4 ways top drives make rigs safer

Trinidad Drilling

This is the final post in Trinidad’s three-part series on top drives. 

Over the last two weeks, we’ve been talking about how top drive technology works and the way it’s changed drilling by making rigs more efficient and allowing operators to reach more sophisticated drilling targets.

This week, we want to talk about one of the most important benefits of top drives: improved safety. Here are four ways top drives are making rig work safer.

1. Increased safety on the rig floor

A top drive moves up and down the rig’s mast, providing torque and downward force as it rotates the drill bit in a well.

“Since top drives eliminate the need for the kelly drive mechanism, and the rotary table is not utilized to rotate the drill string (like on conventional rotary rigs), the only thing that is rotating at the drill floor is smooth surfaced drill pipe,” explained Brent Kryzanowski, the Top Drive Superintendent for Trinidad’s Canadian fleet.

On rigs with a top drive, many of the potentially dangerous tasks that are performed on the rig floor are minimized.

2. Less connections = less risk

Kryzanowski explained that, with a top drive, crews are less exposed to potential injuries that can occur while making connections while drilling. On rigs with a top drive, connections are 50 to 66 per cent fewer. Why? Because you can add up to three joints of drill pipe at one time with a top drive. On a conventional rotary rig, joints have to be added one at a time.

3. Increased safety for the Derrickhand

Top drives have a link tilt system comprised of two hydraulic rams attached to the elevator links. This system helps make the job of the Derrickhand safer while racking pipe in the mast.

“The link tilt system brings the stand of pipe closer to the Derrickhand, which alleviates the necessity to lean out into the mast to retrieve the drill pipe from the elevators,” explained Kryzanowski. “This also provides the Derrickhand a mechanical advantage when handling the stand because it decreases the angle of the stand when it is handed off to the Derrickhand.”

The link tilt system also makes racking the bottom of the stand down on the rig floor easier for Floorhands.

4. Faster well control

Top drive systems also increase safety by allowing crews to initiate well control procedures faster, if needed.

“In the event of kick while tripping pipe in or out of the well bore, the slips can be set and the top drive connected immediately, thus being able to start the well control procedures almost immediately,” said Kryzanowski.

Trinidad Drilling’s commitment to safety 

Right now, over 85 per cent of Trinidad’s fleet have top drives. By utilizing top drives and other advanced technologies on our rigs, we’re able to improve performance and efficiency while increasing safety. Learn more about Trinidad’s commitment to keeping every person on our team safe.

Want to read more about top drive technology? Take a look at the other two posts in our top drive blog series:

Trinidad top drive

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