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Drill bit costs, although not insignificant, are a small part of total well expense. The largest factor, by far, in escalating well drilling costs is the number of days spent. The newer drill bit designs all have the same ultimate goals—durability, efficiency, speed and delivery of a high-quality wellbore. Days saved equal money saved.
The keyword in modern drilling is control. As “unconventional” drilling becomes conventional, shale oil and gas reservoirs demand greater, more subtle control. With shale, PDC is the bit of choice, and while roller-cone technology is still valued for faster rates of penetration (ROP) and lower cost-per-foot, fixed-cutter bits now fulfill around 80% of hydrocarbon drilling. Hybrid drill bits, which have characteristics of both types, are finding a larger niche.
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