Managed Pressure Drilling has been proven to be a tool for extending access to previously unattainable drilling targets in many deepwater areas across the world, such as deepwater Gulf of Mexico. 21" Low-Pressure risers do not allow for application of Constant Bottom Hole Pressure (CBHP) technique by floaters. Since it is not designed to hole the pressure, it prevents setting up a closed circulation loop in our drilling system which is an essential tool for MPD.
A high-pressure riser along with a surface Rotating Control Device is required to perform CBHP drilling technique. However, we know that deployment of such high pressure risers in long lengths and harsh environments has not come to be practical.
An alternative drilling method from floaters at any water depth proves to be Reelwell Drilling Method (RDM). Reelwell AS, Shell, StatoilHydro, and the Research Council of Norway launched a JIP in 2005 to develop RDM, which is a riserless drilling method based on concentric drill pipe. Mud is circulated in a closed loop in this system. The pressure and flow of mud is dynamically controlled by a computer system on the return path on the surface. Many tests including the latest pilot test in March 2009 has proven that the downhole pressure can be controlled precisely and that the system fits perfectly for CBHP.
Deployment of this technology by smaller floating rigs is possible with no limitation on water depth as huge and long 21" LP riser is eliminated from the system. The volume of mud is limited to bring about even more cost and rig space savings.