Inside Trinidad’s 2017 rig upgrade program: Part one

This is the first post in our two-part series on Trinidad’s 2017 rig upgrade program.

Anyone that’s been in our industry for a period of time understands we don’t stand still for long. Oilfield technology is ever-evolving in response to changing prices, oil and gas plays, and demand. That’s why our team selected just over 30 rigs in Trinidad’s fleet to undergo upgrades in 2017.

When we finish up this year’s upgrade program, half of Trinidad’s US rigs will classify as ultra high-spec, modified to meet customer demand in west Texas.

“Our drilling environment is changing with deeper, more challenging lateral wells, and low commodity prices,” explained David Gibson, Trinidad’s Senior VP of US Operations. “So we’re upgrading US rigs, backed by contracts, to tackle longer and deeper wells, and drill more efficiently.”

Gibson walked us through some of the upgrades underway to take on west Texas’ long lateral wells. Here’s what you need to know:

Increasing pumping capacity

When drilling a hole, drilling fluid or “mud” is circulated through the well bore. Instrumental to the drilling process, mud brings cuttings to the surface, cools and lubricates the drill bit, stabilizes the hole, and controls downhole pressure.

To ensure we don’t exceed the pressure ratings of current mud pumps at 20,000 to 25,000 feet, our team is adding 7,500 PSI capabilities to the rig’s existing pumps and adding a third mud pump, where required. Because we already have the prefabricated high pressure piping design for our CanDrill rigs in the US, we simply order the parts and complete this upgrade during a rig move. Adding the third pump would take some additional time.

Trinidad Drilling Rig 57 mud pumps
Mud pumps – Trinidad Rig 57

Adding generators

Let’s be honest – whether it be our trucks, ATVs or pressure washers, a little extra power is rarely a necessity, but it sure is a lot of fun. In the case of longer lateral wells in west Texas; however, we need the power. To ensure our rigs have enough ponies under the hood to drill close to five miles into the earth’s core, we’re adding a third pump, and sometimes a fourth generator.

Trinidad Drilling Rig 58 generators
Generators – Trinidad Rig 58

Expanding racking capacity

Drilling longer wells also means racking more drill pipe in the rig’s derrick, so we’re increasing racking capacities from 18,000 to 25,000 feet. This upgrade is one of the most time consuming as the whole rig needs to be offline while the derrick and substructure are upgraded to meet API specifications for the added capacity.

Trinidad Drilling

Check back in a couple of weeks as Gibson further explains our 2017 upgrade program. In part two, he’ll describe efficiency upgrades in response to low commodity prices, and the need to drill wells more quickly and economically (deeper – cheaper).

Hoping to see these upgrades in action? Check out Trinidad Rig 100, the first ever rig in our US fleet, with its new 1,000,000 lb. hook load, walking system, 25,000 foot racking system with 5 inch drill pipe, and 7,500 PSI capabilities.


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