American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers Inc.


This paper reviews some of the pressing problems facing drilling contractors in West problems facing drilling contractors in West Texas. These problems are discussed with the idea of presenting solutions that are economically advantageous to the contractor, and that, in turn, would result in savings to the operator. These ideas largely concern operating procedures in which the contractor's ideas may procedures in which the contractor's ideas may vary somewhat from those of the operator. After there are several ways of doing a certain task, several of which could be equally correct. We believe that closer communication and understanding between contractor and operator could influence ways of accomplishing some operations more economically, the theory being that if an operator can do things to save the contractor money, it will, in the long run, save the operator money.


Some phases in drilling a well that bear some review as to equipment requirements and operating procedure are blowout preventor and manifold requirements, deviation limits, and mud programs. Some other problems in which the operator should be sympathetic to the contractor include diminishing labor source, value of lost in-hole equipment while on day work, bid lists and procedures, and reduced volume of drilling.

The main reason for the present plight of the West Texas contractor is an over-supply of rigs, along with a continual decrease in drilling. During the period of the Snyder and Spraberry booms, many people were able to go into the drilling business because of the opposite situation—an under-supply of rigs. The contractor has been paying for the prosperous years since 1957. supply and demand are prosperous years since 1957. supply and demand are approaching a leveling-off point where prudent contractors can make a legitimate profit. Operators now are needed to help establish a sound drilling industry that can worry less about just simple survival and can spend some time, effort, and money in improving drilling techniques.


Vitally needed is for contractors and operators to get together on standardization of blowout preventor manifolds. Coral Drilling, Inc. has utilized approximately 20 different company "hook-ups". Fortunately, they never have lost control of a well kick. This would indicate that the majority, if not all, of their manifolds were suitable. Nevertheless, almost every time there is a change of operators, the manifold must be revamped. The cost of these changes varies, but in the long run it must be recovered from the operators.

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