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With Dual-Gradient Drilling, the Name Requires Explanation

Dual-gradient drilling covers a variety of methods for managing pressure within an offshore well while drilling. Dual refers to systems built to reduce or eliminate the pressure added by drilling fluid in the riser. The goal is to create distinct pressure gradients above and below the mudline.

It is a departure from the simpler traditional approach using a single fluid combining water or oil plus drilling mud to make it viscous enough to remove cuttings while drilling, and just heavy enough to control pressures in the open hole without causing damage.

As drilling moved into deeper waters the gap has narrowed between the effective mud weight-per-gallon to offset the formation pressure, and the level that can fracture it. Drillers refer to this slim margin as working within tight drilling windows.

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With Dual-Gradient Drilling, the Name Requires Explanation

01 July 2014

Volume: 66 | Issue: 7

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