Copyright 2012, Brazilian Petroleum, Gas and Biofuels Institute - IBP

This Technical Paper was prepared for presentation at the Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012, held between September, 17-
20, 2012, in Rio de Janeiro. This Technical Paper was selected for presentation by the Technical Committee of the event according to
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Expo and Conference 2012 Proceedings.

Mechanical Engineer – National Oilwell Varco
Petroleum Engineer – National Oilwell Varco
Mechanical Engineer – National Oilwell Varco
Petroleum Engineer – National Oilwell Varco
Petroleum Engineer – Occidental Petroleum Corporation
Petroleum Engineer – Occidental Petroleum Corporation

Isaac S. Fonseca
, Henry J. Mata
, Ryan W. Weeden
, Carlos E.
, Edwin A. Lopez
, Pablo A. Bonilla


Use of high frequency Downhole Drilling Dynamics Recording (DDDR) sensors in multiple points of the drill
string creates a unique opportunity to examine the dynamic behavior of the drillstring. New technology has allowed
DDDR data to be collected from top drive to bit, including almost every component in-between. This ability to capture
DDDR data in multiple locations in the Bottom Hole Assembly (BHA) allows a more detailed identification of sources
and modes of vibration. A large amount of high quality Surface Drilling Data (SDD) is commonly recorded at the rig
site today. This data is transmitted real-time to the operator’s office or to an operation center remote from the rig site.
Commonly, this information is not evaluated proactively and tends to be used solely for incident or failure
investigations. A project started in December 2010 investigated potential benefits of improving drilling performance by
reducing time, cost, and consistently drilling optimum wells in Caño Limon field, Colombia. At the end of March 2011,
three wells were drilled and resulted in benchmark performance confirming the value of this service. After detailed post
run evaluation of DDDR and SDD, the root causes of performance limitation were determined and recommendations
were made to overcome them. Once applied, these recommendations produced 50 % reduction in lateral accelerations,
100 % reduction in torsional vibrations, and 43 % increase in rate of penetration from well 1 to well 2. The real-time
support service deployed during and after the DDDR and SDD study enhanced the overall drilling optimization process
and was the key to sustaining the improved performance delivered by the initial dynamics study and recommendations.
This case study illustrates the advantages of an enriched understanding of underlying factors affecting drilling efficiency,
allowing root causes rather than symptoms of poor drilling performance to be treated.

1. Introduction

Data and information are powerful tools. If DDDR data and SDD are used wisely, they can be converted into
wisdom. Real-time information has been available to the drilling industry for many years, but it has mainly been aimed
at simply providing ever-growing large amount of data. More recently, with the advent of new technologies, different
approaches have been made to optimize drilling performance and efficiency. These projects typically require the use of
expensive downhole tools and surface equipment. In most cases a large amount of data is aggregated and transmitted in
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real-time to operators for their own analysis and interpretation. This task is usually performed after a well is drilled,
hence diminishing the potential value and impact it can have in overall profitability.

A real-time technology center (RTTC) supports a unique service which allows the powerful rig site data and
information to be converted into wisdom. Combining the wealth of experience and data associated with the RTTC with
the wealth of experience and data associated with DDDRs and drilling data analysts can produce industry leading step
changes in drilling efficiency and performance.

Drilling with an eccentric bit can generate vibration in the Bit and/or BHA due to reduced stabilization and
increased wellbore clearances inherent in the geometry of eccentric drill bits, when compared to a conventional
concentric drill bit. Optimization of this eccentric drilling system presents unique challenges due to the increased
vibration potential created by the placement of the drill bit’s cutting elements. In addition, the vibrations induced by the
drill bits can have significant negative consequences for the BHA’s dynamic performance.

The combination of real-time high quality SDD with DDDR vibration sensors has been provided that in many
applications of a proven continuous improvement process since late 2007 in the USA land market, with a high level of
success. However, the blending of SDD and DDDR analysis with an RTTC had never been attempted. The case study
described in this manuscript illustrates the first deployment of an RTTC and SDD / DDDR analysis service outside of
the USA land market. The case study will illustrate how the combination of an RTTC and SDD / DDDR analysis
service produced continuous improvements in the dynamic behavior of BHA’s containing eccentric drill bits.

2. Statement of Theory and Definitions

In recent years, vibrations have been identified as one of the main contributors to performance inefficiency.
Because of this, there has been an increased focus on vibration detection, analysis, and mitigation techniques. The new
capabilities of capturing high frequency data in multiple points of the system opens up a new array of opportunities for
performance optimization. New technologies and services, such as DDDR, new analysis techniques, RTTC, and years
of drilling experience allow the industry to push the envelope and achieve drastic performance improvements. These
extraordinary improvements were once thought to be impossible.

In this case study, the aim of the combined effort of DDDR analysis and RTTC was to reduce the drilling
dysfunctions induced by the drilling system using an eccentric drill bit. The goal of this process was to minimize the
energy losses in the system and assist in the identification of the optimum surface drilling parameters “a.k.a. Sweet
Spot” for increasing the energy available at the bit for efficient removal of the formation. The overall outcome of this
optimization process is observed as a significant reduction in Mechanical Specific Energy (MSE).

MSE is a well proven metric for measuring the efficiency of a given drilling system. MSE is essentially a ratio
of the amount of energy input to the system at the surface and the resulting rate of penetration for a given formation.
This metric was developed by Teale in 1965, and was validated by Pessier in 1992. The Equation for MSE is as


+ =
tet 120
35 . 0 (1)


= Weight on Bit (lbs) at Surface
= Bottom Hole Axial Cross-Sectional Area
ɷ = Revolutions Per Minute at Surface
τ = Torque (ft-lbs) at Surface
ROP = Axial Velocity at Surface (ft/hr)

Under ideal conditions, the MSE will match the confined compressive strength of the formation being drilled.
However, the coefficient of 0.35 applied to the parenthetical expression relates to the efficiency of the drill bit. It is
assumed that in typical field scenarios, the drill bit will operate between 30% - 40% efficiency. Thus, the compromise
of 35% drill bit efficiency is assumed in this equation. This 35% drill bit efficiency factor is used globally by many
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operators to produce uniform MSE values. Due to this drill bit efficiency factor, the MSE values cannot be used as an
absolute measurement of the system’s efficiency. However, MSE can still be used as a trending tool to quantitatively
calculate improvements in drilling efficiency.
Evaluation and interpretation of the vibration data from multiple (near Bit & BHA) sensor positions and high
quality surface drilling data enhances the understanding of principle factors affecting MSE. This improved “holistic”
understanding led to recommendations on improved drilling parameters, BHA modifications, and superior drilling
practices. In subsequent wells, the continued monitoring of real-time surface data from the RTTC was used to evaluate
the effectiveness and impact of the recommendations and changes applied to the drilling system and operation.

This paper describes a drilling optimization service deployed in Caño Limon field, Los Llanos basin of Colombia.
The optimization service was supported remotely via the Advanced Drilling Solutions (ADS) team and RTTC located in
Houston, Texas. This service was initially aimed at determining the root causes of mechanical damage observed on drill
bits and downhole tools. It was also aimed at identifying the factors affecting excessive MSE at the end of the
production hole section. However, successful interpretation of data and implementation of recommendations would
ultimately lead to substantial reductions in MSE and time drilling by virtue of improved dull grading and drilling

3. Description and Application of Equipment / Processes

The RTTC can operate using surface data only but when used with DDDR tools, it brings together two optimization
groups to provide a unique set of technology and expertise in the drilling optimization process to deliver top
performance without compromising safety.

By placing multiple DDDR sensors in the drill-string combined with the RTTC surface data, a more comprehensive
analysis of the drilling performance can be made whereby issues can be identified and improved practices can be
recommended for subsequent wells. The main goal of this analysis is to learn as much as possible about the application
and performance limiters through the gathering and analysis of the combined high quality surface and down-hole data.
Ultimately, improved future drilling performance is achieved by reducing energy losses associated with harmful
vibrations and increasing ROP by refocusing the energy available to the drill bit.

The identification of vibration modes and trends in relation to surface drilling parameters, together with the
statistical analysis of the recorded drilling dynamics as well as the review of drilling practices provides a strong set of
conclusions and recommendations for follow up wells. Some of these down-hole drilling dysfunctions may also be
identified at the RTTC in real-time. The down-hole dynamic activity recorded with the DDDR sensors is used to better
understand the trends observed in the analysis of the real-time information at the RTTC. This will allow the RTTC
Optimization team to make better and more accurate informed recommendations using only surface drilling data and RT
MSE to sustain the improved drilling performance delivered by the initial combined analysis of both, surface and down-
hole data.

3.1 Downhole Drilling Dynamics Recording Tools

The Advanced Drilling Solutions package from NOV Downhole combines a unique mix of technologies to record,
analyze, and mitigate the many sources of vibration and shock. At the heart of this suite lies a small downhole dynamics
recorder that monitors the behavior of the drillstring, drive system, and downhole tools by taking high frequency
measurements during the drilling process for post well analysis.

At just 2-1/2 inches in diameter, the device’s compact design allows multiple placements along the drillstring. This
permits a very detailed analysis of the data collected in different locations along the string, and points out where
vibration and shock events originate as well as how they propagate throughout the string.

The tool is activated by the operator on surface with two small lithium batteries that will last about 200 hrs. As the
tool starts to acquire data vs. time upon activation, all events (on-bottom and off-bottom) are recorded at the same rate.
The small logging tool is then threaded into a sub, located as required in the BHA, or positioned in a specially modified
housing within a drillstring component.

The tool operates in memory mode, and the data is downloaded after the tool is retrieved to surface. Raw data is
sampled at 400Hz. Some of this raw data is stored directly, while some computed values are stored every few seconds.
Upon tool retrieval, the data can be accessed immediately within a few minutes and logs of maximum lateral
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accelerations/shocks, root mean square lateral accelerations (RMS, which is an indication of energy loss at the point of
placement of the sensor), and centripetal acceleration (Torsional vibration) can then be produced and accurate downhole
RPM calculated.

Figure 1: A DDDR Compact Sensor

While real-time downhole dynamics data is irreplaceable, bandwidth restrictions with telemetry systems limits the
amount of information that can be transmitted up-hole. The advantage of a high frequency memory tool is evident when
looking at the vast amounts of downhole data recorded in different points throughout the drill string. This high
frequency data is very responsive to changes in parameters and formations, which allows for a very detailed analysis of
what is actually happening downhole as conditions change. By having multiple placements in the drillstring, vibration
dampening and dynamics can be recorded and compared to specific tool operation. This allows for interpretation of
BHA variables such as the effect of downhole motors, stabilizer placement, and dampening effects, as well as stability of
reamers and multiple other BHA related tools. The information can then be used to build a better BHA, and optimally
define the best operating parameters for its use in the particular application.

3.2 Real-Time Technology Center

The RTTC mentioned in this project had its roots back in 2004, when real-time surface MSE was developed by
National Oilwell Varco (MD Totco) and adapted to an electronic drilling recording instrumentation system. The main
goal was to facilitate the evaluation of an operator’s project where MSE was used as a tool by rig-site drilling personnel
to increase the rate of penetration and hence reduce drilling time. The system set up supported all rig environments and
configurations to ensure the MSE in real-time could be made available anywhere at the drilling rig and also at remote
locations for increased support and visibility. Field results from the first tests were outstanding, average ROP was
increased by 133% and new benchmarks were set in the majority of the test wells. This confirmed the potential benefits
and proved that MSE in real-time could be used by well-site personnel to reduce drilling time by increasing ROP.

Later by the end of 2007, and based on continuous successful deployment of the concept to other operators, a
decision was made by National Oilwell Varco to establish a Remote Technology Center in Houston, Texas to provide
the Real-Time Optimization as a commercial service to the US land drilling market. The primary objective of the
service is to improve overall drilling performance by remotely monitoring and ensuring a good quality of surface drilling
data while providing drilling expert recommendations from a 24/7 manned operation center. To provide the service, a
specially configured laptop is installed at the rig-site. The laptop interfaces with the rig-site instrumentation and
calculates the surface MSE. Using existing real-time communication capability, the data is transmitted from the wellsite
to the Real-Time Technology Center. See figure 1.

The RTTC is the “heart” of the remote optimization service based on real-time surface MSE and is where data
quality, management, analysis, and information sharing is handled. It is located in a secure location and provides support
around the clock. This approach ensures a continuous monitoring of data streamed in from the rig, high data quality,
analysis of data to identify dysfunctions, inefficiencies, and performance limiters. Based on this analysis, optimization
recommendations are made directly to the rig in a consistent way, facilitating the real-time decision making processes
making it a very effective knowledge transfer vehicle. To provide this high level service, the RTTC is staffed with well
qualified technicians as well as engineers with drilling operation and engineering background. Figure 3 shows Drilling
Optimization engineers analyzing real-time drilling information at the RTTC.

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Figure 2: Real Time Optimization Set-up Figure 3: Engineers Working at the RTTC

1. Presentation of Data and Results

The operator had been drilling a number of development wells in the Cano Limon field located in the northeastern
part of Colombia within the Los Llanos Basin. The 8 ½ x 9 inches section is drilled through a challenging sequence of
formations including reactive shale, abrasive sandstone, and hard limestone. High vibration levels and mechanical
damage to bi-center bits had been observed in some wells while drilling this challenging interval.

To overcome the drilling dysfunctions and improve the bit’s dull condition, the RTTC combined with the DDDR /
SDD analysis team and the operator’s drilling engineering team established an optimization process. The optimization
process consisted of selecting three wells to deploy DDDR sensors and establish root causes of the source of vibration(s)
generating at the bit and the BHA. During this optimization process, SDD / DDDR analysis provided recommendations
for improving drilling efficiency on the subsequent wells. After the SDD / DDDR analyses concluded, these
recommendations were combined with real time monitoring of MSE and other drilling parameters at the RTTC,
producing a continuous improvement process.

The agreement with the operator was made to run the DDDR sensors in three wells starting in December 2010
(Wells 1, 2, and 4). The last DDDR run (Well 4) was completed in March 2011. Several other wells were drilled
thereafter while preparation was being made for the deployment of the remote optimization services from the RTTC in
Houston (Wells 5 and 6). Once the RTTC was operational (August 2011), the optimization project continued and six
more wells were completed, including three drilled with bi-center bits (Wells 7, 8, and 9). The pilot project was
completed in October 2011. The RTTC continued the drilling dynamics recommendations by monitoring the surface
MSE for the three final wells. The real time monitoring of MSE and other surface parameters was paramount as the bit
type was changed between the SDD / DDDR studies and initial deployment of the RTTC.

4.1 Well # 1
For the benchmark well the pilot bit showed some impact damage on the cutters and a ring-out (figure 4), which
indicated the possibility of whirl at the bit. The second observation on the bit is at the Reamer, where there is clear
indication of torsional vibration indicated by heat checking (figure 5).

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Figure 4: Bi-center Pilot Damage, Dull Grade: 2-3-WT-S-X-I-CT/RO-TD

Figure 5: Bi-center Reamer Damage, Dull Grade: 2-3-WT-S-X-I-CT/RO-TD

After SDD / DDDR data analysis was completed, high levels of vibration were identified in the FM3 formation.
In this formation higher peak shocks were observed from the near bit sensor with an average of 85g and RMS lateral
shock averaging 15g. Based on this information, drilling parameters were augmented on well 2

Figure 6: Near Bit DDDR Measurements Figure 7: Drill String DDDR Measurements

4.2 Well # 2
The second well was drilled with an identical profile as per the first one “J” shape with max inclination of 8º
resulted the bit in better conditions as per the figure 8 and figure 9. Negligible changes to the BHA on the second well
were made to allow evaluation of recommendations from well #1.
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On well # 2 the DDDR showed an average of 2.77g RMS lateral vibration at the bit. Compared to the level of
vibration in the same formation (FM3), the reduction of RMS was 82 % from the benchmark well. Note that the bit only
showed some damage in the pilot while the reamer produced a much better dull condition, which contributes to ROP
improvements illustrated in figure 9.

Figure 8: Bi-center Pilot Damage, Dull Grade: 2-0-BT-T/S-X-I-CT-TD

Figure 9: Bi-center Reamer Damage, Dull Grade: 2-0-BT-T/S-X-I-CT-TD

Based on the SDD and DDDR analysis, the following parameters were recommended for the various
formations in well 3:

Figure 10: Parameter Recommendations by Formation

4.3 Well # 3
The last well was drilled with the DDDR sensor and final drilling parameter recommendations to provide a base line
MSE value from both wells. This allowed the completion of the final cycle of the learning curve. The well profile “J”
type with 28° of inclination drilled 700 feet deeper and penetrated harder cretaceous formations than all other wells in
the project. This represented an additional challenge to improve ROP. The dynamics on the bit DDDR recorded lower
levels of vibration, maintaining a green cutting structure intact with minimum amount damage from impact. The Near
Bit DDDR RMS vibration illustrated 1.59 g for the entire run (figure 11, 12), which further improved the reduction of
lateral vibration by 42 % less compared to well 2.
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Figure 11: Bi-center Reamer Damage, Dull Grade: 1-0-CT-S-X-I-NO-TD

Figure 12: Bi-center Reamer Damage, Dull Grade: 1-0-CT-S-X-I-NO-TD

The following charts illustrate the performance improvements achieved in well 3 based on the continuous
optimization process implemented in well 1.

Figure 13: Average ROP Figure 14: Average Days / 1000ft

Figure 15: Average Drilling Time Figure 16: RMS Lateral Vibration
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4.4 Wells 7, 8, and 9
Wells 7, 8, and 9 were all drilled after the DDDR / SDD study was completed. The gap between DDDR / SDD
analysis and RTTC support was due to the initialization of the RTTC. Once online, the RTTC began monitoring well 7
immediately. The project concluded with the RTTC monitoring a total of 3 wells. The following tables (1 and 2)
summarize the performance improvements accomplished throughout the continuous optimization process.

Table 1: Wells Drilled in the Drilling Optimization Project

Well Type Bit Size Inclination Bit Vendor Total Depth (ft) Notes
1 J 8 ½” x 9” 7.8° A 7961 First DDDR Run
2 J 8 ½” x 9” 7.9° A 7935 DDDR Run
3 J 6 ¾” x 8 ¾” 13.6° B 8262 No DDDR Run
4 J 8 ½” x 9” 27.9° A 8689 Last DDDR Run
5 J 6 ¾” x 8 ¾” 11.7° B 8020 No DDDR Run
6 S 6 ¾” x 8 ¾” 13.0° B 7897 No DDDR Run
7 J 6 ¾” x 8 ¾” 11.9° B 7940 RTTC / No DDDR Run
8 S 6 ¾” x 8 ¾” 9.47° B 7813 RTTC / No DDDR Run
9 J 6 ¾” x 8 ¾” 17.3° B 8105 RTTC / No DDDR Run

Table 2: Drilling Performance

Well Type ROP (ft/hr) Drilling Days Footage Drilled (ft) Days/1000ft Notes
1 J 75 4.0 7208 0.555 First DDDR Run
2 J 105 2.9 7202 0.403 DDDR Run
3 J 107 2.9 7530 0.385 No DDDR Run
4 J 92 3.3* 7969 0.452 Last DDDR Run
5 J 108 2.8 7287 0.384 No DDDR Run
6 S 98 3.0 7155 0.419 No DDDR Run
7 J 94 3.2 7217 0.443 RTTC / No DDDR Run
8 S 83 3.6 7078 0.509 RTTC / No DDDR Run
9 J 86 3.6 7397 0.487 RTTC / No DDDR Run

*Drilling time normalized to the average footage drilled in other wells

5. Conclusions

A total of nine wells were drilled with bi-center drill bits. Three of these wells (1, 2, and 4) were selected for a
continuous optimization process including SDD and DDM analysis while incorporating DDDR sensors in multiple
locations in the BHA. Each SDD / DDM analysis produced recommendations that were applied to the subsequent wells.
Following the SDD / DDM analysis, allowed by the incorporation of DDDR sensors in the BHA, three subsequent wells
were drilled with support from the RTTC and recommendations from the DDDR analysis. The RTTC continued the
continuous optimization process by recommending real-time drilling practice optimization based on real time MSE
analysis on wells 7, 8, and 9. This DDDR analyses resulted in 26% savings in average drilling time (4.0 to 2.98 days)
and 36% increase in average ROP (75 to 102 ft/hr) in the following five wells after the first DDDR analysis and
recommendations. Additionally, in the same group of wells, the project yielded a decrease of 26 % in days/ 1000 ft,
from 0.555 to an average of 0.4086. After implementation of the RTTC real time recommendations based on real-time
MSE and lessons learned from the DDDR analyses, the project still showed benefits and value in the three wells with
remote drilling optimization support from the RTTC. Improvements of 17%, 13% and 14% were still realized in the
ROP, drilling days and days/1000 ft respectively as compared to well number 1 of the project. Each of these wells
supported by the RTTC produced consistent performance. At the end of the project, several performance limiters
related to the drilling rig and directional drilling were also identified.

The deployment of measurement tools and systems to analyze the dynamics of both the Downhole drilling environments
and the surface drilling data led to fine-tuned application drill parameters and better BHA design. This allows for
optimum energy used to drill a hole, helps improve the bit life, and ultimately leads to boosted drilling performance.
From the moment the DDDR was used, the input was used to modify the BHA. This reduced the vibration and shock on
the bit significantly, which allowed the bit to be used on two consecutive wells instead of just one. At the end of the
project a roadmap of drilling parameters was generated to serve as a guide at the well site. The guide will keep the field
team focused on actively managing the drilling parameter to sustain performance.

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6. Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank Occidental and NOV management, including those who committed to the
project and the contributions made by their representatives and all of our colleagues at every level in the project.
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