Monday, February 23, 2009

Deployment Risk Management and Other Sexy Talk

I'm back at work.

I thought that I might be going to Angola. Ended up in Israel. Not sure how that happenned. Angola actually had some interesting work planned and I have been doing some modeling for it. The idea is run some production tools into a well on wireline. Problem is the well is horizontal so how do you push on a rope? Not to worry these people have a downhole tractor that can push the tools down a horizontal well. My job is just to answer a couple of questions.

For a certain wellhead pressure how heavy will the tool have to be to be able to go down against well pressure?
If the tool were to become stuck at the bottom of the well, what kind of tension can we pull at surface before damage to the cable occurs?
Is it possible to design a weak point at the tool so that the cable can be recovered in the event of the tool sticking?
How much force will the tractor have to exert on the horizontal section to pull the cable along the horizontal section?

There is a whole new field of wireline engineering based upon these kinds of questions known as Deployment Risk Management. As well paths become deeper and more tortuous, the material limits of cables become more and more important in terms of what can be run on the end of them. Twenty years ago or so most oil wells were reasonably straight, nowadays the straight hole is the exception rather than the rule. Several companies now offer deployment risk software and there is some effort to get people trained in the technology.

Problem is that oil companies have not attached a value to this service ie: they expect it for free. Service companies have been reluctant to charge for it as it is only a model - a simulation based on a lot of assumptions very few of which can be empirically verified. The model is only ever valuable if something goes wrong; in which case the most common comment is "well why didn't you model for this problem". Screwed over either way. Sigh!

Besides the deployment modelling the other interesting thing about the Angola work I'm not doing is that it is a production job. For my company its unusual work and much overlooked (in my opinion) by the company management. Production logging is usually done to determine the cause of declining production in a well. Oil companies are very interested to know why a well is suddenly producing water or why the production has dropped by 90% in three months. It directly affects their cash flow. Usually the production log is planned as part of a well intervention designed to improve the producing rate in the well. Because this sort of work is unusual (for us anyway) tools are rare and there are not many people globally who are qualified to run them. The tractor requirement further limits the list of people available. As far as I know I'm the only person who can run this particular service with this particular tractor and is also able to interpret the results. I'm waiting for the bosses to figure this out but so far they are of the opinion that "anyone can do it". Time will tell but I'm guessing that there will be a last minute panic to get me down to Angola in a couple of weeks. Last I checked they still haven't figured out how to get the tools to talk (shaking my head).

I'll keep you posted


schmerly said...

Very interesting pj, I'm looking for a job at the moment, perhaps I could carry your tools for you, and I can make tea!!

pj said...

Its damm sexy stuff! Up there with double entry accounting and the dewey decimal system. Can't understand why my inbox isn't filled with offers from sexy models...go figure.

The layoffs reign-of-terror is running though my company at the moment. I may be joining the unemployed myself before too long.

Company does have a website. Drop me a mail and I'll send you the link.