Drilling the deep vertical 16" hole (starting at 9,300ft) in northern Kuwait is challenging due to the complex stratigraphic section that contains abrasive Zubair sand (with pyrite), reactive Ratawi shale, hard Ratawi, Minagish, Makhul limestones and Hith anhydrite (UCS 10-30kpsi). Completing the 16" section typically requires around 45 days of rig-time and four polycrystalline diamond compact (PDC) bits on a positive displace motor (PDM) driven bottom hole assembly (BHA). However, inconsistent PDC bit performance/durability and lack of downhole stability was causing premature bit/motor failure. The operator required new PDC technology that could efficiently drill the abrasive, Zubair and continue as far as possible into the Ratawi without premature cutter failure at acceptable rates of penetration (ROP). The PDC bit would also need to possess improved stability characteristics to reduce PDM failures/trip hours.

An engineering team was assembled to analyze the latest drilling/PDC technologies, optimize BHA design, and determine the best practices to enable reaching section TD with two PDC bits/runs. A finite element analysis (FEA) based engineering system was utilized to predict the dynamic behavior of each BHA component. The resulting information led to greater bit stability when drilling in lithologies comparable to the specific field application. The development of a new abrasion resistant cutter was considered important to improving durability and maintaining cutting efficiency.

The in-depth study and PDC design changes/advanced cutter technology produced a new nine-bladed PDC bit. The new bit was run on a performance motor in Raudhatain field and set new PDC footage and ROP records for drilling through Zubair (1,200ft) in northern Kuwait (Figure 1). Historically, the Zubair alone required three/four TCIs or two/three PDCs to complete the formation interval. Next an eight-bladed PDC, fitted with the new cutter technology, drilled 2,508ft from Ratawi to section TD for the first time in Kuwait. The improved performance reduced rig hours by an average of 13 days for a total savings of approximately $390,000USD compared to the closest two PDC offset runs.

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