DrillWell - Drilling and Well Centre for Improved Recovery
DrillWell's vision has been to unlock petroleum resources through better drilling and well technology. The Centre has, in a safe and environmentally friendly way, contributed to value creation through better resource development, improved efficiency and reduced cost.
Well construction represents approximately 50 percent of the total field development cost. DrillWell aims to make a difference by basing new technology on a better understanding of the physical processes taking place, both during well construction and during the well lifetime. The models are based on experiments and are continuously being validated by comparison with measured data from drilling operations offshore Norway. The laboratory experiments carried out in DrillWell have served to develop and improve the models targeting implementation in commercially available software. A growing and considerable challenge faced by the petroleum industry is the strict requirement of permanent well plugging and abandonment (P&A). There is a considerable need for research and new technology within this field, both to reduce cost and to ensure that the work is done satisfactory - for eternity. DrillWell researchers have investigated properties of existing and new plugging materials and the possibilities to map the performance of leakage barriers in existing wells. Application of DrillWell technology has already contributed to substantial savings during drilling operations. One example is the application of NORCE software that calculates the transport of cuttings out of the well. This software is now in operation in the industry. DrillWell has also received feedback from drilling operations, stating that only 50 percent of the planned drilling time has been spent. We noticed a significant decrease in unwanted incidents like non-planned technical sidetracks. Accordingly, for the model-based technology, now used for 180 wells, only 16 technical sidetracks have been reported. In comparison the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate reports that for 30 percent of the wells drilled in the period 2013-2016 sidetracks have been required. This illustrates that using this technology surely allows for significant cost reductions. A specific NCS operator using the technology has reported potential savings of 180 million USD annually within the company. During the summer 2017 Equinor applied automated drilling on a semi-submersible rig for their first time, reporting savings of approximately 100 million NOK for two well sections drilled in the Barents Sea.
In a unique and fit for purpose laboratory set-up at SINTEF, studies are performed on how fractures develop in the cement of wells exposed to temperature and pressure variations. For the first time, the flow of gas and fluid through the fractures are visualized in 3D by use of CT (Computed Tomography). For well construction, it is important to understand how wellbore irregularities affect the displacement process and whether local irregularities can affect the quality of the cement above the wellbore irregularities. Laboratory and at the full-scale experiments have been performed to investigate how an eccentric inner string and a locally enlarged hole size affect fluid displacement in nearly horizontal wells. The detailed displacement experiments at the SINTEF laboratory facilities and the full-scale cementing experiments at Ullrigg have been compared with three dimensional numerical simulations, including also the validation of Schlumberger`s methodology for cementing operations. The unique experimental data are essential for gaining confidence to simulation tools developed for planning cementing operations. The facilities at NORCE and SINTEF are accessible for industry and authorities to conduct testing and documentation of barrier quality. This is crucial to further develop barrier materials and to make better decisions for permanent well plugging.