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An operator planned to drill a well in an offshore field in the Asia-Pacific region with varied and complex geology. On previous wells in the field, multiple operators had experienced tight holes, well kicks, mud losses, and stuck pipe in the upper 12¼-in. sections. While running liner into the lower 8½-in. sections, they tended to encounter dynamic losses, tight spots, and pack-off. Initially, the operator engaged Baker Hughes, a GE company (BHGE), to supply logging while drilling (LWD) services. It completed its authority for expenditure (AFE) plan and job schedule by using assumptions for nonproductive time (NPT) and added costs for drilling problems previously experienced in the field. Seeing an opportunity to reduce risk, time, and cost for the operator, BHGE used data from previous well studies to generate an initial geomechanics-focused subsurface model. The model was then reviewed by drilling personnel with experience in the field, and by the various BHGE product lines involved in the project. The resulting RiskGuard™ geomechanics-based operational assessment—the first phase in any RiskGuard analysis and risk management solution—included comprehensive strategies for managing wellbore stability problems in each geological sequence. For example, encountering hard stringers in the overburden, interbedded formations, and natural fractures can reduce the rate of penetration (ROP), increase torque, and cause excessive vibration when drilling through anisotropic formations. The cross-disciplinary BHGE team identified each specific risk, developed a strategy to manage it that assembled the appropriate technologies for execution, real-time monitoring, and ongoing model updates while drilling.

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Challenges & Results


  • Field-wide risks for kicks, mud loss, tight spots, and pack off
  • Formation with natural fractures, bedded shales, and shaley sandstones
  • Operator needed to maintain hole condition to enhance ECD management, reduce flat time, minimize delayed post-drill breakouts, and improve the cement bond


  • Completed drilling 17 days ahead of schedule
  • Saved an estimated $7 million USD in rig costs and drilling time
  • Managed well kicks, mud loss, and wellbore instability
  • Surpassed customer expectations for ROP and NPT in a challenging field
  • Delivered a smooth, precise wellbore