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DC174890 DOI: 10.

2118/174890-PA Date: 9-May-17 Stage: Page: 1 Total Pages: 15

Blowout Prevention and Relief-Well

Planning for the Wheatstone Big-Bore
Gas-Well Project
Eric R. Upchurch, Sam Falkner, Andrew House, Chinh Nguyen, and Ken Russell, Chevron Australia

Summary Jenner and Hughes 2008; Upchurch et al. 2016), and is an even-
The offshore Wheatstone liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in smaller percentage of the global total of subsea wells. Given this
Western Australia uses subsea big-bore gas wells as the preferred fact, it is not unreasonable to be concerned that the well-control
method of producing the field. Wheatstone wells use a 95=8-in. mindset that guides the preparation and execution of more-tradi-
production conduit from the top of the gas pay zone to the ocean tional subsea wells might be misapplied to the preparation and
floor. Wellbores of this size are necessary to match the large pro- execution of a big-bore subsea gas well. The Wheatstone high-
ductive capacity of the gas reservoirs they penetrate. This produc- rate gas-well design, with its 95=8-in. production conduit, repre-
ing scenario provides the obvious benefit of yielding large sents our company’s initial attempt at implementing such a well.
volumes of gas through the use of relatively few wells. Each of High-rate gas wells with smaller tubing strings (75=8-in. OD) have
those highly productive wells, however, also represents a source been successfully implemented by Chevron elsewhere, but the
of gas that, if accidentally allowed to flow unhindered, could pres- Wheatstone big-bore well design is the largest we have yet
ent an uncommonly difficult well-control challenge. It is for this attempted. With that, there were many things we discovered dur-
reason that the Wheatstone Drilling and Completions (D&C) ing the process of designing this type of well, some of them
Team evaluated a wide range of possible reservoir- and well- wholly unexpected concerning the topic of well control. Because
architecture scenarios to fully understand the possible scale of the design team’s combined engineering and execution experience
relief-well responses that might be necessary in the event of a included neither big-bore wells nor reservoirs of Wheatstone’s
blowout. The conclusions from this evaluation were surprising. productive capacity, our well-control expectations were limited to
Our original well-design concept called for penetrating the anticipating only needing a single relief well in the event of a
Wheatstone gas reservoirs with a casing shoe set 3,100 ft verti- blowout. However, upon the receipt of dynamic-kill simulations
cally above. Our analysis indicated that three or four relief wells performed by consulting experts in that field, a new reality
would be simultaneously required to bring a blowout under con- became obvious: The combination of a large wellbore connected
trol. Because of these results, both the well- and drilling-execu- to the multidarcy Wheatstone gas reservoir has the potential to
tion plan were redesigned to minimize the number of required easily produce more than 1,000 MMscf/D, if a blowout occurred.
relief wells. In summary, the redesign amounted to setting the cas- Dynamically killing such a well could require up to four relief
ing immediately (i.e.,  10 ft) above the gas reservoir before wells simultaneously injecting 15-lbm/gal drilling fluid.
actually penetrating it, with the resulting benefit of reducing the To put this revelation in context, there are no executed exam-
required number of relief wells to two. Although this reduction is ples in the industry literature that are true analogs to a Wheatstone
beneficial, it should be noted that there is only one documented dynamic kill. There is, however, one example from Brazil,
subsea case where two or more relief wells have been drilled with Enchova 19D, where two subsea relief wells were simultaneously
the intent of simultaneously pumping into both to effect a used to kill a single free-flowing well by means of direct intercept
dynamic kill. Given this fact, our well-control-related prepara- (Maduro and Reynolds 1989). In that case, seawater was used to
tions for executing this project were more extensive than those of kill the blowout, rather than a weighted fluid; the latter is required
preceding projects. at Wheatstone. This point is significant in that pumping a solids-
This paper chronicles the full extent of the engineering and bearing kill fluid can increase the risks of piping erosion if per-
operational planning performed to ensure that no uncontrolled formed at high rates (discussed later in this paper). The only other
hydrocarbon releases occurred during the execution of the Wheat- offshore examples that exist with any possible relevance are from
stone Project’s subsea big-bore gas wells and, if a blowout were the 1970s. In this time frame, there were two offshore instances
to occur, that the response to such an unprecedented event would where multiple relief wells were drilled and simultaneously used
be sufficient and robust. Covered in this paper are reservoir-deliv- to attempt killing a blowout. In both cases, surface blowout pre-
erability modeling, dynamic-kill modeling, gas-plume modeling, venters (BOPs) were used. Those instances were the Well Fateh
relief-well trajectory and mooring planning, pilot-hole-execution L-3 in Dubai in 1975 and Well Ixtoc 1 in the Gulf of Mexico
planning, a newly applied logging-while-drilling (LWD) technol- (GOM) in 1979 (Arnwine and Ely 1978; Lugo and De Leon 1981;
ogy for sensing resistivity vertically below the drill bit, and a dis- Oudemann 2007). In the case of those two blowouts, multiple
cussion of future research identified as necessary to better define relief wells were drilled in the proximity of the well to be killed,
the fluid-injectivity capabilities of subsea relief wells. with the intent of linking into the blown-out well by means of natu-
ral or hydraulically induced fractures. In both cases, these techni-
Introduction ques failed to stop the blowout. The wells flowed for 7–10 months
High-rate gas wells [i.e., those with a production tubing outer di- and were killed only after nature provided assistance by way of ei-
ameter (OD) of  75=8 in.] are increasingly common in the global ther increasing water production from the reservoir or bridging off
well inventory, with their usage now spanning multiple continents of the wellbore. Onshore, only one such example exists (the El
(Fig. 7 in Healy et al. 2012). The total count of subsea high-rate Isba 123 well kill in Syria in 1995) (Oudemann 1996, 2007). In
gas wells, however, is comparatively small (Hartmann et al. 2004; that case, both relief wells directly intercepted the blown-out well
near the bottom of its drillstring (Oudemann 1996). However, only
one of the relief wells was actually used to inject kill fluid, whereas
Copyright V
C 2017 Society of Petroleum Engineers
the other was used to monitor bottomhole pressure.
This paper (SPE 174890) was accepted for presentation at the SPE Annual Technical This exceptionally short list of well kills that use multiple
Conference and Exhibition, Houston, 28–30 September 2015, and revised for publication.
Original manuscript received for review 19 November 2015. Revised manuscript received for
relief wells suggests not only the rarity of such events, but also
review 6 December 2016. Paper peer approved 30 January 2017. the probable difficulty of executing a true multiwell dynamic kill

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Mudline 660 ft TVD unstable formations, however, exist below this depth. Setting the
36-in. conductor 135=8-in. casing at 6,900-ft TVD allows the unstable formations to
20-in. casing be drilled with a higher-density fluid—a density that shallower
SCSSV formations would not be able to withstand. The casing string is ca-
95/8-in. liner tieback
pable of containing the shut-in pressures associated with a gas-
135/8-in. casing 6,900 ft TVD filled well that is connected to the gas pay zone at 10,000-ft TVD.
12 The 121=4-in. hole section of the well is the most challenging
4/ -i to drill because of its unstable formations. The fracture gradients
ho of this hole section, however, are actually high enough to with-
stand the pressures of a shut-in, gas-filled wellbore. Consequently,
95/8-in. liner
97 the 95=8-in. liner, by itself, functions as the production conduit.
8/ -in
Gas-pay-zone top Op .h 10,000 ft TVD During production, the liner is the primary pressure-containment
gr en
av ho
barrier and the 121=4-in. hole is the backup.
el le
The philosophy as to the shoe depth of the 95=8-in. liner varies
ck between companies. Some have chosen to set the liner shoe into
the top of the gas pay zone (Hartmann et al. 2003, 2004) (i.e.,
Fig. 1—Schematic of the Wheatstone subsea production well. analogously below 10,000-ft TVD in Fig. 1) to ensure that all
SCSSV 5 surface-controlled subsurface safety valve. shales above the pay zone are isolated from the openhole comple-
tion. This ensures that gravel-pack productivity is not hindered by
the sloughing of unstable shales during completion operations. In
simply because of its rarity. Highly uncommon events do not nor-
the case of Wheatstone, the shales immediately above the pay
mally have multiple fully practiced solution providers readily
zone are chemically inert; hence, there is flexibility to set the shoe
available for deployment in response. Considering that even fewer
a small distance above the gas pay zone without risking the pro-
examples exist where true multiwell dynamic kills have been used
ductivity of the gravel pack. Another liner-shoe-depth considera-
in a subsea setting (i.e., one), the expectation of a quick and confi-
tion is its effect on the quality of the cement job. At Wheatstone,
dently deployable solution should not be set high automatically.
the gas pay zone has a lower fracture gradient (0.8–1.0 lbm/gal
Thus, it is preferable to design wells so that only a single relief
lower) than the overlying rocks. Cementing the liner with the gas
well is ever required. Our analyses, though, suggest that it is
pay zone exposed elevates the risk of losing circulation while
improbable that a dynamic kill at Wheatstone can be successfully
pumping the cement job—which, if it occurred, would diminish
performed by use of only a single relief well, given the large di-
the quality of the cement job.
ameter of the production wellbore. We, therefore, have mitigated
the well-control risk of drilling a Wheatstone well, not by limiting
its productive capacity (i.e., reducing the well diameter), but by
optimizing casing-setting depths to minimize the number of Wheatstone Reservoir Geology and
required relief wells; designing the well to be completely pressure Flow Potential
competent, even if it were totally filled with gas; and formulating A geologic cross section of the Wheatstone producing formations
a blowout-response plan that is reflective of the complexities of is shown in Fig. 2. All originate from the Late Triassic (i.e.,
executing a two-well dynamic kill on any of the nine foundation 205–230 million years ago). After deposition, these formations
wells drilled at Wheatstone. In this way, we have attempted to were tilted, eroded, and then overlain by the Jurassic Muderong
acknowledge and mitigate the very-considerable well-control shale. The producing formations dip at 2–3 .
risks associated with drilling such wells, without adopting so con- The oldest and most-prolific formation is the Mungaroo. It is
servative a design policy that their economic benefit becomes sig- composed of a series of very permeable channel sands ranging in
nificantly eroded. thickness from 15 to 100 ft. The sand packages have an average
horizontal permeability (kh) of 8 darcies and a high kv/kh ratio
of 0.9.
Big-Bore Gas-Well-Design Fundamentals Overlying the Mungaroo are the Brigadier formations. These
A schematic of a Wheatstone subsea well is shown in Fig. 1. In are composed of thinner sand/shale sequences that were deposited
the Wheatstone field, all formations exhibit a simple hydrostatic- in a near-shoreface marine environment. Individual sand-body
pressure trend. In addition, no hydrocarbons have been found to thickness ranges from a few inches up to 15 ft. The average kh is
exist above the gas pay-zone top at 10,000-ft true vertical depth 1.5 darcies and kv/kh ratio is 0.1.
(TVD). This environment, therefore, requires few casing strings Completion intervals are positioned immediately below the
to reach the producing objective. Muderong shale to maximize their distance from the gas/water
A 135=8-in. casing string is typically set at 6,900-ft TVD (the contact (GWC). In addition, each completion is positioned so that
point at which formation strengths significantly increase). Several it only produces from a single geologic sequence (i.e., a group of

Muderong Sha

GWC 10,250 ft TVDSS


Brigadier Formation
- Interbedded-sand/shale sequences. Mungaroo
Individual-sand-body thickness
ranges from a few inches up to 15 ft. Basement rock

Mungaroo Formation
- Channel sands. Individual sand body
thickness ranges from 15 to 100 ft. Example Completion Locations

Fig. 2—Geologic cross section of Wheatstone producing intervals.

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1,800 are capable of delivering large volumes of gas during a blowout

with the exposure of only a few feet of reservoir rock. We discuss
each separately in the following subsections.

Flow Potential (MMscf/D)


1,200 Mungaroo Flow Potential. In the case of the Mungaroo forma-

1,000 Mungaroo formation Brigadier formation tion, only 3 ft of rock with kh ¼ 8 darcies need be exposed for a
(kv /kh = 0.9) (kh = 1.5 darcies) 1,600-MMscf/D blowout to be possible. Such a large flow rate
800 kh = 8 darcies kv /kh = 1.0 from so short a reservoir penetration is only possible because of
600 kh = 6.5 darcies kv /kkh = 0.1 the lack of vertical-flow barriers in the Mungaroo. Note also that
kh = 4 darcies the flow capacity for this scenario does not materially change as
reservoir penetration increases. This suggests that the gas-flow
200 rate from the well is constrained by the size of the wellbore, rather
50° Reservoir Penetration Angle
than by the reservoir rock. Theoretically, the reservoir provides
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 the most flow restraint when the flow pattern within the rock is
Reservoir-Penetration Length (ft MD) spherical, resulting in a 3D flow-stream convergence (which is
certainly the case with only 3 ft of penetration into the nearly iso-
Fig. 3—Blowout-rate sensitivity to the amount of reservoir rock tropic permeability of the Mungaroo). As the penetration length
penetrated for the well scenario shown in Fig. 4a. increases, however, the reservoir-flow restraint decreases as the
flow pattern transitions to a more-2D radial pattern. Hence, if the
layers that have similar flow properties). The purpose is to ensure flow potential for this particular wellbore/reservoir scenario is
that no single layer within the completion interval becomes a pref- nearly the same, regardless of penetration, then the wellbore has
erential flow path for water from the GWC. Given the structure of to be the governing system constraint. That the 121=4-in.- to 123=8-
the geology and the chosen completion philosophy, exploiting all in.-ID flow path of Fig. 4a is the bottleneck in this system speaks
the various geologic sequences requires penetrating the gas reser- to the exceptionally high flow capacity of the reservoir. Similar
voir at disparate positions along the interface between the Muder- results in Fig. 3 for kh ¼ 6.5 darcies indicate that the flow is
ong shale and the gas reservoir immediately below (see Fig. 2). equally restricted by the wellbore. Lastly, the simulation results
Because the quality of the producing rock is not necessarily good for kh ¼ 4 darcies show some flow-capacity reduction from the
at all points along this interface, pilot holes were used in some higher permeabilities. This lower-permeability scenario, however,
instances to ensure that completions were optimally placed. is still capable of flowing approximately 1,500 MMscf/D by
Each of these reservoir penetrations is a significant source of exposing only 3 ft of rock.
gas. Considering that even the lower-quality Brigadier has a
world-class permeability of 1.5 darcies, allowing any one of these Brigadier Flow Potential. In contrast to the Mungaroo, coupling
penetrations to flow unhindered would result in an inordinately dif- the Brigadier formation with the wellbore configuration in Fig. 4a
ficult well-control scenario. To better define the well-control-risk results in a system that is constrained by the lower permeability of
profile, reservoir/well modeling was performed to define the flow- the reservoir, rather than by the wellbore. This is confirmed by the
rate potential for both the Mungaroo and Brigadier formations. Brigadier flow potential (Fig. 3) never equaling that of the more-
The simulation results are shown in Fig. 3 and are derived from a permeable Mungaroo. Even though the gas-flow potential is less
wellbore configuration like that shown in Fig. 4a; that is, a 121=4- for a Brigadier blowout, the well-control consequences would cer-
in. hole that is directionally drilled below a 135=8-in. casing [123=8- tainly be significant, given that this formation is capable of pro-
in. inner diameter (ID)] and steps out 8,200 ft laterally to reach its ducing more than 1,000 MMscf/D with only 6 ft of penetration.
reservoir target. Common casedhole and openhole roughnesses are The blowout-flow-potential curves for kv/kh ¼ 0.1 and 1.0 are pre-
assumed in the simulations. Both the horizontal and vertical per- sented to show the relative effect of vertical-permeability varia-
meability of the reservoir are considered, as are the completion- tions in this more-laminated formation. The value of kv/kh does
skin effects induced by wellbore inclination and partial reservoir influence the flow potential of the reservoir, as evidenced by the
penetration (Wong et al. 1986; Pucknell and Clifford 1991). The separation of the two curves. However, the order-of-magnitude
entire reservoir-completion-well system is modeled by use of com- variance in kv/kh only results in a 21% difference in blowout
monly available nodal-analysis software. The simulation results in potential for a reservoir-penetration length of 3 ft, successively
Fig. 3 indicate that both the Mungaroo and Brigadier lithologies decreasing to differences of 12 and 8% for penetration lengths of

Mudline Mudline
36-in. conductor 36-in. conductor
20-in. casing 20-in. casing

135/8-in. casing 135/8-in. casing

12 1
1 4/ -i
4/ -i n.
n. ho
ho le

Gas-pay-zone top Gas-pay-zone top 2/ -in.

(a) (b)

Fig. 4—Two scenarios for drilling into the gas reservoir: (a) while drilling the 121=4-in. hole before installing and cementing the 95=8-
in. liner; (b) after installing and cementing the 95=8-in. liner.

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Table 1—Dynamic-kill-modeling results for various blowout scenarios (all assume that no drillpipe is in the hole).

10 and 16 ft, respectively. This suggests that this formation’s kv/kh results (4 and 10% difference, respectively). The result for Sce-
plays a smaller role than does kh in defining its flow potential. nario 2a (a different service provider from Scenarios 1 and 2) is
less aligned with those in Fig. 3 (21% difference), but was consid-
ered sufficiently close to suggest that the reservoir/completion-
Well-Control Implications modeling technique was correct.
External experts were engaged to perform dynamic-kill modeling. The output in Table 1 from the dynamic-kill modeling made it
These service providers (two were engaged) were tasked with immediately clear that a one-relief-well scenario did not exist for
evaluating the relief-well requirements for various combinations most well/reservoir combinations. The only well configuration
of well configuration and reservoir type. The modeled combina- that could confidently be controlled by use of only one relief well
tions are shown in Table 1. The two well configurations displayed was that of a fully completed well (Scenario 7 in Table 1). We
in Fig. 4 were used for most of the evaluations, with the goal of concluded that this well configuration was certainly controllable
defining relief-well fluid-injection requirements for each. At the with a single relief well because it only requires 53 bbl/min of 15-
time, we anticipated that either well configuration would only lbm/gal fluid to complete the kill operation. We have assumed
require one relief well. Stemming from our “one-relief-well that the maximum-possible kill rate for a single subsea well lies in
assumption,” it was expected that both scenarios shown in Fig. 4 the range of 60–100 bbl/min. We have speculatively assumed this
would be used during the Wheatstone drilling campaign. The well range, rather than something more narrowly defined, because
configuration shown in Fig. 4a (Scenarios 1, 2, and 2a in Table 1) there are no examples in the literature documenting an actual
would be used either for drilling into the gas reservoir a few feet to dynamic kill performed using both a subsea relief well and a
allow full isolation of the overlying Muderong shale behind the weighted fluid (i.e., a drilling mud). Subsea relief-well-injection
95=8-in. liner or for drilling a deeper-penetrating pilot hole to con- rates will be discussed further in a later section of this paper. In
firm reservoir quality. Scenarios 3 and 4 represent other pilot-hole addition, we assume that all dynamic kills are performed with a
alternatives we considered that have smaller open holes drilled 15-lbm/gal fluid because it represents a fluid density high enough
below the 135=8-in. casing to restrict the flow rate of a blowout. to substantially reduce the required injection rate of a relief well;
The well configuration shown in Fig. 4b (Scenarios 5 and 6) would is a fluid density low enough that it can confidently be mixed and
be used for drilling through the main reservoir target in preparation maintained on-site; and contains a low-enough concentration of
for gravel packing. Scenario 7 is derived from the wellbore config- solids that the risk of erosion to subsea-BOP components is
uration shown in Fig. 1 (i.e., a fully completed well). reduced. The final point will also be discussed later in this paper.
The dynamic-kill modeling for each of these scenarios was Scenarios 1 through 4 in Table 1 represent all pilot-hole situa-
performed by use of a multiphase-flow simulator, capable of tions where the gas reservoir is penetrated with the deepest
describing the transient fluid events that occur during the dynamic cemented pipe being the 135=8-in. casing 3,100 ft vertically above
killing of a gas well. A commonly used model for simulating such (as in Fig. 4a). These scenarios cover openhole sizes ranging from
transient multiphase-fluid systems is OLGA (Bendiksen et al. 121=4 to 61=8 in. Across all these cases, the number of required
1991). Both service providers mentioned here use the OLGA relief wells ranges from two to four. The 61=8-in. pilot-hole sce-
model within their respective dynamic-kill simulators, as has been nario has the best possibility of requiring only two relief wells.
the case, past and present, for most other providers of such serv- Although the smaller hole size restricts gas flow enough to make
ices (Rygg and Gilhuus 1990; Rygg et al. 1992). The abundance this option theoretically possible, there are several reasons why
of industry literature documenting the variety of fluid systems to we chose not to pursue it. First, the unstable formations that this
which the OLGA model has been applied suggests the extent of hole would penetrate are sensitive to cyclic pressure surging; thus,
its acceptance as a reliable modeling tool (Tang and Huang 2010; the elevated equivalent circulating densities associated with dril-
Jacobs 2015; Karami et al. 2016). ling a slimmer hole are not desired. Second, the increased swab
The reservoir-flow-potential models that were used in conjunc- pressures associated with slim holes elevate the possibility of
tion with the dynamic-kill simulators yielded similar results to our swabbing gas into the well, especially given the exceptionally
own in Fig. 3. In particular, the blowout-flow rates shown in Table high permeabilities of the Wheatstone gas reservoir. Third, if a
1 for Scenarios 1 and 2 show good agreement with our Fig. 3 blowout did occur, this scenario would require each of the two

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Table 2—Relief-well maximum-fluid-injection rates reported in industry literature.

subsea relief wells to inject more than 80 bbl/min of 15-lbm/gal big-bore gas wells such as these, the resources necessary to exe-
kill fluid. We are not completely certain that more than 80 bbl/min cute a dynamic kill (such as pump horsepower and fluid volumes)
is achievable in this case. Although this lies within our previously increase rapidly as the intercept depth decreases. This is because
assumed, albeit speculative, 60- to 100-bbl/min single-relief-well the gas rapidly decompresses and accelerates as it moves upward
capability range, we are certainly less confident of achieving more in the uncontrolled well. The faster-moving gas at the shallower
than 80 bbl/min with a 15-lbm/gal fluid than we would be for 60 depths, in turn, requires the injection of significantly larger kill-
bbl/min. Other companies are similarly conservative on this mat- fluid volumes from the intercepting relief well to prevent the kill
ter. Shell’s guidelines, for example, prohibit assuming a single fluid from being immediately atomized and expelled by the
subsea relief-well’s injection capacity to be more than 70 bbl/ upward-moving gas.
min*. Finally, our conservatism on this point also reflects the fact Considering that at least two subsea relief wells are required to
that no documented cases exist in the industry literature where ei- respond to a Wheatstone blowout and that such a response has
ther 80 bbl/min or a solids-bearing fluid have been used to perform only been implemented once in the oil industry, it is valid to ask
a subsea dynamic kill (see Enchova 19D in Table 2). why a more-direct approach to controlling a well, such as a cap-
Scenarios 5 and 6 represent situations where the gas reservoir ping stack, is not considered. Capping stacks are a valuable tool
is penetrated by use of an 81=2-in. hole beneath a 95=8-in. liner and are available in the Australia/Asia regions. They are not, how-
cemented immediately above (as in Fig. 4b). These scenarios ever, deployable at Wheatstone because of the shallow water
require a combined relief-well-injection rate of 98–99 bbl/min. depth (400–800 ft). At these depths, the gas plume from a blowout
Considering that this is just under our speculative 100-bbl/min would emerge close enough to the vessel deploying the capping
limit, it is prudent not to assume that this rate can be confidently stack, and at a high enough concentration, that it would pose a fire
attained with a single relief well. We, therefore, assume that two hazard (discussed in this paper).
relief wells are required for this scenario. One final implication of such highly productive reservoirs is
In summary, penetrating the gas reservoir below a shallow-set that bridging of the wellbore during a blowout is an unlikely
135=8-in. casing could require three or four relief wells to control a mechanism for halting the blowout (Willson 2012). The energy
blowout. However, penetrating the gas reservoir below a deep-set imparted by such large volumes of upward-moving gas is prob-
95=8-in. liner reduces the number of required relief wells to no ably sufficient to transport all pieces of downhole formation that
more than two. The difference between these two outcomes is might come free. The efficient removal of these materials mini-
completely driven by the depth that the relief well(s) can intercept mizes the possibility of them naturally accumulating and bridging
the target well that is blowing out. That intercept cannot occur in the wellbore to restrict or stop the uncontrolled gas flow.
deeper than the deepest metal pipe in the target well; the metal is
necessary for relief-well ranging tools to detect its location. In
Reservoir-Entry Strategy
Because of the dynamic-kill results presented previously, the
* Personal communication with D. Gala. 2015. Shell E&P Company, Houston (November). Wheatstone team decided to revamp its well-execution plan to

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R L MP R 10
x2 x2 8f MP
=L t =L
/2 /2
+T +T

DR l e

n ( i ab
T 43


tio el
inc ft

tec of R

De pth x x


Bi Bi
t t

DRD DDR “Vertical Vertical Distance DRD DDR “Vertical Vertical Distance
Vertical Projection Look Below” to Bit Vertical Projection Look Below” to Bit
Capability Capability 108 ⎞
= ⎛ 43 + cos(45)
= DRD sin(inc) =R = MP cos(inc) = 118.8 sin(45) ⎝ 2 ⎠
= 84.0 ft = 15.4 ft = 68.6 ft

(a) (b)

Fig. 5—Schematics of (a) general BHA/DDR system trigonometry and (b) a specific example at inclination 5 458 [modeled after Fig.
8 in Upchurch et al. (2016)]. inc 5 inclination.

ensure that a well scenario similar to Fig. 4a never occurs in con- and a well-control perspective, can be met if the shoe of the 95=8-
junction with gas reservoirs like those represented in Fig. 3. Pre- in. liner is placed close enough to the gas reservoir to cover most
venting this combination guarantees that no more than two relief of the overburden shale (as depicted in Fig. 4b) and drilling of the
wells will ever be needed during the Wheatstone drilling and 121=4-in. hole can be accomplished without penetrating the gas
completion campaign. The additional cost to the Wheatstone Pro- reservoir. Minimizing the amount of exposed shale between the
ject in both money and schedule was not insignificant. liner shoe and reservoir top reduces the chance of plugging
Why was such a decision made, considering that the probabil- gravel-pack screens during subsequent completion operations. We
ity of a blowout ever occurring is exceptionally low? In purely fi- concluded that the best risk balance is struck if the 121=4-in. hole
nancial terms, the probabilistic cost of simply accepting the risk is drilled to 10 ft vertically above the gas reservoir. We saw this
of drilling three or four relief wells is much less than the guaran- as an aggressive goal that, if achievable, strikes an appropriate
teed cost of executing our plan to minimize relief-well require- balance between mitigating well-control risks and maximizing
ments to two. This is true because a blowout of such magnitude completion productivity and reliability. Multiple ways of accom-
(i.e., requiring three or four relief wells) is an event with an plishing this level of drilling-depth accuracy were identified
exceptionally low probability of occurrence, as evidenced by the (Upchurch et al. 2016). The best option, however, was determined
fact that only two examples exist in the literature (Wells Fateh L- to be an LWD technology known as deep-directional resistivity
3 and Ixtoc 1). Other factors besides cost, however, were consid- (DDR).
ered in the process of risk assessing the various options for enter- DDR technology was originally developed for geosteering hor-
ing the reservoir. One factor that became an important point of izontal wells. It leverages a long-spaced transmitter/receiver sys-
consideration is the risk of an event impacting our reputation as tem to obtain resistivity readings lateral to the drilling bottomhole
an industry-leading safe operator. assembly (BHA) with a depth of reliable detection ranging
Considering “reputation” as an area of risk acknowledges that approximately 100 ft (Fig. 5). (The depth of reliable detection is
the costs associated with an unprecedented negative event (such as the maximum lateral distance from a wellbore at which a DDR
a subsea blowout requiring three or four relief wells) would prob- logging system, including its inversion process, can actually
ably be much more substantial than merely the local cost of the resolve geologic boundaries for a given set of measurements.)
relief wells, lost gas reserves, and damaged assets. Damage to repu- The Wheatstone D&C Team, in conjunction with the DDR’s man-
tation could manifest itself globally in the form of lost corporate- ufacturer, took this geosteering system and adapted it to be used
stock value and lost opportunities to participate in other projects. as a geostopping system (Upchurch et al. 2016). The term
Assessing the cost of such global impacts is difficult. Chevron’s “geostopping” defines the use of the DDR technology as a means
health, environment, and safety and project-risk-assessment meth- of providing a “look-below” capability vertically below the depth
odologies, however, allow for the identification and ranking of rep- of the bit (Fig. 5). The DDR system’s ability to sense resistivity
utational issues depending on the possible degree of their effect on fluctuations vertically below the bit allows the early identification
both current and future business activities. Prioritizing reputational of formation changes, which in turn allows drilling to be halted
issues in this manner was our primary method for making an before penetrating an undesired geologic horizon (e.g., a highly
informed selection of the appropriate risk-mitigation strategies, permeable gas formation).
which, ultimately, allowed us to decisively allocate the resources Because the deep-resistivity measurements are lateral to the
necessary to address this issue. Considering reputational impacts axis of the BHA, there is a trigonometric limit to the DDR’s use-
as a risk (which in the case of a subsea blowout would be signifi- fulness for geostopping. As the BHA orientation goes from hori-
cant) was a major driver that led us to the decision to revamp our zontal to vertical, there is a point at which the DDR’s resistivity
well-execution plans. Those new plans, in turn, became the founda- measurements do not project vertically below the bit. Fig. 5b
tion for ensuring that no more than two relief wells would ever be presents a theoretical example of the vertical-look-below capa-
simultaneously required during the Wheatstone D&C campaign. bility of the DDR for a well inclination of 45 . When applied in
the field, the exact depth of reliable detection of the system
would be influenced by both the system’s deep-reading-sensor
Implications for Production-Hole Drilling. After committing to spacing (L) and by the resistivity of the formations in which it is
an execution plan that never requires more than two relief wells, a logging. In actual use at Wheatstone (Upchurch et al. 2016),
method for fulfilling that expectation had to be established. In the system has proved to be useful for well inclinations of 52
essence, all well objectives, both from a completions perspective and higher.

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Mudline 660 ft TVD This forced the use of a 135=8-in. whipstock to sidetrack the well.
36-in. conductor The sidetrack was successfully performed with the whipstock.
20-in. casing
Both of these methods (the production-hole and pilot-hole
relief-well-minimization solutions) proved successful in mitigat-
ing the risk of requiring more than two relief wells if a blowout
135/8-in. casing 6,900 ft TVD were to occur. The additional cost of implementing these mitiga-
1/ tions, however, was significant. Considering, though, the unprece-
4 -in
dented relief-well response that might have been necessary
Top of cement without such mitigations, and that the Wheatstone Project repre-
95/8-in. casing
9,900 ft TVD
sents Chevron’s first attempt at drilling this type of well, this cho-
sen path for maximizing our chances of successfully controlling a

Gas-pay-zone top 10,000 ft TVD high-rate gas blowout is considered by most within our organiza-

tion to have been a prudent investment.

Relief-Well Planning

With the deployment of the previously mentioned well-control
Fig. 6—Schematic of the Wheatstone pilot-hole configuration. mitigations, the process for planning relief wells becomes slightly
simpler. All planning can now proceed under the assumption that
The DDR technology was used for geostopping in seven of the relief wells only need to intercept the target well near the top of
nine Wheatstone production wells. The technology worked as the gas reservoir. Occurrences of dual-relief-well planning are
planned. In all cases, the 121=4-in. hole section was drilled to rare in the literature; however, one subsea example does exist: the
within 10 ft of the top of the target zone containing gas-pay inter- Ormen Lange Project in Norway (Hartmann et al. 2003). From a
vals, with no inadvertent gas penetrations. These were all fol- well-control and well-construction perspective, Ormen Lange is a
lowed by successful installations and cementing of the 95=8-in. good analog to Wheatstone. The production-well designs and
liners 7 ft off-bottom. The two wells in which the DDR was not expected blowout rates are similar. For a well-design similar to
used were drilled immediately adjacent to either a pre-existing ap- Fig. 4b, their specific conditions result in wells that are capable of
praisal well or a pilot hole. Hence, the depth of the gas reservoir’s blowing out at 940 MMscf/D (at a reservoir permeability less than
top was known to an accuracy of 3 to 7 ft. Consequently, the half that of Wheatstone). This blowout rate is comparable with
DDR was not necessary for the successful placement of these two Scenarios 5 and 6 in Table 1. Shell, the operator of Ormen Lange,
well bores. similarly concluded that dual relief wells, targeted to intercept at
the top of the gas reservoir, would be required. They assumed a
Implications for Pilot-Hole Drilling. Relative to the production- 13.3-lbm/gal kill fluid would be used.
hole drilling addressed previously, the relief-well-minimization Water depth is a major difference between Ormen Lange and
solution for drilling pilot holes is less sophisticated from a techni- Wheatstone (2,800 ft vs. 400–800 ft, respectively). Ormen
cal perspective, but more involved operationally. Where the pro- Lange’s significantly deeper water makes it a candidate for use of
duction-hole solution is a technological application with little a capping stack as an alternative method for responding to a sub-
schedule-related (i.e., rig-time) costs, the cost of the pilot-hole sea blowout. No such option exists for Wheatstone, however. As
solution is completely related to schedule and, in turn, is much mentioned previously, the Wheatstone water depths do not allow
more expensive. enough vertical distance for the subsea gas plume to laterally dis-
As mentioned previously, pilot holes were sometimes neces- perse before emerging at the ocean surface. The sea-level gas con-
sary to ensure that a production well was placed in the optimum centration found directly above the blowout would exceed the
location. Before we understood the relief-well implications of lower explosive limit (LEL); thus, it would present a fire hazard
Fig. 3, the Wheatstone pilot-hole concept looked very much like to a vessel attempting to install a capping stack.
Fig. 4a, with the 121=4-in. hole extending approximately 650 ft Similarly, a relief-well-drilling rig and its support vessels
below the top of the gas reservoir. Once the necessary reservoir should not be positioned too near a blowout. Hence, the first step
information was obtained, the 121=4-in. hole would be plugged to planning a relief well is to determine a minimum-safe-stand-off
back with cement to the 135=8-in. casing shoe and then sidetracked distance from the blowout, which is the distance to which any ves-
to install a liner like that shown in Fig. 4b. The beneficial simplic- sel can approach the location of the blowout without risking the
ity of this original concept, however, was quickly overridden by ignition of released gases. Determining this distance requires
well-control concerns once we fully understood the implications modeling the gas plume’s trajectory both below and above the
of possibly needing three or four relief wells. ocean’s surface. Subsea plume modeling is the more complex of
Fig. 6 displays our chosen solution for ensuring that no more the two processes.
than two relief wells would ever be needed during the drilling of a
pilot hole. In this plan, the 121=4-in. section is drilled to approxi- Gas-Plume Modeling. Modeling a subsea gas plume requires
mately 100 ft vertically above the gas reservoir. Hence, geostop- correctly describing the movement of individual gas parcels emit-
ping with the DDR system is unnecessary. Unlike a production ted by the blowout. The parcels are initially dominated by the dy-
hole, where exposing too much shale above the pay zone presents namics of a concentrated gas jet protruding vertically from the
an increased risk of plugging the gravel-pack screens during com- target well. At successively shallower depths, the gas jet loses
pletions, no such risk exists in the pilot hole. The hole that pene- momentum and transitions into a cloud of bubbles governed by
trates into the gas zone will simply be logged and abandoned, advection (i.e., the ocean’s current), dispersion, and buoyancy.
with the 100 ft of exposed shale providing no additional risk. All the while, the size distribution of the gas bubbles and the for-
Once drilled, the 121=4-in. hole is isolated with a full string of 95=8- mation/dissolution of hydrates must be correctly described for
in. casing. The casing/openhole annulus is only partially filled each gas parcel throughout the plume. The model used for simu-
with cement (as shown in Fig. 6). This allows the 95=8-in. casing lating this complex combination of mechanisms is the MEGA-
to be cut 400–500 ft below the 135=8-in. shoe and then pulled out DEEP model developed at Clarkson University (Yapa et al.
of the well. This leaves a 400- to 500-ft openhole window that is 2010). One of the main sources of experimental data for calibra-
then filled with cement to allow sidetracking the well to the opti- tion of the model comes from the DeepSpill joint industry project
mum producing location. (Johansen et al. 2001, 2003). The DeepSpill experiment consisted
This method was used in all four pilot holes drilled at Wheat- of releasing oil and gas from the ocean floor at a 2,770-ft-deep
stone. The plan worked as intended, with the exception of one location in the Norwegian Sea, followed by tracking the ascent
well where the 95=8-in. casing was stuck up to the 135=8-in. shoe. rate, shape, and dispersion of the resultant plumes.

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Gas Concentration (lbm/ft3) Gas Concentration (lbm/ft3)

0 0
0.12 0.12
0.11 0.11
0.10 0.10
0.09 0.09
250 250
0.08 0.08

Depth (ft)
Depth (ft)

0.07 0.07

0.06 0.06
0.05 0.05
500 500
0.04 0.04

0.03 0.03

0.02 0.02
750 0.01 750 0.01

0 250 500 750 1,000 1,250 1,500 1,750 0 250 500 750 1,000
Downcurrent Distance (ft) Downcurrent Distance (ft)
(a) (b)

Fig. 7—Below-sea-level gas-plume-dispersion-modeling results for (a) 800-MMscf/D gas blowout and (b) 1,700-MMscf/D gas blow-
out (during highest-ocean-current conditions, 6.6 ft/sec at surface).

Modeling gas plumes above the ocean surface, on the other the bubble cloud from the 800-MMscf/D blowout is exposed to
hand, is a more-straightforward process. The complexities of bub- the prevailing current for a longer period of time, resulting in a
ble dynamics and hydrates can be ignored. In this more-simplified greater lateral displacement than that of the 1,700-MMscf/D
environment, advection, dispersion, and buoyancy are the only blowout. Lastly, because of Wheatstone’s shallow water depth
mechanisms needing to be considered. and its accompanying warm-water temperature, hydrate formation
Figs. 7 and 8 show the plume-modeling results for both below within the gas plume does not occur.
and above sea level, respectively. The simulations were run The modeling of gas dispersion above the water’s surface was
assuming the maximum-expected ocean-current and wind condi- performed separately from the subsea-plume simulations. A gas
tions to define the full extent to which a gas cloud can laterally source was assumed to be at sea level, emitting gas at similar rates
spread. The assumed gas-flow rates bracket the range of most- as previously discussed, and subjected to the maximum-expected
likely outcomes in Table 1. wind conditions. The results in Fig. 8 make intuitive sense as to
Under subsea conditions, the maximum-lateral-plume depar- how the gas disperses into the air column. The lateral extent of
ture from the blowout ranges from 1,070 to 1,720 ft, depending the gas plume is smaller for the 715-MMscf/D blowout and larger
on the flow rate. Interestingly, the subsea plume with the greatest for the 1,542-MMscf/D blowout, with gas migrating from zones
reach is that shown in Fig. 7a for the lower-rate blowout, whereas of high concentration to low. We express gas concentration in
the plume from the higher-rate blowout in Fig. 7b has a smaller Fig. 8 in terms of LEL to better characterize the risk of igniting a
reach. This counterintuitive outcome is best explained as follows. gas fire within each of those concentration envelopes. Certainly,
As mentioned previously, the vertical jet of gas discharged by a the chance of igniting a fire within the 100% LEL envelope is
blowout consists of a high-velocity core, the upward movement of dangerously high. Representing a significantly lower level of fire
which is dominated by its momentum. As this gas jet proceeds risk is the 50% LEL boundary. The 20% LEL boundary represents
upward, though, there is a point at which its momentum is fully the minimum concentration that would trigger a low-level gas
dissipated and the flow stream breaks down into a cloud of alarm on a vessel. At Wheatstone, we used the 20% LEL bound-
slower-moving bubbles, the movement of which is mostly gov- ary to conservatively define the maximum reach of the gas
erned by advection and buoyancy. At this point, the lateral dis- plume’s high-risk region. From Fig. 8, the downwind range of this
tance that the bubble cloud travels before reaching the ocean’s boundary is 1,480 ft for the 715-MMscf/D blowout and 2,130 ft
surface depends on the speed of the current and amount of time it for the 1,542-MMscf/D blowout.
takes for the bubbles to float to the surface. With this in mind, let
us now reconsider Fig. 7. In Fig. 7a, the 800-MMscf/D blowout,
the gas jet breaks down into a bubble cloud approximately 200 ft Rig Placement and Relief-Well Trajectory. Defining the ves-
below the ocean’s surface. In Fig. 7b, the 1,700-MMscf/D blow- sel-exclusion zone around the blowout simply requires summing
out, the same occurs at a shallower depth of approximately 100 ft the maximum-lateral extent of the subsea plume and the aerial
because of the higher upward momentum of the gas jet. Hence, plume for each blowout rate. Defining the exclusion zone this

1,000 1,000
Height (ft)
Height (ft)

1.0 x LEL 0.5 x LEL 0.2 x LEL

1.0 x LEL 0.5 x LEL 0.2 x LEL
500 500

0 0
0 500 1,000 1,500 2,000 2,500 0 500 1,000 1,500 2,000 2,500
Downwind Distance (ft) Downwind Distance (ft)
(a) (b)

Fig. 8—Above-sea-level gas-plume-dispersion-modeling results for (a) 715 MMscf/D and (b) 1,542 MMscf/D (during highest-wind
conditions, 32.8 ft/sec).

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approach limit

9,2 WST-3C



WST-3 manifold
Reservoir targets
Relief-well-rig locations
Development wells

Relief wells

Fig. 9—Plan view of development well and relief-well trajectories for the WST-3 manifold.

way addresses the worst-case scenario of a fast ocean current and 135=8-in. shoe (6,900-ft TVD), none of the trajectories necessary
a fast wind acting in the same direction to disperse gases emitted to intercept the development wells is considered to be extreme.
from a blowout. By use of this methodology and the results from For all eight of the planned relief wells (two for each development
Figs. 7 and 8, we determine that the 20% LEL cloud boundary well), the maximum-step-out distance is 12,700 ft, the maximum
(i.e., the limits of our vessel-exclusion zone) extends no farther inclination is 61 , the maximum dogleg severity (DLS) necessary
than 3,200 ft from the location where the blowout is occurring. to build inclination is 4 /100 ft, and the maximum DLS necessary
Thus, we conclude that a vessel can safely approach as close as for dropping inclination to align for intercepting a target well is
3,300 ft to the location of a blowout at Wheatstone, regardless of 2 /100 ft. Within this envelope of maximum inclination and re-
wind and current direction. The rig conducting relief-well drilling stricted DLS, wireline surveys will be possible for any of the
(which is assumed to have a 5,900-ft radius mooring pattern) can designed relief wells. Thus, an appropriate balance between the
therefore be anywhere on a 9,200-ft radius circle surrounding the ability to intercept the target well and the surveyability of
blowout location (i.e., the subsea manifold where all wellheads the relief wells has been established. Limiting the relief-well DLS
are located). Note that dynamically positioned drilling rigs are not to lower values than used here would, however, make it impossi-
considered here because the water depth at Wheatstone is too ble to sense a target well shallow enough to allow appropriate
shallow for their use. directional adjustments to intercept it.
Having now defined that a relief-well-drilling rig can be Relief-rig locations are chosen to avoid both infrastructure and
placed as close as 9,200 ft in any direction of the subsea manifold shallow geologic hazards. Planning efforts also focus on minimiz-
where a blowout is occurring, the trajectory planning of all relief ing the number of relief-rig locations without affecting the diffi-
wells can begin. In this paper, we use Wheatstone’s most-complex culty of relief-well trajectories. In the case of this particular
manifold (WST-3) to describe our relief-well-trajectory planning. manifold, an additional restriction to the placement of relief rigs
Figs. 9 and 10 display the plan view and vertical-section view, is the location of the manifold near the continental-shelf escarp-
respectively, of all WST-3 development wells (production wells) ment (Fig. 11). This effectively removes 45% of possible relief-
and relief wells. rig locations from consideration at the WST-3 manifold. No such
Because all relief wells are targeted at the top of the gas reser- restrictions exist at the other Wheatstone manifolds. All other
voir (10,000-ft TVD), rather than at a shallower target like the Wheatstone manifolds also have fewer wells than this one.

Sea Level
~10,000 ft TVD

WST-3 manifold
Reservoir targets
Relief-well-rig locations
Development wells

Relief wells

Fig. 10—Vertical-section view of development well and relief-well trajectories for the WST-3 manifold.

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Water well from the 7-in. liner by use of oriented tubing-conveyed-per-

depth forating guns (Fig. 12). This option was successfully used in 1971
on the Cox No. 1 dynamic kill (Bruist 1972), although wireline
500 ft
guns were used at that time. A 10-ft-long interval of 16 1-in.-di-
1,000 ft ameter holes was created to make the hydraulic link. An 18.3-
9,200-ft relief- 1,500 ft lbm/gal cement slurry was then pumped at 55 bbl/min through the
rig-approach 2,000 ft holes with no apparent restrictions. This option has also been con-
limit sidered elsewhere in the literature (Varela et al. 2015).
2,500 ft
A second option is to drill the 81=2-in. hole such that it con-
3,000 ft verges toward the target well at an incidence angle of 3–5 . Dril-
3,500 ft ling of this hole is halted approximately 100 ft short of the
expected intercept with the target well. At this point the 7-in. liner
is installed to isolate the unstable shale. Afterward, a 61=8-in. hole
is drilled to intercept the target well and form the hydraulic con-
nection (Fig. 12).
WST-3 manifold Although either of these options is doable, we think the perfo-
Relief-well-rig rated junction may be the best choice for at least one relief well,
locations or possibly both. So why consider having a perforated junction
over the more-traditional direct-intercept technique? The choice
Fig. 11—Bathymetry at the WST-3 manifold. is driven by the desire to have complete control as to exactly
when a hydraulic link is established with the target well. That
control exists to varying degrees for both methods. We think,
It can be deduced from Fig. 9 that these restrictions, in some however, that oriented perforating might provide a higher level of
cases, may result in some overlapping of relief-rig-mooring pat- certainty that both relief wells can be connected to the target well
terns, especially in the cases of the WST-3A and WST-3F relief simultaneously. Considering that both relief wells are required to
wells. Depending on the specifics of the rigs used, this conflict kill the blowout, successfully connecting only one relief well
can be managed by coordinating the placement of anchor group- unfortunately commits one rig to continually pumping fluid into
ings to avoid individual-mooring-line clashes. Prelaid-mooring that one relief well, while waiting on the other rig to establish its
systems can be helpful in such circumstances. connection to the target well. This is a scenario to be avoided.
Once a connection is established, continual fluid injection is nec-
essary to prevent gas from migrating into a relief well from the
Target-Well Dual-Intercept Planning. All relief-well trajecto- still-free-flowing target well. For a scenario where both relief
ries are planned to allow the locating and tracking of the target wells use the direct-intercept technique, if both wells are equally
well, as described by others (Flores et al. 2014; Goobie et al. ready to intercept the target well and only one successfully
2015; Varela et al. 2015). Up to this point, the casing design of accomplishes it, a situation is created where one well is now com-
the relief well looks like that of a pilot hole (as in Fig. 6), except mitted to continually pumping fluid into the target well, while
the 95=8-in.-casing shoe is set 700 ft vertically shallower at approx- many days may be necessary to reattempt a connection by use of
imately 9,200-ft TVD (Fig. 12). The 95=8-in. casing is set at this the other relief well. We think that oriented perforating’s chance
point to ensure pressure competence in case the target well is pre- of “one-time” or “one-attempt” success may be superior to that of
maturely intercepted while drilling deeper. Once this casing string a direct intercept, especially if a sufficiently long perforated inter-
is cemented in place, two possible options are available for form- val (50–70 ft) is used. It is, therefore, our position that at least
ing a hydraulic connection with the target well. one, or possibly both, of the relief wells should use oriented perfo-
One option is to drill an 81=2-in. hole directly adjacent and par- rating to ensure that both relief wells simultaneously (or nearly
allel to the target well and install a 7-in. liner. The liner isolates so) establish a hydraulic connection with the target well.
an unstable shale interval that exists across the entire Wheatstone If oriented perforating is used in only one of the two relief
field. The final hydraulic connection between the relief well and wells, a successful well kill might occur as follows. Pursue dril-
the target well is then established by perforating into the target ling both relief wells simultaneously, with the intent of having the
/ 8-


/ 8-
/ 8-






9,200 ft TVD


(no 7-in

nm . lin

ag er

61 /8-

in. h



10,000 ft TVD Gas-pay-zone top

Fig. 12—An example of a two-relief-well-intercept scenario for Wheatstone.

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95=8-in. casing string cemented in both in a similar time frame. tion configurations that are possible. This is true simply because
Next, install the 7-in. liners in both wells. Whichever 7-in. liner is of the easy access to the surface BOP and the ready availability or
installed first should be made of nonmagnetic material. This will manufacturability of surface-piping components.
minimize confusion when magnetically locating the target well Whereas pumping drilling mud or cement at more than 60 bbl/
during the drilling of the hole for the second 7-in. liner. Prefera- min through surface BOPs only occurs once in the literature
bly, the nonmagnetic liner would be the liner with the shallower (Fateh L-3), the pumping of water or brine at more than 100 bbl/
intercept (i.e., the perforated one shown in Fig. 12). Next, install min through surface BOPs is a common practice. Four of the six
tubing-conveyed-perforating guns in the “oriented-perforations” blowouts listed in Table 2, where water or brine were injected
relief well and stand by until the “direct-intercept” relief well through surface BOPs, used pumping rates of 100 bbl/min. In
establishes communication with the target well. Once the direct addition, all water-based dynamic-kill attempts were executed at
intercept is accomplished, the other relief well can then be perfo- injection rates of 60 bbl/min.
rated to form its own hydraulic connection. Executing a dual-
relief-well plan that has a high chance of success in connecting Dynamic Kills by Means of Subsea BOPs in the Literature. In
both relief wells nearly simultaneously to the target well is the contrast to surface BOPs, the same body of technical literature
key to avoiding a prolonged and continuous fluid-injection opera- contains only one case study (Maduro and Reynolds 1989) docu-
tion on a single well. menting a dynamic kill performed through subsea BOPs (Enchova
19D), with that kill being performed by use of seawater. Besides
Defining the Injectivity Limits of a this sole field-executed example, there exists one other paper
Subsea Relief Well (Leraand et al. 1992) documenting the drilling of a subsea relief
well in the North Sea, but the well was never actually used for a
The Wheatstone project was executed on the premise that two dynamic kill. There are also a few publications (Lage et al. 2006;
relief wells would be necessary to adequately respond to a subsea Yuan et al. 2014) that summarize dynamic-kill planning for sub-
blowout. That premise is the byproduct of, first, dynamic-kill sea relief wells, with stated intentions to inject 180 bbl/min of
modeling and, second, our aforementioned assumption that the water or 72 to 88 bbl/min of approximately 17-lbm/gal drilling
injectivity limit of a subsea relief well is 60–100 bbl/min (assum- fluid. These numbers are driven by both dynamic-kill-simulation
ing a 15-lbm/gal fluid). The first of these is the result of detailed results and by the frictional-pressure limitations associated with
and independently verified engineering analyses. The second, their respective scenarios. These planning documents do not,
however, is founded only on a very-small set of semianalogous however, address erosion as a limiting design factor in the deter-
industry results; hence, its broadly defined range reflects our lack mination of their subsea relief-well-injection rates.
of confidence in its accuracy.
Since the Bruist (1972) publication that first detailed the exe-
cution of a dynamic kill, only eight other dynamic kills have been Subsea-BOP-Erosion Risks. Relative to surface BOPs, the flexi-
chronicled in the industry technical literature (Lewis 1977; bility of mitigating erosion concerns in subsea BOPs is much-
Arnwine and Ely 1978; Blount and Soeiinah 1981; Lugo and De more limited. Whereas the piping that transmits injected fluid into
Leon 1981; Lynch et al. 1985; Maduro and Reynolds 1989; Flak a surface BOP can have a variety of configurations that ultimately
et al. 1995; Oudemann 1996, 2007). In Table 2, we summarize converge to a few BOP entry points, subsea BOPs have no such
the reported-maximum single-well fluid-injection rates and fluid readily exercisable flexibility. Because the marine riser above the
types used in these kills. Some blowouts have more than one entry subsea BOP is not designed to be pressurized, all injected fluid for
on Table 2 because multiple fluid types and rates were used to a dynamic kill must be pumped through the chokeline and kill
perform the kill. Table 2 also lists the relief-well BOP types. The line attached to the marine riser (Fig. 13a). Upstream of the
instances where solids-free fluid was injected are shown sepa- chokeline and kill line at the rig, various options are available for
rately from those where solids-bearing fluid was used. We have the routing and manifolding of lines from the numerous fluid
done this mostly to highlight that there is a limited number of pumps necessary to conduct a dynamic kill of a high-rate gas
reported dynamic kills that actually used a solids-bearing fluid. At well, similar to the flexibility noted for surface BOPs. However,
rates more than 60 bbl/min, there is only one, the Fateh L-3 in downstream of the chokeline and kill line, no such flexibility read-
Dubai. This is a point to be leveraged in our discussion on erosion ily exists. All fluids moving through the chokeline and kill line
later in this paper. It is worth noting that nowhere in the literature must pass through their associated flex loops (Fig. 13) before
is erosion a topic of discussion in relation to planned or executed entering the BOP and proceeding down the annulus. It is the flex
dynamic kills. loops that we think may provide the greatest erosional risk if
high-rate pumping of a solids-bearing fluid is attempted.
For clarity, pumping kill fluid through the drillpipe of a relief
Dynamic Kills by Means of Surface BOPs in the Literature. well is, theoretically, an additional option for executing a dynamic
Of the nine dynamic kills discussed in the literature, eight of them kill. Use of this option can reduce the volume of fluid needing to
were performed by injecting kill fluid through surface BOPs. Of pass through the chokeline and kill line. The drillstring BHA in a
these, only one was executed at injection rates greater than 60 relief well, however, usually contains restrictions (e.g., poppet
bbl/min, the Fateh L-3. The Fateh L-3 well kill, far and away, had valves and turbines in measurement-while-drilling/LWD systems
the highest single-well fluid-injection rates of any in the literature. and nozzles in drill bits) that, although suitable for allowing suffi-
The first of its four relief wells injected water at 160 bbl/min and cient fluid-passage rates during the normal drilling process, are
11.5-, 14-, and 18-lbm/gal drilling fluid at 190, 156, and 115 bbl/ too constraining to accommodate the much-higher kill-fluid-pas-
min, respectively. In terms of solids-bearing fluids, the next-high- sage rates required during a dynamic kill. In addition, during the
est injection rate was that of the Cox No. 1 well kill, which execution of a dynamic kill, most operators prefer to monitor the
injected 18.3-lbm/gal cement at 55 bbl/min. The Fateh L-3 well static surface pressure of the drillstring as a means of directly cal-
kill used an undetermined number of pumps on two barges and at culating and tracking the bottomhole pressure at the bit. Hence,
least one service-company marine-pumping vessel. The land- the best, and usually only, paths for substantially injecting into a
based Cox No. 1 well kill used 12 HT-400 pumps for its opera- subsea relief well are through the chokeline and kill line.
tion. For each of these well kills, the manifolding of the numerous The piping and manifolding at the rig and the straight choke-
fluid streams to converge into one or multiple points of injection line and kill line leading down to the subsea BOPs are not consid-
at the BOPs (which is undefined in the literature) could have ered by us to be an area for erosional concern when pumping at
occurred in a variety of ways to ensure that the erosional risks of high rates. The flex loops, however, have short radius turns that
pumping solids-bearing fluids at such high rates were fully miti- could result in accelerated erosion. A homogeneous solids-free
gated. Hence, the benefits of performing a dynamic kill by means fluid moving through a continuously curved conduit, like a flex
of a surface BOP are many, because of the numerous fluid-injec- loop or a reel of coiled tubing, will establish a different flow

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Kill Line

Flex loops for
Radius of curvature
chokeline and kill line
= 1.5 ft


Radius of curvature
= 3.4 ft
Radius of curvature
= 1.5 ft

(a) (b)

Fig. 13—Side view (a) and top view (b) of a subsea-BOP lower-marine-riser package. Chokeline and kill-line flex loops are shown in

pattern than that of a straight conduit because of the continuous fluid passing through it at 50 bbl/min. However, the basic finding,
rotational acceleration being imparted on moving fluid. Shah et al. that greater erosion will occur in a continually curved conduit
(2004) explain this difference. Rather than the highest-velocity than in a similar straight conduit, will still hold true.
sector of fluid being in the middle of the flow path (Fig. 14a), If erosion of a flex loop is a possibility when performing a
when a lateral acceleration is continuously applied by means of dynamic kill at high injection rates with a solids-bearing fluid,
rotation, the highest-velocity sector of the fluid is adjacent to the then estimating the amount of that possible erosion should be an
wall of the pipe (Fig. 14b). industry goal, especially in the case where no information is pub-
When a solids-bearing fluid is moving through a continuously licly available regarding the actual performance of such a kill.
curved conduit, the work of Shah et al. (2004) also indicates that The logical first step is to build computational-fluid-dynamics
the solids contained in the fluid become highly concentrated on (CFD) models for predicting such erosion. Other sectors within
the conduit wall nearest the high-velocity-fluid stream as a result the industry (such as fracture packing) that pump solids-bearing
of centrifugal force. Other researchers (Rosine et al. 2008; Shah fluid at high rates have performed such analyses (Clem et al.
and Jain 2008) have estimated internal-erosion patterns as a result 2010, 2014) to understand the erosion of downhole-service tools.
of the near-wall concentration of solids and have determined that Those sectors realize that a theoretical CFD model by itself is
erosion rates are elevated in that area. These findings are obtained insufficient for the task. CFD models must be calibrated against
by use of fluids of a different rheology than a drilling fluid; that laboratory-erosion-testing results to ensure their predictive accu-
contain solids of a different size, concentration, and hardness racy. The papers referenced here (Clem et al. 2010, 2014) make
from those found in a drilling fluid; and that are traveling eight this connection clear. The erosional pattern for a fluid containing
times slower than fluid passing through a BOP flex loop during a a significant concentration of solid particles is not the same as the
100-bbl/min dynamic kill (i.e., 50 bbl/min through each chokeline erosional pattern for a fluid with a very-low solids concentration.
and kill line). Thus, the reported erosion rates will not be the Hence, the simplified models that pertain to erosion of pipe sys-
same as what might occur in a flex loop with a 15-lbm/gal drilling tems for oilfield-fluids processing (which handle low-solids-



Centrifugal force caused by
29.0 rotational acceleration










(a) (b)

Fig. 14—Velocity contours of water flowing at 10 bbl/min through 2.063-in.-ID coiled tubing that is (a) straight and (b) bent at a ra-
dius of curvature 5 4.6 ft [modeled after Figs. 2 and 3 in Shah et al. (2004)].

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content fluids) are not appropriate for assessing flex-loop erosion exceptionally high gas-blowout rates will result in flammable gas
under the conditions being considered. Only physical laboratory at the ocean’s surface, which, in turn, precludes any possibility of
testing combined with calibrated CFD models are sufficient to deploying a capping stack. Relief wells are, therefore, the only
fully assess the possible erosion risks associated with a subsea- workable option for bringing a Wheatstone blowout under control.
BOP flex loop. Or, more specifically, dual relief wells are the only workable
Lastly, previous authors have suggested the concept of provid- option for controlling a Wheatstone blowout.
ing an additional fluid-injection path to the standard chokeline/ The fact that our blowout-response plans are completely de-
kill-line scenario. A third path for injecting fluid into a relief well pendent on successfully drilling two relief wells elevates the risk
reduces the amount of fluid passing though the chokeline and kill profile that is usually associated with this activity. The drilling
line (and, in turn, the flex loops), thereby reducing the risk of pre- of dual relief wells is not, by itself, an unusual response to a
maturely eroding the flex loops. The previous ideas proposed blowout. Many blowouts have had two (and sometimes more)
include use of a large ID Coflexip line connected directly to the relief wells drilled in response, with the intention, however, of
subsea BOP (Hartmann et al. 2003) and use of a specially built using only one of them to effect the dynamic kill (Varela et al.
marine “injection riser” that has a large ID injection conduit 2015). The number of times, however, that dual relief wells have
mounted on the marine riser (Warriner and Cassity 1988). Con- been undertaken, where both relief wells are required for suc-
cepts such as these would require significant BOP and/or marine- cess, is small. Further restricting this discussion to the subsea
riser modifications to be deployable in the field. In addition, if realm reduces the number even further, with only one (Enchova
such modifications are not started until the need for a relief well 19D) mentioned in the literature. Hence, there is nothing that
manifests itself, the time necessary to implement them could can be considered commonplace about the Wheatstone relief-
cause unacceptable delays in the drilling of the relief wells. A well execution plan. As discussed previously in this paper, we
more-recent development, however, discussed by Oskarsen et al. think a critical aspect of executing dual relief wells, when both
(2016), is that of a modular relief-well-injection spool that can be are required for the dynamic kill, is to ensure that the relief wells
placed between the BOP and wellhead of a subsea relief well. The hydraulically connect to the target well as simultaneously as
concept has the same benefits as that proposed by Hartmann et al. possible. The method of maximizing the chance of successfully
(2003), with the exception that no BOP modifications are neces- making this happen can come in two different forms: by either
sary. Hence, the response time for deploying such a device would increasing redundancy or increasing reliability. “Increasing
be much shorter, similar to that of a capping stack. redundancy” is meant to imply that more relief wells are drilled
than are actually required, thereby increasing the chances of at
least two of the relief wells intercepting the target well in a simi-
Closing Discussion lar time frame. This method strikes us as a path to unnecessary
The Wheatstone Project had, at the time of initial writing, com- investments in rig and well equipment, which also increases the
pleted drilling and casing all nine of its wells to the top of the gas- overall complexity of intercepting the target well with each new
pay interval, as shown in Fig. 4b. The completion of that work relief well added to the scheme. Therefore, we have instead pur-
scope also included the successful drilling and abandoning of four sued “increased reliability” as the basis for our target-well-inter-
pilot holes, as shown in Fig. 6. Immediately afterward, the “drill cept planning. We suggest that the reliability of simultaneously
reservoir and install completions” phase of the rig campaign was establishing a hydraulic connection between two relief wells and
executed, which had its own set of well-control risks, one of those a single target well is increased if at least one of the relief wells
risks still being the need to drill two relief wells if a blowout has a perforated junction with the target well (as shown in Fig.
occurred. As described in this paper, various methods and tech- 12). It should be noted that the Enchova 19D dual-relief-well
nologies were deployed at Wheatstone to not only ensure that no dynamic kill was successful without use of a perforated junction
more than two relief wells would be necessary during the comple- (i.e., both relief wells directly intercepted the target well). We
tions phase of the project, but that no more than two relief wells do not think, however, that the Enchova 19D success is alone
would be necessary during any phase of the project. Attaining this sufficient evidence to alter our recommendation for use of at
goal required a significant investment in time and capital. That least one perforated junction when executing a dynamic kill
investment, however, was considered necessary to ensure that, in through two relief wells. Considering the enormous gas-release
the event of a Wheatstone high-rate gas-well blowout, a two- rate from a Wheatstone blowout and the environmental damage
relief-well response could be deployed with full confidence of that would accumulate because of it, our recommendations lean
its success. toward processes that, from our perspective, provide the highest
Proceeding through the process of blowout prevention and chance of successfully attaining a hydraulic connection with a
planning for the Wheatstone Project has uncovered risks and limi- single attempt.
tations that were heretofore not fully appreciated by the Wheat-
stone D&C Team. From a “risks” perspective, for example,
concerns were raised as to the possible risk of prematurely erod- Conclusions
ing a subsea-BOP’s flex loop if subjected to the high velocities of 1. The Wheatstone well design and plan of execution, as por-
a solids-bearing fluid during a dynamic kill. Considering that the trayed in Fig. 4b, are intended to minimize the number of
industry literature contains no case studies documenting such a required relief wells to two in response to a blowout.
kill nor any other studies as to the robustness of a subsea BOP 2. A capping stack is not a viable method of response to a blow-
subjected to such conditions, we are naturally concerned as to out at Wheatstone because of the shallow water depth.
how well the industry understands the possible limits it would 3. No studies or case histories exist in the industry literature that
impose during a dynamic-kill operation. In response to this con- reflect the erosional robustness of subsea-BOP systems under
cern, it is proposed that laboratory erosion testing and CFD mod- conditions similar to those predicted for a Wheatstone relief
eling be performed to provide a better understanding of the well. Because of this lack of information, our estimated maxi-
erosional characteristics of a subsea-BOP’s flex loop when sub- mum-allowable kill-fluid-injection rate for a relief well is con-
jected to high-rate flow of a solids-bearing fluid. servatively low (60–70 bbl/min).
Alternatively, from a “limitations” perspective, use of a cap- 4. Because of the lack of public information concerning the ero-
ping stack to stop a blowout is, in many deeper-water scenarios, a sional robustness of subsea-BOP systems (in particular, their
usable option in addition to relief wells. This option, however, is flex loops) when subjected to high-velocity solids-laden fluids,
not possible at Wheatstone. At deeper-water depths, escaping gas we suggest that laboratory erosion testing and CFD modeling
has ample time to disperse before reaching the water’s surface, are necessary to better define the risks associated with such
thus allowing a vessel to safely deploy a capping stack while posi- conditions. The results would provide a clearer understanding
tioned vertically above the free-flowing well. At Wheatstone, of the range of fluid-injection rates that are actually attainable
however, shallow-water depths (400–800 ft) combined with with a single subsea relief well.

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5. The plan for executing dual relief wells, when both are simul- on Formation Damage Control, Lafayette, Louisiana, 15–17 February.
taneously required to effect a dynamic kill, should ensure that SPE-151770-MS.
both relief wells can be hydraulically connected to the target Jacobs, T. 2015. The New Pathways of Multiphase Flow Modeling. J Pet
well as close to simultaneously as possible. Technol 76 (2): 62–68. SPE-0215-0062-JPT.
Nomenclature Jenner, G. P. and Hughes, G. 2008. Large Bore Subsea Production Sys-
tems for Woodside’s Gas Developments. Presented at the SPE Asia
kh ¼ horizontal permeability, darcy Pacific Oil and Gas Conference and Exhibition, Perth, Australia,
kv ¼ vertical permeability, darcy 20–22 October. SPE-116927-MS.
L ¼ DDR deep-reading-sensor spacing (distance between Tx
Johansen, Ø., Rye, H., and Cooper, C. 2003. DeepSpill – Field Study of a
and Rx2), ft
Simulated Oil and Gas Blowout in Deep Water. Spill Sci. Technol. Bull.
MP ¼ distance from bit to DDR measurement point, ft
8 (5–6): 433–443.
Rx2 ¼ long-spaced DDR receiver location
Johansen, Ø., Rye, H., Melbye, A. G. et al. 2001. DeepSpill JIP – Experi-
T ¼ distance between bit and Tx, ft
mental Discharges of Gas and Oil at Helland Hansen–June 2000.
Tx ¼ DDR transmitter location
Technical Report, SINTEF Applied Chemistry, Trondheim, Norway.
Karami, H., Torres, C. F., Pereyra, E. et al. 2016. Experimental Investiga-
Acknowledgments tion of Three-Phase Low-Liquid-Loading Flow. Oil and Gas Fac 5
The authors wish to thank Chevron and the Wheatstone Project (2): 45–56. SPE-174926-PA.
partners for supporting the publication of this paper. Thanks are Lage, A. C., Jacinto, C., Martins, F. et al. 2006. Blowout Contingency and
also owed to Roger Bartlett, leader of the Wheatstone Subsurface Risk-Reduction Measures for High-Rate Subsea Gas Wells in Mexil-
Group, for his support and consultation during the planning and hao. Presented at the IADC/SPE Drilling Conference, Miami, Florida,
execution of the Wheatstone drilling campaign. We also thank 21–23 February. SPE-99164-MS.
Michael Collins and Jim Murdoch of Shell for sharing their Leraand, F., Wright, J. W., Zachary, M. B. et al. 1992. Relief-Well Plan-
knowledge and perspectives related to blowout prevention and ning and Drilling for a North Sea Underground Blowout. J Pet Technol
preparedness for the Ormen Lange Project, and Deepak Gala for 44 (3): 266–273. SPE-20420-PA.
providing insight into Shell’s subsea relief-well-design standards. Lewis, J. B. 1977. The Use of the Computer and Other Special Tools for
Monitoring a Gas Well Blowout during the Kill Operation – Offshore
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Shah, S. N. and Jain, S. 2008. Coiled Tubing Erosion During Hydraulic Eric R. Upchurch is a senior drilling superintendent for Chev-
Fracturing Slurry Flow. Wear 264 (3–4): 279–290. ron’s subsea Frade Redevelopment Project in Brazil. He previ-
10.1016/j.wear.2007.03.016. ously held a similar position with Chevron in Australia,
overseeing D&C planning, engineering design, and opera-
Shah, S. N., Jain, S., and Zhou, Y. 2004. Coiled Tubing Erosion During tional implementation of the subsea Wheatstone LNG Project.
Hydraulic Fracturing Slurry Flow. Presented at the SPE/ICoTA Coiled Upchurch has 32 years of experience in drilling, completions,
Tubing Conference and Exhibition, Houston, 23–24 March. SPE- and production engineering in the GOM, California, Alaska,
89479-MS. Thailand, Angola, Australia, and Brazil. He has authored sev-
Tang, Y. and Huang, W. S. 2010. A Combined Well-Completion and eral papers covering the fields of petroleum engineering, me-
chanical engineering, system dynamics, and fluid mechanics
Flow-Dynamic Modeling for a Dual-Lateral-Well Loadup Investiga-
and holds two US patents in the areas of drilling-rig design and
tion. SPE Prod & Oper 25 (1): 9–18. SPE-129199-PA. rock-fracture mechanics. Upchurch is a registered professional
10.2118/129199-PA. engineer in the states of California and Texas. He serves on the
Upchurch, E. R., Viandante, M. G., Saleem, S. et al. 2016. Geo-Stopping SPE Editorial Review Committee, was chosen as an SPE Out-
With Deep-Directional-Resistivity Logging-While-Drilling: A New standing Technical Editor in 2012, and has assisted in the plan-
Method for Wellbore Placement With Below-the-Bit Resistivity Map- ning of several SPE conferences. Upchurch holds a bachelor’s
degree in petroleum engineering from the University of Tulsa, a
ping. SPE Drill & Compl 31 (4): 295–306. SPE-173169-PA. https://
master’s degree in mechanical engineering from California State University, and a PhD degree in aerospace engineering
Varela, R., Iturrizaga, F., Patino, D. et al. 2015. Multiple Relief Well Plan- (specializing in fluid mechanics) from the University of Southern
ning for an HPHT Blowout in Southern Mexico. Presented at the SPE/ California.
IADC Drilling Conference and Exhibition, London, 17–19 March. Sam Falkner is a drilling engineer with Chevron in Perth, Aus-
SPE-173160-MS. tralia. He has 10 years of industry experience in the drilling,
Warriner, R. A. and Cassity, T. G. 1988. Relief-Well Requirements to Kill completions, and well-testing fields, and previously worked for
a High-Rate Gas Blowout from a Deepwater Reservoir. J Pet Technol ExxonMobil and Weatherford. Falkner’s interests include well-
head fatigue, mooring design, and relief-well design. He holds
40 (12): 1602–1608. SPE-16131-PA.
a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering from the Uni-
PA. versity of Western Australia.
Willson, S. M. 2012. A Wellbore Stability Approach for Self-Killing
Andrew House is a petroleum engineer at Chevron based in
Blowout Assessment. Presented at the SPE Deepwater Drilling and
Perth, Australia. He has 15 years of exploration-and-produc-
Completions Conference, Galveston, Texas, 20–21 June. SPE-156330- tion-industry experience across various disciplines, including
MS. drilling, completions, and production-engineering aspects of
Wong, D. W., Harrington, A. G., and Cinco-Ley, H. 1986. Application of design, construction, and operations readiness for subsea oil
the Pressure Derivative Function in the Pressure Transient Testing of and gas developments in West Africa and Australia. House
Fractured Wells. SPE Form Eval 1 (5): 470–480. SPE-13056-PA. has authored or coauthored more than 10 technical papers
focused on research in offshore geotechnics. He holds bache-
lor’s and PhD degrees in civil engineering from the University of
Yapa, P. D., Dasanayaka, L. K., Bandara, U. C. et al. 2010. A Model to Western Australia.
Simulate the Transport and Fate of Gas and Hydrates Released in
Chinh Nguyen is a well-safety examiner for Chevron in Bakers-
Deepwater. J. Hydraul. Res. 48 (5): 559–572. field, California. His responsibilities involve providing technical
00221686.2010.507010. assurance for Chevron in its San Joaquin Valley business unit to
Yuan, Z., Hashemian, Y., and Morrell, D. 2014. Ultra-Deepwater Blowout ensure that well containment and well control are maintained
Well Control Analysis under Worst Case Blowout Scenario. Presented at all times in all well designs, well constructions, and workover
at the SPE Deepwater Drilling and Completions Conference, Galves- operations. Nguyen has 20 years of industry experience and
specializes in well construction and project management. He
ton, Texas, 10–11 September. SPE-170256-MS.
has been working for Chevron for 17 years in six countries, and
10.2118/170256-MS. is responsible for many well-construction projects, including
offshore exploration, development, factory slimhole, and big-
bore gas-well construction. Recently, Nguyen focused on pro-
SI Metric-Conversion Factors ject risk and cost management and other aspects of project
management in major capital projects. He is a project man-
acre  4.046 856 E01 ¼ ha agement professional certified by the Project Management
bbl  1.589 911 E01 ¼ m3 Institute. Nguyen holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical en-
F ( F–32)/1.8 ¼ C gineering from the University of Technology in Ho Chi Minh
City, Vietnam, and a master’s degree in project management
ft  3.048* E01 ¼ m from Curtin University, Australia.
gal  3.785 412 E03 ¼ m3 Ken Russell is a senior drilling engineer with Chevron, joining
lbm  4.535 924 E01 ¼ kg the company in 1989 in Aberdeen. Russell had worked as a
md  9.869 233 E04 ¼ mm2 drillsite manager in eight countries before locating to Perth,
Australia. Since 2011, he has held the position of drilling engi-
psi  6.894 757 Eþ00 ¼ kPa neering team lead for the Wheatstone Gas Project. Russell
*Conversion factor is exact holds a bachelor’s degree in mining and petroleum engineer-
ing from Strathclyde University, Scotland.

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