Oil Demand Peak: Have We Seen It Yet?

The topic of oil supply and demand has always ridden a roller coaster of speculation. Lately, the discussion has shifted from peak oil supply – the idea that we have reached or are reaching the maximum level of oil production possible – to peak demand. However, most view the topic and commodity that is ‘oil’ much differently than they do the broader concept of energy. In this article, Spears does a good job of suggesting ways, albeit taken for granted, that energy use is rapidly increasing and likely to for decades to come. For now, that means hydrocarbon production must keep up, and it is critical that we find new ways to do so that are safer, more environmentally friendly, and more economical, which is exactly what Ulterra attempts to do every day by designing ever-more advanced PDC drill bits and drilling technology.

Peak Ahead?

Lost in the discussion about when oil demand might peak due to the adoption of electric vehicles is the broader, long-term outlook for global energy demand. Indeed, while one camp of energy forecasters see overall energy demand as continually rising, other groups such as the World Energy Council believe that global energy demand is destined to peak. Read the rest of the article Peak Ahead? from Spears Research.

 


Ulterra Featured at Fort Worth Mayor’s International Luncheon

Ulterra Drilling Technologies is based in the heart of downtown Fort Worth which is considered one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. Fort Worth has continued to grow within the last two years making it 7th in U.S. population growth leaving tons of room for economic development. There are many big name companies that call Fort Worth home like Ulterra. With Fort Worth being centrally located between DFW Airport and Alliance Airport, it makes international business on logistics for local businesses a lot easier. There are currently 56 international flights out of DFW every day making it convenient for business leaders to have better access to international markets. Alliance airport is the only international commercial airport in the area which opens the door for quicker import and export practices.

It’s predicted by the next census date that Fort Worth will become the 12th largest city in the United States. As Fort Worth’s population grows it’s vital that business in domestic and international markets continue to rise and create job opportunities to support the increase in population. A luncheon was organized by the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce to discuss how companies in the Fort Worth area are contributing to the success of international business and making Fort Worth an international business hub. The Mayor of Fort Worth, Betsy Price looked to Ulterra to sit among other key players in select industries to discuss the potential for Fort Worth to become an international hub of innovation. Mayor Betsy Price remarked “Ulterra represents both Fort Worth’s history in energy and our future in technology.”

Ulterra was called on by the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce to discuss their experience in doing business not only on a domestic level but also in international markets. The Chambers main business function is to recruit and retain business, provide a skilled and educated workforce and provide resources for business owners and employees. Mayor Betsy Price talked about the importance of making Fort Worth a destination for global business development, attraction and retention. Fort Worth has a very diverse workforce and many have chosen to operate their corporate headquarters in the heart of it, such as BNSF Railways, Pier1imports, American Airlines and Ulterra Drilling Technologies. “We are much more than just the aviation, defense and energy industry. We are a very multicultural and multinational city with major corporations with huge international presences,” said Mayor Betsy Price.

Ulterra’s CFO Maria Mejia was among a few selected to join Mayor Betsy Price along with Raanan Horowitz, President and CEO of Elbit Systems of America and Phil White, Co-Founder of Cervelo Cycles for the annual international luncheon. Maria sat on a panel in front of 250 plus attendees and took a deeper dive into the success stories of companies with an international presence that are local to Fort Worth. The Chamber looked to Ulterra to gain insight on how to successfully attract international business and retain healthy business relationships in international markets. Ulterra is currently the leading PDC Bit Company in the United States having the most market share driven from innovation, solid work ethic and the resilience to win.

Many of the attendees at the luncheon were top players in their industries looking to gain insight on how to drive their business’s into international markets. The goal is to make Fort Worth a more attractive place to do business on an international level. Fort Worth has a cross-industry workforce and is full diverse cultures, businesses, and lifestyles making it an attractive place to not only live but also to do business in. “International employees, partners and customers appreciate visiting our facilities in Fort Worth. Hosting international oil and gas conferences such as the SPE (Society of Petroleum Engineers) and the IADC (International Association of Drilling Contractors) allows us to showcase our home turf to the entire industry,” Said Maria Mejia, Senior Vice President and CFO of Ulterra Drilling Technologies.

Maria continued talking about some of the obstacles as well as the triumphs Ulterra has faced going into new markets beyond the United States. “When expanding globally it can be hard to replicate Ulterra’s culture. Our business model requires a deep understanding of the customer, their needs and the culture in which they operate. We have to prove that we are able to deliver value internationally just as much as we can deliver locally,” says Mejia. Understanding international markets and how they differ is a key to gaining market share internationally. There are times when consumer education has to be put into play just to market your products in other countries, it’s all about the hierarchy of effects when it comes to selling in international markets.

The Mayor touched on key initiatives that have the potential to make Fort Worth stand out in DFW as its own entity. Idealistically the larger business community could come together to better define Fort Worth’s commercial brand both to attract like-minded businesses and startups and to help them market themselves by association. Having stronger business relationships within the Fort Worth area could make international business ventures more collaborative and less daunting. The Chamber strives to develop country targets for new businesses based on current industry clusters, skill set and local relationships. “I was very intrigued by the Mayor’s determination to bring more international business ventures to the Fort Worth area. As Fort Worth gains more recognition good things will happen for the people and businesses in our area,” Says Angela Schlemmer, Vice President of Tax and Treasury of Ulterra Drilling Technologies.

Ulterra is recognized for its unique culture, which consists of doing things better and faster. International success depends on the ability of a company to meet the demands of the customer and being able to efficiently adapt to the changing needs of customers across borders. The future of international business depends on being competitive on a global scale, this means Ulterra would have to continue dominating in the U.S. and continue gaining new market share through technological advancements and innovation in the oil and gas industry as a whole. For customers to adopt new companies and products in international markets you have to adapt to the culture of purchasing in those areas. “It’s a combination of relationship selling, technical ability, know-how, backup, and support function. It’s normally something cool and established that people can latch onto like our CounterForce® technology,” Says Chris Gooch, Application Engineering Manager of Ulterra Drilling Technologies

In the oil and gas industry, Ulterra is known for its speed, quality, technology, and trustworthy business acumen. This has led to Ulterra achieving better business relationships internationally as well as in the U.S. Being a successful entity in international marketplaces is not an overnight process. Ulterra takes the time to assess cultural differences and align them through technology and innovation all while delivering what the customer needs and keeping Ulterra’s competitive advantage, which begins with their speed of delivery. Ulterra started in the U.S. with the belief of becoming viable and is now thriving in the most competitive market on the planet making them the fastest growing drill bit company in the world.


PDC Drill Bit 101: What is a Polycrystalline Diamond Compact Drill Bit?

At the end of every drill string lies the most important part – the drill bit. The drill bit consists of man-made diamond cutters, blades, nozzles, and a bit body. Bit selection is crucial and has a vast impact on the overall cost of well construction operations. Today, we want to highlight the most dominant drill bit in the oil and gas industry, the PDC bit. It will focus mainly on the design principals that need to be determined by engineers and designers at Ulterra Drilling Technologies.

What is a Polycrystalline Diamond Compact Drill Bit?

The PDC bit is named after the Polycrystalline Diamond Compact cutting element that shears through the rock in order to drill the well.

There are four main parts to become familiar with when it comes to a drill bit:

  1. the cutters
  2. cutting structure,
  3. the blades,
  4. and the bit body.

Polycrystalline Diamond Compact cutters are typically cylindrical in shape with a thin, man-made, diamond layer on top of a tungsten carbide substrate. These cutters must remain intact to drive the bit’s performance and ensure it functions reliably, and are arranged into a 3D geometry called the cutting structure.

The cutting structure may seem simple, but it is commonly the most intricate part of a PDC bit design.
Typically, the cutters are aligned in rows in order to facilitate better cleaning of the rock cuttings. Each row sits along the top of a blade which protrudes from the bit body, supporting the cutting structure and holding it in place while effectively connecting the cutting structure to the end of the drill string.

In between the blades are junk slots which act as pathways for the drilling fluid to wash cuttings away from the bit face as it drills. The bit body consists of combinations of tungsten carbide matrix materials and steel, just depending on how much tungsten carbide is used and how they are manufactured.

Matrix PDC bit bodies are made of steel at the pin connection and transition to a tungsten carbide-composite material on the outer surfaces. Steel PDC bit bodies are made from raw steel and then coated with hard facing material to increase erosion resistance. Polycrystalline Diamond Compact bits can be designed with a nearly infinite combination of variables, and modified per drilling application.

The bit design and performance requirements are spelled out by the customer and then it is constructed and tweaked by engineers and designers to optimize performance.

There are a lot of factors that must be taken into consideration when designing the drill bit. The most important external factor of design is the size of the wellbore that needs to be drilled, which can be anything from 2 ½” to 36” (6cm to 90cm) in diameter. Other factors are more tailored to its desired use, we have to consider things like the rock and formation type, the operating environment, the capabilities of the other drilling equipment, and the angle of the wellbore.

How is a PDC Bit Designed?

To increase the potential for maximum drilling speed, or rate of penetration (ROP), there are quite a few features that must be considered on a per-bit basis.

Before the designing starts, we need a thorough understanding of the drilling application ranging from the drilling rig capabilities, RPM, weight on bit (WOB), flow rate, drilling tools in the BHA, the rock formation strength and hardness, and the distance drilled.

Once this information is gathered and analyzed, Ulterra takes into account previous applications that were similar and how the bits performed. They use this empirical data and all external factors to create the design and performance expectation before proceeding with the drill bit design portion.

During the design stage, the complete properties of the drill bit are created and adjusted such as cutter size, cutter orientation, cutter density, and nozzle placement. When designing the bit, it is important to let external factors and the specifics of the application guide the design.

The formation type, hardness, drilling parameters, and any directional aspects have a far greater influence on the success of the overall drilling project. It is also important to recognize that there are a lot of similarities in the manufacturing process regardless of the individual design.

There are five main design principals; cutting structure, PDC cutter type, bit body geometry, hydraulics, and body material.

 

Five Main PDC Bit Design Variables:

  1. Cutting Structure

The cutting structure is the part of the drill bit that actively engages the formation and the holistic layout of the active Polycrystalline Diamond Compact cutters in 3D space. The main variables that are taken into consideration when designing a PDC drill bit are the number of cutters, size, and cutter orientation.

Like the rest of the design variables, the drilling application determines the quantity and size of the PDC cutters, also known as the diamond volume. A lower diamond volume provides faster ROP for given WOB, a more responsive reaction to WOB adjustment, more torque for the rig, and low relative abrasion resistance. A higher diamond volume value provides slower ROP for a given WOB, the ability to withstand higher forces before damage occurs, less torque response for the rig, and higher abrasion resistance.

The cutters in the center of the bit are responsible for the aggressiveness of a PDC bit. Large cutters enable complete coverage with a lower cutter quantity as desired. These lower cutter counts increase bit aggressiveness and torque response. Smaller cutters allow for denser packing to increase cutter quantity as desired. Higher cutter counts increase durability and abrasion resistance and smaller cutters have less exposure.

  1. PDC Cutter Type

When referring to the cutter type, I’m referring to the makeup of the specific material of the diamond table itself, the diamond grit that is used, and the methods used to manufacture the cutters. A Polycrystalline Diamond Compact is a highly engineered part and all of these aspects are tightly controlled. PDC cutters consist of two bonded pieces – the polycrystalline diamond compact itself and a tungsten carbide substrate. Polycrystalline Diamond is a cluster of microscopic single crystal diamonds bonded together with a random orientation. The multiple orientations of the crystals in the lattice structures create grain boundaries which significantly increase its fracture toughness. Modern PDC cutters contain a mix of mesh diamond sizes to optimize packing density and void volume.

The exact construction, materials, and properties of the PDC cutter used in a design will depend on the properties required for the application. Typically the engineer must balance between the resistance to abrasive wear and the ability to withstand impact damage. Ulterra custom selects the type of cutter for each individual application depending on what performance is needed.

 

  1. Bit Body Geometry

The geometry of the bit is determined by factors such as the shape of the blades, the configuration of the gage area, the sizes of the flow paths, and all other factors pertaining to the shapes and sizes of the bit. The geometry is determined by external variables like the flow rate, ROP, conditions of the mud, etc. Different size blades, nozzle placements, number of blades all have drastic influences on drilling operations. Typically for a bit that has low diamond volume, the shoulder of the profile is shorter and more aggressive; and for a bit that has a high diamond volume, the shoulder area is longer. A longer bit shoulder will allow for more PDC cutters and increased diamond volume, more abrasion resistance, and less aggression. A shorter bit shoulder has fewer cutters, lower diamond volume, more aggression vertically and directionally, but less durable to abrasive wear.

The geometry of the bit is also determined by the blade count. The blades that extend to the center of the bit are called primary blades, and the blades that start closer to the outside of the bit are called secondary blades. In the center of the bit body profile is the cone area, which is important for keeping the bit stable while also affecting performance. A deeper cone angle allows for increased diamond volume, enhanced bit stability and a bit that is less prone to deviation from the required angle. A shallow cone angle allows for a more aggressive diamond volume, more efficient WOB transfer, and improved directional response.

  1. Hydraulics

The flow of drilling fluid through and over the PDC bit, known as the hydraulics, is incredibly important to the performance of the bit. The fluid flow cleans and cools the cutting structure while also evacuating drilled rock cuttings away from the bit face. To optimize bit hydraulics, changing the nozzle/port count, placement, size, and the vector will improve cuttings evacuation, help to cool the Polycrystalline Diamond Compact cutters, reduce bit erosion, and widen or narrow total flow area (TFA) for pressure concerns.

Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), a software simulation package that uses numerical analysis and algorithms, is used to model and optimize the flow and it can completely change the capabilities of the bit. CFD allows Ulterra to visualize the impact that nozzle orientation and placement may have on flow paths, erosion, cleaning the bit, etc. A typical bit will have one nozzle for each blade so that the cutting structure is cooled and cleaned as efficiently as possible. On smaller PDC bits there may not be enough space for this many nozzles but the modeling and design ensure that no part of the bit is “starved” of fluid.

  1. PDC Bit Body Material: Matrix vs. Steel

Matrix body bits are made from a tungsten carbide alloy, which provides improved resistance to abrasive formation wear and fluid erosion. These bodies can withstand relatively high compression loads and it can take formation wear and tear. Properties of a matrix blade, such as the height of the blade, are limited due to the lower impact toughness compared with steel since the material is relatively brittle. Typically, matrix style bodies are preferred for environments that have higher chances for body erosion.

Steel body bits are made of a high alloy steel. These bits can withstand high impact and are often designed with higher blade stand-off which gives more space for fluid and cuttings removal which can increase ROP potential. Steel is relatively soft and without protective features, such as hard facing material, would quickly fail due to abrasion and fluid erosion. Steel body material properties and manufacturing capabilities allow for complex bit profiles and hydraulic designs. The size of the blade that’s constructed from steel allows it to be larger because of its tough and ductile properties. Considering these properties, Ulterra is able to create geometry using steel that we normally wouldn’t be able to construct using matrix. We use these properties to our advantage to construct drill bits that deliver better performance.

How are external factors considered in PDC drill bit design?

Using the data of the conditions of external factors, the design and engineering team can manufacture the bit accordingly to suit the external environment and needs of the drilling operation. The properties of the rock that are being drilled into are a primary factor that determines the design of the bit. There are a variety of different rock types: such as limestone, sandstone, shale, etc. These consist of different minerals and structures that respond differently to torque, speed, force, and amounts of pressure. For example, if the rock is extremely hard and abrasive, there would need to be a greater number of cutters, which would result in an increased blade count. If drilling through a hard rock, these cutters would be slightly smaller, compared to drilling through rock that is relatively soft, in order to improve durability and reduce the risk of damage.

If a drill bit is customized for distance, we take extra precautions due to the different formations the drill bit will go through during drilling operations. For example, in West Texas, interbedded formations that consist of inconsistent rock formations require bit features that will be able to take on multiple rock properties. These rock formations require the bit to take on unconventional designs to provide a solution for both soft formations and hard stringers. While drilling through these transitions, this can be damaging to the drill bit leading to spikes in the load being taken by the Polycrystalline Diamond Compact cutters in the bit.

PDC bit technology changed drastically over recent years because of the increased knowledge of drilling vibrations and how they influence productivity. The highly dynamic drilling system generates undesired movement and impact through vibration patterns as it rotates. This translates into high impact forces which can be transferred to the bits cutting structure and cause damage. The engineers and designers must change and adapt the bit design in order to take into account and resist these impact forces. The bit should also be modeled and balanced so that it doesn’t cause its own vibration and damage while drilling.

The Ulterra Difference

Ulterra places applications engineers in direct communication with the customer to ensure a clear understanding of products required to help deliver the desired results. Using 3D modeling design tools (CAD) to accelerate the design process, Ulterra is then able to design premium performance into every PDC bit. When the designer’s intent is verified, the drawing package is automatically created for production. As mentioned earlier, Ulterra also utilizes CFD to optimize the hydraulics and to reduce erosion of the bit body. Every bit also undergoes a work and force analysis, which helps to model performance and reduce cutter imbalance. Cutter configuration is then designed to distribute work evenly among the cutters to increase the bits drilling efficiency. Although this design process is picked with a fine tooth comb, Ulterra is able to rapidly produce and manufacture new designs within just a few days.


Launching SplitBlade for Improved ROP Through Cuttings Evacuation

Ulterra Drilling Technologies has proudly launched SplitBlade™ as the new SPL product line. Ulterra’s objective is to bring attention and focus to all of their differentiating technologies and the value they create to customers. This nomenclature will help further cement Ulterra’s reputation as an industry leader in innovation, new technology, and performance in the field. Also, the nomenclature will help with the easy identification of advanced pdc bit technology. SplitBlade now joins CounterForce® as named Utechnology product lines, and choosing SPL as the designation for instances where these products are combined for maximum performance. Now, these advanced technology products can be simply identified by technology, blade count, and cutter size (mm).

cutting evacuations SplitBlade by UlterraIn preparation for this launch, Ulterra has successfully made use of dedicated SplitBlade focused product designers to help manage this growth with integrity. This approach of using a dedicated resource is to ensure high initial quality and future consistency of the product as it grows to meet customer demand.  Additionally, the dedicated designer was tasked with understanding and exploring the limits and capabilities of the SplitBlade technology.

SplitBlade looks different because it is different. The Utechnology uses a unique physical disruption of the typically straight blades to unleash maximum drilling performance with improved hydraulic efficiency. The aesthetics of SplitBlade keeps cuttings separated and provides an exceptional cleaning for the cutting structure. Using CFD, the engineering team decided that splitting the shape of the primary blades with an angular offset would provide designated flow to channels for the fluid and cuttings. This cutting structure allows for cuttings to be evacuated up to seven times faster, compared to conventional designs. The physical separation of the inner and outer cutting structure provides steadfast flow to difficult areas while reducing the risk of balling up the bit.

Ulterra SplitBlade nomenclature stands for quality, credibility, and consistency to improve awareness of the technology, and to improve performance to our valued customers. Ulterra’s team is always striving to create and deliver new innovative technologies that lead to actual improvements. Launching SPL is the next step as Ulterra continues to deliver value leading oil field technologies.

 


Directional Drilling – Where to Begin

Most people would assume that when drilling for water, oil, natural gas, or other subsurface objects that they are targeted vertically — drilled straight down into the earth. However, this traditional method of drilling has been largely replaced. In the current day, drilling a hole in the ground can consist of complex geometry including builds, turns, and tangents to construct a well. The well can be either geometrically or geologically steered. Geometric steering involves adjusting the position of the wellbore based on a pre-arranged plan and then using complex measurements and surveys to stay on that plan. Geological steering involves orienting the wellbore based on the properties of the lithology being drilled into to “find” the right reservoir rock.

It is important to discuss why directional or horizontal drilling can be not only beneficial but necessary, reasons include:

  • Unreachable deposits: it may be sometimes deemed obligatory to go around obstacles by using directional or horizontal drilling. There could be a variety of barriers that prevent access, such as difficult rock formations, utility lines under the surface, residential areas, or sensitive ecosystems. This allows oil companies to drill away from these obstacles or hazards to make it a more sensible, practical, or environmentally friendly option.
  • Increased operational efficiency: Having the ability to access and drain larger parts of the reservoir from a single pad is a huge advantage of directional drilling. This decreases surface disturbances and also saves money and time with the reduction of well pad setups. Grouped wellheads also allow for fewer rig moves, which in turn saves more time and money.
  • Increased reservoir production: Directional or horizontal drilling can expose the well to the maximum amount of the reservoir or allow the well to cross the largest number of fractures to increase production.
  • Relieve pressure: Directional drilling can help relieve the pressure from out of control wells. Pressure can be relieved from one well by tapping the same well at an angle with another well. These relief wells are drilled at a safe distance away from the blowout but come in to intersect the troubled wellbore.

Directional drilling can cost up to 300% more than vertical drilling, but the potential increases in efficiency along with lowered production cost makes this drilling technique more financially viable.

Ulterra Drilling Minute Video: Directional Drilling Operations

Directional Drilling: A Brief History

Directional drilling dates back to the 1920’s with the advent of techniques for surveying the angle and direction of a drilled well. Prior to this, wells were intended to be constructed vertically but were subsequently found to have deviated quite far from that. The first intentionally deviated wells were drilled in the late 1920’s into the 1930’s by using hardwood, and then steel wedges called whip stocks that were lowered into the hole at a specific angle to force the drill bit in a certain direction. Through the 1940’s and 50’s, various techniques that still exist today were developed, including designing the drilling assembly to bend in a particular way and also jetting (using an oriented large nozzle on the bit to wash away rock in the preferred direction).

In the 1950’s, downhole drilling motors, or mud motors, were developed. These mud motors use fluid flow through the assembly, converting hydraulic energy into mechanical energy to drive the drill bit independently from the rest of the drilling string. A fixed angle could then be put into the assembly which could be oriented and held in the desired direction while the bit still drills ahead. Using a mud motor with the use of a measuring while drilling tool (MWD), a directional driller has the capability to steer the drill bit to the desired zone. The data collected from the MWD tool helps the operator monitor and manage the direction of the bit, obtain records, and generate survey reports. By the time the 1970’s rolled around, mud motors had taken over directional drilling and they firmly remain as the preferred method of directionally drilling a well.

The next major advancement in directional drilling was the creation of rotary steerable (RSS) tools, which allow 3D control and steering of the drill bit without stopping the drill rotation. These tools are directly controlled from the surface using advanced communication techniques, and they either push the bit or point the bit in the required direction in real time. Directional drilling has vastly improved with technological advancements, especially toward a less time-consuming drilling process. These advances have also allowed for greater success and precision in the drilling process. New digital technology has made the collection of data much easier and allowed drilling operations to be better planned beforehand and controlled during the drilling process.

Types of Direction Drilling

When speaking about directional drilling, it is commonly assumed that one is referring to horizontal well drilling, which is a method of deviating the well until it is at, or close to a 90° angle from the vertical in order to drill out sideways and along a specific layer of rock. There are a few other directional drilling methods that will be discussed below.

  • Horizontal Drilling: The trajectory of a wellbore starts vertically then steers horizontally at depth for thousands of feet. This allows increased contact between the well and the reservoir to increase productivity. It also provides access to reservoirs that are too thin to be accessed by vertical drilling.
  • Multilateral Drilling: A single wellbore creates a trunk and then many branches stem from it, increasing production from a single drilling site. This drilling technique increases the contact area and allows for many branches to produce from the same well. These can be horizontal, curved slightly to one side, or turned sharply to form a J-type well. Multilateral drilling can occur in either new or existing oil and gas wells and typically includes two laterals. The main benefit of using this drilling approach is the increased efficiency and reduced cost of tapping multiple reservoir locations from a single point.
  • Extended Reach Drilling (ERD): To figure out if the well is considered an ERW, calculate the ratio of horizontal departure to vertical depth. If the depth ratio is greater than 2, the well is considered an Extended Reach Well (ERW). An ERW can be relatively long and deep, short and shallow, or something in between. The benefit of ERD is the increase in efficiency by exposing the open hole to long sections of the reservoir rock, or by crossing through multiple reservoirs in one long wellbore. It is expensive and risky but it is sometimes the best option available. With advances in technology, these wells are getting longer and longer as we get better at overcoming the challenges of managing downhole pressure, managing and controlling the mechanical loads on the drill string, and hole cleaning.
  • Coiled Tubing Drilling (CTD): Coiled tubing refers to a specific type of small diameter, long, continuous metal pipe rolled on to a giant reel (the coil) that can be used as a drilling assembly to reenter and extend a previously drilled hole, drill out from it in a different direction, or perform remedial work to get the well flowing efficiently again. Although drilling using a small flexible pipe has its own challenges, particularly when it comes to directional control, it can be done relatively inexpensively and fast.
  • Through Tubing Rotary Drilling: This is an expensive way to create a shorter length sidetrack of an existing well. This can be done after a well has already been constructed and used, but requires more reservoir to increase production. This is a great method to revitalize old reservoirs that were previously tapped using vertical holes that could also benefit from the horizontal exposure of the reservoir. A hole is cut in the steel pipe that lines the wellbore and then a steel whip stock is set in place and used to push the drilling assembly sideways out of the side of the well. This technique is also used to explore deep layers of rock below the target reservoir, before casing it off and using the same wellbore to access the main target.

Path of a Drill Bit

Directional wells carry various economic and safety benefits. Economically speaking, directional drilling increases the access to a reservoir, increases hydrocarbon recovery, increases the well count number from one location, and reduces rig move costs. Although directional drilling could be as much as three times more expensive than vertical wells, the higher production rates and efficiencies offset the expensive process. The combination of fracking with cutting-edge technologies and horizontal drilling has caused a huge surge in the oil and natural gas production in the United States, particularly in major oil and gas regions such as the Permian Basin, Eagle Ford Shale, and the Bakken Shale.

Directional wells should be meticulously planned in advance and flawlessly executed in order to manage the additional costs. A directional plan is created prior to drilling commences, which outlines the position of the well precisely under the surface of the earth. It typically contains specific targets in 3D space that the drilling assembly must hit in order to contact the reservoir at the optimum point, as well as specific changes in angle required to hit those targets. The directional plan is optimized to try and reduce drastic changes in angle, called DogLeg Severity or DLS, and to minimize the complexity of the well.

The directional plan also includes careful selection of the directional tools, mud motors, and the rotary steerable system that will be required in order to hit the directional targets in the best way possible. To help these tools guide the well path to the optimum position, careful selection of the drill bit is required to ensure that it is compatible with the tools, the formation being drilled, and the directional change requirement, or Build Up Rate (BUR).

By selecting a drill bit that achieves the best compatibility possible with the directional tools, the tool can better guide the well path to the optimum position for the formation being drilled and any directional change requirements or build up rates (BUR) that may be encountered.

Ulterra specializes in creating custom drill bit designs which are compatible with all aspects of the application and the directional drilling requirements. Our knowledge and expertise of directional drilling applications mean that we can offer bespoke solutions that convert to high rates of success in this high-cost environment, where success is the only option!

Please browse all the other educational Drilling Minute Videos and email marketinginfo@ulterra.com with any comments, questions, or concerns.


Ulterra PDC Bit and MORE Global Water Provision Story Part 2

We love the second chapter of this story and are proud to have played a part in MORE’s efforts to address the global water crisis. This story first appeared on the https://more-water.org site. It’s a great read from the perspective of an Ulterra PDC bit.

 

“Petey Goes Deep”

When we last heard from Petey, the PDC drill bit – and, no doubt, the sole drill bit blogger on the planet –  he had just arrived, by plane, into the Kenyan coastal resort town of Diani Beach, at the home of my American missionary friends, Chris and Lisa Moore.  While he was thrilled with the beauty of his new surroundings, what he didn’t know was that this was not his final stop – and certainly not his destination.  C’mon, he’s a drill bit, for crying out loud.  Their not supposed to have it soft.  Let’s catch up with him here:

So it didn’t take me long to get used to these new digs.  I was lounging around, while wondering what Bobu had in store for me. But I sure wasn’t stressing about it, I can tell you that.  One morning, just when I was planning to settle in, Bobu rolls me out of my new digs and sticks me in the back of a shiny blue pickup truck.  Then he takes off on some really bumpy dirt roads to – “I have no idea where”.  “Of course not,” I tell myself, “your a drill bit, remember?”  “Everything with you and Bobu is on a need to know basis.”  I’m sure that I’ll figure it out when we get there.  Along the way we stop and meet up with some more of his friends, who all seem happy to see Bobu.  There is lots of laughter and hugging and more of that gibberish that I simply cannot understand.  And Bobu’s joined in with it.  Great!

They fill the back of this pickup with lots of stuff and then connect this cute little drilling machine to the back of the truck.  “Surely”, I assume, “they’re not going to use me on THAT little drill, I hope!”  “Or are they?”  “Ha!”  “If that’s true, I gotta see this!”  We all take off for ‘who knows where’, with Bobu driving again.  Some of the guys pack into the back with me.  The rest ride up front, with Bobu.

Sure enough, after a not-so-long, but bumpy, dusty ride, we stop and all the men jump out and start unloading all the stuff from the back of the pickup, me included.  “Hey, watch how you handle me!”  “I’m a star, you know!”  Apparently they don’t.  Next thing they unhook their little drilling machine and roll it into a corner of this field.  After a lot of jabbering and animated discussion (yeah, I know about that.  I grew up on oil rigs, remember?), they come for me.  “Here we go,” I thought, “this outa be good!”   Sure enough, they connect me to a (really short) piece of drill pipe.  “Hey, I’m used to being at the end of three 30+ feet of connected drill pipes – like 100 feet, ya know!”  “Bobu, are you going to let them do this to me?”  Doesn’t seem to dissuade them from their follies, I see.  Come to think of it, he’s the one that brought me here.  I guess this is what he had in mind.  Fat chance they will get any oil out of this hole.  I’ll just go along with it.  This could actually be quite comical – and fun, who knows?

But what is this?  They didn’t install my nozzles.  They connected the drill pipe to the drilling machine and just began drilling me into the ground, with no water, no mud.  “What’s with that?”  I screamed.  But nobody heard me, evidently.  Oh yeah, I’m a drill bit.  Sometimes I forget that.  Needless to say I was just getting plugged with the topsoil layer.  And the drilling, if you want to call it that, wasn’t going very fast at all.  Finally they started pouring some water into the hole and that helped a little.  But it was obvious, these guys didn’t know anything about drilling oil wells.

After drilling only a few feet, they stopped and brought me back to the surface.  Then they all got together and pushed and tugged and moved the drilling machine. Yeah, by hand!  That’s how light it was.  But they only moved it about 10 feet.  Once the drill was anchored, they went through the same process of using me – a world class rock bit – to drill a couple feet through mud.  How peculiar.  I was actually getting embarrassed for Bobu.  As their apparent leader, it would help if he knew something  about drilling, don’t ya think?  Eventually the second shallow hole was complete – and I was, once again, laden in mud, my water cavities stuffed full of the heavy stuff.  When they raised me back to the surface and removed me from the drilling machine, at least they took the time to wash me.  They did a good job, too.  It felt good to be clean again.  Then they put me back in my box and left me for a couple days.

The next time that Bobu brought me back out, He did insert my nozzles.  Huh, maybe he does know what he’s doing.  Then they attached me to another of those cute little drill pipes, and inserted me onto the drill machine.  Just before I dropped below the surface, I saw those two shallow holes that they used me to drill a couple days before.  But now they were filled with concrete, it appeared, and a steel hook was sticking above the top of the concrete.  To that they had attached straps, which were wrapped around the drill machine’s outriggers.  “Oh, I get it now,” I thought.  These are used to anchor the light-weight drill machine – so that it could exert more force on the drill pipes – and on me.  Why, that’s rather ingenious.  Maybe these guys are smarter than I thought!

As I descended, I could see that they had actually drilled pretty deep.  Well, not thousands of feet, like I’m used to on those big Texas drill rigs.  But over a hundred feet, I bet.  That seemed pretty good for this little drilling machine.  As I continued down the hole, I could see that there were layers of various types of soil, and some occasional rock.  There were a number of layers with water coming out of them.  That happens a lot in oil drilling.  Most of the water is just a nuisance, I remember them saying once, when I emerged from a deep hole.  But these guys don’t seem to mind. That’s all they were talking about, later, when they brought me back out of the hole.  I wonder whats with that?

The drilling was so much slower than I’m used to on a mammoth oil rig.  But it was steady.  And it was probably all that this little drill rig could muster, as it didn’t seem very heavy.  But it sure was working hard.  Everyone was.  And they all seemed to like what they were doing and talked real nice to one another.  I was starting to feel better and better about this.  It was not hard work, really.  I just was not sure if this machine could ever drill me deep enough to hit oil.  I started to feel bad for them, because I didn’t want to see them disappointed.

The next morning they started the process all over again.  Connected me to the drill machine, which slowly lowered me down the hole, one small drill pipe section at a time.  And then it happened, something I never had experienced before.  About half way down the hole, or so, I plunged into water.  I wasn’t drilling yet, because they had not turned the mud pump on.  But I was submerging ever deeper into cool water.  Then when I got to the bottom of the hole, where we had stopped the night before, they turned on the mud and I started drilling again.  We drilled all day again, stopping from time to time. But not ever for very long.  It was still slow.  But it was steady.  Some of the rock that I was drilling through was really quite hard, I could tell.  But it was no match for my razor-sharp PDC -teeth.  Slowly, but surely, I was chewing right through it.

Each time that they brought me back to the surface, I noticed that there were a lot of people watching.  Women and children, as well as men and young boys.  They always seemed excited to see me.  I was experiencing something new.  I never had drawn a crowd of onlookers before.  On the oil rigs it was always just a few rig workers, who never said much.  Just gave orders to one another.  But these people were different.  They really seemed to like me, as they would point and jabber quickly, whenever I emerged from the hole – even if I was covered in a layer of crushed rock particles.  When Bobu or one of the workers would wash me off, several of the onlookers would come close to watch.  Some even came over and ran their fingers over my teeth and many curves and grooves.  They seemed fascinated with me, even as I was with them.  I could not tell what they were saying, but they would talk excitedly to one another.  I must say that I was enjoying my return to center stage.

That night I started thinking more about the water in the well – how cool it felt – and how unusual.  Then I remembered hearing some of the stories that several of the drill bits that went through the “spa treatment” with me back at the Ulterra shop.  Some of them said that they didn’t drill oil wells, but water wells.  How peculiar, I thought.  Whats the purpose?  Its the oil that everyone is fighting over, right?  Not water. Water’s cheap.  And besides, it just gets in the way and becomes a nuisance, right?   But I could see that this was all starting to make more sense – in a weird sort-of way.  What if it’s the water that these people are all milling around and talking excitedly about?  Maybe there is no oil here – only water.  So, maybe now I’m a water well drill bit?  Like some of those bits back at the spa.  I’ll have to think about that some more.  But hey, if it makes them this excited – and helps me retain my “rock star image”, then I could live with that.  Live with it, huh! – I answered myself – I could downright revel in it. “Hey everybody, I’m a water well-drilling rock star!”  Ya know what?  I like that.  If these people want water – then I want to help them get it.  That night I went to sleep feeling really good about my new role.

And that’s how Petey came to be in Africa, drilling water wells.  I can report to you that he really does like his new job – and the people he serves.  He is doing an awesome job and truly is – a “rock star drill bit!” 

 


Ulterra’s Showcase at LAGCOE 2017

Ulterra was pleased to attend and showcase at the Louisiana Gulf Coast Oil Exposition, or LAGCOE. LAGCOE is one of the world’s premier oil and gas expositions featuring innovative equipment, services, technology, and presentations from worldwide leaders. This event happens biennially and Ulterra was able to make their first attendance a groundbreaking one.

The Ulterra team traveled to Lafayette, Louisiana, from October 24-26, 2017. They were amongst the 17,000+ visitors from 43+ countries and approximately 420 exhibitors that came together for this event. Visitors had the opportunity to attend daily keynote sessions, as well as dozens of technical and international sessions. LAGCOE hosted a notable group of international visitors and exhibitors, including the following countries: Canada, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Ghana, Ukraine, Brazil, and United Arab Emirates.

LAGCOE awarded five companies as New Technology Showcase Winners to present on their innovations. The winning technologies that presented an overview of their innovation included:
• Louisiana CAT — Product Health Connect® Panel
Ulterra Drilling Technologies — PDC drill bit cutting structure: CounterForce®
• Frank’s International — Combination Drillpipe/Casing Spider & Elevator
• HydraLIFT — Rod string lifting device
• Expro — 30,000 psi perforating and drill stem test tool package

Ulterra at LAGCOE 2017

Louisiana Gulf Coast Oil Exposition Ulterra Drilling Technologies at LAGCOE

Ulterra was honored to be picked as a New Technology Showcase Winner from a large group of submissions. Ulterra felt that attending LAGCOE and showcasing their technology would help boost their offshore presence and increase awareness of their already proven successful technology. International Engineering Manager, Matt Case, presented on CounterForce to help further increase their awareness of the technology, particularly the deepwater offshore market. CounterForce was chosen to be the entry of choice due to it meeting the criteria needed to be considered as a submission. CounterForce has been around since 2013 but is still new to the offshore market, and has a proven track record, which made it a largely considerable nominee.

Mitch Dunham, Regional Sales Manager, Eastern US, raved about the success of this event. “Having everyone together there, representing Ulterra, made this event so successful,” said Dunham.
Mitch also believes that Ulterra’s attendance at LAGCOE made them gain positive recognition, especially with potential customers from the Gulf of Mexico and internationally.

Ulterra’s CounterForce technology is designed to take on hard and abrasive geology. The design of the bit causes less vibration on the PDC cutting structure, which allows the bit to be more durable and long-lasting, while improving efficiency, saving drilling time and money. This CounterForce technology is incorporated into many of Ulterra’s PDC bit designs and has very successful field results. As of October 30, 2017, CounterForce has drilled enough footage to go through the planet twice, which is 131,477,280 feet.

During this show, Ulterra was also awarded 1st place for the First Time Exhibitor award. This award was presented to the team on behalf of the LAGCOE committee for their knowledge, engagement, and overall look of their booth.


Downhole Tools, the Technology and Machinery Responsible for Driving Forward the Gas and Oil Industry

The general public has no real concept or understanding of the technical challenges, risks, and difficulties that companies face to discover and then extract oil and natural gas. Companies within the industry need to invest in premium quality tools and remotely controlled equipment to undertake many different jobs that take place many miles below the earth’s surface.

If the equipment proves unreliable or below required standards, it isn’t as simple as calling out the local repair company. Every bit of downtime costs thousands of dollars in lost productivity, which is why the tools and equipment used need to be virtually indestructible.

What Are Downhole Tools?

Downhole tools, as the name suggests, consist of a wide range of different tools that are used in the oil and gas fields to help with the drilling of wells, clearing of blockages, and ensuring that the wells are working to their full capacity. The tools are operated down the hole which forms a part of the well, hence their name. Although the tools themselves tend to be very expensive, they are an excellent investment due to the significant potential to reduce the cost of oil and gas field operations. The conditions under which downhole tools have to perform are hostile and include extreme pressure and high-temperature situations. Let’s examine in greater detail some of the jobs that can be accomplished with the use of downhole tools.

Some of the Different Jobs Where Downhole Tools Prove Invaluable

Well Bottom Communication – For anyone who has ever tried to drill a hole in a wall, the process is relatively easy because you can physically see where you are drilling, and you also receive feedback as you apply or decrease the pressure on the drill. Unfortunately, when you are drilling on the much grander scale of an oil or gas well, this type of personal feedback is not available. That’s where hi-tech communication systems become critically important, as they supply valuable information to the employees and the crew who are operating the drilling system. This information can help to prevent problems, and even warn the crew of impending issues long before they happen, by providing real-time measurements of the drilling process. These type of communication systems have evolved drastically over recent years as technology has advanced. Previously the collected information took a considerable amount of time to travel back to the surface, often only when the drilling assembly was retrieved out of the hole. By the time the feedback was received, there was a potential for the information to be invalid. In recent years these challenges have been largely overcome, with information transmitted in real-time, which has resulted in better knowledge and understanding for the employees, a safer environment, and even the possibility of remote controlling the drilling process from many miles away.

Completions Equipment

The term ‘completion,’ in regards to the oil and gas industry, means the final part of the well’s construction before it is transformed from a basic hole in the ground to an oil or gas producing well. As you might imagine, this final preparation takes a lot of time, energy, and effort. There are a lot of specifications that need to be adhered to for safety precautions, environmental protection, and maximization of production. Various downhole tools are used in the process in order to accomplish multiple complex tasks. If the hole were simply left alone once drilled, it would not take a great deal of time for it to collapse in upon itself. In order to prevent the hole from collapsing, and to maximize production, various steel pipes, screens, plugs, and valves are joined together and then slid into the drilled hole. This allows employees to control and manage the flow of oil or gas into the well from the surrounding rock while also preventing undesired contaminants, such as sand, water, or poisonous gases, from entering the well. All of these operations are conducted by necessity, and downhole tools are required to perform these challenging but essential tasks.

Fishing Tools

The quality of the drilling tools and technology have drastically improved over the years. Regardless of these technological advances, when you are drilling deep down into the earth’s surface, there is always the potential of physically breaking parts of the drilling assembly. It is also possible for the assembly to become stuck or lodged in the hole such that it cannot be easily removed. If and when these issues do occur, a company will have already invested significant sums of money into the well, so it is not a feasible option to simply drill another well. The solution calls for a variety of different tools, known as fishing tools, which have to be individually designed to solve the problem.

Each tool has a specific task and multiple fishing tools might be required to overcome a specific problem or clear a blockage. Some tools will cut or mill specific parts of the drilling assembly, others will sweep or capture loose pieces of junk or debris in the hole while others are designed to spear or grab specific pieces of pipe or the assembly to be able to pull on it. All being well, the tool will remove the broken piece of assembly or other blockage with it out of the well, quickly and effortlessly resolving the problem.

Downhole Drilling Equipment

Obviously, some of the most important downhole tools are the various parts of the drilling assembly that are used to physically drill the hole in the earth including the drill bits which actually cut the rock. It may come as a shock to some people to learn that many oil and gas wells will need to be between 6,000-12,000 feet deep and can be steered and angled at up to 90 degrees in order to hit the right reservoir. There are oil and gas reservoirs that are buried the equivalent of 10 Empire State Buildings stacked one on top of the other under the ground. Hopefully, this will put in to focus the extreme challenges and difficulties that are faced on a daily basis by gas and oil companies as they attempt to find and drill into these reservoirs.

The downhole drilling equipment is controlled from above the surface, by a crew of specialist drilling employees who constantly receive information from the downhole tools and the drilling assembly as it powers its way deeper and deeper into the earth. Drilling holes that are so deep require significant skills and excellent equipment. The high element of risk that field operators face is the reason why it is so essential to use only the best and most innovative tools possible.

Why Choose Ulterra for your Downhole Tools?

Ulterra is one of the leading manufacturers of downhole tools in the world, specializing in the latest technology of drill bits known as PDC. This acronym stands for Polycrystalline Diamond Compact and describes the specialist cutting elements used in this highly engineered and high-tech type of drill bit. Our company philosophy is based on three simple foundations.

• Performance – All of our products are designed and created using only the best components because we understand that when our clients are out in the oil fields in tough and challenging conditions they need products that they can rely on. All of our products deliver time and time again and are trusted by hundreds of companies around the world. When it comes to delivering outstanding performance that simply won’t let you down Ulterra should always be at the top of your list.
• Innovation – The very nature of oil and gas exploration and extraction throws up unusual and unforeseen issues on an almost daily basis. At Ulterra we have some of the best engineers and designers in the industry, who are consistently coming up with new and innovative solutions to the many and varied problems facing these vital industries. We never stop in our desire to make oil and gas extraction safer, more productive and efficient.
• Consistency – Our high-quality tools paired with our outstanding levels of innovation and dedication consistently deliver results that companies can rely on. With so many variables that are unavoidable in oil and gas extraction, it is critical to have as many consistent parts of the equation as possible, and that is another example of the thought process and quality that Ulterra delivers on a daily basis.

Downhole tools are the unsung heroes of the oil and gas industry. Millions of people across the world are totally reliant on gas and oil for fuel, chemicals and plastic products the industry produces; yet they have no understanding or idea of the processes at work to provide them with the things they rely on every day. At Ulterra, we are never content to rest on our laurels. We are determined to keep innovating, and driving the oil and gas industries forward.


New Drilling Bit Design from Ulterra featured in World Oil Article

The following extract on drilling bit design is from World Oil October 2017 and is used by permission.

Uptick in Activity Spurs Development of New Bit Technologies

 

DRILLING BIT DESIGN

Increased drilling activity associated with improving commodity prices is driving drill bit manufacturers to develop more efficient hydraulics for cuttings evacuation in softer formations, in addition to technologies designed to improve one-run success rates in challenging directional applications, and in hard/abrasive formations.

By CRAIG FLEMING, Technical Editor

With continuing advances in PCD cutter technology and improved bit body stability, PDC bits have become the dominant force in the worldwide drilling theater, practically replacing the venerable roller cone product. Their high ROP potential and unparalleled durability make PDC bits the tool of choice in both high- and low-cost environments. Even in the toughest applications traditionally reserved for roller cones, PDCs have virtually eliminated the situations where operators are forced to fall back on these types of bits. Today’s PDC bit technologies will positively impact performance and drive down the real cost/ft.

IMPROVED CUTTINGS EVACUATION

drilling bit designUlterra Drilling Technologies’ latest innovation is the patent-pending SplitBlade PDC bit (Fig. 4) that is increasing ROP and reducing drilling time with reconfigured cuttings evacuation, cutter cleaning, and bit cooling.

Typically, with most PDC technology, recirculated rock cuttings become trapped at the toolface, and the build-up clogs the junk slots. Trying to recut old cuttings that should have been evacuated quickly wastes energy, in addition to degrading the bit.

The company’s research team examined the physical restraints of a basic PDC drill bit. The engineers proposed a new pattern that would maintain the cutters in a cleaner, cooler state. The improved thermal management of the bit face would support the goal of extending bit durability and lead to higher performance.

Using CFD, the team created a distinctive bit body, with new blade geometry, nozzle placement, and cutter layout. By splitting the shape of the primary blades with an angular offset, designers created designated flow channels for the fluid and cuttings. Two nozzles are positioned to support the cutters in the critical area to capitalize on this advancement in bit body construction and hydraulic control. While drilling, cuttings from SplitBlade technology can be evacuated up to seven times faster, compared with conventional designs.

CASE STUDIES

In the LaSalle County portion of the Eagle Ford shale in South Texas, an operator was experiencing poor cuttings removal and plugged nozzles. To solve the issues, an 8½-in. SplitBlade PDC was run, and it drilled the curve 27% faster than offsets. This run set a company formation footage record of nearly 14,000 ft, MD, for the curve and lateral. The ROP of more than 150 ft/hr was 8% faster than the offset average in wells over 10,000 ft. In the eastern Eagle Ford, another operator wanted to reduce the instances of nozzle plugging to improve ROP, and selected an 8½-in. SplitBlade bit. The plan was to improve lateral and overall ROP with better directional control and cuttings removal. The bit was run, and it set a rig footage and ROP record, drilling the lateral at 400 ft/hr instantaneously and, overall, just less than 12,000 ft in under 68 hr. The average ROP of 172 ft/hr was 56% faster than the average run on this rig.

View the original Article here:
Original World Oil Oct 2017 Article PDF

 


Ulterra PDC Bit and MORE Global Water Provision Story

We love this story and are proud to have played a part in MORE’s efforts to address the global water crisis. This story first appeared on the https://more-water.org site. It’s a great read from the perspective of an Ulterra PDC bit. 

What?  You don’t think a drill bit can have a story? Well, I have one.  And it’s a pretty cool story, I think – if anyone cares to listen!  You see, it all started in a factory in Texas, at a company called Ulterra  They are manufacturers of all kinds of drill bits.  But they specialize in PDC Bits.  So, what is a PDC Bit, you may be asking.  Good question.  It stands for Polycrystalline Diamond Compact. That’s a real tongue twister, eh?  All it means is that they use small particles of manufactured diamonds – not the super expensive natural ones that are made into rings and other fine jewelry.  But just as hard. These particles are integrated into randomly oriented crystals to form a thin matrix that is effectively bonded with a tungsten “table”.  These tables can then be easily be brazed onto the steel drill head.  It is only the PDC “table tops” that contact the formation during drilling.  Eventually these cutter heads wear down and have to be replaced.

Anyway, I can’t remember how many holes I drilled as part of a large stable of similar PDC bits, in all shapes and sizes, while working on large drilling platforms in South Texas.  But eventually, me and some of my bit buddies in our group, were cleaned up, packed up and shipped back to the Ulterra factory.  Some of the old timer bits told me not to worry, that I would be back.  I was just going in for my “spa treatment” at Ulterra’s fancy “salon”.  Nothing more than a “wash and perm” they said – and maybe a pedicure!  “Sweet!” I thought.  I could use some R & R. Here I would have my worn PDC cutters removed and brand new ones brazed back into place.  Quickly my trepidation turned to excitement.

But after my visit to the salon – which was wonderful, as expected – and with my brand new sparkling diamond matrix cutting heads, I was not returned back to the oil drill rig.  Instead they took me to some new shop, where some guy came and picked me up.  He seemed really excited when he saw me, which nearly made me blush!  Then he held me up for show while he and his friends took pictures – of me!  I was thinking, “wow, maybe I’m going to get some kind of award, or something!”  But for what, I was trying to reason with myself, while not trying to act too “puffed up”.  Then, of all things, the guy takes me home and sticks me in a corner in his tiny apartment.  “Hey”, that’s no way to treat I star!” I wanted to tell him.  But I didn’t.

Oh, but that’s when it really starts getting weird.  One day he brings home this plastic box on wheels.  Then he sprays some kind of stinky liquid that starts growing into this crazy foam.  While it is still forming he drops me into this gooie quagmire and sprays some more of this gross stuff, all around me.  When it hardens in a short time, he tries, but can’t even move me.  I’m stuck.  But he doesn’t seem to care.  In fact, he actually seems quite impressed with my predicament.  He even shows me off to his neighbor, I remember.

The next thing I know (a few days later), he rolls me into an airport, where they weigh me.  Then after sitting there for the longest time, he takes me over to a corner and cuts off the plastic ties that he used to secure the top of the rolling box.  What now, I thought.  This is getting weirder by the moment.  Before I had the words out of my “mouth”, he starts cutting away at the hardened foam around my body, with this really big pocket knife.  I thought for sure he was going to cut me up, but he was very careful to only cut the foam.  So how did he get this big knife into an airport, I was thinking.  Geez, is he some kind of terrorist, or something.  Oh no!  Better be quiet about that, I figured.

So then he pulls me loose from the container and unscrews this fancy steel connector thing that he had made at another factory, before he put us into the ice chest and sprayed the foam – all around us.  I didn’t tell you about that trip – to the other factory – to have this “skirt thing” fabricated.  Mainly because it’s just too weird, but also because I heard them talking at that factory when they were measuring my “bottom”.  They said I was “too big” to fit on the guy’s pipes.  While they said, “too big”, I know that they really meant “too fat”!  How do you think that made me feel? No way to treat a rising star in the oil and gas drilling arena, right?  Geez, I really don’t get any respect.

Okay, so, we’re back at the airport. When he gets me loose, he unscrews the skirt thing from my “bottom” and lays me back into the ice chest.  But not before taking “skirt guy” and wrapping him in bubble wrap and putting him into his checked bag.  “Oh man!” I thought, “I was enjoying that bubble wrap.”  It was cozy, like a comforter – for wherever we were heading off to.  But it did feel good to have that skirt thing off my bottom, I had to admit.  Then he closed the top and secured it again – for my journey to “who knows where”.

In what seemed like days later, and several plane rides and airport transports, before I once again saw the light of day, but had no idea where I was – only that I couldn’t wait to get out of this box.  (It was, actually three days, as there was a huge mess-up by the folks at Delta-KLM, in getting both me and my drill bit from Houston to Nairobi, after overnights in Atlanta and Amsterdam.  My bags actually didn’t arrive in Nairobi until a day later.)  When finally, my box lid was opened, I was confronted with several quite different-looking folks (different than my traveling friend, anyway).  They were jabbering in a language, also totally different than my friend, while pointing at me.  Evidently they had never seen a high-classed PDC bit like me before, I thought.

Finally, after a lot of turmoil and more jabbering, some nice, quiet-speaking lady, who was talking in a language somewhat similar to my friend – but sweeter, and prettier-sounding, she must have helped my friend work it all out.  She eventually re-closed my box lid and I was rolled out of that building and into a car, apparently.  A short time later – much shorter than the plane rides, I was handed over to my new friend, who seemed excited beyond belief to see me again.  I could see he was beaming as he showed me off to his friends – who looked more like him, I noted.  Once again I’m sure that I blushed.  I couldn’t help it!  He then rolled me into this house and I found myself in my own room.  Awesome, I thought, this is where this guy really lives – in this lovely large house – and not that tiny, cramped apartment.  Good for him, I thought.  Maybe he’s not a looser, after all, I conjectured.

But no, it was not to be, I soon found out.  The next day he again secured me in my box and we went on another car ride – to yet another airport.  “Oh no, not again,” I thought.  But this time I was loaded onto a much smaller plane, I could tell.  I knew that because I could still hear people talking, even as me and my luggage companions were nestled into our own compartment and the plane took off.  Actually it was more like crammed-in than “nestled”.  But this time, no sooner had we taken off, I could tell, but we were landing again.  Then he rolled me out and packed me into another car.  By now I was learning that his name must be Bobu, because that’s what I heard everyone calling him here – and in the US, as I now recall.  In fact a pretty young lady, along with three really cute kids, all called him that as she was helping him finish packing me into my traveling box, before our trip to the airport, I remembered.  Now he was rolling me into another house.  Here, he, once again, opened my box and showed me off to two more of his friends – both of whom looked like him.  But not exactly.

This time I don’t remember blushing.  I was too busy taking in my surroundings.  “Oh my”, I thought, I don’t know if he lives here or his friends do, but this is more like it.  There were beautiful palm trees and flowering tress and plants – everywhere.  I saw more people splashing around in some well-fashioned watering hole and the sky was bright blue and the sun was beaming down.  You have to understand, having spent my whole existence hanging around oil drilling rigs or being screwed deep into rock formations below the surface, this was all quite amazing to me. Surely, this must be drill bit heaven, I concluded.  Finally, a surrounding worthy of my beauty and elegance as a star-studded PDC bit – I justified, if not even somewhat indignantly. Yes – finally, I had arrived!