Over the last 60 years, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been producing oil and gas from different conventional fields. Nowadays, and as part of the State long-term strategy to achieve the nation objective of gas self-sufficiency, it has been decided to explore, appraise and develop unconventional plays in the Northern area including the construction of early production facilities to supply the gas power plants. Three wells were drilled as part of the first phase of the project; consisting of a pilot hole into an extremely heterogeneous formation; two of them were horizontalized into the targeted formations. The first well across the salt represented a tremendous challenge due to limited rig capacity generating hole stability issues that required unplanned remedial jobs. The second well was deviated across the salt as pilot hole, then side-tracked and horizontalized in the targeted reservoirs. The third well was drilled directly as horizontal lateral based on previous lessons learned validating the horizontal concept for the future field development plan.

The exploration phase constituted by these three wells, were drilled and completed successfully. A detailed data gathering program was executed allowing mapping of the area validating the presence of gas. The drilling parameters, such as rate of penetration (ROP) for the horizontal section was enhanced by optimizing the drilling Bit design. The mud logging results have confirmed the extremely heterogeneous formations across this section allowing determining the most fit for purpose bottom hole assembly (BHA); obtained after a detailed optimization process. Multiple lessons learned were captured and immediately applied leading to a significant reduction on total days per well that reflected on an outstanding cost reduction including rig move optimization, incrementing the overall efficiency of the operations. This project has proven the potential of unlocking the development of this field focusing on the targeted untapped reservoirs. Key unprecedented achievements have been fulfilled during the execution of this phase of the project: 1. First time to drill across a salt dome in Abu Dhabi Emirate 2. First time that horizontalization has been applied to the targeted formations. In addition, a better understanding of the optimum drilling parameters for future phases has been obtained.

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