Some operators estimate that lost circulation and well control events contribute to nearly 30% of total wellbore costs. In challenging deepwater drilling frontiers in which risks, nonproductive time (NPT), and associated costs are most substantial, the optimum drilling solution uses vessels equipped for managed pressure drilling (MPD).

Land operators traditionally rely on MPD technology as a contingency plan to overcome obstacles; however, deepwater operators tend to be more reluctant to adopt this practice because of the belief that cost of installation exceeds the cost of setbacks. On the contrary, MPD technologies enable the operator to significantly reduce fluid losses, NPT, and costs associated with wellbore-related pressure events. In fact, one example is the corrective responsiveness provided by the MPD variants of pressurized mud-cap drilling (PMCD) and floating mud-cap drilling (FMCD) can reduce costs associated with fluid losses by up to 40%.

This paper will evaluate the economic benefits of a proactive MPD installation. In a conventionally drilled, deepwater well with an MPD-ready rig in Brazil, the MPD stack was not installed on the riser and total losses were experienced resulting in 13 days of NPT. An economic analysis cross-comparing the cost of having an MPD stack installed for contingency use versus having the equipment on standby during conventional drilling will illustrate the cost reduction that an MPD-ready vessel provides.

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