Weatherford opens drill service center at Alta Vista

Posted July 14, 2012

Michael Bradwell

BENTLEYVILLE An open house Friday at a new drill service center gave visitors a glimpse of how sophisticated some natural gas drilling equipment has become in the Marcellus Shale.

Weatherford held the event Friday at Alta Vista Business Park for its first facility in Western Pennsylvania, a 41,412-square-foot building known as its Charleroi Maintenance and Repair Facility.

The building is staffed by about 40 people who provide drilling equipment and services for companies extracting natural gas from the Marcellus Shale.

The local operation, which is part of Texas-based Weatherford International, one of the world’s largest oilfield services companies, provides companies with the drilling equipment they need for the horizontal drilling technique used to extract shale gas.

Weatherford’s “measurement while drilling” or MWD equipment provides information about the direction the bit is traveling, even though it’s a mile below the surface of the earth. The MWD equipment contains an “emitter” that transmits an electromagnetic signal that uses the earth around it to transmit information to the surface.

In the lab, MWD technologist Robert Cochran displayed an array of “intelligent tools” he tests that are placed inside pipes that travel as part of the drill assembly that measure gravity to calculate the dip angle of the Earth and to read gamma rays to read naturally occurring radiation.

Weatherford employees prepare a “kit box” specific to each drilling site, which is filled with between $500,000 and $600,000 worth of equipment that is made up of as many as 500 parts.

When equipment is returned after drilling, it’s examined for wear, and some parts are re-machined and repainted before being restocked for the next project.

Darrel Sikora, manager for quality, maintenance and reliability, said the work performed at the facility is critical for the performance of the company’s customers.

“They’re using millions of dollars worth of equipment,” and its performance has to be right each time out, he said.

Copyright Observer Publishing Co.