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Making the Impossible Possible, Marginal Reserve Exploitation and Performance

Merlin ERD

Making the Impossible Possible, Marginal Reserve Exploitation and Performance: The challenge of a small pool

What do you do when you discover a small, stranded pool of oil close (but not too close) to existing production facilities? First, you figure out the value of the oil you can produce and then assess the options to produce that oil at the lowest cost per barrel (or cubic metre). For a client of Merlin ERD’s, those options were limited.

Costs to drill a stand-alone subsea well were prohibitive and anything from the existing platform seemed “extreme”. How extreme? How about a shallow kick off at 600m, building angle to 84° and holding that inclination for over 4kms in 121/4” hole, before drilling 1000m horizontally through the reservoir, stepping out much further than anything else in the field. Would you stand up in front of management and suggest this concept?

Merlin ERD

Great expectations! (and execution)

The well design was audacious, the challenges significant but the benefits were clear – going back to Stewart’s LinkedIn posting a few days ago and thinking about the project from the perspective of net present value (NPV), using the existing facility and equipment would get the well on production as soon as possible, minimising deferred oil and improving overall project profit (value). In fact, only 3 months after the discovery was made, the well was online and paying back the initial investment.

Merlin ERD was instrumental in the initial extended reach concept development. Following a tried and tested process, a detailed offset well review allowed for the definition of realistic friction factors which were applied to the wellbore trajectory, allowing the magnitude of surface loads to be quantified and operational risk factors to be understood. Once the load envelope was defined, the Operator was able to assess the existing equipment spread and assure itself the operating envelope was large enough to handle the job. At this point, with the analysis done and risks understood, the way forward into operations was clear.

While drilling, Merlin ERD was present on the rig – providing expert support to Operator personnel, helping to guide and optimise the program. The well was drilled and completed successfully, meeting all of the technical and financial objectives, making the impossible (at first glance), possible through rigorous engineering and expert guidance.