Operators today face an ever-increasing demand for locating commercial reserves and producing those reserves with attention to exploration and development costs. In addition to basic financial pressures, operators also strive to reduce the environmental impact of well construction and production operations. Extended-reach drilling technology allows operators to reach recoverable reserves that, in the past, were unreachable. Specifically, extended-reach drilling from a multipad wellsite allows significant portions of the well-construction costs to be distributed amongst multiple wells, rather than being carried by an individual wellbore. Also, the capability to drill multiple wells from a single pad reduces the environmental impact of the drilling operation.

Extending wellbore reach from a given pad depends on the location of the target formation. Depth, horizontal distance, and production type significantly affect the type of drilling program as well as the casing running operation. Casing flotation is a proven technology that has been deployed in fields around the world to extend the attainable lateral reach of the casing running operation. In many wells, the buckling limits of the casing being run, rather than insufficient hook load, prevent successful casing running operations from pushing the casing into the lateral section. In some cases, slack-off loads with small casing strings cause helical buckling and lock-up of the casing before reaching total depth.

This paper documents the use of flotation technology in several wells where casing lock-up caused by buckling limits was averted to allow successful casing running operations to be performed without the requirement of costly premium torque-shouldered connections. Detailed prejob planning and computer simulations are provided to demonstrate the limits without casing flotation and the step out achieved with it.

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