Horizontal Drilling, Multi-Stage Fracking Drives Top Drive Sales

By Elena Zhuk, March 13, 2014

Russian producers are expanding their use of horizontal drilling and hydrofacking to ferret out hard-to-produce and tight oil, as these previously high cost technologies are becoming more cost-friendly. Over the past year, major Russian oil producers have reported progress in hydrofracturing on increasingly long horizontal sections, and in parallel producers are asserting their plans to boost use of these advanced technologies. 

Five months ago, in September 2013, Gazprom Neft with Calfrac service company commissioned Russia’s first 10-stage horizontal hydraulic frac on the Vyngapurovskoye oil and gas condensate field in the Yamal Nenets Autonomous District. The horizontal section is over 1 kilometer long and is situated at a depth of 4.5 kilometers. Well production topped 135 tons (986 barrels) per day, three times that achieved on horizontal wells with fewer fracturing stages. In the past year, Gazprom Neft increased by 1.5 times (to 120) the planned number of horizontal wells compared to the year before. 

LUKOIL drilled 883,500 meters horizontally in 2013, to claim second place after Rosneft’s 1.39 million meters, according to Russia’s Energy Ministry. By 2015, LUKOIL plans to drill a total of 449 horizontal wells with multi-stage fracs. 

Last May, Tatneft set its own record as the company’s service units together with partners (Tam and Halliburton) run a multistage acid fracturing in an already drilled 584-meter-long horizontal wellbore at Yaurkinskoye field. 

“The drillers’ performance and introduction of new technologies, including for horizontal drilling, would have been impossible without modern drilling equipment,” Rinat Shafigullin, director of Tatburneft, was quoted as saying in a recent press release. Tatburneft runs about 70 percent of well construction and testing for Tatneft. “Tatneft management is continuing to implement a program for technical re-equipment of its drilling facilities and installation of modern (downhole) navigation tools,” added Shafigullin. 

The list of equipment purchased by Tatneft for its drilling equipment modernization program includes top drives, high-capacity mud pumps with variable frequency drive, rails for transporting the rig with the drilling tool in the well cluster zone, jars to prevent seizures of downhole drilling tool, etc. The growth of horizontal drilling encourages producers of top drive systems (TDS), who are one of the pillars of today’s drilling of vertical, directional and horizontal wells.

What’s Good About TDS

“It (the top drive) has changed how the rig operates – faster, cheaper and safer. Simply put it provides more power for complex drilling,” Robello Samuel, Halliburton technology fellow, drilling, told OGE. 

Using a top drive reduces the volume of work and the time required for technological operations, improves the safety of drilling, ensures a high level of wellbore execution, lowers the probability of drilling tool seizures, increases the efficiency of directional drilling for wells with complex profiles, and reduces well construction time by 12 to 15 percent.

“Using top drives slashes the drilling accident rate, as TDS ensure drillpipe rotation and a rinse during tripping operations. In addition, there is a number of technological solutions (such as drilling with guided rotary systems) that are possible only with the use