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A single event involving the malfunction or failure of a blowout preventer (BOP) component can result in unplanned downtime on a drilling rig, costing millions of dollars. These events can add up throughout the equipment’s lifecycle to a significant amount of cost and lost time. Due to uncertainty about the lifecycle of BOP stack components, drilling contractors may arbitrarily replace components during scheduled maintenance to try to mitigate unplanned downtime.
Additionally, history has proven that a malfunctioning BOP component can result in a loss of well control, threatening the safety of people and the environment. As a result of the significant safety risks, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) established regulations, described below, that require operators to develop and implement BOP real-time monitoring (RTM).
This article describes how IPT’s BOP Reliability System (BRS) helped a customer to identify a malfunctioning BOP control system component so it could be replaced during scheduled maintenance before it caused an interruption in drilling operations or a loss of well control.
IPT provides full monitoring services of well control equipment (WCE) data, downhole drilling data and tools. Specifically for BOPs, we offer a suite of services to ensure BOP reliability and efficiency. These services include WCE surveying and verification, monitoring by highly skilled experts, advanced data analytics for maintenance planning and compliance consulting.
This approach of monitoring and the application of advanced data analytics move the maintenance program from schedule-based approach toward a condition-based system, improving efficiency and reducing risk.
Historically failures have driven BOP maintenance response, the RTM move toward pro-active maintenance increases awareness of equipment condition (and therefore risk) using monitoring, alarms and alerts.
In early 2022, an IPT BOP analyst was monitoring a surface BOP control system on a jack-up rig in the Gulf of Mexico. The experienced and trained analyst was able to identify a possible failure ahead of an event, ensuring the rig avoided unplanned downtime.
In this example, the issue was with the BOP manifold regulator, which was supplied with 3000 psi from the accumulator bank. The manifold regulator reduces the supply pressure to 1500 psi for operation of the BOP pipe rams, blind shear rams (BSRs), and choke and kill valves. While monitoring the accumulator, the BOP analyst noticed that the manifold regulator showed an increased leak off rate after the BSRs were functioned closed (see graph below). In this case, the 1,500 psi manifold regulator pressure was deviating by more than 25 percent. Although it is not uncommon for a regulator’s pressure to vary, the BOP analyst knew that the level of deviation likely indicated an eminent component failure or a leak in the hydraulic circuit.
After our BOP analyst logged the event, the customer was notified of anomalous regulator behavior. When IPT provided comparative trends from other regulators, the drilling supervisor determined that the regulator should be replaced during scheduled maintenance to avoid disrupting future drilling operations.
The customer replaced the regulator before commencing drilling operations on a sister well. Subsequent BOP monitoring showed that the new regulator was operating normally. Notably, the customer also provided the new regulator’s certification for documentation in IPT’s database for future lifecycle tracking.
IPT’s RTM service and the customer’s proactiveness to replace the manifold regulator potentially avoided a very expensive BOP failure during drilling operations, as well as reduced risk to people and the environment. The outcome also shows how drilling contractors can reduce expenses by focusing on components that need to be replaced during scheduled maintenance rather than arbitrarily replacing components.
The BSEE Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) requires operators to provide real-time monitoring (RTM) for BOPs in the Gulf of Mexico. BSEE CFR Chapter II – Subchapter B – §250.724 (a) describes the RTM requirements as follows.
(a) When conducting well operations with a subsea BOP or with a surface BOP on a floating facility, or when operating in a high-pressure, high-temperature (HPHT) environment, you must gather and monitor real-time well data using an independent, automatic, and continuous monitoring system capable of recording, storing, and transmitting data regarding the following:
(1) The BOP control system;
(2) The well’s active fluid circulating system; and
(3) The well’s downhole conditions with the bottom hole assembly tools (if any tools are installed).
Our BRS is helping operators and drilling contractors to gain knowledge about the lifecycle of critical BOP components so they can increase BOP reliability and decrease costs through targeted preventative maintenance. For more information about our BOP Reliability System, contact us.