While drilling through the Permian Zechstein Group, North Sea operators can encounter a permeable overpressured interval which cannot be statically stabilized with conventional methods. An operator proposed drilling with Liner (DwL) in combination with managed pressure drilling (MPD) and continuous circulation technologies as a potential solution to this drilling hazard. In case that the overpressured interval was not seen, the DwL BHA could be retrieved after which the remaining section would be drilled conventionally. The DwL process allows a hazardous interval to be isolated in a single trip resulting in less risk and exposure compared with conventional drilling methods. Realizing the potential benefits automation brings, many operators have turned to MPD techniques as a technical and cost-rewarding solution to hard-to-reach assets, an approach which not only saves time but also enhances the safety capabilities of the operation. More importantly, MPD is increasingly being considered for other operations requiring precise pressure control to maintain wellbore integrity in constricted drilling envelopes. Continuous circulation technology provides a method to ensure continuous flow downhole while making connections which supplements the controlled annular pressure profile to avoid a drilling fluid / formation fluid change out. The prompt collaboration within the operator-service provider team determined which combination of these technologies would be the safest and most effective means for managing the overpressured interval should it be encountered.
This collaborative effort consisted of well engineering analysis and risk assessment sessions to ensure that the 12 ¼-in. hole objectives could be met in a safe and efficient manner aligning with the overall well objectives. The analyses included DwL, MPD, continuous circulation procedures and related simulation modelling for the running, drilling and cementation of the 9-5/8-in. × 13-3/8-in. liner. The combined technologies encompass a multitude of engineering disciplines; these were integrated into the operator's drilling plan in a seamless manner. Potential concerns and drilling hazards were identified and reduced to a manageable level. Ultimately, the 9-5/8-in. DwL system was used without encountering the overpressured interval and therefore the DwL BHA was retrieved with the remaining 12-1/4-in. hole interval conventionally drilled to planned depth without incidents. This paper will illustrate inclusion of DwL, MPD and continuous circulation technologies in the drilling plan as an effective solution for the mitigation of hazardous intervals. It will also reinforce the value of a close working relationship between operator and integrated service providers to eliminate uncertainties and provide sufficient risk mitigation to ensure that intended well objectives will be met.