Varel Commemorates Record Run for PDC Bit

Representatives from Varel International recently reunited with employees from ChevronTexaco to commemorate the successful run of Varel's 12-1/4" BB657XCB polycrystalline diamond compact (PDC) bit. The bit, previously run on ChevronTexaco's Alba North A-50 well in the North Sea, had a single run of 15,472 ft (4,716 m), with an average rate of penetration (ROP) of 94.5 ft/hr (28.80 m/hr).

While meeting with ChevronTexaco at their Upstream Europe office in Aberdeen, Varel representatives Russell Hempsey, Senior Sales Engineer and Mark Shepherd, UK Sales Manager presented ChevronTexaco employees Neil McConaghy, Drilling and Completions Team Leader; Abdel Ali, Drilling Engineer and Barry Fraser, Drilling Engineer, with a specially-commissioned figurine commemorating the success of this project.

"We are very pleased with the bit's performance," said Hempsey of Varel International. As to why a specially-commissioned figurine was created, he said, "We wanted something memorable to mark this achievement with, and to thank, the ChevronTexaco team."

This past March, ChevronTexaco approached Varel to supply a 12-1/4" BB657XCB PDC bit, a unique design incorporating oval cutters and lateral jets, for their Alba North project.

"We had previous knowledge and experience of this type of Varel bit," said McConaghy of ChevronTexaco. "It had successfully drilled similar Extended-Reach Drilling wells; however, it had not been used previously on Alba. We chose this bit type for its excellent performance in drilling hard limestone stringers, of which there are many on Alba North."

The BB657XCB initiated the sidetrack on 25 March. The bit, which was downhole for approximately two weeks, was run on Baker Hughes INTEQ's AutoTrak® Rotary Closed-Loop Drilling System. After completing the build to 81-degrees the well was drilled tangentially for +/-11,000 ft (+/- 3,353 m). The well profile was then built to achieve the geological objectives in the reservoir sands. More than 30 hard limestone stringers were encountered and efficiently drilled with the BB657XCB.

On 10 April, the bit was retrieved after it had drilled 15,472 ft (4,716 m) in 163.7 drilling hours (270 circulating hours) resulting in an average ROP of 94.5 ft/hr (28.80 m/hr).

Since the run, Baker Hughes INTEQ has confirmed this to be their longest single bit run ever achieved on AutoTrak.

"This run appears to us to be the longest 12 ¼" PDC bit run in the North Sea [all sectors] and possibly a world record for the longest single bit run on a Rotary Steerable System," said Shepherd of Varel International. "This is a significant milestone for Varel, and clearly demonstrates the capability of this series of drill bits."

The BB657XCB PDC bit is currently being re-furbished to "as new" condition at the Varel manufacturing facility in Pau, France for use on future Alba North wells. Refurbishment of these bit styles adds value to drilling operations by reducing total bit expenditures.

About Varel International

Varel International is a major supplier of drill bit focused solutions to customers in the global Oil & Gas drilling and Mining/Industrial drilling markets. The company provides a comprehensive range of Roller Cone, PDC, and Diamond drill bits, and has ISO 9001 and API certified manufacturing facilities in Matamoros, Mexico; Carrollton, Texas; Houston, Texas and Tarbes, France. Founded in 1947, Varel was privately held by the Varel family until 1998, when it was acquired through a management buy-in, supported by 3i PLC and the University of Texas Investment Management Company. This new structure resulted in what is known as "New Varel." Using patented drill bit technology and emerging drilling technologies, "New Varel" aligns its engineering and manufacturing capabilities to provide high-quality products that deliver reliability and optimum product performance at the lowest cost per foot.