Industry Article: MPD Automation Manages Narrow Drilling Windows With Reduced Footprint

MPD automation manages narrow drilling windows with reduced footprint
Publication: E&P
Publication Date: 10/01/2015

During managed pressure drilling (MPD) operations, the ability to maintain the bottomhole pressure (BHP) between the reservoir’s pore pressure and its fracture initiation pressure often depends on the operator’s skill at tuning the controls. To address the industry’s need for more precise MPD control from a smaller and less equipment-intensive system, M-I SWACO embarked on a multi-year quest to deliver more streamlined choke control.

The result, @balance Control Services, includes a new proportional valve that adjusts flow based on an electrical input signal for improved speed control in a simple, robust design. The new system also incorporates a control loop that adjusts the choke’s direction more rapidly and provides the ability to adjust choke speed in proportion to the rate of change of the pressure correction—thus providing a more robust control algorithm with fewer tendencies to overshoot.

In the North Sea, the new control system was used while drilling a well with a narrow mud-weight window and a large degree of uncertainty regarding pore pressure prediction. The operator deployed the system, in conjunction with a mud rollover schedule from the VIRTUAL HYDRAULICS software and an integrated real-time hydraulics model, to complete six displacements between drilling fluids and maintain BHP within a +/- 0.11 ppg [+/-87 psi] window.

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