Digital Reamers to Mitigate Narrow Margin Drilling Hazards for Deepwater ERD Wells in Malaysia

Lim, Ming Seong (Baker Hughes, a GE company) | Singh, Rajpaviter (Baker Hughes, a GE company) | Mohd-Radzi, Razif (SHELL) | Khor, Jonathan (SHELL) | Wong, Yau Min (SHELL)



In planning for their first TLP deep water project in Malaysia, Shell faced the unique challenge of drilling ERD wells in soft unconsolidated sands with narrow ECD margins. Prior experience suggested the benefit of managed pressure drilling & an additional casing profile with hole enlargement to be implemented for these wells. The formation is also believed to be time sensitive, and reducing the wellbore exposure time between drilling and running liner was considered a priority.

A full suite of LWD services were also planned to be run on these sections, resulting in potentially a very long rat hole as the conventional reamer can only be placed above LWD tools. An additional hole opening trip to minimize rat hole length was not desirable, which in turn leads to concerns of well bore stability due to time exposure as highlighted earlier, as well as increasing potential risk of side tracking in the soft interbedded formations. Flow rate restrictions due to the pressure drop requirements from conventional reamers, was not desirable so as to maintain ECD stability.

In order to address the needs and challenges above, contractor proposed a dual digital reamer solution, in order to ream and drill the hole sections in a single run. The digital reamers, each being powered by the LWD suite, were activated via downlinks, eliminating the lengthy time required by drop ball reamers at high angles. The ability to downlink on demand and perform selective reaming without any pressure drop restriction, had provided added benefits while drilling in narrow ECD margin. As placement of the digital reamers are flexible within the LWD tools, dual reamers were deployed in the BHA. The top reamer located above the LWD tools was activated while drilling to ensure necessary LWD data quality was obtained. A near bit digital reamer was activated post-drilling to eliminate the long drilling rat hole, resulting in minimal rat hole achieved similar to the outcomes of a dedicated trip. Eliminating the dedicated trip also greatly minimized the risk of unintentional side track.

The use of dual digital reamers enabled safe and problem-free drilling, logging, casing and cementing; allowing all of Shell’s objectives to be met in a single run, as well as significant exposure time of the wellbore, up to 3.5 days over 3 hole sections and costs savings, up to 1.2mil USD.