Prevention is Better than Cure

Many of us wouldn’t go to see a doctor until we get sick. This not only costs more money, but also causes more pain. Preventive medical assessments may be seemingly unnecessary and unpleasant, but it can help identify potential health problems, save lives, and reduce medical costs.

We often hear of some famous physical doctors or medical experts, who have remedied illness, when troubles surfaced. As a matter of fact, we are all doctors ourselves, in a sense that we take care of our daily lives, command our bodies to certain tasks, and avoid certain activities. We, as doctors ourselves, play a big role every day in maintaining our health. We are all CEOs of our own way of life and happiness. If we do our best to keep up good habits, take care of our bodies regularly, we will save ourselves lots of trouble and money in medical expenses.

Prevention can be beneficial to drilling engineering as well. Our experiences gained and lessons learned help us make right decisions for our next well. Drilling engineering software also serves as a great tool to identify any potential problems in our existing drilling plan or make sound engineering designs.

Take an example of cementing job design. One of the key elements of a successful cementing job is good displacement efficiency (less mud channeling). We have known that several parameters such as casing standoff, flow rate, differentials of fluid properties and hole deviation affect the effectiveness of fluid displacement. Now, with the help of computer modeling, we can see the impacts of these parameters. The following picture shows the mud concentration in the annulus at the end of the cementing job, where casing standoff is 0% throughout the wellbore (casting touches the borehole).

Displacement Efficiency for Casing Standoff 0% - Pegasus Vertex, Inc.

Displacement Efficiency for Casing Standoff 0%

You can see that there are quite large red areas in track 3, indicating poor displacement efficiency.

Now, we change the casing standoff to 70% and keep the other parameters the same. The following picture shows the much improved mud concentration after displacement:

Displacement Efficiency for Casing Standoff 70% - Pegasus Vertex, Inc.

Displacement Efficiency for Casing Standoff 70%

Time and money (not to mention headaches) could be saved if drilling engineers undergo through all the engineering assessments before problems arise. Be sure to use your know-how, skills, experiences, lessons and available drilling software. Having a complete understanding of what will happen gives you a greater sense of control, reduces risks and saves money.

“If I die because of this, I’ll be very mad!”

My 7-year old daughter caught cold and ran fever. While taking her temperature, I told her not to bite the thermometer. “There is mercury inside and it is poisonous.” I said.  “Will I die if I accidently break it and swallow it?” She became serious. “You might.” I answered.

“If I die because of this, I will be very mad.” Her comment lost me for a second and then gave me a good belly laugh.

I think it must be logic for her to say that. It is such a small thing, but could lead to catastrophic ending. Her words made me laugh and think.

Our daily lives are packed with small actions. Many of us would think that if we screw up here and there, it won’t be the end of the world. Or at least that’s what we would like to think. It turns out some of the biggest and costliest disasters have resulted from us making a single tiny mistake, such as the natural gas well blowout in Kaixian County, Southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality. The blowout occurred on Dec. 23rd, 2003 and released highly toxic hydrogen sulfide killing 234 villagers.

Investigation later showed that this catastrophe was actually caused by many small acts of workplace negligence, including turning down blowout prevention valve and not igniting the blowout gas quickly enough.

Learning from our mistakes is a crucial step in growing and improving ourselves. However, if we could avoid the mistakes but also learn the would-be mistakes, then we earn our credits without paying too much tuition.

One way of doing so, in my mind, is using drilling software for training, simulating different circumstances and observing results. Just like a flight simulator re-creates aircraft flight and the environment in which it flies for pilot training, drilling simulator with drilling software can allow drilling engineers to see the results from various operation parameters.

In addition to training, drilling software offers engineering planning and design. It is like a rehearsal of upcoming drilling operation, in which we can identify potential problems, gain confidence and increase our success rate.