Industry group studies dual-gradient drilling

Development of a dual-gradient, mud-lift drilling system may push operational limits well beyond 10,000 ft of water, resulting in fewer casing strings and greater safety margins between pore pressure and fracture gradients.A joint-industry project (JIP) team comprising four operators, four drill- ing contractors, and a manufacturer has spent $14 million since 1996 on conceptual design and critical component development for this technology. The group anticipates spending another $30-35 million before delivering a commercial system in 2002."Our goalellipseis to deliver a 121/2-in. well bore to virtually any geologic depth in water depths (of) 10,000 ft and beyond in the Gulf of Mexico," sai...

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