The Nezla Field is a faulted anticline that makes conventional drilling challenging due to the presence of fractured and high pressure formations in the Triassic and Ordovician groups, representing trouble zones that jeopardize well objectives, adding costs and operational risks to the drilling process. This adverse condition was observed in the offset wells drilled with problems related to wellbore instability, lost-circulation zones and over-pressured formations leading to kick/loss well control scenarios that endangered the drilling operations and incurred significant Non-Productive Time (NPT). A Drilling Hazard Mitigation (DHM) approach was implemented to offset the risks of both deviating from the well objective and drilling plan.

The constraint to drill the planned 12-1/4" section in the well was the unpredictability of the pore/fracture pressure in the transition zone between Tags and Sandy Tags formations, representing a high level operational risk. The most optimum and reliable solution to achieve the goal of drilling this zone without loss of hole size was to set 9-5/8" casing shallower than planned and then isolate the lower section of Tags formation (abnormally pressurized) with an Open Hole Expandable Liner. Drilling the next hole section through the low pressure formations to set the 7" casing shoe was to be resumed as per the original plan. This allowed the 6" reservoir hole section to be drilled under the Managed Pressure Drilling (MPD) mode.

The CBHP (MPD technique) was planned to drill the 6" section through the tectonically fractured Sandstone Hamra Quartzite maintaining the ECD within the drilling window limits initially defined by the predicted formation pressure and the average mud hydrostatic with which fluid losses were experienced in the offset wells. While drilling, these limits were ascertained within the range of 1.26 SG EMW – gas influx and 1.32 SG EMW – fluid losses. The CBHP drilling mode enabled to manage the ECD in between influxes and losses only adjusting the well head pressure to obtain instantaneous changes in the Bottom Hole Pressure while circulation was in progress. During the pumps-off periods, back pressure was applied on the MPD choke by pumping mud across the top of the well to compensate the Annular Friction Loss pressure. Once these limits were reached, drilling progressed with managing simultaneously small gas influxes and tolerable losses; then TD was called since the risk of simultaneous total losses and gas Influxes in the underlying Hamra fault was increasing.

This paper describes in detail the DHM technology implemented in this well and presents the successful application of such technique to enhance Nezla field exploitation. Lessons learnt and challenges encountered will be also discussed.

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