Advanced, Low Cost Downhole Kick Detection - Reducing the costs of oil/gas drilling

Kick detection conceptual model

Unexpected formation fluid influxes, also known as kicks, represent the onset of a loss of well control. Even relatively low-intensity kick events are responsible for substantial economic impacts to the oil and gas industry. Kicks are also dynamic events that, if left unabated, can increase in intensity until a complete loss of well control occurs—a condition also known as a blowout. Blowouts allow petroleum to be released, which can result in significant damage to human life, materials, and long-lasting environmental damage. One of the keys to preventing blowouts is to suppress kicks immediately after they initiate, when they are at their weakest intensity. However, current kick detection methods are uncertain and slow-developing processes that allow kicks to gain intensity, making regaining well control more difficult for the driller once they are detected. Thus, developing an improved kick detection method that provides earlier and more certain detection is essential for reducing the frequency of well control losses, which will protect human and environmental health and reduce drilling costs.

To address this need, the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has developed a kick detection technique that uses downhole measurements to provide data on the wellbore condition. If a kick has occurred, it will be reflected in the measurements, which are made available to the driller much faster than the kick fluid can travel, allowing the driller to take necessary action to regain well control before the kick strengthens.