Extended reach drilling (ERD) can facilitate the development of untapped resources, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, surface congestion, and drilling costs. This ERD project with lower completion was started with an aim to lower well cost indicators including $/ft and $/bbl. Therefore, the challenge was to drill Slimhole ERD (6-1/8″ lateral) wells with water-based mud (WBM). WBM is more cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and less damaging to the reservoir than OBM (oil-based mud). The use of WBM instead of OBM can save $2MM per well. The major challenges in drilling Slimhole (6-1/8″ size) ERD well with lateral le include higher torque and failure to deploy lower completion due to high friction factors.

The first pilot well was planned with a liner-less design considering the low friction factors required to drill 15,000′ of 6-1/8″ lateral hole and run the lower completion. The second pilot well was targeting a deeper and tighter reservoir zone with higher downhole temperatures. This involved drilling 12-1/4″ intermediate hole to the landing point with larger 5-1/2″ drill pipe. It enabled a push-pipe technique for drilling the lateral hole with improved weight transfer through the curved profile. The 6-1/8″ lateral hole was drilled with 4″ high-torque drill pipe, tandem high-flow circulating subs, and specially formulated drilling fluid lubricant. A conventional OBM system provides sufficient lubricity to reduce friction factors as low as 0.10. In this application, a low cost WBM system was made feasible by introducing stable high-temperature lubricant and unique hole cleaning practices.

Following this successful achievement, the 5-year business plan has been revised to include 63 similar wells with a projected total savings of ~ $250MM.

The Slimhole ERD project has demonstrated substantial value with a 35% reduction in CAPEX. The delivery of these two Slimhole ERD wells overturned conventional drilling and completion practices.

The implemented project resulted in saving up to 35% of the well cost and saved 20 days per well compared to a conventional ERD well with 8-1/2″ hole and OBM. These two Slimhole ERD (15,000′ lateral) wells were drilled with a challenging Directional Difficulty Index (DDI) of 7.2. The wells were both completed successfully by running the 4-1/2″ lower completion to reach the total depth.

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