Abstract

The understanding of salt beds has been significantly improved over the years; however, certain operational challenges still persist. Conditions encountered during drilling salt formations may lead to stuck Logging While Drilling (LWD) and or wireline tools, which, at times, can contain radioactive sources. As data gathering remains a primary requirement in exploration wells, cost optimization, beside risk mitigation, is a further challenge in today’s economic landscape. A holistic approach is proposed to address these main objectives. The conventional procedure required drilling and formation evaluation (LWD and or wireline) in the section above the interbedded salt formation, followed by rotary steerable (RSS) only in the interbedded salt formation sections of the well. Considering the shallow depths of the well and the proximity to the aquifers, the threat posed by losing radioactive sources in the well is significant, therefore, formation density and neutron porosity logging operation is often compromised due the inherent risk. Logging While Tripping, a method in which tools record open hole data from inside the pipe, resolves this compromise, as the risk of lost in hole (LIH) is virtually eliminated.

The empty LWT collars are run in the last bit trip or reamer run, as they do not affect the drilling operation. Once the well’s total depth is reached, the LWT logging tools are pumped from surface, safely inside of the pipe, and data is acquired while tripping the drill pipe out of the well. If the situation is evaluated as risky, drilling operation may continue without data acquisition. In case the logging tools already were deployed, they can be retrieved at any time by wireline or slickline.

Prior to the introduction of the LWT in the drilling/data acquisition procedure, only gamma ray - sonic data was acquired over the challenging formation sections. Compressional and shear data may be important to improve modelling accuracy; however, they may be negatively affected by various factors such as drilling noise, mud properties, washouts and gas in the formation, particularly reservoir rocks interbedded with thick salt beds. When compared to the Neutron-Density porosity, sonic porosity is noticeably inferior, showing limited formation signature. Neutron-Density porosity correlates well with core data.

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