The last few months have been busy ones for Varel International. The Texas-based drill bit manufacturer celebrated the opening of its Houston technology center and also launched two drill bit lines, the Raider and the Voyager series.
Varel designated the Houstonfacility as a test lab to further the development of its polycrystalline diamond compact (PDC) and roller cone drill bits. It will use its patented Acoustic Emissions Toughness Testing (AETT) technology to assess the durability of hard materials, such as rock samples and downhole tool inserts. The Houston facility also comes equipped with a vertical turret lathe, scanning electron microscope, and diamond-sample preparation equipment.
Dr Alfa Dourfaye, Varel’s technology development manager, says that the new facility makes the company more attractive for technology joint ventures.
In January, Varel introduced the Raider series PDC drill bit, which underwent acoustic emissions testing with AETT technology. The bit is designed for drilling to total depth through interbedded soft and hard formations of transition zones.
Bits in the Raider series are customizable with cutters matched to the application, which Varel says will minimize wear and improve ROP and footage drilled. The design can include one or two extra rows of cutters per blade to increase diamond density. Raider bits are designed with a tougher cone and stronger nose and shoulder, providing greater stability for transitional drilling.
Last October, Varel also released the Voyager line of PDC bits for directional drilling. The company tested more than 70 gauge confi gurations and ultimately selected three for the Voyager series.
Varel says the bit is compatible with all available directional drive systems when coupled with custom cutting structures. Varel’s western hemisphere product manager, Cary Maurstad, says fi eld testing proved that the Voyager series holds up over the course of the well path, responding smoothly to directional inputs and rock transitions.
Varel’s acoustic emissions device uses multiple pressurized chambers, a rock sample, and one or more acoustic sensors attached to the rock sample. The device, which is hooked up to a recorder, tests the rock sample in multiple chambers and at different pressures. The sensors then detect events occurring within the sample. “This facility allows us to exploit the benefi ts of the AETT technology, which detects and differentiates variances in diamond quality and performance in a unique and benefi cial way,” says Federico Bellin, who is listed as the inventor of the technology on Varel’s patent. “Multiple types and grades of PDC cutters can be cross compared, yielding a highly predictive valuation of impact toughness.”