Oil and Gas Production: Well Completion to Fuel the Oil and Gas Industry’s Flames Till 2030



Adam Wiltshire
08/03/2010

Adam Wiltshire, a Drilling Completion Engineer for BP, speaks to Oil & Gas IQ’s Bryan Camoens on the challenges, best practices, evolution and future of the drilling industry in Asia.

Wiltshire is a former field manager with close to with 25 years of experience and specializes in Completion and Well intervention design in challenging locations with difficult logistic situations.

Could you please elaborate on what are some of the challenges completion engineers face when it comes to offshore drilling and how essential is completion engineering?

Two part answer to a two part question. Firstly the major challenges are "Completion design based on completion type"; an artificial lift and gravel pack is required. The Horizontal tubing size has to dictate the size of final hole section, casing selection etc. The reservoir location and angle defines the future intervention schedule and redundancy in the case of water shut off etc. All of these factors have to be taken into account.

Secondly, well completion is crucial to the offshore drilling process, the engineering is affected by all of the above and hydrocarbon types: Oil, Gas, Water Injection, Steam flood, ICDs or SAGS. Pressure and temperature has a significant bearing on metallurgy and component selection. The just "putting the pipe in the ground" philosophy has long gone. If you wish the well to produce at its optimum for as long as possible it has to be done right. With escalating costs for infrastructure (platforms, rigs etc.) a 2 million dollar work over is not desirable when for a few hundred thousand dollars of engineering cost before it is run, is better. Ideally a Completion is designed for 10-20 years of life span.

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As you mentioned extracting hydrocarbons is purely down to the effectiveness of the completion and not the other way around, what are some of the best ways to achieve this?

Understanding the reservoir from seismic and logging techniques during the DST phase of exploration is a major component of the FEED stage of development planning. This information can determine the type and size of the Completion. This information determines if Gas lift or velocity lifting (with Venturi assistance) may be required in the future and therefore they can design it into the tubing string from the conception.

Similarly with the advent of hydraulically controlled down hole flow control devices these can be planned into the design years before they are actually required.

How is the completion engineering industry evolving and what needs to be done to ensure that the most cost effective way of extracting hydrocarbons is achieved?

Most Completion providers sink a huge amount of money into R&D for hotter and higher pressure equipment. Packers and Safety valves have evolved enormously during my 25 years not to mention DHPTG, Fibre optic and acoustic technology. Flapper and rod piston technology is not new but with new materials they can be more effective and consequently safer for plant personnel and the environment.

In your opinion, what can be done to improve the completion engineering even further in the next decade?

Tough one! I personally am of the opinion that ex-field personnel should be part of any engineering team to act as a check and balance for practicality and application of many components. Not much point in having a highly technological piece of "kit" that is so fragile it gets damaged on the way in the hole, especially if it has to go "around the corner" in horizontal applications.

With a growing emphasis on renewables and "green" energy, where do you see the oil and gas industry in the year 2030?

Thriving! It must be remembered that a very large percentage of hydrocarbons end up as paint, plastic, cloth, road surfaces, chemicals etc. If we can avoid burning it as fuel and develop greener energy sources we still need massive amounts of hydrocarbons to keep the world supplied with synthetic materials. This would also reduce carbon emissions and protect the planet to a greater degree.