Spotlight on technology: Pad drilling 101 with Wayne Kuzio

Trinidad Drilling Rigs T37 and T38 Fox Creek Alberta April 2016

This is the first post in Trinidad’s two-part pad drilling series.

Pad drilling is the real meal deal – a real “win-win”. According to Wayne Kuzio (Sr. Field Superintendent, industry veteran and pad drilling advocate), it has a firm place in the future of drilling.

“The benefits of pad drilling are even more important during low commodity pricing. It just makes sense from an efficiency, cost, time and environmental standpoint,” said Kuzio.

“In times like these, reducing costs and time per well is something I think we can all get onboard with.”

Kuzio is responsible for a number of rigs in our Canadian fleet, including Rigs 37 and 38, currently drilling on a pad near Fox Creek, Alberta (pictured below).

In this post, he and a few of his Rig Managers give us a pad drilling 101 crash course to explain how it all works.

What is pad drilling?

Simply put, pad drilling is when multiple wells are drilled on one land location (a.k.a. the “lease”).

The “pad” is just the cleared land where the rig operates. It can be covered with swamp matting, rig matting or gravel to provide a steady base for the rig walk or skid to the next well.

Pad size varies on a number of factors, most commonly: the number of wells the operator intends to drill; the size of the rig’s footprint; the type of drilling being done; and the facilities needed for completions side.

What drilling innovations have made pad drilling possible?

Horizontal drilling

Traditional vertical drilling involves a new location for each well. Meaning more lease roads, more truck traffic, more well sites, more time and higher costs. With each new well, the rig needs to be rigged down, hauled to the next location and rigged up again, resulting in lost drilling time.

Horizontal drilling, on the other hand, allows contractors to drill a number of wells from a single location with minimal impact on the surface. The scope of these horizontal wells from one pad can be so far reaching that multiple formations can be targeted from the same location.

Take a look at this infographic from Anadarko to get a better idea of the differences between traditional vertical drilling and horizontal pad drilling.

Vertical Drilling vs Horizontal Drilling via Anadarko website

Skidding and walking systems

Pad rigs are often designed with either a walking or skidding system to enable the rig to move from well to well without rigging down and rigging up again.

Skidding, a technique that has been used for many years, is when trucks or bulldozers pull the rig over to the next well. However, walking system advances have allowed rigs to become more efficient and versatile to pad configurations, enabling them to move on their own without the help of trucks or dozers.

Walking rigs have become more common as pad drilling becomes more popular. A walking system consists of hydraulic rams that lift the substructure of the drilling rig and push or pull it along a set of rollers compressed against steel pontoons, a guide rail or track system. Walking systems like the ones on Rig 58 and Rig 57 are becoming so advanced that the backyard buildings pick up and move along at the same time as the rig.

Check out this demo of one of our moving systems in action!

Rigs that can move along the pad without being dismantled, moved and reassembled are more efficient, moving to the next well in a couple of hours rather than a couple of days.

Where is pad drilling most popular?

Pad drilling is most popular in unconventional shale plays – first heavily used in the Barnett in the US in 2006. But its popularity has spread throughout most unconventional plays in North America over the last ten years.

The benefits of pad drilling

Check back in two weeks as Kuzio walks us through the benefits of pad drilling for the environment, clients, drilling contractors and crews.

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