The ongoing drilling campaign for an operator drilling in Egypt's Western desert area involved drilling vertical and directional wells approximately 5,000- to 5,500-m deep. The application involved drilling through very hard and abrasive sandstones, and intercalations of shale, sand, silt and dense dolomite inter-beds of about 25,000 psi unconfined compressive strength (UCS). Historically, poly crystalline diamond compact (PDC) drill-bit showed inconsistent bit performance that included premature bit failure and low rate of penetration (ROP), resulting in costly bit trips to the surface.
New and improved bit technology was required to improve the penetration rate and footage to reduce bit trips to the surface and improve the overall drilling performance. An in-depth study of the formation properties, wireline logs, drilling parameters and bit dull analysis was performed. Detailed analysis identified this application can benefit from running cutters with a non- planar cutting face on a field-proven seven- blade PDC bit frame. The bit was run on a Rotary Steerable System (RSS) coupled with a positive displacement motor (PDM) on top of the BHA to further improve the drilling efficiency and overcome any challenges.
Upon deployment, the 8½-in bit design with the new 16-mm cutters with non-planar cutting structure combined with optimized depth-of-cut control, stability, hydraulics efficiency and balling prevention features led to improved performance when drilling the complex, hook-shaped well profile (where torque and drag were an issue in the past). Compared to field offsets, the bit drilled very smoothly and aided the operator in placing the well in the correct direction with minimum bit- torque caused from bit and formation interaction. Offset bits fail to achieve the required directional plan in the past because of the severe nature of drilling in the area.
This integrated solution resulted in a 15% improvement in the ROP as compared to the offsets and a 57% improvement in footage drilled. This performance replaced six drill bits, which were used to drill the same interval in the offset wells. The new innovative PDC cutter technology saved the operator at least USD 250,000 from the planned authority for expenditure (AFE) cost, as well as set two consecutive footage records. This paper outlines the problems in drilling this challenging area, the thought process behind using the various technologies incorporated in the PDC bit design and the keys to overall success.