Although drilling horizontal wells in US-land unconventional shale plays has increased exponentially in the last few years, maximizing well productivity and improving drilling efficiency remains a major challenge. Well placement in the sweet spot and extended laterals help maximize productivity. Drilling a curve with higher dogleg severity (DLS) reduces its verticalsection and maximizes the length of subsequent lateral section in the productive zone. Wells in US shale plays demand a DLS of 10 to 14 deg/100 ft, but achieving high DLS presents numerous drilling challenges: rotating a steerable motor with a high adjustable kick-off sub (AKO) angle could result in bottomhole assembly (BHA) fatigue failure and premature damage to bit; drilling in oriented mode limits the transfer of weight to the bit, reducing the rate-of-penetration (ROP).

These challenges led to the development and successful testing of a new steerable optimized design motor (ODM) with a short bit-to-bend (BTB) distance. In some cases, the ODM drilled all sections, including high-DLS curves, tangents and laterals with precise directional control and well placement with one BHA. Using the ODM helped the operator achieve higher build rates at lower AKO angle settings; rotate the BHA in well profiles where previously used motors could be operated only in slide mode, and maximize the length of curve interval drilled in rotary mode at higher rotations per minute (RPM). The new system significantly improved drilling performance with excellent directional control. Drilling high-DLS curves increased the length of laterals, enabling additional recovery of gas.

This paper discusses the design, modeling and results of horizontal type wells drilled using the steerable ODM in the Marcellus unconventional shale play.

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