Safe Influx tackles oil and gas industry’s biggest challenges

Safe Influx ScreenSafe Influx, a spinout company from Robert Gordon University (RGU), has designed a technology that can detect well influxes, kicks of gas or fluid from a formation into a wellbore, and immediately act to minimise the influx and prevent a well blowout

This will support the industry to improve safety, reduce costs and minimise any environmental impact.

Phil Hassard, the co-founder of Safe Influx and drilling simulation manager at RGU’s Energy Transition Institute, said, “During development, we found that the industry has six blowouts for every 1,000 wells drilled. With over one million wells still to be drilled in basins across the globe, this is potentially 6,000 well blowouts, leading to 120 major oil spills and loss of life, so the potential impact of Safe Influx is significant.

“Further research showed that up to 70 per cent of well blowouts are down to human factors. Drillers have an ever-increasing workload, and naturally, this means concentration can lapse. To support drillers, our system acts as an automatic preventative safety tool they can use to make the well safe as quickly as possible when the situation arises,” he revealed.

RGU’s Startup Accelerator programme supported the company by providing the team with essential funding, expertise and mentorship. The team has also received funding from the Oil and Gas Technology Centre (OGTC) to support the completion of a field test.

Bryan Atchison, the co-founder of Safe Influx and well engineering manager at RGU’s Energy Transition Institute, said, “We want to make sure that the industry knows our product is robust, so it has been validated by an Independent Verification Body.”

“We have also tested it extensively on cyber rigs with real drillers and in simulations, and have consistently seen excellent results. To prove the effectiveness of our technology even further, we are conducting a field test in October on an older drilling rig,” he added.

“This will show that the system works in a realistic environment and can easily fit within a drilling rigs’ existing infrastructure without the need for significant modification, which will reduce installation costs. This field test has been enabled through funding by the OGTC and is supported by a major drilling contractor,” he stated.

Malcolm Banks, wells solution centre manager at the OGTC commented, “This project is supported by industry partners and aligned with the Wells Solution Centre Roadmap focus area of ‘flawless delivery’, specifically the theme of decision-making. This technology could represent a further step towards the automation of well operations and has the potential to enhance real-time decision-making in critical well control situations.”

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