Doyon Family of Companies: News and Opportunities
North America’s Largest Mobile Land Rig to Travel from Alberta to Alaska’s North Slope
By Patty Sullivan and Jill Rutherford
In July, a new drilling rig with breakthrough capabilities began its 2,400-mile journey from Nisku, Alberta, Canada, to a drilling pad on Alaska’s North Slope. Called Doyon 26, the 9.5-million-pound rig — equivalent to almost 10 fully loaded Boeing 747s — will be hauled to Deadhorse, Alaska, in pieces. The last of its 267 separate tractor-trailer loads will arrive by November 2019.
“We will take the rig apart in Canada and transport it via trucks to Alaska. When all the pieces arrive, we’ll put it back together like a big Lego to make seven rig modules,” said Paul McGrath, the extended reach drilling (ERD) project director.
The ERD rig is expected to increase oil production by accessing previously unreachable resources without expanding the surface footprint. Doyon 26 will enable the development of Fiord West, a field discovered in 1996, located northwest of the main Alpine field.
“COP Alaska has been working on the rig from initial FEED (front end engineering design) studies and concept stage for about four years. During construction we had assistance from our colleagues in CPC, ConocoPhillips Canada. The team recognizes what a game changer this will be for ConocoPhillips in Alaska,” McGrath said.
FARTHER REACH, SELF-PROPELLED
The development rigs working for ConocoPhillips on the North Slope today do not have the capability to access Fiord West without constructing a new gravel pad, additional pipelines, and more roads. Doyon 26 does. Extended reach technology enables the more powerful rig to drill targets some 7 miles from the surface location. Existing rigs are designed to drill about 22,000 feet from the pad, yet the highly specialized Doyon 26 will be able to reach 37,000 feet. That means from a 14-acre drilling pad, the high-tech rig will be able to develop 154 square miles of reservoir versus today’s 55 square miles. Doyon 26 is the largest mobile land rig in North America and 1.5 to 2 times as powerful as existing rigs.
A development rig often needs to be moved hundreds of miles in a single winter. And not all rigs are self-propelled. Mobility, then, is another key factor. “We asked Doyon to make this large rig as mobile as typical North Slope rigs,” said Chip Alvord, drilling manager in Alaska. “That’s quite a challenge given the size of the rig, but Doyon’s design met that challenge.” The rig moves as fast as the other rigs and it’s also self-propelled. “The rig’s mobility will allow it to get online and drill a well more quickly,” Alvord said.
WHY ASSEMBLE A DRILLING RIG FOR ALASKA IN ALBERTA
COP Alaska signed the contract with Doyon Drilling in October 2016, continuing a 30-year working relationship with Doyon, Limited.
“There are no facilities for constructing drilling rigs in Alaska, so most Arctic rigs are built in Washington state on the U.S. West Coast or in the Edmonton area,” McGrath said. Doyon subcontracted with NOV, a company recognized as the foremost designer and fabricator of Arctic drilling rigs. Every Doyon rig except for one has been built by NOV in Nisku.
“From size to scale to scope, Doyon and NOV were the obvious choice to build this new rig, with the necessary facilities and expertise for the project,” McGrath said.
TWO BUSINESS UNITS AS PARTNERS
For two years, on two-week rotations, two rig supervisors from COP Alaska joined the team in Canada. For CPC, throughout the construction of the rig, the business unit has had the opportunity to learn from COP Alaska and vice versa.
On April 23, representatives from both business units stood before and appreciated the complexities of the massive rig, which is one of the largest mobile land drilling rigs in the world.
“It is nearly double the size of our current rig fleet. That was impressive,” said Shon Robinson, manager, drilling and wells Alaska. “But more impressive are the technology steps and capability that will come with the rig. It will serve ConocoPhillips well for the next decade and beyond.”
The anticipated “first drill” date for the new rig is April 2020. The new rig will generate 100 direct jobs and hundreds of indirect positions to support rig operations.