High Pressure/High Temperature

One would think that, in these challenging times, high-pressure/high-temperature technology and projects would be put on the back burner, with everybody chasing zipper-fractured barrels from shale. Well, it is not so.


One would think that, in these challenging times, high-pressure/high-­temperature (HP/HT) technology and projects would be put on the back burner, with everybody chasing zipper-fractured barrels from shale. Well, it is not so. The rewards in new reserves and profits of being able to develop HP/HT resources efficiently are just too attractive to ignore. So, we can enjoy some major developments on the project and technical side in the past year, and the highlights are offshore.

Let us look at the Gulf of Mexico, which has moved from being just a pioneering area for deepwater developments to an area where deep water and HP/HT combine to provide the ultimate challenge for the best engineers.

In 2019, we saw first oil from Appomattox, the first producing high-temperature development in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico; and we can congratulate Shell (operator), Nexen, and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation for a job well done. This project also served as the developing ground for the recently issued Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement HP/HT guidance documents, which certainly will make the next projects more streamlined. And lest we forget, it is also a “green” project, with the first combined-cycle power generation facility deployed offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.

The next challenge is now the “HP” part of HP/HT, and Chevron took up the gauntlet and is putting the final touches on a new generation of drillship together with Transocean as the drilling contractor, with NOV providing dual 20,000‑psi subsea blowout preventers. And, with the sanctioning of the Chevron-operated Anchor 20,000-psi development in the Green Canyon area at the end of 2019, it is anybody’s guess where this drillship will be deployed first. Total is the partner on this development.

These two major HP/HT breakthroughs have been made in deep water, in the toughest industry environment seen at least in my lifetime. Who says our industry is not resilient and innovative?

In this year’s paper selection, we are focusing on three technical areas where HP/HT and deep water come together: very-high-pressure and -­temperature (supercritical) fluid properties, the latest expandable technology used for liner hangers, and the effect of ambient pressure on the pressure rating of well-construction equipment.

Who would have thought that, in these challenging days, we would be able to celebrate the marriage of deep water and HP/HT? And this is happening not just in the Gulf of Mexico; we also hear some very interesting developments in Asia/Pacific (the South China Sea) and in the eastern Mediterranean.

It is not aerospace or Silicon Valley, but our industry that is still the most innovative and pioneering in the word. We can only hope that the many highly qualified graduates, and especially post-graduates, in petroleum engineering looking for their first jobs are invited on this journey and don’t wander into other industries where their skills would be quickly appreciated. They are the ones we need to use all the new digital tools, such as simulator-based predrilling exercises. From the days of Shearwater to Appomattox and Anchor, we have almost no time left to tap the experience of the deepwater and HP/HT pioneers who are at the tail end of their careers and have so much knowledge to transfer.

This Month's Technical Papers

Cost-Effective Validation of HP/HT Subsea Equipment Using Seawater Hydrostatic Head

Expandable HP/HT Liner Hanger Increases Pressure Integrity

Technique Overcomes Scarcity of Solubility Data in Scale Prediction for HP/HT Conditions

Recommended Additional Reading

SPE 195353 Active Cooling Method for Downhole Systems in High-Temperature Environments by Wenkai Gao, China National Petroleum Corporation, et al.

SPE 195725 Improving Performance in Elgin HP/HT Infill Drilling Despite Increasing Challenges by Mohammad Alahmad, Total, et al.

SPE 197207 Improved Well Design 15,000-psi Cemented Completion To Deliver Faster and Cheaper Complex Deep Gas HP/HT Wells by Hashil Nasser Said Al Naabi, Petroleum Development Oman, et al.

Robert Ziegler, SPE, is working as a senior expert on geopolitical and technical aspects of gas-supply security. His career spans 35 years in the industry, mainly with Shell, Chevron, Petronas, Cairn India, and, most recently, Weatherford. Ziegler’s achievements include involvement in the first deepwater application of preblowout-preventer riserless mudline pumping and the first application of a commercial deepwater dual-gradient system in the form of post-blowout-preventer-controlled mud level. Most recently, he guided a service company to develop the next-generation backpressure deepwater and harsh-environment managed-pressure-drilling (MPD) system. On the operations side, Ziegler was involved in many firsts, including bringing directional casing drilling offshore in a large scale and the first use of MPD for an offshore HP/HT well. Ziegler is a member of the JPT Editorial Committee.