In 2013, PTTEP drilled a deepwater well in the Gulf of Martaban, Myanmar. The water depth was 1003m with riserless drilling over 1000m below seabed. Being exploration well without any reliable offset well, shallow hazards risk was high. Shallow hazards analysis was performed, showing the high risk of shallow water flow. Shallow water flow causes many incidents, including surface casing cement failure. It can happen during cementing, cement phase transitioning, and after the cement has set. Cementing with the shallow water flow presence is, therefore, the critical operation to achieve the well integrity. Using special cement systems, foam or ultra-lightweight, is expensive, logistically challenging, and operationally complicated. After thorough risk analysis and mitigation, conventional class G cement system was selected.

Information from 12-1/4″ pilot hole and actual 26″ hole were analysed for cementing plan. Shallow water flow occurred at 1819m in pilot hole. Pump and dump was started from 1760m in 26″ hole to prevent the flow. However, drilling to 2005m encountered another strong flow. So, the critical zone was identified from 2005m downward. For operational success, the critical zone was covered by gas tight tail slurry with API fluid loss control less than 50 mL/30 min, a SGSA transition timer shorter than 30 minutes and a short thickening time to prevent formation fluid migration. Lead slurry was designed for sufficient density and long thickening time to provide enough hydrostatic pressure, preventing fluid migration while tail slurry was setting. Not being ultra-lightweight cement, slurries were pumped with high excess and contain fibrous LCM to mitigate losses risk. Centralisation also contributed to the cementing success.

During the cement job, good returns had been observed. No shallow water flow occurred during and after cementing. Operation was continued without subsidence issue.

This paper summarises the process of assessing the risks and designing the economical cement operation to mitigate the risks, resulting in safe operation from shallow hazards.

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