Technical Paper: Automated MPD and an Engineered Solution: Case Histories from Western Canada

Society: SPE
Paper Number: 168017
Presentation Date: 2014
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Managed pressure drilling allows operators to address key technical risks such as narrow pore pressure and fracture gradient windows, influx management, sensitive wellbore stability environments and navigation of steep and unknown pore pressure ramps. In these applications, MPD may be the determining factor of delivering or not delivering the well.

Historically in North America land, operators have executed simplified forms of equipment-centric MPD in well-known basins. However, as unconventional development expands and new basins open up, subsurface pressure regimes present challenges that require a more intense engineered approach to MPD drilling, at least until the field is known. Applying engineering support alone does not guarantee success, though. MPD systems are designed to offer different degrees of pressure management precision and control. Depending on the complexity of the reservoir and geometry of the well design, an MPD solution appropriate for the application is also required.

The authors discuss the foundation of MPD automation using as an example, two systems with different degrees of automation control. Each was used for two distinct MPD projects in Western Canada. After determining the technical requirements of each basin, the appropriate MPD system was selected. In both instances, intensive drilling engineering design work was required to ensure the selected system was utilized successfully to drill these difficult wells. Each case unearthed unique lessons that allowed the drilling team to collectively evolve a step-change approach to MPD.

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