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D.B. Bennion.F.B. Thomas.A.K.M. Jarnaluddin. T.Ma Hycal EnergyResearch Laboratories Ltd.

UnderbaJanced drilling (UBD) is becoming increasingly used as a technique to reduce significant invasive formation damage in vertical and horizontal wells to improve production rates of oil and gas. and enhance injectivity in gas andwater injection situations. UBD may be a technically demanding procedure to execute in certain reservoirs and much of the benefit with respect to mitigation offormation damage may be compromised if the underbalanced drilling operation is not screened; designed and conducted in an appropriate fashion. Thispaper reviews commonformation dam.age meclKmismswhich may occur in reservoirs and how, in certain situations, these types of damage may be reduced or eliminated through the appropriate use of underbalanced drilling technology. Various situations in which underbaJanced drilling technology may result in potential significant formation damage are also discussed

increase rates of penetration, reduce invasive fonnation damage and reduce significant problems with drilling due to lost circulation and differential sticking. Many successful in1plementation stories of underbalanced drilling are evident in the literaturel.2; however, underbalanced drilling is not a panaceafor all fonnation damage problems in that inappropriately designed underbalanced drilling jobs may actually result in more formation damage than if a weU-designed and contemplated overbalanced job had been used in the same situation in some circumstances. This paper reviews some of the current technology in use at the present time in underbalanced drilling and illustrates some ofdte points which operators should be aware of before embarking on an underbalanced drilling operation.

What is Underbalanced Drilling (UBD)?

A rigorous definition ofUBD is the situation in which the exerted circulating pressure of the drilling fluid in contact with the formation is less than the effective pore pressure in the adjacent section of the matrix. The desirable course of action is to have this occur along the

Introduction Underbalanced drilling is utilized worldwide for the drilling of horizontally and vertically orientedwells to

entire exposedsectionof the net productivepay of the reservoirunder consideration, resultingin a net inflow of oil, water or gas (which may be containedin the matrix) into the wellbore. Theseproducedfluids are then retw11ed to the surfacealong with the circulating drilling fluid. A number of nomenclaturesfor a descriptionofUBD ex.istin die literature. They canbe definedas follows:
Overbalanced Drilling. A situation in which the equivalent circulating density of the drilling mud is sufficient that, at bottomhole conditions, the drilling fluid pressure is greater than the formation pressure, resulting in an effectively killed state of the well (where no inflow of fonnation of fluids occurs) during a conventional drilling operation. This was the most common technique utilized to drill wells in the past, and is still the dominant technology utilized in many reservoir situations today. Low Head Drilling. Low head drilling refers to a situation where an overbalanced pressure condition, similar to that descn"bedabove, is maintained with the use of lower density oil-based fluids or possibly aerated or gasified fluids to reduce the effective overbalance pressure exerted on the formation. This is done to reduce formation damage and the potential for severe invasive losses due to drilling problems, such as lost circulation, stuck pipe and differential sticking. Low head drilling is still classified as a form of overbalanced

In this situation. the circulating fluid density is further reduced to generate the underbalanced pressure condition by the inclusion of some type of noncondensible gas (generally nitrogen) in the circulating drilling fluid to reduce overall equivalent circulating density. This results in dte net inflow of fluids from the formation. The maintenance of these artificially induced underbalanced conditions is obviously more problematic than the preceding drilling operation discussed (i.e. flow drilling) due to the necessitY of the continuous injection of gas, resulting in the establishment of a quasi steady state equilibrium which may be disturbed during drilling operations. These phenomena are discussed in greater detail in this paper. Gas Drilling. Gas and air drilling have been utilized for many years as a technique to reduce drilling problems and avoid significant lost circulation into highly underpressured or sensitive formations. Pure gas drilling consists of a situation where pure air or nitrogen is utilized at extremely high flow rates, generally in combination with PDC bits. to generate small drill cuttings which are transported in highly turbulent flow back to dIe surface. Gas drilling may suffer from problems in certain situations due to poor hole cleaning ability and near wellbore mechanical damage known as glazing or mashing (discussed in greater detail later on in this paper).

Flow Drilling. Flow drilling refers to a situation where the fonnation of interest has sufficient pressure that a pure liquid based fluid can be utilized and an effective underbalanced pressure condition will be generated at the bottomhole level. This may be accomplished in some slightly underpressured reservoirs through the use of low density oil-based fluids or invert drilling fluids. In some cases, in normally pressured or overpressured reservoir situations, water-based fluids may also be utilized successfully for flow drilling operations. Flow drilling operations are commonly utilized in some areas of the Austin Chalk. Underbalanced Drilling - Artificially Induced This type of underbalanced drilling is commonly utilized in the Western Canadian Basin and also in oilier locations in the world where sufficient reservoir pressure depletion ex.iststhat an effective Wlderbalancedpressure condition cannot be naturally generateddownhole using either oil or water-based fluids of normal density ranges.

Mist Drilling. Mist drilling is a variant of pure gas drilling operations where a small amount of hydrocarbonor water-basedfluid is entrainedin the circulating drilling fluid to reducefrictional and heat problemsand reduceproblemswith downhole MWD assemblies. Mist drilling typically uses 5 - 30 liters/minuteof basefluid in combinationwith 40 - 80 cmlminuteof non-condensible gas, in comparisonto conventionalartificial UBD gasified fluid operations, discussed previously, which may use liquid rates ranging from 300-800 liters/mill at equivalent gas circulationrates. How is Underbalanced Drilling Conducted? Equipment utilized to drill underbalanced(with respectto bottomholeand surfacecontrol equipment) has been extensively discussed in the literature3.4. Figure I provides a basic schematicillustration of a typical flow loop which is utilized to conduct an underbalanced drilling operation. The vast majority of underbalanced drilling operationsconductedto date have utilized conventionaljointed pipe technology,

although an increaseduse in coiled tubing in recent years has been noted, particularly in the western
Canadian industry. For many Canadian operations, closed surface systems, in which a four phase separator is used to separate gases, liquids and solids, combined with a rotating control head and onsite flare stack and tankage for produced fluids are commonly utilized. In other areas of the world, non-closed surface control systems with open separators, sometimes called "gas busters", are utilized to conduct various types ofUBD operations.

underbalanced drilling is often thought of as a

preventative technique are generally defined as follows. Fines Migration. Fines migration refers to the natural motion of pre-existing particulates contained within the formation. In general, fmes will tend to migrate fairly exclusively with motion of the wetting phase, be this oil or water depending on the given reservoir situation. Significant loss of oil- or water-based drilling fluid. if this drilling fluid represents the wetting phase in a highly overbalancedpressure situation, may result in the physical migration of fines or, subsequent to this, the attempt to clean up the wellbore under high drawdown conditions to remove significant volumes of invaded loss filtrate may also result in particulate mobilization, blocking and plugging. The overall motivation for overbalanced drilling in such situations would be to reduce or eliminate fluid losses to the formation to reduce significant concerns with fines migration during both drilling and subsequent cleanup operations. The only potential risk associated with fines mobilization problems during underbalanced drilling is if a sufficient underbalanced pressure condition exists, and the mobilized phases from the formation (either oil or water) represent the wetting phase, in which case, sufficiently high fluid production rates from the reservoir during a UBD operation may result in the premature initiation of fines migration. The casemay be made that flow rates of this magnitude would normally occur during the normal production operations of the well subsequentto the drilling operations. External Solid\" Entrainment. During conventional overbalanced drilling operations, a net overbalanced pressure differential exists which has a tendency to potentially drive fluids and associated solids into the fonnation. Conventional drilling fluids contain a wide variety of potential suspended solids material such as a weighting agents, (barite, hematite, calcium carbonate, etc.), fluid loss agents (organic clays, bentonite, etc.) or a variety of granular and solid loss circulation materials (sized carbonates, sized salts, cellulosic fibers, oil soluble resins, gas sublatable crystals) and other more interesting LCM materials, such as chicken feathers, walnut hulls, bamboo fibers, cardboard, golf balls, etc. In a normal hydrostatic overbalanced condition, there is an impetus for these fluids and associated solids to be displaced into the fonnation. In most relatively homogeneous mabix situations, the physical depth of solids invasion tends to be rather shallow ( I 2 cm into the formation). The result is that this mechanism of damagebecomesrelatively inconsequential in situations

What are the Motivations for Conducting an Underbalanced Drilling Job?

A variety of possible reasons exist for a given operating company to conduct an underbalanceddrill jng job. A number of papers are present in the literature which discuss this technology as well as presenting screening criteria for the appropriate selection of the best reservoir candidates for underbalanced drillini .

The primary motivations most often quoted for conductingunderbalanced drilling operations include:

. Reductionin invasivefonnation damage.

. Increasein effective ratesof penetrationandoverall

. Reductionin significant lost circulationproblems.

. Reduce drilling problems in highly penneableor
heterogeneousreservoirs containing fractures or vugular porosity. Formation Damageand Underbalanced Drilling
In many situations, the prime motivation for conducting an underbalanced drilling operation may be associatedwith severe fonnation damagethat may have been observed in horizontal or vertical wells drilled in the area. It must be emphasized that underbalanced drilling is not a solution for poor reservoir quality. It is not a stimulation technique and it does not manufacture permeability. It only allows one to maximize the use and potential of the already existing permeability. Fonnation damage is a complex phenomenon having various root causes and mechanisms, depending on particular reservoir situations and lithology and on drilling, completion and production practices utilized in a given reservoir situation. Many detailed discussions on formation damage are present in the literature6.7.' but the primary mechanisms of formation damagefor which

drilling ratesand drilling time/costreduction.

wherecased, cemented andperforatedcompletions are contemplated, as the damageradius will typically not extend beyond the radius of a normal perforation charge. However,the vast majority of underbaIanced drilling operations arecompleted in an openhole mode, as are most horizontal wells. For this reason.this particular damage mechanismis one of significant importanceand one of the prime motivations for the applicationof UBD technologyin somesituations.
Phase Trapping. Phaseb'apping refers to the pennanent entrainment of an increased trapped water or hydrocarbon saturation in a porous media causing adverse and deleterious relative penneability effects (Figure 2). The blockage of the entrained fluid causes a reduction in the effective relative permeability to oil or gas resulting in a roDe of potentially significant damage surrounding the wellbore region. The prime motivation of underbalanced drilling in such a situation is to prevent the significant loss of potentially damaging and trapping water or oil based filtrates into the formation. thereby minimizing and mitigating the potential severity of damage associated with phase trapping effects. Reactive Clays. Many sandstone fonnations contain reactive clay minerals such as smectite or montmorilinite, or potentially detlocculatible clays such as kaolinite. These clays can be destabilized by contact widt fresh or low salinity brines or, in some cases, associated widt rapid changes towards a caustic pH situation. The motivation of underbalanced drilling is, of course, to minimize dIe potential lossesof potentially damaging water-based filtrates to dIe formation which may result in dIe creation of a wne of significantly impaired penneability and productivity in dIe near wellbore region. Polymer Ad\'orplion. Many drilling fluids contain rheology enhancing agents and polymers to improve fluid viscosity and reduce fluid losses in an overbalanced situation to the formation. These polymers may have a physical tendency to be adsorbed on the face of the formation and, particularly in low permeability rock (Figure 3), may result in significant permeability impairment (localized in general to the near wellbore region). The use of underbalanced drilling operations eliminates both the inclusion of these potentially absorptive materials and the loss of these filtrates to the formation. Mineral Dissolution. Certain fomlations contain soluble

materials such as kaolinite, kaolin, halite, etc. which may be partially solubilized or softened by the contact of water-based fluids. The use ofunderbalanced drilling attempts to minimize the contact of the formation with tbesepotentially solubilizing fluids, resulting in minimal invasion and release of fines and on gauge hote applications. Formation of Stable Emulsions. In certain situations, invading drilling fluids may combine with insitu fluids to form highly viscous stable water in oil emulsions (Figure 4). These emulsions may have high apparent viscosity, and result in the formation of what is known as an emulsion block in the near wellbore region which may significantly impair oil or gas production rates in the affected zone. The use of underbalanced drilling avoids the inclusion or entrainment of these potentially emulsifying fluids in the near wellbore region, although significant emulsion issuesmay exist between produced fluids and circulating drilling fluids (which will need to be addressed in the design of the basic underbalanced drilling operation used in a given situation). Scales. lncompauole waters may result in the formation of carbonate or sulphate based scales which may be highly damaging to injectivity or productivity in the near wellbore region. The use of appropriately designed underbalanced drilling minimizes the potential for fluid contact (in the fonnation) and the associated penneability impairment. Wettability Alterations. Many drilling fluids contain a variety of polar surfactants and additives which are used for corrosion, imbibition. torque reduction. emulsion control, etc. Some of these components may have a propensity to be adsorbed on both carbonate and sandstone surfaces and cause a wettability alteration or transition which may significantly alter the water-oil relative penneability characteristics in the near wellbore region. In situations where a mobile water saturation is apparent, this may increase effective water-oil producing ratios of a given well and adversely affect well economics (Figure 5). The use of proper underbalanced drilling technology prevents the contact and entrainment of the near wellbore matrix volume with potential wettability altering fluids and reduces the potential for damage.

BacterialDamage. Water-based fluids may contain,if improperly subjected to biological control, viable populationsof aerobic and anaerobicbacteria which may be entrained in the near wellbore region and

subsequently resuh in bacterial growth and propagation. This may result in die creation of polysaccharide rich bacterial biofilrns, possibly reducing productivity or injectivity, downhole and surface corrosion issues and, if the bacteria are sulphate-reducing in nature, the potential reduction of elemental sulphate (that may be present in insitu formations or injected fluids) into toxic hydrogen sulphide gas. The appropriate use of UBD technology prevents die long-tenD losses of potential water-based fluids which may contain viable bacteria colonies into die formation. However, in most situations, if water-based fluids are contemplated for any UBD operation, the appropriate bacterial and biological control is recommended as a low cost insurance should, for some, reason, the underbalanced condition be compromised and fluids be imbibed or displaced into the formation.

fractured fonnations wiili high vertical penneability, ilie effect ofilie damageis relatively insignificant and, even in situations of high damage, relatively productive horizontal wells may be obtained. However, in situations wiili adverse vertical to horizontal penneability ratios d1at are often encountered in many carbonate and clastic formation applications, ilie damageextends to the greatest extent in ilie streamline of greatest permeability, greatly compromising ilie productive nature of the horizontal well. Even moderate amounts of near wellbore formation damage may therefore become radter significant in very adverse vertical to horizontal permeability ratio situations.

Potential Issues Associated With UnderbalancedDrilling

the Use of

Underbalanced Drilling and Horizontal Wells Horizontal wells havelong beenrecognized asmore severe candidatesfor formation damagethan their verticalwell cotmterparts. Thesephenomena havebeen discussedin detail in the literature9. A number of reasons exist why formation damageis known to be a more significant problem in horizontal wells than in vertical wells. A brief synopsis of these damage mechanisms include:

. Longer duration of time required to drill horizontal .

wells resulting in potential deeper invasion of damaging filtrates and solids. The majority of horizontal wells are completed in an openhole fashion resulting in relatively shallow invasive fonnation damage. In a typically cased. cemented and perforated completion, this would not be considered significant enough to result in significant near wellbore penneability impairment in a horizontal completion. Localized drawdown effects resulting in partial cleanup of only a relatively small portion of the horizontal section. Due to the large exposed inflow area of horizontal wells, the vast majority of stimulation treabnents tends to be fairly superficial in nature, in comparison to highly penetrating stimulation treatmentswhich can be conducted relatively economically on equivalent vertical damaged wells. Anisotropic flow effects - In situations where the vertical permeability is not equal to the horizontal permeability, damage is preferentially created out in the streamline of greatest permeability. In vertically ~

A number of potential problems can be associated with the implementation of under balanced drilling with the primary motivation to reduce invasive fonnation damage. The single largest issue, in most situations where underbalanced drilling yielded poor results, have been caseswhere there is clearly documented evidence that it has been difficult or impossible to maintain an effectively underbalanced condition 100% of the time during the drilling and completion operation. Much of the benefit of the UBD operation may be compromised, and it is possible to be in an even worse situation (if the UBD pressure condition is periodically compromised) than if a conventional drilling operation had been used (Figures 6-9). Figure 6 illustrates a poorly designed and executed conventional overbalanceddrilling operation where high amounts of both filtrate and potentially damaging solids may be invading mabix, fractures or interconnected vugs in the near wellbore region, resulting in a zone of significant near wellbore damage. Figure 7 representsthe better designed and conceived overbalanced drilling operation where appropriate rheology and bridging/LCM materials have been utilized to create a stable and external filter cake which acts as an impenneable barrier to prevent significant loss of damaging solids to the matrix, fractures or wgs in the near wellbore region. With an appropriately designed overbalanced drilling fluid, the objective is that this stable filter cake may be easily removed by direct mechanical backflow of the formation or, due to its localized condition directly adjacent to the weUbore formation interface, subsequentlyremoved by some type

. .

of a localized chemical or mechanical stimulation treatmentwhich may be used during the completion phaseof the well.
Figure 8 provides a schematic illustration of the optimally designed and executed UBD operation. Since the fonnabon pressure in this situation is greater than the net circulating fluid pressure, there is a net inflow of fluids from the fonnation. This eliminates the potential invasion of damaging filtrates or solids materials into the matrix, fractures or vugs in the near wellbore region. However, it must also be emphasized that there is also an absence of potentially sealing and protective filter cake. This, therefore, may be disadvantageouswhen, as seenin Figure 9, if the underbaIancedpressurecondition is compromised, very rapid invasion of whole drilling fluids into the fractures, vugs or near wellbore matrix may physically occur even if the underl>alanced pressure condition is compromised even for a relatively short period of time. To further exacerbate this phenomena, typical underbalanced drilling operations rely primarily on turbulent flow to clean the hole and gravity segregation to disengage gas and solids from the circulating drilling fluids at surface. This being the case, in general, very low viscosity drilling fluids (commonly produced water or low viscosity hydrocarbons) tend to be utilized as the base drilling fluids for most artificial UBD operations. If this is the case, and the underbalanced pressure condition is compromised, in addition to having no protective filter cake, very low viscosity fluid with high API fluid loss characteristics which typically contains a relatively high concentration of very fine powered solids (due to the poor hole cleaning capabilities of many UBD operations) is contained in the annulus. This fluid may be displaced rapidly into the formation, resulting in a considerable degree of invasive formation damage in an almost instantaneous fashion, negating much or all of the benefit associated with respect to the use ofUBD to reduce fonnation damage in a given wellbore situation.

reducesomeof theseproblems). This being die case, the nitrogen injection must be stopped at each pipe connection resulting in possible oscillation of die effective bottomholepressure and periodic loading of the fluid system with slugsof fluid which may resultin potentialoverbalanced pulses(Figure 10).
Conventional Mud Pulsed MWD Operatiom. For horizontal applications, it is often necessary to ttansmit geo-steering infonnation back to surface to appropriately guide the trajectory of the horizontal well to ensure that drilling operations proceed in the zone of rnaximwn quality in the pay interval desired. The most economic classical technology for use is the incompressible drilling fluid and a downhole pulse unit to ttansmit survey data back to surface via the transmission of incompressible pressure waves through the fluid contained in the central portion of the drill string. The use of artificial UBD technology, where gases are often injected in the drill string, negates the use of conventional mud pulsed MWD technology due to the presenceof a highly compressib1egas phase in the drilling fluid. In some situations, conventional mud pulsed telemetry has been uti1ized in UBD operations by circulating the hole to a pure incompressible fluid prior to transmitting a survey back to surface on a periodic basis. This, of course, results in die application of a full hydrostatic head of fluid to the hole, resulting in periodic overbalanced pulses of pressure being applied to the formation, which may negate much of the results of the underbalanced drilling operation with respect to reducing fonnation damage. Kill Jobs/Bit Trips. Due to mechanical problems and the necessity of bit trips in may situations, wells which have been drilled underbalanced have been hydrostatically killed to facilitate these operations. This results in the physical loss of the underbalanced pressure condition with the adverse effects mentioned previously. Localized Depletion Effects. The phenomena of localized depletion is schematically illustrated as Figure 11. It can be seen, particularly for a horizontal well application, that an extended period of time may be required to drill the entire length of the horizontal section. Portions of the formation intersected early on in the life of the underbalanced drilling operation will therefore be exposed to an extended flow situation. This will result in the formation face directly adjacent to the wellbore being subjected to localized drawdown effects and, after a period of flowing time, the pressure

How is the Underbalanced Pressure Condition Compromised Resulting in Aggravated Formation DamageEffects?
Pipe Connectiom. Most UBD operations are currently conducted using conventional jointed pipe technology. When the underbalanced condition must be artificially generated through the use of injection of a noncondensible gas. this gas is most often injected directly down the standpipe (although some variance which will be discussed later may also be utilized which tends to

in this region may approximate the average circulating pressure of the drilling fluid. At the bit location, an underbalanced pressure is still thought to be maintained (in comparison to the virgin formation pressure in previously drilled portions of the well) due to localized depletion effects. This may result in a zone of super pressure directly adjacent to the partially depleted zone of the wellbore resulting in the potential influx and loss of fluids with the associated fonnation damage effects mentioned previously. Multiple or Variable Pressured Zones. Underbalanced drilling becomes a challenging operation in situations where significant variation in pressure in the expected target interval( s) is expected. This may occur in vertical or deviated applications or multiple sand lenses which may be in varying conditions of depletion. For the optimum preservation of maximum formation productivity, the underbalanced condition must obviously be tailored to account for the zone of lowest potential pressure. However, potential crosstlow between highly productive overpressured and lower pressured zones may result in making the effective maintenance of an underbalanced pressure condition in all portions of the well an impossible situation. Frictional Flow Effects. Considerable frictional backpressure may be exerted by the high rate displacement of multi phase gas and fluid in a typical underl>alanceddrilling operation. This may result in the fonnation of a downhole pressure profile similar to that illustrated in Figure 12. It can be seen d1atcessation of flow could result in a dropout of frictional backpressure effects and thus result in the drop in bottomhole pressure, initiating some of the pressure swings associated with pipe connections as previously mentioned. In addition, it can also be illUSb'ated by examination of Figure 12, that, for a given wellbore geometry, fluid rate and fluid rheology regime, there is a certain maximum well depth and honzontallength that can be achieved in which it is still possible to maintain an effectively underbalanced pressure condition, regardless of the amount of gas which may be entrained in the circulating drilling fluid. In certain situations, frictional backpressure effects may become so significant that an underbalanced drilling operation becomes what is known as "frictionally pressure dominated". Increasing gas injection rates (rather than reducing the bottomhole pressure, as would classically be expected) may actually causethe bottomho Ie pressure to effectively increase in this situation (Figure 13).

Poor Hole Cleaning. Underbalanced drilling operations rely on highly turbulent flow to transport cuttings back to the surface and maintain a clean hole. This may result in the fonnation of mud rings or other situations in certain caseswhich may result in high backpressure effects and potential overbalance pressure issues.

Countercurrent Imbibition Issues In certainsituations,UBD is contemplated for usein reservoirswhich contain or low subirreduciblewater saturations.Adversecapillary pressure effects in such situations, if wateris usedasdie basefluid fordle UBD operation,canresult in die spontaneous countercurrent imbibition of die water based fluid into die near wellbore region resulting in die establishmentof a significant and potentially damagingphaseb'ap. This phenomenahas been discussed in detail in die literature1o.I' (Figure 14). Gravity and Macroporous Drainage Effects
In certain situations when UBD is used in an attempt to reduce massive lost circulation in highly permeable fonnations (such as reservoirs containing large open fractures or large interconnected vugs), the superficial flow velocity of fluids entering a horizontal well may not be sufficient to counteract gravity drainage effects, which may result in significant losses of these fluids to the penetratedmacroporous systems. Although if these macroporous features are arranged in a vertical direction the associated damage may not be significant, the primary issue associated may be significant lost circulation which may result in drilling problems (Figure 15).

Glazing and Mashing

In pure gas drill operations, a significant amount of heat may be generated. The combination of heat, connate water and die fine crystalline cuttings generated from many UBD operations may result in die fonnation of a ceramic coating like glaze in die near wellbore matrix which may significantly impair well productivity . Physical depth of invasion of this type of damage tends to be very shallow in most situations, and may nornlally be penetrated by a conventional perforation job. Therefore, die most significant potential scenario for damage is associated with openhole completions, particularly in lower permeability homogeneous clastic fonnations, where the glaze is quartzose in nature and cannot be readily removed by an acid wash. The

inclusion of a small amount of liquid (i.e. mist drilling) generally tends to mitigate this problem for most applications. Mashing is caused by sliding drill pipe or poor drill string centralization, and refers to the working of small drill cuttings and fmes into die formation face directly adjacent to the wellbore, causing a phenomena similar in extent and severity to glazing.

the refinement of these techniques with actual real time detennination of the effects with surface operations and the ability to maintain in a much closer fashion a relatively uniform effective bottomhole pressure condition. Parasite or Concentric Strings. Another variation for jointed pipe drilling technology is the use of a micro annular or concentric string or a cemented parasite string to continuously inject nitrogen in the vertical annular section of ilie wellbore. This allows a 100% compressive fluid stream to be injected in ilie central portion of ilie drill string and allows for conventional MWD operations and limits problems with connections, while maintaining a relatively uniform bottomhole pressure condition for an UBD operation. Typical parasite and concentric string configurations for UBD are illustrated in Figures 16 and 17. These techniques typically tend to be more utilized for new well applications and are often not utilized due to expense and greater gas consumption, but have been successfully applied in a number ofUBD applications in the Western Canadian Basin and elsewhere. Foamed Fluids. Foamed fluids appear to have natural application for UBD operations due to their low effective density, good rheology and hole cleaning effectiveness. In addition, because most stable foam systems retain apparent viscosity and rheology even when circulation is ceased, cuttings, transportation and significant invasion of these fluids into the formation, even if the underbalance pressure condition is compromised, tends to be reduced. In the past, significant problems associatedwith foam-based drilling fluids have been associatedwith the stability of the foam and the ability to disengage gas and cuttinp at surface and significant handling problems. The development of a new generation of pH regenerable foams which have high resistance to oil contamination has lead to an increase in the potential application of these fluids for UBD technology. It is expected that foamed drilling fluids will occupy an increasing fraction of the UBD market in the years to come. The high apparent viscosity rheology of foam systems may be a limitation with respect to high frictional backpressure effects which may, in some cases,make it difficult to maintain an effective underbalance pressure condition in some highly pressure depleted formations.

Techniquesfor More Continuous Maintenanceof an Effective Underbalanced PressureCondition

Increased Use ofCoi/ed Tubing (C1). The advantages of coiled tubing are obvious with respect to die more continuous maintenance of an underbalanced pressure condition. Since no pipe connections are required, a more uniform underbalanced pressure condition may be generated and maintained. The use of an internal wireline associated widi cr also eliminates some of die problems mentioned widi conventional mud pulsed MWD techniques. A detailed discussion of die use of CT for underbalanced drilling has been contained in a number of literature articlesl2.13and this technology is occupying an increasing portion of die western Canadian underbalanced drilling market. The major disadvantages of CT are associated with restricted horizontal outreach. depdilimitations, potential safety concerns associated widi critical sour wells widilarge volumes of CT present on die surface, and frictional flow and hole size limitations which result in relatively slim hole applications in most situations. Use of Electromagnetic Telemetry Techniques for MWD. Some of the major limitations of UBD with respect to mud pulsed MWD have been overcome through the use of electromagnetic telemetry technology which uses an electromagnetic pulse to transmit MWD data back through the formation to the surface. EMT technology has been successfully utilized in many UBD applications but may have problems in very highly resistive fonnations when using oil-based fluids or at depths below approximately 2500 meters. Rapid Connections. Jointed pipe underbalanceddrilling still occupies approximately 80 - 85% of the UBD market. Recent refinements in techniques widt respect to the appropriate use of float shoes in die drill string and very rapid connection times and specific circulation techniques (which are utilized during connections) has greatly improved the stability of underbalance pressure operations during conventional jointed pipe operations and artificially generated UBD operations. The use of real time bottomhole pressure measurementhas allowed

Glass Spheres. The idea of using gas filled silica spheroids as a meansof reducingthe densityof fluids is not a new one,and hasbeenutilized for a numberof

years to generate low weight cements for field applications. The idea of entraining glass spheroids for UBD operations has been postulated and field tested wid1 varying degrees of success. The objective is that the glass spheres will reduce the equivalent circulating density of a drilling fluid while still maintaining a conventional, incompressible phase which can be used for normal conventional MWD operations. The sizing of the spheroids may also be adjusted to specify certain bridging requirements. Major problems to date have been crushing and commutative losses of the spheroids, and severe erosive properties of the fluid in circulating drilling operations. Ongoing research still continues in th is area. Pure Oils. In some cases, synthetic or low density oilbased drilling fluids have been utilized to generate an underbalanced pressure condition in slightly pressure depleted or normally pressured fonnations. These represent die simplest applications ofUBD technology and, in many normally pressured fonnations, produced crude oil may be die prime underbalanced drilling candidate fluid of choice due to availability and easeof operation.

DOANE, R.D.,BENNION, D.B., EILERS,E.R., "Successful Drilling of an Underbalanced Horizontal Well in the Rigel Halfway Pool LaboratoryScreening and Field Results",Paper presentedat the International Conference on Horizontal Well Technology,Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Nov. 18-20,1996.


CHURCHER. P.L., YURKlW, F.J., BIETZ, R.F., BENNION, O.B. "Designing and Field Testing of UnderbaJanced Drilling Fluids to Limit Fonnation Damage:Examples from the Westerose Field. Canada". LUNAN, B., "Surface Control Systems for Underbalanced Drilling", JCPT, Sept. 1995. SAPONJA, J. et


at. "Considerations for

U nderbalancedDrilling with Jointed Pipe", Paper presented at the First International Underbalanced Drilling Conference and Exhibition, The Hague, Netherlands, Oct. 2-4, 1995.

This paper has described a variety of ways in which invasive formation damagemechanisms can be reduced through die appropriate use of underbalanced drilling technology. It has also been illustrated that inappropriate application of die technology may result in damage more severe dian if appropriate conventional overbalanced technology had been utilized in die same situation. Reservoir evaluation must be carefully undertaken for every underbalanced drilling application to ensurethat the best technology and design parameters are utilized to ensure the maximum degree of success will be achieved for die extra cost generally associated with the technology.

BENNION, D.B., LUNAN, B., SAPONJA, J. "Underbalanced Drilling and Completion Operations to Minimize Fonnation Damage: Reservoir Screening Criteria for Optimum Application", Paperpresented at die 4~ Annual TechnicalMeeting of the PetroleumSociety of CIM, Calgary,Alberta. June 10-12,1996. ENG, J.H., BENNION, D.B., STRONG, J.B., "Velocity Profiles in PerforatedCompletions", JCPT, Oct. 1993,Volume 32, No.8. BEATrY, T., BENNION, D.B., HEBNER, B., mSCOCK, R., "Minimizing FonnationDamage in Horizontal Wells: Laboratoryand Field Case Studies", Paper presented at the CIM 1993 AnnualTechnicalConference, Calgary,Alberta, May 9-12,1993.
BENNION, D.B., THOMAS, F .B., BENNION, D. W., BIETZ, R.F., "Fonnation Damage Control and Research in Horizontal Wells", Paper presented at die Sll1lntemational Conference on Horizontal Well Technology, Houston, TX, Nov. 9-11,1993.



The authors wish to express their appreciation to Hycal Energy Research Laboratories Ltd. for permission to publish this paper, and to Vivian Whiting in the preparation of the manuscript and associated figures.



BENNION, O.B., THOMAS, F .B., BIETZ, R.F., JAMALUDOIN, A.K.M., "Recent Investigations

Into Formation Damage and Remediation Technologyfor Horizontal Well Applications", Paper presented at the 9111 International Conferenceon Horizontal Well technologyand Applications,Houston,TX, Aug. 25-27, 1997.





"UnderbalancedDrilling of Horizontal Wells: Does It Really Eliminate FormationDamage?", Paperpresented at the SPEinti. Symposium on FonnationDamage Control, Lafayette,LA, Feb. 7-10, 1994.


BENNION, D.B., THOMAS, F .B., BIETz, R.F., BENNION, D. W., "Underbalanced Drilling, Praises and Perils: Lab and Field Experience", Paper presented at the Sda Annual Conference on Horizontal Well Technology, Calgary, AB, Nov. 21, 1995. BENNION, D.B., rnOMAS, F .B., BIETZ, R.F , JAMALUDDIN, A.K.M., "Coiled Tubing - The Future of Underbalanced Drilling?", Paper presented at d1e SibInternational Conference on Coiled Tubing Technologies, Dallas, TX, Jan. 810,1997.


13, BENNION, D.B., "UBD wid1 CT has Pluses,

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