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The Bacchus Field, discovered in 2004, is a small borderline high-pressure–high-temperature (HPHT) oil field 6.8 km east of the Forties Alpha Platform. The reservoir is Fulmar Sandstone with a rotated fault-block trap. The reservoir is typically thin (10–50 m) and difficult to image seismically. Compartmentalization was anticipated due to significant in-field faulting. The Bacchus development decision was made when considerable geological uncertainty remained.

The key risk-mitigation strategies employed during the development of Bacchus were to drill long horizontal wells, contacting multiple reservoir compartments, while maintaining a flexible development plan. The ability to react to unexpected results was facilitated by optimizing the development data-acquisition programme. Drilling risk and cost were minimized by exploiting existing well control for landing development wells, combined with pilot drilling in untested parts of the reservoir. Development wells were designed to be geometrically robust, minimizing the requirement for geo-steering. This ensured low wellbore tortuosity that did not compromise the completions. Bacchus was successfully developed despite the final distribution of reserves being radically different from the pre-development perception. It is argued that maintaining a flexible development plan was far more effective in maximizing the value of the Bacchus development than more extensive pre-development appraisal or modelling.

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