Editor's note: This article is excerpted from a presentation at the 2001 OTC.

Drilling in deepwater has forced a more complete understanding of and appreciation for pore pressures and fracture gradients. Shallow-water flow (SWF) sands perhaps exemplify the most extreme example of how narrow the window between pore pressures and fracture gradients can be. As stated by BP's Mark Alberty at the 2000 OTC (paper OTC11971), SWF sands are overpressured, unconsolidated sands encountered before pressure control is in place on the wellhead assembly. They may flow into the well if their pore pressures are not balanced by the mud weights....

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