Formation pressure can be predicted from 3 information sources prior to drilling as follows;
1. Seismic Data
Seismic is the way to predict formation types by sending sound waves that penetrate into subsurface structure. Then, sound waves reflected back from formation are recorded as raw data. Geologists are able to predict geological structures and potential pressured zoned by interpreting the sound waves. With current 3D seismic modeling, the pressured zones are accurately predicted.
2. Geological Data
Geological information demonstrates condition that possibly causes abnormal pressure zones. The subsurface structures associated with abnormal pressure characteristics are anticlines, charged zones, depleted zones, faults, massive shale and Salt formations.
Anticlines: Anticlines is the geological structure that looks like a dome. Anticlines with cap rock on top are good geological structure because hydrocarbon can possibly trapped below it. While drilling into top structure of anticlines, abnormal pressured zones are expected.
Charged Zones: Charged zones are shallow formations that have pressure connectivity from abnormal pressure zones below. Because of upward movement of reservoir fluid from deeper zones, charged zones are normally abnormal pressure. Charge zones can occur by nature or man-made. Currently, new geophysical methodologies can be applied for find where the charged zones are prior to drilling.
Depleted Zones: Depleted zones are formations that have less pressure than original formation pressure because some formation fluid has been produced. Using historical data in conjunction with geological techniques can determine where the possibly depleted zones are.
Faults: Because each fault block may has different pressure gradient, while drilling across a fault, drilling problem associated with pressure such as well control problem or lost circulation may possibly happen.
Massive Shale: Shale is non permeable formation therefore it restricts movement of formation fluid. When a lot of overburden formation layers are accumulated over massive shale, shale is compacted and reservoir fluid naturally tries to come out from the pore space. However, shale is impermeable and it does not allowed pore fluid to come out therefore formation pressure caused by formation fluid becomes over pressured.
Salt Formations: There are several parts of the world where pure and thick layers of salt are present. Typically, salt formations are laterally and upwards forced causing salt domes. Because salt is impermeable, it does not allow formation fluid pass through it; therefore, formations below a salt formation are normally abnormal pressure.
3. Historical Data
The historical data from adjacent area is good information for prediction formation pressure. Historical information can be obtained from formation pressure, mud logging reports, drilling reports, drilling fluid reports, Logging While Drilling (LWD), Pressure While Drilling (PWD), etc.
Reference book: Well Control Books