Drilling highly intercalated formations with Polycrystalline Diamond Compact (PDC) bits has been a challenge in few Southern Iraqi Fields. The established drilling practice for the 17.5-in section has been a two-run strategy - Top section formation is mostly dolomite intercalated with anhydrite drilled with a Tungsten Carbide Insert (TCI) bit, then trip out of hole to change to a PDC bit and drill to section TD. The upper section comprises highly intercalated formations known to induce severe bit and BHA damage. The application of new Conical Diamond Elements (CDEs) backing up traditional PDC cutters on the bit blades had significantly improved bit durability in the bottom half of the section. The subsequent challenge was to apply this CDE technology onto an optimized PDC chassis and achieve a single run section thus eliminating a trip for bit change as well as improving overall Rate of Penetration (ROP) of the section.

A Bit and drill string optimization exercise was initiated by the Technology Integration Center to develop a new PDC bit design that could deliver a shoe-to-shoe section. Analysis of offset well data highlighted the need for greater cutter redundancy on the bit to survive high impact loading and optimized cutter arrangement to minimize bit induced instability while drilling through intercalations with highly fluctuating rock strengths. A finite element analysis (FEA)-based modelling system was used to evaluate the dynamic behavior of multiple bit design configurations in various rock scenarios and narrow down to the optimum design for the challenge. The optimization exercise shortlisted a PDC bit design characterized by 8 Blades, 16-mm PDC cutters and CDEs backing-up the nose and shoulder PDC cutting structure. A detailed drilling parameter road map was also generated to ensure optimum drilling parameter application for shoe-to-shoe assurance.

The new bit drilled the entire section in single run with a field record average on-bottom ROP of 20 m/hr which was a 11% improvement over the best offset performance with a two-bit strategy. In addition, a trip for bit change was eliminated. A minimum saving of 20 rig hours was realized thus reducing section time by almost one day compared to the offset wells. The bit was pulled out of hole with minor cutter damage indicative of efficient drilling dynamics and opportunities for further performance enhancement through improved parameter management, alternate drive systems and high torque drill pipes.

This paper further will discuss how the technology integration and precise engineering design can solve complicated on bottom drilling problems and address the problematic challenges of drilling highly intercalated formations. This strategy enabled a significant time and cost saving compared to drilling the section conventionally.

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