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Massive circulation loss and hole instability problems offshore Mexico were mitigated in a series of wells that incorporated liner drilling in their basis of design. Problems on two previous wells in the field had resulted in 55 days of nonproductive time (NPT) that cost an estimated $5.68 million. The drilling-with-liner (DWL) solution allowed the operator to reach the intended liner setting depths, eliminate contingency liners, and ultimately meet well construction objectives. Application of the technology over nine wells also allowed optimization of the liner drilling process for the specific application, including equipment selection, operations and results.
The key to success was the ability of liner drilling technology to isolate the loss and instability intervals. Lost circulation and wellbore instability problems, seen in conventionally drilled wells, were effectively mitigated with liner drilling. In addition, annular fluid management was enhanced by the narrow annular geometry created by liner drilling. Drilling operations were assisted by high torsional capacity and cyclic fatigue resistance achieved with a hydraulic liner system, as well as the effectiveness of drillable PDC casing bit technology in drilling the trouble sections.
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