By Alain Spreux, published on January 16th, 2018, modified on February 27th, 2018
I was head of the Production Department in Italy when the first horizontal well was drilled in Rospo Mare. I had to figure out the most suitable completion method before the R&D team even got involved. Three years later, in 1985, I was transferred back to corporate headquarters after a stint as head of completion in Gabon. I was asked to lead the Elf Aquitaine/ IFP joint “Well Completion” R&D project, one aspect of which was liner cementing.
In 1987, Elf Aquitaine wanted to take things a step further with a second R&D project called ‘Horizontal Well Production,’ or PRODHOR. This next step included a reservoir aspect and a production aspect. The second of these sought to answer some key questions. How can we do everything we do in a conventional well in a horizontal well? What are the limits of the equipment and techniques? What should we replace them with? We were asking these questions about not only liner centering and cementing, but also about completion equipment, including pumping equipment, wireline work, perforations, production logging, sand control, treatment, acid well treatment and stimulation. We got affiliates and services companies involved to test inflatable packers, insert logging cables into coiled tubing, test the feasibility of production logging and more. The reservoir aspect also received closer study, with an analysis of fluid circulation, particularly water rise around wells. André Jourdan and I went to the affiliates to explain the promise of horizontal drilling and to show how far our know-how had come. We also attended seminars and conferences in Houston, Calgary and Los Angeles. I was involved with the horizontal drilling R&D team from 1985 to 1992. Seven years in uncharted territory where we had to make it up as we went along.
Extract from the book Horizontal Drilling, the story of an industrial revolution (2016).
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