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Deep drilling first for Chinese shale gas

Shale gas extraction by the China National Petroleum Corporation is set to get underway by the end of the year with delivery of Herrenknecht Vertical’s first Terra Invader 350 deep drilling rig.

The 1,000t rig has been dispatched from Herrenknecht’s factory in Germany to the production site in Sichuan Province. Once built on site, the modular rig, which has been specially developed to serve the shale gas market, is expected to start production before the end of 2014.

The rig can be raised on four hydraulic cylinders and then skidded, which means that multiple wells can be drilled from a single location - pad drilling - without having to move location.

The technique has been called the XY Stepping System by Herrenknecht, which says this allows the acceleration of the drilling and completion operations, reducing the environmental impact considerably.

According to Herrenknecht, the rig also contains a number of other innovations that will offer substantial time and cost savings over conventional drilling techniques, as well as improving safety. The innovations include automation for the supply of the drill string and casing to the well centre and a central control area that means only four people are needed to operate each shift.

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