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Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Efficient Drilling Creates Foundation for TNK-BP Business

David Nims ( Mikhail Kholodov (,

Upstream Technology
It is commonly acknowledged throughout the TNK-BP drilling community that the last five years were about building the capability, embedding some basic technology in the Company, increasing the volume of work - from 250 wells in 2004 to 850 wells this year. As Darryl Willis, Vice President Upstream Technology, puts it, the past has been about the growth.

The future is about not drilling more, but drilling smarter – drilling right wells in the right places, shifting from single-well bores to multilateral-well bores, etc. To drill smarter, numerous changes are currently underway in TNK-BP use of drilling technology, most of which are part of two major trends:

- Enhanced rig capability

- Cutting-edge drilling technology

Enhanced Rig Capability
Three years ago the Uvat project developed a hybrid Russian / international design that encompassed the best of both worlds. It combined a proven Russian BU-3000 rig structure that facilitates easier inspection, certification and familiarization with state of the art international internal components. These internal components had best in class electronics, bearings, modularization and reliability. The hybrid design increased the drilling distance of the rig from 1.5 km to almost 5 km.

This capability in conjunction with high angle Frac capability "J type wells" helped save $480 mln NPV by cutting the pads / wells ratio per field from 24 / 175 to 6 / 130. Most of this saving was the reduced infrastructure costs resulting from the ability to drill all the wells from six pads versus the original 24 pad design. Building on this learning, our OFS internal drilling contractor, NvBN, developed a rig enhancement design for 22 rigs in our internal fleet. This $280 mln investment was one of the key levers in improving our drilling capability to drill the much more complex wells. These well designs have evolved from simple S-Shape wells to high angle 850m horizontal wells with step-outs in excess of 3,500 m. This has kept TNK-BP's drilling investment ratios at circa $35 per ton for the last three years despite double digit inflation.

Again, building upon this learning the VCNG project has introduced three new high technology rigs into the VCNG program and consequently the well construction cycle have fallen from an average of 125 days per well pre-project (2006) to an average of 35 days with one well with a best in class delivery of 26 days. These new rig designs are safer and capable of drilling much faster and further than conventional rig designs. This knowledge and the new hybrid coiled tubing drilling (HCTD) learnings will be applied on future Greenfield projects as well as selective applications on our existing fields.

Our exploration program is one of the most successful in Russia with a reserves replacement track record that is the envy of the Western world. This capability and performance will be further enhanced by the development of high technology heli-rig capability. Currently our exploration rigs in the more remote regions manage to drill around two wells per year before the departing winter leaves them isolated from our supply lines. Heli-rigs open up the possibility of pre-supplying up to six wells per rig and flying the rig into location on a year-round basis. This is much more equipment-efficient and is common practice in the more remote parts of North America. Firm proposals are being developed for a pilot application in TNK-BP; again this will be another proven technology 'first' for TNK-BP in the Russian market.

Following the Long Term Tendering exercise Company went through in the second half of 2007, 35 new high technology rigs are due to be operational in the field by January 2009. These rigs vary in size from 125-ton to 325-ton units and represent the state of the art for their respective sizes. Taking this innovative approach will result in TNK-BP having one of most modern rig fleet in Russia

Cutting-Edge Drilling Technology
Samotlor BU has successfully developed extended reach drilling (ERD) capability using rotary-steerable systems that enable the bit to independently track a predetermined optimum path through the production sand. This provides very accurate well placement in the production sweet spot for horizontal lengths in excess of 800 m. Using this technology Samotlor BU has delivered initial production rates four time larger than normal and exceeding 1,000 tpd. Moreover, ERD has allowed us to reduce the number of pads and wells per field.

This ERD technology has now been adopted by Orenburg BU while Samotlor BU is moving the technology even further ahead by developing ERD capability for their future sidetrack program.

Orenburg BU has developed a 15-well pilot program for the introduction of underbalanced coiled tubing drilling (UB CTD) with Schlumberger. This combination of underbalanced and coiled tubing drilling allows reservoir penetration with minimal formation damage and is key to unlocking tight reservoirs - applications in other places in Russia have resulted in a four fold increase in production rates. Successful introduction in Orenburg opens the opportunity for application in more difficult areas such as Talinskoye with its massive reserves potential.

Hybrid Coiled Tubing drilling is a relatively new technique which combines fast moving trailer rigs of up to 200 t capacity with coiled tubing technology. They have been used extensively in Canada with 5,000 wells drilled every year for the last four years. These are fast, highly safe, automated, reliable, environmentally friendly, PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) electronic rigs that permit operations with five-man crews. The 35 km pad to pad move times from tree on to spud of less than eight hours with 1,500 m wells completed in less than a day is transformational.

Samotlor BU is taking the lead in developing the HCTD technology in Russia, the first new rigs are expected in field by the end of this year and by 3Q 2009 we expect to be operating six of these world class units. On the environmental side, in addition to the low footprint of the HCTD rigs we will also be developing a pilot for drill cutting re-injection back into the ground. This will allow us to dispose of our drilling waste in a more environmentally friendly, hygienic manner than the current systems and permit the use of more exotic, higher performing mud systems.

The new and upgraded rigs allow us to develop more productive reservoir access technologies such as multilaterals where up to four or more long reservoir penetrations can be drilled from a single mother bore. This eliminates the access costs of drilling the over burden on three of the four bores and significantly reduces overall drilling costs.

Currently four to six multilateral wells will be drilled by the end of 2008. Less spectacular but equally important developments in bit design, especially PDC bits, have decimated the well times in hard rock areas such as VCNG where average well times of 55 days per well have been cut to a "best in class" well delivery of 26 days. These are early days and there is still much work and delivery to come for applying this technology across the rest of our well portfolio. Other upcoming technologies include the adoption of oil based mud to speed up the rate of drilling, reduce torque, provide better borehole stability and increase our well step-out capability.

Managing the Technologies
These technologies are further complimented by new exciting methods of benchmarking our performance using enhanced performance management systems such as the new STEPS contractor management system which is already yielding and applying significant value in Samotlor BU.

All of this technology should be managed in a measured manner and consequently Tyumen BU will implement a new remote operations performance center (ROPC) in 2009. This center will take real time drilling data from multiple rigs and transfer it to a centrally resourced technical expert center. This center will have directional drilling, geological, mud and other experts monitor, map and benchmark the performance of each well against a predetermined best in class model.

This will help the specialists make real time immediate changes of well trajectories to optimize reservoir sweet spots to enhance production and allow identification of potential performance shortfalls before the failure occurs. All this technology is tried and tested and is essential to unlocking the tighter, more difficult reserves of our upcoming programs.

However, perhaps more importantly, these technologies are the fundamental basis for success in the offshore ventures of the future and commercial performance delivery will grant us the permission to develop and apply even more radical access technologies.

We are breaking the mold and creating new access opportunities to increase our production potential. We are creating world class drilling capability in Russia and accelerating the development of our younger highly capable staff. We will have the best equipment for them to test and develop the new boundaries of the future. The sheer volume of TNK-BP business opens huge opportunities to try new ideas provided we can change the mindset to an acceptable tolerance of failure, "if you never fail, you haven't tested the boundary."

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posted by The Rogtec Team @ 11:32  0 Comments

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