The success of a pilot milling operation is dependent on the mill design, adherence to correct milling parameters and precise location of stabilizing members in the bottomhole assembly (BHA), especially while milling through large casings such as 20 inch inside 30 inch conductor. This paper discusses the importance of correct mill design and stabilization of the BHA, along with field results from milling with under-gauged mill and stabilizers.

Pilot milling interventions to facilitate open-hole side-tracking can be very effective and cost-efficient, especially in cases where retaining the original borehole size is necessary for further workover operations, for example, when liner is milled for this purpose. Pilot milling is a suitable option where sidetracking with a whipstock is not viable, as when casing has collapsed, with internal diameter restrictions, or situations where irreparable surface damage to conductor pipe and casing have occurred due to corrosion. Such situations might result in losing an offshore platform slot, which is a huge cost to operators.

One such situation was encountered where 30 inch conductor pipe parted at the water line due to corrosion. Prolonged exposure to corrosion further led to 20 inch casing parting at the water line as well. Surface repairs were attempted but were unable to arrest annulus leakage. In order to recover the slot, an improved and specially designed pilot mill was used. A stabilized milling bottom-hole assembly with precise sizes and locations of stabilizers was incorporated. This new mill design resulted in milling 585.6 feet of 20 inch casing with an average rate of penetration (ROP) of 2.6 ft/hr. The new mill design resulted in good mill life and only two mill runs were made in the entire milling operation. Results of torque and drag simulations to study the bending stresses and torsional stresses on mill string components while milling are discussed. Catastrophic effects of using under-gauged mill and stabilizers were also examined.

This improved mill and stabilized bottom-hole assembly design offers optimum ROP, improved mill life, reduced surface vibrations and a fine metal cutting structure that eases metal debris handling at surface.

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