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Abstract

The Clair Field is a giant oilfield located approximately 70 km west of the Shetland Isles, UK. It was discovered in 1977 and brought on stream some 28 years later. Key to unlocking its economic potential was a series of appraisal wells drilled in the early 1990s that identified fractures as the primary production mechanism. Structural geology contributed in several ways to the detailed planning of the development and appraisal wells. In the sandy (Tertiary) tophole section, outcrop analogues and offset wells were used to establish an appropriate standoff from major faults. This was to mitigate the risk of wellbore instability in what is otherwise a relatively benign sequence to drill. The mid-section, Upper Cretaceous mudstone is prone to wellbore instability, believed to be caused by strength anisotropy with respect to bedding. Here, polygonal faulting may contribute directly to wellbore instability. The associated bed rotation also influences anisotropic failure, which depends in part on the wellbore-to-bedding intersection angle. An example is given of how an understanding of the structural evolution of the overburden section impacts well casing placement. Finally, judgement on the nature of the faulted contact between two fault blocks was required for the pressure prognosis of a planned well.

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