Primary Well Control & Kick Prevention In Drilling Tips

Table of Contents

Primary Well Control
Primary Well Control

To ensure primary well control is in place & prevention of kicks in drilling, the following procedures and precautions must be observed:

The Primary Well Control: Mud Weight

Mud into and out of the well must be weighted to ensure the correct weight is being maintained to control the well.

This task is normally carried out by the shaker man at least every thirty minutes or less, depending upon the nature of the drilling operation and/or company policy.

Tripping Procedures

Tripping pipe in or out of the well must be maintained using an accurate log called a trip sheet. A trip sheet is used to record the volume of mud put into the well or displaced from the well when tripping.

A calibrated trip tank is normally used for the accurate measurement of mud volumes and changes to mud volumes while tripping.

Trip sheet and kick prevention in drilling

When tripping pipe or drill collars out of the hole, a given volume of mud is put into the well for the volume of steel removed.  If the volume required to fill the hole is significantly less than the volume of steel removed, tripping must be stopped to ensure the well is stable, and consideration is given to going back to the bottom to condition the mud and investigate the cause of the problem.


A full opening or safety valve should be available at all times on the drill floor together with the required crossover subs. A non-return (i.e. grey) valve Inside BOP should also be readily available.


Trip Margin (Safety Factor) To Keep Primary Well Control Alive

Trip Margin (Safety Factor) is an overbalance to compensate for the loss of ECD in drilling and to overcome the effects of swab pressures during a trip out of the hole (also check: Surge & Swap Calculations).

Flow Checks

Flow checks are performed to ensure that the well is stable and primary well control is still effective in prevention drilling kicks. Flow checks should be carried out with the mud pumps off to check the well with ECD effects removed. Flow checks are usually performed when a trip is going to take place at the following minimum places:

Short Trips/Wiper Trips

In some circumstances prior to pulling out of the hole, a short trip, 5 or 10 stands, should be considered. The well is then circulated, and mud returns are carefully monitored.

Pumping a Slug of Heavy Mud

This is a practice often carried out to enable the pipe to be pulled dry and the hole to be more accurately monitored during the trip. The following equation is used to calculate the dry pipe volume for the slug pumped:

Dry Pipe Volume = Slug Volume x (Slug Weight / Mud Weight – 1)

This dry pipe volume can be converted to Dry Pipe Length by dividing this volume by the internal capacity of the pipe as illustrated in the following equation:

Dry Pipe Length = Dry Pipe Volume (bbls) / Drill Pipe Capacity (bbls/ft)

Mud Logging: The Eye on Primary Well Control Failure

A logging unit, if available, is extremely important, particularly concerning primary well control.  The unit carries out some of the following services:

  • Gas detection in the mud
  • Gas analysis
  • Cuttings density analysis
  • Recording mud densities in and out
  • Recording flow line temperatures
  • Recording penetration rates
  • Pore Pressure Trends


If a mud transfer to the active system is requested, the driller (also check: Driller Job Description) will be informed, and the logging unit must likewise be informed. Good communication all around is essential.


The high and low settings for the pit level recorder and flow line recorder must be checked and are set to appropriate values.


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