Torquin’-up top drives at Trinidad

High torque top drives at Trinidad Drilling

We’re always looking for innovative approaches to tackle our customers’ toughest drilling programs. Most recently, our Canadian sales and marketing group teamed up with Trinidad’s top drive expert, Brent Kryzanowski, General Manager, Canadian Operations, to come up with a top drive plan a little out of the ordinary.

“Our customer’s drilling program needed a top drive that could handle continuous 30,000 ft-lbs and 160 RPM to power through a tough formation,” explained Kryzanowski. “So we decided to upgrade a top drive with National Oilwell Varco that has worked really well for us.”

Let’s sort out the lingo

If you’re new to motors or the industry, Kryzanowski likely lost you at “30,000 ft-lbs”. Not to worry – we’ll break it down.

Horsepower* = the potential work a horse can do as a measurement of power over a period of time. The exact definition of one horsepower is 33,000 ft-lbs (foot pounds) per minute. In other words, if you were to lift 33,000 pounds one foot in one minute, you would be working at the rate of one horsepower.

Torque** = the tendency of a force to move around a point. The unit of measure for torque is ft-lbs, meaning the amount of turning force applied to move one pound a distance of one foot. The more torque an engine produces, the greater the ability to perform work.

RPM** = revolutions per minute, or the number of rotations around a fixed axis in one minute.

The customer requested a top drive capable of 30,000 ft-lbs and 160 RPM because they’re changing the bottom hole assembly from a mud motor system (or a drilling motor) to a rotary steerable system (RSS) for a couple of reasons. First, to reduce non-productive time from mud motor maintenance, and second, to reduce drill string friction when building hole angle.

“To work effectively, a rotary steerable system requires higher RPM, and when you increase the RPM, but need the torque to be similar, you need to increase the horsepower to achieve both parameters,” noted Kryzanowski.

Right, so that may have been a bit technical, but trust us, the guy knows top drives like Trinidad’s crews know safety and performance.

Mo’ power: torquin’-up top drives

To get the best return on our dollar, the team decided to take an 800 horsepower TDS – 11 top drive in our fleet and upgrade it to a 1,200 horsepower unit. The upgrade makes it the first top drive of its kind at Trinidad.

“The new plan meant revamping the top drive’s gear box and cooling system. It also meant going from 400 horsepower twin AC electric motors to 600 horsepower twin AC electric motors,” said Kryzanowski.

With its upgrade complete, the new 1,200 horsepower top drive is at work on Trinidad Rig 56, a 2,000 HP pad triple in our Canadian fleet.

Trinidad’s biggest and baddest top drives

If big top drives are what you’re into, this new one is comparable to, but not quite as powerful as Rig 58’s TDS – 8SA. For the biggest and baddest at Trinidad, look no further than our 700 series.

Brush-up on your top drive knowledge with Kryzanowski’s three-part series:


* Denotes definition from

** Denotes definitions from

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s