Drilling a 6-in. lateral in underbalanced conditions while ensuring effective hole cleaning

As the oil and gas industry is buffeted by fluctuating oil prices and faces the challenge of diminishing reserves, operators are increasingly in need of an economically viable means of accessing mature and low-yield fields. One solution lies in the technology offered by coiled tubing drilling, which has received a great deal of attention over the last 20 years, due to several distinct benefits that it offers over conventional jointed pipe drilling, Fig. 1. The most significant of these well-documented benefits is the ability to drill continuously in underbalanced conditions. This protects the integrity of the well formation while increasing the drilling rate, and is particularly useful for sensitive reservoirs. In addition to the benefits associated with managing downhole pressure, CT can also offer faster mobilization speed, reduced rig time and fewer preparation requirements, all of which can lead to significantly reduced operational costs (30%-to-40% reduction in cost, compared with conventional jointed pipe drilling).

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