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Top Drive Brand Advantages and Disadvantages
12 February 2020
Fellow Members,

This question may sound like an old Ford vs Chevy debate... but have you experienced any general/mechanical advantages or disadvantages with particular top drive brands: NOV/Varco, LTI/LEWCO, TESCO/Canrig? There must be some operational and economic importance to this preference (maybe motor type offerings and transmission differences?), but nothing comes to mind right now. The top drive desired specs in question would be a 500 ton 1000 - 1350 HP.

This was excluding software upgrades that enable pipe oscillation via "rocking" (Noble Drilling's Slider) but still including different top drive controllers. I've only observed several types of top drive controllers, but NOV's Amphion system appeared to perform the best in terms of drilling setpoint control to reduce drilling dysfunction.
4 answer(s)
Consultant [retired Shell staff]
SPREAD Associates
Total Posts: 269
Join Date: 02/09/05
Yes, my mistake. SPE 29394 is the paper from Helmerich & Payne, land Drilling Contractors who work mostky on turn.key contracts. So they know how much downtime can cost you...

The Amoco/Noble can be dispensed of.

There is a very important paper from the UK Department of Energy Work Group on  the corresoponding UKOOA Safety review, covering 52 weaknesses volunteered by the Operators working there - North Sea, mainly. Sorry I donºt have the right references...
Drilling Engineer
SM Energy
Total Posts: 7
Join Date: 01/10/18
Yunchuan: I would say this is more of a general inquiry for a high torque top drive, there is potential for an upgrade to accommodate larger drillpipe torque demands and it would be helpful to know why certain ones are preferred versus another (although they may all look acceptable/good on paper). 

This Hart Energy article on top drive motors was very insightful. Not to say that there would even be the option for changing what's in the box as far as available top drive offerings are concerned (despite everything being a time and money problem), but if the built in motor motor fails, perhaps because the blower cooling system was clogged with dirt which led to an overheating, just basic maintenance and servicing would reduce that likelihood. If the cooling system was an internal water cooling, perhaps it'd be a non-issue completely. As a real life example, a blower motor has failed on us - an air filter clogged which led to a motor burnout, ultimately leaving our top drive dead in the water. 

Augusto: Don't threaten me with a good time, I will be sure to read through these papers and post a follow up reply. I couldn't find the IADC/SPE 23854 paper, and for the record the H&P paper is filed under SPE 29394 at least in OnePetro. It is important to learn from history, if not we're bound to repeat it!
Total Posts: 17
Join Date: 16/03/14
Hi Ritthy!

What prompted the question? It'd be helpful to explain the context of why you're looking for such information. Is there one/several specific drilling challenges that you're trying to address by this selection? Or are there some specific dissatisfactions with the top drives you're currently using?

Look forward to seeing more answers from the experts in this forum.

Consultant [retired Shell staff]
SPREAD Associates
Total Posts: 269
Join Date: 02/09/05
Auld Technology for sure, but some lessons may be of interest, See reports covering
American´s Varco, BJ-Hughes, etc
Canadian´s Tesco
French´s ACB
and Norwegian´s Maritime Hydraulics-

A few "auld" papers of eventual interest:
SPE 29384 (Land Rigs ) Hekmerich & Payne
IADC/SPE 27512 Varco & SedcoForex
IADC/SPE 23854 AMOCO & Noble Drlg
SPE 21958 Electric x Hydraulics, Varco
SPE/IADC 21933 Varco
SPE/IADC  18943 Neddrill
SPE/IADC  16064 TransCo

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