Captain Kirk has nothing on this Driller

Trinidad Drilling's Rig 58 in Nisku, Alberta.Shawn McVey’s favourite part of the job is working with technology. So, the fact that he’s a Driller on one of our newest, most advanced rigs is a good fit. Trinidad Rig 58 boasts everything from fully integrated control systems, to its own water purification building, to an enclosed drill floor, to a moving system that allows its backyard to be moved with its centerpiece.

And for McVey, drilling controls are located on a cyber chair that looks like it would be at home on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise.

“Trinidad has given me the training and opportunities to work with the kind of advanced technology that most rig hands don’t get to work with their entire career,” said McVey, who started with Trinidad three years ago on Rig 57, a sophisticated machine in its own right.

We published other blog posts about Rig 58 while it was being built, but it’s been a few months since the nearly 60-metre-tall rig hit the field to drill natural gas in the Liard Basin in northern B.C., so now we want to give you a look at what it’s like to be at the helm of one of the largest rigs in North America. 

Drilling on Trinidad Rig 58

As we mentioned, Rig 58 has many advanced features, here’s the Driller’s perspective on a few of them:

The cyber chair

The cyber chair on Trinidad Drilling's Rig 58.
A view of the cyber chair from the back.

The Star Trek reference for the cyber chair actually came from one of 58’s Rig Managers, who said it looked like Captain Kirk’s because drilling controls are on the chair itself.

“The cyber chair is comfortable and makes a long day tripping a breeze,” said McVey, a native of B.C. who has worked in the industry for a decade.

The iron derrickhand 

McVey said one of the biggest advancements Rig 58 has over his previous rig is its iron derrickhand, which automates pipe handling and allows the human Derrickhand to operate the machine indoors with the Driller while tripping (rather than manually guiding pipe from the monkeyboard up in the rig’s mast).

“The Derrickhand has an office chair right beside the cyber chair with a screen and a control panel,” explained McVey, who pointed out that the automation makes tripping and drilling out of the mast “mint.”

Rig fact: Everything on Rig 58 is bigger, even the drill pipe. The size used is 6-5/8 inch, “which most people in the oil patch have never even seen or heard of,” McVey pointed out.

Trinidad Rig 58 in northern B.C.
Trinidad Rig 58 in action (northern B.C.).

The massive top drive

Of all the features on Rig 58, McVey’s favourite is “the big yellow school bus,” a.k.a. the TDS-8 Varco, 750 ton top drive.

“It’s probably one of the biggest top drives on land in the country,” he explained.

Rig fact: Rig 58 has a 1.25 million pound hookload and 3,000 horsepower AC. It can reach depths of 8,000 metres. So, this rig really can go boldly “where no man has gone before.”

Building advanced rigs: It’s about our customers and our crews

By integrating the most advanced technology into our rigs, we’re able to efficiently drill deeper, longer wells for our customers while making equipment safer for our crews (plus, high-tech equipment is just funner to work with).

Find out more about what sets our rigs apart.

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