A Canadian oil & gas operator has been setting new benchmarks drilling the vertical and tangent section of Montney horizontal wells in the Placid field of Northern Alberta. Initially, the operator drilled vertical wells to kick off point (KOP) with polycrystalline diamond compacts (PDC) and conventional mud motors. As a result of increasing well density, however, the well plans consistently required a 15° to 30° tangent section. With PDC drilling, toolface and build up rates were problematic and the sliding rate of penetration (ROP) was slow.

A Rotary Steerable System (RSS) was introduced, but despite the improved performance, the technology came at a premium cost and the severity of drilling dysfunctions generated an increase in tool failures. With falling oil prices, a more cost effective solution was required.

Hybrid bit technology, which combines the cutting mechanism of both fixed cutter and roller-cone bits, has been extensively utilized in Canada to drill build sections, providing outstanding results. They have not, however, been commonly used to drill the vertical (drill-out) and tangent sections. The operator combined a state-of-the-art hybrid bit with a mud motor to drill the interval with an 85% success rate. The combination of the hybrid bit and conventional motor, compared to PDC and RSS, resulted in a 30% cost savings to complete the interval.

The present case study outlines how hybrid bit technology development, driven by field data in a continuous improvement cycle, identifies performance opportunities, which have a significant impact on drilling time and cost savings in drill out sections. The overall objective of this current case study is to highlight the results and lessons learned throughout the implementation process.

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