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PROBLEMS ENCOUNTERED IN DRILLING ABN OR 21AL PRESSURE FORMATIONS 20

PROBLEMS ENCOUNTERED IN DRILLING ABNORMAL


PRESSURE FORMATIONS

Data are presented sho ing the estiiiiated foriiiation irator can be used not only to conserve weighting
pressure in more than 100 elms in Texas and Louisiana material, but also as an aid in controlling viscosity by
-here abnormally high formation pressures were rented ii g undesirable concentrations of clay fractions
encountered. front the riiud system.
The most important problems in connection u'iih Data are presented showing the coiiiparaiive pump-
drilling abnormal pressures are lost returns, and plan- horsepov+her requirements for an average light mud, i.e.,
ning the iiost economical thud program. Several pos- 10.3 lb per gallon, antl a heax- j- mud x eighing 16.3 lb sible
methods of pre eruing lost returns are discussed. per gnllon. The coniparatix'e carrj ing eapacii' of light
The method showing the most promise is the use of anl lieas y muds the heas mud having
cement iii zones of local weakness. The most iriiporiaiit considerably more carr; ing capacity than the light
mud. riuid-treat ing problems are x'iscositj- control arid con- This, to some extent, offsets the slower
circulating rates
material. A cenirif ugal conceii- whieh are usually obtained with heas y muds.

INTRODUCTION
of the wells di illed to abnoi'inal jaiessure :forniations
In general, abnormally high formation pressures in in an area extending from Brazoria County, Texas, to
Texas and Louisiana are usually encountered in wells Acadia Parish, Louisiana. The rna.Jority of the Texas
drilled along the coast of the Gulf o:I Mexico, in a wells in this str-ip encountered abnormal pressure in
belt 35 to 75 miles wide. There are numerous excep-
the Ft to, and in Louisiana in both the Frio and
tions, however, and abnormally high for-mation pres-
sures have been encountered in sections of East and Anahuac formations In the southwestern part of Texas
\Vest Texas and Nor th LouisSiaana. a sur- vey showed that a great rna.Monty of the
The most credible theoi-y as to the cause :for abnor- abnormal pressure formations have been encountered
mally high presser-es over deep-seated domes is the in the Frio. This is, howevei-, probably caused by the
incompetence of formations to bear the overburden high peicentage of wells drilled to the Ft-to rather
without compaction, coupled with a complete or partial
than to deeper zones. A study of geological cross-
seal of the formation. The packing of the formation results
in a reduct ioOn of voOlume of fluicls can-red in the pore sections re- x eals no particular connection between
spaces ; and, if there is no esca e, there is a consequent geological strati- graphic locations and abnoi inal
increase in pressure The seal against escape of this pressuresthe abnor- mality apparently being a
pressure may be caused either by deposition or faulting. function of depth, regardless of geologic age of the
The conclusion that there must be a seal to traJ high formation High pressures may occur in one area, only
pressure seems inescapable ; otherwise, the
a short distance from another area, along the stril:e
;ressure would be dissipated to the outcrop or into zones
of normal pressure and, thence, to the outcrop. where the same formations con- taiinormal pressures
For example, high pressures occur in the Frio sands
Ceographic arid Stratigraphic Location and Depth at 9,000 ft to 10,000 ft at Halls Bayou, Alta Lonla, and
Factors Dickinson, whereas these same
ssuies at depths below 11,000 it
More than 100 wells drilled to high-pressure zones in tied Fish Reef Field in C'alveston Bay. The differ-
iii the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast are represented ence is attributerl, no doubt, to the de; ositional and
by the data shown on Fig. 1. Fig. 1 shows 3 gen- faulting charactei-istics which impi-ison pressures in
eral pressure gradients : 1, normal pressure gradient one area and permit dissipation in another.
of 0.465 psi per :f oot; 2, an earth pressure gradient Referring again to Fig. 1, the maximum gradient
of shows that abnormal pressures tray be expected to be
1.0 psi per foot; and, 3, a probable maximum pres- first encountered at 7,000 :ft, and that mud weight
sure gradient in abnormal pressure wells that may have to be gradually increased to a maximum
varies with depth. The data shown represent less value at a depth of 10,000 It. This gradient also indi-
than half cates that 17.3-lb-per-gallon mud will balance the
Boulton, 'I'exas maxi- i uiexpected pressure. It may be necessary to
at the sprlng meeting of the
of Production, Shreveport, Ln use a mud weighing 18 lb per gallon, or heavier, to
provide an adequate safety factor to allow for gas-
cutting while drilling, and for swabbing tendencies
while di ill pipe is being hoisted.
W 8cott, The A tlaiitic Refin
The cost of penetrating high-pressure formations
30 DRILL ING PRACTICE

hole is then drilled to the projected de Mth if no heavier


than 17-lb-per-gallon mud is necessary to counteract the :forination pressureAs the necessary mud we

DEPTH FEET

2 OOO

4000

M 10 C E N E
6 OO 0
AN AH U A C

V IC K S B U R
8OOO
G JA C K SON

O C O C K F I E LD

l00OO
WILC0X

12 000

- E STIM A TE D FOR MA T ON PR ES S U R E L B S. PE R SQ . I N. GA CS
zooo sooo oooo 8ooo io ooo i 2 ooo
Estimate of Formation Preesures Vs. Depth.
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