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Dreco-Self-contained Mobile Drilling Rigs

Dreco Ice Island Drilling RigThe mobile drilling rig that became one of the hallmarks of Dreco Energy’s international success has a prosaic enough name, according to its American patent. It is described in the title as a cantilever drilling structure. The full description of the drilling rig, which was developed by Ron Sorokan, Frederick Pheasey and others at Dreco, paints a detailed picture of a rig which can be quickly assembled and moved into place with a minimum of production disruption.

A shortfall of many drilling rigs, according to the patent application, was the difficulty in setting them up in an area where there were many well heads. The wells would be lined up in a row, with flow lines running perpendicular to the row of wells, making it difficult to put up a rig that was designed to straddle a line of wells. The options were costly or difficult to achieve in confined drilling areas: "remove the flow lines, or disassemble and reassemble the rig, or move the rig so that it is positioned in a direction perpendicular to the row from the opposite direction of the flow line extensions."

The patent objects included "…a novel drilling structure or rig and a method for moving it relative to the well head" and a "…novel drilling structure which is easily and quickly maneuverable in a small area, as on a small lease or on an artificial offshore island." The drilling rig is mounted on a wheeled platform, and a cantilever support projected from one side of the platform. During transport, the rig’s mast and drill mechanism are moved on a skid plate to the platform’s centre of gravity. When it is ready to be set up near an existing well row and flow lines, the telescoping support leg attached to the cantilever part of the platform is lowered into place, and the platform is established "on opposite sides of a well head." When drilling is ready to start, the mechanism and mast are moved on the skid plate to the platform’s centre, and operations commence.

Moving to another drilling site is done by extracting the drill mechanism, moving the mast and mechanism to the centre of the platform, lifting the telescoping support leg, and slowly rumbling over to the new site, "quickly and without the need for disassembling and reassembling either the drilling rig structure on the flow lines."

The mobile drilling rigs have been built in Dreco’s Edmonton fabrication plant and moved by truck, train and boat to Alaska’s North Slope oil production area.

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