Topic: Integrity

Reducing well blowouts with Automated Well Control technology from Safe Influx

Region: North Sea
Content Types: Report
Date: Jan, 2021

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Causes of a wellbore influx:

Safe Influx Ltd has been granted a patent by the UK Patent Office covering its Automated Well Control technology including a wide range of modules using the same technology.

If the formation pressure exceeds hydrostatic pressure in a wellbore it can result in an undesirable flow of formation fluid, called a wellbore influx. This is caused by factors such as human error, abnormal pressure, light density fluid in the wellbore, and lost circulation. If the influx deteriorates, this could potentially escalate into a blowout which could threaten lives, contaminate the environment and incur severe financial loss.

The Automated Well Control technology:

The patent granted to Safe Influx recognises the ability of their Automated Well Control system to detect the presence of a fluid influx condition in a wellbore, make a decision against criteria to shut-in, and then automatically initiate an initial well control protocol that results in the well being safely shut-in.

The Safe Influx Automated Well Control system enables fast identification, decision-making and reaction to well control events. This technology is capable of reducing the size of an influx compared to conventional techniques, and this means a reduction in delays, costs and operational issues in getting back to drilling. Additionally, the confidence obtained with reliably smaller influxes can lead to much more efficient well designs, leading to an estimated 15-20% saving in well costs.

Implications for the industry:

Bryan Atchison, Co-founder and Managing Director at Safe Influx, commented, “I believe that applying automation in well control represents a step change in the area of process safety. Implementing this novel technology allows faster decision making, and significantly reduced well control risks and costs. The system’s ability to detect and automatically initiate and complete the vitally important well control protocol without manual intervention will represent a much-needed step change for the industry. With the technology behind this patent, we are able to provide a system with unique capabilities unavailable from any other company.”

At the end of 2020, Safe Influx conducted a report analysing the frequency of blowouts in the Gulf of Mexico, concluding that these are still occurring and that there is much evidence to suggest human error is a key factor in many of these incidents. With the introduction of Automated Well Control Safe Influx aims to eradicate human error leading to blowouts, which could potentially reduce the frequency of such catastrophic events across the globe.