Managed Pressure Drilling (MPD) is an advanced form of primary well control usually employing a closed and pressurizable circulating drilling fluids (mud) system which facilitates drilling with precise management of the wellbore pressure profile. The primary objective of MPD is to optimize drilling processes by decreasing nonproductive time (NPT), mitigating drilling hazards and to enable the drilling of otherwise technically or economically un-drillable high-complexity prospects.

Because MPD addresses NPT, the technology is of greatest potential benefit to offshore drilling programs where cost of dealing with drilling trouble zones is much higher than onshore. Although MPD was been safely and efficiently practiced from all types of offshore rigs and producing the desired results in the process, it is still considered a relatively "new" technology to the majority of offshore drillers.

This impressive uptake in offshore MPD applications is due in part to a requirement to drill in greater water depths, through depleted zones or reservoirs and into narrow or relatively unknown equivalent mud weight (EMW) drilling windows.

As evidenced by the greatly increased cost of drilling today's prospects, pre-salt drilling in deep water and HT/HP wells being good examples, it is easy to understand why many are concluding that most of the "easy" prospects have already been drilled. Those remaining are more likely to be "hydraulically challenged," requiring more precisely controlled management of the wellbore pressure profile to be drilled safely and efficiently.

The following paper will explain interesting and important MPD topics related with the experience on:

  • Challenges associated with heaving from a micro-flux perspective, substantiated by high precision pressure sensors.

  • Kick/loss detection under heaving conditions detecting gains/losses within a micro-influx perspective.

  • Tactics to improve MPD operations in deepwater environments by the automation choke actuation systems and associated control algorithms.

  • Tactics for Safeguarding the Riser during MPD Operations.

  • Tactics for ascertaining the effectiveness of drilling with statically underbalanced mud to reduce/eliminate losses and maintain wellbore stability.

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