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Extreme Deepwater Wells Push Drillers To Begin Using Managed-Pressure Methods

Topics: MPD/UBD
Courtesy of Petronas.
The modified riser joint used for a well drilled by Petronas to attach a pump to drill a dual-gradient well offshore Cuba, allowing it to drill in a low pressure carbonate formation where major fluid losses had been a serious problem.

Dual-gradient drilling has long been described as the drilling method of the future for challenging offshore wells. Now there are indications that it could start being used with some regularity, with multiple-well campaigns possible as early as next year.

This method of managed-pressure drilling has been used a handful of times on a floating drilling rig, mostly to precisely manage the pressure in wells while drilling in weak, low-pressure formations prone to major fluid losses. Currently, Chevron and Statoil are seeking to use the system for deep, difficult, high-pressure formations in the US Gulf of Mexico.

A drillship leased by Chevron, Pacific Santa Ana, is testing dual-gradient equipment on the ocean bottom while drilling a conventional well, and the company has leased a second drillship from Pacific Drilling, Pacific Sharav, that was built to accommodate dual-gradient drilling equipment.

Statoil is seeking a permit to drill what could be the first dual-gradient well in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, using another version of the managed-pressure method. “When we came here to the Gulf of Mexico, it was a perfect match with the challenges we had here,” said Uno Holm Rognli, vice president of drilling and wells in the offshore US for Statoil. “We started a program locally to develop this system” for conditions in the Gulf.

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Extreme Deepwater Wells Push Drillers To Begin Using Managed-Pressure Methods

Stephen Rassenfoss, JPT Emerging Technology Senior Editor

01 July 2014

Volume: 66 | Issue: 7

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