Author Archives : ulterra

What is Geosteering?

More traditional methods of drilling an oil or gas well involve drilling a vertical hole in the ground, straight down and through the reservoir. Jokingly referred to as “post holes,” these types of wells are easy and cheap to drill; but when you intersect the (mostly) flat rock layer at 90 degrees, the amount of exposed reservoir in your well is pretty small. With the advent of directional drilling practices, drillers were able to get creative, intersecting the reservoir layer at different angles in order to maximize exposure and production.

As directional drilling techniques advanced, it became possible to drill wells that are completely horizontal. Using seismic surveys and surrounding well information, geologists are able to predict where and at what depth the reservoir layer will appear. The well planners are then able to set geometric targets for the well to intersect so that the horizontally drilled well bore will remain within the target zone for huge distances.

Team Effort

Geosteering is the next level of directional control. The drilling crew uses a combination of real-time electronic logs, analysis of drilled cuttings, and even some paleontology to identify the exact rock layer being drilled. This means that rather than relying solely on pre-calculated geometric targets, which have their own inaccuracies, they can pinpoint the wells position exactly and steer the drilling assembly to keep it in the best possible part of the reservoir, finally reaching that “sweet spot.”

Successful geosteering is a real team effort involving well planners, drilling engineers, geologists, the directional team, and the rig crew. All of these people must work together as the oil or gas well is being drilled in order to keep the process on track. It also involves additional high tech equipment, particularly the advanced logging tools in the drilling assembly which measure the properties of the surrounding rock and relay it back to the surface in real time.

Highly Technical

All the additional personnel and costly equipment mean that a geosteered horizontal well can be very expensive to drill, up to three times more than a conventional well. However, the increased reservoir exposure, production levels, and oil recovery makes this return on this initial investment worth it. A lot of wells drilled offshore and in deep water are geosteered in order to maximize the efficiency and offset the huge additional cost of an offshore drilling operation.

Improvements in drilling equipment, tools, and techniques combined with the increased accuracy that geosteering brings, means that some extended reach horizontal wells are being drilled to incredibly long distances within the reservoir. The technical definition of extended reach is any well where the horizontal to vertical ratio is more than 2:1, step out is more than twice the depth of the well under the surface. Currently, record wells are being drilled with a horizontal to vertical ratio that is more like 7:1 or even 8:1 with extremely long geosteered reservoir sections that are close to 40,000ft (12,000m) in length!

Geosteering Tools

In order to achieve such long horizontal step outs, successfully geosteering to keep the well within the sweet spot of the reservoir takes teamwork, a high level of skill, and the best possible equipment. Certain downhole tools are an essential part of the drilling assembly in order to accurately geosteer the well:

  • Logging While Drilling (LWD) Tool – This is a segment of the drilling assembly packed full of electronics and sensors and is one of the most important parts of the geosteering The LWD tools sensors can measure a wide range of properties of the surrounding rock such as resistivity/conductivity, acoustic properties, porosity, density, and magnetic resonance. The LWD tool sits just a short distance behind the bit and communicates with computers at the surface to relay data in real time, meaning that geologists can see the properties of the rock as it is being drilled while geosteering.
  • Measurement While Drilling (MWD) Tool – Also a segment of the drilling assembly packed full of electronics and sensors, the MWD tool serves a very different purpose. The MWD tool measures and surveys the geometric properties of the wellbore and relays that information to the surface computers. Obviously essential to the geosteering process, we need to know the exact position of the drilling assembly at all times in order to make decisions on where to direct it to go.
  • Drive System – In order to change the course of the bit and geosteer the well in to stay in the right reservoir layer, we must have a device at the bottom of the hole which points or pushes the bit in the right direction. There are many types of drive systems: positive displacement motor or rotary steerable, push or point. These all allow the directional driller to change the direction of the bit and close the loop on the geosteering

The Drill Bit

At the end of the drilling assembly, and another key geosteering component is the drill bit. This is the only component that actually cuts rock and as such, its design and properties can have a profound effect on the success of the geosteering operation. In order to accurately steer and stay on track, it is essential that the bit is balanced and smooth in order to minimize drilling dysfunction and help all of the other tools do their job. The bit should also be compatible with the drive system and respond predictably to steering inputs so that the well can be placed accurately.

As the number one drill bit provider, Ulterra has the knowledge, technology, and products that our clients need for successful geosteering. At Ulterra, we view ourselves as a trusted partner in drilling operations committed to a long-term mutually beneficial relationship. This attitude is invaluable to the team effort that is involved in the geosteering process. We work closely with our clients and the other service personnel to ensure that they have the best and most innovative drilling solution for their geosteering operation.

Ulterra CFO Maria Mejia Featured in Article by Hispanic Executive

Recently, Ulterra CFO Maria Mejia was featured in an article by Hispanic Executive.

The article Bit By Drill Bit first appeared on

by Kelli Lawrence

CFO Maria Mejia sees Ulterra’s lively pace and culture as key to continued growth and expansion

Though she started her studies in her hometown of Medellin, Colombia, Maria Mejia had a fascination with international trade that took her to Dallas in 1999 for a six-month internship and then on to University of Texas–Arlington in 2000. Her education, as well as her career, has kept her in the United States ever since. But as CFO for drill bit manufacturer Ulterra, she finds herself at a company that’s ever more eager to tap the international side of her expertise.

Founded in 2005, sales were already at $110 million when Mejia came on board as corporate controller in 2010; four years later, those numbers topped $300 million. And the 120 or so employees that made up Ulterra back then? That number increased to 600.

“We’ve had to learn to act quickly; to change and react faster than all our competitors,” Mejia says of her team. “We’re comprised of people—especially in the operations and engineering side—that came from those big competitors that thought there was a better way of doing things. Our way is much less bureaucratic and much more fast-paced . . . we’re a group of people that care for each other, and are accountable to each other.”

That mind-set is easily reflected in Mejia’s management style, which encourages autonomy from her team of twenty-nine. As long as they keep her in the communication loop, all is well.

“I’m a financial advisor, not a scorekeeper,” Mejia says. “I just don’t want to be studying a report three months down the road and have to say [to my team], ‘Okay, what did you guys do?’ Before you pull a plug somewhere, just let me know in case I need to tell you you’re going to disconnect everybody. We have ‘operationalized’ accounting, pushing the true fiscal responsibility to operations by working as a team, not by keeping score at the end of the month.”

Mejia is quick to mention the culture of communication and collaboration at Ulterra, pointing to departmental successes such as the anti-vibration tool known as Counterforce. This 2013 invention for the drill-bit industry, which helps preserve other equipment by reducing vibrations, was designed by a small team of Ulterra engineers as the solution to a long-standing customer issue.

It’s not just technical issues at Ulterra that are customer focused. The development of a centralized inventory system that allows a customer’s specific drill bit needs to be met quickly fits the same model. The process has boosted inventory utilization to record levels, Mejia says. “It’s about determining what a customer needs quickly, and coming up with the perfect product for the perfect application every time.”

Ulterra’s efficiency and precision was initially very concentrated on operations in the United States and Canada. During Mejia’s tenure, the company has made considerable headway in international locales such as Saudi Arabia, Mexico, and Colombia. Such rapid expansion has kept Mejia on her toes setting up legal entities, checking infrastructures, and balancing FPA concerns by ensuring they operate within a legal and ethical framework wherever they’re at.

Her international experience—which includes, especially in the case of her homeland, a deep familiarity with the language and currency—definitely gives Ulterra’s accounting side the upper hand. “My being from Colombia, and having the experience with its workforce framework . . . it certainly has helped us do it correctly and properly from the get-go,” Mejia says.

Market shares tell the story of Ulterra’s success in terms of global representation, with highlights including its standing as the number-one drill bit supplier for both Colombia’s Ecopetrol and Thailand’s PPT. “Saudi Arabia is our biggest international customer, though,” Mejia reports. “There’s still a lot of drilling activity there, even during a downturn.”

“I’m a financial advisor, not a scorekeeper. Before you pull a plug somewhere, just let me know in case I need to tell you you’re going to disconnect everybody.” 

Maria Mejia

That downturn, which sent still-recovering gas prices plummeting in the last quarter of 2014, left Ulterra with the same difficult downsizing decisions as the rest of the oil industry’s top businesses. But unlike their competitors, Mejia says they made all their cuts quickly—eliminating the worry of “will I have a job tomorrow” for remaining employees, and leading consequentially to higher morale and higher market share.

“Those that stayed were very conscious they’d been selected to take the company back to full growth mode,” she notes. “They’re really excited to be here. I don’t think they’re excited about the cuts, but we reacted quickly to the situation, made the cuts, and just moved on from there.”

A more ongoing challenge can be found in Ulterra’s ownership history: a merger in 2008, three years after its founding, a sale to ESCO Corporation in 2012, and another sale to private equity firm American Securities in 2016. Each shift is felt profoundly by the financial teams in place at any given time, but Mejia speaks of her staff’s adaptability from a place of pride. “That change in ownership . . . I think it shows how resilient our culture is, and how tight this company is,” Mejia says. “It’s definitely been challenging from the outside looking in, but then again, people here just thrive on change.”

With international expansion becoming even bigger for Ulterra in the next five years—particularly in Asia—an ability to embrace change is more imperative than ever. As might be guessed for Mejia, that ability is one of her most valuable strengths. “It will be a challenge learning new territories, culture, and so on,” she admits. “But it’s definitely a challenge I’m excited to face.”

At this point, she has her own history with Ulterra as proof of what she’ll be able to do in the future. “I guess expertise is more than actually saying that I can build infrastructure on my own,” Mejia says. “I can assemble a team to get us through a process. That’s why I’m here.”  


Breakthrough PDC Bit Design Evacuates Cuttings 200% Faster

Ulterra Drilling Technologies ( introduces its latest advancement in PDC bit engineering. The
patent-pending SplitBlade™ breakthrough design improves cuttings evacuation as much as 200 percent
faster than conventional PDC bits.

Splitblade PDC Bit

In Lavaca County, Texas, an Ulterra SplitBlade demonstrated outstanding face control and speed, in
addition to cuttings evacuation, drilling an 11,652-foot curve and lateral in under 68 hours.
This bit’s ability to rapidly and efficiently evacuate cuttings is based on a combination of design and
hydraulic performance. One factor is the bit’s rotated blade shoulder design. The primary blades
separate past the cone to free more area for the junk slot and prevent cuttings recirculation. SplitBlade’s
second design enhancement is its high-velocity, focused nozzles. The nozzles increase the maximum
hydraulic dispersal rate, and the advanced bit hydraulics improve bit tool face cleaning. The dedicated
hydraulic flow sweeps the junk slot for reliable cuttings evacuation.

SplitBlade is a solution to cuttings clogging the bit and reduced cutter performance. Standard drill bits,
accumulate cuttings around the cutters and junk slot. Tool face cuttings accumulation wastes drilling
energy. By preventing cutting recirculation SplitBlade focuses all energy to making the hole. Operators
can increase ROP by pushing beyond the previous performance limitation.

For more information and SplitBlade images call 1-888- 858-3772.

SplitBlade was featured in E&P News:

Ulterra’s Leduc Manufacturing Facility Has No Recordable Injuries for Three Years

According to the Workers’ Compensation Board of Alberta, the manufacturing, processing, and packaging sector had the highest injury claim rates in 2016. In this sector, the odds of being injured were about every three out of 100 workers. Ulterra’s Leduc Manufacturing Facility has beat those odds, and are proud to announce that their Leduc manufacturing facility has had no recordable injuries for three years.

After completing a successful Health and Safety Management System audit, a certification of recognition (COR) was issued to Ulterra. This COR ensures that Ulterra’s safety standards are in compliance with Alberta’s audit standard for health and safety systems. Ulterra’s health and safety management system is a process that’s in place to eradicate injury and maximize safety. Although their safety standards meet the requirements of their provincial legislation, their desire for a safe workplace is what drives the effort to work incident-free.

The key to their success is the commitment of everyone at every level — from plant managers to their latest new hires. Another effort that has helped ensure safety is monthly inspections. An internal team composed of both plant managers and shop employees conduct these inspections. Manager of HSSE, Bryce Cook, said: “Everyone understands the importance of safety, both for their own welfare and for business operations.”

This is a huge accomplishment for the entire manufacturing team in Leduc, Canada, and for Ulterra as a whole. Ulterra’s Health, Safety, Security, and Environmental (HSSE) team works hard to ensure a safe workplace for all employees. This is all made possible by managing business operations through an HSSE Management System that is consistently improving, as well as the continuous effort of employees to be compliant every day they come to work.

On behalf of the entire Ulterra team, congratulations to all employees at Leduc.

Latest Bit Designs Drill Faster, Farther: Ulterra Featured in The American Oil & Gas Reporter

By Colter Cookson

Human beings are exploring deep space, eradicating diseases, designing pilotless planes and cars, and placing horizontal wells with multi-mile laterals on target. Psychologists say we do so much in part because we all share a desire to accomplish big things. For the humans in the oil and gas industry, that means celebrating even their greatest successes for only a few days, then getting to work on the next challenge.



Nowhere could that dynamic be more obvious than in the world of drill bits. Instead of resting after record-setting runs, bit engineers analyze their designs’ performance to identify and address the barriers that keep them from drilling even faster and farther.

Their efforts are paying off. PDC makers say their latest designs deliver significant improvements in speed and durability by optimizing hydraulics, enhancing back- up cutters, leveraging modern motors, and minimizing reactive torque. Meanwhile, the newest roller cone and hybrid bits employ advanced cutters and application-specific cutter configurations to set new standards for drilling efficiency and durability.

To drill faster, bits need to handle the additional cuttings generated by the extra speed, notes Chris Casad, innovation project manager at Ulterra. “As better PDC bits have unlocked faster penetration rates, it has become clear we need to take the next step in hydraulic performance,” he says. “Improving cuttings evacuation not only enables faster rates of penetration, but also keeps the cutters clean and cool. This minimizes thermal degradation and cutter damage, enabling the bits to maintain their high performance longer.”

According to Casad, Ulterra has advanced hydraulic performance through a new concept called SplitBladeTM. The primary blades in SplitBlade bits are divided into two parts, with the inner part offset from the outer part near the shoulder. “The offset creates a recess to put a second nozzle for each blade,” he explains. “Two nozzles create dedicated flow paths from the cone of the bit and from the shoulder outward. The focused flows energize the cuttings and ensure evacuation happens quickly and reliably.

“In addition, offsetting the blades gives bit designers the opportunity to try cutting structures that previously would have been impossible,” he comments. “For example, because the offset increases the distance between the cutters, we often can double the diamond volume in areas that are seeing a lot of wear without encroaching on an adjacent cutter.”

Casad adds that the offset gives the bit more points of contact with the formation, allowing it to distribute point loads more evenly and reduce torque fluctuations. He says the smoother torque improves tool face control, cutting the amount of time spent sliding in the curve and enabling the bit to stay on target once it is in the lateral.
He highlights one other benefit: Because they are so clean, SplitBlade bits do a great job of converting weight into energy. “Like a knife, a PDC bit works by applying force to a small area,” Casad notes. “When cuttings are recirculating or building up on the tool face, they spread the weight across a wider area, making the cutters less effective.”

By applying more weight to the bit, Casad says drillers can increase depth of cut to improve performance. “Fast rotation speeds and a low depth of cut cause the bit to turn and start eating into the well bore, creating bumps and undulations. A high weight and a lower rpm let the bit drill fast, clean and smooth, meaning the wellbore will be easier to complete and produce,” he says.

The SplitBlade concept has been tested on more than 300 runs and has drilled more than 2 million feet across North America and in China, Australia and South America, Casad reports.

“The field testing started in the Eagle Ford, where operators were looking for ways to drill 15,000 feet through the curve and lateral sections without steer- ability issues in the curve or tracking issues in the lateral,” he relates. “When we introduced SplitBlade, we were able to combine the sections more reliably while cutting drilling times by 30 percent. The bits came out with a dull grade of 1- 1 to total depth and drilled smoothly through both sections.”

While it is often used in curve and lateral bits, Casad says the enhanced hydraulics can be applied to large vertical bits as well. “This technology can translate across bit designs,” he concludes. “It will have the biggest benefit in applications with fast ROPs, but it is applicable almost anywhere.”

Download a PDF of the Article Here

Used by permission from The American Oil & Gas Reporter


Drilling At the Sharp End: Ulterra Featured in North American Shale Magazine

Born in the shale oil fields of Canada and the U.S., Ulterra Drilling Technologies emerged from the latest oil downturn stronger than ever. The Fort Worth firm is now a prime source of where drilling efficiencies come from.

North American Shale Magazine Article

In military circles, the soldiers in the field who see their enemies eye-to-eye and engage in fierce close-quarters combat are known as the sharp end of the spear. If there’s an oilfield technology equivalent for shale operators, it’s the drill bit.

The well-known challenge with shale oil and gas is to drill vertically through thousands of feet of hard rock and then transition to horizontal drilling through a formation where the drill bit is directionally steered to create the lateral where fracking occurs. A drill bit problem can compromise the entire operation.

Based in Fort Worth, Texas, Ulterra Drilling Technologies LP has described itself as “the rock destruction company.” It focuses on the sharp end of drilling technologies by designing, manufacturing and renting polycrystalline diamond compact (PDC) drill bits for oil and gas drilling operations around the world. It was formed in 2005 by combining two companies—Canada-based United Diamond located in Leduc, Alberta, and Ulterra in Texas.

“If the drill bit doesn’t work, you don’t make holes, you don’t drill,” says Aron Deen, Ulterra’s director of marketing and business development—who also has an engineering background. Since its founding, Ulterra has remained what Deen calls a “pure play” company, steadfastly focused on providing the industry with improved drill bits and downhole tools to drill faster and more efficiently while lowering costs. “It’s really about making sure we have the technology on the end of the drill string that allows all the rest of the technology in the string to do its job,” he explains.

“Something that costs so little in relative terms has a huge impact on the overall cost of drilling the well,” Deen notes. “It’s gotten a lot of attention the last couple of years, especially as everyone has become cost-conscious and as drilling engineers have really been able to focus on performance improvement.”

More to the point, the last couple of years is in reference to the low-oil-price environment which severely impacted the North American shale oil and gas industry.Ulterra not only weathered that storm but also emerged from it as one of the fastest growing drill bit manufacturers in the world.The company has continued its expansion into international markets, increasing its manufacturing output by 60 percent and last year doubling its workforce.It’sworkedwithmore than 600 different operators in the past year and has customers in 25 different countries.

According to Maria Mejia, Ulterra’s chief financial officer, this can be attributed to a company culture that stresses finding solutions for every customer individually, no matter how big or how small. Those customers range from national oil companies in the Middle East and Latin America to major global producers to top technology-focused, independent E&P companies in North America to companies that occasionally operate a drilling rig in one county of the U.S.

“Our only interest is to drill faster,” she explains. “We don’t have daily rental rates coming from anywhere else in the drill string. We have no other interest other than to help customers reach their goal faster and drill faster. That’s what helped us during the downturn. Capital efficiency and drilling efficiency has increasingly become a focus for all our E&P customers. Making sure they remain competitive has allowed us to become one of the market leaders, especially in the U.S. shale plays.”

Another aspect that’s helped Ulterra through difficult times has been maintaining low product inventories, which means it isn’t stuck trying to sell products the industry no longer needs. This enables the company to remain flexible and focused on developing new technologies specifically tailored to meet customers’ needs and solve problems as they arise.

“In some cases, the most forward-looking operators don’t come to us with a predefined problem,” Deen explains. “They come to us with a goal of wanting to drill faster and wanting to know what we think. Being primarily a drill bit company, we work collaboratively with directional companies and with mud companies. We’ve worked with a whole host of companies that are trying to develop more rotary steerable options that make sense in North American shale plays. We’ve become the drill bit of choice.”

Not all Ulterra solutions involve technology. “Some of the innovations that have popped up industry-wide in North American shale are new to the rest of the world,” Deen says. “We worked with an operator in another country to implement a rental model into their procurement method to really change the way they do things. They now rent drill bits and save millions of dollars annually because we converted them from a purchase model to a rental model. We really look at innovation holistically. It’s not just technology driven, it’s value driven.”

Using the latest in social networking and IT technology enables Ulterra to use its global reach to its advantage.

“Our engineers in Thailand can talk to our engineers in Fort Worth who are talking to people in the Delaware Basin or talking to people in-house working with engineers at Chevron,” Deen relates. “They can work on a

problem such as trying to drill an 8 3⁄4 inch hole with an AC top-drive rig through15,000PSI carbonate with dolomite collaborating with anyone who has dealt with these kinds of things.”

Bit Building

Ulterra has manufacturing centers in Fort Worth and Leduc. The company offers a suite of products that includes: Matrix PDC, a proprietary mold technology; steel PDC shankless, single-piece bits; TorkBuster, which reduces bit-related torque and stick-slip problems; and Tru-Gauge, a short,near-bit stabilizer that reduces hole spiraling and increases directional control.

Deen says Ulterra’s technology is developed to address drilling dysfunctions identified by its engineers and customers. Some of the most common problems relate to drilling vibration, lateral vibration and bit whirl. “We have applications engineers in most of the major basins around the world who really understand everything from the geology to the drilling application to the experience and abilities of the drilling engineers and the directional drillers,” he explains. “That’s key to unconventional shale in North America.”

Designed specifically to address drilling vibration, CounterForce is one of Ulterra’s more recent technologies. “Drilling vibration is a destructive energy loss that causes damage to expensive downhole tools and potential damage to the wellbore,” Deen says. “We designed and built a drill bit that actually harnesses otherwise wasted drilling vibration energy into proactively making hole and reducing vibrational damage on downhole tools. That’s been our showcase technology.We’re right at the threshold of drilling 100 million feet with CounterForce technology.”

As the speed of drilling continues to increase, another disfunction Ulterra identifies is cuttings evacuation from the well bore. “Shale laterals are being drilled at such fast penetration rates they’re at nearly an order of magnitude faster than they were ve or 10 years ago,”Deen relates.“Where they were drilling 20 to 40 feet an hour, now they’re drilling instantaneously at 200 or 300 feet per hour. Getting all those new cuttings and formation out of the hole requires new thinking.”

To deal with the problem, the company recently introduced its SplitBlade technology. “SplitBlade is completely focused on cuttings to increase the rate of penetration (ROP). We’ve seen case studies in multiple basins now where we’ve been able to increase instantaneous rates of penetration by 30 to 50percent—in some cases just by making sure the cuttings being generated are exiting the bit and removed from the hole efficiently.”

Dealing With A Downturn

As Deen notes, the oil price downturn that hit the U.S.shale oil and gas industry primarily in 2015 and 2016 had a negative impact on producers and related businesses around the world. But it wasn’t the first time Ulterra had to cope with a downturn.It was around for and survived the oil price collapse of 2008 and 2009. The most recent downturn provided the company with an opportunity to demonstrate how its approach was not only different but also better.

“What a downturn does in oil and gas is separate the wheat from the chaff,” Deen says. “We were able to keep doing what we were doing. It’s a little bit of a different take on risk aversion.” In other words, rather than going the route with drilling solutions from what Deen refers to as “the big-box brands,” E&P companies began looking to the faster and nimbler Ulterra for solutions.

“One of the things that happened that we’re most proud of is that as we grew through the downturn, drilling engineers started to see us in a different light,” Deen notes. “These are individuals whose jobs may have been on the line when they had to make decisions based on what was best for them and what was best for their company. That’s when things really started swinging toward Ulterra. When drilling engineers had to make decisions, every single decision counted, and they started trusting us more.”

Mejia says it was Ulterra’s decentralized decision-making culture that enabled it not just to survive, but to thrive.

“If you look at our market share and financial performance through the downturn, that’s when we made our biggest strides,” she states. “It happened when it became important to realize efficiencies, drill faster and bring new products to the eld. When the majors were dealing with stopped production, layoffs and trying to sell what they had to conserve some cash, we were innovating and bringing the latest technologies to develop some economic value for the customer.

“The downturn was definitely helpful to us,” Mejia continues, “because decision making became a question of ‘Who can make a difference for me now?’ and not ‘Who can make a difference for me two months from now?’ When we could realize efficiencies faster and save money faster, that’s when we became one of the market leaders. We became a true partner with our customers to help them deliver efficiencies and savings at the local level.”

Last year’s uptick in oil and gas activity in North America helped Ulterra to further expand its business to overseas markets. “It’s made sense for us to do that in international markets where we sowed seeds up to 10 years ago,” Deen says. “A lot of that grow this really just a response to this. We’ve been very excited, not only keeping up with the market rebound and drilling activity in North America, but growing significantly faster in our own right.”

But, as Deen also notes, Ulterra’s success has provided it with new and different issues. “One of the things we’re struggling with is to scale up as fast as our customers are demanding while maintaining our culture. That’s really the biggest challenge that we’re facing right now.”

Mejia describes Ulterra’s new challenge as both fun and exciting. “The challenge from an administrative perspective becomes trying to keep up with the growth and trying to build the legal framework and infrastructure that we need to service the client with the same level of speed that we do in NorthAmerica,” she says.“That’s the goal. Once we penetrate a new market, we don’t want to sacrifice the quality. We want to make sure our manufacturing capabilities have the same ISO and API certificates in Saudi Arabia that we have in North America.”

Providing solutions to technical problems is the easy part because, according to Deen, it’s how Ulterra is hard-wired to operate. “The subterranean lithology doesn’t know the political boundaries that we’ve drawn up top,” Deen relates. “What’s harder to deal with are the corporate and geopolitical cultures. How do we do business with Saudi Aramco or the Kuwaiti Oil Co. or the Chinese National Oil Co. and do business with XTO and a small company that has one rig running three months out of the year? How do we serve each one of those clients in a way that makes sense to them and still be true to who we are? We struggle more on the side of dealing with really big, bureaucratic companies and very small companies and the challenges that go along with those.”

For 2018 and 2019, Deen says Ulterra plans to continue moving forward as the oil and gas markets catch up and recover from the most recent downturn. “We plan on doing more of the same,” he says. “To us, that means continually changing and evolving and solving the problems of today that didn’t exist yesterday.”

However, Deen’s also realistic about the future, knowing that it’s a matter of time before the industry experiences another market slump. Once again, he believes operators will look to Ulterra’s experience and technology to deliver the drilling optimization that’s yet to be done.

Author: Patrick C. Miller
Staff Writer, North American Shale magazine 701-738-4923

Download a PDF of the original article here.


Ulterra Completes the American Petroleum Institute (API) Recertification Audit of their Quality Management System (QMS)

On February 16, 2018, Ulterra completed the American Petroleum Institute (API) Recertification Audit of their Quality Management System (QMS) in Fort Worth, TX. Ulterra’s first API Certification was issued in 2012 and is set to expire in March 2018. Their 2018 audit of their QMS resulted in two minor findings and one opportunity for improvement. This audit was the most successful API audit that Ulterra has completed to date.

Customers can be reassured when working with quality-certified vendors, which is why Ulterra holds both certifications for quality management and quality products. Ulterra’s standards are in compliance with The International Organization of Standardization (ISO) and The American Petroleum Institute (API). Ulterra holds three quality certifications: ISO 9001:2015, API Q1 9th Edition, and API 7-1.

  1. Ulterra’s API Certification guarantees that they are meeting the standards specified in ISO 9001:2015. ISO 9001 is a universal Quality Management System (QMS) standard for all industries to ensure that products and services are consistently meeting customer’s requirements and steadily working to improve their quality. The ISO 9001:2015 has replaced the ISO 9001:2008. This upgraded version has placed a major emphasis on risk-based thinking. It has also placed an importance on guaranteeing companies’ objectives align with the context of their organization. The new QMS also highlights a leadership commitment, making sure top managers and business leaders are involved in planning and implementation of the QMS in their organization.
  2. Ulterra’s QMS also conforms to the requirements detailed in the API Q1 9th Edition API is the governing body specific to the Oil and Gas industry that dictates the requirements needed to be an API registered organization.
  3. Ulterra’s manufactured products conform to the technical requirements specified in API 7-1 for both Matrix and Steel body PDC bits. This certification also allows Ulterra to stamp their product with the API monogram.

Shortly following the audit, Ulterra was recertified to API Q1 and API Spec 7-1. Additionally, Ulterra’s certifications for ISO 9001 are now upgraded to the enhanced 2015 version. These certificates became effective on March 15, 2018.

Ulterra’s Quality Engineering Manager, James Stevens, said: “Maintaining our QMS to these API/ISO standards enables Ulterra to utilize consistent, repeatable processes in order to deliver the best quality product to our customers.”

Ulterra PDC Bits are the most reliable PDC Bits in the industry because they are the only ones designed, manufactured, and repaired at one API registered facility. All Ulterra PDC Bits go through a thorough inspection process, including at least five separate quality inspections between runs. Every single cutter is inspected, photographed, and dispositioned on every repair.

The combination of these certifications differentiates Ulterra from their competitors and guarantees dependable quality for manufactured and repaired PDC bits. The implementation of an ISO 9001 QMS has provided Ulterra with internal benefits that have led them to better operations, improved performance, and increased profitability. The implementation of API Spec Q1 has provided Ulterra with the minimum requirements to effectively manage processes, prevent defects, and minimize any variations and waste in manufacturing. Ulterra’s QMS and product certifications help communicate to their customers their continued commitment to quality. Furthermore, some international customers require these API/ISO Certifications as a prerequisite in order to enter into a business relationship.

James Stevens, Quality Engineering Manager, was particularly impressed with the entire team at Ulterra and their ability to utilize consistent, repeatable processes in order to deliver the best quality product to their customers. Stevens said: “I am thankful for and continually impressed with the talent, experience, and hard work put forth by the entire Ulterra team.” Said James, “This is a huge accomplishment for the entire Ulterra team.”


73 Rigs Today are More Efficient Than 105 Rigs Several Years Ago?

According to RigZone, the total count of US oil rigs reached 799 which is the highest count since April 2015. Although this number has been steadily increasing for the past five weeks, the drilling industry has not seen a rig count that can compare to the peak of 2014. While the industry yearns to get back to higher rig counts, the advancement of technology has replaced the need for it. Drilling times have been reduced by more than half compared to a decade ago with the advancement of drill bits, mud motors, drilling fluids, and pressure pumps. Drilling technologies have simply made drilling operations become much more efficient helping to save time and money. The constant need for innovation has helped drive the oil and gas industry allowing it to survive in today’s business environment. The question is, has the industry become so advanced that we have worked ourselves out of jobs? Read this article to dive deeper into the impacts of the industry becoming older and wiser.

Read the full Pipeline News Article regarding the increased performance of current technology.

Drill Bit Innovations: Ulterra Featured in Drilling Contractor

Ulterra is pleased to have been featured in a recent Drilling Contractor article regarding emerging technologies and innovations in drill bits. 


drill bit technology


Manufacturers are developing new bits that address cuttings evacuation, vibration and thermal degradation while rearranging cutter layouts and seeking better understanding of failure mechanisms. 

Because of the significant role that bits play in drilling performance, operators are constantly on the hunt for new bits that can drill longer and further and provide a higher rate of penetration (ROP). They’re also looking for bits that provide better toolface control, which minimizes the readjustments that directional drillers have to make to the bit orientation so they can simply drill ahead.

The faster a bit drills, the more cuttings it produces in a given period of time. If those cuttings build up, it can reduce ROP and sap drilling energy. Additionally, cuttings buildup can insulate and create friction at the bit, resulting in higher temperatures around the bits and cutters. It’s not uncommon for stagnant cuttings to cause a rise in temperatures at the bit, which can cause degradation of the diamond and damage the cutter, said Chris Casad, Innovation Project Manager for Ulterra. “Having lower temperatures reduces damage, which means you have sharper cutters for longer, and that keeps you drilling at a high level for the entire duration of your well.”

After multiple years of development and testing, Ulterra will release SplitBlade, a PDC bit with optimized nozzle placement and fluid channeling, in late March. The placement of the nozzles and channels, which was determined through the use of computational fluid dynamics (CFD), improves the evacuation of the cuttings.

Additionally, the cutters on the bit’s inner blades are advanced forward, engaging the formation earlier and enabling better toolface control, Mr Casad said. This improves the blades’ grip on the formation, enabling better directional control.

Bits designed with SplitBlade technology have two dedicated channels of evacuation for each primary blade, as well as nozzles at the cone and shoulder of the bit. This allows SplitBlade to “separate the cutting evacuation from the cone of the bit and from the shoulder of the bit,” which are the two areas most prone to cuttings accumulation, Mr. Casad said. Keeping the cone clean enables better directional control and steering, and keeping the shoulder clean allows the bit to drill faster.

Read the complete Article at