Abstract

This paper presents a method used in combination with Managed Pressure Drilling (MPD) to determine real time pore pressures while drilling a deepwater exploration well. Not only was the pore pressure accurately determined but additional procedures were implemented to improve efficiency. This deepwater well was the first time MPD used on a semisubmersible rig in Myanmar by both operator and the drilling contractor. MPD was used on all the well sections below the surface casing with the main objectives for MPD listed as follows:

  • Safe and efficient drilling of the well to planned TD.

  • Elimination of contingency casing strings.

  • Enhanced influx detection.

  • Determination of pore and fracture pressure while drilling.

The expected pore pressure based on seismic interpretation for the well was provided by the geoscience team. It was presented as minimum and maximum pore pressures. Fracture pressures were provided as sand fracture (minimum) and shale fracture pressures (maximum). A large uncertainty in pore pressures was expected. MPD was combined with real time pore pressure prediction to estimate pore pressures. MPD procedures were reviewed and amended as required to reflect the actual well architecture, actual equipment, and rig capabilities.

Most MPD projects are designed to maintain a Constant Bottom Hole Pressure (CBHP) and not to determine pore pressures. Since a significant pore pressure ramp was expected as soon as drilling started below the surface casing a solution had to be found. Methods to make connections and dummy connections were reviewed and discussed to assist the determination of pore pressures using connection and background gas indicators. The devised procedure could be used for all drillstring connections including any dummy connections made throughout the entire well to provide the real time pore pressure team with consistent data. Additional procedures were developed to ensure that bottom hole circulating pressures were maintained using a combination of MPD choke pressures and increasing mud weights while drilling.

The paper presents the procedures that were developed and implemented to successfully drill the exploration well to TD. These procedures have now been field tested and proven to be successful not only to accurately determine pore pressures but also to ensure mud weight management. The procedures will be used again on future wells to determine pore pressures and manage BHP to ensure that maximum benefits are derived from MPD operations on deepwater exploration wells.

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