Drilling long horizontal development wells in a conglomerate reservoir with strong heterogeneity has been challenging in the Junggar Basin, onshore China. To develop the fields economically, rapid and safe drilling with minimal non-productive time (NPT) is required. However, various drilling problems such as stuck pipe, mud losses have been experienced in the build-up section while the horizontal conglomerate section experienced an extremely low rate of penetration (ROP). To overcome the drilling challenges, a thorough understanding of the subsurface characteristics of the formations is critical to develop effective engineering solutions.

To improve drilling efficiency, an integrated multidisciplinary approach was applied to derive an effective drilling solution. Drilling experiences from offset wells were reviewed systematically to identify the possible reasons that have caused the drilling problems. This diagnostic approach helped to identify appropriate drilling solutions for mitigating the different drilling risks. Detailed geomechanical models were also constructed to understand the stress state and rock mechanical properties of the conglomerate reservoir and the overburden formations so that proper mud weights can be defined for each section to control both wellbore collapse and mud losses. Mud weight recommendations and failure mechanism diagnosis also provided the basis for drilling fluids designs. Additionally, in order to achieve a better hole quality as well as increase the reservoir contact and ROP, advanced rotary drilling systems were also used with real time monitoring. The latter enabled the tracking of rock property and ECD changes as well as other drilling parameters during the drilling process.

This integrated solution was applied in the drilling of several horizontal wells. One typical case is presented in this paper. In this well, the risk of hole instability was very high because the well was targeting a deeper formation with a few shaly intervals in the build-up section which are known to cause serious wellbore stability problems. The safe mud weight window inferred from geomechanical analyses appears to be very narrow, particularly at the casing shoe where the mud weight required to control borehole collapse is very close or even higher than the fracture gradient. To help with drilling the well cost-effectively, drilling fluid was designed to perform three (3) critical functions - 1) maintaining wellbore stability, 2) increasing ROP and 3) broadening the mud weight window to minimize mud losses. The successful drilling of this well broke the drilling record in the same block.

The integrated multidisciplinary approach successfully reduced the occurrence of borehole instability related problems and NPT in the study well. Following the same methodology, the drilling efficiency will improve with more experience and understanding obtained from continuous drilling. This continuous learning process will be the key aspect of this project, eventually contributing to the success of the field development.

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