During a discussion of the great value that top hole specialists like Transcend Drilling of Odessa, Texas, bring to today’s majoroil and gasoperators, Transcend’s Vice President Mark Franklin said, “Spudder services used to be the first to get cut when prices dropped, companies hoping to save money by doing it themselves. But we find that larger companies, instead, tend to think of the big picture. It’s about, ‘How many more barrels do I put in the tanks at the end of the day?’”

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Franklin said one client could put the value in figures. “They told us we helped them develop 15 percent more wells last year — and they were able to do it at 10 percent under budget.”

Franklin believes that kind of production achievement is directly attributable to Transcend’s company philosophy. “We are unbeatable for our safety procedures. We are highly productive. We believe in keeping clean, reliable rigs. And I don’t think you can find a cleaner, safer, more productive rig than the Atlas Copco RD20.”

Clients Trust Transcend 

“We started with one RD20 III with APL (automated pipe loader),” Franklin explained. “Our client looked it over and liked it and put it to work on their leases.”

Last year the Transcend crews set 131 wells for a total 172,000 vertical feet (52,400 meters).

Franklin said Transcend has been fortunate to find and retain employees as the company has grown. “Those larger contracts for the RD20s assure our employees of steady work, which is what we’re after. We don’t want employees to worry about working one job with us, then getting stuck waiting for the next. Or about having to let them go and then trying to get them back as work comes in.”

Candidates applying to Transcend don’t have to have prior experience. In fact, Franklin said, he’s not so interested in candidates with long tenures in other types of drilling.

“Pre-setting surface casing is different from water well and different from big rig work. It’s a whole other mindset. We’ll run ‘round the clock if a client needs it. On the other hand, we’re not sitting on one hole for weeks and weeks at a time. We’re usually done in a day-and-a-half and moving. We need someone who is looking ahead to the next job even while he’s finishing the job he’s on.”

Venture Drilling Supply’s Odessa Shop

Franklin has gone to Atlas Copco distributor Venture Drilling Supply to meet his supply needs for a little over four years. Venture provided Transcend with its RD20s. In 2012 Venture opened a store and service center in Odessa so that it could bring customer support directly to its West Texas customers.

Franklin said that having technical support close by has been much more convenient. The distance between the Permian Basin’s headquarter cities of Odessa and Midland, to the metropolitan areas of Dallas and Houston can significantly delay deliveries and service. But now what used to require overnight ship-ping rarely takes more than 2 to 3 hours.

Venture Regional Manager Tyler Williams said the Odessa center provides 24/7 service and parts support that the oil fields need. Transcend is currently performing its own service and repair, looking for help only on larger projects like top drive rebuilds or rotary head work.

Daily Operations

Transcend’s two RD20 drill rigs are manned by four-person crews working seven days on, seven off, in 12-hour shifts. Two crews and two tool pushers per rig work 24/7, 365 days a year.

In his 30-year drilling and drill manufacturing career, Transcend’s drilling manager, Keith Boyd, has worked with all sizes of drill rigs, from conventional to top-drive. He especially likes how Transcend has taken advantage of the RD20 rig’s mobility. “The RD20 is easy to move and easy to maintain. Transcend mounted almost all its yard equipment on trailers, so there are fewer loads to move.” Transcend has three trucks to relocate the rig in nine loads.

Boyd said, “I’ve been on both of our RD20s, drilling and running casing. They’re easy to operate. Anyone mechanically inclined at all can be trained to run one.”

Franklin described typical operations. “They can spud in one morning, drill 1,500 feet, trip out, and run casing by 9, 10 at night. If they need to work on the rig, they have until the next morning. A move takes 2 to 3 hours and then they rig up and go again, moving rigs every other day.”

Rig No. 2

On this day Transcend’s Rig No. 2, an Atlas Copco RD20 XC, was tripping out of a freshly drilled hole near Odessa into Rustler Formation limestone. The “XC” is a version of the RD20 designed to use externally upset pipe (also called “EU” or “bottleneck pipe”) commonly found throughout the oilfields of West Texas. This was the 80th well of a 140-well contract for a client.

David Rodgers, tool pusher, said the hole was drilled with an 11-inch PDC bit to 1,440 feet using 6-inch collars on 4-inch drill pipe. Torque was steady at 2,300 with 15,000 pounds on bit turning 100 to 120 rpm. Fluid was fresh water with 10 barrels of high-viscosity sweep every third joint, Rodgers said.

The crew was drilling pre-set holes through the sedimentary layer of West Texas red bed to the limestone at a pace of about 17 hours each. This job included 12 pads, one well on each. All holes were cased with threaded 8-inch diameter steel casing. The crew was moving to a new hole about every other day.

Preparing for anticipated demand, Franklin said Transcend has increased its workforce from just 15 people to 65 since its startup in 2011. “We are confident about the industry. We believe we’ll be drilling for quite a while.”

Transcend hopes to pre-set more than 150 wells in 2014.

Permian Basin Oilfield Bit Selection

Along with drilling rigs, Atlas Copco also designs and manufactures drill bits and other drilling products for a wide variety of applications, including oil and gas. In the Permian Basin, its bit customers choose from its new lines of Atlas Copco Secoroc PDC, Klaw and other specialty drill bits.

PDC: Atlas Copco Secoroc Polycryst-alline Diamond Compact drill bits range in size from 3 to 26 inches in diameter. Blade and cutter number, size and config-uration are offered in both cast tungsten carbide matrix body and steel body.

Klaw: Atlas Copco Secoroc Klaw, its new line of carbide pick bits, feature field-replaceable cutters that enable one bit body to drill many thousands of feet. Klaw bits offer exceptional penetration rates for shallow drilling applications and are currently available in sizes from 5 to 26 inches in diameter.

Joe Bradfield is senior writer for Ellenbecker Communications, an international communications firm specializing in the drilling, mining and construction industries. This story originally appeared in Deep Hole Driller magazine.