Managing Circulation Losses in a Harsh Drilling Environment: Conventional Solution vs. CHCD Through a Risk Assessment
- Silvia Masi (Eni E&P Division) | Claudio Molaschi (Eni E&P Division) | Fabrizio Zausa (Eni E&P Division) | Jean Michelez (Kwantis)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Drilling & Completion
- Publication Date
- June 2011
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 198 - 207
- 2011. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 1.14 Casing and Cementing, 1.7.1 Underbalanced Drilling, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 7.2.1 Risk, Uncertainty and Risk Assessment
- Risk Analysis, Underbalance Drilling, CHCD, H2S
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- 877 since 2007
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Conventional drilling techniques used in harsh drilling environments are sometimes impractical or uneconomical. This was experienced while drilling through the reservoir section being investigated. This section is characterized by high pressure and formation fluids estimated to contain 18 - 20% H2S and 4 - 6% CO2. The presence of extensive karst/fractures along with severe circulation losses prevents successful drilling using the conventional circulation technique. For this scenario, the pressurized-mud-cap closed-hole circulation-drilling (CHCD) technique was applied, and it proved to be the most effective method to drill through the Lower Carboniferous carbonate.
In conventional drilling through such lost circulation zones, the typical method is to isolate the thief formation [lost circulation-materials (LCMs) pills, gunks, and cement plugs] to maintain an overbalanced condition. These methods have their disadvantages: uncertain results, time and cost increase, and damages on well productivity. Furthermore, it may be a long, ineffective process because of multiple leakoff zones or massively fractured zones.
Where unsustainable losses occur and conventional circulation is no longer possible, the CHCD technique may be used to allow the continuation of drilling. This technique is not underbalanced drilling. The annulus is closed, and no returns are circulated to the surface.
The CHCD is not a simple or an inexpensive system. It is used only when other systems for controlling losses have proved to be ineffective. Large quantities of water and mud are required as well as additional equipment and specialized personnel. An accurate evaluation of several factors has to be performed. Drilling hazards are the major issue because the primary barrier to well influx is jeopardized, but also rig time, material availability, and consumption have to be considered.
The aforementioned uncertainties can be addressed through risk evaluations by comparing two drilling scenarios of a typical development well where one uses CHCD technology and the other uses conventional drilling techniques.
This paper will discuss the operational details of conducting CHCD as well as the risk-management approach, which involves the identification, evaluation, and mapping of all risks involved in each scenario (qualitative risk assessment). A probabilistic model is, therefore, developed to combine all the risks identified and to address their consequences within operational time (quantitative risk assessment).
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