May 26, 2023
Conference Paper

Optimizing Rate of Penetration and Tripping Decision-Making using Real-Time Bit Wear Monitoring While Drilling Geothermal Wells


Understanding bit wear while drilling is critical to minimizing non-productive time (NPT) and optimizing rate of penetration (ROP). Lengthening drilling runs with damaged bits does not only lower the ROP, but also elevates the risk of inducing severe bit damage, which could potentially lead to time-consuming fishing operations. When drillers believe the bit has worn off substantially, the bit is tripped out to be replaced. On geothermal wells, tripping can take up to 20% of the overall well construction time, and this is generally acknowledged as an opportunity for improvement. Ideally, a bit run should be terminated before the bit is damaged beyond repair. At the same time, premature bit pulls are to be avoided as well. This study aims to leverage bit and tooth wear metrics that can be obtained in real time to characterize bit condition in order to optimize ROP and determine the optimal time to pull the bit. Two metrics were explored in this study: a bit wear metric that incorporated depth-of-cut, and a tooth wear metric developed by Bourgoyne & Young characterizing the state of bit teeth dull. Both metrics were computed using recorded data from 12¼ inches roller cone insert bit runs in five geothermal wells targeting a granodiorite formation in the western United States. Together with the actual dull grades, determined after the bits were pulled to surface, the metric trends were interpreted to characterize the downhole bit condition and identify the point at which the bit should have optimally been tripped out. The insights from studying the actual dull grades and how they relate to the two metrics were used to establish a reliable bit pull criterion. The bit wear metric trend correctly showed a noticeable departure from baseline for bits experiencing major dulling behavior. Additionally, the tooth wear model predicted the cutter dull within two dull grades for most runs, with better performance in predicting the inner teeth dull. Moreover, the combination of the bit wear and tooth wear metrics was effective in revealing the cause of the bit performance impairment. Proactive tracking of these two metrics in real-time can facilitate geothermal drilling ROP optimization and better-informed tripping decision-making, thereby avoiding wasted time and cost.

Published: May 26, 2023


Ashari R., P. Ashok, E. van Oort, C.F. Sørlie, S. Petty, R.J. Rallo Moya, and A. Schultz, et al. 2022. Optimizing Rate of Penetration and Tripping Decision-Making using Real-Time Bit Wear Monitoring While Drilling Geothermal Wells. In Geothermal Rising Conference: Using the Earth to Save the Earth (GRC 2022), August 18-31, 2022, Reno, NV. Transactions - Geothermal Resources Council, 46, 819-837. Davis, California:Geothermal Resources Council. PNNL-SA-172204.

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