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By pioneering new techniques, thinking innovatively and staying calm under pressure, we helped AGR client manage exploration well to 32,997 feet below the mud line in the Gulf of Mexico.

The challenge

A unique well with a perfect storm of challenges

AGR’s High-Pressure High-Temperature (HPHT) experts were engaged by a longstanding client to provide drilling services exclusively on the deepening of the Blackbeard Well – already one of the deepest wells on the Gulf of Mexico shelf. The plan was to further deepen this exploratory well to a total depth in excess of 31,000 feet.

But there were a number of complicating factors, which made this project even more challenging. Extreme temperatures and pressure on the shelf created a host of difficulties for operations, equipment and logistics requirements.

It meant conventional thinking and industry-standard practices couldn’t be applied to the extreme conditions of the Blackbeard Well. Activity including tripping, hole conditioning and well control needed careful planning.

Such a unique drilling environment also meant that typical drilling mechanics had to be rethought, fully customised and executed with absolute precision to minimise the risks of a lost well or catastrophic well-control event.

The solution

An agile, expert team capable of pioneering new techniques

Innovative thinking and groundbreaking techniques which had never before been implemented in the field held the key to overcoming the challenges posed by the Blackbeard Well.

Supporting this was expert project management – with the AGR team in constant communication with the client throughout – offering trusted advice and knowledge every step of the way.

From forward-planning logistics – factoring in long lead times for services and equipment required – to having the calmness and flexibility to adapt and problem-solve when it mattered, our experience, skills and innovative thinking were put to the test.

Our team excelled in every area, all while maintaining the highest regard for all health, safety and environmental considerations.

The outcome

Exceeding the target well depth while creating new insight

The project was a success, with the Blackbeard Well deepened to a total depth of 32,997 feet – the equivalent of six and one-quarter miles below the mud line.

Specifically, the construction of a stable wellbore 1,997 feet beyond the target depth of 31,000 feet meant logs could be run in the highest hydrostatic pressures ever recorded with mud weight. As a result, the well provided new insight and data points for the client, offering the missing geological links between the onshore and deepwater discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico.

Last, but by no means least, was the discovery of the now-proven techniques, systems and equipment that AGR helped develop – these will provide the basis for further exploration of the ultra-deep, multi-Tcfe Miocene gas plays below 25,000 feet.

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