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Archive for August 2011

A math-based model for deep-water oil drilling

Oil well control is one of the most important processes during drilling operations. In deepwater drilling, controlling pressure in the oil well is crucial, as excessive pressures in the drilled hole can result in blowouts, leading to disastrous events like the 2010 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill.

The deeper the well, the higher the pressure, and the higher the risks associated with tapping oil from wells. During drilling, when the pressure applied to balance the hydrocarbon pressure in a well is not great enough to overcome that exerted by gas and fluids in the rock formation drilled, water, gas, oil, or other formation fluid can enter the hole. This is called a “gas kick,” which in worst-case scenarios can lead to blowouts.

In a paper published earlier this month in the SIAM Journal on Mathematical Analysis, author Steinar Evje presents new analysis of a mathematical model that has applications to the study of such gas kicks in deep-water oil wells. Read the rest of this entry »

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