A managed pressure drilling (MPD) and early influx detection system is gaining worldwide acceptance as an enabling technology for drilling wells with challenges that can lead to tremendous nonproductive time (NPT), significant unplanned costs, and increased risk exposure. MPD counteracts the high cost of these wells by delivering significant savings when eliminating fluid losses or well control events that cause NPT. MPD technology has proven that is used to not only reduce NPT but also enable access to reserves previously considered un-drillable. In this case history, MPD helped to reach reserves that could not be reached in the first well.

Client planned to drill the well A, which is its second offshore exploration well. Early on in 2019, the campaign encountered significant problems because of high temperatures and a narrow pore-pressure/fracture-pressure (PP/FP) gradient window. Additionally, using conventional drilling methods in offset wells led to problems relating to kicks, loss scenarios, and stuck pipe. Before drilling the second exploration well, the relevant parties considered that the first well-presented multiple drilling issues, and they drew from past success. The latter job had ended with reaching all the well targets despite high-pressure/high-temperature (HP/HT) conditions using a continuous circulating device in conjunction with an MPD system. Therefore, this combination of technologies was chosen to drill the well A.

The operator used the MPD system, from the start when drilling the 14 3/4-in × 16-in. hole section to the end when drilling the 8 1/2-in. hole section, in offshore Vietnam. Applying MPD technology on this well resulted in many benefits, including the main benefit of always controlling the bottomhole pressure through the challenging zones. MPD also helped to maintain the equivalent circulating destiny (ECD) and equivalent static density (ESD) during drilling, connections, and a logging operation to mitigate the risk of any gas breaking out at the surface and to drill the well to the desired target depth.

This paper focuses on using MPD technology in conjunction with the continuous circulation system, in offshore Vietnam. It goes into detail by describing the experience and providing some of the lessons learned.

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