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Reducing activation energy for new technology

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Getting new technology implemented in oil companies requires a lot of 'activation energy' to overcome people's resistance - so perhaps the main challenge is working out how this 'activation energy' can be reduced, said BP's Dr Bruce Swanson.

Perhaps, instead of talking about the technology itself, people would be better to talk about the way technology actually gets implemented, said Dr Bruce Swanson, well engineering team leader, BP, speaking at the ITF Technology Showcase in Aberdeen on March 4, in the technical session on 'Drilling Efficiency, Well Intervention and Abandonment'.

Dr Swanson said that the Arrhenius equation (for the amount of energy required to activate a chemical reaction) could provide an analogy to the energy required to make a technology change happen in oil and gas companies.

The factor for how easy it is to implement innovation (or how much concern there is about risk) could be analogous to the activation energy of the equation, he suggested.

Other factors could be how many interactions there are in the organisation, how to reduce the energy of activation (with a catalyst), and how much energy is required (in the organisation around it).

Take for example the challenge getting a riserless mud recovery system (RMR) implemented at BP in the North Sea.

The RMR pumps mud into oil wells using a subsea pump, and is connected to a special flowline from the platform to the subsea and back again, for carrying mud and cuttings.

This replaces the usual system, where mud is carried to the drill bit down the middle of the drill pipe and carried back to the platform (together with cuttings) through a riser outside the drill pipe.

This means that you can drill on the seabed without relying on a riser to keeping the mud and cuttings in place.

BP has been using riserless mud recovery systems in Azerbaijan since 2003, but in 2012, was not using it in its North Sea operations.

'In 2012 we were planning drilling West of Shetland and looked at the technology again. We started a process of workshops and bringing in the vendor,' he said.

Unfortunately, there was not enough awareness or interest in the technology to overcome concerns about risk of deploying a new technology, to get it implemented, he said.

However during the development, a problem arose on the casing scheme of the well, which the riserless mud recovery technology could solve, and as a result it was implemented, he said.

Now that the engineers are more comfortable using the technology, of course, and it will be easier for them to make a decision to implement it in future, he said.

Associated Companies
» BP
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