1. adj. [Drilling]
Term describing the uncased portion of a well. All wells, at least when first drilled, have openhole sections that the well planner must contend with. Prior to running casing, the well planner must consider how the drilled rock will react to drilling fluids, pressures and mechanical actions over time. The strength of the formation must also be considered. A weak formation is likely to fracture, causing a loss of drilling mud to the formation and, in extreme cases, a loss of hydrostatic head and potential well control problems. An extremely high-pressure formation, even if not flowing, may have wellbore stability problems. Once problems become difficult to manage, casing must be set and cemented in place to isolate the formation from the rest of the wellbore. While most completions are cased, some are open, especially in horizontal or extended-reach wells where it may not be possible to cement casing efficiently.
Synonyms: open hole