The growth pattern of attractive new concepts, such as Underbalanced drilling (UBD), can be expected to follow an "S" shaped growth curve (Fig. 1).1 Much UBD technology is still considered relatively new, and probably just leaving the Early Adopters stage. The key to success in moving underbalanced drilling up the growth curve lies in a good understanding of the technology, careful planning (including full consideration of the risks), disciplined execution, and effective dissemination of technological information. Otherwise, early adopters can pay dearly for taking up the flag of new technology.
Several papers have been published discussing UBD processes as well as the benefits achieved from this technology. However, few papers have examined on the criticality of planning for UBD operations. A new research project has begun with the purpose of providing a detailed study in how to achieve proper planning for UBD operations in order to achieve success in drilling the well. This study emphasizes formation stability, well control, environmental restrictions, minimum formation damage, hydraulic analysis, and guaranteed economic incentives. Finally, we present an easy-to-use computer program has been developed to help in designing underbalanced drilling operations.
This paper reports the results of this project and demonstrates the use of the computer program and how it can be used as an easy and practical reference to determine the proper underbalanced drilling technique to apply to a particular situation.