Managed Pressure Drilling has been a key growth area in the quest to enhance safety and efficiency while drilling wells with ever-increasing levels of complexity. While MPD facilitates drilling in narrow windows, it is often the cementing of tubulars that represents the biggest challenge and results in the most frequent occurrence of losses.
Cementing operations are some of the most critical of all well construction activities due to their impact on well integrity and the fact that the first attempt represents the best opportunity to secure cement placement. Many of the techniques currently employed in Managed Pressure Drilling can be applied to improve cementing operations. However, a more complex circulating environment with multiple fluids in tight annuli makes the application more challenging. When planned and executed effectively, Managed Pressure Assisted Cementing can bring significant benefits to the design of the wells and the integrity of the cement isolation: Casings can be set deeper, tighter clearances can be accepted between casing OD and hole size, cement can be displaced at higher rates, and cementing operations can be reliably performed without losses.
This paper explores the key risks and challenges associated with employing a managed pressure approach to cementing, and describes an empirical methodology that has been developed to reliably deliver successful cement placement in a narrow-margin environment.