PNG 301
Introduction to Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering

8.0: Lesson Overview


In this lesson, we will begin to discuss the drilling process. In particular, we will discuss:

  • the life-cycle of a field or reservoir and the role of the drilling engineer in each phase of production;
  • drilling contracts;
  • personnel on a rig crew and personnel at the rig site; and
  • types of drilling rigs.

We will also see that drilling engineers work on all tasks involving a drilling rig. Typical tasks performed by a drilling engineer include (but are not limited to):

  • help to develop (as part of an Asset Team) well proposals for all wells drilled in a field or reservoir;
  • help to develop workover proposals for wells requiring major rig workovers;
  • combine the well proposals and major rig workover proposals to develop a rig schedule that ensures that the drilling company has enough rig work to warrant a long-term contract (this benefits their own company, the field operator, by having sufficient work to guarantee a long-term contract results in improved contracts rates);
  • perform all drilling calculations (drilling fluid specifications, casing depth targets, cement properties, etc.) to develop the rig specifications for all of the work on the rig schedule to ensure the rigs under contract are capable of handling all work on the rig schedule;
  • select all equipment: bit size and type, casing and connection grades, drill pipe grades, etc.;
  • liaise with the drilling company and suppliers to ensure that off-the-shelf equipment/supplies and long lead time equipment/supplies are available at the appropriate times on the rig schedule;
  • liaise with the local, state, and national governments to ensure that all permits are acquired; and
  • work at the rig-site to look after the interests of the operating company.

We will see that operating oil and gas companies, even the large integrated major companies, do not drill their own wells. The drilling operations are typically contracted to drilling companies. The drilling contracts discussed in the lesson are:

  • day-rate contracts
  • turn key contracts

Finally, we will discuss the types of rigs available for drilling oil and gas wells. We will discuss cable tool rigs from an historical perspective and then discuss modern rotatory rigs. We will then finish the lesson by discussing the different rig-types available for off-shore operations.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • discuss the life cycle of a producing oil or gas field;
  • describe the role of the drilling engineer during the life cycle of the field;
  • compare and contrast the similarities and differences in exploration wells, appraisal wells, delineations wells, and development wells;
  • list and explain some of the most important components of a well proposal;
  • list and describe the role of a rig schedule in field development;
  • discuss the difference between a day-rate drilling contract and a turn key drilling contract;
  • list important terms in a day-rate contract;
  • list the job responsibilities of key members of an onshore rig crew including:
    • drilling contractor personnel;
    • operating company personnel;
    • service company personnel;
  • list the job responsibilities of key members of an offshore rig crew;
  • differentiate between a cable tool drilling rig and a rotary drilling rig;
  • explain the differences and pros and cons of rotatory table drilling rigs and a top-drive drilling rigs;
  • list the major components of a modern drilling rig; and
  • identify the differences in the available off-shore drilling rigs.

Lesson 8 Checklist

To Read Read the Lesson 8 online material Click the Introduction link below to continue reading the Lesson 8 material
To Do Lesson 8 Quiz Take the Lesson 8 Quiz in Canvas

Please refer to the Calendar in Canvas for specific time frames and due dates.


If you have questions, please feel free to post them to the Course Q&A Discussion Board in Canvas. While you are there, feel free to post your own responses if you, too, are able to help a classmate.