The Serang Field, offshore East Kalimantan, Indonesia was discovered in 1973. Production started in 1993. Although it is a mature field with 120 wells, drilling still faces challenges in the form of severe lost circulation and stuck pipe events. Side tracks often need to be drilled and drilling budget overruns can be significant. The 2006 drilling campaign of 5 wells saw the loss of several BHAs and needed 4 sidetracks, due to stuck pipe events.

In order to improve the drilling operation and to uncover root causes of the losses and pack-offs, a detailed geomechanical evaluation was conducted. The study began with a comprehensive data audit and drilling event review. All the captured information and log data was then used to create a Mechanical Earth Model (MEM) for wellbore stability planning of future wells.

Key findings of the study were that lost circulation occurred in high permeability zones in shallow carbonates (8-1/2" intermediate hole section) and were not caused by drilling induced fractures. A contingency plan was developed to drill to section TD with sea water, should losses occur. Breakouts, aggravated by low mud weights, lost circulation events, high deviation and slim hole contributed to poor hole cleaning, which caused the packoff incidents in the 6 1/8" sections.

Safe and stable mud weight windows were established to mitigate hole collapse and stuck pipe. Since losses can occur even at low mud weights but do not usually have severe consequences, the team decided it was more important to focus on avoiding breakouts and improve hole cleaning with higher mud weights, improved drilling fluids with stress cage system to drill through depleted reservoirs, controlled drilling, ECD management to prevent formation breakdown and the use of Rotary Steerables to improve hole cleaning. The recommendations of the study were incorporated during a 3 well drilling campaign in 2009. All 3 wells were drilled and completed within budget and without stuck pipe incidents.

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