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Copyright 2012, Brazilian Petroleum, Gas and Biofuels Institute - IBP
This Technical Paper was prepared for presentation at the Rio Oi & Gas Expo and Conference 2012, held between September, 1720, 2012, in Rio de Janeiro. This Technical Paper was selected for presentation by the Technical Committee of the event according to the information contained in the final paper submitted by the author(s). The organizers are not supposed to translate or corr ect the submitted papers. The material as it is presented, does not necessarily represent Brazilian Petroleum, Gas and Biofuels Institute’ opinion, or that of its Members or Representatives. Authors consent to the publication of this Technical Paper in the Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012 Proceedings.

Currently, well control events are almost exclusively detected by using surface measurements. Measuring a volume increase in the ‘closed loop’ mud circulation system; a standpipe pressure decrease; or changes in a variety of drilling parameters provide indicators of a kick. Especially in deepwater, where the riser comprises a substantial section of the wellbore, early kick detection is paramount for limiting the severity of a wellbore influx and improve the ability to regain well control. While downhole data is presently available from downhole tools nearby the bit, available data rates are sparse as mud pulse telemetry bandwidth is limited and wellbore measurements compete with transmission of other subsurface data. Further, data transfer is one-directional, latency is significant and conditions along the string are unknown. High-bandwidth downhole data transmission system, via a wired or networked drillstring system, has the unique capability to acquire real-time pressure and temperature measurement at a number of locations along the drillstring. This system provides high-resolution downhole data available at very high speed, eliminating latency and restrictions that typically limit the availability of downhole data. The paper describes well control opportunities for deepwater operations through the use of downhole data independent from surface measurements. First, the networked drillstring provides efficient ways to identify pore pressure, fracture gradient, and true mud weight that comprise the safe drilling margin. Second, the independent measurement capability provides early kick detection and improved ability to analyze an influx even with a heterogeneous mud column through distributed along-string annular pressure measurements. Third, a methodology is proposed for a direct measurement method using downhole real-time pressure for maintaining constant bottomhole pressure during well kills in deepwater.

1. Introduction
Prompt kick detection is critical in deepwater operations with a subsea BOP stack, as it is imperative that the rig crew detect the influx before the hydrocarbons rise above the BOP stack0. If the kick is not detected and hydrocarbons have risen above the BOP stack, then well control response options are severely limited and the risk of a blowout increase significantly. Especially in deepwater, where the riser comprises a substantial section of the wellbore and productive hydrocarbon zones can be found relatively shallow below the mud line, early kick detection is paramount for limiting the severity of a wellbore influx and for improving the ability to regain well control. While response times for early kick detection are crucial, traditionally, wellsite and operational personnel rely on surface measurements such as flow in and out, pumping pressures, and a number of mechanical measures to identify a wellbore influx. An increase in the ‘closed loop’ mud circulation system; a standpipe pressure decrease; or changes in a variety of drilling parameters provide identification of a kick. Gas influxes in an oil base fluid environment may remain soluble, and avoid detection until the point where it breaks out of solution at shallower depths near or even above the BOPs. Unsurprisingly, correct interpretation of developing downhole events when using surface measurements is impacted by the following circumstances:

______________________________ 1 Master of Science, Petroleum Engineer - National Oilwell Varco IntelliServ

Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012 Environmental conditions such as heave, roll, and pitch Downhole conditions such as ballooning or wellbore breathing, lost circulation Mechanical factors such as plugged lines or hydrate formation

Training and experience deficiencies may also impact the speedy recognition of well control events unfolding, and the corrective measures to arrest the event. And standard well control training assumes homogenous kill mud weight instead of heterogeneous columns in the annulus and drillstring. Technical challenges are posed by long choke lines in deepwater subsea systems that generate substantial friction effects: Unpredictable pressure swings result when gas breaks out of a solution,enters and displaces the liquid mud inside the chokeline, followed by its displacement by liquid kill mud.These pressure swings result in substantial fluctuations in bottomhole pressure, without means to quickly adjust the choke to prevent formation breakdown and associated fluid losses and other complications, as personnel and systems currently rely on modeling and surface measurements.

2. Downhole Measurements Independent from Surface Measurements
For early well control identification, and to effectively analyze and ultimately control the event, the deepwater operating environment needs real-time downhole measurements in addition to surface data. Three main challenges are identified: 1. Inaccurate measurements with limited redundancy to track mud volumes. Surface measurements may not be accurate enough for volumetric detection as flow rate sensors have a 5-10% inaccuracy and may be hampered by heave, roll, and pitch of the rig. It can also be case by simultaneous operations in the mud pit room such as communication errors around mud transfers, mixing or operation of solids control equipment. Insufficient data from downhole during subsurface operations. Not only are the typical mud-pulse transmission rates at 10-20 bits per second (bps) very limited, the signal further degrades at depths encountered in deepwater at higher mud weights. Furthermore, downhole data is only available when the pumps exceed a minimum flow threshold and thereby limit valuable bottomhole pressure during static periods or during well control at a slow kill rate. In addition, real-time downhole data is even scarcer during operations that utilize drillpipe such as casing running and cementing in subsea or liner application, or lower completions, which typically involve swapping barriers that increase well containment risks. Limited by data that is only acquired nearby the bit. Data is acquired nearby the drillbit, but data acquisition is absent for the miles of drillstring and exposed wellbore sections. This leads drillers to theorize how events are unfolding, within the annulus between bit and rig floor, during downhole operations ranging from drilling to cementing and completions.



Wired-pipe or networked drillstring supplement/complement the essential surface measurements with downhole data at three magnitudes faster (57,600 bps1,2) than the data rate of wireless communication such as mud pulse. The system is always on, and provides both dynamic and static bottomhole pressure readings. Second, through the network nodes, conditions are measured along the entire hydrostatic column around the drillstring. Third, communication is two-way, providing more efficient communication with all downhole tools. Table 1 summarizes the differentiation between the wired and the wireless telemetry, specifically to identify, analyze, and control a wellbore influx.


Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012 Table 1. Differences between wired and wireless data transmission specifically to identify, analyze, and control a wellbore influx. WELL CONTROL Identify Wireless transmission of downhole data through mud pulse telemetry - Insufficient data from downhole during subsurface operations, degrade by depth Wired transmission of downhole data through networked drillstring telemetry - Wired-pipe or networked drillstring transfer data from downhole tools three magnitude faster (57,600bps) - High resolution annular pressure measurement update frequency <5sec - Along string annular pressure evaluation at discrete network nodes provide dynamic insights beyond just near the bit - Multiple annular pressure and bore pressure measurements along the drillstring providing downhole information even during periods without flow during all well construction phases involving networked drillstrings - Direct measurement of bottomhole pressure, independent of surface measurements - Two-way communication provided efficient commanding and quality control of downhole tools - Direct actuation of battery-powered downhole tools through the wire


- Annular pressure measurement updates transmitted only a few times per minute - Limited by data that is only acquired nearby the bit


- Reliance on surface data as downhole annular pressure measurements require a minimum flow rate for transmission to surface, and downhole data is therefore absent during shut-in and well kill operations - Reliance on surface data

- Constrained by one-way data due to receiver-transmitter arrangement

- Downhole tools actuate through mechanical actions only, as ‘downlinking’ to electronic tools that require flow

The networked drillstring incorporates tubulars that are similar to conventional drillstring in terms of functionality, handling and specifications. The components – from bottomhole assembly (BHA) to surface – are configured to carry a broadband signal through a stainless steel armored coax cable that runs between the pin and box of each tubular. The induction coils placed at both the pin and box of each connection serve to transmit data from one drillpipe joint to the next. Booster assemblies are electrical components spaced at approximately 1,500 ft apart and prevent data signal degradation as it travels the length of the string to and from surface. These battery powered assemblies, or network nodes, enable the along-string evaluation of temperature, annular, and bore pressure at discreet positions3. This capability is comparable to annular pressure while drilling (APWD), but routinely six to nine4 additional sensors provide insights in the wellbore environment, beyond just the sensor near the bit. See Figure 1 and Figure 2.


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Figure 1. Typical wellbore trajectory and placement of six-along string annular pressure evaluation sensors

Figure 2. Networked drillstring’s distributed pressure and temperature measurement assemblies allow for along-string evaluation of wellbore conditions from just near the bit to the surface. Fluid identifications, mechanical valve, and packer capabilities (presented by the red arrows) are soon to be expected.


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3. Workflows that Improve Safety in Deepwater
Safety – specifically for deepwater operations – benefits from supplementing downhole information to the existing surface data. The framework below is used to “identify, analyze and control” the safe drilling margin. Next, the identification of kicks through downhole measurements, independent from surface measurements is discussed, as well as the analysis and control of the well using a newly proposed ‘direct measurement method’. Finally, the downhole realtime measurements are used to conduct negative pressure testing to verify wellbore integrity, and identify gas inside the riser. See Figure 3.

Figure 3 – Safety management framework to identify, analyze and control events is commonly used in the aviation industry.

3.1 Identify: Pore Pressure, Fracture Gradient and Safe Drilling Margin
The safe drilling margin encompasses the pore pressure, fracture gradient, and true mud weight. The networked drillstrings enable the three elements comprising the safe drilling margin to be established independently from surface measurements. 3.1.1 Identify: Pore Pressure Identifying the pore pressure, the first element of the safe drilling margin, is routinely accomplished with a formation pressure testing tool. The operation of formation pressure testers is about 50% more efficient compared to downlinking through the two-way communication capability in high-permeable formations such as in deepwater Gulf of Mexico5. This not only significantly reduces the chance of getting stuck through reduced stationary time, but also quality control in real time is obtainable during drawdown – even with pumps off –instead of relying on communication via downlinking and mud pulse that require mud flow. In a recent deepwater well, 54 formation pressure tests were taken. Nine tests were tight while 39 tests were taken, exploiting the ability for real-time quality control similar to the feedback when testing on wireline. The 12 ¼” testing tool with a 14” extension pad tested successful in five tests in the 14 ½” hole at 18 degrees inclination. A seal couldn’t be established in six tests in large hole with well inclination below eight degrees, which were quickly aborted. The series of 54 formation pressure tests (FPTs) were conducted in seven minutes per test on average. This equates to a time savings of approximately eight minutes per test in deepwater Gulf of Mexico and the improved quality control eliminated the time for a wireline run and associated check trip following the log-run. Figure 4 demonstrates that three good tests were achieved in just 17 minutes.


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Figure 4 - Formation pressure test tool commanded by two-way communication through networked drillstring. Three good tests were achieved in the 14 ½” x 16 ½” hole at approximately 15,000 feet in 17 minutes, (block height is presented by the dashed curve), 3.1.2 Identify: Fracture Gradient The fracture gradient, the second element that comprises the safe drilling margin, is routinely measured by conducting a leak off or formation integrity test. While tools provided by service companies’ record annular pressure, the networked drillstrings transmit the formation breakdown, the fracture propagation, and the shut-in pressure for real-time interpretation as the test is ongoing. Further, the compounding annular pressure and temperature measurements at various network nodes reveal information about compressibility and fluid densities difference throughout the annulus. Circulation time for obtaining a homogenous fluid column – a prerequisite for inference through surface measurements – is eliminated through the direct bottomhole measurement. See Figure 5.

Figure 5. Annular pressure measurements at four positions along the drillstring during a leak off test. 3.1.3 Identify: Mud Weight The downhole hydrostatic measurements displayed in Figure 5 provide easy identification of the third element of the safe drilling margin; the true mud weight and its distributions throughout the annulus. The fluid column may or may not have a heterogeneous density and undergo compressibility under the influence of pressure and temperature. This downhole measurement ability takes out interpretation and estimation of the position for slugs or weighted sweeps that may cause U-tubing or other flow effects that may distort surface observations.

3.2 Analyze: Influx in the Annulus

Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012 The location of the influx and the type of influx can be determined through independent pressure measurements from surface measurements. Once the influx is identified, maintaining and controlling bottomhole pressure is made possible based on direct downhole measurements as opposed to a complex computation performed under stress. The network’s ability to take multiple distributed pressure measurements along the entire length of the drillstring allows developing well control issues to be accurately analyzed and characterized. The downhole data, independent from surface data, is available both at stationary conditions with the pumps off as well as with the pumps on. Figure 6 shows an example of a well influx occurring at the bit while drilling, as well as the decision flowchart that is based on the networked drillstring. At initial conditions (time t=0) the incoming formation fluids are still located below the pressure sensors and hence the absolute pressures and gradients remain unchanged. As drilling goes on, the formation pressure continues to exceed the hydrostatic (dynamically exerted) pressure, and formation fluids continue entering into the wellbore (t=1). The pressure sensor nearest to the bit (Sensor 1) is the first sensor to record an annular pressure reduction. As the influx height increases to the next sensor (Sensor 2), the corresponding pressure gradient is reduced between the two deepest sensors that are the nearest to the bit, while the gradients in the sections uphole remain unchanged. At times t=2 and t=3, as the wellbore influx passes Sensor 3 and Sensor 4, the gradients in these subsequent sections decrease as well. See Figure 6.

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Figure 6. Analysis of the annular pressure gradients between various sensors along the networked drillstring as formation fluid travels up the wellbore. Figure 7 graphs a phenomena, presenting annular pressure as a function of time for six different pressure sensors distributed along the drillstring for a slightly deviated deepwater wellbore. Marked with point (1) is the first pressure increase at the deepest drillstring pressure sensor. Approximately five minutes later, the second pressure sensor positioned further up the string registered the pressure increase as well. Next, 20 minutes later (3), the third sensor measured a pressure increase approximately a magnitude larger, followed 15 minutes later by the fourth sensor observing the pressure increase (4). Finally, five of the sensors recorded a pressure increase (6), while the sixth and shallowest positioned sensor showed a pressure decrease (7). While this data set shows a cutting accumulation traveling up the annulus and ultimately packing-off between the fifth and sixth sensor, it proves that a pressure decreased response caused by an influx of hydrocarbons could be detected through the distributed pressure sensors and thereby improving the analysis capability during a well control event.


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Figure 7. Annular pressure measurements by six sensors along the drillstring as a function of time

4. Control: Direct Measurement Circulating Method
Two widely used constant bottomhole pressure circulating methods are the Driller’s Method and the Wait and Weight Method. The latter is frequently referred to as the Engineer’s Method as more calculations are required. The focus here is not to discuss the relative advantages and disadvantages of the two methods. Instead, the Direct Measurement Method is introduced, which benefits uniquely from the networked drillstring’s ability to acquire and transmit real-time annular and bore pressure data under both static and dynamic conditions all along the wellbore. Once the influx is identified and BOPs have been closed, the Direct Measurement Method affords a direct measurement of the bottomhole pressure. Directly following, the circulate-out of hole of the influx can commence, maintaining the established constant bottomhole pressure and operations of the (auto) choke. Table 2 compares the two popular methods with the Direct Measurement Method.
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Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012 Table 2. Comparison between the driller’s method, the engineer’s method, and the direct measurement method. Driller’s Method Concept Circulate out influx, maintaining constant drill pipe pressure, followed by displacement to heavier mud if required, and maintaining constant casing pressure. Engineer’s Method (Wait & Weight) One circulation with heavier mud, applying the choke according to a calculated drill pipe pressure schedule while displacing lighter mud inside the (tapered) drillstring, taking trajectory into account. Constant pump rate Homogenous kill mud weight Computation of pressure response, using surface measurements Direct Measurement Method Direct start of well kill, based on direct bottomhole pressure measurement to circulate out the influx and introducing heavy mud when available (heterogeneous density). Networked drillstring Direct, downhole pressure measurement to ensure constant bottomhole pressure is maintained even as gas travels up the choke line - Time efficient - Best ability to maintain constant bottomhole pressure, without model or calculation - Direct control of autochoke and automated startup/shutdown of mud pumps

Constraints Ease/difficulty No calculations required, using surface measurements


- In some instances more time consuming - Lower pressure at the shoe than Engineer’s method

- In some instances, more time efficient - Could increase risk for stuck pipe


Figure 8 presents the pressure responses for three annular pressure sensors and for one bore pressure sensor (or standpipe pressure) as a function of time. At point (1), the formation pressure increase as drilling continued. At (2), the annular pressure decreases as hydrocarbons continue to enter the annulus, and the BOPs are closed at (3), BHP is established. Directly (4), original mud is circulated, maintaining constant bottomhole pressure. The weighted kill mud is circulated as it becomes available (5) at the available density as mixing continues. The bore pressure sensors convey the pressure gradients inside the drillstring in real time for confirmation that the kill mud passed the deepest drillstring sensor (and is entering into the annulus). At (6) kill mud is circulated back to surface and the pressure gradients convey the advancement of heavy mud in the annulus. Finally, (7) the BOPs are opened for operations to continue as before. The Direct Measurement Method complements, or replaces, conventional well kill methods that depend on manually following a kill-sheet that originated from complex calculations performed under time constraints and stress by personnel who may have limited exposure or experience with well control events. The additional high-frequency downhole information not only improves the safety and accuracy, but also allows for dynamically killing the well, improving the efficiency, and saving rig time.


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Figure 8. Pressure responses of downhole pressure sensors during the Direct Measurement Method

5. Summary and Conclusions
Deepwater operations call for new processes and technologies to ensure the safety of workers, environment, and assets. Wired or networked drillstring technology offers acquisition of downhole measurements in real time for identification, analysis, and control of subsurface processes independently from surface measurements. In a relatively short period of time, networked drillstrings have made significant strides in their capabilities regarding speed, system integration, and the number of measurements afforded. At a data transmission rate of 57,600 bps, the system measures pressure and temperature along the drillstring and integrates this data to help identify, analyze, control, and offer redundancy to existing methods. The networked drillstring systems improve safety for deepwater well control in three ways: First, networked drillstrings provide downhole data independent from surface measurements to identify pore pressure, fracture gradient, and true mud weight that comprise the safe drilling margin. Second, the independent along-string pressure evaluation affords early kick identification and improved ability to analyze and control an influx even with heterogeneous mud column. Third, a methodology is offered for conducting effective well control operations benefitting from the direct downhole pressure measurements in real time.


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6. Recommendations and future work
While this proven networked drillstring system has deployed more than 1,000,000 feet on over one hundred wells, including two deepwater wells in the pre-salt region of Brazil, and was mobilized as back-up for a relief well application in deepwater Gulf of Mexico, new applications are still being developed. Offshore managed pressure drilling from floating rigs, dual gradient drilling, and automated drilling based on closed-loop downhole measurements are a few of these applications. Technology also continues to advance. Along with the annular and bore pressure sensors that are currently available, developments are ongoing to determine flow rate at distributed measurement stations along the networked drill string. These flow rate sensors, as well as fluid identification sensors, would provide additional means for kick detection and lead to better well control. Future work is ongoing in four categories. First, the network upgrade to 2.0Mbps from 57,600 bps will also deliver time synchronization capability, which is very useful for seismic measurements and for providing a look-ahead as opposed to just the side-view of many logging measurements. Second, a number of “active” tools are under development. Examples are flow bypass valves, packers, and reamers that are activated from surface through the network. Activation of wallcontact pads offers opportunities for improved cement bond logging with spell out (LWD). These “active” tools not only increase the functionality, but also create opportunities without the limitations by mechanical tools that are frequently activated with balls or time – consuming handling routines. Third, developments are ongoing to determine flow rate at distributed measurement stations along the networked drill string. These flow rate sensors, as well as fluid identification sensors, would provide additional means for kick detection and lead to better well control. Fourth, drillers are constrained by one-way data due to receiver-transmitter arrangement. Probing, diagnosing or simply commanding a tool relies on applying pressure fluctuations at surface that are interpreted downhole – often taking minutes of valuable rig time. Safety, efficiency and more possibilities are improved by downhole tools that can be commanded through bidirectional communication. Currently flow bypass valves are conceived that can be operated from surface with instantaneous feedback that the command was executed.
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7. Acknowledgements
The author wishes to thank management, operations teams, wellsite crews of National Oilwell Varco IntelliServ, and our service partners for their contribution and support in publishing this paper. In addition, thanks to Baker Hughes for the illustration presented in Figure 4.

8. References
0 1

BSEE report regarding the causes of the April 20, 2010 Macondo well blowout, September 14, 2011 Jellison, Grant Prideco; Hall, IntelliServ; Howard, BP America Inc.; Hall, Jr., IntelliServ; Long, DOE NETL; Chandler, Grant Prideco; Pixton, IntelliServ, SPE79885, “Telemetry Drill Pipe: Enabling Technology for the Downhole Internet” Presented at the SPE/IADC Drilling Conference, Amsterdam, Netherlands, February 2003, 2 Hernandez, MacNeill, Reeves, IntelliServ; Kirkwood, Lemke, Ruszka, Zaeper, Baker Hughes INTEQ SPE 113157-MS , “High-Speed Wired Drillstring Telemetry Network Delivers Increased Safety, Efficiency, Reliability and Productivity to the Drilling Industry”, Presented at the SPE Indian Oil and Gas Technical Conference and Exhibition, 4-6 March 2008, Mumbai, India. 3 Veeningen, SPE22239, “Along-String Pressure Evaluation Enabled by Broadband Networked Drillstring Provide Safety, Efficiency Gains”, presented at the Offshore Technology Conference Brasil held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 4–6 October 2011 4 Recently a pre-salt deepwater well employed nine along-string annular pressure sensors. 5 Veeningen, SPE143430 Novel High Speed Telemetry System with Measurements Along the String Mitigate Drilling Risk and Improve Drilling Efficiency”, presented at the Brasil Offshore, Macaé, Brazil, June 2011.