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We are developing innovative techniques to maximize safety and operational efficiency at every stage in the life of our wells from drilling through abandonment, while at the same time increasing their productivity and profitability.

matthieu_naegel_exploration_production_total
Matthieu Naegel

R&D

More profitable wells with ongoing safety improvements

Total has always been in the vanguard of technological progress in the fields of drilling and well construction.  After pioneering horizontal drilling and Measurement While Drilling – two concepts that have since become standard industry practice – Total today is achieving the technological breakthroughs demanded by the evolving challenges we face every day as drilling targets present ever-increasing complexity.

In 2016, our ability to push the envelope was embodied by two major milestones that we achieved in our conquest of new horizons:

  • A new world record for water depth (3,401 m) with an exploration well drilled in the ultra-deepwater region offshore Uruguay, and
  • The start-up of the industry’s first all-electric well on the K5F field in the Dutch sector of the North Sea.

 

More than ever, we will need to draw on that capacity for innovation to overcome the new and major challenges – both technical and economic – that we face in our Drilling-Wells operations. Indeed, Drilling and Well activities are among the E&P insdustry's major sources of exposure to HSE risks due not only to the probability of incident occurrence but also to the severity of the potential consequences in terms of human life, the environment and financial loss. Moreover, Drilling and Wells represents a substantial component of our exploration and development costs and every well we build absorbs a significant share of the E&P branch’s investment budget. The current economic environment with the low price of crude oil only makes these issues more acute. Our Wells R&D Program is working to transform these challenges into a source of lasting progress toward our goal of wells that are more profitable and more reliable at every stage of their life cycle.

Our R&D priorities

To address these crucial issues, we are focusing our research efforts on three key priorities:

  • Improving well safety from drilling to abandonment;
  • Improving well profitability through a combination of lower construction costs and higher productivity;
  • Developing innovative architectures to meet the technological challenges of extreme environments.

Two R&D Projects

The Wells Program revolves around two R&D Projects, one focusing on optimizing well construction and abandonment operations and the other on improving well productivity.

 

Well Construction & Abandonment

The aim of this Project is to secure our competitive edge by delivering new solutions that will drive down the costs of building, maintaining and abandoning wells without jeopardizing the safety or integrity of our facilities.

We are tackling that challenge from three different angles.

Optimizing operational safety and well integrity, in particular by:

  • Developing innovative technologies for real-time downhole sensing to guard more effectively against the most critical accident scenarios (blow-out and collision with an adjacent borehole trajectory while drilling);
  • Consolidating our lead in well cementing, which is crucial for long-term integrity, on the strength of T-Cemint, our new in-house software for modeling cement sheath integrity. Our STCA (Slurry-To-Cement-Analyzer) laboratory apparatus was key to our development of T-Cemint. The STCA system is unmatched in the industry for in situ  measurements of the mechanical properties of cement in bottomhole pressure and temperature conditions.

Reducing the costs of well construction by fully embracing the potential of Digital Drilling backed by more effective monitoring of operations and advanced data analytics to enable real-time operational decision support.

Optimizing well abandonment operations by lowering their cost without jeopardizing safety, in particular by developing innovative techniques that will improve our ability to assess the overall condition of the well before intervention, so as to define the most appropriate abandonment program.

 

Well Productivity & Injectivity

These studies aim to improve well performance through innovations that will optimize the productivity of each well by acting on all the parameters that can affect the number of barrels that a well can produce over its entire life cycle, namely:

Better prevention of scale formation between the reservoir and the Xmas tree, notably through the development of  nano-coatings;

Better control of injectivity in water injection wells in both consolidated and unconsolidated reservoirs thanks to the advancement of our knowledge of physical-chemical phenomena in the near-borehole region of the injector wells, and the development of tools for modeling injectivity to allow optimized reservoir management;

Optimized treatment of wells in carbonate reservoirs, through a better understanding of acid stimulation mechanisms; development of a proprietary model of acid stimulation; and definition of new stimulation methods and techniques;

More efficient artificial lift through new tools designed to boost the performance and reliability of existing technologies as well as new technologies developed to lower the technical costs of artificial lift processes.

Research & Development

The Driving Force Behind Total’s Competitiveness

Drilling & Wells

Drilling Wells Safely & Cost-Effectively

Drilling & Wells

Enhance Well Risk Management