The theory behind using drilling parameters to detect overpressured zones is based on the fact that:

1. Compaction of formations increases with depth. ROP will therefore, all other things being constant, decrease with depth.
2. In the transition zone the rock will be more porous (less compacted) than that in a normally compacted formation and this will result in an increase in ROP. Also, as drilling proceeds, the differential pressure between the mud hydrostatic and formation pore pressure in the transition zone will reduce, resulting in a much greater ROP.

The use of the ROP to detect transition and therefore overpressured zones is a simple concept, but difficult to apply in practice. This is due to the fact that many factors affect the ROP, apart from formation pressure (e.g. rotary speed and WOB).  Since these other effects cannot be held constant, they must be considered so that a direct relationship between ROP and formation pressure can be established. This is achieved by applying empirical equations to produce a “normalised” ROP, which can then be used as a detection tool.

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