Drill Bits

Drill Bits

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Drill Bits
When most people think of drill bits they think of drill bits they think of the simple tool that can be found in any house or machine shop. The drill bits are relatively simple in design and are typically used for drilling through wood and metals. Most people don’t realize that when companies drill in the earth for oil they also use drill bits. However, the drill bits used in this process are very complicated in nature, not to mention costly. These drill bitts cost on average between $30,000 and $50,000 dollars, but can cost as in the 150,000+ range. Due to the high cost of these bits, it is important for any supply manager working in this industry to have an understanding of how they work and their intended uses. To completely understand the engineering that goes into these bits would probably require someone to have a degree in mechanical or petroleum engineering. However, with some basic understanding of the different kinds of bits and the manufacturing process behind them, it is possible for a supply manager to properly identify and purchase the proper bit for the project he/she is working on.
The intended use of the drill bits is quite easy to understand. Like the drill bits in found in a simple hand drill, all drill bits are intended to make a hole. The major difference being that you are drilling in rock formations and the hole is 5-30 inches in diameter. These are the two main factors in determining which type of drill bit that should be selected. There are many categories and sub categories of drill bits that drill into rock formations. However, in the modern oilfield the most commonly used type of bit is the rotary drill bit. There are two main types or rotary drill bits, drag bits, and rolling cutter bits.
Drag bits are a type of drill bit that uses a fixed cutter blade to drill into a rock formation. Drag bits physically plow or machine cuttings from the bottom of the hole. Unlike rolling cutter bits, drag bits have no moving parts, which decreases the likelihood that unwanted material could be left in the hole. Drag bits can be further broken down into three categories base on the design and the material they are comprised of.

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The first of these categories is the fishtail bit. It is named this because the blades resemble that of a fishtail. The blades on the bit are usually made of steel or tungsten carbide and are curved away from the direction of rotation. Due to their design and the materials that comprise the cutting blades, these bits are used for drilling soft rock and most soils; and are used extensively in foundation explorations and grout-hole drilling. The second type of drag bit is the natural diamond bit. Like the name implies, the bits use groupings of diamonds on the bit to break up the rock formation. Diamonds are used because they are 10x harder than steel, and 2x harder the tungsten carbide but they tend to be more brittle and susceptible to damage. Natural diamond bits have many advantages over fishtail bits, in that they can soft and hard rock formations. For soft formations, the bit is comprised of larger diamonds that are spaced further apart, and also has a pointed nose. For hard rock formations, the bit is made of smaller diamonds that are spaced more closely together, and has a flat nose. In simpler terms, the size of the diamonds on the bit will determine it use. There are several other situations that a supply manager should consider when determining if a natural diamond bit should be used. For example, if the hole diameter is less the 6 inches. This type of bit is very dependable so if there are circumstances that would stop you from “making a trip,” then natural diamond bits should be considered. (A “trip” is when you the rig workers take all the pipe out of the hole to make changes to the bit or other tools, and then place all the pipe back in the hole. Oil rigs can cost $70,000 a day or more to operate, so making an unnecessary trip can be very costly.) The final type of drag bit is a Polycrystalline Diamond Compact (PDC) bit. Basically these are bits that use manufacture diamonds to cut the rock formations, instead of natural diamonds. At about $10,000-150,000 apiece, PDC bits cost five to 15 times more than Rolling Cutter bits. Supply mangers should consider that while these bits can be about 3% of your total costs when drilling a well, they can effect up to 75% of your total cost due to their many benefits. The penetration rates are much faster than that of other types of bit, which reduces your overall drilling time and operating costs. They are of particular use on deep wells or if the well is expensive because of their reliability. They also work in a wide array of formations, both hard and soft, and are very effective in oil based muds. A supply manager should keep in mind that while this type of bit is not regularly used in the U.S. due to the type of formations found here, they are in very he demand in most other parts of the world where oil wells are drilled.
The second type pf bit used is known as a Rolling Cutter bit. The bits use rotating cones, usually three, to break up the formation. They are much more cost effective that PDC bits, but because of their moving parts, there is a greater chance that one of the cones could break off in the hole resulting in a costly “trip” to remove it. There are basically two types of Rolling Cutter bits, one made with steel teeth and the other made with tungsten carbide teeth. The steel toothed bits are typically used in soft rocks because of their high drilling rate in these formations. However, they can be made with shorter teeth, which are more effective in harder rock formations. One advantage of the steel toothed type is that they have self sharpening teeth because they have a hard facing on one side of the tooth. Tungsten carbide bits are the most effective type of bit if you are drilling in a hard or very hard rock formation because tungsten carbide is very hard but brittle material. Most of the time these bit will fail due to breakage rather than wear because of this brittleness. The major advantage that these bits have over most other types of bits is their ability to handle a high bit weight at a high rpm. This leads to their effectiveness in hard rock formations. Supply managers should only consider Rolling Cutter bits when the hole is shallow because of their tendency to wear out faster than Drag bits. Basically, Rolling Cutter bits are much more cost effective but far less reliable than their counterparts.
All types of drill bits eventually wear out and become ineffective. When this happens most companies either dispose of the bit, or sell it to a company that remanufactures bits. Remanufactured bits are always are risky proposition but can pay off in the end. Because bits are so expensive to manufacture or buy, a lot of companies will turn to remanufactured bits to cut costs on a job. This would probably sound good to any supply manger but there are a few things that he must consider before purchasing a remanufactured bit. The first thing he must consider is the reputation of the company that is selling the bit. If they have a good reputation then buying from them may be a good idea. However, most of the time you will be buying these bit from smaller companies in countries that do not have quality standards to follow. If this is the case then you should probably consider buying a new bit or shipping a bit over from a company that you trust. Another major factor is the depth of the hole being drilled and the formation that you are drilling in. As I said before, making a trip to change a bit is always costly. So, if you are drilling a deep hole or if the formation is one that tends to wear bits out, this may be a good time to go with a new bit. In the case of Rolling Cutter bits, this especially risky because of the chance of one of the cones breaking off in the hole. Retrieving it from the hole can require several trips and can take days, costing the company serious money.
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