Eliminating the risks of coating runs

A look from the technical perspective to developments that optimize operations and keep the physical security of the human team

Improved safety, increased efficiency and reduced costs drives the relentless quest to automate the drilling process. Successes have been achieved gradually in the automation of drilling pipe handling. These advances have progressed and have continued towards the operation of coatings, being considered for a long time as one of the most dangerous activities in drilling.

Recently, new generation tools for running casings known as CRT (for its acronym in English Casing Running Tools) have been developed, with significant advances in the safe handling of casing pipes, removing personnel exposure to the dangers of this operation. The unique engineering design of the CRT comprises a remote controller with redundant systems to eliminate the fall of the lining, it is also controlled with the fingers of the hand from the perforator cabin, so only one person is required on the rotary table, responsible for removing thread protectors and connection guides. In contrast, conventional lining run operations require up to four people in the red zone of the rotary table, which explains the numerous incidents with serious injuries during these operations.

CRT Top-Tek hydraulically controlled technology (Figure 1) incorporates the remote control of the FMS (Flush Mounting Slips) that allow coating run, without the need for manual wedges or power keys. The unique engineering design of the CRT allows it to be active in its default “default” position, so if there is a loss of hydraulic pressure, the tool remains hooked and does not drop the liner. In addition, the engineering design between the CRT and the FMS ensures that one of the two is always ensuring the coating all the time.

A comparative analysis of the Conventional Coating versus CRT runs, conducted over a period of two years in the Middle East, found that the automatic technology of the Top-Tek CRT helped keep a time-loss cup due to “LTI” incidents at zero . Looking at the results in numbers, they were 39,536 man-hours accumulated at the location, and 5,410 total work hours for an accumulated 877 days with zero LTI.

In addition, the non-productive time (NPT) related to the running coatings operations decreased from 5.2% to 1.7%. In one of the countries of the region, the efficiency of lowering the linings stopped, such as the time it takes to lower the cladding, was able to save 49 days over an interval of 18 months, with zero reported LTI and with more than 14,205 hours of operation. The CRT was used with coatings of different sizes and specifications, from 24 to 9 5/8 inches, with various types of connection VET-CO-JVLW, BTC, VAM TOP and TENA-RIS 3SB.

It should be noted that the technological advances in the CRT, associated with control systems are the platform for the development of fully automated systems for the running of coatings.

Design designed to mitigate hazards

In spite of the advances aimed at improving the safety of the lining runs, it is still identified as one of the most prone to incidents in the drilling floor. According to Hubler, W. 1, lining run operations have been responsible for more than half of drilling deaths, when the time of this operation is only 10% of the well time. Documented incidents range from falling casings, to fatal entrapments caused by the traveling block or filling tools. Efforts to mitigate those risks, and at the same time promote the efficiency of the coating run, have stimulated the development of innumerable tools and methodologies of coating runs. Compared to the conventional technique, the deployment of CRT tools reduces hazards, mainly by reducing the exposure and interaction of personnel such as rotary table equipment, while simultaneously allowing rotation, reciprocity and circulation through the lining. The innovative CRT takes advantage of the latest developments in wireless control technologies and data communication applied to the floor covering, without the need for personnel exposed to hazards at the rotary table. The CRT can be attached to any type of Top Drive and if necessary, rotate, reciprocate and circulate (fill) while the lining is running and allow to navigate effectively in wells of high tortuosity.

In addition, the system offers options for different diameters and the torque is similar to the power wrenches used in conventional runs. The patented software comprising the Plug-n-Play wireless torque monitoring system interacts with the external hardware system to continuously monitor and analyze the make-up of the connection. In Figure 2, it is shown graphically in real time as the wireless torque sub is connected directly to the monitoring system, where it communicates RPM, torque in both directions, voltage and compression. In addition, unlike standard mechanical or pneumatic control mechanisms, CRT hydraulic controls allow the application of constant force and torque, with fewer moving parts that are damaged or fail. Also, the rollers incorporated in the specially designed grip mandrel eliminate marking or wear of the coating, thus promoting long-term integrity. The rollers also offer the ability to handle the chrome plating, without modifications, as is the case with conventional run tools. Due to the history of falls of coatings in the industry, redundant security systems were integrated into the CRT, such as the locking system between the CRT and FMS, effectively eliminating these incidents.

Operational sequence

The intrinsic dangers of conventional lining runs begin when the wedges are manually placed, the elevator is thrown, manually closed, the lining is raised, the entry of the pin into the box is guided, the power keys are placed to make the Make-up and wedges are released all manually, it is an intensive labor operation with high exposure of personnel in the danger zone of the rotary table. On the other hand, after the CRT is installed on the Top Drive and the FMS on the rotary table, the operating sequence starts when the lining is placed in the V Door, from that moment the system is controlled by a person in the cabin of the perforator, the only work with manual intervention is to remove the thread guard and the guide. Successive steps to hoist, connect and land the pin liner with box and apply torque are carried out remotely from the driller cabin.
Once the FMS is activated electronically and the gripping chuck is disengaged, the automated CRT lifter clings to the next cladding joint, which is collected by the automatic cat-walk. The elevator arms are retracted remotely, and the grip mandrel is reactivated in preparation for joint placement, screw and torque using the torque monitoring system. Finally, the pipe is filled, and the FMS is disengaged, and the lining is lowered, all this without direct human participation in the drilling floor.

Comparative field analysis

A comparative analysis of the coating run operations in one of the Middle East countries illustrates the effective balance achieved between the time of the conventional method and the safety of automated CRT technology. Despite the introduction of the CRT in the Middle East, drilling programs stipulated that the coating be run in a conventional manner, mainly for small pipe sizes, where the reliability and performance of the conventional system met the customer’s needs. The main motivator for the implementation of the CRT was the safety aspect that allowed the coating to be lowered at optimal times with zero LTI. From Parker’s perspective, as the manufacturer of the advanced CRT, an instant summary of the runs made in 2018 shows the advantages in the speed of lowering the lining when using the CRT and the great benefit with personnel safety. Figure 3 compares the operations of conventional versus automated coating runs for CRT in the Middle East during 2018, the most commonly used sizes of coatings and the speed of lowering of the coating are detailed. Typically, for carcass sizes larger than seven inches, operators opted to use advanced CRT, while smaller sizes were normally executed using the conventional method. The coating run speed with the CRT has steadily improved, while the LTI remains at zero throughout the Middle East.
The analysis also points to an interesting trend in the strategies that the Operator uses in coating runs and the decision to use conventional vs. CRT. Specifically, the analysis shows that automated CRT is used largely for large cladding diameters (20 and 18 5/8 inches), while for smaller sizes they prefer conventional (13 3/8 and 9 5/8 inches) as a reduction measure of costs. The seven-inch coating when run from the surface is generally executed with the CRT, unless a liner is being used, in which case conventional is used. Any diameter smaller than 4 1 x 2 inches is always executed in a conventional manner, since this diameter was not available with the CRT in the Middle East.

Closed loop evolution

The barrier to automating the entire coating run operation has been the lack of automation hardware and the inability to join several discrete systems. The new generation CRT, in combination with advanced controls and specially designed data software technologies, clears the way to achieve semi or fully automatic coating run operations. Specifically, the integration of the TopTek CRT with a cutting-edge control and data software platform overcomes the interoperability problem, where different vendor systems cannot function in unison. The CRT may be used in most but in all contemporary rigs. The data and automation platform allows the new CRT control design to be connected to the rig’s equipment network, to allow the smooth coordination of all activities necessary for the complete automation of the coating run. Establishing communication between the CRT and all relevant Rig equipment, including top drive, winch, mud pumps, automatic catwalk and FMS, represents the first step in automating the coating run process. In addition, the data platform can communicate with the Rig (OS) operating system in its native protocol, either modbus, OPC / UA, or something similar, which is also combined with the CRT in its native protocol (i.e., modbus , OPU / UA, or private protocol). The data platform acts as a control abstraction layer and, therefore, allows complete data and control commands between any variety of the equipment’s operating system and the Top-Tek system.

In addition, the data and automation platform allows additional real-time implementation for the calculation of streaming data. For example, as data is aggregated in real time, a torque algorithm monitors torque measurement, but also provides direct control of platform equipment to execute precisely the make-up torque. The complete automation of the floor covering will increase the capacity of the advanced CRT system and further improve personnel safety and operation efficiency.

According to Hubler, W. 1, lining run operations have been responsible for more than half of drilling deaths, when the time of this operation is only 10% of the well time. Documented incidents range from falling casings, to fatal entrapments caused by the traveling block or filling tools.

Fig 2. Torque software allows the last 10 connections to be superimposed, in order to identify unusual profiles and capture trends to visualize average readings.


Karma Slusarchuk

joined Parker Drilling in November 2017 and serves as a senior drilling advisor, responsible for helping clients maintain drilling efficiency by implementing new technologies to achieve operational excellence. Prior to that, Ms. Slusarchuk was a project manager for Whitehorse Technology in Tomball, Texas, which she founded in 2013 to advance thermal spray technology for drilling pipes and well tools. She was a senior drilling engineer for Transocean and specific for Shell Oil from March 2007 to 2010. Prior to that, Ms. Slusarchuk was a drilling engineer for ExxonMobil from 2002 to 2007, with assignments in the United States, Chad and the island of Sakhalin He has a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Tulsa.

Andrew Gherardi is director of the product line at Parker Well Services, a position he has held since May 2018, after the integration of 2M-Tek into the Parker Drilling organization. Before that, he held a variety of positions at 2M-Tek, where he managed the design work in tubular services. He was promoted to site manager 2M-Tek in January 2017, where he managed the design and manufacturing of the Top-Tek carcass operating system and the Easy-Trak housing output system. Mr. Gherardi has a degree in mechanical engineering with a minor in business administration from the University of New Hampshire.

Hosam Zablawe

has served as Iraqi sales manager for Parker Drilling since joining the company in September 2015. He previously worked as a sales engineer in Iraq for Schlumberger Downhole Tools and Fishing, after a two-year period as an engineer. drill sales for National Oilwell Varco in Syria. Mr. Zablawe has a degree in petroleum engineering from the University of the United Arab Emirates.

Hari Koduru co-founded SigmaStream to build a data-based automation platform. He has more than 25 years of experience in software development, including 15 years in the oil and gas industry. He has led the development of several enterprise-level software applications and products in several verticals. Previously, he was a senior technical advisor in the Energistics oil and gas data exchange consortium, and was a member of the main team that developed the Energy Transfer Protocol (ETP). Mr. Koduru previously worked at BP, Nabors Drilling and Baker Hughes, a GE company. He has a master’s degree in civil engineering from Clemson University.

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