It is useful during drilling operations to know when bit failure has occurred because this knowledge can be used to improve drilling performance and provides guidance on when to pull out of hole. This paper presents a simple polycrystalline diamond compact (PDC) bit wear indicator and an associated methodology to help quantify wear and failure using real-time surface sensor data and PDC dull images.

The wear indicator is used to identify the point of failure, after which corresponding surface data and dull images can be used to infer the cause of failure. It links rotary speed (RPM) with rate of penetration (ROP) and weight-on-bit (WOB). The term incorporating RPM and ROP represents a "sliding distance", i.e. the number of revolutions required to drill a unit distance of formation, while the WOB represents the formation hardness or contact pressure applied by the formation.

This PDC bit wear metric was applied and validated on a data set comprised of 51 lateral production hole bit runs on 9 wells. Surface electric drilling recorder (EDR) data alongside bit dull photos were used to interpret the relationship between the wear metric and observed PDC wear. All runs were in the same extremely hard (estimated 35 – 50 kpsi unconfined compressive strength) and abrasive shale formation. Sliding drilling time and off-bottom time were filtered from the data, and the median wear metric value for each stand was calculated versus measured hole depth while in rotary mode.

The initial point in time when the bit fails was found to be most often a singular event, after which ROP never recovered. Once damaged, subsequent catastrophic bit failure generally occurred within drilling 1-2 stands. The rapid bit failure observed was attributed to the increased thermal loads seen at the wear flat of the PDC cutter, which accelerate diamond degradation. The wear metric more accurately identifies the point in time (stand being drilled) of failure than the ROP value by itself.

Review of post-run PDC photos show that the final recorded wear metric value can be related to the observed severity of the PDC damage. This information was used to determine a pull criterion to reduce pulling bits that are damaged beyond repair (DBR) and reduce time spent beyond the effective end of life. Pulling bits before DBR status is reached and replacing them increases overall drilling performance.

The presented wear metric is simple and cost-effective to implement, which is important to lower-cost land wells, and requires only real-time surface sensor data. It enables a targeted approach to analyzing PDC bit wear, optimizing drilling performance and establishing effective bit pull criteria.

You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.