Optimizing Drilling Operations with Solid Expandable Tubulars
Deep water and extensive lengths are no longer an anomaly for drilling conditions but a matter of course. Increasing vertical depth and lateral reach requires adequate hole size to attain the desired objectives of the wellbore. With over 1,000 installations since inception in the late 1990s, solid expandable systems have proven their worth in maintaining and retaining hole size to address both physical limitations and economic feasibility, especially in deepwater operations. Incorporating and planning solid expandable systems into wellbore construction as a design element rather than a contingency plan has averted numerous problems identified from offset data or real-time challenges during the drilling process. The broadening application realm for this enabling technology includes multiple expandable systems in a single wellbore, expansion through milled windows, use in high-pressure/high-temperature conditions, and facilitating extended-reach objectives. An in-fill drilling campaign in two West African offshore fields led an operator to install solid expandable systems through windows opened in existing casing. The expandable systems gave the operator enough hole diameter to install the necessary electric submersible pumps without having to mill existing casing or find recovery platform slots. This paper will discuss innovative and enabling applications of solid expandable tubulars in the West African theater of operations. In addition, this paper will describe how solid expandable tubulars have helped operators successfully attain drilling objectives even in deepwater and extreme environments.