Master of Science in Petroleum Engineering (MSPE)


Petroleum Engineering

Document Type



The recent push into deepwater is currently limited by high drilling costs resulting from conventional well designs. As a result, dual gradient drilling methods have been proposed. This research investigates riser gas-lift as a potential means to implement a dual gradient system. A primary concern is well control in a system containing so many different density fluids and different flow paths. The specific concerns addressed in this study were kick detection, cessation of formation feed-in, removal of kick fluids, and re-establishing hydrostatic control with a constant bottom hole pressure method. These concerns were studied using a transient, multiphase simulator whose validity was confirmed with comparison to transient, multiphase flow tests in a test well. Conventional kick detection methods relying on the pit gain and return flow rate were concluded to be effective. Two alternatives for stopping formation flow were considered, a “load-up” method of reducing the nitrogen rate versus closing a subsea BOP. BOP closure was shown to be more reliable for stopping flow and minimizing kick volume. Further, a relatively conventional approach of circulating up a gas-lifted choke line against a surface choke was compared to a dynamic approach based on reducing the nitrogen rate and to the use of a seafloor choke. It was concluded that methods using a choke were much simpler and more effective for controlling pressure than controlling the nitrogen rate. The subsea choke has an advantage over the surface choke due to faster pressure responsiveness, smaller pressure variation, and needing fewer and smaller choke adjustments.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

John Rogers Smith