Roller cone bits have dominated the 8–1/2" steerable application in Abu Dhabi due to their proficient steerability, consistently achieving the required build rates in the soft Nahr Umr shale. In the vertical section, PDC bits often achieve up to four times the penetration rates of TCI bits. However, directional performance when using PDC bits to build angle was compromised by fluctuations in reactive torque resulting in poor tool face control and inconsistent build up rates. The overall result was poor penetration rate and performance compared to roller cone bits. The operator and a service company utilized a new design process and cross functional team approach to aggressively seek new steerable PDC technology to drill the curved section with controllable torque response and consistent directional behavior while achieving the full penetration rate advantage of PDC bits. This process was complemented by the Well Delivery Limit process (WDL) that was already established by the operator that focused on delivering high value wells with significantly reduced costs. The team analyzed the drilling operations from virtually every perspective using numerical models, laboratory drilling tests, and field testing. The key to the PDC solution was the team process that identified the relevant drilling problems and performance requirements in order to develop the needed technology. After 30 bit runs from November 2001 to June 2002, the team reduced drilling costs by $44.26 per foot for a total savings of $3,792,367 over 85,682 ft and 2,386 drilling hours. The average ROP for the section doubled from 18 ft/hr with TCI bits to 36 ft/hr. The current ROP record stands at 60 ft/hr over a 3,169 ft interval.

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