Evaluation of liquid lift approach to dual gradient drilling
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In the past, the oil and gas industry has typically used the single gradient system to drill wells offshore. With this system the bottom hole pressure was controlled by a mud column extending from the drilling rig to the bottom of the wellbore. This mud column was used to achieve the required bottom hole pressure. But, as the demand for oil and gas increased, the industry started exploring for oil and gas in deep waters. Because of the narrow margin between the pore and fracture pressures it is somewhat difficult to reach total depth with the single gradient system. This led to the invention of the dual gradient system. In the dual gradient method, heavy density fluid runs from the bottom hole to the mudline and a low density fluid from the mudline to the rig floor so as to maintain the bottom hole pressure. Several methods have been developed to achieve the dual gradient drilling principle. For this research project, we paid more attention to the liquid lift, dual gradient drilling (riser dilution method). This method of achieving dual gradient drilling was somewhat different from the others, because it does not utilize elaborate equipment and no major changes are made on the existing drilling rigs. In this thesis the technical feasibility of using the liquid lift method over the other methods of achieving dual gradient drilling was determined. A computer program was developed to simulate the wellbore hydraulics under static and dynamic conditions, injection rate and base fluid density required to dilute the riser fluid and finally, u-tubing phenomena. In this thesis we also identified some problems associated with the liquid lift method and recommendations were made on how these problems can be eliminated or reduced. Emphases were placed on the effect of u-tubing, injection rate of base fluid at the bottom of the riser and well control issues facing this system.
Okafor, Ugochukwu Nnamdi (2007). Evaluation of liquid lift approach to dual gradient drilling. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from