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Operators are experiencing and overcoming new challenges that only a few years ago would have precluded them from completing the drilling process in many of today’s wells. Operators recognize that drilling nonproductive time (NPT) is running at high levels. Accepting 30% drilling NPT has become a rule of thumb in many difficult drilling environments, even reaching 45% in some wells. Wellbore instability problems seem to be the main sources of NPT in problem wells. Some operators have reported wellbore instability accounting for over 40% of their total NPT, and some 25% of overall drilling costs in these difficult wells.
Subsalt applications, tar zones, and depleted zones are examples of some of the problems routinely encountered that must be overcome, often increasing NPT during the drilling process. While advances have been made, these challenges continue to pose significant risks for operators working to develop new discoveries.
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