Loss of circulation while drilling the surface holes has become the main challenge in the Abu Dhabi Onshore developed fields. Typical consequences of losses are blind drilling and high instability of the wellbore that eventually led to hole collapse, drill string pack-offs and other associated well-integrity risks. Expensive operations including implementing aerated drilling technique, high water consumption and logistical constraints lead to difficulties reaching planned depth and running casing with added complexities of well integrity due to poor cement quality and bonding in the required isolation zones.

Casing while drilling (CWD) is becoming a powerful method in mitigating both lost circulation as well as wellbore stability issues. This paper details the first 13 3/8″ × 16″ successful non-directional CWD trial accomplished in Abu Dhabi and the various advantages of the process.

The Non-Directional CWD technology is used to drill vertical or tangent profiles with no directional drilling or logging (formation evaluation) requirements. The casing string is run with drillable body polycrystalline diamond cutters (PDC) bit and solid body centralizers are installed into the casing to achieve the required stand-off for cementing purpose. Some of the best practices applied to conventional drilling operations are not valid for CWD. The paper presents the methodology followed by the drilling engineers during the planning and preparation phases and presents a detailed description of the execution at the rig and the results of the evaluation including time savings, cement quality, rate of penetration, bottomhole assembly (BHA) directional tendency and losses comparison among others.

  • The implementation of CWD saved the operator five days. The bit selection and fit-for-purpose bit design were critical factors for the success of the application. The interval was drilled (as planned) in one run through interbedded formations with a competitive rate of penetration (ROP). In this trial the interval consisted of 2,470ft with an average on-bottom ROP of 63.7 ft/hr, zero quality, health, safety and environmental (QHSE) incidents with enhanced safety for the rig crew.

  • The technology eliminated the non-productive time (NPT) associated with tight spots, BHA pack-off, vibrations or stalls which it is an indication of good hole cleaning and optimum drilling parameters.

  • Medium losses (10-15 BBL/hr) were cured due to the plastering and wellbore strengthening effect of CWD allowing drilling to resume with full returns.

  • Well Verticality maintained with 0.3 degrees Inclination at section final depth.

  • The drillable CWD bit was drilled out with a standard 12.25-in PDC bit in 1 hour as per the plan.

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