For years, drilling engineers have been faced with the challenge of drilling wells through naturally fractured reservoirs that are present around the world. During drilling, the pressure at the bottomhole of a well is frequently intentionally higher than formation pressure, which can result in the loss of mud in surrounding rocks. During well cementing, the bottomhole pressure is even higher than it is during drilling, because the cement slurry density is higher than the density of the mud. Therefore, if natural or induced fractures in the surrounding rocks are not plugged during drilling, the cement slurry can be lost to them, reducing their permeability which is undesirable in the case of a pay zone. To prevent the loss of circulation and the related consequences, it is necessary to apply good drilling and cementing practices and to use adequate methods and carefully selected materials for plugging the loss zones. The aim of this article is to give an overview of the preventive and corrective methods that can be applied in drilling and cementing through fractured zones as well as improvements in drilling and cementing technology to avoid lost circulation issues (e.g., aerated drilling fluid, casing while drilling, managed pressure drilling, expandable tubulars, lightweight cement slurries, etc.).
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