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The Shearwater Field, located in Block 22/30b in the UK Central Graben, remains one of the best-known fields in the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS). At the time of the initial development, Shearwater represented one of the most complex and technically challenging high-pressure and high-temperature (HPHT) developments of its kind in the North Sea. During the early life of the field, pressure depletion resulted in compaction of the Fulmar reservoir, leading to mechanical failure of the development wells. The compaction also resulted in weakening of the overburden due to an effect known as stress arching. Over time, this resulted in in situ stress changes in the overburden which have been observed from 4D seismic datasets and are in line with geomechanical modelling. This is particularly true for the Hod Formation in the Chalk Group, and resulted in the need to make changes to infill well design, including the use of new drilling technologies, to ensure safe and effective well delivery. The insights presented here, which relate to the understanding of pore pressure and fluid fill in the overburden, and how the overburden has responded to stress changes over time, are of relevance to current and future HPHT field developments in both the UK North Sea and elsewhere.

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