Recent development of Managed Pressure Drilling (MPD) Techniques for use from floating drilling rigs began in the late 1990’s concurrent with the development of 5th generation offshore drilling vessels(1). During this period a number of industry efforts focused on developing "riserless" or dual gradient drilling systems employing subsea mu d return pumping system. One of these efforts(2) culminated with the drilling of a test well in the Gulf of Mexico employing a subsea pump based Dual Gradient drilling method. Additionally, during this period another industry group employed aerated drilling fluid and a closed loop circulating system to drill a pressure depleted well section offshore Brazil from a floating drilling rig (3). While technically successful, these efforts did not result in commercially deployable drilling systems.
Much of the initial industry focus has been on developing MPD methods for deepwater applications, many of the techniques are applicable to all offshore drilling operations and a number of recent applications of Constant Bottom Hole Pressure drilling methods have been employed from fixed installation in both the North Sea and US GOM (4, 5, 6). At the same time both Surface BOP and RiserCap™ equipment configurations (Fig 1) have been employed to implement Pressured Mud Cap Drilling from floating drilling rigs offshore South East Asia.