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New safety guidance addresses role of pore pressure fracture gradient in well control incidents

Uncertainties related to Pore Pressure Fracture Gradient (PPFG) have caused well control incidents to occur, and well control incident analysis has identified PPFG understanding and communication as a key underlying factor. To address this, IOGP has published new guidance that can help the industry safely plan and execute well construction and abandonment for prevention of loss of well control.
IOGP Report 608 – Recommended Practice for Pore Pressure and Fracture Gradient analysis for Well Design – Construction, Intervention, and Abandonment aims to define shared language between subsurface and drilling specialists and provide a globally applicable recommended practice for the preparation of PPFG predictions, the definition and communication of associated risks and uncertainties, and approaches to real-time PPFG monitoring during well construction, intervention, and abandonment.

“I am absolutely delighted with this publication because it will help improve the understanding of our key hazard, ‘hydrocarbons under pressure’ and attain shared language about that hazard across organizational interfaces,” says Olav Skar, IOGP Safety Director. “Whilst we have reduced the risk of significant well control events in our industry, it remains an existential one, and this document, when put to use by practitioners across our industry, will make us even more resilient.”

Derrick O’Keeffe, NOPSEMA, also welcomed the publication of this guidance. “With their global perspective, the International Regulators Forum (IRF) continues to identify opportunities for improvement in offshore safety. The IRF Problem Statement initiative highlights industry risk gaps and influences industry to collectively develop solutions. IRF members continue to see serious well control incidents relating to pore pressure and fracture gradient (PPFG) prediction and monitoring. The prevention of well control incidents problem statement called for greater emphasis on the left-hand side of the ‘loss of well control’ bow tie, after identifying the lack of international guidelines in PPFG prediction and its application in well operations,” he said. “It’s pleasing to see how industry have addressed this risk gap by developing a solution – IOGP Report 608 – Recommended Practice for Pore Pressure and Fracture Gradient analysis for Well Design – Construction, Intervention, and Abandonment. I look forward to seeing how industry applies this guidance globally to manage well risks and improve offshore safety.”

IOGP’s PPFG Task Force was formed in March 2021 to support IOGP’s Wells Expert Committee’s (WEC) efforts to reduce risks and improve safeguards in well control practices, in alignment with the International Regulator Forum’s (IRF) objectives and focus areas.

The guidance is available to download from the IOGP Publications Library.

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