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Improving the communication of pore pressure fracture gradient (PPFG) interpretation and uncertainty

​Uncertainties related to pore pressure and fracture gradient (PPFG) can play a significant role in causing well control incidents. The International Regulators Forum (IRF) has seen serious well control incidents relating to pore pressure and fracture gradient (PPFG) prediction and monitoring. It had identified a lack of international guidelines for PPFG prediction and its application in well operations, and has called for increased emphasis on preventing well control incidents.

In July 2022, IOGP’s PPFG Expert Group (under IOGP’s Wells Expert Committee (WEC) published IOGP Report 608, an industry guidance document that describes the Well Control Hazard (Hydrocarbons Under Pressure) and helps harmonize approaches to this critical task in the Well Control bow tie. The recommended practice assists readers with managing the risks associated with loss of well control.

Now, it has developed the “Communicating pore pressure fracture gradient (PPFG) interpretation and uncertainty” information sheet to provide suggestions and tools to encourage and enable open dialogue between rig site and remote teams and assist with interpretation and clear communication of PPFG interpretation and uncertainty. This information helps teams make informed decisions, detect indicators that PPFG is deviating from the predrill prognosis, minimize risks, and ensure drilling operations proceed safely.

Fernando Ziegler, Chair of the PPFG Expert Group

“This Info Sheet provides information teams can use as guidance for clear communication; such as examples of communication protocols, how to communicate relevant subsurface risks, and items to look for during real-time monitoring,” says Fernando Ziegler, Chair of the PPFG Expert Group. “It emphasizes the importance of clear communication and open dialogue between rig site and remote teams regarding PPFG interpretation and uncertainty. ​ This helps reduce the likelihood of well control incidents and ensures wellbore stability.” ​

The strategies and tools to encourage open communication and interpretation of pore pressure and fracture gradient (PPFG) between rig site and remote teams includes:

Communication Protocol: Implementing a communication protocol is essential to establish a common knowledge base and minimize miscommunication. ​ This protocol should outline when and with whom communication should take place, based on specific well observations. ​ It can be a simple flow chart or a detailed outline of urgency levels and situations that require immediate action. ​ The protocol should be short, simple, and easily accessible to ensure quick identification of scenarios and the correct person or team to contact. ​

Real-time Monitoring: Depending on the type of well, different levels of real-time PPFG monitoring may be deployed. ​ This can range from relying solely on the rig crew to having a dedicated PPFG monitoring service on the rig supported by a remote real-time operations center. ​ Data sets such as LWD log data, geologic data, mudlogging data, and drilling parameters should be shared between rig site and remote personnel. ​

Lesson Sharing: Sharing well control incident reports is crucial for the industry to learn from past experiences and prevent similar events from recurring. ​ Open communication and trust between disciplines are equally important in reducing well control incidents. ​

This Info Sheet is now available to download from the IOGP Publications library. We encourage you to share this document with your colleagues.

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