesium brines with densities up to
approximately 2.4 g/cm
. This is a higher density
than can be reached with either of the two brines
on their own.
Effect of pressure and temperature
The effect of pressure and temperature on the
density of a 2.246 g/cm
cesium acetate brine is
illustrated in Figure 2.
As with other brine systems, increasing
temperature decreases the uid density while
increasing pressure increases the uid density.
Water activity
The water activity of cesium acetate decreases
with increasing brine density, dropping below
0.10 in brines with densities of > 2.25 g/cm
(Figure 3).
Boiling point
The boiling point of cesium acetate brine
increases with increasing density, reaching over
175 C at a brine density of 2.36 g/cm
Figure 4).
Freezing and crystallisation
The freezing and crystallisation points of
cesium acetate brine are less than -30 C over
the density range 1.45 - 2.20 g/cm
(Figure 5),
beyond the reach of Cabots laboratory
refrigeration equipment.
Thermal stability
Cesium acetate has been tested at temperatures
up to 232 C (450 F) for periods up to 90 days.
Fluid analyses, pH measurements, and density
measurements show only small changes in
properties at the highest test temperatures. It is
known that the primary products of the thermal
decomposition of acetate are methane gas and
bicarbonate. It was found that at temperatures
of < 200 C (392 F) no change in soluble
bicarbonate content could be measured in the
brine. At temperatures > 200 C (392 F) a slight
increase in soluble bicarbonate content was
measured in the brine, with a corresponding
small drop in pH. This increase in bicarbonate
content does not appear to affect the density of
the brine.
Elastomer compatibility
Five commonly used elastomers and two
plastics were tested for one and four weeks at
180 C (356 C) and 230 C (446 F) Figure 3. Water activity of cesium acetate brine as function of brine density.
Figure 1. Density at 15.6 C (60 F) of cesium acetate brine as function of concentration.
Figure 2. Density of a 2.246 g/cm
cesium acetate brine as function of pressure for the
temperatures 600, 450, 300, 200, 100, and 40 F (315.6, 232.2, 148.9, 93.3, 37.8,
and 4.4 C).
June 2011
in a 2.20 g/cm
cesium acetate brine. The results of the test are
shown in Tables 1 and 2. HNBR, VITON

ETP, and FFKM were

not compatible with cesium acetate brine at 180 C (356 F) and
higher. AFLAS, EPDM, PTFE, and PPS appeared to be entirely
compatible with cesium acetate brine for four weeks at these
very elevated test temperatures.
Compatibility with metals
Modern well construction and workover uids need to be
compatible with the martensitic, duplex and high nickel alloy
steels commonly used in well tubulars and packers. These
metals are susceptible to Stress Corrosion Cracking (SCC),
particularly at high temperatures and in the presence of acid
gases (CO
and H
S). Some are also susceptible to hydrogen
charging in service.
A lot of corrosion testing has been conducted on cesium
acetate brine:
1. Six month SCC study at 170 C (338 F) with 145 psi N

headspace. The metals that were tested were
S13Cr -2Mo and alloy 718. SCC (C-ring and FPB and
U-bend), hydrogen charging and weight loss tests were
conducted on both materials. An ambient temperature SSRT
test was conducted on S13Cr-2Mo after the fluid exposure.
The results of the testing are shown in Table 3. Neither of
the metals showed any evidence of localised corrosion,
SCC, hydrogen charging, or loss of ductility.
2. 30 day SCC study at 160 C (320 F) with a 145 psi CO

headspace. Four commonly used corrosion resistant alloys
(CRAs) were exposed to the buffered cesium acetate brine.
These were S13Cr-2Mo, 22Cr Duplex stainless steel -110ksi,
25Cr Duplex stainless steel 80 ksi, Alloy 718 nickel alloy.
Analyses of the samples at the end of the test showed no
evidence of SCC.
3. SCC tests on MSS at 177 C (350 F) for 90 days with
145 psi CO
headspace. Triplicates of 13Cr-2Mo-110 and
13Cr-0.6Mo-110 were tested in buffered cesium acetate
brine. Analyses of the samples showed no evidence of SCC
or any other form for corrosion.
4. SCC tests on MSS at 177 C (350 F) for 90 days with
145 psi CO
and 1.5 psi H
S headspace. Triplicates of
13Cr-2Mo-110 and 13Cr-0.6Mo-110 were tested in buffered
cesium acetate brine. Analyses of the samples showed no
failures but some evidence of minor pitting/fissuring and
a small crack in one of the 13Cr0.5-Mo-110 samples. The
samples were stressed to 100% AYS at room temperature
rather than at test temperature, which could have affected
the result.
Table 1. Results of elastomer testing for 1 4 weeks in a 2.20 g/cm
cesium acetate brine
Elastomer type
Test material
time [weeks]
[C] [F]

James Walker
180 356
0 0.0 0.0 93 14.4 28.3 105
1 0.4 0.2 93 13.1 25.9 108
4 0.2 0.3 91 13.3 27.3 115
230 446
0 0.0 0.0 93 14.4 28.3 105
1 -0.7 -0.9 94 12.1 21.0 97
4 -0.8 -1.7 95 13.2 19.9 85


Parker V8588
180 356
0 0.0 0.0 92 14.7 22.9 84
Some degradation
over time
1 2.0 -0.8 93 12.3 18.8 86
4 3.7 1.5 93 10.9 13.5 68
230 446
0 0.0 0.0 92 14.7 22.9 84
1 8.2 -- 88 -- 6.7 43
4 -7.3 -3.5 94 7.5 7.9 54
Gulf Coast
Seals EO962
180 356
0 0.0 0.0 90 8.5 20.4 108
1 0.7 1.2 90 8.8 20.5 106
4 0.6 0.7 91 9.3 20.9 100
230 446
0 0.0 0.0 90 8.5 20.4 108
1 -0.2 -0.3 92 8.8 20.7 99
4 0.5 -0.7 92 9.3 21.8 105
Gulf Coast
Seals N4007
180 356
0 0.0 0.0 90 65 28.0 216
1 4.0 -1.0 94 13.1 30.8 200
4 27.4 5.8 98 -- 59.0 18
230 446 -- -- -- -- -- -- --
Base resistant

Parco 9130
180 356
0 0.0 0.0 90 8.3 21.8 138
1 3.3 2.0 92 -- 5.6 24
4 5.9 4.8 97 -- 8.7 9.9
230 446 -- -- -- -- -- -- --

June 2011
5. SCC tests on high-nickel alloys at 232 C
(450 F) for 90 days with 500 psi CO

headspace. SM2550-125, Alloy 825,
Alloy 718, Alloy 725, Alloy 935,
Alloy 945-140, Alloy 925 were tested in a
buffered cesium acetate brine. Analyses of
the samples showed no evidence of SCC or
any other form for corrosion.
6. SCC tests on high-nickel alloys at 232 C
(450 F) and 30 days with 500 psi CO
and 5
psi +H
S. SM2550-125, Alloy 825, Alloy 718,
Alloy 725, Alloy 935, Alloy 945-140, Alloy
925 were tested in a buffered cesium
acetate brine. Analyses of the samples
showed no evidence of SCC or any other
form for corrosion.
Our preliminary investigations indicate that
cesium acetate brine has the some desirable
properties that could enable its use as the basis
of well construction and workover uids. Its
compatibility with CRA, high nickel alloys and
some elastomers is a particularly useful feature.
Further testing is underway to complete the
denition of the properties of this novel uid.
1. Downs, J.D, Turner, J.B. and Howard, S.: A
Well Constructed Chemical, Oilfield Technology
magazine, September 2010.
Table 2. Results of PTFE plastic testing for 1 4 weeks in a 2.20 g/cm
cesium acetate brine
Plastic type
Test material
Exposure time
change [%]
change [%]
[Shore D]
[C] [F]
180 356
0 0.0 0.0 63 1.4 21.8 227 OK
1 0.0 0.2 60 1.2 26.1 274
4 0.0 -0.2 61 1.0 23.1 259
230 446
0 0.0 0.0 63 1.4 21.8 227
1 0.0 -0.2 63 1.0 23.5 270
4 0.0 -0.4 62 1.0 23.5 241
Table 3. Results of 4-point bend tests in cesium acetate at 170 C (338 F) for six months. N
Specimen Test specimen description
Coupled /
SCC Observations
Alloy 718
1 in. bar
~120 X 15 X 5 mm
Uncoupled NO Surface discolored, darken
Uncoupled NO Surface discolored, darken
4.5 in. diameter
~120 X 15 X 5 mm
Uncoupled NO Surface discolored, black surface lm
Uncoupled NO Surface discolored, black surface lm
Figure 4. Boiling point of cesium acetate as function of brine density.
Figure 5. Freezing and crystallisation points of cesium acetate as a function of brine
READ about the latest
developments in unconventional
resources on Energy Global
www. ener gygl obal . com/ s ect or s
he industrys recent forays into unconventional
formations have presented challenges as never
before in terms of dealing with extreme pressure
and temperature environments. These conditions
have pushed uids, designs, and equipment to the
very edge of performance capability. This stress,
however, has resulted in innovations that have made
production from unconventional formations not
only feasible but also economically attractive. This
article will review developments related to efciently
producing hydrocarbons from shale, tight sand and
heavy oil reservoirs.
Meeting HPHT challenges in shale
The challenges in hydraulically fracturing high pressure,
high temperature (HPHT) formations will inevitably
increase globally as operators work to produce
hydrocarbons from deeper unconventional reservoirs.
One region that has necessitated handling HPHT
environments is the Haynesville and Bossier Shale
plays in East Texas and North Louisiana. Dealing with
frac gradients of 1.0 psi/ft (0.07 bar/ft) and bottomhole
temperatures exceeding 320 F (160 C) has provided
valuable lessons on how to best accommodate the
extreme conditions of these horizontal completions.
Applying the knowledge and experience gained from
already-developed HPHT regions can help both
operators and service companies take the steps
necessary to achieve early success.
High pressure
Probably the most evident change when transitioning
to a high pressure reservoir focus is the increase in
the hydraulic horsepower (HHp) needed to properly
stimulate the reservoir (Figure 1). Since HHp is a direct
function of pump rate and surface pressure, the same
treatment design pumped under increased pressure

Dave Allison, Neil Modeland, Bart Waltman
and Kirk Trujillo, Halliburton, USA,
consider innovations in fluids, completion
designs and equipment to address HPHT
stimulation challenges.

June 2011
would necessitate a HHp increase proportional to the pressure;
however, the HHp capability of the equipment needed to deliver
the required treatment may be substantially more.
Pumping units designed to function at higher pumping
pressures are typically more limited in pumping rate compared to
their equivalent HHp counterparts designed to function at lower
pressures. For these reasons, in the Haynesville Shale play, it
is not uncommon for a treatment that requires 24 000 HHp for
the fracture treatment to necessitate 40 000 HHp of equipment
on location. Because of this situation, close collaboration
and co-ordination by all disciplines involved is important. The
amount of pumping equipment required impacts many facets of
the project such as building the location, equipment and material
logistics and, ultimately, the project budget and economics.
After addressing the requirement for sufcient HHp to place
the treatment, the completion design can sometimes be nessed
to enable performing the treatment at lower treating pressures.
This can benet the operator by lowering the risk of screenout
as well as potentially reducing the pressure ratings needed for
casing and well services equipment. The factors dictating the
pressure observed at the wellhead include the following:
x Bottomhole treating pressure (BHTP).
x Entry friction through perforations and near-wellbore
x Pipe friction.
x Hydrostatic pressure created by the fluid.
Traditionally, hydrostatic pressure is one of the rst
components to be addressed by incorporating a weighted uid
system such as calcium bromide. Unfortunately, the typical uid
volumes needed to properly stimulate unconventional reservoirs
are massive, often totaling over 1 million gal. (4000 m
Weighting the uid with agents in order to increase hydrostatic
pressure becomes too costly and operationally too complex for
the overall pressure benet, making this solution impractical.
Other techniques to reduce BHTP and uid friction have
been successfully implemented by the completion teams.
High pipe friction during stimulation treatments down the long
horizontal wellbores of highly pressured reservoirs have made
wellbore design more closely tied into completion success
than ever before. Where completion treatments were previously
designed around wellbore schematics provided by the drilling
group, in these HPHT reservoirs the wellbore/casing layout
is now being frequently designed around desired fracturing
parameters. For example, increasing the casing ID in all or
part of a well to reduce friction often comes at an increase
of material costs; however, in some instances, the reduction
in friction has been signicant enough to enable using lower
casing grades, providing additional value and savings to the
overall project.
Another method of lowering pipe friction generated
during these treatments is by reducing the treatment rate and
compensating by increasing uid viscosity to provide proppant
transport and fracture growth. This approach must be evaluated
closely since viscosifying agents and rate reductions can
adversely affect the production from some reservoirs, depending
on variables such as formation permeability, the possible need
to enhance complexity, and the number of perforation clusters
being treated per stage.
An emerging strategy used to further reduce treating
pressures, especially in HPHT horizontal wells, is the design
of perforation intervals called clusters and the spacing of the
clusters being treated with each fracturing stage. Possibly
contrary to traditional vertical well applications, by keeping
perforation clusters in a horizontal well to 1 ft (0.3 m) of length
or less, formation breakdown challenges and overall bottomhole
treatment pressures have been shown to be signicantly less in
some reservoirs. This is attributed to the reduction in
near-wellbore competing fractures stressing against each other
during propagation, as these fractures are typically transverse
to the lateral. This situation is more likely to occur with longer
perforation intervals.
In occurrences of closely spaced competing fractures
and high leakoff, it has become common practice to utilise
100 mesh proppant (or similar uid leakoff control additive) used
in small volumes (slugs) or even for several stages to seal off
the competing ssures and further reduce treating pressures.
Redesigning the perforating scheme can lead to lower treating
pressures and reduce the amount of 100 mesh proppant
When stimulating multiple perforation clusters during one
treatment stage, maintaining high treatment rates per cluster
has beneted production due to more effective limited entry
Figure 1. In the Haynesville Shale formation, the hydraulic horsepower
capability of the equipment may have to signicantly exceed the
hydraulic horsepower required to fracture the well.
Figure 2. Comparative wellhead treating pressure for conventional
crosslinked uid vs the new high temperature high density crosslinked
fracturing. When designing treatment rates and volumes in
conjunction with perforation cluster placement, many operators
maintain high injection rates per perforation cluster with lowered
friction pressure by reducing the number of clusters being
fractured per treatment interval. More fracture stages will,
however, have to be implemented under this strategy to maintain
an equivalent degree of reservoir coverage.
High temperature
Even though the Haynesville reservoir has bottomhole static
temperatures ranging from 280 to 380 F (138 to 193 C), the
temperature of the wellbore environment during treating is
dramatically reduced to 150 to 160 F (65 to 71 C) by the
amounts of uid required to properly treat the unconventional
reservoir. Taking advantage of this cool-down effect is a
traditional engineering technique utilised by fracture designers.
Often the uid volume in the early part of the fracturing stage
will be increased to intentionally lower the wellbore temperature
to a level where standard fracturing uid systems can perform
adequately. When stimulating unconventional reservoirs like the
Haynesville, completion design teams can take advantage of
cool down so that the materials used to create the fracturing
uid system can be selected from materials originally intended
for lower temperature environments. This provides greater
condence in the performance of the uid while maintaining an
acceptable cost for the uid system.
Even after treating pressures are reduced as much as
possible and bottomhole treating temperature is lowered,
challenges continue in the HPHT unconventional reservoirs.
Bottomhole temperatures exceed the limitations of many of the
industrys formation evaluation technologies. Those that are
available are in high demand and command premium pricing.
This technology and equipment shortfall can require operators to
make assumptions about reservoir quality along the laterals and
to work from estimates as to fracture placement and geometry
without conclusive information. This has led to production logs,
net pressure evaluation, and production comparisons across
various completions becoming some of the primary evaluation
tools of the stimulation treatment and for optimising the
development of HPHT reservoirs.
Meeting HPHT challenges in tight gas
Around the world, operators face a myriad of major tight gas
challenges, but few rival a recent Saudi Arabia HPHT stimulation
situation: how to perform a proppant frac in deep, tight gas
sandstone formations at high bottomhole temperature.
In this case, well conditions of over 15 000 psi (1034 bar)
bottomhole pressure and 375 F (191 C) reservoir temperature
exceeded the operating limits of the fracturing equipment and
uid available. Halliburton experts quickly determined that
the most cost-effective solution was not to incur the time and
expense of bringing in specialised high pressure pumping
equipment, but to instead develop a specic fracturing uid that
would work with existing equipment to successfully handle the
extreme HPHT conditions. Lower surface treating pressures also
translates into safer operating conditions.
Formulating a new solution
To derive the necessary uid chemistry and capabilities,
Halliburtons Saudi Arabia stimulation team collaborated with
experts at Halliburtons Duncan, Oklahoma, Technology Center.
Whatever viscosity you are dealing with
and whatever uid Litre Meter has the
meter for the job.
Call +44 (0)1296 670200
Working under extraordinarily tight time constraints, the strategy
was to re-engineer Halliburtons proven high density fracturing
uid systemspecically its thermal stabilityto achieve the
required bottomhole treating pressure by taking full advantage
of the increased hydrostatic pressure of the weighted stimulation
uid system.
There were excellent reasons to base this solution on the
proven high density fracturing uid system. This uid has been
successfully used since 2004 on numerous high pressure
deepwater Gulf of Mexico projects to perform some of the
industrys deepest fracpack treatments (SPE 11607).
While the uid broke new ground in deepwater wells and
possessed adequate density, it was not quite capable of
handling the wells high temperature threshold of 375 F (191 C).
Working with the original high density fracturing uid technology,
experts overcame the temperature obstacle by folding in
chemistry from a separate proprietary high temperature fracture
uid, which utilises an optimised carboxymethyl-hydropropyl gel
(CMHPG) loading and a tailored oxidiser breaker system.
The remaining challenge was how to cut pipe friction to
further lower wellhead pressure. After ne tuning of
the high density base uid formulation to a density of
12.3 lb/gal. (1464 kg/m
), friction pressure was reduced by
delaying crosslinking action during pipe transit time to the target
zone. In addition, a microemulsion surfactant for improved uid
recovery in tight gas was added to the uid system.
Finally, the new high temperature, high density uid system
was ready to run in the well. The graph in Figure 2 shows the
expected uid performance in reducing the surface treating
pressure as compared to a conventional high temperature
fracturing uid.

June 2011
Successful application
The result was awless stimulation performance of
Saudi Arabiasand the worldsrst high density, high
temperature fracture uid treatment. To stay within the downhole
completion string pressure limitation, the pumping rate was held
to a little over 16 bbls per minute. The ~11 000 psi (758 bar)
surface treating pressure was only slightly higher than the
predicted pressure. While the pump rate was lower than desired,
it was not a limitation to successfully performing the treatment.
As specied in the fracture design, Halliburtons team pumped
80 000 gal. of the high temperature, high density gel system and
placed more than 150 000 lbs of high strength proppant.
While solving the challenge of effectively and economically
fracturing under extreme HPHT tight gas sandstone conditions,
the new high temperature, high density uid system met an even
greater customer need: providing a proven, cost-effective way
to fracture stimulate and validate the reserves of this signicant
Saudi Arabian tight gas formation. Indications are that this
technology may well play an important role in solving similar
tight gas challenges in other locations around the world.
Meeting HT challenges in heavy oil projects
Fibre optic distributed-temperature-sensing (DTS) systems offer
cost-effective methods for improving recovery in steam assisted
gravity drainage (SAGD) oilelds producing heavy oil (Figure 3).
One of the biggest challenges of a SAGD process is achieving
uniform steam conformance along the horizontal wellbore.
This is a result of reservoir heterogeneity, production and
injection changes over time, and (typically) the limited control
of steam placement along the wellbore. Consequently, uneven
steam injection and heating can occur in the well and lead to
development of a non-uniform steam chamber.
SAGD wells are usually operated under subcool control
during which the production well is choked back if live steam
reaches the producer. The proximity of live steam is monitored
through the temperature difference between the injector and
producer (subcool); however, this temperature difference is
usually not uniform over the well length
. To prevent production
of live steam and improve energy efciency, it is necessary to
limit the production rate based on controlling the subcool in the
segment of the well most prone to steam breakthrough, i.e.,
steam breaking through to the producer.
Monitoring the temperature prole of a well over its entire
producing zone via bre optic DTS enables more cost-effective
analytical methods versus other methods like thermocouples
which do not provide a distributed temperature prole along
then entire length. The bre optic DTS measurement provides
a much more representative prole of the subcool, reservoir
heterogeneities and changing production and injection
conditions over time that occur along the lateral.
Monitoring both temperature and pressure
The high temperature bre optic cable can be combined with
a bre optic pressure gauge to obtain both the distributed
temperature prole and pressure information with no requirement
for downhole electronics. Fibre optic gauges offer the same
accuracy and low drift capabilities as proven electronic gauge
technology but provide pressure data capabilities in high
temperature SAGD environments where electronic gauges
cannot operate.
Monitoring and establishing a temperature prole with
wellbore pressure information enables implementing a number
of different technologies in SAGD projects that can inuence the
placement of steam along the horizontal wellbore. These can
include the use of dual tubing strings, the relocation of a tubing
string along the wellbore, the use of limited entry perforation
and other more exible solutions like interval control valves
(ICV) technology that would enable some measure of zonal
segmentation and control from surface.
Fibre optic system experience
Fibre optic high temperature cable has been installed by
Halliburton in nearly 200 steam injectors since 2001. Data from
the bre optic DTS have provided insight in fully understanding
the completions equipment performance, steam movement
results, and well response. Experience with the DTS has shown
that multi-mode bre typically gives superior performance over
single-mode bre in terms of accuracy and resolution under
SAGD conditions. High temperature bre pressure gauges have
shown good stability and repeatability.
In one project installed by an operator in Canada utilising
bre optic DTS and pressure gauges, the observed uneven
steam injection prole provided the opportunity to attempt to
improve the injection performance. Steam was diverted to the
heel zones to increase warming, improve injectivity and build a
more uniform steam chamber. With initial indications of some
warming of these zones, injectivity improved and
steam-oil-ratio (SOR) performance improved about 20%.
Evaluation of the ability to develop a more uniform chamber will
take a longer time (CSUG/SPE 137133).
Other applications
Fibre optic systems have been discussed here relating to
SAGD steam injectors; however, the applications extend to
other thermal applications, e.g., cyclic steam stimulation (CSS),
steam drive and variations, and non-thermal enhanced oil
recovery (EOR) processes. The bre optic systems can be used
to observe behaviour over time and help optimise completions
hardware and processes to improve performance and reduce
operating costs.
1. Gates and Leskiw, 2008.
Figure 3. A high temperature bre optic system can provide
temperature and pressure proles along the entire wellbore to help
better manage SAGD projects in heavy oil.
n 1998 an operator began drilling in a Pakistan eld,
but a high pressure sequence forced them to stop.
All available casing strings were consumed at a
measured depth (MD) of 3500 m; furthermore, managing
the high levels of background gas and uid losses in the
6 in. hole proved impossible.
Ten years later, a different operator decided to target
formations that had not previously been explored.
They believed that managed pressure drilling (MPD)
techniques coupled with the proprietary continuous
circulating valves would enable drilling through the HPHT
intervals to a deeper carbonate sequence.
The projected MD for the well was 5200 m. Drilling
was originally to take place in two phases to overcome
the limitations imposed by the pressure capacity
(5200 psi) and certied maximum drilling depth (5000 m)
of the rigs mud circulation system.
The formation consists of hydrocarbon-rich
sandstone and a mixture of limestone and inter-bedded
shale. The limestone is weak and vuggy, often leading to
costly mud losses. Furthermore, pockets of
high pressure gas can require days to circulate out,
resulting in excessive non-productive time (NPT); a gas
slug in the rst well precipitated six days of NPT.
The window between pore pressure and the fracture
gradient in the formation is quite narrow
(0.4 kg/cm
equivalent mud weight). As such, a slight drop
in equivalent circulating density (ECD) during pipe makeup
can lead to kicks, well control issues and borehole
instability. On the ip side, the use of overbalanced
drilling techniques to prevent gas inuxes tends to yield
fractures, lost circulation, formation damage and a low
ROP. The narrow gradient window has proven impossible
to navigate using conventional drilling technology.

June 2011
Operational detail
x Rig-up for the MPD
operation entailed
installing the RCD,
adjustable choke manifold
and control unit for the
Microflux system, and
topping the last set of
stands with continuous
circulation valves.
x The platform incorporated
a top-drive system.
During drilling, mud
flowed normally through
the system and across
the top of the continuous
circulation sub. When the
sub reached the table, a
mud hose was connected
to its side port; the side
flapper valve opened to
allow mud to enter and
the flapper valve on the
top of the sub closed so
that the top drive could be
x Pumping continued
through the subs side port
until the next stand of pipe
was connected. Mud flow
was again routed through
the top drive system from
the top of the new stand.
The auxiliary hose was
disconnected from the
bottom sub, the side port
valve closed, and the sub
was run in as part of the
x The Microflux system helped the operators in several
ways during drilling. Combined with an auxiliary
pump, it enabled them to maintain a constant level of
annular backpressure, which ultimately contributed to
increasing ROP. It also helped them manage transient
conditions, such as pump-off, displacement of heavier
mud pills, deployment of mud caps, circulation of high
gas cut, plugging of nozzles at bit, and swab/surge.
Furthermore, it detected two major partial loss events
followed by influxes and allowed the influxes to be
circulated out without impacting drilling activities.
x Max drilling mud weight in the 8 in. section of the
well was 2.07 kg/cm
. The max recorded circulating
temperature was 121 C (static temperature above
165 C).
x The technologies used on this operation supplanted
conventional mud-logging based flow out monitoring and
trip/active tank recordings.
Benets the two new technologies provided on the operation
include minimised non-productive time, the ability to
continue drilling while circulating out up to 50% gas cut
and the prevention of kicks, other well-control issues, lost
circulation and differential sticking. The operator reached TD
under extremely challenging circumstances.

Beneath the formation lies pisolitic limestone; this formation
had never been explored due to its depth and the difculty of
reaching it.
The operator overcame the obstacles to drilling the
well using MPD techniques. One of the technologies used
was Weatherfords Microux control system. The Microux
system monitors volume in versus out and controls annular
backpressure. On the operation, the system proved capable of
detecting and controlling an inux of less than 1.5 bbls within
2 minutes.
By maintaining continuous circulation and controlling annular
and bottomhole pressure in the difcult section of the well, the
operator and Weatherford were able to maintain an average ROP
of 2.5 m/hr. The system effectively controlled background gas
from the sandstone/limestone without causing lost circulation.
Drilling continued even while circulating out as much as 50%
gas cut.
System components
The Microux system features a rotating control device (RCD),
used to maintain a closed and pressurised annular environment.
It is also equipped with sensors that monitor annular pressure
and other drilling variables in real-time and an automated
surface choke. During the operation, an auxiliary mud pump was
used to increase back pressure, as needed.
Figure 1. This Microux display shows an inux that is being circulated out of the well during the drilling of the
8in. section. The increase in the outward ow-rate (red) shows the inux. The annular backpressure has been
increased to compensate, as has the standpipe pressure. The system allowed the operator to continue drilling
while handling up to 50% gas cut in the annular ow.
18 20 October 2011
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Organised by
Energy & Marine
etronas Carigali Sdn. Bhd operates 13 oil and gas elds in
the South China Sea, located offshore the Malaysian state
of Terengganu in water depths from 65 to 80 m. The area
has more than 30 platforms, most with small deck space areas
and crane lifting capacity of only 5 t.
The elds began to experience increased sand production,
high water cut and larger skin factor. Well interventions and
treatments such as matrix stimulation, water shut-off and sand
cleanout were required to sustain production rates. CT well
intervention is the most effective method to perform the required
treatments; however, when platform space is limited, it is often
not practical to accommodate the required facilities onboard.
In addition, crane capacity may be inadequate to safely handle
the CT equipment. A solution is to deploy a minimal amount of
equipment on the platform deck and use a suitable vessel to
perform heavy lifting and other support for the CT operations.
Operations in the
Mohd Hairi Abd Razak and Fuad Mohd Noordin,
Petronas, Malaysia, and Mohd Nur Afendy and
Rahmat Wibisono, Schlumberger, Yemen and
Malaysia, present an example of the planning
and execution of coil tubing (CT) operations
on platforms too small to accommodate
all the required equipment.

June 2011
Pilot project
Petronas selected two small platforms for a pilot CT intervention
project. Platforms in its Penara eld are of a lightweight design
featuring a cable-guyed caisson monotower (Tarpon) and a
topside deck with minimum facilities. First oil from the eld was
in May 2004, and peak production reached 12 000 bpd. The
selected platform had just 180 m
of main deck and its jib crane
had a maximum capacity of 5 t.
The Malong eld was completed in March 2000. The
selected unmanned minimum-facilities platform was a
lightweight optimised jacket structure that supports conductor
slots for production and water injection wells and is suitable only
for a jack-up drilling rig. The platform houses all the necessary
production, well testing, water injection, pig launcher and gas
lifting facilities, and is provided with a life support system. It has
650 m
of main deck, but taking into account all the xed surface
facilities, the operations area is insufcient for conventional CT
operations. In addition, the jib crane has a 5 t capacity, sufcient
only for lightweight wireline equipment.
CT support vessel evaluation
Petronas performed a detailed analysis to determine the type
of vessel that would meet the technical requirements and be
most cost-effective in supporting CT operations at the selected
platforms. Three options
were considered: lift boat,
work boat, and work
barge. The evaluation was
based on completing the
CT pilot project within
three months, chartering
the vessel on a spot basis
rather than a long term
A lift boat is a
self-elevating vessel with
a relatively large open
deck. Like a jackup rig,
it is capable of raising its
hull clear of the water on
its own legs. This feature
means that it does not
require an anchor pattern
for stability and to maintain
a safe distance from the
platform. This saves the
cost of an anchor tug
handling supply (ATHS)
vessel and avoids the
risk of anchors damaging
seabed equipment if
dragged by tides or
currents. A disadvantage
of the jackup system is
the necessity to conduct
a soil investigation prior to
Work boats are
commonly deployed to
assist CT operations
in East Malaysia, and Petronas often uses them for workover
operations. This option would require installation of an anchor
Work barges with the same specications as work boats
were available at lower daily charter rate (DCR) and shorter
waiting times. Costs for the planned three month project were
evaluated for each of the three technical options. These included
ATHS vessel costs for the work boats and barges, crane costs if
quoted separately from the DCR, fuel, manning and bunkering.
The lift boat was the most expensive option. Due to lower DCR
and faster availability, the work barge was the most
cost-effective option for the project that met the essential
technical and timing requirements.
Work barge assessment
Throughout the operations, only the coil tubing injector head,
jacking frame and CT control cabin would be erected on the
platform while the remaining equipment would stay on the barge.
It was determined that the barge must have a minimum 500 m

deck space without a crane, or 350 m
with a crawler crane
installed. The heaviest equipment that required lifting to the
platform was the 12 t injector head and CT blowout preventer
(BOP) assembly, which required a crane capable of lifting 15 t
at 60 boom angle for safe operations. A 150 t capacity crawler
Figure 1. Map of PCSB concession with insert of Malong and Penara Platform.
Table 1. Vessel comparison
Lift boat Work boat Work barge
Anchor pattern Not required Required Required
Anchor handling tug Not required Required Required
Soil investigation Required Not required Not required
Deck space Yes Yes Yes
Crane Yes Yes Yes
Total project cost Most expensive Medium Least expensive
crane with 150 ft (45.72 m)
boom was considered
adequate to meet the
requirements while
minimising the required
deck space. The barge
needed an eight point
mooring system to provide
improved stability and
facilitate faster disconnect
in the event of emergency.
Accommodations required
sufcient workspace for at
least 80 personnel.
Flowback handling
system assessment
The Penara work
programme required a
system to separate sand
from the return uid. A
sand lter system and a
cyclone sand separator
were considered. Sands
produced in Penara have
ne (10 - 40 micron) grain
size. Filter systems cannot
separate such ne sand
and were not a viable
option; however, a centrifugal cyclone system would be able to
handle them effectively.
The sand separator was hooked directly into the well, so
the platform shutdown system and surface safety valve (SSV)
had to be bypassed. To enable the owback handling system
to override the existing emergency shutdown device (ESD) and
SSV, a dedicated SSV in the return line and separate ESD control
panel were required.
To improve cleanup efciency, water-based gelling uid was
used to raise the viscosity of the injected uid. However, sand
separation is more efcient with low viscosity uids, requiring
a breaker solution to be injected before the separator, which is
capable of destroying the polymer structure of the gel. Facilities
were also required to store sand and liquid efuent.
Health, safety, and environment (HSE)
The monsoon season in the South China Sea area is between
October and March when there are often strong winds and
swells in excess of 6 m. It is usual to avoid operating during
this season; however, due to other commitments, the work
barge was only available in February. The HSE assessment
determined that operations should only start in less than 3 m
swell and 20 knot winds. Weather forecasts were updated hourly
to maximise the time available for crews to stop operations and
perform the necessary steps to move away from the platform.
A special device in the CT reel was deployed during the project
to allow emergency disconnect and immediate pull-away from
the platform if forecasts indicated dangerous conditions within
3 hours.
Figure 2. Equipment layout on the barge.
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Results: Penara Well 1
Previous bullheading operations unsuccessfully removed wax
from this wellbore, and another treatment to bullhead solvent
also proved to be ineffective. A high pressure jetting tool was
used to pump different solvent uids, and was able to reach plug
back total depth (PBTD). A nal slickline gauge ring run indicated
that the wax had been successfully removed, and the well had
returned to oil production with encouraging results.
Results: Penara Well 2
Bailer runs in October 2007 became hung at 2073 m and upon
retrieval to surface, the bailer recovered traces of sands. The CT
intervention programme of this well required sand cleanout from
hung-up depth to PBTDan interval of approximately 935 m.
Bipolymer gel was conveyed by a special nozzle. In the event of
hard sediment that was not removed by this nozzle, acid could
be conveyed by a high pressure jetting tool. The programme
was executed as planned, with a CT rate of penetration between
1 - 3 ft/min. The separator worked effectively to capture
produced sands from the wellbore. A small pill of acid had to be
pumped to enable the CT to reach nal cleanout depth. Rough
weather led to one emergency disconnect, in which planned
procedures were successfully implemented.
Results: Malong Well
The production and intervention history of this well indicated
that it required water shutoff treatment to block water production
from the lower reservoir; however, leaks in the completion
tubing complicated these operations. The only way to effectively
squeeze water shutoff chemical was by conveying it with a
CT multi-set mechanical packer. After setting the packer, the
leak could be isolated, enabling the chemical to be squeezed
into the lower operation.
CT operations in this well proved unsuccessful. Prior to
reaching target depth, a sequence packer activation procedure
was performed to test its functionality and integrity. The setting
sequence showed that pressure was holding during injection;
however, the unsetting sequence showed that the packer
could not be released from its position. High pulling force and
multiple packer manipulation were attempted, but after two
days of trying, it was decided to release from the packer by
activating an emergency disconnecting tool. The upper portion
of the disconnecting tool was retrieved to surface. Subsequent
attempts to sh the packer were unsuccessful, and it remains in
the hole.
This case study conrms that CT operations can be
cost-effectively performed with the support of a work barge
on platforms that cannot accommodate all of the necessary
equipment. Thorough planning is required to ensure that the
technical requirements of multiple types of CT intervention can
be effectively delivered and that operations can proceed safely in
potentially adverse conditions.
AEE 2011 75
MEOS 2011 47
M-I SWACO 04, 63
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