Drilling rig classification

There are many types and designs of drilling rigs, with many drilling rigs capable of switching or combining different drilling technologies as needed. Drilling rigs can be described using any of the following attributes:

By power used

  • Mechanical — the rig uses torque converters, clutches, and transmissions powered by its own engines, often diesel
  • Electric — the major items of machinery are driven by electric motors, usually with power generated on-site using internal combustion engines
  • Hydraulic — the rig primarily uses hydraulic power
  • Pneumatic — the rig is primarily powered by pressurized air
  • Steam — the rig uses steam-powered engines and pumps (obsolete after middle of 20th Century)

By pipe used

  • Cable — a cable is used to raise and drop the drill bit
  • Conventional — uses metal or plastic drill pipe of varying types
  • Coil tubing — uses a giant coil of tube and a downhole drilling motor

By height

(All rigs drill with only a single pipe. Rigs are differentiated by how many connected pipe they are able to “stand” in the derrick when needing to temporarily remove the drill pipe from the hole. Typically this is done when changing a drill bit or when “logging” the well.)

  • Single — can pull only single drill pipes. The presence or absence of vertical pipe racking “fingers” varies from rig to rig.
  • Double — can hold a stand of pipe in the derrick consisting of two connected drill pipes, called a “double stand”.
  • Triple — can hold a stand of pipe in the derrick consisting of three connected drill pipes, called a “triple stand”.

By method of rotation or drilling method

  • No-rotation includes direct push rigs and most service rigs
  • Rotary table — rotation is achieved by turning a square or hexagonal pipe (the “Kelly”) at drill floor level.
  • Top drive — rotation and circulation is done at the top of the drill string, on a motor that moves in a track along the derrick.
  • Sonic — uses primarily vibratory energy to advance the drill string
  • Hammer — uses rotation and percussive force (see Down-the-hole drill)

By position of derrick

  • Conventional — derrick is vertical
  • Slant — derrick is slanted at a 45 degree angle to facilitate horizontal drilling
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