Economic Analysis of Lost Circulation Events to Optimize the Drilling Process in Basra Oil Fields, Iraq


Lost circulation is a unique challenge unlike other factors contributing to non-productive time (NPT). Due to the variability in the nature and type of lost circulation prone formations; there is no universal solution to this challenge. This publication presents a new approach to guide the decision-making process of which and when to apply a certain treatment as compared to another. If implemented correctly, a significant reduction in NPT related to lost circulation can be expected. Also, the cost of each treatment, as well as the NPT that is associated with the treatment, were examined in this study. Lost circulation events for three formations which are the Dammam, Hartha, and Shuaiba were gathered from over 1000 wells drilled in Basra oil fields, Iraq using various sources and reports; the treatments were classified by scenario -partial, severe, and complete losses - as well as cost, efficiency, and formation types. This paper is developed based on probabilities, expected monetary value (EMV), and decision tree analysis (DTA) to recommend the best-lost circulation strategy for each type of losses. This paper utilizes probability and economics in the decision-making process. This is the first study that considers a detailed probability and cost to treat the lost circulation problem. Thousands of treatment scenarios for each type of losses are conducted, and the EMVs for all scenarios are calculated. For each type of losses, the lowest EMV treatment strategy- that is practically applicable in the field and makes sense- is selected to be used to treat each type of losses to minimize NPT and cost. If the losses didn't stop after utilizing the proposed treatment strategies, it is recommended to use liner hanger to isolate the losses zone and then continue drilling. A change in well design is also suggested to help to minimize NPT and cost. In addition, a formalized methodology for responding to losses in the Dammam, Hartha, and Shuaiba formations is established and provided as means of assisting drilling personnel to work through the lost circulation problem in a systematic way. One challenge in drilling wells in Basra oil fields is the inconsistency of approaches to the lost circulation problem. Therefore, the result of this data analysis provides a path forward for the Basra area lost circulation events and suggests probable methods that can be used in similar formations globally. Additionally, the methodology can be adapted to studying other types of formations and drilling challenges have the same geological properties in any major oil field.

Meeting Name

International Petroleum Technology Conference 2019, IPTC 2019 (2019: Mar. 26-28, Beijing, China)


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Decision making; Decision trees; Economic analysis; Gasoline; Infill drilling; Oil fields; Probability, Decision making process; Decision tree analysis; Expected monetary values; Geological properties; Lost-circulation problems; Non-productive time; Shuaiba formation; Universal solutions, Well drilling

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


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© 2019 International Petroleum Technology Conference (IPTC), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Mar 2019

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