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The Kelly Katch Kan

The old technologyOn his first day working on an oilrig, Albertan Quinn Holtby got blasted, and nearly knocked off the rig by a blast of uncontrolled, high-pressure drilling fluid.

Snap On, Snap OffThis was a common scene on oilrigs prior to 1995. Drilling fluid containment systems consisted of a 117 kilogram steel can hung on cables above the drill floor. Uncontrolled discharge at the well bore shot out if the driller raised the drill pipe out of the hole too fast, when someone accidentally left the rig pumps running, or when the steel can’s pressure seals burst.

Shooting fluid through the rotary tableThe bursting fluid sent workers diving for cover, causing injuries and sometimes leaving them soaked with drilling fluid in –40 C weather. Companies were losing money due to the lost fluid, as well as to injury compensation. There was also environmental damage caused by the fluid draining into the ground around the rig. Spills were simply covered up by gravel, with contaminated material building up around the rig.

The upper Katch KanQuinn Holtby decided that this was unacceptable. He turned down a promotion in the oilpatch and instead entered into real estate. In his spare time, he started working on a new containment-and-catch system to solve the drilling-fluid problem. Working in his garage, he experimented with various materials, settling on a type of plastic so durable that it would withstand being run over by a 50-tonne crane. By 1995, the basic design was ready.

A second stage low profile Katch KanThe Kelly/Katch Kan system consists of two basic parts—the Kelly Kan and the Katch Kan. The Kelly Kan replaces the old steel can, installed above the drill floor. It weighs just 12 kilograms, and can be installed by a single worker, without halting operations and is designed to snap together, eliminating the need for tools. The Kelly Kan directs drill fluid down to the Katch Kan, which has a variety of parts with different functions and can also be installed without tools. The Katch Kan captures the fluid, which can then be reused or recycled.Zero spill system

The Katch Kan has so far saved companies hundreds of thousands of dollars. In a five-month study of a well in Latin America, the Katch Kan Zero Spill System saved the company at least $576,000 US. It has also reduced the environmental impact made by the rigs, and cut down on worker injuries.

Katch Kan covers the entire drill floorThe Katch Kan has so far been used in over 400 rigs around the Clean controlworld for over 20 drilling companies, again illustrating the global relevance of many Alberta inventions. The entire system is made up of a number of patented components, a fact common to many inventions. For his efforts, Holtby won the 2000 Manning Award for Innovation for the Invention.

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