Drilling the Point Pleasant-Utica formation in the Appalachian Basin has posed challenges to most operators, especially in Western Pennsylvania. A recent well drilled in this region demonstrated that with proper buy-in from the Operator, Constant Bottomhole Pressure (CBHP) Managed Pressure Drilling (MPD) could be the answer when planned and executed correctly. This paper drives the point that MPD is more than simply dropping chokes on location.

Prior to drilling the well, the Operator initiated the communication very early with the MPD service provider and created an avenue to reduce the projected mud weight and develop a detailed CBHP MPD plan with a Pressurized Mudcap Drilling (PMCD) contingency. The anticipated challenges on this well were: High-pressure gas fractures, formation instability/shale breakout, severe/total loss of returns, inability to reach Target Depth, and casing/cementing issues.

The Operator took time and worked with the new MPD service provider to carefully design and plan a new well (referred to as ‘Y1’ in this document), which helped execute the MPD part of the project within 30 days. In contrast, the MPD execution on a previous well (referred to as ‘X2’ in this document) with the older MPD service provider took more than 90 days. MPD execution on the new MPD well included dynamic influx management and loss mitigation, and understanding of the petro-physical conditions to reach the target. The significant factors that helped drill this well safely with a low Non-Productive Time (NPT) are excellent safety culture, communication, high quality and well-maintained MPD equipment, and a very knowledgeable and highly experienced MPD team. This project was finished within half of the budgeted Authorization for Expenditure (AFE), setting milestones in this region for this Operator.

You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.