MPD Emerging as Preferred Drilling Method in Utica Shale
The prolific shale plays that span the US have been a game changer for the oil and gas industry, with technological advances and a decade of lessons learned creating more opportunities than ever to drill wells successfully.
However, these complex basins continue to present a host of drilling challenges, including uncertainty as it relates to pore pressure and fracture gradient, heterogeneous geology, narrow drilling windows, and pressurized fractures. Such characteristics increase the risk for gas kicks and losses, resulting in safety issues, high operational costs, and nonproductive time. To mitigate these hazards, operators are increasingly embracing drilling strategies that go beyond the limitations of conventional methods to provide the certainty they need to drill wells efficiently, economically, and safely.
Among the drilling techniques proving beneficial in shale plays is managed pressure drilling (MPD), a closed-loop drilling technique that enables the driller to monitor wellbore pressure profiles and rely on the system to automatically adjust surface backpressure as needed throughout the operation. The approach, which has been applied in land and offshore wells worldwide, is increasingly being adopted by operators to drill gas wells in the diverse Utica Shale, stretching across areas of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.