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Developing the Monterey Formation Offshore with Extended Reach Drilling, Santa Ynez Unit (SYU), California

Combs, Jason E.*1; Armstrong, Neil 2
(1) Geoscience, ExxonMobil Production Company, Houston, TX.
(2) Drilling, ExxonMobil Development Company, Houston, TX.

The Santa Ynez Unit (SYU) produces from the complex, fracture-dominated Monterey Formation in the Hondo, Pescado, and Sacate fields located offshore southern California. Recently drilled and planned extended reach wells target the western Sacate anticline. Installation of new facilities in offshore California can present significant challenges, creating an environment where extended reach drilling (ERD) becomes the pragmatic option to reach targets in Sacate field. ExxonMobil Development Drilling, in collaboration with Geoscience and Reservoir Engineering groups from ExxonMobil Production Company, has successfully extended SYU field development to areas previously beyond the reach of existing infrastructure. The technology used to drill these wells is based on experience gained from a history of ERD drilling in California and across the globe, developed with assistance from ExxonMobil's Drilling Technical Operations Support Group. This collaboration at SYU enabled the successful drilling of the longest well in North America and the third longest (MD) directional well drilled in the world (37,165 ft MD and 33,682 ft horizontal displacement) safely and under budget.

Successful planning and execution of ERD projects requires a multi-functional effort based on detailed interpretation and analysis. Key technical elements that contribute to efficient opportunity generation and drilling of complex ERD wells include: 1) model based subsurface interpretations and multiple working scenarios, allowing Geoscience and Reservoir Engineering teams to identify and develop economic opportunities in a complex setting, 2) application of ExxonMobil’s proprietary Fast Drill Process (FDP) emphasizing the redesign of borehole related performance limiters, 3) incorporation of learnings from offset ERD wells for wellbore design and risk assessment, 4) a multifunctional approach to well path design focusing on minimizing the risk of shallow drill bit collision with existing wellbores.

The technical knowledge gained from drilling ERD wells can be leveraged to other areas with undeveloped resources far from existing platforms. Good teamwork and understanding of engineering, geoscience, and drilling variables are critical to the design and execution of successful ERD operations.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90142 © 2012 AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition, April 22-25, 2012, Long Beach, California