This paper discusses installation of the longest high-performance (HP) and rotating 11-3/4" expandable liner on the Elgin field in the Central-North Sea sector of the UK that enabled isolating weak layers in the overburden formations on EIE well, providing sufficient mud weight window to permit drilling high pressure and gas bearing zones. The planning and execution of this record presented challenges beyond those encountered in standard well conditions due to narrow mud weight window (NMWW) and critical requirement of zonal isolation.
EIE well was the third of the 2015-2017 infill campaign on Elgin field. The well faced major challenges in the 12-1/2" section due to the NMWW which triggered the deployment of the contingent well architecture with HP 11-3/4" expandable liner. This critical requirement of zonal isolation significantly impacted the preparation and risk assessment of expandable liner operations. A new expansion assembly design was implemented to allow rotation of the 11-3/4" size system to improve the cement job quality. Moreover, all contingency procedures were significantly modified to ensure that the objective of the specific well constraints were considered.
After under-reaming while drilling 12-1/4" × 14" section down to planned depth, 860m of 11-3/4" liner was run with no open hole problems. This liner was successfully rotated at bottom prior to pumping cement and fully expanded without incident. The system was successfully pressure tested prior to drill-out of the plugs and the shoe assembly was drilled with no issues.
Running of an 860m HP 11-3/4" expandable liner and rotating shoe assembly on EIE well is a record (longest HP string run before was 360m) and considered as a remarkable achievement. However, liner objectives were not fully met and cement squeeze below the shoe had to be performed. Post-job investigation highlighted issues related to dart selection and related cement over-displacement, limited contingences in case of expansion pressure loss, and the ability to pull the liner to surface in a NMWW. These issues remain to be solved for optimisation of future deployments.
This paper provides information on the design and operational aspects that should be considered for expandable liner operations on complex wells with NMWW. Understanding advantages and limitations of the system will open up opportunities to improve the technology and help to reduce operational risk.