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The next generation of managed pressure drilling

Aug 18, 2019
5 min read
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Anthony Spinler, vice president for Managed Pressure Drilling at Weatherford International spoke exclusively to Pipeline Magazine about bringing its next generation of MPD to market and unveiling earlier in the year

Weatherford have been the biggest believers in managed pressure drilling (MPD) and have been working with operators and drilling contractors since 1968 to help solve some of the most difficult drilling challenges.

“We have been using MPD for over 50 year on land and offshore MPD has been around for 10 years,” said Spinler.

Weatherford’s VP for MPD admits that it is quite a niche product in the market and not all operators or drillers have been exposed to it.

Spinler feels that the oil price downturn has meant that MPD has got extra attention with its lower costs.

“After the oil price crash we saw in the marketplace that there was a better recognition of MPD. Also the drilling that is coming back is of bigger value and deeper. Technologies that have enabled drilling are actually pushing the need for more manged pressure. We are seeing that operators are seeing MPD as a much more mainstream practice.”

Intelligent MPD

Weatherford officially launched its next generation of MPD, Victus, earlier in the year.

“To be able to launch Victus earlier in the year at OTC was great. People still have a preconception of what MPD is. It was nice to show how the equipment and hydraulics has advanced. We can as an industry improve the robustness of the primary means of well control,” he said.

For Spinler, Victus is the culmination of more than a half-century of MPD results for faster drilling, lower costs and more production.

“What we have done is bring out to the market the first evolution of MPD since the offshore version was launched 10 years ago.”

Weatherford has incorporated decades of knowledge and data in thousands of wells across the world into one advanced system with Victus.

“In 2014 we built our systems to track, manage and record all our drilling operations of 47,000 MPD wells. We have taken all that experience and built that into the new system. So everything over the years that we have learnt and improved are all part of the new Victus system,” said Spinler.

According to Spinler, Victus is an industry 4.0 solution that features intelligent control and equipment automation. It integrates rig equipment for machine-to-machine communication, real-time analysis of downhole conditions and rapid automated responses from a central location.

“Our aim is to make drilling better. At Weatherford we are the market leader in MPD. We have the most land, jack-ups and offshore MPD systems working today,” stated Spinler.

Victus also includes a new automated MPD riser system for floating drilling vessels, which minimises rig up and rig down time to previously unachievable levels. The integrated, compact and smart riser design reduces installation time.
“We have simplified that connection and the number of days for installation down to less than 20 mins. This obviously helps with costs savings.”

Global roll out

With the Victus control system Weatherford has rolled it out globally to all of its land jack-ups and new offshore system. So all of Weatherford’s operations globally have the same high control system and customers can come see it and view it in real time in operating centres.

“We have already worked on training internal personnel on the system. We have an academy to train our personnel to operate our equipment. As we bring this out and launch we will hold additional training courses,” said Spinler.

He added: “On the offshore side there is a lot more desire from operators and drilling contractors to do extra training. We are now partnering with major training organisations like Maersk Training.”

One of the biggest advantages of Victus is that it doesn’t matter if you deploy it across a single country, a whole region like the Middle East or around the globe. Customers can work with the same system wherever they are in the world.

“We are in such a digital age now that to have a system that is collecting more data and making autonomous decisions. With the new system we take all the data and put it in an automated sequence that can eliminates the number of human steps that have to be done and that in turn reduces the number of errors that could happen. This directly improves the reliability and safety of workers,” explained Spinler.

Taking Victus forward

Spinler sees exciting times ahead for Weatherford’s MPD business.

“Our customers and operators are wiser these days. They are now concentrating on working more efficiently and drilling more efficiently. With this change in operating behaviour has come a realisation that there are real benefits with MPD.”

Spinler concluded: “It is exciting to see MPD getting more attention and for more people to realise the benefits that this technique can bring.”

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