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Land Rig Performance Comparison
23 July 2014
I am involved in planning an onshore drilling campaign in the UK and have been challenged by American partners on the length of time budgeted for drilling the wells. They say that wells of a similar type can be drilled much quicker in the USA. The UK wells have TDs in the region of 200 - 2500m and inclination from 25 - 50 deg. Would appreciate any comments on reasons why such performance could be significantly different between the UK and USA.
7 answer(s)
Drilling Specialist/Well Engineer/Training Consultant
Kingdom Drilling
Total Posts: 361
Join Date: 10/01/05


"planning an onshore drilling campaign in the UK"

If this is a (series of wells) and/or if you can collaborate with other license holders to work up a decent drilling program, then this would open up the type of beneficial opportunities you are seeking.

This is assuming well's are of similar design, complexity, capacities, with similar rig rating requirements.

In my view I would then research the North American, Canadian market and bring in a more modern 'fit for purpose' rig to suit.

e.g. Shales Gas and CBM well's being drilled in Pennsylvania has roads, terrain perhaps as difficult that most of UK.

However as can be concluded very modern rigs can overcome these challenges and drill complex wells on very small footprints, with very few people successfully as current operations and projects ongoing will show.  

As mentioned if areas are restricted then modern 'pad' land based drilling has advanced and emerged when locations are not always where you want them to be but you can drill multiple wells from one location.

As a starter, I would speak to H&P to see what range of rigs they have and could offer for UK drilling environments. They may already have rigs operating in Europe so mob/de-mob may not be as significant as one would imagine.

Marathon Oil
Total Posts: 1
Join Date: 29/03/11
Hi Ian, 
  I've drilled some complex wells in West Sussex and Hampshire. The rigs and rig crews were substandard on two occasions. The rig crews were basically people not able to get offshore for proper experience. As far as logistics, rig site civil engineering, and it can sometimes be a nightmare if your location doesn't have a place to park lorries and room to take a lot of inventory.
Drilling Specialist/Well Engineer/Training Consultant
Kingdom Drilling
Total Posts: 361
Join Date: 10/01/05
I spent quite a few days tripping the US to review land rigs and I was completely blown away by modern fully mechanised rigs that have a higher day rate than thier previous counterparts, but can drill very complex wells generally in MPD, UBD mode with foam, air etc, and move rig and get drilling within 12 hrs every week at far greater efficiencies, note:  Crew of three or four and a company man being the general compliment. 

I suggest you get management approval to make a similar trip and conclude for yourself the obvious differences how wells are designed, constructed, delivered safely and effectively where despite UK blue tape and constraints that indeed exists. There are real opportunities to do far better here in Uk. I have absolutely no doubt of that. However a complete step change in project management would also be needed vs Geo bods controlling the money and drilling expensive science projects vs turning a greater profit! 

MY personal view based on observation of these operations, in non conventional environments is we are therefore poles apart.

Yes uk has perhaps more constraints and challenges but that's what we are paid to challenge and overcome.o
Well Engineering Manager
Total Posts: 30
Join Date: 30/06/08
As stated by most replies the success of Shale Gas and Tight Oil development in North America has been enabled by an industry focused on competing to drive down cost to enable these plays to be profitable.  There are many factors in the improvements made including focused teams working toward shared goals (don't hurt anyone, minimize environmental impact, increase production, reduce cost), building capacity (new fit for purpose rigs for pad drilling with moving systems built in, capturing and reusing lessons learned, consistent crewing, strategies for piloting of new technology), continuous improvement and risk management work processes, and recognition of individuals and teams for a job well done.  See the attached SPE paper by some of my colleagues for some in depth discussion on some of the technologies deployed.  I'd suggest that the key factor is a team that has a culture of wanting to improve everyday, monitoring of performance, starting each day being a little dissapointed with yesterday's performance and wanting to make today's a little better and continuously looking for ways to improve.  Well Construction performance and HSE performance are not mutually exclusive.  Safe and fast can go together. Exploration wells are more expensive because the team is collecting the data required to move to appraisal.  In the appraise phase many ideas are tested in a scientific way to assess the alternatives for development.  In develop there's very little time taken for acquiring information and this does contribute to reduced cost but there is risk to not having the information.   
Documents uploaded by user:
Consultant [retired Shell staff]
Total Posts: 244
Join Date: 02/09/05

Sources - mostly Drilling Contractors - I would use for advice based on my experience in the UK 1976-1983 + 1995-1999:

- Boldon Drilling

- Kenting

- Neddrill Rx: Use "uniheads" uninterrupted safety + 2 days savings as a side benefit

- BenTec Pro Star 2000

- Helmerich & Payne Rx: TurnKey experts

IADC/SPE 11364 Amoco's concept of LAND rig efficiency = (Mechanical + crew) performance. 

Drilling & Completions Specialist
Global Well Engineering Ltd
Total Posts: 14
Join Date: 17/07/12
There is not enough onshore drilling activity or continuity of operations in the UK to enable contractors to become systematized to the same extent as US contractors, who face a far more competitive environment. So rig up times are longer (4-9 days for small-medium rigs), BOP nipple-up and test times are long, wellhead installation slow, larger BHA handling very slow. Low-toxicity oil-based mud is still permitted for use in the UK, but that only helps avoids trouble more than makes for fast wells.
Total Posts: 110
Join Date: 05/03/08

Hi Ian,

My guess is that they are not comparing apples to apples - does your US partner have much experience outside the US?

Are they just referring for the time from spud to TD, or the overall time including rig moves, or the cost estimates?

One big difference is the US Regulatory regime is much looser than in the U.K. - and the reduced safety & environmental regulations means they can do things much quicker, albeit with safety and environmental performances that would simply not be acceptable in the UK.

If they are involved in a resource play (e.g. the Eagleford Shale), then they have had literally thousands of wells to optimise their drilling program, plus they use state-of-the-art rigs such as the H&P Flex Rig series which are specifically set up for ultra-fast rig moves and high performance drilling. These types of rigs are usually only made available on multi-year contracts.

A consequence of so many wells may also mean that - for example - mud logging units are not used and E-Logging programs are cut to the bare minimum as they know exactly what information is needed to quantify the wells potential.

A much more developed land infrastructure also means that they can call off equipment in a couple of hours that we would have to carry on the rig - or at least give a much longer call-off notice for.

Other cost-savings for them might be things like the e-logging unit. I imagine in the UK you would have to pay a monthly standby charge of some description, even if it is not actually on the well location? In the US, land utilisation of such equipment means that the service co's can just charge a call-off fee every time it is mobilised. This may also apply to other equipment - e.g. MWD/LWD, PDM's etc.

Finally, it may just be down to drilling difficulties and formation hardness - just in 'bar talk' with friends in the Southern US, although some wells can be extremely challenging, most of the time I hear how quick the drilling is as there are few difficulties (reactive formation, overpressures, losses etc) and a lot of the time (again in the Southern US), it sounds like they are going through the proverbial "whale sh#t and leaves" so can "blow and go".

Best Regards


P.S. One more thing - they may be using OBM (or even diesel based mud!) in their US drilling program, which I'm guessing cannot be done Onshore the UK these days?

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