American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2018 - 134

draulics can be applied to large vertical
bits as well. "This technology can translate
across bit designs," he concludes. "It will
have the biggest benefit in applications
with fast ROPs, but it is applicable almost
anywhere."
Advancing Hydraulics
Cuttings volume, formation types and
rig pressure mutually affect PDC bits'
hydraulic performance, observes Cary
Maurstad, Varel International Energy
Services' marketing director. To overcome
those constraints, the company employs
a design process called HYDRA™ that
combines computational fluid dynamics
with proprietary technology. "This process
is helping us improve ROP and footage
drilled in challenging lithologies, including
softer clays and shale, as well as sands
and limestone," Maurstad reports.
HYDRA bits' curved nozzles direct
fluid flow to the cutter surface to improve
cleaning and cooling without affecting
rig hydraulics, Maurstad relates. Across
hundreds of applications, he says the
nozzles' focused hydraulics have reduced
core outs, plugged nozzles and bit balling.
"In addition to the nozzles, we use
straight rather than curved blades,"
Maurstad says. "The atypical blade geometry increases hydraulic shear stress to
improve cutter cleaning and removal."
These straight blades are webbed, he
adds. "Instead of leaving open channels
between the primary and secondary blades,
we connect the secondary blades to the
back of the primary blades," Maurstad
clarifies. "This helps contain and direct
hydraulic force to the blades to limit cuttings recirculation and entrainment, and
increase cuttings evacuation."
In New Mexico, where interbedded
clays, carbonates, limestones and sandstones make bit hydraulics central to efficient drilling, Maurstad says HYDRAoptimized bits have improved footage
significantly, achieving operators' fastest

By changing how backup cutters
contact the formation, Halliburton's Stega™ cutter layout maximizes their cutting efficiency.
This significantly increases and
sometimes even doubles drilling
speed, the company reports.

one-BHA runs to total depth.
In West Texas, interbedded shale, limestone and sand in the Wolfcamp formation
cause coring, plugged nozzles and bit
balling, and force multiple runs to drill
laterals, Maurstad notes. "With Hydra,
we have cut the number of bits required
in half," he reports. "The optimized hydraulics have increased footage drilled
as much as 96 percent and ROP as much
as 58 percent."
Backup Cutter Layout
By optimizing backup cutter placement,
Halliburton's Stega™ cutter layout can
improve bits' cutting efficiency in hard
and interbedded applications, says Brad
Dunbar, the company's drill bit product
manager. In a few applications, he says
the new layout has doubled ROP.
"The Stega layout achieves that by
rotating the backup cutters," he says. "As
a PDC turns, each of the primary cutters
creates a different path through the rock.
In a traditional design, the backup cutters
ride in the same path as the cutter they
are behind, but contact the rock in an inefficient way. By moving the backup cutters to the other side of the bit, we give
the other cutters time to create paths as

To optimize cuttings evacuation,
Varel Oil & Gas Drill Bits is deploying curved nozzles and
straight, webbed blades to focus
hydraulic force. The company
says these technologies help
bits achieve longer runs with
faster penetration rates.

134 THE AMERICAN OIL & GAS REPORTER

well. These paths change how the backup
cutters contact the rock, allowing them
to do more work."
In a traditional design, Dunbar says
the backup cutters often end up cutting
with their sides. "By changing the layout,
we are moving the side cutting to other
cutters. This applies all of the force from
the weight on bit down into the axial direction of the rock, which is far more efficient than trying to drill sideways," he
relates.
According to Dunbar, the increased
efficiency allows the bit to drill faster
with the same weight on bit. "We accomplish that without decreasing diamond
volume, so the bit achieves these increased speeds without losing any durability. In fact, the increased efficiency
generally allows the cutters to drill farther," he says.
The Stega layout increases contact
points between the bit and the rock, which
Dunbar says minimizes vibration that
can degrade drill string components and
complicate tool face control.
The layout's benefits have been proven
both domestically and internationally,
Dunbar assures. "Across applications, the
layout's boost to drilling efficiency has
increased footage drilled by helping the
cutters stay sharp or enabled faster ROPs,"
he reports.
As an example, Dunbar cites an application in Argentina where the cutter
layout doubled the amount of footage
drilled. To bring the benefits closer to
home, he points to an 81⁄2-inch curve and
lateral application in Upton County, Tx.
Compared with offsets drilled by the
same operator, the bit almost doubled
ROP and run length, drilling an additional
2,400 feet at a 15 feet/hour faster ROP.
Leveraging New Motors
In the Eagle Ford, operators are deploying longer motors with slower rpms



American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2018

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2018

Contents
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