Tag Archives : RSS


World Oil October 2016

Featured in the October issue of World Oil magazine, Ulterra discusses PDC bits for RSS applications.

To extract the full potential of different RSS types, operators have sought out drill bit manufacturers, to provide designs tailored to specific parameters and BHAs. Ulterra has utilized its proprietary technology to develop CounterForce™ PDC bits, designed specifically to reduce lateral vibrations, a leading cause of downhole tool failure.

PDF_download_Icon World Oil October 2016


Ulterra Continues to Expand the Application for CounterForce®

By: Matt Case, Lead Engineer, Eastern U.S.

Ulterra Drilling Technologies continues to expand the application for its ground breaking CounterForce® cutting structure technology.  CounterForce uses the cutting structure to reduce vibrations at the bit, which increases efficiency and reduces bit damage.  Reducing vibration is particularly important on wells which utilize Rotary Steerable Systems (RSS), which are becoming more popular as well planners are pushing the limits on directional difficulty and lateral lengths.  Most RSS tools are highly susceptible to failure due to vibration, which is one of the most common reasons the BHA must be tripped.  RSS directional hands will often monitor these vibrations and are forced to reduce drilling parameters, and sometimes stop drilling altogether to pick up off bottom when vibrations get too high.  Vibrations in a way act as an ROP ceiling, limiting the driller to lower parameters than what is necessary for maximum ROP.  With the ability of the CounterForce cutting structure to reduce vibrations, we can not only reduce the number of trips for tool failures, we can also effectively elevate the ROP ceiling so that operators can drill faster and still avoid high vibrations.

The claim that CounterForce can reduce vibrations, and therefore increase ROP and reduce the number of trips is validated through numerous field runs verses competitor bits.  A major operator in South Texas utilizes the Weatherford Revolution Rotary Steerable System to drill out from under surface through the curve and lateral to TD in one trip.  Comparing the Ulterra CounterForce U516M verses competitor bits in this application in the year 2015, the U516M on average drilled 10% faster and was tripped 32% fewer times for tool failures.  With 41 runs within this time frame, the U516M is the performance and market share leader for this operator.

CounterForce performance has also been validated through electronic drilling recorder (EDR) analysis.  A four well pad in South Texas utilizing the Waterford Revolution RSS ran the CounterForce U516M on three wells, and a competitor bit on the fourth.  The stick-slip magnitude, measured in a rotational value of c/min, was 35% lower for the average of the three CounterForce runs compared to the offset.  In addition, the average ROP for the three CounterForce runs was 27% faster than the offset, saving the operator 13 hours on each well the CounterForce U516M was in the hole.

CounterForce technology has also been tested in demanding applications offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.  A major operator drilling in the Eastern GOM utilized the Ulterra 16.50” U713M CounterForce to drill a 2,600 ft. section through the Base Miocene and Cretaceous formations.  This operator was particularly concerned with high vibrations through these formations due to offsets they had drilled in the past.  The Ulterra U713M CounterForce was able to decrease stick-slip vibration by 30% and increase ROP by 14% compared to said offsets.


Oilfield Technology June 2016

Featured in the June issue of Oilfield Technology, Ulterra discusses how customized bit development for RSS reduces tool failure.

Most RSS tools are highly susceptible to failure due to vibration, which is one of the most common reasons the BHA must be tripped. Ulterra’s CounterForce® technology uses the cutting structure to reduce vibrations at the bit, which increases efficiency and reduces bit damage.

PDF_download_IconOilfield Technology June 2016


Hart’s E&P June 2016

This article was sourced for a recent article in Hart’s E&P magazine, which can be found here.

Working, Together: RSS-Tailored Bit Designs Improve Drilling Performance

Written by: Aron Deen, Levi Sasser, and Chris Gooch

Nearly all new technologies struggle in their infancy to gain adoption due to high cost, problematic reliability, lack of understanding, and marginal value proposition.  Over years of learning, development and refinement these hurdles reduce, and with each step new opportunities open up.  This has been the case for rotary steerable systems (RSS), which is finding new value in this historic downturn.

Another facet of technology adoption is the availability of compliments.  For example, smartphones need great apps for customers to realize their true value.  In much the same way, RSS need to have great drill bits designed to work with them in order for operators to realize their maximum value.

To be sure, there are certainly some hurdles in working across company lines on product development.  For example, gauge pad configuration is one of the many aspects of bit designs that are customized to work perfectly with differing RSS tools.  Different lengths, steps, tapers, helix angles, and wear protection may be advantageous for a particular RSS application, but producing such a specific product requires a significant investment of engineering resources and capital.  And once created, such a bespoke asset should not be blindly forced into an improper application to the detriment of another operator.  The only long-term path over such hurdles is for service companies to jointly commit to focus first on performance for the customer.

World Record RSS runs in Eagle Ford

In South Texas, operators and RSS tool developers have toiled for the last few years to uncover the full value proposition of being able to steer while rotating.  In theory, this should allow operators to capture all of the benefits of highly directional wells without the inefficiency of regularly having to interrupt operations to orient and slide at low ROP – and have better hole quality to go along with it.  The increased complexity of the systems, however, requires all components to work together seamlessly.  The primary challenge for operators has been maintaining ultra-tight windows in lateral applications of the extended-reach horizontals in the Eagle Ford.  RSS has made those complex well designs a possibility.

Ulterra’s willingness to partner with RSS makers has contributed to great runs.  After working with Weatherford to design an Eagle Ford bit tailored to Weatherford’s Revolution® RSS, there has been a huge improvement in vibration and torque, which has drastically reduced the chance of tool failure. At the same time, the bit is increasing ROP, setting distance records, and coming out of the hole in pristine condition.

In a run in Live Oak County, TX, the bit set three global footage records for the Revolution RSS by drilling 16,234 feet in one run.  The extended-reach well had a total depth of 22,700 feet.  Reaching out that far is a big challenge, and accomplishing it with one bottom-hole assembly had been previously unheard of.  With the Ulterra bit and Weatherford RSS working together the BHA was able to stay on bottom for 192 hours.

Reduced Vibration, Improved Efficiency in Abu Dhabi

In a recent well in Abu Dhabi, a major operator encountered difficulty drilling through a troublesome series of formations in an ADMA brownfield while utilizing the AutoTrak X-treme™ motorized RSS from Baker Hughes.  Based on data from their CoPilot™ system, vibration was identified to be one of the major performance limiting factors in two bits that had failed to complete the section.  As this was the case, the operator turned to Ulterra to provide a custom solution.

One of the unique design technologies that Ulterra has to combat lateral vibration at the bit is CounterForce®, a novel cutter arrangement methodology that allows the cutters to work together to redirect vibrational energy back into the rock.  By pairing this technology into a U713M bit design along with the RSS, the operator was able to complete the interval.

The Ulterra bit delivered, allowing the RSS assembly to drill 824 feet to section TD at an ROP of 23 ft/hr. This run was 66% faster than the average of the two previous bit runs in mother hole and 230% faster than the average of the two previous bit runs in pilot hole. According to the operator, this performance saved three trips. The dull condition was also excellent with only minimal abrasive wear to some of the cutters on the nose and shoulder.

Drilling-Vibrations-in-Problem-Formation-Chart

More importantly to the operator, the MSE calculations from the CoPilot down hole measurement tool showed that the Ulterra bit, with CounterForce technology, achieved this using 14% less energy to drill compared to the previous runs that had mostly drilled in softer, easier formations. Vibration levels were also dramatically reduced in the most difficult formation where it causes the most issues.  Compared to other bit runs, lateral vibrations and whirl were reduced by 84% and 31% respectively, while stick-slip was reduced by 88%.

Best for Best

Some RSS makers, such as Weatherford, Gyrodata, Scout Downhole, and others, focus their energy and expertise on their tools and services while leaving complimentary performance parts to other experts.  Others produce their own OEM (original equipment manufacturer) drill bits, and obviously they will often recommend them with self-benefiting reasons.  However, in high-cost, high-performance applications, which are often identifiable by the use of RSS, “stock” equipment is seldom the best option.

As a PDC drill bit company, Ulterra is always excited for the opportunity to tackle new and unique problems.  Our mission is to be the most trusted employer and supplier of PDC drill bits in the industry, and to reward that trust with industry leading consistency, performance and relentless, rapid improvement.  There are many great car makers, but they all rely on other companies for the best tires in the world.  While Ulterra doesn’t make RSS tools, the evidence is growing that we do make the best bits for them.


Ulterra Set Back to Back to Back World Footage Records in the Eagle Ford

Partnering with Weatherford to design a bit tailored for their Revolution® RSS tool in the Eagle Ford, Ulterra set back to back to back world footage records using the 8.75” U516M CounterForce®. Continued Partnership with Weatherford’s Revolution RSS has led to huge improvements in vibration and torque, which has drastically reduced the chance of tool failure.

On a four well pad in Live Oak County, TX, the CounterForce U516M set three global footage records for the Revolution RSS by drilling 16,234 feet in one run. (According to Weatherford, this is the most footage they have drilled with one BHA anywhere in the world.) The extended-reach well had a total depth of 22,700 feet, reaching out that far, however, is a big challenge, and this performance is unheard of with one bottom-hole assembly. With the Ulterra bit and Weatherford RSS working together the BHA was able to stay on bottom for 192 hours.

This is just one example of how Ulterra is building our reputation on proven performance throughout the world’s drilling basins. Although we don’t make RSS tools, evidence is growing that we do make the best bits for them.


Ulterra Celebrates Recent Success with Rotary Steerable Systems in the Wolfbone Area

By: Josh Criswell, West Texas Sales Engineer

In the past six months, operators drilling in the Wolfbone area of the Delaware Basin have been looking more to rotary steerable systems (RSS) to reduce the time spent drilling lateral wells. RSS have become a more affordable option due to their reduced cost in the down market.

Ulterra was challenged to create a bit design that was capable of finishing extended laterals in one run while encountering shales with varying carbonate content. This new design must rotate exceptionally well, be able to produce accurate corrections on a motorized push-the-bit system, and withstand the higher RPM capabilities of new rotary steerable systems.

This resulted in Ulterra’s 8.5” U616S built to dominate these intervals. The U616S features Ulterra’s CounterForce® technology which provides smooth torque responses providing longer life for expensive rotary steerable components. CounterForce also redirects vibrations back into the formation, creating a much more efficient cutting structure that produces higher ROP. The U616S also features an extended gauge pad to help the bit track in long laterals and reduce corrective actions. This new CounterForce design features a steel construction that increases the junk slot area by nearly 12% from its matrix counterpart and allows lower cuttings evacuation times producing higher ROP.

After its first two runs, Ulterra’s 8.5” U616S CounterForce completed both intervals successfully in one run producing an average ROP 15% higher than competitor designs. The ability to complete the interval in one run while producing higher ROP allowed Ulterra to save the operator an average of $7.24/ft for a total of $67,049 in a lateral well.