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Statoil Signs LoI for AGR’s EC-Drill Managed Pressure Drilling System

Offshore technology provider AGR Enhanced Drilling, via its subsidiary Ocean Riser Systems, has entered into a NOK120m (USD20m) Letter of Intent (LOI) together with Statoil to deliver the next-generation EC-Drill® Managed Pressure Drilling system.

This latest contract will replace a purchase order made last year, when Statoil joined with Norway-based Enhanced Drilling to further develop its EC-Drill® Managed Pressure Drilling (MPD) solution for floating rigs. The initial phase of the project was worth US$5.1m.

The next-generation EC-Drill® system incorporates state-of-the-art control system capability, enhanced riser integration and multiple other features. Testing of the system is due to commence in the autumn and it will eventually be used on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.

EC-Drill® is a step-change MPD solution, solving a challenge commonly encountered in deep-water wells: drilling within a Narrow Pressure Window. EC-Drill® manipulates bottom-hole pressure by changing the level of drilling mud in the riser, enabling the operator to ‘walk the line’ between pore and fracture pressures. It provides a far greater degree of control than conventional drilling while enhancing safety, plus it is possible to cost-effectively hit deep targets that are simply impractical to reach with more traditional drilling techniques.

David Hine, Executive Vice President at Enhanced Drilling, said from the company’s head office in Straume: “This further commitment by Statoil is another significant endorsement of EC-Drill® as a game-changing technology and the benefits that it brings. This next-generation system is a further step in taking Enhanced Drilling towards the forefront of the MPD market.”

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Total Selects AGR’s RMR for Exploration Offshore Australia

TOTAL E&P Australia (Total) has signed up to use AGR’s Riserless Mud Recovery (RMR®) system.  The contract is for two exploration wells to be drilled over the next year in the Browse Basin off North West Australia.

Bernt Eikemo, AGR’s Vice President of the Enhanced Drilling Solutions (EDS) division (Asia Pacific), said: “AGR is delighted to be part of Total’s drilling team during the forthcoming exploration campaign. We hope that this is the start of a long, successful relationship with Total E&P Australia.”

He added: “Our previous experiences with several operators in the Browse Basin and the North West Shelf have shown that unconsolidated sand formations become much more benign when drilled with RMR® using a proper mud system.”

RMR® has been used by Total on several other projects internationally but this is the first time that the operator has used the system in Australia.

The main reason for using RMR® on these wells is to be able to drill through the unconsolidated sands of the Grebe Formation. It is renowned for stuck-pipe problems when drilling riserless using seawater and sweeps.

RMR® (system example attached) enables the use of weighted, engineered mud in the top-hole section. All mud and cuttings are returned to the rig with no discharge to the seabed. The top-hole section can be drilled more safely, quickly and with less impact on the environment.

RMR®, together with its sister technology the Cutting Transportation System (CTS™), has been deployed on more than 500 wells worldwide to date.

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USA: AGR Signs Two Agreements with Chevron

OIL AND GAS industry solutions provider AGR has signed a Master Well Services Contract and a Service Order with Chevron U.S.A. Inc. (Chevron).

Under these agreements, AGR will provide Dual Gradient Drilling (DGD) offshore operational services for Chevron’s deepwater Gulf of Mexico program for up to five years, starting this year.

The announcement comes as AGR’s existing four year contract for DGD Project Management and Engineering Services moves towards a close later this year, with the testing and load-out of the world’s first Dual Gradient Drilling system for use on a deepwater drillship.

The Pacific Santa Ana drillship – owned by Pacific Drilling – will be operational for Chevron in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico this year, following the successful installation of the custom-built DGD system on the rig.

Houston-based Terry Scanlon, AGR’s Senior Vice President of the Enhanced Drilling Solutions (EDS) division (Americas), said: “Working on the deepwater DGD system’s design and manufacturing phases has been a challenging and rewarding experience alongside Chevron and the other key members of the program.

“We very much appreciate Chevron’s signing of this five year services contract that now allows us to move to offshore operational status in 2012, on this industry leading project. We are now preparing our offshore technical services team and offshore operational procedures, ready for the transition to well operations later this year.”

Under the agreement, Chevron will use AGR’s specialized technical services and the Chevron-owned DGD system as an enabling technology on complex deep-zone wells in its large deepwater Gulf of Mexico portfolio.

AGR’s Executive Vice President of the Enhanced Drilling Solutions division, David Hine, said: “The Chevron DGD development is a world’s first. We are proud to have led the engineering management phase together with Chevron and to have now secured the opportunity to deliver the Offshore Operations and Maintenance phase over the next few years.

“On the premise of improved efficiency, it is becoming increasingly apparent that DGD related services will have an important place in the future of offshore drilling for difficult deepwater and deep zone wells.”

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Australia: Woodside’s First CWD Well Breaks Record with AGR’s RMR

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An ambitious exploratory well project has entered the record books – with AGR’s Riserless Mud Recovery (RMR™) system from their Enhanced Drilling Solutions division helping to make it possible.

Woodside called a total section depth of 1,905m (6,250ft) on the Tidepole East-1 exploration well off Western Australia. It was the first time that Woodside had used the Casing While Drilling (CWD) method on one of its wells and the depth reached sets a new world record for the technique.

RMR™ enabled Woodside to use the type of drilling mud needed to maximize the wellbore smearing effect that CWD provides, which helps keep the wellbore stable.

The system allows top-holes to be drilled using weighted mud, with fluid and cuttings returned to the rig and no discharge. It is also able to supply the low pump rates and good hole-cleaning capability required to drill efficiently, despite the relatively narrow annulus that was a feature of this project.

Thanks to RMR™ and the casing being run during the drilling process, there were no losses to the formation during that stage – an all-too-common occurrence with conventional drilling method.

AGR’s ingenuity solves the challenge

Standard internal or external wellhead adapters could not be used on this project for the RMR’s™ Suction Module (SMO) without extensive modification to the Permanent Guide Base, or without causing difficulties when it came to landing the High Pressure Well Head (HPWH) on the Low Pressure Well Head (LPWH) later on in the operation.

AGR’s ingenuity provided the solution, with an internal adapter being devised that could be split. This meant that the casing could be drilled down with the SMO in place.

General Manager EDS Asia Pacific, Bernt Eikemo, said: “When it was time for the HPWH to be landed on the LPWH, the SMO could simply be lifted off the LPWH using two ‘tugger’ winches on the rig, with an ROV performing the split.

“This of course has never been done before but, with a simple design and good communication with the ROV Company, it proved to be a great solution and it took next to no time for the ROV to release the locking pins and split the adapter.”

The operation went smoothly, with an impressive Rate of Penetration (ROP) achieved of some 60m (197ft) per hour. Bernt added: “This would have been impressive even with conventional drilling. To be able to drill these kinds of wells and others in a quick, simple way like this can potentially create great savings for operators.

“Working within areas with challenging geotechnical conditions, a proper mud system and the ability to have full returns are vital for success. RMR™ is perfect for this application.”

AGR recently surpassed the 500-well landmark for its Cutting Transportation System (CTSTM) and RMR™. Next year will see the first deployment of the company’s EC-Drill™ Managed Pressure Drilling system.

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Milestone Achievement for AGR’s Drilling Technology in Chirag Field, Azerbaijan

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Oil & Gas industry solutions provider AGR is celebrating a milestone achievement for its drilling technology.  Its Riserless Mud Recovery system (RMR™) and Cutting Transportation System (CTS™) have now been deployed on more than 500 wells.

This achievement is not only an indication of AGR’s experience but also of the continued need from the industry for the technology devised by the Norwegian firm’s Enhanced Drilling Solutions division.

David Hine, EVP Enhanced Drilling Solutions, said: “This achievement is a reflection of the ground-breaking technologies that we pride ourselves at AGR and confirms their continued popularity with operators the world over. It also demonstrates the hard work, dedication and ingenuity of the people who work here.

“AGR will continue to further its reputation for step-change technological solutions into 2012 with our EC-Drill™ managed pressure drilling system. This will be deployed for the first time early next year.”

Well number 500 was on the Caspian Sea’s Chirag Oil Project field, located 120 km (75 mi) east of Baku, Azerbaijan and a part of the larger Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli (ACG) project. It was drilled using RMR™ in order to solve the challenge of the area’s weak clay formation. The client was BP, which was the first user of RMR™, again in the Caspian, in 2003.

RMR has been an industry changer since it was introduced. It allows engineered mud to be used in the top-hole section of a well, enabling a much more stable foundation for successful drilling, with all mud and cuttings being returned to the rig.

The top-hole section can be drilled more safely, quickly and with far less impact on the environment, says AGR on its website.

CTS enables operators to take cuttings, cement, mud, clay and other deposits away from the well area, keeping templates debris free. Because of this, it has had a major impact on the validity of drilling operations in areas that have been deemed is being particularly environmentally sensitive. The system was first used by Statoil on the Gullfaks field in 1998.

EC-Drill™ solves the challenge of the narrow-pressure window in deep-water well drilling, where too much bottom hole pressure (BHP) can cause the formation to fracture; too little may cause an influx. EC-Drill offers greater control of the BHP as it is not regulated by mud-weight but the level of fluid in the riser.

Not only is there the potential to reduce the number of casings, saving time and money, but safety is also enhanced thanks to improved kick/loss detection, improved hole stability and the possibility of drilling with riser margin.

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