While the spotlight shines on glamorous, exotic semisubmersible and drillship advances, lurking in the shadows are interesting developments in the lowly land rig.

For example: Rocket Rig’s flair The wordplay is irresistible, but the rig’s name is a good reflection of how fast it can rig up and down. The rig was designed by Theodore C. Vora of Veristic Technologies Inc. He claims that “the idea of Rocket Rig design came from anchoring four principals: simplicity, efficiency, safety and [cost-effectiveness].”

According to Vora, the Rocket Rig is different from conventional land rigs in part because it can be assembled at ground level without the need to use a crane. Some other features are worth noting:
• Mast stem sections are compact and can be transported without further disassembly. The mast has a maximum static hook load of 800,000 lb with 12 lines strung. The rig can rack 180 stands (16,740 ft) of 5-in. outside diameter (OD) drill pipe and 8 stands of 8 1/2-in. OD drill collars.
• The mast and entire drill floor can be raised to working height in one shot with a proprietary raising system built into the substructure. The system stays in place during rig transportation.
• Integrated drill floor with drilling machinery and equipment stays in place during transportation.
• Traveling block and top drive stay in the mast top section during rig transportation.
• Built-in guide rail accommodates traveling block and top drive.
• Draw works remains at the ground level. Blowout preventer (BOP) handler and transporter keep the BOP assembled during rig move.

“Cactus Drilling is operating four Rocket Rigs and plans to have more. The feedback from user and oil company are very positive. Late October 2006, the first Rocket Rig (for XTO) was skidded from one well to the next well in less than 45 minutes, with the mast standing,” Vora said.

“Land Rig of the Year”

Nabors Drilling Rig 254 recently won Shell’s 2006 “Land Rig of the Year” award, which was presented at Shell’s Annual Global Rig Category Supplier Conference in Den Haag, Netherlands.

Rig 254 was chosen for the award from more than 100 competing land rigs that operate for Shell worldwide. According to Nabors, Shell considers several “Key Performance Indicators” in the evaluation including safety and environmental performance, operating efficiency and teamwork. In the presentation, Shell highlighted Rig 254’s safety record of zero recordable
incidents in 2006.

Rig 254 is a modern SCR (silicon-controlled rectifier) electric rig that was constructed by Nabors to meet Shell’s specific rig needs in the Pinedale Anticline in southwestern Wyoming. The rig has many safety and operational features, such as iron roughneck, automated catwalk pipe-handling system and 500-ton AC top drive.

Nabors, in conjunction with Shell, tailored many areas of the rig to the operator’s requirements. The rig has high-volume mud and gas handling capabilities, mud-conditioning options, capability for short skids on pad-drilling locations, additional remote-operated well-control features and downhole drillstring configurations.

The rig is fully winterized for Rocky Mountain operations, but also retains features to improve moving efficiency. Expect more advances like these on a regular basis. The land rig has plenty of work left to do.