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Industry Article: Bit Designs Trend Toward Shale Development

Bit Designs Trend Toward Shale Development
Publication: E&P
Publication Date: 04/01/2012

In the past, most PDC drill bits had steel bodies. As new materials became available to better customize bits for specific applications and formation, tungsten carbide matrix body bits became popular because of their increased abrasion resistance and durability. However, matrix body bits are problematic in that they are brittle compared to steel, constraining engineers in bit designs for difficult applications. In shales, for example, blades need to be taller and thinner to optimally drill and clean the well bore, but if the blades on a matrix body bit are too tall, they are prone to cracking and failure. As shale plays have become extremely active, steel body bits have resurfaced due to their improved ductibility and strength for the type of blade geometry necessary to drill efficiently. Smith Bits Spear shale-optimized steel-body PDC drill bit and ONYX II premium PDC cutters are being used in several North American shales such as Marcellus, Haynesville, Eagle Ford, Barnett, and emerging international shale plays in Poland and Argentina.

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