Successful Design and Operational Practices to Mitigate Common Bit Damage Mechanisms in Hard Laminated Formations Conference Paper uri icon


  • Copyright 2016, IADC/SPE Drilling Conference and Exhibition. An extensive data collection, training, and field trial program was implemented to develop practices to mitigate a common form of bit damage in hard laminated formations. Analysis improved understanding of the physical phenomena causing the damage and a variety of operational practices and technical redesigns have resulted in reduced levels of bit dysfunction, increased bit life, as well as increased drill rate. In hard laminated formations bit life is often limited by severe damage occurring in only the two outside cutter rows on the bit shoulder (Fig. 2). In 2014, the operator began a performance improvement program in the Greater Green River Basin, which included investigating the physical process through which this damage was occurring. High frequency downhole vibrations data was recorded on multiple wells at points throughout the BHA as well as at the bit. The data revealed that synchronous torsional oscillations (STO) were occurring, and these were enabling high lateral bit whirl. While the root cause is a form of stickslip, the damage observed has the appearance of whirl. Analysis showed that as the bit drilled the laminated interfaces, higher modes of STO may occur along with the basic primary torsional oscillation mode. STOs occur when the drillstring is rotated at specific speeds that cause higher frequency torsional resonance to develop in addition to the primary large torque and speed cycles that rig crews observe with stickslip. The high frequency oscillation within the drillstring had small amplitude, but it created sufficient loss of depth of cut that allowed the bit to move freely in the lateral direction, enabling high lateral vibrations. The effect is particularly pronounced in hard laminated formations where the depth of cut has already declined at each transition due to the increase in rock hardness. It has generally been observed by the industry that high levels of whirl are rarely seen simultaneously with high stickslip. The observations in the described case are significant in that they may explain those instances where they are seen together. Also, the operations personnel are generally not aware that primary and higher order torsional oscillations may be excited by specific rotary speeds and that new field practices are needed to identify and avoid these in real time. Field trials were conducted that included RPM step tests to determine non-resonant rotational speeds, WOB step tests to avoid the onset of full-stick, bits designed with depth-of-cut control to reduce torsional oscillation, roller reamers to ensure.

author list (cited authors)

  • Mann, C. B., Dupriest, F. E., & Noynaert, S. F.

citation count

  • 8

publication date

  • March 2016