The paper presents the first part of the development of a closed loop drilling system for the management of downhole pressures. It is based on the Micro-Flux Control (MFC) method and uses real time simulation techniques connected to a process control loop that facilitates full back-pressure control over the well. The method has been described previously and is only briefly summarized here.

This paper reviews the challenges and development hurdles that were overcome to commence field testing of the MFC method. The paper also describes how the first version was defined, based on feed-back received from operators, service companies and equipment suppliers.

A combination of established field-proven UBD technology and existing conventional drilling techniques are used, integrating with a software-based well control system. This allows the operator to maintain an effective, safe, on-line watch on the well control process at all times and in real-time.

The paper describes the results of the first series of tests conducted at a test well facility, where influxes were detected and automatically controlled with less than 1 bbl of pit gain. These outstanding results confirmed the ones previously obtained using a full size drilling simulator in the first part of the development; these results are also presented in the paper.

The paper finally describes the next steps to be taken for the system to become fully available for application in a wide range of wells.

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