Good industry practice in the construction of HPHT wells

Article published in the Regulator | Issue 4: 2017 

A high pressure, high temperature (HPHT) well has a bottom-hole temperature of at least 300 degrees Fahrenheit (149 degrees Celsius) and pore pressure higher than 10,000 pounds per square inch (69 MPa). These extreme conditions make the well construction process challenging, including maintaining well control and durability of drilling equipment. Drilling practices and technologies used in their construction require greater oversight.

For example, it is good industry practice to have a HPHT specialist on-site during drilling operations to provide oversight and expert advice (as described in the accepted industry standard Model code of safe practice, Part 17, Volume 1, 2 and 3, published by the Energy Institute).

During a recent assessment of a well operations management plan (WOMP) and safety case, NOPSEMA noted that neither the titleholder nor the facility operator had committed to having a HPHT specialist on-site. NOPSEMA inspectors requested that both parties review this commitment and they agreed. The updated WOMP and safety case were accepted. During the HPHT drilling operations, NOPSEMA’s well integrity and OHS inspectors undertook a planned inspection at the facility. They reviewed the use of the HPHT specialist, and found significant value in the addition of this role; the workforce had more confidence in conducting safe operations and had better training and well control drills.

NOPSEMA reminds titleholders and facility operators of their responsibility to take all reasonably practicable steps to manage and reduce the health and safety risks of a facility, its activities and the risks to the integrity of the well to a level that is ALARP. Through its regulatory activities, NOPSEMA will continue to advise industry on good practice and promote the adoption of these practices.