Technical Paper: Innovative Rolling PDC Cutter Increases Drilling Efficiency, Improving Bit Performance in Challenging Applications

Society: IADC
Paper Number: 163536
Presentation Date: 2013
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Extended footage capabilities and high rate of penetration give PDC bits a distinct advantage over roller cone bits in many applications. However, the fixed PDC element creates an inherent limitation because only a small portion of the cutter contacts the formation, and as the cutters wear/chip drilling efficiency declines. The industry requires new technology that can effectively utilize the entire 360° diamond cutting edge to increase drilling efficiency and bit life. Numerous research studies indicate wear flats generate a high degree of frictional heat which breaks the diamond/diamond bond or can even convert diamond back to graphite in extreme cases.

A plan was initiated to rotate the cutter while drilling and engineers investigated different retention methods and cutting structure designs to create the optimal driving force to accomplish the objective. Several designs were implemented that hold the cutter securely in place and allow full cutter rotation.  These assemblies were extensively modeled using FEA and laboratory tested to evaluate function and strength. In a test apparatus, the new shearing element (rolling cutter/RC) was able to cut an extended section of rock with a consistent force level (lbs).

Conversely, the traditional fixed-cutter assembly required steadily increased force to drive the cutter the same distance. Examination of the rolling cutter’s dull condition clearly indicated significantly improved durability and cutting efficiency.

Initial field testing targeted the highly abrasive Granite Wash formation in Western Oklahoma/Texas Panhandle where cutter wear is the predominant failure mechanism. Application challenges include slow ROP and premature tripping for a new bit. A six-bladed prototype PDC bit was manufactured with three rolling cutters positioned in the shoulder area. The bit was run on a steerable motor through the horizontal interval with good results.

The next prototype was equipped with additional RCs and drilled more footage compared to offset average. Additional experiments are being conducted with RCs which will continue to increase performance. The authors will present several case studies which will document performance improvement in challenging drilling environments.

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