The key objective of this study was to develop a high resolution wellbore stability model for planned highly inclined development wells of an ultra-deepwater field through integrating geological, geophysical, petrophysical and drilling data to design optimized drilling mud weight window.

This study describes a customized high resolution wellbore stability modelling process for development wells in ultra-deepwater setting, where shale and sandstone have different pore pressure and stress magnitudes. Un-calibrated and calibrated seismic velocities along with offset well data were used to generate the high resolution pore pressure model for the overburden shale section. Laboratory based geo-mechanical tests, petrophysical logs and offset well events were integrated for the estimation of sub surface stresses and rock mechanical properties for overburden shale and sandstone. Subsequently, separate wellbore stability model was built to estimate the shear failure gradient for overburden shale and sandstone.

This study suggests that the mud weight (MW) window in the overburden is primarily governed by two parameters – (i) sand-shale pressure equilibrium state, and (ii) stress anisotropy. The intervals where the sand and shale are not in pressure equilibrium state (i.e. shale pressure > sand pressure), the minimum MW requirement is defined by either pore pressure or shear failure gradient (SFG) of shale formation. Whereas, maximum limit is marked by fracture gradient of relatively less pressured sand formation. Therefore, in such intervals mud weight window becomes much narrower (~1 ppg) than those intervals where sand and shale is in pressure equilibrium (~1.6 ppg). This study also highlights the increase of minimum MW requirement (SFG) in some intervals having relatively higher stress anisotropy. The minimum MW requirement within the main reservoir section having thin intra-reservoir shale is controlled by the SFG of the sand formation, as strength is lower in the reservoir sand than intra-reservoir shale. Results show the importance of high resolution modelling in order to capture pressure uncertainty, thin sands, sand/shale pressure equilibrium state, stress anisotropy and its effects in defining the optimum mud weight window. Based on analysis, further risk zonation was done to highlights intervals prone to wellbore collapse and mud loss.

This paper illustrates how the integrated high resolution wellbore stability modeling would help in optimum mud weight planning for highly deviated / horizontal wells to minimize the drilling risks and non-productive time (NPT), especially for challenging field development settings (deepwater, ultra-deepwater, high stress, High pressure High temperature).

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