No-Damage DrillingSM is the ultimate goal of all well construction activities, by providing a way to explore and produce the hydrocarbon reserves with minimum reduction of the natural permeability of the reservoir rocks. Conventional drilling is conducted with an over-balanced pressure on the reservoir formation, which causes the drilling fluid to invade and damage the rock.

The industry has been trying to come up with alternatives and underbalanced drilling UBD has grown in popularity during the last years. However, in many situations UBD is not feasible to be used, due to economical and/or technical reasons. In cases UBD is not used, a drilling fluid with an overbalanced pressure should be used. A new drilling fluid called Non-Invasive FluidSM – NIFSM has been developed and is in the market to fill this gap.

The goal of this paper is to present a new concept, called No-Damage Drilling, addressing the most important points during a well construction activity. The paper describes the different techniques available to achieve the goal of drilling a well with no-damage, including UBD and drilling fluids. A new drilling fluid is described, which has the capability of not invading the rock when a certain overbalance is applied, and the unique technology of the fluid allows an extremely easy removal of the seal, guaranteeing an effective restoration of the original permeability of the rock.

The paper presents laboratory tests conducted to evaluate the performance of UBD and drilling fluids related to formation damage, as well as several case histories showing that with careful planning and proper technology a successful No-Damage Drilling operation is possible to be achieved. The paper finally addresses the main points to be followed to decide the best technological option to drill with no-damage, based on a series of questions specially developed.

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