Supervisory control for underbalanced drilling operations Conference Paper uri icon


  • © 2015, IFAG (International Federation of Automatic Control) Hosting by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Good flow and pressure control is essential for successful Underbalanced Drilling (UBD) operations. This work evaluates the use of Model Predictive Control (MPC) for integrated control of well conditions and the topside separation system during UBD. The downhole well pressure, separator liquid levels, and the separator pressure are controlled by manipulation of the rig pump, the choke, and the separator valves. The control system adheres to downhole and topside constraints. These constraints include pore and collapse pressures, minimum flow rate for hole cleaning, maximum choke pressure, separator pressure, and separator liquid levels. The proposed MPC solution uses simple Hammerstein-Wiener models, where parameters are determined by system identification incorporated into standard drilling procedures. The control system is tested using a high-fidelity multi-phase flow simulator (OLGA) for some common drilling scenarios, including drilling into a producing formation and performing connections. We show that the MPC solution is able to take proactive action to ensure safe and efficient operation without having to enter well control mode or shutting down the separator system. By limiting the amount and variation in influx from the reservoir, we get less Non-Productive Time (NPT), we improve safety, and we may to some extent be able to reduce the footprint of the equipment.

author list (cited authors)

  • Pedersen, T., Godhavn, J., & Schubert, J.

citation count

  • 12

publication date

  • January 2015