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Some time ago, a lease operator told me that drilling penetration rates had gotten so fast that the move and setup time between wells was beginning to dominate the process. Durability began to soar in parallel, causing drilling contractors to wonder just how many rigs could be eliminated while still maintaining the same wells-drilled count. Unfortunately for drilling contractors, there is no sign yet that ROP and mean time between failures (that is, tripping out to replace a bit) are approaching any sort of limit. This year’s advances include the expected bit design improvements, but also some new metallurgy for cutters and for roller-cone toothed bits.
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