This paper identifies wellbore stability concerns caused by transient surge and swab pressures during deepwater drilling tripping and reaming operations. Wellbore stability analysis is presented that couples transient surge and swab wellbore pressure oscillations and in-situ stress field oscillations in the near wellbore (NWB) zone in deepwater drilling.

Deepwater drilling is usually subjected to narrow drilling windows and significant wellbore pressure oscillations during tripping/reaming because of well depth. However, integration of transient surge and swab pressure analysis, and its effects on in-situ stress analysis around the wellbore, is rarely industry studied.

A transient surge and swab model is developed by considering drillstring components, wellbore structure, formation elasticity, pipe elasticity, fluid compressibility, fluid rheology, etc. Real-time pressure oscillations during tripping/reaming are obtained. Based on geomechanical principles, in-situ stress around the wellbore is calculated by coupling transient wellbore pressure with surge and swab pressure, pore pressure, and original formation stress status to perform wellbore stability analysis.

By applying the breakout failure and wellbore fracture failure in the analysis, a workflow is proposed to obtain the safe operating window for tripping and reaming processes. Based on this study, it is determined that the safe drilling operation window for wellbore stability consists of more than just fluid density. The oscillation magnitude of transient wellbore pressure can be larger than the friction pressure loss during normal circulation process. With the effect of surge and swab pressure, the safe operating window can become narrower than expected. Although it is stable and not a concern during a normal penetration process, the wellbore stability can become problematic. By using the methodology described, unnecessary breakouts and borehole failures during tripping and reaming can be avoided. This work can also be used in the next generation of drilling automation.

This study provides insight into the integration of wellbore stability analysis and transient surge and swab pressure analysis, which is rarely discussed in the literature. It indicates that, when surge and swab pressure analysis is not carefully performed, the actual safe operating window can become narrower than originally predicted.

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