Lowering emissions by applying well control software to carbon capture, utilisation, and storage

23.02.22 08:33 AM By Alina


With concentrations of CO2 increasing rapidly and countries rushing to meet the aims set by the Paris Agreements, Carbon capture, utilisation, and storage, technology has become one of the most important technologies in helping reach this goal. CCUS is essential in keeping temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius and is projected to be responsible for 94 gigatonnes of CO2 emission reductions by 2050 in the 2-degree scenario. However, current CCUS deployment is not at pace with the aims of the Paris agreement and there's is an urgent need for rapid deployment of CCUS technologies. When combined with other greener forms of energy, CCUS could help achieve “negative emissions”. Within the energy sector as well, CCUS provides a way to reduce emissions from coal plants which will remain part of the energy ecosystem for many years to come especially in developing countries.


The addendum in the London Protocol which approves the transport of CO2 from countries of the European Union to the North Sea for storage makes CCUS technology especially important for Norway, as Norway is uniquely poised to become a frontrunner in CCUS technology for Europe and eventually globally.


Full-scale CO2 storage demands comprehensive analysis and know-how on reservoir and formation to eliminate risks for leakage of the underground. However, it is less recognized that CO2 storage, like drilling for petroleum production, also represents a risk in terms of accident potential related to "blow-out" during drilling and considerable loss of acceptance in society for the storage of CO2 in the underground.


Through collaboration, a project has been established with operators, service providers, drilling contractors, SINTEF, and eDrilling to address and close the knowledge gap between petroleum wells and CO2 wells. To this day, there's no existing software for well control while drilling CO2 storage wells. Accordingly, for the industry, there is a need for a scientifically based tool that takes into the specific challenges arising with the drilling of CO2 wells. By the utilization of an existing software suite already developed and proven for well control for petroleum wells, the time and resources needed for launching a proven software for well control for CO2 wells at the required technology readiness level is efficiently reduced. 


With the decision for large-scale storage of CO2 in the North Sea, there will soon come a time when existing wells would not be sufficient to meet demands and new wells will have to be drilled for CO2 injection. These new wells may have to be drilled in the vicinity or within existing CO2 reservoirs. eDrilling’s Well Control software for CCUS would become essential in such conditions. 


Mathematical and statistical models, working in combination with machine learning and deep learning models, enable real-time analysis of drilling operations as well as provide warnings ahead of time when operations are heading in a potential hazardous direction. 


The models are designed taking into consideration fundamental differences between oil and gas drilling and CO2 well storage drilling. Drilling fluid for CO2 would behave differently because of CO2 solubility in oil-based drilling fluids. Other important factors to consider when drilling with carbon dioxide is the likelihood of phase transition from liquid to gas during propagation as well as its supercritical phase conditions which occur at lower temperatures and pressures. Some of the risks that this sort of drilling may pose are pressure build-ups leading to uncontrolled blowouts and the risk of corrosion because of the nature of CO2. Another issue that must be kept in mind is the Joule-Thomson cooling effect during the propagation of the CO2 and drilling fluid as it could lead to reduced operability of safety components. The models built in the software aim to take all such scenarios into account and avoid any such dangerous situations from arising.


Data collection and storage frameworks would enable the collection of invaluable data that the models would be able to learn and update. Further down the line, the model may be able to predict blowout scenarios ahead of time.  The software would also enable users to run well simulations prior to operations. It would lead to safer and more efficient drilling operations. They would require minimal back-end support also.


These models are created in collaboration with SINTEF Petroleum as the R&D partner with them doing the experimental work. The algorithms are designed in collaboration with eDrilling holding the responsibility of realizing these models into usable software.