5 ways top drives have revolutionized drilling

Trinidad Drilling rigThis is the second post in Trinidad’s three-part series on top drives. 

A game changer. It’s someone or something that comes along and alters the status quo. Like Wayne Gretzky for hockey, Peyton Manning for football, Tiger Woods for golf and the top drive for drilling.

Brent Kryzanowski, General Manager, Canadian Operations and Top Drive expert for Trinidad’s Canadian fleet, started as a Motorhand with Trinidad in 1996. He’s seen, first hand, how the industry has been “revolutionized” by top drive technology. (Pun intended.)

“Drilling with a top drive allows operators to reach areas and milestones in measured depths of horizontal wells that would not be accessible with conventional rotary drilling,” explained Kryzanowski.

Here are five ways top drives improve efficiency and allow drilling contractors to “go boldly where they’ve never gone before.”

1. Drilling deeper

Top drives, which have one or more motors and provide rotational torque and force to the drill bit, give us the power to drill deeper, longer wells. Here’s one of our newest examples: The top drive of Trinidad’s Rig 58 has 750 tons of static capacity and can help drill horizontal wells 7,000 to 8,000 meters in true measured depth.

2. More precision

Kryzanowski explained that top drives allow for easier steering of the drill string when using directional tools to drill high angle or horizontal wells. How?

“The top drive can turn the drill string in small measured increments to maintain or change the directional tool face,” he said.


3. Increased efficiency 

“Compared to the top drive’s predecessor, the swivel and kelly bar, the top drive’s advancements are in efficiency,” stated Kryzanowski.

With a top drive, you can add up to three joints of drill pipe at one time when making a connection (i.e. adding pipe to the drill sting to reach deeper into the formation). On a conventional rotary rig, you can only add one joint at a time.

“With a top drive, you can leave the bit near the bottom (of the well) and install multiple drill pipe at one time – up to 27 meters in one connection, thus reducing the amount of time for connections to 1/3 of that of a well that is conventionally rotary drilled,” said Kryzanowski.

4. Decrease in stuck drill strings = cost savings

Kryzanowski explained that when a drill string gets stuck in a well (i.e. it cannot be worked out of the hole), it can be very expensive, as you may have to abandon that portion of the well and re-drill – not to mention the cost of losing directional tools and a portion of the drill string in the well.

With a top drive, the amount of time a drill string is not circulating, rotating or moving is greatly reduced, which means there’s less risk of stuck drill string.

5. Safer rigs

Check our blog next week for the final installment of our top drive blog series, which will be all about how top drives have improved safety.

Top drives and Trinidad Drilling 

Trinidad is constantly evaluating its top drive technology to find new ways to improve efficiency and performance. Learn more about how we’re integrating new innovations into our rigs.

Tell us how you think top drives have changed the industry. Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

2 Responses

  1. top drive not only provide downward force to the drill string via rotary torque, it also balance the drilling string weight by provide pull tension. without the upward pull tension via hook/travelling block, the whole drilling string weight would be on the bit, and the bit would collapse
    have you got top drive manual, workflow? may i be in contact with Brent Kryzanowski for future discussion, i dont know much about this, i wish i could be in contact with experienced people so that i can enquire and discuss from time to time ;-p

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