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Sub Sea Mud Lift Drilling: From Jip To The Classroom

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.906.1 - 6.906.14

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Jerome Schubert

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2478

SubSea MudLift Drilling: from JIP to the Classroom

Jerome J. Schubert, Ph.D. PE Texas A&M University


As the worlds proven oil reserves continue to be depleted through consumption by the industrialized nations, oil and gas producing companies must continue to explore for new petroleum deposits. Although there is production in the GOM in water as deep as 5000 feet, some of the most promising deposits may be in water depths in the 6000 to 10,000 foot range. Current drilling technology will not allow exploration in these ultra-deep waters. The SubSea MudLift Drilling Joint Industry Project (SMDJIP) was formed to develop the technology to successfully drill in water depth as great as 10,000 feet.1

The outcome of this JIP is a drilling process referred to in the petroleum industry as “SubSea MudLift Drilling” (SMD). SMD is a major step change in offshore oil and gas drilling, and it was realized in the very early stages of the JIP that education and training for everyone involved in SMD would be essential for success of the project. In SMD, a set of fluid pumps are placed on the sea floor to lift the drilling fluid from the wellbore annulus to the surface via a return line, reducing the pressure exerted on the wellbore by the drilling fluid from the sea floor to the surface. The placement of the pumps on the sea floor simulates a dual fluid gradient in the wellbore, where in conventional drilling a single gradient is exerted over the entire interval from the drilling rig (located at the surface) to the bottom of the well. (Fig. 1)

The history of the SMDJIP and how industry and academia teamed up to develop the equipment and procedures necessary to drill in these ultra deep waters, as well as the educational and training program that was developed to transfer Seawater this new technology to the petroleum industry is Hydrostatic discussed.

SMD Mud I. Introduction DEPTH

Hydrostatic In conventional floating drilling operations that Conventional Hydrostatic are conducted in offshore oil fields from drillships and semi-submersible drilling rigs, the Blowout Preventer stack (BOP) is positioned on PRESSURE the ocean floor, and connected to the drilling Figure 1. Dual Gradient Principle. vessel by a marine riser. The circulation path for the drilling fluid (mud) starts in the mud pits located on the drilling vessel, through the Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Schubert, J. (2001, June), Sub Sea Mud Lift Drilling: From Jip To The Classroom Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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