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MPD Operations

Event Type
Aimed at
3 - 5 days

In attending this course, participants will gain knowledge and develops skills relating to Managed Pressure Drilling (MPD).  It is intended for personnel directly or indirectly involved in the regulation, design and delivery of wells with an element of MPD including::

  • Regulator staff:  Wellsite Inspectors and District Engineers involved in regulatory oversite of floating drilling operations

  • Office based planning and delivery Well Engineers

  • Wellsite Drilling Supervisors and Drilling Engineers

  • Drilling Contractor Personnel: Drillers, Tour Pushers, Toolpushers and Rig Superintendents

    • Service Company Personnel:  Mud Engineers, Mud Loggers, Cementers,

Drilling without Primary Well Control….or is it?


Managed Pressure Drilling (MPD) is a broad term covering a range of drilling, cementing and completion techniques which have a common factor – primary well control is not maintained solely by the hydrostatic pressure of a single fluid column to surface.  

MPD is a rapidly evolving sector in drilling with different techniques helping operators globally to drill, cement and even complete wells more efficiently.  MPD has permitted the drilling of previously undrillable wells.  

MPD Well Delivery can, however, conflict with regulations that focus on conventional drilling operations and a strong understanding of the operating principals of MPD will be required for regulators to be able to approve deviations to regulations to facilitate the use of MPD.

What does the course cover?

While Managed Pressure Drilling techniques can also include Air Drilling and Foam Drilling , this course focuses on current and evolving MPD technology relevant to offshore (including deepwater) well delivery.   This includes:

  • Managed Annular Pressure Drilling (MAPD) including Pressurized Mud Cap Drilling

  • Dual Gradient Drilling (including Riserless Mud Recovery),

  • Managed Riser Level Drilling


While the course addresses the additional equipment required to perform Underbalanced Drilling, the design, hydraulic modelling and process control of Underbalanced Drilling is out with the scope of this course

The course focuses on equipment and procedures required to deliver the full  range of different MPD techniques as well as the integration training required to maintain appropriate well integrity and well control barriers throughout the operation.

The course covers the following topics:

  • Objectives of MPD and its variations

  • Advantages/disadvantages of each MPD variation

  • Drilling fluid systems and surface equipment for MPD Operations

  • Sub-Sea MPD Systems

  • MPD Control Systems

  • Managed Pressure Cementing

  • Managed Pressure Completions

  • Limitations and costs of MPD

  • MPD Command and Control

  • Primary & Secondary Well Control

  • Training & Simulation Requirements

  • Case histories


The course covers (and goes well beyond)  all material recommended by the IADC’s Guideline:  MPD Fundamental Core Curriculum & Related Job Skills.

Regulations and Standards

The course content can be adapted to the regulatory framework in place.  Pre-eminence is given to National legislation and regulations where these are in place and applicable. Operations conducted offshore in the USA focus on CFR 250 regulations.  Relevant industry standards (API and/or ISO standards, specification, recommended practises or technical bulletins) are referenced where appropriate and relevant.  These include:

  • API Bulletin 92L - Drilling Ahead Safely with Lost Circulation in the Gulf of Mexico

  • API Specification 16Q - Design, Selection, Operation, and Maintenance of Marine Drilling Riser Systems,

  • API SPEC 16RCD - Specification for Drill Through Equipment—Rotating Control Devices,

  • API RP 92M - Managed Pressure Drilling Operations

  • API RP 92P - Pressurized Mud Cap Operations for Rigs with Subsea BOP Systems

  • IADC UBO/MPD Operations – HSE Planning Guidelines  (2012)

Courses can be adapted for specific Regulatory and Standards Focus.


Course Content

The following subjects will be addressed during the course:

Objectives of MPD – addresses drilling challenges, pressure profiles, limitations, primary and secondary well control barriers, advantages / disadvantages of different techniques

Regulatory Challenges – compares the requirements of CFR250 with the realities of MPD operations and considers how to close the gap.

MPD Surface Equipment – explains the functionality pressure rating and operating characteristics of rotating control devices (RCDs), flow control systems, flow measurement and back pressure pumps.  Covers flow paths configurations utilising Service Company and Rig equipment for normal and well control operations.  Looks at evolving rig configuration and integration.

Sub-Sea MPD Systems – covers the additional equipment required to conduct MPD operations with a sub-sea BOP including riser capabilities, riser gas management, rapid shut-off systems and integration of MPD into modern drillships and semisubmersibles

MPD Control Systems  - addresses equivalent circulating density, hydraulics simulation techniques, constant ECD and constant BHP control techniques, the “anchor point” concept.  Focuses on the limitations of control systems and how they can be calibrated.  Includes different control techniques on detection of an influx as well as tripping procedures.  Contrasts traditional hydraulic modelling with transient behaviour control systems.

Managed Pressure Cementing – covers planning, modelling and implementation of managed pressure cementing

Managed Pressure Completions – looks at how wellbore damage and skin effect can be minimised by using MPD techniques while running completions

Underbalanced Drilling – explains the additional surface and subsurface equipment required to perform UBD including production separators, metering and flaring as well as downhole deployment valves.

MPD Command and Control – considers the roles and responsibilities of key drilling and MPD personnel and how they interface.  Clarifies who maintains ultimate control for the well and how this control can be implemented when MPD equipment is in operation. Explains how primary well control is maintained while starting / stopping pumps and making connections.  Looks at future MPD implementation and questions the need for 3rd party control of the RCD and even the MPD control system

Primary & Secondary Well Control – examines alternative ways that “primary” well control is maintained (Bottom Hole Pressure greater than formation pore pressure) and looks at how secondary well control can be performed; manually or automatically.  Covers techniques for establishing the drilling window utilising computed net flow.  Explains the limitations of the MPD equipment in handling kicks, introduces the Well Control Matrix and looks at different flow paths and RCD / BOP configurations for different kick characteristics.


Training & Simulation Requirements – considers how training and simulation can be used to prepare rig teams for MPD operations and reduce risk in such operations


Competence Development

At the end of this course delegates should be able to:

  1. Identify the different techniques used in Managed Pressure Drilling and explain the different applications for each of the primary techniques

  2. Highlight potential conflicts between current regulation and MPD techniques and suggest how these gaps might be closed

  3. Identify the different components of MPD systems and explain their functionality

  4. Explain how MPD control systems aim to maintain primary well control in a well and how they can be used to detect a kick or losses and control bottom hole pressure while circulating out an influx

  5. Explain the limitations of MPD control hardware and software during secondary well control operations and how conventional secondary well control can be implemented

  6. Explain how MPD can be used during cementing and completion operations.

  7. Identify minimum training requirements for key personnel prior to deployment of MPD


Managed Pressure Drilling Simulation

Drilling Systems simulators can be supplied with an MPD emulation (Surface and Subsea BOPs).   Some MPD Control Systems can be interfaced with the Drilling system drilling simulator.   This allows the MPD control system to manage the MPD choke and thus control Bottom Hole Pressure.

Simulator based MPD workshops have already proved an absolutely essential step in the preparation for MPD operations. Welltrain have designed, programmed and delivered MPD DWoS sessions for Jackup, Semi-Submersible and Deepwater Drillship Drilling Operations in a wide range of Operating Environments.


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