Identify as many performance limiters to a drilling operation as you can, and identify a corresponding remedial or mitigating action.
The biggest performance limiter is the lack of data available, without data you can’t plan for what you don’t know. You also never know what you don’t know.
- The salt content of your drilling fluid is too high leading to swelling shales and the company has mandated using water-based fluids to drill as the company has mandated an environmental initiative to drilling operations are required to meet the highest environmental standards. Yet the water source you are using has a high sodium content. What do you do? The shales were continually reacting to the salt content in the fluid causing swelling which leads to other problems. As an oil-based solution was not an option the only way forward without causing further losses to operations was to use a polymer-based environmentally friendly fluid solution. This solution, however, had to be cleared by senior management as the only feasible drilling solution forward.
- Logistics in remote areas of operations can have a huge impact on drilling operations. Not only getting the material to the rig that is required for the next operation, but having the deck space offshore to manage the next operation can be trying to manage continual operations without interruption. The solution used to ensure that operations were not interrupted were to either share logistics with a neighboring operator, or to secure a third vessel to maintain the required logistics needed. The later option became rather expensive and the sharing logistics with another operator was the most practical. Sharing logistics isn’t the most optimal however it was the most financially feasible solution to continued uninterrupted operations.
- The shale shakers are not performing optimally, yet the rig you have contracted only has 3 shakers and when one needs to be shut down for maintenance you must reduce your drilling operations in order to ensure continual fluid management. The optimal way to overcome this obstacle is to review the feasibility of locating a 4th shaker temporarily on the shaker deck to ensure that drilling operations are not compromised. Knowing this beforehand can limit the downtime for drilling operations and potentially allow you to modify the drilling design. The most practical solution for offshore operations is, however, locating a 4th shaker unit that can tie into the existing units. Fluid volumes as well can be impacted by adding this solution, however, adding a fluid tank can assist. Again, know every aspect before beginning the operations is critical. Deck space, shaker capacity, fluid tanks, etc are all key performance criteria in drilling operations and must be reviewed in detail before determining the best-suited rig for the operations before signing the contracts.
- Finally, you can’t plan for what you don’t know and the best way to overcome the what if’s is to collectively as a fluid team goes through the operations will all involved to identify the what if’s and have a contingency plan in place. Budget sometimes gets in the way of this, however detailed contingency planning can prevent going over budget. A detailed economic estimate of go or no go is also important. When do you cut your BHA and spend $1million cutting your losses vs spending $90 thousand a day trying to recover? Where can you recover? How many days will it take to recover? These questions are all important in operations. Having contingency plans in place is the best mitigator for optimal drilling performance. However, some contingency plans can cost more than necessary/needed. What risk are the operations going to take? How confident are you in recovering? If the risk to ever situation is too high can they be reduced? At what cost?