Baker Hughes deploys new shale drill bit in Delaware Basin

By Luke Geiver | March 15, 2017

Baker Hughes has created a new drill bit equipped with autonomously deployable shock absorbers that can help drill faster, more efficient wells. The technology, coined the TerrAdapt bit, was recently used in the Delaware Basin, the most active shale play in North America. The TerrAdapt system help a drilling customers increase the rate of penetration (ROP) of the bit by 27 percent compared to the average ROP on offset wells drilled through the same interbedded formations, according to Baker Hughes. The system also helped the drilling team extend the well 713 feet (or 27 percent) further using significantly less energy to do so when compared to the energy levels needed for the surrounding wells.

The unique bit relies on self-adjusting depth-of-cut (DOC) nodules that extend out when the bit travels through various rock formations and experiences bumpy or shocking portions of rock that make the bit lose contact with the drilling surface. The bit also helps to regulate the aggressiveness and smooths out transition.

According to Baker Hughes, most polycrystalline diamond compact bits are designed only for a single rock type. Such systems will perform well in one formation and erratically in others, a situation known as stick-slip. During such events, the company explains, the bit’s bite becomes too aggressive, causing it to stick and stop rotating, while the drillpipe behind it continues to wind up like a sprint until the bit releases or slips and begins spinning uncontrollably. These events increase drilling costs. “When this happens, operators have to make extra trips to replace the bit, or continue to drill with diminished performance,” Baker Hughes said.

Scott Schmidt, vice president for drill bits, believes the new technology will bring major change to customers. “Stick-slip, which has been costing them millions of dollars each year, can now be easily avoided,” he said, based on the TerrAdapt’s ability to maintain an efficient contact with the formation by deploying or retracting the drill face nodules that appropriately space the bit away from the rock.