The purpose of this study was to develop a physical understanding of the bit damage that occurs in the Brushy Canyon and Avalon formations in the southern Delaware Basin and to develop practices to mitigate it. The operator had already implemented a programmatic initiative to move the organization toward physics-based, limiter-redesign workflows in order to achieve performance gains in a safe and efficient operation. A significant performance limiter was trips for damaged bits.
Two dominant causes of bit damage were observed. One was tangential overload of the outside cutters, which tends to occur if hard streaks are exited with high WOB and depth of cut (DOC). The second is continuous wear of the outside cutters that occurs if lower WOB is used to avoid the tangential overload. There was no operating window in which any given WOB did not enable one or the other form of damage in 12-1/4 holes.
An explanation of how the overload may occur is presented along with the results of changes in field practices that were consistent with the concept. The progress that was made was partly due to physics-based training of operations personnel which enabled them to interpret observed behaviors and manage dysfunction more intensely. Some elements of the physics-based workflow and training are also discussed at length because they are integral to the improvements achieved in performance (Dupriest 2005, 2006); particularly the use of a Geologic Roadmap and surveillance of the Baseline MSE.
Bits from two wells drilled were pulled green after drilling from the surface casing through the Brushy Canyon. While this is encouraging the results from rig to rig was inconsistent. Bit design needs were identified that should enable higher success, and some of these features are now found in the current market. They were not available at the time of this initiative in 2018.
The nature of the interfacial severity damage varies from the southern to northern end of the Delaware basin, with laminar calcite streaks dominating in the south (the operator's acreage) and nodular chert inclusions occurring in some areas of the north. Both create high loading of a small number of cutter studs and the real time and engineering design practices that limit the interfacial severity damage discussed in this paper may be useful across the basin.