Managed pressure drilling is a process that utilizes friction pressure and annular back-pressure in addition to conventional hydrostatic column pressure to allow drilling of difficult formations. There are many parameters that play a part in the managing of wellbore pressure during fluid flow. Wellbore pressures are impacted by fluid density and rheologic properties, injection rates, cuttings transport, influx while drilling, wellhead or choke pressure, hole geometry and drillstring configuration. The effects of these parameters on wellbore pressure are different, but interact with one another. Therefore, careful consideration is needed when choosing which parameter(s) should be adjusted to manage the wellbore pressure during any particular operation.

A good understanding of the effects of these operating parameters on wellbore pressure is essential in the optimum design of an MPD project. This is especially true of the rheologic properties of MPD fluids. Rheologic properties of drilling fluids play important roles in the variation of wellbore pressure during any MPD operation. Most drilling fluids (WBM, SBM, or OBM) currently used in the field have a nonzero yield point (YP). A non-zero YP causes a sudden bottom hole pressure (BHP) jump when fluid starts to move or when fluid is about to stop moving. It also causes a sudden BHP jump when the drillstring starts to move up or down during tripping or connections regardless of how slow the pipe moves. The sudden pressure jump makes it difficult to minimize BHP variations.

This paper discusses the effects of various operating parameters on wellbore pressure and provides guidelines for managing wellbore pressure by adjusting those operating parameters. A simple equation to predict the sudden pressure jump caused by YP is provided. Field cases are used to illustrate managing wellbore pressure by adjusting various operating parameters.

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