Traditionally, shallow water wells have been drilled from fixed platforms, jack-ups or moored drilling rigs. Recently there has been increased interest in performing operations on these wells using new generation of Dynamically Positioned (DP) rigs, driven by available capacity of these rigs and environmental regulations that restrict laying anchors on the seabed. Shallow water offshore drilling operations present a set of unique challenges and these challenges are further amplified when operations are performed on older wells with legacy conductor hardware with newer DP vessels and larger BOPs.

The objective of the paper is to present challenges that occur during drilling in shallow water and discuss mitigation options to make these operations feasible through a series of case studies.

Key challenges to optimizing riser operability and rig uptime are discussed. Potential modifications to the upper riser stack-up and rig deck structure for maximizing operational uptime are discussed. Riser system weak point assessment is presented along with solutions for mitigating risks in case the wellhead or conductor structural pipe is identified as the weak link. Selection of the drilling rig can have significant impact on wellhead fatigue response. Some criteria for rig selection based on drilling riser and wellhead system performance is presented with the objective of optimizing the fatigue performance of the wellhead and conductor system. Wellhead fatigue monitoring solutions in combination with physical fatigue mitigation options are presented to enable operations for fatigue critical wells.

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