Predicting drilling risks in advance is a major challenge in areas that lack drilling experience, and even when information from offset wells is available. Large overpressure was found at TD of an offshore exploratory well drilled mainly through shale. None of the other two previously drilled offset wells in the area had shown any sign of such a high overpressure. This study presents two complementary approaches to gain insight on the overpressure generation mechanisms. The effect of chemical compaction is first evaluated in terms of well cuttings analysis, including sample washing, high-resolution photo catalog, automated mineralogy and X-ray diffraction clay mineralogy analysis. The obtained mineralogical results confirm the presence of the dehydration diagenetic process involving the transformation of smectite to illite. Consequently, a numerical model is presented which combines the effect of mechanical and chemical compaction to predict pore pressure values very close to the overpressure observed during drilling. The model reproduces the depositional history of the lithological column by coupling mechanical and chemical compaction with fluid flow over geological time, and it allows predicting stress, porosity and pore pressure evolution at different geological ages. Calibration and verification of the results of the pore pressure model is done by comparison to drilling experience and logs (post-drill pore pressure profile, geology tops and density/porosity logs).

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