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12/08/2014 | Pad Drilling Comes of Age

Pad DrillingHorizontal drilling, where oilfield operators drill through the earth, under the surface, to reach new sources of oil rather than drilling vertically, has expanded significantly after an economics-based drop in 2009. One type of drilling—pad drilling—is particularly suited to this type of operation, for both economic and environmental reasons.

With pad drilling (also called multi-well pad drilling), operators use a single well pad for a grouping of wells drilled horizontally from the site. Long used in environmentally sensitive offshore locations, pad drilling is now becoming a common practice in land-based drilling operations.

Continental Resources, one of the first companies to incorporate this solution (in 2007), has gone from drilling four wells from a single pad to drilling up to 14 wells from a single, eight-acre pad, today. Similarly, energy producer EnCana Corporation reports that it accessed 640 acres of resource (one square mile) from a single, 4.6-acre well pad.

Pad drilling is an optimal solution, not only because it is uniquely suited to the physical approach of horizontal drilling, but also because operators gain a significant reduction in time, expense and manpower by using it. The frequency of “rigging up” and “rigging down”―moving rig operations from one site to the next―is exponentially reduced. Furthermore, for companies that use walking drilling rigs, the lag time between drilling operations drops from five days to a few hours.

Other operating advantages include a reduction in the number of lease roads (with fewer right-of-ways to be negotiated), consolidated storage and liquid separation functions, and more efficient use of generators. Operators can use a single generator, with a portable I-Line power distribution panel, to distribute electricity to as many as six pump jacks for drilling purposes.

However, due to the requirement for 24/7 production (and the tremendous expense if a rig or pump shuts down), most operators use a parallel generator configuration for multi-well pad sites. Thanks to advances in controllers and other technologies, up to 32 generators can be linked in a parallel configuration. Effectively, oilfield operators can power as many wells from one parallel configuration as they can fit on a single pad.

With a parallel configuration, if one generator fails or is taken down for maintenance, the controller automatically redistributes the load among the remaining generators. Operators can even configure individual generators for different loads to meet specific requirements. Finally, the ability to incorporate generators that use different fuel sources (diesel generators and natural gas generators) extends flexibility and ensures continuity if shortages in one type of fuel occur.

HIPOWER SYSTEMS is an expert in creating custom, cost-effective parallel generator configurations. To learn more about paralleling, please call us at 913-495-5557. We also invite you to browse our site and sign up for myHIPOWER to gain access to extended site benefits.

 

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