Archive for the ‘drilling’ Category

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“Golden Driller”
Golden Driller in wrestling singlet

Far from golden, but this was me 53 years ago! Lots of safety lessons, good and bad, were learned. Bud

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The most common causes of offshore fatalities and serious injuries, falls and being struck by equipment, receive little media attention because there is no blowout, oil spill, or fire. However, these are often the most difficult types of incidents to understand and prevent. Human and organizational factors predominate, and prevention is dependent on a strong culture that emphasizes worker engagement, awareness, teamwork and mutual support, effective training and employee development, risk assessment at the job, facility, company, and industry levels, stop-work authority, innovation, and continuous improvement.

This new BSEE Safety Alert addresses such a fatal incident on the Pacific Khamsin drilling rig, and makes recommendations that have widespread applicability.

Incident summary:

While unlatching the lower Marine Riser Package from the Blowout Preventor in preparation for ship relocation, a crewmember was lifted into the air after being struck by a hydraulic torque wrench (HTW), hitting a riser clamp approximately six feet above the elevated work deck before falling to the rig floor. The crew member was given first aid and transported to the drillship’s hospital, where he was later pronounced deceased.

In an upcoming post, BOE will provide historical fatality data by cause and operations category.

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The record shows that the Merrimac Company, registered in 1857, made attempts to produce oil by distillation of pitch, but furthermore in the same year they drilled a well to a depth of about 280 feet, which was a much greater depth than Drake’s well in Pennsylvania – and two years earlier – and produced oil therefrom

History of Trinidad’s Oil

Here is a list of historical facts for T&T’s petroleum industry.

Central bank of T&T data indicate dry natural gas production of 2.84 BCFD and crude oil production of 57,400 BOPD as of 9/2022.

The Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries is currently mulling bids on 4 deepwater blocks contrary to an erroneous press report that those bids had been rejected.

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A firm with a licence to drill for natural gas in Manx waters expects to begin exploratory works in October, its chief executive has said.

Crogga has appointed Three60 Energy to drill an appraisal well to understand how much gas is under the seabed 17km (10.5miles) off Maughold Head.

Isle of Man

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Deepwater Titan is also the second 8th-generation drillship constructed by Sembcorp Marine based on its Jurong Espadon 3T design. The dual-derrick drillship is the first-ever unit delivered with two 20,000-psi blowout preventers (BOPs), well-control, riser, and piping systems for high-pressure and high-temperature drilling and completion operations. Like its sister rig, the Deepwater Atlas — delivered in June 2022 — Deepwater Titan is also equipped with three-million-pound hook-load hoisting capacity and capabilities to drill up to 40,000 feet and operate in water depths of up to 12,000 feet.


Lars Herbst notes that the Atlas, which has been drilling for Beacon in the Shenandoah field with 15k BOPs, will switch to the 20k equipment before any well completion operations. The Titan, equipped with the 20k NOV BOPE, will begin drilling in the Gulf of Mexico for Chevron later this year.

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Lars Herbst analyzed GoM permitting and drilling activity from 2011 to 2021. His data and observations are summarized below.

  • Shelf (shallow water) exploratory drilling is at historic low levels with only a single exploration well drilled in both 2020 and 2021. That trend appears to have continued into 2022, as only one shelf exploration well (drilled by Contango) has been spudded YTD.
  • 2021 also saw a significant drop in deep water development wells.
  • Over the time period examined, deep water development is led by deepwater exploration. The same cannot be said for the development of shallow water leases where prospects are more mature and data are more available.
  • The only shelf well drilled in 2021 (Walter Oil and Gas) was in relatively deeper water (566 feet). That well was drilled with a deepwater semisubmersible (the Valaris 8503). This is the shallowest water depth for a GoM semisubmersible drilling operation in recent history. The rig had a modified DP/moored configuration with explosive disconnects on the mooring lines so the rig could move off location if needed during an emergency disconnect scenario. That mooring disconnect would also let the rig evade hurricanes without the need for anchor handling vessels. 
  • The 2012 spike in deepwater permit approvals is the result of the Macondo drilling moratorium backlog.
GOM OCS New Drilling Well Permits and Well Spuds 2011-2021
YearNew Shallow Water Drilling Well Permits ApprovedShallow Water Expl.; New Well SpudsShallow Water Dev.; New Well SpudsNew Deep Water Drilling; Well Permits ApprovedDeep Water Exp.;
New Well Spuds
Deep Water Dev.;
New Well Spuds
Note: Only includes new wells not sidetrack or bypass boreholes.

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The hype for ultradeep geothermal is building, as it should be given the intermittency and energy density issues that limit the potential of other renewable energy options. However, the ability to drill 20 km into the earth’s surface with millimeter, rock-melting waves has yet to be demonstrated.

Conventional drilling technology gets you through sedimentary formations to the hard basement rock that lies below. That is where gyrotrons will be expected to vaporize rock to depths needed to tap into unlimited 900+ deg F geothermal energy. But questions regarding gyrotron reliability, hole stability, and material removal. Quaise Energy is working with DOE’s Oak Ridge lab to resolve these issues. Field tests are expected over the next few years with initial energy production in 2026. This is all very exciting, but even conventional drilling is seldom routine, so complications should be expected.

Here’s a very good video:

Thomas Vogel, Getty images.
Gyrotron, Popular Mechanics, Encyclopedia Britannica

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The comment (pasted below) by the trade associations asserts that BSEE ignored the requirements of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA).


  • BSEE and its predecessors (MMS and the Conservation Div. of USGS) have been incorporating industry standards since 1969, 27 years prior to the enactment of the NTTAA (1996).
  • 127 standards are currently incorporated into the BSEE regulations. Does this imply ignoring the NTTAA?
  • The keystone of the BOP regulations, API Standard 53, is cited in 250.730, the very section of the rule that is under discussion. Seven other industry standards are cited in that section of the rule. Does this imply ignoring the NTTAA?
  • Regulators cannot cede their authority to standards development organizations. If a standard is outdated or deficient, the regulator must address the issues of concern.
  • Deviations between provisions in the regulations and API Standard 53 are expected and specifically provided for in 250.730 as follows: “If there is a conflict between API Standard 53 and the requirements of this subpart, you must follow the requirements of this subpart.
  • For years, the production safety system regulations specified different leakage rates for surface and subsurface safety valves than those allowed in the API standards. An MMS research project addressed and helped resolve these differences.
  • While essential to safety and regulatory programs, standards are not a panacea; nor is the standards development process without weaknesses. One need only consider the case of the delayed cementing (zonal isolation) standard to appreciate both the importance of standards and the potential weaknesses in the development process.

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Comments on BSEE’s proposed revisions to the Well Control Rule are due in 27 days (by Nov. 14). Given the fundamental importance of well control to offshore safety and pollution prevention, all interested parties are encouraged to comment. Although some of the proposed revisions are rather nuanced, the document is neither long nor complex.

My completely independent comments are being drafted and will be posted here after they have been submitted to Regulations.gov.

My comments will explain why the proposal may reduce the rigor of the BOP system performance standard and will address a related shear ram issue. The comments will also discuss the management of BOP equipment failure and other safety data, the use of independent third parties and standards development organizations, dual shear rams on surface BOP stacks, ROV intervention capabilities, and BOP test data reporting and management.

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