bullhead | Energy Glossary

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1. vb. []

To forcibly pump fluids into a formation, usually formation fluids that have entered the wellbore during a well control event. Though bullheading is intrinsically risky, it is performed if the formation fluids are suspected to contain hydrogen sulfide gas to prevent the toxic gas from reaching the surface. Bullheading is also performed if normal circulation cannot occur, such as after a borehole collapse. The primary risk in bullheading is that the drilling crew has no control over where the fluid goes and the fluid being pumped downhole usually enters the weakest formation. In addition, if only shallow casing is cemented in the well, the bullheading operation can cause wellbore fluids to broach around the casing shoe and reach the surface. This broaching to the surface has the effect of fluidizing and destabilizing the soil (or the subsea floor), and can lead to the formation of a crater and loss of equipment and life.

See: casing shoeformation fluidlost circulation