As the demand for natural gas continuously increases to meet electricity production needs, more alternative natural gas sources are usually required to cope with the increased demand in the summer months. In South Iraq, this situation is the main driver for exploiting economically feasible and efficient solutions in finding additional natural gas resources. As a result, the Iraqi government embraces the challenge by drilling deeper formations which are gas bearing, with limited experience in such fields. In the most recent appraisal campaign for these gas fields, performed in 2015 and 2016, one of the main challenges were bits and bottom hole assembly (BHA) failures while drilling through different interbedded and abrasive formations. Changing the bits type, BHA centralization, drive system and drilling parameters did not result in significant benefits.
For the 17 ½" section, up to six (6) independent runs were required to successfully drill the entire section. The success was limited due to severe shocks and vibrations, high axial forces and high torque that caused failures on downhole mud motors and bits, leading to fishing operation and severe non-productive time. Other problems like unstable drilling parameters, extremely low rate of penetration (ROP) and poor wellbore quality were observed, leading to excessive reaming and backreaming as well as stuck pipe events and difficulties to maintain well verticality. To avoid and minimize the impact of these challenges, a comprehensive engineering team performed various finite element analysis on the interaction between BHA, drilling bit and formations drilled. The conditions on which the wellbore was maintained in the offset wells with its drilling fluids strategy and drilling parameters were reanalyzed. The bits selections were revised, identifying areas of opportunity to introduce fit for purpose technologies on cutters and bits profile. The ultimate challenge was to drill the full 1800 m of the section in one run avoiding any BHA related failure.
The results exceeded expectations in the fourth well, where no BHA related failures were observed, and the drilling bit was able to drill the full 1800 m. Connection practices were also optimized. This enabled an improvement in the wellbore quality based on caliper logs. Improved wellbore conditions allowed a smooth casing run and consecutive cement job. This paper will discuss the engineering methodology followed to achieve this important milestone in one of the few gas fields in Iraq. It will go through the details of the technologies implemented on BHA analysis, bit selection, drilling parameters optimization and drilling fluids strategy implemented.
The objective of this paper is to share with the oil and gas industry a methodical approach for efficient drilling, and how to address drilling challenges with technology introduction and engineering design.