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3. 3.1.

WELL CONTROL PRINCIPLES AND PROCEDURES Formation Pressures

By definition, Formation Pressure or Pore Pressure is the pressure exerted by the fluids (liquid or gas) within the pore space of a formation. For convenience, we usually refer to formation pressure as a pressure gradient from surface rather than an absolute pressure. 3.1.1. Introduction

Primary control dictates that the mud hydrostatic gradient shall always equal or exceed the formation pore pressure gradient in permeable formations. It is well known that drilling penetration rates are reduced the more mud hydrostatic pressure exceeds formation pressure. Hence, for efficiency reasons we try to maintain mud at the lowest practical density to facilitate fast drilling yet still maintain primary control. Under normal undisturbed conditions, formation pressure increases linearly with depth and is often equivalent to a salt water gradient. This is often referred to as a normally pressured sequence. The fact that the most common formation fluid is also salt water implies that unweighted or slightly weighted mud will provide overbalance and that even if formation water entered the well it would fill up and kill itself without continuing to flow at surface. This is true only if the influx hydrostatic pressure gradient is equal to or greater than the formation pressure gradient. Hydrocarbon fluids are invariably less dense than water and will flow to surface and continue to flow if allowed to enter the wellbore unrestrained. Additionally, formation pressure in a column of hydrocarbons, even in a normally pressured sequence, will be higher than in the underlying water contact just by virtue of the trapping mechanism and the density contrast between hydrocarbons and formation water. This higher pressure can result in significantly higher gradient at the top of a column of hydrocarbons thus requiring higher mud gradient to maintain primary control. This is generally known as The Hydrocarbon Effect. Higher pressures can also be encountered in abnormally pressured zones. These often occur in areas where there has been sedimentation and compaction at a rate too fast for trapped pore fluids to escape. The result is that the fluids bear a disproportionate share of the overburden load and hence are at a pressure and gradient greater than normal. These are called geopressured formations. Geopressuring can also be caused by tectonic forces and thermal cracking of hydrocarbons in areas of high heat flow. Before drilling, every effort must be made to predict formation pressures in the sequence to be drilled. This is dealt with in Section 2.2, Well Planning for Well Control. 3.1.2. Indications Whilst Drilling

When drilling commences, it is imperative that there are systems in place to monitor parameters that may indicate the presence of abnormal pressures. The indications will depend on the type of formation being drilled. Different indications will be observed in clastic and impermeable formations. Indications of Abnormal Pressures in Clastic Formations When drilling clastic formations a variety of phenomena can indicate the presence of abnormal pore pressures. These are listed below, and the usefulness or reliability of each as an indicator is suggested. However, all drilling areas are different and some responses may

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not apply in certain regions or they may be masked. Under many circumstances the surface indications, particularly cavings and gas effects may be subjective and require a high degree of experience. This is particularly true of d exponent interpretation. It is important therefore, to utilise the services of a mudlogging company with an experienced Data Engineer on each tour. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Actual kick (Definitive). Drop in circulating pressure (Good). Increased drilling rate, called a "drilling break", (Good). Increased pit level (Definitive, caution if drilling in "ballooning" formations). Changes in differential flow rate (Definitive). General hole conditions, e.g. when overpulls are experienced during trips or making connections, and when drilling torque increases. This may be caused by sloughing shale (Fair). Cuttings shape size and abundance (Fair). Decreasing values of the calculated modified 'd' exponent (Good in certain situations). Increasing background gas or gas-cut mud (Good). Connection gas (Good when consistent drilling practices are employed). Increasing trip gas (Fair). Change in background gas composition (Marginal). Change in mud properties, e.g. salinity and/or Resistivity (Marginal). MWD with GR readings (Good). PWD (Good). Decreasing trend in values of shale density with depth (Marginal; requires very accurate well site measurement). Cation Exchange Capacity in shales. (Poor) Abnormal temperature at flow line (Very poor).

7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18.

The phenomena described above may be observed immediately prior to, or just after penetrating a higher pressured zone. It is therefore imperative that crews are properly instructed and trained to recognise such phenomena. However, all indicators which are based on flowline measurements are inevitably delayed and their usefulness is correspondingly limited. Indications of Abnormal Pressures In Impermeable Formations When drilling evaporites or carbonates there is, in most cases, no real indication of the bit approaching abnormally pressured formations. Sometimes the presence of sulphur salts in the mud returns and H2 S from the cuttings may give an indication prior to penetrating higher pressured hydrocarbon bearing zones.

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3.1.3.

Use of Logs to Detect Abnormal Pore Pressures

Interpretation of intermediate logs may also assist in the detection of abnormal pore pressures or trends in shales, suggesting that an abnormal pressure zone is being approached. The most useful logs are: Sonic, Resistivity and Density in conjunction with GR. Seismic shots run for a Vertical Seismic Profile may also be useful for fine tuning the pseudo-sonic data mentioned in Well Planning. 3.1.4. Direct Measurement

Formation Pressure can be measured directly in permeable formations with the wireline formation testing or with a DST. These measurements are rarely of any immediate practical use for drilling but the information is very valuable for planning future wells. A well kick also gives a direct measurement of formation pressure. 3.1.5. Sub-Normal Pore Pressure

Lower than normal pressure exists in sub-normally pressured (or depleted) zones. These are usually the result of prior production from the zone and rarely, by themselves, present a Well Control hazard. When they exist in a well with other normal or abnormally pressured zones in the same open hole section they may be the cause of loss of circulation which could lead to a well kick. 3.2. Formation Strength

Formation Strength is the term we use to describe the pressure required to breakdown the wall rocks of the wellbore and thus allow drilling fluids to penetrate. It can alternatively be described as injection pressure or even fracture pressure depending on the nature of the formation the fluid and the circumstances. 3.2.1. Overview

Formation Strength at a point in the well is usually quoted as a gradient and called Fracture Gradient or as an equivalent mud density. Irrespective of the terminology used, the important fact is that we must determine the maximum drilling fluid gradient that the formation can withstand before fractures occur and develop in the rock surrounding the well bore. The term formation intake gradient is most useful for field application. A knowledge of this gradient is of utmost importance for well control since it puts an upper limit on the mud density and well pressures that can be handled safely. In normal situations formation strength of impermeable clastic sediments increases with depth in a predictable manner. The relationship between strength and depth is non-linear and can vary from region to region. Fracture Gradient curves have been developed for the well-explored basins with continuous deposition, and are useful reference when drilling in these areas. These curves are not continuous where there has not been continuous deposition. Unfortunately, there are many permeable, vugular, faulted and fractured formations whose strength cannot be predicted by these methods. It is important that formation strength is not exceeded during operations. Breakdown can be caused by excessive mud weight, surge pressures, equivalent circulating density or by

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back pressure applied at surface. It is vitally important in most circumstances to avoid breakdown during well kill operations as this may lead to an underground blowout and/or broaching to surface. Formation strength can be determined by conducting a leak-off test. These are usually, and most conveniently, done immediately after drilling out a casing shoe. Casing is usually set with the shoe in an impermeable formation. As a consequence, the result often agrees with theoretical curves. However, one must remember that drilling ahead even a short distance may penetrate a natural fracture or permeable formation with much lower strength. Once formation strength has been measured or estimated it is possible to calculate kick tolerance and Maximum Allowable Annulus Surface Pressure (MAASP). 3.2.2. Formation Strength Testing

Formation strength tests are carried out to investigate formation/casing integrity as a function of borehole pressure. Tests can be divided into three categories: 1. Leak-off tests to investigate the capability of the formation below the shoe to support additional pressure in order to assess the severity of the kick which can be handled safely; hence to allow proper selection of the next casing setting depth (this aspect is particularly important when abnormal pressures are anticipated). In this test the pressure is increased to the formation intake pressure. 2. Limit tests are sometimes called casing seat tests or shoe strength tests (also known as shoe integrity tests). The main purpose of this type of test is to confirm the strength of the cement bond around the casing shoe and to ensure that no communication will occur outside the casing if borehole pressures at the shoe exceed the hydrostatic head of the mud. These tests are terminated at some predetermined pressure less than the formation intake pressure. These tests are also recommended for brittle formations that fracture with limited deformation and can suffer from considerable permanent reduction in formation intake gradient. 3. Formation breakdown tests to establish fracture initiation, propagation, and closure pressures of a formation in an attempt to gain regional knowledge of these parameters. These are rarely, if ever, performed in conjunction with drilling operations (except during abandonment) and are normally used for well stimulation studies and not associated with well control. Leak-off tests are always scheduled in Complex exploration and exploratory appraisal wells below all casing shoes when drilling has to be done below that casing string. This also includes the conductor string if a BOP stack is installed. Limit tests are usually carried out in Standard and development wells to confirm that the required shoe strength is present. The test must be stopped if it becomes apparent that formation intake pressure has been reached. Limit or leak-off tests in development wells may be omitted if no hydrocarbon bearing and/or overpressured formations are to be penetrated in the hole section below that particular casing shoe. Information obtained from leak-off tests in straight holes is not applicable to deviated holes in the same field (and vice versa). Only measurements in the deviated hole themselves should be used.

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It is not necessarily true that deeper horizons always have a higher strength than shallower ones. If less competent formations are penetrated after conducting a leak-off test, another test can be made immediately upon penetrating a transition zone or a cap rock which could overlay higher pressured zones. However, the practice of repeating limit or leak-off tests needs to be applied with much caution. In general during kick control the breakdown pressure at the shoe will remain the critical pressure, unless much weaker zones, close to the shoe, are penetrated. Also, if known depleted or low-pressure zones are penetrated, the breakdown pressure may be estimated on the basis of wireline formation test results. If the zone is expected to be critical during kick control, it may still be preferable not to subject this 'weak spot' to breakdown loads during tests. Data obtained from leak-off tests should be treated with some caution. It is considered acceptable to use the values obtained to calculate the maximum pressure to which the formation can be temporarily subjected, such as while circulating out a kick. The capability of the formation to support pressure continuously may, however, be adversely affected by changes in the hole profile or local damage to the borehole wall. Therefore, it should not be presumed that a mud gradient could be increased up to that of the formation intake gradient, as indicated by a leak-off test. If available, information on the fracture propagation pressure should be used to determine the maximum allowable mud gradient in the hole. When good zonal isolation behind the casing is imperative, the leak-off/limit test should be carried out with a retrievable packer to avoid pressurising the casing which may cause possible permanent damage to the cement bond by the creation of micro-annuli in the cement. Leak-off test procedure, report forms and all relevant calculations are also given in Appendix 8 of the Shell Casing & Tubing Design Guide (EP 2000 9073), Leak-off and Limit Tests. 3.2.3. Leak-off Test Procedure

Pre-calculate anticipated leak off limit and approximate mud volume required to get to that pressure. Earlier casing pressure tests will give a good indication of volume. Prepare a table and graph to record and plot Pressure v Volume Pumped in real time (Fig. 3.2.6). Drill out shoe track and float equipment with care. Clean out sump and drill 3m - 6m of new formation. Circulate the hole clean. Cuttings load in the annulus will give spurious results. Condition the mud to an even consistency. If the mud is badly out of condition when the shoe is drilled out it should be conditioned before drilling the new hole. All leak-off tests should be carried out with the lowest drilling fluid density necessary to overbalance the expected formation pressure at the shoe. Weighting up drilling fluid to combat anticipated higher pressure gradients further down the hole should be done after the leak-off test. 1. 2. 3. Circulate kill and choke lines to the same mud as in the hole. Pull the bit back into the casing shoe and ensure that the hole is full. Close BOP around the drillpipe. Open the annulus between the last and previous casing strings where practicable. Floating rigs must use stationary pipe techniques by compensator and/or hang-off.

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4.

Line up a low volume pump to pump accurately measured small amounts of mud slowly into the well. High pressures are normally not required and a manifold with a range of low pressure gauges and recorder is essential. Rig pumps are not suitable. If using a cementing unit on a floating rig count strokes for volume determination rather than rely on measurement in the displacement tank. Be sure to fill the lines from the pump to the wellhead before starting. Compensate pressure readings for the elevation between the cementing unit and the drill floor. Pump into the annulus provided allowance is made to be able to bleed off pressure and measure flow-back volume at the conclusion of the test if there is an NRV in the kill line. Close the lower kelly cock. Pumping may be down the drillpipe. However, to avoid plugging the jets, bleed-off should be from the annulus and it must be measured accurately. In any event use the annulus line if there is an NRV, PDM or MWD in the hole. Pump mud slowly until there is a positive consistent pressure response, which can often be as much as half the anticipated maximum pressure. Pump rate should be slow enough to be able to ignore dynamic friction pressure losses. Stop the pump and record time, stabilized pressure and volume pumped. Slowly pump uniform increments of 0.016 to 0.040m3 (0.1 to 0.25bbl) of mud and wait for two minutes, or the time for the pressure to stabilize if this takes longer. Record and plot the time, final pumping pressure, static pressure and cumulative volume pumped at each increment. Continue this procedure plotting results until the gradients of the final pumping pressure and static pressure lines deviate from the established relationship to each other or from the established trend line. Stop pumping immediately this deviation is observed. Monitor and record the pressure decay to stability. Allow sufficient time to confirm that a stable pressure has been obtained. Bleed off the pressure from the annulus and measure the volume of mud returned and thus calculate the volume injected. Watch that the volume returned is not supplemented by mud draining from the lines. Note: The procedure can be modified to pump slowly but continuously plotting Pressure v Volume watching for the first sign of deviation from the established trend line. This technique is faster but requires much more diligence to avoid overpressuring the formation and causing irreparable damage, and should only be attempted under ideal conditions in Standard Wells. At the conclusion of the test reinstate wellhead, choke and kill valves to normal position before resuming drilling operations.

5. 6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

11.

12.

13.

These procedures, if carried out correctly, should not fracture the formation. The static pressure at the deviation point on the Pressure v Volume plot is called the 'formation intake pressure' which is used to calculate 'formation intake gradient'. Pumping beyond this point will cause fracturing which occurs at the 'formation breakdown pressure'. Breakdown is usually characterized by a sharp pressure drop followed by pumping at constant pressure known as the 'fracture propagation pressure'.

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The 'fracture closure pressure' is the static pressure required to keep a fracture open without propagating it further into the formation. It is the instantaneous shut in pressure recorded at the conclusion of a formation breakdown test. These 'fracture' parameters are important for well stimulation operations in cased hole but fracturing should be avoided during drilling unless a bullhead kill is necessary. Formation intake pressure added to the mud hydrostatic pressure at the shoe is used to calculate formation intake gradient: The actual Formation Intake Gradient (Gfi) at the shoe, from derrick floor, is calculated as follows:

G fi =

Pmh + Pfi Dshoe(tvdbdf)


= = = =

which is the equivalent mud gradient.

Where: Gfi Pmh Pfi Dshoe(tvdbdf) 3.2.4. Formation Intake Gradient Mud Hydrostatic Pressure at the shoe Formation Intake Pressure as determined from Leak-off test. Shoe Depth. (True Vertical Depth Below Derrick Floor).

Pressure v Volume Plots

The character of the Leak-off plot will depend on the type of formation being tested. Consolidated Formations Characterized by a straight line plot up to the formation intake pressure. At low pumping rates final pumping pressure and stabilized pressure at each increment will practically coincide. See figures. Unconsolidated Plastic Formations Typically characterized by a slightly curved plot throughout. Final pumping pressure and stabilized pressure at each increment will not coincide but should plot parallel to each other up to the formation intake pressure. See figures.

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Leak-Off Surface Leak-off Pressure

P r e s s u r e

Volume Pumped

Figure 3.2.1: Leak off test Impermeable Formation

Leak-Off

P r e s s u r e

Surface Leak-off Pressure

Volume Pumped

Figure 3.2.2: Leak off test Permeable Formation

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Leak-Off P r e s s u r e

Surface Leak-off Pressure

Volume Pumped

Figure 3.2.3: Leak off test Unconsolidated Formation

FBP

LOP

ISIP

FCP P r e s s u r e

Tim

Volume Pumped

Figure 3.2.4: Leak off test Formation Breakdown

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Surface Limit Pressure

P r e s s u r e

Volume Pumped

Figure 3.2.5: Limit Test

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Well:

Rig:

Date:

Leak-off Test Worksheet

Pressure

Cumulative Volume Pumped

Final P Press.

Stab. Press.

Cum Vol.

Time

Mud Gradient:____ Shoe TVD (Dshoe(tvdbdf))_____ Mud Hydrostatic Pressure (Pmh)______ Formation Intake Pressure (Pfi)__________ (from plot) Formation Intake Gradient = G fi = Pmh + Pfi = ________________ Dshoe(tvdbdf)

Figure 3.2.6: Leak-off Test Worksheet

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3.3.

Well Control Checklist

Although the focus of everyone associated with well work must be on maintenance of primary well control, it is essential that there be a plan in place to deal with secondary control measures if they become necessary. The following is a non-exhaustive, example list of items that should be checked.
WELL CONTROL CHECKLIST Well Number: Rig: Remarks:

Location: Spud-Date:

No 1 2 3 4 5 6

Item Nominate "Person in Charge". Assign duties to individuals. Determine level of crew training and competency. Scheme for inspection and testing of all well control equipment. Inspect accumulator manifold pressure, and the regulated pressure for the functions. Inspect accumulator bottle pressures

Ckd by

Date

Comments

Schedule pit drills and safety meetings etc. Include stripping drills.

Check that all accumulator bottles are charged and that all functions can be opened and closed as per specification.

7 8 9

Inspect accumulator mechanical charging pump. Ensure that the diverter equipment is in working order Inspect trip tank and stripping tank

Calibrate the level readings of both tanks. In semi subs a margin of error to be included to compensate for rig motion.

10 11 12 13

Check pressure and operation of the additional stripping equipment on the annular, i.e. the surge dampener Check choke and kill lines to the BOP and condition of HCR Inspect side inlet valves on the wellheads. Determine sensitivity levels for influx detection instrumentation. Prepare and advise appropriate shut-in procedures and choke manifold set-up. Determine well kill method to be used

Standby valves in particular Especially on large semi-sub flowlines where movement of the rig can affect the flow readings. The appropriate method may

14 15

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WELL CONTROL CHECKLIST Well Number: Rig: for each depth by risk analysis. 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 Prepare kill worksheets and keep updated. Prepare trip sheets. Scheme for gathering slow pump rate pressures if required. Determine MAASP. Formulate plan of action that will be taken if MAASP is exceeded. Determine kick tolerance in terms of pressure and volume. Prepare directional survey plan Adequate surplus inventory of weight material on location. Scheme for rapid delivery of weight material from storage to mixing point. Backup rapid delivery scheme. Scheme for minimising active circulating system. Determine the rate mud can be weighted-up in the active system. Scheme for isolating reserve mud and disposal of excess mud volume.

Location: Spud-Date: change at different depths as the well progresses. Daily, every 200m or whenever there is a change

Adjust as necessary when mud density changes. Plan for on-the-spot decision making. Adjust as well deepens. Must be maintained for planning relief wells Additional to that amount that will be used in the normal course of the well. Fork truck for sacks or bulk bags, compressed air for pneumatic transfer of bulk. Standby compressor. Minimise the volume to weight-up by transfer to storage, dumping or bypassing pits. Essential information for determination of kill circulation rate. Isolated reserve pits with mixing capabilities allows mixing to take place in reserve during Universal method first circulation. On most rigs these will be the same as every pit will have a line connected to the mixing system Ensure back up lines to mixing system are clear On most offshore rigs this should be possible Mud-gas separator throughput limitations may limit kill circulation rate.

27 28

29

Determine the rate mud can be weighted-up in the reserve pits. Check the back up mixing lines Scheme for disposal of mud from the hole when pumping mud from reserve. Determine circulation rate constraints on choke and surface equipment. Determine maximum pump output and pressure, and pressure relief valve setting. Scheme for switching between pumps or cementing unit if necessary.

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3.4.

Primary Well Control

By definition, Primary Well Control is the prevention of formation fluid flow into the wellbore by maintaining a pressure equal to or greater than formation pressure in permeable formations. Shell Well Control Policy dictates that all operations are to be planned and executed so as to maintain Primary Control at all times. 3.4.1. Overview

Primary well control is about maintaining the primary barrier, which traditionally is the fluid column. This implies that formation fluid flow into the wellbore is to be prevented as it negatively impacts the primary barrier. However, if another primary barrier is used (rotating head) the formation fluid flow into the well bore no longer negatively affects the primary barrier. The emphasis should therefore be on the effectiveness of the primary barrier. Since Well Control is a daily responsibility of the Shell Supervisor he must consistently work to prevent loss of primary control. This is particularly important:

In remote locations where secondary control measures may be complicated by logistical constraints. In hydrogen sulphide environments where materials are more susceptible to failure. In top hole drilling operations when employing a diverter system.

If primary control is lost and formation fluids enter the well bore the well is said to have kicked. Conditions Necessary for a Kick Two conditions in the well bore are required for a kick to occur: 1. the pore pressure of the formation must be greater than the mud hydrostatic pressure in the well bore. and 2. the formation must have sufficient permeability to allow flow into the well bore. Operations personnel have no control over the latter, but they do have control over the former. Loss of primary well control most frequently results from:

swabbing; insufficient drilling fluid density / or e.g. unexpected formation pressure; lost circulation; failure to keep the hole full. equipment failure. e.g. (deepwater) riser failure.

These problems can occur during any operation conducted on a well. Other situations where loss of Primary Well Control can occur may include; Tripping in the hole, Excessive

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Drilling Rate Through a Gas Sand, Drill Stem Testing, Drilling Into an Adjacent Well and Equipment Failure 3.4.2. Swabbing

Swabbing is a reduction in wellbore pressure caused by a piston-like effect of moving the drill string upwards. There are two main types of swabbing which vary in degree, indications, and potential hazard. They are identified as "Low Volume" and "High Volume" swabbing. "Low Volume" swabbing When the drill string is pulled out, to some extent there will always be a reduction in wellbore pressure due to the internal friction between the mud, the pipe, and the borehole wall. The mud clings to the pipe being raised, creating an effect that is the opposite of ECD while circulating. A system that has high ECD will have high swab pressure. This reduction must never be allowed to exceed the original overbalance over the formation pore pressure, otherwise formation fluid will enter the well bore from a permeable formation. Pressure reduction takes place along the entire length of the drill string so it is possible to swab-in a formation above the bit.

D e p t h

Mud Hydrostatic Pressure

Reduced Pressure due to upward pipe movement

Pressure

Figure 3.4.1: Swabbing "Low Volume" swabbing is sometimes difficult to detect at surface. Careful monitoring of the hole to check whether it is taking the proper amount of fluid during a roundtrip is therefore always required. "High Volume" swabbing Swabbing can also be caused by pulling full gauge or balled-up tools that restrict the passage of fluid in the annulus. This creates a piston effect and the volume below the tool would be filled by the fluid inside the drill string, causing a large drop of the fluid level in the drill string and consequent dangerous reduction in hydrostatic head. In these situations it may be advisable to pump out of the hole, especially if the rig is fitted with a top drive. "High Volume" swabbing is therefore especially dangerous in large diameter holes.

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Swabbing is one of the greatest pressure control hazards of drilling operations. The danger is not necessarily related to the volume of fluid swabbed. A small volume of gas for example, may migrate and expand, ultimately displacing (sometimes violently) a significant volume of mud from the well. This may occur when there is little, if any pipe left in the hole. The possibility of losing control of the well when the drill string is run back into swabbed gas must also be recognised, since the gas column will elongate rapidly when the assembly passes through it. Safety requires continuous monitoring of fill up and return volumes throughout the roundtrip. This should be done with a trip tank of minimum sectional area (to increase accuracy) and trip tank chart recorder or trip sheet. A short roundtrip followed by circulating bottoms up before pulling out of the hole completely will provide the most reliable information on the swabbing characteristics of the system. This might indicate whether pulling speeds and/or mud properties should be adjusted. Limited volumes of swabbed gas/fluid can reduce the overbalance to formation pressure without resulting in a flowing well (but do decrease the 'trip margin'). I.e. the well is subsequently more sensitive for swabbing and indeed any gas percolation (water base muds) of these small volumes may create an underbalanced situation.

Figure 3.4.2: Cumulative effect of Swabbing Also note that with OBM undetected swab volumes (dissolved in mud near bottom) are a risk when running back to bottom and circulating out. Sudden expansion when gas comes out of solution may cause forceful unloading of the well at surface. NOTE: When partial losses are experienced and a roundtrip is being made, the degree of losses should be accounted for in the trip tank measurements during the roundtrip, otherwise swabbing may not be detected.

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The three principal factors that contribute to a swabbing tendency are: A B C annular clearance; pulling speed; mud properties.

Formulae and software that relate these factors have been developed to enable estimation of swab & surge pressures. These should be used as a guide in situations where margins are small but will not account for balled up assemblies. Swabbing forces are always reflected in weight indicator readings as drag. It is possible to measure this swab and surge drag by observing and comparing weight indicator readings while raising and lowering the drill string inside vertical casing where other hole drag is minimal. It may then be possible to extrapolate to bottom hole conditions, where other drag also comes into play and may mask swab drag. A Annular clearance Annular clearance is determined by the drill string and assembly configuration for a given hole size. However, hole size can be reduced by excessive mud cake, swelling formations, or an accumulation of cuttings (i.e. on low side in deviated holes). With a large annular clearance, the tendency for swabbing to occur is reduced. B C Pulling speed Low pipe speeds reduce the possibility of swabbing. Mud properties Overbalance is the main factor in reducing the possibility of swabbing. Controlling the yield point of the mud is also very important, since the swabbing effect is almost proportional to it. Minimising the solids content will help maintain a low yield point. A low water loss assists in obtaining a thin filter cake on the borehole wall, and in minimising the swelling of shales. This will reduce the balling-up of bit and stabilisers and thus reduce swabbing tendencies. NOTE: When swabbing is anticipated it is recommended not to pump a heavy pill prior to commencing a roundtrip. This permits a more accurate check for swabbing. The heavy pill can be pumped when it is certain that swabbing will not occur. If low pipe pulling speeds and good mud properties are not sufficient to allow a roundtrip to be made safely, consideration should be given to circulating whilst the string is pulled, (i.e. pumping out of the hole) or to increasing the overbalance factor. It is important to pump at or in excess of a rate that is related to the pipe pulling speed (hole voidage below the bit), and is thus sufficient to prevent any loss of positive bottom hole pressure. Flow at the bell nipple is not a sufficient indication, as this could be entirely due to the mud column that is being 'lifted' out of the well. 3.4.3. 1. 2. Insufficient Fluid Density higher than anticipated pore pressures of the formation or, the drilling or workover fluid becoming contaminated (diluted) by less dense fluids (e.g. by rainwater, or errors in opening/closing valves) or an influx of formation liquids or gas.

This can be caused by:

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Fast drilling rates may increase the mud weight considerably. Drilling with heavier mud returns could obscure indication of drilling through higher pressured formations. Primary control may be lost during circulating the hole clean. Annular pressure drop due to friction whilst drilling/circulating (ECD) will disguise an underbalanced situation and primary control may be lost as soon as circulation is stopped. Sometimes mud having insufficient density can be circulated safely and operations can proceed temporarily without increasing the mud gradient and without the need for secondary control measures. This occurs when drilling into abnormally pressured zones with low permeability and hence, low productivity. In such cases, the well will not flow measurably, but hydrocarbons or salt water will show up in the returns from bottom after a trip. Traces of contaminants will always be present in the drilling mud whilst circulating. 3.4.4. Lost Circulation

Lost circulation may quickly result in loss of the hydrostatic overbalance that constitutes primary control. The loss can result from natural or induced causes. Natural causes include fractured, vugular, cavernous, subnormal-pressured, or pressure-depleted formations. Induced loss can result from mechanical formation fracturing caused by: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. excessive drilling fluid density, excessive annular circulating pressure, pressure surges related to running pipe or tools, breaking circulation, packing-off in the annulus and balling up of BHAs. casing or riser leaks or downhole plug failures can also cause lost circulation.

If loss of circulation occurs in drilling or well servicing operations, the static mud level may drop. Depending on the severity of the losses, the hydrostatic overbalance in the well will then be reduced or eliminated. In areas where loss of circulation is regularly experienced, the following preventive measures should be considered prior to and whilst drilling into the potential lost circulation zones:

drill with the lowest mud density that can be safely used; use mud with a low yield point and low plastic viscosity; lower the circulation rate to reduce annular friction losses; drill at a controlled rate to avoid cutting build-up in the annulus. adjust the drill string configuration (DC size and length, pipe weight, stabilisers, etc.) to minimise pressure surges and annular friction losses. This may also reduce the risk of getting stuck; remove the jets from the bit or run regular bits with enlarged water courses to allow pumping of LCM pills; limit the running-in speed of the pipe to minimise pressure surges; use proper techniques for breaking circulation during and after the trip;

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include a circulating sub in the assembly to allow pumping of LCM pills.

In order to restore circulation, the severity of the losses must first be evaluated. Evaluation of Losses Losses are usually classified as follows:

dynamic losses (downhole losses which occur during circulation. The difference between mud volume in/out will indicate the magnitude of the losses); static losses (downhole losses which occur under static hole condition, i.e. no circulation ); total losses or loss of circulation (no returns will be observed).

Restoring Full Circulation: Slight Losses In the case of slight losses, both of the following techniques should be applied:

drill ahead carefully whilst adding fine lost circulation materials to the mud (this may seal the loss zone); reduce the mud yield point and circulation rate (this will reduce the pressure on the loss zone).

Restoring Full Circulation - Severe Losses In the case of severe losses, the fluid gradient which can be supported by the loss zone must be determined. To do this, light mud or water of known density is pumped into the annulus and the volume required to fill the hole noted. Because of the possibility of hole collapse if water comes in contact with water sensitive formations, the volume of water should not exceed that which would fill the casing volume from surface to the shoe. In case of using OBM the addition of water is not recommended. Top up should be with base oil The equivalent fluid gradient can then be calculated by working out the heights and hence, the hydrostatic heads of both the lighter fluid (water or base oil) column and the original mud column. Sealing The Loss Zone If circulation cannot be restored by the use of LCM, attempts should be made to seal off the loss zone (once it has been located) by the use of special lost circulation "soft plugs" such as salt gel, diesel/bentonite, etc. Alternatively, the use of a cement plug may be considered. If a plug is set it should be pumped through open-ended drill pipe or tubing with the tail near the top of the loss zone so the plug can migrate down to the thief area by virtue of its density. The hole should not be filled by continuous circulation when tripping out with the cementing string as this will cause the plug to be completely lost to the thief zone. Only the calculated pipe displacement volume should be used to keep the annulus level constant. Conversely, failure to 'fill' the hole at all or too little will result in formation water being produced from the thief zone thus destroying the plug. Plugged off lost circulation zones may hold some borehole pressure depending on the type of formation and the lost circulation material used. However, after sealing a loss zone, casing should normally be set as soon as a non-permeable zone is penetrated. An exception to this rule may be made when it is known that pore pressure gradients do not increase with increasing depth.

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Drilling Without Returns If the loss zone cannot be sealed and the formation will not support a column of light mud (or water), drilling without mud returns may be considered. See Floating Mud Cap Drilling, Section 5.11. An NRV or Drop In Sub (DIS) should be installed in the string when drilling with total losses or with a floating mud cap. The dart of the DIS should be dropped and pumped down/latched prior to each trip out of the hole. Loss Of Circulation in Offshore Operations In offshore drilling operations, primary control is more complicated than in onshore operations. This is due to the difference between the pressure gradient of the mud column from the flowline to well depth and the greatly varying overburden and formation strength gradients over the same interval. The overburden and formation strength gradients are nil from the flowline to sea level; from sea level to seabed an 'overburden' gradient of seawater is present; below the seabed the formation strength gradient gradually increases. The strength of the high porosity sediments within 600m (2000 ft) of the seabed is usually very low. Particularly when operating in deep waters (say beyond 600m), great care must be exercised to avoid fracturing the formation. Therefore, the lowest practicable overbalance should be employed to prevent mud losses. Accurate information regarding the strength of exposed formations, based on carefully conducted tests, is particularly valuable. NOTE: It should be kept in mind that when mud losses are gradually reducing while drilling / circulating, the well may have actually started to flow. In well servicing operations, loss of fluid to the productive zone can occur during initial well control or remedial operations. In multiple zone completion wells with considerable differences in formation pressures between separate producing zones, lost circulation can only be remedied by mechanically isolating the loss zone (with a packer or cement) or by temporarily bridging the loss zone. 3.4.5. Hole Not Full of Adequate Density Fluid

When the fluid level in the well bore is allowed to drop the resulting reduced hydrostatic pressure can become less than the formation pressure and allow formation fluid entry into the well bore. Tripping Out of the Hole When pipe is pulled from a well, a reduction of bottom-hole hydrostatic pressure may occur from swabbing as discussed above, or from failure to fill the hole to correct for the volume displacement of the pipe. Drilling and Completion Operations In operations where circulation is desirable, such as most drilling or completion operations, the displacement volume of the pipe being pulled from the hole should be replaced to keep the hole full and maintain constant hydrostatic pressure. If the hole fails to take the proper amount of drilling fluid, hoisting operations should be suspended and an immediate safe course of action determined while observing the well. This usually requires returning to bottom and circulating the hole. If a significant volume of gas has been swabbed circulation will have to be via the choke manifold using the Driller's Method otherwise

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expansion of the rising gas bubble may unload the hole, reduce hydrostatic pressure, and induce another kick. The frequency of filling the hole during tripping operations is critical; the hole should be completely filled at intervals that prevent an influx of formation fluid. Continuous filling or filling after each stand of drill pipe may be advisable. The hole should be filled after each stand of drill collars. When the hole is filled continuously, an isolated drilling fluid volume measurement facility (such as a trip tank) must be used. Well Service Operations In operations where circulation is not normally maintained, such as many well service operations where wells with depleted formations are being worked over, consideration should be given to keeping a volume of fluid in reserve to add or bullhead into the well as needed to maintain control. 3.4.6. Tripping In the Hole

When running pipe in the hole, the drilling fluid volume increase at the surface should be no greater than the predicted pipe volume displacement. Some holes take significant volumes of drilling fluid during trips due to seepage loss. Highly permeable and weak formations may be susceptible to fluid loss or fracture if pipe or tools are run in the hole too fast, causing pressure surges. 3.4.7. Excessive Drilling Rate Through a Gas Sand

Even if the drilling fluid density in the hole is sufficient to control formation pressure, gas from the drilled cuttings will mix with drilling fluid. The composition of the drilling fluid can influence the amount of mixing. A high drilling penetration rate through a shallow gas zone or coal bed can supply enough gas from the cuttings to reduce the hydrostatic pressure of the drilling fluid column. This occurs through a progressive combination of density reduction and "belching" drilling fluid out of the hole. The hydrostatic pressure loss can reach the point where the formation begins flowing into the well bore. 3.4.8. Drill Stem Testing

A drill stem test (DST) is performed by setting a packer above the formation to be tested and allowing the formation to flow. During the course of testing, the borehole or casing below the packer and at least a portion of the drill pipe or tubing is filled with formation fluid. At the conclusion of the test, the fluid in the test string above the circulating valve must be removed by proper well control techniques, such as reverse circulation, to return the well to a safe condition. Depending on the length of hole below the packer, type of fluid entry, and formation pressure, the normal drilling hydrostatic overbalance can be reduced or lost. Exercise caution to avoid swabbing when pulling the test string because of the large diameter packers. 3.4.9. Drilling Into an Adjacent Well

A large number of directional wells may be drilled from the same offshore platform or onshore drilling pad. If a drilling well penetrates the production string of an existing well, the formation fluid from the existing well may enter the well bore of the drilling well or the drilling fluid of the well being drilled may be lost to the penetrated well bore; either of which can lead to a kick.

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3.4.10.

Equipment Failure

Mechanical failure of the casing at the surface or the BOP and related well control equipment or formation breakdown can result from excessive casing pressure during initial closure or while circulating out a kick. Riser failure on a subsea well may result in loss of Primary control if a riser margin has not been added to the mud density. 3.5. Secondary Well Control

The primary duty of all wellsite personnel is to maintain Primary control of the well. If, however, primary control is lost, a secondary control technique must be employed quickly and effectively. This section discusses Secondary Well Control. 3.5.1. Introduction

Personnel placed in positions of responsibility for Well Control must be assessed as competent for the job. Circulating Methods

Driller's See section 3.5.13 Influx removed from the hole in first circulation. Kill density mud introduced in second circulation. Wait & Weight

See section 3.5.14

Kill density mud introduced and influx removed in one circulation. May require waiting to mix kill density mud. Concurrent Circulation commenced with increased density but less than desired kill density. Density increased in stages. Volumetric Influx removed by migration. Necessary to follow a pressure vs pit gain schedule to allow for gas expansion. Bullhead Forcible reinjection of the influx into the formation.

Non-circulating Methods

It is important that the appropriate well kill technique be applied to each situation. The onus now lies directly with Well Teams to firstly critically analyze the entire operation and then each well section in the planning stages to formulate a plan to deal with secondary control should it be required. This requires a thorough evaluation and comparison of the possible techniques by risk analysis. This should ideally be quantified in a risk matrix, an example of which is given later in this section. The "Appropriate" technique is that method that is most likely to deliver the best economic outcome without compromising safety.

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3.5.2. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21.

Comparison of Circulating Methods Is a constant bottom hole pressure method. Applicable to any string in the hole. Applicable at any depth. Does not require any pre-recorded information. Does not require complex calculations or recalculations. Applicable for any mud properties. Applicable for all mud types. Applicable for swab kicks. Applicable for all stages of kill. i.e. underkill, balance and overkill. Applicable in vertical and deviated holes of all geometry with no complex calculations. Applicable for composite strings with no complex calculations. Applicable for all influx types Applicable for all BOP systems including deep water. Is not adversely affected by gas migration. Circulation can be commenced immediately after determining SIDPP, Circulation can be stopped and restarted at any time without complex calculations. Circulation can be at any convenient rate. Circulation rate can be varied at any time without complex calculations. Safety margin can be added to kill mud density without complex calculations. Applicable for down hole problems such as twist off, lost jet, plugged jet. Clears the influx from the hole expeditiously thus eliminating the possibility of problems that arise from, for example, a subsea riser disconnect while there is a gas influx in the hole. In some cases may result in higher pressures at the shoe. May result in higher pressures at the choke manifold. BOP must be shut in under pressure for longer if weighting up is required. May result in lower pressures at the shoe compared with the Driller's Method May result in lower choke manifold pressure compared with the Driller's Method Where weighting up is required, the BOP is shut in under pressure for a shorter time compared to the Driller's method and the total time shut in under higher pressure may be less than for the Driller's Method

Advantages of the Driller's Method:

Disadvantages of Driller's Method 1. 2. 3. 1. 2. 3.

Advantages of the Wait & Weight Method

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Disadvantages of the Wait & Weight Method (This method is applicable only when an increase in mud weight is required) 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Requires additional calculations once the kick is taken. Does not account for changes in mud rheology. Calculated pressure response to change of mud density is only approximate. Quality control of mud weight is relatively low, hence additional circulation is often needed for conditioning the mud. Circulation is delayed, increasing the probability of becoming stuck. Differential sticking is a major concern when there is additional annulus pressure. Circulation is delayed, increasing the probability of downhole equipment failure if there is prolonged exposure to a corrosive influx. Effect of gas migration during the wait period must be monitored and dealt with.

Worst case scenario: Single Gas Bubble in Water Based Mud 500
WAIT WEIGHT

400

WAIT & WEIGHT METHOD

300

200
FIRST CIRCULATION

DRILLER'S

METHOD
SECOND CIRCULATION

100

Figure 3.5.1: Plot showing comparison of Choke Manifold Pressure between Driller's method and Wait & Weight method with 90 minute wait time. (1500m (5000ft) well, 1m3 (6bbl) gas kick, migration rate 300m/hr (1000ft/hr)) Advantages of the Concurrent Method 1. 2. 3. Minimum of non circulating time Excellent for large increases in mud weight (under balanced drilling) Mud condition (viscosity and gels) can be maintained along with mud weight

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4. 5. 1. 2. 3.

Less casing pressure than Drillers Method Can be easily switched to Wait & Weight method Arithmetic is a little more complicated Requires more on-choke, circulating time Higher casing and casing seat pressure than Wait & Weight method Liquid kicks can be regarded as having zero migration. Gas kicks dissolved in OBM can be regarded as having zero migration. Horizontal hole sections obviously have zero gas migration Vertical, near vertical (<15) and near horizontal hole sections (>85) have low gas migration rates. (200m - 300m per hour) Deviated hole sections (15>85) experience much higher gas migration rates. Gas slugs migrate faster in more viscous mud. Gas continues to migrate while circulating. Turbulence induces faster gas migration. Turbulence induces fragmentation of gas bubbles. Fragmentation of the gas bubble has the effect of lowering maximum pressures at the shoe and at surface. Fragmentation of gas bubbles is more pronounced in lower viscosity mud. Fragmentation of gas bubbles is more pronounced in deviated holes. Non-Circulating Methods

Disadvantages of the Concurrent Method

Migration Notes

3.5.3.

Volumetric Method The method relies on migration of the influx so is only applicable to gas. It will most likely be applied after a swab kick so it may only be necessary to remove the gas from the well without any need to increase the mud density. If there is pipe to bottom hole so that bottom hole pressure can be monitored the method requires no calculation. This technique must be used while waiting in the Wait & Weight method. If there is no means to monitor bottom hole pressure the method requires more complex calculations. It also relies on assumptions of hole diameter which may be incorrect, and may induce higher open hole pressures. This method is used in conjunction with stripping operations when it is considered desirable to strip to bottom to effect a circulating kill. Despite the limitations of the Volumetric method it is often considered more prudent to use it in preference to stripping and the associated inherent danger of damage to BOP equipment. Gas migration rates of 300m/hr are not uncommon so this time should also be compared with the alternative of stripping and circulating.

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Bullheading This method involves reinjecting the influx back into the formation by squeezing mud into the well . It is only likely to succeed when reinjection can be achieved without causing breakdown at a shallower zone. In practice it is often the preferred method of dealing with a sour oil/gas kick in a known reservoir, or used to kill a completed well in preparation for a workover. It is rarely used to kill wells that have kicked during drilling or tripping. Under the right circumstances this method has several significant advantages 1. 2. Influxes containing H2S can be disposed of downhole. The second circulation of the Driller's method is then used to increase the mud density to the required level. A swab influx can be dealt with immediately regardless of where the pipe is in the hole. Reinjection of the influx with the current mud density will restore the well to balance so tripping can continue without the need to strip. Exposure of personnel and equipment to dangerous H2S is avoided. Can defuse a potentially dangerous MAASP situation by removing the influx from the hole. (see discussion on MAASP)

3. 4.

Bullheading is not a routine well control method in drilling operations, and as such must be discussed and agreed between onshore and offshore teams before it is implemented. In many cases, it will be doubtful whether the well can be killed by squeezing the influx back into the formation from which it came. A permanent loss situation may be created by fracturing at some other point below the shoe. The method can only be used if hole conditions permit. Each case must be judged on its own merits, considering such variables as: 1. 2. Formation permeability The formation must have good permeability/porosity to allow squeezing. The actual kick can be used as an indicator (inflow performance prior to closing in the well and the speed of pressure build-up after the well is closed-in). Type of Influx Gas is easier to squeeze back than liquid. Also, the higher the viscosity of a liquid, the more difficult it is to squeeze. Contamination of influx with mud If the influx is contaminated with mud (which will be the case with most kicks), squeezing will be much more difficult, because of the plastering qualities of the mud and the possible presence of cuttings. Position of influx If the influx has migrated, or has been circulated up over a certain distance, mud below the influx will have to be squeezed ahead of the influx, assuming that the weakest formation is where the influx came from. The sooner squeezing takes place, the higher the chance of successful squeezing will be. Strength of the formation Squeezing should be performed with the aim not to create any new fractures in any formation. In principle, the surface squeeze pressure should not exceed the precalculated MAASP. If heavier kill mud is pumped down the annulus, MAASP should be adjusted according.

3. 4. 5. 6.

7. 8.

9. 10.

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11. 12.

Casing burst strength at surface and wellhead/BOP pressure rating The casing burst strength should always be taken into account when bullheading is considered. An appropriate safety factor should be stated in the drilling programme.

Apart from the generally small chance of successfully squeezing the influx back into the invading formation, bullheading has other crucial disadvantages: 1. 2. fluid will go to the weakest formation which may not be the formation where the influx came from; there is a potential risk of fracturing formation anywhere along the open hole section which can lead to an (internal) blowout situation. In the case of shallow casing setting depths this can lead to cratering; high pressures may have to be applied to surface/subsurface equipment.

3.

Even if squeezing fluid back into the formation is possible to some extent, it may not be possible to remove the influx completely. Different well control techniques may then have to be employed. The earlier bullheading is implemented the better the chances are to obtain satisfactory squeeze rates. Operational Considerations When high pressures need to be applied, the cementing unit should be used for better control and adequate pressure rating. Large mud volumes and LCM pills should be available in case major losses are experienced during bullheading. A kill line connection above the bottom pipe rams of the BOP stack should be used so as to be able to isolate the annulus in case of a kill line failure. The line used for bullheading (commonly the kill line) should be fitted with a remotely controlled valve, or Non Return Valve to protect surface equipment and personnel from the backflow of hydrocarbons, or the uncontrolled flow of hydrocarbons should the kill line develop a leak. Kill Method Selection

3.5.4.

These decisions can largely be made in the planning stage. i.e. The drilling programme can state:

"Divert from spud to depth wwwwm." "Driller's method to be used from depth wwwwm to depth xxxxm " "Wait & Weight method to be used for gas drilling kick from depth xxxxm to depth yyyym" "Bullhead method to be used in carbonates below depth yyyym" "Slow pump rate circulating pressures required only while drilling from depth xxxxm to depth yyyym."

"These conditions depend on confirmation of estimated shoe formation strength."

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3.5.5.

Shut-in Techniques

Regardless of the secondary control method that is to be used, it is imperative that a kick is recognized early and the well shut in quickly. The volume of influx allowed to enter the hole will directly affect the amount of additional pressure exerted on the open hole, casing, BOP and choke system. There are two recognized shut-in techniques;

Hard shut in; Soft shut in.

The difference between these two lies in the apparent control of the flow of fluids exiting the well. The hard shut in closes the flowing well against a closed choke, whilst the soft shut in, in theory, closes the flowing well by gradually closing a choke. Hard Shut In On taking a kick the HCR is opened, and the BOP is closed against an already closed choke valve. This is a simple, fast way to shut in the well and thus minimise influx volume. Soft Shut In On taking a kick, the HCR is opened to an open choke, The BOP is closed, and finally, the well is shut in by closing the choke. This method is slower than hard shut in thus allowing a greater volume of influx to enter the well. 3.5.6.
Function

Shut-in Sequence for Soft Shut in


Close BOP Open HCR Close Choke Time

Detailed closing-in well procedures differ for each of the following installations:

land rigs and offshore bottom-supported units; offshore floating units (with drillstring motion compensator operational); offshore floating units (with drillstring motion compensator non-operational).

The procedure for land rigs is as follows: (Sub-sea procedures are given in Section 6) Land Rigs And Offshore Bottom-Supported Units 1. With the pump ON, raise the kelly or top drive so that: 2. the lower kelly cock is above the rotary table; there is no tool joint or other upset opposite any of the BOP stack rams or inside the BOP stack.

Stop the pump.

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3. 4.

Function Open the hydraulically operated choke line valve. (The rest of the choke line should be open under normal conditions and the Choke should be closed). Function Close the annular preventer.

NOTE: A choke valve is for regulating pressure, some will not isolate pressure. Therefore, immediately after the choke is closed the gate valve upstream of the choke must be closed to ensure that the well pressure is effectively closed in. Do not close a valve that isolates the pressure gauge sensator. 5. 6. Check the position of upsets, tooljoints etc. Close the upper pipe rams (optional). Do not close the upper rams if casing protectors have been placed on the pipe. Observe and record the closed-in drill pipe pressure SIDPP (Pdp) and the closed-in annulus pressure SICP (Pa).

NOTE: If drill pipe pressures approach or are forecast to exceed standpipe rating, then use a circulating head, high pressure lines and cement unit. 3.5.7. Moving the String Whilst Killing The Well

In some cases it may be considered appropriate to keep the string moving through the annular preventer during well control operations in order to prevent stuck pipe. This practice is optional and depends entirely on the circumstances under which the kick is experienced. Moving the string through the annular preventer may only be done if well control is not jeopardised. Other criteria are:

the BOP stack should have more than one properly functioning/sealing ram type preventer; blind/shear rams are installed; there is no danger of stripping the tool joint through the annular preventer (offshore floating units).

When killing a well, the first priority is to safely execute the well control operation. Possible hole problems have a lower priority and may be dealt with after the well is killed. 3.5.8. Importance of Landing the String on the Subsea BOP Stack

(In Floating Drilling Operations) Shop and field tests have established that plain pipe can be reciprocated through a closed annular preventer for a reasonable time before significant wear of the packing element occurs. For some elements this has been in excess of an equivalent of 3,000m (10,000ft) of pipe movement, including tooljoints. However, a reciprocating tool joint may quickly cause failure of the packing element. Therefore, in most cases the relative movement between the drill string and the seabed should be eliminated as soon as possible by landing the string on the hang off pipe rams to minimise BOP wear.

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3.5.9.

Well Control With a Top Drive System (TDS)

When a TDS is used in combination with stands, it should be possible to disconnect the string at rotary level to be able to carry out jobs which require string entry near the rotary table (e.g. installation of a lubricator, circulating head, etc.). For that purpose an NRV or drop in sub (DIS) should be used in the string to allow disconnection of the string below the kelly cock of the top drive. When a TDS is being used on a floater, it should always be possible to pull back the string sufficiently high to be able to hang-off the string in the subsea BOP stack. 3.5.10. MAASP

(Maximum Allowable Annulus Surface Pressure) In theory, this is a straightforward concept whereby one can calculate the maximum pressure that can be tolerated on the annulus without risk of causing breakdown at the shoe. MAASP is normally calculated immediately after performing a leak off test and is then adjusted whenever mud density is changed. If choke manifold pressure exceeds MAASP while killing a well and the influx is still below the shoe, formation breakdown may occur. Opening the choke is not recommended as this will cause a drop in bottomhole pressure and allow additional influx which will ultimately increase well pressures and thus the chances of an underground blowout.

The recommended approach is to ignore MAASP and to carry on as before, adjusting the choke to maintain constant drill pipe pressure. The choke manifold pressure may fall as fluid is squeezed away. However, if it is possible to maintain the desired drill pipe pressure, sufficient bottomhole pressure will be maintained, and the kill should proceed. If drill pipe pressure cannot be maintained, even with the choke fully closed, consider bullheading the annulus. Be aware that mud and gas injected into a formation may bleed back into the well when the pressure is reduced. 3.5.11. Kill Circulating Rate

Traditionally, the circulating rate chosen for a well kill operation has been no more than half the normal drilling circulating rate. The main reason for this is to allow the choke operator to maintain control of the well at critical periods. The objective is to choose a circulating rate that brings the well control operation to the earliest final conclusion. This is not to say that 'faster is better' since the risks of high circulation rate at inappropriate times could cause problems that may take a considerable time to rectify.

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Practical Considerations For Circulating Out a Kick Advantages of Higher Rates: 1. Brings the operation to a conclusion sooner, therefore: 2. 3. Lower cost in terms of rig time; BOP Equipment under pressure for less time; Lower probability of becoming stuck. Plugging the choke; Forming hydrates;

Choke operated close to open reduces the risk of:

Choke adjustments are more controlled at the open end of the range. Small adjustments deliver small pressure changes. At the closed end of the range small adjustments can deliver large pressure changes. Annulus circulating friction pressure is higher thus delivering a higher safety factor. High circulating rates help to induce turbulence in a gas influx which in turn causes bubble fragmentation and dispersion. This results in lower shoe pressure and lower maximum choke manifold pressure. Factor Standpipe pressure Mud treatment Surface equipment Choke opening Comment The rate should never be so high that standpipe pressure exceeds normal drilling pressure. The rate must be limited to the rate at which the mud can be treated and brought to the desired density. The rate must be limited to the throughput capacity of surface equipment in particular the mud-gas separator (MGS). The rate should not cause the choke to be operating full open.

4. 5.

Rate Limitations: Risk 1 2 3 4

These limitations are not all effective simultaneously, therefore it is worth considering each phase of the kill procedure and determining the limiting rate for each phase. It is also worth noting that it may be prudent to change the circulating rate for various stages of the kill. The example risk table below assumes a Driller's method kill but the analysis can just as easily be applied to any other circulating kill method.

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Stage First circulation. From start-up until gas near surface First circulation Venting gas

Risk 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4

Applies Yes No No Yes Yes No Yes No Yes Yes No Yes

Comment Maximum rate limited by standpipe pressure. No weighting up required. No gas to surface. MGS not required. Maximum rate limited by maximum choke opening. Maximum rate limited by standpipe pressure. No weighting up required. Gas to surface. MGS required. Choke opening reduced while venting gas. Maximum rate limited by standpipe pressure at outset. Weighting up required. No gas to surface. MGS not required. Maximum rate limited by maximum choke opening.

Second circulation pumping kill mud

1 2 3 4

Figure 3.5.1: Example risk table The appropriate rate in each stage will be that of the lowest rate limiting factor. Circulation rate can be changed during the kill by the following procedure: Increasing rate: While holding choke manifold (BOP) pressure constant (opening the choke), increase the pump rate to the desired level. Once the desired level is reached read the new standpipe pressure and thereafter maintain constant standpipe pressure by adjusting the choke. Decreasing rate: While holding choke manifold (BOP) pressure constant (closing the choke), decrease the pump rate to the desired level. Once the desired level is reached read the new standpipe pressure and thereafter maintain constant standpipe pressure by adjusting the choke. These procedures assume that the change is effected quickly and that the gas influx does not rise a significant distance in the hole while the choke manifold pressure is being held constant. 3.5.12. 1. 2. Kick Tolerance

Kick tolerance can be defined two ways: The pressure magnitude (intensity) of a zero volume kick that can be taken without causing formation breakdown at the shoe. The volume of a dry gas swab kick that can be taken, and circulated from the hole, without causing formation breakdown at the shoe.

In practical terms, on bottom drilling kicks do not fit nicely into either of the above two defined categories. The true kick tolerance, at a certain depth, expressed in terms of pressure and volume, will be a range of pressure and volume between these two end points. It is a combination of formation pressure and kick volume and is very much

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dependent on depth. Kick tolerance is also dependent on hole diameter. Larger diameter hole immediately below the casing shoe reduces the effect of a given volume of gas on shoe pressure as the gas is circulated out. The actual kick tolerance at any time can be approximated by determining the two end limits stated above, and interpolating between them.

Kick Tolerance
3.5 Kick Magnitude (kPa/m) 3 2.5 2 1.5 1 0.5 0 0 1 2 3 4 5 Kick Volum e (m 3) 1000m (3000ft) TD 1500m (5000ft) TD 2100m (7000ft) TD

Figure 3.5.2: Kick Tolerance The plot above illustrates the case of a well with casing set at 460m (1500ft), 11.8kPa/m (0.52psi/ft, 10ppg) mud in the hole and with a MAASP of 2700kPa (390psi). Kick Tolerance for gas kick Well depth 1000m (3000ft). Influx Volume m3 0 1.6 4.3 Well depth 1500m (5000ft). 0 1.6 3.3 Well depth 2100m (7000ft). 0 1.6 2.7 Figure 3.5.3: Kick Tolerance Table Note that this well has a MAASP of 2700kPa (390psi) with 11.8kPa/m (0.52psi/ft, 10ppg) mud in the hole. This equates to an equivalent shoe breakdown of 17.66kPa/m (0.78psi/ft, 15ppg). While this is theoretically the highest mud weight that could be circulated, it is not a measure of Kick Tolerance. bbls 0 10 27 0 10 21 0 10 17 Kick Magnitude kPa/m 2.94 1.65 0 1.77 1.06 0 1.18 0.71 0 psi/ft 0.13 0.07 0 0.08 0.05 0 0.05 .03 0 ppg 2.5 1.4 0 1.5 0.9 0 1.0 0.6 0

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3.5.13.

Kick control by the Driller's method

Bit On Bottom In this method the well is killed in two circulations. In the first circulation the influx is circulated out using the original mud. In the second circulation, when weighted up mud is available, the well is killed. Procedures The following procedures concerning the Driller's method are discussed: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. Closing in the well. Pressure and pit volume readings. First circulation: selecting the pump rate. Standpipe pressure during first circulation. Determining the height and gradient of the influx. First circulation: determining travel times (or volumes). First circulation: standpipe kill graph construction and use. Determining the pressure at the top of a gas influx at any point in the annulus. First circulation: action. Second circulation: determining the gradient of the kill mud. Second circulation: determining the amount of overbalance. Second circulation: selecting pump rate. Second circulation: travel times (or volumes). Second circulation: standpipe pressures. Second circulation: standpipe kill graph construction and use. Second circulation: action. Procedure after the well has been brought under control.

Note that only two calculations are necessary to apply the Driller's method: Kill mud density; Surface to bit volume, time or strokes. Other calculations are not necessary but should always be done to give a comparative base to assist in detecting problems. Closing in the well Close in the well immediately after detecting a kick condition. See discussion on shut-in procedures. Pressure and pit volume readings Pressure and pit volume readings should be taken. 1. Start taking readings of the closed-in annulus pressure (Pa) and closed-in drill pipe pressure (Pdp) immediately until they are stabilised. Record pressures on graph

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paper. If a drill pipe float valve is installed in the string, pump very slowly occasionally and read the pressure required to open the float (employing a float valve with a small wear resistant hole to equalise the pressure will avoid this inconvenient procedure). 2. 3. Measure the volume increase in pit level. Watch the behaviour of the well carefully. The closed-in drill pipe pressure is always a reliable measure for the bottom hole pressure if the bit is near bottom. If both drill pipe pressure and annulus pressure rise steadily before starting circulating, gas migration is indicated and the annulus pressure will have to be continuously bled off to maintain the original drill pipe pressure. Determine the hydrostatic pressure loss per unit volume bled off in the worst case situation (e.g. influx opposite the smallest annular space: OH/DC capacity). Bleed off a small volume of mud on the annulus/choke side (50litre 1/4bbl) and allow a small pressure decrease only (e.g. no more than 350kPa, 50psi). Use the strip tank to monitor return volumes. Check that the hydrostatic pressure loss per unit volume bled off corresponds with the pressure loss shown on the drill pipe pressure gauge. If this agrees then repeat the process. When the pressure ceases to drop on the drill pipe side and the pressure on the annulus rises to a higher pressure after the choke is once more closed, the bottom hole pressure as indicated by the standpipe pressure, equals the formation pore pressure. Any additional bleeding of mud at the choke will allow more influx to enter the hole.

The following procedure can be used to check for trapped pressures: 1. 2.

3.

4.

First Circulation: Selecting the Pump Rate The mud is not weighted up for the first circulation: therefore, the pump rate is not limited by the weighting material mixing capacity of the rig. However, the maximum pump rate is limited by other factors such as the increased initial standpipe pressure, the need for choke adjustment, and surface gas handling equipment. Also, if the choke starts blocking-off, pressure surges will be less at reduced circulating rates. See discussion on selection of kill circulation rate. Standpipe Pressure During First Circulation The standpipe pressure at the start is the same as with the Wait & Weight method. The standpipe pressure should then be approximately equal to the normal pre-kick circulation pressure at the selected pump speed (if known), plus the closed-in drill pipe pressure, plus a small margin of 700 kPa (100 psi). In practice, the standpipe pressure is that which is observed after the pump is brought up to the optimum rate whilst keeping the choke manifold pressure constant. Since there is no change in the gradient of the mud being pumped, the initial standpipe pressure must be held constant for a constant pump rate throughout the first circulation to ensure that the bottom hole pressure is also kept constant.

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Determining the Height and Gradient of the Influx This information is not essential, but will give an indication of the pattern of choke pressures and pit level changes that may be expected during the first circulation. The procedure is as for the Wait & Weight method. First Circulation: Determining Travel Times (or Volumes) The bit-to-shoe and shoe-to-choke times are determined as in the Wait & Weight method. The minimum total pumping time for the first circulation is that required to displace the annulus, i.e. the sum of the bit-to-shoe and shoe-to-choke times, volumes, or pump strokes. It is absolutely necessary to continue circulation until all gas is removed from the hole. If it is not, the second circulation will have to be done according to the Wait & Weight method. First Circulation: Standpipe Kill Graph Construction and Use There is no necessity (although it is recommended) to construct a graph for the Driller's method. The standpipe kill graph is a horizontal line equal to the closed-in drill pipe pressure plus the circulating pressure plus the overbalance margin of 700 kPa (100 psi).

Figure 3.5.3: Stand pipe pressure vs pump strokes (time) Determining the Pressure at the Top of a Gas Influx at any Point in the Annulus When a gas kick is being circulated out of the hole, the influx volume will increase due to expansion and consequently result in increased pit levels. By calculating the expected annular pressures at the top of the influx at specific points along the hole together with the associated influx volumes at these points, comparisons can be made with actual values observed during circulating out the influx. This information can play an important role in the decision making process during well control operations. The pressure at the top of a gas bubble at any point in the annulus while circulating it out using the Driller's method can be calculated as follows:

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1 2

Px =

Vinf .o Z T A A 2 1 + + Po (hinf .o inf .o ) } 1 2 AV .cap.x Z 1T1 2


2

where: A = Po ( D X ) 1 (hinf .o x inf .o ) x Px Po hinf.o AV .cap.o AV .cap.x

= pressure at the top of the gas at point X = formation pressure = height of gas column at the bottom of the hole = original influx gradient = original mud gradient = original influx volume = average annular capacity of influx volume at point X = average annular capacity of influx volume at bottom = initial compressibility factor of gas = compressibility factor of gas at point X = absolute initial temperature of the gas = absolute temperature of the gas at point X = depth of the hole = depth of point X

inf o

1
Vinf.o AV.cap.x AV.cap.o Z1 Z2 T1 T2 D X

We can assume

Z 2T2 = 1 if there is no other information available. Z 1T1

The influx volume at point X can be calculated as follows:


Vinf . x = Po (hinf .o x inf .o ) Px xVinf .o x Z 2T2 Z 1T1

Note that these calculations are only approximate and the data can best be obtained from well control software. First Circulation: Action The procedure for the first circulation is as follows: 1. 2. Open the choke and start pumping the existing mud at the selected pump speed. Adjust the choke opening until the choke pressure equals the closed-in annulus pressure plus the overbalance margin. Record the choke pressures throughout the first circulation. Read the standpipe pressure. It should agree with the calculated value, i.e. the normal pre-kick pump test circulation pressure at the selected pump speed (if known) plus the closed-in drill pipe pressure, plus a small margin of 700 kPa (100 psi). If the observed standpipe pressure does not agree with the calculated value, consider the

3.

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observed pressure to be correct. Note that there is no requirement to know any prekick pump test circulation pressure. 4. Note the standpipe pressure and thereafter keep standpipe pressure constant by choke manipulation whilst maintaining a constant pump rate, until the influx is circulated out. When all influx has been circulated out, stop the pump and close in the well to check the closed-in drill pipe and annulus pressures. At the end of the first circulation, if all gas has been removed, the closed-in pressures of the annulus and drill pipe should be the same and equal to the initial closed-in drill pipe pressure. The well is controlled but not killed. maintain and record the density of the mud pumped into the drill string. Ensure that it has the correct value; measure and record the properties of the mud returns; de-gas, treat or discard any contaminated mud returns.

5.

During the first circulation the following should also be carried out:

Second Circulation: Determining the Gradient of the Kill Mud The gradient of the kill mud to balance the formation pressure can be determined as soon as the shut-in standpipe pressure has stabilised at initial shut-in. This is one of the two calculations required to apply this method. Density increase = where: D(Tv) = true vertical depth m (ft) The required new mud gradient (2 ) is then found by adding the increase to the original mud gradient (1 ). A trip margin can now be added to the kill mud gradient in order to overbalance the formation pressure and to resume normal operations. Second Circulation: Determining the Amount of Overbalance Normally the overbalance on bottom during well control (neglecting friction losses in the annulus) should not exceed 700 kPa (100 psi). However, since the influx has been displaced with 1 mud during the first circulation, large fluctuations in mud gradient and choke control operations are not expected. Therefore, if possible, the density of the mud in the well can be raised directly to that required to resume normal operations. Second Circulation: Selecting Pump Rate See discussion on selection of kill circulation rate. Second Circulation: Travel Times (Volumes or Strokes) The surface-to-bit strokes is the second and final calculation required to apply the Driller's method. However, in practice, this is not absolutely necessary as the standpipe pressure will not continue to drop after the new density mud reaches the bit. This is a signal to the choke operator that constant standpipe pressure should now be maintained for the remainder of the kill. D(Tv ) Pdp kPa/m (psi/ft)

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The surface to bit time is given by: Surface to bit time = Internal volume of complete drillstring (bbls) Pump output (bbls/min) minutes

Alternatively, the number of pump strokes required can be calculated: Pump strokes = Selected pump rate x Surface to bit time Bit-to-choke times are the same as for the Wait & Weight method. Second Circulation: Standpipe Pressure The initial standpipe pressure should be the same as for the first circulation.
Pst = Pdp + Pc1 + m arg in

During the period that the heavy mud is being pumped down the drill string, the choke manifold pressure is maintained constant by choke manipulation. In practice, very little, if any, choke manipulation will be necessary. The standpipe pressure should decrease until the heavy mud reaches the bit at which time it should be approximately:

Pst = Pc1 x

2 = Pc 2 1

The standpipe pressure should be held constant by choke adjustment after the heavy mud has reached the bit. Second Circulation: Standpipe Kill Graph Construction and Use There is no necessity to construct a kill graph. However, it is recommended that the standpipe pressure kill graph for the second circulation be constructed in a similar manner to that of the Wait & Weight method. The procedure for constructing the standpipe kill graph is as follows: 1. 2. 3. Plot the initial circulating pressure plus margin at the start of the second circulation. Plot the heavy mud circulating pressure (Pc2) at the time that the heavy mud reaches the bit. Whilst the heavy mud is being circulated into the annulus, the choke manifold back pressure should be progressively reduced to zero at the time when the heavy mud reaches the choke. The standpipe pressure should then equal the heavy mud circulating pressure. This assumes that the heavy mud gradient includes a suitable overbalance margin.

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Figure 3.5.4: Stand pipe pressure vs pump strokes (time) Second Circulation: Action If possible, the density of the mud in the well can be raised directly to that required to resume normal operations. The procedure during the second circulation is as follows: 1. 2. Open the choke and start pumping mud of the required density at the rate selected to kill the well. Maintain a constant pumping rate. Adjust the choke opening until the choke pressure equals the closed-in annulus pressure (plus margin) observed at the end of the first circulation. Choke pressures should be recorded throughout the process. Read the standpipe pressure. This should agree with the calculated standpipe pressure, i.e. the pre-kick pump test circulating pressure plus the closed-in drill pipe pressure at the end of the first circulation including the margin. If the standpipe pressure does not agree with the calculated value, consider the observed pressure to be correct and modify the standpipe pressure kill graph accordingly. Maintain constant choke manifold pressure by manipulation of the choke until the kill density mud reaches the bit. The standpipe pressure will automatically follow the correct pressure reduction schedule. This is true even for tapered drill strings and deviated holes. Once the kill density mud reaches the bit, observe and note the standpipe pressure. For the remainder of the kill maintain standpipe pressure constant at this value by manipulation of the choke. When the heavy mud reaches the surface, stop pumping and check whether the well is dead by observing for flow at the choke line. maintain and record the density of the mud pumped into the drill string; ensure that it has the correct value; measure and record the properties of the mud returns until the well is killed; de-gas, treat or discard any contaminated mud returns.

3.

4.

5.

6.

During the second circulation the following should also be carried out:

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First Circulation

Second Circulation

Maintain constant standpipe pressure

Standpipe pressure

Maintain constant standpipe pressure

Choke manifold pressure

Maintain constant choke manifold pressure

Figure 3.5.6: Drillers method kill Procedure after the Well has been brought under control After the well has been brought under control, the well should be flow-checked via the open choke line. The preventers can be opened and normal circulation resumed after any possible flow has ceased from the choke line for a reasonable flow-check time. Kick control whilst tripping If an overbalance existed prior to pulling out of hole, then the only reasons for the well to flow are: swabbing; failure to keep the hole full; losses induced by surge pressures.

Since no weighting up is required, the Driller's method first circulation is all that is required to remove the influx from the hole to restore primary control. Early detection of kicks off bottom can be achieved by observing whether the hole is taking the proper amount of fluid during roundtrips. This can be achieved by pumping across the flow riser with the trip tank which will give an immediate indication of gains or losses. Trip tank fluid levels observed during roundtrips should be recorded on a dedicated trip sheet and compared to previous roundtrips as well as to calculated values. This is the most accurate method of checking if the hole is filling up correctly. If swabbing is observed, but the well does not flow, the string should be run back to bottom carefully. Running the BHA into a gas bubble will greatly increase its length and this could put the well into an under-balanced state. The possible influx should be

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circulated out, but not without due regard to the fact that if it is gas, it will expand as it is circulated up the hole and could unload and create an under-balance on bottom. It is necessary to close the BOP and circulate through the choke. Manipulate the choke to maintain constant standpipe pressure. This is basic application of the Driller's method. If the well shows any indication of flow, it must be closed in. The string should be stripped back to bottom if it is thought to be a liquid influx as there will be no migration. If the influx is gas, consideration should be given to allowing the influx to migrate above the bit where it can be circulated out by the Driller's method rather than undertake a stripping operation. It is more complicated to handle a kick with the bit off bottom as compared to killing a well with the bit on bottom. This must be balanced against the time and danger of attempting to strip. If severe losses are experienced, followed by a kick (i.e. when running in too fast) LCM pills should be squeezed into the loss zone formation via the annulus at such a rate as to prevent the influx rising up the annulus. The losses should be cured before the remaining influx is circulated out. An inside BOP and Full Opening Safety Valve (FOSV) complete with lifting arms must always be available on the drill floor and be open ready for immediate use. If the well starts to flow whilst tripping pipe, the FOSV should be installed, made up and closed and then the well closed in. Do not attempt to run the bit back to bottom with the well still open, since this may lead to excessive kick volumes and make well control much more difficult, if not impossible. The correct procedure is to close in the well at first indication of flow. Closed-in pressures will be much lower and will leave more options open during further well control operations. 3.5.14. Kick control by the Wait & Weight method

Whilst on Bottom Drilling (Applicable only when a mud density increase is required). In this method, the well is killed in one circulation. The kick is circulated out whilst mud of sufficient density to (over) balance the pore pressure is circulated in. Procedures The following procedures concerning the Wait & Weight (W&W) method are discussed below: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Pressure and pit volume readings. Calculating the gradient of the kill mud. Determining the amount of overbalance. Determining the amount of weighting material required. Determining the pumping speed (killing pump rate). Determining the circulating pressures. Determining the surface to bit travel time (or volume). Determining the time (or volume) for the influx top to reach the casing shoe.

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9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15.

Determining the shoe to choke time. Determining the total pumping time. Determining the height and gradient of the influx. Construction and use of the standpipe kill graph. Maintaining a constant bottom hole pressure. Choke adjustment. Determining the pressure at the top of a gas influx at any point in the annulus.

Pressure and Pit Volume Readings After the well is closed in, and whilst making calculations on how to proceed in controlling the well, the following should be carried out: 1. Start taking readings of the closed-in annulus pressure (Pa) and closed-in drill pipe pressure (Pdp) immediately until they are stabilised. Record pressures on graph paper. If a drill pipe float valve is installed in the string, pump very slowly occasionally and read the pressure required to open the float (employing a float valve with a small wear resistant hole to equalise the pressure will avoid this inconvenient procedure). Measure the increase in pit level. Record all values on the Kick Control Worksheet. Watch the behaviour of the well carefully. The closed-in drill pipe pressure is always a reliable measure for the bottom hole pressure. If both drill pipe pressure and annulus pressure rise steadily before starting circulating, gas migration is indicated and the annulus pressure will have to be continuously bled off to maintain the original drill pipe pressure. Determine the hydrostatic pressure loss per unit volume bled off in the worst case situation (e.g. influx opposite the smallest annular space: OH/DC capacity). Bleed off a small volume of mud on the annulus/choke side (50litre 1/4bbl) and allow a small pressure decrease only (e.g. no more than 350kPa, 50psi). Use the strip tank to monitor return volumes. Check that the hydrostatic pressure loss per unit volume bled off corresponds with the pressure loss shown on the drill pipe pressure gauge. If this agrees then repeat the process. When the pressure ceases to drop on the drill pipe side and the pressure on the annulus rises to a higher pressure after the choke is once more closed, the bottom hole pressure as indicated by the standpipe pressure, equals the formation pore pressure. Any additional bleeding of mud at the choke will allow more influx to enter the hole.

2. 3. 4.

The following procedure can be used to check for trapped pressures: 1. 2.

3.

4.

Calculating the Gradient of the Kill Mud The mud gradient required for controlling a kicking well can be determined as soon as the closed-in drill pipe pressure has stabilised. The information required will be on the Kick Control Worksheet.

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The closed-in drill pipe pressure represents the degree of underbalance since the drill pipe is full of uncontaminated mud of a known gradient. The increase in mud gradient required to balance the pore pressure is given by: Density increase = where: D(Tv) = true vertical depth m (ft) The required new mud gradient (2 ) is then found by adding the increase to the original mud gradient (1 ). Determining The Amount Of Overbalance A small overbalance factor can usually be included in the new mud gradient. If, in addition, bottom hole pressure during well control is maintained by applying additional choke pressure, complete flexibility is retained. Note that a safety margin equal to annulus circulating friction pressure is already automatically applied. The amount of required overbalance (safety margin) should take into account the fluctuations in mud gradient and choke control operation. Normally the overbalance on bottom during well control (neglecting friction losses in the annulus) should not exceed 700kPa (100psi). A low margin of 350kPa (50psi) in the mud density, together with 350kPa (50psi) additional choke pressure is recommended. If it is decided to apply more than the above-mentioned recommended overbalance during the well control operation, applying additional choke pressure is preferred to increasing the mud gradient, as it allows immediate adjustment if undesirable hole conditions or mud losses develop. Once the well is under control, the mud gradient should be further increased until it includes a normal trip margin to enable resumption of normal operations. Offshore floating units should add the trip/riser margin to the mud only when circulating through the riser with the rams open. Note that addition of anything other than a small overbalance to the new mud density requires that the overbalance factor be included in the calculation of final circulation pressure. Determining the amount of Weighting Material Required The amount of weighting material per unit volume of original mud required is given by: D(Tv ) Pdp kPa/m (psi/ft)

N1 =
or:

( (

d w ( 2 1 ) kg/m3 981 10 5 d w 2

N1 =

d w ( 2 1 ) lb/bbl 1237 10 6 d w 2

where: N1 = amount of weighting material required per unit volume of original mud - kg/m3 (lb/bbl)

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dw = density of weighting material - kg/m3 (lb/bbl)

1 = original mud gradient - kPa/m (psi/ft) 2 = new mud gradient - kPa/m (psi/ft)
The volume increase after adding weighting material to the mud is:

V =
or:

N1 3 m /m3 dw N1 bbl/bbl dw

V =

The gradient of the mud pumped into the drill string should be maintained constant and recorded. The properties of the mud returns should be measured until the well is brought under control. Any contaminated mud returns should be de-gassed, treated, or discarded. Determining the Pumping Speed (Kill Pumping Rate) The maximum pumping speed is, amongst others, limited by the weighting material mixing capacity of the rig. This is the maximum flow rate which is calculated by: Max. flowrate = Weighting material mixing capacity 3 m /min (bbl/min) Weighting material required Kg/min (lb/min) Kg/m3 (lb/bbl)

Weighting material mixing capacity Weighting material required

To obtain a safety margin and reasonable surface pressures, a pump rate lower than the one corresponding to the maximum flow rate is selected. Killing pump rates for Wait & Weight method are normally restricted to approximately one half the speed used for the drilling operation. Kill pump rate should be maintained at a level which allows sufficient time for the choke operator to react to changes in choke pressure. The pump rate should preferably be kept constant throughout the well control period. See discussion on kill pump rate in Section 3.5.13 Determining the Circulating Pressures Initial circulating pressure The standpipe pressure at the start of the well control operation is expected to be the sum of the closed-in drill pipe pressure (Pdp ) and the pump pressure at the selected pump rate (Pc1 ) found during a previous pump test:
Pst = Pdp + Pcl kPa (psi )

Hence, we have:
Pcl = Pst Pdp kPa (psi )

However, if the observed standpipe pressure is different than expected when circulation is started at the selected pump rate with the choke pressure adjusted to the closed-in annulus

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pressure, the circulating pressure to be used for all subsequent calculations should be taken as the observed standpipe pressure minus the closed-in drill pipe pressure. If it is not clear why pressures do not match, the well should be closed in to allow analysis of the situation. Circulating Pressure with New Mud The approximate circulating pressure when the new mud reaches the bit is derived by adjusting Pc1 for the mud density increase. The drill pipe pressure Pdp is now zero and the relation between Pc1 and Pc2 is as follows:

Pc 2 = Pc1

2 kPa ( psi ) 1

Note that this is only an approximation and is only valid when the kill mud gradient is equal to the formation pressure gradient.

If a kill mud of density other than balance is used, Pc2 must be adjusted by the overkill factor. Overkill factor = Overkill Margin (psi/ft) x D(Tv) Therefore Pc 2 = Pc1

2 - OKM D(Tv) kPa ( psi ) 1

Determining the Surface to Bit Travel Time (or Volume) The time, or volume, needed to pump the new mud to the bit at the selected pump flow rate is determined. This value can also be expressed as a number of pump strokes. The surface to bit time is given by:
Surface to bit time = Internal volume of complete drillstring (bbls) Pump output (bbls/min) minutes

Alternatively, the number of pump strokes required can be calculated: Pump strokes = Selected pump rate x Surface to bit time Determining the Time (or Volume) for the Influx Top to Reach the Casing Shoe The time, or volume, required for the top of the influx to reach the casing shoe is important (in the case of a gas influx), since the choke pressures can thereafter be allowed to exceed the MAASP without risk or fracturing the formation at the shoe. The time, or number of pump strokes, needed to displace the top influx from bottom hole to casing shoe at the selected flow rate is approximated as follows:
Bit to shoe time = Bit to shoe volume - original influx volume Pump output

minutes

This can also be expressed as a volume or as a number of pump strokes. A more accurate time (or volume) can be calculated, by using the actual influx volume at the casing shoe, instead of the original influx volume. Neither method makes any allowance for gas migration. Determining the Shoe to Choke Time The time required to displace the drill pipe/casing annulus is determined from:

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Shoe to choke time =

Shoe to choke volume (bbls) Pump output (bbls/min)

minutes

This can also be expressed as a volume or as a number of pump strokes. Determining the Total Pumping Time The total pumping time will be the sum of the three values found above, i.e. Total pumping time = (Surface to bit time) + (Bit to shoe time) + (Shoe to choke time). Determining the Height and Gradient of the Influx Knowledge of the gradient of an influx is not a necessity for the well control operation. However, the pattern of the expected annular pressures is determined by the type of influx, i.e. liquid or gas and this will largely determine if MAASP considerations are likely to come into play, or if there will be migration of the influx. Determining the height of the influx The height of the influx in the annulus when the influx is at bottom (hb ) can be calculated from the volume gained before the well was closed-in, and the annular capacity, assuming hole size equals bit size. The influx height is calculated as follows: When the initial pit volume gain is less than the annular volume around the DC's:
Influx height (h b) = Measured pit volume gain Annular capacity (OH/DC)

m (ft)

When the pit volume gain is larger than the annular volume around the DC's, the calculation above is repeated for the remaining volume. The height thus calculated is added to the height of the previous section. If required, the process is repeated for each change in section, until all the influx volume is accounted for. Determining the gradient of the influx Since the difference between the closed-in surface pressures is due to the presence of the influx in the annulus, the gradient of the influx may be calculated by dividing the pressure difference between the closed-in annular and drill pipe pressures by the true vertical height of the influx as determined in the previous section. The gradient of the influx is given by:

inf = 1
where:

Pa Pdp hb

kPa / m ( psi / ft )

Pdp= closed-in drill pipe pressure - kPa (psi) Pa = closed-in annulus pressure - kPa (psi) hb = true vertical height of influx in annulus when influx is at bottom - m (ft)

1 = initial gradient of mud - kPa/m (psi/ft) inf = gradient of influx - kPa/m (psi/ft)
This information is not essential to the well control operation, but will give an indication of the pattern of choke pressures and pit level change that may be expected during the

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controlling of the kick. It will also give warning of what to expect when the influx reaches surface. Using the calculated gradient to determine the type of influx The gradient of gas under bottom hole conditions is usually less than 3.4 kPa/m (0.15 psi/ft), whereas that of formation water is likely to exceed 10.5 kPa/m (0.465 psi/ft). A calculated value within this range could represent a mixture of gas and water or oil. In practice, a significant difference between Pdp and Pa for a reasonable inflow volume implies gas. Every kick should be assumed to be gas until proved otherwise. Construction and Use of the Standpipe Kill Graph The kill graph of standpipe pressure versus volume pumped or time should be plotted. Standpipe pressures should include the safety margin to be applied when controlling the well at the selected pump speed. The procedure is as follows: 1. 2. 3. Plot the initial standpipe pressure from the Kick Control Worksheet at time (or volume) zero. Plot the standpipe pressure when the new mud has reached the bit. Connect the points obtained in (1) and (2) with a straight line. (Note exception for deviated hole or tapered drill string). This line represents the standpipe pressure to be followed whilst pumping the new mud from the surface to the bit (given the condition that the bottom hole pressure is equal to the pore pressure). By adjusting the choke opening every 2-4 minutes, the correct standpipe pressure is obtained whilst the selected pump rate is held. Once the drill string is filled with mud of gradient 2 , the standpipe pressure must be held constant at the circulation pressure Pc2 until heavy mud returns to the surface, provided the pump speed is also maintained constant.

4. 5.

Figure 3.5.7: Stand pipe pressure vs pump strokes (time) Note that if it is decided to apply extra back pressure to increase the bottom hole pressure whilst circulating, e.g. by 350kPa (50psi), the standpipe kill graph must be adjusted by the

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same amount. This extra pressure also acts against all formations in the open hole below the casing shoe. If gas migrates after the initial build-up period, annulus and drill pipe pressures will rise at the same time. Formation breakdown will eventually occur unless action is taken. Therefore the closed-in drill pipe pressure must not be allowed to rise above the initial value by more than the amount necessary to observe the change. The gas must then be expanded by bleeding off mud via the choke until the drill pipe pressure returns to a value slightly in excess (700kPa, 100psi) of its initial reading. The original drill pipe pressure should be used again at the start of the circulation. Maintaining a Constant Bottom Hole Pressure From the moment that pumping of the weighted mud begins, until the end of the well control process, a constant bottom hole pressure should be maintained. This is achieved by pumping at a constant rate and adjusting the choke opening as required to obtain predetermined standpipe pressures. These are obtained from the standpipe pressure killing graph on the Kick Control Worksheet. If standpipe pressures drop below the predetermined values, including safety margins, the bottom hole pressure will be less than the pore pressure and another influx will enter the well. If the standpipe pressure rises above the pre-determined value, pressures throughout the well become higher than necessary. The risk of damage to the formation and consequent mud loss is therefore increased. To maintain a constant bottom hole pressure until the heavy mud reaches the bit, the initial standpipe pressure must be compensated for the effects of pumping heavier mud into the string. These effects include:

the reduction of the closed-in drill pipe pressure to zero; the greater pressure required because of the increased friction generated by pumping heavier mud at the same rate as the lighter mud was being pumped.

With heavy mud at the bit, there is no further significant change in conditions between bottom hole and the pump. The standpipe pressure must therefore be held constant (indicating constant bottom hole pressure) by choke adjustment as necessary until the heavy mud reaches the surface. Pumping can then be stopped and the well observed for flow. In most cases where circulating rates are low, the effect of annulus circulating friction pressure is small and can be neglected. However, in practice, the annular friction loss adds to the bottom hole pressure throughout circulation. Similarly, by "stepping" the pressure in increments during Phase I, bottom hole pressures are also higher than normal. The gradual change from Pc1 to Pc2 also adds pressure to the open hole, because a significant percentage of the pressure rise occurs only when the heavy mud actually passes through the bit nozzles (e.g. at the very end of Phase I). Choke Adjustment The choke opening is adjusted so that, while pumping, the standpipe pressure corresponds to the calculated pressure for the volume pumped or time elapsed. The procedure for choke adjustment is as follows: 1. Open the valve upstream of the choke, then open the choke as soon as possible and start pumping mud of the required density at the selected pump speed.

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2. 3.

Adjust the choke opening until the choke pressure equals the value of the closed-in annulus pressure plus the overbalance back pressure. Read the standpipe pressure. This should agree with the calculated value plus the overbalance back pressure applied. If it does not, consider the actual standpipe pressure to be correct and modify the standpipe kill graph accordingly. Record choke pressures.

4.

NOTE: The value of the choke pressure depends on the characteristics of the influx gradient, pressure and volume. If the influx is salt water in a uniform annulus, the choke pressure remains constant until the heavy mud reaches the bit. Thereafter the choke pressure gradually decreases as the original lighter mud and the salt water in the annulus are replaced by heavier mud. The pit level remains constant during the well control process except for a small rise due to the volume of weighting material which has been added. With heavy mud at the surface, the final pit level will show a gain representing the volume of weighting material added during weighting up. It is important that there are no restrictions (e.g. partially closed valves) downstream of the annular pressure measuring point, because that will result in higher pressures along the hole. A similar effect is seen with the choke line of a subsea BOP stack. Determining the Pressure at the Top of a Gas Influx at any Point in the Annulus When a gas kick is being circulated out of the hole, the influx volume will increase due to expansion and consequently results in increased pit levels and higher annulus pressures. By calculating the expected annular pressures at the top of the influx at specific points along the hole together with the associated influx volumes at these points, comparisons can be made with actual values observed during circulating out the influx. This information can play an important role in the decision making process during well control operations. The pressure at the top of a gas bubble at any point in the annulus while circulating it out using the Wait & Weight method can be calculated as follows:
Px = Vinf .o Z T A A + + Po (hinf .o inf .o ) } 2 2 2 AV .cap.x Z 1T1 2 2
2 1 2

where:

A = Po ( D X ) 2 + D1( 2 1 ) (hinf .o x inf .o ) x


Px= pressure at the top of the gas at point X Po = formation pressure hinf.o = height of gas column at the bottom of the hole

AV .cap.o AV .cap.x

inf .o = original influx gradient 1 = original mud gradient 2 = kill-mud gradient


Vinf.o = original influx volume AV.cap.x = average annular capacity of influx volume at point X

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AV.cap.o = average annular capacity of influx volume at bottom Z1 = initial compressibility factor of gas Z2 = compressibility factor of gas at point X T1= absolute initial temperature of the gas T2 = absolute temperature of the gas at point X D = depth of the hole (True Vertical) D1= height of the 1 mud in the annulus after it has been displaced from the drill string X = depth of point X If there is no 2 mud in the annulus, use 1 instead of 2 . We can assume

Z 2T2 = 1 if there is no other information available. Z 1T1

The influx volume at point X can be calculated as follows:

Vinf . x =
3.6. 3.6.1.

Po (hinf .o x inf .o ) Z T xVinf .o x 2 2 Px Z 1T1


Tertiary Control Introduction

In circumstances where secondary control cannot be properly effected to restore primary control due to gain/loss situation, equipment failure or hole conditions, certain emergency procedures can be implemented to prevent the total loss of control. Such measures, sometimes referred to as 'Tertiary Control', may lead to partial or complete abandonment of the well. Prudent application of these techniques at an early stage may avert much more serious consequences. The procedures to be applied in order to effect Tertiary Control depend on the particular operating conditions which are encountered. Specific recommendations regarding appropriate procedures cannot therefore be given. However, three common procedures should be noted. These involve the use of:


3.6.2.

barite plugs; cement plugs. reactive squeeze plug mixes. Barite Plugs

A barite plug is a slurry of barite mixed in a low viscosity carrier liquid. This may be either water (fresh, sea or brine) or diesel oil whichever is compatible with the mud system. The slurry is displaced through the drill string to form a balanced plug on bottom. Ideally, if conditions allow, the string is then pulled up above it. The barite settles out rapidly and should form an impermeable mass, capable of isolating the problem zone.

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Barite plugs are most commonly used when a well reaches a point where there is no longer any margin between mud hydrostatic gradient on bottom and formation breakdown at a weaker zone higher in the hole. This situation can arise from either:

Weighting up to counteract increasing pore pressure; Weighting up to kill a kick; Mud loss from fracturing.

In each case the well may be quite safe with the bit on bottom. The well not flowing and not shut in. Typically there are no static mud losses but there are dynamic losses. The entire mud system cannot be weighted up enough to provide a safe trip margin because of the losses. If attempts to seal the loss zone have failed and there is insufficient vertical height between the pressure zone and the loss zone to counteract the pressure with a conventional heavy slug, a barite plug can be set. This can seal off the bottom hole productive zone with a relatively short plug to enable the drilling assembly to be pulled and casing to be run and cemented to isolate the loss zone. It may even be possible to wash down the casing through the plug. The effectiveness of a barite plug derives from the high density and fine particle size of the material, and its ability to form a tough impermeable barrier. It can be pumped through the bit and offers a reasonable chance of recovering the drill string. In addition, the material to mix it is normally available on site and the plug can be drilled/washed easily after casing is set. To be effective the slurry must:

be made with good quality barite with a low clay content; have a high density. The density must be at least 3.5 kPa/m (0.15 psi/ft) greater than the mud density; have a rapid settling rate; have a high water loss.

The main disadvantage is the risk of settlement and consequent plugging of the string if pumping has to be stopped before the slurry has been completely displaced. The string must be pulled above the plug immediately on cessation of displacement. Barite plugs are not suitable in situations where there is any flow that could keep the barite in suspension. Always conduct a pilot test using the available materials before mixing the plug. 3.6.3. Barite-Water Mix

For use in conjunction with water base mud. To avoid mud and/or hole instability problems, the plug make-up water should be the same as mud make-up water. Also, be aware that after the barite settles out there will be a slug of light weight carrier liquid in the hole.

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Recipe for Mixing Barite Plug Slurry in Fresh Water Required Slurry Density Kpa/m 18.82 21.17 23.52 25.88 psi/ft 0.83 0.94 1.04 1.14 ppg 16.0 18.0 20.0 22.0 Barite per unit of mix Water kg/m3 1696 2389 3268 4417 lb/bbl 593 836 1143 1545 Slurry Volume per unit of mix Water 1.4 1.6 1.8 2.1

Slurry mixed in salt water or brine will be correspondingly heavier for the same amount of barite. A thinner should be added to prevent flocculation. Lignosulphonate kg/m 1.14 2.0 3.6.4.
3

Caustic Soda lb/bbl 0.4 0.7 kg/m3 0.71 lb/bbl 0.25

OR Sodiumhexametaphosphate (for BHT < 60C only)

Barite-Diesel Mix

A barite-diesel mix plug is preferred in oil based or invert emulsion muds (alternatively a barite-water mix can be used with a diesel spacer ahead and behind). Recipe for Mixing Barite Plug Slurry in Diesel Fuel. Required Slurry Density Kpa/m 18.82 21.17 23.52 25.88 psi/ft 0.83 0.94 1.04 1.14 ppg 16.0 18.0 20.0 22.0 Barite per unit of mix Diesel kg/m3 1959 2684 3602 4802 lb/bbl 685 939 1260 1680 Slurry Volume per unit of mix Diesel 1.4 1.6 1.9 2.1

An oil wetting agent should be added in the concentration of 14 kg/m3 (5 lb/bbl). Mixing and Displacement of Barite Plugs Barite plugs are usually batch-mixed in a rig slug tank or dedicated batch mixing tank that is fitted with a mixer and preferably, jet guns. Continuous agitation of the barite pill is highly recommended. Displacement can be with the rig pumps. It may be feasible and preferable in some circumstances to mix and displace with a cementing unit. This gives more accurate volume control for displacement but can be difficult to avoid contamination when mixing through bulk systems normally reserved for cement. In any event, it is important to avoid stoppages whilst pumping as the barite may settle out and plug the string. A minimum final plug length of 60 m (200 ft) in the open hole should be planned to ensure a good seal. Plugs should not be less than 1.6 m3 (10 bbl) in volume to allow accurate displacement.

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3.6.5.

Cement Plugs

A cement plug could be employed to seal off a troublesome pressure zone on bottom in the same circumstances as described above for a barite plug, with little added risk. A cement plug could also be employed to shut off a small downhole flow. However, this will almost invariably result in loss of a significant part of the hole and loss of most of the drilling tools. A quantity of quick setting (accelerated) cement is pumped into the annulus via the drill string. Quick setting cement reduces the possibility of gas cutting taking place. The cement is usually displaced until pump and choke pressures indicate that a bridge has formed. This is usually done with the BOP and choke closed. If a cement plug is to be set off bottom it will rarely be feasible to set a slug of viscous mud below the zone to be plugged although this would be desirable, particularly in long or deviated holes, or when the cement slurry is substantially heavier than the mud. The alternative is to mix extra cement slurry to allow for losses to the hole below the drill string. The use of cement plugs offers little chance of recovering the drill string. It is also likely that after pumping cement through the string, it will become plugged, precluding any second attempt if the first should not succeed. A cement plug in a flowing well should therefore be regarded as a last ditch attempt. 3.6.6. Reactive Squeeze Plug Mixes

These include the so-called "gunk" squeeze and some proprietary formulations such as Halliburton's FlexPlug and basically consist of a mixture of water reactive components in diesel or vice versa. These can be used when well control is threatened by lost circulation such as is often experienced in cavernous, vugular or fractured carbonates. Reactive plug squeezes have also been used beneficially to cure underground blowouts. Well Control, Cementing and/or Mud Service Companies should be consulted for the most recent recommendations. Refer to Section 10. Application These would typically be used in the situation where there is pipe in the hole and it is impossible to trip out because of the inability to keep the hole full, or there is an underground blowout. Advantages No other material has the same ability to set on the fly in a gas flow. Unlimited pumping time. Can be pumped through the drilling assembly. Requires scrupulous cleaning, flushing and isolation of tanks and lines to avoid premature reaction and setting.

Disadvantages

Formulation The compatibility of the reactive plug with the mud has to be checked beforehand. Pilot tests must be carried out before mixing, and final formulation adjusted as necessary. Brine mud may severely limit the reactivity.

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Usually mixed in batches of 20bbl to 100bbl (3m3 to 16 m3) in tanks that have been thoroughly cleaned and all contaminants (water) removed. Cement batch mix tanks are ideal for this purpose. If a rig mud pit is to be used it must be isolated from the remainder of the mud system. All surface lines should be drained and flushed. When there is Water Base Mud in the hole the reactive plug is formulated in diesel or oil. Typical concentrations: Bentonite only - 400ppb (1140kg/m3) bentonite in diesel. Bentonite and Cement - 200ppb (570kg/m3) bentonite + 200ppb (570kg/m3) cement. When there is Oil Base Mud (OBM) in the hole the reactive plug (proprietary product) must be formulated in water. Typical concentrations for OBM as specified by Baroid for their product GELTONE:
Slurry Density Additive per unit volume of slurry (bbl, m3) Water
Kpa/m psi/ft ppg m3 bbl

Barite
kg/m3 lb/bbl

Lignosulfonate
kg/m3 lb/bbl

Caustic Soda
kg/m3 lb/bbl

GELTONE
kg/m3 lb/bbl

12.48 15.42 18.82

0.55 0.68 0.83

10.5 13.0 16.0

0.66 0.63 0.58

0.66 0.63 0.58

0 499 1055

0 175 370

10 10 10

3.5 3.5 3.5

4 4 4

1.5 1.5 1.5

627 428 285

220 150 100

Slurry volume should be no less than 20bbl (3 m3) or twice the open hole volume of the loss zone. Displacement Spacers of the slurry base liquid must precede and follow the plug. The spacer volumes should occupy no less than 500ft (150m) of the drill string in front and behind. Pumping sequence: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Position the drill string with the bit above, but close to, the zone to be treated if possible. Install circulating head and cementing lines and pressure test. Pump spacer ahead into the drill string. Pump slurry into the drill string. Pump spacer behind into the drill string. Displace with mud to put the first spacer at the bit. Do not over displace. Close the annular preventer. Simultaneously pump mud into the drill pipe and into the annulus below the BOP at equal rates until all the slurry has been displaced from the drill string.

Using the cementing unit:

Using rig pump on the annulus and cementing unit on the pipe:

A hesitation squeeze may be performed to attempt to establish a minimum level of competency of the plug. If the loss zone is above the bit the drill string will probably become irretrievably stuck in the hole.

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Note that there will be a volume of low-density spacer and carrier fluid left in the hole after the plug has reacted with the mud. 3.7. Barrier Requirements

All operations conducted on a well are performed under the protection of barriers. SIEP operate a double barrier policy. This policy requires that under NORMAL CONDITIONS, two barriers are required for each potential flow path from the well. 3.7.1. Terminology

Barrier: is any system or device that can be used to contain fluid or pressure within the confines of the well. Normally Open: A barrier which is open during normal operations but at readiness to close (e.g. Xmas tree or BOP). Normally Closed: Usually a permanent installation in the well such as cemented casing, cement plug, production packer etc.) First Barrier: The term used to describe systems providing first line containment. Second Barrier: The term used to describe systems providing backup to the first barrier. Independent: Not reliant on another barrier to ensure pressure integrity, e.g. two similar plugs can be considered to be independent so long as each can be regarded as reliable in its own right. Dependant: Reliant on another barrier to maintain integrity, e.g. a check valve requiring a kill weight hydrostatic head to maintain closure. 3.7.2. Mechanical Barriers Cemented casing with shoe and floats intact. Cement plugs, tagged and tested. Cemented liners, pressure tested and the liner lap (& liner top packer) inflow tested. Annular side outlet valves or VR plugs in side outlet bore. BOPs pressure tested drilling, wireline and CT stacks. SSSV: Safety valves are generally considered a barrier if inflow tested with a zero leak rate. (NB: API definition of a sub surface safety valve includes an acceptable leak rate) Tubing hanger seals pressure tested via the hanger test ports in the wellhead or against the casing. Plugs with bi-directional seals (o-rings or solid seal elements) are considered to be a barrier if inflow tested, or under some circumstances pressure tested from above.

Types of Barrier

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Remarks

Flapper type valves can only be considered as a first barrier and only then if a positive differential can be maintained to hold the valve shut. If it were to be used as a second barrier there is no way of inflow testing. It is generally considered that plugs dressed with chevron seals (or with separate sealing faces) must be pressure tested in the direction of flow to be considered a barrier. Individual barriers which are normally open shall be regularly tested in accordance with approved testing procedures (e.g. BOP, Xmas Tree and SSSV routine testing). Barriers which are normally closed shall be tested at the time of installation to confirm that they are correctly positioned. Testing of a barrier should be in the direction of anticipated flow whenever possible.

Should a barrier fail, immediate action shall be taken to restore or replace that barrier prior to continuing operations 3.7.3. Fluid Barriers Drilling Mud of sufficient density to overbalance any zones in the well capable of flow. Brine Non particulate fluid of kill weight density normally used in conjunction with LCM. Dynamic Fluid Column Continual fill, restricted to total loss conditions. Only drilling mud can be defined as a truly independent well barrier. It can support an overbalanced fluid column by means of mud cake preventing losses to the formation. However, in order to maintain the condition and therefore the weight of the mud, it must be circulated. Therefore, mud can only be considered a temporary barrier with a life span dependent on the mud weight and temperature. Barite drop-out will start earlier the heavier the mud and high temperatures normally speed up this process. Non-particulate fluids such as brine cannot be said to be an independent barrier under most circumstances. Generally, only in conditions where LCM is held against the formation by a hydrostatic pressure greater than reservoir pressure is brine acceptable as a first barrier, and then only when the brine column can be maintained by circulation. Under some circumstances (generally low permeability or heavy oil reservoirs) a column of brine alone (no LCM) may act as a viable barrier. However, this capability must never be assumed and brine alone must only be used based on local experience. The brine can only be said to provide a true barrier if its level can be observed continuously to ensure maintenance of the hydrostatic head. In practice this is not

Types of Barrier

Remarks

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normally possible, especially when an upper mechanical barrier encloses the brine column.

Brine supported by a plug can only be considered as a single pressure barrier since the brine is completely dependent on the plug not leaking. In areas where total losses are usual and dynamic fluid barriers are used, a minimum fill-up rate (based on water availability and well control requirements) must be stated, below which the well must be shut-in until continuous supply at the correct minimum rate can be re-established. Barrier Test Integrity

3.7.4.

Barriers must be tested to ensure that they prevent the flow of fluid or transfer of pressure within defined acceptance criteria. The following aspects must be addressed: Acceptance Criteria Criteria under which the test will be accepted as valid and recommended actions in the event that the barrier fails to meet the criteria. Pressure Differential - P across the barrier should be large enough to adequately challenge the integrity of the barrier. Test Feasibility Barrier integrity is usually measured as a pressure change or flow of fluid into or from a fixed volume (flowline, annulus, cavity etc.) adjacent to the barrier. This fixed volume must be of dimensions that allow changes of pressure or volume due to leakage through the barrier to be assessed relative to the acceptance criteria. Duration The test period should be of adequate duration to ensure stable test conditions apply and changes of pressure / volume can be accurately measured. Frequency Tests should be repeated at a frequency that accurately confirms the competence of the barrier. Barrier tests must be conducted in a manner that ensures accurate measurement of changing parameters using calibrated test equipment. Charts or printouts must be retained to provide a record of the test performed. 3.7.5. Inflow Testing

When inflow testing it is often hard to efficiently determine if a barrier is leak tight, as a 'no flow' situation could take some time. Typically in a HPHT well this can be longer than 4 hours, especially if a cold fluid has been circulated above the barrier. In this case a Horner Inflow test is required The minimum test period is one hour (past experience suggests a reliable trend takes between 1 and 3 hours depending upon well circumstances). Horner Plot Guidelines

During inflow test, periodically measure rate of flow at say 10 minute intervals. For each sample point, calculate: Horner Time = Ln((T+dT)/dT) where T is the time since the last circulation (in minutes, may be taken as an arbitrary 60) and dT is the time since the start of the inflow test, recorded in minutes. On the Y axis: plot rate of flow (L/min) on a linear scale. X-axis: plot Horner Time on a logarithmic scale.

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Interpolate between sample points with a straight line if possible. (Exponential rate decay should plot linearly).
Starting Point Rate or Flow L/m Fail

Pass

10

100

Horner Time (Log scale)

Figure 3.7.1: Typical Horner Plot If the plot projection clearly trends towards an intersect of the X-axis at or before infinite time (Horner time = 1), the test can be considered good. If the plot projection trends towards an intersect of the Y-axis (some flow at infinite time) the test can be considered as a fail. Using the Horner plot provides an opportunity to optimise inflow testing by reducing as much as possible, the subjective nature of the "reducing trend". 3.7.6. Sub- Hydrostatic Reservoirs

Where it can be shown that a sub hydrostatic reservoir is incapable of flow to surface, a single barrier may be used to isolate the reservoir. Note that depending on the GOR, sub hydrostatic does NOT necessarily mean incapable of natural flow.

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