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UBO & MPD Committee drives safe practices, while survey indicates industry moving toward acceptance

By Mike Killalea, Editor and Publisher

The IADC Underbalanced Operations & Managed Pressure Drilling Committee continues to drive safe practices and technology adoption throughout the industry, while new data shows that acceptance is growing, Committee Chairman David Pavel remarked at the 2015 IADC/SPE Managed Pressure Drilling and Underbalanced Operations Conference, held in Dubai during April. The conference drew more than 250 attendees.

“[Our mission) is as simple as it gets,” said Mr Pavel, President of Welling and Co. “We promote the safe practice of managed pressure, underbalanced and dual-gradient drilling technologies. We realize that these are in various states of acceptance in the industry, and we aim to promote safe practice.”

Tactically, the committee’s tools are sharing of common industry practices and sound engineering principles and development and shaping of policy.

“(The committee is) a great place to learn, but it’s also a great place to share so that the industry becomes safer and better,” he remarked. “We kind of promote the acceptance in the industry of these practices.”

Acceptance is growing, according to a survey of some 160 individuals conducted recently by Welling and Co. The results basically showed that two-thirds of respondents believe that MPD will replace conventional approaches, i.e., drilling with open systems, within a decade. Other findings include:

  • More than half believe MPD will become the new standard within five years;
  • 59% believe MPD enhances primary well control;
  • 67% believe MPD decreases risk.

Mr Pavel said longer time frames are anticipated for MPD standardization for deepwater operations, compared with onshore.

The committee is central for standards development for UBO and MPD technologies. Earlier, the committee contributed heavily to a Notice to Lessees (NTL) for the US Gulf of Mexico on dual-gradient drilling. In addition, the group contributes to API documents, such as API RP92U Underbalanced Drilling Operations and API 16RCD Manufacturing Specification for Rotating Control Devices. In addition, the committee developed a Recommended Practice for Managed Pressure Drilling (applied backpressure with surface stack).

The committee comprises 35-40 industry professionals, with membership open to any IADC member. Its four subcommittees are:

  • UBO – Dennis Moore, Marathon Oil Co, Chairman;
  • MPD – Per Cato Berg, Statoil, Chairman;
  • DGD – Frederic Jacquemin, Pacific Drilling, Chairman;
  • Training & HSE – CJ Bernard, Halliburton, Chairman.

The committee also supports various ad hoc task groups, including:

  • Regulatory Liaison;
  • API 16RCD Task Group;
  • Certifying Authority Liaison;
  • Well Control Liaison.

Current projects include development of MPD operating guidelines, which will cover:

  • Applied backpressure with subsea BOP stack;
  • Pressurized mud cap with subsea BOP stack, which has been submitted for API review;
  • Pressurized mud cap with surface BOP stack;
  • Gas in riser, jointly with the IADC Well Control Committee.

As for UBO, the committee is reviewing and revising API RP92U.

The group is very active in HSE and training, developing an MPD Fundamentals Core Curriculum and an MPD Supervisor Core Curriculum.

Finally, the committee is reviewing and revising API 16RCD, Rotating Control Device Specification.

Moving forward, plans are to create a consolidated document of MPD recommended practices and to develop a set of RPs for dual-gradient drilling.

In addition, the committee will work to create versions of its MPD candidate selection tool for portable devices using iOS, Android, etc. The existing tool is available for use at mpdtool.iadc.org.

The committee’s quarterly meetings alternate between Europe and North America. Meetings for the second half of 2015 are:

  • 24-26 Aug, IADC’s Houston office;
  • 8-10 Dec, London.

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