This paper is a follow up to the OTC 91 paper. The on going joint industry project to build and test a Proof-of-Concept Automated Drilling Rig is progressing well on its land-based test site at Aberdeen, Scotland.

This 1,000,0001b hook load, all hydraulically powered, computer controlled rig has been installed onshore and is already producing initial trial results that confirm the benefits of mechanisation and automation. These are improved safety, reduced manning, low weight and consistent operational performance.

The project has pushed through commercial and technical difficulties as well as barriers of tradition, to show that technology, well proven in other industries is suitable and relevant to the drilling operation for oil and gas.

The RA-D concepts in whole or part are applicable to all drilling scenarios - platforms, jack-ups, semTs, land and modular packages. The paper will discuss some of these applications and will show the benefits to Operators and Drilling Contractors. The project is showing that the application of the RA-D concept yields significant cost reductions in the drilling operation and from a combination of field results and engineering studies, these can be demonstrated against specific cases.

The most significant aspect of this project is the benefit of collaboration between Operators, Drilling Contractors and Equipment Suppliers to develop and demonstrate new technology to the industry at large. The demonstration that this technology will meet the increasing needs for maximum safety and minimum cost operations is of paramount importance.


Major advances are being made in the reduction of overall platform weight and, hence, overall cost. A principle aim of the project has been the reduction of the number of men from this potentially dangerous work area. Strachan & Henshaw Ltd (S&H) in collaboration with four oil companies - three British and one Norwegian with support from the UK Government and European Community - look at reducing considerably the cost of development drilling. The RA-D project which started 5\ years ago is nearing its commissioning trials prior to drilling at the International Downhole Drilling Technology Centre in Aberdeen, Scotland. The Drilling proving tests of the powerful but compact light-weight offshore derrick and pipe handling system are due in the Summer. Based on fast handling of single tubulars from 3" to 20" diameter and rated to 20,000' depths with a 1,000,0001b hook load the system is aimed at meeting the requirements of the North Sea and worldwide locations offshore and on land.

An analysis of the market showed that rig design techniques have changed little over many years. This convinced the Company that there was a potential for a rig to be designed without preconceived ideas and which can comprise sensible applications of modern proven technology.

RA-D has been created from the technology transfer of several industries and represents a significant change in the way drilling facilities and operations can be planned and managed in the future. The project has crossed many boundaries and overcome technical and commercial difficulties to produce marketable technology.

This content is only available via PDF.
You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.