Improving Safety through Rapid Detection & In Situ Characterization

Tools & techniques to monitor and quickly detect potential hazards for extreme offshore hydrocarbon

Kick Comparison

Well Bore Monitoring for Early Kick Detection:  Formation fluid influx, also known as a kick, is a condition where a pressure imbalance causes fluid flow from the formation into the wellbore. Kicks provide the first indication that a well is becoming unstable. If left unabated, kicks can grow in intensity and ultimately blowout a well, resulting in impacts to life, materials, and the environment.

The beginning of a kick is the optimum time to control the underbalanced condition. Industry has sought solutions for early kick detection and suppression for decades. However, current popular kick detection techniques have inherent risks and uncertainties. A complementary method to detect pre-kick trends that offers accurate, direct measurement of key changes in wellbore and formation conditions in a timely manner could be indispensable to the drilling industry.

NETL’s new kick detection technique holds promise for just this sort of complementary pre-kick detection. The primary goal of this technique is to maximize the amount of time available to the well operator to initiate well control and recovery procedures by detecting pre-kick trends near the bottom of the hole.

Unique features of this technology include:

    • Using highly sensitive, near-bit measurements from the logging-while-drilling (LWD) instrumentation that is already in use during drilling. No modifications or additions to the drillstring are necessary to implement this technique, making it inexpensive and efficient to implement. The technique uses multiple, overlapping LWD measurements, reducing uncertainty whether a detected event is significant or not.
    • Using statistical algorithms for measurement forecasting and reduced uncertainty. Wellbore data are compiled into statistical algorithms, which develop data trends. Significant deviations by real wellbore measurements from the expected measurements are flagged by the algorithm, generating a notification which is sent to the driller. Algorithm sensitivity is modular and can be adjusted to satisfy specific drilling needs. This feature will minimize false detections, reducing costly rig downtime and work stoppages.

A report describing this method and validating the concept has been published. The report is Tost, B.; Rose, K.; Aminzadeh, F.; Ante, M. A.; Huerta, N. Kick Detection at the Bit: Early Detection via Low Cost Monitoring; NETL-TRS-2-2016; EPAct Technical Report Series; U.S. Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory: Albany, OR, 2016; p. 48.

In addition, a provisional patent has been filed in relation to this technology, U.S. S-135475. For information about this technology please see or contact NETL's Tech Transfer Group at:


Improving Flow Assurance, Expediting Well Control, and Reducing Environmental Impacts Resulting from Blow-Outs in High Temperature/Low Pressure Environments: Research at NETL is addressing major issues related to accurately and rapidly assessing how much hydrocarbon is leaking from a well, what is the composition of the mixture, and where does it go in the water column? NETL researchers are conducting experimental and theoretical studies to obtain fundamental, chemical, physical, and hydrodynamic information on the interactions between seawater and fluids that could be released and transported from deep, subsea hydrocarbon reservoirs and inadvertently released into a deepwater environment. This fundamental information will be used in numerical, thermodynamic, and plume models to comprehensively describe potential roles and impacts of gas hydrates. The goal of this program is to develop a comprehensive understanding of the formation and stability of simple and complex hydrates under deepwater conditions, stability of hydrates and their interaction with hydrocarbon, and the impact of dispersants, anti-agglomerants, and other chemicals used to mitigate environmental impacts on the fate and interaction of hydrates. Ultimately, the project seeks to develop a remotely-operated-vehicle (ROV) tool that can be used to rapidly and accurately determine the leak rate, composition, and fate to help guide efficient and effective mitigation efforts. This research is currently in the second year of a three-year effort and is on track for completion at the end of Fiscal Year 2014.
NETL Automated Video Analysis of Simulated Leak