RPSEA Resource V11N2 2016






President's Perspective

Welcome New RPSEA Members

Unconventional Resources and Small Producers Program Highlights

Ultra-Deepwater Program Highlights - Bill Head


Featured UDW Projects

Ultra-Deepwater Program Highlights - James Pappas

Best of RPSEA Conference



RPSEA President, James Pappas


Dear members:

My, my... I can't believe that the first half of 2016 has come and gone! When you're busy, time just seems to slip through your fingers.

First of all, I'd like to welcome our new members: Allen Energy Consultants, LLC, Clearview Subsea, LLC, Ocean Power Technologies, Inc., and Subsea Engineering Technologies, LLC. It's nice to know that even during this time of uncertainty, low commodity prices, and cost reductions, people see the value and long term positives associated with the RPSEA consortium.

I wish times weren't so difficult. The fact is that RPSEA has lost about half of its member organization support over the past year. While it hasn't come as a complete surprise, with the current Section 999 Program coming to an end along with cost reduction pressures, it still hurts when we lose the financial AND human support that has made our organization unique. Most of our drops have been due to spending cuts, as opposed to lack of value, according to the results of our enquiries. In one case I was told that our contact would rather not pay the $10,000 dues in hopes of saving one job. I don't have an issue with the statement, but I pity the poor soul who is earning only $10,000 per year. Multiple contacts told us that they were afraid that if they went to their management with a request for dues payment they would be targeted and "out the door." While I understand their predicament, I have to wonder 1) if their jobs are already on thin ice; 2) are they paid to think, act rationally, and be willing to stand up for what is best for their organization; and 3) are their organizations even considering the long term when making these bootstrap decisions about a pittance that ultimately will not make a hill of beans of difference in their bottom line? What a blessing it was to hear a few voices in the crowd who exclaimed that they would be with RPSEA through thick and thin, recognizing the times as they are to be challenging, yet seeing this as an opportunity, noting the successes of RPSEA's past and willing to trust that there will be more to come.

The fact of the matter is that RPSEA has been extremely successful because of the combination of industry, research universities, labs, AND governmental entities. Its life blood has been the people that have contributed their time and knowledge to solving real, identifiable problems. The breakthroughs that have occurred, as well as those whose needle has been pushed to the right, prove me correct. Technology got us to where we are -- a safer place -- one that has resulted in abundant energy, in fact an oversupply. Technology will get us out of this trough, too. It is technology that will lower the costs of finding and producing energy per unit. No amount of staff reductions or nips and tucks of budgets can solve the problem; these simply buy a little time. It's hard to think about GROWTH when one is worried about SURVIVAL, but there needs to be a balance.

Moving on, I'll get off of my soapbox now... I'd like to take this opportunity to welcome Jack Belcher of HBW Resources and Tom Williams of LEID LLC, who have been hired by RPSEA to focus on new business development initiatives. HBW has been involved in many 501 organizations' efforts to start and finance initiatives, both public and private. They have the manpower that it takes to generate the critical mass necessary to continue RPSEA's success. Tom Williams brings loads of experience, from both the public and private sector, and he has been intimately involved in RPSEA over the past decade.

Meanwhile, the Section 999 Program continues to chug along. Although it is scheduled to wind down by this year's end, we still have nearly 40 ongoing projects to complete. Needless to say there is plenty to keep us busy over the next few months. Read on below about each program.

As far as technology transfer events are concerned, please join us in August for the Best of RPSEA 10 Years of Research. We'd like for you and anyone interested to participate in this event as we have made it very affordable, and you'll see it has MUCH to offer.

We hope you'll join us, take advantage of the learning, and provide input. YOU are the reason that RPSEA exists!

  • August 30th and 31st RPSEA and the Society of Petroleum Engineers Gulf Coast Section will host Best of RPSEA 10 years of Research -- Ultra-Deepwater and Onshore Technology Conference at The San Luis Resort, Spa & Conference Center in Galveston, TX (see http://www.rpsea.org/events/503).

RPSEA continues to work with the Ocean Energy Safety Institute (OESI) when called upon and the Injection and Tracking of Micro Seismic Emitters to Optimize UOG Development grant. We are also still trying to develop several joint industry partnership (JIP) projects and have met with several members who would like to partner with RPSEA to develop their technology concepts. We have also sponsored several proposals to federal and state agencies for specific project grants. If any of these proposals are selected we will notify our members to seek guidance and assistance to bring them through fruition.

Finally, it is with reluctance and great sadness that I must bid you adieu. I will retire from my post at RPSEA on October 1, 2016. From the time that my most recent former employer Devon Energy asked me to participate on the RPSEA Ultra-Deepwater Technical Advisory Committee and then on the UDW Program Advisory Committee I knew that this organization was different -- it had something to offer that could not be matched. Then, when I was invited to interview for a full time position as RPSEA's Vice President of Technical Programs in 2009, I jumped at the opportunity. In 2010, when our Board Chairman at the time tried to convince me to take over the UDW Program as its Vice Chair, I was reluctant; DeepStar, which had been managing it since RPSEA had secured the Section 999 Program, had all of the elements in place, and I feared that the committees' members might not take too kindly to change. However, with the help of many, many people my worries gradually disintegrated. I did not feel that I was ready to take the reins of the RPSEA organization as Acting President in 2014, when I was appointed by your Board, but I reluctantly agreed. When I first came onboard at RPSEA in 2009, I told our then President that I'd give it two years and then decide if I wished to remain, provided that they would still want me. I vehemently argued with your Board some 14 months later when they decided that I should become the UDW VP, but ultimately decided to accept the appointment because the Board felt it was time to manage the programs from within. I also told the Board that I was not inclined to additionally take the President's position two years ago, believing, correctly I might add, that it would detract from the much needed work yet to be done on the UDW front; but at that point there were few other options for the Board to take. So, I decided to work on both the UDW and overall organization efforts, with monumental help from our staff, to see the Section 999 Program through to fruition.

Now that this goal is within sight, I believe it is time for me to depart. The future of RPSEA lies in new business development and in the hands of you, its members. A very capable team has been assembled to organize your efforts toward opening new inroads. It is up to you to determine which paths RPSEA should take. If you believe that this organization's unique makeup and mission necessitate that it continue to be a viable force to accelerate the development of new, exciting, and HS&E conscious technologies, then you should stay involved, take a seat at the table, and help the RPSEA management develop its strategies. I go back to my earlier comments about the soundness of long term views, the importance of technological advancements and breakthroughs, and the involvement of the right people. I wish the RPSEA organization and each of you, its backbone, well. And I thank all of you for allowing me to serve you and be a part of this outstanding endeavor.

There are also so many other individuals to thank -- DOE leadership, NETL staff and leadership, the projects' Principal Investigators, our Board members, PAC's and TAC's leadership, the Working Project Groups, and all of our volunteers. Finally, I wish to thank the many universities, companies, national and private labs, and organizations that have provided much needed financial support and resources to RPSEA, and express my profound gratitude to all of the RPSEA staff and administrative contractors with whom I've had the pleasure of working.

Going forward I have three quotes for us to consider in the context of this organization:

If you want to keep on learning, you must keep on risking failure -- all your life.
-John W. Gardner-

The man who always fights one more round is never whipped.
-James J. Corbett-

There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction.
-Winston Churchill-

Till we meet again,


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RPSEA is proud of its membership base that had grown to more than 180 members since inception. Being a quarterly, two-step process, membership is approved first internally through RPSEA and then by the Secretary of Energy.

Membership affords each member access to technical information, professional networking opportunities and participation in various conferences throughout the year. This includes instant access to the "members only" area of our website, which includes a listing of our membership database, program information and updates.

To view a list of all RPSEA members, click here, www.rpsea.org/directories.

We would like to extend a huge welcome to our new members, Allen Energy Consultants, LLC, Clearview Subsea, LLC, Ocean Power Technologies, Inc., and Subsea Engineering Technologies, LLC. This is an exciting time to become a member and share in RPSEAs' past and future endeavors. We appreciate the opportunity to share our resources and recognize the value of each member.

We look forward to working with you in the future and your commitment to RPSEA and its mission is a valued asset.


Allen Energy Consultants, LLC www.manta.com/c/mb069cz/allen-energy-consultants-l-l-c

PowerIN LLC Logo


Clearview Subsea, LLC www.clearviewsubsea.com


Ocean Power Technologies, Inc. www.oceanpowertechnologies.com


Subsea Engineering Technologies, LLC http://ssengtech.com


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RPSEA Onshore Programs

by Kent Perry

RPSEA is in the midst of the final push to complete all research projects within the public-private research partnership of the Section 999 research program that is scheduled for completion September 30, 2016. The RPSEA Board of Directors is actively pursuing research funding outside of the 999 program that is planned to enable RPSEA to continue into the future as a going concern. With the significant drop in oil and gas prices, new technology development and adoption becomes ever more important for reducing operating costs and improving production. But it also presents a challenge for securing research funding from any source.

Over the past multiple years the RPSEA onshore research program has achieved a significant set of accomplishments. A short list of those items follows.


  1. Produced Water Management: EPA has utilized the RPSEA produced water program for understanding produced water issues. The Marcellus flow back study, working with the US EPA, PA EPA and others, concluded (after analyzing for more than 250 contaminants) that flow back water is similar to produced water; water that has been managed by industry for years. The perception that these waters are a "witch's brew of toxins" was mitigated. A produced water technology management center including a portfolio of water treatment technologies is being utilized worldwide.
  2. Hydraulic Fracturing (HF) and HF Concerns: RPSEA's research portfolio is advancing the science of HF in horizontal wellbores. Protocols leading to significant improvements in fracturing effectiveness are being utilized in all major shale plays; reducing the number of treatments, saving resources and increasing resource recovery. RPSEA has informed EPA regarding hydraulic fracturing safety including leading and facilitating the EPA workshop on HF water requirements. RPSEA participated on SEAB; providing technology program input and resulting in a SEAB recommendation for RPSEA support.
  3. The U.S. Unconventional Gas & Oil Resource Base: For energy independence, U.S. gas production must approach 35 tcf/year - (25 from low perm [k] resources). RPSEA research is discovering new resources; a requirement if this is to be realized. In the Black Warrior basin alone, 100 Tcf of technically recoverable resource (previously undiscovered) has been documented; providing for the next generation of gas production.
  4. Environmental Impact: The RPSEA environmental research portfolio is mitigating shale development impact on our air, land and water resources. Technology that processes produced water, removes chemicals and creates fresh water has been developed. The water requirements of HF fracturing have been documented and cryogenic HF that does not use water is being developed.
  5. $Benefit to $Cost: According to an early detailed benefit to cost impact assessment; the RPSEA program will provide $1.1 billion in additional royalty revenue to Federal coffers; at a cost of $150 million.

Needed Research -- 4 Primary Goals:

Goal #1 - Decrease the environmental footprint of unconventional resource operations; earn the right to develop U.S. resources by mitigating impact on air, land and water e.g., develop technology to process all water -- converting the industry's largest waste stream into a new product line.

Goal #2 - Understand variations in subsurface properties to increase recovery efficiency. Ongoing research indicates that the gas molecule may travel at most 3-4 meters per year through low k reservoirs. Oil may travel an even lesser distance; 90% of the resource is not being recovered -- yet has the overlying infrastructure -- research on fundamentals will resolve these issues.

Goal #3 - Continue to characterize the U.S. endowment of unconventional resources; grow the technically recoverable resource base by first characterizing and then developing targeted extraction technology with environmental oversight.

Goal #4 - Focus research on the hydraulic fracturing process, not only from an environmental mitigation perspective but from an effectiveness/efficiency perspective as well. As the process becomes more efficient fewer resources such as water are required.


As the RPSEA 999 research program progresses towards its conclusion, technology transfer becomes an ever more important facet. In that light one onshore workshop was conducted in May, 2016, a second workshop was conducted in July 2016, and a comprehensive combined onshore/offshore conference is planned for the end of August.

By topic matter and dates they are:

  • Interactive Workshop Focusing on Emissions from Unconventional Resources Development Activity, May 26, 2016, Denver, CO (completed)
  • WVU/PTTC/NETL/RPSEA Onshore Technology Workshop - Appalachian Basin Technology, July 20, 2016,  Canonsburg, PA (completed)
  • Best of RPSEA 10 years of Research -- Ultra-Deepwater and Onshore Technology Conference - August 30-31, 2016, Galveston, TX

The completed workshop held in Denver during May attracted approximately 100 attendees who discussed the important topic of methane emissions from onshore shale development activities. All presentation material can be accessed via www.rpsea.org/past-events/year/2016.

Recently Completed Project

A recently completed RPSEA onshore research project is the Environmentally Friendly Drilling (EFD) -- Technology Integration Program (TIP). This effort was to field test multiple technologies in the field and document their efficacy or lack thereof. One of the many experiments performed was in the area of methane emissions. A surprising initial finding from the research after testing four different pump engines. The emission differences between hydraulic fracturing engines powered by diesel and engines powered with natural gas/diesel dual fuel was measured. Preliminary findings include:

  • A natural gas dual fuel engine does not have clear advantages in emissions compared with diesel and further studies are needed.
  • Un-combusted methane is up to 30% of total natural gas fuel supply under high substitution rate reducing fuel economy.

Further research is needed to address these issues.

Methane emissions from dual fuel engines at high pump loads.


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Technology Transfer, The Point of it All, Bill Head, Sr. Manager, RPSEA

The Energy Policy Act of 2005, Sec J, 999 called for a meaningful investment in telling the world what happened to US tax money invested under this program to fund research for safely improving US oil and gas production while respecting concerns for the environment. Approximately 170 funded projects over 10 years resulted in thousands of presentations and papers shown to the public. The majority can be found with a Google search. RPSEA has revealed exactly what was purchased with your money. RPSEA continues to press its message on the value of public-private research into safely and environmentally responsible exploration and production of hydrocarbon resources. Following are some recent activities.

Ongoing Events remaining this calendar year:

  • URTeC, Aug 1-3, San Antonio 
  • Best of RPSEA, Aug 30-31, Galveston, TX; Participants in 4 tracks over 2 days will see summaries of a multitude of highlighted technology advances in sessions covering the Small Producer, Unconventional Resources, and Ultra-Deepwater

Media presentations and messages since the budget cuts of 2014:

  • Short videos posted to the RPSEA web, in magazine links, and displayed at events.
  • SEG Leading Edge, SEAM project results every Qtr.
  • Publication of numerous technical articles about RPSEA projects: e.g. JPT, O&GJ, Offshore, WO, Harts, OTC, web publishing, of course RPSEA and NETL web sites, and at meetings of many professional societies, national organizations, government agencies, national labs, universities, public and private forums, public workshops, for environmental groups, for the US Congress, at the Department of Energy, and to The President of the United States. We have been busy.
  • RPSEA has commissioned the building of a simple data base of all our articles and reports for "easy" searching from the RPSEA web site.
  • Recently, RPSEA sponsored the SPE-GCS web site banner to help SPE get our message out.
  • You may have seen full page magazine ads since December, 2015 in;
    • Offshore Magazine, the most read journal in our UDW field,
    • Oil and Gas Journal, the most read industry wide magazine, on every executive's desk, and in every HSE office.
    • Harts E&P Magazine, the most pursued magazine for general engineering information on who is doing what in our industry.
    • SPE Connect, the GCS magazine read by over 17,000 members related to Houston O&G endeavors, onshore and off.

JIP's are still being solicited.

RPSEA continues to add value in objective, non-biased, administrative management while collecting interested parties for participation of constructive input into leading research ideas that currently fall outside public funding. The leadership provided by volunteer subject matter experts in the RPSEA TAC system is unparalleled in our industry's history. Cooperation at this level is forward thinking and has a proven record of making significant contributions to commercial ideas in science, engineering, and resource management, while recognizing that no one company or person can do it all for safety and environmental protection.

RPSEA member Ocean Power Technologies; www.oceanpowertechnologies.com has developed an idea that has been around since before time, but has never been able to be economic. They built a full size prototype wave generator. OPT put it to sea, and captured wave energy, converting mechanical motion to electricity. The wave generator device should fit several applications far offshore where solar, batteries and maintenance issues are not practical. RPSEA is searching for an O&G, UDW application.

RPSEA is the general contractor for a test of Paulsson's, Inc. fiber optic VSP tool against other industry VSP tools. Sercel has granted data for comparison. TX. Bur. Econ. Geology [and UT] will provide the Devine Test well, seismic sources and support. Chevron is providing expertise and initial financial support. We want to compare the latest fiber optic VSP tool, tubing deployed, against the leading wireline tool. The JIP will require $250M. We are now within $75M of starting the survey.

RPSEA member Bastion Technologies has been showing its Pyro-Accumulator at RPSEA events for about 2 years now. Their idea was vetted by the TAC system, approved by the RPSEA PAC, and by NETL. It was not funded by DOE so we took the challenge to show its merits. The Pyro is a safety device, a smart Sub Sea pyrotechnic accumulator for use either above a BOP or on the foot of a production riser. No, this is not your grandfather's accumulator. This design, recently tested in Washington State, reduces risks associated with handling due to its smaller size and weight. Projections show it should also be less expensive. The Bastion design offers an independent safety device with technology proven in other industries. We are looking for $2-4MM and an in-water test site.

Bastion Technologies Intrseptr has been almost a crusade of mine [and Don Richardson's] to get it off of paper and into an engineering FEED study. This idea is to build an intelligent intervention separator. The TAC also liked Bastion's approach. RPSEA proposes to build and test an automated mechanical intervention system that will secure a drill string or a production riser, disengage any fuel source, and shutdown a well or riser experiencing a blowout or other catastrophic condition. It has several retractable rams. Think of it as the Yellow button to temporarily shut in, without using the RED button! This device could save time while critical data is being collected and analyzed without having to kill a $200MM well, or risking life threatening delay before getting permission to use that RED button. This is a thinking man's mitigation tool. About $500m is needed at this point.

Texas A&M Civil (Ocean) Engineering professor Jeffrey Falzarano proposed an idea to reduce collision risk in tightly packed harbors or ship channels, especially when environmentally sensitive oil transfer operations are underway. His project is called, "A New Analysis Method Combining Model Testing and Numerical Hydrodynamics to Predict Hydrodynamic Forces and Moments.: The simulation is an advanced System ID to improve hydrodynamic force prediction between and among vessels. The Naval Architects Soc. has fronted the first cash. We are looking for $300M more.


Other non-traditional research:

This spring RPSEA's Board asked us to pursue funding resulting from the BP payout for the April 2010 accident. One such source was from the TCEQ who received funds. RPSEA looked at their RFP criteria and decided it would be within our interest to propose projects. Requests went out to members. Several great ideas were sent to us. The review committee selected 2 proposals to be submitted. Both deal with "oil on the beach" monitoring and prevention.

  1. RPSEA TCEQ Proposal - Gulf Coast Water Quality Monitoring Stations; Clearview Subsea, Jeff Zhang and The University of Houston.

The proposed timescale is 3 years for designing, installing and commissioning five WQMS and prototyping real time biosensors on water pathogens and oil degrading microorganisms.

  1. RPSEA TCEQ Proposal - Carbonaceous Sequestration of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) for Restoring Water Quality In the Houston Ship Channel and Galveston Bay, Civil and Environmental Engineering, The University of Houston (UH); Hanadi Rifai,

The Houston Ship Channel and Galveston Bay have exhibited elevated levels of dioxins, furans and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in fish tissue due to legacy contamination from past refinery, ship and bay production activities. This proposal will evaluate carbonaceous materials; such as activated carbon, black carbon, graphene and graphene oxide, as potential sorbents for pollutants in GBS sediments to alleviate water and tissue contamination. Both laboratory scale and pilot scale experiments are anticipated.

RPSEA should hear if we made the short list this fall. Then assuming selection, funding will start in 2017.


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UPDATE: DOE Grants to RPSEA, Paulsson Inc., Fluidion, and SWE. SWE, RPSEA member, is a participant for field testing.

  • DOE Grant: Injection and Tracking of Micro Seismic Emitters to Optimize UOG Development -- R&D follow-on to RPSEA project 09121-3700, NETL award DE-FE0024360 (SL 1,2,5,6,7)


  • Combine a High Frequency, broadband, multicomponent, fiber-optic VSP array with in-situ reservoir "poppers" [a seismic source] for precise stimulation mapping.
    • Total Funding: $7,194,463; Federal Funding: $4,078,000 (57%)
    • Project Period: 10/2014 -- 9/2018 -- 4 years
    • Main Objective: Design, build and deploy the best UOG reservoir evaluation system possible for safe and cost effective production
    • Goal A: Build a multilevel, 3C, 15,000 ft. long fiber optic based borehole seismic system to monitor hydraulic fracturing while injecting proppant along with Acoustic Micro Emitters (AME's)
    • Goal B: Develop variable sized injectable Acoustic Micro Emitters (AME's) to allow the extent of tracking of the fracture proppant
    • Goal C: Test the combined AME and optical borehole seismic system in a comprehensive field survey for Frac detection, real time.

Recent Results: June, 2016;

    • Michigan field test of current generation [6] VSP fiber optic tool -- "Pipe deployed to 6,000 ft., data from 1/2 gram explosives, detonator only, shot at a distance of about 1,000 ft.; Recorded about 1,000 micro seismic events in two weeks. Frequency is over 1,000 Hz."
    • The Michigan survey is funded by a separate DOE project managed by Battelle, not our project, but using the VSP technology for their purposes, testing a new prototype for ours [advancing the timeline and saving $].

What is a Micro Emitter? Not an explosive,...


The VSP tool is also useful for micro-seismic monitoring. A data record from a recent test;


Dr. Paulsson will present more results at our Best of RPSEA Conference, Aug 30/31.


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Featured Projects - Progress of Note on Some Current UDW Projects

All RPSEA PI's are working in a fever pitch to make the Sept 30, last invoice date. I expect I will have a few draft Final Reports. Some folks will still be in the field or in major data analysis after that. We have a few "valiant" efforts to mention that will continue for some time, without RPSEA funding. I will start with the most controversial.

Development of Advanced CFD Tools for Enhanced Prediction of Explosion Pressure Development in Early Project Phase and Deflagration to Detonation Transition Risk on US GOM Drilling and Production Facilities
RPSEA Award: 12121-6403-01 GexCon.

This is not your traditional RPSEA project. At first no one on the TAC wanted to go with it. Fear of liability within the engineering community, not a lack of interest in safety. Upon some persuasive communication a reconsideration vote was made to accept the project to recommend to NETL. NETL, not so sure that this was no more than a computer sim upgrade, took some convincing. What Scott Davis had managed to do is get significant help from RPSEA to build full scale generic models of offshore platforms, and blow them up, after calculating the predicted fire-to-explosion, travel space and time. Glad he did, since we learned that the industry practice of safety design for such large vessels, based on computer sims, is in serious error. In fact, results to date suggest a major revisit to construction practices of "packing" of the "mostest into the smallest" spaces. Such approach appears to be the opposite way to build. The same can be said of refineries. This project will save lives.


Large "Scale" generic model for testing.


Everyone was surprised that the world standard computer sim, as required in the NS, is not calibrated to open vessel configurations. Note the time on the figure for a total explosion to move across the real, piped, full scale model.

After these photos and videos were made public at the RPSEA January TAC meeting, the WOW!!! Factor took over and everyone wanted to know more, and do more. DOE added significant new funding, so did DOI, and several majors added funding. New models were contributed. This is a game changer. My heartfelt thanks go to the TAC for believing in me and following my lead.

Integrity Management of Risers to Support Deepwater Drilling and Production Operations, 2011 Ultra-Deepwater, Project Number: 11121-5402-01, GE Global Research

One of the real, if not major contributions of this project is not collecting existing technology and putting it on a producing riser. That is good, worthwhile and will be the start of intelligent riser monitoring that will lead to better, cost effective management. Great! But the eye opening news here is who is helping. The kit is deployed on TransOcean DD3 where BP is the willing, helpful, contributing operator!! Both companies are taking a risk working with us, considering how they have fared lately in the media. Collaboration like this does not come easy. Here it is the persistent result of Judy Guzzo of GE and Aaron Barr of TOI making this happen within the framework of the RPSEA system. BP, a RPSEA member, trusts who we are, and what we will do with information learned. I am still working on TOI to join RPSEA.

Pressure Prediction and Hazard Avoidance through Improved Seismic Imaging, 2012 Ultra-Deepwater, Project Number: 12121-6002-02, SEG-SEAM

This is a project that had to be invented by RPSEA. During a SEAM meeting on the Phase 1 study of subsalt "perfect" geophysical data for the marine GOM, I asked a question about pore pressure from seismic. Almost every one said they knew how to calculate it [Dutta, 1980's], had their own rules of thumb and did not believe it important. I questioned that. Since the Coast Guard report on Macondo stated that well site engineers did not look at seismic derived pp. prediction, even though it was offered, how do we know it has value. The CG testimony further stated the well site engineers not only did not believe in seismic derived pp., they did not even trust the repeated actual measurements Halliburton provided on-site, immediately before crisis took over. One geo at the RPSEA SEAM Phase One meeting commented that he would be interested in a better method, and the door opened. Two years later, using the RPSEA-SEAM Phase One data as a starting point, RPSEA and NETL were able to fund a sizable effort at rock physics to seismic to engineering prediction. The surprise was not so much finding new calculus, but the overwhelming complexity of putting a metric to reservoir geology. The majority of our time to date has been how to make that story simple enough for a super computer to digest.

The SEAM Pore Pressure study will produce a major change in how we use geologic data and seismic to predict pore pressure [events] ahead of the bit. This effort will be the start of the next SEAM project, Life of Field. After all, once you put a hole in a rock, the pressures will change. I want to thank Peter Pangman of SEAM for persistence on presenting to the SEAM SEG Board, Jan Madole for putting up with endless conversations with me and dozens of SEG member companies, and finally to Bill Barkhouse, who inherited my mess; no finally to Dr. Mike Fehler for his patient guiding the many opinions through countless conversations as PI.



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The Calm Before the (Next) Storm by James Pappas

Welcome back to RPSEA's summer 2016 Ultra-Deepwater Program element column.

Last winter I wrote about the final 21 UDW Section 999 projects. Today we are down to 18 projects, all due to be completed in the third quarter. I expect it to be a race to the end, with results and final reports filing in for various Working Project Group reviews and comments throughout August and September. It will be a monumental effort to complete all of the work, but thanks to the fine works of our Principal Investigators and the expertise of the members of our Working Project Groups I am confident that we are up to the task. Despite all of the rhetoric surrounding deadlines, we must remain diligent to the chief goals -- the final products MUST be of value. The results of our works have to be relevant, well described, and meaningful to our members.

Below is a listing by Technical Advisory Group of the remaining active projects.

Drilling, Completions and Interventions:

  • 10121-4501-01: Smart Cementing Materials and Drilling Muds for Real Time Monitoring of Deepwater Wellbore Enhancement: University of Houston - A shallow well with sensors in place is providing data to further test the concept of using resistance to determine cement quality and strength.
  • 11121-5503-01: Intelligent BOP RAM Actuation Sensor Systems; GE Global Research - Development of mechanical and software integration continues and model testing is currently ongoing.
  • 12121-6503-01: Development of Best Practices and Risk Mitigation Measures for Deepwater Cementing in SBM and OBM; CSI Technologies, LLC -- A revised fluid testing matrix was completed. Shearbond, wettability, residue composition and adhesion, mechanical property evaluation, HTHP rheology correlation, annular seal effectiveness, placement rates, rheology hierarchy, and intermixing testing are all underway. Several samples have been provided from onshore jobs and are being evaluated.

Environmental, Safety, & Regulatory and Metocean:

  • 10121-4204-01: "Optical measurement of uniform and localized corrosion of C1018, SS410, and Inconel 825 alloys using white light interferometry," Corrosion Science 87 (2014), pp383-91 
  • 10121-4204-01: "Study of pitting corrosion resistant alloys at extreme high temperature using electrochemical measurements," NACE-5620, NACE International Corrosion 2015 Conference & Expo, Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, Dallas, TX, 15-19 Mar., 2015 
  • 10121-4204-01: "Study of Siderite Solubility under Extreme High Temperature and Pressure at 1 M NaCl Solution," NACE-5623, NACE International Corrosion 2015 Conference & Expo, Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, Dallas, TX, 15-19 Mar., 2015  

Floating Facilities & Risers, and Systems Engineering:

  • 10121-4801-01: Synthetic Hurricane Risk Model for the Gulf of Mexico; Applied Research Associates, Inc. - Analysis of data and model matching continues on this project.
  • 11121-5101-01: Human Factors Evaluation of Deepwater Drilling, including Literature Review; Pacific Science & Engineering Group - A tool that can identify weaknesses in human decision making during drilling activities was refined in the now complete Phase 2. Lloyd's Register has joined the project. Plans are to test the tool in real life, anonymous situations and develop a commercialization plan.
  • 11121-5801-01: Hi-Res Environmental Data for Enhanced UDW Operations Safety; Fugro Global Environmental & Ocean Sciences, Inc. -- While the final report is being drafted, if an opportunity arises in the Gulf or Caribbean within the next month-and-a-half, quantification of combined inertial and geotropic currents below the sea surface occurring when a tropical storm passes over the Loop Current or Loop Current Eddies will be performed.

Floating Facilities & Risers, and Systems Engineering:

  • 10121-4402-01: Qualification of Flexible Fiber-Reinforced Pipe for 10,000-Foot Water Depths, Phases; GE Global Research - Additional prototype testing is ongoing following a modification of the statement of work. The project is on track to commercialize a product within two years.
  • 10121-4404-03: Low Cost Flexible Production System for Remote Ultra-Deepwater Gulf of Mexico Field Development; Doris - Industry visited the OTRC to witness tank testing in May. Analysis of the results is ongoing.
  • 11121-5402-01: Riser Lifecycle Monitoring System for Integrity Management; GE Global Research - The prototype is being tested on a Transocean drilling rig riser for BP after the subcontractor and Working Project Group agreed that the concept was ready to be tested in a real life situation.
  • 11121-5404-03: VIM Study for Deep Draft Column Stabilized Floaters; Houston Offshore Engineering - VIM testing and full-scale Computational Fluids Dynamics work continues following a granted extension to September due to the large volume of data requiring analysis.
  • 12121-6402-01: Methodology and Algorithm Development for the Evaluation of Ultra-Deepwater or Arctic Floating Platform Performance under Hazardous Sea Conditions; Offshore Dynamics, Inc. - Various scenarios have been run for comparison following recommendations from the Working Project Group. A numerical issue with co-rotational formulation is being investigated. A wave impacts (slamming and green water) analysis for a SPAR is complete, but corresponding heave resonance motions due to the slamming impact utilizing entry and exit patterns continues. For ice impact analysis a generic TLP model was created, and a simplified Arctic SPAR model with mooring included was developed for analysis.
  • 12121-6403-01: Development of Advanced CFD Tools for the Enhanced Prediction of Explosion Pressure Development in Early Project Phase and Deflagration to Detonation Transition Risk on US GOM Drilling and Production Facilities; GexCon US - A request for additional funds for additional large-scale tests to be executed and studies into effectiveness of active mitigation measures at large scales was granted. Several new cost share participants have put forward platform designs that may represent future or even existing facilities. The Ocean Energy Safety Institute joined the project. Large scale testing continues. Additional setup discussion has been conducted for evaluating the effectiveness of an explosion mitigation system. The test equipment is on schedule to be delivered to the test site. CFD simulations continue to evaluate any flame speed differences between the test results and computations. Final decisions to importing details and relevant test parameters are being finalized and the database continues to undergo continuous improvements. As additional access control model platforms are imported they will be studied and added to the database.

Flow Assurance:

  • 10121-4202-01: Hydrate Modeling & Flow Loop Experiments for Water Continuous & Dispersed Systems; Colorado School of Mines -- Tests are being conducted using a seismic detector to get a better picture of hydrate formation in various dispersed systems. Testing of an OceanIt internal coating for pipes (developed for military aircraft use) to determine if it will mitigate hydrate sticking to pipe walls are also being conducted in a flow loop.

Geosciences and Reservoir Engineering:

  • 12121-6002-02: Pressure Prediction and Hazard Avoidance through Improved Seismic Imaging; SEAM Corporation - Additional funds were approved to evaluate pore pressure changes throughout a drilling program, and to determine if seismic such as 4D might be a useful tool for prediction to improve safety. Processing bids for synthetic seismic work are being evaluated.

Subsea Systems:

  • 10121-4304-01: More Improvements to Deepwater Subsea Measurement; Letton-Hall Group, LLC - Additional virtual flowmeter analyses using a second donated series of well tests are complete. A new differential pressure sensor that can distinguish changes in mud weight as small as 0.1 ppg will be tested. Portions of the Final Report are being drafted.
  • 11121-5302-01: Construction and Testing of Deepwater Permanent Subsea Pressure Compensated Chemical Reservoir; Safe Marine Transfer, LLC - Design work for the system, including the subsea pumping system and bladder system options, is complete. A series of Design Failure Modes, Effects & Criticality Analyses for the system components and deployment -- retrieval process were performed and gaps were identified and prioritized. The final report is currently being prepared.
  • 12121-6301-03: Subsea Produced Water Sensor Development; Clearview Subsea LLC -- The Phase 1 Final Report was submitted and Phase 2 was granted. The sensor prototypes have been constructed and delivered to the test facility. Crude oil densities mixing tests to achieve the specified API gravities are ongoing. Work has begun on EPA 1664 procedure qualification at Fjords Processing and the correlation between Infracal and EPA 1664. The test plan is being finalized, and the test loop is being modified accordingly. The final report will summarize the project results.
  • 12121-6302-01: Subsea DC Connectors for Environmentally Safe and Reliable Powering of UDW Subsea Processing; GE Global Research - Lab equipment and Prototype 2 have been constructed. Bench scale test procedures are complete. A suitable high voltage large test facility has been identified. Plans are to invite the Working Project Group for a portion of the tests. The final report will summarize the project results.

Throughout the past nine-plus years 55 UDW projects have been completed at a total cost of $80 million, with $58 million coming from federal royalties through DOE and the remaining $22 million from private sources, including many of your employers. A multitude of products and processes have been commercialized and many more are on track. And several hundred reports and presentations have been disseminated throughout the world, so that others can continue to "push" the envelope. Our industry is in a better place due to the advancements in technologies that have allowed it to improve efficiencies AND safety. These accomplishments offer proof that the concept of a public-private partnership has been a huge success. In short, its detractors were WRONG. It has not been a giveaway to Big Oil as some said; instead it has allowed us to pool our resources to focus on higher risk, more complex concepts and evaluate their worthiness. The largest beneficiary by far will be the public.

Please note that we will host THE BEST of RPSEA Conference, a multi-track UDW and onshore event that will highlight the remaining active projects, as well as a select group of completed projects, on August 30 and 31, 2016, at the San Luis Resort Conference Center in Galveston. We thank the SPE-Gulf Coast Section for co-sponsoring this event with RPSEA. I would urge you to participate in this unique event and bring your colleagues. In addition to the 27 UDW and 32 onshore project presentations, we will have a member meeting to discuss future plans, a progress report on an interesting and potentially groundbreaking project outside of the Section 999 program that RPSEA is involved in, and a view of global oil and gas markets for an invited guest. To find out more about the conference and register please go to www.rpsea.org/events/503.

Speaking of projects outside of the Section 999 program, one that we're involved in is a 4-year study provided by DOE to Paulsson, Inc. and titled Injection and Tracking of Micro-Seismic Emitters to Optimize Unconventional Oil and Gas (UOG) Development. It involves using sand-sized emitters that can implode at a designed high pressure and are pumped with the hydraulic fracture proppant. Once the hydraulic fracturing job is complete a special high frequency vertical seismic profile tool, developed in an early RPSEA UDW project, will be used to identify the precise locations of the emitters as high pressure is applied the wellbore. By combining the vertical seismic profile tool with surface seismic one should be able to obtain a complete 3D snapshot of the emitters, and presumably of the locations of the fractured system.

Meanwhile, RPSEA's involvement in the Ocean Energy Safety Institute has chiefly been as a member of that organization's Advisory Committee. Three OESI Forums were scheduled following BSEE approval. "Keeping a Focus on Barriers for Safer Offshore Operations" was held on May 18th. Upcoming OESI Forums include "Alarm Management in Offshore Operations" on or around August 24th and "Managing Drilling Margins and Well Control Risk, Ensuring Risk and Innovation are not Compromised" on November 30th.

RPSEA submitted two proposals to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and is awaiting word regarding their acceptance. Both projects were selected by a group of subject matter experts on behalf of RPSEA from a group of proposals that were submitted to us by members. The RPSEA-sponsored proposals are:

  • "Carbonaceous Sequestration of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) for Restoring Water Quality in the Houston Ship Channel (HSC) and Galveston Bay" with the University of Houston, et al
  • "Gulf Coast State Park Beach Water Quality Monitoring Stations" with Clearview Subsea, LLC, et al

During the first half of 2016 several Ultra-Deepwater project final reports were completed, and their Technical Reports can be found on our website:

Other publications released to the public since the last newsletter include the following:

In addition the following new documents are exclusively available to RPSEA members by logging onto our website (member representatives requiring website members only access can register as individuals at www.rpsea.org/memberships/applications/corp-pre-add):

  • St. John, M.F., "Macondo and Bardolino: Two Case Studies of the Human Factors of Kick Detection Prior to a Blowout," OTC-26906, Offshore Technology Conference, Houston, TX, 2-5 May, 2016
  • PRESENTATION: St. John, M.F., "Macondo and Bardolino: Two Case Studies of the Human Factors of Kick Detection Prior to a Blowout," OTC-26906, Offshore Technology Conference, Houston, TX, 5 May, 2016
  • Antony, Arun, "VIM Model Test Report (Volume 2), Vortex Induced Motion For Deep Draft Column Stabilized Floaters, 11121-5404-03," Document No: 11121.5404.03.01, RPSEA, 29 Feb., 2016
  • Antony, Arun, "VIM Model Test Report, Volume 2, Feb 2016, Vortex Induced Motion Study for Deep Draft Column Stabilized Floaters; Subcontract 11121-5404-03, Houston Offshore Engineering, APPENDIX G, C-Semi Results: VIM Tests -- Motions, Time Response and Column. Pontoon Load Summary," 10 Parts, RPSEA, 29 Feb., 2016
  • Antony, Arun, "Subcontract 11121-5404-03, Houston Offshore Engineering, VIM Model Test Report, Volume 2, Feb 2016, Vortex Induced Motion Study for Deep Draft Column Stabilized Floaters, APPENDIX H, PC-Semi Results: VIM Tests -- Motions and Time Response," RPSEA, 29 Feb., 2016
  • Zhang, Jeff, "Subsea Produced Water Discharge Sensor Bench-scale Test Requirements, 12121-6301-03," Document No. 12121.6301.03.02, RPSEA, 30 Sep., 2015
  • Chen, Qin, "Mock-up Subsea HVDC Connector Design Final Report, Subsea High Voltage Direct Current Connectors for Environmentally Safe and Reliable Powering of UDW Subsea Processing - 12121-6302-01," Document No. 12121.6302.01.04, RPSEA, 7, Apr., 2016

As I mentioned in my President's Perspective column, I plan to step down from RPSEA on October 1, 2016. Having been associated with the Ultra-Deepwater Program element since 2007 has been a real learning experience and the opportunity of a lifetime for which I am very grateful. While I must admit there have been challenges, witnessing the progression of technologies that are positively impacting business has been quite rewarding. There aren't many places where one can interact with the brightest minds in the world in his field, meet and befriend so many fine people of strong integrity, and together influence the direction on new or improved processes and products.

I leave the UDW Program in good hands with Bill Head. Many of our members know Bill. For those that don't, he is a man of character, experience, knowledge, intelligence, strong work ethic, compassion, creativity, and energy. I feel that Bill is not only capable of continuing the Program, but he will excel as he is known to do and add value to the RPSEA experience as it progresses.

Please accept my heartfelt gratitude for your diligence, patience and support for me and for RPSEA over the past few years. And many thanks to the past and present members of the UDW Program Advisory Committee, the UDW Technical Advisory Committees and their TAC Chairs, the UDW Working Project Groups and their Champions, Principal Investigators, and all others who have been involved in this program throughout my tenure. Thanks also to the Project Managers and Contract Specialists and Officers at NETL. And special thanks to Roy Long and Gary Covatch at NETL - without their counsel and efforts I would not have succeeded in my role.

All the best!



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RPSEA and the SPE Gulf Coast Section Technology Transfer Committee invite all employees of RPSEA member organizations, SPE members, and any interested parties to join us for our 2-day

BEST of RPSEA 10 years of Research --

Ultra-Deepwater and Onshore Technology Conference

August 30 and 31, 2016, at the San Luis Resort, Spa and Conference Center in Galveston, TX.

RPSEA and SPE members - $100
Non-members - $500

Register and view the latest conference agenda at www.rpsea.org/events/503.


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