Weatherford Wins $40 Million Underbalanced Drilling Contract

Weatherford has been awarded a four-year, $40 million contract extension to provide Underbalanced Drilling Systems (UBS) for Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), a joint venture with Shell.

PDO has extended its contract with Weatherford for two reasons: 1) proven productivity, safety and cost benefits from using Weatherford's UBS packages; and 2) PDO's identification of underbalanced drilling as a key technology to help offset declining production rates from mature Omani reservoirs.

Since June 2002, PDO has drilled 28 wells with Weatherford UBS as part of a multi-well program to evaluate the technology's economic and operational benefits. In the first, or pilot phase, PDO drilled 14 wells underbalanced in the Nimr field in Southern Oman.

In the second phase, the underbalanced re-entry project exceeded -- and in some instances tripled -- forecasted production rates. All wells met or exceeded key performance indicators that were based on QHSE performance, increased well deliverability, and overall operational efficiencies. This phase of the project has also yielded significant costs savings when compared to the initial campaign.

"Together with Weatherford UBS, PDO has gone up a huge learning curve in these campaigns, both from an operational viewpoint, where efficiency has increased tremendously, and from our reservoir understanding. Safety is our top priority and we are very pleased that the campaign has been implemented without any underbalanced drilling related incidents," said Paul Francis, PDO Underbalanced Drilling Implementation Team Leader. "We are highly satisfied with the project's outcome and anticipate further spread in the use of underbalanced drilling over the next four years."

The current third phase of PDO's underbalanced/Oman program involves Weatherford drilling more complex UBD multi-lateral wells in the southern Omani oil fields.

"The four-year contract extension secures a long-term underbalanced project as a platform for our continued growth in the Middle East and North Africa region," said Gary Warren, Weatherford's President of Drilling Services. "We anticipate that operators in the Middle East and other operating regions will pilot their own underbalanced programs as they see PDO's continued success with the technology."