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Offshore Oil & Gas Technology

Offshore drilling in Floaters
• In offshore drilling using floaters, two important
modifications, which differs from land-based drilling
operations, are made on the floats:
– The BOPs are mounted on the sea floor, instead of directly
beneath the rig floor as on a land rig. The BOPs are positioned
on the sea floor to enable the floater to abandon the location
during a storm. The BOP can be left behind to seal the well and
prevent an uncontrolled discharge of well fluid into the ocean.
– Risers, a large heavy steel pipe (2 to 3 ft in diameter), are used
to connect the BOP with the floater. The risers are large enough
to allow the drill pipe and bit to pass through them. Drilling mud
is pumped down the inside of the drill pipe and return through
the annular space between the drill pipe and the riser. Control
lines are run down the outside of the riser from the surface, and
are used to actuate the BOP. The riser includes a telescoping
joint to allow for vertical motion of the floater, together with a ball
joint at the sea floor to allow the lateral motion. Some motion of
the floater can also be tolerated, since the drill pipe is flexible.
Marine riser and drillship
Source: Berger, Anderson, Modern Petroleum - A Basic Primer of the industry, 3
rd
Ed.
Offshore Drilling Platforms
• Mobile offshore drilling rigs are usually to drill
exploratory wells – wells drilled to confirm the suspected
presence of hydrocarbons in formations below the
water. Once hydrocarbons are knows to be present,
several additional wells must be drilled in order to
develop and exploit the hydrocarbons. Offshore
reservoir must be large and large enough amount of oil
and gas in order to be economical to develop.
Therefore, a large number of wells are needed to
effectively produce the oil and gas from the reservoir.
• Even though mobile drill rigs are sometimes used to
development wells, most are drilled from fixed
permanent structure called drilling platforms. A drilling
platform may be rigid, or compliant and may be built of
steel or concrete.
Gravity-Based Platforms
• Concrete gravity platform – steel reinforced concrete is
used to construct the tall, smokestack-like columns, or
caissons (the dominant feature) of the structure. They are
used in areas of very rough seas. The platform is built in a
sheltered location and floated out to sea on its air-filled
caissons. Once the platform is on site, the caissons are
flooded like the hull of a submersible until they rest on the
seafloor. Because they are extremely heavy, the force of
gravity alone is sufficient to heep them in place, eliminating
the need for pilings. Crew quarters, drilling equipment, and
other equipment are installed on a deck on top of the
caissons. Frequently, special concrete cylinders are
arranged around the base of the caissons on the seafloor.
The cylinders can store up to a million barrels of oil.
• Steel-caisson platforms – caissons made of two layers of
thick steel to prevent ice floe damage from fast moving
tidal currents which carry ice floe.
Gravity base platform
Source: Gerding, Fundamentals of Petroleum, 3
rd
Ed.
• Steel-jacketed platform consists of the legs (steel jacket)
which is a tall vertical section fabricated from tubular steel
members, that sit on the seabed. It is constructed on land
and either floated horizontally or carried on a barge out
into position. It is then floored and rotated vertically. Piles
are driven into the sea bottom and bolted, welded or
cemented to the legs to hold it in position. A crane is used
to lift the deck and modules such as power generation,
crew quarters, and mud storage off deck barges and
position them on the platform. Offshore platforms often
have several decks (flat surfaces) on top of each other to
serve various functions such as power and drilling.
Wellheads are usually located on the lower deck.
Separators, treaters, and gas compressors are located on
the platform. Treated oil and/or gas is then usually sent
ashore through subsea pipeline(s). Deepest water depth is
1350ft.

Steel-Jacketed Platforms
Steel-jacketed platform
Source: N. Hyne, Nontechnical Guide to Petroleum geology, Exploration, Drilling & Production
Compliant Platforms
• A compliant platform is a relatively light platform that is
designed to sway with the wind, waves and currents.
– A guyed-tower platform is similar to a rig steel-
jacketed platform in that it rests on or attach to a pivot
on the seafloor. But it is much slimmer, lighter and less
expensive to build. Several guy wires are attached to
the jacket relatively close to the waterline and
anchored to the seafloor by means of clump weights.
– A tension-leg platform resemble a semi-submersible
which floats above the offshore field. But has several
hollow steel tubes (1 to 2 ft in diameter) called
tendons, firmly attached to the ocean floor or heavy
weights on the ocean floor. The platform itself is
buoyant but the tendons pull it down in the water,
applying tension to the tendons. Tension-leg platform
can be installed in water depths up to about 3500 ft.
Guy-tower platform
Source: Gerding, Fundamentals of Petroleum, 3
rd
Ed.
Tension-leg platform
Source: N. Hyne, Nontechnical Guide to Petroleum geology, Exploration, Drilling & Production
• On a well drilled by a jack-up rig:
– several hundred feet of large diameter (26 to 30”),
conductor casing is set into the sea bottom. The
conductor casing extends above sea level to just
below the drilling deck.
– A smaller diameter hole is then drilled into the
conductor casing.
– Surface casing is then run into the hole and
cemented.
– Next, a BOP stack is bolted to the top of the surface
casing.
– The rest of the well is then drilled and cased similar to
a well on land.
Spuding an Offshore Wildcat
Spuding an Offshore Wildcat
• On a well drilled on a floater:
– a weighted temporary guide base or drilling template, with
four steel guidelines running from the sides from the floater, is
lowered into position by the drill string.
– With the aid of a guide frame, lowered at a later stage by the
drill string, a large diameter hole (30 to 36” ) is drilled through
the centre of the temporary guide base to about 100 ft below
the seafloor.
– The guide frame is then raised back to the floater. It is then
attached to the lowest joint of the foundation pile, the first
casing string run into the well. A foundation pile housing and
permanent guide structure is attached to the top foundation
pile joint. The foundation pile is then run into the hole and
cemented. The permanent guide structure is then attached to
the temporary guide base on the sea bottom. The hole is then
drilled deeper and a string of conductor casing is run and
cemented into the hole.
– A subsea BOP stack is then lowered and locked onto the
wellhead with a hydraulic wellhead connector.

Subsea template
Source: Berger, Anderson, Modern Petroleum - A Basic Primer of the industry, 3
rd
Ed.
• Another feature with floaters is the riser which is a large
heavy steel pipe used to connect the BOP with the drill
ship. Risers are typically two or three ft in diameter and
large enough to allow the drill pipe and bit to pass
through them. With the riser in place, drilling operations
can be conducted as if there were a continuous wellbore
from the top to bottom. The drilling mud is pumped down
the inside of the drill pipe and returns through the
annular space between the drill pipe and the riser.
• The riser often includes a telescoping joint to allow for
vertical motion together with a ball joint to the BOP at
the sea floor for lateral motion.
• Control lines are run down the outer side of the riser
from the surface and are used to actuate the BOP.
Spuding an Offshore Wildcat
Drill ship
Source: Berger, Anderson, Modern Petroleum - A Basic Primer of the industry, 3
rd
Ed.
• In drilling, there are reasons where the drill rig cannot be
placed directly on top of the well to be drilled:
– Offshore – where multiple wells must be drilled from
the same platform or floater.
– Inaccessible location- an area where a rig cannot be
set up, i.e. swamp or heavily populated area.
• Directional drilling is required for other reasons:
– Shoreline drilling
– Avoid drilling along a fault line
– Multiple zones
– Drilling a relief well,
– Horizontal well drillin
– Sidetracking and straightening
– Salt dome drilling
Directional Drilling
Multiple directional well drilling
Source: Giuliano, Introduction to Oil and Gas Technology
Applications of controlled direction drilling
Source: Gerding, Fundamentals of Petroleum, 3
rd
Ed.
Applications of controlled direction drilling
Salt dome drilling
Fault drilling and
Multiple zones
Inaccessible location
Multiple well and inaccessible drilling Horizontal drilling
Source: Dawe, Modern Petroleum Technology, Vol 1, Upstream
Conventional
well trajectory
Source: Dawe, Modern Petroleum Technology, Vol 1, Upstream
Directional Drilling
• Starting a straight well out at an angle is called kicking
off the well. If the well has been cased, a hole, called a
window, is cut in the casing mill to kick off the well.
• Whipstocking is a method of kicking off a well. The tool,
a whipstock is a long wedge-shape piece of steel
(concave on the inside) designed to bend the drill string.
It has chisel point to anchor the whipstock to the hole
bottom to prevent it from rotating during drilling. A drill
string containing the whipstock is run to the hole bottom
and weight is applied to break a shear pin to disengage
the whipstock and set it firmly on the hole bottom. A
smaller size bit is used to initiate a pilot hole. The pilot
hole is drilled for a distance of 10 to 15 ft and then
surveyed. If the hole is drilled in the required direction, it
is then opened up using a normal drill bit.
Whipstock method for directional drilling
Source: Giuliano, Introduction to Oil and Gas Technology
• A modern method used to kick off a deviated well is to
run a downhole assembly comprising a bent sub,
downhole mud motor and a diamond bit.
• A bent sub is a short section of pipe with an angle of ½
to 2½” in it. The downhole mud motor or turbine is
driven by the drilling mud flowing down through the drill
string. The mud strikes a spiral shaft or blades in a
turbine motor to activate the motor. The diamond bit is
attached to the motor. This way, only the drill bit is
rotated, not the drill string.
• A steerable downhole assembly consists of stabilizers,
bent subs, downhole turbine motor, and a diamond bit
that can maintain, drop or build angle. Some steerable
downhole assemblies have adjustable bent subs in
which the angle in the bent sub can be adjusted from the
surface as the assembly is in the well.
Directional Drilling
Bent sub and turbine drills
Source: Rabia, Oilwell Drilling Engineering Theory and Practice
Bent sub
Turbo drill
Dyna-drill
Directional drilling using a turbine drill
Source: Giuliano, Introduction to Oil and Gas Technology
• The orientation of the hole be checked to ensure that drilling
is turned towards the correct direction using a directional
instrument containing a magnetic compass or gyroscopic
compass and an inclinometer (an instrument which
measures the angle of the hole). Drilling must be halted
while the instrumental is run down the bit and retrieved,
leading to downtime.
• Most of the downtime can be avoided by using a continuous
readout instrument know as a steering tool to send
directional readout uphole via wireline to a rig-floor monitor.
• Instead of using a wireline, a newer device uses the mud
pulse generator, a wireless, self-contained instrument tht
transmits sonic signals uphole, via the drilling fluid in the drill
stem, to a readout device at the surface. This system is
called measurement while drilling (MWD), is useful for
maintaining straight hole as well as for directional drilling.
Directional Drilling
Steerable dowhole assembly
Source: N. Hyne, Nontechnical Guide to Petroleum geology, Exploration, Drilling & Production
Horizontal Drilling
• It is possible to drill wells in which the final sections of
pipe are horizontal to the earth’s surface (achieve in the
late 1970s).
• Horizontal wells provide distinct advantages in reservoirs
where oil is present in relatively flat zone.
• Although horizontal wells are much more difficult and
expensive than conventional wells, their economic and
environment advantages have been very pronounced
since the early 1990s.
– A single horizontal wells can produce as much oil as
several conventional wells.
– Some estimates 5 to 6 times more production than
conventional wells.
– Horizontal drilling has revived many older oil fields.
Horizontal Drilling
• Some of the benefits of horizontal wells are:
– A horizontal well can penetrate more than one reservoir, and
given the greater production capability of lateral penetration
produce six or seven as much oil or gas as a vertical well.
– Salt water production due to coning can be minimized.
– Far fewer wells are needed to drain a reservoir
– The “traditional” primary recovery lift of a well can be increased
from 25% of the oil in place to 50 to 75%.
– Later in the life of the well as production drops, it can be
converted to a lateral injection well for enhanced recovery use.
– Hydrocarbons can be produced even while the well is being
extended.
– Horizontal drilling has been credited with vastly increased
production in areas long considered to be difficult such as the
heavy oil sand in Western Canada, etc.
The three types of lateral completions
Source: Berger, Anderson, Modern Petroleum - A Basic Primer of the industry, 3
rd
Ed.