New DH350 oil & gas drilling rig is high-tech and fast on its feet

Exciting for its size, footprint and rig up time, the rig fits the niche right between 250K and 500K hook loads — and it can walk with hands-free pipe handling.

After years of research and development, Epiroc is about to unveil a breakthrough oil-and-gas drilling rig in markets around the world, including here in the U.S. The DH350, a high-tech walking super single, offers 350,000-pound hook-load capability, meeting an industry need for a rig between hook loads of 250K and 500K.

In the U.S., an estimated 63 percent of wells permitted are within the capacity of the DH350. Traditionally, smaller drills have been pushed to the extreme to try to hit target depths, or larger drills have been brought in to drill to shallower depths, which is uneconomical. With the DH350, Epiroc has found the sweet spot.

In addition to a much-needed hook-load capability, the DH350 features state-of-the-art technologies and the ability to be walked from one hole to the next, power source and all. It is advanced drilling technology with a series of benefits that boost operational efficiency.

Cole Carpenter

Pictured: Cole T. Carpenter, Product Manager - Oil and Gas Rigs

Improved mobility

To improve upon conventional rigs, the DH350 mast, substructure, and pipe handling systems are designed to implement on-board rig hydraulics that facilitate rig-up without the use of cranes and minimize the number of hands-on operations required. DH350 structural members are consolidated into single-piece assemblies that are easily transported and rigged up using a combination of oilfield winch trucks, tractor-trailers, and purpose built trailers supplied with the rig.

With peripherals such as lighting and handrails removed, the DH350 design offers a single-piece substructure that significantly reduces the number of loads that require transport to location. When coupled to the rig’s standalone hydraulic power unit, the integrated hydraulic system allows the operator to erect the substructure as a single piece into drilling position using a handheld remote control. The DH350 reduces setup time from 24 hours to 10, which drastically reduces non-productive time.

To minimize cycle time between wellheads, the DH350 is fitted with an Epiroc-designed jack pad system that provides leveling of the rig with up to 350,000 pounds of drill string in wellbore, as well as 360-degree walking capabilities after the release of the rig to the next well. The remote controlled system allows the operator to swiftly transition the rig, inclusive of power unit, pipe skate and BOP, between wellheads with minimal non-productive time.

Reduced footprint

Because the DH350 is classified as super single rig, there is no need for set-back on the rig floor, reducing the size of the substructure and the overall rig footprint. To further minimize the special requirements of the rig, the standalone hydraulic power unit is placed across the rig substructure unlike a conventional rig that utilizes a series of prime-movers located in the rig’s backyard. This placement also eliminates the need to festoon power cables, hydraulic lines, etc., further reducing the overall footprint of the resulting design.

Maximized crew safety

The development of a hands-free pipe handling system maximizes crew member safety and minimizes non-productive time due to personal injury. The integration of a hydraulically actuated iron roughneck, power slips, and the presentation of pipe to the work floor using the pipe handling system all reduce physical interaction between crew members and the rig, thus making the rig inherently safer during pipe handling operations.

Pipe handling is streamlined through the presentation of the pipe to the rig floor via the hydraulically actuated pipe handling system, the actuation of the tip-out top-drive to align the spindle with the drill pipe, and the combination of making connections with repeatable positioning and torqueing using the hydraulically actuated iron roughneck.*


Potential for future automation

The design of DH350 has been streamlined to maximize rig mobility, reduce spatial footprint, and maximize crew safety in order to meet the needs of the industry. The logical progression in development of a future-focused rig design is the implementation of fully hands-free automation throughout all stages of the drilling process.

Automation is now at the forefront of rig design and Epiroc will utilize its success in surface mining drill automation to keep the groundbreaking DH350 at the forefront of the industry in the years to come.

* Buttacavoli, M. & Carpenter, C. (2016). Highly Mobile Oil and Gas Drilling Rigs and the Application of Automation. Australasian Drilling magazine by the Australian Drilling Industry Association (ADIA).

Contact an Expert


About the author: Matthew Inge is the Business Line Manager for Drilling Solutions at Epiroc USA, located in Denver, Colo. He enjoys working with our customers to determine the value Epiroc can bring to their operations. A graduate of Virginia Tech with a degree in mining and minerals engineering, Matthew has more than 8 years of experience in product management and surface blasthole applications.