Differentiating wellbore breathing from real influxes in Alberta's Deep Basin has been problematic in the past as they both result in similar surface parameters. An incorrect interpretation of formation breathing may lead to significant non-productive time (NPT) as secondary well control operations from an influx can take days. On the contrary, a false negative will force drillers to perform secondary well control procedures that may lead to loss of circulation if excessive and unnecessary pressure is exerted on the formation.

MPD allows for a systematic approach to identify wellbore breathing more accurately in gas wells. The process involves a series of consecutive pressure build-up and flowback tests with close real-time monitoring to identify a breathing formation that is returning fluid to surface as microfractures close. This paper describes the protocol designed for distinguishing wellbore breathing and illustrates how several drilling parameter trends were interpreted to correctly identify wellbore breathing characteristics and differentiate them from a migrating gas influx. Testing the procedure on multiple wells resulted in 70% operational time savings from reduction in post mud rollover delays on breathing wellbores.

This paper shows that the methodology utilized provides consistent and effective results using the MPD techniques, eliminates the ambiguity of wellbore breathing versus actual influxes, and shows the potential application in more areas that are prone to this problem, reducing uncertainty, NPT, and total drilling time.

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