Drilling operations in the US Permian Basin shale play with a new 4-¾" Rotary-Steerable Drilling System (RSS) revealed that with high Rates Of Penetration (ROP), high Weight On Bit (WOB) (and other drilling parameters) encountering stringers or interbedded formations can lead to unwanted effects. The Bottom Hole Assembly (BHA) can be deflected before the steering unit with its steering pads can counteract the deflection. This can lead to deviations from the directional plan and High Local Doglegs (HLD) when drilling in the horizontal/lateral section, which can have a negative impact on the electronics within the steering unit.

As a countermeasure, a combination of a pin-down connection steering unit with a short box-up connection drill bit, or Integrated Bit (IB), was developed. This combination allows a much shorter bit to steering pad distance. Due to the shorter bit-to-pad-distance an improved steering response is expected resulting in fewer high local dogleg occurrences. The integrated box-up bit basically moves the drive-shaft pin-down connection into the drill bit. The remaining bit shank is very short requiring modifications to the make-up and break-out procedure.

Results from the data acquired in the Permian Basin shale play yielded promising results in terms of steering accuracy. When comparing bending cycle load vs. local Dogleg Severity (DLS), local DLS are typically lower and have less bending cycles drilling through these critical local DLS when IB were deployed. The overall average ROP of runs with IB is higher than the overall average ROP of runs with standard bits.

The amount of data collected for this study allows a good statistical approach for comparison of the performance of a standard drilling BHA and bit versus a BHA featuring an IB. It proves that by further reducing the distance between the first formation contact point at the drill bit to the second contact point at the steering unit there is an overall improvement in performance and wellbore placement. This provides opportunities for incremental future optimization of the drill bit and BHA system.

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