The Lower Cretaceous Zubair formation in Kuwait comprises oil-bearing sands intercalated with shale sequences. Historically, drilling into this formation presented major wellbore instability issues that include hole pack -off, stuck pipe and logging tools, high over-pull, tight zones while tripping, and severe hole washouts. These well problems have a significant impact on well costs and timeline.

Wells drilled in every orientation have experienced instability problems in this formation. Vertical wells have encountered major washouts and difficulties with wireline logging operations. Deviated wells have been even more unstable and often required sidetracks - greatly increasing well costs.

This paper analyzes these wellbore instability problems, including the failure mechanisms, and presents the actions taken to resolve them. A solution to these instability issues is presented, which was derived by building geomechanical models using well data, drilling problem analysis, core inspection, and core -based rock mechanical test results.

We used chemoporoelastic and anisotropic geomechanical models to simulate the behavior of the Zubair formation while drilling in vertical and deviated holes to understand the wellbore instability experiences.

Based on the analysis, changes in mud weight, reformulation of the mud system, and modified drilling practices were incorporated in the well plan of new high-angle wells. Success was achieved in drilling the wells and running the casing in this formation with deviations as high as 80°. The study helped to achieve a large reduction in indirect NPT due to wellbore instability. This experience is also a key learning and input for designing future complex trajectories. It is expected that a major measurable impact in the form of smoother operations and optimized well cost will occur during the drilling campaign based on recommendations from this analysis.

You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.