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MPD is a good well control tool, but questions remain

By Mike Killalea, Editor and Publisher

Experts agree that MPD offers better well control than conventional methods, but questions remain as to who is in charge during an MPD operation and how to deal with gas in the riser above the BOP. A number of new deepwater rigs are being delivered MPD-ready, making these questions more important than ever.

“We have a very, very attractive technology to deal with well control, and we’re at an exciting (point, but) if we get too ambitious and we have a train wreck, it’s going to ruin it going forward,” Pat Brand, Executive Vice President, Blade Energy, remarked at the 2015 IADC/SPE Managed Pressure Drilling and Underbalanced Operations Conference, 13-14 April in Dubai. “But if we take it correctly… I think it is going to change the way industry works.”

Gas in the riser is a major concern in deepwater. The extreme water depths and resulting pressures can keep gas dissolved until the liquids pass the BOP. This is because the bubble point in oil-based muds, where methane can come out of solution and become gaseous, can be thousands of feet above the BOP.

To overcome this issue, better riser-influx detection is needed.

Responsibilities for well control must be clearly understood between the MPD provider and rig crew, cautioned Helio Santos, President of SafeKick.

“A lot of problems happen during the transition between conventional drilling and MPD,” he said.

IADC developed the MPD Drilling Matrix to help the industry understand and better utilize the technology.


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