In recent years, an industry-wide demand for increased drilling efficiency has led to the development of technologies and methods focused on multi-well pad development and the minimization of the transportation of drilling rigs between locations. Studies have indicated the potential for improving drilling cycle efficiency through improvements in rig design and procedural documentation but have given limited consideration to the unitization and mobilization practices surrounding ancillary components such as mud pumps, light plants, bulk fluid storage and other systems that comprise modern land rigs. This study examines current unitization practices, as well as offers alternative methods of integrating ancillary system components to improve current transport configurations. Specifically, ancillary systems whose transport dimensions and weight exceed the federal and state requirements for commercial vehicles operating within the National Highway Freight Network (NHFN).
In this study, the application of transport logistics software is used to demonstrate that there exists the potential for significant reduction in land rig mobilization costs through revised unitization of drilling rig ancillary systems. Permit data from proposed wells located in the Permian, Bakken, and Marcellus are utilized to develop transport scenarios whose focus is to quantify the impact of ancillary system unitization on the total fee structure associated with rig mobilization between geographical regions. Within each scenario, ancillary systems from currently active rigs are compiled and itemized according to their weight, transport dimensions, and degree of component unitization. The resulting schedule is then processed through transport logistics software to identify fee schedules associated with oversize permits, overweight permits, civilian and police escorts, driver rate/fuel costs, and associated service fees for the individual loads. Following the conclusions derived from the analysis of the existing rig systems, the series of transport scenarios are repeated using revised component configurations. The revised system employs a combination of divisible and non-divisible loads whose components are either integrated as part of dedicated transport trailers or located within ISO containers loaded onto commercially available transport trailers. The fee schedules from active rigs, as well as the results from the proposed unitization, are explored in detail to identify critical areas for improvement regarding unitization practices for active rigs and future builds.