The field of interest involves penetrating a predominantly dolomite and dolomitic limestone formation associated with highly pressurized saltwater equivalent to as high as 157 pcf (21 ppg). The most over-pressurized zones are encountered across the ±1,000 ft. base layer of this formation where the majority of flow incidents occurs. This is further exacerbated by the extremely narrow mud window of 0.5-1.0 pcf (0.07-0.14 ppg) between the pore pressure and fracture pressure. Such conditions may lead to risky operations that include well control, high mud weight (MW) design complications, differential sticking, drillstring design limitations, liner equipment failure, poor cement job, etc.

Fully automated managed pressure drilling (MPD) systems are utilized to drill the 12 in. hole section and walk the tight window across this rock. This approach allows for applying surface back-pressure (SBP) and accurately holding constant bottomhole pressure (BHP) while keeping constant MW throughout the drilling operation. This operation also witnessed the application and utilization of fully automated MPD systems as means to run and cement a 9-5/8 in. liner across this troublesome zone.

Conventionally running liners in excessively high kill MW of ±155 pcf (20.72 ppg) while dealing with tight margins is particularly challenging as it yields total losses due to the surge effect. Conventional cement jobs also mandate filling the hole with high kill MW before the cementing operation, inducing losses and resulting in poor well integrity, leaking liner packer, wet casing shoe, etc. Utilizing MPD systems to run and cement the 9-5/8 in. liner allowed for multistage hole displacement, filling the hole with a lighter MW, and maintaining constant BHP throughout the entire operation regardless of any surface tool failure (pump cavitation, leaking cement head, and surface lines, etc.).

This paper details the planning and design phase along with the operational sequence of running and cementing the 9-5/8 in. liner with fully automated MPD systems. A case study will be highlighted to establish lessons learned and best practices.

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