It's my prediction that in five years, most casings will be run from the top drive. Why? Because the benefits from a smoother process in all areas of the project greatly outnumbers the extra dimes spent on equipment and expertise.
1. Proven technology
Since Top Drive Casing Running was introduced to the European market by Odfjell Well Services in 2009, hundred thousands of meters of casing has been set using the top drive. It represents a major improvement in drilling, and even the most convinced traditionalists among us have to admit that all their worries and bad predictions about the new technology never came true.
- The Top Drive Casing Running Tool can handle the heavy load
- Internal slips are very effective
- No dropped or lost strings
The experiences both operators and contractors have from the TDCR are uniform. This is not cutting corners. This is not gambling with safety or reducing well control. This is simply the modern, effective way of casing the well.
2. What kind of well are you drilling?
There is a misconception in the business that the easier the well, the less you can benefit from Top Drive Casing Running. The question you have to ask yourself when planning the drilling is: Can I benefit from a smoother, safer, less labour intense and more efficient casing process? If your answer is no, I'd like to take a look at your operation! Even wells drilled in a mature area at modest depths and thru predictable formations will benefit from TDCR. The method has proven itself beneficial even in areas considered easy, and with several wells already drilled. Compared to the wells drilled with conventional casing running, the ones drilled using the top drive still save you time and money.
3. Are you deeply in love with your power tongs?
Love works in mysterious ways, but in this case I would rather say it makes you blind.
By ending your relationship with your tongs, the new you - or at least, the new era of casing - will come to life. There will be no more yelling that the drilling floor looks like a mess. There will be no more fights over whose turn it is to operate the mechanical tongs. "Nothing" will suddenly mean exactly that, and you regain the control over the remote. And if you're like me, you don't use the drill floor as an area for socialising, and consider the reduced need for POB a great advantage.
4. Money spent is money saved
I have never heard of a cheap drilling operation. Yet the effort used on increasing effectiveness, saving rig time and cutting costs is huge. I don't want to sound arrogant or ignorant, but I can't figure out a more obvious way to save money than to run your casing from the top drive. Yes, you need an expensive tool, and you probably need to hire experienced crews, but still - these facts are undoubtedly in favour of the TDCR:
- Less time spent on rigging
- Less equipment on drill floor
- Less people needed to run the casing
- Increased safety. No people in red zone.
- Always prepared to circulate, which can improve volume control
- More likely to solve the sudden incidents like tight hole and differential sticking.
These factors are not to be underestimated and are vital to secure a smooth casing operation. In most cases it will save you money directly during operation, and in finishing the task in less time than using conventional casing running equipment.
The constant technical improvements make TDCR even more sophisticated, and the price will flatten out over time. When I pare that with an ever-increasing fan base, I am convinced that there will be very few projects running conventional casing in the future.
Cause when you've run your first casing from the top drive, there's no looking back.