There are many challenges while drilling highly inclined and depleted formations offshore Vietnam that result in various wellbore stability issues such as severe losses, stuck pipe, cavings, tight-hole and pack-offs. These issues may be independent of mud type and can occur when drilling with both oil/synthetic-based and water-based muds. These depleted sections typically consist of sandstones interbedded with claystone & siltstones. Traditionally, the wellbore strengthening fluids solution applied to drill through these sections with synthetic and water-based mud in Vietnam faced limited success.

Wellbore strengthening (WBS) is a proven and effective solution especially for narrow-drilling margin and depleted formations. The basic concept of WBS relies on the creation and simultaneous plugging of small fractures with appropriate WBS material. The resulting elevated stress around the wellbore strengthens the borehole by creating an increased hoop stress that leads to an increase in near wellbore stresses. Proprietary modelling software can be used to calculate the pressure induced fracture apertures for wellbore strengthening applications and determine the optimum particle size range to bridge these fractures, allowing fluids to be designed to minimise wellbore instability.

This design process was used to optimize material additives to effectively bridge fractures, for wellbore strengthening, and pore throat openings in porous/permeable formations for the prevention of seepage losses and differential sticking. A review of the application procedure identified the optimum method to apply the wellbore strengthening material which would minimise product consumption and reduce well costs. After extensive modelling simulations and testing, this fluid design was applied to drill two challenging wells in Vietnam.

This paper presents the process of modelling, based on formation geo-mechanics information, customization and laboratory testing of the fluids design coupled with a successful and economical method of application in the field. Application of this process enabled the operator to drill through the depleted challenging sections with a maximum overbalance pressure of 3,200 psi, conduct logging and coring runs and complete the well at a lower cost and with zero fluids related non-productive time compared to previous wells.

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