This article, written by JPT Technology Editor Chris Carpenter, contains highlights of paper SPE 216326, “Longest Extended-Reach-Drilling Well Worldwide Drilled in Middle East, Offshore Abu Dhabi, UAE,” by Marah Mohamad Alabed, Naser Salah Alsuwaidi, and Jamie Scott Duguid, SPE, ADNOC, et al. The paper has not been peer reviewed.


The complete paper describes the engineering design and operational practices that supported the setting of a new extended-reach world record in a mature carbonate field offshore Abu Dhabi. This accomplishment reduces the carbon footprint of the development, allows acquisition of reservoir data earlier in the development plan, and accelerates production while reducing costs. This extended-reach development program is a strong example of what can be accomplished when a multifunctional team cultivates a strategic plan to expand technical and operational capabilities in a drilling campaign.

Reservoir and Development-Plan Background

The 1-md oil reservoir is a carbonate dominated by packstone and grainstone rock types in terms of storage capacity. Average porosity is 18%, and thickness is 130 ft. Permeability reduces in an southeast/northwest direction, dropping below 1 md. Calcite cementation development has occurred in the westernmost areas of the reservoir because of late oil in these low structural areas.

Initially, the target reservoir was drilled at 2-km well spacing with a five-spot waterflooding scheme from wellhead platform towers. Later, development was optimized by a line waterflooding scheme at 250-m well spacing by development from an environmental island. The target reservoir area was partitioned into four development areas (West A, West B, West C, and West D). The partition is based on drilling reachability from environmental islands and underlying geology.

The current optimized development began in the West A reservoir area through an artificially constructed island. The remaining reservoir areas required investment of two new islands. High risk is associated with these investment decisions because these reservoir areas degrade in terms of reservoir rock properties. Additionally, an increasing trend of water saturation exists with progress in the northwest direction within the transition zone.

The development plan in the West A area is based on drilling segments called AB and BC, first with over-20,000-ft laterals to achieve production buildup by target date. To test the West B area, Segment BC was extended, thus covering both West A and B areas. This option reduced drilling complexity and maximized the reservoir-production rate. Additionally, by adopting the island drilling option instead of appraising a limited area of West B, an extensive area of approximately 10 km could be appraised.

To implement this option, a stepout drilling plan was executed by drilling eight extended-reach maximum-reservoir-contact wells in increments to meet the goal of appraising the West B reservoir area. These first wells were extended in increments of 1,000–2,000 ft to test the capability to drill and run completion to target a measured depth (MD) of 45,000 ft. Upon applying learnings from these pilot wells, a stepout to extending wells to 50,000 ft MD and greater was studied. Fig. 1 shows the map of the subject drilled well with an extended MD of 50,000 ft with an underlying oil-saturation map. This optimized field-development strategy has allowed for effective West B reservoir appraisal.

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