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Advances in Well Testing Solutions for Offshore Oil and Gas Operations Well Testing Support Solutions for Oil & Gas Operations How the Wider Market Affects Well Testing The Expanding Scope of Well Testing Going Deep: The Challenges of Deep Water Innovations for the Future

Sponsored by

Published by Global Business Media

Air Compressors ● Steam Generators ● Rig Cooling Systems Fire Fighting Equipment ● Engineering Services ● Competent Personnel www.scantechoffshore.com


Advances in Well Testing Solutions for Offshore Oil and Gas Operations Well Testing Support Solutions for Oil & Gas Operations



How the Wider Market Affects Well Testing The Expanding Scope of Well Testing Going Deep: The Challenges of Deep Water Innovations for the Future

Foreword 2 Tom Cropper, Editor

Well Testing Support Solutions for Oil & Gas Operations


ScanTech Offshore

Sponsored by

Published by Global Business Media

Published by Global Business Media Global Business Media Limited 62 The Street Ashtead Surrey KT21 1AT United Kingdom Switchboard: +44 (0)1737 850 939 Fax: +44 (0)1737 851 952 Email: info@globalbusinessmedia.org Website: www.globalbusinessmedia.org Publisher Kevin Bell Editor Tom Cropper Business Development Director Marie-Anne Brooks Senior Project Manager Steve Banks Advertising Executives Michael McCarthy Abigail Coombes Production Manager Paul Davies For further information visit: www.globalbusinessmedia.org The opinions and views expressed in the editorial content in this publication are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily represent the views of any organisation with which they may be associated. Material in advertisements and promotional features may be considered to represent the views of the advertisers and promoters. The views and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily express the views of the Publishers or the Editor. While every care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, neither the Publishers nor the Editor are responsible for such opinions and views or for any inaccuracies in the articles.

© 2015. The entire contents of this publication are protected by copyright. Full details are available from the Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner.

Safety First Specialist Rental Equipment HeaterSentry® – Protecting Steam Plant from High Pressure Processes Large Bore Heat Exchangers PyroSentry® – Defence against the Invisible Flame Zone II Steam Generators Safe Releasing Bails Rig Cooling Systems Rig Safe & Zone II Sea Water Booster Pumps Submersible Sea Water Delivery Pumps Safe Deployment System for Submersible Pumps Innovation on the Drawing Board

How the Wider Market Affects Well Testing


Tom Cropper, Editor

Oil Price Volatility Future Market Direction

The Expanding Scope of Well Testing


James Butler, Staff Writer

Why Test? Planning How Tests and Equipment Are Evolving

Going Deep: The Challenges of Deep Water


Jo Roth, Staff Writer

The Search for New Oil and Gas The Challenge of Deep Well Testing Developing Solutions The Danger of Uncertainty

Innovations for the Future


Tom Cropper, Editor

Safety Sample Analysis Extended Testing

References 16



Foreword O

IL PRICES have followed the example of

ahead and some of the ways they have chosen

those magnificent men in their flying

to address them.

machines over the past 12 months – up down

Next we’ll take a look at the wider operating

flying around. The volatility in the market has

environment. Harsher drilling conditions and tight

thrown doubt on the future of the offshore market,

budgetary constraints mean challenging times

but with new reserves still being sought, exploration

ahead. However, these demands open up a fresh

continues and even expands.

market of possibilities. Driving into new frontiers

The challenge for all areas of the E&P process

means coming up with fresh solutions.

is to do the job more effectively, affordably and

We’ll also look at some of the leading solutions

efficiently - in other words, achieving a higher level

hitting the market in the realm of deep water

of performance without the seemingly inevitable

exploration. The latest generation of technologies is

increase in production costs. For well testing

trying to push the envelope in terms of performance

equipment this is a double edged sword. On the one

parameters and reliability. We’ll look at the innovations

hand they need to minimise the cost of production,

coming into the market as well as assessing some of

but on the other hand they have to withstand more

the major challenges they will be facing.

demanding conditions and maintain error-free

The market is, as ever in the oil and gas industry,

functionality in some incredibly harsh environments.

at an interesting stage. The need for development is

In the first article in this report, Shaun Ryan,

there and so the industry is working hard to come

Managing Director of Scantech Offshore, explains

up with answers.

some of the major safety implications the industry is having to deal with. As one of the world’s leading suppliers of well testing equipment, they are at the forefront of development. He explains the challenges

Tom Cropper Editor

Tom Cropper has produced articles and reports on various aspects of global business over the past 15 years. He has also worked as a copywriter for some of the largest corporations in the world, including ING, KPMG and the World Wildlife Fund.



Well Testing Support Solutions for Oil & Gas Operations ScanTech Offshore ScanTech Offshore is the well testing support division of James Fisher & Sons PLC a leading provider of specialist services to the marine and oil and gas industries worldwide. For over 20 years ScanTech Offshore has specialised in the supply of services and products for the well testing market place. Our specialist products include air compressors, steam generators, heat exchangers, rig cooling systems and complementary award winning products that enhance safety and productivity.


USTOMERS RANGE from major well services providers, drilling rig owners and leading oil operating companies. Having secured major contracts in Africa, Asia Pacific and the Americas the business has seen unprecedented growth over the past four years. Our team of expert people from well service backgrounds assure that ScanTech Offshore is well positioned to provide value creating solutions for the challenges that lie ahead. With over 200 employees operating in over 40 countries worldwide, we provide high quality well test support services from a global footprint.

Safety First Performing in hostile environments with high risk potential demands a robust safety philosophy. Catastrophic results of gas migration into ‘safe areas’ has made disturbing headlines in recent years and has prompted a focus on equipment safety specifications! Hazardous vs Safe Area: Equipment located on open deck on an installation shall be suitably rated for the actual

rating of the zone in which it is located, but it is important to recognise that all equipment is required to be made safe in case of accidental release of gas. This means that any equipment which remains electrically energised or has the potential to have surface temperatures in excess of 200°C following shutdown on gas detection shall be designed and installed to meet the requirements of minimum Zone II. Equipment which remains energised during gas detection or produces a hot surface shall meet a minimum of Gas Group IIA and Temperature Class T3. Invaluable in the event of uncontrolled hydrocarbon release, Zone II equipment complies fully with those guidelines and exceeds API RP 14C & API RP 500 well testing recommendations. With propriety protection and surface temperatures less than 200°C, potential sources of ignition from equipment are minimized. ‘Rig Safe’ Equipment: From a safety perspective ‘rig safe’ air compressors have many more potential sources of ignition. WWW.OFFSHORETECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM | 3


There is a compelling argument to use Zone II equipment whilst hydrocarbons are at surface!

Exhaust surfaces and gas temperatures can exceed 600°C, which is well above the auto-ignition point of most flammable gases. Even after shutdown exhaust surface temperatures take time to cool to safer temperatures. Equipment operating in nonhazardous areas do not require engine inlet and exhaust gas flame protection, this presents two paths for potential flame transmissions! Electrical equipment on ‘rig safe’ equipment is not required to be intrinsically safe and here presents other potential sources of ignition. There is a compelling argument that Zone II equipment should be specified during well testing and whilst hydrocarbons are at surface. But that choice, often neglected due to higher rental price, rests with well service providers, rig owners and ultimately the operating companies.

Specialist Rental Equipment Designed specifically with well testing in mind, ScanTech’s equipment inventory includes air compressors, steam generators, heat exchangers, sand filtration and a full range of rig cooling systems. The fleet includes award winning safety products that enhance the safe and responsible handling of methanol, safe releasing bails that protect the riser in the event of compensator lock up and hydrocarbon detection equipment for upset process equipment monitoring. Compressed Air for Well Testing: The majority of today’s well test burners rely on compressed air power as the propellant to provide the energy to atomise the well fluid in preparation for combustion. Interestingly, the energy requirement to produce this compressed air ranges from 1,000 to 4,000 4 | WWW.OFFSHORETECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM

Horse Power or the equivalent energy of 30 mid-sized saloon car engines! High flow rate projects regularly require in excess of 6,000 cubic feet per minute (cfm) of duty air to facilitate the eco-friendly burning specification. With redundancy air factored in, the installed capacity of 8,000cfm can be a sizable spread to locate on any installation. ScanTech designs and packages the highest volume compressors in the smallest footprint specifically for well testing. The benefits include reduced shipping costs, more useable deck space and a reduction in costly management bandwidth. Saturated Steam for Well Testing: The main use of steam within the well testing system is to supply a high temperature medium to a pressure vessel (heat exchanger) which transfers its heat to process coils and into the produced fluids. Steam is supplied in a gaseous state to the heat exchanger. When steam condenses on the heat transfer surface, it passes on its large amount of energy to the product. The condensate then formed still contains its sensible heat, so it is of the same temperature as the steam from which it was produced. This enables even heating across the whole heat transfer surface. Liquid condensate exits the heat exchanger at close to saturated steam temperatures and can be returned back to the steam boiler if it is safe to do so.

HeaterSentry® – Protecting Steam Plant from High Pressure Processes HeaterSentry® The inspiration for development of this product


was born from repeated customer requests. Needing a product to provide early warning of heat exchanger process coil failures, we set about designing a robust solution. Enhanced emphasis on safety during HAZIP & HAZOP has focused on potential hydrocarbon contamination and overpressure of steam condensate lines! If these risks cannot be mitigated, steam condensate should be prevented from returning to the boiler. The effects of no hot water returning to the steam raising plant are as follows: • Reduction in steam delivery by up to 20% • Unstable process fluid temperature •C  old water shock leading to premature tube failure •S  upply of 2.5m3 / hour from the rigs fresh water making facility HeaterSentry installed between the heat exchanger and return line to the steam generator detects and mitigates to ALARP the risks of hydrocarbon contamination of the boiler and surrounding areas. Steam condensate can be returned and optimum process is assured. All HeaterSentry models have the means to pump condensed steam back to the boiler preventing the common phenomena of heat exchanger stall. Safety & Process Benefits: • Reduces risks to ALARP for HAZID & HAZOP • Prevents Heat Exchanger Stall • Maintains Maximum Steam Generator Output • Maximises Stability of Well Fluid Temperature

Large Bore Heat Exchangers When seeking a rental provider for heat exchangers you would probably expect to find a deep seated understanding of well test process products. Behind the front door you may expect

to find a group of like-minded well test engineers, senior testing operators and managers who understand and work with HYSYS to tackle flow assurance and support front line rental. You may also want to be assured that the rental products you select add value and outperform others in the market place. Before ScanTech Offshore added heat exchangers to its service offering, we made sure that those questions contained positive answers. Large Bore Heat Exchanger Features: • 10K 4” Large Bore Coil • 3” Maximum Orifice Choke Box •2  0’ ISO High Cube Frame with Stacking Facility •1  0K BBLS & 60MMscf/day with Lower Back Pressure Assured •P  ilot Operated Relieve Valve Allowing Greater Super Imposed Back Pressure • 6” Rupture Disc for Rapid Activation

PyroSentry® – Defence against the Invisible Flame Burning with an invisible flame the use of methanol and other flammable chemicals is widespread in well testing and completion processes. Derived from natural gas, methanol is a colourless alcohol, hygroscopic and completely miscible with water. It is a good solvent but very toxic, extremely flammable and easily ignited. Pure methanol has a flash point of 11oC. At all stages of transportation and distribution methanol must be stored securely and handled responsibly. PyroSentry was designed to foster an improvement in health and safety for the management of methanol, other flammable liquids and chemicals in offshore and marine environments. The concept for this award winning product was the brainchild of our team WWW.OFFSHORETECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM | 5


Standard gas detection systems fitted into steam generators do not mitigate the potential for upset heat exchanger conditions!

ScanTech Offshore has built up the paramount fleet of 6.0Mbtu Zone II steam generators in record time. Designed and modernised specifically for well testing we operate in this class more than double the world’s fleets combined!

Safe Releasing Bails

in Australia. First used on a well test project for ENI offshore Australia, this product has been refined to provide the best in methanol handling safety. Features of PyroSentry: • Perpetual Fire Detection • Automatic Fire Suppression Activation • Requires No Power

Zone II Steam Generators In 2012 we were challenged to design and deliver twofold 6.0Mbtu steam generators for a well testing campaign offshore Tanzania. Working together with a leading well test provider and an eminent operating company, the equipment was airfreighted into Dar es Salaam for onward shipping to the Drill Ship Deepsea Metro 1 in an astonishing timeframe. Built to both DNV2.7-2 and NORSOK Z-015 standards, our Zone II steam generators are the first choice where safety is critical. With propriety electrical protection and surface temperatures less than 200 degrees centigrade, potential sources of ignition are minimised. Invaluable in the event of uncontrolled hydrocarbon release they comply with DNV guidelines and exceed API RP 14C & API RP500 well testing recommendations. 6 | WWW.OFFSHORETECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM

In the event of compensator lock up while locked to bottom, safe releasing bails are designed to protect the marine riser during well testing and completions operation. Complying with ISO 13628/7 standards, ScanTech Offshore has invested in the Safety Releasing Bails, an innovative controllable product that advances the safety of semi submersibles and drill ships during well testing, completion and workover operations.

Rig Cooling Systems ScanTech’s rig cooling services protect personnel and structures from radiated heat in accordance with API 521 standards. Our range of sea water booster pumps includes electric, diesel and twin drive diesel/hydraulic pumps in Zone II and rig safe formats. We provide fully portable rental systems, dedicated fixed systems and custom designs for new and older installations. So if you are looking to rent, buy or lease we can provide an option to suit all budgets. How much water to stay cool? Sea water is pumped around the rig cooling system and exits via strategically positioned nozzles. These nozzles transform the water into millions of optimal size droplets that refract and scatter the light radiating from the flare. Interestingly, only a tiny proportion of the heat radiation is absorbed into the water spray and the ‘cooling effect’ is produced almost entirely


via light refraction. Consequently there is a direct correlation between the attenuation required and the volume of water needed – more water equals more light (heat) dilution! In most cases it takes between 2000 and 4000 gallons per minute of water supply to stay within API 521 guidelines – the actual flow needed will depend on the type and flow rate of the well fluids, the length of flare boom and type of burner being used. Our engineers use proprietary FlareSim & Flarecheck software to design each system to provide you safety assurance for your projects.

Rig Safe & Zone II Sea Water Booster Pumps ScanTech’s range of sea water booster pumps range from 2000 to 4000 gallons per minute. Designed primarily for well testing support, they are provided within approved frames and containers that conform to DNV2.71 lifting regulations that enjoy worldwide industry acceptance. This range includes a twin drive variant where the prime mover provides power for both the centrifugal booster pump and subpump. These twin drive units operate the subpumps independently requiring no customary rig electrical tie in. For additional safety and where permanently non-hazardous areas cannot be guaranteed, we recommend that Zone II equipment is specified. Similar to our air compressor range, these Zone II sea water booster pumps have propriety protection and surface temperatures less than 200 degrees centigrade minimizing potential sources of ignition.

Submersible Sea Water Delivery Pumps ScanTech’s range includes electrical, hydraulic and high head sub-pumps with flow rates between 2000 and 4000 gallons per minute. Expertly engineered, they provide portable independent water supply for all types of installations and drill ships. Our ranges of submersible pumps are provided inside approved lifting frames with integral marine life filters, armoured cable and electric starter panels. Obtaining their power independently via the surface sea water booster pump, our range of hydraulically powered submersible pumps requires no customary electrical tie in to the rig. Range features: • Zone II & ‘Rig Safe’ Starter Panels • Redundancy via Twin Train Arrangement • Hydraulic Drive Independence • High Head Options • Optional Automated Deployment

Safe Deployment System for Submersible Pumps Conventional deployment of sub-pumps is time consuming, costly and high risk to the crew involved in this task. SafeDeploy™ was developed to remove risks to ALARP, reduce rig costs and improve operational functionality. With one lift, the installation sub-pumps can be deployed automatically without the need for expensive welding, cutting and rig modifications. Safely extending above and over the handrail, deployment and retrieval can be effected effortlessly in minutes.

Innovation on the Drawing Board Sea Wizard Burner With an expected head capacity of 5000Bbls/d, the Sea Wizard burner is the next step in burner technology. Featuring rotary cup technology, our target is to reduce air consumption by 50%. The technology employed delivers zero imposed back pressure at the burning heads. Burner Ignition System Requiring a source of fuel (diesel or gas) and with no moving parts, ScanTech in conjunction with some renowned well test engineers, is developing a uniquely different flare ignition system. The system which has an international patent pending will be undergoing trials soon.

Contact For further information, please contact: Jennifer Broom, Marketing Coordinator Jenniferbroom@scantechoffshore.com Tel:+971(0) 526897531 www.scantechoffshore.com/ WWW.OFFSHORETECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM | 7


How the Wider Market Affects Well Testing Tom Cropper, Editor How oil price volatility is affecting demand for new products in oil well testing.

For all the troubles affecting the offshore industries, the world still needs more oil


NY SECTOR of the oil and gas industry spends a considerable amount of time, at present, analysing the current turbulent state of the overall market. A year of volatile prices has made planning and investment for the future a dangerous and difficult business. The first question this Report must ask, therefore, is: how the wider state of the oil and gas sector is likely to affect demand for testing equipment?

Oil Price Volatility The drop in oil price was as sudden as it was unpredicted. In the early part of 2014, global oil prices stood at approximately $100 per barrel. Hopes of rapid economic recovery meant the outlook for future demand appeared rosy. However, a number of factors combined to send the market into freefall. Firstly, the recovery failed to happen – or was much more sluggish than anticipated. Surging demand has not materialised and predictions for growth in the demand for oil were progressively slashed throughout the year. Secondly, the rise of US shale gas sparked a surplus of oil. This, followed by OPEC’s refusal to cut production, meant prices fell rapidly. From that plus $100 high they plunged to a bottom of $40 per barrel. Since then they have rebounded somewhat. As of June 22nd the Brent crude oil price currently stands at just over $60 per barrel. Even so, it has been a culture shock to the offshore industry. Oil giants such as Shell and BP slashed their investment budgets. During the good times, offshore producers had become slack and inefficient. With a sudden drop in price, companies found themselves struggling under inefficient processes, ageing infrastructure, bills for decommissioning rigs and much more. It seemed as if offshore production was no longer a commercially viable prospect. However, exploration has continued. For all the troubles affecting the offshore industries, the world still needs more oil. Existing fields are beginning to run dry which means new fields will need to be found. Abu Dhabi recently announced an intention to spend $25bn in offshore oil 8 | WWW.OFFSHORETECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM

production over the next five years.1 Exploration continues at a rapid pace despite disappointing results, and the world’s major oil giants are turning their attention to their most hostile environment yet in the Arctic. Hopes of finding vast untapped reserves of oil are spurring renewed attempts to explore the last frontier of oil exploration. While deep sea exploration looks set to continue, the market for well testing equipment will continue to look healthy. A recent report predicted the testing market to grow by 6.1% CAGR between 2014 and 20192. Indeed, if exploration results are positive, growth may even outstrip the most optimistic of predictions. However, these opportunities also bring challenges. To find oil, companies are having to expand their search into deeper and more challenging environments. They are drilling deeper and further from the shore than ever before. Pressures are higher, weather conditions tougher and seas rougher. The industry is moving through deep water drilling and into realms classified as ultra-deep water. This means that every aspect of offshore exploration and production must evolve to keep step. To cope with harsh environments, testing equipment must be robust enough to withstand all the rigours modern exploration will throw at it. A greater emphasis on safety means the bar is continually being raised. At the same time, the commercial realities of the market mean everything has to be done more cheaply than ever before. Developers must come up with highly advanced equipment that is more sophisticated, effective and – if possible – cheaper to run than existing technologies. The good news is that there are genuine signs the market is stepping up to the challenge. Just as the good times inspired stagnation and waste, these tough times are sparking efficiency gains and innovation. Oil and gas explorers are becoming much better at what they do. This is creating demand for next generation technologies which in turn creates an exciting gap in the market for more innovative companies. The challenge from the perspective of the oil and gas firms,


therefore, is to analyse their needs and get the technologies up and running in a way which is practically applicable for oil and gas exploration.

Future Market Direction There is considerable market potential. Even so, its direction will depend on the future direction of the oil price. This will dictate the cost pressures as well as the market opportunities. Although the price has rebounded considerably in recent times, the consensus appears to be that a return to the plus $100 days are a long way off. Analysts are warning that the $60 mark will be the new normal. At this price, offshore

exploration becomes a marginal proposition in commercial terms. Estimates in the past have suggested the offshore industry requires a price point of between $60 and $100 to be profitable. Bringing the level down will be crucial to the future prospects of the industry. The direction of the market is shaping the demand for new technologies and also the job those technologies will be required to perform. As so often, they are confronted by the conflicting demand to do more with less. An expansion of exploration into increasingly hostile and remote territories means an emphasis on safety is paramount. Equipment will need to withstand tougher conditions and in many cases will need to go beyond their existing capacity. At the same time, they have to deliver all these improvements with one eye on the cost. Profit margins are becoming slimmer all the time, which means every penny counts. Products will have to minimise upfront cost, and also deliver ongoing savings in running costs as they move into the future. The oil industry is notoriously risk averse and they will want to see tangible evidence of improvements before they make a buying decision.



The Expanding Scope of Well Testing James Butler, Staff Writer Well tests play an important role in assessing the viability and production capacity of wells. Getting it right and using the correct equipment must be a major priority.

Today the need can be broken down into distinct categories: cost, safety, enhanced recovery, and deep water exploration


XPLORATION AND Production (E&P) companies have been testing wells since the 20s. With each of them the objectives can vary from a desire to know what types of fluids the well might produce, what flow rates it can deliver and for how long production can be sustained. As long as the correct planning and implementation processes are followed, well testing can provide many of the crucial answers which help companies ascertain whether or not a well is viable. Indeed, authorities in some countries will not consider a field to be proven until a well test has been carried out. As offshore exploration moves into new territories and market pressures demand an enhanced view of field potential, well testing is as important now as it has ever been. A range of new technologies is being brought into play to ensure testing can take place in more severe conditions and yield more accurate results. This article will look at the key issues companies should consider when conducting these tests as well as some of the ways in which the testing process is developing.

Why Test? The first question for any company to ask is why a test is required. Before drilling a prospect, companies will carry out seismic tests to determine the depth and scope of a potential drilling reservoir. As drilling continues, data logging can be used to determine static parameters, but more dynamic results can be achieved by using well tests. These can measure a range of factors including temperature, pressure, flow rates, fluid composition and production capacity at any time in the process. This enables companies to gain an accurate view of the status of a well at the beginning of a drilling project as well as the ways in which the well is developing as drilling continues. By logging and analysing this data, decisions can be 10 | WWW.OFFSHORETECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM

made in real time, which enhance the productivity capacity of the well itself. The reasons for testing will change depending on the lifecycle of the well. In the earliest stages, fluid characteristics are highly important. This helps companies understand what process they need to take fluids from the wellbore. During the process, companies may not be so interested in the fluid composition; instead they want to know about the pressure and flow rate. They want to build a picture of conditions within the reservoir so they can estimate productivity life, plan the best placement of any future wells and develop any enhanced recovery strategies. The more data they have at their disposal, the more efficient they will be in the recovery phase.

Planning All well tests require meticulous planning. Once companies have developed a clear set of objectives – whether that’s collecting fluid samples for laboratory analysis, or measuring pressure, temperature or productivity – they can start to design a test around these aims. For each objective a clear set of cost, versus reward assessments must be laid out. These will help operators to create a measurement sequence and select the right tools for the job. Equipment will need to ensure the test data it can collect will be sufficient to meet the objects; that it can be read clearly on the surface for onthe-spot decision making; ensuring redundancy capacity to avoid maintenance; and control the collection and then disposal of fluids in an environmentally sound manner. All equipment will have to safely handle high pressures, temperatures and flow rates. It must factor in fluid velocity, and drops in pressure from different components of the fluids. In remote climates, they will have to be designed to even higher safety classifications, enabling them to survive unexpectedly harsh conditions.


How Tests and Equipment Are Evolving As with any part of the oil recovery process, well tests are in a constant state of development and evolution. In 1926 the Johnson brothers ran the first commercial test using a Drill Stream Test (DST). This forms a central trunk from which other testing tools and techniques have evolved. With each evolutionary step, companies have first identified a need before developing a solution to meet these demands. Today the need can be broken down into distinct categories: cost, safety, enhanced recovery, and deep water exploration. The profit margins of doing business in the offshore exploration industry have shrunk considerably over the past 12 months. An oil price in the region of $60 makes even conventional production a marginal proposition at best. As existing fields begin to run dry, enhanced recovery technology is enabling extended production and increased efficiency. Meanwhile companies are moving into deeper water. This means extracting fluids from older rock formations buried much further below the surface. Operations will be exposed to corrosive chemicals such as carbon dioxide

and hydrogen sulphide. They are taking place in remote areas, far from the shore where repair, maintenance and clean-up of spills become a major logistical undertaking. Pressure from governments, activists and the public means scrutiny on safety and environmental responsibility is greater than ever before. Companies must develop a clear idea of the conditions and challenges they will be facing and develop tools robust enough to withstand all the strains they may come under. To do this, simulation software will be crucial in estimating what fluids might be produced and what temperatures and pressures equipment will have to function under. Exploration companies – in close collaboration with suppliers – will then be able to develop new equipment and technologies to cope with these more demanding conditions. All this must be done with an eye towards cost. Careful cost versus benefit analysis will be crucially important at the start of any testing programme. Improvements to the cost efficiency of components, together with safety will form central pillars of technological development in the years to come. WWW.OFFSHORETECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM | 11


Going Deep: The Challenges of Deep Water Jo Roth, Staff Writer

The future of oil production and exploration lies in deep water. As such, the demands of testing equipment are growing. Are they fit for purpose?

Several countries including Norway, the US and Russia have been looking at ways of tapping into the vast potential reserves they hope can be found north of the Arctic Circle


S ADVANCES in technology open up previously unreachable reserves, oil companies are moving into deeper and more challenging areas. This is placing a major strain on all components on board a rig and present distinct challenges for well testing. This article will assess the main challenges faced by deep water exploration and some of the innovations being brought to bear.

The Search for New Oil and Gas With many conventional fields reaching the end of their service life, the search must continue for new reserves. The majority of these will be in deep water areas, far removed from shore. Prime areas for exploration include the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Brazil and Africa and increasingly in Arctic areas. Shell Oil is planning a new round of exploratory wells in the Arctic later this year. Several countries including Norway, the US and Russia have been looking at ways of tapping into the vast potential reserves they hope can be found north of the Arctic Circle. A US geological survey estimates the arctic currently holds 30% of the world’s undiscovered gas and 13% of its oil. Elsewhere in the world there are billions of barrels of oil thought to be undiscovered or lying in areas which, until recently, were thought to be inaccessible. However, as technology advances, the possibilities of extraction increase. Even so, exploring and testing wells in these areas is a dangerous business. Such is the range of variables including high pressure, temperature fluctuations and toxic chemicals that any testing must be conducted with extreme caution.

The Challenge of Deep Well Testing Any test in deep water will experience considerable challenges including. 12 | WWW.OFFSHORETECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM

•R  emoteness of the area: Exploration is pushing further and further from the shore. If something goes wrong, clean-up of a spill and rescue of personnel is much more difficult. Indeed, in the Arctic area, Greenpeace has argued that it would be impossible to clean up any actual spill3. •C  ost: Operations in deep water cost more. Any downtime will be more expensive and delivering replacement components a more challenging logistical task. •C  onditions: The environment is likely to be highly dangerous. Rough seas, bad weather, extreme pressures, high and low temperatures can all offer hazards. Understanding conditions at the seabed level can be a major challenge because of their unpredictable nature. It’s not always possible to be certain about what may be found at depth. •E  nvironmental considerations: The impact on the environment must be carefully considered. Companies must assess the likely impact of normal operations as well as the possible fallout of any spill.

Developing Solutions The challenges are immense, the dangers unpredictable and the margin for error slim. With prices expected to remain in the doldrums for the foreseeable future, companies have to find ways of making deep sea oil production financially viable even with a global price of approximately $60 per barrel. The good news for the industry is that improvements are being made. Necessity is driving innovation. This in turn is bringing in new efficiencies which enable operation in extreme environments while simultaneously reducing the risk of accident and spillage. This technology extends throughout the process from simulation software to help predict conditions, to drilling lines


with the capacity of rapid disconnection and safe operations in high temperatures and pressure. Examples include new DST toolstrings, tailor-made for deep water, which are being deployed in the Gulf of Mexico. The tool is one of the most advanced of its kind and combines downhole shut-in and circulating functionality. It is currently rated at 15,000psi and can function in temperatures up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. It features minimal fast-cycling to position the ball and ports in the correct place, which reduces the time between cycles and therefore reducing the overall cost. The key to products such as this is their flexibility and capacity to be used for multiple downhole operations in different conditions and for different objectives. It enables it to work in deep-water extreme conditions and to cope with the demands of modern exploration. Other innovations focus on providing more flexible and enhanced control over downhole equipment. One such product is DynaLink from Halliburton – a two way wireless acoustic telemetry system which can now control tools from the surface. It can deliver real-time data relating to bottomhole pressure, temperature and information on fluid composition allowing for fast and effective analysis of the data, Abdalla Awara of Halliburton’s Testing and Product Service line explains the benefits this brings: “When a drillstem test is performed using memory mode devices as the only way of downhole data acquisition, an operator cannot determine if the well testing objectives have been achieved until the drillstem test string is pulled out of the hole. The DynaLink high-rate

downhole acoustic data acquisition gives the assurance that well-testing objectives have been achieved in real time.” While systems such as these represent a significant step forward, they still only provide part of the solution. Rating products to 15,000psi enables them to withstand much of the current deep water conditions, but, increasingly, oil wells will be venturing into areas extending well beyond this level. The bar is continually being raised.

The Danger of Uncertainty Herein lies another major issue – uncertainty. As companies venture into extreme and ultraHPHT environments they are stepping into the unknown. It is difficult for them to assess the challenges they will be facing because conditions are so variable. For all the pre-testing, simulation and rating work they carry out, they will still not fully understand the effect on their equipment until they are in place. As such, before selecting an operational partner, they will need to fully evaluate their own testing systems, so they can assess the reliability of any ratings. Internationally recognised testing standards will be crucial and these will need to be updated continually and refreshed in the light of learnings from the realworld environment. Deep water, therefore, presents a major challenge. Equipment must operate more reliably for longer conditions in a range of harsh environments. Moreover, they must secure the safety of the overall rig, minimising the risk of fire, spillage and other accidents. All this has to be done at a minimal cost. Developing new technology, therefore, means addressing challenges on multiple fronts.



Innovations for the Future Tom Cropper, Editor

How manufacturers of well testing equipment are rising to meet the challenges of the market.

By increasing the speed of analysis, and reducing the distance samples must travel, E&P companies can improve the reliability of sample quality, facilitating faster decision making


O FAR in this Report we’ve seen plenty of emphasis on the evolving challenges confronting well testing equipment. In this article we’ll examine some of the work that is being done to develop new solutions for the future. Throughout the history of oil and gas exploration the realities of the industry have thrown up challenges, opportunities and obstacles. Each time the industry has managed to rise to meet them. For example, when OPEC refused to cut oil production they hoped that a lower oil price would force their competitors (particular US shale gas producers) to cut back. However, in the face of market challenges, they have evolved and become more efficient. Although the boom in the number of drilling operations has subsided, existing sites are producing even more. Also, well testing is becoming more effective, accurate and efficient in order to meet the demands of the future.

Safety The world’s continuing thirst for oil means exploration will continue to rise. However, as it expands into new areas it is becoming more dangerous and expensive. As it does so, there is a growing emphasis from authorities to improve safety standards and control the environmental impact of operations. As such, one of the key things equipment must do is demonstrate improved safety records in more dangerous environments. Improvements have become a major priority ever since the Gulf of Mexico disaster. An adequate distance must be maintained between a designated safe area and a Zone II area which may contain flammable gasses or liquids. During well testing, hydrocarbons will likely be at the surface, which means all surface equipment needs to be uprated to cope with the demands of a Zone II. This will protect surface personnel, prevent fire and avoid the risk of spillage into the environment. 14 | WWW.OFFSHORETECHNOLOGYREPORTS.COM

In addition to this, work is being done to improve fire detection capabilities on the surface. One of the most interesting recent developments comes in methanol fire suppressant technologies. Well testing often brings various flammable liquids and gasses to the surface of which methanol is one of the most dangerous. It is a colourless liquid with no discernible odour, which is highly flammable. It often burns with a colourless flame making methanol fires difficult to detect and even more challenging to put out. The solution is a product called Pyro Sentry that deploys a specialist tubing which, when burned through, triggers alcohol resistant aqueous filmforming foam so that any fire is swiftly suppressed before it has become a problem. The aim is to eliminate the threat of fire before it has become a significant danger.

Sample Analysis During the early phase of an operation testing tends to focus on analysis. Samples are taken from downhole and ent to a laboratory for testing. With more operations taking place far from shore, and with the need to test samples before they undergo phase change, there is a greater emphasis on providing as much on-site analysis functionality as possible. Solutions such as the PVT Express system offered by Schlumberger aim to provide workable data within a few hours by processing samples on-site with no health and safety risk or danger of contamination. The speed of analysis this offers enables prompt decision making and can also highlight issues with initial samples. An example cited by Schlumberger is of a company in Oman which needed condensate bottomhole gas samples. Analysis of the initial sample pointed to a measured dewpoint close to the bottom-hole pressure. This indicated the sample was not representative. A second and more representative sample could then be taken with reduced interruption to operations.4 By increasing the speed of analysis, and reducing the distance samples must travel, E&P


companies can improve the reliability of sample quality, facilitating faster decision making. The more quickly operators can get results, the faster they can determine their next steps.

Extended Testing Advances in enhanced oil recovery (EOR) solutions have enabled many of the world’s aging oil fields to extend their life expectancy much further than anyone predicted. Companies are moving into deep water and extracting oil from deeper, older rock formation which can increase significantly expected yields. Much of this relies on extended well testing, which has played a role in increasing knowledge of flow rates, decreasing uncertainties and allowing operations to continue for longer. These tests, though, are complicated, take time to plan and implement and pose significant risks to the surrounding environment. A 2007 report from Schlumberger pointed to operations in the Gulf of Mexico where 99% of proven oil

reserves come from rock formations formed in the Miocene age or younger. However, EOR technologies have enabled companies to explore oil locked away in formations much older. Reliable data is required to determine whether an operator sets a pipe for new exploration or abandons the prospect. These extended tests can take months to plan and will continue over a prolonged period of time. During that period they can produce thousands of barrels of fluids and create significant pressure permutations. In this environment, equipment must be rated to a much higher temperature and pressure rating. Previously downhole equipment has been rated to around 15,000psi, but increasingly products are being sought which can perform up to 25,000psi and beyond. As technologies become more advanced, companies are pushing the boundaries and going beyond conventional testing systems towards what’s called multiphase testing. The conventional approach requires test separators, high maintenance and intervention from field personnel. However, they do not lend themselves to continuous monitoring. The industry has been investigating their use since the 1980s, but they are now becoming the norm thanks to advances in sophistication of technology, compatibility and mobile multiphase testing options and reductions in cost. Well testing has been continuously evolving ever since it first started in the 1920s. Today, though, the increasingly onerous demands of deep water oil exploration and enhanced oil recovery techniques mean development is occurring faster than ever before. These technologies are dramatically increasing the safety of the application, the robustness of equipment and the volume and accuracy of the data acquired. By doing so they are enabling the oil industry to continue pushing the boundaries of exploration and extending the yield of existing oil fields.



References: 1

Abu Dhabi to invest over $25bn to increase offshore oil capacity:

http://www.spyghana.com/abu-dhabi-to-invest-over-25bn-to-increase-offshore-oil-production-capacity/ 2



Well testing services market report: http://www.reportlinker.com/p02720693-summary/Well-Testing-Services-Market-by-Services-by-Application-Onshore-Offshore-and-by-Region-Global-Trends-Forecast-to.html

Why cleaning up an Arctic oil spill would be impossible: http://greenpeaceblogs.org/2015/01/15/cleaning-arctic-oil-spill-impossible/ Well site fluid analysis: http://www.slb.com/services/characterization/testing/reservoir_sampling/wellsite_analysis.aspx


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