Atlas Copco recently hosted a special three-day drilling school in Little Rock, Ark., that included tours of oil and gas drilling sites and class time with tooling experts. The oil and gas course was directed by Mike Millsaps, who oversees sales, marketing and service of Atlas Copco deep hole drilling tools for all of North and South America, with worldwide responsibility for oil and gas equipment. The course’s field visits were coordinated with help from Luby Equipment Services in Heber Springs, Ark., and Southwestern Energy Company (SWN) from Houston.  

“Today’s oil and gas drillers care less about cost and more about value,” says Kevin Mallin, an internationally respected consultant in deep hole drilling.

Josh Marcus, an Atlas Copco DTH product specialist who works out of the deep hole tools research and development center in Roanoke, Va., updated participants on the function and capabilities of today’s new hammer designs. The hammer’s advantage is greatest in the hardest rock formations. One example he gave was a company that had spent two weeks drilling a hole with rotary. A neighboring hole with a DTH hammer took only 10 hours.

Before making two Southwestern Energy drill-site visits, the group toured the Luby Equipment Services–Oilfield Division shop in Heber Springs.  

SWN utilizes what it calls a “spudder” rig concept in its Fayetteville Shale operations. The firm uses a smaller, air drilling rig, such as an Atlas Copco RD20, to drill the upper, vertical portion of a well more quickly. The spudder hole is drilled to a total depth near the base of the hard rock and the top of a large shale section where the hole is loaded with drilling fluid and a wellhead cap is installed. The RD20 then is moved off the well, and a larger re-entry rig is moved on the well to perform directional drilling.

The first of the site visits was to a spudder rig pad where an RD20 rig, operated by Pense Bros. Drilling Co., was working. The second site visit took participants to a pad demonstrating the operations of the re-entry rig. Here a conventional electric triple derrick rig operated by DeSoto Drilling Inc., a subsidiary of Southwestern Energy Production Co., was in the process of drilling the curve section of the well, gradually building the inclination to 90 degrees.

Simon Romli of Atlas Copco Tanzania’s customer center, who specializes in rock drilling tools, says that he will take back technical options to his customers, who work in a country that is just learning its potential for oil and gas production. He also appreciated the network of expert support the course introduced to him.

Two smaller oil and gas seminars have been held in the past. Plans are to continue to offer the course as an annual event.