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Underbalanced Drilling: From Niche to Universal Adoption

4 – 6 February 2013

Dubai, UAE | The Address Dubai Marina Hotel

About this Workshop


Underbalanced drilling (UBD) is a very useful technique to drill wells in order to minimise formation damage that is common in conventional overbalanced drilling operations and to enhance reservoir characterisation during drilling. In addition to minimising formation damage and enhancing reservoir characterisation, other benefits related to UBD can be obtained related with drilling performance such as an increase in penetration rate, the elimination of lost circulation problems, and differential pipe sticking. UBD is not a new technique, and numerous successful projects have been executed both globally as well as regionally in the Middle East. Global industry adoption of the technique however, remains low, and many continue to refer to UBD as a niche technology. Are the reservoir related benefits poorly understood?

Have the correct reservoir candidates been drilled underbalanced? Are the operational risks understood adequately, or is the technique deemed too risky? Is the value derived from UBD high enough to warrant its use? In this workshop we will endeavor to discuss these questions and uncover the issues that may lead to universal adoption of UBD. The workshop will review the progress made in the application and deployment of the technology over the years, and will be used to update operators’, drilling contractors’, and service suppliers’ understanding of the value delivered by all aspects of UBD. The programme will also include discussion about the HSE considerations on UBD operations and several case studies from the Middle East and worldwide.

What is UBD?
When this technique is properly executed, the pressure in the column of drilling fluid is, intentionally, maintained below the formation pressure. In the case of a reservoir where the pore pressure is less than the specific gravity of static oil, the density of the drilling fluid can be reduced by injecting gas. The application of UBD has permitted the commercial development of numerous gas and oil reservoirs worldwide. UBD is increasingly used to reduce near wellbore formation damage problems in oil and gas producing formations; however, it is not necessarily a panacea for all formations. If implemented properly, UBD can increase oil and gas well profitability by reducing invasive formation damage to maximize production rates. UBD has only become possible as a result of the integration of many developing technologies that facilitate directional control of the well trajectory, control of the bottom hole circulating pressure, and the safe handling of drilling fluids and drill cuttings on surface.

Who Should Attend

  • Drilling engineers
  • Production engineers
  • Drilling managers
  • Reservoir engineers
  • Rig engineers

Visa Information

SPE Middle East, North Africa, and India will assist in providing a visa invitation letter, upon request in writing, to confirmed registrants after receiving full payment of registration fees. Visa invitation letters take five days to issue from the date of request and it is the delegate's responsibility to obtain their own visa. SPE cannot issue the visa nor can we guarantee it will be obtained.


Workshop Guidelines


Three (3) days of informal discussions prompted by selected keynote presentations and discussions. Workshops maximise the exchange of ideas among attendees and presenters through brief technical presentations followed by extended breakout sessions and Q&A periods. The majority of the presentations are in the form of case studies, highlighting engineering achievements, and lessons learned.


  • Proceedings will not be published; therefore, formal papers, and handouts are not expected from speakers.
  • Work in progress, new ideas, and interesting projects are sought.
  • Professionally prepared visual aids are not required; handwritten view graphs are entirely acceptable.
  • Note-taking by participants is encouraged.

Poster Session

The Steering Committee encourages registrations from professionals who are able to prepare and present a poster on a relevant project. For further details kindly contact Regina Alphonso, event coordinator, at ralphonso@spe.org.


Registrations will be accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis. The Steering Committee encourages attendance from those who can contribute to the workshop most effectively either in discussions or with posters. A mix of attendees in terms of geographic origin, companies, and disciplines will be encouraged.

Workshop Deliverables

  • The Steering Committee will appoint a “scribe” to record the discussions and to produce the full workshop report for SPE.
  • This report will be circulated to all attendees as the workshop deliverable within 4–6 weeks following the workshop. The copyright of the report is with SPE.
  • PowerPoint presentation materials will be posted on a specific SPE URL address after the workshop. Provision of the materials by the speakers will signify their permission for SPE to do so.


In keeping with ATW objectives and the SPE mission, commercialism in posters or presentations will not be permitted. Company logos must be limited to the title slide and used only to indicate the affiliation of the presenter and others involved in the work.

Attendance Certificate

All attendees will receive an attendance certificate attesting to their participation in the workshop. This certificate will be provided in exchange for a completed Workshop Questionnaire.

Continuing Education Units

Attendees at this workshop qualify for SPE Continuing Education Units (CEU) at the rate of 0.1 CEU per hour of the workshop.