Halliburton confirms the cementing job on the Gulf rig:
April 30, 2010
-- Halliburton performed a variety of services on the rig, including cementing, and had four employees stationed on the rig at the time of the accident. Halliburton's employees returned to shore safely, due, in part, to the brave rescue efforts by the U.S. Coast Guard and other organizations.
-- Halliburton had completed the cementing of the final production casing string in accordance with the well design approximately 20 hours prior to the incident. The cement slurry design was consistent with that utilized in other similar applications.
-- In accordance with accepted industry practice approved by our customers, tests demonstrating the integrity of the production casing string were completed.
-- At the time of the incident, well operations had not yet reached the point requiring the placement of the final cement plug which would enable the planned temporary abandonment of the well, consistent with normal oilfield practice.
Drilling Process Attracts Scrutiny in Rig Explosion
April 30, 2010
According to Transocean Ltd., the operator of the drilling rig, Halliburton had finished cementing the 18,000-foot well shortly before the explosion. Houston-based Halliburton is the largest company in the global cementing business, which accounted for $1.7 billion, or about 11%, of the company's revenue in 2009, according to consultant Spears & Associates.
The timing of the cementing in relation to the blast—and the procedure's history of causing problems—point to it as a possible culprit in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, experts said.
"The initial likely cause of gas coming to the surface had something to do with the cement," said Robert MacKenzie, managing director of energy and natural resources at FBR Capital Markets and a former cementing engineer in the oil industry.
A 2007 study by three U.S. Minerals Management Service officials found that cementing was a factor in 18 of 39 well blowouts in the Gulf of Mexico over a 14-year period. That was the single largest factor, ahead of equipment failure and pipe failure.
The Halliburton cementers would have sought approval for their plans—the type of cement and how much would be used—from a BP official on board the rig before carrying out their job. Scott Dean, a BP spokesman, said it was premature to speculate on the role cement might have played in the disaster.
Halliburton also was the cementer on a well that suffered a big blowout last August in the Timor Sea, off Australia. The rig there caught fire and a well leaked tens of thousands of barrels of oil over 10 weeks before it was shut down. The investigation is continuing; Halliburton declined to comment on it.
Elmer P. Danenberger, who had recently retired as head of regulatory affairs for the U.S. Minerals Management Service, told the Australian commission looking into the blowout that a poor cement job was probably the reason oil and natural gas gushed out of control.
For a window into Halliburton's role in the cement failure leading to the third-largest oil spill disaster in Australia's history in August, 2009, here is an article describing what happened, followed by excerpts of legal depositions taken of 1) the Halliburton cement contractor on this job, and 2) of the "Company Man" for Halliburton's client at that time, PTTEP Australasia, who admitted miscalculating the volume of cement needed on this job.
Montara: Poor decisions led to massive oil spill
Monday, 22 March 2010
Sydney. After a week of hearings at the federal inquiry into Australia's third-largest oil spill, it is becoming clear the blow-out at the Montara well was caused by a chain of poor decisions and miscalculations.
Up to 2,000 barrels of oil and gas spewed from the Montara well into the Timor Sea every day for 10 weeks from August 21 last year.
But a picture is emerging that shows decisions made in the months leading up to the accident are to blame for the incident off Western Australia.
In February 2009, a West Atlas rig began drilling the well hundreds of kilometres off the Kimberley coast.
The Thai-based owner of the well, PTTEP Australasia, called for operations to be suspended in March so it could focus on other wells it owned in the Montara field.
This is where the project stopped going to plan.
PTTEP used pressure caps instead of a cement plug to temporarily stop the flow from the well.
That decision was approved by the Northern Territory Department of Resources in just 30 minutes, and the inquiry has raised questions about whether the agency acted diligently enough when regulating the oil company's operations.
Two pressure caps were authorised to be used on the well as barriers, but only one was ever installed and, contrary to good oil field practice, it was never tested.
In his opening statement, counsel assisting the inquiry, Tom Howe, QC, said: "No one has been able to provide, to this point, a satisfactory explanation to the inquiry as to why the cap was not installed."
A senior manager from Atlas Drilling, David Gouldin, has told the inquiry that the installation of the cap remained on a to-do list on a whiteboard in an office on the rig until the blow-out.
When the West Atlas drilling team returned to the well in August, workers removed the existing cap for cleaning. It was never reinstalled. Hours later, the well kicked and began releasing an uncontrolled flow of oil and gas that would not be blocked for months.
In addition to the missing pressure cap, further problems arose with the well's cement casing.
Cement is used to set the drilling pipe in place and to ensure oil and gas does not leak into the surrounding ocean.
But while 199 barrels of cement should have been used to achieve the "top of cement" standard practice on the Montara well, only 133 barrels were used.
Even more mistakes appear to have occurred when that cement casing was tested.
Extra cement was pumped into the well in a test designed to check if the casing was full.
When the liquid flowed back as expected, it was thought to be pure cement. It has now emerged that the fluid was contaminated with seawater.
That mistake significantly weakened the strength of the casing as a barrier.
PTTEP supervisor Noel Treasure has told the inquiry that he "miscalculated" the volume of cement.
And while figures indicating the mistake were emailed to managers at both Atlas Drilling and PTTEP, it has been suggested there was not sufficient scrutiny of the information by on-shore personnel.
Atlas Drilling rig manager Donald Miller told the inquiry that he received the figures in a daily drilling report, but he did not focus enough on the report nor give it sufficient weight.
'Nervous and upset'
During his evidence, Mr Treasure came under fire for failing to sign the first statement he made about the accident.
As the most senior representative from PTTEP working on the rig in the lead up to the spill, Mr Treasure made a draft witness statement in the week before the inquiry.
But instead of substantiating the statement, Mr Treasure chose instead to submit an amended statutory declaration.
When questioned about this, Mr Treasure told the inquiry he was frightened about civil liability.
"I was nervous and I was upset," he said.
"I was worried about it, because I went through and checked some of my records afterwards ... and some of the stuff I said in the statement was incorrect."
Mr Treasure says he spoke to a senior PTTEP executive about his draft statement in the week before the inquiry began, but he says the executive did not ask him to change his statement.
As well as the cause of the spill, the inquiry will attempt to uncover why it took almost three months for the leak to be stopped.
It will also hear evidence about the environmental consequences of the accident and the current regulatory system for the offshore petroleum industry.
The cement contractor working for Halliburton was David Arthur Doeg.
Deposition of DAVID ARTHUR DOEG, March, 2010
I am currently a self employed cementer.
8 As a cementer, I work on Off Shore Drilling Rigs mixing batches of cement and pumping it down well holes. The exact work depends on the tasks being undertaken at the time.
9 I have been self employed since 1 October 2009.
10 I first worked for Halliburton Australia Pty Ltd (Halliburton) as a cementer in about 1988, until about 2000. From 2000 until 2006, I worked on and off for Halliburton as a cementer while I studied and then worked as a primary school teacher.
11 I resumed working full time with Halliburton in about 2006.
12 When I was working for Halliburton on 7 March 2009 I was engaged through a labour hire company, Adecco Industrial Pty Ltd. Halliburton's client at that time was PTTEP Australasia (Ashmore Cartier) Pty Ltd (PTTEPAA). Prior to about the end of February 2009, PTTEPAA had been known as Coogee Resources Ltd.
13 On 1 October 2009 I set up my own business in Australia and since that time I have provided my services directly to Halliburton as ‘contract staff’.
14 I have only ever provided cementing services to Halliburton.
15 I had worked on the West Atlas rig (the Rig) for over a year and a half prior to 7 March 2009 and had probably done up to 100 cement jobs on that Rig alone. When I am working as a cementer I usually receive my day to day instructions from the Company Man on the Rig.
16 The “Company Man” is a common industry term for the client’s representative
on the Rig. In this case the Company Man was a PTTEPAA employee Noel
Mr. Doeg further responds to questions about his work in March, 2009 on this rig:
The volume and type of cement slurry pumped into the H1 ST-1 Well for this purpose and whether this was adequate
75 I have no involvement with determining the type of cement slurry or the top of cement. I made a calculation as to the volume of slurry and provided it to the Company Man to allow him to verify his own calculations. My calculations were based on information provided to me by the Company Man. That information included the estimated top of cement for tail slurry, lead slurry and tuned spacer, hole sizes, excess and casing internal diameter. . There was nothing I observed at the time to suggest that the volume or type of cement slurry used was inappropriate or inadequate.
76 Nor do I believe that the calculations I provided to the Company Man were inadequate based on the information provided to me.
Whether such matters were carried out in accordance with Halliburton and/or PTTEP Australasia (Ashmore Cartier) Pty Ltd (PTTEPAA) standards, regulatory requirements and/or best practice
77 I can only repeat the above.
The possible consequences of such matters
78 The consequences of putting the wrong volume of cement slurry into the well are that the top of cement for both the tail and lead may not be in the desired or specified location. However, volumes are generally calculated with an excess built in to the final volume of slurry specified in the casing cement job as set out in PTTEPAA’s Standing Instructions to Drillers. I only received a paper copy of this and I cannot find it. I most probably left it on the Rig.
79 Using the wrong type of slurry could create a potentially adverse situation with decreased hydrostatic pressures. Although, in this case I believe both the lead and tail slurries were designed to be compatible with potential reservoirs, it is the tail slurry that offers the initial strength.
The relevant standards (including best practice), instructions or directions relating
to the cementing of the 244mm casing in the H1 ST-1 Well, including but not limited
to any directions or instructions issued by:
ii. PTTEPAA; and/or
iii. Seadrill Management (S) Pte Ltd (Seadrill) / Atlas Drilling (S) Pte Ltd
88 I am not aware of any formal PTTEPAA or Seadrill/Atlas Drilling standards that
applied to the work I was doing. I carried out the work in accordance with my
training and what I consider to be proper industry standards.
89 As far as I recall, the instructions and directions I received were those referred
to by me above and the Standing Instructions to Drillers.
The "Company Man" was a PTTEPAA employee Noel Treasure.
Deposition of NOEL EDWARD TREASURE, October 15, 2009
MR TREASURE: I'm Noel Treasure, drilling supervisor on the West Atlas for
PTTEP. My age is 50 years of age.
I am a consultant to PTTEP, and my company name is Crestline
Yes, I am (a director of that company).
MR MOORE: ..... Qualifications: do you have any
45 MR TREASURE: No. I finished Guilford Grammar School and joined the oil
MR MOORE: Okay, yeah. And you say that you're currently contracted to PTTEP.
How long have been working for PTTEP?
MR TREASURE: I've been working since March '08.
MR MOORE: March '08. And in what capacity have you been working with - - -
5 MR TREASURE: As drilling supervisor.
MR MOORE: Who does the cement calculations?
MR TREASURE: I do the cement calculations; Halliburton does the cement
45 MR MOORE: Yeah. What do you mean by cement calculations?
MR TREASURE: The cement calculations is the displacement of cement that we
have to have in the hole to be able to cement the casing in a correct position.
MR MOORE: Okay. And, in addition, you would have been working to a
MR TREASURE: That's correct.
15 MR MOORE: And who would have prepared that cementing program?
MR TREASURE: Halliburton
Only time will tell whether Halliburton will ever be held accountable for its actions.
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