When times get tough the tough get innovating.
Goliath Snubbing owners Trevor Sopracolle and Garrett Radchenko have developed a system for handling snubbing rig pipe that can speed up jobs, ensure safety and, most importantly, save money.
The Red Deer company was at Blackfalds’ Care Industries Inc. today showing off the invention to oilpatch companies to sell them on the advantages that can be brought to their operations.
Sopracolle, who has been in the oilfield business since 1999, has created a pipe handling system that allows two sections of 10-metre pipe to be put down or pulled out of a well at a time and stacked vertically on what is known as a derrick board.
It’s a way of operating that is similar to the practice more than a decade ago. But for safety reasons the way pipe could be handled on high-pressure wells was changed.
No longer was a derrick hand allowed up the rig to oversee the moving of vertically stacked pipe sections down the well.
In several fatal accidents, derricks hand aloft were killed when a rig blew out sending a column of flame shooting up the rig.
In 2004, regulators responded by prohibiting derrick hands from taking a position up in a rig that was under pressure.
Each section of pipe had to be stored in horizontal racks and retrieved one joint at a time to be put down the well.
While safer, it takes a lot longer and requires a stand-alone snubbing unit or a service rig with a rig-assist snubbing unit.
Sopracolle believed there must be a better way. He invented a system that allows a service rig operator to handle tubing by remote control without the need of a derrick hand.
“It’s a system I can bolt onto the bottom of set of service rigs blocks powered by my snubbing unit,” he said.
“It mimics what a derrick hand can do.”
The potential is huge for service rig companies, which have been losing work to stand-alone units, he said.
“If this catches on, every service rig in the country is going to try to steal their work back from the stand-alones and say he can do it faster,” he said, adding they will also be able to compete with coil tubing operations.
“There are stand-alones that can do in two days what I can do in one. Imagine the cost savings there.”
Oil and gas companies regularly pay $15,000 a day for a stand-alone snubbing unit as well as the cost of all of the other rental equipment on site.
Cutting days means big savings, which everyone in the business is looking for these days.
“There’s still work out there. If I can find a way to make myself more valuable than everybody else I’ll get the work and the other companies won’t.”
Sopracolle said there has been plenty of interest from Alberta companies and from as far afield as the U.S.