The Barnett Shale field of North Texas is one of the most prolific and fastest growing natural gas fields in North America with a multi-trillion cubic feet equivalent upside potential. However, the area presents numerous drilling challenges. In the vertical section, roller cone bits had unacceptable low penetration rates while PDC bits suffered premature damage. High torque and drag along with low penetration rates hampered drilling the curve and lateral sections. To address these challenges, a detailed engineering analysis was performed utilizing sophisticated BHA and drill string modeling software. Engineers studied offset wells and drillstring modeling including buckling load analysis, critical speed analysis, and torque and drag analysis.

As a result of the study, engineers determined that bit whirl and stick-slip were resulting in premature bit damage and reduced ROP while drillstring buckling resulted in inefficient transfer of weight on bit. Modeling helped design a BHA that mitigated buckling while optimized drilling parameters avoided critical speeds. The improvements resulted in 42% to 121% higher penetration rates with minimal damage to the PDC bits. The 83/4" vertical section was drilled in one PDC run in 60 out of 104 wells resulting in significant reduction in rotating hours and average cost per foot. The new BHA reduced drillstring buckling and significantly reduced torque and drag while drilling the curve and lateral sections.

The authors will describe the significance of applying principles of buckling load and torque and drag analysis; to design technically sound BHA's. They will also discuss how to utilize drillstring dynamics to avoid critical speeds.

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