Coiled Tubing Drilling (CTD) has been growing and developed rapidly through the last two decades. There have been numerous highly successful applications of CTD technology in Alaska, Canada, Oman and the United Arab Emirates (Sharjah Sajaa and Dubai Murgham fields), among other places. Currently, Saudi Arabia has undertaken a campaign for the last seven years that has shown successful results in gas reservoirs.

ADNOC initiated a trial Coiled Tubing Underbalanced Drilling (CTUBD) project in the onshore tight gas reservoirs in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates beginning operations 1-December-2019. The initial trial will consist of three (3) wells. The purpose of the trial is to assess the suitability of CTUBD for drilling the reservoir sections of wells in these fields, and further application in others.

The reason for choosing coiled tubing for drilling the reservoir sections is based upon the high H2S content of the reservoir fluids and the premise that HSE can be enhanced by using a closed drilling system rather than an open conventional system.

The three wells will be newly drilled, cased and cemented down to top reservoir by a conventional rig. The rig will run the completion and Christmas tree before moving off and allowing the coiled tubing rig to move onto the well. The coiled tubing BOPs will be rigged up on top of the Christmas tree and a drilling BHA will be deployed through the completion to drill the reservoir lateral.

The wells will be drilled underbalanced to aid reservoir performance and to allow hole cleaning with returns being taken up the coiled tubing / tubing annulus. The returns will be routed to a closed separation system with produced gas and condensate being primarily exported to the field plant via the production line, solids sparge to a closed tank or pit and the drilling fluid re-circulated. The primary drilling fluid will be treated water; however, nitrogen may be required for drilling future wells in the field and will be required regardless for purging gas from the surface equipment during operations. A flare will also be required for emergency use and for start-up of drilling. If the trial proves a success, a continuous drilling plan will be put in place.

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