ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT IN OIL AND GAS EXPLORATION AND PRODUCTION    2 Overview of the oil and gas exploration        and...
OVERVIEW OF THE OIL AND GAS EXPLORATION AND PRODUCTION PROCESSTable 1: Summary of the exploration and production process  ...
ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT IN OIL AND GAS EXPLORATION AND PRODUCTION    Figure 1: Seismic surveys                           ...
OVERVIEW OF THE OIL AND GAS EXPLORATION AND PRODUCTION PROCESS                                                            ...
ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT IN OIL AND GAS EXPLORATION AND PRODUCTION     Figure 3: Typical crude oil processing             ...
OVERVIEW OF THE OIL AND GAS EXPLORATION AND PRODUCTION PROCESSthe produced fluids (oil, gas and water). The size and type ...
ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT IN OIL AND GAS EXPLORATION AND PRODUCTION     Figure 5: Directional drilling                     ...
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Oil n gas process

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Oil n gas process

  1. 1. ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT IN OIL AND GAS EXPLORATION AND PRODUCTION 2 Overview of the oil and gas exploration and production processThe oil and gas industry comprises two parts: ‘upstream’— then be used to identify promising landscape formations suchthe exploration and production sector of the industry; and as faults or anticlines. More detailed information is assembled‘downstream’—the sector which deals with refining and pro- using a field geological assessment, followed by one of threecessing of crude oil and gas products, their distribution and main survey methods: magnetic, gravimetric and seismic.marketing. Companies operating in the industry may be The Magnetic Method depends upon measuring theregarded as fully integrated, (i.e. have both upstream and variations in intensity of the magnetic field which reflects thedownstream interests), or may concentrate on a particular magnetic character of the various rocks present, while thesector, such as exploration and production, commonly Gravimetric Method involves the measurements of smallknown as an E&P company, or just on refining and market- variations in the gravitational field at the surface of the earth.ing (a R&M company). Many large companies operate glob- Measurements are made, on land and at sea, using an aircraftally and are described as ‘multi-nationals’, whilst other smaller or a survey ship respectively.companies concentrate on specific areas of the world and are A seismic survey, as illustrated in Figure 1 on page 6, is theoften referred to as ‘independents’. Frequently, a specific most common assessment method and is often the first fieldcountry has vested its interests in oil and gas in a national activity undertaken. The Seismic Method is used for identify-company, with its name often reflecting its national parent- ing geological structures and relies on the differing reflectivehood. In the upstream sector, much reliance is placed upon properties of soundwaves to various rock strata, beneath ter-service and upon contractor companies who provide special- restrial or oceanic surfaces. An energy source transmits a pulseist technical services to the industry, ranging from geophysical of acoustic energy into the ground which travels as a wavesurveys, drilling and cementing, to catering and hotel services into the earth. At each point where different geological stratain support of operations. This relationship between contrac- exist, a part of the energy is transmitted down to deeper layerstors and the oil companies has fostered a close partnership, within the earth, while the remainder is reflected back to theand increasingly, contractors are fully integrated with the surface. Here it is picked up by a series of sensitive receiversstructure and culture of their clients. called geophones or seismometers on land, or hydrophones Scientific exploration for oil, in the modern sense, began submerged in water.in 1912 when geologists were first involved in the discovery Special cables transmit the electrical signals received toof the Cushing Field in Oklahoma, USA. The fundamental a mobile laboratory, where they are amplified and filteredprocess remains the same, but modern technology and engi- and then digitized and recorded on magnetic tapes forneering have vastly improved performance and safety. interpretation. In order to appreciate the origins of the potential impacts Dynamite was once widely used as the energy source, butof oil development upon the environment, it is important to environmental considerations now generally favour lower-understand the activities involved. This section briefly energy sources such as vibroseis on land (composed of a gen-describes the process, but those requiring more in-depth erator that hydraulically transmits vibrations into the earth)information should refer to literature available from industry and the air gun (which releases compressed air) in offshoregroups and academia. Table 1 provides a summary of the exploration. In areas where preservation of vegetation coverprincipal steps in the process and relates these to operations is important, the shot hole (dynamite) method is preferableon the ground. to vibroseis.Exploration surveying Exploration drillingIn the first stage of the search for hydrocarbon-bearing rock Once a promising geological structure has been identified, theformations, geological maps are reviewed in desk studies to only way to confirm the presence of hydrocarbons and theidentify major sedimentary basins. Aerial photography may thickness and internal pressure of a reservoir is to drill4
  2. 2. OVERVIEW OF THE OIL AND GAS EXPLORATION AND PRODUCTION PROCESSTable 1: Summary of the exploration and production process Activity Potential requirement on ground Desk study: identifies area with favourable None geological conditions Aerial survey: if favourable features revealed, then Low-flying aircraft over study area Seismic survey: provides detailed information on geology Access to onshore sites and marine resource areas Possible onshore extension of marine seismic lines Onshore navigational beacons Onshore seismic lines Seismic operation camps Exploratory drilling: verifies the presence or absence of Access for drilling unit and supply units a hydrocarbon reservoir and quantifies the reserves Storage facilities Waste disposal facilities Testing capabilities Accommodation Appraisal: determines if the reservoir is economically Additional drill sites feasible to develop Additional access for drilling units and supply units Additional waste disposal and storage facilities Development and production: produces oil and gas from Improved access, storage and waste disposal facilities the reservoir through formation pressure, artificial lift, Wellheads and possibly advanced recovery techniques, until Flowlines economically feasible reserves are depleted Separation/treatment facilities Increased oil storage Facilities to export product Flares Gas production plant Accommodation, infrastructure Transport equipment Decommissioning and rehabilitation may occur Equipment to plug wells for each of above phases. Equipment to demolish and remove installations Equipment to restore site 5
  3. 3. ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT IN OIL AND GAS EXPLORATION AND PRODUCTION Figure 1: Seismic surveys column of mud or water with which the shot hole was tamped recording truck shot firer geophones harder rock layers reflected shock wavesexploratory boreholes. All wells that are drilled to discover ditions,—particularly wind speed, wave height and currenthydrocarbons are called ‘exploration’ wells, commonly known speed. Mobile rigs commonly used offshore include jack-by drillers as ‘wildcats’. The location of a drill site depends on ups, semi-submersibles and drillships, whilst in shallow pro-the characteristics of the underlying geological formations. It tected waters barges may be used.is generally possible to balance environmental protection crite- Land-based drilling rigs and support equipment are nor-ria with logistical needs, and the need for efficient drilling. mally split into modules to make them easier to move. For land-based operations a pad is constructed at the Drilling rigs may be moved by land, air or water dependingchosen site to accommodate drilling equipment and on access, site location and module size and weight. Once onsupport services. A pad for a single exploration well occu- site, the rig and a self-contained support camp are thenpies between 4000–15 000 m2. The type of pad construc- assembled. Typical drilling rig modules include a derrick,tion depends on terrain, soil conditions and seasonal con- drilling mud handling equipment, power generators, cement-straints. Operations over water can be conducted using a ing equipment and tanks for fuel and water (see Figure 2).variety of self-contained mobile offshore drilling units The support camp is self-contained and generally provides(MODUs), the choice of which depends on the depth of workforce accommodation, canteen facilities, communica-water, seabed conditions and prevailing meteorological con- tions, vehicle maintenance and parking areas, a helipad for6
  4. 4. OVERVIEW OF THE OIL AND GAS EXPLORATION AND PRODUCTION PROCESS depth of the hydrocarbon bearing formation and the geolog- Figure 2: Drilling ical conditions, but it is commonly of the order of one or two months. Where a hydrocarbon formation is found, initial well tests—possibly lasting another month—are con- ducted to establish flow rates and formation pressure. These swivel tests may generate oil, gas and formation water—each of which needs to be disposed of. After drilling and initial testing, the rig is usually dis- mud kelly pump mantled and moved to the next site. If the exploratory stand pipe drilling has discovered commercial quantities of hydrocar- discharge bons, a wellhead valve assembly may be installed. If the well suction rotary does not contain commercial quantities of hydrocarbon, the line hose site is decommissioned to a safe and stable condition and drill pipe restored to its original state or an agreed after use. Open rock mud return line formations are sealed with cement plugs to prevent upward mud migration of wellbore fluids. The casing wellhead and the pit annulus shale top joint of the casings are cut below the ground level and shaker drill collar capped with a cement plug. bore hole bit Appraisal When exploratory drilling is successful, more wells are drilled to determine the size and the extent of the field. Wells drilledremote sites, fuel handling and storage areas, and provision to quantify the hydrocarbon reserves found are called ‘outstep’for the collection, treatment and disposal of wastes. The camp or ‘appraisal’ wells. The appraisal stage aims to evaluate theshould occupy a small area (typically 1000 m2), and be size and nature of the reservoir, to determine the number oflocated away from the immediate area of the drilling rig— confirming or appraisal wells required, and whether anyupstream from the prevailing wind direction. further seismic work is necessary. The technical procedures in Once drilling commences, drilling fluid or mud is con- appraisal drilling are the same as those employed for explo-tinuously circulated down the drill pipe and back to the ration wells, and the description provided above appliessurface equipment. Its purpose is to balance underground equally to appraisal operations. A number of wells may behydrostatic pressure, cool the bit and flush out rock cuttings. drilled from a single site, which increases the time duringThe risk of an uncontrolled flow from the reservoir to the which the site is occupied. Deviated or directional drilling atsurface is greatly reduced by using blowout preventers—a an angle from a site adjacent to the original discovery bore-series of hydraulically actuated steel rams that can close hole may be used to appraise other parts of the reservoir, inquickly around the drill string or casing to seal off a well. order to reduce the land used or ‘foot print’.Steel casing is run into completed sections of the boreholeand cemented into place. The casing provides structural Development and productionsupport to maintain the integrity of the borehole and isolates Having established the size of the oil field, the subsequentunderground formations. wells drilled are called ‘development’ or ‘production’ wells. Drilling operations are generally conducted around-the- A small reservoir may be developed using one or more of theclock. The time taken to drill a bore hole depends on the appraisal wells. A larger reservoir will require the drilling of 7
  5. 5. ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT IN OIL AND GAS EXPLORATION AND PRODUCTION Figure 3: Typical crude oil processing glycol to gas sales pipeline dehydration intermediate gas pressure sales gas compressors low pressure gas three-phase oil separation oil stabilization (oil, water, gas) (heater treater) producing well oil storage (onshore or and loading offshore) stabilized crude oil facilities to pipeline produced gas flash gas water compressors (onshore) disposal (offshore)additional production wells. Multiple production wells are Most new commercial oil and gas wells are initially freeoften drilled from one pad to reduce land requirements and flowing: the underground pressures drive the liquid and gasthe overall infrastructure cost. The number of wells required up the well bore to the surface. The rate of flow depends on ato exploit the hydrocarbon reservoir varies with the size of number of factors such as the properties of the reservoir rock,the reservoir and its geology. Large oilfields can require a the underground pressures, the viscosity of the oil, and thehundred or more wells to be drilled, whereas smaller fields oil/gas ratio. These factors, however, are not constant duringmay only require ten or so. The drilling procedure involves the commercial life of a well, and when the oil cannot reachsimilar techniques to those described for exploration; the surface unaided, some form of additional lift is required,however, with a larger number of wells being drilled, the such as a pumping mechanism or the injection of gas or waterlevel of activity obviously increases in proportion. The well to maintain reservoir pressures. It is now quite common tosites will be occupied for longer, and support services— inject gas, water, or steam into the reservoir at the start of theworkforce accommodation, water supply, waste manage- field’s life in order to maintain pressures and optimize pro-ment, and other services—will correspondingly increase. As duction rates and the ultimate recovery potential of oil andeach well is drilled it has to be prepared for production gas. This in turn may require the drilling of additional wells,before the drilling rig departs. The heavy drill pipe is called injection wells. Other methods of stimulating produc-replaced by a lighter weight tubing in the well and occasion- tion can be used, such as hydraulic fracturing of the hydro-ally one well may carry two or three strings of tubing, each carbon bearing formation, and acid treatment (particularly inone producing from different layers of reservoir rock. At this limestones) to increase and enlarge flow channels.stage the blowout preventer is replaced by a control valve Once the hydrocarbon reaches the surface, it is routed toassembly or ‘Christmas Tree’. the central production facility which gathers and separates8
  6. 6. OVERVIEW OF THE OIL AND GAS EXPLORATION AND PRODUCTION PROCESSthe produced fluids (oil, gas and water). The size and type of Figure 4: Concrete gravity platformthe installation will depend on the nature of the reservoir,the volume and nature of produced fluids, and the exportoption selected. The production facility processes the hydrocarbon fluidsand separates oil, gas and water. The oil must usually be freeof dissolved gas before export. Similarly, the gas must be sta-bilized and free of liquids and unwanted components such ashydrogen sulphide and carbon dioxide. Any water producedis treated before disposal. A schematic representation of atypical crude oil processing facility is shown in Figure 3. Routine operations on a producing well would include anumber of monitoring, safety and security programmes,maintenance tasks, and periodic downhole servicing using awire line unit or a workover rig to maintain production. Theoperator will be able to extract only a portion of the oilpresent using primary recovery (i.e. natural pressure and oil storagesimple pumping) but a range of additional recovery methods cylindersare available as discussed above. For example, secondaryrecovery uses waterflood or gas injection, and tertiarymethods employing chemicals, gases or heat may also beused to increase the efficiency of oil recovery. The infrastructure required for development drilling inonshore operations is similar to that described above for explo-ration. However, once drilling is completed, the individualwellhead assemblies and well sites are considerably smallerthan when the drill rig was on site. Typically, each well requiresan area of some 10 m2 surrounded by a security fence. Oftenthe well sites are concentrated within a central area, which provide a variety of requirements in addition to labour, such asincludes processing facilities, offices and workshops, and this materials supplies, education, medical, etc.would typically occupy an area of several hectares, depending In offshore production developments, permanent struc-upon the capacity of the field. Since the production operation tures are necessary to support the required facilities, sinceis a long-term development, the temporary facilities used in typical exploration units are not designed for full scale pro-exploration are replaced by permanent facilities and are duction operations. Normally, a steel platform is installedsubject to detailed planning, design and engineering and con- to serve as the gathering and processing centre and morestruction. The temporary workforce associated with explo- than 40 wells may be drilled directionally from this plat-ration activity is replaced by a permanent workforce, usually form. Concrete platforms are sometimes used (see Figureaccommodated in the local area and, where desirable, fully 4). If the field is large enough, additional ‘satellite’ plat-integrated with the local community: indeed a large propor- forms may be needed, linked by subsea flowlines to thetion of the workforce may be recruited locally and receive spe- central facility. In shallow water areas, typically a centralcialized training. Similarly, the local infrastructure will need to processing facility is supported by a number of smaller 9
  7. 7. ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT IN OIL AND GAS EXPLORATION AND PRODUCTION Figure 5: Directional drilling drilling rig steel jacket platform horizontal well reservoirwellhead platforms. Recent technological developments, Decommissioning and rehabilitationaimed at optimizing operations, include remotely operated The decommissioning of onshore production installations atsubsea systems which remove the requirement for satellite the end of their commercial life, typically 20–40 years, mayplatforms. This technology is also being used in deep water involve removal of buildings and equipment, restoration ofwhere platforms are unsuitable, and for marginal fields the site to environmentally-sound conditions, implementa-where platforms would be uneconomic. In these cases, tion of measures to encourage site re-vegetation, and contin-floating systems—ships and semi-submersibles—‘service’ ued monitoring of the site after closure. Planning for decom-the subsea wells on a regular basis. missioning is an integral part of the overall management Recent advances in horizontal drilling have enhanced process and should be considered at the beginning of thedirectional drilling as a means of concentrating operations at development during design, and is equally applicable to bothone site and reducing the ‘footprint’ on land of production onshore and offshore operations. Section 6 provides moreoperations (Figure 5) and the number of platforms offshore. detailed discussion on decommissioning and rehabilitation.The technology now enables access to a reservoir up to By their nature, most exploration wells will be unsuccess-several kilometres from the drill rig, while technology is ful and will be decommissioned after the initial one-to-threedeveloping to permit even wider range. This further mini- months of activity. It is, therefore, prudent to plan for thismizes the ‘footprint’ by reducing the need for satellite wells. from the outset, and ensure minimal environmental disrup-It also allows for more flexibility in selecting a drill site, par- tion. Decommissioning and rehabilitation will, subse-ticularly where environmental concerns are raised. quently, be simplified.10

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