The APS - Enabling a Sensible Approach to Ultra-Deepwater Field Development
Charles N. White
EVP, Frontier Deepwater Appraisal Solutions LLC
Tuesday, March 14th, 2017
11:30 AM - 1:30 PM
Westchase Marriott Hotel
2900 Briarpark Dr.
Houston, TX 77042
Houston Westchase Marriott; Map
It is that time of the year again - to elect the SNAME Texas section executive committee. Elections will be held during the March Luncheon (03/14/2015) for the positions of Chair, Vice-chair and Secretary / Treasurer. If you would like to nominate a member to any of these positions, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org before 03/10/2015.
There are a significant number of very large high pressure ultra-deep water discoveries in the US Gulf of Mexico for which development planning now depends on unproven subsea drilling and tieback systems. Final Investment Decision (FID) for many of these “elephants” cannot be justified at oil prices below $80/bbl due to several factors.
- The fact that it takes the better part of a year to drill, complete, and tieback each well combined with the likelihood of rapid decline curves mean that facilities have a high risk of under-performing;
- The high cost of -
- Drilling, completion, and tieback of the subsea wells,
- Big, high-capacity production facilities and export infrastructure,
- Subsea well maintenance and the complexity of the completions required for producing the complex, multi-zone reservoirs,
The extremely long drilling times and high cost of appraisal wells as well as the apparent impracticality of short-term testing mean that corporate leaders are being asked to make huge bets and long term capital commitments with very little information or insight into reservoir or completion performance. Supply chain and business solutions are insufficient to solve the problem which requires innovative engineering systems that reduce drilling, completion, intervention and operating costs. Unlike many previous projects, Paleogene projects are not about the facility cost. It is all about well construction and well operating costs and increasing the reserve recovery per well. This is a paradigm shift that has yet to be realized by many operators trying to deliver a commercial Paleogene development. Operators need a solution that addresses these challenges, while providing a phased entry strategy with a reusable system.
The Appraisal Production System (APS) offered by Frontier Deepwater Appraisal Solutions LLC meets this need. The APS enables a simpler adaptive development strategy which allows the Operator to commit to an appraisal program to get the dynamic production data needed to make high quality decisions on some of the biggest investment opportunities in their portfolios.
The APS concept involves -
- Taking advantage of the oversupply in the rig market to acquire a high capacity 6th generation ultra-deep water semisubmersible MODU at a very low cost;
- Converting that MODU into a drilling, completion, intervention, and production facility with a moderate but highly profitable throughput capacity (40-60 Mbopd);
- Introducing a movable wellbay structure that supports up to 5 dry tree wells with buoyancy-supported top-tensioned tieback risers (TTRs);
- Taking advantage of the great water depths to reduce HPHT reservoir pressures at the surface wellhead such that proven surface well control and production components can be used;
- Installing a permanent taut-leg spread mooring system;
- Installing oil and gas export risers with pipeline tie-ins to regional infrastructure;
- Reaching FID for the APS and first oil sooner enabling phased, adaptive development decisions with low financial risk;
- Gathering useful dynamic production data while operating at a profit (even in times of low oil prices).
Our studies have determined that the APS provides billions of dollars of economic advantage over the 20K subsea development system approaches that are impeding development of the Lower Tertiary at today’s oil prices. As a result, the APS is a “dry tree” solution that will better protect corporate assets as well as personnel and the environment.
Charles is the Executive Vice President of Frontier Deepwater Appraisal Solutions LLC. He is also a Chartered Marine Engineer and Fellow (IMarEST) and certified Lead Practitioner of the Society of Decision Professionals. Charles earned a BS from Michigan in 1975 and a Mechanical Engineering masters from UH. He is a former chairman of the Texas Section. He has worked for oil majors for over 20yrs as a naval architect and later as a project manager and deep water technology leader.
During his distinguished career, Charles received multiple awards and patents, and led several large joint industry projects as well as the API global task forces in writing the Recommended Practices for FPS and riser design. He also co-chaired the Norwegian initiative that wrote the first probabilistic riser design code. In 2001, he co-founded and through 2008 was the technology leader for a company providing CNG storage and transport solutions. Working as an independent consultant prior to joining WorleyParsons/INTECSEA in 2011, Charles built the Compliance Division of West Engineering Services, which performed survey and certification of subsea BOP systems for safe drilling operations to enable rigs to return to service after the Macondo disaster.
While at INTECSEA, he served as the Engineering Manager for Detail Design of the world’s deepest TLPs (which are currently serving in waters over 2000m deep off Brazil); then, transferred to Australia, where he established WorleyParsons’ Enhanced Field Development Solutions global consulting practice. He joined Poten & Partners Asia-Pacific LNG Advisory team in 2014 and returned to Texas in 2016 to start Frontier Deepwater Appraisal Solutions.