Technologies to Revolutionize the Face of the IndustryWed, 01/20/2016 - 11:45
Q: What led to the foundation of Turbo Drill, and what gap in the market was the company addressing?
A: Turbo Drill Industries (TDI) is a manufacturing and downhole tool technology company that was founded in 2007. The first product line offered by TDI was radial bearings for downhole mud-lubricated drilling motors and flow restrictors for oil-sealed drilling motors. In 2009, we created a downhole tool rental division called Scout Downhole Inc. (SDI). SDI rents downhole drilling tools to directional drilling service companies, drilling contractors and oil, gas and geothermal operators.
Q: What makes Turbo Drill’s technology unique, and what gap has this bridged in today’s market?
A: We quickly realized that we had developed industry leading technology that lasted up to four times longer than the conventional technology. Our business grew rapidly and then our customers suggested that we take advantage of our vast knowledge of downhole drilling motor technology and develop a revolutionary bearing and transmission assembly for the newly emerging high torque motor power sections. This led to the development of our patented diamond bearing assembly, high-torque transmission assembly, and revolutionary fixed bend assembly. TDI's advantage was we had developed a diamond thrust bearing for another tool and used our knowledge to further develop the diamond technology for mud motor applications.
In the past, when drilling horizontal wells, typical build rate angles were 6° or 8° per 100ft. However, with the dramatic increase in shale drilling, many US operators wanted to get from vertical to lateral in less distance and started planning wells with build rates of 14° to 16° per 100ft. TDI realized that the standard longer bit-to-bend motors were not designed for this application and that considerable problems would soon ensue in the drilling industry if this antiquated technology was employed. As more operators designed well plans with higher build rates, our assumptions about increased downhole failures pertaining to outdated drilling motor technology proved to be correct.
Q: How do you assign investments for R&D in a low oil price environment?
A: All the companies we have created or acquired have been focusing on the technologies that would be needed if the price per barrel went below US$60. The new technologies we are working on are being directly targeted to the low cost drilling environment. In 2014, there were 2,000 drilling rigs operating in the US, by December 2015, there were approximately 750 rigs working, and between January and February 2016, we went from 750 to 500 rigs. Our projections suggest that this number will decrease to 400 operating rigs in the US by the third quarter of this year. Nonetheless, we are increasing revenue from last year, which is possible due to new technology. The conventional directional drilling technologies that are out there now are designed for oil prices of US$70-80 per barrel, and the only thing that will help the entire industry survive is technology. There are virtually no current technologies that can be used for drilling at US$35 per barrel except the Turbo Drill motor Lower End, and if this is combined with a gear-reduced turbine and a gear-reduced motor, we can obtain technologically advanced versatility.
Q: What innovative technologies have you developed, and how will this mitigate the consequences of the low oil price environment?
A: Our Vertical Scout is the only mechanical, vertical seeking tool on the market. It operates based on gravity, and no one has invented a tool like this in the past. We developed the first design in 2008 and by 2016 we now have nine different revisions of this tool that have changed it completely from when it was originally conceived. We are quick to identify our flaws in the first designs and then we change constantly and make the technology more effective.
Another thing we have that other companies do not is that our engineering team has a phenomenal background in manufacturing, and this is the reason why we are able to launch new technologies with oil at US$35/b. Collaboration between engineering, manufacturing, and servicing is the only formula a service company can employ to deliver revolutionary, affordable technology when oil is at US$35/b.